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Former tennis ace has a heartfelt goal under Thursday night lights

10 July 2024

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By Pat McLeod

When rookie trainer Paul Stadnikoff this week walks out under the glow of Thursday night lights at Albion Park, he knows that two goals closest to his heart are being achieved.

The 40-year-old’s dream is not just to be a good trainer, his aim is to be the best.

Even more importantly, every step towards that objective, every small victory, means that he will also be bringing some sunshine into the life of his seriously ill sister, Anna.

“One of the main things in my life that makes me strive to be better is that I give a percentage of any prize money that I win to my sister in an attempt to make her life a little easier.

“She loves watching the dogs race as much as I do.”

Stadnikoff hopes Anna will have reason to smile this Thursday night when he has two dogs in action - Trunkey Doll in Race 1, a Novice event over 520m, and Supreme Ella, in Race 7, a 5th Grade over 520m.

He says a Thursday night appearance at HQ is a rarity for him.

Jimboomba trainer Paul Stadnikoff with wife Natasha, daughter Christianna (8) and twin sons Darren (left) and Josh (15) after a recent win at Albion Park. (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

“I'm certainly a novice when it comes to the Thursday night racing at Albion Park. I am very new to it,” he says.

“Absolutely, I'm excited about being there this Thursday night.

“When I got back into greyhound racing 12 months ago, that was my goal, to have Thursday night dogs.

“This might sound corny, but I want to be the best.

“I have to shoot high. Although I might not get there, but if I could get halfway there, then I would be happy.”

The Jimboomba (south of Brisbane) based Stadnikoff may still be a fair distance from his greyhound goal, but he is no stranger to sporting success.

As a junior he was among the top-ranked tennis players in Australia. However, a broken foot curtailed that on-court ambition.

“The foot just didn’t heal properly for months and months,” he recalls.

“Tennis was my passion, but I was about 17 when I had to give it up as a player.

“At that age I needed to work and immediately began a career as a tennis coach.”

As Stadnikoff says, that career burgeoned, taking him ‘from Jimboomba to China and a lot of places in between’.

The hours, mainly coaching juniors through the afternoon, also allowed him to pursue another interest, training greyhounds.

“I don’t really know why I wanted to be involved in greyhounds. There is no family history, but I just always loved greyhounds and racing in general,” he said.

“So, I was able to juggle the greyhound training as well as the tennis coaching and at that time I thought I would give greyhounds a crack.

“I did that for a few years (from 2011 until 2016), without much success in greyhounds.

“Then I gradually moved away from tennis coaching and into other businesses.

“By 2016 I was busy with work and just didn't have time for the greyhounds, so I had a break.

“However, I always said that I had unfinished business as a trainer.

“Then 12 months ago we were in a position to have another crack.”

Trunkey Doll
Supreme Ella

Stadnikoff says his skill set, including coaching elite young athletes and more recently business development, were extremely beneficial in, and transferred across to, greyhound owning and training.

“I think a lot of the psychology of tennis coaching can be transferred across to greyhound training,” he said.

“Getting a dog fit, knowing how much they can handle, the way you train them, making sure you don't overdo it, a lot of it is the same as teaching a youngster tennis.

“If they don't enjoy it, they are not going to come back to a tennis lesson.

“I also have a background in business development. That plays a major role in what I am as a greyhound trainer now, and what I want to be down the track.

“You are training greyhounds, but it is also a business.

“The biggest joy for me in greyhound racing is taking a dog to the track knowing that you have prepared them meticulously and that you have done everything that you can and hopefully get a consistent race out of them.

“Win, lose or draw as long as they are out there trying their heart out and you know that you have got them sound.

“I am a big one for ensuring that my dogs are sound. If they are not right, they don't run.”

Paul Stadnikoff’s Supreme Ella wins at Albion Park at a Sunday meeting. (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

One of Stadnikoff’s runners on Thursday night, Supreme Ella, was his first addition when he returned to greyhound racing last year.

“I studied breeding and everything involved in that side of things with greyhounds for a long time and finally coughed up a little bit of money to buy her,” he said.

“She is a magnificent looking bitch. In fact, I don't think you would find better.

“A lot of trainers comment on the way that she looks.

“She is very athletic and quite a large bitch.

“I don't think we have seen the best of her yet (30 starts for five wins and seven placings and $13,515 in prizemoney)

“I'm hoping she has a bit more improvement in her.

“She can rattle off a quick first section on her day.”

Stadnikoff’s  believes his other runner, Trunkey Doll, has the ability to snag a Thursday night win.

“She’s no superstar, but she has been thereabouts recently,” he said.

“She's just a dog with a lot of problems, but if we can get her at 100 per cent, we might be able to snag a win or two out of her on a Thursday night.”



Albion Park | Queensland Greyhound Racing Club | 6:41 PM



Albion Park | Queensland Greyhound Racing Club | 8:54 PM