Andrew Neal fondly remembers Easter School holidays being spent travelling with his father Peter to the Hawera trots from their Marlborough home.
The Neals holidayed in the rural Taranaki town while racing on the Saturday and Monday. Although Neal Senior never won a Hawera Cup he had success and memorable times while competing in North Island grass track events.
Fast forward to 2014 and his son and daughter-in-law have won the last two Hawera Cups.
After Delight Brigade won last year, stablemate Three Jewels added the 2014 Hawera Cup on Saturday to the Taranaki Cup he won last year.
The Mach Three mare was driven a treat by (Lyn) Neal. She settled her four back on the inner from her 20m handicap and was then four back on the outside with cover.
Then on the home turn Neal had Three Jewels the widest turning in, and in the straight they were simply too strong clearing out to win by 2-1/2 lengths and one length from favourite River Polka (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and second favourite Styx It To Em (Maurice McKendry).
Andrew Neal was delighted with the performance.
“It’s a prestigious Cup. We are thrilled with her. She’s not far behind some of the best mares running around. She was a really nice fourth behind Adore Me in the Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park in December.
“She also won the Taranaki in the mud last year. She’s a good tough mare who I think will be a nice broodmare one day,” Neal said.
“It was also a very nice drive from Lyn,” he added.
It was the 5-year-old’s 11th win in 25 starts. She’s also placed nine times and now won $90,548.
Three of those wins have come this season. She also won two $8,000 races in consecutive starts at Cambridge Raceway on November 17 and December 5.
Stablemate Delight Brigade was scratched from the Cup due to a blood disorder, and as a precaution will be out for another couple of weeks.
Neal said Three Jewels, who finished fifth in the Country Cups Final two days after her Hawera Cup win, will now continue to race at Alexandra Park and Cambridge, most likely from handicaps.
“She’s won 11 races and it’s not always easy to place her but she’s a quality mare and is a lot better than what her recent form-line has displayed.
“She has a win or two left in her yet, and should perform well at stud one day,” he said.
Three Jewels is the third of three foals out of the one-win Falcon Seelster mare, Falcon Jewel. Younger brother Courageous Falcon (by Courage Under Fire) won four of his 17 starts in New Zealand for the Neals, before being exported to Australia on July 18, 2011 where he won seven more races.
Three Jewels is owned by the Neals and Mrs K. M. Yardley. She was bred by her trainers and Mrs J. Yardley.
By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)