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Hawkes Bay Racing Column 26 Jun 2020

More horses than ever at NZ meetings

(By John Jenkins)

   After two days of action since the return of gallops racing following Covid-19 it is glaringly obvious New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing hugely underestimated the number of horses that are up to race fitness.

   The first day of racing, at Pukekohe last Saturday, saw more than 200 horses nominated for what was originally programmed as a five-race meeting. In the finish the number of races was extended to 11, with full fields carded for most of them.

   Another 200 plus horses were nominated for this week’s second gallop meeting, at Wanganui on Thursday, where again a five-race programme was changed to 11 races.

   The third meeting back will be staged at Riccarton Park in Christchurch today where, once again, the scheduled five-race programme has been revised to 11 races.

   The abundance of horses ready to race was clearly evident following recent barrier trials held in both the northern and central regions.

   There were 33 heats at the Te Rapa trials on June 9, 21 heats at Otaki on June 17, 30 again at Te Rapa last Tuesday and 12 at Waverley three days ago.

   Even the jumpers have been out in force, with 10 heats at the Cambridge jumping trials on June 18.

   NZTR set up a makeshift racing calendar for the month of July, erring on the side of caution as to how many horses would be available to race. Gallops racing was originally expected to resume on July 4 but that date was brought forward by a fortnight once NZTR realised the number of horses raring to go.

   It was decided that every race up until the end of the racing season, on July 31, would be an open entry event and carry total stakemoney of $15,000.

   First prizemoney is $8100, second $2250, third $1050, fourth $600 and there is  also $300 paid out for horses that finish from fifth to 14th.

   NZTR said it would waiver both nomination and acceptance fees for all races, meaning there was no cost to trainers and owners to enter their horses.

   It now means that NZTR have got themselves in a no-win situation. They have had to put on more races with a guaranteed $15,000 stake, to accommodate the huge numbers of horses available, but without any income from nomination and acceptance fees.

   Hawke’s Bay Racing will stage another round of jumpouts at the Hastings track next Tuesday with a large number of horses expected to compete again. And several trainers from the region have indicated they will have horses ready to race at the Awapuni meeting the following Saturday.

   Trainers spoken to are now concerned about what the next season holds as far as stakemoney levels go.

   Prior to the lockdown maiden races carried a minimum stake of $10,000, with increment increases as to the grade of races. The Group 1 Vodafone New Zealand Derby, one of the iconic races on the racing calendar, was raced for a stake of $1milllion in February this year but is one of many of the country’s top races likely to have a prizemoney slash in the coming season.

   Whilst it is true that everyone needs to cut their cloth to suit, especially in trying and difficult times, New Zealand racing is already regarded as a poor cousin to Australia and it would not need to cut back too much more or we will become a third world racing industry likened to the likes of Macau.


Apprentice proves an instant hit 

   Last Saturday’s first day back for gallops racing since the Covid-19 lockdown will live long in the memory of apprentice jockey Callum Jones.

   The 17-year-old was having his first day of race-riding, after being granted his licence a few days before, and kicked home two winners and a second from four rides.

   To make the occasion even more memorable Jones was riding at his home track and the wins were on horses trained by his employer, former top jockey Nigel Tiley.

   After notching up a second in his first race-ride, on the Tiley-trained Lupelani in race four, Jones brought up his first win aboard Diogenes three races later and said the success was made even more special as he has a soft spot for the horse.

   Diogenes is one of my favourite horses at the stables,” Jones said. “From his other runs I was just hoping to cruise around and see how he handled the heavy ground and save a bit for the end.

   “I am really stoked that I was able to get my first win on Diogenes. People have been getting a bit annoyed with him because he is a bit nippy (likes to bite), but some of them will be quiet now because he has won a race.”

   Two races later Jones completed a winning double when getting Double Happy up to score in a 1300m race, which came as a bit of a surprise to the young rider.

   “Double Happy normally goes better over a longer distance, around 2100 metres,” he said. “But I thought he would have a little bit left when the others got tired and he just went a bit better than I expected.”

   Jones has no racing background and hadn’t put his leg over a horse until three years ago.

   “I went to the races with a friend’s Dad one time,” Jones said. “He mentioned I was a good size to be a jockey and I would like it, given my need for speed.”

   He approached Nigel Tiley and told him he wanted to be a jockey and he said to come in and do some work experience on the weekends, as he was still going to school.

   “In Year 10 I dropped out of school and went to work for Nigel. He taught me to ride and the rest is history.”

   Jones said it has been a great asset to have Tiley, a former champion jockey, teach him the ropes and guide him.

   “I have got a lot of respect for Nigel. It is a big help with him having the experience he has.

   “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Nigel. He has just a good way of putting things to help me, especially with me not coming from a horse background.”

   A keen surfer, Jones said his favourite past time compliments his riding career.

   “As long as the weather is good and I have got a spare hour, at least, I am out there in the sea,” he said.

   “It helps with my balance and with arm strength, paddling out.”

   Jones is keen to make a real go of becoming a jockey and has set himself a few goals early in his career.

   “I want to outride my claim in the first two years of my apprenticeship, that’s my main goal, and to just ride as many winners as possible, both for Nigel and other trainers.”

Apprentice Callum Jones looks well satisfied with himself as he brings Diogenes back to the winner’s stall at Pukekohe last Saturday, his first success on his first day of race-riding

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Hastings Trackwork 23 Jun 2020


(By John Jenkins)


   Kaluanui, a member of the John Bary stable, hit out well in a reasonably session at the Hastings track this morning.

   Fast work was carried out on the plough (slushy) and wide out on the No.1 grass (soft).

   John Bary sent eight horses from his stable into the Hastings track to gallop including Kaluanui, who finished in front of a Ghibellines two-year-old filly at the end of 1000m on the plough in 1:09.7, the last 600 in 38.2.

   Kaluanui is a Sacred Falls two-year-old filly who finished fourth on debut over 1200m at Wanganui in February and finished a close second in a 780m jumpout at Hastings a fortnight ago.

   Kaipawe and Free Thyme worked together over 1000m on the grass in 1:07.3, running the first 400m in an easy 30.4s before quickening over the last 600 in 36.9.

   Free Thyme is owned and trained by Richard McKenzie and won a 780m jumpout at Hastings a fortnight ago.

   A Pure Champion two-year-old filly in the Thompson/Brown stable and a Darci Brahma two-year-old gelding trained by Richard McKenzie worked together over 800m on the grass in 56.9, the last 600 in 39.2 while a Jakkalberry three-year-old and a Jakkalberry two-year-old, both prepared by Kate Hercock, clocked 52.2 for 800m, the last 600 in 37.6.

   A Niagara-Pare three-year-old filly and a Prince Conti four-year-old gelding worked over 1000m on the plough in 1:10.5, the last 600 in 38.4 while the John Bary-trained Louboutin ended her work with an easy 600mon the plough in 41.

   A Shamoline Warrior three-year-old gelding worked over a round on his own, coming home the last 800 in 54.6 and final 400 in 26.3.

   A Jimmy Choux two-year-old gelding and one by Makfi, both trained by John Bary, were only let stride out over 400m on the plough and recorded 26.4.

   A Rip Van Winkle two-year-old filly and a Nadeem two-year-old filly, both in the Kate Hercock stable, worked together over 600m in 40.7 while Smokin’ Bullet worked in at three-quarter pace from the 1000m and quickened over the last 600 in 40.8.



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Hawkes Bay Racing Column 22 Jun 2020

CD gallops to return next Thursday

(By John Jenkins)


   Gallops racing is set to resume in the central districts next Thursday when the Wanganui Jockey Club stages what is hoped to be an eight-race programme.

   When the country went into lockdown on March 25 New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing said the resumption of thoroughbred racing would not be until July 3, at the earliest. But that date was brought forward by a fortnight, with the first meeting being run at Pukekohe today, where there are 11 races.

   Two extra race meetings have been added to the original July schedule announced by NZTR in their ‘Return to Racing’ plan.

   The first is scheduled for Wanganui on Thursday, June 25 and the second is at Ellerslie on Saturday, July 11.

   Strong numbers of horses at trials and jumpouts have confirmed that there is an abundance of horses out there that are race fit and raring to go.     

   Notwithstanding the indication of strong numbers, next Thursday’s meeting will not proceed unless there are sufficient numbers for eight good-sized fields. Highweight races will be scheduled over distances of 1600m and 2060m as well as races over 800m, 1200m and 1360m. These races will be Open Entry events and will be run for a stake of $15,000.

   In the northern region the Auckland Racing Club will now race at Ellerslie on Saturday, July 11 with the currently scheduled Counties meeting moving back four days to Wednesday, July 15.

   The additional Ellerslie meeting will also have stakes of $15,000 per race and be Open Entry with the distances of 880m, 1200m, 1400m 1600m and 2200m being applicable.

   The highweight races that were scheduled for Counties will now be run at the Ellerslie meeting.

   Where the highweight races at both meetings are programmed and potentially split, NZTR in conjunction with the club, will decide what races to allocate as the highweight. This will be done after nominations close.

   Several Hastings trainers have indicated they are keen to line up horses at Wanganui next Thursday, including Lee Somervell who has impressive last start winner Thousandkissesdeep ready to resume.

   The Sepoy three-year-old filly scored by 1-1/2 lengths when taking out a 1000m maiden race at Tauherenikau on March 22, three days before the country went into lockdown amid the Covid-19 crisis.

   Somervell gave the filly, along with the other members of his stable, a good spell during the lockdown and is pleased with the way she has progressed since returning to work. She showed she is ready for a big fresh up performance by winning a 780m jumpout at Hastings on May 27 and turned in a strong solo 1000m gallop at the Hastings track last Tuesday.

   Another Hastings-trained horse who looks primed for a big fresh up run at next week’s Wanganui meeting is the John Bary-trained Spydapus.

   The speedy Burgundy filly also showed good ability back in March, winning an 850m Foxton trial before recording a debut third behind Thousandkissesdeep over 1000m at Tauherenikau.

   The three-year-old won a 780m jumpout by seven lengths at Hastings on May 27 and will be entered for an 800m race at Wanganui.

   Meanwhile Hawke’s Bay Racing has announced that they will be staging another round of jumpouts on the Hastings track on Tuesday, June 30.

   This will be the third set of jumpouts on the Hastings track since the country came out of lockdown, with more than 50 horses competing at each of the first two.

   An additional trial meeting has been added to the northern trial programme and will be held at Rotorua on Tuesday, June 30. Entries close with the bureau at 12 noon on Monday, June 29.

   Recognising the absence of racing opportunities from late March to late June due to COVID-19 restrictions, NZTR has provided a three month extension to the period of riding apprenticeships.


Hunta Pence over fences

   Hastings-trained open class galloper Hunta Pence could be seen in a jumping role this year.

   The No Excuse Needed seven-year-old, part-owned and trained by Patrick Campbell, has been the winner of eight races on the flat including a Foxton Cup (2040m) at Wanganui. He has also twice finished second in the Listed Wanganui Cup and was fourth in last year’s Listed Hawke’s Bay Cup.

   Campbell has sent the horse north to Cambridge trainer Samantha Logan to educate him for a jumping career and top jumps jockey Aaron Kuru has been schooling the horse.

   Hunta Pence needs to earn a jumping certificate by twice schooling in company to  the satisfaction of an official before he can be entered for a hurdle race.

   “We’ve sent him up there to get his hurdle ticket and then he can come back to Hastings,” Campbell said. 


Eye surgery for Te Akau Shark

   Trans-Tasman Group 1 winner Te Akau Shark’s return to training has been delayed due to impending surgery on a rare eye condition.

   The popular galloper has been spelling in New South Wales after finishing fifth in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at the end of a fruitful campaign that netted Group 1 victories in both the Waikato Sprint (1400m) and Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m)

   “Whilst spelling, we further investigated an eye irritation of Te Akau Shark’s that we have managed successfully,” Te Akau racing principal David Ellis said.

   “Expert international equine eye surgeons, together with our Sydney veterinary team, have decided it is in Te Akau Shark’s best future racing interests to undergo an optic implant surgery. 

   “His issue is a rare one and the procedure has been scheduled for this week.”

   “Obviously, this is a disappointing setback but it is necessary that we operate now to ensure a viable future racing career for this wonderful athlete. 

   “While the prognosis remains guarded, we are hopeful that Te Akau Shark will return to the track in due course, to again display his talent and that “wow” factor that he is so well known and loved for.”

   Purchased by Ellis from the NZB Ready to Run Sale for $230,000, Te Akau Shark has won seven of his 14 appearances for New Zealand’s leading trainer Jamie Richards.

   The son of Rip Van Winkle has won in excess of $1.5 million in prizemoney and the dual Group One winner has placed at the elite level on a further three occasions, including finishing third in last year’s Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).

Hastings trainer Lee Somervell leads Thousandkissesdeep away following the three-year-old’s last start win over 1000m at Tauherenikau in March. She is ready to resume racing at Wanganui next Thursday.


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