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Cynthia Suttle recognised for contribution to Queensland greyhound industry

28 March 2024

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By Andrew Smith

Cynthia Suttle thinks there has never been a better time to become involved in the greyhound code in Queensland.

And there’s probably no-one better placed to make that claim, with the 70-year-old having been involved in the industry for over 50 years.

The veteran trainer was recognised for her contribution to greyhound racing in the Sunshine State, taking home the Women In Racing Award at the 2023 TAB Queensland Greyhound Awards.

Suttle reflected on her amazing career moments after receiving the accolade at Victoria Park last Friday night.

“I’m very flattered to be awarded the Women In Racing Award,” Suttle said.

“I was really humbled to actually get that award because I’ve never had a great big kennel - I’ve always pretty much rehomed my own and I sort of refer to my dogs as the pets that go racing.

“I have been in greyhounds for a very long time, I love the animal and I love to win but I’ve learnt to be a good loser as well!

“There’s been lots of friendships, lots of ups and downs, lots of emotion - my whole family gets behind me all of the time and I’ve met some wonderful friends, even through the rehoming of greyhounds.

“I just rehomed one the other week for a friend with a lady who’s already had four of mine as pets so it’s a way of life.”

Born in 1953, Suttle obtained her trainer’s licence when she was just 18 in 1971, and has held on to it ever since.

She had been living in Victoria Point in a fruit picker’s cottage with family when a friend of her father suggested installing kennels on the property.

It was from there that Cynthia’s association with greyhounds started.

Her first winner was named Cooper's Kidd at Lawnton in 1972, with Suttle also breeding a few litters out of the bitch.

Cynthia Suttle at the Capalaba track.

Since then, she has gone on to train numerous winners at current and former tracks including Albion Park, Ipswich, Capalaba, Lawnton, The Gabba, Beenleigh, Toowoomba, Tweed Heads, Lismore, Grafton and her personal favourite, the old Gold Coast Parklands.

While never having claimed a Group win, she was the leading trainer at Capalaba in 2009, winning the 2018 women’s trainers premiership at Capalaba, and training the Capalaba Greyhound of the Year there with Pagan Lee in 2007.

Following her win for her outstanding contribution to the industry, Cynthia reflected on the enormous amount of changes she has seen over the past half-century.

“Females have always been involved, but it was sort of a man’s world for a long time – now you see so many more young women coming through and the opportunities and the prize money is just so good,” Suttle said.

“Back then I worked full time and I’d be trialling before I went to work and then I’d come home and we’d have to do the dogs.

“Once upon a time, the likes of Ipswich and Albion Park, you never took a young dog there - now they have to go there and it’s very difficult to sort of step young ones out over 520m at Ipswich and 520m at Albion Park.

“A lot of people say sprint races are worthless, but the sprint races really do make it a lot easier for people to continue racing a dog that once upon a time had very little future.

“I love the sport, I love the people involved in the sport…I have seen lots and lots of changes for the better.

It was the love of greyhound racing that helped Suttle battle through a tough couple of years.

Husband Des passed away in November 2021, while Cynthia’s brother Jamie also passed away in January this year.

Cynthia after winning the 2018 Tommy Hoyland Memorial at Capalaba with Always Albury.

Both were instrumental in the operation of the Redland Bay property that the trainer works out of.

“I’d always been so fortunate family wise and relationship wise and all of a sudden I lost two very special people in my life, in too short a succession,” Suttle said.

“Des was very involved - I would go racing and I didn’t have to worry about who was at home feeding the dogs and we still bred litters and I’d have kennels full…but when Des passed away I had to give away the breeding.

“It’s also difficult for a woman to keep up with the mowing and the whipper-snippering and all the rest of it and when I lost Jamie, it put me on my bum but you get up and get on with it.

“I’ve had a couple of tragedies the last couple of years and the dogs are very good therapy.

“You have to get out of bed when you just feel like you’d rather pull the sheets over your head and say well, bugger the day.

“But they’re there waiting for you and get down there and you find yourself talking to them…they’re a anti-depressant I would say.”

Suttle recalls that when she first started, there was only a handful of females in the training ranks.

But the future is looking bright with young females like Jedda Cutlack, Jemma Daley and the 2023 Young Achiever of the Year Hayley Wooler all making their mark in Sunshine State’s racing scene.

“There was definitely no young people like we had now, I was the young one back then when I first started,” Suttle said.

“It was quite unusual for someone my age to be training dogs, and it was sort of more of an older person’s sport.

“You can now make a profession out of it, back then when I started it wasn’t really possible and you had to have a big enterprise.

“It’s very important to get them involved - not just young females but young males as well.

“Someone might want to be an apprentice carpenter - well now you can be an apprentice greyhound

trainer with every likelihood of earning a good living.”

Cynthia Suttle accepts her award from Greyhounds Australasia Chairman Robert Vellar.

Of all the changes Suttle has seen across the industry over the years, it’s the huge boosts in prize money that have been the most noticeable.

In what was a historic first for the code in 2023, the prestigious Brisbane Cup became the state’s first greyhound race to be run for $1 million.

It’s a figure that had previously been unheard of in Queensland racing.

“Someone said they can remember racing at Capalaba for $300 - well I can remember racing there for $80!” Suttle saud.

“The prize money now is the best I’ve ever seen it, whoever thought that greyhounds would ever race for a million dollars…that was the sport of kings, that was thoroughbred racing.

“The code is just sort of surging forwad, I would say we’ve sort of surpassed the pacers and the trotters.

“For anybody coming into the sport now it’s encouraging for owners to have animals because they have a real possibiltiy of earning good money….you can make a very good living out of greyhound racing.”

Rex Marshall and Cynthia Suttle with I'm A Hotshot.

Suttle has high praise for the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP), run in conjunction with QRIC to help rehome retired greyhounds.                                   

She is working to ensure fellow trainers and owners are playing their part in finding suitable homes for the dogs to ensure they thrive in life after racing.

“We need to be able to be more proactive in rehoming these dogs ourselves  - we can’t just rely on the GAP,” Suttle said.

“Myself, I’ve always rehomed my own so we’ve got a little plan happening where we the owners and the trainers themselves don’t have to just rely on the GAP - we can sort of move forward and try and rehome ourselves.

“The public now are so much more accepting of greyhounds, they’ve got a great name now in the public and we just need to get out there and get these dogs out there a little bit more and find a few more homes for them.”

As for how long she plans to keep on training, Suttle says she’s not quite ready to entertain retirement plans just yet.

“I’m on my own now, I only have six dogs in the kennels and I have two pets in the house, and I can manage that – any more it would just be a little bit too hard,” she said.

“I’m 70-years-old so six is probably plenty for me but I’ll always continue to have them whilst I’m well enough and fit enough to do it and they do keep you pretty fit.”

Cynthia Suttle.