'Lazy Willie's last hurrah'

By Christine McKay

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DAY IN THE SUN: The Groube family from Palmerston North enjoyed a picnic on the lawn in front of the public stand at the Woodville/Pahiatua Racing Club's Sunday meeting. PHOTOS/CHRISTINE McKAY
DAY IN THE SUN: The Groube family from Palmerston North enjoyed a picnic on the lawn in front of the public stand at the Woodville/Pahiatua Racing Club's Sunday meeting. PHOTOS/CHRISTINE McKAY

Following their horse at the Woodville/Pahiatua Racing Club's meetings has been something of a religion for two syndicate owners and on Sunday they were back again.

Yvonne McNamara and Kathy Douglas of Palmerston North are regulars on the course, following their horse Neat Belt. But before the race, the odds of Neat Belt making another race meeting weren't looking good.

"He's a plodder and it's likely to be his last hurrah here today because he's something of a lazy Willie," Ms McNamara told the Dannevirke News.

"We've got someone interested in him as a showjumper, so that's his fate if he doesn't do well, but although he's been a bit burly, he's lost 10kg for today's race. "

Ms McNamara and friend, Ms Douglas, are members of a syndicate which has already acquired a new, two-year-old horse, so things weren't looking rosy for Neat Belt.

However, the horse's odds went up as the excited pair saw him leading the field at the top of the straight in race two. On the Woodville course it's often said a horse leading at the top of the straight will win. And Neat Belt had Ms McNamara and Ms Douglas on their feet riding him home.

Unfortunately, he faded and came home fourth by a whisker but that was enough for Ms McNamara and Ms Douglas to insist trainer Kevin Gray of Palmerston North give the horse just one more run.

"We want him to finish in the winner's circle," Mr Gray said.

Sunday's race meeting was the ideal family day out for the Groube family of Palmerston North.

"We came to the holiday weekend meeting in January and enjoyed it," they said. "It's a good day to bring a picnic and sit in the sun."

It was a great day out for Peter and Barbara Tennant, the owners of Donaldson, which won the Meat Company Dannevirke 1600.

Mr Tennant was born in Woodville and horse racing is in his blood.

"My dad came here to Woodville after the war and got a job managing a farm at Papatawa," he said.

"He loved racing and his horse was the mother to Donaldson. Dad took his horse as a nine-year-old to Randwick where she won a sprint race, one of four in Australia and three in New Zealand.

''Dad's horse was trained by Chris Waller from Foxton who has been champion trainer in Sydney for six years. He trained Winx to his recent Cox Plate win, but back when he was a teenager Waller used to relief milk for me."

When Donaldson Tennant passed away Mr Tennant kept his old mare and named his star horse after his father.

"Today's win was great. It's a pleasure to be back here at Woodville, the track is lovely," Mrs Tennant said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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