Big crowds and turnover in Marlborough
By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
New Marlborough Harness Racing Club president Shirley Morrison couldn't be much happier with the way the last few days have gone.
She's just overseen her club's only two race meetings of the year at Waterlea Raceway in Blenheim, declaring them both a big success.
"We had heaps of people on course, everybody had a great time, the weather played its part and there were great fields and good racing - that's a pretty good combo."
Turnovers over the two days were also up on last year, with around $1.2m on Friday and $1.4m yesterday.
"The stands were full and there were queues of people at the tote."
Morrison only took on the job last year from Les Whiteside, who's moved south to Christchurch.
"But it's a total team effort - Les and Tony Thomas and I all share duties and then there's the committee and a team of volunteers. The team work really hard to ensure the race days go well. I am proud of them all."
As for lessons learnt?
"In the future we might try and get some of our maintenance work, the painting etc done earlier rather than doing it at the last minute."
"And we need more sunscreen around the joint!"
The meeting was a success too for Tim Williams who drove Sam's Town to a well-deserved victory in the Ossie Hickman/Taimate Equine Marlborough Cup.
The pair had finished second in the Prelude on Friday then turned the tables on stablemate Dashing Major in Sunday's feature.
"Friday was the first drive I'd had on the horse and I think that helped on Sunday," says Williams, " I had a better feel for him."
"He showed a good bit of fight and in the home straight he really puffed up."
In both races Sam's Town worked to the lead in the middle stages. On Friday he was ran down by Dashing Major. On Sunday he never really looked like being headed, winning by over a length.
"He's certainly a honest and seasoned campaigner," says Williams of Sam's Town, who has now won eight of 41 starts.
Driving honours were evenly shared across the day with Robbie Close, Sam Ottley and Sheree Tomlinson getting two each, with the in-form Tomlinson adding to the four she had on the opening day.