April 2019


Two Southerners In Trotting Derby

Bruce Stewart

In the last few years it’s been rare for Southland trained three year old trotters to run in the New Zealand Trotting Derby.

However with the resurgence of trotting in New Zealand, more juvenile trotters are being bred and bought and this Friday at Addington the province will be represented in the Derby by two quality square gaiters; Full Noise and Get Lucky.

Both had their last start in the Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton on 23rd February. Just Lucky sat parked, was hindered by Aorangi which galloped just before the home straight, and finished seventh.

“It didn’t help him but to be fair he was only going to run fourth or fifth after being parked,” said Get Lucky’s Branxholme trainer Alister Black.

Full Noise, which was in the one one couldn’t hold off winner Lotamuscle, finishing second, beaten by half a neck.

Get Lucky hasn’t been sighted at trials or workouts since Ashburton but Black is more than happy with where he’s at.

“He had a private trial with a galloping pacemaker at Winton last week and he trialled up pretty good so it’ll come down to getting a wee bit of luck and hopefully we can get a bit of it. He doesn’t seem to take a lot of work. The less you do with him the better.”

He says the 2600 metre trip shouldn’t worry the gelding. Two starts ago he won impressively at Addington over that distance. He’s drawn barrier four from behind the mobile.

“He’s capable of pushing forward but there’s probably five others that are thinking the same thing. I’ll leave that up to Brad and see what he wants to do.”

Get_Lucky_950_x_550.jpg Get Lucky and Brad Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart 

Meanwhile Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray has taken Full Noise to two workouts at Wyndham, winning both.

“He’s in a nice space at the moment,” he said.

Full Noise has drawn the inside of the second row for Addington.

“We just need a bit of luck but it could work out okay too.”

And Gray said the distance will also suit the Majestic Son three year old. “Definitely. He’ll stay all day.”


Full Noise and Brent Barclay – Photo Bruce Stewart 

 Both horses will be pushing for more dollars in the end of season $150,000 Three Year Old Ruby. Get Lucky is currently in sixth place on the Harness Jewels leader board while Full Noise is in fifteenth.

Tobago was the last Southland trained trotter to win this race in 1986 when trained by Ray Jenkins who at that time operated at South Hillend.

Sundon’s Luck part owned by Ben and Karen Calder, won the race in 2002, the first year it was called the New Zealand Trotting Derby. Previously it was known as New Zealand Trotting Stakes.



More Success For Littles

Mac Henry

Malcolm and Sarndra Little of Cromwell bought five fillies at the 2017 premier sale and with the success of Luvtahavtime in the Southland Express Pace at Ascot Park on Saturday, three of them are now winners.

Malcolm’s cousin Murray, through his company Havtime, is a partner in three of them including Luvtahavtime and Havtime. Trained by Barry Purdon, Havtime has scored wins in the New Zealand Yearling Sales two-year-old fillies final at Alexandra Park and the three-year-old edition at Addington to gross $226,858 and make the $36,000 purchase the best of the buys to date.

The five Little fillies went from the sales to Stephen Boyd at Aylesbury to be broken in and then to Nathan Williamson for their early education. For the next part of her preparation, $41,000 acquisition Luvtahavtime went to Brent Shirley who qualified her at Winton in October.

Because she was eligible for the sales race at Addington, the half-sister to Jewel’s winner Pembrook’s Delight went north again and began her racing career with Benny Hill. Amazingly, the Littles produced four of the nine runners. Not only did Havtime win the race, Allaboutdreams finished runner-up. Secured for $25,000, the Bettor’s Delight filly is trained by Brett Gray.

Second last was Allaboutjoy, a daughter of Jumpforjoy picked up for $27,000. She was trained and driven by Nathan Williamson and is currently on the easy list. Luvtahavtime was last him but picked up a stake on her way back south with a second at Forbury Park. After a fifth at Wyndham, the filly joined Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis, who train from Murray Little’s premises at Oreti Beach.

“She has done well since going to the beach,” Malcolm said.

Taken straight to the front in the stand-start 2700 metre event by Blair Orange, the Bettor’s Delight filly stacked the field up before running home in a 27.6 closing quarter to win in a leisurely 3:37.0.

Luvtahavtime_950_x_644.jpg Luvtahavtime picturing during his early preparation with Brent Shirley – Photo Bruce Stewart

Allaboutdreams raced again on Saturday, beaten into second place by The Bull Pen who paced 2:41.5 when winning by two and a half lengths. A winner at Invercargill in November, Allaboutdreams was recording her third second in row including a Nevele R Fillies heat at Forbury Park.

Fifth of the group, Allaboutclass, was secured for $8500, has the same ownership as Luvtahavtime and cost them $8500. Trained by Gray, the filly qualified at Winton in December.

Meanwhile Brad Williamson confirmed his versatility in the Level One Restaurant & Bar Pace on Saturday when Thisladyrocks credited him with his 20th career training victory, 13 of them with pacers.

“I’ve found trotters easier to train because I’ve had more experience with them but I usually have about the same number of each,” he said.

The former Jude and Geoff Knight trained mare had joined Williamson’s team at Christmas time and her new trainer indicated it was mission accomplished. He said the half-sister to Cup class pacer Captain Dolmio will probably be bred from this season.

“She’s got her win now that will help her value for breeding.”

Thisladyrocks pinged off the gate and was never headed.

Williamson said it wasn’t his intention to lead but was happy to have her there.

Canterbury visitor Montefalco won the Happy Birthday Lesley Marshall Pace on debut for trainer and driver Matt Anderson. He had trailed the leader The Great Buzz to the turn but proved too strong down the lane in a two horse battle. It was the third second placing in seven outings for the Great Buzz and probably his last in this country, trainer Clark Barron reporting that sale of the son of Auckland Reactor and Risonanza to Saratoga had been negotiated.


Rockabilly Wins Ladyship

Mac Henry

Chicago Bull’s big little-sister Rockabilly Blues added the Southland Harness Awards Ladyship Super Final at Ascot Park on Saturday afternoon to her already impressive racing record.

But her owners and trainers John and Katrina Price don’t see that as her long-term career.

“I think she’s got more residual value as a broodmare,” John Price said of the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven and Chicago Blues.

Unlike Chicago Bull, by Bettor’s Delight, who is small in stature, Rockabilly Blues has a much bigger frame and took longer to fill it out.

“Because of her size, she was late coming to it, she was very fast in a straight line but needed to strengthen,” said Katrina. “Her two workouts as a three-year-old were quite ordinary and she was booked to go to Sweet Lou. Before she was due to be served, we worked her up, she went pretty good at some workouts and trials so we decided to put the service on hold.”

After qualifying in September, the four-year-old debuted against non-winner mares and fillies in November. A week later she was at it again.

“Then she won a Ladyship final against the same grade of horses and was rated 60 after just two starts,” said Katrina, pointing out a minor injury caused the mare to miss the appropriate Nuggets she would have been eligible for. Placing Rockabilly Blues became difficult, although she was never far away in some strong fields.

“We decided the $20,000 Ladyship final and Southern Belle Series would be her main targets, she’ll probably go to stud in the spring.”


 Rockabilly Blues beating Major Sass at Ascot Park – Photo Bruce Stewart

Heading back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Regards Chicago Bull, the Prices said they maintain regular contact with his Western Australian trainer Gary Hall and the six – year -old has resumed hoppled work. Prior to his unfortunate injury on the verge of the New Zealand Cup, Katrina and John were looking forward to being there.

They had fond memories of him but foremost is how tiny he was with Katrina recalling people at his early workouts asking what the foal they had in was. The Winton-based couple revealed that after some good efforts as a two-year-old there was a lot of interest in him but it came to nothing because of his size.

It was after clocking 1:53.7 in the 2015 Jewels, just an eighth of a second slower than the winner Lazarus, that things changed. Katrina told the story that he was sold to Gary Hall within half an hour and when he saw how small he was he said he might post him back in a cardboard parcel. Katrina also remembered how difficult it was in his first preparation to get the wee fella to pace, suggesting she had the hopples up as tight as a dog collar.

But he was the future winner of 1.8 million dollars and that will be of great assistance to Rockabilly Blues in her breeding career.


 Gazza Win Gold Chip

Mac Henry

The $12,000 Aldebaran Park Gold Chip Trot Final was taken out by Gazza Galleon at just his fifth start. The Majestic Sun three-year-old is trained at Oamaru by Phil Williamson and raced by a couple of his loyal owners Bill Stevenson and Neville McNee. Matthew Williamson was driving the colt for just the second time, having handled him on debut in his one and only juvenile start.

“He went good but galloped,” Matthew said, “this season Dad had been on in all his starts, to teach him, because of his greenness. He’s got ability but needs time to get stronger, he’s not strong to look at yet.”


Gazza Galleon holds out Christmas Babe -Photo Bruce Stewart


Heading back – Photo Bruce Stewart


Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

Saturday’s Cruickshank Pryde Handicap Pace wasn’t a Country Cup’s qualifier but Vintage Cheddar used it to prove he is still in the running for the absolute title. Starting from 15 metres behind, he sat parked throughout and won the 2700 metre contest in 3:23.1

Vintage Cheddar’s trainer Alister Black labelled the Country Cups series as the Lindsay and Ian Thompson-owned four-year-old’s immediate project.

“He’s second on the table, we might not be able to catch Sagwitch but we’ll make a race of it,” said Black. “He’s honest and genuine, has got speed, and showed today he has plenty of toughness. But he’ll be five next year that might be his year.”

Two races remain in the series, next week’s Winton Cup and the Diamond Day Cup at Ascot Park a fortnight later which carries double points. Sagwitch heads the table with 73 points with Vintage Cheddar, together with Royal Bengal, second on 38.



Sekkie Monkey Gets The Money

Bruce Stewart

Sekkie Monkey upset a strong field of maiden trotters at Ascot Park today.

The four year old daughter of Monkey Bones was the sixth favourite in a race that was expected to be dominated by well bred Jaccka Jeorge and Liberty Stride.

“That was a good maiden field and I wasn’t sure how we would go. But she went well,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson.

Both Liberty Stride and Jaccka Jeorge broke with Jaccka Jeorge losing all chance. Liberty Stride made ground late for fourth.

All the honours went to Sekkie Monkey which led early before handing up to Cuchulainn.

“She’s just a bit lazy in front so I was quite happy to hand up. She was pretty strong at the finish. I was pretty happy with her. She’s just getting used to the tighter circuits.”

At the top of the straight Williamson pushed Sekkie Monkey up the passing lane and she trotted home nicely to beat Cuchulainn by three quarters of a length.

Sekkie Monkey on the inside gets the winning call – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Heading in with Nathan Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Nathan Williamson, Sekkie Monkey, Kevin Strong, Invercargill President Barry McCulloch and Trevor Little – Photo Bruce Stewart.

The four year old was initially prepared for racing at Waikouaiti Beach by Amber Hoffman. She was sent to Williamson in December. The Branxholme trainer qualified her at Gore in February.

“We had to put a lot of miles into her just to get her trotting solid but she’s pretty solid now. I don’t think she’s made a break off the place.”

Sekkie Monkey is out of the Sundon mare Sekkie and is owned by Kevin Strong.

“I was on the lookout for a Sundon mare after I lost one. She was advertised by Michael House in foal to Monarchy. That horse was no good so I put her in foal to Monkey Bones and that’s turned up trumps,” Strong said.

Sekkie is no longer alive but Strong does have a three year old by Superfast Stuart named Super Sekkie out of the mare.

Sekkie is a half-sister to Avatar (7 NZ and 5 AUS wins) and What Ever You Like (7 NZ and 16 AUS wins).

“I’ve had a few horses over the years but never a good one by myself. The best one I raced with Neville Cleaver was Hopes And Dreams.”

Strong and Cleaver are currently breeding from Sunrise Delight but unfortunately her first two foals have died. Currently they have two fillies out of the mare by Repeat Love and Peak.

Strong’s horses are now managed by former Gore trainer Trevor Little.

“I’m retired and I thought I was out of it. Kevin had thirty odd horses. We’ve just worked our way through them. We’ve leased a few and kept a few of the trotters. We’re still breeding from Sunrise Delight (Sundon – Little Miss Watch) and Easy Option (Great Success – Sunrise Girl). ”

Little trained Fakes Dream to win for Strong and Cleaver at Invercargill in February 2005.


Hampton Lives Up To It’s Breeding

Bruce Stewart

Sportswriter gelding Hampton had a bit to live up to.

Until today, his Christian Cullen dam Baptism Of Fire had left six winners from eight foals of racing age including Highview Tommy (17 wins and $1,021,904) Highview Chartom, Highview Teejay and Highview Freddy; all five win horses.

“Everything out of that mare has won races with the worst winning four. So he (Hampton) should be able to get another couple of wins at least. This horse will be better in twelve months,” said Kirstin Barclay who co-trains the gelding with Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis.

Driver Blair Orange settled the Hampton at the back of the main bunch before getting on the back of Mark O’Ronga to move forward with a lap to run. At the 800 metres Orange had Hampton parked outside leader The Interceptor. At the top of the straight Hampton had hit the front and he went down to the finish two and a half lengths clear of the second horse Bettor Rock Again.

Hampton easily winning at Ascot Park – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Heading back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Hampton was bought by Wayne McEwan principal of McEwan Bloodstock, at the 2017 Christchurch Sale for $20,000.

“It’s taken a while for him to get his confidence. He’s got a lot of high speed. We knew he would do a good job once he got going.”

Today was only the gelding’s fifth start. Barclay says his confidence was knocked after his first start.

“It was driver error first start. He got knocked over at the start and I then let him loose around the field and it just blew him over. It was too much for him and it’s knocked his confidence. It’s taken him a wee while to come back.”

Orange was wearing a black arm band in today’s race to acknowledge the passing of Rewa Burns yesterday. Rewa was the wife of long time Secretary of Southland Trotting Clubs Peter Burns.

Kirsten Barclay said “She and Peter were such an integral part of Southland Harness racing. They were like the power couple back in the day. They lived in the cottage across from the stable. Sometimes I’d get home from the races really late at night but she’d always come out to say well done.”

Rewa raced cup class pacer Haughty Romeo back in the late seventies and early eighties. He won nine races, eight for Maurice Skinner and one for her son Tim.

Meanwhile the Barclay/Ellis stable’s star pacer U May Cullect looks set to reappear at Ascot Park on Saturday.

The Gotta Go Cullect five year old is unbeaten in only three starts and will line up on Diamonds Day in what will be his last start of the season.

“It’s just amazing how he handled the trip (to Addington). He hadn’t been further than Winton and he went up to Canterbury, ate up, raced under the lights for the first time, won, and came back to his paddock and ate up.”

Barclay says it doesn’t take too much to keep the quality gelding ticking over and race fit.

“Tank spends a lot of time walking him and we space his races. We do a lot of slow long work, endurance work with him, so he’s always fit without sprinting.”


Virgil Wins Diamond

Mac Henry

Virgil’s win in the group two Diamond Creek Farm Two-Year-Old Classic at Ascot Park on Saturday made it a lucrative weekend for his Melbourne co-owner Jean Feiss, who races the All-Stars trained filly with her husband Bill.

The previous night, Feiss was at Alexandra Park watching her juvenile filly Amazing Dream triumph in the group one Woodlands Stud Caduceus Classic

“I was already booked for Auckland so when word came Virgil would be nominated for today, I was able to add Invercargill,” said Feiss who flew to Auckland on Friday, then Invercargill via Christchurch on Saturday morning. She was booked to follow the reverse route on Saturday when returning to Auckland after the Diamond Day fixture, before heading home on Sunday.

Driven by Tim Williams, favourite Virgil bided his time early and wasn’t asked for much until second favourite William Wallace moved forward across the top. The two set down to a decent battle in the straight but the All-Stars rep prevailed by half a neck in 2:41.0, less than half a second outside the race record.

Virgil and Tim Williams get the better of William Wallace on the inside – Photo Bruce Stewart
The Sweet Lou two year old Virgil after his second win – Photo Bruce Stewart. 
Jean Feiss (left) with Ged Mooar from Nevele R, John Stiven (SBSR), Mark Smith (SBSR) and Tracey White (Woodlands Stud) – Photo Bruce Stewart 

It was the fifth running of the feature and the third win for Williams, following Lazarus in 2015 and A Bettor Act last year.

Virgil is by Sweet Lou from the Bettor Delight mare Pacing Delight, a half sister to Amazing Art, Pacing Major, All U Need Is Faith and other winners. He was catalogued for last year’s Australasian Classic Sale but withdrawn. Not before Feiss had inspected him at Woodlands Stud though, so when he was later offered at the Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale before last year’s Jewels, Feiss was ready.

“I liked him when I saw him at the stud before the first sale,” said Feiss who admits she is often asked what she is looking for. “Really, everyone looks for the same things but all interpret them a bit differently. He looked lovely again on sale day.”

Feiss paid $150,000 for the gelding and hasn’t been disappointed. Virgil has only once missed a top-three finish in seven starts and Saturday’s win took his stake earnings past $60,000.

“He was broken in straight after the sale and has been kept going. Mark (Purdon) said he’s always ‘wanted to be there’ and does what he’s asked. He might not be among the very best but has always been pretty good even against the really good ones.”

Addington hosts a $175,000 Sale Series race for two-year-olds next Friday and in normal circumstances, Virgil might have been there. Feiss pointed out though that he wasn’t eligible and that was one of the reasons the Invercargill race had been included in his programme.

“He’ll be kept in for the Jewels, then we’ll hope for more improvement as a three-year-old.”

Virgil is second on the list of qualifiers for the Two-year-old Emerald and Amazing Dream, second on the list for the Diamond. ‘Southern Bred Southern Reared’ Amazing Dream was offered at last year’s Premier Sale by Vin and Daphne Devery and knocked down to Feiss for $77,500. Her weekend winnings were $57.000.

Oaks To Pressed For Time

Mac Henry

Tom Bagrie was in another hemisphere, both figuratively and physically, when he gained his 29th and biggest win as a harness trainer, courtesy of Pressed For Time in the group two Macca Lodge and Nevele R Stud Southland Oaks at Ascot Park on Saturday.

“I’m in Istanbul, I managed to listen to the race on Trackside radio, it wasn’t easy to pick up at times,” Bagrie said soon after the filly’s all the way win in the hands of his cousin John Dunn, “that’s my first win in a group race.”

Bagrie, who said he had always held the filly in high regard, also paid tribute to Dunn for his drive.

“It was good to have John on, it is pretty hard to get him.”

Blair Orange had been on Pressed For Time in three of her first five races but according to Dunn, was committed to the Paul Court barn for the race. Dunn’s only previous drive on the filly had been 10 days earlier when the pair won a trial at Rangiora. He commented after the two-and-three-quarter length Oaks win that Pressed For Time was on the bit all the way and never felt as if she was about to give in.

“A good filly,” Dunn remarked.

Presses For Time and John Dunn winning the 2019 Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southland Oaks – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Winning photo – Bruce Stewart 

Pressed For Time was bred by Brian Cowley and when she was a yearling, he decided to put together a syndicate of six to race her. Bagrie said he didn’t know Cowley then but had heard he was looking for someone to train his horse.

“Out of the blue one day he rang me,” explained Bagrie.

Like Bagrie, Cowley also missed the win but syndicate member Garry Sharpe of Rangiora was on course. He said that he was working for Woodend Beach trainers Greg and Nina Hope at the time the syndicate to race Pressed for Time was put together and the plan had been for the Hopes to train her. However, there was no room for additional horses at the time and the decision was made to look for a young and up and coming trainer in the area. Bagrie was selected.

Sharpe recalled Robert Anderson had broken the filly in and was impressed with her. However, because of immaturity, he said Bagrie had never considered the filly for racing as a juvenile.

Regards the syndicate, Sharpe noted the only connection the members have is that they all like horses.

“They’ve never all been together for a race but that should change for the Jewels. Pressed For Time is currently third on list of qualifiers for the Three-Year-Old Diamond.

Pressed For time lined up fourth favourite for the Oaks, behind the Hope pair Kendra and Mossdale Art, and the Orange drive Major Sass. Kendra and Mossdale Art got closest to the winner while Major Sass faded to 10th. Both the winner and runner-up are by the sire Sportswriter.

Supremacy For Symons

Mac Henry

Waianawa farmers Robert and Sharyn Symon finally got the prize they sought when Memphis Tennessee gave them the group two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes at Ascot Park on Saturday to go with Nek Time’s Southland Oaks three years earlier.

Both were driven by Terry Chmiel who also co-trained them at Leeston with wife Glenys. Last year the Chmiels had won the Oaks with Dibaba.

On the way to Saturday’s victory, Memphis Tennessee had raced six times in the province of his owners for four wins and two seconds. But Chmiel said bringing them to Southland to race was less about where his owners live and more a matter of maximising income.

“The stakes are that good, that’s why we come to Southland,” Chmiel said.

In October there were successive wins in a non-winners contest, a rating 49 to 56 event and then a Nuggets Final, all races carrying gross purses in the $10,000 to $12,000 range. The only slight hiccup came in the $20,000 Nugget Super Final at the Northern Southland Cup meeting in March. Left with too much to do turning for home, Memphis Tennessee closed rapidly wide out but came up a length short of catching the pace-setting Robyns Playboy and second was his lot.

Robyns Playboy set the pace again on Saturday but all of 500 metres out, Chmiel moved his charge into contention. By the time they turned for home, Memphis Tennessee was in front and a few strides later had the Supremacy all parceled up.

“I wasn’t going to be unlucky today,” said Chmiel.

In the Derby, a couple of starts earlier, Memphis Tennessee had drawn the outside of the second line, went back to get in and had to rely on a clear passage in the straight to make progress. It wasn’t there and they had to settle for a tidy seventh. In the Supremacy, they drew 10 of 10 or two on the second line. Chmiel was conscious of not being undone again.

“He was unlucky in the Derby, the outside draw cost him, but it worked out good today because they went hard early and opened up.”

On a track which had been classified slushy at the beginning of the day, Memphis Tennessee required only 3:24.4 to complete his one and three quarter length win victory, the manner of which was decisive.

Driver Terry Chmiel salutes as he head down to the line to the Supremacy on Memphis Tennessee – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Happy to be winning – Photo Bruce Stewart
Sponsors and winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart 

For the Symons, who have always preferred buying over breeding, the full brother to Delightful Memphis represents another success for their policy.

“Justin Le Lievre found him for us,” Robert Symon said, “he was a two-year-old, Terry trialled him and liked him. This day last year he ran second to A Bettor Act in the (Diamond Creek) two-year-old race at his second start.”

Put aside after three goes as a juvenile, the son of Bettors Delight and Memphis Melody has shone at three with 12 starts yielding five wins and three seconds. It is one of those seconds that Symon rates most highly; the fifth heat of the Sire Stakes Series at Addington on the eve of Cup Week.

“A Bettor Act beat Memphis Tennessee and Jesse Duke, only noses separated them,” he said.

Having now won both the southern three-year-old features, Symon gets the chance to rate his pair and didn’t hesitate to label Memphis Tennessee better than Nek Time. This despite the filly later adding the Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks to her CV in a three-race Australian campaign which ended with a miss in the Queensland Derby. Not surprisingly, both Chmiel and Symon are already eying a possible winter trip to the sunshine state with Memphis Tennessee but not before doing more business on this side of the Tasman.

“There is a $40,000 three-year-old race at Addington (Sophomore Classic, 17 May) for him and group one winners aren’t eligible, then hopefully the Jewels,” Chmiel said.

Memphis Tennessee sits second on the leaderboard for the Three -Year-Old Emerald.


Southland – U May Cullect

Bruce Stewart

It was one of those stellar days that don’t come along very often.

Trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis geared up four winners today at Ascot Park for Southland’s Diamonds Day – the premier race day of the season.

The ‘quaddie’ of wins was spearheaded by the stable’s glamour pacer, the unbeaten U May Cullect which stole the show.

The partnership which is only in its first season, has recorded two wins in a day twice before, but this was a milestone on another level.

Today Barclay wasn’t sure if she’d let U May Cullect press forward from the outside of the front line, stating that the horse would make up its own mind and she would just be the passenger.

The horse was keen and Barclay let him roll forward from the outside of the gate.

Kirstin Barclay and U May Cullect press forward from the gate – Photo Bruce Stewart

From that point Barclay was in for the ride, and the five year old cruised down to the line for another emphatic win, beating My Georgie Boy by six and a half-lengths running the 2200 metre mobile in an impressive 2-41.9.

U May Cullect doing it easy with a lap to run – Photo Bruce Stewart
Down to the line for an easy win – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Tom Kilkelly (the guy with the biggest grin) with wife Julie – Photo Bruce Stewart
Smiles all round – Photo Bruce Stewart
Connections and sponsors – Photo Bruce Stewart

It’s likely this will be the gelding’s last start for the season as the connections have some bigger plans for him next season.

“Kirstin and Tank are making a plan and they’re talking about not racing him again because we’re hoping to get to the Cup. If we turn him out now he can come back for the likes of the Hannon and he’ll be off the front,” said owner Tom Kilkelly.

U May Cullect is eligible for a Super Nuggets Final in a weeks’ time but he’s unlikely to front.

“I’ve got a nice paddock for him locked up. Kirstin will look after him. I find you don’t want to treat them with kid gloves because that’s when things can go wrong. I don’t want him wrapped up in cotton wool.”

Kilkelly has raced some nice horses over the years including Guns N Roses and Shard Ark but he says U May Cullect is another level. He says he’s starting to feel the pressure that goes with owning a good horse which is unbeaten.

“Today I did get nervous. I don’t normally, but today in the last few minutes before the race I did because everyone was talking him up and he’s got a lot to live up to now.”

He said the horse continues to get better.

“They worked him on Wednesday and Kirstin said he worked better than before he went to Christchurch. Tank said his resting heart rate after the run was down to 40. The best I had a horse down to when I was training was 60 to 65 –they don’t come back to 40. So that just shows you the size of the heart. He’s special.”

On his return to the birdcage U May Cullect received applause from the Southern Harness fans who generally reserve it for the very best.

Kilkelly says although his name is in the race book as the owner he would like to think the province will also share in the success U May Cullect is having.

“We could have taken him further north but he’s a Southland horse. He’s not mine he’s ours. I said to Mick Guerin (Northern Journalist and Trackside Presenter) three things. He’s not for sale, he’s staying on the beach with Kirstin and Tank and Kirstin drives him. I said to him there’s a tar sealed road between Invercargill and Christchurch now.”

The prefect day was capped for Kilkelly when Chuckles won the last race. It was a very good aggressive drive by Barclay. From barrier five she speared the Grinfromeartoear gelding to the top. She handed the lead to Flaming Jim with 1600 metres to run. Flaming Jim was then attacked by hotshot Justasec which eventually made the lead with a lap to run. That battle certainly played into Chuckles hands as the trailing horse. With 800 metres to run Barclay pulled Chuckles out from three back on the inside but her progress was halted as he locked wheels with Flaming Jim. However she got going again and at the 400 metres Barclay was dishing it up to Justasec. On straightening Chuckles proved too tough for Justasec, winning by three and a half lengths.

Another easy winner for Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis – Chuckles – Photo Bruce Stewart.
The Sun shining bright on Chuckles completing a great day for owner Tom Kilkelly – Photo Bruce Stewart

Earlier in the day the Barclay/Ellis stable scored an upset win in the Williamson Racing Stables Handicap Trot when Wee Man Trouble beat higher assessed horses.

With 400 metres to run driver Blair Orange could see that some of the back markers had a bit of ground to make up on the leader De Vito so he popped out of the trailing position and pinched a five length break on the bulk of the field. It proved to be the winning of the race. Wee Man Trouble held on to beat a late charging War Admiral by a length.

Wee Man Trouble hangs on to beat War Admiral – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Back to the birdcage lead by Shannon Armour – Photo Bruce Stewart
Winning connections and sponsors – Photo Bruce Stewart.

The win elevates Wee Man Trouble to seventh on the leader board for the $125,000 Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.

The stable’s other winner was Paddyproudfoot.

Driver Kirstin Barclay once again used her horse’s gate speed and from barrier six the Washington VC gelding was taken straight to the top. With a lap to run she handed up to the second favourite Pitch Perfect. On straightening for the run home Pitch Perfect got away by two lengths but Paddyproudfoot came resolutely down the middle of the track to win by a length and a quarter.

The angle is deceptive but Paddyproudfoot (6) gets up to win – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Heading back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart
Winning connections and sponsor – Photo Bruce Stewart

Meanwhile other winners on the day included Full Noise which wore down a brave Neverneverland in the Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Trot.

Full Noise stretching out nicely to win at Ascot Park today – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Back to the birdcage with driver Brent Barclay – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

The win puts the Majestic Son gelding in the top twelve in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Ruby.

Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr brought the majority of his team south but walked away with only one win. It came in race two with Change Is Good which was driven by Nathan Williamson.

The first of two wins for Nathan Williamson – Change Is Good – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Nathan Williamson got the perfect sit behind pacemaker Bridesdale Robyn in the Foveaux Communication Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. At the top of the straight he got the passing lane run to win by a length and a quarter.

Delightful Deal winning the fillies and mares race on Diamonds Day – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Mud – no worries for Delightful Deal – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

Vintage Cheddar scored a well-deserved win in the Regent Car Court Southern Country Cups Handicap Pace. Driver Brad Williamson tucked the four year old in behind leader Santanna’s Rocket which took him to the passing lane. Vintage Cheddar which is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson and trained by Alister Black made full use of the lane to beat Smokin By by a length and three quarters.

Brad Williamson and Vintage Cheddar heading home up the passing lane – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart
Sponsor and winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart