Emotional win for Henry Maguire at Ascot Park
by Jonny Turner
Henry Maguire pulled out everything he had to seal a special victory in the Paul O’Neill Memorial at Ascot Park on Saturday.
The pacer lifted to put his nose in front by the barest of margins on the line, as the late Paul O’Neill’s friends and family willed him home with roars from the grandstand.
O’Neill’s memorial race was held 10 years to the day following his passing and with Henry Maguire raced by a syndicate the harness racing enthusiast was an integral founding member of, there were few dry eyes among the group when the horse returned to the birdcage.
Whether the group’s cheers lifted Henry Maguire to his memorable victory is unclear, but they were definitely heard out on the track, trainer-driver Peter Hunter confirmed.
“It was pretty special, Paul set the Gottashearasheep Syndicate up,” Hunter said.
“It is an offshoot of the Whatever Syndicate that raced Franco Ledger.”
“There was no pressure today, all I had to do was win and we managed to do that.”
“It is great when they are all here and to hear them cheering like that.”
O’Neill’s widow Donna, son Mark and brother Tony were among those cheering Henry Maguire home at Ascot Park.
“Is unbelievable, it has been ten years since Paul died and he has been a big part of these syndicates he got most of it going,” Tony O’Neill said.
“The year we bought Franco Ledger we had another one lined up – Christian Ruler.”
“He said I will go away and get some more people, so he did and we have been together ever since.”
Oamaru trainers were in the hottest form in the remaining races on the Ascot Park card.
Matthew Williamson continued his outstanding recent run with a winning double with The Matriarch and Majestix.
Darryn Simpson also produced See It Thru to win while the Brad Williamson trained Aint No Angel took out Saturday’s finale.
Those results made for an outstanding day for Central Otago breeder-owner Russell Nevill, who is a co-breeder and co-owner of both Majesdix and Aint No Angel.
To see post race coverage of Henry Maguire’s victory click here
To see post race coverage of Nyla’s victory click here