CARL PERRY has handed his notice in at Sheffield and is to quit training.
The Lincolnshire-based handler has been a licence holder for seven years and enjoyed huge success with his great friend and business partner Nic Brereton, owner of Geelo Racing.
With big-race victories for the likes of Geelo Vegas, Geelo Blissful and Geelo Sapphire, this popular owner-trainer combination has been an ever-present on the open-race scene in recent years.
However, a combination of factors now sees the pair take a step back.
Perry explains: “This has been a hard decision to make but is right for us as a team. Training and breeding greyhounds has been our lives for just over seven years and we’ve had some great times.
“The sport has changed so much since we started out – and sadly not for the better mostly. I never saw myself having to make this decision – I planned on being a trainer for life! But this last three or four years has definitely seen a sea-change.
“As trainers, especially when it comes to open-racing, we seem to be constantly dealing with a loss of competitions and a drop in prize-money as a result of some sort of media rights battle.
“We’re obviously impacted by this – which is difficult to balance when general costs of a kennel are going up.
“It seems as trainers and owners we’re the ones taking the brunt of it. We’re putting the love and care into these wonderful creatures, but sometimes you feel bottom of the pile when it comes to how the sport perceives you.
“You keep telling yourself things will get better, but they haven’t. Nic has bought a few racehorses in recent years and the difference in prize-money as opposed to running costs is far better in horse racing – even if horse racing has its own prize-money issues.
“As a sport, they also seem to treat owners better generally, too.
“But the main reason for myself coming to this decision is hearing people telling us we should be lucky that any competition is being staged, or that any prize-money is better than no prize-money. That’s so wrong – trainers and kennelhands work dam hard.
“And the whole retired versus rescued argument told me a lot and was probably the last straw – again it seemed the finger was being pointed at trainers and their staff. Again, massively wrong and insulting.
“This is a great sport and we should be telling the world how well greyhounds are looked after, not giving the antis any ammunition at all.
“Every single trainer I know cares deeply about the dogs and any suggestion contrary to that is just untrue and sums up the in-fighting in the sport.
“This decision is an emotional one for myself, my family and all the staff. Without their support over the last seven years, Geelo Racing would never have come this.
“Of course, the support and backing Nic (Brereton) has given me has been incredible. As friends and passionate greyhound racing men, he gave us both the chance to live our dream. That meant the world to me – and I’m still hopeful can be repeated down the line.
“In the meantime, we are heading in a slightly different direction – but can assure you greyhounds and greyhounds racing, horses and horse racing will still be a huge part of our lives!
“In the meantime, we are setting up a retirement kennel and staff will be overseeing that. Our racing dogs will placed with other trainers over the next few months, the same with our pups who will be put through schooling and then start out with new trainers.
“But myself and Nic very much intend to remain as owners. We intend to keep our broods, along with the retired dogs, and will still breed a few litters a year.
“Our intention and plan is to continue to support British breeding. We’ll keep a few pups but sell others on at four months as a way to support something we both feel very strongly about – and is actually one of the few growing scenes in the game.
For his part, Brereton described the decision to scale back the Geelo Racing operation as heartbreaking – but stressed that both he and Perry will retain interests in the sport.
“It’s a sport we both love dearly, so in many ways this is a heartbreaking decision to make,” he said. “Carl has put so much hard work into the operation – and I was more than happy to invest in his efforts and the sport itself because it was fun.
“But you have to consider your position when something where the fun and passion has been knocked out of you because of various situations within the game.
“A tipping point was seeing one of the major events in the greyhound calendar – one which offered £25,000 to the winner at one stage under the William Hill banner – now offering a first prize of £3,000. This makes open racing simply unsustainable given the cost of purchasing open-class dogs and the travel required, let alone the impact on breeding.
“When we started Geelo Racing, being part of major nights was absolutely the driving force. We seemed to be part of a vibrant, exciting sport – those Sky nights were everything.
“We’re very much hoping those good times return and absolutely will be looking for open-race dogs that suit any plans we have in the UK and Ireland – and also fully intend to relaunch some big-race sponsorships and various initiatives down the line with our new ventures. Watch this space!”