Flowering trees and plants make Hawkes Bay a bad place at this time of year for hay fever.
Just ask The Hombre, runaway winner of yesterday's $50,000 Hallmark Stud Newmarket Handicap at Ellerslie. "It's been a problem for him for a while," said winning trainer John Bary.
"The pollen gets to him badly and he gets a condition that is very like hay fever in humans.
"The key was bringing him up early. I've had him at the McKee stable all week and that's been a big help. I owe them a big favour."
There is an equine medication that works well against The Hombre's condition, but under the Rules Of Racing, it cannot be administered within five days of a race.
Last year Bary set The Hombre for the rich Railway Stakes. He finished second in that to Australian sprinter Atomic Force and this time Bary took a different approach.
"We made this race our grand final and it's worked out well.
"He may as well run in the Railway now he's here, but I'm not sure he'll be as dominating in that race. This was our race and I'd rate him just a runner's chance in the Railway."
Bary had another reason for wanting to win the Newmarket.
"My stepfather Dick Lee won the Newmarket back in 1978 with Pennevari.
"He's 78 and he still works for me mucking out and washing down every morning.
"When we left home he yelled out: 'Good luck'."
Devour went into yesterday's $20,000 Lindauer 1100 with manager Rick Williams in two minds.
"She'd had the one start and we hadn't decided whether to aim up or aim down," said Williams after Devour lasted best in a slog down the home straight to win the juvenile event.
"I guess now we'll be aiming upwards."
The track had only just been downgraded to a slow 7 after a sustained shower drenched Ellerslie.
Devour's job was made a lot easier when the joint race favourite Dublin jumped from the No 2 barrier and turned left to head to the outside rail.
Dublin was a considerable distance from the body of the field and to end up fifth, 1.3 lengths from the winner was superb.
Devour was one of the fillies her breeder, The Oaks Stud, decided to keep.
"We didn't send her to the sales because we figured they wouldn't pay a lot for her.
"We don't usually run 2-year-olds before the New Year, but we've run two, this filly and Recite and both have won $20,000 races."By Mike Dillon Email Mike