Victorian trainer Paul Ryder must have believed the career of his exciting young stayer Shot To Bits was precisely that after the budding star took a heavy tumble in a heat of the Group One Bold Trease last Thursday at Sandown Park.
The black powerhouse was carried off the track and hearts sunk soon after when it was discovered that he sustained an injury to his right hock.
Scans taken last Friday revealed no fractures and a vet appointment yesterday revealed the extent of the injury.
“He has got some ligament tears and some overstretched ligaments in the hock area”, Ryder explained.
“He has his hock strapped up and he has a splint on it. It is strapped basically from his toe up to the top of his hock and he has got to have that on for 2-3 weeks just to give the ligaments time to settle and calm down from the stretching and tearing .
“After that it will probably just be light bandaging as we just try to get him back walking and mobile again.”
Ryder endured nearly a week of consultation with veterinarians and specialists to identify the injury and he is now relieved that it is not as severe as first anticipated. It appears that Shot To Bits will be able to return to the track once he has fully recovered.
“It is not great but it is good all the same. He will be off the scene for the best part of three months, unfortunately, but there is a good side to it and that is as long as it all heals up ok, he shouldn’t have any problems that carry on.
“It is good news to me, any news was going to be good so long as he is going to be ok.”
Ryder said despite his injury, Shot To Bits remains happy in himself.
“He is awesome. It doesn’t take too much to please him, if he can get on the couch he is quite happy.
“Being such a fit dog he can get a little bit over the top at times but now that the splint is back on he doesn’t like it being there and he is much calmer. That’s a good thing because otherwise he would be inclined to hurt himself.”
Shot To Bits, affectionately known as Morpha, is one of the most promising young stayers in the country.
The son of Bekim Bale and Eye The Tiger has started on 23 occasions resulting in 11 wins and four minor placings.
Among his victories was a success in the Group Three Top Cat Video Cup where he defeated a high calibre field including Sweet It Is, Xylia Allen, Zipping Maggie and Dyna Willow, while he also holds the track record at Bendigo over 660 metres.
While Shot To Bits recovers on the sidelines, Ryder will have his littermate Volksjager Blue, named after a German warplane, to keep the kennel going. The black dog has been a handy money spinner in his own right and will line up in race eight at Geelong this Friday.
“Volksjager Blue was a good second behind Shot To Bits ability wise when they came back from breaking in but I got him here and persisted with him. I kept doing little things just to try and keep him interested and very slowly he started to bridge the gap.”
Amazingly, they are the only greyhounds Ryder has in work and the first two that he has ever trained. While he has had an interest in the sport for about 10 years, it was only through former top Queensland trainer Ryan Ayre that he picked up the collar and lead.
“When Ryan used to race Bogie King in Melbourne he used to come down and stay here. I set up kennels and we got to know each other and formed a bit of a relationship.
“During one of his stays I mentioned that I would love to have a go at doing it myself one day. A few months later he rang up and told me one of his bitches was due to come on season and he asked me if he sent her down would I want to go halves in a litter.”
The duo selected Bekim Bale as the sire and the rest, as they say, is history. Ryder reared the litter of 10 pups at his house until they were around four months at which time they were sent back to Queensland. They remained in the Sunshine State until they were broken in, after which the pair returned to Ryder at his Corio residence.
Ryder said that there was always something special about Shot To Bits as a pup, with the trainer and greyhound forming a close friendship which remains to this day.
“Shot To Bits was switched on from day one. Funnily enough he was different to the others even as a pup, he was more forward and he was almost annoying in the fact that he was just in your face all the time.
“Me and him formed that bond in the first few months when he was a pup because he just wouldn’t leave me alone and, to be honest, now I am glad he wouldn’t.
“I couldn’t be any more grateful for what he has been able to achieve so far and hopefully there is more to come”.