Racing Behind Closed Doors
Ocean Park wins Valachi Downs
- As a consequence of the Level2 Coronavirus alert that was in place at the time the first, and what later proved to be the only, day of the Autumn Racing Season was run behind closed doors on March 21st.
- The ‘Ghost Meeting’ meant that only workers – officials, selected staff, trainers, stable staff and riders – were able to be oncourse.
- Strict protocols such as checking at the gate and a temporary collection point for saddles outside the weighing room were implemented.
- In the spirit of keeping the meeting going participants almost to a person approached the day in a positive attitude.
- Ultimately the racing produced through the Trackside TV channels was of a high quality and attracted significant offcourse wagering. From the TV screen it was hard to notice anything was amiss other than the presenter was in a studio instead of being oncourse.
- In the nature of racing amongst all this angst there was a special moment when the next generation of the legendary Dennis Brothers, Tony’s son Robert, prepared the biggest winner of his fledgling training career. OUT OF THE PARK prevailed in the tightest of finishes to win the Valachi Downs South Island Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes. The Club owes a debt of gratitude to Kevin Hickman for sponsoring in the circumstances. Krishna Mudhoo rode his first Group winner aboard the mare.You can see Robert talk about the race here on Facebook.
- Ardmore trainer Stephen McKee combined with top local jockey Samantha Wynne with NEESON to win the Seaton Family Hororata Memorial Gold Cup.
- HE KIN FLY returned to his best form to give trainer Neill Ridley a welcomed birthday present in the days Sonia & Garry Thompson sponsored open sprint.
- The time honoured Petersen’s Jewellers Ladies Bracelet was presented to Jill Dennison stable hand and owner of the Mel and Warwick Coles trained two-year-old CHOKITO, another Sam Wynne winner at the short odds of just over even money.
- Unfortunately an announcement early the following week of a stepped up alert through Level3 to Level4 has resulted in racing being suspended as New Zealand went into lock-down to try and defeat COVID-19 the virus sweeping the world. In due course racing will resume at Riccarton Park.