A Celebration of 100 Group Race Winners

The ultimate success in any of the racing codes is to own or train a Group race winner. Attaining that feat is a moment to truly savour. To achieve Group race victories on 100 occasions is a truly astonishing accomplishment.

Pictured: The 2016 New Zealand Cup Winner American Warrior, the seventh New Zealand Cup winner trained by the Fahey’s, seen here with Jean & Dave Fahey, plus kennel helpers Mark Lin & Katie Wyllie along with foreman Ross Mathers

For Canterbury trainers Dave and Jean Fahey, the remarkable personal milestone of training 100 Group race winners was achieved when Shantui dashed to victory in the Group 2 Angus Wright Memorial Interisland Invitation at the Cambridge Raceway on 24 August.

It was entirely appropriate that Shantui is owned by the Pave The Way syndicate whose manager is Daryl McLachlan. Appropriate, because roll the years back to 6 June 2003 at the Addington Raceway and it was the McLachlan owned Egyptian Gold who won the South Island Champs also at Group 2 level. It was the first of the Fahey prepared Group race winners.

McLachlan, whose friendship with Dave Fahey goes back to their school days, was to be involved in the ownership of numerous more Group race winning greyhounds mentored for him by the Fahey’s.

The Opawa Racing team, headed by Robin Wales, was also to play a significant role in providing the Fahey’s with an abundance of Group race winning greyhounds. Their first Fahey prepared Black type winner was Jupiter Jazz who won the 2005 edition of the New Zealand St Leger also at Addington. We will come back to those key owners further on.

It was back in his school days when Dave Fahey had his first association with greyhound racing. It was Dave, along with another school mate, the now long time Christchurch club CEO Tony Music, who operated the starting traps during the club’s racing days at QE 11 Park. Who would have guessed way back then the profound influence that a young Dave Fahey was going to have within the greyhound code over a number of decades further on.

Shantui Opawa Swede Opawa Shackley
The 100 Group race winners for Dave and Jean Fahey was brought up by Shantui; Opawa Swede won the 2013 New Zealand Cup seen here with Dave & Jean Fahey in the foreground, along with members of the Opawa racing team; Opawa Shackley has won four Group race titles – she seen here with Opawa Racing manager Robin Wales (right), handler Josh Lane, Dave & Jean Fahey

“Yes, it is very satisfying to achieve the 100 wins. It took a while, I guess you can say we were stuck in the nervous 90’s (referring to the period of time, by their momentum, they took in moving through from 90 to 100 Group winners). I was pleased it came up with one of Daryl’s dogs as he has been with us right from the very start.

“We have a lot of good contacts in Australia who have either sold us or provided us with Group quality greyhounds – we couldn’t have got there without them. Every Group race win was special and they still are,” advised Fahey.

There was a special standout Group race winner for Dave Fahey which he fondly recalls. “It came when Waxeye won the Canterbury Futurity (2006). My dad Merv was involved in her ownership. To trainer a Group race winner for Dad was very special.”

The Group race the Fahey’s enjoy training the winner of most? “The New Zealand Cup – it is our biggest race and it also means we have a great day up at Sefton.” The Canterbury Friday Show Day, the day after the New Zealand Cup has reached legendary status at the Fahey’s local, the Anglers Arms in North Canterbury. Many a New Zealand Cup victory (seven) has been celebrated by numerous industry people, generously hosted by the Fahey’s and the Cup winning owners.

Dave Fahey labels the brilliant Winsome Ashley, raced by the Pave The Way team, as the best greyhound the couple has placed a collar and lead on. “She was a freakish greyhound,” he recalls. He’s spot on there as the brilliant bitch went on a Group 1 race winning spree during the 2007/08 season winning four Group 1 races, breaking the Manukau 527m track record twice (it still stands at 29.77s), plus also winning the 2008 Christchurch – Adelaide Sister City Challenge in Adelaide.

The Fahey’s have had a number of key kennel personnel working for them over the years. Ross Mathers has been involved in the running of the Fahey kennels for around ten or so years. “Ross started working for us at weekends when he was still at school. He has been a wonderful asset for us. We can send Ross away with dogs or we can go away and leave him looking after the team knowing the kennel is in safe, reliable hands,” stated Fahey about his kennel foreman.

It was also the McLachlan led Pave The Way syndicate who raced Willy What who also provided another key training milestone for the Fahey’s. When Willy What won the 2005 New Zealand Derby he became the Fahey’s first winner at the elite Group 1 level. “Yes I remember that. It was a great thrill when Willy won the NZ Derby – I ribbed Dave at the time, ‘that’s got the monkey off your neck’. The Group 1 winners for Dave and Jean flowed from there,” recalled McLachlan.

Winsome Ashley Jinja Power Jinjawinja
Winsome Ashley – rated by Dave Fahey as the best greyhound they trained, seen here with Daryl McLachlan and Jean Fahey; Jinja Power was one of many Pave The Way greyhounds who contributed to the Fahey Group race winners – she’s pictured here (foreground, left) with Jean Fahey, Ross Mathers, Daryl McLachlan, Dave Fahey; Jinjawinja won the 2012 New Zealand Oaks – she’s pictured here with Jean Fahey, Daryl McLachlan and Dave Fahey (centre)

The Opawa Racing team has greatly benefited from the astute mentoring skills by the Fahey’s. From Jupiter Jazz through to Opawa Shackley the Opawa boys has tasted frequent Group race success. They started importing Aussie bred greyhounds, then they turned their hand to breeding from them. The Group race winners for them continued unabated throughout.

Opawa Racing manager Robin Wales explains further. “Our first introduction to Dave and Jean came when after unsuccessfully racing a greyhound Bob Smolenski introduced us to Dave to train Jupiter Jazz. From there we started buying dogs from Aussie with the Fahey’s training them. We reached the point where we have a numerous quality bred greyhounds so we started breeding from them, with the best of them going into the Fahey kennels.

“Every Group race win has been a real thrill for us. The Fahey’s have been loyal and we have developed a great relationship with them – we are great friends. Jean manages our service station (Challenge Opawa), while Dave comes down to our farm and works with us most days. It has been a real success story and we have never had any problems,” commented Wales, who added “Dave doesn’t take ownership interests in any of the greyhounds he trains – he has no conflict of interests with his owners.”

“I’m glad and pleased it was one of my dogs that brought up the hundred. I’m a great supporter of Dave and Jean – have always had my dogs with them and always well. I’ve been mates with Dave during and since our school days – in fact Jean often says we’re joined at the hip,” chuckled McLachlan.

“Absolutely Winsome Ashley was the very best - she was sensational and it’s a bloody shame her career was curtailed by injury. It has also been great thrill to breed on from her and others we’ve raced (Willy What was a success standing at stud).

“Dave works hard and he plays hard. He leaves no stone unturned – you cannot fault his work ethic. Behind every successful man there’s a good woman and with Jean he has the perfect partnership. They always have their owner’s interests at heart and Dave sees no bad or fault in anyone.”

Greyhound racing in New Zealand dropped Group 3 races many years ago, which makes the Fahey achievement of training 100 Group race winners in such a short time even more remarkable. Numerous people over the years has frequently commented, “You leave a Fahey trained Group race runner out of betting combinations at your own peril.”

Ninas Girl Dangle The Carat White Air
Included amongst the Dave & Jean Fahey Group winners has been (from left): Nina’s Girl (2011 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar), Dangle The Carat (2010 Nancy Cobain Memorial), White Air, the 2012 New Zealand Cup winner, seen here with son Sean, handler mark Lin, owner Tim Caines, Dave Fahey

Just a selection of the Fahey’s exceptional list of Group race training successes has been: Group 1 - New Zealand Cup (7 times); Auckland Cup (3), New Zealand Derby (4), New Zealand Oaks (5), Wellington Cup (4), Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar (2), New Zealand Stayers Cup (3), New Zealand Breeders (5), New Zealand Futurity (3)

Group 2 – South Island Champs (8), Canterbury Futurity (7), New Zealand St Leger (5), Far South Challenge (4), New Zealand Sires’ Produce Stakes (3), Theresa McDonald Cup (4), North Island Challenge Stakes (3).

The Fahey’s have also trained the winners of races that carry national importance (but not Group race status), which has included the New Zealand Topgun, New Zealand Shootout, Awesome Foursome, plus the recent inaugural Amazing Chase winner.

Let’s leave the last words to Daryl McLachlan. “Life is a two-way street and it has been a street I have been privileged to walk alongside Dave and Jean with for many years now.”

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 31/08/2017 10:24:02 AM

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