Throughout his entire life, Greenbank trainer, Graham Dwyer, has always used horses as his compass, or a direction in life.
“They have given me a focus and purpose –something to strive for. Right from an early age I seemed to be surrounded by horses, and I always felt deep down that one day I’d been working with them in some form or another.
“Now here I am aged 46 and still loving being around them. I was raised by two families when I was young and through them, I always felt most comfortable around the equine breed,” Dwyer said.
“In 2021 nothing has changed. In fact, I reckon we are just starting to hit our straps,” the Southport-born horseman said.
For the past 20 years Dwyer and his wife Martine Peters, have owned and run Kingslodge Pacing Stables at Greenbank - a rural-residential suburb within Queensland's Logan City.
At 16, Dwyer obtained his first horse, and soon after his first winner came via the 1983 son of Koala King, Dunderri King, who went on to win 19 races.
“Dunderri King turned out to be a real ripper of a horse to get early on. He really fuelled my fire for harness racing. Although I got a trade as a panel beater, I knew deep down horses were all I wanted to be around. They were my reason,” Dwyer stressed.
After panel beating and then training horses in his mid-20s, Dwyer then met his wife Martine and bought a farm in North McLean.
“The Pacing King was also a great horse for us. He gave us a head-start by giving us a deposit to purchase the farm we now call Kingslodge. He’s 15 now and still resides with us.
“We battled away for a few years, but never really had the right ‘cattle’ (horses) to make a mark on the sport. We were on the right track, and although we’ve been at Kingslodge for a couple of decades, we’ve only really started to hit our straps in the last season or two,” the former Rockhampton Christian Brothers student said.
He said last season was very satisfying considering they only had up to 14 horses to work with.
“We trained 110 winners in the extended season just gone, and finished 19th in the trainers rankings nationally. We were very pleased considering the calibre of trainers that were on that premiership list.
“The year before that we had 50 wins which equates to 160 winners in the last two seasons. This was achieved with the same 14 horses. It is a real credit to them, and we felt proud of the efforts they did. They really exceeded all expectations,” Dwyer said.
He went on to say that three of his stable horses finished in the top 20 for most wins in a season nationally.
They were Maywyns Best - 11 wins and $91,854; All Good Wally - 12 wins and $40,989; and Gotta Moment - 12 wins and $64,360.
According to Racing Queensland statistics released last Thursday (January 28), Dwyer had trained 426 winners since January 6, 1993.
This season drivers behind his team have saluted the judge five times from 45 starts. Dwyer trained horses have also placed 12 times in 2021.
There’s seldom a week go by when Dwyer doesn’t win a race. Last Wednesday night the Angus Garrard driven Ifoundthebeach (3) won the third event at Redcliffe Paceway.
“Our team is the strongest yet. We’ve got 14 in work and some nice ones like Gotta Moment (17 wins), Sir Julian (37 wins), All Good Wally (14 wins), The Hervey Bay (11 wins), Adrenaline Rush (6 wins), Ifoundthebeach (22 wins), and King Of The Stars, She’s Miss Devine, Hipstar, Doug, and Greg the Great, which have been very good to us”
"But I'd say Maywyn's Best is the best horse I've trained so far. He's so honest and a lovely horse work with. He's won 29 races and more than $200,000.
“The goal is to make the Farm viable and then springboard from there. It is a real team effort here we have good help in Matty Greentree and the family.”
Dwyer also said he and Martine had a loyal band of owners that shared their same interests and goals.
“We are very thankful to them all, and want to make it a happy family business that keeps improving every year for them.
“I have three kids who all love the sport. Cody is a plumber, Layne (13) absolutely adores the horses and will be strapping soon. Layne’s been involved in the Mini Trotters for a few years and is hooked. Our youngest, Darcy (7) also gets involved. Family is my priority and is vitally important,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer said he liked to utilise top drivers like Peter McMullen, Angus Garrard, Brendan Barnes, Nathan Dawson and Paul Diebert.
“It just makes good racing sense to put the good guys on, as it takes the pressure of me, so I can concentrate on training the horses. These drivers have done a terrific job and we are grateful for what they do for us.”
Although Dwyer is yet to win a Group race, he has come close.
“I won the Listed Gold Coast Trotters Marathon with She’s Commando in 2013, and I’ve run second in a Group One race at least a couple of times.
“Peter McMullen and She’s Miss Devine were runner-up in the Redcliffe 2yo Sales Final last June and then the following month they repeated the dose in the Q-Bred 2yo Final.
"Greg The Great is probably the best trotter I've had. He's won 19 races and more than $120,000. He set a 1:55.1 track record at Albion Park when winning the Sky Racing Trot in August last year."
Dwyer said he believed he had the tools in his stable to kick on and improve his quality even more.
“It’s nice to have a surplus and then build on that, and then perhaps be able to buy a nice horse or two from the Sales one day.
“For now, we just have to work with what we have got and keep building. Like I said earlier this is the strongest we have ever been, and I believe the strongest the industry has been, which is giving us the drive to continue to grow together,” Dwyer said.