• Monday, 24 Jul, 2023,
  • by Gerard Guthrie

Vale Frank Hand

After devoting more than half a century to greyhound racing, widely-travelled trainer Frank Hand passed away earlier this month.

Frank, who lived – and trained winners – in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, and the Northern Territory, passed away in Lismore on July 7 at 81 years of age; his funeral was held last Friday (July 21).

Wherever his life journey took him, there was one constant for Frank – he always had a greyhound or two.

Frank was especially well-known in the Horsham and Shepparton greyhound racing communities, with his standout chaser Mannerism etching his name into the history books – twice – during a memorable 1979 Shepparton Cup campaign.

Mannerism won 27 of his 73 starts, including 11 city wins, finishing in the top three on 50 occasions.

However, it was spectacular back-to-back world record performances at Shepparton that defined Mannerism’s and Frank Hand’s racing careers.

“Mannerism won more than money for Dad, it was a highlight of his life.”

“Mannerism won more than money for Dad, it was a highlight of his life,” said Frank’s son Craig.

“It could be said the climax of Dad’s training career was when Mannerism broke Satan’s Legend’s world record (440m) in the Shepparton Cup heats.

“Relle Louise then came out and broke Mannerism’s record in the following heat, but Mannerism smashed the record again the next week in the final. He beat Relle Louise by seven lengths, and she was seven lengths ahead of the rest of them!

“I was only a teenager, but I’ll never forget the atmosphere. It was unbelievable. The whole town was alive, and it was all to do with my father and his dog.

“The Mayor of Shepparton held a civic reception and gala ball in honour of Mannerism’s performances. My parents took Mannerism to the event all done up in his Cup-winning jacket and the Mayor even fed him a sandwich!

“Dad was as happy as I can remember him and I was pretty happy too, because I used to catch Mannerism – Mannerism was the only dog I caught – and Dad would give me $50 after every win, which was great money for a teenager.”

Frank’s passion for racing may have been initiated in thoroughbred racing but he was soon bitten by the greyhound bug, training his first winner at Horsham in the early 1970s.

After selling the family farm at Ellam and purchasing a motel at Shepparton, Frank fatefully purchased the pup that would race as Mannerism.

After deciding on another change of scenery, Frank purchased a motel at Lismore, choosing the location not for the better climate, but because of its proximity to a host of greyhound tracks, including Casino, Grafton, and Tweed Heads.

“Dad raced at all the tracks in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory,” Craig said.

“We worked out there was only about four tracks he didn’t race on. I doubt whether any other greyhound trainer would’ve achieved this.

“He loved travelling with his greyhounds. He enjoyed going to Coonamble – they all know him out there – and I remember one night at Temora when he cleaned out the bookies. The bookies emptied their bags on his table, and I thought that’s a lot of money!”

Frank continued training into his 80s, and prepared his last winner, Suntanned, at Shepparton on March 10, 2022.

Frank’s sporting accomplishments weren’t restricted to the racetrack, as he was an accomplished cricketer and footballer in his younger years and is a Life Member of the Jeparit Football Club.

Frank is survived by children Craig and Sharon and grandchildren Tessa, Jack and Jordan.

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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