April 2022

Geez Wayne Time for A Peroni!!

Bruce Stewart

9th April 2022

Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adam doesn’t train a big team these days, but he still loves winning local feature races.

Peroni provided the veteran trainer with another career highlight when he won the $20,000 Winton Businesses Cup at Central Southland Raceway today.

Peroni heads out ready for the Winton Cup

The diminutive Bettor’s Delight beat a field that included eight higher assessed rivals and stamped himself as a genuine Country Cups horse.

Adam has geared up horses like Atitagain, Badlands Jewel and First Glimpse so he’s had a few good ones in a career that spans thirty five years.

“I’ve always had a bit of time for him. He missed his three year old year because he went sore. We sorted that out and he’s done a great job,” Adam said.

In today’s feature Peroni began well and Rory McIIwrick kept the horse handy throughout the 2400 metre trip.

At the business end the pair got up to beat Love On The Rocks by a nose with Tommy Waterhouse a further half a head back in third.

“He’s a great wee beginner and he can come off speed.”

Peroni three back on the inside with a lap to run

Coming down the outside Peroni (2) get up to beat Love On The Rocks (5)

Winning smile

Nancy Swain and Wayne Adams with Peroni and Rory McIIwrick

McIIwrick who works for Adams in the morning has driven Peroni most of this season.

“He does a lot of work with this horse, and he’s done a great job with him.”

Adams owns the five year old with partner Nancy Swain. They bought the horse from Ken Spicer as a yearling at the National Yearling Sales in Christchurch after he was passed in.

“I saw Ken after the sale and asked him if there was anything wrong with the horse and he told me there was nothing wrong with him, he was just a bit small.”

Adam says there’s been a lot of interest from agents wanting to buy him but at this stage he’s not for sale.

“Nancy and I are sitting quite pretty at the moment so we’re quite happy to race a horse.”

Adams has just sold ten acres of his property on Findlay Road and has scaled down his training team to five or six.

“I do my horses in the morning and help Nathan Williamson out in the afternoons.”

Two yearlings by first season sire Vincent are his next project.

“I went to the sales not wanting to buy anything, but I came home with two. I put all my eggs in one basket by buying two by him. I liked the horse himself.”

Both yearlings are well bred with one colt out of Champagne Franco while the other is out of eleven win mare Nearea Franco. Her wins included the Group One Queen Of Hearts and Group Two Kaikoura Cup.

The win today puts Peroni on the fringe of making the top sixteen Country Cups horses for the $100,000 Country Championship at Addington on Easter Saturday at Addington, raced over 3200 metres.

The win was also a great thrill for McIIwrick who’s one of the true characters of the Southern Drivers circle.

Meanwhile smart grey trotter Smokin Bandar won the Cox Family Trot at Winton today.

Driven by Mark Hurrell the six year old had to overcome a 35 metre handicap to get up by a head to beat a brave Only One Way.

Smokin Bandar (14) gets up for a narrow win

Back to the winners circle

It was the horses first start since October so it was a super training effort by Wyndham trainer Craig Ferguson.

Darling Me Gets Kennys Out of Auckland

Bruce Stewart

9th April 2022

Paul and Mary Kenny were very happy to have a chance to get away from Auckland having had to stay pretty close to home for the past two years due to the pandemic, but when their horse Darling Me won at Winton today it was the icing on the cake.

The royally bred Sweet Lou racehorse who’s out of champion Adore Me was just too slick for a small but select group of mares in the $25,000 Southern Belle Series Final over 1609 metres.

Darling Me warming up with Tim Williams

Driver Tim Williams pushed the go button early, keen to take up the leader’s role.

Tim Williams pushed Darling Me (3) out early

From there horse and driver dictated the race with Darling Me winning by two lengths from another Canterbury visitor Folklore.

Clear at the finish

The winning time was 1-54.9.

“She’s better coming off the back of a helmet, but she did it pretty easy out there today. It was a great drive by Tim, and I was very happy with her,” said co-trainer Amanda Telfer.

After the win with Amanda Telfer and Tim Williams

After the win the Kennys enjoyed good Central Southland hospitality and have loved their trip south.

“I had some Bluff Oysters last night and I’m paying for it today. They’ve given me a bit of gout,” Paul said.

Mary and Paul Kenny

Amanda says Darling Me’s next target will be the Uncut Gems on the 6th of May at Addington.

“After that she’ll go to the paddock. Since she’s been with us she hasn’t had a long spell, so it’ll be good to put her out for a month or six weeks.”

The win today was Darling Me’s ninth from just twenty nine starts. Last month in a qualifying heat of the Southern Belle Series at Wyndham she paced a mile in 1-51.8 which was a track and the Southland mare’s record.

The Telfers also won earlier in the programme today when Matt Major won the fourth heat of the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes.

“He’s a nice horse and he’s got the motor but has got a little bit to learn.”

Matt Major winning at Winton

Presentation

Amanda says after today’s win she and training partner Steve are contemplating whether the American Ideal gelding should start in the $50,000 Group Two Supremacy Stakes Final at the end of this month.

“He was going to go to the paddock after today but having a crack at the final could still be on the cards.”

The Southern Belle and Supremacy covers ready to head back to Canterbury

Matt Major is a product of Tuapeka Lodge and is out of speedy mare Break Dance which won the Southern Belle Speed Series Final on this course in 1-53.3 which is still a race record.

Later in the day the Telfer/Williams combination were at it again when Aardie’s Express won the John Keenan Memorial Mobile Pace making it three winners on the eleven race card.

When pressed about rumours of the Telfer team setting up a satellite stable in Southland, Telfer was surprised at the suggestion.

“I haven’t heard that but that would be interesting (laughter).”

She did confirm though that the Stonewood Stud operation would love to win the New Zealand Trainers Premiership at some point soon.

“We thought maybe next year but we’ll see how things go. We’ve got a lot of nice two year olds and yearlings coming through so that’s why we thought next year.”

The stable has purchased Jack Smolenski’s old property. Demolition of the old buildings happened this week and a new barn modelled on Stonewell’s Auckland stable is expected to be built in the next few months.

Another Setback for Star Southland Pacer

Bruce Stewart

11th April 2022

On the eve of ‘The Race’ Southland trainer Nathan Williamson has had to scratch Pembrook Playboy due to injury.

This is another blow to the entire’s racing career after he was scratched just days before November’s New Zealand Trotting Cup.

A full set of tests and scans will be undertaken today before a plan is hatched around the horse’s recovery.

Pembrook Playboy

The injury is on the same hind leg that forced Williamson to scratch him from the Cup, but he says the horse isn’t as lame as he was in November.

“I’m gutted for Chris (owner) and Dunstan (horses sponsor). Dave Smith’s a tremendous guy. It was an honour to be accepted for a $900,000 race,” Williamson said.

The injury not only prevents Pembrook Playboy from starting in Thursday’s $900,000 feature it also robs him of a chance to race in the big money races coming up in Auckland including the Group One Auckland Cup at the end of May.

Meanwhile Williamson’s attention switches to the next three weeks in the South with Thursday’s $50,000 Group Two Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham, and Diamonds Day at the end of the month at Ascot Park Invercargill.

The Black Flash will be his representative in Thursday’s Two Year Old feature.

“It’s a shame there hasn’t been two year old races for him so he’ll go straight into the races, and we’ll decide what to do with him from there. He’s had a wee setback and I’ve been chasing my tail a bit to get him ready. I think whatever he does in the Kindergarten he’ll improve on. He’s going to develop into a good wee stayer.”

The Black Flash

The third leg of the Diamond Creek Farm Three Diamonds Two Year Old Series will be sixteen days later at Invercargill so that’s another target for The Black Flash.

Three year old Sandwave has been unsighted since he won his second heat of the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes and he’ll go straight into the $50,000 final of that series possibly without another race.

“He’s freshened up well and he’s looking tremendous. I worked him around Wyndham on Sunday after the workouts. I’ve found it difficult finding a race for him with his rating and handicap, he’d have to chase down some very good horses and give them a start. I’m just deciding on whether to give him a start before the Supremacy or just trial him a couple of times. We’ve just got to plot a path to get him there 100% fit and healthy and then it’ll be up to him.”

Sand Wave

Deserving Win to Love On The Rocks

Bruce Stewart

14th April 2022

Love On The Rocks capped off his great formline when he took out the time honoured Hunter Family Handicap at Wyndham today.

Driver Mark Hurrell settled the five year old into fourth early in a small field.

At the 800 metres Love On The Rocks was last and copped some of the backwash when stablemate Paddyproudfoot broke.

Love On The Rocks warming up for Mark Hurrell

The Hunter Handicap field with a lap to run. Winner Love On The Rock is tucked away on the inside.

Inside the last 500 metres Hurrell wasn’t going to run into any more trouble, so he set Love On The Rocks alight and they were forced five wide into the last bend.

Under the urging of Hurrell the horse let down with a genuine run to get up and beat Peroni by a neck with another neck back to favourite Tommy Waterhouse.

Love On The Rocks (outside) getting up to win

Returning back to the birdcage

Love On The Rocks breeder Tom Kilkelly bought the horse’s dam Uroc On from Vicky Cowan and after she went in the wind, he sent her to stud where he bred four foals.

“The first one was no good. The next one, (Ranga Roc) Kirstin didn’t like. He went to Australia and went super over there,” he said.

The next foal was Chuckles who’s won eight races, with Love On The Rocks being the mare’s last foal.

“The whole family has been brilliant but unfortunately we don’t have the mare anymore.”

As a driver, Hurrell has been the perfect match for Love On The Rocks.

“He’s just got better. Mark has done a great job with him. He sat back today and didn’t try and play the cowboy and got round them. He’s not the perfect horse to drive.”

Kilkelly owns the gelding with his wife Julie, daughter-in-law Hollie Brown, and Shay McKenzie.

He says the horse will next race in the Southern Country Cups Final on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park at the end of the month.

The Hunter Handicap goes back a long way. The records I have access to tell me there was a Hunter Handicap in 1956 so it could well be the longest run race in the Club’s history.

Next year the Wyndham HRC celebrates its centennial. The Clubs was formed in 1923 lead by a group headed by Joseph Hunter with the first non-totalisator meeting held that year.

One of the first features the Club ran was the Wyndham Classic. It became the most important juvenile event in Southland and in 1950 received an incredible 156 entries.

Thornley Gets First Group Win

Bruce Stewart

14th April 2022

Junior driver Olivia Thornley was handed a big task today at the Wyndham Harness meeting, but she handled it like a seasoned pro.

A young driver handling a two year old from the all conquering All Stars stable in the Group Two race who had a mountain of money on him – it doesn’t get any bigger.

“I’m grateful to Mark (Purdon) and Hayden (Cullen) and the owners to be able to drive a horse of his quality. He’s quite highly rated in our barn and I was lucky enough to get the drive,” Thornley said.

Don’t Stop Dreaming and Olivia Thornley heading into the birdcage

From barrier one Thornley was able to lead early with Don’t Stop Dreaming in the 1609 metre contest.

“He didn’t want to score up behind the gate to start with so there’s still a fair bit for him to learn,” she said.

At the start line

Just after the start with Thornley just off the arm on the inside

With 1000 metres to run stablemate OK Boomer was sent forward by driver Jonny Cox to take the lead.

“I wasn’t too worried. I thought my fella would have the upper hand up the passing lane. He’s a pretty casual fella and you have to keep on top of him.”

Once in the passing lane Don’t Stop Dreaming let down nicely to beat a late charging Da Vinci by a length and a quarter with OK Boomer hanging on to run third. The Black Flash finished off his race nicely for fourth.

“As soon as I pulled the plugs and hit the passing lane, he just had a whole lot of gears left.”

At the finish

Thornley has driven twenty five winners in a five season career and today’s win in the Kindergarten Stakes was her first group winner.

“It’s very special. To have that status of winning a group race. I’m happy to be able to do that. He did it pretty easy in the finish.”

Back to the birdcage

Winning cover under control

Winner garland (which I made her wear!!!)

Thornley has missed the horse’s build up to the Group Two feature, having been in Auckland for the past six weeks looking after the All Stars team in the build up to tonight’s ‘The Race’.

She’s been working at the Rolleston barn for just over five years and is enjoying her role there.

“It’s really good. Given the responsibility of looking after the team in Auckland and travelling to Aussie. It’s a huge responsibility but it’s a thrill to be learning off them.”

And after today’s win Thornley thinks Don’t Stop Dreaming should win some more races.

“I think he’ll go a fair way. He’s got a lot of versatility and he’s still quite green.

Don’t Stop Dreaming was bought at the 2021 NZB Standardbred Sales in Christchurch by The All Stars Stable for $250,000.

This was the first time since 2006 the Wyndham feature has been run at Group Two status and the $50,000 stake was the highest in the race’s sixty two year history.

All Stars has won all but one Kindergarten races in the past ten years. Brookland Brawler for Robert Dunn broke their stranglehold when he won in 2017.

Southern Oaks Series Finalised

Bruce Stewart

23rd April 2022

Aint No Angel stamped herself as a Southern Oaks possibility when she hung tough to win the last heat at Ascot Park today.

The Raging Bull filly headed straight to the top and although Monaco Grace levelled up, Ain’t No Angel fought back to win by a head.

Ascot Park – File photo

On the back of her second at Wyndham she was made favourite for today’s heat.

“She’s a nice filly and we’ve aways liked her. She’s not well bred but she doesn’t know that,” said trainer driver Brad Williamson.

The horse’s reputation followed her to Addington on debut where she started second favourite.

“She just gets a bit excited behind the gate. I’ve pulled her hopples up with hopple shorteners which has made her a wee bit more balanced in that first couple of hundred metres. In her first couple of preps when we worked her up at home she didn’t wear knee boots. She probably doesn’t need them at the races because she’s nicely gaited.”

It’s not the first time Williamson has been part of Aint No Angel’s family. He prepared the filly’s brother Ronaldo before he was sold to Australia.

“I had him as a two year old and sold him for quite nice money to Tim Butt.”

Williamson says the owners who are all from Central Otago have sent Ain’t No Angel’s dam Heavenly Bliss to Christian Cullen stallions.

“It’s worked for them because they’ve had a couple of nice horses.”

So how does Williamson assess her chances in Saturday’s Group Two Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southern Oaks?

“Since the Addington hiccup I’ve been happy with her in both her starts but we’re going to need a good barrier draw and a bit of luck next week.”

Meanwhile Williamson says his quality trotter Cracker Hill is making good progress as he looks at returning to the racetrack after last racing at Cup Week in 2020.

“He’s just working up slowly back in the cart and doing some miles. I’m looking at stepping him out in another six weeks. Because he’s had such a long time off it’s going to be a long slow build up and were looking at racing him over the winter.”

Cracker Hill and Brad Williamson

Williamson says Cracker Hill spent two months at Craig Fergusons utilising the swimming pool at the Wyndham track.

Beach Ball Ready for Supremacy

Bruce Stewart

23rd April 2022

Amberley trainer Kevin Chapman has declared Beach Ball is ready for this Saturday’s Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes following the colt’s win in the last heat in the series at Ascot Park today.

“I couldn’t get a trial into him, so I was just using this race. We’re well on track for the big dance,” he said.

Beach Ball – File photo

Driver Brent Barclay took the Somebeachsomewhere colt straight to the top and he held on to beat Matt Major (who ran about a bit in the home straight) by three quarters of a length. The 2200 metres was cut out on an easy track in a sedate 2-49.6 with the last 800 metres reeled off in 56.1.

The win was the colt’s fifth and he only ran out of the money once when he finished fifth in the Group Two Alabar Three Year Old Classic.

“At the start of the season I wasn’t sure whether he was going to be at the top level. But I now feel he’s pretty close.”

Chapman says the Southern Supremacy was always on his radar, particularly after the horse’s outstanding form in Auckland.

“With the way the season is split I thought it was worth having a go at both the Great Northern Derby and the Supremacy. If he hadn’t come through the northern campaign I wouldn’t have carried on down here.”

Chapman brought Beach Ball south during the week and he’s settled in well at Wendy Swain’s property at Winton.

“It’s home away from home. He never left a thing (feed) when he got down here. And I brought him in at 4 o’clock and he was straight back into his tucker.”

Chapman also raced Beach Ball’s dam Twilight Rascal.

“Michael Bowden was looking for a nice horse at the time so I got him to come in with me and we bought her. Unfortunately, Michael passed away. Twilight Rascal was a lovely mare who won nine. She was one of those mares that if you didn’t do anything with early could really uncoil late. She was a lovely mare, nicely gaited and very easy to get on with. That helped (to negate) the Somebeachsomewhere.”

Although most of the horse’s wins have been from in front, Chapman feels Beach Ball is not a one trick pony.

“The day will come when we can drive him from behind. I think you’ll see a better horse.”

Chapman says Southland based driver Brent Barclay will drive the colt again as the early season driver Tim Williams is committed to his stable drive, Matt Major.

Williamson Targets Diamonds Day

Bruce Stewart

27th April 2022

Diamonds Day at Ascot Park is the meeting Southland’s leading trainer Nathan Williamson targets every year – its the province’s ‘big money’ day with over a quarter of a million in stakes up for grabs.

Last year Williamson trained and drove Ragazzo Mach to win his first Supremacy, as well as completing a notable treble by reining Pembrook Playboy to win the Country Cups Final and You’re So Fine trained by Brett Gray to win the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic.

Nathan Williamson

The Branxholme trainer’s win in the Supremacy was particularly satisfying as he’d run two seconds previously with both Tas Man Bromac in 2015 and Pembrook Playboy in 2020 beaten by very short margins.

“It’s a race to target if you’ve got a nice three year old in your stable and last year we were lucky enough to win it,” Williamson said.

This year he lines up Sand Wave, one of the favourites for the Alabar sponsored classic. He last raced on Friday in a small field against Country Cup class horses.

“It was a funny run race and they sprinted home quickly. He needed that run and he benefited from it. I was pleased with his track work on Sunday. It’ll be a very competitive race, hopefully it’s a true run affair and the best horse wins.”

This is the 38th running of the southern feature with Crafty Kobba winning the inaugural running in 1984. Changeover (2007) and Auckland Reactor (2008) are two notable names on the Supremacy trophy.

Williamson has driven in the Supremacy ten times with the first being Silver Ranger (2009) for Kirk Larsen as a junior. Other drives were: El Nino (2010), Ardghal (2012), Major Deed (2013), Uncle Ben (2014), Tas Man Bromac (2015), Fiddlethefool (2016), Franco Santino (2017), Zinny Mac (2019), Pembrook Playboy (2020) and Ragazzo Mach (2021).

Ragazzo Mach winning last years Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes

His first trained runner was Major Deed in 2013 (5th). Other runners have been: Tas Man Bromac (2nd) and Statham (5th), Franco Santino (3rd), Pembrook Playboy (2nd) and Ragazzo Mach (1st).

If Sand Wave wins the Supremacy, it’ll be significant on a number of other levels. Part-owner Chris Alcock owns Pembrook Playboy which ran second in 2020 so he’d like to go one better, and Syndicate manager Nic Popham’s grandfather Henry Skinner won this race with No Return in 1993.

Sand Wave and Nathan Williamson

Williamson would also love to win the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic, having finished fourth in 2019 with Pembrook Playboy and second with Ragazzo Mach who was beaten a nose to Dashing Major in 2020.

This year he has The Black Flash in the two year old feature.

He’s progressed well in this campaign and was running on in his debut in the Kindergarten Stakes.

“I was thrilled with his Kindergarten run. We had a tricky draw, but he hit the line strongly. The extra distance will suit him, so it’ll come down to the draw and the luck on the day. I think he’s competitive.”

The Black Flash heading into the birdcage prior to the Kindergarten

Williamson took a number of his horses to the Ascot Park track on Monday for a hit out and The Black Flash was one of them.

“It was pretty windy. We gave him a good look around, he felt happy, bright and well. He’s real tractable and has lovely manners. I think he can front up on Saturday.”

The Black Flash warming up prior to his hit out at Ascot Park on Sunday

The Diamond Creek is Southland richest harness race with a stake of $60,000.

Williamson also has Foveaux Strait in on Saturday. He raced at Wyndham, but Williamson was disappointed with his run there.

“He did a bit of work, but I still thought he should have been there or there abouts. We went back to the drawing board, and I was happy with the way he trialled on Saturday. He felt pretty sharp. If he gets a nice draw, he should be pretty tough to beat.”

Foveaux Strait

Second Group Two for Thornley

Bruce Stewart

30th April 2022

Don’t Stop Dreaming trained by Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen provided junior driver Olivia Thornley with her second Group Two win when the classy two year old proved too good for seven rivals in the $60,000 Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic at Ascot Park today.

“He’s a very classy horse who has a turn of foot that’s second to none. He gave me my first Group Two win and now my second so I’m just rapt to repay the owners,” she said after the win.

Don’t Stop Dreaming winning the Diamond Creek Farm Classic

Owned by Ian Dobson and Dennis and Mark Dunford, the Better’s Delight colt was a $250,000.00 purchase at the 2021 NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sales. His first win was the Group Two Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham earlier this month.

“He’s definitely sharpened up since the Kindergarten and he’s becoming a more rounded racehorse. He’s always had the class.”

In today’s two year old feature Da Vinci took up an early lead before Don’t Stop Dreaming was taken to the front. The Black Flash then took up the pacemaker role with Don’t Stop Dreaming trailing.

“We’d done a bit of work early so I was happy to have a sit.”

When the horses reached the Alabar Passing Lane Thornley began to get serious with the Bettor’s Delight colt and he let down with a great turn of foot to beat The Black Flash by a length and a quarter. The winning time for the 2200 metre mobile was 2-43.0 with the last 800 run in 56.7 and the 400 in 26.5.

“He did it pretty easy at the end with pretty sharp sectionals, so I was just happy to keep on going.”

Returning to the birdcage

Nathan Williamson, trainer driver of The Black Flash was happy with his horse’s run as well.

“He went a great race. He was just beaten by a better horse on the day. It was only his second race day start so I was thrilled with him,” Williamson said.

The first two place getters in the race are closely related, both bred by Studholme Bloodstock Limited. Don’t Stop Dreaming is out of Start Dreaming, a daughter of Simply Devine while The Black Flash is out of Simply Devine. Both colts are by Bettors Delight.

Second Supremacy for Williamson

Bruce Stewart

30th April 2022

Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson notched his second Southern Supremacy in as many years when Sand Wave held on to beat With A Bang in the $50,000 Group Two feature at Ascot Park today.

Williamson won the three year old feature with Ragazzo Mach last season.

Mossdale Ben and driver Ben Hope blasted the gate and managed to cross Sand Wave early.

“I thought Ben (Hope) may go forward,” said Williamson.

Sand Wave before the Supremacy

With 2200 metres to run Williamson decided to take Sand Wave to the top.

“He was the best horse in the race, so I had to drive him accordingly.”

Sand Wave leads with a lap to run

From there he was able to dictate the pace and although challenged by Matt Major and Tim Williams inside the last lap he was able to persist and won by a length and a half from another local runner, With A Bang.

“He was quite lazy, so I wanted to make sure we rolled along so it wasn’t a dash up the straight. He travelled nice when Tim came up beside me.”

Sand Wave winning the Supremacy

Raced by the Nine Three Syndicate, Chris Alcock and the Nude @ Ten Syndicate Williamson says the Somebeachsomewhere colt will have one more start this preparation.

“I think he’ll benefit from this run. He’s got a Sires Stakes race coming up at Addington in a fortnight. Then he can go for a break because he’s had a big season and had a few trips away.”

Returning to the birdcage

It was Sand Waves seventh win in thirteen starts and he’s now won over $70,000.

“He’s a genuine wee racehorse who’s got a big motor.”

The members of the Nude @ Ten Syndicate were heard to party on hard well after their horse’s win, declaring that another trip to Invercargill was certainly on the cards.

Sand Wave with the Nude @ Ten Syndicate

The whole winning party

Meanwhile second favourite Matt Major finished last in today’s Supremacy after providing driver Tim Williams with an awkward steer before running to the outside of the track in the home straight.

“He’s a horse with a lot of ability but he hasn’t quite got it between the ears just yet. A break will be the best thing for him. Once they quickened up at the 900, he just grabbed the rein and wanted to go, but out instead of forward. We just have to be kind to him and get him to bounce on the right side,” said co-trainer Steve Telfer.

Oaks Win by Classy Filly

Bruce Stewart

30th April 2022

Aardie’s Express who’s trained by Steve and Amanda Telfer was all class today, winning the Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southern Oaks at Ascot Park.

Setting off, Driver Tim Williams decided to stay out of the early rush despite drawing well at barrier two. With 1600 metres to run Williams elected to move and Aardie’s Express rolled round the field to take the lead, with Williams pushing the turbo button after the Always B Miki filly straightened for the run home. Aardie’s Express won easily by two lengths from Monaco Grace.

Aardie’s Express warming up for Tim Williams

“I didn’t know what to expect when she first arrived at my place because there were a few mixed reports about her. After a couple of weeks she settled into out training programme well. She’s always been strong. We pretty much earmarked this race as soon as she hit the track,” Steve Telfer said after the win.

Aardie’s Express been told to keep her mind on the job with a lap to run

At the finish

Back to the birdcage

Presentation

In some of her early races Aardie’s Express tended to over race but Telfer said her manners have improved.

“Tim And Mandy have done a great job. She used to race round to the front, and they’ve got her to settle down, but she’s still got a lot of improvement in her. I think she’s untapped. She’s got a big motor.”

Telfer said Aardie’s Express will now be spelled for six weeks.

“That should be the making of her. Hopefully she’ll strengthen up and get a bit wiser and hopefully at the end of the season in November and December take on the good fillies.”

He says the extended season will definitely suit Aardie’s Express.

“She can have a break and doesn’t have to keep going. Then she can target some good races later in the season. Split season is great for the two years olds, so I haven’t found too many negatives.”

The filly is owned by Canadian Michael Tanev.

“He bought Ivana Flybye off me about eighteen months ago and she did a great job up there. He rings me four or five times a week. He’s very passionate about racing. He’s got two boys that play professional hockey for the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s been great to train for.”

Telfer has been in Southland for the last week supervising his team while they were based at Clark Barron’s.

“Jill and I have really enjoyed it. I generally just come down here for the tours (SBSR Yearling Tour). We’ve caught up with a lot of people. Clark and Ellie have looked after the horses, so it’s been terrific.”

Emotional Country Cups Win

Bruce Stewart

30th April 2022

It was an emotional win for trainer Alister Black and the owners of Idealism when Country Cups winner Idealism took out the Four Year Old $30,000.00 feature today at the Invercargill HRC today.

Happiness was mingled with sadness, because part owner Peter Carnie passed away this morning after a battle with cancer.

Idealism warming up with Brad Williamson wearing a black armband

“Peter and Elaine have been great owners and never questioned any decisions I have made. Pete was a lovely person who just loved his horses. I said to the horse before he went out, ‘go out and do it for Pete.’ We were all pretty emotional in the birdcage,” Black said as he dealt with the press after the win.

The presentation was also hard for Craig Milne who shares in the ownership as well.

Idealism began like a rocket and driver Brad Williamson ensured that was where his charge stayed, holding on to beat the favourite Love On The Rocks by a length and a quarter.

“Super drive. He’s the man.”

Winning salute

Back to the birdcage

Idealism has been a model of consistency in the Country Cups grade, running seconds, thirds and fourths in his last handful of starts.

“He hasn’t had too much luck in these types of races but today he got to make his own luck which was great. It’s such a hard grade. There were five or six horses that could have won today.”

Black was relatively confident the gelding could win today with Idealism working well during the week.

“I mixed his work up a bit this week to keep him nice and fresh.”

After today’s 2700 metre victory Black is now considering a trip to Addington.

“I might take him to Christchurch for the Uncut Gems, but I’ll have to talk to the owners. It’ll depend on what barrier draw we get.”