By DAVID HILL
The Kaikoura Trotting Club’s new president has the pedigree and the horses to match.
Ben Smith was elected president last month, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Vic Smith, who was instrumental in building a new racetrack at South Bay in 1953.
“I’m a third-generation president. My grandfather closed his sawmill for a week and took his staff and machinery over to South Bay to build the racecourse just before the 1953 race meeting.
“I understand there was an old grass track before that where they held gymkhana races.”
Mr Smith’s uncle, Mark Smith, is a past-president and life member, while his father Peter Smith was a vice-president and is the club’s patron and also a life member.
His sister, Kaikoura Deputy Mayor Julie Howden, is also on the committee, “so there’s a bit of passion there in the family for the races”.
The Smith family has also made its mark on the racetrack, breeding and owning several past winners at the annual race meeting.
Matua Tana, bred and co-owned by Ben Smith, has been enjoying success at Addington Raceway in Christchurch this season, with the trainers targeting the Dominion Trot on Show Day.
Wainui Creek, co-owned by Ben and Peter Smith, won a race in Kaikoura in 2018 before venturing over to Australia.
Peter Smith also bred Lyell Creek, who was trained by Mark Smith and then sold after his first race win.
“He (Lyell Creek) went on to win 53 races and $3 million all round the world.”
Busy race schedules in Christchurch and Australia means there will be no Smith horses competing at this year’s Kaikoura Cup race meeting.
The Kaikoura Cup race meeting is back at the picturesque South Bay Racecourse on Sunday and Monday, November 1 and 2, with 16 races over the two days.
“Wainui Creek would have been our pick for the Kaikoura Cup, but she’s in Australia and Matua Tana has a pretty busy schedule, and I believe in the trainers to make these decisions.”
Mr Smith lives in Christchurch, but has been spending three days a week in Kaikoura in the lead-up to the race meeting, as the workload increases.
“The committee of 13 includes five past presidents and they’ve been exceptional in the amount of work they’ve done.
“It’s been fantastic.”