By Liz Whelan
Dan Roberts is a rising star, both on and off the track.
As the son of prominent Canterbury trainer Craig Roberts, the 24-year-old has been surrounded by greyhound racing his whole life.
“I haven’t really ever known much else – but to be fair, I haven’t really wanted to either,” says Dan Roberts.
“Greyhound racing is something that I always wanted to carry on with.”
Roberts applied for his trainer licence on the day he turned 18. These days, he has 12 dogs, which he trains out of his father’s property. Last season, he finished the season with 24 winners and an excellent strike-rate of 0.2705. This season, his greyhounds have already won 22 races.
“Dad’s been really helpful over the years, and a big influence on what I do. We have a bit of a friendly rivalry at the track!”
During the week, he works for harness trainer Jim Geddes.
“I start work there at 6:30am and then I come back and do the dogs. You’d think I’d make up for the lost sleep on the weekend, but instead I stay out late, and then come Monday, I’m even more tired!” he laughs.
For the past few months, his weekends have also involved a new role in a media space; Roberts is the co-host of “Dog Speed” on SENZ on Sunday afternoons, alongside veteran racing broadcaster Mark Rosanowski.
While he didn’t have any previous experience as a presenter, Roberts has quickly proven to be a natural – which perhaps isn’t surprising, given his father previously worked as a Trackside presenter.
“I used to get nervous before the first few shows, but now I’m just really enjoying it, and I’d definitely like to do more of it.”
In recognition of both his training prowess and his increasing media presence, Roberts was awarded the September edition of the GRNZ Board Award. This monthly award commenced in February 2022 to celebrate the young achievers in the industry under the age of 30, with all monthly winners receiving a $500 grant.
“There’s been a great list of people before me who have won, so it’s awesome to be added to the list,” says Roberts.
“The $500 went towards the registration fee of Tiggerlong Panda, so I guess I’ve already got my money back,” he says of the greyhound who has already won three races from seven starts in New Zealand.
Roberts’ passion for the sport is contagious, and his friendly disposition makes him universally liked among his peers.
“Everyone gets on pretty well down here in Christchurch. I wouldn’t feel shy to go and approach any of the bigger trainers that have been around for a lot longer for advice.
“I love working with the dogs – that’s a given. And I love training a winner. I really want to win a Group race one day – I’ve been in a couple without much luck, but hopefully I can do it one day!”