Much needed boost

NZ HARNESS NEWS

The impressive maiden win of Canterbury three-year-old Memphis Tennessee at Ascot Park on Saturday was a much-needed boost for his connections.

He cleared out to win easily by three lengths in the hands of co-trainer Terry Chmiel, validating a huge amount of punter support that installed him a $1.60 favourite.

For Chmiel, his wife and training partner Glenys, and the horse’s Invercargill-based owners Robert and Sharon Symon, it was a turnaround in recent fortunes.

Late last month, the group’s well-performed pacer Franco Tai was put down shortly after arriving in Sydney.

He had been sent to Amanda Turnball’s stable to race at Menangle but slipped and fractured his pelvis before getting to have even one start in Australia.

“It was terrible for us all; we were shaken up by it,” said Glenys Chmiel.

“He was such a lovely horse – our 12-year-old daughter used to drive him in fast work – and he was a real family pet.

“It only happens to the nice ones.”

Chmiel said Franco Tai was apparently spooked by a school bus as he was being led to his paddock.

“It’s hard to fully understand because of his nature and the fact we have roads around our property here.”

Back in April, the Symons – who also raced star mare Nek Time from the Chmiel stable – had expressed a desire to buy a going horse, as is their usual modus operandi.

“Mark Jones knew that we were looking for one and said that he had one that he thought could be a good buy for them,” said Glenys.

“Wayne Higgs owned him but wanted out so Mark brought the horse round to our place and Terry drove him.

“He really liked him, so Robert and Sharon bought him.”

He had three starts for his new connections as a juvenile, including a tidy second in the Gr.2 $45,000 Diamond Creek Classic at Ascot Park.

But they put him aside soon after, and it’s looking like that decision will pay dividends.

“Last season he was a nice horse, but was just a bit light in the frame, so we opted to give him some time out to really develop.

“He probably hasn’t grown a lot, but he has filled out and we should be in for a good season with him.”

The final Sires Stakes Series heat at Addington on November 2 is on the cards, but not before another run in Southland.

“He’s paid up for the Sires Stakes Series, but we just thought we would avoid this week’s first heat as it might have been too hard for him first up.

“We’ll leave him down there for a week and he can race at Gore, and then we’ll probably look to bring him home and set him for a Sires heat.

“Ideally we want to take him down for the Southern Supremacy Final later in the season and you need to start twice for that, so that’s another reason to keep him down there.”

Chmiel noted that Nek Time, who was retired for good after a one-race comeback at Christmas time last year, did not get in foal.

“We couldn’t get her in foal using an embryo transfer while she was working up this time last year.

“So, we’ve sent her up to vet Becky Sutorius in Rangiora to try and get her in foal this time.

“She’s being served by Bettor’s Delight, so fingers crossed.”

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