Jeff Hurst rapt for owners of Sweet Coco   

By Duane Ranger 

Jeff Hurst had already fielded a few offers for his promising Sweet Lou filly, Sweet Coco, but when clients of West Melton trainers Cran and Chrissie Dalgety came knocking, the Ashburton breeder accepted. 

“Katie Cox did all the early work with her and did a brilliant job. She ran second for us on debut at Rangiora (April 3) and then the offer came in, which I really couldn’t turn down.

Happy owners with Sweet Coco

“It was a tough decision given Coco is a part of our family, but the harness racing coffers were getting a bit low, and I thought the funds from her sale would bolster the breeding account. I put her mother (Nicky Anew) to Tiger Tara in November because I was looking for his toughness, and introducing Bettor’s Delight to our Christian Cullen maternal line. 

“Perhaps we’ll have to try Bettor’s Delight now or go back to Sweet Lou again, now the funds are there. Sweet Coco has obviously inherited his speed. I’m pleased for Dalgety’s owners. 

“Every time Coco wins it enhances the reputation of my mare. I have no regrets and hope the picket-fence-form-line continues,” Hurst said. 

Since that sale in early May, Sweet Coco, has convincingly won her last three starts at Rangiora (May 21) and Addington Raceway (June 9 and another win last Friday at Addington). Sweet Coco’s latest one-and-three-quarter-length victory came in race five with the Carter Dalgety-driven 3-year-old winning with a 1:57.6 mile-rate. 

She is owned by the Australian-based Boots Properties (Michael Boots), and was bred by Hurst and his father, Tony. 

“She was bought to race in Australia so I am surprised she is still here but I love watching her race. Going by her last couple of runs, I’d say there’s plenty of wins left in her yet,” Hurst said. 

Hurst, who is a Territory Manager for the multi-national agriculture and horticulture company, Nufarm, has harness racing blood rushing through his Mid Canterbury veins. 

His father, Tony, has been breeding horses for 30 odd years, while his mother, Mandy is Ricky May’s sister. 

“Terry is my grandfather, so I have the best possible knowledge and advice to call on. I’ve been brought up with harness racing and really enjoy the breeding side of it. 

Jeff  & Jemma Hurst with their boys

Sweet Coco’s mother is the first and only broodmare that my wife Jemma and I are breeding from. We love it. The mare has now produced three foals,” Hurst said on the very day he was celebrating his son George’s fifth birthday. They also have another boy named Lachie, who is seven. 

Nicky Anew, the 11-year-old Christian Cullen – Nicky’s Delight (Soky’s Atom) has left three foals, with Sweet Coco being the eldest of them. 

The other two are a Betting Line 2-year-old filly named Anew Dream, and a Vincent yearling filly named Invinceable. 

“That’s three fillies in a row so we are hoping the Tiger Tara is a boy this time around. We actually lent the mare to Chris Morrison to breed from for a year, so the Vincent filly is his, and by all accounts is progressing really well with his son Johnny. 

“We sold the now 2-year-old (Anew Dream) to McKeown Bloodstock at the 2022 National Standardbred Yearling Sale, Christchurch.” 

Hurst said Sweet Coco would really thrive in Australia, but he hoped she could prove herself more here in New Zealand. 

“She’s got a big motor.  She sat three-wide from the 1,400m and still won in 1:55 a couple of starts back. She’s the eldest and hopefully the others can follow suit,” Hurst said. 

He said he originally got into the breed through Ashburton Raceway horseman, Ben Waldron. 

“Ben bought her for a Syndicate we were in. The syndicate disbanded before Nicky had the chance to race, and she was offered to the syndicate members.  Chris Morrison and I were both interested.   

“He was interested in racing her and I wanted to try racing and then breeding so we come to an arrangement where I brought her with a friend, Andy Renner who was also in the syndicate and my father Tony.  She never won a race but placed a few times. 

“Sadly, we never got to see her best on the racetrack, because she was plagued with issue after issue. She would just get right and then she would cop something else,” Hurst said. 

“I’m glad we believed in her, because she’s proven, so far, to be a quality broodmare,” he added. 

“Dad bred for 30 years with a few winners in recent times but never had a really good one, so hopefully this breed can make up for it. It would be just nice for them to get a good time on the racetrack to enhance their breeding careers one day. 

“Sweet Coco has done exactly that. In fact, you can’t get much better than three out of four and a 1: 55.8 mile (Addington June 9). Not bad for a horse that only started racing on the last day of April,” Hurst said.