By Don Farmer
Opaki horse trainer Alby MacGregor had every reason to feel well satisfied on the drive back from the Waipukurau races on Sunday, but his happiness with the win of Awatane was tinged with sadness.
His four-year-old gelding had won on debut but the man who had bred the young horse and who was a loyal owner of the MacGregor stable, John Jury, didn’t live to see it.
Mr Jury died on November 12 after a brave fight against illness and MacGregor had been trying to get the gelding to the races before that happened.
But Awatane, a Per Incanto gelding from Mr Jury’s broodmare Miss Sarah, just wouldn’t cooperate.
“He kept on going shin sore on me, it happened three times and every time I had to ease up on him and put him aside.”
Finally Awatane was ready to run and that happened on Sunday when the young horse, now in the ownership of his trainer, just got up by a short neck in a desperate ride by senior hockey Hayden Tinsley to clear maidens on his very first race day attempt.
He was at good tote odds, paying better than $18 on the win machine and $4.20 a place.
Happy as he was by the win MacGregor stopped short of putting his debut winner in the same category as the brilliant Fritzy Boy, jointly owned by himself and Mr Jury, and who had also won on debut before going on to win the Wanganui Guineas at only his second start, and earning close to $1 million in his career.
“Horses like Fritzy are few and far between but make no mistake this fellow is a fair enough galloper,” MacGregor said.
The gelding could face the starter again in about a fortnight when he is likely to race at Awapuni.