2016 GRNZ ANNUAL AWARDS...
Celebrating the outstanding achievements of the 2015-16 Season.
The 2015-16 GRNZ Annual Awards dinner was held on Saturday 8 October 2016 at the Rydges Hotel in Auckland. GRNZ wishes to congratulate all the award winners on the night. Congratulations, keep up the hard work and we look forward to catching up with you all again at the 2017 GRNZ Annual Awards.
2016 Award Winners
Sprinter Greyhound of the Year (up to 399m) - Subic Bay
This Sprinter of the Year title was the most closely contested of all the category points based awards. Four canine speed merchants went into the last month of the racing season holding winning aspirations for owing the swiftest set of paws over the short course sprint trips.
By the end of July it was the Lisa Ahern trained Subic Bay who emerged with the title. He was outstanding during the month when his eight-sprints yielded him four wins and three seconds which saw him finishing the season with 118 points. Subic Bay’s slick 17.99s March 13 Manukau 318m track record sprint saw him become the first greyhound to break the Manukau 318m 18 second barrier. The bonus points he earned for the record assisted him towards this title.
During the season Subic Bay raced on 43 occasions, resulting in 22 wins and ten minor placings accumulating $47,975 in stake earnings for his owing Waypoint Syndicate. His award was accepted by syndicate member Chris Saunoa, who said: “We are a group of people from all walks of life who came together to race Subic Bay. For us the highlight of the season was when Subic Bay broke the Manukau 318m track record (17.99s). Lisa (Ahern) and Brendon (Cole) did a great job in training Subic Bay to win this award. We are rapt to win it.”
Subic Bay syndicate member Chris Saunoa accepting the Sprinter of the Year award; Members of the Waypoint Syndicate; Subic Bay following his Manukau 17.99s track record as seen in the background and after his Group 2 Dash For Cash victory
Middle Distance Greyhound of the Year (400m to 599m) – Opawa Shackley
Securing five Group race titles greatly assisted the classy Opawa Shackley to easily win the Middle Distance Greyhound of the Year title. She was sublime in the professional manner she went about her racing duties for her conditioners Dave and Jean Fahey.
Many industry participants can only dream about winning Group race titles. To win at Group 1 level the NZ Oaks and the NZ Breeders’ Stakes, along with the Canterbury Futurity, the Lois Henley Memorial and the South Island Champs at Group 2 level clearly illustrated what a star studded season that this Opawa Racing Ltd bred and own greyhound enjoyed.
She graced the Kiwi greyhound tracks nationwide 36 times. Her connections were required to salute the judge 20 times, while she also added in 12 minor placings which led to her finishing the 2015/16 racing season as the second highest stakes earning greyhound with $112,970. Her award was accepted by Leanne Wales, who told the audience: “She is an amazing dog and her trainers Dave and Jean Fahey are also amazing. She started racing as a typical pup but she then quickly matured into a wonderful racing dog. She is always a happy dog – she constantly wags her tail.”
Leanne Wales who accepted Opawa Shackley’s first award, with members of the Opawa racing team; Opawa Shackley after her Group 2 Canterbury Futurity and South Island Champs wins.
Distance Greyhound of the Year (600m plus) - Shandell
It is extremely rare for a greyhound to defend a points based category award. It is even more-rare for a staying greyhound to achieve this distinction. The powerful staying canine bitch Shandell has remarkably defended the Distance Greyhound of the Year title for her breeders, owners and trainers Arch and Gloria Lawrence that she won for them in the 2014/15 racing season.
Shandell had her 2015/16 staying title signed, sealed and delivered with half of the racing season remaining, even though the later season staying Group race titles eluded her. She still remained a competitive force in those black type events. The Lawrence’s pride themselves in breeding and successfully racing staying greyhounds. Other trainers have been known to avoid matching the paws of their stayers against the likes of Shandell and her litter sister Teemaria.
Amazingly Shandell didn’t win a Group 1 title over the season, but her consistency saw her being placing second in two Group 1 events, plus she added two Group 2 second places to her Nancy Cobain Memorial victory at that level. Shandell’s racing season saw her annexing nine race victories. She was placed on a further seven occasions which saw her 18 race starts during the 2015/16 racing seasCraigon yielding her with $61,795 in stakes.
“There isn’t much more I can say about Shandell. She has been a wonderful dog to own and train – they don’t come much better than her. We love racing stayers. I have to thank our band of helpers back home for their help during the year – Shirley Ross, by brother Olly and daughter Tania. Shandell got a bit of fright from her sister over the later part of the season by her sister Teemaria,” advised Arch Lawrence.
Arch Lawrence during his acceptance speech for Shandell; with wife Gloria; Shandell after winning the NZ Cup 732m staying feature and Shandell (left) with her sister Teemaria
GRNZ NZ Bred Greyhound of the Year – Opawa Shackley
A raft of bonus points awarded for Group race victories carried the classy Opawa Shackley clear of the chasing pack which saw her comfortably finishing as the number one New Zealand bred Greyhound for the 2015/16 season. This is a thoroughly deserved award for her breeders and owners, the Opawa Racing team, managed by Robin Wales who is joined by his long time mates Graham Campbell and Ron Todd. The title also reflects the astute race placement of Opawa Shackley by her mentors Dave and Jean Fahey.
Illustrating the total dominance that Opawa Shackley held over her Kiwi bred rivals is the margin of her points based wins – the daughter of Lochinvar Marlow and Opawa Born Free amassed 133 points, which was a staggering 32 points clear of her closest rival. She raced on 36 occasions during the season under review. She won 20 of those races, while she secured a further 12 minor placings. That remarkable consistency saw her connections being rewarded with $112,970 in stakes earnings. At the elite Group 1 level Opawa Shackley won the $40,000 New Zealand Oaks and the New Zealand Breeders’ Stakes. At Group 2 level she prevailed in the Canterbury Futurity, the Lois Henley Memorial and the South Island Champs, while at regional feature race level she was successful in the Wanganui Oaks and the Christchurch Classic.
Opawa Racing syndicate head Robin Wales revealed a remarkable stat concerning Opawa Shackley and her uncle Winsome Opawa when accepting her award: “It’s very interesting that Winsome Opawa won both the NZ Middle Distance dog of the year and also the NZ Bred dog of the year in the same season (2010/11). We are bloody proud of Opawa Shackley to also win both of these awards. It is amazing to have a dog like her who we bred. I have to thank the team back at home, plus the Fahey’s for their training.”
Robin Wales, who accepted the NZ Bred Greyhound of the Year award; Members of the Opawa racing team; Opawa Shackley after winning the Group 1 NZ Oaks & NZ Breeders’ Stakes
GRNZ Dam of the Year – Nina’s Girl
Nina’s Girl proved to be the most successful Mum throughout the season under review with her progeny securing a variety of race victories on race tracks throughout the country. She proved to be a prolific producer for her owner Ray Amer. During the season she was represented by 17 individual runners with 15 of her kiddies winning races. Between them they contested 479 races which resulted in the various connections/handlers being required to provide the judge with the winning salute on 95 occasions. The siblings combined to win $213,435 in stake earnings.
Nina’s Girl, who herself won the 2011 edition of the prestigious Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar, was represented by a Group 1 winner which was delivered by her staying son Can’t Catch Tim, who stylishly prevailed in the NZ Stayers’ Cup. Others of her progeny who were frequent races winners included Boston Billy, Fekitoa, Benjamin Black, Birchbrook, Patty’s Pick and Rapaki Kath. Nina’s Girl owner Ray Amer accepted her award: “I’m very, very honoured to have owned a bitch like Nina – she was little at only a 27kg. I retired her not long after winning the Silver Collar and I mated her with some sires who wasn’t really recognized. It is very unique to have a tough staying bitch to go on to produce what she has in the breeding barn.”
Ray Amer (L) accepting the NZ Dam of the Year award, with GRNZ Chief Executive Phil Holden (R); Nina’s Girl after her Duke Of Edinburgh Silver Collar win; Benjamin Black & Patty’s Pick who performed on the track for their mum Nina’s Girl
GRNZ NZ Based Sire of the Year - Sergio
The leading New Zealand based Sire for the 2015/16 season was the former classy greyhound Sergio. Exactly 75 percent of his 52 sired runners won races during the season. Between them his sons and daughters contested 1,324 races, resulting in 189 race victories. Sergio’s progeny combined to win 292,468 in stakes. Sergio himself was a prolific winner throughout his racing career. His best career win came in the 2010 edition of the $100,000 Challenge Service Stations New Zealand Cup for his owner and trainer Gary Harding. Another outstanding career feat Sergio achieved came when he crossed the Tasman and qualified for the final of the 2011 A$250,000 Golden Easter Egg in Sydney.
Contributing to a number of his siring wins were the following proven greyhounds: Homebush Howard, Homebush Riley, Inspector Spot, Nero, One Broke Girl, Sedgebrook Babe, Sedgebrook Magic, Thrilling Ryder and Thrilling Surge. His award was accepted by Taylor Thornton on behalf of his owner Gary Harding. “We wish to thank all the breeders who gave a Sergio a fair crack at stud. He has been through GAP and he is now enjoying life as a pet – we keep in contact with his new owners. That’s what it is all about. We are very proud of what Sergio achieved.”
Taylor Thornton who accepted the NZ Based Sire of the Year award for Sergio; The NZ Based Sire of the Year winner Sergio; Homebush Howard and Thrilling Ryder who performed on the track for their dad Sergio
GRNZ 2015/16 Trainers’ Premiership – John McInerney
The National Trainers’ Premiership tile is virtually a foregone conclusion for ‘team’ McInerney at the commencement of each racing season. For example, the 2015/16 Premiership is J T McInerney’s 14th national title since 2000. Understandably it is a massive operation that centers on the Darfield training base, along with their Palmerston North set of kennels. All South Island plus the Central Districts meetings has strong McInerney representation at them.
Again it was a no contest title race as McInerney prepared greyhounds won a phenomenal 597 races (196 wins clear of their closest rival). They also filled the minor sides of the post-race podium on 1,374 occasions. 227 individual greyhounds raced from the kennels during the season and between them they contested a staggering 5,842 races. The stake money won throughout the season finished at $1,020,673 – the only kennel to break through the million dollar barrier. The ‘team’ McInerney training operation is very much a family affair, although obviously the family is reliant on a fair degree of outside help. Headed by John it is sons Jonathon at the Darfield base and Steven at the Palmerston North that also apply the finishing touches to the greyhounds. They are regularly assisted by Brooke Waite and Mick Kennedy. The family also appreciates the volumes of race track support they receive from numerous handlers/helpers during all race meetings.
The saying goes that behind every successful man there is a lady involved. Successfully linking the entire operation together is wife and mum Gail, who is the unsung hero. Gail works tirelessly in the background, completing the volumes of paperwork associated with the operation, organizing the massive amount of feed required for the kennels, plus making the weekly bookings for Cook Straight ferry crossings required for the team.
“Thank you GRNZ; thank you the Himiatangi team (headed by Steven); thank you the Homebush team. We had teams on the road every week during the season. Gail is the backbone of our operation – without her and the big team of race-day helpers we couldn’t have achieved what we achieved. We do appreciate winning this award – it takes a lot of work,” an appreciative John McInerney said.
John McInerney making his annual NZ Trainers’ Premiership acceptance award; Wheelchair Norm, Puma Pants and Botany Win who assisted “team” McInerney to another NZ Trainers’ Premiership title
GRNZ Strike Rate Trainer of the Year – Karen Walsh
Traditionally this title is a keenly and closely contested season long award. Over recent racing seasons the final result has come to the final week of the racing season. Two seasons ago it was the very final meeting for the season that decided the Strike Rate winner. On that occasion it was Karen Walsh who snatched the title away from Dave and Jean Fahey. Both trainers were again dueling for this title when entering the last month of the 2015/16 season. A spate of winners unleashed by Walsh during July carried her clear enabling her to defend her Strike Rate of the Year title.
Karen Walsh completed the season with the outstanding strike rating score of 0.5083. She lined up 29 greyhounds throughout the season, who between them contested 329 races. Her team won 117 races, while they added another 108 minor placings. In other words, greyhounds trained by Karen Walsh returned a tote dividend 68 percent of the time whenever they raced from her kennels – known wonder she is regarded as the Punters’ best friend! Her kennel hand Taylor Thornton accepted the award of her behalf: “Karen is sorry she couldn’t be here tonight. It is a great honour to win this award, which wouldn’t have happened without the help of a number of people. We have been lucky having beautiful dogs in out kennels and they certainly helped us to winning this award. Big thanks also goes to our owners and especially to Linda and Gary Harding.”
Taylor Thornton (R) who accepted the 2015/16 Trainers’ Strike Rate award on behalf of Karen Walsh, with Mauro Barsi (L) GRNZ Independent Board Member; Karen Walsh with Thrilling Logic; kennel stars Mi Tensile & Timmy Trumpet
GRNZ 2015/16 NZ Breeders of the Year – Ray Amer & Arch Lawrence
Ray Amer diligently went about breeding with his brood-bitch Nina’s Girl at his Canterbury base. As mention during the NZ Dam of the Year award that Nina’s Girl was earlier presented with, her progeny won 95 races between. It was litters sired by Bit Chili and Magic Sprite that heavily contributed to those race victories. Her progeny has proved to be versatile with a number of them enjoying success over all racing distances. It comes as no surprise to see Nina’s Girl being a successful mum as her breeding traces back to lines that has won not only numerous Group races, but also a wide range of other top-rated awards. “This is a little bit of a surprise – it is an honour to win a prestigious award like this. There is a lot of work that goes into breeding and I have a lot of help from my family. I breed from four bitches, from two blood lines. I rely on trainers to get the best out of by home bred greyhounds and I thank them for the great work they do to achieve results for me,” said Ray Amer.
It comes as no surprise to see Arch Lawrence being a contender for this award. The Cambridge based breeder seems to produce an endless stream of race winners. What really sets Arch and his wife Gloria aside from other breeders is the prolific number of staying greyhounds they constantly breed and present at the races. It is a line the couple started around the turn of the century with Cute Edition and the Lawrence’s have successfully bred on with daughters from the resultant litters that now sees them being a contender this evening.
A third generation from that family saw Teegan being whelped. After enjoying a successful race career herself, Teegan on retirement, then went about delivering a long stream of quality staying greyhounds. Two of her daughters has been or will be mentioned here tonight – Shandell and Teemaria. Litters sired by Primo Uno and Mogambo saw outstanding race results being produced. Teegan’s third and final litter by Fear Zafonic have recently strongly been making their mark on race tracks. Last season Teegan was represented by 14 greyhounds, who together won 39 races. The telling statistic was the stake money those greyhounds won – a very tidy $215,333. “This is a surprise. We have lost Teegan, however she has strongly left her mark in my kennels. It was unknown if Teegan would leave stayers – she most certainly did. I have to thank Rosemary Blackburn who broke in all of my racing dogs. We’ve had 100 percent winners from Teegan’s three litters – you can’t ask for any better than that,” stated Arch Lawrence.
Ray Amer & Arch Lawrence accepting their NZ Breeder of the Year awards; Nina’s Girl for Amer and Teegan for Lawrence assisted them to their joint award
New Zealand Greyhound of the Year - Dyna Vikkers
Winning three Group 1 races, plus being the season’s highest stakes earner sealed the 2015/16 New Zealand Greyhound of the Year title for Dyna Vikkers. Dyna Vikkers was sublime in the manner that he won the nation’s richest greyhound, the $100,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup. His victory in the $80,000 Plaster Board Auckland Cup was brilliant, while before those two wins he had stylishly won the $21,000 Waterloo Cup, also at the Manukau Stadium. Earlier he was the runner-up in the Wanganui Cup, also at Group 1 level.
In total Dyna Vikkers raced 30 times during the season posting 16 wins, nine minor placings and $155,365 in stake earnings. “I’m pleased for Dyna Vikkers and he receives the recognition the dog deserves. I’m lucky to have such a great greyhound to train. Dyna Vikkers is a true professional about the way he goes about his work,” said his trainer Craig Roberts.
“I rate his Auckland Cup win as his best during the season – he had no right to win that from the awkward field position he was in. I’m lucky and honoured to have such a good dog to train. This would never have happened if it wasn’t for the help I had from my partner Angela (Washington), my son Daniel and Bob Blackburn. I have to also thank Brendon (owner) and Paul Wheeler (breeder) for the opportunity to train Vikkers,” added Roberts.
Trans-Tasman history was made with Dyna Vikkers being crowned as the NZ Greyhound of the Year. His litter brother Dyna Double One was recently named as the Australian Greyhound of the Year. It was a season dominated by the litter brothers on both sides of the Tasman. As mentioned, Dyna Vikkers won the $100,000 New Zealand Cup in November, then just a week later Dyna Double One won Australia’s richest (and the worlds) richest greyhound race, the A$600,000 Melbourne Cup. “It’s a phenomenal achievement by the brothers be the greyhound of the year on both sides of the Tasman – I reckon that will never happen again,” suggested Roberts.
Tony Hart (L) accepted the 2015/16 Greyhound of the Year award on behalf of Craig Roberts, with Craig Rendle (L) GRNZ Board Chairman; Dyna Vikkers in winning form from L to R: Waterloo Cup, NZ Cup, Auckland Cup.
By Peter Fenemor