July – 2021

Different Fortunes for Southerners in Aussie

Bruce Stewart

4th July 2021.

Differing fortunes in Australia have been experienced by two of Southland’s best horses this season.

Whilst two year old You’re So Fine triailed today at Byford in West Australia  Ragazzo Mach has yet to arrive at his new home at Mike Reed’s.

Former southern two year old colt -You’re So Fine

Reed said the Mach Three colt arrived in Australia after running fourth in the Harness Jewels. He spent two weeks in Melbourne before heading to Sydney were he’s still on an agistment farm,  Covid restrictions have been the reason for the holdup.

“Hopefully he’ll fly out to Perth some time this week. We were going to spell him anyway and give him six weeks off. He’s had two weeks spelling in Melbourne, two weeks in Sydney and we’ll just give him another two weeks here,” said Reed, adding that the horse will be set for the Victorian Derby later in the year, with the Breeders Crown also a possibility.

“I keep in contact with the people looking after him. They say he’s looking a picture and is galloping around and really enjoying himself.”

Ragazzo Mach winning The Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes for Nathan Williamson.

Meanwhile You’re So Fine has settled into his new home at Gary Hall’s Perth stables.

“I saw him at the Jewels. I like him as a type. He’s a nice size with a good nature. He’s the perfect gentleman,” Hall said.

Commenting on the colt’s trial at Byford today he said “He trialled pretty good leading into our Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park this Friday night. I just wanted to test his gate speed. He went out and lead by about three lengths. He came back to Gary (Gary Hall junior – driver) and relaxed. He wasn’t breaking the clock but I liked the way he finished off. He was a length in front at the top of the straight and won by five to six lengths easing down.”

The Slipper will be run over 2100 metres.

“There are some nice two year olds here and barrier draws will be important but at the moment, pre-post, he’s a $1.85 favourite. He’s a stayer and not one of those fast two year olds. I want to get this race out of the way because it worries me how fast the two year olds go. I’d rather have him out and let him develop.”

Hall said the horse will be spelled after the Slipper.

“I’ll bring him back in for the Derby next year. I’m not a big fan of two year old racing. I’ve won a fair few two year old races but I prefer to look after them.”

Hall has won the Golden Slipper previously, his first being in 1986 driving Love Of Glory.

“I hope history will repeat itself” said Hall, referring to having won the race with Beaudiene Boaz.

You’re So Fine winning the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic for trainer Brett Gray and driver Nathan Williamson

Hall says the progeny of Always B Miki, the sire of You’re So Fine, are starting to show potential in Australia.

“He’s fully booked over here with 150 mares. I wanted to send a couple of mares to him but can’t get in.”

Meanwhile Hall says he’s a bit perplexed with the form of his stable’s star Chicago Bull and is currently spelling him.

“He didn’t come back that well, I don’t know why. He looked very big in condition and had a couple of hard runs early and didn’t seem to have the same enthusiasm as he did in his previous campaigns. I’m hopeful I can get him back to something like his best. He might be like me,  getting too old.”

Hall has had plenty of success with New Zealand bred horses, buying his first, Abit Rich in 1996 from John Vincent. Abit Rich had won seven races for Vincent anhe went on to win another seven for Hall. He ran third in the Group One Freemantle Cup in 1996.

“Since then I’ve bought a lot of New Zealand horses like Falcon Strike and I’m Themightyquinn.  All the good ones I’ve had have been New Zealanders.”

Williamson Loses Three of His Best Trotters

Bruce Stewart

19th July 2021

Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson will be without the services of three of his quality trotters this coming season.

Toro Stride, Leaf Stride and Ultimate Stride, all owned by Australians Emilio and Mary Rosati, headed across the Tasman earlier this month and Williamson says their departure will leave a sizeable hole in his racing team.

“They’re three of my best horses but when they’re owned in Australia they’re probably going to end up there at some stage. It’s left a big hole,” he said.

Ultimate Stride

Four year old Love You gelding Ultimate Stride won eleven of his twenty starts for Williamson and was unbeaten in four starts in Australia. He won the Group One Redwood Classic and Group One Alderbaran Breeders Crown by an impressive thirty seven metres. In total he banked $193,018.

“He’s already proven himself so he’ll be up in that Free For All class. He’ll be competitive but it won’t be so easy.”

The four year old trotting crop was particularly strong this season with Bolt For Brilliance, Muscle Mountain, Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride leading the charge.

“I’d say the four year olds are exceptional- probably the best crop we’ve had for a while.”

Unfortunately Ultimate Stride had to be scratched from the Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.

“He got a bit of travel sickness going up and had to have some treatment which he couldn’t race on.”

Leaf Stride won two of his ten starts and showed his quality when he ran second to Five Wise Men in both the Hambletonian at Ashburton and the Sires Stakes Final in Auckland.

The Love You gelding finished tenth in the three year old Ruby at Cambridge, but he had excuses.

“If he hadn’t got his head over the arm I think he would have gone close to winning because I was pretty happy with him.”

Of the three trotters heading to Australia he’s the one Phil is most keen to see progress.

“If he gets in the right hand and things go right for him he’ll do a good job. He’s in a low grade and will have the wood on most of those.”

Toro Stride, a two year old out of quality mare Queen Kenny, was limited to just four starts as a juvenile – his best placing being a fourth in the Group Two Two Year Old Trotters Championship at Addington.

“He’s a pretty nice horse. Time will be his friend but he’s got ability and he’ll do a good job too.”

Williamson is unsure ofthe stables the horses will be heading to.

Although those three top liners have departed, Williamson still has multiple group winning Majestic Man in the stable.

“He’s just started strong work and (is) probably six weeks away from trialing. He’s bigger and stronger than he’s ever looked and I’ve plenty of weight to get off him. He’s looking magnificent.”

Majestic Man

Love N The Port is another Williamson has time for.

“He’s a very nice horse but he’s just got a few issues with his gait. If he’s going to get up to the top grade he’s going to have to have manners,” he said.

Love N The Port

Plenty of Highlights in Southern Season

Bruce Stewart

29th July 2021

The Southern Harness season has well and truly wrapped up and will be highlighted at the annual Southland Harness Awards will be held at Ascot Park on Sunday 5th September.

Four Southland based pacers have made the final for the Southland Horse of the Year title, with each having a good chance to win the prestigious title.

The finalists are Pembrook Playboy, Ragazzo Mach, Vintage Cheddar and Watch Me Now.


Pembrook Playboy

  • Third in the Group Three Superstars at Addington behind Self Assured and Amazing Dream.
  • Won the Group Three Northern Southland Cup in a race, track and Southland record.
  • Won the Group Three Summer Cup at Addington, beating Self Assured and The Fixer. Other wins include the Group Three Invercargill Cup and the Group Three Central Otago Cup at Winton in which he beat Classie Brigade and Watch Me Now.
  • Finished his season by running third in the Listed Uncut Gems in Auckland.
  • The leading Southland trained stake earner banking $107,375 for owner Chris Alcock.

Pembrook Playboy winning at Addington

Ragazzo Mach

  • Won seven of his thirteen starts and earned $79,262.
  • Major win was the Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes in a race, track and Southland record time of 3-17.8 for the 2700 metre mobile.
  • Ran a track and Southland record when winning at Winton.
  • Finished his season finishing fourth in the Group One Three Year Old Emerald at Cambridge.

Ragazzo Mach winning the Southern Supremacy Stakes

Vintage Cheddar

  • Won three of his seventeen starts.
  • Wins include the Group Three Junior Free For All at Addington on Cup Da. He backed that up on Show Day, winning again over 1980 metres.
  • His other win was in the Winton Businesses Cup when he beat U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy.

Vintage Cheddar after his win at Winton

Watch Me Now

  • 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.
  • Ran third in the Group Two Premier Mares Championship behind Amazing Dream and Need You Know and third in the Group Three Central Otago Cup.
  • Also won the South of the Waitaki at Addington during Cup Week.
  • Watch Me Now won four races in the season under review before heading to America.

Watch Me Now  beating Amazing Dream in  New Zealand Record time

Watch Me Now – winning owners

2020-2021 provincial winners:

  • Leading trainer: Nathan Williamson (47 winners and $487,716 – the highest number of wins in one season by any Southland trainer ever and the most  stakes won in a season).
  • Leading driver: Nathan Williamson (80 winners and $804,336 – the most money ever won by any Southland based driver in one season).
  • Leading junior driver: Ellie Barron (15 winners and $189,974 – her third year in a row).
  • Leading Southland pacer: Pembrook Playboy (7 wins and $107,375).
  • Leading Southland mare: Watch Me Now (4 wins and $101,185).
  • Leading Southland trotter: Dark Horse (5 wins and $54,075).

Dark Horse – Southland’s leading trotting stakes earner

  • Leading Southland three year old pacer: Ragazzo Mach (7 wins and $79,262).
  • Leading Southland two year old pacer: You’re So Fine (1 wins and $33,750).

2020-2021 – Notable PBs:

  • Nathan Williamson (47 training wins).
  • Alister Black (19 training wins).
  • Craig Ferguson (15 training wins).
  • Lyndon Bond (11 training wins).
  • Tristan Larsen (10 driving wins).
  • Chelsea Faithful (7 training wins).

2020-2021 Track Records:

  • Ragazzo Mach – Winton 2400 metre stand – 3 year old colts and geldings 2-59.0 (Track and Southland record).

Ragazzo Mach breaking the record at Winton

  • Dark Horse – Winton 1609 Metre Mobile – Four Year Old and Older Mares – 1-57.4 (Track and Southland record).
  • You’re So Fine – Invercargill 2200 Metre Mobile – Two Year Old Colts and Geldings – 2-39.6 (Track, Southland and New Zealand record).

You’re So Fine crossing the line in a race, track, Southland and New Zealand record time.

  • Ragazzo Mach – Invercargill 2700 Metre Mobile – Three Year Old Colts and Geldings – 3-17.8 (Track and Southland record).
  • Stylish Memphis – Invercargill 2700 Metre Stand – Four Year Old and Older Mares and All Comers – 3-16.3 (Track and Southland record).
  • U May Cullect – Invercargill 2700 Metre Stand – Four Year Old and Older Entires and Geldings and All Comers – 3-17.7 (Track and Southland record).

U May Cullect – another record breaking win at Ascot Park

  • Pembrook Playboy – Invercargill 2700 Metre Stand – Four Year Old and Older Entires and Geldings and All Comers – 3-17.7 (Track and Southland record).
  • Ultimate Stride – Invercargill 2700 Metre Stand – Four Year Old and Older Entires and Geldings – 3-25.6 (Track and Southland record).

Ultimate Stride – heading back to the stables after breaking the record at Invercargill

On the breeding front Katrina and John Price sold the two top lots at the National Yearling Sales in Christchurch with Mandinka selling for $320,000 and Chicago Bear for $310,000.

Mandinka (front) and Chicago Bear resting up at Winton during the SBSR Tour.

Closing in on milestones:

  • Brent Barclay – 800 driving wins (797)
  • Tony Stratford – 200 training wins (190)
  • Craig Ferguson – 200 driving wins (196)
  • Craig Laurenson – 100 training wins (94)
  • Nathan Williamson – 300 training wins (296)
  • Matty Williamson – 1000 driving wins (975)
  • Peter Hunter – 100 training wins (97)