Methven to get band back together again

by Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

The 3000 club is about to go head to head.

Only Tony Herlihy, Maurice McKendry and Ricky May have reined more than 3000 winners in this country and now the Methven Trotting Club is going to bring the three legends of the track together.

On January 30th next year the three drivers will take part in a series of races that are expected to feature full fields. And in each of them Herlihy, McKendry and May will drive the three top-rated horses.

It's hoped there will be six such races in the series, with the overall honours going to the driver who accrues the most points.

“It’s different,” said May, “ but it’s going to be some battle and a bit of fun.”

The idea of Methven stalwart Michael Heenan, the club's embraced it. It will be part of the Clubs of Canterbury day so a big on-course crowd will be on hand.

"It's going to be exciting I think," says Methven TC president Carl Markham, "we are all about thinking outside the square, and anything that can create some interest and turnover has to be a good thing."

"Hopefully the TAB will come on board and have head-to-heads, that sort of thing."

Both May and McKendry have strong Mid Canterbury roots.

The Pukekohe-based McKendry was born and raised in Methven before heading north 40 odd years ago.

“I remember him driving at the Methven workouts for Alister Kerslake – that was a long time ago,” said May, who is a third generation horseman from Mid Canterbury, following on from grandfather Clarrie and father Terry.

Both May and McKendry have won the club’s marquee race the Methven Cup previously – May with Baileys Dream (2007) and Kirchdorf (1992) while McKendry won with Tyler Foulden in 1997.

Herlihy is very much the North Island raider, his first start at Methven was with Saratoga (9th) in 2012.

McKendry is the oldest of the three at 66, with May and Herlihy both 63.

Between the three of them they have had 9926 wins from 64,639 drives, with Herlihy leading the way with 3595 wins, McKendry on 3324 and May on 3007.

May has also had the most race drivers of anyone anytime in this country. He’s now had 22980 drives. Together they have had 179 Group One victories in New Zealand with Herlihy on 72, May on 71, and McKendry on 36.

May leads the way with New Zealand Cup victories though with 7, and it was the build-up to one of them that he particularly remembers.

“We were having a beer together with a few others after Kaikoura, and they were giving me hell about Inky Lord going into the New Zealand Cup as a four year old – they didn’t think he’d stay the 3200 metres.

May had the last laugh as it turned out – Inky Lord not only won that New Zealand Cup in 1989 but beat both McKendry (Kylie’s Hero – fourth) and Herlihy (Luxury Liner – fifth) in the process.

It was the May’s first New Zealand Cup too, while Herlihy’s had three (Luxury Liner 1988, Christopher Vance 1991, and Chokin 1993).

All three have won the Drivers’ premiership – May just the once (2004), Herlihy eight times and McKendry 10. From 1985 to 2000 the drivers known as The Ice Man (Herlihy) and The Magic Man (McKendry) dominated, with 15 premiershps in a row.

Now the three will come together in what Markham's describing as "something unique".

The last time the three of them were in the same race was the Group 1 Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes at Alexandra Park in December 2019, won by Amazing Dream (Natalie Rasmussen).

"It will be a big occasion," says Markham.




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