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Breeding: SIRE: Lively Band DAM: Monalee Again
Whelped : 12/03/1978
Owner/Trainer : John ‘Brian’ Lenehan
Career Race Record : Broodbitch inductee
Career Prizemoney : Broodbitch inductee
A single $2 bet placed in 1978 changed the lives of a family and started a greyhound racing dynasty that is still winning races today.
Brian Lenehan’s $2 Quaddie bet led to a collect in the vicinity of $1,000, inspiring the Warrnambool man to purchase his first greyhound, a pup with full Irish bloodlines being by Lively Band out of Monalee Again.
That greyhound turned out to be Sydney Gem, who had a modest racing career before having a remarkable influence on the landscape of Victorian greyhound breeding.
“I bought her for $800 as a pup at three months of age after seeing the litter advertised in the Sporting Globe newspaper. The dam was bred by Pat Dalton, who had been the number one breeder and owner in Ireland for 20 years. I wanted a greyhound I could eventually breed with and I figured she was worth the punt,” Lenehan recalled.
Lenehan couldn’t have been more accurate. Sydney Gem had an unusual upbringing, being the only greyhound on Lenehan’s property and learning to gallop with the help of other dog breeds on the farm such as hunting dogs, cattle dogs and whippets.
It was around that time Lenehan was lucky to survive a serious trucking accident that saw him in hospital for seven weeks and laid up for 12 months.
As such Lenehan handed training duties to Pat Boucher.
“Sydney Gem won a few races, all in the country, and when she retired I bred her to Tangaloa.”
“I advertised the pups but I couldn’t sell them. They all ended up winning in town so not selling them was the best thing that could’ve happened to me.”
“Over the next few years we bred a number of litters with her with every one of them producing city winners.”
“The best of them was Sydney Dingaan (Chief Dingaan x Sydney Gem) who won the 1985 Melbourne Cup at 22 months of age.”
“Many of her daughters also became great producers including Hoppy’s Girl, who won the Victorian Broodmatron of the Year title in 1993.
“The line produced superstars such as Dallas Duo, Wild Pirate, Black Pirate, Nashemraro, Sheedy, Bomber Gleeson, You Idiot, Star Of Mine, Band Of Stars and Immortal Flash.”
“Even today with the ‘Lektra’ greyhounds such as Lektra Jay winning the (Group 2) Rookie Rebel demonstrates that the line is still producing winners today.”
“Looking back, I got pretty lucky because she was an import, and somehow she just kept producing winners.”
The Sydney Gem story is a classic tale of the Luck of the Irish indeed.