• Saturday, 13 May, 2023,
  • by Victoria Shaw

Like mother, like daughter…

Doris Kelly Jr wanted to emulate what her mother, Doris Sr, and brother, John Kelly, were doing – training greyhounds.

This would all change not long after Doris Jr met her husband-to-be, Barry Toner, at the Warragul races.

Together, the young couple would taste success on the racetrack not long after their 1969 wedding, with their first city winner – Park Fair (Raleen Chief x Whirlee Scott) – taking out the Oakleigh Stake on May 28, 1970.

Although the couple were listed jointly as ‘Owner, Trainers’, the young Mrs Toner and women like her were not allowed to catch their greyhounds on race day or race night.

Yet women were allowed to put their dogs through the kennels at a race meeting and, according to Toner, “women were active on trial nights or days with their animals but rules surrounding an actual race meeting were designed to relegate women to the sidelines”.

“You got a bit wild that you couldn’t do things because that was silly,” she added. “I looked around and it was always men sitting around on boards and various gatherings, it was always them.

“You got a bit wild that you couldn’t do things because that
was silly…”

“We, as women, just went along with the flow and hoped things would change. I wasn’t a big voice, but when I met Pat Haas things started to change. Pat and her husband, Carl, had big numbers.”

The friendship and camaraderie between Toner, Haas and other trail-blazing women of their time would continue for many years to come.

However, in social circles, Carl Haas would always mention the defeat of his greyhound by King Dalton, trained by Toner’s mother and brother.

“Carl always brought up King Dalton beating his dog in the 1953 Beddome Cup. He must have had his greyhound going for a lot of money,” Toner recalled with a proud laugh.

Even so, there is another reason to reflect on King Dalton’s impressive ability on the racetrack and that of his littermate Doris May.

Back in 1950, both greyhounds were hand-picked by Doris Sr, with her ability to spot conformation and attitude in young dogs that she believed would transfer well to racing.

And, as the saying goes, “like mother, like daughter”, Doris Jr also possesses a keen eye, with great ability identifying young greyhounds’ racing potential.

Both women played a key factor in the Toner-Kelly family’s roll call of greyhound winners and track record-holders. Of which, there are many.

By 1974, not long after Doris and Barry’s sons, Stephen and Dale, were born, women were being publicly acknowledged as greyhound trainers. And, as the boys became older, they too would develop a keen interest in greyhound racing, with their father, Barry, serving on several club committees and as a Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board member for six years.

Stephen Toner is a licensed owner-trainer and his daughters, Maddison and Paris, are both successfully training and breeding greyhounds. With both young women, the Toner-Kelly family’s fourth generation of greyhound trainers, well-educated with veterinary backgrounds, are not experiencing the same challenges their grandmother and late great-grandmother did.

“I wasn’t a big voice, but when I met Pat Haas things started
to change.”

On the morning that I met with Doris Toner it was ironic that the world awoke to the sad news of Barry Humphries’ passing. Poring over the many family records and photos of greyhounds past and great, Doris expressed her desire to still win a big race despite her age.

And, as we walked out to immaculately kept kennels, where four young greyhounds played, their coats aglow like silken velvet in the late morning sun, Doris fumbled around with her pocket trying to find a lipstick. All the while, reflecting on the tulle underskirts of fashionable 1950s frocks that her mother made for Barry Humphries’ mother, Louisa – the woman that inspired Humphries’ incredible character, Dame Edna.

For Doris Toner, the daughter of Doris May Kelly, style is eternal.

So is the will to win, with greyhounds that both mother and daughter love.

Happy Mother’s Day…

Doris Kelly Jr (Toner) / Barry Toner

Park Fair (Raleen Chief x Whirlee Scott).  First City winner 1970

Dorinda May (Blackamoor Lad x Park Fair).  Use photo re victory July 1974 Sandown Laurels semi-final. Won by 5 lengths and Owner, Trainer detail is Mrs.D.M.Toner.

Charlotte Kay (Second Stage x Park Fair) 3rd Sandown Cup 1976,  3rd Sandown Distance Championship, Maturity finalist.

Chantel’s Boy (Tivoli Chief  x Chantel Louisa) Australian Cup Finalist 1977, 3rd Silver Chief  1976, 2nd in the Victorian State Sprint Championship 1977.  (Won by Bowetzel)

Amber Kelton (Waverley Supreme x Main Model)     622m TR Sale 1979

Sarson Lad (Temlee x Charlotte Kay)                       366m TR Sale 1980

Kaylee Star (Temlee x Charlotte Kay)                       484m TR Sale 1980

(NB. Old Sale track distances)

Amber Kelton  39 stars, 21 wins & 11 minor placings. At just 19 months, set a TR in the Sale Distance Championship.  As well as winning the 1978 Skippa Trophy & 1979 Anniversary Trophy. 

Miss Blanche, Bendigo 545m TR

Blanche’s Champ (Head Honcho x Miss Blanche) a one-time 730m track record holder at The Meadows, whose brood matron’s line goes back to Amber Kelton.

Doris Kelly Sr  / John Kelly – standout runners ’70s – ’80s

Blackamoor Lad (Black Top x La Brigette), 1972 Australian Cup winner & littermate Blue Pharoah, 1972 Waterloo Cup winner.  Bred & reared by Doris Snr. & John Kelly.  Blackamoor Lad was trained by Colin Pavli.

Blue Pharoah was trained by John Kelly. 

Greta Garbor (Temlee x Clue’s Top) (First bitch to win from every box at Olympic Park)

Flat Flyer (Temlee x Try Personality) (Victorian Greyhound of the Year, 1982. Brood matron bred by Doris and Barry Toner)

African Zulu (Chief Dingaan x Winsome Lady) Won 23 races at Sandown Park

Kareem (African Zulu x Royal Banker) Won 23 races at Sandown Park

Kasheer (African Zulu x Royal Banker) Won 14 races at Sandown Park

Victoria ShawVictoria Shaw

Victoria Shaw

Australia’s only female race caller and the only woman in the world to have broadcast four codes of racing in this country and overseas. Victoria has co-hosted international racing awards and hosted racing forums focusing on women’s inclusion within international racing communities including Poland, Morocco, Spain & the United Arab Emirates. She has called races on the Victorian thoroughbred picnic circuit and at numerous greyhound tracks around the state as well as the 2020 Waterloo Cup. Victoria is fascinated by the incredible efforts of racing animals as well as the people that love and prepare them, no matter where they are in the world.

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