Once again, in perfect weather this time, a good crowd in excess of 2000 racegoers turned up to the annual Stratford Trotting Club race meeting at Te Kapua Park to witness some exciting racing (if a little controversial in the main race) with the kids enjoying free games and competitions courtesy of Taranaki Electricity Trust.
With good even fields on the card, close racing was in prospect and that's how it proved with winning margins of less than half a length in all but two of the races.
One of these was the feature race on the card, the Revital Fertiliser Stratford Cup, won by the in-form Cambridge visitor Tyler Maguire (no relation to last year's winner Murphy Maguire).
Trained by David Marshall and driven by his 19-year-old son Kyle, Tyler Maguire scored a relatively easy win by two lengths in a race that saw a number of runners hampered by a skirmish earlier in the race.
This year the club, through the sponsorship of RD1 Nutrition, put up a $3000 prize for the top trainer on the day and David Marshall again featured in this, sharing the award with Foxton trainer Peter Skaife.
Marshall, who brought only three horses through the Awakino Gorge and over Mt Messenger to Stratford, took home two winners with Covert Action joining his stablemate in taking out the Philip Morresey Livestock/New Commercial Hotel Mobile Pace, again driven by the younger Marshall.
Unfortunately, the local horses didn't fare so well and once again found the visitors a bit tough on the day.
River Emperor, trained by Phillip Fleming, was the only local horse to run in the money, finishing a close third in the Taffy (Evan) Bayly Memorial Mobile Pace. It was appropriate that a local horse should fight out this race - a memorial to a local stalwart of Stratford harness racing who died last year and to whom the meeting was dedicated. This performance saw Fleming take out the "Best Performance by a Taranaki Horse" award on the day.