It has been said in the past, that a good way to judge a sire is to see how many dogs he produces that are as good, if not better on the track, than the sire was himself. While it may be a subjective argument, and obviously doesn’t apply to all and sundry, it is interesting to compare that strategy to the dozens of sire available today.
With so many options to choose from now – from dashers to stayers, imports and home-grown – it can almost be mind-numbing looking through the databases, trying to compare one to the other. Perhaps using the method above is a way to separate the field somewhat and get a grip on any represented value.
While obviously most breeders/owners will be looking for a certain set of non-negotiables when selecting – temperament, tenacity, strength/speed etc – it’s remains intriguing to have a look at those on the sires list which appear to be over-achieving, and also those that may not have lived up to expectation.
When comparing track ability to stud ability, Lilli Pilli Lad can put forward claims of being an over-achiever. Having only faced the starter a dozen times for 9 wins, all in the home state of Tassie, ‘Jack’ was never given the chance to dominate around the country. But with bloodlines such as his, it wasn’t long until his genetic influence started to show. Being a son of Light of Fire and Tranquil Flame, Lilli Pilli Lad was a full brother to Awesome Assassin, albeit from a different litter. While his prodigy wasn’t able to match the feats of his legendary brother, they certainly gave value for the price tag set by Susan Gittus. Star littermates Fallen Zorro and Chinatown Lad lead a list of notable Group performing offspring including, Lilli Pilli Power, Avalon Chief, Atomic Jet and Lansvale Fire. The success has continued on with Ming Dynasty making the National Distance Final last year – a son of Chinatown Lad.
A more current example of dog doing his price tag proud is Path To Power. With a racing career struck down by injury, his only notable feature win came via the Group 3 Launching Pad at Sandown. When comparing to the accolades of the other top name sires, it pales into insignificance, yet remains an excellent achievement to sit within the top 25 sires for 2012.
His notable progeny so far include Lethal Weapon, Galaxy High, Luke’s a Missile and recent Richmond Derby winner Path to Vegas. Path to Power’s dam, Star Witch, was a Group 1 winner herself and the evergreen ‘Witch’ line keeps on keeping on. No doubt the dynasty of success will continue to grow at Paul Westerveld’s Meticulous Lodge the longer Path to Power continues to serve.
However for every success story there is one at the other end of the scale.
Whisky Assassin was one of the most remarkable dogs we’ve seen in modern times. The 2004 greyhound of the year was a marvel on the track, with wins in the highest quality races possible, including a dominating Topgun win and several feature wins around NSW and Victoria.
But at this stage, we haven’t seen the son of Awesome Assassin and Princess Whisky recreate the same magic through his offspring. While there have been plenty of bread and butter dogs around, it’s the lack of top end talent that has been the most surprising.
Looking through the limited list of second generation whelpings, and only Chevez (Hallucinate x Drunken Treasure) stands out, making it through to open company in Queensland over the shorter distances.
In a similar category is Whisky Assassin’s half-brother Modern Assassin (Awesome Assassin x Magic Gairn). Also regarded as the premier racer of his time, only Paws of Thunder winner Suave Fella stands out amongst a limited list of top-end ability chasers to come from the proud black dog.
Lacking nothing on the breeding side, as Magic Gairn (Malawi’s Price x Fancy Gairn) was an excellent producer, and the limited success of Modern Assassin at stud has come as a surprise.
He is not alone though, as Placard (Malawi’s Prince – Gem’s Delight) was an excellent NSW greyhound and winner of the Group 1 National Sprint, that unfortunately too has failed to give a chaser of similar stature. In a decade of being on the stud books and considering the amount of patronage Placard has received at stud over that period of time, the list of successful progeny should probably be longer. Not that Arejay Ace, Ray Reltub, Excessive Heat and Wongawillicath weren’t chasers worth having but the lack of consistent black-type winners does happen to be noticeable.
Obviously there is no hard and fast rule as to what will make a successful sire. There are rules-of-thumb, as well as precedents set by the legends of our sport – Brett Lee, Bombastic Shiraz, El Galo, Where’s Pedro and many other superstar sires were all champs on the track and bred in the purple – and it has been seen how repeatedly they throw chasers of similar class. But it doesn’t always work that way. The chasers mentioned above are examples of the fickle nature of the breeding game, and adds to the unpredictability that no doubt keeps the industry kicking.