Warrnambool greyhound racing identity Ray Drew has sadly passed away after a 10 month battle with liver cancer.
A former delivery driver for BP, Ray spent more than 50 years training greyhounds, including forming a successful training partnership with son Dustin for many years from their Dennington property.
“We’ve have trained close to 300 winners over the past five years, with a team of 10 or 12 dogs,” Dustin said, adding it is a tight-knit family operation.
“My sister Aimee has a big interest in the dogs, and my mum Jan has been involved with dad’s dogs all her life.”
“Our most satisfying win was when Kilty Express won the (Group 1) Maturity Classic in 2016 at The Meadows. We had the whole family there that night.”
“Going back to dad’s younger days, he had a very good dog called Premier City who won a lot of Free For All races in Melbourne, plus Inver Coe, who ran second in a Warrnambool Cup and I think he might have even won a Waterloo Cup.”
“Then there was Nyoka and all the Kiribilli dogs which won a lot of races in town.”
“Dad loved setting dogs for the big carnivals at various tracks, and it was a great thrill when we won the Summer Cup in January with one of Ray Borda’s dogs called Aston Minerva. The Summer Cup is the main feature of the Warrnambool Seaside Carnival.”
WATCH: Ray Drew’s interview after winning the Maturity Classic with Kilty Express.
Ray was involved in local cricket and was a life member of the Warrnambool Greyhound Racing Club, where he served as Vice President right up until the end.
He got a huge thrill out of seeing people succeed in the greyhound racing, particularly local folk.
“Dad had enormous respect for trainers on all levels, whether it was the big time trainers like the Daillys or the little guy who won a maiden,” Dustin said.
“Being from Warrnambool, it’s such a unique racing town with our May Carnival. There’s such a rich racing history here. I don’t think there’s anywhere else quite like it. Everyone knows which locals are doing well, and whenever a Warrnambool dog wins in Melbourne we all get a buzz. Dad took great interest in following the success of others.”
Ray was also a greyhound ear brander for many years right up until his diagnosis last Christmas, and it was the relationships he built in that role which helped mould him into the successful “hands on” trainer he became.
“There’s so much greyhound racing knowledge in Warrnambool and dad was always learning from others.”
“He ear branded pups for all the top local breeders, from Barry Smith to Norm McCullagh, to the Lenehans to the Mugavins.”
“Dad was very meticulous, but he said you can never get ahead of yourself in this game. He said if you’ve got to drive to Broken Hill to win a race then that’s what you’ve got to do.”
“As a kid I remember he was forever machining his dogs or giving them a rub down. He believed that if you put the work into your greyhounds they’d pay you back. That’s what he told me, and I reckon that’s the advice he would give to any new person coming into the sport.”
WATCH: Ray and Dustin Drew provide an insight into their lives as greyhound trainers.