Every trainer and owner dreams of having a greyhound good enough to snare a group race. For Box Hill trainer Sid Swain and owner Garry Thurgate that greyhound was Billy The Sid but as is the devastating nature of the industry, they were never able to experience their moment in the spotlight due to persistent injuries which have now left no other option but to retire the talented chaser.
Billy The Sid was whelped on the 13th July 2010 and is a son of Golden Easter Egg hero Cosmic Rumble, out of Doreen Drynan’s Midnight Lace. The red fawn dog was purchased by Thurgate, his son Cameron and friend Bill Zahra as a pup and always showed ability, running scorching times on the trial track before his career started.
“He was a natural. He never really needed to be broken in, he did it all himself because all he wanted to do was chase”, Thurgate said.
“Sid has broken-in a number of dogs that have gone on to win group races and become stud dogs and he was breaking all their times as a pup”.
“He trialled at Richmond when was breaking-in and went around the 22.30 second mark which for a 15-16 month old pup is unheard of.”
His terrific times translated directly onto the racetrack, breaking the 515 metre track record at Gosford (29.45 seconds) at just his second race start when only 19 months of age. From there, Billy The Sid went on to post fast winning times at Bulli (26.14 seconds), Unibet Gardens (29.33 seconds), Dapto (29.72 seconds) and Wentworth Park (29.73 seconds) .
Throughout his short career, Billy The Sid won twelve races and also made three group finals. His first crack at a group race came at start number nine when lining up for the group three Ranvet Gold Cup at Bulli. Although he had no luck, Billy The Sid bounced back in brilliant style winning his next start at Wentworth Park in a fast 30.08 seconds. The tenacious speedster then went on to qualify for the group two Sporting Bet Megastar at Dapto and the Group two Multicam Systems Blacktop at Unibet Gardens.
After racing consistently in group company in NSW, Swain made the interstate trip to Sandown Park to target the group one TAB Melbourne Cup. Starting from box seven in his heat, Billy The Sid tried to make a run down the back but seemingly ran out of puff.
What was thought to be a disappointing performance was revealed to be a career threatening injury, which sidelined the freakish sprinter for four months.
“He ruptured a stopper ligament in the heat of the Melbourne Cup. The injury left the ligament permanently contracted but on vets advice we were told that once healed he could get through his races by stretching the ligament before each race. Sid worked with him and he required constant physio during the week and after each run”, Thurgate explained.
In March this year, Billy The Sid made his highly anticipated return to the racetrack, claiming a race at Wentworth Park in a quick 30.13 seconds. Unfortunately this would be the last time the prized pup would be victorious, although he did return two weeks later for the heats of the group one Golden Easter Egg. After leading all the way, Billy The Sid, uncharacteristically weakened finishing second behind Stetson Donna. Returning for the semi-finals the following week he found nothing but trouble crossing the line in sixth position.
Billy The Sid only had one more start after his courageous efforts in the Egg series. On Golden Easter Egg night, he exited box eight in a FFA but was unable to hold his prominent early position again finishing down the track. It was discovered after the race that the brave greyhound had broken down completely from his injury and despite Swain’s best efforts; he has been unable to recover to the extent where he can comfortably race again.
For Thurgate it has not been an easy ride with Billy The Sid. As a youngster capable of absolutely anything on the racetrack, to have his career cut short at less than three years of age is heartbreaking. Nonetheless what he managed to achieve is admirable, especially for a greyhound plagued by persistent injury.
“It’s not easy to get these sorts of dogs. We didn’t care that he was racing in elite company at such a young age because he had so much talent”, Thurgate said.
“When he was right and if he led them, I don’t think there would have been a dog on the planet that could catch him”.
With his racing career now over, Billy The Sid will now embark on a career at stud. Despite not cracking through for a deserved group win, there is no denying he possesses all the right traits to be a star at stud.
“He has all the attributes to make it at stud,” Thurgate said, “I am not going to blow the trumpet until the pups are on the track but he had it all- blistering speed and a keen chaser”.
“We have had a sperm count done and it was very high so that’s a positive. We are going to stand him with Sid who is a registered stud master because the dog is comfortable with Sid, he has a good diet there and of course Sid loves him. Above all it’s about his welfare and his happiness and he is happiest with Sid”.
“Hopefully he will get some quality bitches but we are not trying to sell him to people. We want to have fun with him at stud and we want people who love him as much as we do using him”.
Whilst it is disappointing to know that we will never see the best of Billy The Sid, the talented pup did a remarkable job on the track from limited starts with the dismay now turning to excitement to discover what he can produce in the breeding barn.