Road ‘nightmare’ un­folds

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By MATT BOWEN

The sound of a horse gal­lop­ing down the busy high­way at night is one that will haunt Jenny Hennessy for life.

It was a pre­lude to the ‘‘ab­so­lute worst nightmare’’ that un­folded out­side her and hus­band Gary’s Mata­mata property last Mon­day night.

Joy Robin­son was driv­ing home af­ter a day’s work for Cam­bridge horse trainer Roger James.

It was shortly af­ter 6pm when the 5-year-old geld­ing Here’s de Con­sul and Mrs Robin­son slammed into each other a few hun­dred me­tres from the Hennessy’s drive­way on Hin­uera Rd.

Mrs Robin­son con­tin­ued trav­el­ling along the straight, just south of Mata­mata, for nearly 600 me­tres be­fore veer­ing left on to the shoul­der and smash­ing into a fence at speed.

‘‘ We’re just dev­as­tated the whole thing hap­pened,’’ Mrs Hennessy said last week. ‘‘It’s just, ab­so­lute worst nightmare ...

‘‘It’s in­de­scrib­able. It was the most hor­ren­dous sound I have heard, that horse gal­lop­ing down the tarseal.

‘‘Be­cause you know it’s dark and there’s traf­fic. When they’re on the road, it’s an ab­so­lute mir­a­cle if they don’t get hit.’’

She felt ‘‘heart­bro­ken’’ for Mrs Robin­son’s hus­band and fam­ily. Mrs Robin­son’s hus­band Mac was strug­gling to get his head around the death of his com­pan­ion.

‘‘She has driven that road ev­ery day for the past 15 years. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time.’’

He was too distraught to speak at length but he said his wife loved horses.

The Hennessy’s train and breed the an­i­mals at their property, known as Kingston Lodge. Jenny Hennessy said they have no idea how Here’s de Con­sul es­caped from his latched box and trot­ted on to the road.

‘‘We know how un­pre­dictable they are, how pow­er­ful they can be. We’re very care­ful at mak­ing sure things are done prop­erly, but we just can’t ex­plain how he got loose – it’s never hap­pened

be­fore.’’ Po­lice and race course in­spec­tors are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cir­cum­stances of the es­cape.

Mrs Hennessy said she had been in town last Mon­day evening and ar­rived home about 5.40pm.

All their horses had been fed and closed into their sta­bles so she fed the chooks.

A short time later she heard gal­lop­ing on the tarseal, a sound that ‘‘sends a chill through you’’.

‘‘I sprinted as fast as I could to come back up. I got to about the barn here and I heard this smash.’’

She turned south to­ward the noise un­aware that Mrs Robin­son was a few hun­dred me­tres north.

‘‘When I got there the horse was still alive but so badly in­jured. It was just aw­ful. It’s a hor­ri­ble thing when you work with an­i­mals all your life to see them go through that and there was no­body there to put it down.’’

Rac­ing web­site in­for­ said Mrs Robin­son was well known in rac­ing cir­cles and grew up in a rac­ing fam­ily. Her fa­ther was suc­cess­ful owner- breed­er­trainer Ian Sig­nal.

Mrs Robin­son had been the ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager for Mr James for 20 years.

Mr James was dev­as­tated by the loss of some­one he de­scribed as ‘‘the ul­ti­mate per­sonal as­sis­tant’’.

‘‘Joy was such a big part of our oper­a­tion, on a per­sonal level I feel like my whole world has been torn apart. She was metic­u­lous, she took on so much re­spon­si­bil­ity deal­ing with ac­coun­tants, bank man­agers and, of course, sta­ble clients.

‘‘As well as be­ing an in­valu­able staff mem­ber, she be­came a real friend to me and many oth­ers in the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘‘I know it’s go­ing to hit my clients very hard as she had so much to do with them on a busi­ness and per­sonal level and was very good friends with many of them.’’

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