“I was parading Clever Man in a graded race at Yarmouth and trying to watch the race on a monitor in the restaurant. But it was too hard to see clearly. I thought I saw the dog cross the winning line but I couldn’t be sure. Somebody said, ‘well done’, but that wasn’t good enough.
“A few seconds later the phone started buzzing. It was Chris (Waters – from the Saving Grace Syndicate). Then I knew we had won it. And then to top it off, Clever Man won as well.”
The bare facts are that the John Mullins trained Saving Sonic landed the Ladbrokes Gold Collar at Crayford and this is how he did it.
However – regular readers of this site may already be aware of Saving Sonic’s background story. Like all the best tales, there is an element of ‘what if’ about it.
It started when John agreed to rear a litter by Holdem Spy out of High Living. Unfortunately, only one member of the litter survived. She was appropriately named ‘Saving Grace’ and John pointed out that it would be better if Grace had some company in the paddock.
On his recommendation, the Saving Grace Syndicate then bought five pups bred by Carla Hendy. They were by Kinloch Brae out of Carla’s former open racer, Newinn This Way (Westmead Hawk-Any Time Again).
Saving Mullpark, Saving Face and Saving Martha has also won opens. Another member of the litter, Goldies Allen has won opens for Patrick Janssens.
John said: “Although Saving Amelia hasn’t won opens, yet I still think she is capable of winning one.”
For John, there is a night and day difference between buying in ready made racers and seeing them grow up in the paddocks.
John’s mum Linda’s achievements as a trainer (champion 6 times) possibly overshadowed her record as a breeder. She whelped down and reared the 1980 British bred Gold Collar winner Sports Promoter, who was trained by John’s dad Pat. But the Mullins brothers were also reared alongside the likes of Magical Piper, Clear Prospect and Palace Issue.
And John enjoys seeing young greyhounds mature and come through the system every bit as much as training them. Saving Sonic and his littermates all qualified and began their racing careers at Yarmouth. Sonic started out in A4.
John said: “I will never lose the enjoyment of taking young dogs to the track.
“I had two young Irish bred pups, who we reared from 12 weeks, have their first handslips this week and seeing them chase all the way to the pick-up is as exciting as any winner. I just love it.”
However, there is also a more practical element to rearing pups. The chance to own a greyhound of the calibre of Saving Sonic.
John said: “I can’t remember how much the five pups from Carla cost. I think it was £7,600 between them.
“Now, there is no guarantee that you are going to get a good one when you buy pups, but there aren’t many guarantees in greyhounds. I have two racing dogs in my kennels who each cost £20,000 from Ireland and neither are worth anywhere near that.
“We already have first option on Carla’s next litter, though I expect they might be a bit more expensive – and rightly so.”
This piece on British breeding is perfectly timed to coincide with an Editors Chair piece due to be published tomorrow – Ed