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Novice jumper will now contest GN Hurdle 31 Jul 2019

   Alfie Dee only won a maiden hurdle race at Awapuni on Thursday of last week, but he will now be stepped up to the big time when he contests next Wednesday’s $75,000 Hospitality New Zealand Grand National Hurdles at Riccarton.

  The eight-year-old Zed gelding, bred and part-owned by Hawke’s Bay’s Mick Duncan, was recording just his second win from 25 starts but his connections have always predicted a bright future for the horse as a jumper.

   He was certainly a dominant winner of last week’s 2750m Awapuni event, scoring by 6-1/2 lengths over Tittletattle.

   The success was, in a big way, attributed to a positive ride by jockey Buddy Lammas.

   After settling Alfie Dee second last in the early stages, Lammas decided to push forward on the horse with a round to go and sat outside the leader for a short time before taking a clear lead entering the last 1100m.

   Lammas opened up a six length break on his rivals soon after before easing the horse to hold a two length advantage entering the home straight. He knew he still had something in reserve when Alfie Dee jumped the last fence and the horse raced clear again in the run to the line.

   Mick Duncan bred Alfie Dee out of the Victory Dance mare Isadora and said the initial plan was to give him a brief campaign on the flat before turning him into a jumper. But when the horse won a 1600m Woodville maiden on debut it was decided to continue racing him on the flat and he recorded a further five seconds and two thirds as well as contesting last year’s Group 3 Wellington Cup (3200m).

   Alfie Dee finished fifth in his hurdle debut over 2760m at Ellerslie on June 3 before a sixth in the Awapuni Hurdles (2900m). He was then pulled up when struggling on an extremely heavy track at Trentham last start but was obviously much more at home in the conditions at Awapuni last week.

   Hunterville-based Ken Duncan has trained Alfie Dee for the past three years but the horse was in the care of other trainers during his early days.

   Mick Duncan who, along with his wife Barbara still own a 15 per cent share in the horse, said he was initially broken in at Hastings by James Bridge before spending time with Donna Beck at Levin and then Dean Cunningham at Hunterville.

   “But then Dean had too many other horses so he gave him to Ken Duncan,” he recalled.

   Ken Duncan is no relation to Mick but is a very good conditioner of jumpers. He prepared Wee Biskit to win the 2013 Great Northern Hurdles as well as back-to-back Wellington Hurdles and Shamal to win last year’s Grand National Steeplechase and this year’s Waikato Steeples.

   “Ken is a bit of an optimist and has decided to throw him in the deep end next week but also says that probably next year will be his year as a jumper,” Duncan said.

   He added that he and Barbara have booked a flight to Christchurch next Tuesday to be on track and see their horse’s biggest test to date.

   Alfie Dee is the only living foal produced by Isadora, a mare who won once for the Duncans when taking out a 1600m maiden race at Foxton in July 2005.

   The mare produced two other foals by Zed before Alfie Dee but one died of colic and the other died at birth. She has since ceased breeding.


Bassett resumes on winning note

  Hastings apprentice Jordan Bassett made a winning return after an enforced layoff when she piloted her favourite horse Estefania to victory in a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 1600m at Otaki last Saturday.

   It was the 28-year-old Bassett’s fourth win of her career, with the last one coming aboard Estefania in a 1400m maiden race at Rotorua in April last year. She suffered a broken bone in a foot soon after that success which saw her sidelined for many months, first awaiting on an operation and then in recuperation.

   She only resumed riding trackwork and in jumpouts a month ago and Estefania was her first race-ride since then.

   Estefania’s win at Otaki capped off two good recent performances by the Daci Brahma mare, the first resulting in a second over 1600m at Awapuni on June 15 and then second a fourth over 1600m at Te Rapa on July 6. In both races she seemed to relish the very heavy track conditions and she again coped well with the heavy-11 track at Otaki.

   Bassett let Estefania find her feet in the early stages before sending her on a forward move around the field. The mare ranged up, wide out, to challenge the leaders rounding the home turn and kept up a strong run to the line to win by three-quarters of a length from The Seagull, with four lengths back to third placed Lord Turbo.

   Bassett was originally attached to the Hastings stable of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen before a brief stint with Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers and also spent a couple of months with the Riccarton father and son partnership of Michael and Matthew Pitman. She is now indentured to her partner, Richard McKenzie, who is the owner-trainer of Estefania.

   Estefania was bred by Richard McKenzie, who is a Hastings veterinary surgeon. She is out of the Success Express mare Zino Belle, whose two wins included the Group 3 Highview Stakes (1200m) at Hastings, and she is also the dam of the stakes winner Silver Eclipse (five wins).


Dez chasing further southern riches

   A return to winning form by talented winter galloper Dez in the $30,000 Rating 82 race over 1600m at Otaki last Saturday confirmed another trip south for the Waipukurau-prepared gelding.

   Trainer Simon Wilson campaigned the son of Zed at last year’s Grand National meeting at Riccarton where he finished third in the Group 3 Winter Cup (1600m) on the first day before winning the Winter Classic (1800m) a week later.

   Wilson and the horse’s other connections were keen to head back to Riccarton for this year’s carnival but Dez turned in three lack-lustre performances in his first three starts this campaign and had to produce a lot better effort last Saturday to confirm the trip.

   Dez showed he was on the verge of a return to form when winning a 1400m jumpout at Hastings a fortnight ago and Wilson removed the blinkers and added a tongue-tie to the horse’s gear last Saturday, which seemed to spark him into life.

   Dez wanted to over-race in the early stages of the race but the experienced hands of top South Island jockey Chris Johnson got the horse to settle three-back on the fence before he cut the corner to lodge his claim early in the home straight.

   Our Bandit and High Quality looked to be fighting out the finish but Johnson managed to get the best out of Dez in the final 100 metres and the horse got up to win by a neck.

   It was Dez’s sixth win from only 16 starts and he is owned by Wilson in partnership with two close friends, Waverley’s Sam Trotter and Paul Mitchell (Patea).

   Dez will now back up in tomorrow’s Group 3 $1000,000 Winter Cup (1600m) at Riccarton, where he has drawn barrier three and will again be ridden by Chris Johnson.


Hastings stable has three at Riccarton  

   Hastings trainers Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal will line up a trio of runners at Riccarton on Saturday, but they are slightly concerned about the expected heavy track conditions. 

   “We are just not too sure about the track. It appears that it is getting worse, it has gone to a Heavy-11,” Nelson said.

   No Change will be their first runner of the day in the Sydenham Hurdles (3100m) and he is coming off a last start victory in the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3100m) at Hastings on June 29.

   “Hawke’s Bay suited him, the track (Slow7) was pretty much to his liking,” Nelson said. “He has been a bit long without a run, but hopefully that won’t count against him.”

  While the 11-year-old son of Shinko King has won twice on a heavy surface, Nelson would like to see the track improve before Saturday.

   “He has won on a heavy track, but it’s been a wet and loose track. He will probably run on Saturday and then we will see after that.”

   Nelson holds the same concerns with Zardetto heading into the Koral Steeplechase (4250m) on Saturday after he was pulled up in the Wellington Steeplechase (5500m) on the testing Heavy-11 track last start.

   “He’s been pretty good (since that run), I am just not too sure that we didn’t have a bug go through (the stable),” Nelson said.

   “Even though his record hasn’t been huge lately on wet tracks, I thought he would have finished the race alright.”

   The 12-year-old gelding pleased his connections in his previous three starts over fences where he placed in the Waikato Steeplechase (3900m) and Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase (4800m) and they elected to travel him south in search of better tracks.

   “We thought that we were going to get better tracks and then we made a plan to bring the other horses down,” Nelson said. “They are here and the fields aren’t very strong, so he will run and we will see after that.

   “He has won on a heavy track, but probably as he has got older he hasn’t been as keen on them.”

   Meanwhile, Ooee pleased Nelson with his debut placing over the bigger fences at Te Rapa a fortnight ago and he is hoping the addition of a tongue-tie will assist the gelding on Saturday when he contests the Maiden Steeplechase (3200m).


   “He had his first chase the other day and he looked like he was in it and he just struggled a bit from the second-to-last fence,” Nelson said.

   “We have put a tongue-tie on him and hope that might help him.

   “His best form has been on better ground too, but it is the first race on that track, so we might get away with it.” 


Baker and Forsman claim a third title

   The Cambridge partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have taken out their third straight New Zealand trainers’ premiership and their fourth in the past five years.

   With the 2018-19 season finishing on Wednesday, Baker and Forsman were 14 wins clear of nearest rival, Te Akau Racing trainer Jamie Richards, with 112 winners for the season.

   Baker and Forsman trained 142 winners in the previous season but they trained a record 25 stakes winners in the 2018-19 term.

   “We have had a good year but those 25 stakes wins is pretty hard to beat as our season highlight,” Baker said.

   “We probably didn’t fire as well as we might have liked in Australia, but on the home front we managed to take out plenty of good races with both the younger members of the team as well as some of those older horses that have served us so well.”


Callsign Mav’s win delights Australian owner 25 Jul 2019

   A delayed flight meant Australian racehorse owner Jeremy Cross didn’t get to witness his horse Callsign Mav crossing the finish line first in the opening event at last week’s Hawke’s Bay meeting but he was there to greet his charge in the winner’s stall.

   Cross wanted to see the Atlante two-year-old have his first race start and had organised a morning flight from Auckland to get there in time. But due to a delay, he was still getting to the track by taxi when the 11.22am race started and had to watch it on his mobile phone.

   However, once on course, he made a quick dash to the birdcage and was there waiting for jockey Craig Grylls to bring the horse back at the head of the field.

   Callsign Mav, trained at Hastings by John Bary, was sent out a $3.00 favourite for the NZB Insurance Pearl Series 800 last week following an impressive win in a Hastings jumpout on July 1, where he easily clocked the fastest time of the four 750m heats.

   Grylls bounced the gelding out quickly from the barrier in his race debut and got him up to third in the early rush for positions. Callsign Mav then moved up three-wide to challenge for the lead rounding the home turn and kept up a strong run to the line to win by half a length from Riva Capri, with Petite Rose third.

   Cross, who is an equine physiotherapist in Australia, purchased Callsign Mav for $3000 as a weanling and races him partnership with Bary and five other Australians. The horse has been at Bary’s Hastings property since he was broken in.

   “He’s always been a beautiful moving horse,” Bary’s racing manager Mike Sanders said this week.

   “He has got that really fluid motion that you love in a horse.”

   Callsign Mav was bred by Windsor Park Stud and is out of the talented Volksraad mare Raadisi, who only raced 15 times for three wins, three seconds and two thirds. She is now deceased but also left the winners Sea Major and Elegant Assassin.

   Sanders said Callsign Mav is now likely to have another mid-week race within the next few weeks before being aimed at the Group 2 $100,000 Sacred Falls Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m) at on the final day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival on October 5.


Veuve Clicquot a cheap buy

   Hastings-trained Veuve Clicquot, who took out a 1400m maiden race on her home track last week, is proving to be a bargain buy for her Taradale owner Neil Kirton.

   Kirton, a current board member on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, bought the Rock ‘N’ Pop four-year-old through the thoroughbred auction site Gavelhouse for only $1000 and she has now won him almost $10,000 in stakes.

   Formerly trained at Awapuni, Veuve Clicquot had 16 starts before being bought by Kirton and had contested several stakes races as a three-year-old. She has now had four starts from the Hastings stable of Lee Somervell for a win, a second and a third.

   “She has always been able to gallop but is a horse that has just needed time,” Somervell said this week.

   “She was a good second at Hastings in May in her first start for us and then got bogged down on a very heavy track at Wanganui in her next run. She then went another good race for third at Hastings last month and it was a really good win last week.”

   Veuve Clicquot certainly had to be tough to win as she was tightened for room soon after the start which put her back to midfield. She was then forced to race three-wide for the entire journey but ranged up to the leaders on the home turn and apprentice Holly Andrew kicked her to the front soon after. She was entitled to get a bit tired in the final stages but maintained a strong run to the line to win by three-quarters of a length.

   Another Hastings-trained horse, the first starter Overstayer, produced a huge run for second when coming from near last on the home turn while the form runner Lincoln Town was a neck back in third.

   Somervell said he has now turned Veuve Clicquot out for a 10 day break and, when she resumes full work, he intends aiming her for a $22,500 Rating 65 race over 1400m on the first day of the Hawke’s Bay spring carnival on August 31.

  Veuve Clicquot is out of the American-bred mare Megan’s Tough Love who has also produced the two time winner Flying Meg.


Pincanto caps consistent form

   Hawke’s Bay owned and trained Pincanto finally broke through for another win after a string of minor placings when she put up a gutsy performance to take out a Rating 65 race over 1200m at last week’s Hawke’s Bay meeting.

   The five-year-old Per Incanto mare last graced the winner’s stall when she scored a runaway victory in a 1300m maiden race at Awapuni in November 2017. However, since that success she has chalked up four seconds, seven thirds and four fourths and has been narrowly beaten in several of those runs.

   Pincanto produced a tough performance to win last week. She drew the outside barrier and was forced to race at least three-wide for the entire journey.

   She was five-wide making the home turn but kept up a strong finishing burst down the outside of the track, for apprentice Eilish McCall, to get up and win by a head from Not Usual Delight.

   The win followed Pincanto’s good second at the last Hawke’s bay meeting, on June 29, where she tried to lead all the way over 1400m but was run down late.

   Pincanto is trained at Waipukurau by Penny and Tony Ebbett who race the mare in partnership with her Havelock North breeders Dave and Jenny Morison and three others.

   The Ebbetts have an 80 per cent lease in the horse with the Morisons and the other three men leasing the other 20 per cent between them.

   Taupo-based Roger Harvey, a close friend of the Morisons, and his brother Graeme have taken a racing share along with Taupo stock agent David Gash.

  Pincanto was originally trained by the Cambridge partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and had seven starts from that stable for two seconds and three fifths.

   “She has always shown she can gallop and finished fifth in a Listed race at Ellerslie as a two-year-old, but I don’t think the big stable environment suited her,” Dave Morison recalled.

   The Ebbetts only train one or two horses at a time but have a good set up in Waipukurau where they are able to have access to hills as well as being able to do fast work on the Waipukurau track. The smaller stable environment seems to have made all the difference for Pincanto.


Friedrich head of Chinese venture

   Des Friedrich, a former CEO of Hawke’s bay Racing, is one of two New Zealanders helping to develop a new racing venture in China.

   Friedrich, who has a wealth of Australasian experience in thoroughbred administration, and Robbie Hewetson, a former assistant trainer, have been employed to help with the racing management of a state-of-the-art racecourse at Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia.

   Friedrich, who has been appointed the CEO of Racing, and Hewetson, the Senior Racing Steward, arrived at Hohhot on May 8 and the venue was officially opened on June 29.

   “It truly is a world-class facility and it really impressed everyone,” Hewetson said.

   “It’s a brand new track which has been built within the last couple of years. 

   “There’s a 2200m grass track, a sand track of 1750m and it’s a lot like Sha Tin. It’s the same profile and there’s stabling for 348 horses at this stage. 

   It is a combined venture under the name Mengxing Rider by an Inner Mongolian Government company, which owns 51 percent, and Mr Lin Lang, the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse principal known as “Mr Wolf,” whose company has the other 49 per cent. 

   With stints as Secretary of the Egmont Racing Club and Counties Racing Club and chief executive of Hawke’s Bay Racing and the same roles in Australia at Darwin and Alice Springs, Friedrich was looking to ease into semi-retirement when the opportunity arose to help steer the Hohhot ship.

   “The offer came out of the blue and it’s a challenge too good to pass up,” he said. 

   “It cost NZ$250 million to set up and the infrastructure is unbelievable. 

   “As well as the racecourse, there is a horse arena alongside a function centre. Truly, it has everything.” 

   The six-story grandstand also caters for accommodation with approximately 100 hotel rooms and the racetrack has already proved a winner. 

   The racecourse has been built to cater for all breeds of horses and, of the thoroughbreds, Friedrich said close to 95 percent of them are New Zealand-bred.

   Though racing officially began for the weekend of June 29-30, the next race meeting is not until August 3 and racing will then be held each Saturday and Sunday through to early October.

   A rating system has been created along with a simplified Rules of Racing and the prizemoney has been set for the major races.

   “The Group One races will be run for the New Zealand equivalent of $225,000 and the Group Twos for $110,000,” Hewetson said.



   Estefania, preparing for racing at either Otaki or Rotorua this Saturday, was the only horse to work at speed at this morning’s Hastings track session.

   Fast work was confined to the plough (good).

   Estefania worked in from the 1200m peg in 1:21.9, running the first 600m in an easy 43.8 before increasing the speed over the last 600 in 38.1.

   The Darci Brahma mare has recorded a second and a fourth in her last two starts and seems to relish the very heavy tracks. She will either contest the Rating 65 race over 1600m at Otaki or the Rating 72 over 1560m at Rotorua.

   Atlanta Peach and Mohaka, two horses from the Lowry/Cullen stable entered for Otaki on Saturday, were restricted to just three-quarter pace. Both had a jumpout at Hastings last Friday where Atlanta Peach won a 1000m heat and Mohaka finished a close second over the same distance.



Group 1 winner Wait A Sec showed he is on the way back after an enforced layoff with an impressive win in a 750-metre jumpout at the Hastings track today.

   There were 11 heats run up against the running rail on the course proper, which provided slow footing.

   Wait A Sec’s winning time was the second slowest of the six 750m heats but the way he performed was impressive. Former apprentice Hunter Durrant rode the Postponed eight-year-old and let him settle at the back of the five runners in the early stages before letting him finish off strongly along the rails.

   Wait A Sec got up in the last couple of strides to win by a head and clocked 48.6s. A Fastnet Rock three-year-old trained by James Bridge finished second and there was a gap of 2 lengths to an Ocean Park-Janspur two-year-old filly in third.

   Wait A Sec, who won the 2017 Group 1 Livamol Classic (2040m) at Hastings, has not raced since winning the Wairoa Cup (2100m) in February last year. He sustained a tendon injury back then and it has been a long process for trainers Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen to get him back to full fitness. It is hoped the horse will again be competing at this year’s Hawke’s Bay spring carnival.

  Vinnie’s Volley, On Show and The Fugitive, three horses from the John Bary stable, were other impressive winners at today’s jumpouts. Top South Island jockey Chris Johnson was in attendance and rode all of the Bary runners.

   Vinnie’s Volley took out one of he 750m heats by half a length, clocking a good time of 46.3. She is a talented Iffraaj mare who has recorded three wins and five minor placings from only 14 start. Bary said she is likely to resume racing in a Rating 72 race over 1200m at Taupo on August 21.

   On Show won her 750m heat by 1-1/4 lengths and clocked 47.8s while The Fugitive recorded the fastest time out of the 750m heats when winning by half a length in 45.9.

   On Show is a Showcasing two-year-old filly who won well on debut over 1000m at Trentham in March and is also likely to resume racing at next month’s Taupo meeting.

   The Fugitive had three starts as a two-year-old earlier this season for a win and a second and then a ninth in the Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).



Heat 1, 750m: Tartan Bearer 3yr-old filly (H Durrant) 1, Nom de Jeu 2yr-old filly 2, Sweet Orange 3yr-old filly 3. Six starters. Margins: Nose, 3-1/2 lengths. Time: 50.7s. Winner trained by Guy Lowry & Grant Cullen, Hastings.

Heat 2, 750m: I’m Not Joking (L Hemi) 1, Luana 2, Smart Missile 4yr-old mare 3. Five starters. Margins: Long neck, 1-1/4 lengths. Time: 47.5s. Winner trained by Lee Somervell, Hastings.

Heat 3, 750m: The Fugitive (C Johnson) 1, Power 4yr-old mare 2, Pinotage 3. Six starters. Margins: ½ length, 2-1/4 lengths. Time: 45.9s. Winner trained by John Bary, Hastings.

Heat 4, 750m: On Show (C Johnson) 1, Sigourney Heights 2, Niagara 2yr-old filly 3. Five starters. Margins: 1-1/4 lengths, 1-3/4 lengths. Time: 47.8s. Winner trained by John Bary, Hastings.

Heat 5, 750m: Wait A Sec (H Durrant) 1, Fastnet Rock 3yr-old gelding 2, Ocean Park-Janspur 2yr-old filly 3. Five starters. Margins: Head, 2 lengths. Time: 48.6s. Winner trained by Guy Lowry & Grant Cullen, Hastings.

Heat 6, 750m: Vinnie’s Volley (C Johnson) 1, Resolution 2, Tui Girl 3. Five starters. Margins: 1/2 length, Long neck. Time: 46.3s. Winner trained by John Bary, Hastings.

Heat 7, 1000m: Playmaker 3yr-old filly (J Bassett) 1, Red Sunday 2, Nom de Jeu 5yr-old gelding 3. Four starters. Margins: Neck, 2 lengths. Winner trained by Sue Thompson & Mick Brown, Hastings.

Heat 8, 1000m: Rock ‘N’ Pop-Mink 3yr-old filly (H Durrant) 1, Penny Royal 2, Surpriseus 3. Four starters. Margins: Nose, ½ head. Time: 1:06. Winner trained by Guy Lowry & Grant Cullen, Hastings.

Heat 9, 1000m: Pep Torque (C O’Beirne) 1, Mohaka 2, Vannoss 3. Four starters. Margins: Long neck, 1 length. Time: 1:04.3. Winner trained by Kirsty Lawrence, Waipukurau.

Heat 10, 1000m: Atlanta Peach (H Durrant) 1, The Bandito 2, Charlie Zulu 3. Four starters. Margins: Long neck, 2 lengths. Time: 1:03.9. Winner trained by Guy Lowry & Grant Cullen, Hastings.

Heat 11, 1400m: Dez (C Johnson) 1, Donardo 2, Galapagos 3. Four starters. Margins: 1-3/4 lengths, ½ length. Time: 1:31.5. Winner trained by Simon Wilson, Waipukurau.


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.” 




   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.


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.”

Nelson/McDougal partnership win three in three days 5 Jul 2019

The new Hastings training combination of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal have dominated in the past week, taking out the amateur riders’ race at Waverley on Thursday of last week and them claiming both the $50,000 Te Whangai Romneys Hawke’s Bay Hurdle and $50,000 AHD Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase on their home track last Saturday.

   Nelson had won both feature jumping races at Hastings before but picking up the double last Saturday was one of his most satisfying moments in his long and illustrious career as he did it with long serving employee Corrina McDougal.

   Nelson has been one of Hawke’s Bay’s top trainers for many years, concentrating mainly on jumpers but also achieving great success with flat performers. He has produced well in excess of 200 winners since he started training in the mid-1970s, with his first major success being the 1987 Wellington Steeplechase with Storm.

   He had won the Hawke’s Bay Hurdles once before, with Ho Down in 2010, while he had celebrated three previous victories in the Hawke’s Bay Steeples, with No Hero in 2003 and 2005 and Just A Swagger in 2007.

   McDougal has worked, off and on, for Nelson for the past 20 years and has been a regular employee at his Air Hill Station property for the past four. She has also been a licensed trainer for 15 years and has produced 17 winners in her own right.

   The pair joined in a training partnership at the beginning of May and No Change and Perry Mason brought up their fourth and fifth wins together.

   McDougal has had to battle debilitating health issues throughout most of her life and underwent a kidney and liver transplant last year. However, it has not stopped her from fulfilling her life-long ambition to be involved with thoroughbreds and still regularly rides them in training.

   Nelson paid a special tribute to his new training partner when accepting the trophies after Saturday’s two big wins, saying there would not be many people who are as dedicated to the job as Corrina is, despite all her health problems.

   “She has been through a lot over a long period of time and it is great to see her with a big smile on her face again.”

   Also sharing in the celebrations was Hastings-born jockey Aaron Kuru, who produced two masterful rides to claim success on both No Change and Perry Mason.

   Kuru, 27, was born in Hastings where he learnt his craft by first working for trainer Patrick Campbell and then with John Bary. At that time, he was also a top softball player, representing the New Zealand Black Sox.

   But he decided to stick with furthering a career as a jumps jockey and moved to Cambridge, where he is now based.

   Paul Nelson, his wife Carol, and Kuru have built up a great association in recent years, one that both camps cherish.

   “Our association just gets better and better and I just hope it doesn’t break,” Nelson said during his victory speech following No Change’s win.

   “I’m glad I have been able to team up with Paul Nelson and also hope it never breaks,” Kuru replied.

   Kuru said it has been a goal of his, since he started race-riding, to win either a Hawke’s Bay Hurdle or a Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase and to take out both events on the same day was like a dream come true.

   “Growing up here in Hawke’s Bay it has been one of my main goals. It was always a bit of a dream that that I could win both races and now it’s happened.”

   Kuru finished second aboard No Change in last year’s Hawke’s Bay Hurdle, when they were beaten by the ill-fated Monarch Chimes and Shaun Phelan. He had also filled minor placings twice in the Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase, with a third on No Quota in 2015 and a second aboard Brer in 2016.

   Kuru’s ability to position his mounts perfectly in jumping races and save every inch of ground in the running has made him one of the best in the business and his expertise was never more evident that his ride aboard No Change on Saturday.

   He settled the horse fourth on the inside in the early stages of the 3100m event and was able to get out and around tiring horses to lodge a claim, three-wide, rounding the home bend. No Change took control after jumping the second last fence and then produced a magnificent leap at the last to race away and win by two lengths from Woodsman.

   Kuru said Perry Mason was not such an easy ride in the Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase.

   “He went a bit keener than I wanted and I knew we had a long way to go so I wanted to try and get him to settle,” Kuru said.

   Perry Mason and stablemate Zardetto disputed the early pace before Kuru finally let his mount stride to the front starting the last 1400m. They were never headed from then on, crossing the line two lengths clear of Chocolate Fish, with four lengths back to third placed Zardetto.

   Paul and Carol Nelson bred and own No Change, who was recording his 11th win and his fourth over fences while Perry Mason is a horse they were gifted by Sylvia and the late Paddy Kay and has now recorded five wins over fences, four in steeplechase events and one over hurdles.

   “Perry Mason was trained by Sylvia Kay and one day here at the Hastings races he hadn’t gone that good. Her and Paddy said they didn’t want to carry on with him and so they offered him to us,” recalled Paul Nelson.

   Perry Mason is now raced by the I See Red Syndicate, a 30 strong group of racing enthusiasts that have raced several horses from the Nelson stable over many years and with amazing results. One of their best was Just A Swagger, who chalked up eight wins, seven seconds and seven thirds from his 65 starts, with his victories including the Grand National Hurdles (twice), a Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase and a Grand National Steeplechase.

   “It’s a huge thrill to be able to win this race today with Perry Mason as you can see how much it means to the syndicate that races him,” Nelson said, pointing to the huge group of owners assembled in the Hastings birdcage.

   “I think we’ve trained something like 35 winners for the syndicate over the years and, without their support, we wouldn’t have had he success that we have had.”


Look Out makes it back-to-back wins

   Look Out looks like developing into a good winter galloper judging by the horse’s decisive 1-1/4 length win in the Duke Of Gloucester Cup (2200m) at Waverley last week.

   The six-year-old Nom de Jeu gelding was recording his second victory in a row, after talking out a 1600m race at Wanganui on June 1 and has now recorded five wins from only 19 starts.

   Look Out brought up the third success for the new Hastings training partnership of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal and credited amateur jockey Brendan Harrison with his second win from five rides.

   Harrison, 25, chalked up his first success when taking out the amateur riders’ event at Te Aroha on June 23 aboard Pursued and followed up four days later with his triumph on Look Out.

   He settled Look Out in the last half dozen horses in the early stages of the 2200m event before improving his position, around horses, going down the back straight and had him in a challenging position coming to the home turn.

   Look Out quickly took the lead early in the home straight and kept up a strong run to the line to win by 1-1/4 lengths from Mondorani, with Bad Boy Brown here-quarters of a length back in third.

   Paul Nelson said he thought Look Out would have raced a lot more forward in the running but was pleased by how well he settled and ran out the race strongly.

   “He doesn’t mind a wet track, so I’d say he’s got a fair bit in front of him,” he added.

   Nelson took over the training of Look Out 18 months ago after health problems prevented the horse’s Feilding owner Gary Freeman from continuing to train the horse.

   Freeman still has a racing share as does Paul Nelson, while the other syndicate members are Nelson’s brother Mark, his cousin David and close friends Brian Guerin, David Holden, Stuart Mitchell, Mike Stovell and Peter Tod from Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu’s Angus MacLeod.


Durrant decides to give away race-riding

   Hastings apprentice jockey Hunter Durrant has decided to forgo a career as a jockey, saying an increase in his height has made it too difficult to keep his weight in check.

   Durrant, who is attached to the Hastings stable of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen, spent a month in Australia working for top Victorian trainer Paddy Payne, earlier this year and then spent several weeks with top Wanganui trainer Kevin Myers.

   “I really enjoyed my stay in both places and learnt a lot but unfortunately I have got a lot taller in the time I have been away, and it is made it that much harder to keep my weight down,” Durrant said.

   “I tried to give it a go, but it was just too hard on the body so it’s better that I give it away now.”

   Durrant, 18, kicked one winner from 67 race rides, that being aboard Royal Ruby in a Rating 72 race over 1600m at Hastings on New Year’s Day.

   He said he would like to remain involved in the racing industry and is back working for the Lowry/Cullen stable in Hastings while he plans his future.


   Impressive wins by Mohaka and Callsign Mav were among the highlights at today’s Hastings jumpouts.

   There were seven heats held up against the inside rail on the course proper, where the footing was slow.

   Mohaka took out the second of two 1000m heats and, although she did not record a fast time, the way she won indicated she is coming up well again in a fresh campaign. The Nadeem filly settled back a distant last in the early stages before finishing strongly, hugging the inside rail, to win by 2-3/4 lengths in a time of 1:02.1.

   Mohaka has not raced since finishing second in the Listed Warstep Stakes (2000m) at Riccarton on April 13 and is unlikely to resume racing for at least another month.

  Callsign Mav was easily the fastest winner out of the four 750m heats, clocking 46.5s when getting up in the last few strides to head off Penny Royal by a long neck.

   Callsign Mav is a two-year-old by Atlante in the John Bary stable and could make his race debut at the Hawke’s Bay meeting on July 18.

   Other good winners were a Playmaker three-year-old filly in one of the 750m heats and Jonny Russ, who took out the only heat over 1200m. Neither horse recorded a fast time but finished their heats off well.



Heat 1, 750m: Playmaker 3yr-old filly (M Brown) 1, My Melody Prince filly 2, Pas de Giant 3. Five starters. Margins: ½ length, 1-3/4 lengths. Time: 50.3. Winner trained by Sue Thomson & Mick Brown, Hastings.

Heat 2, 750m: Jakkalberry 3yr-old filly (K Murray) 1, Luana 2, Raise The Flag 3yr-oldgelding 3. Five starters. Margins: ½ length, 2 lengths. Time: 49.5. Winner trained by Fred Pratt, Hastings.

Heat 3, 750m: Callsign Mav (H Durrant) 1, Penny Royal 2, Pinotage 3. Four starters. Margins: Long neck, 1-1/2 lengths. Time: 46.5. Winner trained by John Bary, Hastings.

Heat 4, 750m: Nom de Jeu 2yr-old filly (Z Thomson) 1, I’m Not Joking 2, Nom du Jeu 4yr-old gelding 3. Five starters. Margins: 2 lengths, 1-1/4 lengths. Time: 51.4.

Heat 5, 1000m: Ribamine (K Hercock) 1, Magic Incanto 2, Rock ‘n’ Pop-Mink 3yr-old filly 3. Four starters. Margins: 1-1/4 lengths, 4 lengths. Time: 1:01.3. Winner trained by Kate Hercock, Hastings.

Heat 6, 1000m: Mohaka (H Durrant) 1, Eastern Warrior 2, Raise The Phantom 3. Four starters. Margins: 2-3/4 lengths, 4 lengths. Time: 1:02.1. Winner trained by Guy Lowry & Grant Cullen, Hastings.

Heat 7, 1200m: Jonny Russ (H Durrant) 1, No Need 2, Teapot 3. Four starters. Margins: ¾ length, 1 length. Time: 1:22.4. Winner trained by Anita Gardner, Hastings.


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