It’s GRNZ Conference & Awards Time

It’s a full on Saturday for industry participants in the greyhound code in Hamilton with the annual conference being held during the day, followed the GRNZ Greyhound of the Year gala awards evening.

It promises to be one of the more interesting and important conferences for the greyhound code.

Robbie Britton has trained a long stream of Australian Group 1 winning greyhounds for many decades. Included has been New Zealand bred and owned chasers, while he recently retired the highest stake earner in Australian greyhound racing history Fanta Bale (A$1,365,175). He will deliver the conference keynote address at 10.30am. NZ Racing Board CEO John Allen will then provide an update on the NZRB activities.

The afternoon session kicks off at 12.30pm with a Trainers panel discussion. Robbie Britton will be joined by Dave and Jean Fahey, NZ Greyhound Hall of Fame conditioner Ray Adcock, plus also Hayley Mullane. A workshop session on Getting the Most for Your Club follows.

Robert Britton Jean and Dave Fahey Ray Adcock Hayley Mullane
Conducting the Trainer’s panel discussion are (from left): Robbie Britton; Jean & Dave Fahey (left); Ray Adcock; Hayley Mullane

Greyhound welfare and injury prevention are absolutely crucial aspects of today’s greyhound world. A presentation headed by Dr. Mairi Stewart and Jim Edwards follows at 1.15pm addressing GRNZ’s new Health and Welfare Standards for breeders and trainers. A workshop session is next up on Track design and Injury Prevention led by Scott Robins from Greyhound Racing Victoria.

The John Messara report commissioned by Winston Peters is the most comprehensive review ever untaken on the entire New Zealand racing structure. There is no doubt that the recommendations contained in the report will have far reaching permanent implications for the whole New Zealand racing industry. A discussion surrounding key themes from the Messara report commences at 2.15pm. The conference then concludes with the GRNZ Review and Focus for 2018-19 presentation from 3pm.

(Due to unforeseen circumstances, Rt Hon Winston Peters won't be able to attend the conference. However, Clayton Mitchell will attend in his absence as NZ First's Spokesperson For Racing.)

GRNZ Awards Evening

TAB Trackside presenter and host Cassie Fahey will MC the Greyhound code’s showpiece evening highlight which celebrates both the canine and human successes witnessed throughout the 2017-18 racing season.

The various points based category, plus the trainer winners are known and those winners will be joined by the recipients of a number of judged awards which includes the Love Our Dogs, Advocate, Youth, NZ Breeder, along with any NZ Greyhound Hall of Fame inductees. There are a wide range of high quality nominees for all of the judged awards.

The greyhound code’s ultimate accolade is the naming of the each season’s NZ Greyhound of the Year winner. Three very classy and talented greyhounds are nominees for the 2017-18 season – they are (in alphabetical order): Bigtime Paddy, Ring The Bell and Wheelchair Norm.

It is entirely appropriate that the three contenders won their respective racing distance categories. John McInerney prepared Wheelchair Norm to win the Sprinter title for the second consecutive year. The Middle Distance winner Bigtime Paddy enjoyed an outstanding season for his mentor Lisa Cole. He also won the NZ Bred Greyhound of the Year title. Ray Adcock applied his masterly conditioning skills when he guided Ring The Bell to his Distance title.

Here’s a look at the credentials of the three contenders.


It was one way traffic for the Lisa Cole trained Bigtime Paddy who made the Friday evening Hatrick Raceway venue his fortress throughout the whole season. He raced the entire season in open class company with Bigtime Paddy being a regular qualifier for Group 1 finals held over middle distances. Remarkably he contested eight of the nine elite finals that was available to him to race in. He won two of those Black type races (Waterloo Cup & NZ Derby), while he also delivered two second placings, plus a third placing. He was also the victor in the Amazing Chase match race series.

Bigtime Paddy produced searing mid race sectionals in his races and it was using that tactic that ensured he maintained his high winning strike rate. His 54 races throughout the season saw him annexing 33 wins, ensuring his win in the Middle Distance and NZ bred Greyhound of the Year titles. Then add in16 minor placings which resulted in a handsome $182,582 in stake earnings, the highest by any greyhound for the season for his owners Lisa Cole and Craig Rendle. Bigtime Paddy is now enjoying life as a stud greyhound.

Bigtime Paddy Bigtime Paddy Bigtime Paddy
A snap shot of some of Bigtime Paddy’s victories during the 2017-18 racing season


It can be termed a season of two parts for the canine staying athlete Ring The Bell. His season started with his Group 2 Wanganui Stayers victory over 755m. He then went onto stylishly win the time honoured Kingston Cup over 732m at the Addington Raceway. A Manawatu 660m track record (38.45s) was followed by an invitation to contest the Sky Racing Topgun Stayers over 725m on the Melbourne based The Meadows track which was accepted by his connections. He delivered a very creditable third in an outstanding field.

Disco (kennel name) missed the middle portion of the season when injury intervened. He then came back with real vengeance over the later portion of the season. It wasn’t until April until his master conditioner Ray Adcock was able to guide the 33kg stayer back to the winner’s circle and he did so in style when Disco went onto win five staying events, including his Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar win which saw him becoming the first greyhound to win back to back Silver Collar titles. It was a season that yielded 13 wins and $94,068 in stake earnings from Ring The Bell’s 20 Kiwi 2017/18 races for his owing Four Frothys syndicate. It also ensured him being named as the NZ Distance Greyhound of the Year. Disco has since been retired and he now enjoys life being a couch potato.

Ring the Bell Ring The Bell Ring The Bell
A selection of pics from the outstanding staying wins achieved by Ring The Bell during the 2017-18 racing season


Tuesday afternoon’s became known as “Norm’s” days on the two southern greyhound tracks. Wheelchair Norm dominated the Forbury Park 310m and Ascot Park 390m sprints all season long. In doing so the John McInerney prepared speed merchant defied his official veteran age (whelped February 2013) status to easily defend his GRNZ Sprinter of the Year title he won last season. Wheelchair Norm raced on 43 occasions during the 2017-18 season. He won 28 of those sprints and placed in another six races, winning $49,526 in stakes for his owner Mark Bell.

It was on May 15 on Forbury Park when Wheelchair Norm created New Zealand greyhound racing history when he won his 89th career race which saw him setting a national record for the most race wins by a greyhound ever in New Zealand. He then maintained his march towards an astounding possible 100 career wins, with his progress being keenly followed on social media sites.

Wheelchair Norm completed his 2017-18 season in blazing style when he lowered his own Ascot Park 390m track record to a slick 22.06s on the very last day of the season. It was Wheelchair Norm’s 97th and final career victory as he has since been retired from his outstanding career.

Wheelchair Norm Wheelchair Norm Wheelchair Norm
Tuesday’s were Norm’s days throughout the 2017-18 racing season – here’s some of his Tuesday afternoon activities

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 12/10/2018 12:26:09 PM

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