Brian Parsons jokes that he still has five of his nine lives left and that’s a very good thing because the 76-year-old owner/breeder has plenty to look forward to with his brilliant young litter brothers Simon Told Helen and Who Told Stevie.
Brian was trackside at The Meadows last Wednesday to watch Simon Told Helen and Who Told Stevie, both trained by David Burnett, run the quinella in the Group 3 Great Chase, continuing the sensational opening to their careers.
Just a neck separated the siblings, which have both won five of their seven starts.
Parsons has bravely overcome several serious health issues – including a 25-minute visit to “heaven” following a heart attack – but there’s no doubt he’s a survivor and his health concerns have been integral to his remarkable greyhound racing journey.
“I’ve been pretty crook a few times,” Parsons said.
“I had a stroke back in ’91. I came good and I went to see my GP Mick Carroll and he asked me to go in a horse with him. I’d had horses before and wasn’t real keen so Mick said to think about a greyhound.
“Then in 2002 I had to go into hospital for surgery on throat cancer. Simon Crowley was my surgeon and Mick Carroll said if I could get Simon to go into a greyhound he would get the rest of the syndicate.
“The surgery was a success and when Simon came in after my surgery I told him I had a proposition for him – to go halves in a greyhound. He asked how much it cost and when I said $40 a month he said he was in.
“No sooner had Simon walked out than my GP walked in and I told Mick I’ve got Simon so he needed to get the rest!”
The remainder of the Emma’s Boys Syndicate comprises Brian’s late wife Margaret, John O’Toole and Paul Douglas.
The partnership’s first greyhound was Spacies Girl – Emma – which was purchased off Angela Langton and trained by Jeff Britton and after a short 11-start career produced her first litter to 2004 National Derby winner Pacific Sky.
“I don’t care about the money. I’ve waited 20 years for dogs like this. They’ve kept me alive” – Brian Parsons
That litter included Who Told Helen, raced by the Emma’s Boys Syndicate and also trained by Jeff Britton.
“We found out that someone had told Simon Crowley’s wife Helen that he owned a greyhound so we named her Who Told Helen,” Parsons recalled.
“We’ve kept it going with the names to rub it in!
“After the Great Chase last week I asked Helen should I send the cheque to you or Simon! She’s pretty happy about it now.”
Who Told Helen had four litters, with her third mating, to Cosmic Rumble, including Who Told Lindylu, whose first litter, to Barcia Bale, is headlined by rising stars Simon Told Helen and Who Told Stevie.
“They’re going fantastic. David (Burnett) is doing a great job and I prefer him to be the spokesman when it comes to the dogs,” Brian said.
One thing that Brian made crystal clear is that Simon Told Helen and Who Told Stevie are not for sale at any price. They mean too much to him.
“David mentioned to me at The Meadows that he was approached by somebody that wanted to buy Simon Told Helen and take it over to England for the Derby and breed from it,” Brian said.
“They were talking about $250,000 but they’re not for sale.
“I don’t care about the money. I’ve waited 20 years for dogs like this and they’ve done so much for me. They’ve kept me alive.
“I lost my wife two and a half years ago and the dogs give me a reason to get up every morning. I’m up every day at five to get started with them.
“I was in heaven for 25 minutes after I had a cardiac arrest at the bowling club but my mate Chris Hayes worked on me for 25 minutes and saved my life.
“I reckon I’ve still got five lives left and I want to enjoy these dogs and hopefully breed a few more before I’m finished!”
Who Told Stevie will now head to Sandown Park on Thursday to contest a Melbourne Cup prelude, while Simon Told Helen will return to The Meadows on Monday, Melbourne Cup Eve, for the Group 3 Silver Bullet.
FEATURED PHOTO: Brian Parsons (right) and fellow owners John O’Toole and Dr Michael Carroll celebrate their TAB Great Chase win.