“The dogs are my happy place” – Marsha Black shares her love for greyhounds

Just Nia enjoys a pat from Marsha Black following her win at Cambridge last week. Photo credit: Yvette Bodiam.


Te Kauwhata trainer Marsha Black has a special affinity with her greyhounds.

“I have a way of training; I don’t train like the others,” she laughs.

“We go for walks and do things together. We play ball and wrestle. We just have fun. If I’m not enjoying it and they’re not enjoying it, it’s a waste of time. And I figure a happy dog is more likely to try!

“I give them love but they give so much more love back to me. For me, they’re better than humans. They don’t want anything except for love, food, cuddles and to run.”

When she’s at the track, Black’s enthusiasm is contagious.

“When I see kids at the track, I love to bring them into it. They’re our future. Even if they’re not involved in greyhound racing, I’ll make a point of letting them pat my dogs. And then, they can go home and say they’ve experienced how soft and gentle they are.”

Black herself was exposed to greyhound racing at an early age through her “Poppa”, who was a greyhound trainer. But it was many years later that she really discovered her passion for the dogs and the sport.

“My brother James had got into greyhound training, and one day, my dad said we should go and watch his dogs race for my birthday, so we went to the track.

“I saw this little girl, Bright Star, and I thought there was no way she could win against the big boys. But she blitzed the field and my jaw dropped – I was in awe. And then there was another dog, Platinum Playboy, who I thought was so handsome. I was in awe of him as well.”

Bright Star (who won 14 races in a row), especially, sparked Black’s love for greyhounds. When her brother announced he was going to retire a couple of dogs, she asked if she could try her hand at training them.

“Dad built me some kennels at home and I got a few placings with them – Dad and I were doing it together,” she remembers. “And then I met Ross Udy and I began helping him out with the greyhounds. As time went on, he starting giving me dogs to train.”

She is full of praise for Udy and his mentorship over the years, and credits him with showing her what she should and shouldn’t do when it comes to training.

“I’ve had a lot of help. Without the help people have given me, I wouldn’t be where I am today and still enjoying it.”

She eventually moved to Auckland, where she enjoyed racing lower class greyhounds initially.

“I was just having fun. It was scary watching the Class 5 greyhounds go around – I was like, ‘how do you train a Class 5 dog?!’

“Ross and Lynne (Udy) had a litter out of Thrilling Abra. They originally gave me Going Bananas, and Karen Walsh was given a pup that she eventually offered back to Ross and Lynne. It was then offered to me, and I said yes.

“That dog was Mobility Scooter, who was slow as hell at the beginning, believe me! But then he got into Class 5, and then he actually won a Class 5, which was unbelievable!

“He’s laying in front of me right now, saying ‘you’re talking about me’,” she laughs. “Mobility Scooter runs the house. He sleeps with me every night. He’s stuck with me for life.

“We’re like an old married couple that argues every now and then. He's absolutely wonderful. Someone said to me, ‘you need a male’, and I said, ‘what for? I’ve got Scooter!’” she jokes.

Black was keen to try all pathways in the greyhound racing industry, and ventured into breeding just over a year ago. Her first litter, out of On Demand, is 12 months old. On Demand lives in the house as well.

“I suffer from depression and anxiety. The dogs are my happy place,” she explains. “They put a smile on my face, and getting their super cuddles makes it worth getting up in the morning.

“Especially Just Nia. She’s my little mate.”

Just Nia won her ninth race at her 109th start last Thursday. It was the greyhound’s first win in over a year and first ever win at Cambridge.

“It was an emotional win on Thursday,” she reflects. “A lot of them are emotional wins when you don’t expect it.

“She has little legs and usually gets run down and finishes second. I was absolutely gobsmacked with her last week – she has so much heart and determination.

“I thought she was going to be picked up like usual, but she kept going and didn’t get run down. I was nearly in tears after the race – and all I wanted to do was just pick her up and cuddle her.

“They’re dogs, but they’re my babies.”

By Liz Whelan

Posted on 25 March 2022

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