By Isaac Murphy
The inaugural Peter Ruetschi Memorial Trophy is to be held at Albion Park on Thursday night and with family, friends and fellow trainers set to be in attendance Pete’s infectious spirit is sure to be present at the track.
On the eve of two years since Ruetschi’s passing, the trainer will be honoured with the Best 8 greyhounds battling it out in his name an initiative that Peter’s brother Damian said meant the world to the family.
“What you put in is what you get out, he loved his dogs and was a larger than life character and it’s really humbling the industry still values what he gave so much,” Damian said.
“When Darren (Barbour) rang me about the Memorial race I got straight on to Mum and Dad and we were all so ecstatic they were going to do something for him.”
“As a family we are all extremely proud of what he achieved because this is a reflection of the impact he had.”
Damian said family and friends alike had jumped on board the opportunity to honour Peter and was expecting a big crowd Thursday night.
“There will probably be about seventy of us there tomorrow night between family and friends,” he said.
“Word has spread like wildfire and we’ve had so many people call us and tell us they want to be a part of it.”
“To have so many people want to come along and support us at a venue where Pete got to practice his passion is fitting.”
Damian said Peter’s love of dogs spread throughout the Ruetschi family, with Peter’s passion touching them all in some way
“When Pete had dogs that needed a couple of weeks break he’d send them up to Mum and Dad at Caloundra and they’d walk them down the beach and take them for a swim,” he said.
“They’ve still got three boxes out the back, I asked them if they wanted to take them down a while ago, but they said they wanted to keep them for memories sake.”
“I’ve raced a couple of dogs with Pete but he’s the only one who took the job on as a full time professional and he loved what he was doing.”
Damian said they used to laugh about the lengths Peter would go to make sure his dogs were taken care of.
“At Christmas time he was so dedicated to making sure they were all well fed, they probably saw him more than us, but that was just fine because we knew how much it meant to him,” he said.
“For my kids they just thought the dogs were the best thing ever, we used to go up to the kennels at Patrick Estate and visit and he’d have all the pups there for them to play with it was pretty special.”
“For him greyhound racing was his life.”
John McCarthy has been racing Slick over the 600 metres, his preferred distance at this stage of his career, but the trainer said he wasn’t going to miss out on having a runner in Peter’s race.
“I was pretty close mates with Peter, we lived up the same way and it was pretty tough when he passed, it’s an honour to have a runner in his race,” McCarthy said.”
McCarthy became close mates with Ruetschi after the two were introduced through long time trainer and breeder Ken Crawford who got Peter started in greyhound racing.
“You couldn’t help but know Peter, he was larger than life everyone would have stories about him,” he said.
“He was the worst loser on the track, but that was because he loved his dogs so much,” he laughed.
“Once you get to know him I don’t think you could find anyone that wouldn’t say he was one of the nicest most genuine blokes you could find.”
The Terry Jordan trained Fernando Blaster lines up as a hot favourite for the event coming off a scintillating 29.74 run last week, but McCarthy refused to rule his classy veteran out.
“Fernando Blaster can run time we know that, and he’s got the one alley, so he’s entitled to be a firm favourite,” he said.
“Slick’s had four of five runs back over the 600, so if he can perch near them he’ll be coming home strong.”
With over $200,000 and twenty-six wins to his name Slick has been one of Queensland’s most prolific winners over recent years without cracking a Group One, but a win Thursday night would more than suffice.
“He’s been a tragedy beaten, with three seconds in his four Group finals this dog he just couldn’t crack that big one,” McCarthy said.
“I’ll tell you what though if he could get up and win Peter’s race on Thursday night that would mean just as much to me if not more than a Group One.”
Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club CEO Luke Gatehouse said Ruetschi was always a presence at the course and having a race in his name was a no brainer for the club.
“You always knew when Pete was on track, he was a real character and extremely popular amongst the licensees,” Gatehouse said.
“As a trainer he carried his heart of his sleeve and to lose him in such tragic circumstances the least we could do was honour him with this race which we hope will only build in profile over the coming years.”
“We’ll be putting out his collar and lead at this winning post and one of his favourite dogs Noir Warrior will be leading the field out.”