A mere nose separated Roger James and Robert Wellwood from a perfect result on what was still a successful weekend for the Cambridge training duo.
James travelled south to Hastings with in-form stable runners Pinion (NZ) (Pins) and Avalene (NZ) (Vadamos) for the first Hawke’s Bay Racing Inc. fixture since the region was inundated by Cyclone Gabrielle in mid-February.
He was on a dual mission, however, with his intention to confirm on Saturday how the six-figure flood relief fund he and associates had raised would be allocated.
“We had done a lot of homework around various organisations aiding the people who had been so terribly affected by the cyclone,” James said.
“The most prominent one was the East Coast Rural Support Trust, and when I drove down into the Esk Valley and realised the scale of the devastation, I rang our four main contributors for their permission to allocate the full amount to the Rural Support Trust.
“We really wanted to see all the money raised go directly to those in need, and as the Rural Support Trust had explained, the Government subsidy that takes care of their administration costs saw to that.
“When I explained all that to our key supporters, they were unanimous that the Rural Support Trust fitted our intentions.”
The Hawke’s Bay club had played a major role in the immediate cyclone response, opening its facilities to the community and using the racecourse as a distribution point for donated goods.
As part of the return to racing on Saturday, HBTRI hosted a function involving the Rural Support Trust and volunteers as well as a number of families who had been directly impacted by the cyclone.
“I was invited to the function and it gave me a huge amount of pleasure to announce on behalf of all of those involved at our end, that the $190,000 raised in donations would go to the Trust bank account,” James said.
“I got a standing ovation and it was very emotional but I stressed to everyone that it wasn’t about me – it was about a whole lot of people from the racing industry who had got behind it.”
James and his inner group had been joined in the initiative by former Hawke’s Bay identity Tony Rider, now a Hamilton supermarket franchise-holder, who organised the collation and transport of essential grocery items.
“As well as the $190,000, $130,000 of which was raised from stallion nominations auctioned on gavelhouse.com, in the first week after the cyclone we were also able to purchase more than $100,000 worth of supermarket essentials for first response delivery.
“That says a lot about who we are as an industry, which really is something to be proud of.” – NZ Racing News