USA stud pioneer has ‘hidden’ gem

29th January 2021

VICTORIAN dog man Geoff Collins is not one to pass up on an opportunity.

But even Geoff must be thinking he’s ‘taking a punt’ on a litter of pups he bred a few months ago.

They are by Rysta from a Brett Lee-Surpassing bitch called Little Bit Sweet, a high class race bitch from a premium female family and with a race record to boot.

But, who the heck is Rysta?

Collins explains.

“He’s a US dog who was a top class galloper back in the early 2000s,” said now Ballarat-based Geoff. “I got some semen over from the States for him way back in 2007 and I have never had the chance to use it … until now.”

Collins, most will be aware, was among the pioneers of the importation of frozen semen from the US way back to the 1990s and he sits back today aware his efforts have been pretty well justified.

“I’d be the first to admit some of those sires did not fit Australian bloodlines,” said Geoff. “But, there have been some absolutely wonderful success stories as well.

“And so often when I look at the pedigrees of today’s Aussie greyhound, it is obvious for us all to see what that impact has been.”

Rysta (Tuffolo-Jessamyn Lee by Tipp Ladd) was Night Of Stars Champion, second in the American Derby and held the Lincoln track record for 500m and 600m.

“He was the Lincoln superstar,” said Geoff. “The track has since been closed, but at the time he was racing, all the superstars were there.”

Billy O’Donnell, the leading man at Lincoln, had the dog and when he retired him, he virtually kept him to his own bitches. His sire Tuffolo was a top five to top 10 sire during his stud career.

Collins, in those early days of the importation of US stud dog semen, kept in constant touch with O’Donnell.

“I sent him three bitches and he sent me a bitch called Ukiah, a daughter of Molotov-Syrah,” said Geoff.

Syrah was a superstar of her time and became one of the great broodbitches in the US. By Video Signal, she was a daughter of the Aussie bitch Kim’s Nifty (Pretty Short-Nifty Monaro) from Bob Doak’s most famous damline and a Gabba winner.

Among her progeny was Galena (by Sorrento Warrior), whose semen was brought to Australia with success. He was a successful stud dog in the US.

Geoff Collins put Ukiah to Collision, the result Buzz Code. That bitch was mated to US great Lonesome Cry and the result was Cafe Dior. The latter is now the dam of multiple Sandown winner Brother Cousin (by Moreira). All six of this litter are winners.

Geoff Collins landed a quality race bitch when Little Bit Sweet’s part-owners Todd Whittington and Greg Sprod gave her to him for this ‘special’ litter.

Little Bit Sweet won 20 of her 33 races and was a finalist in the Group 2 Black Top. She is from the same damline as Jagger Swagger.

So back to Rysta.

“John Martin, who so successfully runs the breaking-in track at Casino, worked for Billy O’Donnell at Lincoln and I believe John was instrumental in getting Kim’s Nifty to the US,” said Geoff.

Rysta became the sire of a dog called Shonn, a Wheeling Downs track star whose dam was by Aussie great Roanokee and from the same damline as Fortress.

Shonn was in-bred to Tipp Lad and Exception, both of them out of the famed broodbitch Miss Hillary.

“Shonn was used commercially and became a very good stud dog,” said Collins.

“His best was Chillaxification, a 2019 member of the All America team.”

Interestingly , Chillaxification’s fourth dam Kitchawa is a litter sister to the great Syrah. And, he also carried three crosses of Miss Hillary.

Little Bit Sweet whelped three dogs and two bitches to her mating to Rysta.

Geoff Collins is waiting anxiously the result of an experiment that has been a decade and a half in the making.

“Billy, for some reason, never used Rysta commercially,” said Geoff.

Geoff Collins can rightfully be proud of the success of the US semen in Australia.

With the advent of frozen semen into the greyhound world pushed by US pioneers like Richard Canole, it opened up the entire world to breeding to the very best sires … a kind of ‘shuttle stallion’ in the thoroughbred world without having to send the actual horse.

“Frozen semen gave us access to the best sires,” said Collins.

“In the first 10 years, 81 frozen semen services to US sires were done, and Paul Wheeler did 37 of those,” said Collins. “As a collective group their success in regards to city winners from pups born was equal to the best in Australia.”

Mike Strickland who, with Richard Canole, was one of the US pioneers in the use of frozen semen, came to the rescue sending semen for greats like Fortress, EJ’s Douglas. Braddy, P’s Raisin Cain, Flying Penske, Kiowa Sweet Trey, etc.

“In more recent times, we’ve had great US sires like KC And All, Bella Infrared and SH Avatar and they have become very successful.

“Kiowa Mon Manny and Djay’s Octane, who were great US stud dogs, did not achieve as well as expected,” said Collins.

Rysta was never one of those superstar sires.

Geoff Collins knows only too well how good he could have been.

He reckons the ‘punt’ he’s had by putting Little Bit Sweet to him is not a punt at all.