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Kuru again outstanding in Wellington Hurdle win 18 Jul 2019

   Another superb ride by top jumps jockey Aaron Kuru paved the way for a third Wellington Hurdle success for Hastings trainer Paul Nelson at Trentham last Saturday.

   Nelson, who is nowadays training in partnership with Corrina McDougal, had won the 3400-metre race previously with Solid Steel (2010) and The Shackler (2017) and the stable lined up the talented but inexperienced jumper No Tip in the $75,000 event.

   The seven-year-old Mettre En Jeu gelding was having his just third start as a jumper, finishing fourth in his debut at Te Aroha in September last year before a maiden hurdle victory at Trentham last month.

   Hastings-born Kuru, who has built up an outstanding record on Nelson-trained horses in recent years, has ridden No Tip in each of his two jumping wins and Saturday’s victory credited him with his second Wellington Hurdle success after he also saluted aboard The Shackler two years ago.

   Kuru is patience personified when it comes to riding over fences. He immediately dropped No Tip back to the rear in today’s race and got him to settle perfectly, while those horses up front were going reasonably hard all the way in the very testing track conditions.

   No Tip was still giving the leaders a big start entering the last 1000m but Kuru then started to improve his position, sticking to the inside and saving every inch of ground, as he stalked the leaders coming to the turn.

   Kuru hugged the inside rail with No Tip rounding the home turn and they went up to challenge race favourite Laekeeper for the lead at the second to last fence. The two horses jumped that obstacle practically on terms, but No Tip took over soon and, with another good leap at the last, he surged clear to win by 2-1/4 lengths.

   Bad Boy Brown got up to take second off Laekeeper by a long neck, with El Corby weakening a shade to finish fourth after looking likely when challenging on the home turn.

   For Nelson and McDougal, Saturday’s win win came just a fortnight after they captured both feature jumping races at the Hawke’s Bay winter meeting, with No Change in the Te Whangai Romneys Hawke’s Bay Hurdle and Perry Mason in the AHD Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase. The new partnership has now chalked up six wins since joining forces at the beginning of May.

   McDougal, who was struggling to contain her excitement as she waited for her charge to return to the Trentham birdcage, admitted she had some doubts when No Tip was so far off the lead with 1000m to run. 

   “That was amazing although I was ooh come on Aaron (during the race), but I don’t know what to say as I’m just so excited and happy,” she said. 

   “I’ve worked for Paul (Nelson) for a long time, so I think we both know the ropes, but I’m learning so much and this is just amazing.”

   The victory eased Kuru further ahead in the race for the Jumps Jockey premiership this season where he now has 15 wins, three clear of his nearest rival Shaun Fannin. 

   No Tip is owned by Nelson and his wife Carol and they bred the gelding out of the Grosvenor mare Grosveness.

   Grosveness has now ceased breeding but has been a prolific producer of winners for the Nelsons over many years. Others out of the mare include No Change (11 wins), Ho Down (eight wins), No Cash (seven wins), No Governance (three wins) and No Credit (two wins).


Ride to Time programme a hit

   Eight young riders took part in the Hastings edition of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s special Ride To Time programme last week.

   Ride to Time is a joint initiative between NZTR and the New Zealand Pony Club Association and aims to teach Pony Club riders how to ride at a given pace over a given distance, while understanding their horse’s natural pace.  It also helps young riders to judge how fast they are travelling and what is a safe and balanced speed as well as several aspects of thoroughbred racing.

   National Riding Mentor Noel Harris, along with NZTR Central region Licensing, Training & Welfare advisor Bridget Flynn, were on hand to take the young riders through their paces, with successful thoroughbred trainer Kirsty Lawrence and apprentice jockey Hunter Durrant also there to give a hand.

   “Of the eight riders we had six of them were returning riders, having attended the first session at Waipukurau so they were at the next level,” Lawrence said.

   “Noel Harris and Bridget Flynn took them and were amazing.

   “They first got to ride the mechanical horse and learn about all aspects of horses and then they had an address from Mike Newall from VetOne, who went through how heart rates are taken from horses etc.

   “They then went out onto the racecourse where they all trotted a lap on the plough to get used to the track and then they went singularly and had to do 1000 metres in 1:50. It was all about teaching them about metres to seconds.”

   Lawrence said they all got to do a second lap and were allowed to sprint up the home straight, something they obviously all enjoyed.

   “They were really nice kids and, even if they don’t go on to become jockeys, they can always become trackwork riders while they are studying for their future.” Lawrence added.

   More than 70 school-age children have enjoyed taking part in the Ride To Time programme, with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing CEO Bernard Saundry saying it has been a huge success.

   “Noel Harris, along with NZTR Licensing, Training & Welfare advisor Matthew Barnsley, attended the event at Pukekohe last week and it was so successful that a second session had to be scheduled for this Friday, which indicates the programme is filling a need.”

   The South Island has also hosted two events, at Cromwell and Wingatui, with South Island Riding Mentor David Walsh and South Island Apprentice Tutor Amy Johnson representing NZTR.

   “The feedback from the participants has been extremely enthusiastic and it is a wonderful way for our industry to give a glimpse into some of the requirements needed if considering a career in racing,” Saundry said.

   “Clubs have been embracing the concept and will be welcoming the Ride to Time attendees back on track to get a behind the scenes look at what happens on a race day.”

   While Ride to Time will help to give young riders the skills required to become a trackwork rider or a jockey in the future, it also aids them in other disciplines, such as show-jumping or eventing, when riding against the clock.

   “It has been pleasing to see how attendance at these events has grown and with a further six to be run in the next school holidays we are looking on target to have around 150 graduates of the Ride to Time programme this year.”


Te Akau stars shine in trials


   Melody Belle, the front runner for New Zealand Horse of the Year, resumed at the Te Rapa trials on Monday with a close-up third over 900m behind stablemate Ritzy Sparkle. 

   Ridden by Troy Harris, the performance pleased connections as the six-time Group 1 winner builds back to full fitness ahead of a spring campaign that will commence in the Group 2 U.S. Navy Flag Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa on August 17. 

   “She finished third under no pressure whatsoever,” managing owner, John Galvin, of Fortuna Syndications, said. 

   “Troy was just ecstatic with her effort. This trial is a lead-up to a second trial which will happen here in two weeks’ time. She'll be put under a bit more pressure at that time. 

   “Troy said she's much stronger than she was last year and that's what she's telling us at the stable as well, with her physical presence and the way she eats and the way she works. She's certainly developed into a lovely strong race mare.” 

   Melody Belle won last year’s Foxbridge Plate before going on to win both the Group 1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) and Group 1 Windsor Park Plate (1600m) at the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival as part of a season that netted five Group 1 victories. 

   The rising five-year-old, who is part-owned by Waipukurau couple Trevor and Debbie Walters, will embark on the same campaign in the forthcoming season, taking in the first two Group 1 legs at the Bostock Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival, but will also have the third leg of the Hawke’s Bay triple crown, the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m), on the agenda. 

   “Our planning at this stage goes as far as the first Saturday in October, which is the Livamol,” Galvin said. 

   “She will tell us what she wants to do after the Livamol and whether an Australian campaign this spring is on the cards.” 

   Meanwhile, boom stablemate Te Akau Shark sent an ominous warning to his spring rivals when closing from the rear to win his heat, also over 900m, in the hands of Michael McNab. 

   A clash with Melody Belle in the Foxbridge Plate fresh-up is likely for the Rip Van Winkle gelding who has been beaten only once in six starts. 

   “We’re very happy with him,” stable representative Mason Stevens said. 

   “He wasn't asked to do a lot in the wet conditions and he got back and got to the outside and worked home nicely. 

   “Michael McNab’s feedback was very positive. 

   “He's come back bigger, stronger and mentally he's more mature this season as well. 

   “We’ll see how he pulls up and he'll trial one more time and then head to the Foxbridge.” 



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   Estefania, who could start at either Otaki or Rotorua next week, worked well on her own in a quiet session at the Hastings track this morning.

   Fast work was confined to the plough which provided firm footing. A penetrometer reading was taken on the course proper during the session and came up as a slow-7.

   Estefania worked easily over around and was timed to run the last 1000m in 1:8.5, the final 600 in 40.3. The Darci Brahma mare has recorded a second and a fourth from her last two starts and sees to cope well with heavy track conditions.

   Trainer Richard McKenzie said he will either enter her for a Rating 65 race over 1600m at Otaki on July 27 or a Rating 72 race over 1560m at Rotorua the following day.

   Penny Royal recorded the quickest time of the morning when she ran 800m in52.6, the last 600 in 38.9. She is in the early stages of a fresh campaign, after being placed over 1400m at Gisborne earlier this year and will have a jumpout at Hastings this Friday.

   Rekohu Diva was kept to just three-quarter pace over 600m in 45 while War Of Words did similar work and recorded 45.2 for the last 600.

   Sigourney Heights and an Ocean Park-Janspur two-year-old gelding, both in the Lee Somervell stable, were only allowed to stride out over the last 400m when running 600m in 44.5.

   A Tartan Bearer three-year-old and a Howbadduwantit four-year-old ran an easy 600m together in 45.3.


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Mudlark Louboutin scores again at Wanganui 11 Jul 2019

Hastings-trained Louboutin showed she has a penchant for extremely heavy track conditions when recording back-to-back wins at Wanganui on Thursday of last week.

   The Jimmy Choux three-year-old cleared maiden ranks with a 14 length victory over 1600m on a heavy-11 track at Wanganui on June 13 and was almost as dominant, on similar footing, when stepping up to Rating 65 grade over 1350m there last week.

   This season’s leading jockey Lisa Allpress has been aboard Louboutin in both wins and adopted similar tactics each time. She let the filly settle down towards the tail of the field in the early stages of last week’s race before starting a forward move around the field from about the 1000m peg.

   Louboutin ranged up to the leaders, very wide out, rounding the home turn and Allpress kept her to the outside of the track in the home straight as she forged clear of the opposition to win by 5-1/4 lengths.

   Sophia Magia was the best of those who chased Louboutin in vain, finishing 4 lengths in front of third placed Destiny One who was a further 3-1/2 lengths clear of the rest.

   Louboutin is trained at Hastings by John Bary and has now had 11 starts for two wins, two seconds and two thirds. She is owned by prominent thoroughbred owner-breeder Kevin Hickman and was a $50,000 purchase from the premier session of the 2017 Karaka yearling sales.

   She is certainly bred to be good as her dam is the Pentire mare Say No More, whose six wins included two at Group 1 level, the Thorndon Mile at Trentham and New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha.

   Louboutin’s win took trainer John Bary’s tally of wins for the season to 25 and he is once again locked in battle with the partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen for the title of leading Hawke’s Bay trainer.

   The Lowry/Cullen stable has also produced 25 wins, with their last success being when Shez Ekstra won a Rating 65 race over 2040m at Wanganui on June 1.

   Bary has been the top Hawke’s Bay trainer for the past two seasons, posting 18 wins in 2016-17 and 17 wins last season. But the Lowry/Cullen stable beat him by one win when they chalked up 15 wins in 2015-16.

   There is just two and a half weeks of the season remaining, with the last meeting being at Tauranga on July 31.


HB Racing employee wins award

   Matthew Halford, a valued employee at the Hastings racecourse when he is not attending Napier Boys’ High School, was part of a winning two-member team that has won the national secondary school Young Farmer Of The Year title.

   Halford, 17, and close friend Finn Beamish, was presented with the prize last Friday and went one better than last year when the combination finished runner-up in the same competition.

   Halford, a son of Hawke’s Bay rugby representative Simon Halford, has been a school holiday employee at Hawke’s Bay Racing for the past two and a half years, mainly helping out with racecourse and track maintenance.

   This is his last year at school and he has ambitions of either going to Lincoln or Canterbury University next year to study for a degree in Ag Commerce.

   In the meantime, Halford is likely to take up a position later this year to help with the yearling preparations at Waikato Stud, working on horses being readied for the annual Karaka yearling sales in January.

   “I’ve been offered a job there and I’m pretty keen to go for it,” Halford said.


Strong Trentham attack by HB stable

   The Hastings stable of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal will be lining up a strong team at tomorrow’s Wellington meeting at Trentham.

   Heading the attack will be Perry Mason, who will be looking to score back-to-back wins in the $75,000 Grant Plumbing Wellington Steeplechase (5500m) after an impressive last start victory in the AHD Hawke’s Bay Steeples (4800m) at Hastings a fortnight ago. He will be joined by stablemate Zardetto in tomorrow’s feature.

   The Nelson/McDougal stable will also saddle up No Tip for the $75,000 Anuka Smoker Wellington Hurdle (3400m) and he looks a definite lightweight chance after winning a maiden hurdle in good style at Trentham two starts back.

   Look Out is a promising winter flat performer who will be looking to complete a hat-trick of wins when he contests the $40,000 Parliamentary Handicap while the former northern-trained No Need will be having his fist start for the stable in the maiden hurdle.


Hastings races next Thursday

   Hawke’s Bay Racing will stage it’s final race day of the season at the Hastings track next Thursday.

   It is the annual “Stockies Day” race meeting, which is always well supported by stock agents from both Hawke’s Bay and surrounding areas.

   There will be a nine race programme, with the first timed for 11.52am and the last at 4.22pm and the gates will be open from 11am.

  There will be free admission and free access to the Members Stand.


Aussie targets for Avantage

   Trainer Jamie Richards is pleased with the way Avantage, part-owned by Waipukurau’s Michael Ormsby, has returned after her spell at Te Akau Stud and is excited about her prospects for the spring.

   “She’s coming up really well,” Richards said. “She spelled well at Te Akau Stud after Sydney. She is not quite as forward as Melody Belle and Te Akau Shark, but she will trial at the end of July. She will have a couple of trials and then we will work it out from there.

   “Whether she has a run in New Zealand as a lead-in to going to Melbourne or Sydney, we’ll just see how she trials.”

   Richards admitted the $7.5 million prize-money on offer for the inaugural Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on November 2 is a big incentive to head to Sydney.

  “There are a lot of nice fillies and mares races for her in Melbourne and there is also a very big carrot in Sydney now with the Golden Eagle,” he added.

   “I certainly believe she can be competitive in whatever she steps out in.”


Helena Baby headed to Hong Kong

  Helena Baby, the latest winter star on the New Zealand racing scene, is expected to have just one more race in this country before continuing his career in Hong Kong.

  The Guillotine four-year-old completed four straight wins when taking out a $30,000 Rating 82 race over 1400m at Te Rapa last Saturday and has not finished further back than second from six starts.

   “This is a group one horse, I have no doubts about that," says his Cambridge trainer John Bell. "But we won't get to see that here.”

   “He’ll go to the Opunake Cup now but then he has to go to Hong Kong unfortunately.

   "His owner wants him up there to replace another horse and, while I would love to keep him here, it is hard to argue with his logic.”

   The Listed $65,000 Opunake Cup (1400m) is run at New Plymouth on July 20 and is a handicap event so Helena Baby should get into that race on a reasonably light weight.

   Helena Baby was bought out of the paddock from Windsor Park Stud and is owned by two Hong Kong-based men, C Y Lee and Tang Hoi Lun. He only started racing, as a four-year-old, in March this year.

   “He’s needed time and if you give them time, they will reward you,” Bell added.

   After recording consecutive second placings over 1200m at Matamata in his first two starts he broke through for a maiden victory over 1400m at Rotorua in April. He then won again over 1400m at Rotorua in May before taking out a Rating 72 race over 1400m at Ellerslie last month.


Australian campaign for Volpe Veloce

   A potential spring campaign in Sydney awaits class mare Volpe Veloce as she eases her way back to racing trim for the new season.

   The 2018 Group 1 Sistema Railway (1200m) winner is currently in pre-training before returning to the stable of Matamata trainer Graham Richardson for her six-year-old season.

   Richardson, who is back to training on his own after his partnership with former Hawke’s Bay Racing employee Gavin Parker ended on amicable terms, is looking forward to having his star back in the fold as he prepares a mainly young team for 2019/20.

   “Volpe Veloce is doing well in pre-training and I’m expecting she will be back with me in a fortnight or so,” Richardson said.

   “We are currently looking at the options we have for her and at present we are leaning to taking her to Sydney for the spring.

   “There are so many options available for her over there, particularly in fillies and mares races, that I think that is where she will be best placed.”

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