By Isaac Murphy
Greyhound racing is one of the most inclusive tight knit sports in Australia and there aren’t many who can attest to that better than Karen Kleinhans, with over twenty years’ experience in the industry helping husband Lester, it was her time in 2019 to step into the training ranks herself and look forward to a prosperous future at their Burpengary kennels.
Karen married into a greyhound family with husband Lester Kleinhans and brother’s Errol and Shane all involved it didn’t take her long to embrace the game.
“In 1999 my husband Lester (Kleinhans) and I got our first greyhound off Lester’s brother Errol, Ebony Lad was his racing name and from the moment we got him I fell in love with the sport,” Kleinhans said.
“For the last twenty years I was happy just having my handlers license, but after Lester lost his leg ten years ago it had always been a struggle, I thought it was my time to step up and get my name in the book and I haven’t looked back since.”
2019 was a tough year for the Kleinhans with Lester’s limitations at home and also the loss of Karen’s brother in law Shane things could have ground to a holt, but Karen boldly took up the mantle in tough circumstances.”
“It was quite sad but also fitting I got my license just before my brother in law (Shane Kleinhans) passed away, he’d always been the one encouraging me to go for it, so it was lovely to spend that moment with him.”
“One of my dogs Magical Revival gave me one of my first wins as a trainer the day he passed away, which was a bittersweet moment.”
“It’s hard work but I love it, everyone tells me I spoil them, but I just treat them like another member of the family.”
There aren’t many sports where women and men compete on the same platform and while greyhound racing is one of them Kleinhans never saw gender as an issue.
“Coming in as a female trainer I never felt any less respected than Lester was during his career, not only are there plenty of fellow female trainers I work alongside, but whether it be Brian Baker or Tony Brett anyone is ready to give you some advice when you need it,” she said.
“People have seen what I’ve done over the last twenty years and you’re judged on merit above anything else.”
The respect Kleinhans has garnered has been earnt through hard work, the couple starting their own bloodline over twenty years ago.
“Ever since we started in 1999, we’ve bred and whelped our own litters, we borrowed a brood bitch off Errol (Kleinhans) Ultra Sun and bred our first litter and have continued from there,” she said.
“We’ve never had big numbers but we carried the line on from there with a little girl called Morayfield Flyer who was successful and went on to produce another winner in Speeding Class, who’s currently living a life of luxury with us, we never give away any of our dogs.”
More recently Kleinhans has turned her attention to buying young pups, sparing her from the whelping and rearing parts of the process.
“We’ve recently purchased a couple of pups Bolt of Lighting and Magical Revival off our good friends Brian and Cathy Baker and we’ve bought another couple of bitches off them from their latest litter, who can hopefully breed when their careers are over,” Kleinhans said.
“We live in very close proximity to the Baker’s; we both take our dogs to the Glasshouse straight track to get them ready to race and if ever anyone needs a hand, we’re always there for each other.”
“When Brian and Cathy (Baker) moved up here we immediately formed a bond through greyhounds, which has extended to all four of us going out to dinner and spending quality time together.”
Kleinhans has never forgotten her breeding roots and has gone to a tried and tested sire for all four dogs she works and owns.
“I’ve got three in work at the moment Irinka Tina who I bought off Ray Smith, Waikarie Bell who I train for Brian (Baker) and Magical Revival and Brian (Baker) takes care of Bolt of Lighting because he’s a lunatic,” she laughed.
“All four are the progeny of Brad Hill Billy who is Ray Smith’s sire who we put with the Baker’s Waikarie Magic to produce pups with a really nice temperament and maturity for their age.”
Kleinhans admits there are plenty of pitfalls with having a small team, an injury or run of bad boxes can throw you off course, but the intimate relationship she has with each of her dogs is invaluable.”
“When we got Irinka Tina off Ray (Smith) he was of the opinion she would only get over the short course, but she’s come on in leaps and bounds and is having no trouble running out the 520 at Albion, she’s no champion but give her an inside box and she won’t leave the rail,” Kleinhans said.
“Waikarie Bell is a really exciting bitch, she’s been a bit out of her depth in some open class 600 metre races on Thursday night, but she’s well performed on a Monday and has run well at Ipswich over the 630 metres I wouldn’t rule out the 710 once she matures as well.”
“Magical Revival at this stage prefers the shorts, he’s gone really well over the 431 at Ipswich which is encouraging because him and Bolt of Lightning are set to go through the Ipswich Auction Series later this month.”
Kleinhans describes winning greyhound races as some of the happiest memories of her life and with less than twelve months training under her belt there looks to be plenty of joy to come.