Day At The Track

Prominent owner Grant Adamson dies

06:13 PM 20 Aug 2013 NZST
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Grant Adamson at the Harness Racing Awards last month Franco Jamar
Grant Adamson at the Harness Racing Awards last month
Race Images Photo
Franco Jamar - Was part owned by Grant Adamson

Prolific harness racing owner, Grant Adamson, tragically passed away on Monday the 19th of August after suffering a brain aneurism just over a week ago.

His untimely death ends what was beginning to become one of New Zealand's biggest rises in the ownership ranks.

Just last month Adamson was on stage at the New Zealand Harness Racing Awards after Royal Aspirations received three-year-old male trotter of the year. It was the 56-year-olds third award in the space of four years. Not bad going for someone who didn’t know one end of a horse from the other just six years ago.

Away from the barn of Fred Fletcher, who was responsible for all three of Adamson’s awards, the successful businessman was also starting to strum up quite a partnership with Russley based-trainer Steve Dolan.

And Dolan is adamant that partnership was only going to get stronger in years to come.

“I first met Grant when I sold him Living Kamwood at the Ready To Run Sale back in 2008.

“He wanted to buy Franco Jamar also but pulled up short of his reserve of $80,000, I offered him a quarter share, which he jumped at,” said Dolan. “And i guess it all just sort of grew from there."

Franco Jamar qualified on the same day as Jinja Gal, who gave Adamson his first taste of big race success when winning the Harness Jewels. Franco Jamar then went on to win 13 races and more than $200,000 in stakes before being sent to Australian trainer Luke McCarthy where he won a further eight races and took his stake earnings to $386,639.

Castellina Lover (6 wins, $47,608) is another smart type Adamson and Dolan have been involved with.

“He was more than just a business partner, he was also a great friend,” said Dolan.

“One of the most genuine people I have ever met, His integrity was second to none.

“He was one of those owners that when you had his trust, you had him for life.

“I guess you could say he took me to another level. He was mentor to me in a way.

Adamson’s death is a massive blow to the harness racing industry.

“There just aren’t many owners with the finances to chase their passion so strongly, he was a rarity.

Away from harness racing, Adamson was a very successful Financial Investment Banker and a big family man.

“I had huge admiration for Grant, he achieved so much.

“I can’t begin to think how his wife Karen is feeling right now. They shared an unbelievable connection.

Adamson also had a lot of love for his three children Mike, Lee and Jenna.

“Mike loves the horses every bit as much as Grant did. A couple of months ago I qualified a filly called Jennalee which, as you may guess, is named after his two daughters."

“I used to speak to Grant at least three times a week. Leading up to his death I had been telling him how excited I am about a two-year-old filly he owns called Bellagio Lover (Art Major – Kamwood Cully).

“She is our next potential superstar and definitely the best horse I have put a bridle on since Franco Jamar.

“It is definitely going to be bitter-sweet when she lines-up as I know how much he would have loved to have been there.

“He also owns another very nice horse called Stunning Courage.”

Adamson first got into the industry through one of his “best mates and Best Man” Gary Bree, who asked him if he would like to take a share in a horse or two with him.

Adamson and Bree wound up with three cheap horses together and while all of them raced, only the trotter Loyal Man managed a win, and that was just for a winning stake of $2125 at a Tuesday meeting at Addington

That trio in fact raced over 50 times for total stakes worth $12,743, with Lizzie D winning about half that without paying a dividend in the Sales races for trotters, but Adamson had derived so much enjoyment out of it all he set about acquiring youngsters the following year with almost gay abandon.

And as we now all know this led him to an array of success.

Adamson was also heavily involved with Retirement Villages in Christchurch, which led him to race some syndicate horses under the banner of “Arvee” which is derived from the ‘R’ in retirement and the ‘V’ in village.

by Mitchell Robertson

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