Spellbound kept an unbeaten record in tact when she overcame sitting parked to take out the race for juvenile fillies at Addington last Friday night.
Some successes are deserved and none were more so than Spellbound’s win on debut at Addington last Friday night.
The impressive juvenile filly kept an unbeaten record in public intact when she overcame a tough run for the Dunns and Nigel Armstrong, who races her with the Westview Racing No.19 Syndicate and the Witches of Westview No.2 Syndicate.
Armstrong is a raceday steward for Addington and is usually busy enough looking after the birdcage and other race winning owners.
“There’s some dust to settle on all that yet but it looks like we’re going to raise well over $6000.”
But the Spellbound syndicates brought along around 150 winning owners which had to be organised and accommodated and on top of that, Armstrong had organised a night of fund raising in support of Peter Davis and Margo Nyhan.
Spellbound wore their colours and 2.5% of the money won by her and the third-placed Feel The Money went towards the trainers and their recovery from that nasty road accident.
“There’s some dust to settle on all that yet but it looks like we’re going to raise well over $6000,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong had organised 130 mystery envelope prizes which sold out for $20 each on the night, mainly from business contacts established over the years through his involvement with Paintlab Hornby, while many people also donated prizes towards silent auctions.
Armstrong is a co-owner of Paintlab, although it was just a coincidence that Friday night’s meeting at Addington was sponsored by the Master Painters NZ Assn.
One of the silent auction prizes was the Jewels colours worn by Shez All Rock and coincidentally her owner Chris Ryder, the kiwi now training in America, just happened to be at Addington and bought them for $500.
Other prizes included a tandem drive behind Monkey King at Dancingonmoonlight, feed from McMillans and jewellery from Pascoes.
“You wouldn’t meet any nicer people than Pete and Margo and it wasn’t hard at all getting people to donate to their cause.
“Addington Raceway also stepped up particularly when it came to looking after the syndicate people when other clubs have not been so cooperative.
“After Spellbound won they opened up a bar on the third floor which wasn’t being used and brought two barmen in along with complimentary food.
“They got 10 out of 10 from me on that and the new CEO Brian Thompson deserves special mention.”
The club and track no doubt felt they owed Armstrong plenty but so does the industry generally with him also on the committees of the Methven TC and Kidz Kartz among other things and all on a voluntary basis.
Then there’s the small matter of all the new people Armstrong has introduced to the game by way of his syndicates, which as the number 19 suggests, have been going a while.
They began by buying cheap going horses for a bit of fun through the Dunn stable and they had plenty of that with the likes of Living Legend and Mach Cruiser, among others.
“But it got to a point where John (Dunn) said that if you want the chance at a good horse you’re going to have to buy a yearling at the sales.
“So three years ago we asked them to buy one and they got home with three.”
No problems there though because the three were Feel The Money, Tuapeka Trick and trotter Borntobeastar, all talented types with good futures.
Last year, Spellbound was bought for $17,000 along with a Well Said colt for $18,000 and a Majestic Son filly for $12,500.
Spellbound has been looking like a steal from the start and Armstrong admits to “allowing myself to get excited about her a long time ago.”
“Ross Houghton does all the work with her at the beach and said last year she was a freak.
“He said she was going to be as good as American Tart and she could have been anything had she not kept going amiss.
“She has an effortless high cruising speed.”
No real surprises there with a filly by Art Major from a mare bred on an Armbro Operative-Tuapeka Knight cross which provides for a real speed factor.
Spellbound has yet to be beaten in five outings.
She qualified in early November beating Splendid Me (Bettor’s Delight-Splendid Dreams) by 11 lengths and was then freshened, and in two trials before racing, she beat Sweet On Me (Sweet Lou-Adore Me) and Dr Susan (Bettor’s Delight-Safedra) at Rangiora, in the latter rating 1.58.9 for 2000m, home in 56.8 and 28.
Spellbound has the Leonard Memorial at Addington on Sunday on her plate and her Sales race is at Addington in May, but beyond that Armstrong is not so sure.
“Feel The Money and Tuapeka Trick went to Auckland over Christmas and both got sick so I don’t know about risking such a good horse up there.
“John makes the calls though and the money (Caduceus and Sires Stakes Final a week apart) might be too good to overlook.”
Spellbound was appropriately named Major Return as a yearling but it was changed when the syndicates got involved.
The Westview Racing No.19 Syndicate comprises 25 people from previous syndicates, mainly friends made from Paintlab staff and customers, but the Witches Of Westview one is growing exponentially.
“The first Witches syndicate started out with 100 shares and after selling shares to the wives of six Westview syndicate members, they sold the other 94 shares.
“That involved a one-off payment of $100 and that one ran its course last month.
“Now we’re working on the second one where we have 300 shares and we’ve got about 170 sold at a one-off payment of $175.
“The Witches syndicate involves the same people going forward while bringing in new ones all the time.
“You might have noticed how enthusiastic some of them are in dressing up as witches for the races.
“We lease them a 30% racing share and No.2 is racing Feel The Money, Tuapeka Trick and the two-year-olds.
“No.2 has been going about five months and the overlap is intentional.
“It probably sounds a bit confusing and that is why I’ve got the wife running everything.”
Armstrong also wished to acknowledge the help of Edward Rennell and Mark Bennet at HRNZ in allowing him to set up the syndicates.
“Normally when you get more than 50 people involved in a syndicate you have to get permission from the Board if you’re not a registered syndicator, which just brings too much in costs to the syndicate.
“But the whole purpose of the syndicates is to get as many people involved as we can while keeping the costs down as much as possible.”
It seems a lot of people have got a lot to thank Nigel Armstrong for as well.