Young Dennington trainer Aimee Drew, 33, will be riding an emotional rollercoaster at Warrnambool tonight.
It’s difficult for Aimee to contain excitement about her first start as a trainer with Aston Malle (Dec ’19 Aston Kimetto x Aston Jadore), who is also making her debut.
But she’ll also walk to the boxes with a heavy heart due to the loss of her father – and life mentor – Ray last month. The highly respected Warrnambool greyhound racing identity sadly passed away after a 10-month battle with liver cancer, aged 73.
“Dad was a massive influence, not only in greyhound racing but life in general,” Aimee said. “I’ve learned all I know about the sport from him, along with my brother Dustin.”
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Aimee, who was ‘born with a lead and collar in her hand’, added her father instilled a will-to-win attitude – even in his children’s sporting pursuits – which has rolled into greyhound racing.
“He encouraged me in basketball and netball, and Dustin in cricket and football,” she said. “But we’ve also had a strong bond as animal-loving people – our family pet has always been a greyhound.”
So much so, that one of their best-loved greyhounds, Kirabilli Kruise (3rd – 2010 G2 Great Chase), is buried in the family’s front yard – eternally remembered by a big metal cross upon which his name is inscribed.
Until now, Aimee had been in the background – cleaning kennels, preparing meals and handslipping/trialling – but the catalyst behind her foray into training is her father.
“I want my kids to be associated in the sport. Greyhound are the best things out, and kids are the best things for them.”
“I want to challenge myself, but more importantly, keep dad’s name and memory alive – it’s a special time,” she said.
“I’ve also been on maternity leave this year and I want my kids – Reggie, 3, and Maisie, 11 months – to be associated in the sport. Greyhound are the best things out, and kids are the best things for them.”
Aimee, who at one stage relocated to WA, recalls returning to Victoria around seven years ago.
“I had moved to Perth as part of my job with Westpac in customer relations, but I’ll always remember dad picking me up at Melbourne Airport. I just hopped into the back of the car with the greyhounds.”
So, what does Aimee think of her chances of a winning trainer/greyhound debut?
“I think Aston Malle requires some luck as she’s a ‘big girl’ (31kg) and needs a little room early. But she’ll be coming home over the last 100-150 metres.
“She trialled 22.50sec over 390 metres at Warrnambool last Sunday, but she still needs a bit of ‘match fitness’.
“Most of her litter has raced and tasted success, but our hopes are for her to just keep building. If we pick up a few races, I’d be more than happy.”
And Aimee says she’d be stoked if Aston Malle, aka “Big Bad Bonnie”, won the first race on the card – a Maiden (390m) scheduled for 6.14pm.
“I’d be over the moon, and I hope dad can help her over the line. The emotion is still very raw.
“Dad passed away on October 14 and Aston Malle is in Race 1, Box 4 – so I’m hoping that proves an omen.”
WATCH: A GRVextra special on the Drew family filmed in 2014.
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