House setting up northern base
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Off the back of another successful meeting at Manawatu Raceway on Thursday, trainer Michael House is sending a team of 11 horses north to Morrinsville where he is setting up a satellite stable for the summer.
“I have made no secret that my long-range plan was to get back to the North Island, especially when Wilson (House, son) was accepted into year one at vet school (at Massey University) next year,” Michael House said.
“There is a little bit of water to go under the bridge between now and then, but my plan was in February-March to have him heading up the North Island team at Palmerston North and then being able to hit Cambridge from there regularly.
“When Cambridge announced that they were seeking South Island horses and were offering travel subsidies I rang them and said I was interested.
“They wrote to me, and it didn’t spin my wheels, it didn’t make me decide straight away, but as time went by and the three trips that we have done to the North Island have been COVID restricted with the ferries.
“They are down two ferries, plus with all the extra freight it has been very difficult.
“I got sick of the anxiety this week and I made the decision that we would base ourselves (North Island team) in Cambridge for the summer.
“Phil Coppins came along and said he would like to help and Cambridge have been very good. Maria Enochsson is going to be leading the team up there and stay up there (Morrinsville) for the summer.”
While the Canterbury-based House is relieved to have a northern base in the interim, he reflected on another successful meeting at Palmerston North on Thursday where his team took out five races, with Franco Hoffman winning The Doug Bradley Painters Palmerstonian Cup (2500m).
“Franco Hoffman is a really interesting horse who has got a lot of upside to him,” House said.
“If I could teach him to begin from a stand he would win multiple Country Cups, he is quite a good stayer and follower of speed.
“On Thursday, on the small track, he was able to cross and lead. He has shown at times that he is a really good mid-range horse who is going to play nicely between rating 60 and 70.
“He is owned by Bob Rochford, a great ambassador for harness racing. It is by far the best win he has had in harness racing, so it was quite a thrill for me to be able to deliver that result for him.”
All five of House’s winners were reined home by Blair Orange and House said he was relieved the Canterbury reinsman was able to reap the rewards of bypassing two southern meetings in favour of the northern trip.
“It’s a lot of hard work by the staff and everyone takes great pride in those results,” House said.
“There is a bit of anxiety trying to make sure we had enough drives for Blair.
“When he said he was going to stay through and forgo Rangiora and Invercargill, it put a little bit of pressure on me and I was hoping I wasn’t going to let him down.
“He knows what he is doing. I was really proud of the boys, Sam (Thornley) and Wilson (House) playing their role with getting the others around.
“With the junior driver concession the way they are in the North Island, developing those boys and Sarah (O’Reilly) are pretty key elements to developing the business I am trying to run.”