Noel Kennard couldn’t have scripted yesterday any better if he had tried.
With more than 300 members of his go-Harness syndications on course to enjoy a day at the race meeting they were sponsoring, all that was left to do was produce them a winner.
And Kennard and his right-hand man Johnny Robinson did exactly that – with a little help from Hamish Hunter and Colin DeFilippi.
They were victorious with Southland pacer Astro Boy who overcame an early gallop to steam home down the outside of the track and claim victory in an impressive fashion.
The success was the perfect advertisement for harness racing with hoards of owners making their way into the winners circle to celebrate the win and Kennard said seeing that made all the hard work worth it.
“I’ve put a lot of expectation on myself with these syndicates and this day,’’ Kennard said.
“So to see something like that happen right in front of my eyes and to see all the joy in the owners as they came into the birdcage was really special.
“We haven’t had the best of luck, but hopefully this is the step back in the right direction we have needed.’’
While the Astro Boy win was a clear highlight of the day – there were plenty of honourable mentions as well.
Jerry Garcia was rewarded for consistency when he claimed the Akaroa Cup for trainer and driver Leo O’Reilly.
The Jereme’s Jet gelding had run in the money 16 times from 26 starts prior to yesterday but took his winning tally to seven for his career with a dominant win.
Away safely from the stand O’Reilly sent the four-year-old forward with a lap to run to find the lead and he was able to then hand up to back maker, and favourite Arising Easton who took him to the top of the straight.
From there he dashed away and held off the late challenge of Magna in the $12,000 feature.
Earlier in the day both Jackie Law and Karen O’Connor made their way into the winners circle after long absences.
O’Connor struck first with her own trotter Regal Moment who made great use of a grand run in the trial to boot up the insider and win with a bit in hand.
It was her first victory since she drove Datmymulligan to success at Methven in March of 2012 and it also took her to 98 career driving wins.
Law had a little longer wait in between drinks as you have to go back to 2007 when Dorothy Morris won at Waimate to find her last winning driver with only 17 drives in between victories.
She was successful with debutant Surfin Tsunami who rocked the punters with a $70 winning quote in a big maiden pacer.
Law trained Dreamaway Jess to win at Addington in 2009 where she was driven by Ricky May
By Matt Markham (Courtesy of The Press).