Sad day at track but record stands

The most successful Forbury Park trainer, Graeme Anderson (and below), prepares La Reina Del Sur...
The most successful Forbury Park trainer, Graeme Anderson (and below), prepares La Reina Del Sur at Westwood yesterday before the last race meeting at Forbury Park tonight.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Graeme Anderson is happy to be the answer to a quiz question that will never get outdated.

But he is less impressed about the fate of a racetrack he has considered his second home for a long time.

Anderson, who trains at Westwood Beach, south of Dunedin, has the most wins (179) as a horse trainer at Forbury Park, and as the course will cease to exist as a harness racing venue after tonight’s meeting — there will still be greyhound race meetings on July 18, 23 and 30 — that record will exist in perpetuity.

That goes only so far to mollify Anderson, who is "gutted, really" that Forbury Park is to close as it has been deemed uneconomic by ruling body Harness Racing New Zealand.

Graeme Anderson
Graeme Anderson

"A city the size of Dunedin losing a track like that, which has been here as long as it has, doesn’t sit well with me.

"The reasons for closing it are not, in my opinion, the right reasons. It’s a pity MPs and the city council couldn’t get in behind it and help retain it.

"It’s a real shame that we are losing it. You can understand some of the difficulties they’ve been facing, but I thought Harness Racing New Zealand could have helped us a bit more."

Anderson hopes there will still be harness racing in Dunedin in the future, perhaps as a tenant at the Otago Racing Club’s Wingatui base.

He will retain fond memories of Forbury Park, the venue for nearly half his career wins.

"I’ve followed trotting since I can remember. It’s a famous track, and the track itself is in great order. A lot of the drivers rate it the best winter track in the country.

"I drove on there the other night, and the lights were on, and I thought, what a waste to close this place down.

"It’s also one of the best viewing tracks in the country because you can stand out in front of the old grandstand and the action is right at your face.

"It’s a sad day in our life to see this happen."

Anderson said he was only recently made aware he was the all-time leading trainer at Forbury Park after seeing a story from Otago Daily Times correspondent Jonny Turner.

He is followed by Cran Dalgety (166 wins), Bruce Negus (140), Phil Williamson (115) and Amber Hoffman (113).

Titan Banner, who started at Forbury Park before tasting Group 1 success, and Eamon Maguire were two of the best horses Anderson had at the course, and he enjoyed winning a 4yr-old championship with Ballindooley for "a great bunch of owners".

Anderson and training partner Mike Love have just one horse going round tonight — La Reina Del Sur, in race three, with Matthew Williamson in the sulky — but they are also looking after a couple of horses on behalf of other trainers.

 - hayden.meikle@odt.co.nz

Comments

I used to go to the trots there with my parents. My favorit pacer was named Dragoman. Maurice Holmes was the champion driver at the time.

 

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