John Curtin speaks about having Covid-19

By Michael Guerin

Not many harness racing participants know as much about the effects of Covid-19 as John Curtin.

Because while we have all had our daily lives affected by the virus, New Zealand’s best known horse agent has actually had it.

And Curtin, who was the sixth New Zealander to test positive to Covid-19, says while it didn’t take a huge physical toll on him it inflicted a large loss on him in another way.

 Curtin was diagnosed with the virus back in early March when it was still something most of us thought was an overseas problem that may not really impact our country.

 He has returned from one of his regular trips to the United States and is adamant he contracted the virus when out with racing friends on his last night in New York.

 A week later one of the friends he had been talking to at Yonkers that night died because of complications associated with it.

That shook Curtin deeply even though his own personal experience with Covid-19 was mild.

 “For myself, it wasn’t that bad, like having a bad flu for a day,” says Curtin.

 “But to know somebody I had been talking with and known for a long time, a friend, pass away from it back in the States was very hard.”

 Curtin had been back in New Zealand unaware he had been exposed to Covid-19 for a week before he was tested, with the result shocking both him and his doctor.

 “When you think I was the sixth person to get it it was still a very big deal back then because not many people here had had it,” says the 68-year-old.

“So after the diagnosis they contacted everybody I had been in contact with. I hadn’t been to the races so it wasn’t industry people. The only large group I had been in contact with was at Church here in South Auckland and many of them got tested but were fine.

“Obviously as far as I can tell nobody else got infected because of me and I was over it really quickly. Not even Sally (wife) got it.”

 Now Curtin is through his brief battle with the dreaded virus he is still working and says the demand for New Zealand horses is still there from North American buyers even though their racing has also stopped because of Covid-19.

 “The demand is strong, I still have orders for horses,” says Curtin.

“We have six horses who are bought and paid for here who are ready to fly out and it sounds like the next flight up there might be June 1,” says Curtin.

“But so many horses from this part of the world have done a good job up there there are still plenty of people buying them and once their racing starts up and the flights are back on that market will be strong again.”




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