• Thursday, 18 Nov, 2021,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Vale Terry Burns

Memories of a remarkable comeback victory in the 2010 Group 2 Cranbourne Cup after a quarter of a century out of the sport were rekindled when 82-year-old Koo Wee Rup trainer Terry Burns was farewelled on Tuesday.

Then 70 years of age, in a sporting return to rival any, Burns came back from a 25-year hiatus in a blaze of glory when Arvo’s Florence claimed the Cranbourne Cup, fittingly on the late trainer’s home track.

“Terry was a regular fixture at Cranbourne,” said close friend of more than 40 years, fellow greyhound trainer, Robert Colpoys.

“Up until about 12 months ago, there wouldn’t have been too many meetings where he didn’t have a runner at Cranbourne.

“Terry was in his late 60s when he started training again, so to come back at his age and win the Cranbourne Cup was no doubt his greatest achievement.”

Burns sadly passed away earlier this month, having battled declining health in recent years, particularly after losing his wife and training partner Pam in 2019.

While Burns left school at 14, Colpoys explained that he graduated with honours from the school of hard knocks and went on to enjoy great success in business as well as on the racetrack.

“Back in the late ’70s, when Terry lived at Hallam, I was one of his neighbours, even though I lived about two kilometres from him, and his neighbours on the other side were Ian and Maureen Brown and we all had dogs,” Robert recalled.

“The first litter Terry bred was Venetian Court x Bon Roo, back in 1969, and according to Ian, it was a 100 per cent winning litter.

“Terry was a very shrewd man with a dog. If he put the money on, you’d be very unlucky if he didn’t collect.”

“In the early ’80s, Terry moved to Koo Wee Rup and established a very successful plant and tree nursery. He also pioneered the home delivery of cooked pet food and while he wasn’t training during this period, he was still on the outskirts through the pet food business.

“He was a very smart man. He was hopeless with technology but if something could be built, Terry could do it!”

A chance meeting with fellow trainer Stan Ralph was the catalyst that reignited Burns’ greyhound racing passion and despite his advancing years he didn’t look back after buying a dog called Mo Henry off Ralph.

“I was talking to Stan and Terry actually helped build Stan’s house and that was how he got back into greyhound racing,” said Colpoys.

“In typical ‘Burnsy’ style he was telling Stan he was a better trainer than him and next thing he was up and running again.

“Terry was a very shrewd man with a dog. If he put the money on, you’d be very unlucky if he didn’t collect.

“He was old school. He wouldn’t enter a dog until it’d had 15 trials and with experienced race dogs they had to have at least three trials at a track before he would nominate them. When he produced a dog, you knew it was fit, sound and had been to the track.

“He had a lot of dogs with the ‘Burnsy’ prefix and he also bought quite a few ‘Buckle Up’ dogs from Tassie and had plenty of success with them, especially over the ‘shorts’ at Cranbourne.

“Even up to six months ago, Terry was still looking for a dog to buy!”

Terry is survived by son Terry Junior, daughter Kelly and his grandchildren.

Gerard GuthrieGerard Guthrie

Gerard Guthrie

One of Australia’s leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)

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