By DARREN PULEIO
(Breeder, owner of champions Hooked On Scotch, Poke The Bear and Out Of Range)
I’D be the first one to admit that when I first got into greyhound racing, I made a million mistakes, and I still make some today.
But, this is what entering a new industry, a new experience is all about and I have found that to limit those mistakes, mainly by seeking advice from the right people in any industry, we have the best opportunity to achieve the success we might crave.
I was lucky, my father Michael has been in greyhound racing ever since I was a kid.
I first got interested in greyhounds via stud dogs. I was fascinated how that part of the industry worked and decided to learn a bit about it.
By the time I was married and we had kids, I mentioned to my dad I was thinking of buying some land and breeding a litter or two. He wasn’t too complimentary about that idea.
Dad has lived on the same house block in suburban Melbourne for decades and has had four kennels there forever.
But, I was not to be denied and from those early breeding endeavours I learned a lot of dos and don’ts. I learned that the more handling of young pups the better.
We have to do the little things, that add up to one big success story. That old story of … the more you put in the more you get out … well it is true for greyhounds as well.
I believe the more handling you do with pups, the easier it is to break them in. Everything else comes to them easily.
I have never wanted to be a trainer. I leave that to people like Jason Thompson (trainer of Hooked On Scotch, Poke The Bear, Out Of Range etc). But, my breeding exploits have embraced all manner of experiments.
I’ve tried sprinters, stayers, experimented with different types of bitches … you name it.
In the past 10 years, I’ve settled on breeding with bitches that are able to stay, at least 600 metres. And, they have got to have won at city tracks, at least one of them in Melbourne, Sandown or The Meadows. And, I restrict my bitches to no more than 35 race starts. I always let them have a season before breeding with them.
When mating, I’ve always looked at a variety of things when choosing a stud dog, but I always look for one that will improve the line of the bitch. Nicki Fields needed early pace and that’s why I chose Fernando Bale for her.
There was also a bit of science to the mating because the cross we thought was pretty good.
If I was approached by newcomers to this industry, I would advise them to seek out reliable information, but also chase affordable pups.
Greyhound racing is a foreign world to newcomers, especially bloodlines, and finding out just what are the right lines to choose from.
Syndication, like that introduced by Sandown Club, is a cheap alternative for some and attractive to them.
Advice from reputable people is always the best. Some breeders will try to sell pups for $10,000 to $15,000 but the best advice might be that some of those are only worth $5000. This is what I mean by seeking the ‘right’ advice.
Our current bloodlines, that of the famous Portrait family, came from Paul and Noela Hogan. My dad would go to the Hogan’s kennels all the time to help out. Paul whelped a litter from Famous Portrait and gave my father one of the pups, a bitch we named Walking Portrait.
Walking Portrait was trained by Jason Thompson and I believe she was his first ever finalist in the Australian Cup. She is the fourth mother of Hooked On Scotch, Poke The Bear and Out Of Range.
I learnt from the Hogans how to feed our pups.
We have developed a formula that includes feeding lots of different things like wholemeal bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, red meat, chicken and once a week the pups get a stew.
Because dad has those four kennels at his inner-city home, we also use that as part of the initial program with our pups.
When they get to 10 months, dad will take two of the pups for a four-week course settling into the routine of a kennel.
At the end of those four weeks, he swaps that pair for another two. Our pups are educated at 14 months, never earlier. Then dad gets four of them back for a four to six week course of pre-training.
This is all part of the process in preparing young greyhounds for a racing life.
As I wrote earlier, we’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way and everyone will.
But, if newcomers seek out the best advice and stick to it, then they will have a chance of success. You will only ever get out of greyhound racing what you put into it.