Rainbow Springs – 'He made me fall in love with harness racing’

Today we continue our series on horse ownership – how did it all start? And what are your favourite memories?

We’ve already heard from Trevor Casey, Elizabeth McCormick, and Pauline Pattullo. Today it is the turn of Dr Philippa “Pip” Gerard.

He was an unfashionably bred pacer with an odd-shaped head but Rainbow Springs won over Pip Gerard.

“He made me fall in love with harness racing.”

It took him nine starts before he registered his first win. It came on January 24 1983 at the Hawkes Bay Showgrounds and just a day after he'd been involved in a scary incident. He'd been trapped in a truck after it lost its brakes and rolled on a bank. 

"He was on his side and looked to be dangling by his halters ... and he won the next day."

By Adover Rainbow who stood at John Butcher’s stud at his Desiree Lodge property at Cambridge, Rainbow Springs had presence, Gerard saying he was “a big gelding with a Roman nose who we could recognize from 200 metres away.”

“JB”, as Gerard calls him, trained the horse, with his son, a then very youthful David Butcher his regular driver.

He won five from 28, including the 1984 Hawkes Bay Cup. As for his racing style? “He would pull out at the 600 and just keep on coming,” said Gerard.

Hamilton-based, both Gerard and her husband Denis Lauren are scientists. One is an entomologist – “a bug person” – the other, an organic chemist. Horses have taken them and their family on many adventures.

“We went to New Plymouth and other places we wouldn’t have gone to as a young family without that incentive. It was the picnic atmosphere at those grass track meetings and the friendly people we met.”

And their interest in all things racing just grew.

“As a scientist I like pedigrees and Adover Rainbow had under 200 horses, and I knew every single horse of his in the country.”

It took her longer to get interested in the sport than her husband – “Denis was already hooked” - and in the late 1980s they made a purchase that would change everything.

They bought Chiola’s Lass for $5500 at Karaka with friends, Sean McCaffrey and Ian MacKay.

At the sale, Lauren said “we must have looked at 120 and had a shortlist of 40 before we settled on the five or six we were going to bid on.”

Chiola’s Lass won 10 races and was New Zealand 2-year old and 3-year-old trotter of the year in 1989/90 and 1990/91 and as a broodmare produced some trotting superstars including Allegro Agitato (Sundon – Chiola’s Lass) who won 22 races and over $500,000.

Her tenth foal was Skyvalley. Bred by Lauren, Gerard and trainer Sean McCaffrey the son of Muscles Yankee sold at Karaka for $73,000, going on to win 24 times and over $322,000 in Australia.

“We’ve sold a few at the sales to pay for our hobby.”

Another race-winning progeny was Cabaletta with seven from 36 - “she was always unlucky – but had a great sprint”.

She in turn left a good trotter in 12-race winner Everybody Knows.

“We had a lot of fun with him,"says Gerard.

The couple estimate they’ve had 27 individual winners over the years.They currently have three broodmares in foal, including nine-race winner Rondo, as well as two weanlings, two yearlings and four racehorses.

And with five-win trotter Anditover their current top-liner, Gerard-Lauren runners are still saluting the judge, close to four decades after Rainbow Springs. Big things can come from small beginnings.


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