December 2018

Ivana Living Legacy

Bruce Stewart

The owners of Ivana Legacy are having the time of their lives.

So far the diminutive American Ideal mare has provided them with four wins and a trip to Christchurch for Cup Week and the ride looks set to continue.

She’s owned by the Chop A Nick Syndicate which is made up of members of the Squash City Club, Jess Ramsey, Karen Ramsey, Anika Sollitt, Grant Milne, Steve Clarkson, Danny O’Connor and Kayla Rusk.

She qualified and was trained initially by Wyndham trainer Brendon McLellan before the group bought her off the Horse Trader website run by new Southern Harness board member Tom Kilkelly.

“Scott Ramsey rang up and bought her off Brendon for $1,000. We were looking for a horse to replace trotter Nathan D. We watched a few replays of her races and thought we might have a bit of fun and get a win out of her. We’ve got four now,” said driver and stable spokesperson Andrew Armour whose wife Shannon trains Ivana Legacy.

In yesterday’s Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Pace Ivana Legacy got the perfect trip tucked in behind the pacemaker Go Getta.

“She’s a good standing start horse and has got good manners and if she gets the suck along she’s got a potent 200 metre sprint.”

Little horse beats Big horse – Ivana Legacy beating Go Getta – Photo Bruce Stewart 
Andrew Armour saluting the judge – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Happy bunch – Photo Bruce Stewart

Despite running out of the money on Cup Day, Armour says the trip to Christchurch has done the mare the world of good.

“That’s what the trip was all about. The long term aim is to hopefully take her back up there for the South of the Waitaki Winter Series. She’ll have a couple more runs and we’ll turn her out because she’s been up for a while now.”

Trainer Shannon Armour wasn’t on-course yesterday to enjoy the win. She was away at a horse show with her hack. She’s into her second season as a trainer taking over the colours her husband used up until 2017.

“She’s taken over and does a fair bit with her (Ivana Legacy). She maps out her programme. She’s been placing her quite well to be fair.”

Andrew, who has been involved in the harness industry for a good part of his life now works for ICC Parks and Reserves Department at Queens Park while Shannon manages the Travelex Foreign Exchange Booth at House of Travel Lakers.

They have two children; Brookland who is three and Bowden who is five months.

“I’m really enjoying it. I’m able to mix work and horses and the children. So we’re just busy enough.”

Double For Wilson

Bruce Stewart

Despite not having the use of the Balfour track, local trainer Robert Wilson still managed to chalk up a double at the Invercargill Harness meeting at Ascot Park yesterday.

Spotlight The Valley got the ball rolling in the first race when she got the prefect trip in the trail and came up the passing lane to beat Canterbury visitor Rebel Kibbybones by half a length.

“She’s as solid now as she’s been for a couple of years. She went super early on but like a lot of horses she had a year off last season (didn’t go quite so well). She’s muscled all round so it’s just a maturity thing and she looks a million dollars,” Wilson said.

Four races later Betterthancheddar mare Better Galleon capitalised on a similar run beating Excellent by a length and a half.

“She went super and won with a bit in hand. There’s more in store for her.”

Better Galleon is owned by Cleland Murdoch The Fanny Allen Family Trust and Wilson.

One of two wins for trainer Robert Wilson and driver John Morrison – Bettor Galleon – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart 

His only other runner at the meeting, Franco June was severely checked and took no serious part in his race.

Another horse in the stable, De Vito, has come up well in this preparation after returning to Wilson following a stint in the North Island.

“He’ll line up in some of the better trotting races over the Christmas circuit. He’s a class horse and he’s not properly fit yet. He’s a bugger of a horse because he’s hard to keep condition on. Our main focus is to try and build him up.”

Bettor Galleons win was Wilson’s thirtieth win as a trainer and it wasn’t the first time he’d won two races in one day. In November 2014 Mr Mayfly and Lucky Lands both won at Forbury Park.

Wilson trains on the Balfour track which has been unusable in the last week.

“We’ve been struggling getting work into them because we got six inches of rain in five days. The track has been out of action and will probably be for all of next week as well. We might have to go to Gore.”

The Rocket’s Back

Bruce Stewart

Gore trainer Syd Breen admits that Santanna Blue Chip gelding Santanna’s Rocket struggled last season.

Going into last season expectations were high after he recorded some good results against a good crop of three year olds. But at the end of his four year old season he’d only won once from fourteen starts.

“After he ran second on the grass at Oamaru we just couldn’t get him right. He’s had bad feet and we’re pretty sure it was a deep seated corn and we just couldn’t get it to come out. In the end we just had to bite the bullet and butcher his feet back and  we just waited for them to grow. It’s taken six months for his feet to come right and he’s still got a bit of a hole there. Shoeing wise we’ve just got aluminiums (shoes) all round and just elevated them two degrees behind. Aluminiums give him more surface areas to stand on. Franksie (farrier Brendon Franks) has done a great job,” he said.

This season Santanna’s Rocket started off with a twelfth placing at the Riverton Meeting before he won easily at Forbury Park two weeks ago.

And after his work during the week Breen was confident of a top showing yesterday in the Regent Car Court Mobile Pace.

“I thought he was the best thing I’d ever taken to the races. He’s just gone from a nice enough horse to one that I think will go a long way. Brad said today that he still wasn’t concentrating properly. He said he feels like he could run 36 (2-36 for 2200 metres) if he concentrated. We’ve got the galloping hood on him and it just sharpens him up a bit.”

In yesterday’s race Santanna’s Rocket was taken straight to the top by driver Brad Williamson and ran the field along at a solid clip. He went down to the line winning easily winning by two and three quarters of a length.

The showy style of Santanna’s Rocket winning easily for Brad Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Heading back – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Next up will be the Gore Cup on the 27th of this month.

“After he worked the other day I said ‘he’ll win today and then we’ll go to the Gore Cup.’ It’s a 60 front (R60) and he’ll be off the front.”

Yesterday’s win was Breen’s 30th from 298 starters.

“I wanted to win 30 races by the time I had 300 starters so that was done today.”

Santanna’s Rocket is owned by Paul Matheson, Ross Cleland and Barry Harvey.

“They had a good old bet up in Christchurch so they’ll be pretty happy. They did multis with Mucho Macho Man (which won at Forbury Park on Thursday).”

Breen is having a good trot at the moment having won eight races in four weeks. His winners have been Lorretta Franco (2), The Night Hawk (2), Santanna’s Rocket (2) and Mucho Macho Man (2).

“Ross bought me a one armed spreader and it’s just helped him (Mucho Macho Man) and The Night Hawk out no end. You just put it on one side. It’s not tight and it just keeps them off the knee. It works like the old type of guiders used to work. Brett Gray put me onto them. He’s had a bit of success with them. Now he’s probably wishing he hadn’t told me.”

Breen also credits regular drivers Brad Williamson and Mark Hurrell for the run of successes.

“Mark gives them the trip, gives you good feedback and the Williamson boys you just can’t get better.”

Mighty Flying Art Going Places

Bruce Stewart

Invercargill trainer Murray Brown is proud of the performance of Southland three year old Mighty Flying Art in the Group One Sires Stakes Finals at Addington a week ago.

Although originally on the ballot for the $166,660 feature he managed to get back in the field because of a scratching.

“Those front three got away. He had the third fastest last half and last quarter. How many horses go 1-52 (mile rate) at their sixth start,” said Brown.

Ultimate Sniper’s winning time for the 1980 metres was 2-19.0 a new New Zealand record.

Brown says his phone’s been running hot but the horse is not on the market.

“Yeah they’re going mad. Brent (owner Brent Ballantyne) bought him to race him. He said “what I am going to do next Friday if he’s sold.”

And Brown predicts the best is ahead for Mighty Flying Art.

“He’s never really had a hard run because of his draws. Up here he just followed them round. Brent Barclay (driver) has been looking after him. After his run (Sires Stakes Final) we took him home and he licked his bowl clean.”

He says his next target is the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting on Saturday 9th March.

The colt was bought by Brown for $50,000 at the Sale of the Stars.

He had two starts at two, running fourth behind Another Masterpiece on debut before finishing sixth in last season’s Kindergarten Stakes behind War Dan Delight.

He won his first start as a three year old at Winton in late September before running a close second behind Memphis Tennessee a month later.

Mighty Flying Art after his Winton win – Photo Bruce Stewart 

His next start was at Addington in the last Sires Stakes Heat in which he locked wheels in the straight and finished an unlucky seventh.

Ballantyne also owns Mighty Flying Art’s half-brother Mightyflying Macatak which he bought for $55,000 at the sales. He’s by Mach Three and is a two year old.

“We went back and bought his half-brother. He bowls round alright but we won’t know how good he is until after Christmas. With the Mach Thre’s you just have to be a bit careful because you can fire them up a bit.”

Meanwhile other “Super” finals will be held for the Ladyship Fillies and Mares series at the Invercargill meeting on the 6th April and the Gold Chip for trotters at the Winton meeting on 13th April.

All finals are worth $20,000.

Online Nominations on the Way

Bruce Stewart

From Saturday 1st December all trainers nominating horses for Southern Harness race meetings will have to nominate their runners on line.

Manual nominations by phone have been the method by which most trainers have nominated their horses and this has put pressure on office staff.

Trainers will be able to use the HRNZ website to log onto and an online tutorial is available at

Wyndham Lead The Way In Supporting Young Trainers

Bruce Stewart

Many young horsemen and women struggle to advance from a driving career into training because of the expense or buying and developing training facilities.

Wyndham Harness Racing Club hopes to change that by investing in a brand new ten box stable block at their Young Quinn Raceway.

“As a Club we saw it as a good business opportunity knowing how hard it is for young people to get set up as trainers. The committee made the decision and Alan Sloan got it knocked up and built for us in record time,” said club president Russell Ferguson.

His son Craig had always expressed a desire to train and he is the first young trainer to take up the use of the facility.

New Wyndham stable block. Mark Hurrell is on the broom while Kim Butt watches on – Photo Bruce Stewart 


Ferguson says the investment is ‘the best part of $100,000.

“Any club would see the long term benefits from something like this – it would have to be a good move.”

He says it’s purpose built with all the health and safety rules implemented.

“With the track here there’s always room to accommodate more horses. It’s working out really good.”

McNaught Has The Pedigree

Bruce Stewart

Local junior driver Kieran McNaught won his first race on the Ross Wilson trained El Dinero at Wyndham earlier this month.

“It took over 12 months to get but it was only fifty odd drives. In the greater scheme of things it didn’t take that long but timewise it feels like it’s taken forever. I was very relieved to get the job done,” he said.

McNaught has a strong pedigree when it comes to Standardbreds. His Great Grandfather is the late Davey Kerr, his grandfather is Russell Kerr and Uncle Maurice Kerr – all successful trainers and drivers in their day.

“When I was a kid I’d be out there during the holidays mucking around at Maurice’s where it all kicked off,” he said.

Russell drove thirty winners over 35 seasons of driving. His biggest winner was Rapture in the 1987 Southland Oaks Finals – a Group Three event. It beat favourite Girl George by a long neck and paid $40.80 to win. After the win it was sold to Kenwood Stud.

Russell’s first winner was Benjarbee trained by his father at Wyndham in March 1976.

Kevin, Kieran’s father was chairman of Southern Harness for the first years of its inception and was recently appointed to the board of Harness Racing New Zealand.

“Mum and Dad’s circle of friends were all into horse racing so as a wee fellow I was always dragged around the races and spending holidays at the stables, there was always some sort of involvement.”

Into his second year of driving as a junior Keiran says he’s still got a few years driving as a junior ahead of him.

“That’s providing I don’t drive the 100 winners limit but I think we can be pretty safe on that one.”

And he says it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Probably the biggest thing I’ve realised is that you’ve got to be a bit more aggressive. The way racing is now you really do have to be handy before they get trucking. So it’s just been learning how to be aggressive without being gungho. You don’t want to go gangbusters and run your horse out of petrol.”

During University holidays he worked for Clark and Tony Barron at their Makarewa stables as well as other well known trainers.

“When I was away at Uni I worked for Nigel McGrath a couple of days during the week and at the weekends or when I was light on classes. I spent about four years there.”

He also worked for Brent Shirley and Alan Paisley in the summer holidays. “There was no shortage of work during the university holidays.”

He graduated with a Resource Management Degree and now works as a Resource Management Planner for Invercargill firm Bonisch Consultants.

“I left school and went away to Canterbury University thinking that if you get a degree they can’t take it off you. I had to get into that professional environment straight away. Bonisch have come on board. They sponsor me and give me plenty of flexibility in my work hours so I can come to the races. They understand that, which is really good.”

McNaught says Harness Racing for him is generally only at the weekends.

“If I did get involved a bit more it would be a bit of a juggling act because we are reasonably busy at work. The driving came about by driving track work and at the workouts. There was a shortage of junior drivers down here so I decided to have a crack. Everyone has been very helpful wherever I’ve been and there’s always been plenty of advice and no shortage of people to talk to.”

Keiran McNaught -Photo Bruce Stewart 

Under a mentoring scheme set up by HRNZ McNaught gets one on one advice from local driver Andrew Armour.

“It’s always good to sit down and watch replays and discuss things with him. He’s always got plenty of helpful advice.”

One person he’d like to thank is Gore trainer Ross Wilson.

“He’s been monumental for not only me but other junior drivers. He’s been big on putting juniors on and sticking with them and giving them a chance. My involvement with him came out of the blue really by driving at the workouts. He gave me a crack on a couple of his better ones. I can’t thank him enough to be fair.”

Wilson has been instrumental in providing junior reinsmen and women with opportunities over the thirty eight years he’s held a trainers license.

Of the 103 winners he’s trained, fifty seven have been driven by junior drivers. Robin Swain was the first junior to drive a winner for Wilson. As a junior driver for Wilson Craig Ferguson was his most successful with twenty winners.

Keiran McNaught also enjoyed his time as a cadet and was named 2017 HRNZ Cadet of the Year.

“It’s a great concept and it’s tested a whole range of skills. The scheme does a really good job of getting you together and teaching you things that you may not pick up in day to day stable work. They may get glossed over slightly. The main aim now is to try and find winners and doing the best that I can. It’s hard when you’re not getting a full book (of drives) every week but that comes with the territory of being part time.”

For the time being Kieran McNaught is sticking to his planning job whilst driving race horses when he can.

“It’s a great hobby and it certainly keeps me out a trouble at the weekends. It’s really good fun and I’m keen to stick at in.”

Dark Horse On The Road To The Races

Bruce Stewart

Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson is hopeful that quality trotting mare Dark Horse will make it back to the race track but he also knows there are no guarantees.

The Bacardi Lindy mare got injured in the paddock the day before she was due to race in the Southern Lights at the Northern Southland meeting in March last year.

“I noticed a wee bit of swelling in the leg. I trotted her up and she was feeling it a bit. Brendon Bell (vet) came and he scanned it and she had an injury to her suspensory. We’re not really sure how it happened,” he said.

She had two weeks off before having an operation and had stem cell treatment which helps the healing process. She was then boxed for a period of time.

“We then began walking her, starting off slowly at five minutes a day. We ended up walking her an hour a day. With a suspensory it’s got to be stretched and walking is the only way to do that.”

The walks were done by Williamson’s father-in-law Ross Jones.

“Ross ended up building a special frame on his vehicle. She was so fresh and well being couped up in the box all day that she’d get away from you if you were leading her. She liked the routine of following the truck and walked for an hour every day.”

A five minute jog was introduced to her routine and this was slowly lengthened.

“She’s doing fast work now. She’s had a month of fast work but she’s still quite a wee way away. She’s carrying a lot of condition and she’s going to take a while to come up. I’m not going to put any undue pressure on her especially when she’s on the way up.”

Williamson says the rehabilitation for a suspensory injury normally takes eleven months from when the injury occurred.

“With the stem cell treatment Brendon said you may be able to trim a month off. I don’t think we need too. We’ll just let her tell us. She seems good to go now but we just need to take it quietly.”

One thing you do notice with Dark Horse is that she is bigger in condition than she’s ever been in her career.

“One good thing is that she’s put the condition on. If her leg holds strong it’ll be a good thing. As I increase her work load I’ll put solution on and wrap her leg just to keep everything nice and tight.”

 Dark Horse getting ready to jog – Photo Bruce Stewart

Since the injury she’s been scanned three times.

“The last time was before I started jogging her so that gave me the all clear. I’ll get Brendon to come and rescan before Christmas just to make sure everything is looking really good before I step her training up. You only get one chance to get her back so you have to make sure its right.”

The six year old mare is raced on lease by the Griffin Syndicate and the Seafield Trotting Syndicate and from twenty starts she’s won nine races receiving $84,541 in stakes.

“What I’ve heard from certain trainers is that if they make it back to a certain stage they’re right. If we can race through the winter then give her a break I think I could say the leg’s okay. But you never can be too sure.”

Delightful Deal in the cart with Ollie Kite with Chinese Whisper (far side) and Dark Horse on the lead – Photo Bruce Stewart 

Williamson says the 2019 edition of the Southern Lights in March is her main target.

“Last year there were good races for those higher graded trotters. If she can get a few races down here that’ll be vital. If she comes up as well as we hope there could be a trip to Addington or Auckland later in the season.”

He says she may have to go into the Southern Lights fresh.

‘She’ll have to go to at least two workouts to get her match fit, carrying a bit more condition it may have to be more. In the past she’s been one of those horses you could just tick over and she’d produce on the day but this time she’s going to have to put in some hard training miles just to get that condition off.”

Although cautious Williamson is also excited about getting the mare back onto the racetrack and has given her every chance to do that.

“She definitely feels a lot more powerful and stronger than she did before.”

Record Day At Winton

Bruce Stewart

The weather and track were sensational at Central Southland Raceway at Winton today, and records tumbled as a result.

Robyns Playboy started the run when he bettered the long standing three year old track record of 2-54.5 held since 2007 by Rider On The Storm. His new record time is 2-54.4.

The gelding already holds the Southland record of 2-53.0 which he posted at Wyndham last month.

From gate eight Robyns Playboy was caught wide early before driver Craig Ferguson had little option but to go forward and take the lead.

“He worked bloody hard early. He was out three wide. They went to the mile in 55 (seconds). Then he was able to back it off. Craig said he was really settled today and he tried to get in but couldn’t so he just had to keep going. He said he was still going good at the finish,” said owner and trainer Ross Wilson.

Chris Wilson leads Robyns Playboy back with driver Craig Ferguson and trainer Ross Wilson – Photo Bruce Stewart. 

Early in his career Wilson said Robyns Playboy didn’t switch onto the racing game but now it’s a totally different story.

“At home he’s starting to get too keen. I haven’t hoppled him since Monday because he went that fast on Monday. I’ve just cantered him behind the jogging machine. That’s why he’s going to the races because he’s tearing around being an idiot.”

Understandably there has been plenty of interest from buyers to purchase the talented three year old but Wilson says he’s not on the market.

“I tell them pretty quick that’s he’s not for sale. People say ‘you don’t want to hear my offer’ and I say ‘No.’ I always remember turning down $250,000 for Robyn’s Cullen when he was a two year old. It’s not about the money it’s just about having fun with a horse.”

So with two track records in the space of four weeks Wilson says his next target is the Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes on his home course on the 27th December. After that there are some good stakes races on the horizon.

“He’s the best horse I’ve ever had and you only get one chance with a race like the Derby. We’ll look at the Super Nugget Final, The Supremacy and after that I definitely want to have a go at the Derby.”

Regular driver Craig Ferguson says Robyn’s Playboy is the best horse he’s driven.

“Although we went a three year old record today I tried to look after him. If I’d let him go at the 600 he would have won a lot more convincingly. He’s got a good high cruising speed,” he said.

The winning margin for Robyns Playboy in the John Keenan Memorial was a length and a quarter from Raffy Roo.

A race later four year old trotter Majestic Man continued his rich vein of form when he narrowly won the main trot of the day.

The four year old son of Majestic Son galloped at the start and settled third last with only Super Fast Pat and Rebel Kibbybones behind him. At the 800 metres driver Brad Williamson hopped onto the back of an improving War Admiral. Halfway up the straight War Admiral had mastered pacemaker Grace O’Malley with Majestic Man starting to make his run down the middle of the track. He just mastered a game War Admiral by a nose.

His winning time of 3-01.0 was a new track record bettering the previous record of 3-02.5 recorded by Sundons Wish last season.

Majestic Man is raced by the Griffins Syndicate and it was some compensation for the group after their class trotting mare Dark Horse had to be turned out again after picking up another injury.

Majestic Man (4) and Brad Williamson just beating War Admiral – Photo Bruce Stewart.

The Phil Williamson trained trotter coming back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Members of the Griffins Syndicate – Photo Bruce Stewart 

Another large syndicate horse Please Shuddup won the next race and his time for the 2400 metre mobile was also a new track record.

The Auckland Reactor four year old was tucked away nicely on the running line by reinsman Matty Williamson as Canterbury visitor Pats Dragon set a hot pace.

Smokin By and Cast No Shadow both had turns in front up the straight but Williamson used the passing lane to perfection to get up and win by three quarters of a length from Smokin By with a nose back to third place getter Cast No Shadow.

The winning time of 2-53.3 was a new track record for entires and geldings for the 2400 metre mobile.

The previous record of 2-54.0 was set in 2017 by Jimmy Mack.

Please Shuddup trained by Murray Brown and driven by Matty Williamson beating his brother Nathan on Smokin By – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Coming back to the birdcage and a bit of a chat – Photo Bruce Stewart.

The big group of owners from Tricode Syndicate, Tricode Racing Syndicate No 2, and Dolce Syndicate – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Post race pats and chats – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Goodbyes -Photo Bruce Stewart

Meanwhile two relatively new trainers posted quinellas in back to back races at Winton.

Gore trainer Ricky Gutsell trained Vintage Rose and Maahes to quinella Race One whilst a race later Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson scored a quinella with his two runners That’s The Story and Zoned Scarlett. Gutsell is in his third season of training and this was the first time he’s managed the feat while Williamson who is in his second season as a trainer quinellaed a race once before at Invercargill in February.

Vintage Rose winning by seven and three quarter lengths for trainer Ricky Gutsell and driver Kirstin Barclay – Photo Bruce Stewart.
That’s The Story (1) beating stable mate Zoned Scarlett (widest runner) – Photo Bruce Stewart

Other winners today included Zinny Mach who won by an impressive four lengths and Fear Cruisin which won by a length and a half for trainer Peter Robertson of Templeton. Runner up to Fear Cruisin, Betstars Blue Jean was a game second after pulling a peeled tyre.

Impressive three year old winner for trainer Mitchell Kerr and driver Nathan Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Fear Cruisin winning for trainer Peter Robertson and driver Jonny Cox – Photo Bruce Stewart. 

Betstars Blue Jean’s flatty – Photo Bruce Stewart

In the last race of the day the Greg and Nina Hope trained and Ben Hope driven Mossdale Art added to her breeding potential when she won her 1609 metre mobile event in a smart 1-52.5. She’s owned by Mossdale breeder Archie Affleck and won by the biggest margin of the day – eight lengths.

Sheza Wins Equine Stakes

Bruce Stewart

From a breeding perspective it couldn’t have been a better result for Malcolm, Sarndra and Murray Little.

Their mare Shezacullengirl overcame a second row draw to win the thirty seventh running of the Equine Stakes sponsored this year again by AON Insurance.

“Murray and Malcolm put a lot into the industry and are really big supporters of our stable. We use Murray’s beach property to train the horses. It’s great to get a good win for good owners like that,” said Kirstin Barclay who co-trains the Christian Cullen mare with Tank Ellis.

In today’s mares feature she started from gate two on the second row.

The early pace from the start was hot so that opened up some gaps and driver Brent Barclay was able to get a nice run through. But when Sadhana went to the lead Shezacullengirl was left parked. However cover arrived when Bridesdale Robyn improved to take the parked spot.

Bridesdale Robyn hit the front early in the run home but Shezacullengirl was coming with a sustained run down the middle of the track and had to be driven hard to beat a late run along the passing lane from outsider Dachy.

“He (Brent Barclay) said she was angry in the prelim but during the race she just drove perfect.”

The winning margin was a head.

Shezacullengirl (10) beating Dachy on the inside. Owners Sarndra (pink top) and Malcolm Little (black with blue stripes) can be seen to the left of the widest runner Bettor Enforce (6) – Photo Bruce Stewart.
  Coming back to the birdcage after her feature win – Photo Bruce Stewart

“Last start she hung in at the start and the trailing horse smoked her wheel so that came off the rim. She only went 100 metres and had to be pulled up. She did feel really good last week and we were expecting her to go good with a bit of luck.”

It was the five year olds sixth win from twenty seven starts. Today’s time for the mile was 1-55.0.

“Tank and I will have to look at a programme for her. I don’t think she’s eligible for the Southern Belle. A broodmare career is beckoning sooner rather than later I would imagine now that she’s got her mile time.”


Tango Wins Ladyship

Bruce Stewart

“Yeah, loves it in front. She steers good there,” were the comments from Matty Williamson after Tango Dancer won the $12,000 SBS Bank Ladyship Stakes Final at Winton today.

From barrier five Williamson moved the A Rocknroll Dance filly straight to the top running past the winning post for the first time.

“When she’s on the markers she steers good and runs better.”

At the top of the straight he had a look for the opposition.

“She was going great but I was a bit worried about what the others were doing. I just didn’t want to open her up too early and have them swoop but she was going better than them.”

Tango Dancer beat trailing horse Vintage Rose by four lengths, running the 1609 metres in 1-57.7.

Tango Dancer is owned by the Tuapeka Lodge Syndicate and is trained at Rakauhauka by Clark Barron.

“They’re very nice people, know the game and are very easy to train for,” he said.

It was the filly’s second win in ten starts and Barron thinks she has a bit of a future especially if she can improve on her steering.

“She’s a good stayer but just lacks a bit of speed.”

Meanwhile Burnham trainer Mark Jones trained three winners early on in the card including pacers Rockahula Joe and Barrett which he also drove, whilst trotter Michelle won in the hands of junior driver Sheree Tomlinson.

It was one of two winners for the country’s leading junior driver. She also won on the Shane Mathieson trained First Son in the Transport Services Limited Mobile Pace.

Oamaru trained Monarchy trotter That’s The Story proved he’s going to make a nice middle grade trotter when he stepped into the next grade after winning on the Winton track at his last start.

In today’s Lot 176 All Heart (Love You/Sun Mist) Handicap Trot he trailed before trotting up the inside passing lane to run down pacemaker Grace O’Malley, winning by a length and a quarter. He was driven by Brad Williamson who trained the five year old for his previous win. However according to the HRNZ website, Brad’s father Phil took over the training of the horse three days ago.

Kerr Gets Two, Including Cup

Bruce Stewart

Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr won back to back races at the Wairio Trotting Club Meeting at Winton’s Central Southland Raceway today.

Zinny Mach made it two wins from two starts in six days when he impressively won the Net Ten EOM at Macca Lodge Mobile Pace.

Driver Nathan Williamson got a nice run through from the second row and ended up three back on the inside. When Ideal Draw moved out of the one one and progressed forward, Williamson followed him round and with 1700 metres to run he was in front.

The winning margin was one and a quarter lengths from I’m Trouble with third taken by Governor’s Bay.

“He’s a lovely wee horse. Good gate speed and he loves rolling in front. He’s had two good wins (in Southland). Hopefully he can make it three next week,” said driver Nathan Williamson in referring to the $12,000 Nuggets Final at the Winton meeting Monday week.

“He’s got the Nuggets on the 31st and he’ll be coming home after that.”

Today’s winning time was 2-57.0.

Zinny Mach is out of the Christian Cullen mare Zingara who’s part of the famed Black Watch family.

He was bought for $50,000 by part owner Ray Fleetwood at the 2017 Australasian Classic Yearling Sales in Auckland.

In the following race it was a very similar scenario for the Kerr Wairio Cup runner Smokin By. After beginning well, Williamson had the four year old; four back on the inside before moving him forward with a lap to run.

At the 600 metres he was travelling well when second favourite Nearis Green which had led and then trailed, started to fall away from Smokin By’s back.

At the foot of the lane Smokin By was off and gone and commentator Dave McDonald aptly called it ‘a demolition job.’

The winning margin was six and a half-lengths and Williamson didn’t have to pull the ear plugs. Stablemates Shezacullengirl and Mach’s Back filled the minor places.

“He’s going to be a really good horse one day. He’s got a massive motor,” Williamson said after the run.

Trainer Mitchell Kerr also thinks the four year old has a future but that he’s still on a learning curve.

“He’s got all the ability in the world. He’s just needs things to go his way. When he winds up he’s got amazing speed.”

The Cup had two false starts before it finally got underway and Williamson said Smokin By got better with each one.

“That was really good. I was really pleased. It opens more races up for us now. That was probably the biggest take out of the day,” said Kerr.

He says Smokin By will have a break now and come back and race through March and April.

“I’d love to sneak him in to some of those nicer races later on.”

Mitchell’s father Paul bought Smokin By for $30,000 at the 2016 New Zealand Premier Sales in Christchurch.

He has a host of great winners in his immediate pedigree including Venus Serena, Gail Devers and Rona Lorraine.

Get Lucky Breaks Record

Bruce Stewart

The very talented square gaiter Get Lucky provided one of the highlights of the Gore meeting today when he out-trotted nine rivals into the ground in the $12,000 Gold Chip Final.

The result was not only a track and Southland record, it was also a good result for the broodmare Bree which quinellaed the event when That’s The Story finished second. The result was also a quinella for the Williamson brothers Brad (Get Lucky) and Nathan (That’s The Story).

Get Lucky showed he was a quality horse in the making last season when he ran second to Enhance Your Calm in the New Zealand Two Year Old Trotting Stakes, beaten only by three quarters of a length.

Trainer Alister Black said that as a two year old he showed a few wayward tendencies, but Black has seen him mature.

“Probably in his head. As we know he could do things wrong. He was very good in his gait today but he’s still got a bit to learn.”

In today’s Stallions Australasia Gold Chip Final he was taken to the lead early on by regular driver Brad Williamson and from there it was game over.

“He (Williamson) said he felt super when he let him roll down the back. Half his problem is that he gawks a lot and doesn’t concentrate until you ask him to do a bit. When you do a bit he starts trotting out real nice.”

The winning margin was six and three quarter lengths and Black thinks he’s not at his best in a front running role.

“He’s probably best driven with a sit. He’s got very high speed saved up for a quarter and he’s shown that.”

Today’s winning time of 2-52.8 was a new track and Southland record. The previous record held by Brad’s Kenny was 2-53.3 and set in 2014.

Get Lucky striding out at the finish for Brad Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart 

After today’s win, the $12,000 Hanley Formula Orari Challenge Stakes which is a mobile 1850 metres race for three year old trotters at the Geraldine meeting on February 2nd is on the radar.

“After that we might leave him up in Christchurch. We may give him a trial round Addington just to see whether he can get round. Then he can come home, then we can go again.”

The Hambletonian at the Ashburton track in late February is also on the programme.

“I don’t know how much he’s improved but he hasn’t lost any of that ability. We won’t know that until we strike Oscar Bonavena and Enhance You Calm and all of those ones. But he’s another year older.”

It was a great result for the sponsors of the race as Get Lucky is by Lucky Chucky is one of their stallions.

Global Domination Wins Three Year Old Feature

Bruce Stewart

Tony and Sheryl Barron love returning home to Southland and winning races.

It was the perfect scenario for them today at Gore when Global Domination beat a small but handy field of three year olds in The Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes.

In doing so he also set a new three year old and all-comers track record.

The winning time was 2-39.8.The previous record of 2-40.7 was held by the Cran Dalgety trained Art Union and was set in 2015.

By Bettor’s Delight out of Christy Breanna, Global Domination was bred by Tony Barron and after qualifying last November won his first three starts before running eighth then fifth in Sire Stakes Heats at Addington.

“He probably got there a bit early as far as the grades go. We werent scared to take on the big boys. He didn’t disgrace himself getting within four lengths (when he ran fifth behind Ultimate Sniper),” said Barron.

In today’s three year old feature driver Matty Williamson (who was driving him for the first time) took an early trail behind pacemaker and favourite Robyns Playboy. As they approached the winning post for the first time Global Domination jumped footprints on the track (mine), broke, and came down pacing.

“He’s always been a funny bugger like that. I had the shadow roll right up. It’s just a part of the breed. They’ve all done it.”

Robyns Playboy took Global Domination to the Kubala Seeds Passing Lane and once balanced he came up the inside running line to beat Fear Cruisin by half a length with Cast No Shadow another half a length back in third.

Matty Williamson driving the Tony Barron trained Global Domination down to the finish line – Photo Bruce Stewart
Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart 

Win, lose or draw today, Barron said Global Domination is going out for a spell.

“I took a blood test off him last week and he’s getting over a bug. I just wanted to get a start in him for the Supremacy (Southern Supremacy Stakes). So that one is out of the way and a bit of money in the bank.”

Global Domination is out of the six win Lis Mara mare Christy Breanna, which Barron also trained.

Peter Marshall and the Barron family have had success with this breed over a few decades.

“I think he’s the best one. The whole family have been nice horses and they’ve got better and better but I think this fella’s a notch up. Time will tell.”

Tony with wife Cheryl have scaled down their operation since Tony and his brother Ken decided to train separately. Tony and Cheryl are training between seven and ten horses and are currently preparing five colts for the February Sales. Tony’s pick is a Bettor’s Delights colt out of Elite Medley which is from the same family as today’s winner.

There is also a full brother to Global Domination called Calatural Damage later in the sale.

The Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes is an attempt by the Gore club to resonrecte the Tanqueray Stakes which was run on the course in the mid 1970’s and early 1980’s.

The Tanqueray Stakes for three year olds was first run in 1974 when hot favourite Lunar Chance ($1.75 and $0.95) driven by Keith Lawlor won beating Flying Tempest and Eclipse.

The race was run for eleven seasons with other winners were Bronze Regal (1975), Monarque (1976), Islafax (1977), Hurricane Squire (1978), Shona Way (1979), Ryal Pont (1980), Auburn Bret (1981), Trilobal (1982) Starling (1983) and North Fleet (1984).

In 1980 it was afforded Group Two status.

Once the Southland Oaks (1983) and Southern Supremacy (1984) became part of the Southland racing calendar the race was discontinued.

Islafax caused the biggest upset in 1977 when she beat Sapling and Belmer’s Image. She was owned by local Harness Racing identity Ken McRae and trained and driven by Ray Todd. She paid $71.65 and $11.50. The race that year was raced for $5,250 by far the biggest stake of the day.

Many also remembered the 1978 edition when Hurricane Squire trained and driven by Richard Brosnan beat the mighty Lord Module.

Meanwhile Majestic Man won his sixth races when he held out arch rival War Admiral in the Gore Mitre 10 Handicap Trot.

Majestic Man has a neck to spare over War Admiral – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Saluting the judge – Photo Bruce Stewart 

Mighty Cup Win

Bruce Stewart

If you happened to watch the replay of Mighty Santana’s run in the Wairio Cup, and timed some of the sectionals, you would have backed the John Hay runner today in the Gore Cup.

“He went super at Winton. His sectionals were unreal. He didn’t get the best steer by me but he ran 55 (seconds) five and six wide around the bend so I was pretty confident (today) that if he got to the front he’d be hard to beat,” Hay said.

That’s the way it turned out in today’s Mataura Licensing Trust sponsored feature.

Hay took the Santanna Blue Chip gelding to the front with 2000 metres to run and there he stayed.

At the end of the 2700 metre journey he had three quarters of a length to spare on Mr Kiwi. The winning time was 3-24.9.

“He’s just a real nice horse. He’s got high speed and a wee bit of toughness too. He was gawking round and looking at everything in front but when the business came he was on the job. He was pricking his ears all the way up the straight and he pulled up a bit.”

Mighty Santanna (11) winning the Gore Cup from Mr Kiwi (inside) and Bettor Enforce (in tight quarters in the middle) – Photo Bruce Stewart.
Win number five from just seventeen starts – Photo Bruce Stewart 

Mighty Santana has a very strong pedigree with plenty of good male pacers in his bloodlines including Mighty Cullen, Likmesiah and Mister Presley.

He was a $10,000 buy at the 2015 sales.

“He was a funny bugger to break in but when we took him to Addington first up I said it would take a good maiden to beat him and he sat parked all the way and won.”

Hay is now considering races like the Invercargill and Northern Southland Cups.

The five year old is part-owned by long-time stable client Peter Cate.

“Peter’s in the ownership. He lives just around the corner from me. He lost his wife Jocelyn in the winter so it hasn’t been a good time for him. He had a win yesterday on the West Coast (Son Of A Tiger). He’ll be watching it from home today and the whole family will be there having a wine.”

Hay’s no stranger to Southland. He started his career in the province in the early ‘80s.

“I started with Jim and Ross Dynes. We didn’t have too many good horses so I moved back to Canterbury and I’ve had lots of good Southland owners since then. Russell Hill was my first ever owner and I didn’t know him from a bar of soap. He was one of the best owners you could ever have and he’s turned out to be a good friend.”

It was the second Gore Cup win for Hay. He won the event in 2012 with Jimmy Johnstone.

Meanwhile Coolhand Easton bred and owned by Brian Norman won his second race for Gore trainer Syd Breen. The Breen team is on a bit of a roll at the moment and he’s having his best season as a professional trainer.

He currently sits on ten wins for the season.

Coolhand Easton winning with Mark Hurrell on board – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart