Driver brings stricken horse back under control
A dry track saw driver Chris Ramage win the Te Anau harness street race final in a fast time on Saturday.
Cheered on by a big crowd under sunny skies, Ramage steered Pennyana to victory against Brent Shirley driving Ruby Ruby.
Racing co-ordinator Ron Barron said it was a sweet win for the experienced Southland driver who finished runner-up last year.
The quick pace of the final did not beat the long-standing race record of 36.4 seconds set in 1994, but the modern sandy surface - used since racing returned in 2011 - ran a wee bit slower than the original grit one, Barron said.
The crowds lining the street also witnessed an incredible piece of horsemanship from driver Andrew Amour.
Amour had to rein in his horse, Langham Gold, after the gelding came in close contact with eventual runner-up Ruby Ruby in the race.
"The driver did a hell of a job getting his horse back under control," Barron said.
"After the two horses in the race came together, one of the horses broke its gait and left the track going down on its nose."
The horse did not fall and the crowd was not in harm's way, Barron said.
The races, believed to be unique in the Southern Hemisphere, were revived in 2011 after an eight-year hiatus. The event pits two horses against each other on a sand-covered Mokonui St.
Race organiser Don McFarlane said it was a fantastic day attended by about 3000 people. Nearly $18,000 was raised from the races for community and sporting groups in Te Anau.
The Southland Times