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Hawkes Bay Racing Column 27 Mar 2020

Bargain buy brings pair a kiss of fortune

(By John Jenkins)

   Thousandkissesdeep repaid the faith trainer Lee Somervell and owner Gary Hyde have had in her when she broke through for a dominant maiden win at Tauherenikau last Sunday.

   The three-year-old Sepoy filly scored a 1-1/2 length victory over 1000m and was at the surprisingly good odds of 28 to one.

   Thousandkissesdeep was having her ninth start but only her second since joining Somervell’s Hastings stable at the beginning of this year. She was originally prepared by Pukekohe trainer Nigel Tiley, who went to $55,000 to buy the filly at the 2018 Karaka yearling sales, on behalf of a syndicate.

   “It was a high-profile syndicate that bought her and their big ambition was to get her into the Magic Million Two-year-old race at Ellerslie,” Somervell recalled this week.

   “But, after she didn’t qualify for that race, and was still a maiden after another 12 months, the majority of the syndicate wanted to pull out and so the filly was offered for sale on Gavelhouse.”

   Wellington taxi-driver Gary Hyde, a close friend of Somervell, managed to buy the filly for only $900 and arranged to have her sent to his Hastings stable.

   “When she arrived she was really poor in condition but after I gave her a worm drench and had her teeth done she started to quickly pick up and I’ve had her for three months now and she has absolutely thrived,” Somervell added.

   Thousandkissesdeep only managed to beat one home in her first run for Somervell, in a 1200m maiden at Awapuni on February 28, but nothing went right for her that day. She was severely hampered soon after the start which put her back to a clear last and never had time to recover.

   The filly suggested she was ready to turn that form around when recording one of the fastest gallops in training at the Hastings track on Tuesday of last week and Somervell decided to also add blinkers to her gear for last Sunday’s Tauherenikau race.

   He engaged senior jockey Leah Hemi for the ride who managed to get the horse away well from the barrier and had her up outside the leader, Runthiefrun, until the home turn. She went to the front early in the home straight and raced clear in the final stages.

   It was Hyde’s first win as an owner and Somervell said his good mate was rapt with the result, especially as he had a sizeable bet at the odds of $28.80 for a win and $3.80 for a place.

   “She is a filly with a very good pedigree and so we knew she had something there and, after her great track gallop last week, I was confident she would go a good race,” Somervell said.

   Thousandkissesdeep is an Australian-bred, by Sepoy out of the More Than Ready mare Cast Your Vote and was bred by prominent Australasian thoroughbred owner-breeder Gerry Harvey. She gets her name from a song produced by the late Leonard Cohen.

   Last Sunday’s win came as a welcome change of luck for Somervell. It was his fourth win for the season but his first for several weeks and he is now down to only eight horses in work after the owners of two of his better performed ones, Stradivarius and Yossarian, decided to lease them out and they have gone to other trainers.

 Hastings trainer Lee Somervell looks happy with himself as he leads Thousandkissesdeep away following the filly’s dominant maiden win at Tauherenikau last Sunday


Brothers are on a winning roll

   After a long absence of success as racehorse owners, Waipukurau brothers Bill and Murray Rose have now celebrated three wins in three weeks.

   When Happy Tav took out a Rating 65 race over 1400m at Tauherenikau last Sunday it was her second win in a row, following a similar performance at Awapuni on February 28.

   And between those two wins, the familiar Rose family colours were also carried to victory by Sola Power in a 1400m maiden race at Woodville on March 15.

   The Rose brothers have bred and raced thoroughbreds for over 30 years and have had some very good performers in that time, including Black Ace, Rough Planet and Kiora Star.

   Black Ace won 18 races, 12 of them on the flat, three over hurdles and three over steeples. Rough Planet won 12 times and was also a very versatile performer, with four of his wins being over steeples and three in hurdle events. Kiora Star won eight races on the flat and, in his last start, he finished second behind Vegas in the 1998 Group 1 Telegraph Handicap (1200m) at Trentham.

   Happy Tav and Sola Power are both out of A’Guin Ace, an O’Reilly mare that the Rose brothers are still breeding from.

   “We’ve got a two-year-old filly by Burgundy out of the mare which is also due to start racing soon and we’ve got a weanling colt by Telperion,” Bill Rose said this week.

   “The mare didn’t get in foal last year, so she is empty at the moment.”

   The Rose brothers have built up a close association with Palmerston North trainer Kevin Gray, who prepares both Happy Tav and Sola Power and looks after their other horses on his property.

   Apprentice jockey Temyia Taiaroa, a recent addition to the Gray stable, had the mount on Happy Tav at Tauherenikau last Sunday and her 3kg allowance proved a telling factor in the finish.

   The key to Happy Tav’s recent success is that she has been ridden on the speed and Taiaroa bounced the Tavistock mare out quickly from the barrier before settling her third, behind the two leaders.

   She improved the mare up to second just before the home turn and then challenged the leader Platinum Wild Card early in the home straight. They were joined by Princess Ani and the three horses fought it out to the line, with Happy Tav putting in a lunge right on the line to win by a nose from Platinum Wild Card, with Princess Ani only a long head back in third.

Happy Tav (centre) gets in the deciding stride right on the line to beat Platinum Wild Card (inside) by a nose, with Princess Ani only a long head away in third in the Rating 65 race over 1400m at Tauherenikau last Sunday.


Aussie guineas win for HB-bred

   Chuck A Luck, bred and part-owned by a Waipukurau syndicate, recorded a notable victory in last Saturday’s $A135,000 Mornington Guineas in Australia.

   The Niagara three-year-old, prepared by the former New Zealand-based partnership of Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young, managed to get in the deciding stride over Power Scheme in a close two-horse finish to the 1600m feature.

   It was the gelding’s second Australian start and followed a good third over 1400m at Sandown on February 19.

   Before heading across the Tasman, Chuck A Luck had eight New Zealand starts from the Riccarton stable of Michael and Matthew Pitman for a win, two seconds and a third. He took out a 1400m maiden at Riccarton in October last year and followed that up with a second behind subsequent New Zealand Derby winner Sherwood Forest in the Group 3 $80,000 War Decree Stakes (1600m) on the same track.

   He then contested the Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) at Riccarton in November where he only finished sixth but had his chances extinguished when he suffered a severe check soon after the start.

   Chuck A Luck is now raced by a large group of people including the Waipukurau-based Chuck A Luck Syndicate, whose members are Ali Baldwin, Paul Beachen, Phil King, David Giblin, Bruce Hooper-Smith and Chris and Rae Walker.

   Most of the Chuck A Luck syndicate also share in the ownership of Thunder Bay, a four-year-old full-sister to Chuck A Luck who has recorded two wins and three seconds from 15 New Zealand starts.

  That mare is now in the care of Matamata trainers Katrina and Simon Alexander but is presently spelling after undergoing a knee operation. It is hoped that she will be campaigned again in the spring.

   Chuck A Luck and Thunder Bay are both out of the Catbird mare Boomchuckalucka, who only raced eight times for a win, a second and two thirds.


Stables allowed to stay open

   In light of the government’s announcement to move the country into COVID-19 alert level 4 from midnight on Wednesday only “essential services” are permitted to operate.

   Advice from the Ministry for Primary Industries confirms that training centres, training stables, agistment properties and stud farms where horses are in containment are businesses that may register as an essential service under animal welfare considerations.

   Businesses with more than five people (including the owner) working at each business site, or who cannot achieve social distancing between staff, are required to register. 

   The businesses will need to answer 11 questions to provide assurance they have a plan and process to manage infection risks.  Much of this will be covered in the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing protocols. 

   In addition to this NZTR, the NZ Trainers’ Association and the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association will be providing a template to assist with completing the paperwork. 

   MPI has requested that all businesses which need to register do so by 5pm today, Friday March 27.  Businesses will be able to continue operating while going through the registration process.


Sydney campaigns scrapped

   The New Zealand government’s recent announcements regarding further travel restrictions and New Zealand border closures due to COVID-19 has resulted in the suspension of all international equine flights until further notice.

   The decision made by airlines to cease the uplift of cabin occupants means that professional grooms are no longer able to safely accompany the shipment of horses travelling overseas. 

   Among those hoping to travel across the Tasman to contest feature races in Sydney were quality fillies Jennifer Eccles and Two Illicit in addition to the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman-trained True Enough, a weight-for-age Group 1 winner over 2000m. 

   The restrictions are currently in place for the four-week period that mirrors New Zealand’s lockdown. 


Covid-19 Industry Update 24 Mar 2020

cing industry media release

23 March 2020
The announcement that New Zealand would move to level 4 of the COVID-19 alert system in 48 hours means that all racing will cease for the next four weeks from Tuesday 24 March.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing New Zealand, Greyhound Racing New Zealand and the TAB, have met to discuss what steps the industry needs to take to protect the livelihoods of its participants.
While the country will effectively be in lockdown, the welfare of our animals remains as an essential service during this time. 
Horses and dogs will still need to be fed, exercised and cared for during this time.  People caring for our animals will need to look at stringent procedures around staffing levels and any contact between staff members.  The codes will be addressing this in more detail tomorrow.  
We recognise that these are challenging times for everyone within our industry and we will be working closely with those impacted to help them through the coming weeks.
As has been announced the government is providing financial assistance for those impacted and the codes will provide guidance for those wanting help as to how they go about seeking that assistance.
While the country is presently at level 3 alert moving to level 4 on Wednesday will involve the following:
  • People instructed to stay at home
  • Educational facilities closed
  • Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities.
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
  • Travel severely limited
  • Major reprioritisation of healthcare services.
The codes will issue regular updates to their participants as this situation evolves.


Hawkes Bay Racing Column 20 Mar 2020

Group 1 event now for Wicket Maiden

(By John Jenkins)

   Hastings-trained Wicket Maiden earned a start in the Group 1 $225,000 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni tomorrow week with a decisive win in a $30,000 two-year-old race at Trentham last Saturday.

   The Power filly, prepared by John Bary, scored by 1-1/2 lengths over 1200m and will now take on the cream of New Zealand’s youngsters over 1400m.

   Bary has already achieved success in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes, which is one of only two Group 1 races for two-year-olds in the country. He saddled up the ill-fated Recite to take out the feature in 2013.

   Wicket Maiden chalked up her second win from only three starts last Saturday and both have been on the Trentham track. She won her debut over 1000m there in January before finishing sixth in the Group 2 Matamata Breeders’ Stakes (1200m) last month.

   Nothing went right for the filly at Matamata. She missed the start slightly and then got caught three-wide and wasn’t that happy in the slow track conditions.

   Everything worked out perfectly for her at Trentham last Saturday, although she did tend to want to over-race in the early stages. Jockey Johnathan Parkes managed to get her in a trailing position from the number one barrier and got a charmed rails run when Boomer Hill, on her outside, made the junction awkwardly and carried most of the field out wide.

   Wicket Maiden accelerated through on the inside to put a break on the field and maintained a strong gallop to the line to easily beat Amosia and Sacred Command.

   Bary said he initially thought about sending Wicket Maiden straight into the Manawatu Sires’ Produce after her Matamata run but said she did so well after that run that he needed to give her another race.

   “John said, if she finished in the first three at Trentham, she would go on to the Sires’ Produce and to win like she did she would have to have a crack at it now,” Bary’s racing manager Mike Sanders said this week.

   Bary’s problem now is to find a suitable rider for the filly. She will carry just 54.5kg at Awapuni, a weight that is normally too light for the very tall Johnathan Parkes.

   “I have given him (Parkes) the first option but if he can’t make the weight I’ll have to find someone else,” Bary said this week.

   Wicket Maiden is bred to be good, being out of the Fast ‘N’ Famous mare Scarlet O’Hara, who was the winner of six races and is a daughter of the three-race winning mare Southern Belle.

   Wicket Maiden was bred by Havelock North property developer Jonathan Wallace, who races the filly in partnership with Palmerston North’s Gerard Gillespie.

   The two certainly had a weekend to remember as they also won a race at Woodville the following day with a three-year-old older half-brother to Wicket Maiden called Second Slip.

   The Alamosa gelding scored a short head victory in a Rating 65 race over 1200m, his second win from 12 starts.

   Second Slip is trained at Palmerston North by Kevin Gray and, coincidentally, was also ridden to victory by Johnathan Parkes.

   Trainer John Bary had a mixed day at Trentham last Saturday. He picked up a win with Wicket Maiden but had no luck with the other three horses he took there in Heart Of Stone, Callsign Mav and On Show.

   Heart Of Stone was a late scratching from the Listed Lightning Stakes (1200m) after becoming caught up in the barrier before the start. The four-year-old mare suffered swelling in the stifle area and lacerations to her hindquarters and has now been turned out for a spell.

   Callsign Mav has also been turned out for a winter spell after finishing fifth in the Group 2 Wellington Guineas (1400m). He trailed the leader until the home turn but then received a lot of buffeting from other horses in the home straight.

   On Show finished fifth in a Rating 65 race over 1400m, with Bary saying she raced a bit handier than was intended and probably found 1400m on the big Trentham track a bit too testing.

   He said she will be brought back to 1200m for her next start, which is likely to be in a three-year-old race at Awapuni tomorrow week.

Hastings trainer John Bary gives Wicket Maiden an affectionate pat on the head following her decisive win in a two-year-old race over 1200m at Trentham last Saturday. The Power filly will now contest the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni tomorrow week.


Bassett chalks up her fifth win

   Hastings apprentice Jordan Bassett brought up the fifth win of her career when steering Magic Incanto to an easy win in a Rating 72 race over 1400m at Woodville last Sunday.

   Bassett, 29, was chalking up first win for the season but has not had many opportunities with it being only her 24th race-ride since August and only her 91st since she started out five years ago.

   A regular at Hastings trackwork sessions, Bassett spent a good part of last year sidelined with a foot injury that required an operation.

   Originally attached to the stable of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen, she is now apprenticed to her partner Richard McKenzie.

   Magic Incanto is trained on the Hastings track by Fred Pratt and was recording her third win from 21 starts for her owners, a group of butchers’ wives from the central districts area.

   The Per Incanto mare missed the start by a couple of lengths at Woodville and was last on settling down. However, she quickly raced around the field to take a clear lead starting the last 1000m.

   Bassett then managed to give the mare a breather before kicking her clear again rounding the home turn.

   Magic Incanto quickly established a winning break, with Bassett taking a quick look behind early in the home straight to see how far behind the opposition was.

   At the line they were 3 lengths clear of second placed Master Pet, with La Bella Rosa a long neck back in third.

Jordan Bassett has a beaming smile as she brings Magic Incanto back to the winner’s stall following the mare’s easy victory at Woodville last Sunday. It was Bassett’s fifth riding success.


Another success for brothers

  Waipukurau brothers Bill and Murray Rose picked up their second win in the space of a fortnight when Sola Power led all the way to score in a maiden 1400m race at Woodville last Sunday.

   The pair broke a long drought from the winner’s circle when Happy Tav took out a Rating 65 race over 1400m at Awapuni on February 28 and Sola Power is that horse’s year younger half-brother. Both horses are prepared by Palmerston North trainer Kevin Gray.

   Sola Power only had three rivals at Woodville last Sunday and rider Lisa Allpress bounced the three-year-old Power gelding straight to the front.

   Allpress then dictated a leisurely pace before quickening coming to the home turn and Sola Power clearly had his rivals under pressure when he straightened up for the run to the line. He kept up a strong gallop to score by 3-1/4 lengths.

   Bill and Murray Rose bred both Sola Power and Happy Tav out of the O’Reilly mare A’Guin Ace.

Sola Power and jockey Lisa Allpress cross the finish line well clear of the opposition at the end of a maiden 1400m race at Woodville last Sunday. The Power gelding is owned by his Waipukurau breeders Bill and Murray Rose.


Jennifer Eccles was amazing

   Jennifer Eccles achieved Group 1 status and cemented her position as the New Zealand Bloodstock Three-year-old Filly of the Year with another amazing winning performance in last Saturday’s $400,000 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham.

   Aided by a masterful ride from Jason Waddell, the daughter of Rip Van Winkle cruised to a 1-1/2 length victory in the 2400m feature to bring up her fourth success from 12 starts and take her stake earnings to just short of $500,000.

   It is a huge return from a filly that cost bloodstock agent Adrian Clark only $5000 as a weanling at a 2017 Karaka mixed bloodstock sale.

   Clark then set up the Challenge No. 10 Syndicate that now owns the filly with four of the members being Napier couple Brian and Lorraine Henneker and Taupo-based Allan and Judy Payne. 

   Jennifer Eccles drew the extreme outside in the 18-horse field last Saturday, but Waddell was able to get her across to be one off the fence with a round to go and then onto the rails soon after.

   From there he was able to give the filly an economical run and, but for a scare just before the home turn, they always had the race in control.

   Waddell later blamed himself for a mistake, that could have had disastrous consequences, when he tried to get off the fence coming to the home turn. Jennifer Eccles clipped a heel of a horse in front and dipped badly, with Waddell fortunate to stay in the saddle.

   After such a blunder a horse usually loses valuable momentum and takes several strides to get back into full stride. But Waddell said Jennifer Eccles hardly faltered at all, coming back up under him in a matter of seconds before angling into the clear and accelerating away from the opposition with an incredible turn of foot.

   Waddell even afforded himself time to ease the filly down close to the line such was the dominance of her win.

   Jennifer Eccles was a runaway winner of the NZ Bloodstock Filly of the Year series, racking up a total of 44.5 points. She finished 22 points ahead of second placed Loire.


Glory Days retired to stud

   The racing career of Group One winner Glory Days has come to an end.

   The daughter of Red Giant won 10 of her 32 starts and gave trainer Bill Thurlow some of his biggest moments in racing.

   Glory Days had a standout 2018-19 season, recording seven wins, including the Group 1 Auckland Cup (3200m) and placing in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m). 

   “She has been brilliant,” Thurlow said. “She has done everything we have asked of her. She is just feeling the effects of it I think and it’s just time to let her be a broodmare.”

   “Last season was a big highlight. Everything she did was brilliant. Winning the Avondale Cup and Auckland Cup, and even the Waverley and Wanganui Cups, it was great.

   “It was very satisfying to get my first Group 1 with her in the Auckland Cup and she was super in the Sydney Cup. She went a huge race from well back in the field.”

Hastings Trackwork 17 Mar 2020


(By John Jenkins)


   Peso continued is preparation towards the Awapuni Gold Cup on Saturday week with another strong solo gallop at today’s Hastings track session.

   Fast work was again confined on the plough, which provided good footing.

   Peso worked in from the 1000m peg in 1:03.8, running the first 400m in 27.1 before coming home the final 600 strongly in 36.7. He looks in great order and any easing in track conditions will help his chances.

   One Prize One Goal, a likely runner at Tauherenikau on Sunday, worked on his own from the 1000m peg and was timed to come home the last 800m in 51.1 and final 600 in 37.7. He was scratched from Woodville on Sunday because of the firmness of the track and lines up in the Rating 65 race over 1400m at Tauherenikau.

   His stablemate Thousandkissesdeep, another who was scratched at Woodville, showed good speed when running a solo 800m in 50, the last 600 in 35.6. She is entered for the Maiden 1000 at Tauherenikau on Sunday.

   Uncle Bro, likely to start next at Waipukurau next week, clocked 1:10.3 for 1000m, running the first 400 in 28.9 before coming home the last 600 keenly in 37.4. He hasn’t raced since finishing fifth over 1900m at Wairoa last month.

   Flying Habit and Velarde, two others in the Lowry/Cullen stable, were restricted to not much more than three-quarter pace when running 1000m in 1:12.7, the last 600 in 43.4 while Maria Dior, a likely runner in the Rating 82 race over 1000m at Tauherenikau, was kept to just two rounds of pacework.

   A Savabeel-Baby Shakes two-year-old filly and an I Am Invincible filly, both in the Lowry/Cullen stable, worked in at three-quarter pace from the 1000m, running home the last 600 in 45.2 while Shezza Cash ran a solo 800m easily in 59.7.

   A Raise The Flag four-year-old gelding from the Lowry/Cullen stable ran an easy 800m in 57.6, the last 600 in 42.5 while Shady Lady ended her worked with 600m in 45.3.

Hawkes Bay Racing Column 13 Mar 2020

A powerful company new HB Cup sponsor

(By John Jenkins)

   The Hawke’s Bay Cup, one of the most time-honoured events on the New Zealand racing calendar, will have a new sponsor this year with Power Farming Hawke’s Bay taking it over.

   The $75,000 2200m feature race will be run at the Hawke’s Bay meeting on April 11 and has an added incentive in that the winner will be exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings on October 3.

   Power Farming is an international company, with branches in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. It’s Hastings-based business has taken over the Hawke’s Bay Cup sponsorship and sales manager Ben Munford sees it as a positive move.

   “We are excited to be part of Hawke’s Bay Racing,” Munford said.

   “Some of our staff are keen on racing and I have always had a passion for the industry.”

   This will be Power Farming’s first venture into racing sponsorship but Munford says it is a great opportunity to get behind a club that basically supports their own business.

   “We provide top of the range tractors bearing the German brand Deutz-Fahr, as well as other great machinery, and there are so many agricultural and horticultural people involved in racing that we feel it is a good time to be part of an industry that is starting to move forward,” he said.

   Hawke’s Bay Racing chairman Eliot Cooper said it is quite poignant that the club has been able to secure a company with such a strong attachment to the agricultural and horticultural sector to sponsor such a time-honoured race.

   “Hawke’s Bay is an important agricultural and horticultural region in New Zealand and so many people are reliant on those industries,” he said.

   “It makes sense to have a company that backs those industries involved with one of Hawke’s Bay Racing’s iconic races.”

   The Hawke’s Bay Cup was first run in 1875 and has been won by some of the legends of the New Zealand racing turf.

   Hi-Jinx won it in 1960 before going on to take out that year’s Melbourne Cup while Fury’s Order won it in 1974 and Surfers Paradise in 1993 before they both went on to take out Australasia’s greatest weight-for-age race, the Cox Plate.

   Other notable Hawke’s Bay Cup winners since the 1960s include Key, Elkayel, Dalvui, Glengowan, Black Rod, Shamrock, Stylish Dude, Mr Brooker and Boundless.


Ben Munford (right), sales manager of new Hawke’s Bay Cup sponsor Power Farming Hawke’s Bay, is pictured alongside Hawke’s Bay Racing chairman Eliot Cooper and one of the top of the range tractors his company has for sale.


Float driver retires after 54 years

   When it comes to driving trucks, Hastings-based Colwyn Hercock has been there and done it all.

   The now 73-year-old, who first got his heavy traffic licence at aged 18 in 1966, has retired after 54 years of steering horse floats and other trucks around the length and breadth of New Zealand.

   Hercock decided to finally call it quits at the start of this year and Hawke’s Bay Racing named a race in his honour at the last Hastings race meeting, on February 26. He had a special room on course that day dedicated to him, which was attended by a number of his close friends and colleagues.

   Hercock was a successful jockey in his time, being the champion Hawke’s Bay apprentice and later going on to become an accomplished jumps jockey.

   He was apprenticed to the late Tony Burridge in Hastings and says the best horse he ever rode was the Burridge-trained Sir Barton.

   “I won 15 races on him and, another top horse I rode was Sir Robert, who won five in a row,” Hercock recalled this week.

   It was while he was still riding over fences, and weight was catching up with him, that Hercock decided to seek other employment and was taken on by Bill Reeves, who owned Majestic Horsefloats.

   “Back in those days you had to be 18 to get a truck licence and I just scraped in. Bill helped me get the licence and I worked for him for many years after that.”

   In fact, Hercock remained driving under the umbrella of Majestic Horsefloats for 54 years, working as the owner-operator in Hawke’s Bay from 1998 to 2015.

   In his time he has not only carted thoroughbreds to and from race meetings and properties but also broodmares and stallions to and from studs and voluntarily ferried horses to and from Hawke’s Bay Racing’s Wall Road accommodation stables to the Hastings racecourse on race days.

   He was also heavily involved in the Hawke’s Bay pony club and carted teams away to national champs for 25 years, with every fourth year being a trip to the South Island.

   Besides driving horse floats, Hercock also worked as a crane driver from Hawke’s Bay Crane Hire and helped Mark Burridge when he had a bread run truck that made regular daily trips from Hastings to Auckland and return. 


Bucky shows real potential  

   Hastings trainer John Bary reckons Bucky, who chalked up his second win when successful at Trentham last Saturday, is now reaching his full potential after having problems early in his career.

    The five-year-old Power gelding followed up a good third over 1200m at Hastings on February 26 with a dominant 2-3/4 length victory in a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 1000m at Trentham.

    Jockey Lisa Allpress bounced the horse out quickly from the barrier and he disputed the pace until crossing the junction at the top of the home straight. Once asked to extend he showed a great turn of foot to quickly put a winning break on the field.

   “He went a good race for third at Hastings, where he was beaten by a couple of smart horses, and so we decided to back him up,” Bary said. “He was a fit horse and was well ridden.”

    “It was a good win for the horse and great for his owners, who are an elderly couple from Auckland who have put a lot into the racing industry over many years.”

   Ron and Nuala Saunders bred Bucky and race him under their company banner of Moroal Bloodstock Limited.

   The horse is well bred as he is out of the former speedy racemare The Lady, who won two Listed stakes races over 1100m as a two-year-old and was also placed at Group 3 level over 1400m.

   Bucky was originally trained at Te Awamutu by Graeme Sanders and daughter Debbie Sweeney but Bary said he suffered badly from hoof problems as a young horse.

   “He actually missed about a year of racing and Richard Otto did a lot of work on him and got his feet right again,” Bary said.

   “He has always been a bit of a nervous horse and thick winded but is starting to get his confidence now and seems a lot happier.”

   Bary said Bucky’s Trentham win has taken him to 67 points so he now has to find a suitable Rating 72 race for the horse.

   “There are no Rating 72 1000m races around so we will have to go back to 1200 somewhere and that might be at Awapuni on April 3,” Bary added.

Bucky and jockey Lisa Allpress cross the finish line well clear of their rivals in a Rating 65 race over 1000m at Trentham last Saturday.


HB pair share in Ellerslie Group 1 spoils

   Two Hawke’s Bay people, Christel Jager and Michael Ormsby, shared in Group 1 celebrations at Ellerslie last Saturday.

   Jager, from Hastings, owns a 2.5 per cent share in the boom two-year-old colt Cool Aza Beel while Waipukurau’s Ormsby is a shareholder in Avantage.

   Cool Aza Beel stamped himself as the best two-year-old in the country with a dominant winning performance in the Group 1 $200,000 Sistema Stakes (1200m).

   The son of Savabeel jumped brilliantly from the barrier to take an early lead before jockey Opie Bosson was able to settle him back into a perfect trail.

   He was clearly travelling better than anything else when he ranged up outside the leaders on the point of the home turn and really let down strongly when Bosson asked him to extend.

   At the line Cool Aza Beel was a length clear of Vernazza, with a further 2-1/2 lengths back to third placed Kelly Renee.

   Jager was given the special privilege of helping to lead the horse back to the winner’s stall.

   The colt now has a record of four wins, a second and a fourth from only six starts and has now amassed more than $707,000 in stakemoney, a tremendous return on the $150,000 Te Akau principal David Ellis outlayed for him as a yearling.

   Cool Aza Beel is now expected to head to the Group 1 $225,000 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni on March 28.

   He is trained at Matamata by Jamie Richards, who also produced Avantage to chalk up her third Group 1 victory in the $200,000 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m).

   The Fastnet Rock mare was following on from her success at the elite level in last month’s Haunui Farm Weight-for-age Classic (1600m) at Otaki and easily coped with the extra 400m, finishing the race off strongly for a 1-1/4 length win over True Enough, with a head back to third placed Supera.

   Avantage now boasts a record of 10 wins, three seconds and a third from 17 starts and her stake earnings now total more than $1.4million. She was a $210,000 purchase by Te Akau principal David Ellis at the 2017 Karaka yearling sales.

   She will now be freshened slightly and brought back to 1600m in the Group 1 $200,000 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on April 4.

   Michael Ormsby has shares in several Te Akau syndicates and is also a part-owner in Need I Say More, who was a last start winner of the Group 3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) at Matamata on February 22. The Australian-bred gelding defeated stablemate Cool Aza Beel in that race and the two horses are expected to clash again in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes at Awapuni tomorrow fortnight.

An elated Christel Jager helps lead Cool Aza Beel and jockey Opie Bosson back to the winner’s stall following the colt’s dominant win in last Saturday’s Group 1 Sistema Stakes at Ellerslie.


Hastings Trackwork 10 Mar 2020


(By John Jenkins)


   A strong solo gallop by Peso and sound workouts by Unlaced, Mohaka and Can I Get An Amen were among the highlights in a busy session at the Hastings track today.

   Fast work was confined to the plough, which provided soft footing.

   Peso had blinkers on for the first time and worked in from the 1200m peg in 1:18, running the first 600 metres in 42 before coming home strongly over the final 600 in 36. The big Colombia eight-year-old finished last in a 1400m open sprint at Hastings a fortnight ago but that was his first start for two months and over a distance well short of his best. He is now being prepared for the Group 2 Awapuni Gold Cup (2000m) on March 28.

   Unlaced, preparing for Saturday’s Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham, was given two 800m workouts. She ran the first one in 55, coming home the last 600 in 40.2 and went quicker the second time when clocking 53.6, the last 600 in 38.8 and final 400 in 24.2.

   The Niagara filly looks to have thrived since finishing fourth in the Group 2 Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings a fortnight ago and Lisa Allpress has been booked to ride her on Saturday.

   Mohaka and Can I Get An Amen, two horses in the Lowry/Cullen stable likely to start at Woodville on Sunday, worked together over 1000m in 1:05.2, the last 600 in 37.2. Both horses were placed in 750m jumpouts at Hastings a fortnight ago and look ready to kick off fresh campaigns. Mohaka is entered for the Rating 72 1400 while Can I Get An Amen is in the maiden 1200.

   Atlanta Peach, who resumes in the Rating 82 1400 at Trentham on Saturday, ran a solo 1000m in 1:08.7, the last 600 in 38.9. She is another who looks to have come back in good order after a spell.

   Magic Incanto had trainer Fred Pratt aboard when running 1000m in 1:04.8, the last 600 in 38.5. She only beat one home over 1200m at Trentham on Saturday but is much better than that and could back up at either Trentham or Woodville this weekend.

   One Prize One Goal, another likely starter at Woodville on Sunday, worked on his own over 1000m in 1:08.8, the last 600 in 38.5 while his stablemate Thousandkissesdeep clocked 51.6 for 800m, coming home strongly over the last 600 in 36.9. She had her chances extinguished when hampered at the start over 1200m at Awapuni last start and lines up over the same distance at Woodville on Sunday.

   Blarney, who is another who could line up at Woodville on Sunday, was given two 800m workouts. He recorded 57.9 for the first one, the last 600 in 42.2 and then quickened over the second one in 52.9, the last 600 in 38.7.

   Penny Royal and Fur worked together over 1000m in 1:10, the last 600 in 40.2. Fur is a Rock ‘N’ Pop four-year-old who could start next at either Woodville on Sunday or Rotorua the following Wednesday.


Hawkes Bay Racing Column 6 Mar 2020

Experienced administrator new HB Racing CEO

(By John Jenkins)

   Darin Balcombe, a man with a wealth of experience in the racing industry from the bottom to the top, is the new chief executive officer of Hawke’s Bay Racing.

   Forty-five year-old Balcombe has been appointed to replace Andrew (Butch) Castles, who leaves Hawke’s Bay to take up the position of chief executive for the Waikato Racing Club.

   Balcombe will commence his position with Hawke’s Bay Racing on April 14 after spending the past two and a half years as a stipendiary steward.

   A person that has always been passionate about the thoroughbred industry, Balcombe started out working as part of the track staff at the Awapuni racecourse and also helped out in the stable of Awapuni trainer Roydon Bergerson.

   He ran the equine swimming pool at the Awapuni racecourse before taking up a role in the Manawatu Racing Club office in May 2005.

   Soon after he was appointed accountant for the Race Group, which is a conglomerate of the Manawatu Racing Club, Otaki-Maori Racing Club and Wellington Racing Club.

   In 2010 Balcombe was appointed Racing Operations Manager of the Race Group and he moved from Palmerston North to Wellington. Three years later he was made General Manager of the Trentham and Otaki racecourses.

   In September 2017 Balcombe decided to take a change in vocation and became a stipendiary steward with the Racing Integrity Unit, another position he has excelled in.

   A keen sportsman, Balcombe represented the Wanganui premier rugby team for several years and captained the side when it won the national third division title in 2003.

   He and his partner Justine presently live in Plimmerton but are looking forward to moving to Hawke’s Bay with their seven-year-old daughter.

   “I’m very excited about it and see it is a tremendous opportunity,” Balcombe said this week.

   “Hopefully I can build on the great things Butch Castles has done with the club.

   “The spring carnival there is one of the most iconic in the country and things are looking very positive for the future.

   “I see Hawke’s Bay Racing as being a great club, with a great culture, and I’m looking forward to getting up there and enjoying the beautiful Hawke’s Bay weather.”

   Hawke’s Bay Racing chairman Eliot Cooper said he was “absolutely delighted” that the club was able to appoint a person with such a thorough background and expertise in the racing industry to take over the position of CEO.

   “We were delighted with the strength of applicants for the position, which is an indication that Hawke’ Bay Racing is well respected and regarded as one of the premier racing club’s in the country,” Cooper said.

   “Darin is a great choice as we know we have a good guy that has a thorough grounding in all aspects of the racing industry and who can take the club forward.”

   Cooper also paid tribute to leaving CEO Butch Castles, saying that his contribution to Hawke’s Bay Racing has been nothing short of exemplary and he is leaving the club in a positive situation, both financially and culturally.

   “Darin can now take up the reins and continue to see the club go forward,” he added.

Darin Balcombe brings plenty of racing experience to the position of Chief Executive Officer of Hawke’s Bay Racing.


Win provides Bary with a painkiller

   Callsign Mav’s win in the $25,000 three-year-old race at last week’s Hawke’s Bay meeting provided his Hastings trainer, John Bary, with some much needed pain relief.

   Bary was not on course to witness the win as he was laid up on the couch at home, recuperating after undergoing two injections in his back the previous day, one of them being cortisone.

   Bary has been suffering from severe back pain since he was kicked by a horse last year and the injury became aggravated when he started shovelling lime around his property back in the spring.

   “I was in real pain on the middle day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival and it hasn’t really gone away since,” Bary said.

   He has been diagnosed with prolapsed discs in his back and will probably have to undergo further cortisone injections and possible surgery.

   Callsign Mav managed to put a smile on Bary’s face when the three-year-old scored a dominant 2-3/4 length win over 1400m at Hastings on Wednesday of last week.

   Jockey Craig Grylls got the Atlante gelding to settle nicely behind the leading division in the early stages before sending home forward to challenge rounding the home turn.

   Callsign Mav hit the front soon after and raced clear of his rivals in the run to the line, with Grylls only riding him hands and heels over the final stages.

   Bary’s racing manager Mike Sanders said the horse will now be aimed at the Group 2 $1000,000 Wellington Guineas (1400m) at Trentham tomorrow week, adding that is probably the horse’s optimum distance.

   “He can run out a strong 1400 but we’ve tried him a couple of times at 1600 metres and that distance has found him out,” Sanders said.

   Callsign Mav has now had nine starts for three wins and three seconds. He was a $3000 weanling purchase by Melbourne-based equine physiotherapist Jeremy Cross and is raced by him in partnership with Bary and five other Australians.

Callsign Mav and jockey Craig Grylls are well clear of their rivals at the finish of the 1400m three-year-old race at Hastings last week. The Atlante gelding will now be aimed at the Group 2 $100,000 Wellington Guineas.


Patience rewarded with Swish Az

   The patience Hawke’s Bay couple Grant Cullen and Nikki Lourie have shown with Swish Az is starting to reap rewards with the five-year-old recording her second win from only nine starts at Hastings last week.

   The Swiss Ace mare, prepared by Cullen in partnership with Guy Lowry, led all the way for a decisive three length victory in a Rating 65 race over 1600m and has not finished further back than fifth in her last five starts.

   She has now amassed more than $24,000 in stakemoney, a sizeable return on the $2000 Cullen and Lourie paid for her as a weanling.

   “She was a big leggy filly that needed time and she suffered a lot from shin soreness when she was younger, so we were prepared to give her time,” Cullen said.

   “She has certainly come solid this time up and I think she might even go a bit further than 1600 metres later on.

   Swish Az took her rating to 68 points when winning last week and will now have to step up a grade for her next start.

   “She has come through her Hastings win in really good order and so we will now look at running her in a Rating 72 race over 1600m at Trentham on March 14,” Cullen said.

   He added that the plan wasn’t for the mare to lead from the outset last week but she began so well rider Holly Andrew had no option but to let her roll to the front.

   “She settled well in front and was very strong at the finish,” Cullen added.

Swish Az and jockey Holly Andrew heading to the start of the Rating 65 race over 1600m at Hastings last week. The Swiss Ace mare is building a consistent record for her Hawke’s Bay owners Grant Cullen and Nikki Lourie.


Happy Tav has his owners smiling

   Waipukurau brothers Bill and Murray Rose were back in the winners’ stall after a lengthy absence when Happy Tav scored an all the way victory in a Rating 65 race over 1400m at Awapuni last Friday.

   It had been more than 12 months since Happy Tav broke through for a maiden success over 1350m at Wanganui.

   The Rose brothers bred Happy Tav, who is a four-year-old by Tavistock out of the O’Reilly mare A’Guin Ace and a half-brother to the one race winner Smokin’ Ace.

   Palmerston North trainer Kevin Gray prepares Happy Tav and said the horse has always shown plenty of ability but had been disappointing in recent races so he told jockey Robert Hannam to take him straight to the front and see if he could hold on.

  Hannam followed the instructions to the letter, maintaining a handy advantage over his rivals before kicking Happy Tav clear early in the home straight. The horse came under siege from the challengers in the final stages but managed to hold on for a head victory.

   Bill and Murray Rose have raced horses for many years, with one of their best being the versatile performer Black Ace. That Roughcast gelding won 18 races, 12 on the flat, three over hurdles and three over steeples and was trained at Foxton by the late Barney Lumsden.


Injured Catalyst coming home

   Star New Zealand three-year-old Catalyst has been ruled out of the A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) with bruised fetlocks and will return home to be spelled.

   Trainer Clayton Chipperfield sent him to the Ballarat Vet Clinic on Tuesday fearing he was not quite himself after his below-par run in last Saturday’s Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).

   “When he finished off in the Guineas like he did we knew there had to be something up with the way he was,” Chipperfield said. “He was all over the place and uncomfortable and wasn’t a happy horse.

   “He initially did pull up okay, he didn’t show any signs of lameness and the initial prognosis was looking okay.

    “We thought we had better dig a bit deeper and see if there was an issue there. We are pleased there was an issue because his performance was well under his best.”

   Following a scintigraphy examination, which scans the bones, Chipperfield informed Racing Victoria stewards on Tuesday that tests revealed Catalyst had bruising to his four fetlocks and he was officially withdrawn from Saturday week’s All-Star Mile at Caulfield.

   “When the vet rang I said, ‘just give it to me in one hit’ and he said you’ll have a horse for the spring but you haven’t got one for the All-Star.

   “We were pleased we found something to explain the disappointing run and we still have a horse at the end of it,” Chipperfield said.

   Catalyst will now return to New Zealand for a spell and Chipperfield is upbeat despite his Australian campaign coming to a premature end.

   The Te Awamutu trainer said he would send Catalyst for a six-week spell and all going to plan prepare the son of Darci Brahma for the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival. He would then look at a return trip across the Tasman in the spring.




(By John Jenkins)


   Magic Incanto, preparing for Saturday’s Wellington meeting, was keen to go a lot faster when working on her own at this morning’s Hastings track session.

   There was very little in the way of fast work, as several horses from the area were entered for the Foxton trials later in the day.

   Working on the plough, Magic Incanto had trainer Fred Pratt aboard when undergoing two rounds of pacework. She was only let stride out over the final 400m and was travelling keenly at the finish, recording 42.2 for the last 600m.

   The Per Incanto mare finished a good second over 1300m at Hastings last Wednesday and Pratt said she has thrived since that race. She will line up in a Rating 72 event over 1200m at Trentham.

   Overstayer, who looks to have come back in great order for trainers Mick and Sue Thompson-Brown, was let off with an easy 800m in 53.7, the last 600 in 39 and was another who was travelling keenly at the finish. He could be ready for a jumpout in a fortnight.

   Bellesgirl worked early in the session and was timed to run 1000m in 1:4.2, the last 600 in 39.1. She has had two starts for a second and a third and will line up in the maiden 1600 at Trentham on Saturday.

   Kaipawe did two rounds of pacework, speeding up slightly over the last 1000m in 1:11.7, the final 600 in 39.9 while an Ekraar four-year-old gelding and an Ekraar two-year-old gelding, both in Fred Pratt’s stable, ended their work a 400m sprint in 26s.

   Unlaced was restricted to just two rounds of pacework. She finished a good fourth in last week’s Lowland Stakes (2100m) at Hastings and is still on target for the Group 1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) at Trentham on Saturday week.

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