Kevin Myers has long been one of the greatest supporters of country racing in New Zealand, and few horses embody that support better than Overtheriver. The astute Wanganui horseman loves taking teams to the rural circuits, none more than the West Coast of the South Island in the first two weeks of January.
Of the 25 races in the three-meeting circuit – which encompasses Greymouth, Reefton and Kumara – Myers won eight, including the triumph of 10-year-old Overtheriver in the Kumara Gold Nuggets (1810m) on Saturday. He also saddled up six horses that finished second – though one of those was beaten by a stablemate.
“Everyone down there does a great job and I like to support them,” Myers said. “You always get good tracks down there. All the farmers there, they know how to prepare a good track.” Myers, who won seven races on the Coast in 2020, said winning races wasn’t the only benefit of the journey. “It’s good to take the young ones and give them a race. It gets them used to travelling. Some of them will travel more as they get on, and this helps them.”
Overtheriver is the sort of horse owners love to have. The Gold Nuggets was his 100th start, and he recorded win number 24. It was his second victory in the iconic Gold Nuggets, and his fourth from four starts at Kumara – a record that probably would have been even better were it not for the abandonment of three Kumara meetings in the past seven years.
The Gold Nuggets also cemented his claim as the king of country racing. In addition to the Kumara feature he has won seven country cups: two at Reefton and one each at Greymouth, Blenheim, Tauherenikau, Poverty Bay, and the Ashurst-Pohangina Cup at Awapuni.
He hasn’t managed a black type win, though he does have black type placings at New Plymouth, Awapuni, Wanganui and Riccarton. “He’s just off the top class but he’s been a great horse for his owners,” said Myers, who added that the horse wasn’t showing his age at all. “He’s like he’s still a five-year-old.”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this veteran is that he hasn’t had any significant injuries despite having begun his career as a late two-year-old in June 2013 – a tribute to the heavy sand training track that Myers uses. “They are very comfortable cantering on this surface. The horses love it,” Myers said.
Among the other horses Myers took to the Coast, he was particularly impressed with the three-year-old Kopua, who finished third on debut at Greymouth on January 4 before winning five days later at Kumara.
“It wasn’t that long ago that he was broken in and he wasn’t in work until late September or early October,” Myers said. “It’s his first prep but we thought it was worth taking him down and giving him a race and he did really well.”
Myers, who sits seventh on the New Zealand trainers’ premiership with 22 wins, is likely to have a few runners at the Wellington Cup carnival over the next two weeks. Among the more interesting could be the three-year-old filly Yolo, who hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1400m) at Otaki on November 26.