Young Upper Beaconsfield breeder-owner-trainer Bryan Sykes, 25, has found his ‘path in life’ – greyhound racing.
Late last year, Sykes gave up his job as a financial analyst for the Reece Group – Australia’s largest plumbing and bathroom supplies business – to concentrate on full-time training.
“It (Reece) wasn’t working for me, so I thought I’d take a ‘sabbatical’,” Sykes said.
Subsequently he was unearthed as an amazing ‘grassroots’ success story during the inaugural ‘Pink Diamond’ series.
Sykes took out last week’s Pink Diamond Veterans final (425m) at Bendigo with Ides Of Jebrynah ($11.00), collecting a $12,500 first prize and $1875 breeder bonus.
It was a carefully devised plan that came to fruition and made all the better as Sykes’ ‘old timer’ is approaching four-and-a-half years of age. Everything the ‘greybeard’ did over the last couple of months was tailored around peaking at Bendigo
Ides Of Jebrynah (Feb ’17 Cosmic Rumble x Jebrynah Glory) notched his 22nd win (with 14 seconds and six thirds) from 54 starts and his stakes jumped to $61,370.
“I couldn’t quite believe it for a few seconds,” he said. “I was saying to myself, ‘was that him’… I thought, ‘holy crap, he’s won’.
“He’d been trialling well, so I rated him a good chance if he got some clear air.”
Sykes added that the Pink Diamond concept has been “great for dogs like Ides Of Jebrynah and also rank and file participants”.
“It’s also helped me out a lot, it’s opened up a few breeding options. And I’ll probably buy a van to replace the car and dog trailer.”
However, Sykes has a good head on his shoulders and isn’t taking everything for granted.
“I haven’t gone into this venture with long-term expectations. Fortunately, I’ve got my past to fall back on… But ideally, I’d prefer greyhounds than looking at data and numbers all day.
“My ambition for the next decade is to fall into a ‘small team camp’ of around 10 greyhounds. It’s a comfortable number for me.”
So, that’s Sykes covered.
But what’s in store for Ides Of Jebrynah?
“I said I’d retire him if he won, and go out on a high… But it’s not quite like ‘going out’ after winning the Australian Cup,” Sykes quipped.
“In my head, his racing days are over; however, there’s a temptation to keep him going as he loves racing. Regardless, I’ll either keep him as a pet or he’ll go into the Greyhound Adoption Program.”
Those who know Sykes would say Ides Of Jebrynah’s Pink Diamond victory was consolation for a ‘rollercoaster ride’ with his litter brother, Jebrynah.
A massively talented sprinter, Jebrynah – who toppled retired superstar Whiskey Riot in a heat of a G1 Maturity Classic – unfortunately never got the opportunity to fulfil his potential. However, he did manage to win 21 races from only 35 starts.
But the rational Sykes avoids the ‘what could have been’ scenario.
“You have to move on, and I’ve made my peace… I still think I’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
It’s amazing to think Sykes had his first starter as a trainer on New Year’s Day, which won, but then didn’t have another runner for a couple of months. Lean times indeed!
But since then, he has gathered momentum with his small team and has had a few winners including ‘doubles’ at Cranbourne and Sale.
Only time will tell if the numbers keep stacking up for Sykes in the sport.
Bryan is not a greyhound racing ‘Messiah’ – yet – if you’ll excuse the pun. But, when it comes to his passion, it’s a case of ‘always look on the bright side of life’.