The Greyhound Star website is only as strong as its contributors and despite a record breaking year, I have been looking to improve it further with some additional quality columnists and features.
Like the hugely popular Gary Wiltshire, his good pal and fellow ‘shrewdie’ Gary Noble fits that profile perfectly. In addition to being a keen owner and breeder, Gary Noble earns his living as a professional greyhound punter.
I have been fascinated by many of Gary’s observations and insight into the current state of the greyhound and betting industries and delighted he has agreed to share some of them with our readers.
I can promise there are some interesting and surprising articles to come.
Floyd Amphlett (Editor)
I have been involved in either, watching, owning, breeding, bookmaking and betting greyhounds for around 50 years. My two daughters Olivia and Bethia have inherited my love of greyhounds and greyhound racing although they have no interest in the betting or bookmaking side of things.
I first set foot in a greyhound stadium when taken by my father in the early 1960s, to Clapton Stadium to watch the firework display that was always held after the Scurry Gold Cup Final.
As I got older I was always keen to accompany my Dad to the track and began to form my own opinions about greyhounds and the racing . I was allowed to have small bets occasionally and one of my early recollections was backing Miss Ross when she won the 1973 Oaks Final. I would have been 14.
As I grew up, myself and a few mates would go racing on our own more regularly.
I was always a pretty decent winner finder and although we were only playing at it, I did better than most of my mates. When I left school, gripped by the betting bug, I worked in a couple of independent betting shops (while under 18!!) and eventually joined Mecca Bookmakers, where I think I became their youngest shop manager at 18.
But it was difficult at that age to manage people who are old enough to be your parents and I tried my hand at a couple of other jobs before getting a job as a copy reader on The Times newspaper.
As I was working night shifts Hackneys afternoon meetings became my favoured haunt , with less regular evening visits to Harringay and later Walthamstow.
I was only working four shifts per week and I was able to dedicate plenty of time to the task of winner finding. I would study all the videos, which were costing £10 a time, a lot of money back in the early 1980s, but it was paying off for me.
I can remember at one stage having several wage packets lying unopened in my drawer at work because I was living off my gambling winnings.
I was betting quite big but still felt I couldn’t let my parents know. I remember being at Walthamstow for my 21st birthday with family and friends in the restaurant and having £300 on a dog called Sugar Lump that I owned in partnership, she won at 7/2.
I daren’t let my mum know I was punting to that level and asked my friend Angus to put the money on for me. He came back up to the restaurant with a fistful of notes and my mum came out with: “I wish Gary could win like that!.”
I have owned quite a few racing dogs over the years, with, like most owners, mixed levels of success. I originally had dogs with Chris Newman at Hackney Ken Linzell at Walthamstow and John Coleman who I am still in regular contact with.
I would like to talk about breeding greyhounds which is a particular passion of mine.
I bred my first litter in 1990 out of a bitch called Helgas Pet. They were by the former Stow sprinter Dysert Moth.
There were five in the litter and the late John Counsell reared a few. The others were reared at a boarding kennel. It may not have sounded the most promising of starts, but all five reached the track and won at either Walthamstow, Romford or Rye House.
You need a bit of luck in the breeding game and mine came when I acquired a bitch called Castlerea Delia for breeding by way of what can only be called fate.
I was involved working on a bookmaking pitch owned by my friend Michael Browning at Walthamstow (MCB Bookmakers). We had a very large gambler punting with us.
He went on a bad run, accumulating a debt with us, and decided to sell all his greyhounds to repay it. One of them was Castlerea Delia and she was a very smart, blue, front running marathon bitch.
She was valued then at around £2,500 and I advised one of my friends to buy her. He got her for £2,000 and the very next week she won a marathon final for him worth £1,000!
A couple of months later she sustained a career ending injury and was sent to Ireland to be bred from. She had two seasons, was mated twice but failed to have any pups.
My friend had passed her on to the breeder in Ireland and after she failed to get in pup for the second time he rang my friend to say he had lost patience and was going to have her put down.
My friend informed me of this and I was straight on the phone to the breeder telling him to do no such thing and I would take ownership of her immediately.
She was transferred to a friend of mine, Lionel Mannering, and his wife Sandra. They were determined that we would prove the breeder wrong and set about doing everything they could to get her in pup. With the help of Sean Bourke at Newpark Stud (even though we were not using his stud dog) she was tested repeatedly for fertility and was actually mated 22 days after showing in season.
My choice of stud dog was Staplers Jo, a dog whose performances at the “new” Hackney used to leave me purring, the fastest dog down the back straight Ive ever seen. The mating was a success and Delia had 6 pups, but all were dead within two days from “fading puppy” or Parvo Virus as I think it was known.
We were devastated, but when Delia next went in season she was mated to Staplers Jo again and this time the pups thrived. Born in December 1999, they won decent races and when Delia next came in season she was mated to Spiral Nikita.
This produced what proved to be an outstanding litter which included a number of top class greyhounds, the pick of which was Special Trick who won the 2003 Victor Chandler Grand Prix at Walthamstow worth £10,000.
We knew we were on to something, and bred from Delias daughters, in particular Matriarch from the the Staplers Jo litter. She produced many good good greyhounds, notably the “pocket rocket” Special Liberty a 22kilo bitch with the heart of a lion, who in turn produced another top class bitch, Special Release.. Four generations down the line Delia is still producing winners.
These days her descendants are not all hitting the heights, but we still had Special Story finishing runner up in the Guys and Dollls category 1 final at Crayford recently.
Its hard to make a success of breeding but in our own way we’ve done reasonably well.