Reflecting on achievements
recent months, to the point that he and his wife Susie have taken up permanent residence in Sydney and long-time Matamata stable foreman Hayden Allen has gone into a training partnership with his boss.
The 2012-13 season proved to a career best for Lance Noble, who trained 34 winners to finish thirteenth on the table. His list was headed by Manco Easter Handicap winner Viadana, crediting Lance with his first Group One success in his own right, having shared in several when junior partner with Jim Gibbs and Roger James.
Other Matamata trainers to secure top-20 premiership spots were the Mike Moroney-Chad Ormsby partnership on 33 wins, Graham Richardson with 32 wins and Wayne and Vanessa Hillis on 27. Chad’s effort in his new role at Ballymore Stables certainly augurs well for the future.
Next best of the locals was Andrew Scott on 26 winners, with the big news around Wexford Stables being a return this season to the former training partnership of Andrew and Lance O’Sullivan. In his relatively brief stint training several years ago, initially solo when his brother Paul relocated to Hong Kong then in partnership with Andrew, Lance made a fruitful transition from his champion jockey days.
His most notable win was the Auckland Cup with Pentane, and having kept his hand in riding regular trackwork, he’s keen to again become more closely involved at Matamata’s most successful stable.
The first season partnership of Paul and Kris Shailer got pleasing results with 16 wins and a second placing in the country’s richest race, the Karaka Million, with the very promising filly Fantastic Honour. An even newer partnership was Peter McKay being joined by his son Jacob and they ended the season with 16 wins to go with the five that Peter secured before taking Jacob on board.
Matamata’s longest standing training partnership, Ken and Bev Kelso, had a memorable season with their select team for 15 wins from just 59 raceday starters and a strike-rate of 3.93. That statistic was matched by quality, headed by Xanadu’s win in the Gr. 1 Fiber Fresh New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Stakes and a Group Two treble to Fix, who secured the prestigious New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year title.
The Kelsos’ season didn’t end there, with two-yearold filly Bounding winning one stakes race as well as finishing second in the local flagship race, the J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders Stakes, and second in the Gr. 1 Haunui Farm Diamond Stakes at Ellerslie. On the same track Fix finished second in the TV3 New Zealand Derby, while Xanadu’s placings included seconds in the Gr. 1 Telegraph Handicap, Waikato Draught Sprint and Makfi Challenge Stakes.
At this Thursday’s awards function in Hamilton the Kelso trio are finalists in their respective New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year categories, an achievement in itself that reflects their trainers’ wonderful season.
The local horse that is expected to be right to the fore on awards night is Cox Plate winner Ocean Park, who is ruling favourite to take out the Champion Middle Distance category and the ultimate New Zealand Horse of the Year title.
Trainer Gary Hennessy is also a finalist along with Hong Kong partners Andrew Wong and Steve Yan in the Owner of the Year category.
Gary Chittick is once again a Breeder of the Year nomination, while Waikato Stud’s Iguazu Girl, the dam of New Zealand 2000 Guineas and Doncaster Mile winner Sacred Falls, is a finalist for the Broodmare of the Year title.
Two stars of last season: The Ken and Bev Kelso-trained Xanadu (right) and Bounding, tune up for their return to racing with an exhibition gallop at Te Aroha last Friday.