BLACKSMITHS trainer Ron Bell was not game to tell anyone at the start of 2012 that winning the premiership at NSW’s top greyhound racing track was one of his ambitions.
It just seemed too much of a long shot.
A regular top-10 finisher in the Wentworth Park standings, Bell finished a distant third in 2008 and fourth in 2009.
Leading trainer Andy Lord appeared a moral to claim a third premiership in a row, but Bell chased down the champion with his crack kennel of rising stars.
The 61-year-old finished 2012 on 29 wins at the track, six clear of Lord, to join select company as a Hunter trainer to topple his big-city rivals at Wentworth Park.
Asked if he thought he would ever achieve the feat, Bell said: ‘‘Not really.
‘‘In 35 years or so involved in greyhound racing, I can remember only one person from the Hunter doing it, the late John Brown from Black Hill.
‘‘I had it as a private ambition. I didn’t tell anyone but it was something I always would have liked to have done.
‘‘But it all just fell into place this year.’’
He increased his kennel four years ago when he retired after 35 years as a draftsman with Lake Macquarie City Council but said he made no major changes for 2012.
‘‘I’ve still only got a dozen to 14 dogs in work but they are quality dogs. They are really promising,’’ he said.
‘‘Trapper Jet won the group 3 Laurie Healion Memorial Maiden at The Gardens at his third start.
‘‘Mr Beau and Kobi Jay quinellaed the St Leger at The Gardens.
‘‘Those three have all won three or four each at Wentworth Park and they are not even two years old.’’
Bell is a director of the NSW National Coursing Association, which operates The Gardens track at Birmingham Gardens.
He raced his dogs during the two-week no-show protest action taken by most trainers in NSW at the start of last month.
The action was aimed at raising awareness of the industry’s plight under the 99-year Inter-Code Agreement, which gives greyhound racing a slice of TAB profits well below the percentage it generates.
Lord did not race, which allowed Bell to build his advantage in the premiership race.
Bell said the situation had not diminished the achievement in his eyes.
‘‘In the back of your mind, people might use that to say something ... but I was well in front before that.
‘‘But you can’t change what people think, can you?’’
Bell has experienced success at group level but said the premiership victory was in a league of its own.
‘‘The fact that it goes for a year and there’s a lot of work involved makes it very special,’’ he said.
‘‘I’d say there’s plenty of better trainers than me, but I just work really hard.
‘‘Now that’s my job, I put in seven days a week. I’m always doing something with them and the travelling twice a week to Sydney takes a chunk out of your week as well.’’
Bell, though, had no intention of slowing down.
‘‘You get a little bit hungrier when you achieve something, and I’d like to defend it,’’ he said.
‘‘But I’m sure Andy Lord will have something to say about that.’’
Bell started training after having his promising rugby league career cut short by a serious back injury.
After having two discs removed, he was told regular, long walks would help his recovery.
Bell had an interest in dog racing and thought he may as well have a greyhound with him on his walks, so he bought his first pup.