House team fires up in Taranaki
By Garrick Knight
Seven wins, two doubles, a cup and some beer off his staff – it was great two-day grass meeting in Taranaki for Michael House last week.
After three wins at Stratford on Thursday, his team combined for another four at New Plymouth on Saturday, including the $12,240 Taranaki Cup with Santanna Mach.
The trotter Boyz Invasion continued his brilliant run of form by winning both days and extending his streak to four in a row while perhaps the most satisfying wins came with Razcal Alley, who went to Stratford a 65-start maiden and left Taranaki a two-race winner.
“On her trackwork you’d swear she’d won four or five races,” said House.
“I drilled her when she got here and she took it in her stride.
“All the staff were on at me for persisting with her so I won a couple of boxes of beer off them when she won.”
It was brilliant display of horsemanship from driver Blair Orange to get that maiden win – a hopple carrier broke halfway down the long Stratford straight and sent the horse in to a gallop, but he got her back and pacing and to the line first.
Her win at New Plymouth was far more comfortable.
House acknowledged the patience and commitment of her owner, Central Otago farming contractor Darrell Black, saying most would have quit the horse long ago.
“He’s shown a lot of fortitude to stick with her; most owners would have felt the frustration and given up by now.”
The problem now is where to go with the six-year-old daughter of American Ideal, who jumped from her nearly-two-year rating of maiden 40 to a 55 with the pair of wins.
“We thought about Gavelhouse but the latest auction is already going so the timing wasn’t right.
“She loves the grass, so I guess we will carry on with her until Hawera at Easter and then reassess.”
Santanna Mach is another to have thrived recently and his Cup win was his third in his past four starts.
While officially he’s part of the Auckland satellite stable, he’s actually been enjoying a cruisy time of it in Palmerston North.
“He was a 65 horse at Addington then he had eight to ten start at Auckland where he kept running in to brick walls.
“So, we demoted him to the Manawatu team. He’s actually been stationed there for the last month with Melissa Lammas, sister of Cameron and Buddy, and has really enjoyed it.
“Melissa is one of our hidden secrets who has been part of our team for the last couple of seasons.
“She just does a wee jog team for us and then when the main staff are in town for meetings they give him a couple of good canters.
“So, he’s had a really easy time of it recently and the results have come.
“My Mate Ben is another that has been with Melissa recently and he won at New Plymouth too, that’s a real credit to her care.”
Boyz Invasion has gone from strength to strength since House acquired him from Mike Heenan before Christmas and is now on his way to Auckland.
“He’s a real cool horse that I have a bit of time for.
“In his first start for me he sat parked outside Cracker Hill in 1.58 down south and still ran second. From then on I knew we had something to work with.”
He seemingly made hard work of an easy field on Thursday but, up in grade on Saturday, he won more convincingly.
“That’s just him. He’s a funny horse and you can’t hit the front too soon with him because on most occasions he will pull up.”
All things considered, House is satisfied with how the season has gone from a Central Districts stand point, though he continues to aim big.
“It’s just been ok this season; it could have been better but could have been worse.
“I said at the start of the season I was buying another truck so I could take more horses north, because someone had to make up for all the Nelson and Blenheim trainers who used to go there but don’t any more.
“But I have struggled to find horses to fill that truck. I haven’t been spending enough time on it.
“Right at this moment in the middle of the season, I’m tired and my staff are frazzled. We are all working really hard to make this thing work.
“On the positive side it’s great to see Blair driving so well and I’m thrilled with how the Auckland stable is going.
“Warloch, Delightful Major and Johnny Mac all raced great and we’ve got more going up there soon.”