On Tuesday night, Sniffing Out (Superior Product-Swift Ash, Aug 15) won a 714m final at Crayford. He won £750 and recorded a time, 45.06, only bettered once this year, by Ladbrokes Golden Jacket winner Shotgun Bullet. But the real story is much bigger than that . . . . writes Floyd Amphlett.
For Sniffing Out (or Ozzie as he is known to the family) is the sole pet of 33 year old owner trainer Luke Bird. The pair share their Chingford home with Luke’s dad Ian, sister Lucy and nieces Amelia and Abbey. As you might guess from the address, there is a strong Stow connection, as Luke explains.
“Dad used to train a few dogs on places like Henlow and run a few at Bury St Edmunds. My mum Hilary worked at Walthamstow for 32 years. Greyhound racing was their life. I spent a lot of time at the track and used to help out at kenneling if the trainers needed a hand. I got to know John and Kelly Mullins quite well at that time.
“After mum died, Dad lost all interest in life. For five years he barely left the house. Then one day, a mate persuaded him to go and watch his dog run at Harlow. The following week, dad was back there again, and again.
“Growing up, I had helped out at a lot of kennels; sometimes walked retired dogs for Johanna Beumer. I always wanted to train but knew I had no chance of ever owning a kennel. Then I heard about the new owner trainers licence and decided to have a go myself. It completely changed our lives.
“I bought Ozzie from David Murray, son of Francie, for £2,500 and because I am self employed as a Class 1 HGV driver, I needed dad to help out with the training. Dad had had a knee operation and had been told to do lots of walking in the recuperation. He had never bothered until the dog arrived and now he is out walking him all the time.
“Ozzie is a lovely gentle dog. He lives in the house and sleeps on the sofa and the whole family love him to bits. Apart from the walking, we give him a gallop on the golf course on Epping Forest. Lots of people could train their own greyhounds like we do. You don’t need lots of facilities.”
Ozzie’s future plans remain fluid with a possible appearance at Towcester on Derby Final night or the George Ing St.Leger at Yarmouth.
In the meantime, there is always that sofa . .