February 2020

Cuchulainn In The Zone

Bruce Stewart

Ryal Bush trotter Cuchulainn is currently in a purple patch of form.

Cuchulainn warming up at Wyndham

His win today for trainer Brett Gray and Butterworth Racing Syndicate was his second this season and backs up an impressive win last weekend on Cup Day at Ascot Park.

“He started the season okay but I had a bit of a viral thing go through the stable and when he ran fourth (in record time to Super Fast Pat at Winton) I backed off him and got him treated. He’s looking a lot better and he’s a lot sharper,” said Gray.

In today’s Caldwell Contracting Limited Handicap Trot driver Brent Barclay settled Cuchulainn third on the inside behind pacemaker Zoned Scarlett. The order remained the same until the 450 mark when Barclay seized the opportunity to get the drop on his main rival Dark Horse and moved the gelding off the running line. In the sharp burst of speed he was up challenging Zoned Scarlett for the lead at the top of the straight.

He trotted nicely down to the line to beat Dark Horse by two and a quarter lengths running the 2400 metres in 3-04.3.

“It worked out pretty good today. He’s a high speed horse.”

Cuchulainn and Brent Barclay beating Dark Horse – Photo Bruce Stewart

Dark Horse’s run was very encouraging. She gave 30 metres to Cuchulainn in the handicap and ran the distance in 3-02.4. Driver Nathan Williamson reported to a steward afterwards that she went rough in her gait when he pulled the earplugs halfway down the straight.

Like most of the Butterworth Racing Syndicate horses Cuchulainn will probably end up in Australia where Merv and Meg Butterworth live, but Gray’s hoping he may stay in the province until at least the end of the month.

“He’ll probably end up racing in Auckland or Australia in time but it’s up to Merv. Hopefully I can get to the Northland Southland meeting and the trot there ($30,000 EasiFeed Southern Lights).”

Cuchulainn, which is named after a Celtic Warrior of medieval Ireland, was bred at Macca Lodge by Brent and Cane McIntyre and is by Skyvalley out of the three win Sundon mare Come Follow Me.

He continues the great run his sire Muscle Yankee stallion Skyvalley is having at the moment.

War Admiral won at Addington on Friday night while super star trotter Tornado Valley won the $250,000 Group One Great Southern Star at Melton last night.

War Admiral, Tornado Valley and Cuchulainn are all out of Sundon mares.

Cuchulainn’s full brother Picketts Ridge also looks very promising, winning five races in a short career which has been hindered by injury.

He looked ready to resume when running second to Dark Horse at a recent Wyndham Workout.

Cuchulainn was originally raced by the McIntyres and trained by Brent, winning two races before the Butterworth Racing Syndicate bought the gelding. He was transferred to Gray’s stable shortly afterwards.

Today’s win was his fourth from just eleven starts.

Major Menace Win Nice Pick Me Up For Brinsdon Family

Bruce Stewart

Gore owner Anne Brinsdon hasn’t had many chances to watch her horse Major Menace race recently.

However it was her lucky day today. Having it’s seventeenth start at the Wyndham meeting, she was there to watch Major Menace, which she part owns with her son Matt, win her first race.

Matt said “She’s (Anne) super excited today. She broke her hip so she hasn’t seen any of her races recently but she was on-course today. It was a pretty good tonic for her and Dad’s up in the home so he’ll be watching too,”

Driver Jonny Cox settled the five year old Art Major mare in the last five from a second row draw. He followed Sherwood Maggie into the race at the top of the straight. Cox waited as long as he could before hooking Major Menace out to the centre of the track and she came home nicely to beat Better Thana Missus by a head with a half a neck back to Sherwood Maggie in third.

“The blinds worked the oracle today. She’s a funny wee thing. She doesn’t always put her best foot forward.”

Major Menace (11) beating Better Thana Missus (12) – Photo Bruce Stewart

Jonny Cox, Major Menace, Matt Brinsdon his mother Anne and wife Cheryl. Photo Bruce Stewart.

Brinsdon said Major Menace has been a slow maturing horse which wasn’t quite strong enough to qualify as a three year old, but qualified at four.

“She’s always had enough in her to bag a win or two so she’s probably destined for the broodmare paddock.”

The dam of Major Menace Holmes Hanover mare Phantom Menace won eight races for Brinsdon and his mother, and has left Phantom Grin the winner of eight, and Can Go Like El which also won eight in Australia.

“She’s in foal to Always B Miki and that’ll be her last foal. She’ll be retired, she’s twenty one now.”

Meanwhile Auckland Reactor three year old Willie Go West looked like Southern Supremacy Stakes material when he easily won over a mile.

Owned by Vicki Purdon and her son Michael and trained by Michael, the three year old was pushed out of the gate to lead early over the 1609 metre journey.

Driver Sarah O’Reilly opened the small field up and at one point was eight lengths in front. It looked as though the field was going to catch Willie Go West but O’Reilly was only foxing and she went down to the line to win by five and half lengths from I’m Watching You.

The winning time was 1-54.1.

Willie Go West and Sarah O’Reilly winning at Wyndham – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Willie Go West is out of the unraced Bettor’s Delight mare Bettor Go and was bred by Studholme Bloodstock which has a half-brother by Art Major in this month’s Christchurch Sale.

Cast A Shadow Wins Second Cup

Bruce Stewart

There was plenty of Deja vu about Cast A Shadow’s win in the Kim McDowell Painting and Decorating Cup at Gore today.

The Real Desire gelding then trained by his owner Brian Nichol, won this race last year when it was run on the grass.

Gore Club President Ross Cleland pointed out that last year Cast A Shadow actually missed nominations altogether, and his trainer was asked if he’d like to start in the Cup instead.

Driven by Brent Barclay, he did just that,  and won by half a neck at odds of 38 to 1.

This year new trainer Allan Beck nominated Cast A Shadow for the Cup knowing he was going to race outside his grade.

On Wednesday the club made the decision to transfer to the all-weather track after the area had been hit with heavy rain during the week.

In today’s race Beck positioned the gelding four back on the inside and he came up the passing lane to nab Nota Bene Denario in the shadows of the post.

“I wasn’t confident today, he was racing out of his class. We only put him in because it was over 2600 metres on the grass (originally) and 2700 on the all-weather. He was on the bit the whole way. He won quite comfortably in the finish.”

Today’s winning margin was a neck and his winning odds were 39 to 1 – very similar to last year.

Cast A Shadow and Allan Beck getting up on the inside to beat Nota Bene Denario.

Beck has driven the horse a few times and won on him at Ascot Park in June last year.

Cast A Shadow was transferred to his new stable after Nichol’s stable driver Sam Balloch broke some ribs in the training accident. It was the horse’s second start for his new stable and Beck said he’s made very few changes to  the training regime.

“Sarah (daughter) rides him the same regime as Black Ops.”

Black Ops also won today.

Monty Python Gets Win Number Fifteen

Bruce Stewart

Evergreen trotter Monty Python overcame a 55 metre handicap to win his first race in New Zealand since March 2017.

The ten year old driven by Matty Williamson came powerfully down the middle of the track to beat Dipendra by half a length.

“Winning seems to have been escaping him for a while but he was back in class today. The handicap was there but he was able to overcome it on the testing track which was also in his favour,” said trainer Phil Williamson.

Monty Python striding out nicely for win number fifteen

The win was one of five for son Matty Williamson. He also reined Wolfenstein for Geoff and Jude Knight, first starter Robyns Shadow for Ross and Chris Wilson, and Indulgence and Holy Havoc for Ryal Bush trainer Hamish Hunter.

Its not the first time Williamson has won five races in a day.

In March 2017 at Waimate he won five including four in a row; three of which were trained by Geoff and Jude Knight.

For the majority of his long racing career Monty Python has been raced by the Griffins Syndicate.

“He’s a lovely old horse. He’s very sound. The syndicate that race him are not in it for the money. It’s just the thrill of racing a horse like him and they’re getting a great buzz out of it.”

Three of the fifteen wins have been in Austalia, the last of which was at Melton in April of last year.

His half-brother Father Christmas, which is raced by the same syndicate, won last night at Echuca. He’s also won fifteen races, in 108 starts.

The syndicate also races Dark Horse the winner of nine races, and they have a Quaker Jet three year which is a half-brother to Father Christmas, Monty Python and Dark Horse, at the Williamson stable.

“He (Arc De Triomphe) shows potential. He hasn’t been to a trial yet but should be seen out this season.”

Monty Python has raced against the elite trotters over the last few years. He’s twice run third in a Dominion Handicap , second in a Rowe Cup and third in an Interdominion Final.

Of his fifteen wins Brad Williamson has won six times, Matty five, Chris Alford three times (once in New Zealand and twice in Australia) and Gavin Laing has driven him for one win.

Over eight seasons of racing he’s clocked up just over 180 racing miles which equates to travelling from Hedgehope in Southland to home in Oamaru. Add on work at home, workouts, trials, warm ups, extra handicaps and he’s done some miles!

“As long as he’s still competitive he’ll just keep on racing.”

Monty Python won his first race at Winton in February 2013.

Cheezel Wins Mares Mile

Bruce Stewart

The Regan Todd trained mare Cheezel won the Robin Dundee Club Mobile Pace at Winton today.

Cheezel warming up for Blair Orange

Regan is currently in Auckland looking over yearlings for tomorrow’s Auckland Sales at Karaka, he wasn’t on course, and left Cheezel in the care of his father Barry who brought her south yesterday.

Todd has had the mare since November and has now won three races with her. She was previously trained by her part-owner Brian Fahey. The other owner is Trevor Casey.

“He just sent her out here for a bit a change of scenery. We’ll give her one or two more races before she hits the breeding paddock. She’s done a good job,” Regan Todd said.

Driver Blair Orange was three wide early after chasing Cheezel out of the gate. After the first 400 metres he was in front. He eased up on the speed, but

Cheezel in the black colours leaving the gate

things started to heat up when Amore Lancome moved up beside her on the outside, and the two went head to head between the 800 and the top of the straight.

Cheezel shook Amore Lancome off but had to withstand the challenge of Yankee Party which had enjoyed a cosy run behind the leader.

Cheezel held on to beat Yankee Party by half a length with Amore Lancome another half-length back in third.

The mile was run in 1-57.8 with the last 800 metres run in a slick 56.1.

“We had a scare a couple of weeks ago. She had a heart fibrillation at Addington so I’ve had to be a bit easy on her, but she’s bounced back.”

Todd indicated that Cheezel could be back for the last heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series at Wairio on 21st March.

In other races on the card Carnegie Hall lived up to her international breeding and cleared maiden ranks in the Lamb and Cattle Grazier Trot.

The four year old trained by Bob Butt was sent south to Lauren Pearson’s Winton barn and was driven by her partner Brent Barclay.

The Andover Hall mare trailed early before Barclay went to the front with 1300 metres to run.

The winning margin was a length from T Bone Rawhide.

Carnegie Hall winning for Brent Barclay

Long shot Targaryen made the most of an economical trip on the inside to come up the passing lane and beat second favourite Croesus by three quarters of a length.

The Big Jim gelding owned by Michelle Larsen and trained and driven by husband Kirk was at odds of 53-1.

Targaryen winning for Kirk Larsen

Favourite Triple VC appreciated the drop in class when he won the Regent Car Court Pace.

The winner of four races was up against primarily one win horses. He was patiently handled by Sheree Tomlinson who settled the six year old at the back of the field before bringing him down the outside to win by three quarters of a length.

The Washington VC gelding is owned by local breeder Cleland Murdoch and The Fanny Allen Family Trust. He’s trained at Ascot Park by Murray Brown.

Cleland Murdoch at the head of Triple VC

The Interceptor completed a profitable weekend for Kenny Baynes. The Mach Three gelding trained by Brett Gray, driven by Jonny Cox and owned by Baynes Bloodstock Limited (Kenny and sister in-law Penny Baynes) lead all the way to win easily by five lengths.

The Interceptor was having his ninth start today and looked comfortable in front.

At Addington on Friday Miss Mucho owned by Kenny upset at odds of 54-1.

The extended Baynes Family and The Interceptor

The well-bred The Optimist won her first race for Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis.

Out of the twelve win Armbro Operative mare Special Ops and by Christian Cullen the five year old was in the one one early before Barclay took her to the lead. She held out Sunset Red and Rakarippa.

The Optimist and Kirstin Barclay

Barclay and Ellis have just recently taken on the training of The Optimist and have started her four times.  She was previously trained by Jack Harrington.

The day ended with Lilac Becky winning for Southland Ambassador for Team Teal, Ellie Barron. It was one of two winning drives for her.  

This will be the third running of the Team Teal campaign in New Zealand.

Founded by Duncan McPherson in Victoria in 2014, the campaign was started to help raise awareness and funds for research of ovarian cancer.

McPherson lost his wife to ovarian cancer. He vowed to continue her fight, and has grown the movement from Victoria, to nationwide Australia and now New Zealand.

Every female driver in New Zealand wore the Teal Pants during February and March 2019, with each win receiving $400 in donations, $200 from Harness Racing New Zealand, $100 from Woodlands Stud and $100 from the respective Club.

Other female drivers Kirstin Barclay (The Optimist) and Sheree Tomlinson (Triple VC) contributed to this great cause today as well.


T Bone Raw Fries Opposition

Bruce Stewart

Owner Colin Harvey has been kept on his toes getting T Bone Rawhide to where he is today.

T Bone Rawhide warming up

The six year old gelding would have tested most. But Harvey, who does all the early work with the trotter before he heads to Nathan Williamson’s stable, has stuck with the ship.

“He’s always had a bit of shit in him. That initial preparation takes a lot (of energy). I always get him ready,” he said.

“With this preparation I had to take him out to the track, jog him for a quarter of an hour solid with his gear on then take him home, put him in the cart and take him back to the track. Even after that he’d still try and boot you out during his first two rounds. I did that six consecutive days in a round before I got round the track without him trying to boot me out.”

T Bone Rawhide rewarded Harvey today when he won his first race at Ascot Park in trying conditions.

Harvey, who has trained twenty six winners in his own right still holds a training license, but decided a larger stable was probably what the horse needed.

“I gave him to Nate because it’s impossible at home. He needs to have another horse right beside him to keep his mind occupied because all he does is put the boot in.”

T Bone Rawhide winning by three and three quarter lengths at Ascot Park

Colin Harvey, Nathan Williamson, T Bone Rawhide and Chelsea Faithful

Harvey farms with his wife Pat at Kuri Bush which is between Brighton and Taieri Mouth and the best horse he trained was Tax Credit. He raced the Sir Dalrae gelding with the late Colin Baynes.

After running tenth on debut Tax Credit won his next three races in a row before running sixth in a heat of the Southern Supremacy Stakes at Winton.

“I came down to Winton and you Southland buggers ganged up on me. I drove him myself. I had a bad draw and went back. Every time I went to improve they yelled out ‘here he comes’ and moved out in front of him.”

T Bone Rawhide is by The Pres out of the Penrod Eden mare Canya Catchme, a breed that Doug McCormick developed which features some pacing blood.

“When I went to breed one, Jack Smolenski told me to breed him to Bachelor Star (a pacer) for stamina. He told me he was a better horse underneath than Arapaho. We think that’s put the staying trait into the family.”

So how did Harvey come up with the name?

“At one part we thought he wouldn’t be more than dog tucker so that’s where the T Bone came from (laughter). I wanted to leave him as T Bone but Pat said you can’t do that so we put the Rawhide after it. He going to be a top stayer and we’re not frightened by a bit of distance.”

Playboy Targets Derby

Bruce Stewart

Classy three year old Pembrook Playboy beat some hardened Country Cup horses in the Regent Car Court Mobile Pace at Ascot Park today.

Pembrook Playboy warming up

He was placed handy early by trainer driver Nathan Williamson but after a number of lead changes, he was four back on the inside running line.

“I was travelling nicely but I was worried because the second horse (Please Shuddup) had got a big gap on me around the bend, probably four or five lengths at the top of the straight. But my horse has a brilliant turn of foot,” Williamson said.

At the end of the 2200 metres the winning margin was three quarters of a length with Please Shuddup running second. The time was an impressive 2-43.8 in windy conditions with the last 800 metres cut out in 58.1.

Williamson said the Bettor’s Delight colt will race at the Northern Southland meeting in a fortnight.

“All going well we’ll go to Addington a fortnight after that and then look at the Derby. He proved today he can follow good speed up against some pretty good horses. He rounded them up lovely so he’s got a bit of class.”

Pembrook Playboy is owned by Chris Alcock.

Sensational Qualifier At Wyndham

Bruce Stewart

Somebeachsomewhere gelding Boots Electric, driven by Carl Hanna, got tongues wagging when he impressively won his qualifying trial at Wyndham today.

The three year old, trained at Riversdale by Brent McIntyre for his son Cain and son in-law Paul Hailes, won his 2400 metre trial in 2-58.1 with the last 800 metres cut out in 57 seconds.

The time was 12.9 seconds inside the required qualifying time and the winning margin was ten lengths with Don’t Tell Tom finishing second.

Boots Electric impressively winning his qualifying trial at Wyndham

Boots Electric is out of the Live Or Die mare Glenburn Jewel which won five races. As a broodmare Glenburn Jewel has already left the three race winner The Honey Badger who’s a full-brother to Boots Electric.

Interesting to note that Hailes also has a Captain Treacherous two year old colt out of Glenburn Jewel called Castledrum, as well as a yearling colt by Sweet Lou named Redcastle.

Full Noise Pilot Meets Full Noise Horsepower

Bruce Stewart

The pilot of the Russian World War II fighter plane Full Noise which broke a speed record at Oreti Beach during the week as part of the Burt Munro Challenge, was back on the beach on Sunday but not in a flying capacity this time.

Brett Gray (trainer third left), Penny Baynes (part owner of Full Noise middle) and Graeme Frew (far right) at Oreti Beach.

Pilot Graeme Frew came out to meet the plane’s namesake Southland trotter Full Noise.

Frew had hoped to fly over Oreti Beach on Sunday morning in his Yak – 3 but unfortunately the cloud cover was too low so he tried out a seat in the sulky instead.

Frew in the pilots seat

Full Noise’s trainer Brett Gray took the four year old out to the beach to meet Frew and his crew.

After photos, Full Noise had a leisurely workout on the sand in preparation for his return to the race track at Winton on Sunday.

Brett Gray running along Full Noise

Cooling off