With the curtain set to fall on another year of horse racing in Canterbury, Matt Markham reflects on the year that was with his annual roll of honour.
HARNESS STAR - I Can Doosit
It's been the year of Doosit. Well, up until last week anyway when our best trotter decided to try his hand at pacing. But prior to that he just dominated with an 18-race winning streak. There was nothing in Australasia that could keep up with him, and arguably there still isn't. His win on Cup Day at Addington was something special and it further underlined that outside the immortal Lyell Creek he has no peers.
GALLOPING STAR - Final Touch
If there is a perfect advertisement for racing then this brilliant lady from Balcairn is it. From this time last year, through until her most recent effort when third behind Mufhasa at Awapuni, Final Touch hasn't run a bad race. And when she claimed Group I glory at Trentham this month no-one could begrudge her the win. John and Karen Parsons deserve plenty of accolades for their handling of the daughter of Kashani.
BEST RIDE - David Walsh - Kullu, Metropolitan Trophy
He's regarded as one of the best judges of pace in the country and this performance was proof of that. He chased up early to find the front and from there never looked back. The margin got as big as 25 lengths, but Walsh never panicked and when he needed to find some effort he found it and Kullu kicked on for victory. A brilliant ride.
BEST DRIVE - Anthony Butt - Mah Sish, New Zealand Cup
Yes, I realise he didn't win the race. But the initiative he showed when point-blank refusing to yield to Terror To Love with a lap left to run was more than commendable. It drew plenty of criticism and had he handed the lead to Terror To Love the result might have been different. But the fact he was willing to throw caution to the wind and have a go showed just why he's considered one of the best big race drivers in Australasia.
CALL OF THE YEAR - Mark McNamara
Our favourite Australian is noted for producing brilliant one liners. The best of 2012 came during cup week at Ashburton. When favourite No Potato galloped 400 metres from home McNamara produced this gem - "And No Potato has gone from some potato to mashed potato in the space of 20 metres." Pure genius.
A FURTHER 10 STARS OF 2012
Smolda, Sacred Falls, Adore Me, Terror To Love, Wotabuzz, Master Lavros, John Sargent, Dexter Dunn, Lisa Allpress, Zac Butcher.
When Trackside introduced two racing channels it did so with the view of one being utilised for local racing, with the other entertaining racing from all over the world. Why then are we only getting some races from New Zealand on channel 36 with other races being left out so international racing can be shown instead? It's either one or the other.
MAN OF THE MEDIA - Greg O'Connor
One of very few Trackside presenters who has the ability to work across the codes. And equally impressive is his skill set in both. The hours of work put in during cup week and at any other big meeting for that matter is mind-boggling. A natural in front of the camera and a real asset to Canterbury racing.
More unfortunate events at Riccarton. The road cone saga might just be the worst of them ever though. A really bad look for racing.
HRNZ's decision to allow five-year-olds to run in the prestigious four-year-old features. They have had their show. Why do they need another?
More positive swabs, especially around some of the bigger meetings. Not a great look for the industry.
Addington taking the initiative and introducing some new ideas. The NZ Cup ranking system was a big winner. The one mile NZ Free-For-All was maybe not such a success. But definitely worth an attempt.
The continued success of cup week in Christchurch. Each year it's getting a little bigger. The question is how do Addington and Riccarton get the crowd back for other meetings?
Country race meetings thriving. It's great to see places like Motukarara, Methven and Geraldine gaining great crowds.
- The Press