Barry’s Maturity triumph sparked Qld holiday party

\"\"CAPTION: Top Victorian breeder Barry Smith has great memories of Mepunga Hayley’s win in the 2014 Group 1 Maturity at The Meadows.

By David Brasch

BARRY Smith knows when and how to party even if the setting is a caravan park at Maroochydore on Queensland\’s Sunshine Coast.

Barry is the premier Victorian greyhound breeder who come July will hark back to 2014 when The Meadows was the scene of his greatest triumph.

It was the night of the Group 1 Maturity at The Meadows – the race that makes champions.

Barry was not at The Meadows, rather on his annual winter holiday at the Sunshine Coast where two of his children live to this day.

Not only did Barry\’s great race bitch Mepunga Hayley (Bekim Bale-Mepunga Harmony) win the Maturity, but Mepunga Tiara (Premier Fantasy-Mepunga Opal) also downed a superstar field to win the Group 1 AWM Distance Championship.

\”I can tell you, the cheering to come out of that caravan at Maroochydore that night was something else,\” said Barry. \”So much so that the next day we went and got a couple of slabs of beer and put on fish and chips for the entire caravan park.\”

Not that Barry was finished with the Maturity by any means.

He promptly went and won it again in 2017 this time with Mepunga Blazer (Barcia Bale-Mepunga Nicky).

\”The Maturity is a race that sets up a dog for the future,\” said Barry. \”And, just to get into the final of a Maturity is an achievement. Only the best do.\”

Barry Smith is right. Look at the recent history of Maturity winners which includes Simon Told Helen, Sennachie, Dyna Patty, Mepunga Blazer, Fernando Bale, Mepunga Hayley, Barcia Bale etc etc etc. The list goes on and on.

\”It\’s always a thrill to win a Group 1 but the Maturity is special because of the quality of dog who makes it to the final,\” said Barry.

Jeff Britton is Barry\’s choice of trainer these days and the pair have combined to race many great race dogs. Barry first started in the industry decades ago with Jeff\’s dad Alan as his trainer.

\”Jeff has always said we never saw the best of Mepunga Blazer,\” said Barry. \”Fortunately he has become a very good stud dog. He got a great response from breeders in his first year at stud and the results are coming through now.

\”He was bred for chase.

\”That has always been my criteria when breeding.\”

It is also why Barry has bred several litters by Mepunga Cruzer a full-brother to Mepunga Blazer but from a repeat mating of Barcia Bale-Mepunga Nicky.

\”Jeff Britton told me Mepunga Cruzer is the fastest dog he has ever put a lead on,\” said Barry. \”He raced only four times for four wins – all in the best of the day. He broke down.

\”To show you how good he was, Jeff took him to Geelong for a trial from the puppy boxes. If they run 18.30 a pup is going great. Mepunga Cruzer went 17.27.

\”At 16 months of age, Jeff trialled him at The meadows and he went 29.70.\”

Barry has mated him to Mepunga Bella and Mepunga Rosie and has huge hopes for both.

Barry Smith has been breeding greyhounds for decades and put into them the ideas he has garnered from a lifetime of breeding dairy cows. He will utilise hybrid vigor with outcross sires in many of his bloodlines, but judiciously breed back to the best local sires available with the bitches from those outcross matings.

\”I start educating my pups from the time they are eight to 12 weeks old putting them on squeakers and the drag,\” he said. \”What they learn at that age is never forgotten.

\”I\’ve found pups by Fernando Bale need four times the work of pups by any other sire.

\”The Barcia Bale pups are generally naturals, but we have learned from experience you cannot go off too early with them. We always wait until they are 20 months old before starting to race Barcias.\”

But Barry is adamant rearing is 60 per cent of the success of breeding greyhounds.

\”Lots of galloping,\” he says.

Barry, 72, has recently undergone a back operation the result of a fall some time ago.

He\’s back walking around with a fluent stride.

He missed out on his Sunshine Coast holiday last year because of border closures but is confident he\’ll be back at Maroochydore in July … just in time for the Maturity series at The Meadows.

\”The difference this year to 2014 and 2017 though is that all our dogs coming through are only young and not ready for the Maturity,\” he said.

Which must be bad news for all those other July residents of the caravan park at Maroochydore.

The fish and chips and couple of slabs of beer will have to wait for another year.

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