By Jonny Turner
Champion reinsman Ricky May has delivered instructions from his hospital bed to fellow driver Carl Markham, who will fill in for him behind Missie Castleton at Timaru today.
May is progressing well after suffering a medical incident in the Central Otago Trotting Cup at Omakau last Thursday that shocked the harness racing fraternity.
The winner of 2950 races in New Zealand usually does much of the hands-on training of Missie Castleton, who is officially trained by his father, Terry.
That work has been handed over to fellow Methven trainer Carl Markham, who has been looking after the 9yr-old while May recuperates in Dunedin Hospital.
Well-wishers from across the Australasian harness racing community have sent out messages of support to the seven time New Zealand Cup winner since his incident.
Many of those will be willing Missie Castleton on for what would be a special an emotionally-charged victory in race 6, today.
The man with the huge task of filling in for May knows exactly what a win would mean to May’s supporters.
“I will be doing everything in my power to help her win,” Carl Markham said.
Though there is clearly pressure on Markham, he is taking it in his stride and certainly has not lost his sense of humour.
“I suppose I will have to clean my boots if everybody is watching,” he quipped.
May’s speedy progression after his incident at Omakau meant he was able to call Markham with instructions on how best to drive Missie Castleton.
“He was ringing me giving me all the instructions – he is as sharp as a knife.”
“He said she is better saved for one run, she has got good gate speed, but we might be better off not using it.”
Missie Castleton would only need to run up to her last start effort to go close in today’s 2000m rating 53-60 trot.
The 9yr-old was given a perfect run in the one-one May, before sprinting well to win at Addington, last month.
The trotter has progressed well leading in to today’s race under Markham’s care
“She seems pretty good, I have been working her since Ricky has been off and she worked pretty good [on Sunday], I thought.”
May’s friend, Craig Wiggins, has been acting as the spokesperson for the May family since the reinsman has been in hospital.
He posted on social media yesterday that May will travel to Christchurch Hospital this week and undergo an “small operation”.
The post said the procedure would provide the driver with “a confident return to a normal life”.