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With the 2 year old filly HIGH CLASS winning the VODAFONE WARRIORS ‘WOMEN IN LEAGUE’ FILLIES CLASSIC on 8 May 2015, there were two ‘shocking’ aspects to the top race on Avondale’s ’14/15 calendar.
High Class, on debut, produced a gutsy performance to come from last at the 800m, loop wide out and race away to win by a margin in a talented field. High Class is a daughter of SHOCKING and the win provided the RICH HILL stallion with just his second winner. SHOCKING as a Melbourne Cup winner has impressed with this talented 2 year old.
The other shocking aspect of the $20,000 race was the abandonment of the meeting initially scheduled for the Fillies Classic – 27 April 2015. Under the control of Stipe Matthew Williamson, the meeting was cut after the third race [rather than delayed] in response to jockeys concerns about visibility and even though the weather was fining up quickly at the time.
After High Class took out the Fillies Classic on 8 May, the re-scheduled date, Avondale JC Vice President Jan Skinner said “We got a good quality field second time round; we were relieved that our race sponsor stuck with us; and it was great to have Duane Mann as our guest for the VODAFONE WARRIORS – he is a legend of the game and many of us hadn’t seen him in a long while!”
The Avondale 2YO Fillies Classic has less than a trouble-free history. Three times in the last twenty years it has not been run in its scheduled spot on the calendar: cancelled in 2006, not run due to racecourse closure in 2011 and abandoned on the day in April 2015.
In the Club's golden days the race was notable as a Listed black typer, run in the late autumn (often on a soft track). Nowadays the Fillies Classic carries no prestigious listing only an above-average stake.
The father and son pair Trevor McKee [Life Member] and Stephen McKee have the Classic’s winning strike rate over the last twenty years – an amazing FOUR times (1996, 2003, 2004 and 2013). Jockey Michael Coleman has a good record in the Classic (1200m) and won in a superior time of 1.09.66 in 2010.
In 1987 the 2YO Fillies Classic was run for the first time as a night
Strathmore Group Limited sponsored the feature on the inaugural night of racing under lights at Avondale, 1 April 1987, with the “STRATHMORE CLASSIC”.
Land that was subdivided from the main racecourse land in 2014 has now been sold off, because it is not part of racing operations. Known as 30 Sandy Lane, it is 0.97 Ha bare site at the Western end of the track. In May last year 30 Sandy Lane was designated a Special Housing Area under the Government/Auckland Council housing accord. Club President Allan Boyle commented that the sale has more than just financial significance because it releases the Club from longstanding restrictions that can be traced back to night racing which started at the Avondale JC in April 1987.
“My Committee has worked hard to achieve this and we are enthusiastic about the future. The sale means the Club is without major debt” Boyle said.
Avondale JC hosts its best race day of the season when the Rosebank Business Association and the Vodafone Warriors take the main race sponsorships on 27 April, ANZAC MONDAY, the only non-work day on the Avondale calendar.
“Everything can change when there’s a committee that thinks they can influence things a lot” said Club President Allan Boyle. “Our ANZAC MONDAY MEETING gives the venue a shot at changing things. Industry day racing provides a Club with a very limited life and so the committee and staff aim to put a ding in the Avondale universe this time…we are hosting great sponsors and there will be good racing.”
Jan Skinner, who is organising on-track events, noted that the Club is proud to have the support of the Vodafone Warriors. “Most of the boys have playing or camp commitments but there will be players with us on the day. To link our racing with a brand as strong as the Vodafone WARRIORS is a great experience for us. And the main race may be a double wammy – a nice field of 2YO fillies and the “Women in League” concept from the Warriors. We are looking forward to an exciting afternoon!”
Main race: Vodafone WARRIORS ‘Women In League’ Fillies Classic
Two Year Old Fillies. Stake $20,000. 1200 metres
Alcohol and food have also been stolen and members fear the attacks could escalate after one of their own was robbed of his mobile phone on the premises last week. Allan Boyle, President, said the club - which reopened in late 2012 - has been trying to refresh its set-up and re-establish itself as a successful race track.The organisation suspended racing in 2010 after 120 years because of dwindling crowd numbers and mounting debt. "This vandalism is directed at us specifically and is hurting," Boyle said. "Through January at times it has looked like a war zone." Secretary-Manager John Craig [pictured above] said the club has been welcomed back "strongly" since reopening and has invested "hundreds of thousands" into upgrading the racing surface. "It's quite demoralising. We are a community asset," Craig said. "It's not just the damage, it's the man hours involved in cleaning up. But we no sooner clean up and it's back again."
Club members have seen the youths loitering on the premises and they believe many are under the age of 14. "As a community-based outfit here in Avondale we are asking the locals - including politicians and businesses - for help. We have contract security patrols, we use the 111 emergency system and the community policing. So far neither our security firm nor the police have been able to close down the attacks."
Extract NZ Herald, 7 April 2014
The Avondale Jockey Club is selling off land attached to its racecourse to try to clear its debt. The Club, which is home to the iconic Avondale Sunday Market, suspended its racing four years ago to restructure its operation and finances after an unsuccessful $8 million night-racing venture in the late 1980s. Race meetings resumed in October 2012 and the Club now has a full schedule of week day events.
The land for sale is zoned for housing with access from Ash Street, via Sandy Lane and can accommodate 28 terraced and/or semidetached homes. It is bounded by homes on two sides and the Whau River on the western side. Club president Graham Wakefield said subdividing had been a "painstaking and protracted exercise. But now that we're here, the considerable surge in residential land values in the Auckland metropolitan isthmus over the past several years has played in our favour".
The land is being marketed by Bayleys agent Paul Dixon, who says city-fringe suburban intensification is occurring with the city's greater population growth. Avondale is well-positioned to benefit from infrastructure improvements in the area and the hotspot in residential demand.
The New Zealand Racing Board confirmed the allocation of 11 Northern Region licences for the Avondale Jockey Club including our traditional ANZAC Day licence for the 2014/2015 season. The ANZAC day meeting will not be held on 25 April itself but instead the licence will be raced on Monday, 27 April 2015, being the "mondayising" of the ANZAC Day holiday this year.
The main track has undergone extensive renovations from 2013/14 to return a very high standard surface that has earned it the reputation of one of the best racetracks in the country.
The 2014 Auckland Eye Avondale Guineas was held at the home of Auckland thoroughbred racing, Ellerslie, on Saturday 15 February. The race was easily won by the favourite Puccini. The Encosta De Lago gelding, raced by breeders Monovale Holdings Limited and trained by Peter and Jacob McKay of Matamata was ridden by Michael Walker.
The Club also acknowledges Pucinni's success in the TV3 NZ Derby (Group 1) run at Ellerslie on Saturday 1 March 2014 and congratulates the connections. Auckland Racing Club have announced that Puccini has been named this season's "Ellerslie Horse of the Year" and Michael Walker has been named "Ellerslie Jockey of the Year".
2014 Avondale Guineas winner, Puccini, ridden by Michael Walker
In the 2014 Go Racing Syndications Avondale Cup run at Ellerslie, Who Shot The Barman, a Yamanin Vital gelding owned by the O'Leary Brothers and trained by Mark Oulaghan of Awapuni, completely demolished a competitive field of stayers. The southern bred stayer gave Matthew Cameron an easy ride near the pace before he powered clear in the straight to ultimately win by 2½ lengths.
As well, congratulations to the connections of Who Shot The Barman in winning the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup held at Ellerslie on Wednesday, 5 March 2014.
2014 Avondale Cup winner Who Shot The Barman, ridden by Matthew Cameron
The Governor General's Cup was once again raced at Avondale under the well-known sponsorship of Morgan Furniture. Morgan Furniture - an international success story in the furniture production business for the late Graham Morgan and his family - noted this race was a fine tribute to Graham Morgan's long-standing links with the Avondale Jockey Club.
Graham was a past President of the Club. He died on 6 April 2014.
The winner, Telepathic, a 3YO filly raced by NZ Thoroughbred Holdings Limited came with a well-timed run to head Glorious Lad and Duckworth Lewis at the line. Club President, Graham Wakefield, presented the GG Cup, largest trophy cup in New Zealand racing, to Russell Warwick representing the winning owner and quality watches to Donna Logan and Danielle Johnson as the winning trainer and jockey. Both Russell and Donna recorded their respects to Graham Morgan's contribution to the thoroughbred industry.
Telepathic and Glorious Lad both head to Brisbane for the Queensland Winter Carnival, Telepathic is a Group 1 "Queensland Oaks" high hope, and Glorious Lad will debut in the Group 3 "Rough Habit Plate", a strong showing in this race will boost his Group 1 "Queensland Derby" prospects. "UPDATE" Congratulations go to the owners and trainers of Telepathic and Glorious Lad who crossed the finish line 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Group 3 "Rough Habit Plate" at Doomben on 10 May 2014.
Late past Presidents Graham Morgan and Ron Murphy at the 2009 Governor General's Cup presentation won by Ron Murphy's "Track Brat"
This feature race, sponsored for the first time by Bayleys Real Estate, was won well by De Kensington Oval having its second start in this preparation. The Lockyer Thoroughbreds owned filly by Red Giant is trained by Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott at Matamata and was ridden by in-form jockey, Michael Coleman. Wearing blinkers for the first time De Kensington Oval produced a storming finish in the juvenile fillies feature to triumph by just over 4 lengths.
Favourite, Vavasour who also finished second in her only previous start, did well to chase De Kensington Oval home after having to work into the clear 250 metres out. First starter Attesa fought on well for third after setting the pace.
The Avondale Classic is the leading race on the Club's annual programme.
2014 Bayleys Avondale Classic
De Kensington Oval, ridden by Michael Coleman
Kenton Wright, the northern photographer for Race Images is well known to Avondale. Race Images along with Tracksnaps are professional racing photography companies providing coverage of throroughbred racing throughout the North Island.
Services include providing a range of proofs of raceday wins with ideas of ways to frame and display them. Check out the Race Images web site at: http://www.raceimages.co.nz/default.aspx
Kenton Wright has provided photographs for inclusion on the AJC web site - thank you Kenton.