ELORA, ON - Which horse came the farthest to race at Grand River Raceway? That's easy, it's Kid Galahad, a horse that arrived at the Elora track last week all the way from New Zealand.
Despite having a famous Canadian dam, the five-year-old pacer was born 15,000 kilometres away on New Zealand's south island. Kid Galahad is a son of New Zealand's top sire,, out of millionaire Ontario-sired champion Precious Delight. The colt made his Canadian debut on June 4 with a second-place finish in the $6,370 Preferred class at Grand River Raceway.
In April, Kid Galahad was loaded on a plane in Christchurch, NZ on a Thursday afternoon and arrived at Sam Taylor's farm in Lucan, Ontario Sunday night, some 80 hours later, after making stops in Sydney, Shanghai, Germany and New York City before being trucked the rest of the way across the border.
Taylor said it cost about $20,000 to send Kid Galahad all the way from New Zealand to Ontario. The horse was trained in New Zealand by Laurence Hanrahan, but 71-year-old Taylor has taken over conditioning duties.
Taylor has owned harness horses for over 30 years and he and his wife Nancy have been traveling to New Zealand a little longer than that.
"We decided to take a trip in 1988; we had never gone anywhere. We went to Hawaii and then on to New Zealand and Australia," Sam said. "We go back once or twice a year... My wife and I have been there probably 40 times."
Clearly, the Taylors have fallen in love with New Zealand.
"It's a beautiful country. Everybody that races a standardbred should go to New Zealand," Sam said.
Sam has raced a few horses in New Zealand over the years. Four years ago he took some friends to a horse sale. He quickly spotted Kid Galahad and honed in him because he knew the colt's famous dam.
"He's got some pretty nice blood running through his veins," Taylor said.
Taylor paid 65,000 New Zealand dollars - about 50,000 dollars Canadian - for the horse. Over three years at Kiwi tracks, Kid Galahad distinguished himself enough to earn back his purchase price.
It was only when he was forced to race against more talented company that Sam Taylor decided to send Kid Galahad to Canada to race, despite the fact the horse's specialty is racing from a standing start on grass tracks. Kid Galahad won't see either in Ontario, but Sam Taylor is pleased to race him at Grand River Raceway while he's personally waiting to get back to New Zealand.
On December 13 members of the Taylor family - Sam and Nancy along with their two children and their children - will climb on a plane to New Zealand for a family vacation. Sam Taylor said he already has the plane tickets.
"One group is staying for three weeks and the other family is staying for a month and Nancy and I are going to stay for three months. We love it down there."
To hear more of our conversation with Kid Galahad's trainer, Sam Taylor, check out our weekly podcast, the Harness Racing Report, produced for Grand River Raceway by award-winning journalist Dave Briggs, at https://soundcloud.com/grandriverraceway
by Kelly Spencer, for Grand River Raceway