YEAR: 2006

Before the running of the Paul Renwick Kitchen and Joinery Free-For-All at Addington on Friday night there was one question on punters lips. Would Auckland Cup winner Mi Muchacho re-live his horror Addington debut in November? The second question was simply if he doesn't handle the home turn bend, who beats the favourite home?

Punters answered the riddle correctly when their second elect Imagine That fought bravely to take out the feature event on Friday night. But the race was not without drama.

Looking slightly awkward in his gait, Mi Muchacho loomed to sit parked outside of Imagine That in the running and when racing around the home bend the favourite appeared to be stopping. He retreated to be approximately three lengths from the leader on the turn before straightening up and charging again. Pacing strongly Imagine That maintained her advantage over the opposition, holding off the fast finishing favourite by a half-head at the finish. Waipawa Lad did well to rally into third just ahead of Bailey's Dream.

Mi Muchacho had to withstand an enquiry after it appeared he had cut off Bella's Boy in the run home. The JCA later dismissed the protest and the connections were issued with a warning to improve his racing manners.

The victory was a great way for Imagine That to lead into this Saturday's $100,000 Easter Cup. She paced the 2600m mobile in 3.13.6, recording a mile rate of 1.59.8 and the final 800m and 400m in 56.8 and 28.2 respectively.

Imagine That has now tallied 15 wins from 46 career starts. She has placed on 19 occasions and has earned just over $375,000 in stakes.

Credit: Harness Racing NZ


YEAR: 2004

Turkana winning the Nevele R Fillies Final from Imagine That
Trainers Bruce Negus and Craig Parsons had their thinking caps on after Turkana ran sixth under difficulties in the NZ Oaks 10 days ago. They had a week to chew the fat over her inability to relax in the running, and what their options were for the $100,000 Nevele R Fillies' Final. Between the pair, they agreed on changing her bit and arranging for Cavalier Products to make a removeable hood that blocked out not 80% of the noise, but 100%.

The result was a sweet-moving Turkana sitting behind the pacemaker Imagine That, and making use of the passing lane to win the Group 1 mobile by two lengths. Negus said Turkana was helped by the fact Imagine That had been 'roughed up' in front by Xmas Joy, Shamrock Girl and Pascale Bromac in the middle stages, that left the favourite vulnerable near the end.

Negus said he "made an error" when he chose to use a pulling bit on the filly the week before. "I panicked a bit when I saw the draw she had in the Oaks. After that, I went back to the snaffle bit she had been in beforehand. And it was Craig's idea to put this type of hood on her. He is a quiet achiever and his input into this filly has been terrific. They have also worked well together because she was a handful at the start," he said. Negus had a moment's worry during the week when he thought her work was sluggish. "I didn't know whether she was off colour or it was just the way she was working in the hood. She felt lethargic, so in some ways I was mildly surprised with what she has done."

Turkana was bred by Graeme Iggo, and was broken in by Maree Price who is in the process of breaking in and gaitingthe 40 yearlings on the Negus' books. At the time she was educating Turkana, she also had Imagine That on the go. "She said to us, these will both be Group 1 winning fillies. We dismissed that, but she put it in writing and stuck to her guns. That is when Greg Brodie bought her, and we gave her a couple of months out just to make sure she got rid of any aches and pains," he said. "At one stage she had three starts in eight days and won then all. I have never done that to a filly before, but I knew we had to win at least three to have a chance to start in these races," he said.

A filly of good size by Christian Cullen - who also sired third placegetter Christiansheritage - Turkana is from Kisumu, who held the NZ record for a 2-year-old over 2000m when she won the Sires' Stakes Championship for fillies in 1992.

Negus has had many great horses, notably Courage Under Fire, Ginger Man, Franco Hat Trick and One Way Traffic, but Turkana is already the best filly. "Caps Off won the Oaks and she was a tradesman, but this filly will make Cup class. "I can see she has got a fifty-five half in her," he said.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 19May04

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