Last night was the night that really wasn’t supposed to happen. Dynamite Paul (ka ‘Mister B’) stepped on to a real racetrack at a real race meeting …
I gave up racing some seasons ago and, for two years, my lovely Elena’s young son stood, unqualified, in a Gerolsteinian paddock eating grass. Retired before even starting. I’ve told the story of how a chance word resulted, last spring, in his ending up at Murray Edmonds’s barn to be tried as a trotter. But he didn’t want to be a trotter. Wendy and Chris McDowell had trained him as a pacer. Well, it seemed silly to waste all Murray’s preparation, so we decided to give him a go as a pacer, after all.
Things have gone quickly since then! A learner’s heat, a qualifying trial (qualified), a maiden heat (easily won), an open heat … and whammee! Straight to the races.
I wasn’t going to go. I don’t much like Addington raceway at night. And Mister B had been placed in the very last race, at 10pm, at which hour I am normally in my bed, asleep. And, then, so much could go wrong! It was our boy’s first glimpse of a nighttime racetrack, first sight of the floodlights, first standing start from in the field (drawn 6) … but if all those things did go right. I had a big afternoon nap, the drizzle stopped, and at 8pm Wendy, Jen and I loaded into Jen’s car and headed for Addington.
Addington wasn’t too bad. The horses from the first seven races had done their thing and gone home. So those ear-piercing crashes from the box-chains were minimal. We popped in to see Mister B and, blow me down, he wasn’t a shivering wreck at all, but calm as a cauliflower! Good oh!
But what was this? He was paying only 16-1 and had even been tipped on the telly! Oy oop! We had a modest $5 each way, just in case.
The time finally arrived and the horses came out on to the track. The lights didn’t seem to worry him at all, the unfamiliar surroundings either … and then the big test. The start. Well, it was a copybook start. No one played up, there was no hanging about, and my goodness he did it! When the tape dropped, he glid away like an old professional!
The pace was fair, if not super fast, and Mister B sat peacefully mid-field, on the outside (hurrah!), and I felt very happy. He was going to make it around without doing anything wrong! Who could ask for anything more …
Round the home turn, the odds-on favourite well in control, Mister B and my soft-boiled egg silks umpteen widths wide and running on delightfully.
He finished an unhoped-for third. Beaten 1 ½ lengths. Yes, it was being announced … Dynamite Paul, by Rob Roy Mattgregor out of Elena de Gerolstein. I must tell Elena: her name once more on those same speakers that once told tales of her wicked rodeo-ish behavior, but also her only win.
|Elena wins at Addington|
Our $5 each way returned us $19 too!
Well, it looks as if Wendy will have a fun autumn and winter with ‘P G B, the horse’ while I am sunning myself on the Australian seashore. Let’s hope he continues as he has begun. And let’s hope HRNZ schedules enough standing start races, NOT over sprint distances, for him to run in. And not at 10pm!
So here’s thanks to all concerned in making Dynamite Paul a racehorse. Wendy and Chris for his early days, Murray and all who sail with him for getting him to the races and around in one piece, and a special thought for the late Bob McArdle, who sold me Elena all those years ago, and who gifted me her service to Rob Roy Mattgregor. Bob, if you’re listening, I seem to be back in harness racing, and it’s all your fault!
|Bob, Elena (aged 1) and Kurt|