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.
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