The Palmy assault is back on


In a late decision, Michael House and Blair Orange will reunite to try and pillage the Manawatu meetings once again this season.

They combined to win 43 races together at the Palmerston North track last term, leveraging Orange to his maiden Drivers Premiership and helping House to third on the Trainers Premiership.

House wasn’t sure whether he would do it again this season, but he made the call earlier this month, and Orange confirmed he was on board again late last week.

“We started putting the wheels in motion three weeks ago,” said House.

“At the time Blair’s availability wasn’t certain so I approached Sam Ottley and she was happy to be on stand-by.

“The ball was in Blair’s court as to whether he would be able to commit and he let me know late on Friday that he would, about half an hour before I was ringing up to declare my drivers.

“It was a great text to get.”

The main problem three weeks ago was House only had a very small race team and needed to hit the phones to recruit some equine stock.

The result is an eight-horse team racing tomorrow afternoon, seven of them recent newcomers to the stable.

A couple, Stoppit and Command Lustre were purchased cheaply by stable clients, while deals were done with trainers Kim Nyhan and Murray Tapper to get four more horses and handy pacer Franco Saxon has joined the team, too.

“We’ve built the team up from nothing to something and I’m looking forward to the challenge of doing it all again.”

Due to having a newborn baby and squad of Sales-sourced juvenile colts, House will be restricted in his ability to travel north, but he has faith in his staff to manage the situation for him.

“I can’t spend the time driving up and down the island like I did last season due to my commitments at home.

“I’ve got some really nice colts that Phil Kennard and I bought with Aidan Johnstone and Rex Knowler and they’re my real focus for the next couple of months.

“They show real potential and it’s possible one or two could ready for the Young Guns series in Auckland at Christmas; we’ll know in the next month.”

So, with House likely to just turn up on race day, he needs good staff on side to make it all fall in to place.

“Penny Boyle is up there with them this week; she did every trip last season and knows what to do.

“It wouldn’t be happening without her, actually.

“Lindsay Boulton drove the truck and is a big help also.

“Plus having Blair there is a huge plus because he will get out of the cart after a race, take his helmet off and help ungear the horses.”

House isn’t expecting big things this trip – he hasn’t had a lot of time with the horses, but expects Franco Saxon should go close to winning both days given his recent form has been in very strong Addington races.

“I’m not expecting great things from this trip, but we will learn a lot about the horses.

“Franco Saxon is a nice horse and should be more than competitive against those horses.”


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