Fannin happy to break hometown hoodoo

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  • July 05, 2023
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Hometown lad Shaun Fannin was full of emotion at Hastings racecourse on Saturday after attaining a lifelong dream of winning the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle and Steeplechase double.

The two prestige jumps races had previously eluded the Champion Jumps Jockey and he was overjoyed to snare the coveted jumping scalps.

Fannin started the day off well when guiding the Kevin Myers-trained Happy Star to a convincing six-length victory in the Te Whangai Romneys Hawke’s Bay Hurdles (3100m).

He then partnered $1.80 favourite West Coast to a dominant 16-length victory in the AHD – Animal Health Hawke’s Bay Steeplechase (4800m), giving an emotional salute after the finishing post.

“It was a big thrill,” Fannin said.

“They are two races that I have always wanted to win, having grown up in Hastings and not having much luck there throughout my career.

“Emotions were running high at the time and I was pretty chuffed to win both of them.”

Fannin cut his riding teeth at the track and he said he had always wanted to win his home track features.

“I used to ride out for Guy Lowry and Sue Thompson at the track before school,” he said.

“I went to Hastings Boys’ High School and that is just at the back of the racecourse.”

Fannin was duly pleased with both of his charge’s efforts and he is looking forward to riding them as they progress to try and defend their crowns in the Grand National Hurdles and Grand National Steeplechase respectively.

“Happy Star won effortlessly yesterday. If he can carry on the way he is, he is going to be very hard to beat in the National again,” Fannin said.

“West Coast won the National last year as well and he seems to have come back even better this year. He was pretty impressive yesterday and won with a leg in the air.

“He is heading forward to the Wellington Steeplechase and then hopefully back down to Riccarton for the National again.”

With the winning double, Fannin extended his unassailable lead in the National Jumps Jockeys’ Premiership, with his season’s tally of 16 wins well ahead of second placed Aaron Kuru’s haul of six.

“Things have been going great,” Fannin said.

“You obviously can’t do it without the trainers and owners support, and the horses you are riding. I am lucky enough to have had some big wins and I am very grateful for all of the support.”

Fannin has achieved all of this success alongside juggling the rigours of establishing his own training career, where he has posted nine wins in that capacity this season.

“It is pretty full on at the moment with training and riding, but it is enjoyable to be involved in two aspects of the game. It helps keep my mind fresh,” he said.

“I have got a pretty good team around me and we are working well together. It allows me to get away to the races and make sure the horses are looked after when I can’t be there.”

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