First NZ breeding win for harness nomad, Dale McEntee 

 By Duane Ranger 

 Harness racing nomad, Dale McEntee, has bred his first New Zealand winner. 

The 41-year-old data analyst, who has been travelling around New Zealand the last two years in a caravan with his wife Nicky, parked up in Christchurch last Friday (August 18) to watch his $23 outsider, Triple Rock, upset the hot favourite Magician in race five – the Continental Event Hire Maiden Pace.

Dale & Nicky McEntee

Triple Right is a 3-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven -m Triple Sec (Mach Three) gelding, who is trained by Geoff and James Dunn at West Melton.  

Dunn and co-owner Bob Sandford paid $24,000 Triple Rock at the 2021 National Standardbred Yearling Sale in Christchurch. 

The same owners also paid $42,500 for Triple Rock’s Art Major half-brother (now 2-year-old) at this year’s same Christchurch Sale. 

Nicky has actually picked up a part-time job working in a caravan park in Christchurch before we move on again. It was a bonus to be able to watch Triple Rock race, especially when Magician was paying $1.04 on fixed odds.  

“Geoff and James have done a wonderful job with him, and Sam (Thornley) did a brilliant job to get him up to win from ack in the field after drawing gate 11. 

She followed the favourite into the race and nailed him right on the line. It’s so good to get that first New Zealand win on board,” McEntee said. 

Dale and Triple Rock

That was Triple Rock’s first win in four starts after a 12th, an eighth, and a sixth, since his Addington debut on July 27. 

However, McEntee was quick to point out that he had actually bred Home And Dry to win two races in Australia at Newcastle on February 4 last year, and then the same horse won again on the same track on November 11 last year. 

Home And Dry is Triple Rock’s older half-brother (by A Rocknroll Dance), whom McEntee sold to Pukekohe horsemen Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson when he was a weanling. They then exported him to Australia as an unraced 3-year-old in July 2021. 

Home And Dry (1:55.7) had finished second in two workouts at Pukekohe in May and June 2021 before winning his qualifying trial at the same venue on June 12 that year. 

He is now owned by the Curran Family Racing Group in New South Wales and trained by Clayton Harmey at Cessnock. 

“I hadn’t been involved in any form of harness racing for about 10 to 15 years and went specifically to the Pyne Gould Guiness last Mixed Age Sale in Christchurch. 

“I went there specifically to look at two mares. One was a trotting mare named Juneamy Castleton (2009 Majestic Son – Anna Castleton – Gee Whiz II four-win mare), and the other was Triple Sec, who was in foal to A Rocknroll Dance.  

“The trotting mare was too expensive, so I think I paid about $6,000 for Triple Sec, which I thought was a good deal at the time, especially because she was in foal carrying Home And Dry. 

“I also liked the family line. There had been New Zealand and Auckland Cup winners on the maternal side,” McEntee said. 

Triple Sec’s grand-dam was the 1992 Butler B G  -Burgandy Lass (Noodlum) unraced mare, Sparkling Burgundy, who left the 2008 Auckland Cup winner, Gotta Go Cullen (by Christian Cullen). 

Sparkling Burgundy’s older Vance Hanover half-brother, Il Vicolo, won the 1995 and 1996 New Zealand Cups. 

Il Vicolo (1:55.6) and Gotta Go Cullen (1:55.5)  were both pacing millionaires who won 31 ($1.5m) and 24 ($1.1m) races respectively. 

“That is why I got into the breed. seventh foal, and sixth winner. Her only previous New Zealand winner was the Simpson-bred Justasec (2015 Big Jim gelding) whoof his two races before being sold to Australia in 2019. 

“I’ve also bred another Art Major weanling out of Triple Sec. He’s a full brother to Action Major, and we are hoping he will do just as well, if not better than him at next year’s yearling sale in Christchurch. 

“He was born on October 6 last year and is with Natalie and Jamie Gameson at Burnham. The mare is back in foal to Art Major, and I’m not sure who we will take her to next – possibly Always B Miki,” McEntee said. 

McEntee was born in Christchurch and educated at Papanui High School. For the past year, McEntee has been working as an online Data Analyst for Telus International and was for 11 years across the Christchurch City Council, the Hurunui District Council and Environment Canterbury. 

He said he got into standardbreds as a ‘mad-keen harness racing teenager’ in the late 1990s.  

“Once I turned 18, a friend and I used to go to the TAB in Papanui (gone now) in our school breaks. It was only about two blocks from the school gate then. 

“I used to help Wayne Higgs and Murray Rennie when I was at High School. Then I went to Lincoln University and did nothing with horses for a long while. 

“Then at sales time in 2018 my wife was working with Paul Bielby’s partner, and Paul helped me assess the Mixed Sale catalogue. 

“We then came up with those two mares. Backed up by reassurance from Peter Lagan and Cam Bray, we went for it, and it’s been a fantastic ride since,” McEntee said. 

“I like breeding so much last season I did two months stud work at Wai Eyre Farm,” he added. 

For the record: In a couple of years the McEntees have so far travelled from Christchurch to Northland and back. They are heading south in the summer to Fiordland, Stewart Island and Southland.