NZ Cup winner Ricky May truly is Devine
As he leaned his way over the fence with a beer in his hand, six simple words from one happy punter at Cup Day yesterday summed up what everybody else was thinking.
"Ricky May, you're a bloody legend."
And the man who said it - with a rather pronounced slur - probably didn't quite realise just how accurate he was.
If he wasn't already, yesterday Ricky May became a legend when he turned around weeks of pressure to produce his sixth New Zealand Trotting Cup victory, in doing so joining the immortal Cecil Devine as the most successful driver in the history of New Zealand harness racing's greatest race.
In his typically humble and shy fashion, May reflected all the praise on to Terror To Love and his trainers Paul and Graham Court.
But no matter which way he looked at it, yesterday's win was testament to May's driving ability as it was the Courts' knack of producing a winning horse.
Things didn't quite go to plan. May sent his charge forward with a lap to run and probably expected to be handed the lead but Anthony Butt on Mah Sish had other ideas and May was forced to watch both Fly Like An Eagle and Auckland Reactor get ahead of him as he was shuffled back down the field.
He kept calm and carried on and timed his moment to strike at the top of the straight to perfection.
After the race it transpired May offered to give up his drive when Jimmy Curtin, who drove Terror To Love last year, was forced to pull his pacer Franco Emirate out of the cup 10 days ago.
Word was out that Curtin was back on. May had heard it too and so had owner Terry McDonald.
The two talked after the cup trial last Wednesday and May told McDonald he understood if it was his intention to put Curtin back on Terror To Love.
"That was the true testament of Ricky May, he was more than happy to give up a drive on the New Zealand Cup favourite if that was what I wanted," McDonald said.
"But when I book a driver I stick to it and Ricky was the man for me this year so that's how it stayed."
The fun for Ricky and Terror might not be over yet. There's a new look New Zealand Free-For-All to tackle on Friday - a race which holds a very good record for those who have won the cup three days earlier.
For the first time the race will be run over the one mile distance.
Just another chance for a little bit more of that Ricky May magic.
Is the Canterbury team 'mentally soft'?Related story: North Harbour stun hapless Canterbury team