Editorial: Packing in the punters pays off big

By Mark Story

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Number 2 Historian with jocky Matthew Cameron, comes in ahead of number 14 Neo.
Number 2 Historian with jocky Matthew Cameron, comes in ahead of number 14 Neo.

A certain bay gelding played a pivotal role in the pursuit of happiness on Saturday.

Dubbed Historian, the six-year old lined up with 15 other steeds to see whose muzzle would first pass the post in a 1400m sprint.

It was 4.32pm.

Our babysitter's time was up, the funds were running low and, as my wife delicately reminded me, I'd been losing all day. Race 8 was the final shot at clawing back a skerrick of pride.

Then they were off.

Sixty hooves carved up the track. The stable's thunder was mesmerising as they rounded the turn and foregrounded a hazy Te Mata Peak.

To my delight, Historian's name began featuring prominently in the commentary. Six hours in the sizzling sun and a decent volume of beverage onboard, the crowd's roar soon overcame the thud of pacing.

With only a short clip to go, Historian and a younger gelding named Neo sparred bare-fisted.

The weather embellished the stellar tourist attraction for the region. Hawke's Bay Racing manager Jason Fleming estimated about a third of the 5500 muster were out-of-towners.

The visitor pull of this event can't be underestimated. At our table were seven punters from Taupo, all raving about the carnival, the weather, the food - even questioning me about the best surfcasting spots in the region. That is, they'd be back.

By the way, Historian, as they say, won by a nose. That is, my final flutter - $10 on this gelding to win - morphed into $102.

A small coup for this amateur punter, a huge triumph for Hawke's Bay.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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