Twenty three years after Fire Lad ran second in the 1995 Horsham Cup, greyhound breeders Ann and Thomas Sinnott are hoping to go one better with Solitary Girl in Saturday night’s Horsham Cup over 485 metres.
The Sinnotts are quiet achievers of the sport, having bred numerous top class greyhounds on their 100-acre property in Yambuk, a remote coastal town 46km west of Warrnambool.
The most recent champion they bred was Solitary Girl’s dam, Up And Away, winner of the 2010 Group 1 Laurels and two Group 2 events, the Ballarat Cup and TAB Great Chase.
“Solitary Girl looks a lot like Up And Away. They’re both fawn (in colour) and have similar natures, however Up And Away was a more consistent beginner,” Ann Sinnott said.
Rewind the clock further and the Sinnotts bred a finalist in the 1983 National Sprint Championship called Extra Progress.
They won the 1993 Hobart Thousand with Extra’s Boy, the 1995 Sydney Cup with Fire Lad and also bred a versatile superstar named Springress, who won over “every distance in Melbourne” during the early 1990s.
“We’ve bred seven generations of greyhounds and every litter we’ve ever bred has produced winners, including our very first litter, to Tangairn, in which every pup was Free For All class in Melbourne,” Thomas Sinnott said.
Solitary Girl, trained by Dennington father-son team Ray and Dustin Drew, has had 25 starts for nine wins and six minor placings and earned $18,895 in prize money.
She will start at long odds in the $47,000 to-the-winner Horsham Cup against seven of Victoria's best greyhounds including Aston Dee Bee and Out Of Range.
However, Thomas Sinnott remains hopeful that she can become the first female greyhound to win a Horsham Cup since Classic Capri in 2001.
“She (Solitary Girl) ran 2nd in her Horsham Cup heat on Friday night against a very good dog (Jimmy Newob), but she stuck the race out well to qualify for the final,” he said.
“She has shown brilliant early speed at times in her career and she has won twice in fast time at Sandown Park recently, so if she runs up to her best form you never know.”
Sinnott puts his breeding prowess down to a few simple things.
“We feed our pups really well because, apart from the dry food (kibble), virtually everything they eat is for human consumption.
“The meat we feed is quality stuff from an excellent supplier in Mount Gambier, and we give them fresh milk every day from a pet cow we have at home. Once upon a time nearly everyone had a house cow, but not anymore, so giving our pups the freshest of milk is a bit of an advantage we have over other breeders I suppose,” he said.
A common theme among successful breeders is ensuring their pups get plenty of human attention, and Sinnott is no different in his beliefs.
“I don’t just give them their milk to drink in the morning and walk away. I’ll give them a bit of a pat and show them plenty of affection.
“You get the odd pup that is a little bit shy, and the challenge is to win them over because you need all your pups to be confident around people,” he said.
Sinnott said the size of his land also plays in his favour when it comes to exercising his pups.
“I let them out into a large paddock and they run around like crazy and then just lie down and rest,” he said.
Sinnott says he’ll be breeding greyhounds for the rest of his life, insisting that having a winning formula makes it easy to continue, although he admits to be being more scientific about his breeding these days.
“I used to just go to the best sire I could, but these days I put a lot more thought into my breeding.
“I’ve got two young litters at the moment which are just six weeks old, so hopefully our success continues.”
Entry into Saturday night’s Group 2 Horsham Cup at the Horsham Showgrounds is free.
There’ll be plenty of entertainment on offer for the entire family, lots of kids entertainment and the Old England Pub will be set up for all to enjoy.
Gates open at 6pm, with racing from 7pm.