New age of rac­ing glory

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By DEN­NIS RYAN

Arthur Avis ticked one item off his bucket list and im­me­di­ately re­placed it with an­other when his fly­ing filly Lady Royale won the $ 100,000 J Swap Con­trac­tors Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes on Satur­day.

In post-race cel­e­bra­tions that cap­ti­vated the huge crowd on track for the high­light of the Mata­mata Rac­ing Club’s year, the South Auck­land nona­ge­nar­ian proved the per­fect com­ple­ment to Mata­mata’s trea­sured cen­te­nar­ian, Sadie Swap.

‘‘In all the years I’ve been rac­ing horses, win­ning this race is a high­light for me,’’ said 90-year-old Arthur. ‘‘Now I’m go­ing to put mak­ing Mrs Swap’s age on my bucket list!’’

It’s quite re­mark­able that be­tween them, the ma­tri­arch of the fam­ily firm that spon­sors Mata­mata’s flag­ship race and the win­ning owner were the two most se­nior mem­bers of the 4000-plus crowd packed into the course.

Un­fazed by the op­pres­sively hu­mid con­di­tions, their syn­ergy as the tro­phies were handed out, ac­co­lades de­liv­ered and grat­i­tude re­cip­ro­cated was sim­ply de­light­ful.

Some­where to­wards the other end of the age scale, Samantha Spratt added to the oc­ca­sion as the first fe­male jockey to win the Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes, com­plet­ing a fea­ture two-year-old dou­ble af­ter also win­ning the Reid & Har­ri­son Slip­per on Prince Mambo.

That meant two tro­phies for the for­mer Mata­mata-based jockey, each of which was de­liv­ered by Arthur – com­plete with a mis­chievous kiss.

‘‘I can fi­nally say I’ll die a happy woman,’’ she joked.

‘‘I’m thrilled to win this race and to do it for dear old Arthur is magic.’’

As bird­cage MC An­dre Neill com­mented when it was all over, of the many sim­i­lar events he had of­fi­ci­ated at, the Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes for­mal­i­ties were the most hu­mor­ous and en­joy­able that he had ever been in­volved in.

Oth­ers tak­ing part in the day’s pro­ceed­ings in­cluded in­ter­na­tional model Kylie Bax, who has the ex­pe­ri­ence to ap­pre­ci­ate the on-track ac­tion and what was on dis­play in the Tus­cany Road Fash­ion in the Field.

‘‘ It’s been a won­der­ful day’s rac­ing and I was very im­pressed with the stan­dard of the com­peti­tors in the fash­ion cat­e­gories,’’ she said.

Sheree Sheenan was named as the Tus­cany Road Fash­ion in the Field Supreme win­ner.

Mata­mata Rac­ing Club pres­i­dent John Moore summed up an­other suc­cess­ful Breed­ers’ Stakes day.

‘‘It’s tremen­dously sat­is­fy­ing to show­case rac­ing and all that goes with it and know we got it right,’’ he said. ‘‘The crowd that rolled up to en­joy the day, the qual­ity of the fields and a track the jock­eys de­scribed as per­fect.

‘‘ The Breed­ers’ Stakes re­sult and what fol­lowed was some­thing else, you couldn’t have writ­ten a bet­ter script. It was great for the con­nec­tions and spon­sors alike and great for rac­ing.’’

For more go to pgs 7, 8 and 25.

Pho­tos: KA­T­RINA TANI­RAU

Top team: Win­ning jockey Samantha Spratt em­braces Arthur Avis.

Ac­knowl­edg­ment: Sadie Swap re­ceives her flow­ers from Mata­mata Rac­ing Club pres­i­dent John Moore.

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