Gippsland-bred stayer Ring The Bell achieved a world-first on Sunday when becoming the first greyhound to win New Zealand’s premier greyhound race for a second time.
Contesting his 89th start at the ripe old age of four years and seven months, Ring The Bell ($2.60) was simply superb when taking out the NZ$88,000 Duke of Edinburgh Silver Collar (779m) at Manukau by three lengths over a persistent Dusty Gambler ($2.40Fav).
The Silver Collar is a race of enormous prestige with winners having the chance to momentarily wear and be photographed in a solid silver collar, an item so valuable that it is locked in an Auckland bank for the rest of the year.
Glenn Pask of Bunyip, who bred, reared and part-owns Ring The Bell, flew to New Zealand with brother Grant, also a part-owner, to witness the race for the second year running.
“His trainer Ray Adcock is doing a magnificent job with him. He looks as good as he ever has, his coat is shining and he is very switched on,” Pask said.
Ring The Bell is a litter brother to former stars Blazin’ Bomber and Bells Are Ringin, and this was his 36th win to go with $437,748 in prize money.
Pask’s father-in-law, Gerry O’Keeffe, used to train Ring The Bell, and he paid tribute to his former star.
“He’s been an absolute warrior. I’m very proud of the decision just over 12 months ago by the owners to send him to New Zealand. The extra distance in staying races over there really suits him, and so does the finish on lure,” O’Keeffe said.
“Ring The Bell led throughout much of the final, but then Dusty Gambler went past him. Despite this, I held no concerns whatsoever, because the longer a race goes, the better Ring The Bell gets. He’s one of the strongest greyhounds I’ve seen in recent times. He hits a flat spot after about 500 metres, where he looks gone for all money, but then he finds another gear.”
“I’m thrilled for Ring The Bell, especially because he’s almost five years old, and I’m thrilled for Ray Adcock, as he’s nearly 85 years old. He loves spending time with his dogs and I want to be doing exactly the same thing as him at that age.”
Pask said Ring The Bell had one more big challenge in him before being retired – the Group 1 New Zealand Stayers Cup (732m) at Christchurch – a race the greyhound also won in 2017.
“It will be his last race – win, lose or draw. He will then be adopted by a lady in New Zealand named Jenny Bartlett, who re-homes a few greyhounds and is a huge fan of Ring The Bell,” Pask said.
Heats of the NZ Stayers Cup will be held on Thursday 21 June, with the final to be run on Friday 29 June.