By Neil Brown
In the early 1970's the name of Allen Wheeler became synonymous with greyhound racing. A retired Naval man, by using innovative breeding, rearing and training methods and just plain hard work, built up a stud and racing establishment that was, the envy of those less energetic and the pride of those who love greyhound racing.
Allen with a big team in the early days
The Wheeler story started from the basement, nothing was ready made for this family, and it was all hard work, education and learning from the best. No one realized what lied ahead more than half a century ago.Allen Wheeler was the Tommy Smith of greyhound racing, the man everyone respected.
He turned out to be the most successful owner, trainer and breeder of his era.Allen and June Wheeler were domiciled at Eastern Creek before moving to a 10 hectare property at The Oaks in Sydney’s South-West in 1975, the Wheeler complex had every aged greyhound from just born puppies to the retired breeding females.
The introduction into the sport for Allen came from his brother, Bruce who gave him a pup to rear. After a difficult birth this pup had to be hand fed and was eventually named Waroo Kunda. He won a couple of races and became the family pet. For Allen and the family this was the beginning of decades of indescribable achievement for which benchmarks would be set and records would be broken.
Allen and June Wheeler had commenced breeding on their own behalf in 1968 with a litter by Miller's Moss out of Speedy Chariot. In 1971 Allen Wheeler took out the inaugural Sydney City Owner's Premiership, a feat he continued to achieve in 1972, 1973 and 1974, the year it was scrapped. After finishing third in the 1972 Sydney City Trainer's Premiership he won in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1981 and 1982.
June Wheeler took out the Sydney City Female Trainer's Premiership with Allen coming second in the Male division in 1976.With the invaluable support of his wife June, his daughters Sharon and Lorraine and sons Paul and Allen Jnr, Allen Wheeler made an indelible mark on Sydney racing.
From the Wheeler kennels emerged a long list of champions and top class racers that annexed most of Australia 's major races and filled the Wheeler trophy cabinet to overflowing. However, it is was not only the training and feeding methods that put the Wheelers on the top of the owner/trainer's ladder in Sydney, it was also a nicely conformed white and black brood bitch called Gail's Beauty. Her first litter, to Keen Student, didn't set the race tracks ablaze.
Her second litter to Proper Streak was barely twelve months old when Frank Olsen, her original owner, gave Gail's Beauty to the Wheelers. This litter turned out to be tops, producing Pacermatic, Top Streak and Sir Englisher.
It was her next litter to Miller's Moss, that set the Wheeler operation on its way. Ironically enough, this Miller's Moss litter was advertised for $90 each, but there were no takers. June Wheeler had one of her famous feelings about the pups, and the previous litter, to Proper Streak were starting to make names for themselves on the race track, so the Wheeler's decided to keep the pups themselves.
Allen and June Wheeler in the 70's
June's theory was certainly proven correct. The Miller's Moss litter produced such speedsters as Nimrod Boy, Gail's Ghost, Oddnik, Cardigan Rose, Taffy Jingles and Jeremy Moss.
Later when Oddnik was mated to Proper Prince, a son of Proper Streak, she threw another excellent litter, including Our Ondine, Clinton Lee, Odalisque, and the little white flying machine of 1975, Odious.
This litter was to make headlines in the 1975 Young Star Classic by coming second, third and fourth in the final.
Prior to 1982 Allen Wheeler had failed to take out greyhound racing's most coveted award, the New South Wales Greyhound of the Year title. In 1975 Odious, a brilliant bitch who had been sold by Wheeler after her first start, was a finalist for the award while in 1977 Wheeler had his first finalist in Emiline Bale.
In 1979 he had Mercia Bale as an unsuccessful finalist, but in 1982 he made it third time lucky when his magnificent bitch Winifred Bale took out the award.
In August, 1980 the Wheeler's former champion racing bitch Emiline Bale whelped a litter of puppies sired by the great Victorian, Temlee. At the time the Wheeler family could certainly never have believed that one puppy, a red fawn and white bitch, would emulate the feat of the great Zoom Top and take out two successive Greyhound of the Year titles.
That bitch was of course Winifred Bale and it was a feat that was to be equalled 84/85 the following two years by fellow Hall Of Fame inductee National Lass, the three bitch's stand as the only ones to do it.
Winifred Bale was the outstanding member of a fantastic litter that included the excellent sprinters Billy Bale and Gwendalyn Bale, the latter proving to be a regular sparring partner for her illustrious sister in many of her races.
By the time Winifred Bale commenced racing late in 1981 the Wheelers had won two N.C.A. Derbies, an N.C.A. Futurity, a Summer Cup and numerous trophy events with such outstanding dogs as Steelflex, Tintawin, Dynabolt, Mercia Bale, Emiline Bale, Busy's Bullet, Tenderbook, Maestro, Bumper Star and Proven Sharp among others.
Allen had his own ideas about training, feeding and therapy for his dogs. Some of these implementations were against the logic back then but history tells us this brilliant man was always thinking, which put him a few steps ahead of his rivals.
In 1987 tragedy struck the Wheeler family and the greyhound industry when Allen passed away on the 1st November, leaving wonderful memories of the dynasty he and wife June had set up.
The dynasty since Allen Senior's passing has been continued by the family and in the main by son Paul who is acknowledged as Australia's most prominent breeder and owner. The Wheeler breed is recognised overseas as well where he has exported winners to both New Zealand and the United States.
Not frightened to experiment Paul Wheeler and his family have become innovative by way of using exports to enhance their Australian bred stock always looking to improve their breeding methods and knowledge to further advance the locally bred product.
Indeed it has become an almost rare sight as it was in the 70's and 80's for a major final field not to contain at least one Wheeler trained or bred greyhound.
So where did the four prefix names come from, Flex, Dyna, Bale and Allen. Flex was named after a radial tyre, Allen was in memory of Paul’s father and Bale after his grandmother, hence the name Mercia Bale.
Information used in the above tribute from 'Care and Training of the Australian Greyhound' written and published by June Whyte & The Wheeler Dynasty - By Gary Clark – 3.4.08.
Paul Wheeler accepting Hall of Fame induction on behalf of his late Father
To return to the AGRA Hall of Fame click here