Manawatu racing makes return
By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk
Manawatu Raceway was slated for the chopping block earlier this year, but the Central Districts club was given a lifeline and retained 10 meetings this season.
The first of those will take place on Tuesday and trainers from both Islands have shown their support for the club.
Waikato horseman Dylan Ferguson and his employer Graeme Rogerson have thrown their support behind the meeting and will line-up five horses on the nine race card.
Manawatu Raceway has been a happy hunting ground for Ferguson, who like many young northern reinsmen cut his teeth at the Palmerston North track.
“Things were up in the air for a long time but a lot of work went on behind the scenes to retain some of their dates, and all credit to the club for doing so,” Ferguson said.
“They have got great fields and some good numbers, so hopefully they are going to be rewarded for it.
“I have had a lot of drives there in my career so far and Dad (Peter Ferguson) has had a lot of winners there. It is certainly a track that has its place in the industry.”
Ferguson is looking forward to heading south on Tuesday and he believes the Rogerson barn has a number of winning prospects.
“With no Cambridge for a month we thought that we would make the trek down for the two day meeting and try our luck down there,” he said.
Splitting Image will kick-off proceedings in the Levin Woolbuyers Handicap Trot (2500m) and Ferguson is hoping she can replicate her last-start winning form on Tuesday.
“You always get Miss Consistent with her,” Ferguson said. “She always trots all the way and tries really hard.
“It’s a bit tricky off 45m. I know they are only maidens off the front but it’s still a long way to catch-up.
“If she can get a drag up later in the race then she should be a good, honest chance.”
Stablemate Romanee has been racing at Alexandra Park and Ferguson believes the drop back to Manawatu this week will benefit the gelding in the Masterton Club Mobile Pace (2000m).
“He runs into Eagle Watch who was back in winning form last start. He should be a top-three chance,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson will be looking to utilise High Point’s gate speed in the Mad Butcher Wairarapa Cup Mobile Pace (2000m) where she has drawn five.
“A front-row draw aids her chances,” Ferguson said. “She gets off the gate really quick, so we will be putting her in the race this week and see how we go from there.”
Stablemate Super Duper Dude heads into the PGG Wrightson Mobile Pace (2000m) off the back of a runner-up performance on debut, and Ferguson has labeled the Sir Lincoln gelding as the stable’s best chance of the day.
“He went really good last start,” Ferguson said. “He got beaten by a nice horse and he seems to have improved off that run. It looks like he will be our best chance of the day.”