By Peter Fenemor
Unwavering commitment characterises 22-year-old Nastassia Hodgson’s involvement in greyhound racing.
That commitment sees her working tirelessly in assisting her grandfather Bill Hodgson in his Palmerston North based training operation, along with being sighted handling her grandfather’s greyhounds at Manawatu and Hatrick meetings.
Undertaking that responsibility sees Nastassia being named as the July GRNZ Board Award winner, which recognises valued under-30-year-olds’ contributions to the greyhound code.
“I’ve been surrounded by greyhounds since I was a baby and I remember being with them from when I was a five-year-old. It has been and still is a passion for me being with greyhounds.
“I love the greyhounds and I’m always happy being with them. The affection they display to the attention they receive is very heart-warming.
“My favourite part of the day is going out to see them in the morning; no matter how I am feeling, they always put a smile on my face,” enthused Hodgson.
“I have learnt a lot from people around me who have been happy to help me along the way.
“Working with Grandad, firstly part-time and lately full-time, is very satisfying. He has got his own ways, but in saying that, he’s always prepared to listen,” she advised.
Hodgson is keen to have a greater involvement in the industry, as she explains.
“I’ll probably get my trainer’s licence – I would eventually like to train my own team of greyhounds.
“I like the breeding side of the industry and it would be the ultimate to breed my own litter. I am interested in the politics side of it and would like to become involved in that area at some stage.”
She hints that maybe sometime in the future she would like to enter into a training partnership with her grandfather. “That is something that may eventuate – I consider that to be very special.”
A career highlight came when she assisted to prepare Thrilling Rush to contest the recent New Zealand Futurity final at Group 1 level. “Yes, qualifying him for that final was very special and satisfying for us,” Hodgson said.
She also wants to take the opportunity to check out the Australian greyhound racing scene.
“It’s a different playing field over there. It would be awesome to experience going over there to see the difference between racing there and here in New Zealand,” she explained.
Understandably Bill Hodgson, who has been mentoring greyhounds for 45 years, is a very proud grandfather.
“Nastassia has been a great help for me, always pitching in to help.
“For example, she stepped in and ran the kennels seamlessly when I was in hospital being operated on for a knee replacement, while juggling her university studies. She’s a very good kid,” advised the spritely 81-year-old, adding, “She loves the dogs and I’ll give her all the help she needs.”
It is Nastassia’s desire to continuously learn about all of the components that makes up greyhound racing that is likely to see her develop into a key industry participant for a long time to come – just like her grandfather Bill has been.