There are few more passionate greyhound owners than the Saunders family and they were stunned when May Haze found a way to win on Thursday night.
May Haze, or Joshy as he’s known at home, began modestly then found himself at the rear of the field down the back straight. As the field condensed turning for home he made a race winning move by splitting the pack in the run to the line to win by a nose.
“He’s a gutsy dog. He really is a gutsy dog,” said trainer Gail Saunders.
“He’s got the ability and he’s so competitive. He would have been coming down that straight saying ‘you’re not going to beat me’.”
The ‘Saunders Clan’ syndicate is made up of Gail and five family members, her husband Darrell, son Brad, daughter Danielle and brother-in-law Wayne.
“We love them. I get teary eyed sometimes because I just love them to death and I spoil them, Darrell is always telling me off because I spoil them too much.”
Her involvement in greyhound racing was triggered by Darrell. Two decades ago they walked away from the sport after an unfortunate incident while whelping a litter.
“Well I married into dogs. Darrell always had them as a kid. We lost a litter about 20 years ago, a whole litter and I just said ‘that’s it’. So we go out of them.”
It wasn’t until she was forced to retire from work that the family decided to get back involved.
“I had to retire because of illness and Daryl said ‘you’re not sitting around doing nothing’, so we got back in, one of the first ones we bought was Holiday Road, which is Efogi Road’s mother. And we just went on from there.
“Kel Greenough has helped us a lot over the years. If I’ve got a dog that no one else can find the sore spot, he always fixes it for me. Darrell used to play football with Kel, so we get on really well with him.”
Saunders says the happiness of racing greyhounds is pivotal when aiming for success.
“They’re always happy because they’re clean and they get all the right things, like they get their ice creams, those things help.
“My dad was a phys-ed teacher and he always taught me from a young age, if you’re going to do it you’ve got to do it properly.
“You can’t treat them all the same – they’re all individuals and if you treat them like that you’re going to have success.”
Greyhound racing is a family sport and if anyone needed an example the Saunders family are it.
“The kids are always helping, we couldn’t do it without them. Brad used to catch dogs when he was 12 years old at Cranbourne, he’s 40 now. It’s a family thing. We love it. We really do love it.”
Click here for Thursday’s results
: Darrell, Brad and Gail Saunders with May Haze