MARK Graham and I have been friends since we were kids.
His wife Toni and I grew up living next door to each other at Ascot in the northern suburbs of Brisbane … a stagger home from the thoroughbred tracks of Eagle Farm and Doomben. Mark, Toni and I have been going racing since we were kids.
It was Mark's brother Tony who indirectly got me into greyhound racing more than 30 years ago.
So it is with a lot more than casual interest that I keep an eye on what greyhounds Mark and Toni have racing about.
Mark and Toni have a pretty good young dog called Praying Mantis (Pure Octane-Absolute Style by Big Daddy Cool).
When Praying Mantis won his heat of the Mick Byrne Memorial at Albion Park last Thursday night for trainer Bob Belford, it brought up win number eight from a career of just 12 starts. He ran 30.13 the best of the night.
An almost pure white dog (except for a few brown spots on his ears), he is no giant in size at 29kgs, but he is strong and has a determination about him to be admired.
Certainly Mark, Toni and Bob admire him. He's not the only quality galloper in the litter which was bred by Mark and Toni.
The Grahams have been breeding an occasional litter for years and have had success, often with a city class dog or two to keep them happy and certainly give Mark something to bet on. Mark loves a punt. Praying Mantis certainly gives Mark something to bet on.
When I initially saw the pedigree of Praying Mantis and his littermates, I almost rang Mark and Toni to compliment them. But you know what childhood friends are like … wraps on mates are few and far between.
So here it is.
Mark and Toni did pretty darn well when they put together that mating.
Absolute Style (Big Daddy Cool-Absolute Chaos by Cry Havoc) was a pretty fair galloper in her time on the racetrack. She was an Albion Park winner, a multiple Ipswich winner getting down to a more than respectable 30.86 in one of those wins.
She also showed a touch of class by making the 2009 Group 3 Casino Cup final.
Her litter sister Absolute Classic ran fourth in the Group 2 Ipswich Auction final to Go Makatam.
Absolute Style whelped her litter to Pure Octane that includes Praying Mantis in April 2008. She then came back to racing to make the Group 3 Casino Cup final.
Her damline is one of the strongest in Queensland, tracing back to fifth dam No She's Not a distance track record holder at Ipswich. Fourth dam Fifi She's Not (by King Tokyo) was an absolute cracker winning a Futurity at The Gabba and a Queensland Cup at Beenleigh. In turn she produced (by Pretty Fearless) the top class staying bitch Pretty Wanderer who had as her littermate Billy's Blondie a National Distance champion.
Pretty Wanderer is the third dam of Absolute Classic whose own dam Absolute Chaos was a speedy bitch who struggled to get a strong 520m but has still left a powerful mark on pedigrees in Queensland.
She is the dam of Townsville sprint champion Saltwater Pete (by November Fury) the winner of 75 races. Others from her include Albion Park top grader Earth Quest, and top North Qld galloper Gillbo (by Bombastic Shiraz).
Sir Shiraz, Da Judge, Complete Chaos, Bone Dust, Karching all proved their worth on the racetrack.
When Absolute Chaos was put to Big Daddy Cool, to produce Absolute Style and Absolute Classic, it brought together a duplication of the famous Victorian broodbitch Wee Sal, and duplicated Credibility.
This is the pedigree of Absolute Style:
Just The Best
Big Daddy Cool
They Need Me
So Absolute Style was saturated with common ancestors.
While these ancestors influenced the on-track performances of Absolute Style to a minor degree (she was a city winner and Group finalist), it was as a broodbitch that these influences should have been allowed to come through.
To do this, Mark and Toni Graham needed to refrain from introducing yet more common ancestors. They could not allow Absolute Style's in-breeding to be diluted. The sire she mated needed to be a relative outcross with NOTHING standing in the way of those duplications of Wee Sal (the famous broodbitch) to come sweeping through.
When Mark and Toni put Absolute Style to Pure Octane (Token Prince-Elusive Rebel by Bobniak) they were using a dog that was himself in-bred 3x3 to two daughters to Amerigo Man.
While Amerigo Man is to be found in the pedigree of Absolute Style, it comes through on the fourth line in her pedigree and significantly BEHIND the duplications of both Credibility and most importantly Wee Sal.
The successful theme of combining True Temptation (dam of Token Prince) and Flying Amy (dam of Just The Best) was introduced in Praying mantis and his littermates but in a 3x4 position and again not ahead of those duplications of Wee Sal.
Mark and Toni certainly got it right with Praying Mantis who has been expertly handled in his race career to date by veteran dog man Bob Belford.
I for one will be extremely interested to see where Mark and Toni go next with Absolute Style.
I hope they learn from their initial success and don't try to in-breed the bitch, although somewhere down the track, I would hope they “test” a mating with Absolute Style to a grandson of Brett Lee.