THE retirement of Fernando Bale to stud was expected following his come-from-behind victory in a Free For All at Sandown Park on December 17.
The plaudits for his truly great career are numerous and well-deserved. There are those who consider him to be the greatest racer the country has ever seen; an argument that can be started but never really won, no matter which side of the fence you sit on.
Once the euphoria settles, no matter how Fernando Bale is eventually viewed, there is no doubt at all that he came along at the perfect time, in what were, and realistically still are, the darkest days for the sport. For his contribution to the racing scene in 2015 he will forever be remembered, even if the mainstream media failed to notice, or, more correctly, chose to ignore his incredible efforts.
As most people will be well aware, Fernando Bale was sired by the American greyhound Kelsos Fusileer, the stated aim of breeder Paul Wheeler being to bring outcross to Australian bloodlines. There’s no doubt Wheeler has succeeded, probably beyond even his most fanciful dreams.
I confess to having little real knowledge of the intricacies of breeding, and the methodologies used by the likes of Paul Wheeler and many others to select what they consider to be the most potent bloodlines.
What I have noticed in the case of Kelsos Fusileer is that there is, in fact, a powerful Australian connection. It tracks all the way back, perhaps a little ironically, to Chief Havoc, the greyhound many considered to be the greatest racer ever seen in Australia, at least until the emergence of Zoom Top in the late 1960s.
Chief Havoc emerged in 1946, and quickly made his mark on the greyhound landscape, at the same time as the mighty Bernborough was sweeping all before him on the thoroughbred tracks. Both provided a much-needed fillip to Australians who had endured the Great Depression and the Second World War.
As well, the sensational sprinter, and later pre-potent sire, Rocket Jet also appears in the bloodlines of Kelsos Fusileer.
Chief Havoc and Rocket Jet appear on both sides of Kelso Fusileer’s pedigree, albeit seven generations back, through a greyhound named Tell You Why.
Tell You Why was a brindle dog whelped in March 1957 by Rocket Jet out of Gorgeous Babe, who was sired by Chief Havoc.
Tell You Why performed well on the track, winning the 1959 Bi-Annual Classic (now the Peter Mosman Memorial) at Harold Park and running second in the NSW Country Championship Final at Wentworth Park. He missed making the 1958 NSW St Leger (now Paws of Thunder) final by a neck, running third in his semi-final, at what was his first official race start. Note: A heat and quarter-final were run in those days, but were non-betting events.
Tell You Why raced about 19 times for eight wins and around nine placings before he was sold to American interests and went to stud. He was a sensation, becoming the number one US sire in 1968 and 1969 and in 1978 he was inducted into the US Hall of Fame. He was considered to be possibly the most influential sire of the previous half century in the United States.
Australian greyhounds have had a huge influence on American breeding, going back literally eight or more decades. For example, in the American Hall of Fame (established in 1963) eight of the first nine inductees all traced their lineage to Just Andrew, an Australian greyhound brought to the United States in 1929.
So, while Fernando Bale brings Australian racing a welcome outcross, it’s only because, in turn, Australians gave the Americans the self-same opportunity for an outcross so many years ago.