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Signing off . . .
Leaving less than four years into this job was never the plan when I arrived back in Dunedin in late 2012. Dunedin is special to me. I spent my toddler years here, we moved back from Hamilton in time for me to go to high school, then made some of my best friends and had some of my best years (well, not academically) during my late teens and early 20s around the streets and in the flats of North Dunedin.
But things change.
Not the job, by any stretch — the support for racing from the bosses at the Otago Daily Times is appreciated and acknowledged not only by me but my racing counterparts (the very few that are left) in the print journalism world in New Zealand. From former bosses Murray Kirkness and Hayden Meikle to Barry Stewart and Stephen Hepburn in the present day my requests for extra space have (at times!) been allowed, and such stories as Genevieve Crawford’s rehoming of standardbreds, Ginger Woodhouse’s small-screen stardom, and 99-year-old "Toby" Robertson’s ride in a sulky have made it to the front page.
. . . so long . . .
Not the people, either.
The people across all three codes in the South Island have been magnificent. It was never going to be easy following in the footsteps of an industry legend like Tayler Strong, but the Andertons, the Kennedys, the Princes, Paul and Leanne Richards, the local jockeys and trainers and dozens of other in the thoroughbred racing industry opened up very quickly. On the harness side, Geoff and Jude Knight, the Williamsons (even Matthew), Amber Hoffman, the local trainers at Forbury Park and plenty more trainers, owners and drivers have been only too happy to share their stories with me, as have the two Johns (Carlyle and Guthrie) at the Otago Greyhound Racing Club.
. . . and see you later
The plan was to stick here for 20 years, or until I got kicked out of the chair — whichever came first.
But as I said at the top, things change — in my case, on a personal level rather than a professional level.
So, after I finish up on Tuesday and clean the house until Friday, it’s time to point the slightly ageing Nissan station wagon north, hang out with the family in the North Island for December and figure out Plan B.
As I’ve been saying to people, if you see me busking down a crowded street somewhere, throw a note my way rather than a coin.
Ta-ta to Tom
New challenges are also on the horizon for former Otago commentator Tom Wood, who is off to Singapore early in the new year for a broadcast role at Kranji. His last meeting in New Zealand will be at Awapuni on December 17.
Might as well try to go out with three in a row after Rydgemont Milly’s win last week. Let’s go for a double of Blazing Under Fire (race 3) and Rakarolla (race 8) at Ascot Park on Sunday.