Syndicate to mark 50 years of owning horses

Members of the Setarip Syndicate, who will celebrate 50 years together at Ascot Park tomorrow...
Members of the Setarip Syndicate, who will celebrate 50 years together at Ascot Park tomorrow with their pacer, Black Ops. PHOTO: WILD RANGE PHOTOGRAPHYCAPTION1
Friendship has been the bond that has allowed the Setarip Syndicate to notch 50 years of racing horses in Southland.

The members - New Zealand's oldest harness racing syndicate - will gather at tomorrow's Ascot Park meeting to celebrate their half-century.

The Setarip Syndicate was founded by members of Invercargill's Pirates Rugby Club and took its name from spelling Pirates backwards.

The connection between members of the Pirates club had been a key to the syndicate's longevity, manager Garry Tippet said.

"A few of us Pirates members still get around together and it is just a good way to catch up at monthly meetings and have a few beers and things like that."

The syndicate's 20 founding members were all players or supporters of the Pirates club.

Two of those founding members, Joe Wilson and Clark Neil, are still with the group and will be at Ascot Park to celebrate 50 years together.

The Pirates club went on to merge with Old Boys Rugby Club and the joint venture continues today.

Tippet said the Setarip Syndicate had helped Pirates keep its own identity and legacy.

"In some respects, it is a way of keeping the Pirates club going."

Although harness racing has been the focus of the group, regular social functions have helped strengthen the bond between members.

The Setarip Syndicate's horses race in black and gold silks, designed to represent the Pirates jersey.

The syndicate has won 25 races courtsey of 18 horses since it was formed in 1969.

Then, a change of harness racing rules made it possible for groups of more than four people to race the same horse.

It was far from a case of instant success for the group, which had to wait until Hispaniola won at Winton in 1978 to notch its first win.

Setarip Syndicate has been there as harness racing has evolved over 50 years. Its original membership fee was just $4 per month.

The group has not raced any superstar horses, but has had a steady stream of handy horses deliver wins including Gabby's Knight, On The Lure, Rocking Lily, Sly Romance and Olegoldandblack, who was named after the Pirates colours.

One-win pacer Black Ops is the only horse the group currently has in work.

The 6yr-old starts in race 9 at Ascot Park tomorrow in the Congratulations Setarip Syndicate Mobile Pace.

"If the horse is able to win it would top their day of celebrations off nicely.

"It would be the icing on the cake if he was able to win," Tippett said.


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