Ricky May - "never known rain like it"

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk 

The deluge sweeping across Canterbury has many in the harness racing community on edge, with hopes that for some the worst may be over.

A state of emergency is in force right across Canterbury, with large areas of flooding, road closures, hundreds evacuated from their homes, and bridges washed away in what is being called a one-in-a-100 year event.

Mid Canterbury’s been one of the worst affected and champion driver Ricky May, who’s lived in Methven all his life, says “I’ve never known rain like it.”

Yesterday he won the last in the rain at Addington with Songbird, today he was back on the farm tending to his lambs.

“It just has not stopped,” says May, “at Mt Somers just up the road they are talking 300 mils, that’s a lot of rain.”

“The paddocks are waterlogged here and they say it’s going to stop but it shows no sign of it.”

But May says the nearby Mt Harding racecourse has come through the adverse weather ok.

"It is as good as gold." 

Trainer Brent White, who’s based at Ashburton Raceway, says the rain has eased since yesterday – “hopefully we are over the worst of it.”

While there is some surface flooding he says they have been “luckier than most”.

“It reminds me of when we were in Temuka a few years back, there was heaps of rain, it was up to the horses’ knees, it was relentless.”

Just up the road is trainer Laurence Hanrahan.

“The Ashburton River usually runs at 10 cumex (cubic metres per second) and this morning it as up to 1400, apparently it can take 1800-200.”

Further north trainer Kyle Cameron has other issues to contend with.

“A poplar has blown over the track from a neighbours so we are chainsawing a tree,’ he says.

Cameron, who is based at Fernside in North Canterbury, says the nearby Waimakariri river is “chocka”, and there is some surface water around though not as bad as he expected.

“We reckon there’s been about 140 mm since it started."

More than 200 homes in North Canterbury were evacuated overnight, with residents urged to stay off the roads. Some residents has since been given the all-clear to return home.

Cameron and his dad Ian have 20 horses on their property and so far there have been no problems.

“They are warm and toasty”

Which is about as good as anyone can hope for.

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