"Woody" set for primetime TV cameo
A life after racing can lead horses to doing some weird and wonderful things.
On Wednesday Woodstone, an 11 win trotter who retired two years ago, will feature on TVNZ's Seven Sharp as part of a "selection" panel for the women's Football World Cup that kicks off this Thursday.
If the concept sounds familiar it should. During the 2010 World Cup Paul the Octopus became an international sensation when he correctly predicted the winner of 12 out of 14 games.
"I looked out my window at home and thought Woody would be good at that," says Woodstone's owner Fleur Cutfield (pictured below with daughter Maddy).
The former school-teacher owns and runs two mobile farms - Old MacDonalds and Little Bo Peeps - from her Waiau Pa base just out of Auckland. The aim of the service is to educate people around animals, welfare, and the important roles they play in society.
"We go to schools, retirement villages, hospitals and lots of other places ... it's really rewarding to see how people respond to animals, some of them have never seen a horse or a goat or a donkey close up."
Cutfield was approached by the programme to supply three animals. The idea was that they would try and pick the winners from the World Cup's three opening games with the animal making the most accurate predictions then returning to the show to predict other World Cup games. The Football Ferns open their campaign against former champions Norway at Eden Park on Thursday.
Cutfield duly selected her "team" - a horse, a pig and an alpaca. Filming took place earlier this week.
"So I put various treats in various buckets with flags on them to determine which team would win," says Cutfield, "Woody was the easiest. He made a beeline for his target each time then posed perfectly for the camera - trying to get a pig or alpaca to do the same isn't as straightforward."
Woodstone, who was bred by Colin Hair of Sundees Son fame, had 11 wins from 69 starts, accruing $187,141 in stakes before retiring as a seven-year-old in 2021.
Cutfield then bought him from HRNZ's HERO programme, after he'd been re-educated by Canterbury-based educator Chanelle Dickie.
"He's lovely and laidback and you can tell he's been well treated," says Cutfield, "having an ex race horse is pretty cool because you can say he had this career and did this. Children get a real buzz out of getting up close to a racehorse!"
"Woody" is one of two standardbreds she has. The other is called Pip, an Elsu mare.
"She's 18 now and she's just pony-sized ..she's been a kid's pony and she is safe as houses when we are out and about, often trusted to take babies and toddlers for rides."
"Woody" is set to make his prime time TV debut from 7pm on Wednesday night.
"It should be a lot of fun," says Cutfield.