And They’re Off — Harness Racing in Ōtaki

Bully’s Rocket and Ōtaki trainer/driver, Wendy Davenport, hit a cracking pace in a training run around the Ōtaki Race Course, closely followed by Pure Desire and driver Ricky Herbert, during preparation for the Kapiti Harness Racing Club’s January two day meeting
Bully’s Rocket and Ōtaki trainer/driver, Wendy Davenport, hit a cracking pace in a training run around the Ōtaki Race Course, closely followed by Pure Desire and driver Ricky Herbert, during preparation for the Kapiti Harness Racing Club’s January two day meeting

The Kapiti Harness Racing Club’s two day meeting is coming to Ōtaki Race Course with a new exciting event — the revival of the Wellington Trotting Cup.

“The former Wellington Trotting Club’s major race was the Wellington Trotting Cup, which was last contested in 2002,” Club president, Mary Coleman said. “Former club members agreed that Kapiti Harness Racing be the caretakers of the cup and revive the historical race and cup event.”

The first challenge for the cup will be on the first day of the club’s January meeting, Friday January 15. The Wellington harness racing fraternity will “honour” the race with their attendance, with several past presidents coming to Ōtaki.

Ōtaki has historical links to the cup, the 1976 cup winner was Palestine, part owned by the late George Walton of Ōtaki.

Two Ōtaki horses, Bully’s Rocket and Pure Desire were out on a training run at the Ōtaki track recently, made memorable by one driver — Ricky Herbert taking his seat in the Pure Desire’s sulky. Yes, he was the former coach of the New Zealand All Whites, but in his early years he grew up working with his father’s trotters, so he was quite at home travelling around the track.

Ōtaki trainer/driver, Wendy Davenport with Bully’s Rocket, left, and Pure Desire and driver Ricky Herbert, right, vie for the Wellington Trotting Cup, held by Kapiti Harness Racing Club’s president, Mary Colman. The cup will be contested on opening day of the two day meeting in January
Ōtaki trainer/driver, Wendy Davenport with Bully’s Rocket, left, and Pure Desire and driver Ricky Herbert, right, vie for the Wellington Trotting Cup, held by Kapiti Harness Racing Club’s president, Mary Colman. The cup will be contested on opening day of the two day meeting in January
Ōtaki trainer/driver, Wendy Davenport with Bully’s Rocket,
Ōtaki trainer/driver, Wendy Davenport with Bully’s Rocket,

Ōtaki’s Wendy Davenport, a trainer/driver, owns Pure Desire and is part-owner of Bully’s Rocket, now in his third year of racing. Pure Desire is a new acquisition for Wendy, but at Saturday’s run showed her greatly improved condition and almost glee at being out on the track under Ricky’s guidance.

Murray Gibbs, another Ōtaki trainer will have two of his horses at the meeting, My Eyes Adore You and Branch Ricky who has already won two starts this season.

“The two day meeting is always a popular meeting and people enjoy coming to Ōtaki,” Mrs Colman said. “Horses are coming from Auckland, Cambridge, Taranaki and the South Island and there is a family travelling out from Sweden, just for this meeting!”

The second day of the meeting, Sunday January 17, is a family day at the Interisland Summer Festival, with the feature race the Ōtaki Cup running during the afternoon. There will be free children’s activities among them bouncy castles, face painting, on track races, and sulky rides with the Kids Carts from Cambridge. There will also be some exhibition races on the main track. Kids Carts are miniature horses pulling the small sulkies. Their drivers are fully trained and licensed for the necessary skills to drive sulky.

The first race at Friday’s meeting is 2pm, with free entry, Saturday’s racing begins at midday, entry $5 for adults, under 18 free.