August 2021

Broodmare Of The Year Finalists

Bruce Stewart

31st July 2021

Four Southland based broodmares have made the final nominations for the Southland Broodmare of the Year, with the winner to be announced at the Southland Harness Awards at Ascot Park on Sunday 5th September.

The finalists are:

Southwind Arden

  • The Bettor’s Delight mare’s progeny was headlined by Somebeachsomewhere entire South Coast Arden, who impressively won a double at Addington before heading to the Harness Jewels at Cambridge where he bravely won the Group One Four Year Old Emerald in a super time of 1-51.6. This season he won six of his thirteen starts and $122,558 for northern trainer Brent Mangos.
  • Platinum Stride was the other horse racing this season out of Southwind Arden. He won three, and ran third in the Group One VHRC Caduceus Three Year Old Classic at Melton. He won $27,061 during the season.

Mach N Elle

  • Southland star mare Watch Me Now was the only foal to race out of Mach N Elle this season. She won the Group One New Zealand Breeders Stakes beating Amazing Dream. The time of 3-07.2 was a New Zealand Mares record for 2600 metre mobile and was one of four wins this season for the Kirstin Barclay Tank Ellis trained mare who has now headed to America where she won her first race.

Co-trainer Kirstin Barclay and Watch Me Now

Kylie Ree

  • The Monarchy mare left the winners of nine races this season.
  • Aged mare She’s Althe Craze won one of her thirteen starts banking $18,182 while Kiwitrix won four races and was placed another four times in seventeen starts. He earned $34,723 this season – enough to earn himself a start at the Harness Jewels.
  • Son Of Patrick is Kylie Ree’s latest foal to race. He  was also at the Harness Jewels, running third in the Three Year Old Ruby. He won four of his seventeen starts and was placed another seven times. The placing included a third in the Northern Trotting Derby and a third in the New Zealand Trotting Derby.

 Kiwitrix – progeny of Kylie Ree

Glenburn Jewel

  • This Live Or Die mare had two foals racing in the 2020-2021 season. Smokin Annie won five races from eighteen starts winning $30,740 for her connections.
  • Boots Electric, the mares sixth foal, started in Australia. He won the Group One DNR Logistics Four Year Old Bonanza in a mile rate of 1-51.2 and the Group Two South Australian Pacing Cup at Globe Derby. The lightly raced gelding won four of his seven starts and $130,612.

Boots Electric qualifying at Wyndham for trainer Brent McIntyre

Mac Is Back

Bruce Stewart

5th August 2021

The drop back in grade suited the Syd Breen trained American Mac at today’s Invercargill Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Ascot Park.

Having five wins under his belt,  going into today’s Regent Car Court Southern Sprint Series the seven year old was facing horses who’d mainly won fewer races than he had.

American Mac leading for Mark Hurrell with a lap to run

Driver Mark Hurrell took full advantage of American Mac’s capabilities, spearing the gelding out of the gate to take up the front running role.

“He’s always had that speed but he’s got a wee chink in his gait. It was a great drive by Mark. He knows him so well. It’s like fly fishing, you can’t really take hold of him,” said Breen. “I was confident today because he was race hard and fit.”

Breen wasn’t sure he wanted American Mac to start in the first race day of the Southern season, but he was convinced by his driver.

“Mark wanted to come here, I wanted to wait for Winton. I said to him that we’d draw seven he said it wouldn’t matter.”

That proved to be the case, with the gelding leading all the way, to win by one and three quarter lengths.

Down to the line, with his ears pricked.

Back to the birdcage and getting the thumbs up from his new boss.

“Mark’s a real asset to me. He’s back down here working for Craig Ferguson, so he can drive them all at the workouts and trials.”

Breen has a small team in work. It includes a full and half-brother to Cheddar Made Beta and Trendy’s Bad Girl’s first foal by A Rocknroll Dance.

He runs a fairly low key operation these days and is helped by Stevie Heads.

“Since I had that heart attack and I have diabetes I don’t have a whole lot of energy to do a hell of a lot.”

Owned by Brian and Shona McLennan, today’s win was the horse’s sixth. He’s a half-brother to millionaire pacer Sokyola which won sixty six races for Australian trainer/driver Lance Justice.

Sokyola was developed by Merv Todd who was on-course today to see American Mac’s win.

American Mac, Mark Hurrell, Syd Breen, Stevie Heads, Shona McLellan and Merv Todd.

Cody Banner Wins For Allen

Bruce Stewart

5th August 2021

Well-bred Bettor’s Delight gelding Cody Banner won his second race at Ascot Park today for trainer Ricky Allen.

Bettor’s Delight is a well-known champion sire of pacers, having left a total of 3,788 winners in that gait but he’s also left a handful of trotters (the winners of 35 races) and Cody Banner is one of those.

He was bought at the 2017 National Yearling Sales in Christchurch by Otago trainer Graeme Anderson.

“They had difficulty getting him to pace and he was used as a galloping pace maker. He then went to Ashburton where he was trained by Brent White,” Allen said.

Anderson took him to one workout and White to two before he was taken on by Allen. He had four unsuccessful trials before he qualified at Oamaru in December 2019.

“Graeme rang be one day and said the horse might be better suited on the beach. I’ve always liked him. He’s a tough wee thing but he’s just got to get his gait organised because he hops and skips a bit. He was on a warning today.”

Perhaps Cody Banner sensed he was on notice today because he put his best foot forward for driver Matty Williamson.

“You pick your battles. It was a race that suited him today, being off a mark (handicap). It was a good stake and he’s eligible for the Gold Chip Final.”

Cody Banner began well from the 30 metre mark settling at the back of the field. With 1300 metres to run Williamson sent the second favourite forward to sit parked outside leader Tease My Tartan.

Cody Banner sitting outside Tease My Tartan with a lap to run

Just before the top of the straight Williamson took Cody Banner to the lead and he trotted down to the line to win by one and half lengths from My Hope.

Cody Banner stretching out to win his second race

“It was a lovely drive from Matty. He held him together and moved when he should have. Matty’s always liked him he said, he’s got a big heart and tries hard.”

Allen said the five year old still doesn’t have the perfect gait.

“Having him on the beach has been good for him – running in a straight line and building his confidence. Since I’ve had him he’s always wanted to trot. That’s his natural gait.”

Cody Banner is out of a good family and he has Stars and Stripes and Lazarus in his pedigree.

Anderson still owns the gelding with good stable clients Ray Chaiklin, Tony Gow, and Steve Pulley along with Allen, who trains from a thirty five acre property at Katiki Beach which is located between Hampden and Palmerston.

“It suits my style of living and my style of training because we have six kilometres of beach there. It’s relatively low key. We just munch around and we never flatten them on the beach. There’s always something left in the tank.”

Allen has a small team in work including a two year old Creatine filly owned by Stephen Heffernan. Her third dam is the globetrotting mare Pride Of Petite – the winner of twenty four races and $414,996.

“Having Matty training at Oamaru is a plus for us all. He can help fast work our horses if the beach is rough. I know Darryn Simpson uses him as well.”

New Name in The South

Bruce Stewart

22nd August 2021

 

When Maria Enochsson’s name popped up as the trainer of a recent qualifier in Southland it sparked a visit to the trainer section of the HRNZ website. Not only was the name new to me, her training location – Te Anau, also got me interested.

I followed up and this is part of her story.

Maria was born in Sweden and her parents were amateur trainers, so she grew up in a trotting environment.

“I did a bit of work experience with a couple of trainers in Sweden when I was at school. I went to equestrian college which was broad spectrum – riding, driving with a bit of theory. I then worked for a couple of trainers for about six months,” she said.

One of those trainers was Jan-Olov Persson.

“When I worked there, he had about forty or fifty horses in work. He had one or two standardbreds and the rest were cold blood. Forty five out of fifty (cold bloods) were stallions. They’re just like wee draft horses.”

The Swedish cold-blooded trotter is a descendant of the Nordic Landrace horse, with its origins going back to 2000-3000 years before Christ.

The role of the horse has changed over time from being a meat and milk producer, a draught and working horse, a resource in the armed forces and in forestry and agriculture to becoming today’s leisure and sports horse in Sweden.

One of the cold blood trotters trained by Olov Persson whilst Enochsson worked for him was Jarvsofaks.

His trotting career started at age 3 in 1997 and ended at age 15 in 2009. He won 201 out of 234 races,earning 21,288,570 Swedish kronor in prize money – that’s over three million New Zealand dollars.

He still holds the cold blood trotter’s world record of consecutive wins (42), and the cold blood trotter’s world record time, 1-17.9 per kilometre (the average time he ran over 1640 metres).

Jarvsofaks

He was also a successful stallion, and remarkably when he won his 10th Swedish Championship at the age of 15, he beat five of his sons.

“During the summer he’d be at stud three times a week and we’d go out and get him and race him at the weekends. He was an unreal horse. He just knew how to pose. Every time I went home I’d go out to see him because my best friend still works there. He’d be in his paddock outside the house, and you’d just have to pull a camera out and he’d pose.”

The horse had cult status in Sweden.

“At the awards they had the people’s choice. After two or three years they had to change it and not let people vote for him anymore. He won it every year, and some were getting sick of it.”

Jarvsofaks, despite being a horse, regularly performed duties normally reserved for a town’s mayor.

“They’d take him to openings of petrol stations. One year they put him in an elavator and took him up to the horse of the year event. He was just a professional stallion.”

Jarvsofaks was named Sweden’s Horse of the Year three times (2003-2005) and Cold Blood Horse Of The Year twelve times (1998-2009).

Jarvsofaks, the first trotting horse in the Mounted Guardian at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

After spending the early part of her working career in Sweden, Enochsson decided it was time to move on. At that point the Swedish Government had a special scheme running which allowed under twenty-five-year-olds who hadn’t had a full-time job in Sweden for six months to apply to travel overseas if there wasn’t any suitable work in their own country.

“I thought if the government is paying you money you go as far as you can I’d apply. I ended up coming to New Zealand and working for Marty Larter for about four months and then Craig Thornley got me a job at Spreydon Lodge.”

Maria worked at Spreydon Lodge for fourteen years, until about a year ago.

“I was foreman there for the last seven years. In the last few years, I was the one that took teams down south most of the time. I’ve always enjoyed it down there. They’re a good crowd of people. I’ve stayed at a few different places, and you can’t beat southern hospitality.”

Maria now works in Te Anau, based at Southland horseman Wayne McEwan’s new property.

“She used to stay at home (Branxholme) when she came down with the McRae horses. One day she was in Te Anau and rung up and said would you like to catch up for a drink. She told me she had left McRae’s and was looking for something else to do. I thought ‘that fits with me,” McEwan said.

Maria is enjoying the change.

“It’s a different place, different scenery, so I thought I’d give it a go. I ended up spending most of the winter in Invercargill because the new track wasn’t quite ready and worked in with Kirstin Barclay, but I’ve been back here for four or five weeks.”

McEwan has a 50 acre property ten minutes this side of Te Anau named Leah Lodge. The property has an 800 metres track which was constructed in  autumn as well as a 1100 metre jog track.

“I like having that big jog track for trotters. I’ve never been keen on going around those tight corners (small tracks) early on,” said Maria.

An end on view of the new barn in Te Anau (photo supplied)

The property has a new barn and stable area, but no house, so and Maria lives in Te Anau.

“It was part of a deer farm and we bought fifty acres off the owner who wanted to split it off. We got the flat part of it which was good for us. We’ve re-fenced the property which Dan Wilson did. He’s a good racing man. There are eight boxes in the barn and we think we’ve done it right. We’ve got a hot and cold wash,” McEwan said.

Inside the new barn (pictures supplied)

“It’s going to be a good facility and we’re going to do mainly pre-training because it’s a bit of a distance to go to the trials and races. We’ll jog up and pre-train some of Kirstin’s and perhaps take some others,” added Enochsson.

McEwan now lives in Te Anau where he also runs motels.

“The idea was to retire here but with Covid it may take a bit longer. The idea is to pre-train for Kirstin and my mate in Christchurch Ken Barron. We’ll race a few out of here but not too many. If we end up racing ten from here, I’d also be happy at that.”

Johnny Bennet, who McEwan worked with at the late Henry Skinner’s Branxholme stable, does a morning shift, travelling each day from Tuatapere.

Maria has held her training license since the beginning of this season, and she’s able to train one horse at the McEwan property.

“I’ve had a few horses of my own but not in my name. It’s good to see your own name out there.”

The horse she is currently training is recently qualified four-year-old Peak trotting mare Merkel which she’s leased from Jenny Butt.

Maria Enochsson and Merkel (picture supplied-pre lockdown)

“She’s four but still a bit weak. I think she’ll strengthen up in the next year or two. She’s a lovely horse. I said to Kim (Butt) when I leased her that I was put off because she was by Peak. The ones I saw by him early on weren’t that nice. Jenny keeps telling me she’s going to be a superstar when I text her with an update.”

Merkel is a half-sister to Sassy Pants (9), Princess Mackendon (9) and Prestine (5).

Her dam Stimulus is a half-sister to Genius (24) whose wins included the Group Three Knight Pistol at Moonee Valley in January 2006.

“I got to know Kim quite well as she was leasing a property next to Spreydon Lodge. We were neighbours for a few years.”

Maria Enochsson is a welcome addition to the Southern Harness ranks. The  wealth of experience she brings with her will be appreciated.

 Other Jarvsofaks facts

  • In 2010, Järvsöfaks competed against the ski queen Charlotte Kalla during the festival “Snösväng” in Hudiksvall. 5,000 spectators saw a duel over 100 metres where Järvsöfaks got his head in front one metre before the finish line.
  • In 2002, Järvsöfaks visited Stockholm International Horse Show together with Victory Tilly. The trotting stars were met by a deafening cheer in a packed Globen.
  • In 2007, Järvsöfaks was included as the first trotting horse in the Mounted Guardian at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
  • In 2010, Järvsöfaks got to put his hoof imprint in the Walk of Fame at Liseberg. The trotting king got the seat next to Michael Jackson.

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Source: Lars-Ove-Petterson, Channel 75

Let’s Make The Changes Work For Us

Bruce Stewart

Sunday 29th August 2021

On the back of the work HRNZ General Manager of Racing Catherine McDonald and her group is doing around dates and key race structure, I believe there’s a great opportunity for Southern Harness and indeed other areas to look at what they do with their dates and racing programmes.

Once the dust settles in early October at which time the racing calendar will have been approved,  clubs may choose to assess whether the race programme on the dates they’ve been allocated will work for them.

It will be a chance to have open and honest conversations, knowing that some things that have been done in the past won’t necessarily stack up moving forward.

Perhaps a day or half day could be set aside to invite all industry participants in each region to meet and share ideas. Representatives from the clubs as well as owners, breeder, drivers and punters could be split into groups with a note taker reporting ideas back to the larger group. The ideas would be documented and forwarded onto all clubs as well as the Race Programmes Committee, for consideration. It’s the old story – no idea is a bad idea!

As a starter, here are some of my thoughts that relate to the Southern region, but that I think could also stimulate conversations in other geographical areas.

  • Already there’s been talk about possibly changing the way both the Southlands Oaks and the Southern Supremacy are run, with some suggesting that the heat format used initially, be reintroduced. This idea would allow the Series long time sponsors Nevele R/Macca Lodge and Alabar more exposure at a time when holding onto key sponsorships is vitally important.

Winning connections and sponsors of the 2021 Southland Oaks

  • With Oamaru coming into the Southern Harness group, there’s a chance to add some additional features to their five meetings. At present, the Hannon is their only real feature. Because of Oamaru’s location maybe the Diamond Creek Farm Two-Year-Old Prelude could be run there. This race is run by Southern Bred Southern Reared groups whose territory includes breeders in North Otago. Because it’s only three hours from Christchurch this could be more appealing to Canterbury trainers who have two-year-olds warming up for the Group Two Diamond Creek Farm Classic in Southland on Diamonds Day.

Oamaru

  • With horses birthdays now changed is there an opportunity to introduce a race for three- and four-year-olds? Remember the old John King Three- and Four-Year-Old race? Would trainers entertain racing their three-year-old against older horses?
  • A focus on syndicates on a particular raceday, one race on the programme for syndicate owned horses, and hospitality for the syndicate members. This would bring good numbers and great rivalry and banter, would create a great atmosphere. It might require some creative programming.

  • Is it commercially viable to have large pull up advertising hoarding around the back of the Ascot Park harness track? Like Menangle for example. These signs would not only provide a great backdrop for racing but strong advertising opportunities for sponsors. They’d be dropped down on galloping days.

  • Does Southern Harness want to preserve its past and introduce a Hall of Fame? I say yes. Horses/People could be inducted each year retrospectively at the Harness Awards. We have a stronger heritage than most so why not acknowledge and celebrate our past. Honours board and memorabilia could be put on display at in a dining area at either Ascot Park or Winton.
  • With the racing season changing the annual Southland Harness Awards will have to be run at a different time of year. Is there an opportunity to do some revamping here with perhaps a few more categories added to the list?

  • “Winton v Ashburton – The Fastest Track” – Have a day of mile races with each meeting going head-to-head with mile racing. (Both tracks running a race meeting on the same day). We could get the TAB to generate some strong betting options like fastest mile, fastest mare etc.

  • Is it time for regions to invest in dual cart sulkies, a small pool of horses with all the associated gear including helmets, vests, race day colours? All parts of the dual carts and associated gear would be made available for branding and would look great on-course. Although there would be limited exposure on Trackside the video and photo would be a standout on social media. This concept is a great way to entertain sponsors and the public with a thrill that money can’t buy.
  • Outside of the proposed ‘Southern Open Class Window” (December and January) how do we get the Southland open class pacers to remain and race in the province, and how could we avoid racing them off long handicaps?

U May Cullect

  • I was excited about the proposed scheduled Sunday meeting at Ascot Park on Sunday (29th August) which was down to start at 10:48am, with the last race dovetailing into Addington. This has the potential to work well on a midweek date with trotting races run early in the programme streaming into Europe, and the day’s best races run in the lunch hour when workers can bet.
  • Marketing our race meeting directly into the metropolitan marketplace has become key in lifting your turnovers. Data provided by the TAB will tell us which regions attract the highest turnover. Unfortunately advertising race meetings in a local newspaper creates limited totalisator returns these days. Perhaps money is better invested in a geographical targeted digital campaign which reaches into markets and onto websites and apps that punters are visiting or using.
  • Each region has a group of young trainers looking to grow their client base. Perhaps each region could appoint an up and coming young trainer and help them form a new group of owners in a syndicate to race a readymade racehorse. The marketing and support for this concept (not new) would be done on social media platforms with the help of HRNZ and would get local club support with race day hosting and hospitality. New faces are always welcome and needed.

HRNZ are implementing change on a nationwide basis. It means there’s a great opportunity for us to take a proactive approach, make change work well in our region, and maybe do things a little bit differently. We all want to grow Harness Racing.