Raceway action for rural community

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SOCIAL OUTING: Farming Families day at the races organisers Bruce Taylor, from left, and Craig Wiggins with Methven Trotting Club stalwart, and driver, Ricky May, planning a fun, family day.
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A fun family day at the harness races for the rural community will be held at Methven’s Mt Harding Racecourse next month.

Organised by Farming Families, the day at the races event on April 14 features a trans Tasman battle with Methven’s racing royalty Ricky May and Maurice McKendry. The pair will take on their Aussie counterparts Greg Sugars and Chris Alford.

Farming Families stalwarts Bruce Taylor and Craig Wiggins said it was a chance for the rural community to get off farm post harvest, and pre-winter, to socialise with others in a fun, family-friendly environment.

The event will be based in the Goodwin Lounge at the racecourse from 11.30am.

It was the third event of its type the group had organised, Wiggins said.

The last two were held pre-Covid as farmers were dealing with Mycoplasma bovis.

‘‘We just basically put on an event at a racetrack and they can come in and enjoy the races, with lots of kids activities, some spot prizes for losing tote tickets, farming fashion in the field with fashion judge Pauline Pattullo.’’

It was a way to get farmers connected after a busy time of year before winter sets in, he said.

Taylor said the event was built around family enjoyment, especially for the children.

There would be bouncy castles, flavoured milk from Fonterra, and sausages and burgers from Anzco on the barbecue.

‘‘If the children are having fun and enjoying themselves, then mum and dad are having fun as well at the same time,’’ Taylor said.

It was quiet in the rural sector, financially, which reflected what was going on in Ashburton, he said.

Bruce Taylor and Craig Wiggins with the Farming Families barbecue available for use by Mid Canterbury rural communities. FILE PHOTO

‘‘It’s very hard to find a business that is jumping up and down and saying we are having a great year. Hopefully, for everybody (the day) will just get their minds off things for a while.

‘‘We are just hoping for a decent day (with the weather),’’ he said.

The event had been well supported by businesses including the Anzco meat sponsorship, and Southern Cross Lodge offering deals on accommodation, as well as has a spot prize package.

‘‘We are getting well looked after for spot prizes,’’ Wiggins said.

‘‘There will be plenty advice from people like Ricky May on what horses to bet on, we are also looking to bring in some good guest (speakers) as well, the Rural Support Trust will also be here.’’

The Carr Family Foundation health and wellness van would also be on site providing free health checks with blood sugar, oxygen and cholesterol levels, heart rate and blood pressure checks.

‘‘These have been really, really successful events to get farmers connected and talking and just enjoying a day off the farm.

‘‘It’s all about families coming together at a good event, for a good reason; connecting with each other.’’

LEGEND: Methven driver Ricky May will be in action during the upcoming trans Tasman harness racing battle in the town. PHOTO ALLIED PRESS FILES

Driver and Methven Trotting Club stalwart Ricky May said the race day series was based on a Three Wise Men promotion the club ran last year between himself, McKendry and Tony Herlihy.

The trio were New Zealand’s only drivers to have driven more than 3000 winners.

This time McKendry (3393 career wins) and May (3099) will take on the two Australians.

‘‘We had a series last year with three drivers in New Zealand who had won over 3000 (races) so we decided to ramp it up this year and make it a bit different.’’

Alford and Sugars, the top drivers in Australia, were due to be in New Zealand to race at the Grins Night of Champions race event in Cambridge two days earlier than the Methven race meeting.

‘‘They have won something like 12,000 races between them,’’ May said.

Alford, just last month, claimed his 8000th career win.

May said the ‘18,000-plus series’ is a tribute to the number of wins by the four drivers involved.

Drivers will drive at least six races on the 10-race meeting and would accrue points, based on placings.

The team with the most points will win bragging rights.