Gary Shand's Rangiora win - "it's been a while hasn't it?"
by Dave Di Somma, harness News Desk
It's taken 15 years but Gary Shand was back in the winner's circle at Rangiora last weekend and it seems he was as surprised as anyone by his mare's success.
"I didn't expect it - I thought they'd be too good for her but you put them in, you run them and you see what happens don't ya?"
The horse in question Airies Gold, bred by Gary and wife Elizabeth Shand, registered her first win in 49 starts in the Vince Almighty - Lot 328 NZB Standardbred Yearling Sales Pace.
The Shands have been a prominent South Canterbury racing family for generations, with Gary and his brother Peter following their father George into the sport, while Liz is a long-standing Timaru Harness Racing Club committee member and past president.
Saturday's win was Shand's first training/driving success since Reacher won at Forbury Park in 2008. He now has 30 wins since starting out as a junior driver in the early 1980s. It was also his second training success in 224 starts.
"It's been a while hasn't it?" he laughs.
A six-year-old Gold Ace mare, Airies Gold was 10/9 in the betting, paying $55.10 and $8.40, and won by a half neck from the rank outsider Jose Quivera, paying $19.30 for a place. The quinella netted a whopping $2037.60.
Airies Gold's elusive win followed two thirds earlier this year.
"She got the right run on the right day and everything went her way - that's what you need."
The win also had implications for the wider Shand family.
"Airies Gold's mother (Laura the Explorer) traced back to Mighty Gay that Dad had ..... sometimes a bit of the past connects you to the future."
Among George Shand's nine race wins with Mighty Gay was the 1973 Waikouaiti Cup and the 1976 Ashburton Flying Stakes.
Shand senior also had good success with dual Methven Cup winner Eastwood Jaunty and Blythbank Del who was the first pacer to achieve a sub two minute mile in Southland, in the late 1980s. Blythbank Del, who was owned by Gary, also won the 1988 Central Otago Cup.
Liz and Gary Shand have had over 30 winners as owners. Like his father, Gary is a farrier by trade, and has a small team at their Washdyke property just outside Timaru.
He'll be back at Ashburton this weekend with Airies Gold in Race 6, the Pete Bryant Electrical Mobile pace (2.32pm) on Saturday.
Winning races like he did last weekend is seen very much as a bonus.
"The feeling you get out on the track is the reason why you do it."