Blake McInerney’s training career off to flying start

Pictured: Blake McInerney recently won the monthly GRNZ youth award.

The McInerney family name has been strongly linked with greyhound racing for numerous decades.  That association is set to continue for many years to come, with Blake McInerney having recently made a successful start to his training career.

“I guess it was pretty much set in stone that I would end up training greyhounds. I 100 percent enjoy working with greyhounds and I wouldn’t change doing so for anything else,” enthused 18-year-old McInerney.

It is that enthusiasm that Blake McInerney displays – along with his success – that sees him being deservedly awarded the January GRNZ Board Award, which recognises the input that young industry participants inject into the greyhound code.

“I have been taught and have learnt so much from Dad (Jonathan) and Granddad (John). Grandma (Gail) is always there helping all of us behind the scenes. I couldn’t have wished for better support from all of them. Dad continues to give me advice every day. I guess it was meant to be (training),” he explained.

Training your first winner is a special career milestone, and 18 October 2023 will always be a day that Blake McInerney will remember.

McInerney travelled south to Ascot Park with two greyhounds he prepares. He returned from Invercargill with two winners!

Neon Lights exploded clear during her 390m sprint, and she spaced her rivals when building her 6.5 length winning margin.

Three races later, McInerney boxed away the first greyhound that he officially trained, Frank, into the 390m one trap. He raced along the rail just in behind the pace, from where he unleashed his known strong finish when storming home to record his half-length victory.

“Yes, that day was very special. It was something I had been dreaming about ever since I first started handling greyhounds as a 12-year old. I spent a lot of time on my phone that day,” recalled McInerney.   

It was Mum Kerry O’Connor, who is often seen as a starter at Addington, who encouraged her son to approach trainer Dave Fahey about buying Neon Lights.

“Mum gave me a hint that Neon Lights was available, and she supported me in getting her. Mum is good at the traps, relaxing me and always supporting me,” explained McInerney.     

And 17 January 2024 will be a day that the teenager will always remember, when he made the long trek south to Invercargill with four greyhounds, two of whom were racing in the first race C0 390m sprint.

Weep was the second reserve for the dash, and she capitalised on her bonus maiden opportunity, when after gaining a race start, she led throughout to secure an easy win. Chasing her home was kennelmate Big Topic, and in doing so, provided McInerney with the $29.70 race quinella.

Incidentally, the next three greyhounds to finish in that sprint were all trained by father Jonathan.

“I didn’t back them that day, but a mate of mine was tipping out the quinella. I thought he was a bit of a muppet doing so, but yes, he was right! That was a very exciting result for me,” said McInerney, who thrives on the long return drives south, saying. “It’s easy when you get into a routine with the greyhounds.” 

McInerney is very appreciative of the help and support he receives from other industry participants.

“Dave Fahey has been a great help to me, and I got Neon Lights and Weep from him. I can’t express how lucky I am to have those greyhounds,” he advised.  

And leading conditioner Dave Fahey believes Blake has a big future within the trainers’ ranks, saying, “Blake is very helpful and polite, and he is always willing to help out others on racedays.

“He is a big help for us and it’s pleasing to see him starting his training career off on a good note. Blake is definitely displaying a lot of potential.”

McInerney doesn’t really have a favourite greyhound, saying, “I can’t pinpoint a favoured dog, as I consider them all equal individually. I just enjoy handling them all,” he advised.

Currently, McInerney is operating from six kennels and he is compiling a tidy looking training record having applied the finishing touches to 11 winners this season from the 43 starters he has lined up, which represents a 0.3282 strike-rate.

“Maintaining a high strike-rate is something I want to aim for. It reflects and rewards the work that you put into your dogs.”

Football holds an interest outside greyhound racing for McInerney.

“Grandad tried to get me into rugby, but it was football that held my interest. I played for around eight years, copping a few injuries along the way. I don’t have time to play these days, but I support and follow Chelsea (English Premier League),” he advised.     

“I wish to acknowledge and thank all the decent people in the industry who have always supported me. That creates positive attitudes moving forward which is reflected in the racing.

“It is a personal goal for me to one season win a national trainer’s premiership,” added McInerney.

It is ambitions like that, that sees Blake McInerney being perfectly poised to continue the McInerney family training dynasty.


By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 19 February 2024

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