It’s now been a couple of years since a gathering of the Bill Killey clan, over a drink or two, discussed the purchase of a greyhound pup.
What sort of advice was bandied around that day is hard to say but Brendan Casey of Penshurst and Michael Robinson of Mount Gambier – both involved in greyhound racing – were clan members through marriage.
Casey was later given the task of sourcing a pup that hopefully would eventually find its way onto the track for the 35 or so family members.
“They had no idea of what they were looking for,” Casey said.
“The only thing they wanted was for him to be a male in order that he could race as One Eyed Bill, named after the family patriarch.
“In the end I settled on a three-month-old black dog pup by Zambora Brockie out of Crymelon Holly.
“And, as luck would have it, they were able to get the name One Eyed Bill, so named because Bill had only one eye and used to scare the kids when removing his glass one.”
With Casey responsible for the rearing of the pup he figured it would be better to rear two together so Robinson and he purchased a litter sister.
And that was not without its share of drama.
“She was bitten by a snake at a young age and it was touch and go whether she would survive the ordeal.
“Fortunately she did and it should not be long before she has her first race start,” said Casey.
One Eyed Bill lined up for his first race start on Thursday, December 30 at Tara Raceway, the black dog’s debut certainly boosting the on-course attendance.
But disappointingly for his supporters, he copped a severe check shortly after box rise and never really got into the race.
“Look, while it was not what we were looking for, it was still a great day – a family gathering thoroughly enjoying a day at the races,” Casey had said at the time.
One Eyed Bill was back at Tara Raceway for last Thursday’s time-graded meeting, looking well-placed in the Produce Store Maiden Stake (400 metres) despite drawing box five.
His trainer was missing this time, though – at Horsham watching his son play cricket.
Standing in was fellow Penshurst trainer John Burow who also had the race favourite, Little Angie, jumping from box seven.
Sticking with the Penshurst theme, it was Little Angie’s litter sister Penshurst Lass who led down the back before One Eyed Bill took over and raced away for a 7¾ length win in 23.78 seconds.
It was a bitter sweet result for Burow, one of greyhound racing’s real colourful characters.
Later he was required to make the long climb up the stairs to front the chief steward in regard to Little Angie’s racing manners.
He will not be required to make that climb again for at least 28 days!
The win of One Eyed Bill was the 46-year-old Casey’s first at Tara Raceway since Sunday, January 22, 2017 when maiden performer Jam Lady, at her 18th start, defeated Hong Shen and Snizort in a time of 23.89 seconds for the 400 metres journey.
But Casey’s involvement in greyhound racing goes back much earlier than that – to 2004 in fact.
“My uncle, Jack Casey, at the time was actively involved in the sport and I was keen to get a greyhound of my own,” he said.
“As luck would have it, I collected $1800 off a daily double at the gallops at around the same time Leon Garner of Warrnambool had a litter by No Intent out of Mepunga Image advertised for sale.
“Not knowing anything about greyhounds, I asked Jack if he would come over to Warrnambool with me and pick out a pup.
“He eventually settled on a fawn dog.
“And I still remember driving back from Warrnambool and Jack’s comment when he turned to the back seat where the three-month-old pup was stretched out sound asleep. ‘You know Brendan, I think I might have picked you out a pretty smart pup,’ he said in that serious tone of his.”
Later to race as Busted Sav, he spent the majority of his racing career being trained at Lara by Ed Stanley.
He won six races at Sandown Park, The Meadows and Cranbourne for Casey.
Seems Uncle Jack was not such a bad judge after all.