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True Collinda a Phoenix fairy tale

By her own admission, Steph Tyler was a “blubbering mess” the day she handed proudly homebred TAB Phoenix contender True Collinda over to champion trainer Jason Thompson.

Young mother Steph, husband Sam and children Henry, 3 ½, and Davey, 10 months, could well be shedding tears of a different kind at The Meadows on Saturday night if True Collinda can win the inaugural Phoenix and its life-altering $750,000 winner’s purse.

“The day I dropped True Collinda, along with Collinda Patty and Collinda Beast, at Jason’s place I was just sobbing,” said Steph, who hails from the tiny Gippsland town of Boisdale.

“To trust somebody else with your ‘children’ is really difficult.

“We are a young family so the money would be life-changing. It would be amazing. But for us it’s more about the achievement of having a dog that’s good enough to race in such a big event.”

“That’s what we’ve worked so hard for – so we could train these dogs – but Sam works full-time, I’m a teacher in between looking after our two little ones and we’ve got 30-odd dogs on our property.

“Family comes first and we had to do what’s best for the dogs. Jason has a very high reputation but we knew what they can run and what they can do.

“It was a hard call but it was definitely the right call.”

The build-up to the Phoenix was especially nerve-wracking for Steph after Jason Thompson elected to trial True Collinda and Typhoon Sammy ‘head to head’ to select which of the duo would fill TAB’s berth in the world’s only greyhound slot race,

“I had no idea how much I wanted to be in the race until Jason told us about the trial,” Steph said.

True Collinda’s trainer Jason Thompson and TAB’s Nick Quinn pictured with the TAB Phoenix trophy at Sunday’s box draw.

“I was like a cat on a hot tin roof until Jason rang Sam to say True Collinda had won. Even then, Jason said he was 99.99% per cent True Collinda would be in the race but the final decision was up to TAB.”

Unfortunately for Steph, she was only left with Boxes 6 and 7 to choose between at Sunday’s innovative box draw, where connections selected their alleys, and after she picked the latter, True Collinda is a $10 chance with TAB.

“It’s an incredibly exciting week for us,” Steph said.

“Christmas was always going to be an exciting time but this has added a whole new level to it.

“We are a young family so the money would be life-changing. It would be amazing. But for us it’s more about the achievement of having a dog that’s good enough to race in such a big event. It’s the first (Phoenix) too!

WATCH: Jason Thompson’s rising star True Collinda burst into Phoenix contention with a scorching 29.17sec BON victory at Sandown Park on Melbourne Cup night.

“The nerves have calmed down a bit since we knew ‘Polly’ was in the race. She’s in there; there’s no expectations, no pressure and what will be, will be.

“This race in itself is an incredible journey for us. We’re thrilled and we’re humbled just to be a part of it and couldn’t be more grateful to Jason, to TAB and everyone associated with making it happen.

“How would I feel if she won? Oh my God, I think I’d have a heart attack!”

The Collinda line – the name derives from Steph’s aunty Colleen and mum Linda – goes back to the late ’70s through Steph’s dad Laurence Cameron and her uncle Don Cameron.

But after the line fell on lean times, the Tylers have rejuvenated, if not resurrected it, in stunning fashion from just a handful of litters.

True Collinda’s sensational Zambora Brockie x She’s A Collinda litter, which also includes Collinda Patty, winner of the G3 Speed Star (600m) at The Meadows and Sandown Park’s 595m track record holder, is only the third litter the Tylers have bred after bravely taking the plunge.

“Dad is thrilled that we’ve got the line back after it went amiss and the dogs weren’t much chop for five generations,” Steph offered.

“We bought acreage at a little place called Boisdale. We’ve got 16 acres and we’ve set up kennels, pup yards, a 400m straight, two competition runs, a bull ring and galloping paddock.

“We do everything – we breed, whelp, rear, break, pre-train and train and we both work too!”

True Collinda in full flight in a scorching 29.17sec BON victory on Melbourne Cup night.

The content on this page was accurate at the time of publishing. If you notice any inaccurate content on this page or anywhere on the website, please report it here

About Gerard Guthrie - One of Australia's leading greyhound racing journalists since 2000 with the Greyhound Recorder and now with Greyhound Racing Victoria. Part-owner 2013 Group 1 Paws Of Thunder winner Sheikha. (The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of GRV)
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