Wheeler "Dream" Exceeded All Expectations

PAUL Wheeler's best mate Graeme Bate believed Paul was crazy to borrow $1m plus more than a decade ago to chase a dream ... and he told him so.

David Brasch

18 October 2021

PAUL Wheeler’s best mate, master Victorian trainer Graeme Bate, believed Paul was crazy to borrow $1m plus more than a decade ago to chase a dream … and Batesy told him so.

By then Paul and his family were already as dominant in greyhound racing as could be expected. But Paul wanted more. He wanted to go way beyond what anyone, certainly in Australia and even in the world, could have expected.

“I knew what he borrowed and told him not to do it,” Bate said. “But he did it anyway.”

Paul’s dream exceeded anyone’s expectations. He became the giant of the industry, so dominant the world knew the Wheeler name and gave it the respect it deserved.

When Paul Wheeler died suddenly on Wednesday the impact of what he had achieved suddenly dawned on the entire greyhound racing industry worldwide.

Few come near to what Wheeler has achieved.

Only the likes of Ireland’s legendary Pat Dalton or Pat Collins, in the US, come anywhere close.

The Wheeler enterprise, started way back in the 1960s by Paul’s dad Allen, grew from Eastern Creek to The Oaks and finally to the 3000-acre property near Young, at Murringo to be precise, where upwards of 300 pups are bred each year.

Wheeler revolutionised the breeding of greyhounds.

He wore the criticism that mass production had to achieve success because his stats were better than anyone else had ever produced … throughout the world.

It all stemmed back to the giveaway bitch Gail’s Beauty his father had started with back in the 1960s. It is a damline that Paul pushed to achieve legendary status.

In the late 1990s, Wheeler spent five weeks in the US in a bid to access the very best sirelines. It was all part of the overall plan to dominate and it worked.

The fact Fanta Bale, Fernando Bale and Dyna Double One are three of the top four stakes earners in this country is proof.

But it is also the everyday success of the Bale, Dyna and Allen breed that is also proof of just what Paul achieved.

It wasn’t a cheap exercise, Paul relating way back in 2015 it cost him $27,000 a week to run the enterprise. Prizemoney more than repaid that.

Then there were the stud dogs.

Melbourne Cup winner Dyna Villa

For decades it was a common theme that “Wheeler doesn’t produce stud dogs”. That was blown out of the water, first by Barcia Bale and then by Fernando Bale.

Paul Westerveld admits “Paul set our family up for ever” by entrusting him with those special two dogs, but other greats as well.

“He was a pioneer of his sport,” says Westerveld. “But he was so professional in everything he ever did and just so easy to get along with.”

Westerveld’s wife Michelle was “in tears all day” when news came that he had died.

All those who know Paul Wheeler personally were well aware he was devastated back in 2018 when disqualified for a year and fined $22,000 over the export of greyhounds to China.

It was a blow those close to him knew affected him from then on.

“He was so upset,” said Bate. “He signed everything over to his wife Jan and son Brendan. It affected him every single day.”

But it didn’t impact on Wheeler Kennels which continued to churn out superstars, Group dogs, city winners and the numerous Bale, Dyna and Allen dogs that dominated everywhere in Australia and in New Zealand.

Brendan has grasped with both hands the role of running the empire. Like his dad, he has grown up immersed in the day-to-day challenges, and now takes it in his stride.

Wheeler Kennels will continue to dominate. Brendan will make sure of that. He has learnt from the best, the best the world has ever seen.