By David Brasch
ROBBIE Britton had a theory about the progeny of champion stud dog Bombastic Shiraz that he proved to himself over and over again.
Robbie says the progeny of Bombastic Shiraz that were leggy dogs were generally always the better of his progeny. But those by Bombastic Shiraz that were chunky dogs, thick legged, were generally the slow ones.
When pups by Bombastic Shiraz came into the Robbie Britton kennel, he virtually knew from day one just what he could expect from them simply by looking at their build.
Robbie has been around greyhound racing as long as most can remember so he knows what he is talking about and from those observations he can plan for his future.
He’s trained many great champions and is readily accessible as a guiding light in all things greyhound racing. Owners, trainers, officialdom can easily turn to him for advice on any and all subjects.
Considering the number of greyhounds he has trained, the champions to have gone through his kennel, his thoughts on breeding are a must to be sourced.
He proved the Bombastic Shiraz observation over and over again.
Robbie gets to train the progeny of all manner of sires and quickly gets to know what traits they have.
“The progeny of Head Honcho were a nightmare,” he said. “All they wanted to do was jump up, chew on the wire in their kennels and generally be hypo. His son Go Wild Teddy passed on the same.
“Collision’s offspring are great kennel dogs, and pups by Fernando Bale are a beautiful nature.
“But, nearly every good bitch by Fernando Bale has got leg and size,” he said of the champion sire who produced for Robbie his champion stayer Tornado Tears. “A lot of small bitches by Fernando Bale are not much good.
“But what is interesting with Fernando Bale’s progeny is that they need their confidence boosted all the time. We will often take them to a racetrack between races for a lead-on to a squeaker.”
He has also won many Group races with the progeny of that other dominant stud dog Barcia Bale.
“Barcia Bale produces an incredibly fast animal,” he said. “For pace, he is as quick as any sire ever. But he has got a downside as well.
“I have found soft tissue injuries, torn back muscles and triangular muscles, are a worry. And, many of the Barcia Bale progeny do not have long race careers, not 80 starts or more as you would want.
“But, I have also noticed this trait is NOT carrying on via his sons or daughters with their careers at stud even though it is early days.”
Robbie has just mated one of his own bitches to his former Group 1 star Benali (Barcia Bale-Born Ali) who is still the fastest ever Wentworth Park winner by Barcia Bale.
Britton says when breeding the greyhound foremost in a breeders mind should be ‘value for money’.
“We must breed for a city career for the offspring,” he said. “Champions are a fluke and we can never guarantee that is what we will get from any mating we do.
“But, we must breed to get 500 metre dogs suited to city racing. And, that can sometimes mean ignoring really fast race dogs and sometimes successful sires.
“Two that come to mind are El Grand Senor and Elite State. They were incredibly quick dogs, and their progeny were often the same, but generally their progeny struggled to get 500 metres.
“We have to be hard-nosed when selecting stud dogs.”
Robbie is not adverse to using an unproven stud dog but has some specific ideas about which ones he would use.
“If you are going to use an unproven stud dog, then I would suggest the dog must have come out of a good litter and a very good family,” he said. “I would not use an unproven stud dog if he was the only good one of a litter. If you look closely, most good stud dogs have got a really good mother.
“Breeders MUST remember, it is all about cutting down the odds and putting them in your favour. Not enough breeders take this into consideration. And, then we have to ride for a bit of luck.”
When looking at potential broodbitches, Robbie says he loves the front-running 600m bitch.
“I like them to be good beginners, and of course come from a good family,” he said. “I don’t like breeding from tiny bitches.”
If there is one fault a bitch had during her race career that Robbie Britton is willing to forgive, it is a fighter.
“I have never seen a fighter that was slow,” he said. “Yes, when a bitch that fought during her race career goes to stud, you might get a pup or two that will receive this fault.
“But, you could also get a champ from such a bitch.”
He is also wary about timid bitches.
“In this case, it all depends on the circumstances,” he said. “Take Tears Siam, the mother of Tornado Tears. She was slightly timid, but because she was such a good race bitch and a sister to a champion, she had to be given her chance.
“With many timid bitches, they will throw that onto some of their offspring and, in today’s world, it is hard enough to get dogs going without having to be confronted with another problem.
“In fact, the potential broodbitch I like most is one that had male traits. I don’t like a wimpy bitch because it will come out in her pups.”
He says over-racing of bitches is an old wives tale that has been disproved over and over again.
“Look at some of Paul Wheeler’s best producers,” he said. “They all had long race careers. Barb’s Melody had more than 100 starts and she produced 27 individual city winners. And what about Floodgate who raced 150 times.
“A lot of people retire a good race bitch far too early. Race her on. What did you breed her for in the first place … to get the top quality race bitch you have. You’ve already got the finished product.”
Robbie says it is no coincidence the same people continue to breed, rear and race the best dogs.
“They can’t be that lucky all the time.”
He is hard line about rearing saying it must be done right.
“The breeding goes down the mouth,” he says of rearing pups. “I love rearing pups in big paddocks and in my opinion that is the very best way. But not everyone can access those rearing properties.
“I knew of an old breeder years ago who bred a litter on a city house block and reared them in his back yard. But every single day he took those pups to a nearby footy park and made sure they galloped. They turned out a successful litter.”
It is advice well sourced. Robbie Britton has churned out champions, many Group stars, and more city winners than he can remember. It’s a lifetime of observation.
He’s learned a thing or two about breeding greyhounds.