By Gary Clark
Growing up in and around racing in Sydney’s south-west, it took a mere 64 years, and a son’s prodding, to finally get this father actively involved in greyhound racing.
Domiciled in Fairfield West, Ray Goodger, lived just 200m away from the Fairfield Showgrounds, where harness racing was conducted for several decades.
This led to Ray as a teenager helping out one of the sport’s leading trainer/drivers, Owen Glendenning.
“I used to spend hours with Owen, helping clean the stables, feed etc,” Ray recalled.
Ray’s uncle, Don Tolmie, managed the now defunct Fairfield drive-in back in the 1970 and ‘80s.
“It was just bush out there back then, a race track and drive-in, but now it has built up that fast you would never know what existed back then”.
In 1994 Ray moved to the South Coast to Ulladulla and after near two decades returned to Fairfield West in 2010.
He loved watching racing and enjoyed the dogs. He set up his own brick carting truck business which he had operated for 40 years.
Ray’s son, Dylan, now 26, was great friends with Paul Bunyan, a successful breeder/owner who raced the brilliant sprinter, Bright Ebony, the winner of 26 from 42 with great records at Gold Coast, Lismore, Wentworth Park, Singleton and Albion Park.
After years of interest and persistence, Dylan was offered a chance to buy into his first greyhound, It’s a Shame. He made sure his father was finally going to get his chance also.
In March 2018, Ray and Dylan experienced their first winner with It’s a Shame at Goulburn, the chaser being trained by Donna Campbell, who was already training the bitch at the time and Bunyan introduced Ray and Dylan to Donna and the connection has remained since.
It\’s a Shame has gone onto win another race at Goulburn, two at Dapto and one at Newcastle.
Then the chance came for their second dog came, a former Victorian named, Kroes. In July, 2018, he had his first start for them with Campbell and 29 starts later has amassed 12 wins at Goulburn (5), Nowra (1), Bulli (5) and one at Wentworth Park.
Unfortunately, he broke down in a race at Bulli in January, but there are hopes of getting him back to the track in the future.
So realising this was his opportunity, Ray moved out west to Berkshire Park last year and built five kennels where he has young pups or dogs that maybe spelling or ready for their first preparation.
“I use my place as a transition kennel for Donna. I don’t train, Donna does all that and I wouldn’t use anyone else,” Ray explained.
A recent addition to the Goodger ownership is Ishani, who was able to put two together at Richmond last month making it four wins from just 12 starts.
So, with Ray and Dylan settled into successful participation in the sport, the first win of the Richmond double of Ishani came with mixed feelings that week.
As Ray explained he had brought two pups back from Grafton, went for a walk and then when returning home went to the toilet only to see blood in the urine.
“It is not something anyone wants to see when in the rest room, so I was straight to the doctor.”
After several tests, doctors told Ray he had a high-grade bladder cancer. There are only two levels of this type of cancer and he had the worst.
Ray went under his first surgery in early August – a successful procedure – and now is awaiting his second operation in early September.
So just when his long awaited chance of racing has come along, life presents a real challenge. However, doctors are optimistic considering an early detection and instant surgery.
For Ray and Dylan racing his been a major part of their lives and a very successful part, but not always in the form of four-legged animals.
Ray and Dylan have been champion go-cart drivers. Dylan was Australia’s number one and Ray Australia’s number two in 2015.
“We travelled all over Australia to compete,” Ray says. “There was little financial return and a big outlay in travelling costs, accommodation, mechanical repairs etc.
“When you are good at something and enjoy it nothing else comes into consideration and to do it as a father and son – one/two – there is not much else that can beat it.”
But now they enjoy what was in the background for so long and have two race dogs, three that have been educated and two pups that are ready to be sent to Willow Park at Grafton for rearing.
So from horse stables in the 1960s to the greyhounds kennels of 2020, much has been documented for Ray, but it shows that patience is a virtue and with his son at his side – and a few good surgeons – his life as a greyhound owner has many more years of fulfillment.
Pictured: Ray Goodger (right) with son, Dylan, after Ishani’s win at Richmond in August (Photo: Lachlan Naidu of Redden Photo Video)