Dr John Murray
By David Brasch
In 1965 John Murray answered an advertisement by Dr Jim Gannon, a then youthful Melbourne vet, who was in need of an assistant. Murray willingly joined the practice which almost instantly started to include greyhounds.
Olympic Park was just 15 minutes from Kew and John and Jim would work until 2am on Olympic Park and Sandown race nights. Trainers would head straight to the Kew surgery after racing to get the dogs checked over.
In 1970 Jim Gannon sold the Kew practice to John Murray. Murray in the meantime started to concentrate on greyhounds and show dogs at Kew.
When John and Bev Behm became partners, John looked to train a dog or two himself. His first was Rip Record, an Edison Record youngster with severe wrist problems. John hit the streets walking Rip Record and learning how to train. The dog won first up at Warrnambool.
By this time John and Bev were into greyhound racing in a big way. They stood stud dogs the like of Newmore King and Johnny Wood.
John was checking over many great champions. His vet nurse was Helen O’Leary the owner of champion Benjamin John.
“I looked over some very great dogs like Benjamin John, Worthing, Alpha Brava … many of the stars. In more recent times it was New Tears, Pretty Fearless, Bogie Leigh.”
Buck Buchanan had imported the littermates Newmore King and Heathermore King (Newdown Heather-Wondermore) who had divided the Irish Coursing Derby in 1972, as well as Gabriel Mist the sire of sensational sprinting bitch Monica’s Mist.
Newmore King got cancer and John had to amputate his right hind leg. It was Newmore King and the fact he had to be used at stud via artificial insemination that eventually caused a change in the Australian rules for the use of AI.
The dog could not service a broodbitch and he was so popular that John had to mate the bitches via artificial insemination. He was getting a 75 percent strike rate then. John attended an ANZGRA conference as an observer and Noel Banks who was the Keeper of the Stud Book at the time asked for his input. It was soon after that the rules of artificial insemination changed.
John and Bev regularly travelled to the famous Grafton July carnival and had great success there. John did a lot of the work on the track.
In 1981 they took Dancing Duchess to Grafton and won with her and then headed to the Gabba and won there as well. They liked Brisbane so much, they decided to move north.
Shade King came with them. He had been a top class dog in Victoria and beat Chief Dingaan and other at the time. He was leading sire at the Gabba twice.
John and Bev quickly became involved in the local greyhound world when they arrived in 1981.
John started working as track vet at Capalaba and Beenleigh. He joined the Professional Trainers Association with the likes of Graham Beh, Mike O’Byrne and Dennis Guppy.
Bev found herself on the committee at the Gabba Club and would eventually become vice-president. John, too, found himself on the club’s committee.
Riviera Tiger, the Adelaide Cup winner, was sent north to stud and from Dancing Damsel (a daughter of Newmore King) the champion Dancing Gamble was produced. He was a sensation, greyhound of the year in 1988 after wins in the National Sprint, XXXX Trophy and Coca-Cola Cup.
In 2007 the Federal Government presented John with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM). The award was presented in recognition of John’s service to the greyhound industry as a vet and through industry organizations.
One of those organisations was the Australian Greyhound Vets Association of which John was president for many years. That association also presented John with an award for his service to greyhound racing and surgery.
He took great delight in the success of the Basic Trainers’ Course he and Bev got started with Greyhounds Qld some years ago.
He has seen, and been part of, so much advancement within the racing industry. John Murray can look back at his lifetime in greyhound racing with a great sense of achievement. Few in the industry have not dealt with him or still do. He is always ready with advice, a helping hand.
That sort of approach won him an OAM. It has also won him a legion of loyal clients, and more friends.
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