The worst Ebola virus epidemic in recorded history begins in West Africa, to date infecting more than 20,000 people and killing more than 7,000.
Euromaidan protest in Ukraine sparks a revolution and the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych, leading to Russia's annexation of Crimea and the War in Donbass.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 disappear mid-flight, while Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shot down over Ukraine and Air Algérie Flight 5017 crashes in Mali.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain abdicates; his son becomes King Felipe VI.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan kill over 130 students in Pakistan.
Israel launches an assault on the Gaza Strip in response to tit-for-tat murder-kidnappings, leading to the deaths of 71 Israelis and 2100 Palestinians.
ISIS begins its offensive in northern Iraq, leading to intervention in Iraq and Syria by a US-led coalition. Second Libyan Civil War begins.
The Rosetta spacecraft's Philae probe becomes the first to successfully land on a comet.
20 January: Eketahuna earthquake causes moderate damage in the lower North Island.
20 September: 2014 general election is held. The National Party wins a third term in office.
October: New Zealand wins a seat on the United Nations Security Council, starting from 2015. New Zealand last held a seat in 1993-1994.
With Natalie Rasmussen leading UDR tables and Sam Ottley aiming at becoming the third female to top the Junior Driver's premiership, women are driving high just now. And considering it took 80 years for them just to be licenced their achievements are notable. The pioneers were Ethel Abbott and Bella Button both of whose careers were ruined by Victorian hypocrisy.
Abbott was granted a licence by the Otahuhu Trotting Club in 1890 aged just 16. She was a pioneer of riding astride, wearing bloomers as did Button. But official licences were issued nationally and theirs were always refused.
Button drove winners in Canterbury but with a one day club permit. Because of these two the subject of female drivers was discussed as early as at the first Trotting Conferencein 1896. It was noted that "rules would have to be changed" to allow them to be licenced but there "seemed to be some degree of support fot it". 75 years later it happened.
Button, originally from Mid-Canterbury, owned and trained Star, the first winner of the inaugural Ashburton Trotting Club meeting in 1890. As usual she sent the good news home by carrier pigeon. She drove in lightweight "wagons" and later in the high seated sulky in ladylike fashion. Something of a legend, Bella also starred in the then famous Australasian travelling rodeo show. O'Neill's Buckjumpers.
At one Christchurch Show she was asked to ride all four contenders in the final round of the hurdles and did. She was the first woman to win a race at Riccarton only an hour after Slow Tom, a horse she had developed and sold, had won the 1904 Grand National Steeplechase.
The licencing system drove her out of trotting and when she operated from the landmark Brooklyn Lodge stables at New Brighton in later years she was mainly involved with ponies and show-horses - though she was in demand for educating or sorting out difficult racehorses. Jack Litten was one who spent his early working days with her at Brooklyn Lodge.
The arrival of speed carts and the "unladylike" poses they required seemed to prevent progress of female drivers for decades even though the talent was there.
Another noted horsewoman, the formidable Julia Cuff, later of Hinds, was the first woman licenced to train in Southland in 1935 but she was not suited to race driving. It wasn't until the "Eyelure Derbys" and similar - mainly non tote races showing female talents in the 1970's - aided by the push to licence female jockeys, that real progress was made. A number of stars of those chose to remain amateur.
Una Anso operated her own stable of horses with the "Red" prefix at Otorohanga and became the first woman to win at trials. Then three raceday licences were granted in 1979 to Dorothy Cutts (open licence) who became the first to win a totalisator race against the men with Kenworthy at an on-course only meeting at Cambridge in February that year.
Lorraine Watson (amateur licence) followed as the first southerner to win with Hydro Byrd at Methven and Anne Cooney was granted a junior driver's licence. As Lorraine Grant the former was later the first woman trainer of a NZ Cup starter, cult pacer Rainbow Patch.
The female profile was raised in 1972 with the visit of personable American Bea Farber, the first woman to drive in the World Driver's Championship after topping the American UDR ratings three years in a row. She ultimately drove over 1800 winners. The real American pioneer had been "Grandma" Burright who drove for 25 years including at major night meetings until well into her 60's in the 1950's. The immortal Greyhound's trainer-driver Sep Palin held her driving in high regard.
The amazing feat in American up until then - still astonishing today - was 11-year-old Alma Sheppard driving trotter Dean Hanover to a world 3-year-old record 1:58.5 in a time trial at the Red Mile in 1937 a feat which had her rivalling Shirley Temple for national media attention. Alma's media response on this remarkable feat was "I didn't do it. The horse did it" and she retired from public driving in her teens.
In the last two decades here Jo Herbert(twice) and Kirstin Barclay have topped junior driving premierships and Nicole Molander(Group Ones) and Nikki Chilcott(500 wins) have made a major impact. Herbert, no longer driving, had three NZ Cup drives placing fourth in one of the best female efforts before Rasmussen. Earlier Maria Perriton and Karen Williams won the Maurice Holmes Junior Trophy at Addington, Lyn Neal drove at the top level, Maree Price won trotting features and others such as Michelle Wallis and Susan Branch had moments in the headlines.
So why has there not been a greater overall commitment in the Australian style of Kerryn Manning's 3000+ wins?
Maybe the brutally frank Farber who had no family, had the last word. In the heat of battle she once said, it was so ruthless it made no difference to rivals if you were "a man, a woman or a hippo." The track grit caused her complexion problems and she rarely shopped for clothes or had time for it. "I am 37, my sister is 50 and everyone says she looks younger than me" was another quote. Then there was her retort to a media question about her private life with then husband, trainer Chuck, a marriage she once claimed as "as much a business arrangement as a relationship. You try having a sex life when you work 20 hours a day," said Bea who retired to Florida in 1995 with multiple arthritic, muscle and joint injuries caused by years in the racecart.
Maybe a lot of skilled Kiwi horsewoman just had other prorities.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 19Mar2014
One of the notable events at Addington last Friday night was the quite farewell to Brian Wilson.
Brian was unsure of his tenure as the track smithy, but it's closer to 40 years than 30 since he took over from Bob Johnstone. Now 80, he'll keep his dashing red BMW for trips concerning his volunteer work for the church, and gardening jobs for the elderly.
Wilson admits that his call for race night emergencies at Addington and day time ones at Rangiora and Motukarara have become less. "But I'm there if needed," he said.
Wilson can recall some great trainers he's shod for, among them Bill Doyle, George Noble, Jack Carmichael and Jim Dalgety, and such fine horses as Bess Hanover, Dainty Judy, Trusty Scot, Going, About Now, Bad Luck, Precocious, Stormy Morn and Jason McCord
His replacement is Brent Williams brother of Clarrie Williams, former Clerk of the Course at Addington.
Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 2Apr2014
The words Townley and trotters go together but Kevin says it is not just because he is such a fan of the purist's gait. "I've trained a lot of pacers and some terrific ones. But you start winning races with trotters and you tend to get trotters to train. It is just the way it has turned out and I enjoy them."
Kevin's career has covered every aspect of training standardbreds but the specialist "trotting phase" started in the late 1990's since when most of his biggest wins have been with trotters (over 150) like Sundon's Luck, Solar Fire, Uncle Petrika, The Ultimate Galleon, Sheemon, the West Coast bonus winner Don Keyote etc. Most have starred in age group racing and that is no accident. "Some prefer the handicap horse but I aim for the classic horse" Kevin said "and I buy yearlings with that in view. If they go on to be top handicap horses like a number of mine have - and I am sure Sheemon can because of the great times he runs - that is great. But a bonus."
Kevin's expertise had its base in his association with his father, David, known universally as Doody. While the senior Townley skills were never confined to trotters one of his first stable stars was Betty Maxegin and he loved the challenge trotters presented. Roy Purdon recalled last week that Doody, though a near genius driving trotters, was also brilliant shoeing them. "He stayed with us sometimes when he was up in Auckland and his shoeing skills were as good as you would see anywhere," Roy said.
Kevin did well at school but when his teacher wanted him back after he turned 15 Kevin asked him "Well can you teach me to train a horse?" and got a negative answer. "That was when I first realised I wanted to work with horses full time. I hadn't really considered it much before then." Kevin drove some of Doody's best at home and on raceday including Spartan Prince and the near chanpion Hano Direct with whom he won several races. "She was by a pacing sire (Truant Hanover) and that seemed to give her a speed edge."
However he first hit the trotting headlines himself with two outside drives, Armbro Lady and Ilsa Voss, both topliners in the 1970's. Armbro Lady gave the young driver a huge thrill winning the 1976 Dominion Handicap a race some trotting drivers spend a lifetime trying to win. "Bob Cameron had been driving her but he broke twice on him at Greymouth in October and he told (trainer) Ron Webster he thought someone else should be tried. A month later in the Dominion, Nigel Craig, a superstar trotter, was in front and when I made a mid race move he wasn't handing up but went clear enough for me to trail. That was the winning of the race."
"Ilsa Voss (trained by "Ripper" Read) was a top class mare too but she was more brilliant and wasn't at her best in distance races like the Dominion. Later when Dad and I trained together I had Amy Hest who won the Dunedin Trotting Cup (Group 3) and a lot of other races. Worthy Adios was another one I remember well from that time. I drove About Now for Bill Doyle to win some good races (Canterbury Park and Ordeal Cups)."
More recently Sundon's Luck, virtually American-bred, was a multiple Group 1 winner as a youngster and later took out features like the Ordeal Cup. Uncle Petrika co-owned by Kevin's wife, Margaret, as have been other stars of recent years - was sold to Australia for a six figure sum and later won an Inter-Dominion and the Victorian Trotting Derby for his new owners.
Sunning won the Victorian Oaks and Solar Fire both the Derby and the Oaks there. Sundon's Luck was second in the Derby but won the Gr3 Holmfield as did Solar Fire. On the home front No Potato gave Dexter Dunn his 1000th winner. Burano has been another sterling performer winning five races one season. "Australia's great but only if you are the best Kiwi going there. If you are the second best you are better off staying home. The place money is not good enough."
Much recent success can be credited to the American mare Sungait Song, the dam of Arndon and Sundon. She also left Sungait Reb, the dam of Sunning who has in turn left Burano etc. Another daughter, Sunsong, left Solar Fire, her only foal, and the dam of Sheemon. Sheemon is remarkable both in performance and placing having claimed a cheque in 29 of 30 starts. "I maybe have nine horses of my own now and they all belong to a branch of that family."
But Kevin has had more than his share of success buying trotting yearlings also leaning towards imported stock. "I am about 80 per cent pedigree. Nature and nuture are my guidelines but I believe 80 per cent of it is there at conception." When Dennis Thompson used Kevin as his selector of trotting yearlings some years ago they had a good run. "The first Anquitil won the Hambletonian, and The Ultimate Galleon won the Sales Final and was up with the best of his age group. Then we bought Dream Machine, a real top young trotter."
But he takes no credit for his all time favourite, Solar Fire. She didn't gallop for three years. She broke-in trotting and never left that gait until one night at Addington when she was carring an injury. A lovely mare - you could have her inside the house and she wouldn't put a foot wrong."
As a mere 9-year-old accomplished Canterbury horseman, Kevin Townley, was put in the cart behind top pacer, Jacobite, trained by his father who ran third in the 1965 NZ Cup and then beat all the best in the Easter Cup. "He was a laid back horse so no worry but quite heavy topped and he eventually broke down as those type of horses do." Scottish Charm, second to Globe Bay in a NZ Cup, was another memory of that era but "quite different, a constant knee knocker on the bends but with a huge heart."
The stable star was the exceptional Stella Frost whom Kevin took to the United States. "She was a bit odd, great with us but if she saw a stranger approaching she became very aggressive. I believe she never followed a horse she could not sprint past. Her heartbreak race was the Miracle Mile won by Mount Eden. She was trapped in the trail and every time Dad eased back to get out the horse on the outside eased back too. Dad challenged them to match and the club was going to put up $5000 but the Mount Eden team declined - and then time trialled in Perth for nothing."
"They had to be weighed then before they flew. Stella Frost was 1150lbs and Robin Dundee was only 850lb which shows what a great little mare she was." The young Townley's eyes were popping when the mare was based at Stanley Dancer's stable in New Jersey. "He flew us to the races at Roosevelt and drove Albatross to win a feature. Stella trained great there for six weeks, but got a virus a week before racing and she was never the same again."
Kevin later sold horses in California. "The first trip was with Wayne Ross when the local agents weren't interested. I went back often stating up to six months. I did well out of it but the biggest benefit was making contact with someone like Ross Croghan. After that I could make a phone call and sell horses without the travelling. Flora D'or might have been the best I took over. She was the leading mare at Hollywood Park for two seasons."
In 1976 Kevin and Doody bought Willowmere Stud, Winchmore, together for $150,000. "We got a lot of mares but none of the stallions really made it. Horses like H T Luca, Nevele Bigshot, True Averil and Rum Customer didn't fire. The European trotter Beau Nonantais failed though Gekoj was really a good sire who didn't get much support. But in terms of the return we got on the land was a winner. When we went there there was no track and we used a 30 acre paddock to train the horses. We won 35 races that season. There might have been a message there."
A great fan of the U Scott line Kevin, in that era, was closely associated with grass track stayers like Dreamy Boy but feels circumstances dictated that. "I enjoy grass track racing. It is different, more relaxed. But if I had the right team I would have been at Addington rather than Westport." His driving career was then all but ended with a back injury. "I was training 35 horses and it was just too much. It was a disc problem and just got worses and worse. I had to ease back on the driving but I also cut the team right back."
Pacers which stood out in this training era, like Glen Del, Jester Dale, Predater and Besta Kara all made rapid progress to the edge of Cup class. Glen Del was from a sister to Steven John and blossomed from the Townley stable winning nine from 27. Besta Kara and Jester Dale also won 9 scoring heavily in provincial features. John Hay did a lot of driving during Kevin's injury absence. "I have always rated John very highly - as good as any. I think with some of those horses it was changing the way they were driven which made the difference. My style of driving was a bit too aggressive for some people anyway but I liked to control a race if I could. Jester Dale we developed ourselves. If he had stayed sound I think he would have made it in Cup class."
Kevin, whose wife, Margaret, whom he met at Alexandra Park where she was on the staff and has also been a successful owner, had his first NZ Cup drive behind Upper Class in a bracket with Stella Frost in 1970. "I enjoyed it until the start. He galloped and lost all chance."
Barbara Del, Adios Dream and Tupelo Rose were three drives among the fillies he remembers. "Adios Dream was a real fast little thing. She beat the colts in the Welcome and could take them on any time. Tupelo Rose was a different type but quite a lot better."
Best of all was probably one he never handled raceday. "I drove Courage Under Fire in his first public outing. He ran a quarter in 27. It wasn't until In The Pocket came here that young horses could reel of a time like that and it was just sensational then." With the youngster's granddam, Deborah Dundee (dam of Adios Dream), Townley and Ross were set to pull off the initial West Coast bonus - but, against all odds ran into later Pan Am Mile winner and a multiple NZ Cup placegetter, Our Mana, in the final race.
A book of many chapters is the Townley story but none of them regretted by the trainer. "You can never achieve everything you aim at but I have no complaints. It's been a great ride."
Credit: David McCarthy writing in HRWeekly 2&30Apr2014
“This wins all for you Barry Nyhan.” – Those were the words that Canterbury commentator Mark McNamara said as Eva Sophnally crossed the line in first place at Addington on Friday.
Eva Sophnally is owned and bred by Val Nyhan, wife of the late Barry, who sadly passed away on Friday morning (June 13) aged 76. Eva Sophnally, who was having her first start for Greg and Nina Hope, was driven by Ricky May, who wore a black arm band in memory of Nyhan.
Barry Nyhan, son of the late legendary trainer Don Nyhan and the brother of dual New Zealand Cup winning driver Denis, was the driver of many of his father’s stars during the 60’s and 70’s. He was also the manager of Lordship’s remarkable stud career at Trents Road’s Globe Lodge.
One of Barry’s biggest driving victories came in the 1973 NZ Derby aboard a son of Lordship in Koarakau, who was trained by Don. As well as driving and training multiple winners, including some in partnership with Don, Nyhan was also renowned as one of the best chaff makers in the country.
Eva Sophnally is out of five win mare Dancing Holmes, who is out of a mare by another stallion Nyhan stood at stud in Dancing Master.
Barry was the much-loved husband of Val and the cherished father and father-in-law of Grant and Dale, Mandy and Richard, and the late Toni.
Credit: Mitchell Robertson writing in HarnessLink
Sundon, outstanding trotter and trotting sire in Australasia over the past 20 years. He won 27 of his 60 starts (T2:01.1) with 13 wins at Addington. Feature wins included Dominion Hcp, NZ Trotting Stakes 2 Rosso Antico Stakes, 3 Interdominion heats, NZ Trotting Championship, Ashburton Trotters Mile. Sundon had an unbeaten sequence of 14 wins, a then record for a pacer or trotter until beaten by Courage Under Fire and Lyell Creek (20).
He was 1988 two-year-old, 1989 three-year-old, 1991 Aged and Overall Trotter of Year.
Sundon has twice been champion NZ sire(stakes); 14 times leading NZ trotting sire(stakes/winners); 11 times leading Australian trotting sire(stakes, 10 times for winners); four times NZ & Australian leading trotting broodmare sire. He has sired four Jewels winners (10 as broodmare sire), numerous Group race winners and age group champions.
Sundon has to date sired the winners of over 2,500 races in NZ (over 700 individual winners, over 100 trotters in 2:00 or faster), 113 winners born in Australia and is broodmare sire of 300+ winners(45 in 2:00) of over 1,000 races in NZ(60 winners in Australia.
His standout trotters include Allegro Agitato, Delft, Escapee, Galleons Sunset, Houhini Star, I Didn't Do It, Ima Gold Digger, Jasmyns Gift, Kahdon, Martina H, Master Lavros, One Over Kenny, Pompallier, Springbank Richard, Sundon's Gift, Sindon's Luck, Thedonsson, Whatsundermykilt.
Credit: HARNESSED Nov 2014
PETER THE GREAT
Sire Peter The Great's impact on the American standard bred scene is only surpassed by Hambletonian 10. As a two-year-old he ran second to filly, Janie T, in the Kentucky Futurity when she set a world record. At three he won the Kentucky Futurity by twenty lengths in a race record T2:07 1/4.
His record as a sire far surpasses that of any other sire. Milestones include:-
~Leading sire of America for nine successive years.
~Daughters produced 122 Classic Winners including champion trotter of the century in Greyhound.
~Six Hambletonian winners - Greyhound, Iosolas Worthy, Lord Jim, McLin Hanover, Spencer, Yankee Maid.
~Eleven Kentucky Futurity winners.
~Standout trotting colts as in wealthiest, Peter Scott and Peter Volo, and fastest Peter Volo(T2:02 1/2)
~187 registered siring sons of whom thirteen produced in excess of one hundred Standard Performers each.
~Golden Cross with Axworthy mares.
Credit: Peter Craig writing in Harnessed Nov 2014
Champion trotter Stig has been retired for approximately the third time but this time his trainer Paul Nairn is all but certain there will be no fairytale comeback story. “He is more likely to be seen at the Ellesmere show in October competing in the hack class than back on a racetrack,” says the eleven year-old gelding’s legendary trainer, Paul Nairn.
“He has been offloading which has caused him to go in a hind suspensory,” advised Nairn. “He is still relatively sound but he would definitely need a spell and it is not easy to bring back an eleven-year-old gelding,” he added. “And I think he has earned his retirement, don’t you?”
The war horse who stole the hearts of harness racing fans across Australasia will now live out his days as a riding hack for Stacy Whatuira, who works for Nairn at his Leeston base.
When asked what Stig’s greatest attributes were, Nairn was quick to highlight his toughness and huge will to win. “When he was right he was just such a tremendous stayer,” said Nairn. “He simply had no bottom to him.”
“The race that will always stand out for me is his Dominion Handicap win in 2008. I think Darren Tyquin called the race that day and it was a tremendous call. He was last and looped the field four wide and was simply too good. For those of you who can’t remember that day, Darren Tyquin’s words were: “Super Stig. Have a look at a real champion go. He is the best trotter in New Zealand and his name is Stig!”
Sadly, just four months after this, Stig went amiss and after the gelding went sore again while being jogged up by co-owner Tim Butt, the son of Armbro Invasion was officially retired.
But, somehow, through the deeds of a champion horse and a champion trainer, Stig made it back to the races in February of 2012 to start a campaign which saw him win the Rowe Cup in December in what was one of the most emotional victories ever seen at Alexandra Park. “He was doing the dual sulkies out at Lindsay Kerslake’s place and he seemed sound so I decided to give him another go,” recalls Nairn. “I’m certainly glad I did now,” he laughed.
“His Rowe Cup win was an absolute fairytale and is definitely the race that stands out alongside his Dominion victory.If he had have had a sound career he could have been absolutely anything,” Nairn concluded.
Nairn said he would like to pay thanks to his vet Lindsay Colwell, who has been an instrumental part of the second half of Stig’s career, as well as David Butt, who did a wonderful job of driving the gelding throughout his career.
Nairn also thanked co-owner Jim Boyd, who became famous for his post-race songs, which included the hit single ‘Stigey boy’. “I think I need to thank Jim as he annoyed Tim (Butt) so much that Tim got sick of him and decided to offload him, as well as Stig, on to me,” Nairn quipped.
STIG FACT FILE:
Lifetime starts: 63 wins: 23 seconds: 12 thirds: 6
Sire: Armbro Invasion
Dam: Naraya (Gekoj)
Owners: T G Butt, Mrs Andrea Butt, J S Boyd, Mrs R I Boyd, R G Thomas, Ms J A Gordon
Group One wins: New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star heat.
Credit: Mitchell Robertson
2014 MUSCARA STANDARDBREDS NEW ZEALAND DERBY
Champion harness racing driver Dexter Dunn described Locharburn’s win in tonight’s $175,000 Muscara Standardbreds NZ Derby at Addington as ‘a team effort.’
“He may have been in Cran’s (Dalgety) colours tonight but Kevin Chapman has probably played a bigger part than anybody,” said Dunn of the gelding’s co-owner and former trainer. “Kev is away overseas at the moment on a world trip but I doubt there is a happier man on earth right now,” he added.
Dunn was in awe of the Christian Cullen three-year-old after the race and said that the giant bay simply had no right to win the Group One feature. “He was pushed off the track around the first bend and then when he finally did work up to the parked position the buggar had the audacity to over-race,” quipped Dunn. “He has done twice as much work as any other horse in the race and he has still been too good. I’ve got no doubt that he is the best three-year-old male pacer in the country,” he added.
Locharburn downed the pace-making Isaiah (Natalie Rasmussen) by ½ a head, while Sky Major finished a further two lengths away in third. Great Northern Derby winner Tiger Tara rounded out the First4. “I thought he was all done on the bend but when I asked him he kicked really hard,” advised Dunn. “I knew I had Isaiah at the 150 metres, but to his credit he came back at me late,” he added. “I think my fella might have died on his run the last 100 metres but I think he had every right to, don’t you?” he laughed.
Locharburn, who was labeled as a Derby contender by Kevin Chapman after just his third start, paced the 2600 metre journey in 3-11.0. His last 400m was recorded in a brutal 54.6.
Glenys Kennard, who is the co-owner of runner-up Isaiah, was gracious in defeat, admitting that the best horse had won the race on the night. “Locharburn was absolutely sensational and deserved to win,” said Kennard, who enjoyed success in the penultimate race with Raesawinner.
Dalgety and Dunn also enjoyed success on the undercard with Major Bubbles, Regulus, and impressive two-year-old Art Union, giving the dynamic duo four wins on the program.
By Mitchell Robertson
Credit: Mitchell Robertson writing on Harnesslink
2014 FRED SHAW MEMORIAL NEW ZEALAND TROTTING CHAMPIONSHIP
A New Zealand record run by top squaregaiter Master Lavros in the $80,000 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington on Friday, April 11, has earned him a Auckland Rowe Cup trip.
Master Lavros adds to his Group One tally, wearing down Clover Don in the $80,000 Fred Shaw Memorial NZ Trotting Championship at Addington. Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones was considering spelling the 5YO Sundon gelding but Friday’s performance has Master Lavros in the frame to attempt a Dominion-Rowe double.
“I was rapt with him. At this stage, I will head to the Rowe Cup and look at the Greenlane Cup ($30,000) the week before the Rowe ($150,000, May 9), then the paddock,” Mark said. Master Lavros was a luckless fifth as a relatively raw 4YO in last year’s Rowe Cup, won by veteran Stig from Springbank Sam and Boizel.
All honours were with Master Lavros in Friday’s Group One trot free-for-all. He trotted the mobile 2600m in 3:13.1 (1:59.4 mile rate), shaving 0.2 of a second off Ima Gold Digger’s mark set when winning the daytime 2010 NZ Trotting Free-For-All at the NZ Cup meeting.
The Kypros Kotzikas-owned squaregaiter, who lost his unruly tag for mobiles after the record-breaking win, came from last of the 10 runners, being timed over his last mile in 1:56.2. After moving up parked over the final lap, Mark was able to drop the big bay down to the markers behind strong front-runner Clover Don when trailer Royal Aspirations couldn’t hold his ground at the 700m. This was probably the winning of the race. Master Lavros was able to renew his energy for a final sprint lane crack at Clover Don inside the final 200m.
Master Lavros did the rest, showing his toughness to win going away by three-quarters of a length, with Mark allowing himself a salute in a rare show of emotion. The Overport Lodge trainer had considered missing the Trotting Championship after Master Lavros was defeated in the $25,000 Glenferrie Farm 4 & 5YO Trotters Championship a week earlier. A late decision was made to give the horse his chance, with Master Lavros showing his class, notching his fifth win from 12 starts this term and his 13th win from only 28 career starts for $268,428 in stakes.
Mark Jones racked up his 55th training win for the season in the Trotters Championship (following a Forbury double last Thursday). He is third on this season’s premiership by runaway leaders, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen (112) and second-placed Robert Dunn (75).
Credit: Jeff Scott courtesy of Mark Jones Racing
MARK PURDON - ADORE ME 2014
Adore Me's assault on the Cup was one of those long term plans which 'came together nicely'.
The talking point was when Mark hooked the mare four wide at the 600m when trailing three wide. Yes, some Cup winners have launched wide from there but not many. It seemed a big ask on a breakneck pace (last 800m 55.5)
Actually it was the winning of an exciting race. At the home turn when Franco Nelson had to wait for the lane behind Terror To Love, Adore Me was out and pumping and she just lasted from the latter in a tight finish.
Mark later rated it an obvious move. Adore Me had done little extra work in the run unlike others and he didn't want to give Terror To Love too much of a start in the run home. Maybe but it was one of those snap decisions which win Cups and also helps make them memorable.
TRIVIA FACT: Mark Purdon's Cup luck did not begin well. In his first drive behind Tax Credit in 1988 he broke at the start and finished last. When they came out and won the mobile Free-For-All at long odds, well. there have been more popular wins at Addington.
Credit: David McCarthy writing in Harnessed Oct 2016
When Barry Dent almost had youth on his side, he could well have been taken for a jockey. It may be a challenge to think of the prospect now, 50 years on, but not at the time.His father was a rider in the Hawkes Bay area and Barry has a photo of himself as a lad leading a horse around as a lad leading a horse around at a Southland Race Meeting. The horse was trained by Rex Cochrane who was the first to win 1000 races as a galloping trainer in New Zealand. "A journeyman jockey," says Barry. "Won nothing of note, as far as I call recall.
But neither the picture nor the profession did enough to push young Dent into the world of thoroughbreds. In fact, it had the opposite effect because he's lock, stock and barrel involved in harness racing and he's due next month to mark his first year at the helm of the Met and much the same time as being a Board Member of HRNZ.
It's all quite a step from Riverton, Charlie's home town, and Gore where his mother Pearl(Youngman), living a few doors from the Cochranes, and from a family that includes Ross and Robyn Jones from Kina Craig. By the time Barry was born, in the early 50s, Charlie and Pearl were back from the Bay and Charlie was into grocery shops and supermarkets. Barry's brother Graeme went into the navy, specialising in weapons, and Barry makes frequent trips to Adelaide to see him.
Barry decided on going to university, with the idea of being a teacher, but to get through he needed a job. Being a volunteer fire fighter, it seemed logical to do the work for pay. "So I started uni and stopped, and stayed in the Fire Service for 33 years, until I retired in 2004."
But the service did more than provide a career; it placed him in the company of Dunedin fire fighters Ray Hansen and Ken Campbell, both keen racing men who were soon to start a partnership with Dent, that has continued for more than thirty years. "Our best horse and one of the first, was Liberty Vogue, who won seven or eight. We bought him off Bruce Stirling as a three-year-old, but we tried a few and there were plenty of poor ones."
He recalls some huge fires, notably the Arthur Ellis mattress fire and the Edmunds Hardware Store. "It was a job where you'd go to work and never know what's going to happen next."
In 1982, Barry took promotion and moved to Christchurch where his role as a Fire Officer put him in charge of an engine and a four-man team. Later, and before he retired, he was senior station officer with responsibility of five engines and crew. "I think the grass fire at Bower Ave was one of my biggest. There were more than twenty engines, and the north westerly made it so hard to head off. But later it was mainly computer work and I hardly got on an engine, and this affected my decision to retire when I did at 50. One of the saddest events was being sent to a plane crash at Harewood knowing a small plane had disappeared in thick fog. You had a good idea what happened before you got there."
He also transferred his Forbury Park membership to the three Addington clubs and with encouragement from Bill Andrews joined the Met committee in 2004. From there he became a director in 2007, deputy chairman from 2010 to 2013, and chairman a year ago. "But the funny thing is that I never had any aspirations to be involved in administration at any level. Over time, it changed and I thought that if I can put something back into racing I will."
Being an owner is another avenue. He has an interest in Poppy Melba, Dolly McD and her progeny by American Ideal and Bettor's Delight. He has raced and sold with David Emerson, Bruce Almighty and Master Pip and has been involved with Pearl in every Met syndicate. She is also in Tas Man Bromac - there is a family connection there, with Nathan Williamson - and since she moved to Christchurch 15 years ago she has never missed a Cup.
Ten years ago, when Barry left the Fire Service, he stayed to run the superannuation side of the service, which suits him because it gives him a day a week to deal with his racing activities. And these also include his roles as President of both the Canterbury Trotting Owners Association and the Christchurch Trotting Club.
He says his Met position is a continuation of what has gone before. "Not a lot has changed. Our strategic plan and our business plans are in still in place. There are no surprises. We must drive costs down so there is a better return for owners." Barry is pleased with the income from events and buildings because the racing side of it "is just holding its own."
"How do we grow betting? Static turnover means it limits a club's ability to grow stakes. The Met has increased stakes by over $1 million in the last two years but it has been generated from other parts of our operation."
The only frustration he has is the time it is taking to amend the constitution which will allow more sophistication in a variety of ways.
Where Barry takes extra pleasure from his position is through the ability to meet with all the players - owners, sponsors, trainers and members. "it is a co-ordination role of all our functions but at another level." And while the big challenge is to increase the size of fields - "Because no-one wants to bet on small fields." He knows it is a steep challenge. "We have to concentrate on our big days, getting those fields out early to attract betting, and continue with our race series. And we would like clear skies and a good fine day for the Cup. It is our turn for it, and an easterly is not the answer."
Credit: Mike Grainger - Harnessed Oct 2014