April 2021

Cup to Mr Consistent

Bruce Stewart

1st April 2021

There was no more deserving winner than today’s MLT Wyndham Cup victor Memphis Tennessee.

The Bettor’s Delight five year old had run fourth in the Winton Cup, and third in both the Roxburgh and Tuapeka Cups so his ‘Cup win’ was due.

“He made a good beginning today off the 20 metre mark which probably helped his cause,” said trainer Brett Gray.

Memphis Tennessee warming up

Driver John Morrison settled the gelding five back in the running line as Chuckles, then Mach’s Back had turns at leading. When second favourite I’mallaboutthebase came out and sat parked, Memphis Tennessee slotted into the one one.

“That’s probably the best trip he’s had in a long time.”

With I’mallaboutthebase niggling at Mach’s Back, Morrison was in the prime spot to have a shot at the leader.

Memphis Tennessee came down the middle of the track and got past Mach’s Back, but the latter fought hard with Memphis Tennessee getting home by half a neck.

At the end of a tough battle

“He’s a very nice Country Cup horse. Pembrook Playboy and U May Cullect have been a bit too good for him. He’s been running pretty close but he can’t get past them. The Symons will be pretty happy with what he’s been doing.”

Owners Robert and Sharyn Symon weren’t on-course today. They were in Te Anau spending time with their family.

“They face timed me. We gave the Cup to their friends the Patterson’s who were shooting up. I’d say they’ll be having a few drinks out of it when it arrives.”

Memphis Tennessee started his career with Canterbury trainer Terry Chmiel winning five races before he headed south to Gray’s Ryal Bush stable in October last year.

“He’s got wee man’s syndrome. He can get a bit angry sometimes (laughter). He’s not your typical Bettor’s Delight and doesn’t work super at home but he does the job and he’s pretty consistent.”

He has now won four races from his southern base – two in the hands of today’s driver John Morrison and one each for Brent Barclay and Blair Orange.

Memphis Tennessee has now won nine races and banked $128,765 for his owners.

Meanwhile talented but inconsistent trotting mare Sekkie Monkey returned to winning form when she won the Marshalls Excavating Handicap Trot.

The six year old last won at Winton over a year ago and her formline hasn’t been pretty since.

Sekkie Monkey began well for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. With three hundred metres to go Williamson pulled the mare out to make her run and she burst down the middle of the track to beat the late finishing Miss Bamboocha by a length, with pacemaker Willangus Lad half a length back in third.

Sekkie Monkey winning for Nathan Williamson

Part of the big crowd at Wyndham today

Further down the track

Akuta Wins Kindie

Bruce Stewart

1st April 2021

Blair Orange, the winning driver in today’s Macca Lodge Kindergarten Stakes at the Wyndham Harness Racing meeting, was suitably impressed after driving the Hayden Cullen trained Akuta to beat stablemate Bollinger.

“He’s got a few gears there and feels like he’s going to be a nice staying type later on,” he said after the Bettor’s Delight colt took out the Group Three feature.

After trailing on the pegs for the first part of the race Orange took Akuta to the top inside the last 900 metres. Bollinger joined Akuta at the 800 metres and the pace sharpened.

Akuta was there to be run down, but he stuck his ears back and fought to hang on to the top spot.

“He had that will to win which you need in a two year old. He was on a loose rein all the way and when I asked him to quicken there was more there. He’ll be right up there with the better ones.”

Akuta winning the 2021 Kindergarten Stakes

Akuta is out of the Christian Cullen mare Adore To Our Dreams and was purchased by the All Stars Stable for $170,000 at the 2020 New Zealand National Standardbred Yearling Sale in Christchurch.

“He’s just got a few wee chinks. He throws his head round a bit and puts in the odd little step but that’ll be ironed out. He’s only had the two trials and that was his first start so he can only get better.”

The Bettor’s Delight colt is co-owned by Cullen Breeding Limited and former trainer Mark Purdon.

Purdon has an outstanding record in this race but this was the first time he’s owned the winner of the time honoured feature.

As a trainer he’s won the race eleven times – four in his own right; So Cool (2002), Lennon (2003), Ohoka Arizona (2007) and Messini (2013). His other successes were  with Grant Payne and Sir Clive (2008), with Natalie Rasmussen and Itz Bettor To Win (2014), and with Waikiki Beach (2015), Pacing Major (2016), War Dan Delight (2018), Flying Even Better (2019) and First Class (2020).

With the win today Blair Orange is the most successful driver in the race’s history. He’s won the two year old feature five times. Until today’s win he shared the honours with Henry Skinner.

Bettor’s Delight also became the most successful sire in the race’s sixty year history, siring five winners. Hal Tryax, Majestic Chance and Christian Cullen have produced four winners each.

There was plenty of merit in the runner up Bollinger’s performance. He was only a half a length away in second, after facing the breeze for most of the trip. You’re So Fine was a half a length away in third. Duke of Cornwell trained by Lauren Pearson had an eye catching run, but got into his work late.

The winning time of 1-59.5 was the slowest since the race was first run over 1609 metres in 2003.

Later in the programme Samhara trained by Hayden Cullen showed he’ll add interest to this year’s Southern Supremacy Stakes.

The Bettor’s Delight three year old on his first trip to Southland won the Cardrona Distillery Three Year Old Stakes, beating stablemate Stag Party by a length and a half.

In the hands of Tim Williams he trailed Stag Party for the majority of the 1609 metres and let down nicely in the straight to win in a time of 1-56.1.

Samhara will need to start once more in the province and earn enough stakes money to race in the Supremacy where he’ll face the likes of Ragazzo Mach which is likely to stay on for the feature.

Addington Double for Williamson

Bruce Stewart

4th April 2021

Despite Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson clocking up the travel miles over the past couple of months, he’s not complaining about the arduous schedule.

It’s all been worth the effort with a good number of wins in the bag, and with another two added last night at Addington, the tally continues to grow

“You have them in good condition and you hope the breaks go their way. I was real pleased with all of them,” he said after trotters Andy Hall and Chinese Whisper both won impressively.

Nathan Williamson – Photo – Race Images

Giant trotter Andy Hall certainly has a liking for the big Addington track and from a wide draw he was eased back early before jumping onto his stablemate Kiwitrix’s back to progress forward three wide . With a lap to run he was caught out three wide by himself before sitting parked with Kiwitrix at the front of the field. Son of Patrick came up on the inside, but in a grinding finish Andy Hall hung on to win by a neck.

“I had to go forward with him and he stuck it out pretty tough.”

Andy Hall trotting to victory – Photo – Race Images

It was the Andover Hall gelding’s fifth win and third at Addington.

Kiwitrix was just over a length and a half from his stablemate in fourth place.

“He’ll improve more than the others because he improves with racing. He’ll come on with that run and I’m sure he’ll race well next week.”

Williamson also gained satisfaction with the run of Son Of Patrick whom he bred but subsequently sold. He has a two year old half-brother by Majestic Son in work.

“We like him too. It looks as though he’ll make the grade.”

Earlier in the night Chinese Whisper announced he’s very much a metropolitan horse when he beat favourite Oscar Bonavena.

“He didn’t trot all that well over the early part of the race. It was probably because he hasn’t had a lot of short distance racing. It wasn’t until we got down to the winning post that he relaxed and got into a nice rhythm.”

Halfway down the straight Oscar Bonavena was a length and a half in front of Chinese Whisper but the Sundon gelding finished with plenty of purpose to win by two and a half lengths.

“I thought when Oscar Bonovena, who is a very fast horse, was out ahead that I couldn’t pick him up but I did. I was pleasantly surprised.”

Chinese Whisper winning at Addington – Photo – Race Images

It was Chinese Whisper’s eighth win in just fourteen starts, in only his third season of racing. He’s owned by Williamson’s wife Katie and stable farrier Brendon Franks.

In the $90,000 Group One Easter Cup the Williamson runner Pembrook Playboy was a very creditable fourth in a small but high end field of pacers.

After a good beginning Williamson took the Bettor’s Delight gelding straight to the top.

“I thought over two miles at Addington I was reluctant to go for all the way tactics especially at this stage of his career.”

Amazing Dream and Self Assured both took turns at leading which put Pembrook Playboy back in the running line.

“I did expect to end up three back on the fence. I was hoping we’d get out a little bit sooner than we did. He hit the line really well. It was a great run. It was his first run over that distance. If I’d been one off and got to go when I wanted to it could have been a different result. He’s in very good form and hopefully he can measure up to the very very best come November.”

Pembrook Playboy finishing third in the Easter Cup – Photo – Race Images

Williamson says Pembrook Playboy has become well adjusted to the constant demands of travelling away from home.

“This time is the best he’s travelled away from home. He’s settled in at Dad’s really good and Ollie (stable hand Ollie Kite) is up there looking after him. He’s eating up and it’s his home away from home.”

The four year old entire will race next on Friday night at Addington in the Superstars Four and Five Year Old Pace worth $50,000.

Kiwitrix will also race again this week as well as Andy Hall, while Chinese Whisper will head home and be set for a race on Diamonds Day at the beginning of May.

Williamson’s star three year old colt Ragazzo Mach will also head north in readiness for the Group One $200,000 Diamond Creek Farm Derby over 2600 metres. He last raced in the Vero Flying Stakes where he over raced, finishing eleventh.

“I blame myself a little bit. I think I got his training a little bit wrong. He’d had a bit of travelling so I backed off his training. In hindsight it was the wrong thing to do. He was a bit fresh and underdone and secondly I put the half blinds on him to help him sharpen a little bit.”

Williamson will transport the horse north to Oamaru tomorrow.

“Going forward there’s no harm done and we’re hoping for a good draw on Tuesday.”

Williamson says the plan is to keep the horse in the south for the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes and the Harness Jewels at the end of the season.

“He’ll travel over to Western Australia after the Jewels which makes sense as the climate will be a wee bit cooler.”

The Williamson stable is in great form at the moment with thirty six wins on the board. It’s highly likely the stable record number of wins in a season (42 in 2015) will well and truly be broken.

At Wyndham on Thursday quality trotting mare Sekkie Monkey returned to winning form and Williamson is confident she’s turned a corner.

Sekkie Monkey easily winning at Wyndham on Thursday

“She was hanging and breaking and not trotting nice. She had a hoof abscess burst out and I wondered it that had been festering for a while. Once that happened she wasn’t hanging the same. I also made a shoeing change. She trotted smooth and clean at Wyndham. She’s a really good mare on her day. If she was in good form I had contemplated going to Christchurch with her. We’ll just keep her ticking away down here and see what transpires.”

As of today the Oamaru Harness Racing Club have joined the Southern Harness Bureau.

The Southern Bureau now has 11 member clubs (Invercargill HRC, Winton HRC, Wyndham HRC, Gore HRC, Northern Southland TC, Wairio TC, Riverton TC, Central Otago TC, Roxburgh TC, Tuapeka HRC and the Oamaru HRC).  We look forward to working with the Club President David Ovens and the committee to understand the club workings better and assist them moving forward.

The race programming for the Oamaru Meetings will be undertaken by the Southern Harness Programming Committee which consists of Jason Broad, Geoff Knight, Clark Barron, Nathan Williamson and Brett Gray.

Southern Harness would like to acknowledge the long service of the late John Mudie who was the Oamaru Secretary from 1994 to 2016 and his daughter Jemma Barltrop who has been the club Secretary from 2016 until now.  Southern Harness already had a good working relationship with Jemma in our role compiling race fields for the club, her assistance with the smooth changeover has been appreciated.

Future enquires for the Oamaru Club can be directed to the Southern Harness Office, (03) 2179117, Email: admin@southernharness.co.nz or to the Club President David Ovens 0274 819424.

The Diva’s Late Charge

Bruce Stewart

17th April 2021

Belmont Diva began her quest towards a start in the Group Two Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southland Oaks Final with a tough win at the Wairio meeting today.

The Art Major filly trained at West Melton by Steven McRae was taken back early by reinsman Craig Thornley, second last, with only Might Be Me behind her. Thornley didn’t change gears until just before they straightened for the run home, sending Belmont Diva four wide.

Belmont Diva warming up

The three year old came down the centre of the track letting down in genuine fashion, to hold out a late charge from Might Be Me which got within a head.

“(She was) Always travelling well, she switched off at the end. There should be a wee bit of improvement in her,” Thornley said.

The winning time was 1-55.8 with the last 800 metres run in 58.6.

“I like her. She’s very fast.”

Belmont Diva holding on to win her second race.

Back to the birdcage.

Thornley confirmed Belmont Diva will have her next start at the Winton meeting this Friday, ensuring she’ll qualify for the Southland Oaks Final by having started twice in the province.

“We’ve left it until the last two meetings. Not on purpose. She’s just been a hard horse to keep right,” McRae told me on Thursday.

The win today gives Belmont Diva $5,500 in stakes and places her nineteenth on the Oaks Leader Board. Providing she wins enough stake money at her next start she’ll be a genuine chance in what is shaping up to be a classy Oaks field.

Belmont Diva was bred, and is raced by Aylesbury trainer Donna Williamson.

“She was absolutely perfect to break in, very well mannered,” she said.

Williamson trained her mother, Courage Under Fire mare Belmont Fire, to win seven races.

The mare’s first foal Belmont Major, a full brother to Belmont Diva, has won six races for Tim Bagrie.

The mare’s next foal a two year old colt by Always B Miki, is owned by Williamson and Thornley.

In other results from Wairio today Ascot Park trainer Jeremy Douglas’s perseverance finally paid off when twenty six start maiden trotter It’s Summertime won her first race.

It’s Summertime and Nathan Williamson winning Race One

The royally bred seven year old mare driven by Nathan Williamson began well from the mobile but had to overcome a gallop with 850 metres to run causing her to lose ground on the leader. She got going again and when Galway Girl galloped on the bend It’s Summertime only had two year old One Tree Hill to beat, which she did.

Back to the winners enclosure

So Art I continued the great relationship between Mataura trainer Lyndon Bond and Sam Ottley. The pair teamed up to win Race Two.

So Art I beating Noosa Beach

To the yelling of “Go Charlie,” Airwaves won his third race at Winton today. Owned by Ian Bennett and trained by Craig Laurenson, it was Laurenson doing the screaming.

Charlie winning

My educated guess is that Airwaves is named after the song Pilot of the Airwaves a song from the 70’s by Charlie Dore.

Rory and Charlie heading home

His mile record and draw indicated he’d win, and the hottest favourite of the day Mach’s Back duly delivered, when driver Max Hill took him to the front from gate two, got away with a soft middle quarter and then sprinted home to beat Ivana Legacy by three quarters of a length in Race Four.

Mach’s Back leaving the gate

At the finish

In Race Five trotting mare Steve, backing up from Wednesday’s meeting at Forbury recorded her third win after Blair Orange took her straight to the front and she held on to beat Ruby Seddon by three and three quarter lengths.

Steve and Blair Orange

She was the first of four winners for Orange from only four drives on the card. The others were Johnny Mac in the Free For All, Leithen Burn in the Earl Drake Builder Mobile Pace and Tommy Waterhouse in the Otautau Vets Mobile Pace.

 

Leer Jets Her Way to Second Win

Bruce Stewart

17th April 2021

“I’m enjoying the ride,” part owner and trainer Bruce Wallace said after Leer redeemed herself at Winton today by winning the Ladyship Final for fillies and mares.

The three year old filly won impressively at her first start at Winton but she only managed fifth at her following start at Wyndham.

“Trainer error. I think I spoilt her,” Wallace said about the Wyndham run.

Leer on the runway warming up

By American Ideal, Wallace bred Leer who is out of the Jereme’s Jet mare Bay Jet. He got an indication of her potential when she first went to the Winton workouts on Christmas Eve last year.

“It goes back to the first day I brought her to the workouts. After her time that day I thought ‘wow what have we got here?”

In today’s Ladyship, driver Brent Barclay took Leer forward from gate six and had to withstand early pressure from the favourite Classy Dancer.

“I wouldn’t have minded going back but she was a bit keen early. That’s okay because she had to learn to go early,” Barclay said.

From there horse and driver dictated the pace going down to the line to win by a length and a half with De La Renta running second.

“She did it herself. I don’t think it’s her go. I think she’s better with a sit myself,” Wallace said.

Leer stretching out to win for Brent Barclay

Back to the birdcage

Maree Wallace, Brent Barclay, Rachael and Bruce Wallace with Leer

Having driven Leer himself at then Winton workouts last Friday, Wallace knew she had gate speed.

“At the workouts the other day she had great gate speed but we haven’t been wanting to pull that trigger.”

“She was good in front, she just came to the end of it at the finish but she did a bit of work early. I think she’s a far better horse with a trail,” added Barclay.

Due to her reputation and race day performances buyers have been interested in Leer, but Wallace and his wife Maree have so far resisted.

“I like breeding and you’re always breeding to get an X Factor horse. She’s the closest thing I’ve had with X factor. You can wait a long time to get something that can run. We’re probably at a stage of life were we don’t need to sell.”

Wallace who started in the harness industry when he was fifteen as a blacksmith runs a 400 acre dairy farm at Knapdale.

“I’ve just bought another 100 acres to use as a run off.  I’ll put a track down and train from there in another 12 months.”

Leer now sit in fourth place on the leader board for the Southland Oaks Final which will be run on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park on Saturday 2nd May.

“She’s got a bit of bottom to her and got a lot of speed but you don’t know how good you are until you race the better fillies. If we get the right run in the Oaks they’ll know she’s there,” Barclay said.

The top twelve qualifiers for the Southland Oaks are: Tac Mac, Sweet Lizzie, Better’s Tart, Leer, Better Talk Art, Braeview Kelly, Debutant Party, Lifes A Beach, Wattlebank Star, Bettastar, Sassy’s VC and Endless Dream.

Meanwhile trials and workouts were held yesterday at Winton.

Justalittlesip, the first progeny of Franco Ledger to hit the racetrack qualified in the Two Year Old Mobile.

He beat Foxfire Easton by two lengths with Hey Miki Denario a nose back in third.

Justalittlesip qualifying for Peter Hunter

Justalittlesip is owned by his trainer Peter Hunter, wife Jo and her brother and sister-in-law Brendon and Jacqui McIntyre.

McIntyre was a member of the Whatever Syndicate that raced Franco Ledger. He won twenty five races for $682,514. And his wins included two Hannon Memorial Handicaps plus the Group One Bohemia Crystal at Meangle.

Unfortunately Franco Ledger died at Macca Lodge in November last year.

He has thirty five foals on the ground and Justalittesip is the first to qualify.

The well-bred Luck Galleon got his qualifying ticket when he won his heat, beating Didshedoit by half a length.

Lucky Galleon qualifying

The American Ideal gelding is out of Galleons Cheer and is a half-brother to Cheer The Lady, the winner of eleven races and over $300,000. He’s trained at Ryal Bush by Brett Gray.

A Rocknroll Dance three year old Jaccka Opa won his maiden mobile heat in the hands of Brent Barclay.

The gelding lead and beat Emerald Abbey by three and a half lengths running the 2400 metre mobile in 3-05.9.

Jaccka Opa out on his own

Aged trotter Sundons Wish looked fitter when he won his heat. The nine year old has won eight races – the last in April 2018.

Sundon Wish winning his trial

Yankee Party wrapped up the day when she easily won her mobile heat in the hands of Nathan Williamson. She beat Saint Tropez by two lengths.

Yankee Party winning at the Winton Workouts

Meanwhile Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson will be keeping a close eye on the Harness Jewels Leader board over the next few weeks as he gets Cracker Hill ready for the end of season Four Year Old Ruby.

The gelding was due to resume at Winton earlier this month but was scratched after knocking a leg  in training.

“He’s back jogging. The aim is to get to the Jewels. We plan to give him a run (at the races) if we can but I wouldn’t be opposed to taking him without having a race. But he may have to race to make the field,” Williamson said.

He’s currently sitting in eleventh place on the highly competitive Four Year Old Ruby leader board with $22,185.00.

A possible race for Williamson to contemplate for Cracker Hill (R81) is a R60-R110 Handicap Trot over 2700 metres at Ascot Park on Diamonds Day.

It’s also on the radar for talented trotter Chinese Whisper (R89) and if Ultimate Stride (R79) is to get more points on the Ruby Leader board he may start as well.

 

Whisper Impresses at Workouts

Bruce Stewart

24th April 2021

Trotter Chinese Whisper was the star of the Wyndham Workouts today as Southland’s leading trainer Nathan Williamson took some serious horsepower to the Young Quinn Raceway.

Racing against the pacers, Chinese Whisper came home with a powerful run from well off the pace to finish fourth.

“He went great,” Williamson said.

Chinese Whisper under a tight hold with a lap to run

Chinese Whisper was coming home so quick (on a dead track) under his own steam that twenty metres past the post he was in front and still under a tight hold.

When pushed for his sectionals, Williamson was coy. “I’ll keep them to myself (laughter). No, he ran 3-03 his last half in 56. I’ll hopefully go to Diamonds Day unless the Handicapper handicaps me out of it.”

Williamson also lined up his two pacing stars Ragazzo Mach and Pembrook Playboy, and both finished off well, with Pembrook Playboy beating his stablemate by a nose.

Pembrook Playboy on the inside (just) of Ragazzo Mach

“Really nice both of them. They had a couple of easy days after they came back (from Christchurch) and I thought I’d give them a run off the place. I got them running 3-04 home in 57. We weren’t here to run any flash times. They both look pretty good to me.”

Bronson Munro had a handful of horse in the Non Win Mobile Pace when he was a passenger behind Cool Idea. The American Idea mare was on the job for the whole trip and held on to win.

Cool Idea winning for Bronson Munro

She took a bit of pulling up after.

Graeme Anderson and Mike Love brought a float load of horses down from Westward Beach. They included Cantfindabettorman a Sweet Lou two year old, which won impressively beating new comer to the Williamson barn, Sand Wave.

Cantfindabettorman on the outside getting home over Sand Wave

Cantfindabettorman’s pedigree goes back to horses like Palestine, Barbara Del, Derby and Bahrein while Sand Wave, which qualified for Simon Adlam, is a full-brother to Bonnie Joan.

Hope for Sweet Belle in Southland Oaks

Bruce Stewart

23rd April 2020

Rakaia trainer Gerard O’Reilly knew he was going to be hard pressed to qualify Sweet Belle for next month’s Group Three Southland Oaks but her win today elevated her to thirteenth on the Oaks leader board and depending on nominations, it may be enough to allow her a start in the $40,000 feature.

“We’ve left it a bit late to target the Southland Oaks. She was up in the ratings so it’s made it a bit harder,” he said.

In today’s race O’Reilly got a lovely trip behind pacemaker Benio Ben. At the 450 metre mark when Benio Ben started to get tired O’Reilly moved the three year old off his back and quickly went to the lead, putting a length on Miss Auckland who was three lengths in front of the chasing bunch. Sweet Belle held on to beat the late charging Belmont Diva by two lengths with Mucho Macho Man a neck back in third.

A lap to run and Sweet Belle gets the trail behind Benio Ben

The finish from a distance

The finish close up

Back to the birdcage

O’Reilly said the Sweet Lou filly knocked off at the end of her race today.

“Being a nice race horse she’s just got into the habit of only doing what she has to.”

Sweet Belle was broken in by Gerard’s brother Kerry and the Rakaia trainer got her as a yearling. She won a two year old race before she was turned out.

“She wasn’t paid up for anything (stake races) so we gave her a wee spell.”

Today was her fourth start in the province. She disappointed at her last start, running fifth at Ascot Park.

“I think she may have been going through a growing spurt. We put the pull down blinds on her today. She hit the front the other day and didn’t want to go on. The calibre of the field today probably helped.”

Sweet Belle is owned by Richard and Stewart Ashworth, Brian McGirr and Martin ‘Moose’ Hickman.

“Three of the owners are from Methven – rugby racing and beer people. They came down a couple of weeks ago and made a mess of themselves the night before. Richard and Stewart have had horses with me but it’s the first time for Brian and Martin.”

O’Reilly says at this stage he doesn’t intend to push on to the end of season Harness Jewels.

“Next year she’ll get stronger and be a nice intermediate grade horse. She’s thriving down here and Jeremy (Douglas) and Britney (Willis) are doing a great job with her. ”

The top fifteen qualifiers for the Southland Oaks are: Tac Mac, Sweet Lizzie, Bettastar, Better’s Tart, Leer, Better Talk Art, Braeview Kelly, Debutant Party, Lifes A Beach, Wattlebank Star (with a question mark), Endless Dreams, Don’t Lie To Me, Sweet Belle, Belmont Diva and With Grace.

Whip Wham Bam Sportscam

Bruce Stewart

23rd April 2021

Sportscam gave his six rivals a start and a beating, in the $12,000 Regent Car Court Nugget Final at Winton today.

Trained and driven by Jonny Cox the three year was a few lengths off the arm at the 2400 metre dispatch point after been placed in the unruly position.

“He was put on the unruly three starts ago after he galloped behind the gate. He started off the unruly at Addington and they made him go back to the trials on Wednesday. He travelled down yesterday and raced today. Hopefully it knocked a bit of shit out of him. His manners today were pretty good for him,” Cox said.

The three year old Sportswriter gelding settled last with Tommy Waterhouse and Love Lou Longtime taking turns in the lead. With a 1000 metres to run Cox moved Sportscam out and started to move forward without cover.

“I didn’t think anything else would go before me and a sprint home doesn’t really suit him so I thought I’d get as handy as I could. It wasn’t my intention to drive him that way but it worked out alright.”

At the 500 Cox had the gelding up and going head to head with leader Love Lou Longtime. Turning in, Sportscam was on one rein but he fought hard all the way down the straight to beat a late burst from Magnetic Terror by half a length.

“At the finish he stuck to his guns and wasn’t going to let anything past him.”

Sportscam holding Magnetic Terror

Back to the birdcage

The trip south initially wasn’t on the radar.

“I didn’t think about coming down here. Jason Broad (Southern Harness General Manager) messaged me on Monday saying they only had six nominations. I threw him in and had a look at the field and there were only seven in it.”

The $6,600 winning stake pushed Sportscam up the leader board for the Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes.

“The supremacy wasn’t on the radar but one of the owners said the win will probably get him into the field. He’s booked on the truck to go home tomorrow but I’ll have a think about it.”

Cox confirmed later in the day that Sportscam will be heading home.

Sportscam was bought as a weanling by Cam Jones who broke him in.

“We bought him as an early two year old broken in. He has taken a little bit of time. He’s improved a lot in the last twelve months. If he keeps improving he’ll pick up another two or three races.”

He’s owned by a group of friends and family of Coxs.

“My Uncle Ian Wilson and sister Jo Nicholas are in it and the rest are spread across the South Island. I think he’ll get better. He follows a good tempo. He’s not a 27 second quarter horse but he can run 30s all day. Some races aren’t going to suit him when they walk and sprint. A race like today it felt like we were running even quarters and he just kept trucking away.”

It was the gelding’s sixth start in the province.

“He seems to enjoy coming down here. Brent Barclay won a race with him here and he’s gone a couple of good races. He’s getting away from Addington and the bigger boys. The trip down here hasdefinitely made him.”

Having had a stint with Tim Butt, Cox now trains at his new property situated between Rolleston and Dunsandel.

“We’ve got seven or eight horses in work and I help out Hayden Cullen in the morning for three or four hours, and then I do my own in the afternoon.”

The top fifteen qualifiers for the Southern Supremacy are: Ragazzo Mach, Keep On Dreaming, Leithen Burn, Tommy Waterhouse, Idealism, Magnetic Terror, Port Au Prince, Yorokobi, Stoneyroyd, Hemsworth, Kase, Quaddie VC, The Hornet, American Lightning and Artatac.