Tommy Shelby retires as one of Greyhound Racing’s modern greats
It’s the blue dog that not only took its home state of Western Australia by storm, but quickly gained a cult following and was rightly dubbed “The People’s Dog”.
Tommy Shelby was born on March 8, 2018, and the Withers family posted a heartfelt retirement announcement just days away from his fourth birthday on his various social media platforms, which have garnered thousands of followers throughout his illustrious career. A recent test at Cannington where he posted a slick time of 29.78 was enough to determine his fate, with the message explaining that this race was “below his best plans, miscarrying and withdrawing Tommy into the luxury home and life which he so well deserves”.
The son of Fernando Bale and reigning Australian female dog of the Year Serena Fly High opened his winning account on his debut on December 4, 2019 and quickly caught the eye of racing fans, posting a speedy 29.94 on the 520m at Cannington. He won his next four straight wins and was only beaten twice in his first 13 appearances and won the coveted Sandi’s Me Mum Memorial Final and Group 3 Perth Cup Consolation.
In July 2020, Team Tommy embarked on his first interstate trip to contest the G1 Vic Peters Series at Wentworth Park, and he was simply magnificent from box seven to cross the field and lead throughout a time. sizzling 29.44. He was talked about throughout the week and lost no admirers in a brave effort the following week, finishing second on Playlist.
With many eyes firmly on his next move, he rode home and chained six straight wins and added another race victory to his already impressive resume in the WA Sprint Championship Final and the Gift of spring.
In October 2020, Withers and Tommy returned east to contest Australia’s richest racing series, the Million Dollar Chase at Wentworth Park. After a stunning 29.58 semi-final victory, he again lost no admirers in the final as he overcame a tricky eight-man draw to finish third behind Handsome Prince.
The Tommy express then headed south for the Melbourne Cup series and once again, after a superb performance of 29.21 in their series, overcame a tough box six to finish third in the final behind Hard Style Rico . Many said it was only a matter of time before he broke through for that illustrious Group 1 win and he came less than three weeks later with a brilliant box eight performance from the Hobart Thousand Final in 25.55 .
After two third place finishes, once again from box six of the Group 3 Golden Ticket and Group 1 Gold Bullion final, the 32kg fighter and his sidekick Steve headed back south for the carnival of the G1 Australian Cup and he certainly didn’t disappoint his legion of followers with a daring display in the final to salute from a quarter length and carve his way around The Meadows circuit in 29.86.
The Tommy team was well and truly flying at this point and due to inclement weather and the postponement of the golden G1 easter egg, Withers and his relations made the heartbreaking decision to bypass their home G1 race being the Perth Cup to stay in Sydney and satisfy the Easter Egg. Looking back, it was a masterstroke, as Tommy outscored his rivals in his heat in 29.40 and reached the final after finishing second in his semi-final. His unlucky box streak continued to fire outside in box eight and battle with strung speed all the way down the track. When the lids flew, Tommy left the wide fairway and crossed his rivals to lead all the way. The Wow superstar fighter couldn’t catch the blue flash unsurprisingly given he posted a mind-boggling 29.27 winning time, making him one of the fastest dogs to ever race the tour of the Glebe.
Tommy Shelby retired with 31 wins from 48 starts, with 12 minor rankings and a career prize money total of $1,020,870. It’s no surprise that he’s already a hit on the stallion scene, with his oldest pups almost 20 months old and already a good number of field puppies all over Australia.