Racing plagued with mishaps
scratched due to the blood nose he suffered when his starting gate failed to open.
The two inside gates were at fault – the other affected horse Aura d’Oro was cleared to start and finished second when the race got under way – in the latest incident concerning the beleaguered starting gates.
While a flat tyre could be tolerated, ongoing starting gate problems are another story and have finally resulted in a new set of Steriline gates being commissioned by Northern Raceday Services for use at Matamata and other tracks in the region. The new gates are currently under construction and all going to plan will be rolled out by the autumn.
Chasdale was one of three late scratchings on Sunday. Maiden candidate Battle Creek was an unusual one, refusing to be led out of the stabling area to the mounting yard and leaving stewards with no option but to put a line through his name. The third late withdrawal was if anything even more unfortunate, when the $1.30 favourite Perfect Fit, such an impressive winner of her only previous start, was kicked in a leg by another runner behind the starting gates.
That filly’s withdrawal paved the way for an easy win by the Graham Richardson-trained Los Vargos, the third locally trained winner on the eight-race programme. The three-year-old Fast ‘N’ Famous filly is putting together a handy record with three wins now from seven starts.
Maiden wins were the order of the day for the other two locals, stablemates Mary Quant and Da Shindig. As a five-year-old the latter has taken time to hit his straps, but with six minor placings from nine previous attempts his breakthrough performance was thoroughly deserved.
Even more so Mary Quant, the runner-up four times from her six starts before Sunday and this time very impressive in her first start beyond 1600 metres. The Waikato Stud-bred and owned filly has a lot going for her on the score of pedigree, being by O’Reilly from the dual Group Onewinning racemare Legs, and owes her moniker to the naming skills of the late Lisa Chittick.
The original Mary Quant was one of the leading British-based fashion designers of the 1960s and can take credit for, amongst other trends, the mini-skirt.
The obvious lead that Lisa took in naming the O’Reilly filly was Legs, whose daughter will now attempt to put her name alongside her dam’s 2006 New Zealand Oaks win.
Wexford Stables could well have two worthy candidates for the Trentham classic in March, with fellow three-year-old filly Suffire staking her claim with a second consecutive win at Tauranga last week.
While not trained locally, two other winners on Sunday still had an interesting Matamata connection.
The Stephen Marsh-trained Santiago is raced by a partnership that includes locals Jeff and Doreen Crabb and Steph Godsalve, whose parents Allan and Leonie raced Santiago’s dam Kintyre Lil.
Tim Rogers – aka Tasman Tim – shared the impressive final race win of Stone Dance with a large group of family and friends.
Nothing went to plan when Stolen Dance lined up in the Royal Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day, but her return to form on the weekend had the look of a filly who will get her chance yet in black-type company.
Sunday’s racing surface again met the approval of all who took part and bodes well for the club’s big day of the year, J Swap Contractors Matamata Breeders’ Stakes day on Saturday week.
This week’s column ends with the sad news of former veterinarian Rob Moorhead’s sudden death.
Rob is understood to have collapsed while tramping in the Wairere Falls area of the Kaimai Range on Saturday afternoon and despite the efforts of emergency services he passed away.
Rob was a valued member of the Marks Ewen and Associates team when he suffered serious head injuries during the course of his veterinary rounds, but made an admirable recovery.
While he was unable to resume his profession, he reshaped his life in a positive manner and will be missed by his many friends in the Matamata community.
IMPRESSIVE WIN: Mary Quant signals her New Zealand Oaks prospects with an impressive home track win on Sunday.