Garry’s Corner – 15 February, 2019

Garry Chittick

A wonderful place, New Zealand. A couple of hours on the plane Mary and I land in Queenstown, no matter who you are or where you have been the scenery even at this time of the year is worth taking time out to enjoy. I am not a tourist really, I need a purpose, something to do, I had a reason, a short car trip to Wanaka settle in before the Friday tying of the knot of a great couple at Tarras near Cromwell.

Events such as these are not to be missed. Southern country hospitality, the people, the laconic approach to life remind me of country North Island before the pace quickened. Why kick the proceedings off on Friday, pretty simple, you need Saturday for the Twilight barbecue, then the Sunday to enjoy the wash-up. Friday’s Champagne was supported with an oversupply of crayfish, from a mate, whitebait, from a mate, Paua fritters, from a mate. Now I am not suggesting the couple are cheapskates, no they are very generous I just wish I had mates with similar interests. However you don’t want to salivate over my diet defeating weekend, you want to know what is the point of this Corner.

Well, the Saturday barbecue, Merino chops, Sausages, Speights is when the passion and defense of their local race days and tracks brought the passionless to life. Cromwell, they love their place in the sun, it is the nearest track to the well-heeled of Central Otago, Queenstown, and Wanaka. They race because they love it. They believe passionately their day in the sun contributes to ownership, sure their horses will do most of their racing elsewhere but the possibility of being able to celebrate with their locals is part of their psyche. Kurow, on the hit list, I was forcibly reminded is a significant local event that attracted 5000 people, turned over on and off course 1.4 m, their figures not mine.

I was eloquently informed those planning their demise could get stuffed!  I have by chance had the opportunity to pass on this on to one of these planners who suggested they would achieve a similar result no more than 20 kilometers away. It does make you wonder, you can guarantee the inputs into these courses is well supported by locals. You need to understand good friends as these rival clubs are, they love being rivals. Funnily the level of stakes was rarely raised, these people are true sportsmen, long may their lifestyles, values, pace of life, sportsmanship continue.

Talking of stakes, we can’t afford to be like our Southern friends, we race to many, more than we should. So we reassess our activities regularly, very rarely make the hard decisions we should to that extent that at least we must be true sportsmen so here was the week. Friday, a win in Sydney, a 50k race, a third in Melbourne, a 50 k race. Part owner of a Group One third at Te Rapa, a sixth, third, first , fourth at Te Aroha. Not all bad, the two Friday races netted 24 k, nearly three months training.

I’ll drop out the third a Te Rapa because we are only minor shareholders so to Te Aroha where the net result of just over 6 k will feed those runners for 20 days. We must be true sportsmen or NUTS. Still, we filled half a float, perhaps they are the winners. We will struggle to retain owners if this continues. The powers that be need to be careful, the sporting South may outlast us all. Cheers G

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