Night Theory captured one of the most emotional victories seen at Sandown Park when he led all of the way to give Michele Berry her first city winner last Thursday night.
Berry was in tears following the win and gave Night Theory a heartfelt embrace on track as he returned after his impressive victory.
“I’m pretty emotional, I just cannot believe what this dog has done for us. For someone who’s quite inexperienced, I’m just rapt,” said Berry.
Despite being born in to a greyhound racing family, Berry only took up the collar and lead three years ago and on Thursday night, claimed her first city win with just her second greyhound. The 45 year old juvenile justice officer is the daughter of Jim Berry, president of the Wangaratta Greyhound Racing Club in the 1970’s who passed away from Hodgkin’s disease when she was just 4 years old. Her reintroduction to the sport came via a colleague at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre.
“When I was young my dad had greyhounds and mum would always find me out in the kennels. A few years ago I was working with a guy who had greyhounds, he said he had a 15 month old pup who he was trying to move on. I told him I’d love to have the greyhound as a pet, so I got the dog then looked up his blood lines and thought stuff it, I’m going to give this (racing) a go.
“So I went and got my trainer’s license. The first time I raced him he ran 3rd – my love for racing took off from there.”
Her association with Night Theory, or ‘Zed’ and he is known at home, started the day he was born – she watched on as the pups were born.
“I held him for the first time at two-days-old so I’ve got a very strong connection. He came to our house when he was six months old, up until then we didn’t have the right facility for him.
“I brought him up on the couch, I brought him up in the lounge room, I brought him up sleeping on my kids’ beds and we treat him very much like a domestic pet. We even educated him in at home – a lot of my kids’ toys were taken!” she laughed.
“I love him. We make sure he knows he’s not just a racing greyhound – he’s a part of our family. Our kids absolutely love the dogs, they help with the bowls and give lots of cuddles.”
While her non-traditional approach to training has attracted some scepticism, Berry is determined to stick with what works for her and ‘Zed’.
“I’m not going to follow the traditional way just because other trainers think that’s the way it should be done.
“I got told off once for kissing the dog too much. I replied, ‘I kiss my husband and I get the best out of him, it’s the same with my dog’.
“People would be shocked to come to my house and see him asleep on the beanbag. They ask ‘when is he racing next’, I reply ‘oh in two days’.”
Berry says she feels closer to her dad when racing. She wears a monument around her neck in memory of him, and to provide support when it’s needed most.
“I feel closer to my dad whenever I’m racing these dogs. It’s brought my whole family closer together. They can remember the times going to Wangaratta, but because I was really young I missed out on all of that.”
Thursday night’s victory was Night Theory’s sixth from 22 starts – and third on end – and has emboldened plans to increase both her and her family’s involvement in the sport.
“Absolutely, absolutely. Especially with the two pups we’ve got now coming through. I can’t wait to see their development in 18 months time when I can take them to the track. It’s like watching your children go up when they hit 18 or 21 or when they graduate year 12, it’s the same feeling.
“For a chick that’s three years into it, I’m absolutely loving it.”
: Michele Berry with her son Liam and Zed
Click here for full results from Thursday’s meeting
Night Theory claims the team’s first metro win