The fringe side of Cyclone Cook failed to deter the quality chasing action witnessed during last Thursday’s huge Waikato feature meeting with steady rain falling throughout the evening. Pictured: Storm Warning, storming to his NZ Derby victory (pic Phil Williams –

Storm Warning, after jumping from trap eight, was ruthless in the manner that he lined up the joint pace-setting Vikings when turning in for the run to judge Phil Wells after the favoured pair matched their paws together up to that point. The Lisa Cole prepared recent Aussie imported chaser extended strongly to kick away for his stylish 25.49s victory in the $40,000 Mike Stent Decorators NZ Derby over 457m.

It was the Dave and Jean Fahey trained pair of kennel mates Vikings and Min Ho who claimed the minor podium positions. Vikings gamely stuck to his task which saw this son of Barcia Bale and Jinja Power claiming the $1,000 Breeders’ bonus payment made to the first NZ bred greyhound to finish the Group 1 event. He was 1.25 lengths behind Storm Warning, while he shaded his kennel mate by a half-length margin.

“It’s nice to finally train an NZ Derby winner. It is brilliant to win it,” commented the trainer's husband Brendon Cole. “He is a very strong dog who has definitely responded positively to the finish on lure we operate here. We’ll probably give in some Hatrick 520m races as a lead up to the NZ Futurity (heats May 5).”


Brendon Cole and handler Sam Lozell with NZ Derby winner Storm Warning; runner-up Vikings with co-trainer Dave Fahey; third placed Min Ho with handler and owner Mark Lin


It was an emphatic free-wheeling chasing display that the Karen Walsh prepared Thrilling Flo produced to demolish her rivals via her pace-making 43.20s victory in the $15,000 Theresa McDonald Memorial Cup over the extreme staying 747m distance. The Gary Harding bred and owned daughter of Collision and Thrilling Angel stretched the field out by a considerable margin when racing down the back straight.

The local favourite Shandell gamely led the chasing pack for her conditioner Arch Lawrence. Kicking on just in behind her was Goldstar Jagger (Steve & Bonnie Evans) along with Tranquil Blossom (Angela Turnwald). Thrilling Flo was off and gone when lining up for the long grind home up the Cambridge straight.

Thrilling Flo was never going to be hauled back, although understandably she marginally started to shorten stride, she got home with 5.25 lengths to spare. Shandell was real gallant when she was required to fend off the serious late challenge thrown at her by a gallant Goldstar Jagger. She did so by the barest of possible margins.

The Group 2 race was completed in the worse of the weather conditions which forced the race presentation to be held later inside. “She is all heart who gives it everything she has. I was worried about how she would react to the rain when going out onto the track, but there certainly was no cause for concern. She can carry onto the Group race staying races coming up,” confirmed Karen Walsh about her charge who has now won 13 of her 27 career races. Her stake earnings are now at $35,705 after adding in another eight minor placings. Thrilling Flo is compiling a tidy staying record having won four of her five races (one second) over the longer journeys.


Thrilling Flo on the post race Theresa McDonald Memorial Cup podium during heavy rain; the race presentation was moved inside with Waikato committee member Jen Bartlett presenting the memorial cup to trainer Karen Walsh; Karen Walsh and handler Sophie Whittaker after the presentation


It was entirely appropriate that long time northern trainer Ben Craik mentored the slippery Simple And Plain to victory in the $15,000 Lois Henley Memorial Trophy at Group 2 level. Craik has been a trainer in the region that Lois Henley represented for numerous years during a portion of her administration roles both regionally and nationally.

There nothing simple or plain about the manner that this daughter of Knocka Norris and Father Of Mine produced her 25.82s 457m victory. She exploded clear from the six trap to dictate terms to her rivals from the outset. Sure, they were charging at her late, but she had inflicted the winning break with the Railway Sprint third place getter holding boldly for her three-quarter length victory. It was Olivia who charged late for Arch Lawrence when claiming her runner-up prize. The Denis Schofield trained Beltom also extended nicely over the concluding stages which saw her arriving home a further half-length behind to nail third.

The victory was a true family affair as Craik is assisted in the training duties by wife Barbara and daughters Tracey and Lisa. “We targeted Simple And Plain towards this race, so it’s nice to win it. We were never in doubt about her running out the 457m distance. It is a great feeling to win it,” said race handler Tracey Craik. Simple And Plain has now accumulated $33,200, the result of 15 wins, 10 minor placings from her 30 race day appearances.


Simple And Plain following her Lois Henley Memorial Trophy win; Peter Henley presenting the trophy to Tracey Craik; members of the Henley family attending the post-race podium

Pawnote: It must be acknowledged the great work that the Waikato track staff put in to ensure the NZ Derby meeting proceeded without a hitch. The impending arrival of Cyclone Cook was a major concern for all concerned, however, the track was presented in fantastic condition which led to safe, competitive racing, even though the meeting was conducted in atrocious wet conditions.

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 19/04/2017 1:24:09 PM

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