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LAZARUS - 2016 NZ CUP WINNER
For almost a decade popular owners Phil and Glenys Kennard have been riding the crest of a hugely successful harness racing wave. But last month they reached their ultimate goal when they owned their first New Zealand Trotting Cup winner in Lazarus. Matt Markham talked to Phil about the successful day in which they also won the Sires' Stakes final and what the game is all about to himself and his wife.
Experience, as it is with anything, is a key factor in any success. To achieve something, you are supposed to first failed at it a number of times. And just when you think you might have failed enough, you should expect to fail a couple more times before reaching the mountain-top. Just ask Phil and Glenys Kennard. They know what it's all about. And only now can they officially talk of what it feels like to overcome all that adversity and get all that luck required to win on the biggest of all the stages.
Their New Zealand Trotting Cup history leading into 2016 was, at best, frustrating - while at the same time it was also exhilarating. They felt well versed in how the biggest harness racing event Down Under can play out. They'd been around the block a few times. Highview Tommy had placed on three occasions. Fly Like An Eagle went awfully close to downing Terror To Love and Smolda produced a herculean effort when the chips were down last year to get within a whisker of Arden Rooney. Plus a host of others too. "Obviously we consider it a great thrill each time we have a horse in the race," Phil said. "But we'd gone close so many times that there was a pretty strong desire to get the monkey off the back and finally taste success in the race."
Enter Lazarus. Mighty by name, even mightier by nature. His first appearance in the lives of the Kennards was somewhat unspectacular. The Bettor's Delight colt out of Bethany had been paraded in front of them prior to the annual Yearling Sales and while he liked what he saw, Kennard wasn't super excited, initially. It was Glenys who fell in love with him first, she had a lot of ticks next to his name in the book," Phil said. "I thought he was a nice individual but it wasn't until I saw him again in the parade ring on Sale Day that I really got interested in him. He had come a long way from when we first saw him. We had settled on our budget for him but ended up going $25,000 more to get him we were that impressed. I always give Trevor Casey a bit of stick about something he said to me after we bought him, he said it was a big call to go as much as we did but then straight after the Cup win, Trevor said to me that it might be the best $25,000 I have ever spent and it's pretty hard to disagree with him."
The Kennard approach to buying horses at the sale has been quite simple. There is nothing special they try and spot in a horse but they are careful of letting the emotions get in the way of a sale. with a firm budget in mind, they try and stick to what they have set out but in the odd case, where they feel it is warranted - a little deeper into the pocket they shall go - case in point Lazarus. "I love the thrill of it all, from when the book first arrives to those first inspections, it's a great thing to be part of. Obviously we rely a lot on Mark and Natalie's judgement and there are a lot of discussions that take place about a horse before we even think about buying it."
"One thing we do try and be really careful about is not getting caught up on breeding. I see it as a big advantage of ours because we will not become engrossed in a family of a horse that we might have had a half-brother or sister to. We have been very lucky in the past few years with what we have purchased and we know that, so never take it for granted."
Buying and racing horses wasn't the early Kennard way though. Initially, they were largely breeders. With a band of just over half a dozen broodmares they were involved, without being heavily invested. The time wasn't there for a serious involvement with Phillip fully entrenched in a successful real estate business and Glenys handling three children - two big roles at completely different ends of the life spectrum.
But there came a time, like there does in most people's lives, where the Kennards decided they wanted more. They had been buying a horse or two at the sales each year and then selling them on. "I remember one morning we were talking and I said that this was bloody ridiculous and within probably 8-12 weeks we had sold all the broodmares."
"At that point in time we were mainly working alongside Michael House, who we got to know through Studholme Park and Brian West, we had got into a couple of the Yonkers Investments and had a bit of fun but we wanted more. We were also getting quite heavily involved in the family of Armalight at the time too and selling up those mares was probably a great decision because other than Barney Rubble who is doing a good job in Australia, the family hasn't been a great success."
It was House who first pointed the Kennards in the direction of Mark Purdon at the Sales one year and that fateful meeting has paved the way for an incredible decade of success, with good horse after good horse littering the pages in between. Despite becoming a firm part of the All Stars furniture, the Kennards have remained good friends with House and enjoyed being able to celebrate Smolda's Grand Curcuit victory in Australia with House who was in attendance.
"Michael is a great guy and I'm pleased to say we still have a great relationship with him and own a horse or two in his stable too." Moonrock, who was one of the three horses the Kennards owned a share of in the Cup this year is with House while they also support young trainer Brad Mowbray when they can with a horse of two as well.
A crowning glory of the Kennards success has been the establishment of their syndicates after purchasing horses at the sales. Incredibly hard to get into due to the success of each one, they are meticulously managed by Glenys who handles all the bookwork - which is made slightly easier by the fact there is generally a success or two every month when it comes time to pay the monthly bills. The groups have been littered with some of racing's most prominent names. Kevin Riseley and Trevor Casey, who of course share in the ownership of Lazarus are there as well as names like Neil Pilcher, Marcus Kirkwood, Phil and Margaret Creighton, Gavin Douglas and a whole heap more. "That all sort of started with Fiery Falcon and then went into Major Mark so we hit the ground running with a bit of success early on there and it thjen led into the likes of Fly Like An Eagle and most recently Ultimate Machete. Kennard said it was as much about the camaraderie as it was the racing side of the business and they had made many lifetime friends from their involvement with horses over the years.
When they re-evaluated where they were heading over a decade ago, there was a firm decision in the type of horse they could buy. Phil had a strict policy of no fillies and trotters were out of the question too. A friendship that has grown with Ken and Karen Breckon has led to that being slightly broken as they are involved in the ownership of brilliant trotting mare High Gait and have also had shares in the talented Prince Fearless who is expected back to the track at some point in the near future.
With more than 30 Group Ones next to their names already, there isn't a lot more left for Phil and Glenys Kennard to achieve. But don't expect that to stop them. They will be at Karaka and then Christchurch early next year with the catalogue in hand looking to find another star and that process is starting to kick into gear already.
"We flew to Australia to attend our first grandchild's first birthday after Cup Week and our flight home was delayed. And as we were sitting in the Airport we were talking about the fact that the catalogue must arrive soon, so it is nearly time to do it all again but that is exciting. I have always said that I stopped paying school fees so I could pay training fees and I don't really feel like stopping anytime soon."
Kennard said that they were lucky their three daughters Amanda, Philippa and Hayley were understanding of their passion for the game and also added that while they were interested, visits to spend time with them were a welcome escape from the demands of harness racing.
"Philippa, who lives in Christchurch, often jokes that she is an orphan because we always seem to be away watching a horse race somewhere. But we are trying to make the most of what we have got while we can, because you can't expect to stay around for ever. We do love getting out and about and watching the horses, wherever they might be racing, Glenys particularly enjoys it. I have always joked that if we had a horse racing somewhere and there was only one seat left on the plane to get there it would be her that would take it."
Hopefully, with that comment in mind, flights will be booked well in advance for the next few months for the pair as they look set to have a few big months with horses racing all around Australasia.
First though, there is a trip to Perth to take in the Inter Dominion action and cheer on their old favourite Smolda, who is over there flying the flag. "I am a bit of a traditionalist and love the three heats then the final format of the Inter Dominions so it is going to be great to get over there and take all that in. We got a real buzz out of the Grand Circuit racing and are looking forward to enjoying a bit more of it over the next few months with the likes of Smolda and Lazarus."
And with a horse like Lazarus in their corner, the Kennards along with their co-owners look set to be in for one most enjoyable ride.
Credit: Matt Markham writing in Harnessed Dec 2016
2015 NEW ZEALAND OAKS
Natalie Rasmussen take a bow. Three horrible barrier draws in three major races. It's not the most appealing of prospects for a driver when they are heading into a big night of racing. Yet, although she was initially concerned with what looked on paper to be horrid luck, Rasmussen remained unmoved and went about the challenge as though it was a normal night at the races.
"When the barrier draws came out I thought I would be stretching it to win one race," Rasmussen laughed. "Racing can be funny sometimes things have worked out really well for me all night."
Rasmussen's night began with a training victory alongside her partner Mark Purdon when Northern Velocity won the Sales Series Final. She then picked up her first success on two-year-old trotter High Gait. Hampered at the start after beginning from one on the second row the unbeaten filly then looked a forlorn hope at the top of the straight before unleashing a devastating final sprint to run past all in front of her. "She probably didn't have any right to win that from where we were. But that's the thing with her she just goes out and gives her best, she's such a game wee girl."
Arguably Rasmussen saved her best driving effort for the night's biggest assignment, the New Zealand Oaks. Her drive on Fight For Glory, who is owned by Diane Cournane, Dean Illingworth, Anne Gibbs, Mrs L Tucker and Gary and John Tate was inch-perfect. Yes, she managed to get around at the slowest part of the race after getting off the fence from her one on the second line barrier draw, but her timing and decision making was superb and when she cut Fight For Glory loose at the 400 metre mark she put the race beyond doubt. "I couldn't really see where anyone was, but I knew that The Orange Agent would be tracking into the race so I decided to go for broke."
Credit: Matt Markham writing in Harnessed June 2015
2015 NZ SIRES'S STAKES 2YO FINAL (Gr1)
On a night where they dominated yet another premier meeting, the All Stars saved their best for last with a stable trifecta in the $156,000 Sires' Stakes Final for the two-year-old male pacers.
The field was led home by Rasmussen and Chase The Dream who overcame a second line barrier draw and a tough run to win with a bit of authority. Motu Premier continued his consistent run of form with another second, while Lazarus boomed home from nowhere to finish third after getting shuffled back to near last.
Credit: Matt Markham writing in Harnessed June 2015
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
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
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 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