Paying Tribute To The Late, Great Ray Adcock

NEW Zealand greyhound racing has lost an absolute icon from the industry with the passing of legendary trainer Raymond Harold Adcock, aged 87 years.

Peter Fenemor

14 September 2021

NEW Zealand greyhound racing has lost an absolute icon from the industry with the passing of legendary trainer Raymond Harold Adcock, aged 87.

Either directly or indirectly, the master conditioner had a profound influence on virtually all Kiwi industry participants over many, many decades.

Adcock led the transition from within the Kiwi training ranks from the largely 1980’s amateur days of sweepstake racing through to today’s professional era, setting incredibly high standards.

He was well known for his no nonsense, analytical approach to training methods, a methodology that he never waived from throughout his outstanding career. 

Ray, who had a tremendous sense of humor which included witty one-liners, was very generous with his time when he freely provided advise and direction to anyone who asked and that included friends or foes.

RHA as Adcock was affectionally known as received the codes ultimate accolade when in 2010 he became the inaugural inductee into the Greyhound Racing New Zealand Hall of Fame.

His acceptance speech, delivered to a standing ovation, contained his typical modest, yet witty references, saying; “I guess you can’t get better than this recognition, but at the end of the day I’m just a humble dog trainer, who is only as good as the dogs you have in your backyard.

“To be recognized like this certainly caps what has been a really enjoyable association with greyhound racing.” 

He then added, “I still have to go home tomorrow and pick up dog shit!”

Prior to placing collars and leads on greyhounds, Ray was an instructor at a canine obedience club for around a dozen years.

His involvement in greyhound training started inadvertently following a chance visit to a Christchurch trial track which led to him becoming a stipendiary steward for harness and greyhound racing.

The story goes that when adjudicating on a greyhound matter, the respondent said to Ray, “What the hell do you know about greyhound racing?” 

That comment was the catalyst for what was to follow. Raymond immediately finished his stipendiary roles, set up a state of art training establishment, known as Bunny Lodge, which included a trial track and went about redefining greyhound racing within New Zealand. 

His list of achievements are too numerous to list here. Included was his first trainers’ premiership in 1984, then two-years later he went on a training spree, sweeping all before him, winning ten consecutive premierships while travelling extensively throughout the country. 

He credits Australian legends Paul and Jan Wheeler, along with Paul and Pat Ambrosoli as shaping his early career success. 

His formula for success was very simple. He once emphatically stated “I’m the king pin around here in the kennels.” His greyhounds knew that and responded brilliantly, loving his full-on devoted attention.

Ray continuously said, “My dogs always come first.”

He was a great believer in free running, saying about walking greyhounds, “I don’t recall there being any walking races.”

The list of top-class group race winning greyhounds who benefited from his mentoring skills would fill many paragraphs here. 

His hardened, vastly experienced hands guided the likes of classy chasers Swannee Hobbs, Cecilia Bale, Profit Galore, Maddona Hobbs, Penny A Pitch, Mega Legend, Catch Me Soon, Scott No Track, Tricky Shelly, Emulate, Robbie, Ring The Bell, Tom Tee and Rosa Tee amongst many others to outstanding careers. 

Ray’s legacy is set to live on. A few years ago, the spritely conditioner handed over his collars to a youthful Daniel Lane, who under Ray’s astute guidance has quickly become a leading Kiwi trainer.

“I have been very privileged to be taught by Ray. The opportunity he has presented me is life changing,” advised Lane.

RHA earnt the total respect of many of his peers. Here’s just a snippet of the glowing tributes that has been freely flowing.

“What a fantastic innings Ray enjoyed – there’s people in greyhound racing, then there was the one and only Raymond Adcock. He was the legend and doyen of greyhound trainers and as a man himself.” Peter Earley, himself a legendary greyhound commentator and NZ Hall of Fame inductee. 

“Ray was a very passionate person who was always prepared to pass on his vast knowledge to anyone who was prepared to listen. He was a true friend and a gentleman.” NZ Hall of Fame member, trainer, and long-term national administrator Thayne Green.

“Ray was the positive key influence on many people in the industry. He cared about people, always taking a genuine interest in what you were doing.” Commentator and respected broadcaster Mark Rosanowski.  

“Ray was a man of absolute principle. It was a privilege and honour for us to be associated with Ray. He was years ahead of his time.” Long-time friends and training mates Tony Hart and Kirsty Taylor.  

“Ray had heaps and heaps impact on our family. He shaped the way forward for us.” Jonathon McInerney, son of the Homebush training guru John McInerney.

Ray is survived by daughter Vanessa and son Brent. “Dad always inspired us to keep on learning. I couldn’t have wished for a better father.” Vanessa.   

Current New Zealand Covid-19 restrictions means a private family service can only be held for Ray. However, when nationwide restrictions are lifted, Raymond Adcock will receive the sendoff that he so richly deserves with a memorial service at the Addington Raceway planned.

Ray once said in a TV interview – “I’ll be quite happy to be carried out in a coffin by a team of greyhounds.”

That will not now be possible, however he will undertake his final visit to the race circuit which he so revered, being driven around the Addington track with the lure leading the way!