Day At The Track

Donaldson on a Rowe Cup high

09:39 AM 02 May 2017 NZST
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Temporale,Harness racing
Temporale winning the Rowe Cup
HRNZ photo

Doug Donaldson’s drive from Auckland to Tauranga last Friday night took about 15 minutes instead of the usual 150.

Well that’s what the 212km journey seemed like for the overwhelmed Rowe Cup winning owner.

Donaldson and his wife Lenore had to leave Alexandra Park soon after the prestigious Group One event bound for a friend’s 70th birthday in Tauranga.

“I hardly noticed the travel at all. We were on a high from start to finish – and still are (Sunday). I still can’t believe this has happened.

“I thought if he could run in four I’d be happy, but to win it he would need to have all the favours go his way. I’m not sure when I will get down from cloud nine,” Donaldson said.

The Kaiwaka 75-year-old co-owns last Friday night’s Rowe Cup champion – Temporale, who in the hands of his trainer Tony Herlihy (MNZM) became just the second 4-year-old trotter in 99 years to win the coveted time-honoured event.

Herlihy’s wife Suzanne also has a share in Temporale, as does Auckland Trotting Club Board Director, Dene Biddlecombe; and Victorian, Kevin Riseley who also co-owns New Zealand Cup champion, Lazarus.

But like most harness racing pundits, a couple of months ago Donaldson thought last year’s North Island 3-Year-Old Trotter-of-the-Year was too young and inexperienced to compete in an arduous 3200m staying test.

That was until the owners listened to what ‘The Iceman’ - aka Tony Herlihy had to say.

“He said the two miles wouldn’t bother the horse and that last year’s (August) trip across the Tasman was the making of him. I agree he’s a whole new horse at four compared to when he was three. He’s matured a lot.

“Last season he was a bit fractious and as a 2-year-old he was unsettled. He’s a whole new horse now. Tony said when he took him to the Breeder’s Crown that he might not necessarily win over there, but the trip would be the making of him. He was spot on.

“He steps well and his gait is now very fluent – and he’s just four. I think there are more good times ahead, hopefully starting with the Jewels Final in Ashburton early next month,” said Donaldson.

But even turning for home last Friday night, Donaldson thought Temporale was running for place money.

“We had the favourite (Habibti Ivy) in front of us and she was sitting in the trail. Even at that stage I thought the South Island trained horse would win.

“Then what amazing acceleration in the last 20 metres to win! We all know Tony is one of the best we have seen in the bike. He certainly proved that on Friday,” Donaldson said.

“In fact the win showed his all-round class and just what a great trainer and driver he really is,” he added.

Donaldson has given more than a decade’s loyalty to Herlihy’s ‘Strike Won Stable’ at annual yearling sales over the years. Temporale is so far his best purchase.

The owners paid $22,000 to Studholme Bloodstock for the Monarchy - Whosinthenest colt at the 2014 Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

After placing last season in the Group One Northern Trotting Derby and the Group Two NZ Sires Stakes Trotting Championship, Temporale nailed his first Group win in the Group Three Greenlane Cup on March 10.

“That’s when I felt he turned the corner and thought maybe he could win a Group One race one day. But wow I didn’t think it would be a big one like the Rowe Cup so soon.

"He's a much stronger and bigger horse this time in. The spell also did him the world of good,” said Donaldson.

Donaldson's first purchase with Herlihy was at the 1999 Yearling Sales when he went in on a Gee Whizz II - Classic Dee gelding named Cautious Spirit.

He won four races for Herlihy between 2001 and 2003. Herlihy reignited his training career in 2001-2002 with 54 winners and $508,819 in stakes. He's averaged those earnings every season since.

Donaldson also paddocks Temporale and other Herlihy and (Michelle) Wallis and (Bernie) Hackett stable representatives at his Kaiwaka property when they are spelling.

Temporale was bred by Graeme (’Pup’) Hulston and his wife Bev from West Melton.


Duane Ranger

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