The Diamond One provided a fitting tribute to his late trainer when she won the Group Three White Robe Lodge Handicap at Wingatui on Friday.
Local trainer Terry Kennedy was more than happy to play a minor role when his runner Chapel Star finished second in the feature event. Kennedy’s wife Debbie is the twin sister of the late Steve Anderton and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when The Diamond One posted an emotionally charged victory in the race, renamed the “White Robe Lodge Handicap in Memory of Steve Anderton”.
“I think everybody got their wish,” Kennedy said. “I said to Debbie in the morning that if we get beaten I just hope it’s by The Diamond One.”
Anderton died in Dunedin Hospital on Tuesday from injuries suffered in a float accident on his property the previous day.
The Diamond One ran in the name of Anderton and his wife Claire and the gifted mare owned by the Dennis brothers did her bit to provide a result the grieving family and the thoroughbred industry had hoped for.
The Diamond One had jumped well from a wide gate before Hutchings was forced to drop back and near the turn they were towards the rear on the fence. When most of the opposition moved wide approaching the home turn he was able to improve along the rail and turned for home within striking distance of the and a quarter lengths going away, Hutchings with his whip held skyward in tribute to the mare’s late trainer.
Hutchings was visibly moved as he returned to scale and emotions were running high in the birdcage, where the family tearfully awaited The Diamond One.
“It was a very emotional afternoon and quite a few tears were spilled,” Kennedy said. “Things will never be the same and you never get over it but you learn to get stronger with time.”
Earlier in the programme, The Diamond One’s stablemate Landales Gold also produced a touching moment and a forerunner of things to come when he was successful in the Dunedin Casino Maiden in a driving finish under Rory Hutchings, who produced a masterly display in the feature race.
Steve Anderton’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Mosgiel, on Tuesday at 1pm with a gathering to follow at the Wingatui racecourse.