2013: The French military intervenes in the Northern Mali conflict.
Pope Benedict XVI resigns and Pope Francis becomes Pope.
Terrorist attacks occur in Boston and Nairobi.
Edward Snowden releases classified documents concerning mass surveillance by the NSA.
President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi is deposed by the military in a coup d'état.
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Deaths of Hugo Chávez, Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher.
Uruguay becomes the first country to fully legalise cannabis.
19 Aug: Same-sex marriage in legalised in NZ.
12 October: 2013 Local Government elections held
David Rankin had never been on a racecourse until he was 45. Yet he recently stepped down after five years as chairman of the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club having directed a transformation which makes Addington the number one racing complex in New Zealand by asset strength.
Typically he gives the credit to his Board and executives. "It's not about me," he says. "It's about the processes we put in place and the people who carried these out. It was giving the Club a full business philosophy which turned things around."
Rankin remains on the Addington Raceway Board but retired from the chairman position for health reasons. "Last April out of the blue I suddenly developed problems with an eye closing of its own volition. Then with both eyes open I had trouble focussing. While the cause of that was being established I had to undergo an operation to relieve excessive levels of calcium caused by a thyroid problem. I was found to have myasthenia, a neuro muscular weakness. I could do nothing physical at all. It could be a real effort for my neck to hold my head upright. Treatment has stabilised the problem and it can go into remission for long periods so here's hoping."
He has a strong accountancy and business (managing-director Livingstone Real Estate) background, and is a son of notable Canterbury rugby coach of a former era, Jack Rankin. But his entry into both racing and administration was almost by chance. "Mike Grainger was a school friend of mine and he got some of us in to a syndicate. There were 10 originally but the first horse didn't make it so it was down to five by the time we tried our second horse. That was Straven which won five and had eight placings from 13 starts before we sold him to America. It was a great start for me. I was at a (Boys High School) reunion when Jim McGee sitting next to me suggested I should join up at Addington. After a year on the committee I stood for the Board and three years later became chairman (2008) on the death of John Penney. So it was fast tracking all round."
Rankin had looked at the philosophy behind the Addington business and didn't like what he saw. "We had historically spent nearly everything we earned. We were often posting profits before depreciation which are not real profits at all because it is not money in the hand to re-invest. When we lost the industry facilities funding through the Racing Board we were in trouble. We were not reinvesting enough in our core business. It got to the stage that when we went into a joint venture with the industrial complex we got $2m and had to use it all to pay off debt. We had major cash difficulties in 2008 and when the tax cuts came into force ours went largely into stakes. It was not sustainable."
"We had some tough years. I refused to present a report which posted profits before depreciation. In 2012 we wrote off $840,000 in depreciation to get everything back on track and still had a positive cash flow of $1.8m - enough profit to build the new bar complex out of income."
The club targeted the right people to bring about major change. "Shane Gloury did an outstanding job as a change manager. He came from Melbourne and took on the challenge to alter the culture of the place. It was a tough assignment especially given the challenge of the horse barn situation which wasn't good and greeted him on arrival. Our Events (catering) operation, for example, was to some extent stifled by tradition. There was a resistance to change. Now we have enthusiastic Events leaders coming up with their own innovations to improve the product. That was a huge change for us and a credit to Shane."
"You must remember that racing is only 47 per cent of ourincome now. We have people wanting to come to Addington because of the catering and it has boosted our income. To survive from a racing aspect we must grow in other areas. It is a true success story. This was all done without significant staff changes and when Shane had to leave us Dean McKenzie came and has been a stunning CEO. Dean is an experienced delegator, prepares in great detail and empowers the staff to come up with their own thoughts and feelings. He utilises their skills. That gives them enthusiasm and pride in achievement. Money can't buy that."
"Brian Rabbitt has played his part on the racing side too. Our average field size at this year's Cup week meetings lifted on last year while the national average went down. It is essential we have more horses racing here and the programming of events and innovations like rewarding owners of horses who support our meetings (Met Multiplier) which has made that difference. The success also reflects the value in having an expert accounting and administrative figure at the top - one who keeps the focus where it should be.
"I don't know a lot about racing. I have never pretended that I did. But that wasn't really what we needed at the time. I have great faith in our succession plan. Barry Dent (new chairman) has my full confidence. Behind him is Brent Smith who was not really into racing either and was a bit reluctant to come on board because of time constraints. I told him not to worry about coming to the races every week, it was his financial skills we needed. Now Brent is as keen on the racing as anyone. Recruiting these sort of people has been satisfying."
Rankin makes the point that Addington is now the most valuable racing centre in New Zealand. "We have $87m in assets. Ellerslie by comparison has $61m and Alexandra Park about $47m. It is pleasing to see that Alexandra Park is now following our move to use assets for greater income because I know they will make a lot of progress from it. The old idea when you got into trouble was to sell something. We are currently getting around $1.5m profit from our business centre enterprise and that will only grow. We have two blocks yet to develop one of 4000 sq m and one of 2000 sq m and that is the future. And of course we have income from the Twigger Stand leases as well."
While Rankin acknowledges the earthquakes have been a blessing for Addington Raceway in a number of respects, he resists the idea they are the reason for the Club's success. "We were paid $11m for the public stand. The Racing Board took $6.1 of that for the barn and we have the other $5m still invested. We haven't used it. Our gain is that there are more people in the area now."
Rankin's real estate expertise enables him to predict the future of Addington's non racing situation. "If you drew a line around a 3km radius from Riccarton Mall, for example, spending there is estimated at around $1.2b a year, the largest amongst suburban malls. So increases in people in a 3km radius around Addington now plus our ace in the hole, parking, means initiatives like our new bar complex are virtually guaranteed to succeed. The bar is already running ahead of budget."
As a result Rankin dismisses any possibility of racing moving from Addington in the forseeable future. "It would cost us $60m to build a new complex from scratch and the figures from racing income just don't add up. The Sydney and Melbourne Clubs who moved out of the city got a lot of money but are struggling to get a business income over 7 days off the ground. You can build a hotel but will people want to stay in it out there? And that land would have been even more valuable in a few years. Our great advantage is our position. Why would you consider giving that up?" The latest boost is the decision of the Canterbury Rugby Union to lease the old administration office at Addington for its offices meaning the admintistrative staff will all move into the present racenight administration area.
Considering David Rankin came to power on the edge of a severe economic downturn his time in charge can only be described as a huge success. He is confident that will continue because of the processes put in place by he and his team. He gives a lot of credit to his wife, Kath. "She is brilliant with people and I am not. She committed to the challenge and has been a great asset to me in that respect. She remembers names and takes a real interest in the people she meets. I am more reserved and organisation is more my thing. We make a great team."
May we see the Rankin name in national administration over time? "I have not thought about seeking that but I would not count it out all going well on the health front. I love a challenge. At the moment I am just looking for a bit more luck with my horses. The public makes them favourite a lot but they always seem to run second." That changed at Timaru on Saturday when Nigel McGrath produced another winner for his patron. It may have been appropriate that its name was All Cash and Burning followed the next day at Motukarara.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 27Nov13
VOICES OF ADDINGTON RACEWAY
For many years now racegoers at Addington Raceway have been fortunate to be blessed with superb callers, two of whom were long term servants and a current incumbent who could easily remain in the job for as long as he likes. The names of Clarkson and Murtha are synonymous with Addington while McNamara has made giant strides in people’s estimation.
Before we review the careers of those behind the microphone at Addington, let’s have a look at the background to race calling in New Zealand. The first reported race broadcast from Addington Raceway was the 3 June 1926 meeting of the Canterbury Park Trotting Club (King’s Birthday meeting). The first caller was Alan Allardyce on private radio 3AC and later 3YA - local national programme station in Christchurch.
After the Addington broadcast, the Canterbury Jockey Club refused to allow broadcasting of the Grand National meeting of August 1926. Allardyce however called races from a haystack which was situated outside the racecourse, using an extension cable from the microphone to the telephone of owner/trainer Jack McComb whose home backed onto the course. Although positioned 3½ furlongs from the finish, it was reported that all calls were accurate!! Following this first ever race call, the CJC banned Allardyce from calling thereafter. However sometime later Allardyce was provided with a seat in the stand from which to broadcast although the crowd in front of him proved problematic interrupting his view.
In August 1927, the Forbury Park Trotting Club (FPTC) club considered a suggestion that race results be included in radio broadcasts. In September 1927, an application was received from Mr JW Webb, station director of the Radio Broadcasting Company of NZ in Dunedin requesting permission to broadcast races from Forbury Park (FP). This was readily agreed to and arrangements were made for suitable accommodation to facilitate this. From the spring meetings of 1927 (25/26 November), FP races were broadcast live to an ever expanding radio audience (extract from an unpublished history of trotting in Dunedin, courtesy of FPTC).
Debate continued concerning race broadcasts for a number of years until the NZ Racing Conference agreed broadcasting was a good thing in 1932, broadcasters agreed to pay £1000 for the privilege of doing so. Early race callers included “Wang” McKenzie, Frank Jarrett Timaru 1936 at local meetings, while David Clarkson took over Timaru in 1940 and Riccarton meetings just prior to WWII. Frank Jarrett preceded Clarkson as race caller at both Addington and Riccarton (1935). He later went onto become judge at both courses, including being judge at Addington when the photo finish was introduced in 1946, the year Integrity won the NZ Trotting Cup. Another caller in the Mid - South Canterbury area in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s was Alec Stanley. Reon Murtha advises that Stanley had told him of calling Johnny Globe winning a non tote event against current champions of the era. Stanley was also judge at Forbury Park for the 1965 Interdominions when Jay Ar and Robin Dundee dead heated in a dramatic Pacers Grand Final. He was also thoroughbred handicapper for the South Island for many years through to the 1970’s.
Fans throughout New Zealand have been ably served by their race callers, who have provided great entertainment with their vivid race descriptions, especially thrilling for radio listeners in the days before recorded or live pictures were available courtesy of TV. No less today where pictorial coverage has reached saturation point, callers need to ensure they maintain high standards. Among many important attributes is an ability to read a race, recognition of horses and breathing, timing, rhythmical voice with tone important and correct pronunciation. A good vocabulary to enable each call to have its point of difference is required and the right tempo and delivery so that the voice stays even especially in close finishes is essential. Not much to ask of a caller !! It is obvious that the better callers have all or many of these attributes (and often more).
The majority of the earlier race callers were part timers with a passion for their “calling” but it is interesting to note the longevity of many of our best callers - at Addington : David Clarkson 33yrs (1938-1971), Reon Murtha 35 yrs (1971 - 2006) plus in the North Island Syd Tonks (northern gallops close to 40 yrs; Auckland Racing Club 1947 - retired 1983; racing journalist for Best Bets, racing reporter for NZ Herald, handicapper 1961); Peter Kelly (Central Districts gallops/occasional Manawatu trots, auctioneer 30+ yrs) and Reg Clapp (northern trots 47 yrs). Later in this article a brief review of a number of other New Zealand race callers appears.
Since the late 1930’s, the state owned NZ Broadcasting Corporation/Radio New Zealand (RNZ) had a monopoly on race broadcasts. RNZ maintained its high profile in racing by providing excellent coverage until 1990, catering for all sporting and cultural tastes and overwhelmingly favouring the racing audience. All meetings were broadcast by provincial radio stations with major events networked by over 30 stations, all at no cost to the Racing industry. RNZ decided to withdraw its race coverage due to a combination of low poll ratings for racing, high costs and no financial input by the racing authorities despite being offered a multi station exclusive radio network (ala current Radio Trackside service).
In the early 1980’s private station Radio Pacific showed considerable interest in providing race broadcasts. In the 1981/82 season Pacific’s racing director Jim Smith gained support from the Racing Conference to provide broadcasts. Pacific provided full meeting coverage, introduced opening betting markets and impacted on increased TAB turnovers. RNZ and Radio Pacific provided a healthy competitive service over the next decade. Television coverage was quite good through the 1970’s and 1980’s, although only major races were covered live. Major provincial events were regularly shown on locally produced sporting TV programmes. Mainstream TV coverage faded away entirely in later years to the extent that only TV3 provides any mainstream channel live coverage each year, that being the NZ Trotting and Galloping Cups.
In 1991, RNZ ended its 53 year association with providing race commentaries to New Zealanders. This left Radio Pacific to provide a nationwide service with a $2 million injection of funding from the TAB. Eventually total coverage was provided of all three codes by Radio Pacific (now Radio Trackside) and Trackside Television was established in 1992, celebrating its twenty year anniversary in November 2012 (now two channels - Trackside free to air and TAB Sky Channel). Currently the New Zealand Racing Board has control over the Trackside channels and Radio Trackside and the appointment/employment of all race commentators.
David (DB) Clarkson -
Considered the doyen of NZ race callers and essentially the original pioneer of radio race broadcasts, David Bruce Clarkson (known as Dave) was named Commentator of the Century in 1974 and was a life member of the NZ Trotting Hall of Fame. Christchurch born and bred, Clarkson was an old boy of Christs College.
He made his first race call for the Banks Peninsula Racing Club at Motukarara on 20 October 1937. David Clarkson was the voice of Addington Raceway and Riccarton in the early days of radio. He commenced calling at these two courses just before the commencement of WWII (1937 - Riccarton, 1938 - Addington) and was to remain in this position for over 30 years before retiring in 1971. He became commentator throughout the Canterbury area for both codes e.g. at Ashburton, he was race caller between 1945 and 1970 before Freeman Holmes filled in briefly prior to Reon Murtha’s appointment in 1971. David Clarkson also called race meetings at Trentham from at least June 1944 until he was succeeded by Peter Kelly in 1956. He was also the first commentator to be acknowledged in the race book. The ace Christchurch caller’s commentating spanned 34 years from 1937 - 1971. Like his first call, he made his final call from the Banks Peninsula Racing Club’s course at Motukarara in 1971.
David Clarkson was recognised as a world class commentator, he made race calling an art, his commentaries always gave the appearance of and generated excitement. This included his famous starting phrase “This time…. “, together with classic phrases in tight finishes like “flying down the outer”, “neck and neck”, “stride for stride” to enhance and enliven his calls made before the days of television monitors. This may also explain some comments indicating that some of his calls were not always as accurate as is required from commentators with TV scrutiny today.
David Clarkson was involved in many aspects of the racing industry - professionally as a well known auctioneer. Initially working for H Matson & Co - auctioneers, grain and seed merchants from February 1940 or earlier. In 1947, he was appointed bloodstock manager and auctioneer for PGG, remaining with them until his retirement in 1978. Clarkson was an auctioneer at the National Yearling Sales (thoroughbreds) at Trentham for 25 years, commencing in 1949 with Charlie Robertson and Bill Paterson (Wright Stephenson bloodstock manager). Robertson retired after the 1954 “Royal“ sales. Clarkson and Paterson were joined by Peter Kelly in 1961. Clarkson/Paterson retired from the Trentham sales in 1973 after sharing the rostrum for 25 years. David Clarkson was instrumental in establishing the South Island Thoroughbred Bloodstock sale (now held during August Grand National carnival week in Christchurch), which is approaching its 50th anniversary.
The annual New Zealand national sale of standardbred yearlings was originally handled by H. Matson & Co. in conjunction with Wrightson, Stephenson & Co. Ltd - their first sale at Addington Raceway was held on 3 November 1944. David Clarkson was an auctioneer at these annual sales together with special annual sales of pacing and trotting stock in 1957, 1963 and 1972, spending considerable time travelling throughout NZ inspecting yearlings.
Privately David Clarkson was on the Committee for his local Ellesmere Agricultural and Pastoral Society (A&P Show)in the early 1940‘s; an owner (see Just A Rebel below); served as judge at Riccarton for the Canterbury Jockey Club for about five years after which he became a steward of the club and was later elected an honorary steward. Three weeks before his death he was elected President of the Banks Peninsula Racing Club.
A few years after retiring from race calling, David Clarkson raced the good galloper Just A Rebel with Riccarton trainer Dave Kerr. This 1977 gelding (Weyand USA/ Fully Tested NZ) was bred by JA Herkess and AV Webster. He had a career record of 23 starts : 7 - 5 - 2 - 1- 2, $46,330. Just A Rebel won his first three starts as a 2yo including the 1980 CJC Champion Stakes at Riccarton. His biggest win came in the 1982 CJC Easter Classic, a C1 event over 2000m for $40,000. In this race he defeated good gallopers Noble Boa and The Dimple in recording his fifth victory at Riccarton (two were at Rangiora). Just A Rebel followed this up with a sixth in the 1982 Winter Cup before being off the scene for 15 months between November 1982 and February 1984. He had his last start at Wingatui in the 1984 James Hazlet Cup over 1600m.
David Clarkson died in Christchurch on 8 August 1983, aged 70 after a long illness. He was survived by his sons David (past CJC Board member) and Duncan (Dannevirke, North Island), both keen racing men (both deceased).
Reon Murtha -
The dulcet tones of Reon Murtha filled the on course speakers at Addington Raceway for 35 years (1971 - 2006), together with the local Christchurch and frequently national radio airwaves and in latter years the Trackside TV channel. These thirty five years at Addington, were not the sum total of his race calling experiences which in fact spanned at period of 47 years from his first call on the West Coast at the 8 October 1960 Reefton meeting through until his final race calling day on 10 January 2007 also at Reefton. This is reminiscent of Dave Clarkson who’s first and last calls were also at the same track, in his case Motukarara. Known as a thorough professional and a gentleman, Reon was a legendary race caller and a popular trackside commentator who ranked with the very best in the industry in NZ and overseas.
From a family of enthusiastic amateurs steeped in West Coast racing history, Reon’s father was on the committee of the Reefton Jockey and Trotting Clubs, whilst his grand father served as a clerk of the course. Of Irish descent and a devout Catholic, Murtha attended a Catholic seminary in Christchurch during his third form year before returning back to his hometown of Reefton. His childhood ambition had been to be a race caller and his radio announcer training in Greymouth provided him with experience in using his voice and language in the correct manner to facilitate this. He commenced his broadcasting career as a technician, then began his part time race calling career while becoming a radio announcer. The ten years of race calling on the West Coast had to be undertaken during his days off. These early calls were made in open grandstands situated among the crowd with a microphone strapped to his chest and at Reefton it entailed standing on a beer crate!! Murtha had to submit to a tape recording of those first calls before being allowed to call the next Labour Weekend meeting (late October 1960) at Greymouth
Reon made his first race call at Riccarton Park in 1969 when commuting from Greymouth to make such calls. Following his appointment as the Racing/Trotting commentator for Canterbury in 1971, he became the only contracted caller in the area. His first call at Addington was a Canterbury Park Trotting Club meeting in March 1971 following that years Christchurch Interdominions. In the years that followed, Murtha became the race caller of choice at most race courses in the greater Canterbury district (North, Mid and South Canterbury plus of course Reefton) e.g. Timaru he took over from Lochie Marshall in 1993 and retained that particular calling spot until 2006. In 1984 awarded the Pater Award as Australasia’s best race commentator, one of a number of thoroughbred and harness racing awards received by him. In the 1990’s he became a fulltime racing commentator when race broadcasts moved from RNZ to Radio Pacific. Reon Murtha went onto become the voice of NZ Racing.
Reon saw his first Interdominion (ID) Championship as a spectator in 1961 at Addington when Massacre upset False Step in a closely contested finish. The 1960/61 season featured as his rookie year as a small time commentator on the West Coast. The first ID called for NZ audiences was from Globe Derby Park, Adelaide in 1976 when Chris Lewis as a 20yo drove Carclew to victory. The following year in Brisbane, Reon called home for the first time a NZ owned/trained/driven horse in Stanley Rio (although trainer George Noble was Australian by birth). Stanley Rio was born in Tasmania and sold to his owners Wayne Francis (joint Nevele R proprietor), George and son John Noble, Stanley Rio’s driver by the other Nevele R joint proprietor in Tasmanian born Bob McArdle. You would have to say this win was one for good Trans Tasman relations. For these first two years, Reon led tours on behalf of Air New Zealand. He continued to call Interdominions for NZ radio listeners for many years (1976 - 1992 excluding when they were raced at Alexandra Park, Auckland).
Reon Murtha took over from David Clarkson at Addington after the 1971 ID’s (Clarkson’s final Addington race calling assignment) so his first NZ ID championship call came in March 1979 at the Christchurch ID‘s. This was when Rondel in the hands of master NZ reinsman Peter Wolfenden managed to squeeze through a small gap along the rails left by Sapling to win by a length. Reon’s involvement with the in Interdominions in later years, was in leading NZ tour parties to the Interdominions. Accompanied by his wife Pam, he did this initially for House of Travel franchise, Young & Lee Travel (1978 - 2006); McCrory Thomas Travel (2007) and Warwick Beatson Travel in 2008 and 2009, the last of these tours was to the Gold Coast ID’s.
Reon Murtha’s career was far more rounded than just being that of a race caller, his career included being local Christchurch radio station Radio 3ZB’s Sports Editor and also presenting a community religious programme (Plains FM). He was experienced at calling rugby and rugby league fixtures, produced and/or fronted numerous radio and TV sports programmes, broadcasting events from the 1974 and 1982 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and Brisbane respectively. Reon was invited by the BBC to be one of two Commonwealth broadcasters for the 23 July 1986 Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey. This was followed immediately by his attendance at the 1986 Commonwealth Games (24 July - 2 August 1986) in Edinburgh, Scotland (previously hosted 1970 edition) which obviously led to his being chosen as NZ’s Track and Field commentator at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Other work included leading numerous tours as an escort on behalf of Young and Lee Travel - these included visits to 1979 Little Brown Jug series in Delaware; 1981 Meadowlands Pace; 1983 Kentucky Derby; 1984 English Derby and Royal Ascot in June; 1991 Rothmans July in Durban, South Africa. On the racing front, during some of these tours he was invited to call at meetings all over the world - in Ireland at a light harness meeting at Portmarnock in Dublin; the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky; Durban and Johannesburg in South Africa together with a number of Australian harness racing tracks for RNZ.
Reon Murtha was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for his services to broadcasting in the 2004 New Years Honours. Shortly after receiving this honour, he had a cataract operation but was determined to continue calling for the foreseeable future. He retired following the November 2006 Canterbury NZ Cup’s carnival (his 36th year of calling NZ Trotting/Galloping Cups), although his last call was made at Reefton JC’s 10 January 2007 meeting where it had all begun 47 years earlier. On his retirement, he was made a life member of the Canterbury Jockey Club and has life memberships at Addington Raceway and both Reefton clubs (Jockey and Trotting). Continuing to work for the Racing Industry Board using his lifetime experience, he contributed to the future of race broadcasting by mentoring a new generation of caller’s (e.g. one year plus follow ups with Tom Wood). Keeping busy
he still attends local meetings (both harness and thoroughbred), especially premier races and country meetings, watching avidly the remainder on television. He spends time working on maintaining or reducing his golfing handicap. Called on as a guest speaker on many occasions, a more recent invitation was at Forbury Park’s hundred years Centennial Dinner in 2009.
Looking back, Reon can recall numerous fond memories of his race calling days. Events such as : Hands Down and Delightful Lady engaging in a length of the straight tussle in 1980 NZ Cup; Stanley Rio 1977 ID’s win at Albion Park; Show Gate’s wins on all three days of the 1974 NZ Cup Carnival at distances of 1200m, 2000m (with slipped saddle) on middle day and back to 1600m on final day; Empire Rose’s 1987 NZ Cup victory just 11 days after her half length second to Kensei in the Melbourne Cup (she subsequently won the 1988 Melbourne Cup). His most emotional moment came following Lord Module’s win in the 1981 Alan Matson FFA on the final night of the NZ Cup Carnival (21 November 1981). After champion like performances earlier in his career, Lord Module had become a rogue - banned from the 1981 NZ Cup, he’d broken, sat down on the track and generally taken a dislike to racing. In this race he beat great horses (Armalight, Hands Down, Bonnies Chance, Gammalite) in the then electric time of 3:15.5 (2600m) for trainer Cecil Devine and driver Jack Smolenski. Reon’s race call is remembered word for word by many harness fans such was the emotion generated by the performance. Straight after the race the crowd stormed out of the stands towards the birdcage and the great horse as if the stands were on fire. Reon recalls choking back the tears when describing it on radio.
Reon’s worst moment/lowlight came in the 1983 One Thousand Guineas (3yo Fillies) at Riccarton, when he called winner Burletta as another, possibly Quite Regal. Among the funniest moments - several including seeing ducks crossing the track at Addington; a hare leading the field for a lap at Addington and Robert Cameron disappearing through the outer iron corrugated fence when unable to control trotter Mighty Lee from crashing through the fence that opened and shut like a saloon bar door.
The best of series : Horses - Lordship who raced against Cardigan Bay on five occasions and beat him home in three of them. A great free-for-aller, he raced off difficult handicaps, won the 1966 NZ Cup off 42 yards, may have further enhanced his reputation if he had raced overseas and was of course a great sire. Murtha has time for Christian Cullen while nominating Show Gate and Sunline, both mares as brilliant thoroughbred racehorses. Drivers - Maurice Holmes, Tony Herlihy and now Dexter Dunn who impressed Murtha from the very beginning of his driving career as a superb talent showing great skill, excellent judgement and patience. As a young driver he’s already proved himself to be one of the country’s outstanding drivers comparing favourably with past legends and all of the top rated present day drivers. Jockeys - fan of Grenville Hughes (northern jockey - 1,270 winners over 35 seasons from 1942 - 1976 in NZ and Australia; two premierships; rider with outstanding technique and associated with Mainbrace) and Lance O’Sullivan (champion and most successful NZ jockey over 23 seasons 1980 - 2003; 2,357 NZ winners ands 2,479 worldwide riding in 6 countries overseas including 1989 Japan Cup with Horlicks; 11 premierships equalled Bill Broughton‘s NZ record). Naturally there was always a close West Coast bond with the famous Skelton family.
Mention must be made of Reon Murtha’s proudest horse ownership moments. These came with the particular success had with one galloper he raced together with his son Sheldon (he gifted Reon a share) and Michelle House. Bred by Michael House (Roydon Lodge) and Top of the Trots Ltd (Sheldon Murtha, company formed for the purpose of breeding and selling horses), Ombre Rose was a 2002 O’Reilly filly out of Lady Chanele. Her overall record read : 34 : 7 - 4 - 2 - 3 - 5, $227,613 and she was the 2006 NZ Bloodstock Southern Filly of the Year and 2005/2006 South Island 3yo of the Year. She was trained by Shane Marr at Riccarton Park.
Ombre Rose as a 3yo won 6 races including her first maiden start over 1200m at Ashburton in October 2005. She followed up this with a series of victories all at Riccarton - Christchurch Casino 3yo 1400m on the opening day of 2005 NZ Cup carnival; CMP Canterbury 3yo 1400m in March 2006; SI Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (F & M) Listed race over 1600m in April 2006; NZ Bloodstock Air Freight Stakes (Listed) 1600m in April 2006; NZ Bloodstock Warstep Stakes (Listed) 2000m May 2006 capping a stellar season.
At four Ombre Roses only and final win came in the Ilam Real Estate (Open Hcp) 1400m in September 2006 at Riccarton. All of her victories were called by Reon in his normal professional manner. The majority of her racing from this point on was at top group level. Notable placings included a fifth in the 2007 Stoney Bridge Stakes (WFA), Hastings; second in the 2007 Cuddle Stakes Gp3 at Trentham; third in the 2007 Counties Cup Gp2 at Pukekohe; fifth in the 2008 Thorndon Mile Gp1 at Trentham; third in the 2008 Whakanui Stud International Gp1 at Te Rapa; second in the 2008 First Sovereign Trust Stakes Gp1 at Ellerslie; fifth in the 2008 Mudgway Partsworld Stakes Gp1 at Hastings; fourth in the 2008 Stoney Bridge Stakes Gp1 at Hastings. All the while threatening to pull off the “big’ one, Ombre Rose had her final start in the 2009 Manawatu Breeders Stakes at Awapuni.
Since her retirement, she has produced two unnamed/unraced bay foals owned by Michelle House, Reon and Sheldon Murtha - 2010 No Excuses Needed colt; 2011 Pins colt; 2012 served by Savabeel. A 2yo full brother to Ombre Rose sold for $145,000 at the 2012 NZ Bloodstock South Island Sale in August 2012 (O’Reilly/Lady Chanele) to NC Chan, Hong Kong. The vendor was Roydon Lodge Stud (Michael and Michelle House).
Reon’s son Sheldon has to a degree followed in his fathers footsteps. He was employed as a Trackside TV presenter/producer in the 1990’s after which he established Global Horse Racing Television Ltd, a media company making TV/Video and Internet programmes. One of the earlier shows was Global Harness Racing which aired on Sky Sport 2, Southland TV, Sky Channel Australia and Trackside TV networks. Other horse racing shows produced include 'Top of the Trots' and '123 Racing.TV' while they’ve broadcast live events such as the NZ Standardbred Yearling Sales, North American Harness Racing and a few race meetings. Sheldon is currently contracted through Global Horse Racing Television Ltd to manage/produce/edit etc content for the HRTV component on Harness Racing New Zealand’s website.
Sheldon has raced several horses, being a part owner of Kamwood Cully and current Grand Circuit performer Franco Jamar his best so far. Sheldon has numerous breeding interests and he is an enthusiastic and successful amateur driver who has had 28 drives for 3 wins and 6 placings over the past three seasons (mid October 2013).
During Reon Mutha’s reign at Addington Raceway, the NZMTC conducted two race commentators’ nights in the mid 1980’s where each race was named in honour of the caller. Those who called on each night (Mike O’Sullivan, Dave McDonald and, until recently, Tony Lee are still calling races) are shown in the table below with brief bio’s of their careers to follow :
18 January 1984 22 January 1985
Dan Myers Dan Myers
Lochie Marshall Lochie Marshall
Mike O’Sullivan Mike O’Sullivan
Reg Clapp Reg Clapp
Tony Lee Tony Lee
Keith Haub Keith Haub
Alan Bright Alan Bright
Dave McDonald Dave McDonald
Reon Murtha Rob Fielder
Junior Drivers ht Reon Murtha
Dan Myers - Central Districts gallops caller; at various times was member of NZ Racing Conference executive and Taranaki District Committee, President Egmont Racing Club, Chairman Hawera Race Course Partnership, Treasurer Egmont/Wanganui Hunt Club. Doug Ahern was another race caller who covered the Taranaki area in the 1960’s - 1970’s
Lochie Marshall - from Geraldine, first called in 1964 at the tender age of 19; generally called races in the central to southern South Island area between Orari and Roxburgh. His first call at Timaru (Phar Lap Raceway) was in 1967 before he took over permanently from Gordon Matheson in 1977. He called at Timaru from 1977 - 1993 when his contract was cancelled, with the advent of Radio Pacific broadcasts squeezing him out of a job (lost Waikouaiti, Forbury and Oamaru 2 years before finishing up at Timaru). He also did stand in’s at Hutt Park, Riccarton and Ashburton A successful owner and trainer - Anna Castleton (4 wins, T2:08.4, $19,489)/Tinka Castleton (6 wins - 4 trained by Terry May and 2 by Marshall), T2:04.6, $27,270)
Mike O’Sullivan - dual coded Central Districts race caller still operating today, calling at Manawatu R/W for various periods since early 1980’s and now closed Hutt Park
(late) Reg Clapp - worked for Tingeys and then ran his own menswear store in Mt Roskill (Auckland). His 47 years of calling commenced with the Stratford RC in 1945. In 1952 he was broadcasting trotting and later gallops on station 1YA, national programme in Auckland. Auckland Trotting Club race caller at Alexandra Park plus other northern meetings from 1954 - 1992 when he retired
Tony Lee - hotelier, prominent Central Districts race caller, mainly gallops but also Manawatu/Hutt Park harness in late 1980’s/early 1990‘s. Commentator for inaugural Harness Jewels meeting at Ashburton in 2007. Hung up his glasses in October 2012
Keith Haub - barber, hotelier (Waiheke Island), owner, breeder, after dinner speaker, auctioneer (including first two northern s/bred sales at Alex Park conducted by Keith Haub & Co, Wrightsons took over after made success); conducted sale for Welshman Albert Gubay and private trainer Trevor Payne; then chief auctioneer for Dalgetys, (Wrightsons main rival), northern race caller for over 30 yrs NZ (including Auckland Racing Club at Ellerslie; 1970 first call at Kensington Park, Whangarei; retired 2004); overseas including Hastings Park, Vancouver 1996. Hauby called major races such as Auckland Cups, Melbourne Cups, Cox Plates, Japan Cups being the first English caller of a Japan Cup in 1983 that featured McGinty. He called a harness race at Hollywood Park in 1975 and his first NZ harness call was at Manawatu Raceway on Wednesday 9 February 1983 (same night callers included Murtha, Clapp, Kelly, Bright and O‘Sullivan). Part owner of : The Gentry (1985 gelding McGinty/Rainfall), 1988 GN Foal Stakes Gp3, 1988 NZ Derby Gp1, 1989 Air NZ Stks WFA Gp1 - as a 3yo; 21 : 6-1-1 $486,825; McGinty (1979 colt One Pound Sterling/Ernader), raced in Australia as Mr McGinty; 2yo GN Foal Stks, Dalgety Stks, Todman Slipper Trial (beat champion Marscay with cracked canon bone/broken leg - Marscay’s only 2yo defeat); 3yo George Adams Hcp (Trentham), Air NZ Stks, Canterbury Guineas; 4yo Caulfield Stks, 3rd Cox Plate, 5th Japan Cup, Air NZ Stks, Rawson Stks : 26 : 14-4-3, $578,636; sired 670 winners of $9m in stakes before his death in 2001
(late) Alan Bright - commenced calling at Poverty Bay (Gisborne) where he did the odd race call when the commentator had to leave early to catch the railcar. Moved to Palmerston North in 1954, first meeting was Ashurst-Pohangina meeting at Awapuni in 1955/56. Worked as journalist/Racing Editor for Manawatu Evening Standard. Central Districts race caller for 35 years plus another 4 years in the Waikato. Manawatu Raceway harness caller for 20 years until replaced by Mike O’Sullivan early 1980’s (did a further few years late 1980’s/early 1990’s). His son, Johnny Bright, is a Trackside TV presenter who made his first calls at the Manawatu HRC meetings on 25/28 October 2012
Dave McDonald - long time tri code race caller for all Southland clubs (including Invercargill greyhounds) plus galloping and trotting trials. Made first call at Forbury Park trials as a 15 year old in 1970, then understudy to George Hayward before commencing full time calling in 1977/78 season. Other Southland caller was Bill Cherry (1945 - 1975), who like Reon Murtha was employed by the NZ Broadcasting Service as a Programme Organiser and likely made his race calls in his own time away from radio commitments. Dave McDonald continues commentating in 2013
Rob Fielder - first called races at Beaumont in 1977; auctioneer with PGG (worked with Dave Clarkson); Wrightson Bloodstock SI Manager; currently judge at Riccarton
Reon also recalls Alby Gain (northern dual code commentator including Alexandra Park post Reg Clapp era), George Simon (northern dual code caller and current Alexandra Park commentator) and Kevin Payne (previous Otago tri code caller before Tom Wood) also calling at an Addington commentators night - this appears to have been in 1989 although races were not named after the race callers.
Darren Tyquin -
Reon Murtha’s replacement following the 2006 NZ Cup’s carnival was Australian Darren Tyquin, originally from Melbourne. Tyquin had when arriving in NZ a twenty plus year race calling career of thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing. As well as race calling, Darren Tyquin was a presenter on Trackside Radio, a Voice Over Announcer for Radio and TV recording advertisements for New Zealand Racing, Family TV Network, Classic Hits and Sunbeam.
His career began in 1982 when he commenced reading dividends and opening markets for greyhound races with leading race broadcaster Victorian radio station 3UZ. This led to a similar role with midweek harness racing and Saturday thoroughbred racing assisting chief race caller John Russell. He began calling provincial greyhound and harness meetings under the direction of Racing Manager Nancy Helmore and announcer Ron Papps who played key roles in his early career. Darren Tyquin progressed to number 3 caller at the station behind veteran announcer John Russell and TV personality Peter Donegan. This enabled him to begin calling midweek and weekend provincial thoroughbred racing and assist Russell and Donegan at all major race meetings. Within the first 12 months or so on the job, he had been awarded the 1983 Pater Award for best new talent on Australian radio.
When 3UZ abandoned its racing coverage, Darren Tyquin moved to Hobart, Tasmania taking the role as chief race caller for TVT6. For the next two years (1985-1987), he did the local TV commentaries for thoroughbred, harness and greyhound meetings plus interviews, hosted a Sunday Racing review show and covered local sports for the 6pm news. He moved back to Victoria in 1987 continuing to call greyhound meetings until 1995 and remained in broadcasting until moving to NZ in 1999.
In NZ, Darren Tyquin was race caller for all TRAC (consortium of five clubs in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty area) race meetings at Tauranga, Rotorua, Matamata, Te Aroha and Taupo, starting in this role in September 1999, also on Trackside TV and on air host for Radio Trackside. Noted as a colourful caller, Darren Tyquin quickly established his own fan base among the NZ racing public. He became the commentator at Addington and Riccarton plus provincial Canterbury tracks, taking over from Reon Murtha after NZ Cup week November 2006. Darren Tyquin’s reign at Addington lasted a little over 2¼ years when he was killed in a road crash on State Highway 1 just north of Belfast in the early hours of Thursday 19 March 2009. Travelling with him had been jockey Patrick Holmes who was taken to Christchurch Hospital and treated for moderate injuries. Darren Tyquin was aged 41 at the time of his death.
Following Darren Tyquin’s death and until such time as a replacement could be appointed, resident Addington greyhound caller Trevor Wilkes took over harness commentary duties at Addington. Trevor Wilkes is a regular caller at harness trials. George Simon (northern gallops caller and now Alexandra Park caller; winner of a commentators pace at Addington in 1989; current President Cambridge Jockey Club etc) also filled in on at least one occasion in the five months before the new appointee Mark McNamara took up the position of commentator at Addington Raceway.
Mark McNamara -
Addington’s current incumbent race caller has been in residence since August 2009.
An Australian, Sydney born, it seems likely Mark McNamara’s voice will be gracing the Addington and local airwaves for as long as he sees fit to stay in NZ.
Vivid memories remain of the first call Mark McNamara made in Christchurch on opening day (1 August) of the 2009 Grand National jumping carnival at Riccarton Park. The race was the Sydenham Hurdles over 3,200 metres, Mark’s first experience of calling a jumping race (he had another to come, the 4,150m Koral Steeplechase later the same day) when Mr Charlton led home the nine horse field. My wife and I were on course for the day and once the race had been run, we turned to each other and said words to the effect of “he’ll do us”. Certainly, if you were sight impaired, had your eyes closed or were listening on the radio, you would have been able to place exactly where your horse was positioned throughout the race. Every horse was clearly accounted for and the delivery was as if McNamara had been calling at Riccarton for a lifetime. Even better when he made his way to Addington and began his harness commentaries for patrons, he clearly established himself as New Zealand’s current leading harness racing caller and a world class one at that.
Still only 34, Mark has been commentating for over 15 years starting out with the 2KY/Sky Channel racing team after leaving school were he was understudy to his mentor Kevin Thompson. In the seven years before moving to Christchurch, he was race caller at Newcastle, Bathurst, Canberra (still showing as the race caller on their website in 2013!!), Goulburn & other NSW tracks and a familiar figure as a race day and race night studio presenter. For three years (2007 - 2009), McNamara and Greg Hayes were ambassadors for the NSW Carnival of Cups series. As the inaugural commentator for this series, it resulted in 3 years of travelling around NSW to feature meetings in most corners of the state, having a great time and meeting great people. Phantom race calling is another area Mark McNamara has been involved with, especially for the Black and White Ball in Sydney which he did for a number of years.
Since moving to Christchurch in 2009 and being employed by the New Zealand Racing Board, Mark has taken over race calling at all Canterbury, North, Mid and South Canterbury (essentially Kaikoura - Timaru) harness racing and thoroughbred meetings. In addition, since the resignation of Central Districts race caller Tony Lee in October 2012, he has been calling the Central Districts galloping races (Trentham/Awapuni) in partnership with George Simon. This arrangement is temporary at present but for how long Mark is not aware. He comments that ‘it was strange’ watching Addington after calling an Awapuni meeting earlier that afternoon.
Mark McNamara has had an eventful time in Canterbury since his arrival; he has married his long time partner Katie who works for the Harness Racing Weekly at HRNZ; co hosted the Harness Racing Awards with Greg O’Connor in both 2010 and 2011, something new to him which he enjoyed doing; raced horses from Mark Jones’s stable; was calling proceedings at both Riccarton (Labour Weekend Sunday 23 October 2010) and Addington (23 December 2011) when significant after shocks from the swarm of earthquakes Christchurch experienced from September 2010 occurred; putting together a racing syndicate and to cap everything off the McNamara’s celebrated the arrival of their first child, son William Chase (5lbs 11 oz) in mid February 2013
Mark has still found time to return “home” to Australia, in particular the 2012 Eugowra Carnival of Cups on 1 October 2012 where he called Beetson (2007g Art Major/Erin Jean) home first in the Lexus of Parramatta 2012 Canola Cup. Whilst the Bathurst Gold Crown meeting holds fond memories, as far as special atmosphere goes Eugowra has what no other track in Australia has according to McNamara. It is comparable to the special one off nature of the annual Kaikoura Cup meeting at South Bay racecourse in NZ. Katie McNamara also attended, assisting with judging the fashions on the field competition at Eugowra.
Horse ownership is one “disease” that has afflicted Mark McNamara. He raced a number of horses in Australia, with no stars but the better ones included :
Kate Shannon - 2002 Artiscape/Olgas Niece filly bred by late Bryce Buchanan, PF and M Neil in NZ, exported to Australia in November 2003. Her impressive record reveals 15 wins and 18 placings from 69 starts, $52,575, 1:54.7TT, best race mile rate of 2:00.6 at Bathurst, her favourite track where multiple wins were recorded.. She was an early winner, recording victories as a two and three year old. Bernie Hewitt trained her and drove her in to win on fourteen occasions.. His son Jason (JT Hewitt) was successful on the other occasion.
Promise You - 1996 Chandon/Its Klondyke Kate filly who won 10 of her 70 starts, being placed on 14 occasions, $32,495, 2:00.1MR. Included were successes at two and three plus wins at Harold Park and TABCorp Park Menangle.
One of Mark’s favourites however was a horse purchased from Victoria that he had a share in called Shutthe Fridgedoor - only a two win horse for McNamara (Newcastle in consecutive weeks in August 2001) but with the “coolest” of names (1995 Golden Greek/Finalize gelding, overall record 4 wins, $13,800, 2:02.8)..
Since arriving in Christchurch, Mark has taken a direct personal interest and involvement with a number of horses, some more successful than others. A passionate harness racing owner, he has utilised the services of Mark Jones in this regard and a brief rundown of his NZ winners reveals :
Champagne Franco - part owned by the McNamara’s, this 2008 Falcon Seelster/Crusader Franco filly has recorded the one 3yo win from only two starts to date. The win came at her first start at Rangiora on 18 December 2011 when trained and driven by Mark Jones recording a 2:04.2MR over 2000m stand. She is Mark McNamara‘s pride and joy, having been his most expensive ever purchase. All he ever wanted to do was win a race with her which she achieved first up but it has all been downhill since. Spelled after her second start, she curbed a hock 2 weeks before the workouts at her next preparation. Worked up again, two weeks before the workouts again she was discovered to have a hairline fracture in a knee. After a further six months on the sidelines, x rays showed a bone chip in a knee that was operated on in early 2013. As she was working the best she ever had in this latest aborted preparation, one can only hope this is the last of her injuries and the McNamara’s can get back to enjoying having his pride and joy at the racetrack sometime soon.
Union Buster - part owner of this 2005 Union Guy/Emcil gelding who won at Rangiora on 17 July 2010 for tr Mark Jones/dr Ricky May. Together with 5 placings, his best mile rate was 2:05.3, $7,910. Since his export to Australia in September 2010, he has had a further nine wins, a best time of 1:58.4 and total combined NZ/Aus stakes of $24,759.
Anita Patron - “maybe the one that got away“, this 2006 Badlands Hanover/Anna Patron (1:55.0US) filly was purchased from Burbeck Harness Bloodstock Ltd (Ron Burrell and Don Raisbeck) after her first two placed starts. Mark organised the purchase and remained in the ownership through the next few starts. Anita Patron won first up for her new owners at Addington repeating the dose five starts later also at Addington for Mark Jones. McNamara shortly after this relinquished his part ownership. By her fifteenth start Anita Patron had changed stables to those of Cran Dalgety, with consecutive victories coming at Invercargill (dr Jack Trainor) and Addington (dr Mike O’Brien, Amateur Drivers race). After posting her best ever mile rate, albeit placed of 1:54.7 at Nelson, beaten a nose by Miss Moonlite her form tailed right off. A change of stables to the beach training of Greg and Nina Hope brought immediate results with yet another win at Addington. Overall her 5 wins have returned $17,909 (7 Jan 2013) in stakes and a best mile rate of 2:00.5. Brooke Henderson, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at HRNZ was an original part owner and she remains in the current ownership. Anita Patron is successfully in foal to Rock N Roll Heaven.
In the breeding stakes, Mark McNamara together with Cavalla Bloodstock is breeding from Miss Moonlite Shadow an unraced Christian Cullen mare from Sirius Flight 1:54.2US (out of top race mare Pacific Flight, 9 NZ wins, 38 US wins, 1:51.2US, $562,345 ), winner of 5 in USA, dam of 2 2:00 winners in Timeless Perfection (7 wins) and Malak Uswaad (9 wins) in NZ.
As already mentioned, Mark McNamara has recently been putting together public harness racing syndicates. YOR! racing - short for Your Own Racehorse. First they leased a well bred 2yo Bettors Delight/Pacing Grace filly from Woodlands Stud to be trained by Mark Jones called Pacing Delight. The syndication package involved an all inclusive cost of $299 for a two year period for those who purchased shares. Unfortunately, she got a kick on the leg and was returned to her breeders. In her place, the syndicate leased unraced 4yo Real Desire/Rangatira mare Hikoi, half sister to Ataahua Tiki (see later), who did not make the grade. They have now leased Kate Stephanie, a 3yo filly (Badlands Hanover/Deadly Medley) from Southland trainer Tony Barron. Her record is 16 : 1 - 2 - 4, $9,792, 2:00.1 (three starts for best placing of fifth to date at Forbury Park for syndicate in early May 2013). Her dam won four, $20,364, 2:00.8; has left two winners to date (Deadly Tana 1:58.0AUS, Kate Stephanie) and is from family CF N103 Mine Yet (Young Charles; Bold Cruiser, $574,801, Tasmania Cup; Smooth George; Lively Medley 1:54.6AUS; Jester Boy). In addition, they have leased a share in 4yo mare Curve (Courage Under Fire/Sly and Stylish, from the family of Sly Flyin, 1:53.6AUS, $903,705), the syndicates first winner at Forbury Park on 6 June 2013 (22 : 1 - 3 -2, $7,809; 6 starts for syndicate to date for a first and a third). A second syndicate (100 shares) called YOR! Racing with Boes McNally syndicate for $199 and a one year period, are leasing Ataahua Tiki (2006F), CF N35 - Georgina. Her dam Rangatira was a 6 win mare from 29 starts as a 5, 6 and 7 year old, $30,892. Her best winning MR was 1:58.5 over 2000m at Timaru while she was placed in 1:57.6 over 1950m at Addington in 2003. Her first two foals have been winners (Hone Heke 1:57.6, Ataahua Tiki 2:03.3). Close up are 3RD dam NZ Oaks winner Swift Princess (dam of Talk About Swift NZSS - 3), Empire Fella, Prince Rapide etc. It is the family of standouts Buster Hanover (ID Trot Final, NZ Trot FFA, Aust Trot C/S), Gundary Flyer (Miracle Mile, Aust/Vic Derby, NSW Sires Produce) and Loyal Friend (1943 AK Cup). To mid October 2013, she has had 37 starts for 3 wins (two at Addington) and 8 minor placings (a win at Motukarara, a second and two third from fourteen starts since syndicated) - 2:03.3 MR (2600m), $23,472 and 1:55.3pl behind Miss Moonlite and Anita Patron at Nelson in June 2012. This mare has been leased from Mrs Christine (CM) Watson.
Mark has done a fair bit of driving over the years, this commenced at Bathurst where he was resident commentator and often stayed with one of his best mates Jason Turnbull. Stable rules applied if you were staying, you had to help out, this naturally led him into driving, something he enjoys and has continued to drive track work since his arrival in Christchurch.
Personal highlights : for Mark, feature meetings are always highlights whether they be New Zealand Cup Week, Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival or his absolute favourite meeting, the annual Kaikoura Trotting Club race day. Of all the races he has seen, Smooth Satin winning his fourth Bathurst Cup in 2005 (also 2001, 2002 and 2003) after having been retired two years prior made for a night of high emotion.
Personal lowlights as a commentator come when calling a horse the wrong name. Like all commentators it has happened before and will happen again, as Mark says hopefully not for a long time. The mixing up of Arctic Fox and Soldier of Love at a recent Riccarton meeting is still fresh in the mind. As regards the sport itself, race falls resulting in injuries to horses/riders/drivers are a lowlight. One recent lowlight which McNamara trusts remains in Australia, is drivers wearing greyhound colours. It is his pet hate, he won’t watch it and if he wanted to see that he would watch the dogs.
The best of series : Horses - Christian Cullen, Smooth Satin, Beau Zam (one of his favourites, winner of four group one’s at three including AJC Derby, another Gp1 at four, Aust Horse of Year 1987/88) and more recently Black Caviar. Jockeys - Malcolm Johnston has been his favourite jockey and is entertaining on Off The Rails as well. Drivers - Mark considers Ricky May to be is definitely one of the best reinsman to grace a sulky.
Fill Ins and part time callers -
Like us all, commentators need some rest and relaxation or they may be required to perform other duties including race calls from overseas locations. Whilst not a complete record of race callers who have filled in over the years at Addington, here are a few of those who have done so during the reigns of the major callers -
Clarkson era : Freeman Holmes, a popular and competent trotting racecourse and radio announcer filled in for David Clarkson at Addington
Murtha era : Jack O’Donnell (rugby commentator, local politician, 27 years calling on West Coast, Nelson, Blenheim; did a stint occasionally at Hutt Park; retired October 1982); Ian Chambers took over Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast from Jack O‘Donnell); Trevor Wilkes; Rob Fielder
Tyquin era : Aaron White (NI based caller, Cambridge harness etc); Trevor Wilkes
McNamara era : Trevor Wilkes; Tom Wood (Otago area dual code caller who started his career at the Westport Xmas meetings - mentored by Reon Murtha)
And just to finish with a totally international flavour to calling at Addington Raceway, even Dan Melieki (Victorian Harness Racing’s principal caller) commentated a race during a NZ Cup carnival at Addington. Reon Murtha recalls Max Brewer (now deceased), an American bloodstock agent and Monticello commentator also calling a couple of races. He was a very big man and his typical start to every one of his race calls was..… “Here they come” (long pause) ..... “There they Go.”
During Christchurch ID carnivals, it was customary to invite a guest caller to do at least one race during the series - these included prominent callers such as John Tapp, Bruce Skeggs, Ian Craig, Brian Martin, John Russell and Hilton Donaldson among Australian contingents.
So there you have it. The four major players, those who have had minor parts and the “invitees” - the voices of Addington Raceway over the past 75+ years.
The author would like to thank the Murtha’s, Reon and Sheldon, and Mark McNamara for their contributions to this article.
Credit: Peter Craig
I am not going to tell you what sort of a person John Devlin was. Because if you are reading this you almost certainly knew him, everybody in harness racing did. Most of us who have knocked around this industry long enough have a JD story, whether of the horse he sold you, owned, the stories he told, the loser he backed or the hangover you shared. Because JD was a harness racing instutution, part of out industry.
That part left us at 1:57am on Tuesday morning, New Zealand Cup day. When I first heard that I was sad to think the brash Aussie-cum-Kiwi had passed away on his favourite raceday but his son Shane soon put me right. "The only way Dad could make it to Addington to watch Cran try and win the Cup was this way," said Shane. "And Dad would want everybody there to have a beer, a bet and a good time."
That was JD. Big heart, big mouth, big brain and now a big hole left in harness racing. He was the first person to pick you up if you were down, the first to pull you back down if you got too high. He loved life, a drink, and an all nighter with him holding court, as you would expect from a man born on New Years Day 1943.
But more than anything, apart from his family, he loved racing. He loved the thrill of the punt, the stories from the bad old days, the drama of raceday and the battle of wills and cunning. He willed himself to Melton in August to see his last, and best, horse Ideal Scott win the Breeders Crown and the tears flowed after the big horse did the job.
Even then JD knew he had almost, excuse the pun, run his race. He could have prolonged his life with more treatment, might have even got him to Cup Day or to see Ideal Scott in the Miracle Mile. But JD didn't want that, I guess he thoughthe had said all he had to say and when it was time, it was time. Before then though JD had got to hold court once more, in front of his people.
It was the North Island harness racing awards dinner in September and JD got the ultimate honour, the Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing, which on so many levels is well named. He was speechless. For about eight seconds. Then, shocked but honoured, JD got to stand up with his boys and his grandson and tell all his harness friends that it was all right. "I'm probably stuffed to be honest, but this has been amazing," he said. Again there were tears in eyes, as there were at Addington this week. Because we have lost a friend and harness racing became just that little bit less interesting in the dark hours starting Cup Day.
He will be missed by kids Shane (and partner Melanie), Bredley (Aimee) anf Kylie (Mike) and his eight grandkids, Hannah, Josh, Jake, Martine, Olivia, Holly, Tane and Brady, with one more on the way. But, sad as Tuesday was, as JD would say, have a beer, a bet and enjoy yourselves. He did.
Credit: Michael Guerin writing in HRWeekly 14Nov13
Reg Curtin who died recently aged 77, was a prominent trainer for over 50 years and who made a lifelong career with horses largely out of initiative and a determination to succeed.
He had no connection with horses before a schoolboy association with Denis and Bob Nyhan at Xavier and neither had his family but Reg was determined to be with horses. He would bike out from Aranui to the Don Nyhan stable then at West Melton in the early hours of a weekend morning and bike home that afternoon. He then took up a full time position with Tom Nyhan at Weedons, and after that stable downsized he struck up an association with the Jack Litten stable where he formed a lifelong friendship with Ray Morris for whom he later worked. While there he also first met his wife Bette.
His mother had died when he was young and his domestic skills forced by necessity were notable including knitting. Bob Nyhan recalls that, unlikely as it seems, Reg Curtin could knit any style faster and more accurately than many women.
Hoping to advance his driving career Curtin then spent some time with Southland trainer Jim Maconnell whom he always held in high regard and he drove his first winner when Rosedel won on the last day of 1955 at a Southland meeting. Denis Nyhan remembered Reg as a talented driver with light hands and a special ability to get horses away from standing starts. He virtually retired from driving when his son Jim became a probationer in the mid 1970's with Mike De Filippi often handling the older horses in bigger races.
Reg had returned to Christchurch to work for Don and Doris Nyhan, whom he idolised, and then set up training hiself at Yaldhurst in the late 1950's. He developed a small team largely aimed at provincial meetings for a small band of loyal owners such as Gordon Edge, Les Lisle, Syd Hitchcock, Jock Galletly, George Smith and Ken Rutledge to name the main players. Edge helped him buy a 5ha block in Dawsons Road for $4500 where he lived the rest of his life. It was from this stable that Jack Smolenski, a close friend, set up his first public stable operation. Horses like Stoney Burke, Star Raider, Bobby Direct, Bredwardine and Looking Forward were among winners in this era and La Garrison was a smart performer at age group level.
As a young trainer Reg was given Diamond Hanover to prepare for the New Zealand Cup and was told by another special hero of his Maurice Holmes (who gave Jim Curtin his first raceday drive) that had the driver followed instructions he could have been placed. It was one of his great regrets. In the 1970's Reg Curtin struck up a close association with Robert McArdle. He trained many "Bromac" horses to sell to the United States which resulted in several trips there. For that reason he never had a large racing team.
From the mid 1970's for more than a decade he produced a succession of top performers often bred by the owners. However the one he regarded as the best he trained was McArdle's Montini Bromac a member of one of the strongest crops of foals of any era (Lord Module, Roydon Scott, Main Star, Locarno, Haughty Romeo etc) which he beat more than once as a 2-year-old at Addington before going to Australia and America. He was later a successful sire leaving Montini Royal for Reg's good friend, Peter Yeatman. Reg was well known for his habit of reeling off a series of impressive fractions his best horses had run in training but Montini Bromac's were never matched in his eyes.
A series of grass track stayers highlighted this period. Rebecca's Pride(Methven Centennial Cup) and Our Location(Methven and Kurow Cups) headed the list when these races were targeted by all the top stables. Later Stopwatch captured similar events after having won the Group 2 Ballance Stakes against a strong field at Wanganui as a 3-year-old. Westburn Vue was an outstanding sprinting mare for Barney and Colleen Breen and gave Curtin his biggest training win in the Group 1 Standardbred Breeders Stakes. Probably of more significance to him was that she gave Jim Curtin his first winning drive at Timaru in 1977.
Up Tempo was a high class filly of this time for Marjory and Dougal Steel and played a big role in Jim Curtin's rise in the drivers ranks. While still a junior he piloted her to third in the DB Fillies Final (now Nevele R) and she was second to Times Up in the New Zealand Oaks. Greg Patron, a son of a moderately performed mare from the stable in Mother McKay, was the next star to emerge going to the verge of the best classes before being sold. In later years Kimmorley, Villa Santi, Les Lisle and Kaye At Quinns were smart performers. He at one stage raced gallopers successfully posting wins at Riccarton.
A serious, almost fatal, training accident in 1994 followed by related illnesses including kidney diabetes and heart problems effectively curtailed Reg's full time training career though he liked to keep an eye on Jim and Roddy as they helped prepare the team. For some time before his own last illness Ray Morris turned back the clock and helped out each day at the Curtin stables. Ultimately health issues meant Reg was confined to watching the horses on television.
Perhaps more than most professional trainers, Reg Curtin loved his horses and if in his eyes sometimes geese became swans it was based on his affection for them. As long as they tried their best he was on their side and he could become emotional about their highs and lows.
His pride in the successes of Jim and Roddy was apparent to anyone near him on a racecourse. That strong loyalty to family and those who gained his confidence was reflected in his relationships with a circle of close friends who met regularly over many years. Only one of the around nine males of that group, Bob Nyhan, now survives.
Reg Curtin was a man of principle. He had a strong religious belief and never put dollars over duty when it came to dealing with horses and their owners. His genuine personality won him a host of friends in the racing community. Haunted somewhat by the death of his mother when she was 30 and his only brother, Des, before he was 50 with heart problems he took special pride in "making it" well into his seventh decade.
Most of all, after many years of battling to succeed and then when he had done that battling health problems, Reg Curtin never lost his great, almost childlike, enthusiasm for his horses, harness racing in general and the people in it.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 20Nov13
JACK SMOLENSKI - HORSEMAN
Today (Friday February 8) the harness racing community mourn the loss of one of the industries greats. John Joseph (Jack) Warren Smolenski sadly passed away last night (Thursday February 7) at Diana Isaac Retirement Home aged 78 after a series of strokes.
Smolenski, who was born on January 17 1935, will go down as one of the legends of the sport not only for his remarkable record on the racetrack but also his all-round mannerisms.
He will never be forgotten, after all, how can he be when he has his named stamped over basically every big race in the country?
The member of the 1000 win club (1056), has two driving premierships next to his name, and is the only person ever recorded (records dating back to the early 60's) to win the Trainers and Drivers premiership in the same season. Smolenski achieved this great feat in the 1971/1972 season.
As well as winning numerous Derbies and countless Oaks, Smolenski was successful in the 1973 New Zealand Cup with Arapaho, a horse he both trained and drove.
J W Smolenski's is also a member of the 500 training wins club, having trained 742 winners in his illustrious career spanning back to 1949 where he got his introduction to the game by Tom Gunning in Temuka. Gunning was married to Smolenski's auntie Nellie who used to take him to the races as a kid, and raced some good horses herself. This was followed by two spells with Cecil Devine during the 1950's, the era of three-time New Zealand Cup winning Champion False Step, before training on his own account from Reg Curtin's place and then eventually branching out from his own property in Templeton.
Smolenski who was known as a horsepersons horseman, also played a part in the career of late 1970's/1980's rogue champion pacer Lord Module, and won the Allan Manson FFA on him in 1981.
He won his last group one on Pompallier in the Fred & Gary Thompson NZ Trotting Championship in 2007, at the ripe old age of 73, and was rewarded with harness racing's most prestigious honour on October 11 2012 when he was inducted into the Addington Hall Of Fame joining trainer/drivers Derek Jones, Jack Charmichael, Maurice Holmes and former boss Cecil Devine.
Another great feat of Smolenski's is the major role he played in setting up the Harness Racing Canterbury Cadets Scheme, and educating the young reinsman.
The Jack Smolenski legacy will now live on through his family; his son Mark is an established trainer, while grandson Sam is already a group one winning driver.
Jack was the loving husband of Marie, loving father and father-in-law of Mark & Carolyn, Joanne & Peter Ryder and Jill Smolenski, and loving grandfather and great-grandfather of Sam and Maree, Kelly and Phil, Grace and Jack Ryder, Alex and Siobhan Fauth, Larissa Mitchell, Melissa, and Frazer Austin, Lachlan and Jonty.
Jack Smolenski's funeral will be a private one, but a public memorial service will be held in the Addington Raceway members stand on Wednesday at 3pm.
A list of group and feature races Jack Smolenski won and the horses he won them with.
•Amaze/Sovereign (NZ Derby), Times Up (NZ Oaks), Times Up/Gina Rosa/Harvest Gold/Gina Marie (GN Oaks), Gina Rosa/Blue Water (Nevele R Fillies), Arapaho (NZ/AK Cup/Stars Travel Mile), Vanadium (Ash Flying Stakes/ID Hts (2)), Rocky Star/Torrent (ID Pacers Consol),Gina Rosa (Premier Mares), Vanadium/Torrent (Easter Cup), Gina Rosa/Royal Belmer (NZ Breeders Stakes), Lord Module/Giovanetto (Alan Matson), Jennys Rocket/Zebec/Harvey Wilson (NZ Trot Derby), Harvey Wilson (GN Trot Derby), Philemon (Dom Hcp), Pompalier (Trot C/S), Melvander (Trot FFA), Waipounamu (CPTC Cup), Nardinski (Flying Stakes - 3), Ostrava (NZ C/S -3), Mels Boy/Nardinski (GN Derby), Nardinski (NZ C/S - 2), Mels Boy (Welcome/Kindergarten Stakes), OK Royal (Messenger). Colonel Grace (Rising Stars - 3), Giovanetto (Superstars - 4), Seaswift Franco (Caduceus Club Classic - 2), Champagne Princess (Sthld Oaks) ; also Melvander/Jenner/Al Mundy (Ordeal Cup), Vanadium (NB Cup (2)/Laing Hcp), Philemon (Worthy Queen Hcp); Lord Lynbar/Seaswift Franco/Starwin Boy/King Aurea (Add Winter Cup) etc.
Credit: Mitchell Robertson - HarnessLink
New Zealand harness racing lost a loyal and generous benefactor with the death recently of Ed Wardwell.
He was a big spender for the best part of 20 years on middle-market yearlings, always in partnership with Grant Dickey, and Ken Barron trained them. He was also a ready seller. Aged 79, Wardwell was born in Washington and died in the Virgin Islands.
His best horse was Georgetown (12 wins, $534,190), Thumpem came next with $255,548, and the horse he always thought might have made it to the top had it not been for injury was Thunder N Lightning. Other winners included Spiritual King, Typhoon Touchdown(5), Man Of Honour(3), United We Stand(3), Franco Hemmingway(3), Captain Webber(4), Supreme Mach(8), Pacquaio(2), Seaward(6), Executive Stress(6), Media Miss, Mattnamaras Band(6) and his only trotter, Whatariskybusiness.
Wardwell started off enlisting with the US Naval Academy and had a career in submarines before setting up two marine companies, one that laid oil pipes and the other that specialised in deep sea diving activities. The led to a contract with the US Navy to clean, inspect, repair and paint ships, hulls. The business soon had bases on both coasts of America, plus affiliates throughout Europe, Asia ans Australia. Dickey recalled that when he lost a contract he continued to employ all the staff involved until he regained the business 12 months later.
Wardwell chanced on harness racing when he was in Christchurch on holiday 28 years ago. He bought an apartment and bought his first horse - Dreamin Scheme - from Jim Dalgety - and, keen to help a young man get started, sent the horse to David Butt. They also had success with Rare Charm and Media Miss, while Brian O'Meara and Barry Purdon trained for him until the long association started between John Lischner and Barron.
His racing highlights were winning more than 100 races, watching Thumpem win the Sires' Stakes Series Final and Georgetown the Yearling Sales Series Final, and hearing of Ken's 1000 wins as a driver. Aside from his racing interests, Wardwell was a keen golfer and enjoyed nothing more than paying for his friends to play with him. "He took us to different parts of the world over the past 20 years, including four British Opens," recalled Dickey. "He was a great partner who put faith in people he trusted. He loved the people in the harness racing sport in NZ, and loved NZ. As Ken puts it, Ed was one owner in ten million."
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 8 May 2013
Jack Carmichael was honoured with the NZ Racing Board's 'Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing Award' at the annual awards night held in Christchurch.
Just turned 90, Carmichael started in harness racing in 1940, and Dawn Grattan was his first winner two years later. He said he became a trainer by accident. "After buying a farm and being happy with that, he was later given horses to train. His eye for detail, kind manner, meticulous planning, skill as a driver, and ability to get the best out of his horses without the aid of excess gear were hallmark traits."
He recalled his first good horse was Gold Globe, with associations soon after with Tronso, Astralight, Gay Robin and Chequer Board, Berkleigh, Precocious and then his success as trainer-driver with Globe Bay in the 1972 New Zealand Cup. He won the New Zealand Oaks driving Ar Miss and then her daughter Armalight; the Rowe Cup and Inter-Dominion Grand Final in Australia with Yankee Loch, while other good horses in that era included Game Paul, Glen Moria, Nardin's Hall, White Horse Pride, Jenner and he won the Kaikoura Cup twice in the mid 80s with Spry Joker.
In 46 years as a driver, he won 790 races, and 365 as a trainer in NZ. Carmichael was a regular driver for Des Grice, who said: "He was one of the best tactical drivers in the country. He'd be in the same class as Bob Young and Maurice Holmes."
Carmichael also played his part as an administrator, still currently involved with the Canterbury Trotting Owners' Association, and before then for the horsemen during their campaign for a losing driving fee.
A small-time breeder, Carmichael did not renew his licence last season, after 73 consecutive years as a trainer.
Credit: Michael Guerin writing in HRWeekly 7Aug13
Hubert Christey a colourful harness figure who died recently in his early 80's had a long hobby owning anf training career book-ended by "Bombers". Bomber Bill was an especially hardy open class pacer of the 1970's familiar to many racing fans and the trotter Master Bomber near the end of his life when largely trained by his son-in-law Gerard O'Reilly.
From Winslow near Ashburton, Christey used local bloodlines to get Bomber Bill - a sort of 'old identity' of his time known for his longevity as much as his performances - borowing a mare by Whipster and putting her to Robert Dillon both sires standing in Mid-Canterbury.
Bomber Bill was broken in by Christey's neighbour Jack Tozer, who bred Wippy Jean, and he also trained him early in his career when racing him in partnership with Christey. Bomber Bill won three races at three and the Rangiora Winter Cup with Maurice Holmes driving was his only success at four.
He was trandferred to Ron Webster at Tinwald after Tozer's death and made open class at five years with five wins including a heat of the Easter Cup when he defeated Globe Bay, Hi Foyle, Royal Belmer and Vanadium. One of his wins was in the Ashburton Cup a big thrill for his owner.
Later Christey trained the hardy veteran himself and qualified him for the 1975 Inter-Dominion Grand Final in Auckland where he scored more points in the heats than some big hitters. However he sprung a tendon early into the final and tailed the field.
Placings were his lot when trained by his owner. He also had some success with another hardy type Yankee Bomber, closely related to Bomber Bill, who had 28 starts in his first season as a 5-year-old in 1979-80 and won two races overall.
Just as Bomber Bill's dam, Wippy Jean had been on the backburner when he borrowed her and her first foal was much her best, Master Bomber's granddam, Little Miss Muffet (Game Pride) was headed for Gore when Christey acquired her cheaply and bred two foals by Yankee Jolter for "a bag of chaff each" he liked to recall.
The first, Little Jolter, once described by her owner as "as mad as a snake who got hold of me one day and could have killed me" won six races. The other, Miss Powder Puff, was the dam of Master Bomber a high class trotter who went amiss before the best was seen of him. He won 10 races. De Valera was another good winner for Hubert Christey winning six races trotting between 1999 and 2005.
Credit: HRWeekly 7Aug13
Grant Adamson, an enthusiastic and successful harness racing owner, died suddenly in Christchurch earlier in the week.
Aged 57, Adamson had only last month celebrated winning the NZ 3-Year-Old Trotter of the Year award as part-owner of 2012 Jewels winner, Royal Aspirations. Through an association with the stable of Fred Fletcher, he started his racing ownership with the lower grade trotter Loyal Man, and then had more success with the smart trotting mare Jinja Gal.
Five years ago he met Loburn trainer Steve Dolan at a ready to run sale and while he didn't buy from that event, he did soon after in a colt by Courage Under Fire. That was the brilliant Franco Jamar, the winner of 20 races so far. He is also a partner in the smart mare Castellina Lover, also trained by Dolan.
Dolan said he was an owner "like no other. He was a huge supporter of racing, and he'd get so excited. He had everthing you'd want in an owner - integrity, trust, enthusiasm and once you had that trust, he'd just let you get on and do it."
Dolan said he had quality stock in the wings, telling him recently that an Art Major filly from Kamwood Cully could be the best of them all.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 21Aug13
If you knew him you came to expect it. If you didn't he certainly turned your head as his immaculate dress sense became his signature and made him capable of winning any racecourse best dressed competition.
Paul Nixon passed away last week but his infectious smile and presence at many race meetings has left an indelible mark.
A passion for the industry few could match, Paul has been heavily involved as an owner, breeder and sponsor almost his entire life and in recent years through his Nicowear clothing brand has developed racewear worn by many of our leading trainers and drivers.
Much of Paul's on-track success can be sourced from the prolific producing broodmare Red Pepper. She has left seven individual winners, the best of those Spicey Atom(5) and Wired(7) all of whom had Paul's wife Pam in the ownership. In recent times her daughter Secret Spice, herself a winner, leaving The Silk Road who won six of eight before being exported and Ginger Spice also winning six races and a qualifier for this years 5-year-old mares Jewels final. Both were trained by his good friend Cran Dalgety. One of Paul's fondest memories was being a part owner of 1987 westport Cup winner Arkwright trained and driven by Robert Anderson.
Paul was probably even more well known in rugby league circles as a player, coach and administrator for his beloved club Hornby. The club acknowledging this with a remarkable gesture after winning the Grand Final only a few weeks ago, the entire team rolling into PB's lounge and presenting him with a winners medal.
His three sons Mark, Justin and Scott played representative football for New Zealand.
Paul is survived by the "queen" of Addington in his wife Pam, PA to CEO Dean McKenzie, three sons and three grandchildren.
Credit: Greg O'Connor writing in HRWeekly 28Aug13
The recent death of Tom Brankin will illicit memories for many of an earlier era in harness racing. President of the Hororata Trotting Club from 1981-87 and later its patron, Brankin was a pragmatic and respected leader.
He wrote 'Trotting Beneath the Nor'West Arch', reflecting the slub's first 40 years. Although representing a one-day club at annual conferences, he was given responsibilities chairing discussion groups and was respected for his sound judgement.
Brankin spent his early days in Little River, later farming in Darfield. He and his late wife Rosalie raised a family of six children. A capable rugby player for Darfield and the Ellesmere sub-union, he later became a fine administrator.
In partnership with the late Leo May, he raced several horses, the most successful being the talented mare, Alice In Wonderland. A true gentleman, Tom's presence, particularly at country race meetings in Cantebury, will be missed.
Credit: HRWeekly 10Apr2013
2013 SEELITE WINDOWS & DOORS NZ TROTTING DERBY
Just when it seemed Habibti could take her level of performance no higher, she does. There was no other conclusion at the end of the fascinating finish to the Seelite Windows and Doors NZ Trotting Derby at Addington last Friday night.
After looking only good for third at the top of the straight, when Blitzthemcalder and Royal Aspirations had put two lengths on her, she gamely clung to them, and then started to close in. Blitzthemcalder, a handsome back horse with a reputation to match, did enough to keep a narrow margin on Royal Aspirations, but Habibti was a different kettle of fish. On she came, slowly at first but chasing hard and then deceptively quickly to beat the pair by two necks in a gruelling last 100 metres.
How good are these young trotters? Not only did Habibti break the 2600m mobile record for her age by running 3:13.5, which eclipsed the 3:17.7 set by Shezoneoftheboyz, but it was also inside the allcomers mark of 3:15.1 held by Jasmyn's Gift and faster than Christen Me took to win the Superstars.
"She was pretty tired at the end," said her driver and co-trainer Davey Butt. "Turning in I didn't think I was a show of winning, but half-way down I knew she would. She felt good out of the gate and she's done the job at both ends. You don't get many who can do that, and she's got a lot more speed now," he said.
Habibti, a chestnut by Love You, gave Butt extra pleasure because he is a part-owner with Robert 'Bolty' Paterson and Lynne Paterson. "I've never owned one that good. She's had this tie-up problem, but she seems good at the moment," he said. Habibti now continues her campaign at the Auckland Rowe Cup meeting which starts on Friday week.
Among those to congratulate Butt was his cousin Paul Nairn, a superb trainer of trotters, who said he was breaking in Habibti's yearling sister, a taller type. Meahwhile Chris Alford, was left wondering how success eluded Blitzthemcalder. "What did I do wrong?" said the Aussie ace.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 10Apr2013
2013 MUSCARA STANDARDBREDS PROUD SPONSOR NZ DERBY
Border Control got the best of a tight struggle with Bit Of A Legend to win the Muscara Standardbreds Proud Sponsor New Zealand Derby at Addington last Friday night. Given the perfect trip from the prefect draw, Border Control led for nearly a lap before driver Mark Purdon gave it up to Dexter Dunn.
It was a predictable move because Dunn was the one to beat with Bit Of A Legend and there was little doubt he'd hand it up. With the favourite Ohoka Punter having to make ground on them from well back, they were in good shape to run the last lap as Dunn pleased. Ohoka Punter was a safe third and Mossdale Connor came on from three deep to beat Scotlynn Jiggs for fourth.
It was another creditable result for Bettor's Delight, who sired the first four home from five starters, and it was the ninth New Zealand Derby win for Mark Purdon as a driver, following Auckland Reactor, Likmesiah, Jack Cade, Young Rufus, Bogan Fella, The Court Owl, Il Vicolo and Mark Roy. As well, he has co-trained Derby winners, Fly Like An Eagle and Sleepy Tripp.
Border Control is raced bu Phil and Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher, Gavin Douglas, Phil and Margaret Creighton and Kevin Riseley, an Australian who took a shine to the horse when he was being sold and asked to be included in the partnership.
The winner of 10 races and a maiden a month or so back, Border Control may well have his next race in Western Australia. Purdon said there was a direct flight to Perth for the race on April 14, and the stake of $250,000 made it worth considering. "He really is the perfect racehorse," said Purdon. "He's got the manners and the travelling won't bother him."
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 10Apr2013
2013 AVON CITY FORD WELCOME STAKES
Mark Purdon was expected to win the Avon City Ford Welcome Stakes with Isaiah, but he won it instead with his unfancied stablemate, Zacharia.
Blair Orange brought the son of Courage Under Fire home with a devastating burst from midfield to swamp a tiring bunch up front that included Isaiah and Regulus who was below his best. Isaiah wasn't, but he had a tough run, wide early, always moving forward without favours, parked, leading in and fading with a punctured tyre. On the other hand, Zacharia was handy but lost his position, which eventually was instrumental in his opportunity to finish with the speed he did.
Zacharia was bought by Neil Pilcher and Trevor Casey for $30,000. Pilcher didn't mind the price, nor the fact others had passed him over because he was so small. "I've had a great run with them - Smolda, Almost A Christian, and we lost him before we saw how good he was, Glengowan and Equaliser. I actually picked him out on the video, and then I was a little disappointed when I saw him, but everything was in proportion, and he's a lovely wee horse."
Driver Blair Orange said he didn't expect to beat the good ones. "What made it for us is that we got one cold shot at them. He's got a great will to win. And he's got high gate speed, and that's something we haven't used as yet." Orange has previously won the race in successive years with Kotare Mach, Highview Tommy and Ohoka Arizona.
Credit: Mikw Grainger writing in HRWeekly 10Apr2013
2013 RESOURCE RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES 4YO SUPERSTARS CHAMPIONSHIP
Cran Dalgety has dodged a clash with Terror To Love, Excel Stride and Caribbean Blaster in the Miracle Mile. It seemed the race was all locked in after Christen Me gapped six others of high class in the Resource Recycling Technologies 4YO Superstars Championship at Addington, but it was all off the next day.
Not that it was always on. Dalgety, along with owners Vicki Purdon and Charlie Roberts, were always just as keen on the Messenger and Taylor Mile and Harness Jewels, and all or some of these races would have gone had the Miracle Mile been the chosen course.
Dalgety does not think Christen Me is quite there for that company just yet, though he knows he's close. "What we decided that rather than get a big bit of nothing...run superb for third...we'd go for two strong kills closer to home. We have the Jewels after that, and then he's in the Breeders Crown," he said.
Dalgety said the horse had established his credentials now. "He really is the all-round package, a horse with high speed who can sustain it. Everything went wrong for him on Cup Day and he still kicked away. That was the race when I thought he could do something special," he said. As winner of the Chariots, and now the Superstars, Christen Me has the "feel growly" factor that makes Dalgety think "I couldn't say what he could be."
Dalgety says his failure to finish at his previous start when he was pulled up when a tyre came off the rim was not the huge surprise to him as it was to everyone else. "It's funny but I just had that premonition beforehand that something odd might go wrong and it did. And it seems strange, but Mark Purdon said he felt the same way the time I Can Doosit first got beaten at Cambridge."
Christen Me ran the 2600m mobile in a snappy 3:14.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 10Apr2013
2013 GARRARDS HORSE & HOUND NZ PREMIER MARES CHAMPIONSHIP
Super mare Bettor Cover Lover had little more than a training run to win last Friday night's $40,000 Gr2 Premier Mares Championship at Addington. From barrier three, outside of a trademark lead-trail early spurt from Dexter Dunn with Donegal Delight, Brent Mangos was able to dictate a slow tempo and sprint home to comfortably hold the trailer with the rest in a race for third. Pemberton Shard came out of the one-one to win that race when they were all flat making any ground at all in the run home.
With the final sectionals flying by in 56.2 and 27.4, Bettor Cover Lover only had to record a 1:59.1 mile rate, when she is quite capable of breaking 1:55. "That was ideal after not having had a run for over a month," said Mangos. "We didn't have to go too hard and that should improve her nicely and have her spot on for the Breeders Stakes," he added.
The race was effectively over, if it wasn't already when the draws came out, when Dunn's early initiative meant Mangos could put Pembrook's Delight three back. "I could have held the lead at the start, but when Dexter came out, I let him go knowing the other mare would then be three fence." This was Bettor Cover Lover's fourth win in four races this season and her 17th in 27 lifetime starts for stakes worth $864,000. The big, strong Bettor's Delight 5-year-old has won five Group 1 races along with two Listed Sales races.
Bettor Cover Lover is staying with David and Catherine Butt at the Woodend Beach, but "She doesn't need to be at the beach. She trains on the track, but it's good to have the beach there if we need a freshen up." But Bettor Cover Lover is quite clearly right at the top of her game at the moment. "There were times last year when I thought 'we're a bit better than this, although she never went a bad race'. When she came back from the injury, she had some hard races against Carabella and a couple of trips to Oz and I think she was looking for a spell towards the end. She had seven weeks out and she seems better and stronger this time in."
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 23Jan2013
2013 ROSE DAKIN SUMMER CUP
Terror To Love continued on his path to the Inter-Dominion heat and final with a narrow but comfortable win over Christen Me in the Group 3 Rose Dakin Summer Cup last Friday night. Just as he had done when beaten by Jason Rulz in the Pelorus Classic, Christen Me was gallant in defeat. On this occasion, he gave Terror To Love four lengths at the 800m and closed the gap to within half a length.
"I never touched him," said Ricky May, driver of Terror To Love. "He always tries his hardest. He's not quite there yet, but you know with Graham and Paul (Court) that he'll be there when he has to be. I think everything is progressing well," he said.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 6Feb13
2013 PGG WRIGHTSON NZ BREEDERS STAKES
There is no stopping Bettor Cover Lover. Good opposition, bad draws, short trips, long ones; there's no hurdle. She truly is a great mare.
She beat Tatijana Bromac and Elusive Chick in the Group 1 PGG Wrightson NZ Breeders Stakes at Addington last Friday night with a typically rugged effort and a drive by Brent Mangos that coupled conservatism with confidence.
He pushed through early from the second line to settle in midfield on the outer. The position got better, and while Mangos could have stayed where he was for a bit longer, and took the risk out of the equation at the 1000m, and went forward. Elusive Chick gave him the front, and soon Mangos was opening up. The big mare kept running at a steady but hard pace, gradually extending her lead as Mangos drove her out. The race was over and the result was clear except for the margin at the 200m, Tatijana Bromac running strongly out of the pack to take second from Elusive Chick.
Bettor Cover Lover is unbeaten in five starts this season, and her earnings from 28 starts and 18 wins are $914,406. She was bred by Denis Bennett and Linda Joyce, and raced by Karnup Racing Ltd of Perth. Bettor Cover Lover will now have a quiet week before Mangos heads to Menangle for the Ladyship Mile in March.
He is philosophical the golden run won't last for ever. "She's as good now as you could get her, but I know she's not going to win every week." And while that's just what she's doing now, Mangos still reflects with awe on her recovery from an awful foot injury during a trip to Australia when she was three. "Saving her life, and going from there to a broodmare to a racecourse again...that took a long time and a lot of good management. For a start it was touch and go. If an infection had set in that was the end of it. Now she's virtually grown a new foot and she's never been lame on it," he said.
Along with co-trainer Hayden Cullen, Mangos has a strong team, but none of them will ever have a tale of survival and success like 'Betty'.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 6Feb13
2013 PGG WRIGHTSON NZ YEARLING SALES 3YO FILLIES PACE
Delightful Christian was back to her brilliant best at Addington last Friday night.
With her gate speed, and from a draw to use it, Delightful Christian flew from the pole and was clear after 200 metres. Onlyforyou wasn't a threat from the trail, as she could have been, and it was left to a brave Rozelski to head home the others in the $175,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Series 3YO Fillies Championship.
Delightful Christian was the only drive of the night for Maurice McKendry. "She's got gate speed, which helped her, and she came back to me when I wanted her to. She was more on her game tonight than what she's been," he said.
The daughter of Christian Cullen is trained by John Green and 'Bunty' Hughes, and Hughes said her mixed form at the end of last year had been because she was a victim of bad draws. "We flew down, but she's on the road home, so we'll see what she's like when she gets back, but there's a Nevele R heat in a fortnight for her," he said.
As good as she is, and with stakes of more than $200,000 from seven wins and 16 starts, Delightful Christian has not yet reached the high plateau Hughes placed Imam at the same age. "She was an outstanding filly. She won two Oaks and six out of eight, and with two bowed tendons. We never saw the best of her," he said.
Credit: Nike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 6Feb13
2013 GLENFERRIE FARM 4&5YO TROTTERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Small fields can result in intriguing tactical battles which make them the most difficult to win and we certainly saw a great example of this last Friday night in the Glenferrie Farm 4&5yo Trotters Championship at Addington.
With 5-year-olds included for the first time, this was still a disappointing eight horse field to start with, but when Cyclone U Bolt fluffed the start badly along with both 10m starters in Pretty Sunday and Trip's On Me, and then Monnay made a mistake later, it was effectively down to a three-horse war.
Stant led easily from 20m but Colin De Filippi soon handed up to Phil's Gift, retaking a short time later. Springbank Sam, a noted sit-sprinter, then movedfrom third a lap out to sit parked and 'stuck it' to Stent with a sharp quarterdown the back. De Filippi later explained that if he'd stayed where he was, Nathan Williamson was likely to hand up to brother Matthew with Springbank Sam at some point sooner or later, and Stent would have been three-back in a sprint for home.
Matthew Williamson didn't want to be in the same predicament with De Filippi allowed to dictate however, so he wanted to be handier and in a position to control the speed better, but Springbank Sam over-raced once in clear air. "He settles good in behind and I didn't want to go up to Colin, but he has a mind of his own," said Matthew.
All this left Stent and Springbank Sam as sitting ducks and the benefactor was Phil's Gift, who had again made his own luck by stepping sharply from the unruly mark off 20m. He took the passing lane with purpose to nab Stent by half a length as they trotted the last quarter slower than the penultimate one. Springbank Sam just battled the last bit and Sunny Kash had gamely but vainly chased them around for fourth money.
This completed a great week for Phil's Gift, who had likewise upset Springbank Sam the previous week after being set for the Group 3 race by trainer Marray Tapper, whose brother Kim shares in the ownership with Mike Hynes, Peter Parker and Ray Scott, all of South Canterbury.
This was Phil's Gift's eigth win and apart from being third in last year's Jewels, where he was beaten a neck, this was easily their best week and biggest result. The Sundon gelding picked up $20,000 for his weekly efforts and took his overall stakes past $66,000 after the brother to top mare Jasmyn's Gift had been purchased at the Premier Sale for $18,000. "That's put him well into the Jewels again now, so we'll start next week and then give him a wee break with the Jewels in mind," said Murray Tapper. "I think these Sundons are better when they're a bit silly".
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 27Mar13
2013 VERO FLYING STAKES
Tony Herlihy still rates Chokin as the best 3yo he has driven, but Ohoka Punter is "working his way up there".
The Bettor's Delight colt stayed on track for the big three of Derbys when he easily accounted for the Vero Flying Stakes at Addington last Friday night.
The complete performance was such that his rivals must be shaking their heads as to how they can possibly beat him. Ohoka Punter had the speed to comfortably hold a hot lead from barrier one at the 1950 start, and after buttoning off in the middle, he sprinted home in 27.3 to easily hold the trailer Border Control and Mossdale Connor at bay. "He was actually switching off at times in the run home, but he kept finding when I asked," said Herlihy.
What makes Ohoka Punter so appealing is his versatility. He has speed and can stay and can be driven in front or in behind. There are no real flaws in his makeup, unlike some of his main rivals, which is what makes beating him so difficult. In eight races this season and since returning from an injury enforced spell, Ohoka Punter has only been upset in a lead up to the Victoria Derby.
Herlihy has trained some nice 3-year-olds before in Maheer Lord (Sires Stakes 3yo Final) and Bella's Boy (Breeders Crown 2yo, Vic Derby), with one a fine stayer and the other a sharp sprinter, but Ohoka Punter has gone past them. He has won New Zealand Derbys with Fly Like An Eagle and Badlands Bute, and Ohoka Punter was his fourth Great Northern Derby winner as a reinsman, but only Chokin still rates higher despite missing the latter half of his 3-year-old season.
"Being a Bettor's Delight, he would never really excite you in trackwork at home. But he's always felt like a good horse and all along I had hopes he would get to this level.Having that time off last year was probably a blessing in disguise as he feels a lot stronger now."
While Herlihy has had plenty of experience in the big time, Katie Carville, who bred Ohoka Punter from the Christian Cullen mare Millwood Minisota with her late husband Dave, has been in new territory lately. Carville has raced plenty of good horses, but none of them have actually been around for the Derbys, outside of Ohoka Texas starting a couple of years ago when never really a factor.
"Ohoka Arizona would have been the best one, but he broke down in the spring," said Carville. "The Victoria Derby was special because we were hopeful rather than confident, and it was a nice surprise. Tony was quietly confident before the Great Northern Derby, so we were more than hopeful there. But now the pressure is going to be on because everyone will expect us to win (the New Zealand Derby). That will be worse - I'd rather be the underdog."
Ohoka Punter must now also entering caculations as a sire prospect, although Carville has had no overtures from any of the leading studs as yet. "We stood Ohoka Arizona at Wai Eyre when Dave was around, but I wouldn't want that responsibility myself." Ohoka Punter will go straight into next week's $150,000 feature as the hottest favourite since Auckland Reactor five years ago, when he set a New Zealand record of 3:09.4. Especially as Franco Nelson was such a disappointment last Friday night.
The Christian Cullen colt had an early look before settling three back on the fence, but didn't yelp in the run home. "Craig (Thornley) said he felt flat all the way actually," said trainer Steven McRae. "I thought he was really good and better than he was in Auckland, so we didn't see that coming.
Border Control, Mossdale Connor and Elios, the latter competing well above his station, completed a Bettor's Delight rout of the Group 2 race, but perhaps only Classiesistar if he can draw to lead or Franco Nelson if he can rebound can upset the applecart next week. Mark Purdon will also have Arden Rooney on hand next week, as will Cran Dalgety with Bit Of A Legend, but not many will be betting against Ohoka Punter.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 27Mar13
2013 STORER MOTERS/ NZ TROTTERS TRUST NZ TROTTING OAKS
The years NZ Trotting Oaks always promised to be a match race between the two outstanding Love You chestnut fillies Habibti and Paramount Queen, and the G3 race did not disappoint.
With odds on favourite Habibti on the second line and Paramount Queen drawn wide in a full field, the latter was always going to leave alertly for the front, but Blair Orange also knew it would only be a matter of time before Habibti and David Butt came round to take up the challenge.
Paramount Queen was clear and cruising by five lengths when they settled for the first run up the straight, while Habibti was in the three wide train with cover from the start but not making any progress as they straightened into the back straight. Butt had to then pull Habibti four wide and set sail for Paramount Queen, who had been taking them along at a merry clip on a cool and blustery evening. Butt paused momentarily before issuing his challenge as they swung for home, and Habibti was always travelling too strongly, going on to score by a length and a half in a relatively sedate 2:00.7 mile rate for the 1950m.
A week earlier, Habibti had shown blistering speed in accounting for Royal Aspirations and Sheemon in 2:22.3 (MR 1:57.4), which actually broke Stig's all-age national record by .4 of a second. Quite A Moment, who had a minor soreness issue when she raced previously in the Sales event, did well for third in a gap of four lengths, but the rest were simply outclassed. The siring quinella came as a result of Love You's second crop of 20-odd foals, having produced Sires Stakes winner Lotalov in the first. The last time this had been achieved in the race was in 2005, when One Over Kenny downed Petite Sunset for Sundon.
Habibti, one of last year's top 2-year-olds and winner of the Trotting Stakes while being narrowly beaten in the Sires Stakes, has won four of five races this season, with her only defeat being when going for a rare gallop when leading at the 300m in the Hambletonian Classic won by Paramount Queen. Butt has been battling back soreness and tie up issues with Habibti lately, but is obviously on top of things now. "She had a bit of tying up last year, but she's been a lot worse this time in and the morning of the Hambletonian she could hardly walk," said Butt. "So afterwards we changed her feed dramatically and now she does something everyday. Tomorrow she'll go for a jog just to get a sweat up, when most would be having the day off. Tie up is usually a build up in excess energy," he added.
Having made the late payment to contest this season's Sires Stakes series and the Prelude a week earlier, Habibti now goes forth to the NZ Trotting Derby next week and another round with Paramount Queen, Royal Aspirations and Sheemon, with probably only Saratoga capable of mixing it with them and perhaps a wild card in Blitzthemcalder. The latter, although impressive with a 1:56;6 mile at Melton last Friday night, could be in for a rude awakening with the quality of this crop of 3-year-olds.
Habibti will then head for Auckland for the GN Trotting Derby and Sires Stakes, and then quite possibly straight on to Australia. "We're thinking about going for the NSW Trotting Oaks and Derby and Victoria Trotting Oaks over three weeks, rather than the Jewels. She's a strong filly and probably better off racing the longer trips, than a mile, plus you only get one shot at Oaks and Derby races. Those three races go for $150,000 Australian, rather than one race for $100,000 here, and then you still have the Victorian Trotting Derby in July all going well." Butt said.
David and Catherine Butt's Birchbrook Breeding Ltd races Habibti with Rob and Lynne Paterson of Rangiora after she was purchased privately as a yearling from breeder Gaby Maghzal. At the same time they bought Habibti's chestnut brother Lothario, a good second in a 2yo trot the previous week at Addington, but he's been turned out for the season. "He's going to be a good 3yo next year, but he's not quite up to the top ones at the moment."
Credit: HRWeekly 27Mar13
2013 GARY THOMPSON/FRED SHAW NZ TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP
Vulcan's rich vein of form continued when he had little trouble dispatching a small but classy field in the $80,000 Gary Thompson/Fred Shaw NZ Trotting Championship at Addington last Saturday night.
After a run of consistent form at Menangle in February, Vulcan really hit his straps at Melton last month, and remarkably, the Trotting Championship was his fifth G1 success in 22 days. Whether a heat of the Great Southern Star should have been accorded G1 status is highly debateable, but that's what the record books will show and that many Group race wins in such a short space of time must have been some sort of record to boot. More to the point, Vulcan has earned $350,000 in those three weeks and also an invitation to the famed Elitlopp in Sweden.
The Trotting Championship was actually Vulcan's first win at Addington since his big NZ Trotting FFA- Dominion double during Cup Week 16 months ago, and his form had been patchy since. Butt had been battling a combination of issues, including a "crook back" which had him trotting roughly and a couple of viruses, but he knew he was getting on top of things around the time of the big mile at Menangle, where he finished third to Keystone Del. "He'd been treated for a virus and we'd changed his feed, so he's been racing lighter. He loves the smaller tracks so we knew we were in pretty good shape going into Melton."
Vulcan's ability to corner well has been evident since he upset Kahdon in the Jewels at Cambridge as a 3-year-old, and he has now won 10 G1s and 17 races in all for stakes worth $917,000. This puts him in a league with Butt's previous trotting greats Lyell Creek and Take A Moment, but Butt has never had Vulcan in that elite class. In career best form though, Vulcan was able to sit parked for the last 1400m on Saturday night and still proved too good for Stent and Springbank Sam, with a gap to Cyclone U Bolt and Phil's Gift. Vulcan trotted his last mile in 1:58.9, home in 57.5 and 28.9, to complete the 2600m journey in a solid 3:16.8.
By Game Pride from a top trotting mare in First Prize and a sister to another one in October Pride, Abundant only managed a few placings and had had a few foals when Jenny's late husband Murray, the father of Tim and Anthony, decided to run her through the Mixed Sale. "I rang Don and said we can't let this mare get away." McKenzie had had a few pacers with Murray up to this point with moderate success, but had always loved the trotters.
"I can recall going to Addington to watch the likes of Marius and Tony Bear in the early 70's," said Don. "There were a lot of great trotters around that time and they would all fan out across the track. We were told Abundant would cost around $4000 but I think I got her for $700. I was that keen to buy her I had the last three bids," he added. For a while McKenzie wondered if he had acquired the 'poorer sister', but whereas October Pride has been a disappointing broodmare, Abundant has never stopped producing.
The first horse she left for them was a nice one in Bizness (5 NZ wins), and not long after came a couple of top ones in Noam and Genius, the latter winning 24 races and $215,000. A Sundon sister in Epona was born the year between that pair and Butt and McKenzie are now breeding from other daughters of Abundant in Farisa (Chiola Hanover), Stimulus (Armbro Invasion) and Maysoon (Sundon). They now have six mares in total from the family, with each party taking care of three. Epona's first foal was a colt and a useful performer in Lotsa Speed (6 NZ wins, US1:56.6), while Vulcan is the second colt.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 4Apr13
2013 GLENFERRIE FARM 2YO TROTTING STAKES
Lex and Heather Williams were having mixed emotions after the first foal from their outstanding trotting mare One Over Kenny - One Over Da Moon - had caused a minor upset in Saturday night's NZ 2yo Trotting Stakes at Addington.
While the result was far from any sort of complete surprise in an event which was expected to be dominated by the Mark Purdon-trained pair of Not About The Money and Daenerys Targaryen, after One Over Da Moon had gone a very good trial with David Butt driving for the first time at Motukarara the prior Monday, the Williams' couldn't be on had to see it. "We had to be at a relative's wedding in Dunedin, so that was all a bit of a disaster," said Lex.
Things had not gone exactly right for One Over Da Moon in two prior races, with greenness a not unexpected issue with these youngsters, but the small but strong chestnut colt gave a faultless display on this occasion. Butt was able to easily hold the lead from barrier one and after trotting along at an even 2:00 clip, One Over Da Moon held on to score by three parts of a length over Daenerys Targaryen with the rank outsider Trouble Rieu sticking on strongly for third.
Odds on favourite Not About The Money was fourth in a gap of four lengths after moving up to sit parked from the 1400m. "He was overracing - that's why I had to move up from the one-one," said Blair Orange. "He didn't settle at all and can do that, but he'll keep," he added.
Not About The Money's keenness pushed One Over Da Moon to a new race record of 2:26.2, which easily beat Habibti's 2:27.8 from last year. And it wasn't that far off Sheemon's track & NZ record of 2:25.5, set in last year's Sires Stakes in May.
Much of the credit for One Over Da Moon's success was being aimed at young Matt Purvis, who has been handling Paul Nairn's team while he was campaigning Stig in Australia and away for the best part of a month. Nairn only got back on Tuesday of last week, so had also missed the Mot trial. "When they were running along with quarters in 30, I wasn't sure if he was ready for that, but Davy (Butt) obviously had it figured out," said Nairn. Purvis, a son of John, has been working with Nairn for almost two years, after a prior stint with Greg Hope.
Nairn has had One Over Da Moon since he was broken in by John Versteeg. "He's always been a small but stroppy and strong colt. He has quite a bit of fold in his action, but he still has speed and can stay, so I think he could be alright." One Over Da Moon, from Majestic Son's first crop, as a result of shuttling, is an embryo transfer from a time when One Over Kenny was still racing, having missed that season in an attempt with Muscles Yankee's frozen semen.
One Over Kenny, the only trotting mare in Australasia to win over a million dollars, was still racing in Auckland when One Over Da Moon was born. She then visited Pegusus Spur and has a chestnut yearling colt by him called One Over Dover, but she missed last season to services by Muscles Yankee and The Pres, before going in foal this season to Love You.
Williams is excited by the prospect of a chestnut filly by him, but in the meantime, it is One Over Da Moon that will be providing all the excitement needed. He has a Sires Stakes Prelude at Addington on Friday week with the final a month later and then the Jewels. "He's also Breeders Crown eligible but I haven't spoken to Paul about that yet," said Lex. "In fact I haven't spoken to Paul about much at all, come to think of it," he added.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 4Apr13
2013 BRECKON FARMS & ALL STARS RACING STABLES EASTER CUP
Terror To Love was back at Addington last Saturday night to make a statement and it was a big statement. So much so that he 'sent the willies up' Cran Dalgety, who is now having second thoughts about taking on Terror To Love with Christen Me in the Miracle Mile.
Terror To Love only had six rivals and three genuine open class pacers to contend with in the $100,000 Breckon Farms and All Stars Racing Stables Easter Cup, a race in which he was beaten by Hands Christian last year.
Having disappointed in the Inter-Dominion and been unlucky in the Auckland Cup, Terror To Love - or more to the point Rick May - was in no mood to show much mercy. After Fly Like An Eagle had taken up the early running from Jivin Cullen, May made his move with 2100m to go and Terror To Love was cruising from the 1800m with the speed for the first mile just comfortable. But when May fired the retro rockets in the run home, Terror To Love burst away to leave his rivals floundering with the back end of a 4:02.2 3200m in a sparkling 26.4.
Highview Tommy and Fly Like An Eagle were genuine disappointments, and it was left to Fronco Ledger to outfinish Ellmer Hanover in the race for second money in a gap of six lengths. The latter, a maiden at the start of the season and still just a six-win horse, did well after costing himself 10m with a gallop at the start.
This was Terror To Love's 21st win from 47 races and took his stakes tally for Terry McDonald to $1.33m, with some big plums still to pick this season.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 4Apr13
2013 PGG WRIGHTSON NZ YEARLING SALES SERIES 2YO TROTTERS CHAMPIOSHIP
A habit of 'going back to the well' doesn't usually get the desired result, but it has paid quick dividends for the connections od Dieu De l'Amour, last week's winner of the $85,000 NZYSS 2yo Trotters Championship.
The Love You-Sun Goddess gelding was bought at last year's Premier Sale for $30,000 by stable clients of Victorian trainer Authony Crossland. They had earlier raced the first foal from Sun Goddess in Bohemian, buying him after he'd finished third in the 2yo Sales race behind Paramount Geegee and at the Cambridge Jewels to Kylie Ree. Bohemian, by Continentalman, would go on tho be Australian 3yo Trotter of the Year, winning the NSW Trotters Derby, Holmfield and Victoria Trotters Derby in 2011.
Off the back of that, it wasn't hard to make a bid for his half-brother a year ago, entrusting Dieu De l'Amour to Mark Purdon for an event like the Sales race. In between Bohemian and Dieu De l'Amour, Sun Goddess has also produced DiMaggio, a 4yo which has gone through to open class with seven wins for Stephen Doody.
With Not About The Money out for th season with a quarter crack and Daenerys Targaryen and One Over Da Moon both homebreds, this season's 2yo Sales Trot had shaped as being an open and easier affair and Dieu De l'Amour had been building nicely for it. "The way things panned out, I couldn't have scripted a better run," said Blair Orange. "I wouldn't say this fellow has been a natural 2yo, but he is going to make a very nice 3yo," he added.
The fillies Schleck and Hot Pants had vied for favouritism and after they'd had a tussle for the front in the second quarter, and Schleck had run wide on the showgrounds bend in getting there, she soon had the attentions of Rocky Mountain Son down the back. This early exertion had softened both fillies up. Meanwhile Dieu De l'Amour, had been eased away from a wide draw but was steadily making progress during the run before landing the one-one over the last lap.
Just when Mark Purdon and Hot Pants looked like claiming the Barry Purdon trained Schleck up the passing lane, Orange arrived on the scene to win easily and going away by a length. Hot Pants (Majestic Son-Dutch Annie) was also bought for $30,000 from the Sales and is raced by Trevor Casey and Natalie Rasmussen, while Schleck was also bought at Karaka for $28,000 by a syndicate which includes Casey as well. K D Muscles, like Schleck a filly by Muscle Mass, trotted home nicely from three fence for a sound fourth.
Dieu De l'Amour, the second Sales race winner by Love You following on from You Rock at Addington last year will now head for the Sires Stakes series and then the Jewels.
Credit: HRWeekly 1May13
2013 ANTHONY SHEARER LTD - PINK BATTS ORDEAL TROTTING CUP
Cyclone U Bolt drew first blood in the first feature trot of the season with another tradesmanlike performance in the time honoured Ordeal Trotting Cup at Addington last Friday night. Furthering a splendid record since Melbourne's Merv Butterworth purchased him on the eve of last year's Jewels, Cyclone U Bolt and Blair Orange once again sped away from a handy draw before trailing The Fiery Ginga and slipped up the passing lane to hold off a late charge from Dr Hook.
The Dream Vacation gelding has won nine races and over $200,000 and has hardly been out of the money since the genial Butterworth bought him for a fair price last year. In that time he has of course won two Rubys, downing Escapee and Stent, in very similar fashion to his latest seccess. "He has the tactical speed to put himself in a race and the ability to take advantage of it," said co-trainer Mark Purdon. "For a trotter, he's pretty much the perfect racecourse," he added.
Purdon was himself down the track with the favourite Escapee, who was probably always going to be suspect first up in a solidly run 2600m. She made a dab four wide down the back to get round a distressed Sovereignty, but was struggling soon after. "She didn't trot the last quarter at all well and she can do that when she's not quite ready," said Purdon. Expect a different Escapee over a mile at Ashburton later next month however.
The Fiery Ginga crossed them easily from post seven and Alan Clark ran them along at a solid 2:00 clip before getting swamped inside and out over the final stages. As a result Cyclone U Bolt posted 3:14, a searching time in the cool conditions at this time of year. In fact Cyclone U Bolt was less than a second outside the national record.
Dr Hook would have almost certainly picked him up had he not been held up by Escapee on the home turn. "I've only had him since I got back from Australia last month but the owners had done a great job putting the foundation into him," said trainer Paul Nairn. "I was getting him ready for the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup, but when he worked so well on Tuesday and the noms were still open, I chucked him in," he added.
Nairn was again puzzled by the performance of veteran warhorse Stig, who only beat Sovereignty home, but again he had no favours. David Butt was trapped three wide at the rear early from barrier nine and Stig had to work around them to sit parked from the 1900m. Stig doesn't seem the same horse that closed out last season so strongly, which included monstering them in the Rowe Cup, but Nairn is not writing him off yet and few would be doubting his ability to get the 11-year-old on track in time for the Dominion. "He seems well and perfectly sound so we'll just have to play things by ear," said Nairn. Nairn is however thrilled to bits with the progress of Lotalov, who is only weeks away from the trials after almost dying and being off the scene for over a year.
Burano, buried back on the pylons and still last before coming wide from the 500m, showed his preference for a sit-sprint type of trip with a strong finish to pick up third. That 9-year-old is far from finished yet, despite his previously "dodgy" knees. Vulcan was also good with a late fast finish out wide for fifth from well back, while Uncas tracked Cyclone U Bolt through and was going to finish at least third before galloping just 50m off the post.
Sovereignty was disappointing on the face of it, but he dropped out after striking himself in behind down the back. "He was three wide during a 59 middle half ans entitled to battle, but I was very happy with him going into the race," said Greg Hope. "He sort of has three trainers (Hope, Sean McCaffrey and Charlie Hunter) and between us we managed to sort of stuff things up last week. I put pads on him and he trotted rough early because he was floating around in them, but he trotted great and made up a heap of ground once he got going," he added.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 18Sep13
2013 AVON CITY FORD (NEW BRIGHTON) CUP
The new kid on the block, Christen Me, tonight confirmed himself a spot in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup by downing Terror To Love in the $25,000 Avon City Ford Cup (Gr3) at Addington. After making a flier in what was his first ever standing start, the wonder pacer and driver Dexter Dunn dictated terms in front before kicking too strongly in the straight for Terror To Love, who was also brilliant after racing parked for the majority of the trip.
Franco Ledger enjoyed the gun run in the trail, but was unable to match motors with the two speedsters in the home stretch finishing five lenghts away in third.
The last 800 metres was run in a staggering 54.0 seconds which is the quickest ever official last half recorded at Addington, while the overall time for the 2600m stand start journey was a respectable 3-14.1.
“He felt sensational the whole way and he won with the earplugs still in,” said a beaming Dunn. Meanwhile, Ricky May was also very happy with Terror To Love.
“He has gone absolutely super and I’m sure he will benefit greatly off the run.”
Addington CEO Dean McKenzie summed it up best by saying “They’ve both gone as good as each other. They were clearly better than the rest of the field,” he added. I just hope Themightyquinn comes over now because if he does it is going to be the Cup of the decade.”
Credit: Mitchell Robertson writing in harnesslink.com
2013 GARRARDS NZ SIRES' STAKES 2YO FINAL
They say that Mark Purdon is New Zealand’s best juvenile trainer, well I'll tell you what. His older brother Barry isn’t half bad either. The Clevedon based trainer not only won tonight's (Friday May 11) $165,000 Sires' Stakes Final (Group One) with Maxim but he also got second with Sky Major bringing up a stable quinella.
Both Maxim and Sky Major are owned by Mrs K J Purdon, T G Casey, Clear view Racing no 4 syndicate, J Lohman, T H Henderson and The Anzac Racing Syndicate.
The Purdon trained pair dominated from up front, adopting lead-trail tactics. It was Tony Herlihy and the well supported Sky Major who swung for home first, but they were quickly collared by Zac Butcher and underdog Maxim, who powered up the Stunin Cullen sprint-lane to claim Group One glory.
Isaiah, who looked to be struggling on the bend, found a second win to storm into third for Mark Purdon, while Zacharia, who is also trained by the latter Purdon finished in fourth, giving the Purdon brothers the first four. Zacharia, just for good measure is also owned by Trevor Casey, who is a shareholder in both Maxim and Sky Major.
Maxim dashed his final sectionals in 55.9 and 26.4, eliminating the chances of anything trying to come from the back.
Sixth was the best Australian Allblack Stride could muster, while Regulus faded to fifth after racing outside the leader on the home bend.
Maxim, a son of Bettor's Delight and Splendid Deal (In The Pocket - Splendid Dreams), hails from the all-conquering Scuse Me family, which has produced stars such as Hands Christian (Christian Cullen- Splendid Dreams), Christen Me (Christian Cullen - Splendid Dreams) and of course tonight's New Zealand Oaks first and third placegetters Adore Me (Bettor's Delight - Scuse Me) and Splendour (Bettor's Delight- Splendid Deal). Who is the breeder of Maxim? Yes you guessed it, the man behind this ‘splendid' family, Charlie Roberts.
Maxim's driver Zac Butcher was full of praise for Barry Purdon, thanking him for all of the wonderful opportunities he has presented him with.
Butcher was also full of praise for Maxim.
"We did receive a good trip tonight, but this horse really does try his heart out, and he possesses a big motor."
Butcher also admitted he was relatively confident heading into tonight, although he must have been one of the only ones who were as Maxim paid odds of $18.70 and $3.40.
It was Butcher's second Group One win after having taken out the NZ Oaks with Cheer The Lady at this exact meeting last year.
The win also brought up back-to-back Sires' Stakes wins for Barry Purdon having won the illustrious race last year with another son of Bettor's Delight in Five Card Draw.
It was Barry's seventh win in the race overall, having previously trained Billbob (1984), Chokin (1991), Montana Vance (1992) and Ill Vicolo (1994) to win in partnership with his father Roy, as well as Matai Mackenzie (2000) and Five Card Draw (2012)on his own account.
Credit: Mitchell Robertson writing on harnesslink.com 18May2013
2013 NEVELE R FILLIES SERIES FINAL
Adore Me moved into Horse of the Year contention with another crushing display in Saturday's $150,000 Nevele R Fillies Series Final No.35 at Addington.
With this weeks New Zealand Oaks and a Jewels Diamond seemingly at her mercy, Adore Me can finish the season unbeaten in 11 races against her own sex and only beaten by Ohoka Punter in the Great Northern Derby, a performance which only earned her further admirers given very few fillies have even taken on the colts in modern times.
Two further Gr1 successes in coming weeks would give Adore Me a total of five and stakes in her first campaign of almost $500,000. She has also claimed a New Zealand mile record for a filly of 1:52.4.
Off colour after the Derby and freshened, Adore Me has returned to racing again looking invincible. Despite drawing an outside gate in the Fillies Final, Mark Purdon was able to treat his opposition with contempt. Eased away into midfield as Kabet took them through a fast lead time, Purdon was on the move with a lap to run but Delightful Christian and Maurice McKendry had designs on getting to the front first. This had Adore Me working three wide in the open for a good way, but she was always travelling too well and had put Delightful Christian away with 700m to run.
With a last quarter in 27.6, Adore Me was always clear in the run home and she crossed the line with over three lengths to spare from stablemate Whisper Jet, who poked between runners after a good trip from Tony Herlihy. There was no loitering along the way and Adore Me's 2:20.6 was a mile rate of 1:56 and not far off Carabella's race and national record.
Purdon has won this race with O Baby and Secret Potion, and there has been other top fillies through the stable such as Twist And Twirl, Lancome, Meredith Maguire, Imagine Me and Imagine That to name just a few in recent times, but Adore Me is clearly in a class of her own. The extra distance of this week's Oaks will only suit Adore Me more than any of her rivals and then it will just come down to a fitting season finale at Ashburton.
Raced by her breeder Charlie Roberts along with his daughter Mary and son-in-law Paul Kenny, who are also racing half-sister Abide With Me on lease with Stephen Reid, Adore Me has also taken the record of her dam Scuse Me to another level when that BG's Bunny mare had seemingly done quite enough. Adore Me is her 10th foal and 10th winner, with eight in 2:00 having also included Imagine Me. Adore Me is Scuse Me's first foal by Bettors Delight however and she has since produced three more, including another filly this season.
Whatever the outcome of the Horse of the Year poll, where Adore Me will vie with Terror To Love, Stig and a late charge from Christen Me, the Broodmare of the Year is also looking a one-horse race for Scuse Me. She also happens to be the grandam of G1 winners Hands Christian and Christen Me and the third dam of good filly Splendour and juvenile Maxim, who both competed in Saturday's features as well.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 15May2013
2013 PGG WRIGHTSON NZ YEARLING SALES SERIES 2YO OPEN
The PGG Wrightson NZYSS 2yo Open is invariably a torrid and action packed affair and this year's Listed feature proved no exception at Addington on Saturday night.
There was early drama when Meticulous, an impressive 1:55.6 winner at Ashburton a week earlier, again choked down and wound up going down, lying on the track with a nasty gash to a knee until the race was finished. And there was later drama at the 600m when Explosive Art and Ubettabelieveit found the searing pace beyond them and wound up locking wheels, effectively wiping out more than half the field with the backwash.
That left a race of five after 13 had started, which soon became four when Cyclone Prince cried off on the home turn. It was a ding-dong go between the last four standing in the drive for the finish, but Isaiah had had the best run and collared the warm favourite Allblack Stride in the passing lane. Tony Herlihy had also given Sky Major a sweet trip and he finished strongly late to also peg back the Aussie raider, with Regulus unlucky and going a big one to finish fourth just half a length from the winner. But the result had largely been determined by the barrier draws.
Isaiah had been plagued by difficult draws before, but he had the ace on this occasion and Mark Purdon knew that Allblack Stride would be around in search of the lead sooner rather than later. That Christian Cullen colt had to camp three wide before working to the front after the first 800m, which ultimately cost him late in the piece and his unbeaten record. Allblack Stride paced his last mile in 1:55 and change after starting from the outside of the front line and would have lost no friends for his remaining engagements here. But Isaiah had also had to contend with the early and surprising charge from Explosive Art and posted a 1:55.5 mile rate for the trip, and his 2:20 had bettered Tintin In America's race and national record of 2:20.5.
This made the performance of Regulus all the more meritorious. After starting from post four on the second line and being in the rear to the 1100m , Regulus was in the three wide line down the back but received a check at the 600m which must have cost him five lengths. How the Mach Three gelding got so close was a feature of the race - his last 400m must have been in 26 and small change.
But the record books will show a seventh win in the event for trainer Mark Purdon, and the sixth since Jack Cade 12 years ago. It also wrapped up a sterling Premier Day result for the All Stars Stable, which won all three features. Minnie Moose would also win the penultimate race to make it six wins from the twelve tote races. Purdon actually won all six races he had starters in after taking a team of 16.
It was a first win for each of the owners of Isaiah however. Bought for $45,000 at Karaka on Purdon's recommendation, Isaiah is raced by regular stable clients Phil and Glenys Kennard, Met club director John Grainger and John Magness along with Neville and Marie Lancaster. The latter Christchurch couple had previously had limited success with Shultz and Highview Ebony although the latter was second in the Sales race for 2-year-old fillies behind Bettor Cover Lover three years ago.
But the Kennards have had an outstanding run in recent times as a result of buying colts from the yearling sales with Purdon. "We've been trying to win this race for a while now and had starters like Fiery Falcon (third in 2007), Highview Tommy (third in 2008) and Major Mark (fourth 2010)." said Glenys. "Mark had siad he just needed a decent draw to be a big chance and he got that finally," she added.
The Kennards deserved success was temperedby the fate of Meticulus however. "I actually missed the first half of the race because I was that worried about him." They were also disappointed that their top ranked 2-year-old trotting Not About Money was in a paddock with a quarter crack instead of contesting the Sires Stakes earlier in the day.
Despite having had little luck with barrier draws prior to this, Isaiah has now raced eight times for four wins and three seconds for stakes worth $189,000 with the Sires Stakes and Jewels still to come. The only time Isaiah has not be one-two was his prior start when fifth a month earlier, after working particularly hard in a quickly run Welcome Stakes. Six days prior to that Isaiah had posted 2:20.7 when winning a Sires Stakes heat by seven lengths.
After debuting before Christmas, Isaiah has also won the Sapling and been second in the Young Guns Final. This was a battle that Isaiah won but the outcome of the war remains undetermined. The Allblack Stride camp remained bullish about their chances this week with a better draw, and then there's Regulus. With the honours having been fairly evenly shared amongst the freshmen male pacers to date, Isaiah now has the edge but the end of the season title will be determined by the Sires Stakes and Jewels results.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 15May2013
2013 SEELITE WINDOWS & DOORS SIRES' STAKES 2YO TROTTERS CHAMPIONSHIP
With four starters involved in the G2 Seelite Windows & Doors Sires' Stakes 2yo Trotters Championship at Addington on Saturday, Trevor Casey always held a strong hand, particularly after One Over Da Moon galloped his way out of contention from the start. And Casey got the perfect result when Daenerys Targaryen, the filly he bred and races on his own account, led from start to finish.
This was always the likely outcome after the beautiful and substantial Majestic Son filly drew the pole and One Over Da Moon had become overly keen in the score up and his gallop resulted in the crupper coming loose along with his remaining gear. With regular driver Ricky May back at the helm, Daenerys Targaryen easily held the lead and May sent them along at a solid clip before easily holding them all at bay with a final quarter in 28.3. The time of 2:28.8 was some way off Sheemon's race and national record 2:25.5 from last year, but May had only gone as fast as he needed.
Apart from precocious ability, Daenerys Targaryen's greatest assets have been her temperament and manners. She has now raced six times for three wins and three seconds, only being beaten by stablemate Not About The Money and One Over Da Moon in the Trotting Stakes. "I don't think she's ever put a foot wrong at home either," said Casey. "We knew she was good from the time Maree Price broke her in - she's usually right," he added.
Daenerys Targaryen is the sixth foal and fifth winner from broodmare revelation Niamey, the dam also of Casey's Jewels winner Pocaro (3, 1:57.5, 13 NZ wins, $233,000) and Springbank Sam (13 NZ wins, $223,000 to date), a last start second in the Rowe Cup. Casey recalled that he had been involved in racing Niamey for a few starts with trainer-driver Ken Barron and Gary Allen, but she had shown nothing and his partners weren't keen to breed. "She was actually pretty close to getting her head chopped off, but as a sister to Africa, I figured I would breed a couple of foals (Lord Nelson and Pacaro). Then Gary decided to breed a couple. He got Ugly Betty and then after I'd told him how good Pocaro was as a yearling, he put Niamey back to Sundon and got Springbank Sam (sold at Premier Sale)."
Casey then bred another brother to the latter in the placed 3yo Sun of Anarchy along with Daenerys Targaryen, although Niamey has only left one foal since in a weanling colt by The Pres. She is now in foal to Muscle Mass for Allen.
Trouble Rieu, a useful looking stayer in the making, stuck on well for second after sitting parked throughout and got a good reward for his effort to finish ahead of the winner's stablemates Twentyten, Hot Pants and Dieu De L'Amour, who were all close up.
But the Jewels is now looking like a race in two and One Over Da Moon will need to get things right. "There's a race at Addington next week for Daenerys Targaryen which will be a nice lead up to the Jewels. "She's in the Breeders Crown, but like most we'll just be looking to get through the Jewels before deciding anything about that. The way the costs are in going to the Crown, you pretty much need to win the thing."
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 15May2013
2013 CHRISTCHURCH CASINO NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CUP
Terror To Love turned the threat of a shock defeat into a magnificent and heroic victory at Addington on Tuesday. And Ricky May, small though he is, can take his place above the giants who have held the Cup before him.
They overcame an almost perilous handicap to win the 110th Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup by a neck from Fly Like An Eagle. They did it under circumstances that would have beaten great horses and lesser lights would have been seen later.
But this is an exceptional horse, and May can be magic when the big races are up and the chips are down. This was his predicament in the Cup. For some peculiar reasons, Terror To Love decides to miss away. And he makes a meal of it. "I couldn't believe it," he says. "He walked up perfectly. He had plenty of room. Everything was right for him. When he's done it before, it hasn't been for long - a few strides and then he's away. But this time he just wouldn't settle."
It's 30 metres, maybe more, and the Cup field was dust in front, and arch rival Christen Me is happily placed in the trail. May lets him catch up, but knows he has to get going when things get busy on the last lap. He joins the line - Sleepy Tripp, Terror To Love, Pembrook Benny and Jason Rulz. "I took my time getting there, and he was cruising when I went past Mark (Purdon). I still thought I was in with a show."
It was an easy choice for Purdon to let him go, though he was unaware Terror To Love had come from so far behind. "My horse was getting keener and keener," said Purdon. "I was looking to put him on a back." There was none better than Terror To Love. Tough for Christen Me, as Dexter Dunn has to accept the awful situation of suddenly going from two deep a lap out to three-deep at the 800m. On the corner, Terror To Love was in full cry. Fly Like An Eagle would come through and Pembrook Benny should drop off, and let's see how Christen Me would finish it off.
Terror To Love did not drop the guard. May knew his 7th Cup win was in sight half-way up the straight, Fly Like An Eagle battled bravely up the lane for second and Christen Me was a gallant third, pulling the ground back but never enough of it, and Pembrook Benny was brave holding fourth after a hard trip from the half. Caribbean Blaster finished on without ever raising a hope, and ditto for Franco Ledger.
As expected, Terror To Love again exposed the gap between the good and the great. Because it was a tough run, Terror To Love will not be out on Show Day; instead his focus will be on the Miracle Mile and the InterDominions.
May's previous Cup winners have been Inky Lord, Christian Cullen, Iraklis, Monkey King twice, and Terror To Love, after Jimmy Curtin won with him two years ago. Pressed for some sort of comparison in their efforts, he said the one on Tuesday had to be the finest. "When Inky Lord won, he had to pick himself up after being checked at the 500m, but it was not what this horse had to do."
In the sum-up, where was May's masterstroke? Two theories to this - was it the time he took to run from the 1000m to the 800m and lead? Or was it on the turn, when he bought just enough time to outstay Fly Like An Eagle. Either way, it was ingenious.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 14Nov13
2013 CANTERBURY BREEDERS NZ OAKS
Some things stay the same. Adore Me, for one. Another win, one classic after another. Some things don't change. Mark Purdon again.
Reaching for plaudits - "she's phenomenal, so relaxed, great rate of recovery." And more ..."she's gone 3.11. In those conditions, it's another three seconds."
Adore Me had just won the Canterbury Breeders New Zealand Oaks on a wet track from Safedra and Splendour. The win had been comfortable, by more the two lengths, after a midfield run before Purdon took off at the 2000m and had her in front before the mile.
Back home, in Auckland where he had enough on his plate the next day selling weanlings at the mixed sale, breeder and part-owner Charlie Roberts would have been overjoyed. Simply because of one short word - Oaks. For breeders, the Oaks is the high bar, the level of achievement that all aim for but few reach. Roberts has won countless races, and many big, but never the New Zealand Oaks - until now.
His part-owner and son-in-law Paul Kenny knew what it meant to Charlie. "It's the pinnacle of breeding achievement, something he has always wanted. It has been a lifetime goal, winning the Oaks here, and now he has it." Mary Kenny, Charlie's daughter and part-owner of Adore Me, said if it hadn't been for the sale, her 89-year-old father would have been on track. "He seldom misses a meeting at Alexandra Park and he's booked to be down for the Jewels," she said.
Not only did Roberts breed Adore Me, but also the third horse Splendour, which he part-owns. The pair were separated by Safedra, whose previous win was at Ascot Park before running out of space in the Nevele R Stud Fillies Final. While the winner was superior, Safedra came out and punched above her weight. She drew the outside of the gate, was four wide briefly when improving at the 1800m, and from the 1600m was posted outside the leader. There was no sign of weakening resolve as she gallantly held her ground to the finish.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRNZ 22May2013
RICKY MAY - TERROR TO LOVE 2013
This is just one of many outstanding May up drives but the third Cup of Terror To Love was a typical blend of his patience and aggression.
After the early break he caught the back of the field and they lobbed along before launching on the familiar three wide train from the bell. Then two things happened which won the race. Her pressed on for the lead at the 800m rather than take available cover. The odds of Mark Purdon conceding at that stage of a major race would normally be 100/1.
Others trying had found it a learning experience. But Mark knew and Ricky must have realised that Fly Like An Eagle was starting to pull too hard and a trail was his only hope. Besides, it would put arch rival Christen Me three back. Ricky landed the front without a fight. Then he pinched a breather around the top turn so vital so often in a fast run Addington race.
The section to there took over 29 seconds. Mark later said that was what beat him. It was also the difference between going into the history books and possibly not. Fly Like An Eagle not a true stayer, surged late and was given the same time as the winner. It was that close.
TRIVIA FACT: Ricky 'inherited' Terror To Love. Jim Curtin, who had won the first Cup, had to 'resign' when his own horse Franco Emirate got to open class. Anthony Butt was next, winning a Jewels but then Mah Sish came along. Ricky's first drive behind the Terror was winning the New Brighton Cup of 2012 with Mah Sish second and Franco Emirate unplaced. Nobody else drove him in NZ ever again.
Credit: David Mcarthy writing in Harnessed Ot 2016