Michael House hits 500

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

When Opawa Mach won the second at Invercargill yesterday it gave Michael House a milestone that’s been 22 years in the making.

It was triumph number 500 for the Canterbury-based trainer and his “Red Army”.

Driven by Sam Ottley Opawa Mach ($10.30 and $3) was three back the fence most of the trip only for the gaps to open on the final bend. The seven year old Mach Three mare then slipped up the passing lane to win by half a head.

While based at Prebbleton just outside Christchurch, House also has stables at Invercargill and Pukekohe, and has raced at all four venues post lockdown (Alexandra Park, Cambridge, Addington and Ascot park).

Sometimes outspoken, the effervescent House is seen as an innovator and someone prepared to take risks when it comes to racing and in business. For instance his decision to take big teams to Palmerston North has paid big dividends in recent years. He had 62 winners there in 2019 as he racked up a career high 98 wins for the season.

This year has been his second best season winners-wise, with 66 victories from 593 starts. His first season as a trainer was 1988. He’s also had 47 wins as a driver.

This season he’s currently third in premiership with 66 wins, three behind Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and Robert Dunn on 91. In two weeks he will win his first ever training premiership.

According to Harness Racing New Zealand figures House becomes the 44th trainer to reach 500 wins either training individually or in partnership with someone else.

Top of the pile are the all-powerful Purdons, they are the top three by a stretch.

Barry Purdon has 2525 wins in total. That includes 940 on his own, 1463 in partnership with his father Roy and 122 with Scott Phelan.

Barry’s younger brother Mark Purdon is second on 2299 (908 on his own,558 with Grant Payne and 833 with Natalie Rasmussen).

Roy Purdon, the patriarch of racing’s first family, has 2020 wins, with 557 on his own, before linking up with Barry (1463).

The next big training milestone could well come from Tony Herlihy, he has 974 wins at the moment, and just happens to be Mark and Barry Purdon’s brother in law.

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