IN Racing
Hawkes Bay Racing Column - July 23
In-form Hastings stable now chasing Grand National glory
John Jenkins | July 25, 2022
Paul Nelson is presented with the trainer’s trophy from the new Minister Of Racing

The Hastings stable of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal continued their amazing run in jumping races this winter by taking out last Saturday’s $75,000 Hydra Cell Wellington Hurdle and will now set their sights on next month’s Grand National meetings in both New Zealand and Australia.

The Nelson/McDougal combination produced rising hurdling star Nedwin for a comprehensive victory in the 3400m Trentham event, the Niagara gelding chalking up his third dominant jumping success from as many starts this winter.

It also brought up win number 24 for the season for the Nelson/McDougal stable, 14 of them coming since June 6 and 13 of those in jumping races.

The stable has claimed six prestige jumping races this winter, the $60,000 Ken Browne Hurdle (The Cossack), $60,000 Ferguson Gold Cup Steeplechase (No Tip),  $60,000 Waikato Steeplechase (Argyll), $60,000 Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (The Cossack), $60,000 Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase (Argyll) and $75,000 Wellington Hurdle (Nedwin).

Nedwin is now one of five horses Nelson and McDougal intend taking to Christchurch for the three day Grand National meeting, on August 6, 10 and 13, while their stable star The Cossack is headed across the Tasman for an attempt on the Australian Grand National Hurdle-Steeple double.

The Cossack is the reigning New Zealand champion jumper and the winner of nine races over hurdles and one steeplechase. He is coming off a three length win in the Te Whangai Romney’s Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3100m) on July 2, where he lumped topweight of 73kg.

Nelson confirmed travel plans for the Mastercraftsman eight-year-old this week, saying he will be floated to Auckland next Monday and is booked on a flight to Melbourne the following day.

The Cossack will contest the $A300,000 Grand National Hurdle (4200m) at Sandown on August 7 and, all going well, he will then tackle the $A350,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at Ballarat on August 28.

Shaun Phelan, who has been aboard The Cossack in his last six jumping wins, will also cross the Tasman to retain the mount on the class jumper.

Nedwin and Argyll will spearhead the Nelson/McDougal team heading to Christchurch, with Nedwin to contest the $100,000 Grand National Hurdles (4200m) on August 10 and Argyll’s main mission being the $100,000 Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) on August 13. They will be joined on the trip by The Anarchist, Noess and Suliman.

The Anarchist is likely to contest the $50,000 open steeplechase over 4250m on the first day of the carnival and may also start in the Grand National Steeplechase a week later while Noess is expected to line up in the $50,000 Sydenham Hurdle (3100m) on the first day and there is a $30,000 0-1 win hurdle race over 3100m on the last day for which he might still qualify.

Suliman has yet to have a jumping start but is the winner of six races on the flat and Nelson hinted the eight-year-old Redwood gelding could make his debut over fences in the $20,000 maiden hurdle over 3100m on the middle day.

Besides their Grand National assaults, Nelson and McDougal will also chase more jumping race spoils at Te Rapa next Saturday where last start winner Raucous will contest the Open Entry Steeplechase and Rocking Good Time could make his hurdle debut.

Nedwin, who took out a maiden hurdle over 2500m at Hastings last month followed by an open hurdle success over 3000m at Rotorua on July 1, was sent out a raging hot $1.80 favourite for last Saturday’s Wellington Hurdle and never put a foot wrong.

A canny ride from Shaun Phelan saw him keep the seven-year-old out wide in search of the best footing on the extremely heavy-10 track and the horse made light work of his 69kg topweight to win comfortably.

Phelan settled the gelding sixth in the nine-horse field early but then started a forward move entering the last 900m and they jumped to the front at the third to last fence.

Second favourite Mizzena joined issue soon after and the two horses drew clear in the home straight to fight out the finish. There was little between them jumping the second to last but Nedwin then asserted control and raced away for a 10 length win.

It was Paul Nelson’s third Wellington Hurdle success after saddling up Solid Steel to take out the race in 2010 and The Shackler in 2017, when training on his own.

Well known Hawke’s Bay thoroughbred owner-breeder Tom Lowry bred Nedwin out of the unraced Don Eduardo mare Edwina and the horse is now raced by Nelson and his wife Carol in partnership with Gisborne couple Mick and Suz Gardner.

Nelson and McDougal tried hard to pull off the feature jumping double at Trentham last Saturday with the well supported No Tip trying his heart out in the $75,000 Grant Plumbing  Wellington Steeplechase (5500m), only to be upstaged by the 21-to-one outsider Tittletattle who scored by 17 lengths.


Local company new Guineas sponsor

Hawke’s Bay company Animal Health Direct, which already sponsors the iconic Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase, has increased its involvement with Hawke’s Bay Racing by also taking over the sponsorship of the Hawke’s Bay Guineas.

The $140,000 Group 2 event, one of the classic three-year-old races on the New Zealand racing calendar, will be run over 1400m on the second day of the Colliers Spring Racing Carnival, on October 1.

Hawke’s Bay Racing chief executive Darin Balcombe said this week Animal Health Direct has signed a deal to sponsor the Hawke’s Bay Guineas for the next three years and he is delighted a local Hawke’s Bay business will have its name attached to such a prestigious race.

“The race will be known as the AHD Hawke’s Bay Guineas and is a race that has traditionally drawn the cream of the country’s three-year-olds racing at that time,” Balcombe said.

Animal Health Direct has sponsored the Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase for the past 12 years and the company’s owner, Richard Kettle, says by adding the company’s name to the Hawke’s Bay Guineas will hopefully increase its profile both domestically and nationally.

“We are a local animal health company with national distribution and we are looking to increase our profile in the farming community,” Kettle said.

“Providing a wide range of health products for sheep, beef and dairying is our main focus but we also have a number of specialised products for horses and realise that a lot of farmers are also involved in the racing industry.”

Hawke’s Bay Racing CEO Darin Balcombe said all the main races at this year’s Colliers Spring Racing Carnival now have a confirmed sponsor.

The three Group 1 weight-for-age races will be the $300,00 Tarzino Trophy (1400m) on September 10, the $300,000 Arrowfield Stud Plate (1600m) on October 1 and the $330,000 Livamol Classic (2040m) on October 15.


Richard Kettle, whose Hawke’s Bay company Animal Health Direct has taken over the sponsorship of the Hawke’s Bay Guineas.


Deserved success for Donardo

It has been a long time between celebration drinks for the connections of Hawke’s Bay-trained Donardo but he finally capped off several minor placings with a decisive win in the $20,000 maiden steeplechase at Trentham last Saturday.

The nine-year-old gelding was recording his second win from 34 starts when taking out  the 4000m event, his only other success coming in a 2060m maiden highweight at Wanganui in July 2018.

In between times he has chalked up three seconds and three thirds for Waipukurau trainer Lucy de Lautour, who races him with her husband Will.

At his most recent start before last Saturday, Donardo finished a close second to The Anarchist in a 4000m maiden steeplechase at Hastings on July 2.

Donardo was unplaced in two starts on the flat in 2017 when prepared by the Hastings partnership of Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen and was then taken over by de Lautour who said she wanted to give the horse another chance.

The de Lautours are best known as the owners of the good jumper Kipkeino, winner of 10 races including the 2017 Hawke’s Bay Hurdles, and they always had a jumping career in mind for Donardo.

They have given him plenty of time to mature and strengthen and are now reaping the rewards.

Donardo was ridden to victory last Saturday by Hamish McNeill, who settled the horse at the back of the field in the early stages and saved plenty of ground by keeping to the inside around the figure-eight track to improve to third mid-race.

The gelding put in some magnificent jumps to go up and join the leader Ritesaidzed with 1000m to run and took control soon after, jumping to a clear advantage over the last fence before racing clear to win by 4 lengths.

Donardo has good bloodlines to back up his ability and was originally passed in for $50,000 at the 2014 Ready To Run Two-year-old sale. His sire Don Eduardo was a son of Zabeel while his dam Devil In Red is an unraced half-sister to Surpassing, who won six races.

His grandam is Superior Star, who won seven races and was crowned champion four-year-old in Singapore and Malaysia in 2004.