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30th Jun: Hawkes Bay Hurdles and Steeplechase.
Published: 29 Jun 2017 - - Author: Newsroom


Tomorrow sees the running of the Hawkes Bay Hurdles and Steeplechase and jumping statistician Chris McQuaid passes his eye over the field and past history.
 
The biggest question, of course, is whether or not Mr Mor can win his third successive Hawkes Bay Steeplechase and equal Master Meruit’s record from the 1940s.  However, Master Meruit didn’t win his in successive years as Mr Mor is aiming to do.  Trainer Paul Nelson is looking for his fourth win in the race, with Kings Deep, but he may have a better chance of winning the other feature, the Hawkes Bay Hurdles, with Ooee.  Last year’s runner-up is in pretty good form at the moment, but has to contend with the amazing Sea King as well as Just Got Home, the horse which beat him to the line last year.  The trifecta in 2016 was completed by Wee Biskit, and she also returns for this year’s race.
 
The steeplechase especially has a long and colourful history, being the second-oldest of our major jumping races.  Only the Grand National has been going for a longer period of time.  Although the ageless Teak is the horse which springs to mind for most (older) people when you ask them to think of a standout, to my mind the story of Yashmak and her jockey, Charlie Cress, is the one which really raises the eyebrows.  Who could honestly imagine a 14 year old mare, having her first race for more than seven years, winning such a prestigious event?  The sad aftermath was that Cress was to die from tetanus a few months later after being bitten by a horse.  He had ridden 44 jumping winners in an era of outstanding jockeys, where you could have cast your colours on the proverbial floor and not cared who put them on to ride your horse.
 
On a happier note, and while I don’t in the least begrudge Shaun Fannin his outstanding record from last year, it’s good to see that the jump jockeys’ premiership for this calendar year is much tighter.  Shaun leads again, but is equal with Aaron Kuru on six wins, while Emily Farr, Will Gordon and Hamish McNeill all have five.  Shaun now has 47 career jumping wins, while Emily Farr reached 50 (flat and jumps combined) last weekend.  The premiership for the racing season is just as tight, with Aaron on 13 wins, Will on 12 and Shaun on 11.
 
Kevin Myers (who else?) leads the trainers’ table with six wins, while Paul Nelson has five and John and Karen Parsons have four.
 
Don’t forget that there is also jumping at Wingatui today, where Irish Dude will try to show that his impressive win at Washdyke a couple of weeks ago was no fluke.  It’s a crying shame, though, that he has only three rivals.  The hurdles looks much harder to pick, with perhaps the last-start maiden winner Go Go Gonzo the best of a fairly even bunch.
 
By: Chris McQuaid
Jumping Statistician

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