• Friday, 07 Jan, 2022,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Gracie leads Gibbons’ ‘amazing’ rise

Young training force Daniel Gibbons was born into greyhound racing but admits a career with the collar and lead wasn’t always a fait accompli; in fact, it was anything but.

But after an intriguing journey, Gibbons is following a proud family tradition that looks set to continue when recent Group 2 Laurels runner-up Gracie Bale heads to The Meadows on Saturday night.

Gracie Bale is $3.80 with TAB in Race 5 over 525m at 7.58pm.

“I’ve been around greyhounds since I could walk but I was never really interested in training,” said Gibbons, a grandson of former prolific trainer Graeme Bate, who celebrated his 33rd birthday on Monday.

“I did a panel beating apprenticeship and later on spent a year in Thailand. When we came back, my wife Bec and I were both looking for work and I worked as a tattooist and a few other things.

“When Paul (Wheeler) dropped Gracie Bale off he told me he’d kept her especially for me as she is white and has one black arm like I do.”

“Bec is Sam Grenfell’s cousin and she gave Bec a casual part-time job with the greyhounds.

“Then we bought a cheap dog called Zipping Navy, which did pretty well and things just went from there.

“I’ve only been training for about two years – so not long at all – and we’ve got around 32 race dogs and another 25 or 26 pups; I’d say 85 per cent of the dogs we have are Wheeler dogs.

The backing of the iconic Wheeler empire, which Graeme Bate forged a renowned partnership with, is a huge boost, underlined with Gracie Bale being one of the stars of Gibbons’ Avalon kennel.

WATCH: Gracie Bale (4) stormed home to run an unlucky second to Idolize (8) in the G2 Laurels at Sandown Park on December 16.

While Gracie Bale has only won six of her 25 starts, the daughter of Orson Allen has filled minor placings on 15 occasions, notably running second in the Laurels and third in the G3 Provincial Plate on Melbourne Cup night.

Gibbons explained that he has a special bond with Gracie Bale, which was given specifically to him by late breeding legend Paul Wheeler due to their similar ‘markings’.

“Gracie Bale is very special to us. When Paul (Wheeler) dropped her off he told me he had kept her especially for me as she’s white and has one black arm like I do,” Gibbons explained.

“Paul nicknamed me ‘Black Arm’ because of my tattoos and it just feels like Paul is helping her along.

Rising stars Daniel Gibbons and Gracie Bale share a ‘black arm’ in common.

“Early on she was really quick early but since she’s stepped up in distance she’s got slower at the start and stronger at the finish.

“I did give her a 600m at The Meadows, just because everyone I spoke to was telling me that’s what I should do. I did it to shut them up! She was up near the lead the whole way but ‘stopped’ near the finish and ran second.

“I think 100 per cent she’ll run 600m but I don’t want to rush her. She’s still a baby.

“From Box 3 on Saturday night, I think she can drop in behind them on the fence and as long as she doesn’t hit the rail like she did last week, I think she has every chance of winning the race.

“I don’t know what happened last Saturday. She bounced off the rail like a pin-ball machine and actually ripped the side of her rug!”

The other headline act in Gibbons’ team is last start G1 Silver Chief placegetter Titan Blazer, which has won 10 from 22 and will line up in a ‘red hot’ fifth heat of the G2 Warragul Cup on Friday night, where he’s a $5.50 chance with TAB.

“To be honest, I think Box 8 is the best box he could’ve drawn in that heat,” said Gibbons.

“He’s got the speed to go around them. He just needs five or six metres and then he really takes off.

“I think he would’ve finished a lot closer in the Silver Chief if he’d had Box 8 instead of Box 7 and swapped boxes with Compliance, which cut him off at the start.”

Titan Blazer winning a heat of the G1 Silver Chief in a slick 29.80sec at The Meadows on December 22.

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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