Ken Cheetham, Hunter Valley training legend passed away at 87

Ken Cheetham cause of death. (Source: Facebook)

In the world of greyhound racing, nobody was more deserving of the label of “legend” than Ken Cheetham, who passed away on Thursday. He recently celebrated his 87th birthday, and his influence on the business world will never be forgotten.

Keep reading to know more about Ken Cheetham and his cause of death in detail.


Who was Ken Cheetham?

The 87-year-old Cheetham trained two NSW Greyhound of the Year winners, How’s The Fort in 1992 and Take The Kitty in 2009, as well as outstanding stayers Brettianly, Myocard, John’s Fury, and Fine Chiang, whom he consistently regarded as his quickest greyhound.

Fine Chiang was trained by “Cheeto” for Doug Hobden, a famous Hunter Valley breeder in the 1950s and 1960s.

Roman Earl, the winner of the 1966 National Derby who split the NSW Greyhound of the Year award with Rose Moss, and Top Linen, the sire of Black Top and the grandsire of Zoom Top, were both products of Hobden’s breeding operations.

The 1992 Peter Mosman Classic was won by Take The Kitty and How’s The Fort, but Cheetham always said that his biggest delight came from Fine Chiang defeating the “invincible” Zoom Top in a 700-yard (640-meter) race at Singleton.

In an interview with The Dogs media for GRNSW’s The Chaser magazine in April 2006, Ken expressed his disappointment that veterinary knowledge was not valued as highly in the 1960s and 1970s as it was 30 years later.

He said:

“I had some great dogs who broke down and finished their careers prematurely but with the veterinary techniques now available they would have been able to continue racing.”

Flying Myobb, who finished last in the field to win the 1964 National Derby at Wentworth Park a year after winning the comparable race on the Richmond straight track, was Ken Cheetham’s first significant race winner.

The first time Ken Cheetham encountered greyhounds was when earning pocket money by walking a neighbor’s dog close to his family’s house in Millthorpe, western New South Wales.

He recalled:

“My parents Molly and Len had 11 kids so I had to pick up a bit of pocket money.”

Two years later, the Cheetham family relocated to Maitland, where Ken’s father worked as a cab driver. At the age of 19, Ken Cheetham started serving as Mick Cantwell’s “chauffeur,” a well-known trainer in the Coalfields areas.

Through Cantwell, Cheetham got his start working for Fred Lambert, a legendary trainer in the Hunter Valley who trained racehorses such Oakleigh Cola, Oakleigh’s Pal, Autumn Gem, Chief Sultan, and Cedar Touch.

Lambert was typically considered as his most important training guru by him.

Tony, who was then two years old, was once brought along by “Cheeto” to a trial of some greyhounds at Tommy Bourke’s trial track in Abermain.

Cheetham said,

“I got so carried away clocking and watching the dogs I forgot about Tony and drove home without him.”

“When my wife Marie inquired where Tony was I remembered I’d left him at the trial track, and when I went back to get him there was Tony sitting in the Bourke kitchen, unperturbed, having breakfast with Tommy and his family.”


How did Ken Cheetham die?

Ken Cheetham, a legendary trainer from the Hunter Valley, passed away at the age of 87.

Throughout his distinguished career, Cheetham trained a large number of city-grade chasers, notably How’s The Fort and Take The Kitty, both of which won the NSW Greyhound of the Year award for their performance on the track.

Cheetham is one of the most well-known and respected conditioners in NSW. However, Cheetham was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012, just a few years after Take The Kitty took him on a wild journey.

Bowel cancer later spread to his liver, necessitating the removal of one-third of his liver. Cheetham suffered another difficult setback soon after that operation when he developed an infection, necessitating yet another surgical procedure.

According to Cheetham’s wife Marie, the doctors weren’t sure if he would survive for a while.

She said,

“They didn’t think he was going to make it – I think they pretty much sent him home to die, we didn’t tell him that at the time… it wasn’t very good,” 

“After he got home he was pretty crook for a while, but he just started to improve and get better each week and now he is back to doing the things that he used to do.”

Cheetham claimed that when he was ill, he missed having greyhounds, which made the decision to return to his beloved sport simple.

“I missed just doing things with the dogs – when you are used to doing things for 60 years, to then be tied down and riddled with sickness – I couldn’t even get up and leave my room, I couldn’t leave my bed and I couldn’t do anything.

“It was boredom more than anything, I wasn’t used to being like that – I was used to always doing something.

“I got my trainer’s license and my car license back – now I can get around and see people and do the things I haven’t been able to do in years.”

Legendary Hunter Valley trainer Ken Cheetham won his first race back with outstanding youngster Defy Emotion on Thursday at Maitland, marking his return to the winners’ circle in 2015. Cheetham had been battling cancer for over three years.

Watch Defy Emotion’s first victory from box eight below:

Although Ken Cheetham had struggled with illness for a while, he continued to train up until recently and was successful in races till the end of the previous year.

Daughters Robyn and Louise, son Tony, and Marie, Ken Cheetham’s wife of 67 years, all survive him.


Ken Cheetham cause of death

At this point, it is unknown precisely what led to his death apart from the confirmation of his death and the exact cause of the death of Ken Cheetham was not released as well.

In order to learn more about Ken Cheetham cause of death, we are attempting to get in touch with his friends and family. This section will be updated as soon as we learn any new information regarding the tragic event that brought many people to tears.


Tributes to Ken Cheetham

Many people expressed their profound sympathies to his family and expressed how much they loved him. The news of this occurrence has upset his supporters and fans.

Jodie Manuel wrote: ” RIP to a true gentleman of our sport he was very loved through out the industry he will be missed 😢😢😢 Condolences to Marie and their families 💙💙💙💙💙

Rodney Newell wrote: “How does one ever replace a genius and a gentlemen?, Ken was like the Bart Cummings of greyhound racing. We have lost a legend. May he rest in peace.”

Richard Vrckoff wrote: “Greyhound racing lost a true legend today. My sincere condolences to Kenny’s family and many, many friends within the industry. RIP Kenny.”

One of the worst things anyone can go through in life is losing a loved one. Any journey must have a destination at the end. The person’s time on earth has regrettably come to an end now that they have died.

We wish him eternal peace and send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones, family, friends. May he rest in peace.

Kindly use the comment box below to honor the death of Ken Cheetham by leaving a tribute.


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