Ev­ery­thing but a lo­cal win­ner

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - DEN­NIS RYAN Rac­ing colum­nist

Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes day had just about ev­ery­thing in the man­ner of high qual­ity rac­ing, ex­cite­ment and ten­sion, but in the midst of it all some­thing sig­nif­i­cant was miss­ing.

For much longer than any­one cares to re­mem­ber, no lo­cally trained horse has won a race on Mata­mata’s big­gest day of the year. Three win­ners from Cam­bridge, two from Hast­ings, one each from Tau­ranga, Hamil­ton and even Hun­ter­ville (that most un­likely of north­ern Manawatu set­tle­ments) were the or­der of the day.

Mata­mata-trained horses tried hard and at least one of them – the Lance O’Sul­li­van and An­drew Scott-trained Smarts En­costa – could be con­sid­ered des­per­ately un­lucky but when rac­ing was over, their tally com­prised noth­ing bet­ter than four sec­onds and six third plac­ings.

Res­i­dent jock­eys Reese Jones and Craig Grylls did what they could to up­hold lo­cal pride with a win apiece while Strata Lady, a stable­mate of Smarts En­costa, put up a sight mak­ing the pace in the J Swap Con­trac­tors Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes, only to con­cede to the Graeme and Deb­bie Roger­son- trained Serena Miss and Stephen Marsh’s Na­hema.

In one of the other fea­tures on the nine- race pro­gramme, the Marks Ewen Kaimai Stakes, Sur- pass ce­mented his place as equal favourite for next Wed­nes­day’s Auck­land Cup with a fight­ing third that en­sured the MoroneyOrmsby-trained stayer will strip fit for the big 3200-me­tre race.

In what seemed an in­ter­minable wait fol­low­ing the Breed­ers’ Stakes, the crowd on-course was treated via the large in­field screen to unique theatre as Graeme Roger­son railed in de­fence of the protest that al­leged his way­ward filly Serena Miss cost run­ner-up Na­hema the $62,500 first prize.

The next race was de­layed while of­fi­cials grap­pled with the tense sce­nario.

Even­tu­ally some or­der was re­stored as Serena Miss was con­firmed as the win­ner of the pres­ti­gious event.

‘‘ That was the only de­ci­sion they could have made,’’ con­tended the filly’s trainer bullishly.

‘‘She was the best horse on the day.’’

Oth­ers

might

dis­agree

with those ob­ser­va­tions and also with the ju­di­cial de­ci­sion, but there’s no deny­ing that Serena Miss will for­ever be known as the win­ner of the 2015 Mata­mata Breed­ers’ Stakes.

From a lo­cal per­spec­tive, the big pos­i­tive to come out of the day was the ex­cel­lent rac­ing sur­face that be­lied an­other dry sum­mer af­fect­ing sur­round­ing farm­land.

The kind, ver­dant con­di­tions now ev­i­dent on the Mata­mata race­track are es­sen­tially the re­sult of the new ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem that was com­mis­sioned in late De­cem­ber and the benefits of which are now so ob­vi­ous.

Race­track ir­ri­ga­tion is in it­self a con­tentious topic – and noth­ing will ever beat what na­ture de­liv­ers from above – but there’s no deny­ing that, man­aged prop­erly, it’s an in­dis­pens­able aid in en­sur­ing op­ti­mum con­di­tions for the vast ma­jor­ity of horses com­pet­ing at this time of the year.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

KAIMAI STAKES: Hun­ter­ville raider Ben­zini takes the Marks Ewen & As­so­ciates Kaimai Stakes, while lo­cal gal­loper Sur­pass con­firms his Auck­land Cup cre­den­tials with a solid run for third.

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