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Trainer Darren Russell out to do sick father proud at Capalaba

20211214-russell-edits-3.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

Queensland qualifier Deck Fifty Two will have one extra proud fan and keen follower cheering him on this Sunday in the National Straight Track Championship Final at Capalaba.

Trained by Group 1-winning dog man Darren Russell, Deck Fifty Two is apart of a kennel that is essentially run as a small family business.

Darren’s parents Barry and Maureen – as well as his brother – have all pitched in to prepare and breed the dogs over the decades, all sharing in the success and hard work that is required.

Well into their 80s now, Barry and Maureen are not as active as they once were, with Barry battling a number of ailments in hospital recently.

While he has his health struggles on his hands, Barry is still as committed as ever to the team of dogs, regularly asking his family how they are running.

Maureen thinks the kennel claiming the Group 3 National Straight Track Championship Final at Capalaba this Sunday would give the 86-year-old Barry a real buzz and lift his mood through his tough times.

“He is not going real good at the moment, he has Alzheimer’s and a few problems with his legs, they are all swollen and infected,” Maureen said of her husband.

“We are not sure if he will be able to come home from hospital just yet.

“He still loves the dogs and when I was at the hospital the other day, we were talking about which ones Darren had in that day and he was keen to watch them.”

Before Barry headed into hospital, he and Maureen would watch the dogs on TV at home and cheer them home.

Known for his training exploits with Group 1 stayer Bago Bye Bye, Darren and his kennel have long been guided by his parents.

When he was away racing dogs interstate or just generally from day to day travelling around Queensland and NSW, Barry and Maureen would pick up the slack at home.

They had three kennels at Balmain and were keen to expand their operation with more space for the animals and become full-time trainers, which they did in 1996 and it has just grown from there.

At 82 years of age, Maureen was not long ago driving the lure and catching the dogs, but has had to give that up recently.

After coming up from Balmain all those years ago, the entire Russell clan are proud of what they have built – going from a few dogs to regular winning big races across the country.

They prepare their chasers on 60 acres at Innisplain, which is south of Beaudesert towards the NSW border, while includes a big paddock for pups, a straight track to work on and 16 spacious all conditioned kennels for the race dogs in work.  

After claiming the Queensland state Final last Sunday, the experienced trainer thinks the Sunshine State greyhounds - Deck Fifty Two and Impact – should be very hard to hold out against the interstate visitors.

Races

7
7

Capalaba | Capalaba Greyhound Racing Club | 1:59 PM

Queensland Straight Track Championship F

20211214-russell-edits-10.jpg“Queensland should dominate the series, just through experience up the straight,” Darren said.

“It is totally different in the other states, not many use the drag lure like we do.

“It is a good idea this national series, Queensland has been represented at Healesville in recent years and we ran third and fourth in it.

“It is good, safe racing. We will have a distinct advantage with the drag lure.”

After finishing back in the field in the Group 3 Casino Cup Final last month, Darren has focussed Deck Fifty Two’s attention to the grass straight track of Capalaba in recent weeks.

Maureen was shocked at how well the blue fawn dog took to Capalaba, winning six from 12 attempts at the track with a best time of 19.45 seconds zooming up the 366-metre journey.

“He is great, he has good manners and is a good dog that does not cause any problems,” Maureen said.

“He is fast and I am happy with him.

“I was surprised at how well he took to Capalaba but he was used to going up our straight track here at home.

“I hope he is a good chance on Sunday.”

From a Barcia Bale and Mitchie Madam litter, part-owner and breeder Noel Noon identified Darren as the man to take the dog forward after he started his career with Lawrence Meteyard

“He has been good, his first start with me he ran second and then he ran 25.20 seconds at Ipswich, so I knew he had ability,” Darren said of Deck Fifty Two.

“The start after that he went on to win a Novice at Albion Park, he has always been fast, as soon as I started trialling him, I knew.’

With decades of knowledge as a trainer, Darren thinks the more dogs race at a unique track such as Capalaba, the better they will get with every opportunity.

“After the Casino Cup I have kept him at Capalaba to maintain coming out of the boxes there and he has just got better and better,” Russell said.

“His times have got quicker and it has worked out well.

“He is always strong and in the Queensland Final he came out running from the boxes, which always helps.”

The Russell hopeful will wear the red rug in the Final – a slot the trainer describes as “well drawn”, while the other Queensland runner, Kevin Ellis’ Impact, will carry the black from seven.

Deck Fifty Two Next Racing