Millwood Nike aiming for 8 straight at Sunday's Harness Grand Prix
By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
Universally known as "Happy Frank", Frank Endacott reckons right now he's about as happy as he's ever been.
"I've had some amazing moments in sport," says the former Kiwis and Warriors rugby league coach, "but this is one of the most exciting things to happen in my lifetime."
That's because Endacott, along with son Shane, and three others are the owners of boom filly Millwood Nike. Trained by the All Stars' Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen, she is unbeaten in seven starts and is already a dual Group 1 winner and national record-holder.
"I've heard more than once that people have called her a once-in-a-generation horse and we are lucky - she is a freak."
With Nike being the Goddess of Victory in Greek mythology she is certainly living up to her name.
"She has an aura about her."
Endcott, as it happens, only got into the ownership group by chance.
In February last year Mark Purdon bought the daughter of Captaintreacherous at the NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sale in Christchurch.
At the time he said : “she ticked all the boxes for me (as a yearling) with her conformation, she had a good intelligent head on her with a good eye ...... so she was one that we really wanted to bring home."
And that's exactly what they did, after outlaying what now looks to be a bargain $75,000.
The decision was then made to syndicate her to some stable clients.
One of those approached wasn't keen so Endacott was asked if he wanted to get involved.
"I had a good feel about it and got in."
"It all came along at a perfect time for me. I stopped rugby league coaching about two years ago and needed another interest. When this opportunity came along I grabbed it."
Just before that Endacott had also just got out of the car business, selling the Endacott Motor Group.
Endacott (far right) knew one of the syndicate members Steve Byrne previously but hadn't met the others. The pair were joined in the original syndicate by Richard Waller, Steve Thompson and Bruce Irvine.
Waller died unexpectedly on May 29, the same day as Millwood Nike's winning debut at Timaru.
"That was just so sad, Dick was an absolute top bloke."
Endacott's son Shane, a former Warriors player, then got involved as well.
"It's actually Shane's first ever horse."
It was an inspired decision for both as it turns out. Millwood Nike has already bankrolled $275,716 with the likelihood of plenty more in the future.
"It's not even about the money," says Endacott, "it's about the enjoyment and we've had plenty of that!"
Endacott's had success with horses before - among them Soky's Rage who won eight and he also bred Courageous Kiwi who went on to win 36 races in Australia from 2009-15.
But Millwood Nike has been next level.
After her win at Timaru she has since won twice at Ashburton, Auckland and Addington. Her Group 1 win in the Caduceus Club Classic at Alexandra Park when she ran down Kahlua Flybye signalled she was a real top-liner and then on Show Day she overcame a tricky second row draw and traffic problems to romp home in the Dunstan Horsefeeds Sires' Stakes Final by nearly three lengths.
Her time of 2:21.2 was a new New Zealand record for the 2YO pacing fillies over 1980m, eclipsing the mark (2:21.4) set by none other than Amazing Dream in 2019.
Endacott has seen all her seven wins in the flesh apart from the last one. He was in the United Kingdom taking a tour group to the Rugby League World Cup.
"We were at a hotel in York and we watched the race on a laptop at around two in the morning .... we woke up the whole hotel!"
Now a third Group 1 victory awaits. Millwood Nike is currently rated a $1.35 favourite to win the Ace of Diamonds on Harness Grand Prix day at Addington on Sunday, December 4, ahead of the Team Telfer-trained trio of Kahlua Flybye ($8.50), Aardiebytheeseaside ($11) and Sweet Diamonds ($11).
"So many people follow the horse and a lot of my mates get as big a kick out of her winning as we do."
"She's certainly one out of the box."