Hastings-trained horses dominated the early part of the Whanganui meeting last week, winning the first three races on the programme.
Call Me Jack, which Tim Symes trains and part-owns, stunned punters when winning the opening event at odds of 18 to one. Look Out brought up a second success for the new partnership of Paul Nelson and Corrina McDougal when taking out race two and the John Bary-trained Louboutin capped off four previous minor placings with an easy maiden win in race three.
It has been a long time between celebration drinks for Symes, a former board member of Hawke's Bay Racing and a long-time Hastings-based owner and trainer of thoroughbreds.
He said this week the last horse he trained that won a race was Second Hope when he scored in an open 1850m event at Wairoa in February 2014. That horse won nine races in total and more than $160,000 in stake money.
"I've had other winners since then but they haven't been trained by me," Symes said.
"Viceroy won two races in 2016, including one over hurdles, but Kevin Myers trained him and My Tommy won a maiden race at Hastings on New Year's Day in 2016 when trained by Guy Lowry and Grant Cullen."
Symes races Call Me Jack in partnership with his son, Wilfred, and the pair bred the 3-year-old Jakkalberry gelding out of the Stark South mare Gizakis, a horse that was unplaced in four starts.
"Gizakis was one of the slowest horses I've ever had," Symes said. We gave her four starts and she showed nothing."
But what gave Symes hope was that Gizakis was out of the Spectacular Love mare Love Proposal, who was a two-race winner and had left the 2008 Hawke's Bay Cup winner The Veep.
Call Me Jack had been unplaced in eight starts going into last Thursday's 1600m maiden highweight at Whanganui but rider Lemmy Douglas put the horse in the race from the outset, positioning him just behind the leaders at the end of the first 600m.
He then pushed forward to take the lead coming to the home turn and Call Me Jack quickly put his rivals to the sword, relishing the heavy-11 track conditions to race right away in the final stages and win by 14-3/4 lengths.
Symes, who was surprised as anyone at the horse's winning margin, said he would obviously have to find another heavy track for the horse's next start.
"If it rains he could run here at Hastings on June 29 in a rating 65 1400 or there is also a rating 65 1400 at Wellington two weeks later," Symes said.
Symes and his son are still breeding from Gizakis and have a weanling colt by Jakkalberry out of the mare coming on.
Look Out back in full focus
Talented winter galloper Look Out returned to winning form in emphatic style with a 3-1/2 length victory in the 1600m rating 72 highweight at Whanganui last week.
The Nom du Jeu 6-year-old had won three of his 17 previous starts but had not graced the winner's stall since leading for most of the way over 2200m at Rotorua in September last year.
He had hinted at a return to form with a useful last start sixth over 2100m at Trentham and the heavy-11 track conditions at Whanganui obviously suited him.
Rider Aaron Kuru positioned the horse perfectly in a trailing position on the inside in the early stages before moving forward to take a clear lead coming to the home turn.
The well-fancied Qian Gua looked to have his measure when he swept up to take control early in the home straight but Look Out had a bit more in reserve and wrested the lead back before surging clear in the final stages to win by 3-1/2 lengths.
Look Out brought up the second success for the newly formed training partnership of Nelson and McDougal following No Tip's win over hurdles at Trentham on June 8.
Nelson took over the training of Look Out 18 months ago after health problems prevented the horse's Feilding owner, Gary Freeman, from continuing to train the horse.
Freeman still has a racing share as does Nelson. The other syndicate members are Nelson's brother, David, his cousin, Mark, and close friends Brian Guerin, David Holden, Stuart Mitchell, Mike Stovell and Peter Tod from Hawke's Bay and Manawatu's Angus MacLeod.
Weanling walk finalised
The itinerary for the Hawke's Bay/Poverty Bay Thoroughbred Breeders annual weanling walk on Sunday, June 30, has been finalised with six properties to be visited.
Below is the itinerary for the day:
• Commence at 10am sharp at Guy and Brigid Lowry's property – 305 Kawera Rd, Okawa.
• Chris Russell – 793 Valley Rd (off Highway 50)
• Patrick Campbell – 45 Mangaroa Rd, Longlands
• Mike Newrick – 51 Turamoe Rd, Paki
• Barry Smyth – 143 Crystall Rd, RD 2
• Davey Jones – 1316 Southland Rd
Among the weanlings on show will be those by Adelaide, Burgundy, Charm Spirit, Darci Brahma, Iffraaj, O'Reilly's Choice, Per Incanto, Pins, Puissance De Lune, Shocking, Super Easy, Tarzino, Teleperion and Wrote.
At the completion of the weanling walk there will be a lunch and "Silent Auction" at 1pm at Off The Track Restaurant, 114 Havelock Rd, Havelock North.
The lunch costs $40 per head but this will generously be subsidised by 50 per cent from Haunui Farm. For catering purposes, reservations are required by Thursday, June 27. Contact Sharyn Craig on 027 499 9084 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively contact Kate McDonald on 021 335 796.
Deserved win for Louboutin
There was probably no more deserving winner at Whanganui meeting last week than Louboutin, who streeted her rivals when taking out the maiden 3-year-old race over 1600m.
The Jimmy Choux filly, trained by John Bary, had recorded two seconds and two thirds from nine previous starts, with one of those placings being a long neck defeat over 1400m at Hastings this season.
He was coming off a last start third on a heavy-11 track at Whanganui on Queen's Birthday weekend and relished similar conditions last week by careering away over the final stages to score a 14-length win.
Louboutin was one of the slowest to begin and was back second last after the first 200m. But rider Lisa Allpress then sent him on a forward move around the field and he cantered to the front just before the home turn.
Allpress kept the horse close to the outside fence and he straightened up with a six-length margin on the field. She then took a quick look behind before asking the horse to extend and he ran right away over the final stages.
Louboutin is owned by prominent New Zealand thoroughbred owner-breeder Kevin Hickman and was a $50,000 purchase from the premier session of the 2017 Karaka yearling sales.
She is certainly bred to be good as her dam is the Pentire mare Say No More, whose six wins included two at Group 1 level, the Thorndon Mile at Trentham and New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Te Aroha.
Bary said this week Louboutin was likely to return to Whanganui for her next start, in a rating 65 fillies and mares race over 1360m on July 4.
Feature jumping events at HB races
There will be plenty of exciting jumping action at the Hawke's Bay Hunt race day at Hastings tomorrow week.
The day will feature two of the most prestigious jumping races on the New Zealand calendar: the $50,000 AHD Hawke's Bay Steeplechase (4800m) and the $50,000 Te Whangai Romneys Hawke's Bay Hurdle (3100m).
There will also be a maiden steeplechase over 4000m and at least one maiden hurdle event at 2500m.
At this stage the first race is timed for 11.05am and the last at 4.15pm but these times have yet to be confirmed.
The gate charge will be $10 with free admission for those under 18. There will be a $30 Members Stand charge for non-members.
Patrons can also buy a Mid-Winter Premier Lounge Package for $110 per person. The package includes reserved seating in an indoor area overlooking the track, a gourmet buffet luncheon, a beverage package including beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks, course admission and racebooks and pens.
Bookings for this package can be made by contacting email@example.com
HB Hurdles next for Tommyra
The direction promising jumper Tommyra will take this winter hinges on his performance in the Te Whangai Romneys Hawke's Bay Hurdle at Hastings tomorrow week.
A last-start winner of the KS Browne Hurdle (3350m) at Ellerslie, Tommyra has won three of his six hurdle starts and been placed on the other occasions, including a third two starts ago in the Waikato Hurdles (3200m) at Te Rapa.
Trainer Toby Autridge will use a Rating 72 flat race 2100m at Tauranga this weekend to further his preparation for the next jumps assignment at Hastings.
The options being considered for Tommyra after that are Australia, the Grand National Hurdles (4200m) at Riccarton on August 7 and the Great Northern Hurdle (4190m) at Ellerslie on September 7.
"We'll be wiser after the Hawke's Bay Hurdle," Autridge said. "Doug [part-owner and breeder Doug Robb] lets me make the plans, but he has said that he would love to have a go at the Grand National. It will all depend on the weather where he goes."