For two or three heart-stopping seconds on Sunday, Nelson horse trainer Ian Thomas thought he might win the biggest race of his life.
Ian’s horse Taittinger Rose was storming home in the Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup at Richmond Park and looked like it might just catch Western Art which had hit the lead in the straight.
But the finishing post came too soon with Taittinger Rose and champion driver Dexter Dunn finishing second by a head in the $15,000 feature event.
“She was coming home so fast I thought she might get there,” Ian says. “When Dexter got to work on her she took off – it was a close thing.
“It would have been incredible if she’d won, especially in our own cup, but I’m still thrilled she got second – it’s easily my best result as a trainer.”
Ian, who owns Taittinger Rose with his wife Sue and daughter Nicole and friends Darryl and Kath Eginton, says he wasn’t surprised at the result.
“She ran two good races at Westport even though she doesn’t like the grass (track) and she finished third her on the first day, so she’s been racing well. The 3000m suits her as well so we thought she’d go a good race.”
A second in Sunday’s Nelson Cup was the continuation of a successful season for Ian and Taittinger Rose which was named Nelson Owners, Trainers and Breeders Horse of the Year in September after recording three wins.
Western Art’s win gave Canterbury trainers Greg and Nina Hope four wins on Sunday following two wins on the first day of the meeting on Friday. Ricky May drove all six of the Hope’s winners.