By Brennan Ryan and Peter Fenemor
New Zealand Cup Week is a unique, full-on week of racing centred in the Garden City of Christchurch.
Annually the second week of November features all three racing codes hosting their respective New Zealand Cup.
The country’s richest greyhound race, the $100,000 New Zealand Cup, is run on the Thursday evening at the Addington Raceway.
The spectacular line-up on November 11 includes three Group 1 finals.
The New Zealand Cup was first contested in 1941 when known as the New Zealand Championship. The race was rotated around various venues with the first winner being Royal Desire.
The New Zealand Championship/Cup was permanently allocated to the Christchurch GRC in 1972 and since then has been run at three different venues.
Many high-class dogs have collected the New Zealand Cup trophy.
The list of winning trainers is a who’s who. Included is the legendary conditioner, the late Ray Adcock, who mentored four New Zealand Cup winners.
Adcock was the inaugural human inductee into the Greyhound Racing New Zealand Hall of Fame. His mentoring methods paved the way for modern trainers.
He dominated the Kiwi training ranks for many years.
He was great advocate of free running his greyhounds. When asked why he didn’t walk his charges, he replied, “If there was walking races I would”!
It was the little things, done well that Adcock thrived on. Here’s another example.
Christchurch City use to host a Cup Week street parade.
In 1995 Adcock had qualified Mega Legend for the Cup. The connections of all finalists were invited to parade their dogs on an extremely hot Christchurch afternoon.
They did, although Adcock substituted Mega Legend with a lookalike pup, saying, “I’m wasn’t prepared to dehydrate him in the heat”.
The result was an emphatic 4.5 length NZ Cup victory for Mega Legend, who went on to being named the 1995-96 NZ Greyhound of the Year and then subsequently was inducted into the GRNZ Hall of Fame.
Since 2006 Dave and Jean Fahey have trained nine New Zealand Cup winners.
Christchurch commentator Trevor Wilkes has been an integral contributor to the NZ Cup, with this year’s edition being his 43rd call of the Group 1 event.
Hopefully the current NZ Covid-19 crowd restrictions are lifted ensuring the traditional country-wide influx of racing enthusiasts can converge on Christchurch.