Day At The Track

May out to make hay

08:00 AM 04 Feb 2017 NZDT
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Ricky May with trainer Greg Hope.jpg
Ricky May and Greg Hope

Frustrated with the current farming life, champion harness racing driver Ricky May might find driving high-priced racehorses today at Ashburton somewhat of a stress relief from the battles he’s facing on the farm. 

The Methven horseman is currently juggling harvest work with driving horses, but as the unpredictable weather continues to wreak havoc on his yields, May, has the luxury of being able to focus on the job at hand on the racetrack a little more than what he usually does at this time of the year.

“It’s been a bit of a weird old season,” May said of the cropping life. 

“We are getting a couple of really good days and then some wet ones which is meaning the crops aren’t drying and it keeps pushing things back.” 

Today though the focus will be solely on the track as he looks forward to two of the Ashburton Trotting Club’s most prestigious juvenile races – the Hambletonian Classic and the Sapling Stakes. 

His Hambletonian drive – Enghien, is a beauty. 

The Greg and Nina Hope trained three-year-old hasn’t been to the races since a stunning fresh victory back prior to Christmas. 

He did trial at Ashburton last week, galloping late in the piece when beaten by race-rival today, Habibi Inta. 

“It’s always a concern when they do that, but I think we can forgive it, I’m not worried about it.” 

“They have made some changes to his shoes since then and knowing Greg and Nina he should be sorted.”

May used the trial as a chance to push Enghien out of the gate and he responded beautifully looking powerful as he surged forward. 

“That’s the best he has felt out of the gate, I was really happy with it. 

“We are going to have to go forward from our draw, so I’m pleased we did it.”

Enghien will start from barrier eight. His biggest rival, Habibi Inta, will start from the second row for Blair Orange. 

Never far from the action at Ashburton, which is just a 20 minute drive from home base, May is closing in on 200 driving wins on the track over his career. He’s got 182 wins on the grit track and one sole victory on the grass track from when he drove Liz Winter to success for David Isherwood in 1979 – the first of his wins at the Ashburton Racecourse. 

In the Sapling Stakes, which he won back in 2000 with Thank U John, May will take the reins on Cullenburn for Benny Hill. The big-figure purchase at last year’s yearling sales is a brother to open class pacing star, Locharburn and has had two public appearances ahead of his debut in the two-year-old feature. 

“He’s got all the makings of a really nice horse, he’s going to be pretty tough when it all clicks together. 

“I don’t know about this week though, he might just need the experience, I think he’s good enough but we will have to see.”

Gerard O’Reilly will drive the likely favourite in the event, Cole Porter – a son of former top racemare, De Lovely by Bettor’s Delight. 

May’s other chances today include Mossdale Rose and Bella Jones for the Hope stable while he made Diamond Life his best of the day. 

“I thought he’d be pretty hard to beat. It’s not a super field.”

Diamond Life is trained by Hill and part-owned by popular rodeo identity, Craig Wiggins along with May’s wife Judy who bred the foal from her broodmare, Ruby Wax. 


Ashburton Selections – By Matt Markham 

Race 1: Say Your Pres, Kai Time, Louis Moss, Paradise Spur

Race 2: Sky City King, Cleaver Green, Loretta Franco, Locked Out Of Heaven 

Race 3: Diamond Life, Waimac Attack, Glenferrie Duster, Kotare Mist

Race 4: Woosh Factor, Burn Off, Living Legend, Elusive Flight

Race 5: Matrika, Tahlia Franco, Supreme Banner, Happy Styx

Race 6: Mossdale Rose, Bonnie Joan, Ariadne Lavra, Ask Again

Race 7: Mighty American, Cruzy Dude, Gumpowder, Crackamoa

Race 8: The Brooklyn Brawler, Cullenburn, Cole Porter, John The Plumber

Race 9: Enghien, Habibi Inta, Chevron Express, Firenze

Race 10: Habibti Ivy, Arannalea, Sugar Cane, Agatha Tyron

Race 11: Ultimate Desire, Glenferrie Classic, Cmeerock, Bella Jones

Best Bet: Ultimate Desire (Race 11)

Value: Sugar Cane (Race 10)

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