Yesterday, the greyhound racing industry was rocked by the sad news that the champion race and stud dog, Bombastic Shiraz, had passed away. The son of Black Shiraz and Bombastic Blonde was whelped on the 18th March 2001 and was owned and trained throughout his career by Victorian mentor Darren Cairns. The striking black chaser faced the starter on 35 occasions throughout his illustrious career, from which he recorded 18 wins, six seconds and five thirds and prizemoney earnings in excess of $355,000. Bombastic Shiraz was named the 2003 Australian Greyhound of the Year after his barnstorming victories when claiming the ‘Triple Crown’ of greyhound racing- the Topgun, Shoot Out and Melbourne Cup during the spring racing carnival.
“He was just a ferocious chaser”, Cairns said of the dog he lovingly knew as Bailey, “I have never had a dog chase harder than him, he would literally run through a brick wall. I have had some hard chasers but nothing like him and he was smart- he could run his way through a field, he could go under and around and he was strong”.
“He had a magnificent will to win and he was dirty if he didn’t win. He was very much his own sort of dog, he was the boss and I think the dogs around him knew that he was the boss. That was just the way he raced”.
Cairns can still recall the time when he and his parents, David and Kaye Cairns, first realised that they had a very special greyhound on their hands- when ‘Bailey’ was first broken-in
“Mum and dad broke him in down at Tommy and George Dailly’s, I didn’t go down to see him trial, but they came back with rave reports and they couldn’t speak highly enough about him- he was running times that their race dogs couldn’t run”
“We had pretty high hopes for him, he was a little bit of a duffer out of the boxes early on, but he was always very strong and chased hard”
Bombastic Shiraz was well-known throughout his career for his amazing ability to come from behind. What was more remarkable was the fact that he could still do this when he reached the highest level of racing and still win emphatically. The 2003 Group 1 Melbourne Cup was one such race. Cairns regards his victory from box one in the prestigious event as his best
“Our favourite race was always his Melbourne Cup win. He basically won it coming from last and that just doesn’t happen. It’s the most prestigious race in the country and everyone wants to win it. The way he won it was a huge run and it just shows the type of dog he was”.
Once his racetrack days were over, Bombastic Shiraz made the move to the breeding barn- although he never actually left Cairns’ property. From his first litter to Floodfawn, Bombastic Shiraz sired the sensational Flashing Floods and in doing so he became the first sire to produce a group 1 winner from his first mating. However, it was no fluke. Bombastic Shiraz continued to throw champions throughout his stud career, a feat which saw him become the ARGA Sire of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2012-2013.
“He stayed with us all the time, we just took him over to do his stud work. Basically he never spent a night away from our house. We always said that he was a family dog so we never actually left him with a stud master”
“You hope that they throw something. I know the stud master at the start, Bob Douglas, said that if he throws his chase into his pups he will be set for life and that’s what he did. He had a great temperament and he threw good temperament into his dogs and an amazing will to win- they all wanted to chase”
“So much of him was in his pups and we always got a great thrill out of watching them race. Looking back today, we could have never believed that he could do what he did. You hope that you have a great race dog, but to have a great stud dog as well is very rare”.
“He was an amazing dog because he could throw sprinters, stayers, dogs and bitches. Most dogs don’t throw many good bitches, but I’d say his bitches nearly out performed his dogs. That was the thing about him- they were all just so tough and they got a lot of longevity out of them- he had dogs that were still racing in top company at four years of age”.
Bombastic Shiraz is also the sire of Australia’s top prizemoney earning greyhound- the mighty Miata. While it is hard to go passed her when considering his best progeny, Cairns has a special place in his heart for many of his pups
“You would be hard to say that there has been one better than her (Miata) but we are really great friends with Kelvin and Jackie Greenough so we always had a soft spot for Cindeen Shelby. There was also Bobby Boucheau, Flashing Floods, Velocette- they were all special dogs and we got just as much of a thrill out of watching them win and race as the dog himself”.
Bombastic Shiraz retired from stud duties last year, but was still a much loved pet by the Cairns family until his passing last week. Cairns said that he lived a long, happy life and was in good health, however the effects of old age eventually took their toll
“He was over 12 ½ and was on his way to 13, so he had a pretty full life. His health was great right up until the day he passed away. It wasn’t so much of a shock because of his age, he was looking a bit old and his breathing hadn’t been great and we knew that he had some heart problems. Basically that’s what happened to him- he died of a heart attack”
“I think people probably forget how old they are. It was a good innings for a greyhound when you are getting up close to 13, it’s a pity that they don’t live a bit longer. We would have loved for him to live forever but it doesn’t work that way”
Although it is an extremely sad time for his family, Cairns is able to look back at the wonderful career and achievements of his remarkable chaser. While he may now be gone, there is no doubt that the black flash will leave a lasting impact on the greyhound racing industry for years- and decades- to come
“I think he will be in the stud books for a long time. In 100 years’ time they will still be talking about him, they probably won’t be talking about any of us, but they will be talking about him”
“It was an honour and a privilege for us to have had him for the 13 years that he was on the planet. We feel absolutely lucky, I don’t know how he ended up with us, or who decided that we were going to get him, but as I said it was an honour and a privilege. He will be much loved until we leave here as well”.