Still Firing At Five Years Of Age

When you imagine owning a dog that will win you over $200,000 in prizemoney, you probably envisage owning a group winner or a dog that has landed a couple of big feature events. But for owner Ryan Silvester and the Pride Of Five Syndicate, their dog, Pedro’s Finest has done it in a fashion that is a little against the grain.

Pedro’s Finest or Wally as he is affectionately known, turned five this week and the epitome of greyhound racing longevity is still performing as well as ever. He surpassed the $200,000 in earnings when he won his 39th race. Recently, he gave Magpie Bob an eight length start and ran him down. Magpie Bob has proven himself at group level in the eastern states both before and since that run, so at five years of age, Pedro’s Finest is one greybeard who is showing no signs of slowing down.

Silvester explains how they came to be associated with the gallant white and black chaser and the techniques that landed Wally the gig as their dog.

“Myself and four friends had decided to buy a pup and looked up the whelpings on the GRV site and saw the Where’s Pedro x Somerton Lass litter. I called the breeder Mick Delaney to see if he was going to sell any and a month later when they were three months old we went and picked him out of the last 9 that were left from a litter of 12. We had no idea what to look for in a pup but he stood out to us as every time we threw a stuffed teddy in the middle of them he was the one that appeared from the pack with the teddy in his mouth.”

Despite the fact that Pedro’s Finest started his career with a victory, finding a trainer prior to that wasn’t all beer and skittles for the syndicate.

“He was turned down by two Victorian trainers before he started racing based on his pre-training times which were just average. Mick (Delaney) said give him to me and I’ll get him going for you then, when he has some form on the board, we’ll find a trainer. Mick is good friends with Darren McDonald so when Wally started showing potential it was Mick who asked Darren if he wanted to give him a go. Darren then saw him trial at Warragul and then decided to take him.”

Pedro’s Finest won two of his first eight starts for Delaney and was very unlucky not to have won more, with a couple of unlucky fast finishing efforts. After transferring to Darren McDonald, he really started to blossom and won 13 races for the astute Devon Meadows mentor, stepping up to the middle distance which suited his racing style. It was a combination of fateful events and sound advice that saw “Wally” head to Western Australia to begin the next chapter of his remarkable career.

“Darren had to go to hospital for a major operation so he was clearing all dogs out of his kennels. I asked him to recommend someone to take over the training and Darren said if he was my dog I’d send him to WA, he’ll do well over there. That was a very difficult decision for us to make as we loved going to watch him race but we decided Darren, being such a good judge of dogs, we would go with his advice and send him to John (Iwanyk).”

Since that time Pedro’s Finest has gone to another level, winning no less than 24 races in the golden west, many of them over 715 metres. He also ran third to the champion bitch Miata in the Group 1 Galaxy.

Pedro’s Finest is the greyhound equivalent of a pensioner who can still compete in a sport at the top level. Every trainer would love to have a dog that is still zipping around with the gusto of Wally at his age, so I had to ask Silvester what he thought the secret was.

“He has been blessed to be with three good trainers who love their dogs so I think his overall happiness and his love of the chase. He has a magnificent temperament and from what trainers (Darren McDonald and John Iwanyk) have told me he is such a lovely laid back dog to have in the kennels. John even says he is like part of the family to him.”

Pedro’s Finest has amassed 140 starts, given that so many of them have been over the grueling staying distances, it is testament to his durability, although he has had his share of injuries too.

“He had a bone chip removed from his foot after his Maiden final which put him out for several weeks and also he had quite a serious hock injury in WA which had him sidelined for about three months.”

Owning a dog that has won 39 races would provide plenty of memories and create a real dilemma when it comes to space for photos on the wall. But when I asked Silvester which win was his favourite, the answer was simple.

“I would have to say his Maiden win at Sale. There have been lots of memorable wins but for me the Sale win on debut was a big thrill. All the owners made the three hour journey down to Sale to watch him and it was just such a big thrill. Although not a win, his third in the Group 1 Galaxy final behind Miata was also a big thrill.”

The obvious question for a dog like Pedro’s Finest is always going to be about his retirement but right now there’s clearly no reason for that.

“John has told us that Wally will tell us when he’s had enough but for now while he’s still very competitive and loves his racing he will continue. We are also going to register him for stud in the hope of one day getting a nice bitch that we can use him with.”

And you just never know, with the way he’s going, this time next year we might be writing about Wally as a six year old.

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