Riverton races curtailed

Spectators (from left) Robin South, Fred McCarthy, Alli McCarthy, Julie McCarthy and Jim McCarthy, of Christchurch, enjoy Riverton Easter races on Saturday. Photo: Ben Tomsett

THERE was plenty of drama at the Riverton races over the Easter weekend, not all of it involving horses.

The first day of the Riverton Easter races, one of Southland’s first major events since the introduction of the Orange traffic light setting of the Covid framework was put in place, was postponed due to strong winds on Saturday.

After just two races, the decision was made to call off the rest of the day just before 2pm as strong gusts up to 60kmh made riding difficult.

Although locals and visitors had arrived without the need for vaccine passports and masks in months, the conditions were too unsafe to continue the races.

“The jockeys felt they were more trying to stay on their horse than ride their horse, so the decision has been made to run the rest of the races on Monday,” Gallop South racing manager Jo Gordon said.

Of the two races on the day, jockey Tina Comignaghi was first in race 1 riding Acquittal, and Jason Laking won race two on Double Prosperity.

On Monday, where 12 races were due to be raced, the event ended up not running the final race.

An injury to apprentice rider Savish Kahoo led to a delay in the meeting by about an hour while pressure on the power system also led to a delay.

The final race was due to race after 5.30pm but there was insufficient daylight for the race to go ahead.

It was a productive day on Monday for Rangiora trainer Paul Harris. He had three wins on the day with the biggest in the Riverton Cup.

Game mare Wannabe Paris won in a close race over 2147m in the Cup race.

Sent straight to the front by rider Chris Johnson, the 5-year-old daughter of Reliable Man set up a steady tempo which had the 15-horse field well spread out with 800m to run.

Johnson applied the pressure approaching the home turn and had the mare trucking with a full head of steam with 300m to run.

Harris, who let out a mighty roar as the mare crossed the line, was a bundle of emotion after the race.

“They went fast early and she was taken on but she was just too tough in the end,” he said.

“Luckily, she got a couple of cheap sectionals and when Chris shot her clear rounding the home bend, I knew she was going to be hard to catch as she never gives in.

“They all had a shot at her and they couldn’t get past, so I am just immensely proud of her and for what she has achieved.”

The victory capped off a winning treble for Harris who had earlier won two of the first three races with Cause Celebre and Radiant Rosie.