Tasmanian Greyhound Hall of Fame
Inductee Hall of Fame 2016
John Cameron, affectionately known to most as Johnboy, has been one of the most unassuming, quiet, yet significant achievers in our great sport. Born on May 30 1938, and raised in Sydney, Harold John Cameron’s parents, Harold (Harley) and Ann were ex- country folk with zero background in greyhounds. With sister Olive, John lived firstly in New Town, then predominantly in Broadway.
Upon leaving school John Cameron spent six years as an apprentice Bookbinder with the Government Printing Office in Sydney. After a three month National Service stint, he continued to work in the Government Printing Office for a decade, before moving to Tasmania in 1973.
John’s initial interest in greyhounds came from watching Harold Park dogs with mates, at a popular vantage point on the rocky cliff at the back of the track; coincidentally in close proximity to an SP Bookie that would take his sixpence each way. When eighteen, John and a couple of mates bought a greyhound, namely Farago’s Pick. This was despite having no car and no kennel. It took little time to establish the new found chaser’s lack of credentials, and his mates pulled out, but not so John. His interest was sparked and he acquired a chaser named Oakleigh Royal, his first winner, and indeed she won five races. Greyhounds were now firmly in John’s DNA.
John only trained two at a time in Sydney, because his kennels were in the inner city. His best NSW chaser was Evelyn Moss. A fifteen time winner, she won three at Wentworth Park, including a Feature Trophy on Jockey night, as well as running ten seconds there, including two over 720 metres. Hialeah Lad was brought from Melbourne to Sydney by a mate of John’s, but after falling twice in a row, he decided to leave it with John to train. He turned into a very smart type winning initially at Lithgow, then later at Harold Park. Tovera Lad was also a winner of seven races. In fact, John won races at most NSW tracks falling within a 200 kilometre radius of his Broadway base.
A much more important event was a double date arranged by a close mate, whose girlfriend worked at Childrens Hospital Camperdown with fellow nurse Ann Burr. She was Scottish born, but had lived in Tasmania, before moving to Sydney for work. According to John, he and Ann both enjoyed a drink, and each other’s company, which eventually lead to their marriage, at the famous Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross on 20 October 1973.
It was holidaying in Tasmania that changed everything. John instantly loved Tassie, Ann was happy to come back, so in 1973 they bought an allotment in Goodwins Road Mangalore, and moved here permanently. John thought Tasmania was the perfect place to bring up kids, as daughter’s Carol Ann and Susan Sarah would surely attest.
The Camerons initially lived with Ann’s parents at Claremont, then to Austins Ferry, where John trained his first dog in this State. It was a smart ex- NSW chaser called Bomber’s Lodge, which did win a top grade race the night of a Hobart Thousand Final, and ran a faster time. John and Ann moved to Mangalore once their house was built. Many years later, they moved to Brighton, but John is now back at the original Goodwins Road house next to daughter and son in law, Susan and Nathan.
In between training no more than four to six greyhounds at any one time, John did have a variety of jobs. He spent eighteen months at Cadburys and a similar time as utility officer at Wybra Hall. John and Ann built boarding kennels for greyhounds, then other dogs, but gave that away when they moved to Brighton. It was then a decade at Boyer, before a transfer to the Hobart Wharf as their Tally Clerk. After a move back to Boyer as a Cleaner, then Gardener, John retired…………that’s if a greyhound trainer ever retires!
Apart from training greyhounds John Cameron was a wonderful “checker and fixer” of injuries. In Sydney John was close friends with great trainer, come muscle man Billy Fletcher. He’d check a multitude of dogs and John would do the ultrasounding. John learned much of his craft there, but his meticulous attention to detail with greyhounds gained him a top reputation in this State. John checked many great dogs, the mighty Tuemino being one of his favourites.
Before looking at some of the star John Cameron chasers, his selfless contribution in other areas of our sport must be noted. Many years ago, he took over from daughter Susan, as the main lure driver at the Brighton trial complex. Along with the Guru of that track, John Wilton, they have voluntarily served every other trainer with their time, care and expertise. In this area both men have served above and beyond. Further, John Cameron has served as an H.G.R.C. Committeeman since the licence was returned to the Club under the Chairmanship of June Phillips in the early 1990’s.
John Cameron, has been associated with many owners, but none more so than Barry Heawood, and the crème de la crème of Cameron trained chasers have come from that association. They met when Barry left a bitch named Nimble Julie at John’s to be spelled. At pick up time, he offered her to John to train. She won a couple, but what was to come was far more impressive.
Jenny’s Legacy and Little Marsh are the two standout greats from John’s kennel. Jenny’s Legacy, actually owned by Juliet Heawood, was a member of one the greatest Tasmanian litters ever produced, which included Shy Toby, Friendly Flyer, Talkaman, Pat Michael and Lilydale Lad. John also trained a brother called Pat To Shout(8wins), but Jenny was a champion.
From only 47 starts, she won 22 with 7 seconds and 5 thirds. Despite missing two blocks of 4 months due to seasonal, she starred at the highest level, culminating in her Heat, Semi and Final victories in the 1991 Hobart Thousand, beating star NSW chaser Red Amerigo. On 17 January 1991 Jenny’s Grade Four win at the Showgrounds was in a new track record time of 25.81 for the 457 metres. She also won the 1991 Coca Cola Cup at White City, beating Just Brilliant, and toppled that same Leo Burnett trained star in the 1991 Gold Cup. She also ran 3rd in the 1992 Gold Cup; 2nd in the 1991 State Sprint Final, and 6th in Talkaman’s 1992 Launceston Cup after winning her Semi.
Little Marsh was an exceptional chaser from the Knockabout Wok – Lunawanna litter. From 61 starts, she was victorious 30 times, with 8 seconds and 10 thirds. Her list of credits included clean sweeps of Heat, Semi and Final of the 2005 Hobart Breeders Classic, and Heat and Final of the 2005 Young Star Classic. She also won the 2006 Ivory Classic at Devonport and the 2006 Silver Trophy at Hobart, as well as 3rds in a Johnson Puppy Championship and the 2005 Laurels. John also trained her speedy litter sister Wooreddy (7 wins and the 2014 Broodbitch of the Year), and her brother Cape Bruny. This flyer won four of eight in Tassie and was nursed back to fitness by John after breaking down. Sent to John Galea in Victoria, Cape Bruny went on to win the Tweed Heads Galaxy.
John Cameron also trained Little Marsh’s dam, Lunawanna, a seven time winner which included the 2001 Tasmanian Oaks at White City. Lunawanna, like Wooreddy became a prolific broodbitch.
Miss Lumina was another classy chaser over both sprint and middle distances. From 48 starts, she won 20 races, with 11 seconds and 9 thirds. She won the 1993 UMP Cup over 600 metres at White City, and was runner up in the 1993 Middle Distance Championship at Devonport after winning her heat. Her staggering consistency won her the 1993 Most Consistent Greyhound of the Year for Tasmania.
The tough chasing Mexican Port was a real favourite of Johns. His career fell one shy of a hundred starts which netted 24 wins, 21 2nds and 13 3rds. A prolific maker of big Finals, Mexican Port did win the Consolation Final of the 1998 Launceston Cup, and numerous Invitations. He won a Semi of the 1997 Hobart Thousand and was 5th to Shantung Tiger in that Final. He was 2nd in Stumpy Ray’s 1998 Devonport Cup, and 2nd in the 1998 Easter Cup. Further, he made the 1999 Launceston Cup Final and 1998 Gold Cup. His brother Malloys Gold was also a tough customer that won 16 and was placed in another 22. He won the Park Tavern Final at White City, and was a finalist in both the 1997 and 1998 State Sprint Finals.
For a trainer with such a small team, John Cameron has had remarkable success at the highest level, and since 1989 alone he’s trained 308 winners in Tasmania at the tremendous strike rate of 21% winners and 51% placegetters. Another high quality chaser under his care was Regent Knight, a winner of 16 from only 34 starts. He ran 2nd to Bobby Brie in the 1984 Boags Cup, and was a Breeders Classic Finalist. The hardy Regent Tornado had 99 starts for 15 wins and 37 placings, making a Bob Brown, and running 2nd in both a St Leger and Wally Lake Memorial.
For most of Painted Mocka’s 24 wins, he was in the Cameron kennel, including 9 of his initial 13. He made finals of the Thousand Consolation, Easter Cup and State Sprint. In 2004-5, the brilliant bitch Little Taylors won 13 from 35 with 10 placings. Her best wins were the Ladies Bracelet and Launceston Cup Consolation at White City. Escadaro Time was a smart chaser in John’s earlier Tassie days, and 9 time winner Regent Sunrise made a the 2003 Launceston Cup Final. A vast majority of these stars had a close association with Barry Heawood and his Regent Park kennels at Tea Tree.
Now in his 79th year, John Cameron is just as actively involved as ever, in the great sport of greyhound racing. He still drives the lure at the Brighton trials, still serves on the Hobart Greyhound Racing Club Committee, and still trains, though the number is down to one or two. His last runner was on 21 July this year, when ex-Mainlander Some Tricks won the Invitation at Hobart. He’s currently nursing this 9 time winner back from injury.
John Cameron’s legacy to greyhounds is sure to live on. Whilst daughter Carol’s first animal love are equines, she has recently taken an administrative role in the Greyhound Adoption Program. Younger daughter Susan is actively involved in greyhounds at every level. Often with a big team of dogs, she has trained in excess of 1140 winners since she started in 1993. Star sprinter Feraro Tiger and his sister Dark Dignity (11 wins) were her first. “The Tiger” won 22 from 47 including a Devonport Breeders Classic, Gold Collar, and dual Olympic Park victories. She won a State Distance Final with Ming Dynasty and took over Mr Koonawarra for her dad just prior to his win in the 1995 State Sprint Final. She’s also won Maiden Thousand’s with both Origin Bale and Son Of Addis, and if not busy enough, has run the Tasmanian Greyhound Adoption Program since 2010.
In Tasmanian Greyhound circles, John Cameron is a much loved and respected figure. His achievements as a trainer are many, and his great contribution to all aspects of our sport is now honoured by his induction into the Tasmanian Greyhound Hall of Fame.