Trainer Kenny Rae is a long-time supporter of the West Coast racing circuit and he believes that John Messara’s recommendation of racecourse consolidation in the area is misguided.
Last year Rae was one of many participants affected by the abandonment of two of the four New Year’s circuit meetings, due to track conditions.
“I wasn’t going to go this year,” he said. “It cost too much last year with the meetings getting called off but then you listen to the Messara Report trying to close these clubs down and if we don’t support them they will.
“They’re talking about shutting down Reefton, Greymouth and Hokitika and keeping Kumara, but Kumara is a swamp and there’s no community there, no motels or anything so people have to travel there.
“It’s a great circuit and it’s mostly voluntary, we were there nine years ago after the Pike River mining disaster and everybody just got behind it and kicked on. Without those races, everybody misses out.”
Despite being based at the top of the North Island, in Ruakaka, Rae along with his daughter and training partner Krystal Williams-Tuhoro regularly campaign horses throughout the South Island.
“Krystal does the horses at home and I’m the travelling foreman but as I’m getting older the travel is starting to get to me,” Rae said.
“We used to do this trip as a family working holiday but now my wife Lisa’s got a job and she couldn’t get time off and the other girls are going to a dancing competition on the Gold Coast, so I’m down here on my own doing seven horses and it’s not a working holiday, it’s just more work.”
Rae is hoping his hard work is justified with a case of third time lucky for talented stayer Kaharau in the Recreation Hotel Greymouth Cup (2000m) at Omoto Racecourse on Sunday.
“He’s won at Greymouth and had two starts in the Greymouth Cup and been beaten by The Gordonian both times,” said Rae, referring to the Jo-Ann Gordon-trained runner that he will face again in this year’s edition of the race.
The seven-year-old gelding was a winner at Cromwell in early December before a disappointing run at Wingatui, carrying the top weight of 60kgs, on Boxing Day.
“Nothing went to plan at Dunedin last start, everything turned to shit,” Rae said.
“He’s come through the run alright and I’ve been jumping him a bit too. He will probably be a hurdler sooner or later.
“His flat career is getting a bit hard because of the weight he’s carrying, but he won the Nathan’s Memorial carrying 60kgs and none of those horses at Greymouth on Sunday could do that. I think he’s on track and even if he’s not we’ve had a good run with him.” – NZ Racing Desk