Murray Sturgeon of Nelson Pine Industries, Nelson Harness Racing Cub president Kristie Hill and owners' representative Andrew Fitzgerald. Photo: Supplied.

Blair defends Nelson Cup

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Blair Orange has claimed Nelson’s most coveted harness racing prize for the second year running.

Blair won the Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup at the region’s biggest racing festival over the weekend at the Richmond Showgrounds.

Driving six-year-old Kruzir, Blair claimed his win in a time of 3:50.4, just .1 second ahead of No Nukes Skipper driven by Samantha Ottley in a thrilling 3000m race.

Away safely from the standing start, Blair quickly had the Michael House-trained horse in front and dictating the field which included 2020 champion Kendra.

A late run by Gerard O’Reilly and Laver pushed the leader, however Blair held his nerve to defend his crown.

Nelson Harness Racing Club president Kristie Hill says punters came out in force for the event with an increase in turnover of $1 million.

“It was a very successful race meeting, we were pretty excited to turnover $2 million in 2020 but we grew that to $3 million this year.”

Kristie says even fields, as well as proactive promotion, saw the punters flock to the meet.

“It creates a bit more competition and hard to determine a clear favourite.”

As well as the increase in spending, the meet saw 40 more horses enter, taking the total to 150.

“I think that had a lot to do with the timing of other meets and the mile racing attracts a few trainers.”

Kristie says the short distance, as well as the speed of the track, is appealing to those outside the region.

Records were also set over the weekend. Blair broke the track record for a mile 1:51.9 while Madeline Stowe broke the track record for 2400m in 3:02.8.

“That indicates the fabulous condition the track was in, John Mackenzie had it in tiptop shape.”

Kristie says it was fantastic to see the support from not only outside the region but from locals, too.