By Michael Guerin
Just a few years ago Arna Donnelly couldn’t have believed she would be where she is now.
Where that is is the leading trainer in the Waikato and with her stable star Kango preparing to line up on her home track for $1million in The Race by Grins.
Kango became the ninth and likely second-last invite to the race when his connections secured the Dunstan Feeds slot on Wednesday, bringing a real Waikato flavour to the April 14 race.
He will not only have Donnelly as his trainer but the King Of Cambridge David Butcher driving and Donnelly can’t wait.
“It is incredibly exciting to be part of,” she told HRNZ.
“Here on our home track, with local owners, David driving and for good people like David Smith from Dunstan, it's all great for the region and I think The Race.”
Kango may have sealed his spot in the race with a big second to Copy That in the City Of Auckland Free-For-All at Alexandra Park last Friday but in the last year he has been a consistent open class force, winning the Kaikoura Cup and finishing third in the Auckland Cup.
“We are thrilled to be in and now we wait for the draw which will be crucial,” says Donnelly.
“I think he surprised a few people last week how much gate speed he has so with a good draw they will know he is there.”
That draw will be held, likely with online streaming, on Monday, April 10.
Kango getting in The Race means Cambridge will have two local runners with co-trainer Andrew Neal saying Nicholas Cage is still on target even after his failure at Alexandra Park last Friday.
“We took some bloods after and they were off, showing us he had a respiratory infection,” says Neal.
“He is being treated for that so it should come right pretty quickly and we are still very confident he will be there.”
Neal says he and wife Lyn will decide in the next few days whether to aim Nicholas Cage at the $45,000 Waikato Flying Mile next Thursday, which will be the final lead-up to The Race for many of the big names.