From the Commentary Box – Monday, 12th May 2014

I realised on Saturday I’m a bit of a sook.

Calling horse races is my passion and something I never take for granted. For more than thirty years I’ve been fortunate to call some outstanding gallopers involved in memorable finishes. Last Saturday’s finish to the Rotorua Cup had both of those ingredients but with a decided twist to proceedings.

History will show how evergreen winter galloper Indicator prevailed in a thrilling finish by the barest of margins over Cambridge trained galloper Pump Up The Volume. Although sent out at odds of 14 to 1, Indicator was the undoubted sentimental favourite for the 2200m staying test. Not only did he have to lumber the 59kgs topweight impost, Indicator also had to rewrite the history books.

Indicator was seeking to become the first horse to win four Rotorua Cups. Ridden as usual by Reese Jones, Indicator settled in the first half dozen horses until the pressure went on with 650m to run.   “He travelled ok up until then but when they quickened he felt flat” said Jones later. And he looked flat too. I remember calling the race looking through my binoculars and making a mental note to myself. Indicator can’t win.

I am eternally grateful for once not saying what I thought !! As Pump Up The Volume, ridden by Kelly Myers, made its move coming to the home turn, Jones was hard at work on Indicator. “I looked up and saw the others a couple of lengths in front but the more I asked my bloke for an effort the more he kept giving me” said Jones.

With 200m to go it became a two horse war between Pump Up The Volume and Indicator.

And it was about then, that decided twist I spoke about earlier, reared its head.

I will unashamedly admit to arguably the most biased commentary of my career.

Excepting of course when one of my own horses is winning! Knowing that we were on the brink of watching a little bit of NZ racing history, I started willing Indicator to victory. As did the entire crowd at Arawa Park.

As the two horses hit the line locked together I blurted out it was very close. “I think Indicator may have got there ….I hope so because he deserves it” I said. Looking at the slow motion replay didn’t really help, it was that close. Eventually, race day judge John Craig announced Indicator had prevailed by a nose.

The reception Indicator received from the on course crowd summed up the enormity of the occassion.

“What an effort …..unbelievable ” said a near speechless co trainer Keith Opie.

Opie, along with his son Gavin, have done a tremendous job throughout Indicator’s career for breeder and owner Peter Setchell. They have managed to amass stake earnings of $620,000 with a horse who is essentially a winter galloper.

It’s an amazing feat especially when you consider the lower stakes on offer during the winter.

Their skill and horsemanship were again on display last Saturday. With just two preparatory runs to fit him for a gruelling 2200m on a heavy track, the father and son training combination again got it right.

One of the great pleasures of doing my job is having the opportunity to witness the sheer will to win of the truly great horses.

When the roll call of the truly great horses of NZ racing is perused the odds are Indicator’s name won’t be there. But when the Rotorua Cup rolls around every year, I’m sure racing enthusiasts will remember his name.

I’ll catch you next week.