By Julieanne Horsman
Tumut trainer Kerry Weir almost didn’t make it to the races today. His truck broke down about 10km short of the Murrumbidgee Turf Club, leaving him, his horses and jockey Megan Taylor stranded on the side of the road.
Luckily he’s got a great mate in Wagga trainer Chris Heywood who dropped everything to come to the rescue, picking everyone including the horses up and ferrying them to the racetrack.
“As soon as the truck started spluttering I was on the phone to Chris,” Weir said.
“I said to him mate, what are you doing? He was about to jump in the shower but I told him he wasn’t that dirty and that he needed to come and pick us up.
“We’re lucky everyone in the racing game around here helps each other out.”
Heywood got the team to the races five minutes before they were required to be there and it heralded a change in luck for Weir and his first runner of the day, South Africa.
The gelding, purchased for a “bargain price” from China Horse Club via an internet auction, was scratched at the barriers at Wagga a fortnight ago.
“He should have won that race and we couldn’t believe it when he played up and was scratched,” Weir said. “It was very frustrating.” Weir didn’t have to wait too long for the horse to have his moment in the sun though.
With stable jockey Megan Taylor aboard, the gelding overcame a wide gate and Heavy 10 track to salute by three lengths in the XXXX Gold Maiden Handicap over 1000m today. In doing so, he became the very first winner in NSW this racing season, trumping Magetaz at Cessnock by 15 minutes.
“It was great win and certainly turned a bad day into a good one,” Weir said.
“I hope it’s a good omen for the season.
“If South Africa pulls up OK he will race again at Gundagai on Sunday and then he’ll be spelled and aimed at the Country Championships.”
Promising mare, Levee Bank, added to the stable’s tally with a good third in the Rock At The Races Class 3 Handicap over 1200m.
She was resuming on a heavy track for the first time and led most of the way before being run down in the final stages of the race.
“She didn’t disgrace herself,” Weir said.
“She was caught wide and Megan had no choice but to take her forward which wasn’t what we wanted to do.
“She will have another run in three weeks.”
Once Levee Bank’s run was over, Weir’s attention turned back to his stricken truck. In another stroke of luck, it had broken down just 200m from the front door of an auto workshop so while he was at the races, mechanics were hard at work on his truck. It turned out the breakdown was caused by a faulty exhaust brake which could be fixed easily.
“I can’t thank the guys enough for the quick turnaround,” Weir said.
“I dashed out to get the truck once Levee Bank had finished and had one race spare before I had to be back to strap Hercules Horse,” Weir said.
“I hope we make it home!”