Albert Bunny Hewton
By David Brasch
Albert (Bunny) Hewton was one of only two members of the inaugural Gabba Greyhound Racing Club committee to be still there on closing night. Mr Hewton announced his retirement from the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club Committee effective 20 June 2011. He served on a greyhound committee for 45 consecutive years, having started with Loganholme club in 1966. When that track closed he served at Beenleigh and Capalaba, before taking on his role when the Gabba opened. He was a foundation committee member at Albion Park when that track replaced the Gabba. Mr Hewton also served as an industry representative on the greyhound Control Board for three years from 1974.
Mr Hewton is a Life Member of both the Brisbane and Capalaba Greyhound Racing Clubs.
Mr Hewton saw his service on all of the Committees as an honour and did so because of a "Love for the Game" and to give back to the industry that gave him so much. He was a pioneer in Queensland greyhound racing introducing such initiatives as the sliding catching pen at Capalaba and the installation of starting boxes at the Loganholme track.
Mr Hewton thought it was a joke when someone “pretending" to be Lord Mayor Clem Jones rang him and asked if he was interested in 1971 in being part of the inaugural Gabba Greyhound Racing Club committee. Mr Hewton, a pocket dynamo all his life, was a natural as an industry representative on the Gabba Club's committee. He'd come up through the ranks as a trainer, putting his hard earned money where his opinion was and more often than not, he was on a winner.
He was born on May 17, 1926, the 10th child. He had five brothers and seven sisters. Mr Hewton’s introduction to greyhounds came about through his brother Bill. ”He just brought a greyhound home one day and from then on we were into greyhound racing," Hewton was 10 at the time.
By 1954, Mr Hewton had become a pretty proficient judge of a greyhound. He was a regular clocker of dogs and reckoned he'd found the secret to buying a good dog box speed. In 1960, Hewton was armed with money and always on the lookout for a good dog. He paid 500 pound for Atlantic Chief with the purpose of winning the Queensland Cup, then the glamour race in Queensland, at Beenleigh. Atlantic Chief went straight into the heats of the Cup and went straight down on his nose at the start. Atlantic Chief then won four straight at Tweed and Hewton took him to Harold Park to win and achieve one of his life ambitions of success at Sydney's premier track. He broke down soon after and Hewton gave him to Vince Boland to stand at stud. Atlantic Chief (Roccum Chief-Murobi) had won 20 of his 43 starts and Vince stood him for a few pounds at stud at Amberley.
Lawnton was a happy hunting ground for Hewton and he achieved one of his greatest feats when Smoky Leonard (Bright Linen-Ena Alert) won the first running of the Lawnton Cup. Sir Thomas Hiley, then Treasurer of Queensland, made the trophy presentation and announced "night greyhound racing is just around the corner". It would be another 11 years before that statement would come true.
Mr Hewton retired when he was 48 but kept up his greyhound racing interests. By the start of night racing at the Gabba Hewton was rearing to go with a small team.
Hewton was happy the Gabba night racing proposal got off the ground. Clem Jones had wanted a smattering of industry people on his inaugural committee. Peter Hall and Jim Neary joined Hewton as industry representatives at the Gabba. ”There were a lot of influential people on that first committee," said Hewton.
Night racing revolutionized greyhound racing in Queensland. The founding of the Gabba Greyhound Racing Club at the same ground as Brisbane's hallowed home of Test cricket - Woolloongabba - would prove to be one of the great success stories of post-World War 2 Queensland sport. Openly laughed at by many as being doomed to failure, no night greyhound racing had been run in Brisbane since 1928, when greyhounds raced under gas lights.
On April 6, 1972 the first race meeting - consisting of nine races - was held. Crowds of up to 6,500 came to see the trials. The unbridled success of opening night shocked even the club's administrators. A huge crowd of 11,500 turned up and the restaurant with a seating capacity of 400 was booked out. It was standing room only and huge crowds became the order of the day.
The Gabba Greyhound Race Club was a pioneer in introducing many new ideas to the racing industry. Other race clubs - across the three codes - later followed suit. They were the first race club in Australia to trial free admission. They bucked the national trend by allowing women to become members and also introduced on-course child minding facilities to the course.
Mr Hewton was one of only two members (the other being Jim Neary) of the inaugural Gabba Greyhound Racing Club committee to be still there on closing night.
ln the late 1980s, Hewton was asked by Lenore Beaton to come out of virtual training retirement to prepare a dog called Are You Married (Yoyo Flyer-Scripture). Lenore was not well at the time. gave her $1 for my half share of the dog just to keep everything above board," said Hewton. In the next 12 months he won $25,000 and represented Queensland in the National Sprint final in Hobart He finished third to Fremantle Echo and Hewton reckons he should have won.
Albert (Bunny) Hewton has given his all to greyhound racing.
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