By MIKE HILL
PAT Ryan did the unthinkable – he rugged up the first four in the Launceston Breeders Classic (515m) in late March only days before racing was shutdown in Tasmania because of coronavirus.
\”It was a great result,\” said Ryan, who is based at Dilston, just north of Launceston.
\”We thought we had a good winning chance but never imagined landing the first four. We drew well and the boxes suited our dogs.\”
But the eventual winner, Ava Wine ($16), wasn\’t Ryan\’s first choice. Runner-up Savage Victor ($2.60) was the favoured runner after drawing the inside box, while third placegetter Handsome Prince ($5) has been, in Ryan\’s words, the standout of the litter since day one.
\”He has always shown a little bit more than the others,\” he said.
The remaining member of the SH Avatar-See Blue\’s Girl litter in the final and the only bitch – $31 outsider Splotched – finished fourth.
Ryan said another member of the litter – the smart Supreme Shadow – was recovering from injury and the sixth member – also a bitch – was in Queensland.
\”I\’m very happy with the litter,\” he said. \”I bred the pups in partnership with (Townsville owner) Mick Waters. I\’ve had dogs with Mick for 30 years.
\”We raced the mother (See Blue\’s Girl) together with good success. She\’s now back in Townsville with Mick.\”
Ryan also trained the talented Group winning bitch Wine Glass in the late 90s for Waters.
The well-bred Head Honcho chaser won the G1 Eukanuba (Brisbane) Cup at Albion Park in 1997 and also qualified for the finals of the Melbourne Cup, Adelaide Cup and Coca Cola Bottlers Cup (Albion Park) and represented Queensland in the National Sprint Final at Angle Park.
Wine Glass later became a successful foundation broodbitch for her Townsville owner.
\”Mick has bred his line across five generations from Wine Glass to this current smart litter,\” the trainer said.
Ryan, who has been around greyhounds most of his life – his father trained greyhounds in Townsville and his grandfather had greyhounds in Ireland – said he linked up with Wine Glass soon after leaving north Queensland and moving to Brisbane in 1996.
\”Mick had just bought Wine Glass and her brother Hero\’s Walk as three-month-old pups,\” he said.
\”I said \’you can send them down as soon as I settle in to Brisbane and they arrived when they were 10 months old.’
\”In those days I only trained four dogs at any one time and I stayed in Brisbane for 10 years before returning to Townsville after my mum died.\”
Ryan, who was born in Tully and grew up in Townsville, stayed another six years in the north Queensland city before moving to Tasmania several years back after his father passed away.
\”I love it here in Tasmania,\” he said. \”It\’s a great climate for rearing dogs, but it\’s not easy to win races here.\”
Ryan has based himself on a five-acre property at Dilston.
\”We are central to the three Tassie tracks – Launceston, Devonport and Hobart,\” he said. \”Devonport is only a one-and-a-quarter-hour drive away, while Hobart is two-and-a-quarter hours away.\”
His complex comprises two kennel blocks – one for the dogs and one for the bitches and each has its own emptying yards.
He also has two sawdust-based straight runs – again one for the boys and one for the girls – and a two-acre free galloping paddock.
\”I separate the sexes. The dogs seem to settle better being by themselves,\” Ryan said. \”There\’s no barking or snarling … it works for me.\”
The current shutdown of racing in Tasmania was originally expected to last four weeks, but Ryan thinks it will last longer than that.
\”Currently we are receiving $50-a-week compensation for every dog which is a help,\” he said.
His biggest regret is that with the shutdown his smart litter will miss the opportunity to race in the age-restricted classics for young dogs, which are likely to be abandoned this year.
Instead, he will have to focus on the three big features – the G3 Devonport Cup (452m), the G1 Hobart Thousand (461m) and the G2 Launceston Cup (515m), starting later in the year.