From the Commentary Box – Monday, 14th July 2014

The Jumpers took centre stage at Trentham last Saturday and didn’t they put on a display !

Wellington Hurdle and Steeplechase Day was a resounding success insofar as providing excitement was concerned.

The undoubted highlight of the day was the thrilling runaway success of Wellington Steeplechase winner, Rangatira.

Last year’s Great Northern Steeplechase victor gave the good sized crowd in attendance their money’s worth with one of the most dashing displays of front running jumping ever seen at Trentham.

Amazingly it was Rangatira’s first try at the unique figure eight steeplechase course at Trentham.

Yet it looked, apart from a couple of obvious mistakes, as though he’d been around the tricky course many times previously.

There is always something magical about a free running front runner, especially in a steeplechase.

Watching Rangatira circumnavigate his way around the figure eight course was, in the vernacular of young people these days, simply awesome .

His ability to charge at his fences and to jump them without a hint of fear, coupled with a desire to go as fast as he can, will always create excitement for spectators.

Ridden by Corey Perrett, Rangatira quickly assumed his customary role of pacemaker in the gruelling 5500m event.

“He just loves to bowl along in front like that and you just have to let him do what he wants” said Perrett afterwards.

The fearless jumping attitude of Rangatira combined with his need for speed can be a dangerous combination, especially if he doesn’t quite get it right at a fence.

Inevitably there were a couple of fences at which he looked like he was going to “sell the farm”.

The first of the double on the second round was a case in point.

Leading by the best part of 15 lengths at that stage and typically all fired up out in front, Rangatira ploughed through the fence.

Momentarily it looked as though Perrett would be unseated from the saddle.

However both horse and rider composed themselves in time for the next fence and settled back into the rythmn.

For Perrett, there was no real concern.

“Yeah it certainly wasn’t his best jump, but I didn’t feel we were going to fall” said Perrett.

It was obvious with a lap to go, Rangatira and Perrett had their opposition in serious strife.

The crowd at Trentham played their part and certainly showed their appreciation of the effort by “riding” Rangatira home over the last 800 metres.

The Commentary Box at Trentham is situated on the third level of the Members Stand, right amongst the spectators.

Even with my headphones on and with all the squawking I manage to do during a race, I could clearly hear the crowd cheering Rangatira home.

It was wonderful to hear.

Rangatira, trained at Stratford by Steve Gulliver, eventually won by 14 and a half lengths, from Tim, ridden by Troy Harris, with Palemo (Matt Gillies) in third spot.

If you get the chance to see a replay of the race, sit back and enjoy a truly wonderful sight!


The other feature jumping race was the Wellington Hurdle.

It too provided a wonderful spectacle.

Race favourite Just Got Home, trained by Rudy Leifting, came with a nicely timed finishing burst under the urgings of Cody Singer, to win.

Just Got Home is only a relative newcomer to the jumping role but he looks destined for a bright future.

Just Got Home was bred by Leifting from his wonderful mare, Justatad.

Justatad won the NZ Oaks of her year, going on to compete successfully on both sides of the Tasman throughout her illustrious career.

In one of those remarkable rags to riches tales, Leifting purchased Justatad at a Karaka sale for just $1000.

And the winning hasn’t stopped since !


I’ll catch you soon.