Thursday, November 4, 2021

Little EMILY becomes a racehorse ...



Way back in the year, just after I had dared cross the Tasman sea to escape the New Zealand winter, our little filly EMILY went to the qualifying trials. She won the trial, but didn't qualify ... well, I've related the story in my blog Emily: triumphant for ten minutes ... but here it is again

"Today was little Emily's big day. Her first run in an official trial, at Rangiora racetrack, with the carrot of a qualification as a racehorse at the end ...


Murray and Emily arrived from Motukarara, Wendy and the other owners, John and Frank, and Faye from Hornby (representing me, in Australia) all foregathered. Best friends Robin and Geraldine Wilson came up from Kaiapoi ... I was sitting, with a link to Wendy's video-phone, in Yamba, NSW ...

A little hiccough. My colours haven't been worn on the racetrack for a few years. I had loudly chucked the game in disappointed disgust. And when Murray came to put them on they er ... didn't fit. Shrunk? Or has Murray's chest expanded ... So Emily paraded out in the stable colours ...

I was fairly sure that Emily could do the necessary time. She had cruised faultlessly through her two learner's heats. But, there was a but. The opposition. Oh, it didn't matter whether she 'won' the trial or finished last, as long as she trotted cleanly and did the time. But she had drawn alley one, against the rails, in a slightly curious field



One two year old filly (her); one three year-old, pacing-bred, filly which, the previous week had paced, galloped, and then impressively won the heat; one six year-old (!) newcomer from the wowee Kypros Kotzikas team; and another three year-old from the top Mark Jones stable. All girls! Well, I reckoned, all (all? huh!) Emily and Murray had to do was keep clear of everyone ... because there was a fair chance of a bit of a scrimmage at the start. And she was right next to the speedy but unconvincingly-mannered "pacer" (driver the Orange Roughie, NZ Champion). 

Scrimmage indeed there was. Emily threw in three or four frightened steps as her neighbour took off, but she managed to squeeze niftily through on the inside of the terminally galloping horse, and headed off in pursuit of the only other survivor. So it came down to a two-horse affair. Emily sat neatly behind the solidly-trotting six-year old, Lavra Segil, and ran on nicely in the straight to win the basically uncontested heat. Four and a half seconds inside the time required.

All was jubilation. Until the bad news came through. Her four (well, maybe five) frightened paces disqualified her from Qualification. New rule. Well, rules are rules, but that one seems a bit extreme. I mean, will we have to run qualifying heats as time trials so that no other horse can interfere physically or mentally with another? And if 'no bobbly beginning' is to be the rule for harness horses, I think that more than half the trotters racing in New Zealand today would have to re-qualify. Even France isn't so perfectionist. But, there you are. Rules is rules.

So, we shall have to foregather next week for another go, before the young lass can be put out to finish growing. Disappointing. But I have always been a passionate advocate of the French rules that disqualify breaking horses (more especially during a race). It is, however, a little surprising that HRNZ can initiate a rule such as today's for a (two-year-old) qualifying effort, but allows the most disgraceful exhibitions on race-day ...

Sour grapes? Not really. Just a wee bit of sadness, and a fair bit of incomprehension at the inconsistency of the harness code. 

Let's hope we don't have to face today's rodeo performers next week, or there could be horrid, expensive accidents again. Oh well, the other trot on the programme only went 2 1/2 seconds faster than ours ... perhaps that would be safer ...?"

Well, she had another go, and the scenario was the same. Bobble away = no qualify. So Murray decided to give her a wee rest ... after all, she was still a baby ..


This week, she came back. At, of all trial meetings, the Cup Trial trials. That's a bit of a misnomer these days. The feature of the day used to be almost a pre-Cup race for the Cup horses. Now most of those are kept in swaddling clothes until The Day.

Anyway, qualifying races for unqualified trotters are not quite 'features'. This one was the first heat on the programme at 10.30am. But, as a trial goes, it was a pretty fair field. A filly -- daughter of the good Love You mare Paramount Queen -- from the all-mulching Purdon barn, a Love You feller named Son of the Cleaner (why? because his mother was Habibti Sadie!), a Swedish-American horse named Sebastian Coe, and a gelding, Opawa Peak, bred by the Iggo family, as was the great grandma of Emily.

Yes, well we weren't in the heat to win it. Little girl just had to go away cleanly, and trot nicely for 2600 metres, and do the easily accessible time ...

Well, perhaps fortunately, Emily had drawn the outside slot at the barrier. No nasty neighbours. As it happened, the neighbours weren't nastly at all. In fact they went away like a rocket ... except for poor Opawa Peak, in number one, who had a bit more than a bobble. And Emily, she stepped out daintily, carefully, and safely, under Murray's hands ...



No hurry. Up front Sadie's little boy was careering along at a rate of knots. Very impressive. If uneccessary. Murray gradually caught the bunch, and sat at the back as they careered on, with Son of the Cleaner at one stage 5 lengths clear of the second horse.



Into the straight and a little fatigue hit in.  Half way down the straight Sebastian Coe rolled into a gallop. Paramount Empress ran past him, well clear of danger, down the middle of the track .. Emily glued herself to the rails


And then the leader galloped!

So Paramount Queen cruised home to win the heat, with Emily coming home nicely for what turned out to be second  ... more than NINE seconds inside the required time.

Mission accomplished!  Wendy, Frank, John and I have a racehorse.  But not quite yet. Emily doesn't have her birthday until Jan 1st these days. So she's still just two ...

So the soft-boiled egg silks (let out in the seams by good friend Shirley) which I thought had retired from racing, get to ride the range once more ...

Emily, daughter of Douchelette, daughter of Duchess, daughter of Gwen ... the fourth generation of 'my' breed ..

Go, girl, and I hope we don't meet Paramount Empress or Son of the Cleaner too often on raceday!





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