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Trainer Tom Tzouvelis up for the challenge

IMG-6715.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans

In Park Ridge trainer Tom Tzouvelis’ time of need over the last year, his kennel of greyhounds has hardly skipped a beat.

The top Queensland trainer has spent weeks at a time in hospital or in doctors’ offices, at first finding his cancer, and then ridding the neuroendocrine endocrine carcinoid cancer from his small intestine over the last 12 months.

In his own words, Tzouvelis had a “little complication” in recent months and is still a regular at the doctors or getting blood tests as a check-up.

Luckily, Tzouvelis and his doctors found the cancer early and as we approach 2022, he is cancer free.

While he has battled his health demons, his strong team of greyhounds have continued to power on – even if he was in hospital for weeks at a time – thanks to Jedda Cutlack.

Cutlack, also a greyhound trainer in her own right, jokes that she is not sure exactly what her title actual is while working at Tzouvelis’ kennel, but notes that it is something along the lines of kennel manager, training partner or kennel hand.

Cutlack kept the greyhounds fed, fit and racing well during Tzouvelis’ struggles and the experienced trainer cannot be more appreciative of her efforts.

“You just have to deal with what you have got, luckily I can now get back to normal and doing things," Tzouvelis said.

"We had a little complication a few months ago, but it was nothing major so we keep rolling along.

“We have been really lucky that when I was away, Jedda looks after everything great and if she needs a hand, there is always people in the street that will give us a hand.

“We are really lucky, there is lots of people around here to help, there is a good team around us.”

While Tzouvelis is quick to play down the seriousness of the situation, it was a worrying time for those around him.

“It was scary, not knowing is the biggest thing,” Cutlack said.

“Just the uncertainty but since it has been sorted, it has been pretty good.

“Tom is very much a let’s get on with it style person, just keep going along.”

With Tzouvelis getting his health back on track, his trusted kennel staff member ensured the dogs were healthy and happy.

 

Showdown
Strategise Next Racing
Lily Monelli

IMG-6711.JPGAs well as Cutlack, there are a number of greyhound industry participants based around Park Ridge, who were more than happy to lend a helping hand in Tzouvelis’ trying times.

He still has six-monthly scans to ensure he is cancer free, as well as blood tests every three months.

“It means a lot to him, because the dogs need stability – they do not care if you are sick or you are not feeling well, they still need to be fed and worked,” Cutlack said.

“Obviously you have a lot to think about and worry about when something like that happens, so for Tom to not have to worry about the dogs and how they are going, I am sure that would have made a big difference for him.

“It is nice to help out now knowing that if I was ever in the same position – Tom would do that for me.”

When Tzouvelis was “crook” – as he says – the trainer was heartened by the support he received from within the greyhound industry, countless reaching out to check up on him.

In recent months, the team has claimed the Ipswich Derby Final – with three from the kennel making it through to the Final after the heats – as well as the Molly Campbell Silver Dollars at Albion Park, among other big races.

Tzouvelis was in hospital when Cutlack led the team to three victories in the heats of the Ipswich Derby.

They now turn their attention to the Group 2 Ipswich Gold Cup this Thursday evening, with three from their kennel landing in the Final.

Lily Monelli was the first to win through to the decider in the second heat last Thursday night, before kennelmates Strategise and Showdown won through later on.

The black bitch stopped the clock at 30.19 seconds over 520 metres, which shocked her trainer.

“She was a bit of a surprise, I thought she was a place chance but she exceeded expectations,” Tzouvelis said of her heat performance.

“She ran her best time, that is the fastest time we have had a winner at Ipswich – she did really good.

“Getting one through to the Final is good and getting three there – that is even better.”

IMG-6712.JPGThe box draw has not been kind to the Tzouvelis camp – the trainer says - believing they will need some luck but rated Showdown the best of his three hopes as he will be a chance to lead.

The Tzouvelis kennel already has one Ipswich Gold Cup on their mantelpiece after Freedom Bale won the feature event back in 2003.

“It would be nice to win another one,” Tzouvelis said.

Thursday’s Group 2 Final is worth $113,000 in total prize money this year.

There will be automatic entry for the brand new Listed Queensland Flame for any Queensland-trained greyhound that wins the $113,000 Group 2 Ipswich Gold Cup on November 11, should they choose to nominate.

The Flame, to be run over 520 metres, will be run on the first major night of the TAB Golden Greys Summer Racing Carnival at Albion Park on December 2, offering $37,500 in its own right and a berth in the new $1.145 million TAB Phoenix to the winner.

Races

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Ipswich | Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club | 6:58 PM

TAB Ipswich Gold Cup (G2) H