Boronia’s Ryan family treat greyhound racing with unbridled passion.
So, they’ll be celebrating in style if Smart As Jack wins the $5600-to-the-winner Healesville Derby final (350m) on Sunday.
According to Healesville GRC club manager Cynthia O’Brien, the Ryans “live and breathe greyhound racing”.
Smart As Jack is owned by the Ryino Racing syndicate comprising Michael Ryan and his father, Darren.
In fact, Michael named Smart As Jack after his younger brother Jack, 21, who is Healesville’s track curator.
“We used to joke around as kids, and I would be the one coming up with ideas. Hence the saying ‘smart as Jack’ – anyway, I was always the smarter one,” Jack said tongue-in-cheek.
Michael bred Smart As Jack (Apr ’18 Moreira x Rose Magic) and Jack says he knew he was something special from a very young age.
“This dog’s nature is incredible, and he looks a picture. He’s like a show dog,” Jack said. “And massive credit must go to his trainer, Adele Powell. The time she puts in with her greyhounds is amazing.”
Adele says Smart As Jack, with six wins from eight starts, is currently the kennel star. He’s also unbeaten in three starts on Healesville’s straight track.
WATCH: Smart As Jack (4) win a Healesville Derby heat last week – and his big ‘leap’ approaching the winning post.
And she adds that Smart As Jack – affectionately dubbed “JR” (Jack Ryan) – is a bit of a lair.
“I’m not going mad, but he has a strange quirk of putting in two big ‘leaps’ and smiling approaching the finish line – it’s like a jockey going past the post in a big horse race,” Adele said.
Adele adds that Smart As Jack is a simply beautiful greyhound with a lovely nature. And she says he has another idiosyncrasy: “He doesn’t wag his tail from side to side, he wags it up and down.”
“I rate him a top chance coming out of box two as the top pick in ‘seven’ (Midnight Monarch) is very fast but needs the rails,” Adele said. “He’s got a great turn of foot at the 200-metre mark where he can put a couple of lengths on a field.”
Midnight Monarch (19.13sec) was the fastest heat winner last week, while Smart As Jack clocked 19.28sec. However, he does have a 19.18sec PB.
Smart As Jack is quoted at $3.60 and Powell says if you can get those odds “you’re shopping very well”.
The Healesville Derby is Race 8 at 1.19pm.
Pawnote: It’s a real family affair for the Ryans at Healesville GRC as Michael, 32, works there part-time, particularly on the gate and catching pen, while younger sister Courtney, 19, officiates on race days and trial sessions.