Quake fund added to
Matamata racecourse on Saturday, jam-packed under perfect summer skies was a far cry from the devastation being endured by the people of Christchurch but amid the excitement of J Swap Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day sentiments were still able to be directed south.
A collection by Matamata Lions Club members among Saturday’s race crowd combined with other donations raised more than $8000 for the Christchurch earthquake fund, while 18-year-old Lucy Sargent’s lovely rendition of the national anthem could not have been more poignant.
But the clincher was the announcement by Chris Grace, the owner of Matamata Breeders’ Stakes winner Anabandana, that he would donate half of his share of the stake to the earthquake fund.
That magnanimous gesture was matched by the owner of the runner-up Beejay Belle, meaning that some $40,000 of the $100,000 stake would find its way to the people of Christchurch.
Mr Grace, who operates the Te Rapa New World supermarket, later explained that he was motivated by a conversation he had late last week with his brother, a police officer in Hamilton.
‘‘He told me some of the tragic stories that haven’t made the media and when I heard the one about the rescuers doing the rounds of houses and coming across an 11-year-old girl who had been waiting alone for three days for her mother to come home . . . I mean to say, how could you not be moved by that?
‘‘I said to my wife before the race that if we were lucky enough to win we would donate half the stake to church.’’
Racing Matamata president John Moore echoed the thoughts of many when he described that reaction plus the generosity of racegoers as very humbling.
‘‘We’re seeing it all around the country and we felt that as a club we should play our part. The generosity of individuals like the owners of the first two fillies home
Christ- in the Matamata Breeders’ Stakes was simply awesome, plus we were able to top up what was donated by racegoers with money raised at Friday’s golf tournament and our sponsors’ function at Waikato Stud.
‘‘All in all we’re very pleased with how our big day of the year went. It’s great to see the community get behind us and a huge crowd turn up, attractions such as the Fashion in the Field proved very popular and of course the quality of the racing action was once again right up there.
‘‘After all the hard work that goes into making a day like this happen, it’s very satisfying when it all comes off.’’