Counties Racing Club played host to the first thoroughbred race meeting in New Zealand since the COVID-19 lockdown and the local trainers made the most of the day taking out six of the 11 races.
Early morning fog settled on course however the weather Gods were on our side and it lifted right on cue as the horses paraded for the first race. Leaving us with a beautiful sunny winters day to compliment the racing ahead with all races sponsored by Dunstan Horsefeeds.
It was a memorable day for local apprentice Callum Jones beginning his race riding career after being granted his license specially to ride at his home track. From four rides for his boss Nigel Tiley, Callum kicked home two winners and was placed second as well.
His first win came aboard his favourite horse in the stable DIOGENES, who will now become one of his favourite horses for life. His second win came on the aptly named DOUBLE HAPPY to cap off a wonderful day for all connections involved!
Local trainers got off to a great start when the first race on the card was taken out by KEEP IT REAL, trained by the Rogers Team who, later in the day managed to secure a double with ALASKAN GOLD taking out the rating 63 1300. Ridden by local jockey Sam Spratt the lightly tried ALASKAN GOLD has now won two of his eight races and looks to have a bright future along with his stable mate.
The next local winner followed quickly from the Rudy Liefting barn with FAST MOVER saluting in race three, sired by Move Faster whom Rudy stands himself at Kakapo Lodge. This was the first winner for the sire from a limited number of mares he has served so far in his career.
In the rating 63 1100, BULLYBROOK won easily for Ray Gavin, handling the conditions with ease this provided the horse with his second win on the home track and two seconds now from six starts.
Local senior rider Andrew Calder showed his skills to perfection winning on Bothered, after the pair led from go to woe in the 800-metre event.
There was an excellent crowd and atmosphere on course, as many patrons obviously enjoyed being back at the races. Our "Return to Racing Function” situated in the Oaks Lounge had around 120 attendees. Full credit goes to our event coordinator, Fleur Johnston, who set up a beautiful room and organised a team to provide wonderful food and hospitality for the day.
At the end of the day, we sadly bid a fond farewell to Earle Adlington, who has served the club for 40 years as the on-course farrier. We wish him the best in a retirement he thoroughly deserves and hope to see him come along to the races in the future now and enjoy a day out.
The track played host to 11 races for the day with full fields and held up well in the winter conditions. The fact that we had so many races demonstrates that many owners and trainers were keen to get back to the races with their horses and see them perform despite the open entry system adopted for the remainder of the season.
The track has come through the day well and track manager Emery White is confident it will be back in shape for our next meeting here on Wednesday 15th July.
We are looking forward to seeing you all here once again!