Stevens jockeys for mayoralty

By John Maslin

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Small field lines up for mayoral race.
Small field lines up for mayoral race.

When the runners in Race 5 at the Wanganui Jockey Club lined up in the barrier yesterday it wasn't the field that caught the eye, but rather the name of the race.

It was the Ray Stevens Mayoral Candidate? race over 1200m for a purse of $7000.

Only a small field of eight horses started in a race which has a rating of 65, which means the horses taking part weren't exactly top-drawer gallopers.

Ray Stevens
Ray Stevens

But it implied that Mr Stevens, a Whanganui district councillor for 18 years, could be a "starter" in the district's mayoral canter in about nine months' time.

Yesterday he confirmed the race name was correct but said it didn't necessarily signal his intentions in October.

"Let's just say I'm testing the waters. So there's a chance I might be in the (mayoral) race," he said.

So far, only current deputy mayor Hamish McDouall has announced he will be contesting the mayoralty being vacated by Annette Main.

Mr Stevens said the naming rights cost him $300 but the name was not his suggestion.

"I was contacted by Brett Field from the Wanganui Jockey Club and he asked if I wanted to sponsor a race. He was the one who came up with the name. Then when the Racing Conference asked for confirmation (of the name) I went along with it." He said he was hoping the novel name would create some feedback.

"Good or bad, I don't care. I just want to get an indication from the voters."

He said that "while I've got a good memory for a lot of things" he couldn't recall how many times he had nominated for the mayoral gallop.

But if he is a starter, it will be Mr Stevens' third challenge for the mayoralty. His maiden run was in 2010 when he finished third in a field of five behind winner Ms Main and runner-up Dot McKinnon.

In 2013, he was third in a three-horse race with Ms Main comfortably beating him and runner-up Michael Laws.

And, for the record, yesterday's race was won by Poster Girl, the outsider who paid $30 for the win.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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