Day At The Track

Connor overcomes odds

11:11 AM 05 Jan 2017 NZDT
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Mossdale Conner winning the Roxburgh Cup
HRNZ photo

Woodend Beach trainers Greg and Nina Hope had a memorable first time racing horses at Roxburgh on Wednesday when Mossdale Conner won the Roxburgh Cup  and Cindy Bromac was successful.

The wins continued a great holiday innings for the Hope stable after the group one National Trot in Auckland with Quite A Moment; six wins at the Westport and Reefton meetings and another at Omakau on Monday with Mossdale Rose, a sister to Mossdale Conner. Ricky May has been the winning driver.

Mossdale Conner overcame a 40m handicap and powered down the outer to win by half a length from Better Enforce.

Mossdale Conner and Mossdale Rose are both raced by their Riversdale (Southland) breeder Archie Affleck. Mossdale Rose chased home the up and coming Royal Bengal at Roxburgh.

The weather was fine for the Cup but conditions were marginal for reinsmen in races four and five when heavy showers and wind lashed the course and turned the track to slush.

Reinsmen were almost driving blind.

“I was struggling to see,’’ said Ricky May, who drove Gracey Lacey in race 5.

Murray Brown, the trainer of Ben Washington (race 4) said his driver Brent Barclay told him he was unable to see properly and also that the horse did not handle the conditions.

Mitchell Kerr, who drove Supreme Banner in that race said  the conditions were “shocking”.

“It is pretty bad,” said Dexter Dunn, who has driven in races throughout the world.

Doug Gordon, a Roxburgh horseman who has been attending race meetings on the course since he was a three-year-old in 1935, said it  was the “worst it has been here, apart from  the first meeting of the Tuapeka Trotting Club when it snowed.”

Graeme Rowland, the judge for the club, said the conditions for race 4 were the third worst he had experienced in 39 years in the role.

“The only worse conditions were snow one day at Oamaru and heavy fog at Timaru,’’ he said.

The stipendiary stewards ordered mudguards be worn on the sulkies of horses after race 3. The use of the mobile gate was abandoned for race 4 after the motor vehicle was unable to get traction to accelerate clear of horses. The race and subsequent  mobile start listed races were dispatched from a moving start with the clerk of the course, Graeme Mee assembling horses.

Abandonment of the meeting was not considered.

“We downgraded the track to slushy after race 4 but no safety concerns were expressed by the drivers,” said Liam Tidmarsh, the chairman of stewards.

Some races turned into processions, a reflection of horses not suited by the track condition. The last horse was 149 lengths from the winner in the Cup.

Madison Jane justified her hot favouritism for the C0 trot with a seven and a half length win when the weather was fine.

“She is only a wee thing but she has a great attitude,’’ said Phil Williamson, the trainer of the 3yr-old filly who was having her first race since July. She led over the last 1200m.

Spotlight The Valley won the other trot by four lengths after starting from 20m and leading for the last 1500m.

Gavin Cook repeated his win of two years in the race for amateur drivers. He drove the longshot Redmaro, owned by his wife, Marie

Keith and Robyn Gibson, of Upper Hutt and Wanaka were on hand to see their 4yr-old Late Mail regain winning form.

“He (Late Mail) showed a lot early but was no good at three and Chris McDowell has done a good job getting him back on track,’’ said Keith.


Tayler Strong

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