Back in 1977, William (Alan) Fairlie was the toast of the sport when his champion sprinter Listowel Sue won the Australian Cup.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those halcyon days, but the entire gamut of the industry will once again metaphorically ‘charge their glasses’ to the 93-year-old greyhound racing stalwart at Healesville on Sunday.
The former potato farmer and amateur masseur is believed to be the oldest registered greyhound trainer in Australia – if not the world!
Based at Drouin South in West Gippsland, Fairlie, who recently reapplied for his trainer’s licence after a 14-year hiatus from the sport, has Lady Wynal (Box 6) in the $7000 to-the-winner all-female Healesville Oaks (350m) – Race 6, 12.24pm.
Lady Wynal – named in memory of Fairlie’s late wife, Alwyn, qualified for the final when fourth, beaten 2.8 lengths, to Karmen Kristy (19.61sec) in the fastest of two heats.
“She’s a bit ‘spooky’ about anything different,” Fairlie said. “But when she settles into it, she’s got the ability. There’s a hidden talent.”
The catalyst behind Fairlie’s return to the sport is Ripplebrook couple Robert Pallotta and Jacqueline Berry who, incidentally, have Lady Wynal’s litter sister Don’t Ignore Me (Box 5) in the Healesville Oaks.
Pallotta and Berry bred the Feb ’20 Aston Dee Bee x Mia Tesoro litter.
“When you’ve lost your wife, it gets lonely… It’s not hard to love a greyhound, I can tell you that!”
WATCH: LADY WYNAL (B1) finishes a creditable fourth to fastest Healesville Oaks heat winner KARMEN KRISTY (B4).
“Robert and Jacqueline moved in ‘just up the road’ and introduced me to this litter,” Fairlie said. “And Lady Wynal (affectionately known as “Lucy”) became available to own and train.
“When Alwyn and I first came down to Drouin South, we were very much like Rob and Jackie… I feel so joyful for them.
“And I asked them if I could name Lucy in remembrance of Alwyn, who I lost four and a half years ago.”
Will Lady Wynal be Fairlie’s last greyhound?
“We’re venturing into the unknown now,” he said. “I’d love to be training three or four, but it’s a day-to-day proposition.
“Someone asked me if I was prepared to pass with Lucy once she’s finished racing.
“I replied, ‘if I’m still around I would’. But you don’t make many long-range plans when you’re my age.”
Lady Wynal is the only greyhound in Fairlie’s kennel – and she doubles as a loving companion.
“When you’ve lost your wife, it gets lonely,” Fairlie added. “She’s been marvellous for me, just a pleasure to be around.
“It’s not hard to love a greyhound, I can tell you that!”
TO BE CONTINUED…
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