No Problem For Houston

The start of the jumping season added interest to last Saturday’s meeting at Te Rapa.
The three jumping races carded on the Waikato Racing Club’s programme contained their fair share of thrills and excitement.
The feature was the Ken and Roger Browne Memorial Steeplechase, the ideal lead up to the Waikato Steeplechase in a fortnight.
Unseasonably dry conditions had a few worried about possible repercussions.
Some trainers were caught in a classic catch 22 situation.
Whilst weary of the effects of the dead track having on their runner’s legs, most were mindful of getting the “miles” into their charges.
As far as the Browne Memorial was concerned, it really didn’t matter.
Favourite Climbing High was simply too good!
The veteran chaser, with regular race day rider Shelley Houston aboard, toyed with his opposition.
Allowed plenty of time to settle by Houston, Climbing High was soon up near the leaders with a lap to go.
“I’ve learnt you can’t rush him in the early stages of the race” said Houston. 
“You just have to wait for him to come into the race, he has got a mind of his own” she added.
Climbing High’s winning margin was only three quarters of a length over Volkswagin, but the victory was never in doubt.
“I had them covered a long way from home and I just nursed him to the line” said Houston.
The Te Awamutu jumper is trained by Bill and Mark Weal and his association with Houston has been formidable.
“He’s been a wonderful horse for me and he’s the reason why I’m still doing this” said Houston. 
Judging by the relative ease of the win, Climbing High and Houston will be a potent force in the Waikato Steeples in a fortnight.
 
Borrack’s win in the Open Hurdle was also a case of toying with the opposition.
Sent out a hot favourite, Borrack quickly assumed the pacemaking duties before giving another polished display of front running jumping.
Ridden by Cody Singer, Borrack won untested by six and three quarter lengths.
“No worries at any stage” was the after race comment from Singer.
Borrack is one of the most easily recognized gallopers in NZ, with as big a baldy white face as you’ll ever see.
Coupled with his front running antics, he captures the public’s imagination every time he races.
Although he was dominant on Saturday, his trainer Adrian Bull was undecided over a start in the Waikato Hurdles in a fortnight.
“I’ll see how he pulls up from this win and make a decision over the next few days” said Bull.    
If I owned him, he’d be going around……. I’ll give you the tip!
 
The other Hurdle race certainly provided the thrills and spills element, understandably considering it was for the lesser experienced jumpers.
Three of the ten starters fell while another one was pulled up on the journey.
Ever So Sharp fell mid race when well back in the field.
His rider Matthew Gillies suffered concussion which will see him sidelined for three weeks.
The other two fallers created a stir when they fell at the last fence.
Portrush, ridden by Daniel Oakden, and Atomic Road (Patrick Ormsby)  were looking the likely quinella coming to the last fence.
Unfortunately Portrush crashed heavily on landing and Atomic Road, trying to avoid the fallen horse,swerved sharply dislodging Ormsby.
That meant a fortuitious win for Lohan ridden by Gary Walsh.
“I had resigned myself to finishing third, but that changed quickly after jumping the last fence” said a bemused Walsh on returning to scale.
Gotta love this jumping game!
 
Finally, on a quiet day for local horses,congratulations to local trainer Graeme Forbes.
Forbes prepared Wrecking Crew to win his miaden over 1600m.
Making it even more satisfying for Forbes was the family connection.
“I own part of him with one of my son’s Mark, and of course another son Alex was aboard” explained Forbes.
I hope Dad and brother showed their “appreciation” to Alex because it was a lovely ride.
The young apprentice continues to impress many with his ability.
 
I’ll catch you next week.
 
Cheers
 
George.