By Peter Fenemor
Samuel Lozell was born with a collar and lead in his hands. He was always destined to become a greyhound trainer. And so it has proved.
The 26-year-old has quickly made an impact within the code, as seen by Sam being awarded the October GRNZ Board Award, a monthly award which celebrate young achievers in the industry.
Back to those early days. His grandfather Max Mathews, who hugely influenced Sam, was a highly respected and successful trainer during the 1980s and 1990s, and was afforded life membership of both the Tokoroa and Waikato Clubs.
Max was a renowned successful conditioner of the staying greyhounds, as evidenced by the Tokoroa stalwart mentoring Miss Cutie to victory in the 1995 edition of the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar.
Sam’s parents Mike and Maxine have a life-time involvement in the code, holding down numerous administrative positions over the years, while Mike is the current northern region lure driver.
“They were a big influence on me back then,” said Sam.
And then, there are Sam’s grandparents, George and Dianne Lozell, who have also been around the tracks for many, many years. In fact, Dianne can still be sighted working in the Cambridge kennels, while she is also the lady behind the very popular Affordable Pet Accessories business.
“Poppa (Max) use to talk about the Silver Collar all the time when I was growing up and I decided at an early age that my ambition was to race and train a Silver Collar winner,” recalled Sam.
That dream very nearly became reality, when he mentored the giant-sized stayer Shooters Hill (38kg) to finish powerfully from an early rear position for his close-up head second in the 2019 779m Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar to the dominating stayer at the time, Dyna Weslyn.
“Shooters Hill was so big that it took most of his races to wind up. It was the most excitement I’ve ever had racing when he went ever so close to winning.”
He spent his youth with his parents helping out breaking in greyhounds at the Tokoroa track; however, it was when he was a teenager that Sam made the big call to become actively involved in greyhound racing himself, as he explains.
“I was 15 going on 16 when I wagged school one day and was at a Cambridge meeting. I was speaking to Brendon (Cole) about wanting to learn more about training. He immediately offered me a full-time job in their kennels and I seized the opportunity straight away.
“It was the best thing I ever did. The experience down there was second to none – a mind-blowing experience where I was taught so much. Brendon and Lisa treated me like family for the five and half years I was there,” Sam stated.
While working in the Cole kennels, he met his partner, Georgie Clark, and they had a baby boy Blake, just prior to Max Mathews passing away. And that triggered the next move for the budding young trainer.
“The family were talking about selling Poppa’s property, however, I put up my hand and said I would like to train from there, and that’s where we are now,” he advised about the couple’s relocation to Putaruru.
Sam supplements his racing income with butchery work. “I do some retail and home kills.”
He rates the stayers Shooters Hill and Shaynee as the best he has mentored so far. “He’s All Shine was also a pretty handy dog,” he recalled.
His current team of 10 greyhounds is spearheaded by the in-form Wheelhouse, while Beau Beau is a competitive open class sprinter. He also adds, “I have a lot of time for Sweet Buddy. He’s fresh-up at Cambridge on Sunday (Race 1). He’s a potential stayer, as seen by his 650m second prior to having a break.”
Sam is also waiting for the proven stayer Shaynee to come into season. “It is my goal to breed and race a Silver Collar winner and I would love to breed a stayer who is good enough to race in Australia. I did have an opportunity to take Shaynee over there, however Covid scuttled those plans.”
It’s a busy family life, with Georgie being the current Waikato GRC president.
“She is right into racing and she does as much work in the kennels as I do. She is also active in seeking sponsors and she keeps everyone on their toes,” explained Sam about his partner, while adding, “Blake is right into them also – he loves the dogs.”
And we can’t conclude this article without making reference to Sam Lozell’s desire for wearing gumboots at every opportunity all year round. “They are so comfy – I love my Red Bands and I would sleep in them if I could!” he chuckled