June 2020

Dachy Racing in her Prime

Bruce Stewart

7th June 2020

At the ripe old age of eight, Changeover mare Dachy is having her best season.

Owned by trainer Ian Goodman and Doug McLeish, Dachy had to overcome plenty of roadblocks to achieve her win at Ascot Park yesterday in the hands of Sheree Tomlinson.

Dachy – File

She was locked away on the inside with 500 metres to run surrounded by tiring horses. Tomlinson managed to extricate her from tight quarters and sent her out to chase down leader Wolf West, which had got away by eight lengths.

“I was a wee bit concerned and thought we might get dragged right out the back. Sheree said she got the gap and if you watch the replay you can see she ran onto Kirk’s (Larsen driving Maidonthebeach) wheel. But she made enough room and got out,” said Goodman.

Straightening up for the run home Dachy mastered Wolf West and came away to win by three lengths.

“She’s always been very competitive and just wants to run. It suits her when the speed is on. She can get out and run home.”

Dachy doesn’t win out of turn. She won once in each of her first three seasons of racing.  At six she won twice before going winless the following season.

“Last season she only had a few starts and did a suspensory and was meant to be out for six months. She was only out for four months. We got her scanned and she was good to go and won first up in Invercargill.”

It was the mare’s eighth win in seventy six starts over six seasons of racing. She resumed after lock down with a sixth last Saturday at Ascot Park after getting clear late.

Most of Goodman’s thirty two winners have featured the McLeish name in the ownership, including Future Fortune, Connie Belle and Bold Centurion.

Dachy has spent some of her career at Nathan Williamson’s barn.

“I’ve done it the last two Christmas’s. We take the family, the boat and go on holiday to Hawea.”

Most of the mare’s runs have been over the shorter distances and she’s only had one stand.

“That was at Gore and she didn’t go that well. I think half her trouble is she gets a bit keen. That was the only time she’s raced over a distance beyond 2400 metres. I hope they stick with what they’re doing racing over 2200 mobiles so we can make the most of that.”

Rydgemont Son on Best Behaviour

7th June 2020

Bruce Stewart

“He made a good beginning which was probably the key to the win. Making a good start has been one of his problems,” said Brad Williamson trainer driver of Rydgemont Son which beat Davey Mac to win his fifth race at Ascot Park yesterday.

Rydgemont Son – File

It was in stark contrast to the five year old’s previous start when he became unsettled by a false start, broke at the beginning of the re-run and finished sixth, nine lengths behind winner Full Noise.

“A few of the horses got on the toe that day like Rydgemont Son and Davey Mac, so it was nice to get the quinella today.”

Rydgemont Son is owned by Ray and Joan Scott and started his career with Oamaru trainer Murray Tapper who also trained the horse’s dam Domination.

“Ray is a part owner of Cracker Hill and came to watch him as a two year old. He then decided to give Rydgemont Son a go in my stable because he was galloping a lot for Murray. The horse had always shown ability. At our Oamaru trials I remember him qualifying and Dad said he quite liked him then. ”

And Williamson says the gelding is slowing getting better with his stand start manners.

“I told Ray a long time ago that by the time he’s had thirty to forty starts be may be a good genuine standing start horse. Ray joked and said he’d be dead by then. He’s about 84.”

Yesterday’s start was Rydgemont Son’s twenty eighth and twenty fourth from a stand.

Like most horses he was forced into lockdown during Covid 19 and Williamson says the plan now is to carry on.

“He’s racing quite well. The races they’re programming at the moment over 2200 metres are a good thing because it means the horses can back up and don’t necessary have to have hard runs.”

Yesterday’s result was also another ‘prefect four’ for the Williamson family with Brad winning, Phil finishing second with Davey Mac, Nathan third with Crusher Collins and Matty fourth with Only One Way.

Brad thinks it’s about the third time the family has achieved this feat.

The Williamson brothers are fast closing in on having 2000 collective New Zealand winners. Their total currently stands at 1997 with Matty leading the charge on 859, Nathan on 819 and Brad on 319.

Earlier in the programme Rydgemont Son’s half-sister Rydgemont Milly recorded her sixth win.

She was bred by Stephen Bell who owns Domination along with the Scotts. Rydgemont Milly is raced by Debbie Shirley who trains her with husband Mark. John Morrison drove the eight year old yesterday.

Earlier in the day the Williamson name was to the fore when Arc De Triomphe won for trainer Phil and driver Brad.

The three year old having only his second start, began well and lead all the way to beat the more favoured stable mate Miss Crazed.

“He’s the sort of horse that doesn’t have a lot of speed and can’t change up gears. Matt said at his last start he got back in the field, but was doing his best work at the finish. With a better beginning we took the bull by the horns and a front running rolling along style suits a big gangly horse like him.”

Williamson says he wasn’t confident until the last fifty metres.

“I know she (Miss Crazed) is probably more talented because I’ve driven her at the trials a few times. I thought after my horse made a good beginning I knew we’d be in the money. I didn’t know  Matthew’s horse (Miss Crazed) had made a mistake and lost forty to fifty metres at the start. I never pulled the plug on him so he won with a bit in hand.”

The winning margin was four and a quarter lengths with Miss Crazed getting home late to run second.

Arc De Triomphe is by Quaker Jet out of the Sundon mare Juliana and is raced by The Griffin’s Syndicate and Seafield Trotting Syndicate who’ve raced a number of horses out of Juliana, including Monty Python and Dark Horse.

Meanwhile Brad’s stable star Cracker Hill resumed racing at Addington last Friday running second behind the talented Greg and Nina Hope trained Matua Tana.

“Really happy with him. He seems to have come through that run well. I’ll give him a bit of a freshener. I’ll target another race for him potentially in Invercargill and then look to head to Australia with him later in the season.”

The Phil Williamson trained Majestic Man also resumed earlier this week and also had to play second fiddle to Matua Tana but Brad says he and his father were happy with the run.

“He’s a horse that takes a run or two to get into form. He’s been beaten in his first run back a couple of times. He did over race quite badly the other night. It took a bit out of him and being in a fresh state may have been the undoing of him but I expect him to improve. If they carded a similar race for him in a couple of weeks I’d expect him to be very hard to beat.”

Matty Gets First Win

Bruce Stewart

Saturday 13th June 2020

Oamaru horseman Matty Williamson continued a fine family tradition when he scored his first win as a trainer at Ascot Park today with Flossie holding on to beat outsider Hans Ideal by a nose.

“It doesn’t say it in the race book but I bred her as well. I’ve had her the whole time so it was very satisfying going through the whole process and getting the win,” Williamson said.

The three year old Shadow Play filly is owned by Williamson’s Uncle and Auntie Lance and Sharon Doran, his mother Bev and his partner Charlotte Purvis.

“Because I train her there’s been no pressure other than from the missus. She (Flossie) has raced well in two starts so I haven’t had too much critiquing yet.”

Williamson took Flossie to the front and dictated the pace but there were some anxious moments at the end.

“I thought she was holding, but having the full blinds on she didn’t see those other horses coming wide late and she knocked off a bit. In hindsight I probably should have taken a sit with her but she got the job done so I’m rapt.”

Flossie (3) giving Matty Williamson his first training win – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Williamson says Flossie has been a pleasure to train all the way through but that she’s likely to be sold.

“She’s very laid back and she’ll continued to improve. Time will be her friend and she’s now for sale to the right person.”

Williamson has only two horses in work. He qualified an American Ideal gelding called Mufusa last week at Oamaru.

“He’s a nice horse. I expect him to do a bit and he may race before the season is out if he’s not sold.”

Mufusa is owned by Geoff and Jude Knight, Williamson and his partner Charlotte.

Williamson’s racing colours of orange with a chequered sash were the colours used by Dick Prendergast. Matt’s father Phil worked for Prendergast in the mid 1970s.

“It was great for Matt especially with my old boss’s colours. Dick offered him the colours. He was a great fella to work for and he would have had a great thrill out of the win today. It was a thrill for us too as I’ve won in those colours a few times,” said Phil Williamson.

Phil’s first winner as a junior driver was Hajano for Prendergast at Timaru in December 1977.  He also had success with the Prendergast colours driving Kimrock and Thelma Hest.

Other winners at Ascot Park today were; Matai Jetstar which capped off a consistent form line to win for Alex Milne, Call Me Keith which won at odds of 76-1 for it’s breeder, owner and trainer Hamish Hunter, Melton Mafia for Wyndham trainers Gordon and Colin Lee, Allandale for Omakau trainer Lionel Sinnamon, Reattore for Mid Canterbury trainer Brent White and Winton trained mare Pearl Harbour for Winton trainers Katrina and John Price.

Matai Jetstar winning for Alex Milne

Call Me Keith upsetting for trainer Hamish Hunter with Peter Hunter driving

Melton Mafia and Gordon Lee – Photo Bruce Stewart

Allandale – One of three winners for Brad Williamson

Reattore winning – Photo Bruce Stewart

Pearl Harbour winning for John and Katrina Price

Trotting Double For Phil Williamson

Bruce Stewart

13th June 2020

A trotting double isn’t rare for master trainer Phil Williamson but two long shot trotting winners on the same day is.

That’s what the Oamaru trainer produced at Ascot Park today when Majestic Connies won at odds of 25-1 and then two races later Jimmy Carter won paying $14.40.

Majestic Connies got the long shot double underway.

He was back early but driver John Morrison sent him forward to sit parked with a lap to run. He got his head in front of leader Crusher Collins turning in and held off late charges from Rydgemont Son wide out and That’s The Story on the inside. The winning margin was a head with a nose back to third.

“He trialled like he’d be hard to beat before he raced last, and that run was a bit disappointing. He’s hard for the public to follow but on his day he can turn on a good performance and he’s got a reasonable amount of ability for that grade,” said trainer Phil Williamson.

Majestic Connies (6) holding on in a tight finish – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning to the birdcage

Later in the day Jimmy Carter accounted for a tidy field of square gaiters when he got up to win the Carpet Plus Willy’s Flooring Trot.

He was in the one one for the last part of the race. Driver Brad Williamson came out inside the last 600 when second favourite Madrik improved. Leader Richard The Third and Jimmy Carter went head to head inside the last 400 metres. The Williamson trained trotter came away at the end, beating Richard The Third by a length and three quarters with Horse Of Course running home for third.

Jimmy Carter trotting out to win – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

“His last two starts were from a mobile and he didn’t take part. He won a trial from the stand in between and we thought that if he got away today he’d be pretty competitive. We had a team in that were all competitive but it’s just around the manners on the day. Brad got it right with Jimmy Carter and Johnny Morrison got Connies round.”

And Williamson says he’s excited to be bringing class trotter Ultimate Stride south in the next fortnight.

“It’ll be great to have him back at the races. He had a breakdown after he came back from Australia so he hasn’t raced for nearly a year but he’s a quality horse. He’s had a couple of trials. Will he need a run? I think his class should get him home but it’s never that easy.”

After today’s racing the Williamson brothers had extended their collective tally of driving wins to 2002.  Matty currently sits on 860, Nathan 820 and Brad 322.


Kelly Wins  Debut

Mac Henry

20th June 2020

The winning debut of Braeview Kelly at Ascot Park on Saturday came just a week after her impressive qualifying effort on the same course.

The two-year-old Bettor’s Delight filly, trained at Gore by Tony Stratford, had cleared out in the hands of Stratford to win her five-horse 2200 metre trial by 11 and a quarter lengths in 2:49.1.

Braeview Kelly winning at Ascot Park – Photo Monica Toretto

For raceday, champion New Zealand reinsman Blair Orange took over the reins and Braeview Kelly faced a full field of 14 for the first time. Despite a second line draw, she shaved all but three seconds off her qualifying time when scoring by a length and a quarter.

“That was just her third time off the place,” said Stratford, “the trial was the first time she had been among that many horses.”

Braeview Kelly, second foal of the one-win American Ideal mare Idoloise, was a $27,500 purchase at the 2019 Christchurch yearling sales by Braeview Limited, the company of prominent Waimumu owners Paul and Mandy Pearce. Stratford also prepares Renegade Rose, a winner for Braeview Limited in 155.5 at Wyndham in November.

“I got Braeview Kelly straight from the sales to break in,” Stratford said, “she wasn’t rushed but was ready to go when lockdown came. She had time off then I got her ready for the trial. Because she did so well I continued on to today but I’ll have to back off again now and look for a two year old race.”

Having won against all ages, Stratford pointed out he has to be careful where he places her. However, because Braeview Kelly is nominated for the major series, there will be plenty to aim at in the future.

Braeview Kelly was one of three winners for Orange on a day when all ten races were mobile start 2200 metre contests. His wins included the Michael House-trained Matrika in another of the races for non-winners. Both recorded a winning time of 2:46.2.

Third win for Orange was the Brian Norman-prepared trotter Windsor who got up the passing lane to nab the Phil Williamson trained and Matthew Williamson driven Horse Of Course by half a neck. This denied the Williamsons a clean sweep of the trots having earlier won with Miss Crazed and later with Ultimate Stride.

However, Matthew got his three by way of success behind Deus Ex. Trained by Geoff and Jude Knight, the four year-old recorded the day’s fastest time of 2:43.5.

The combination of Mark Hurrell and Amber Hoffman struck twice with the back-to-back wins of Sheeza Sport and Payment Plan.

Back In Stride

Mac Henry

20th June 2020

Ten months after winning the group one Breeders Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings trotters at Melton, Ultimate Stride extended his winning picket line to five with a classy return to racing at Invercargill on Saturday.

Ultimate Stride – Photo – Monica Torretto

Four of those five wins were achieved in Australia, in July and August last year, two of them at the elite level, After that, the stylish colt returned safely to his trainer Phil Williamson’s Oamaru base.

But then trouble struck.

“He’d been in the paddock for a fortnight then we found him lame, it was a broken peddle bone,” Williamson explained.

“He had a number of x-rays and it was about six months before we could work him again.”

The son of Love You and champion mare One Over Kenny was back at the trials on 23 May, the first of three before his raceday return.

“We gave him a long slow preparation, wanted him well grounded before racing,” said Williamson. “I was thrilled with the run, to go 2:47 with plugs in. He’s pulled up well, that’s what naturally talented horses can do. ”

Ultimate Stride was driven by Matthew Williamson who took him forward off the mobile arm. Reaching the front within 400 metres, they controlled play from then on and scored by two and three quarter lengths.

The time of 2-47.4 was a new track and Southland record for three year old trotting colts or geldings erasing War Admiral 2018 record of 2-48.0.

“He went lovely, a soft kill to start off with, its good to have him back,” Matthew said.”

As to the future, Phil Williamson said nothing is set in concrete. The rescheduling of some of the age group features will ensure Ultimate Stride is not short of rich opportunities on this side of the Tasman. However Williamson ruled out any attempts in the short term to improve his record in Australia as the colt’s owners, Emilio and Mary Rosati have another quality three-year-old Elite Stride to cover those options

Earlier in the day, Phil and Matt Williamson scored with another promising trotter Miss Crazed. The three-year-old filly became the fifth individual New Zealand winner by the international sire Crazed. She is the first foal of Miss Pegasus (Pegasus Spur – Merinai) who was trained by Phil Williamson for most of her career. Among the nine wins of Miss Pegasus was one at Ascot Park in 2013.

“Miss Pegasus had a lovely nature and nice all round game,” he said. “Miss Crazed is a nice filly to work with but not quite as sensible, she did alright today so it shows she is going the right way.”

The winner of a six-horse trial in May broke at Addington on debut and again at Ascot Park a fortnight ago, although a massive run saw her get up to grab second.

“She broke her first two starts, that was inexperience, I’m not saying it won’t happen again, she needs more practice so we will keep racing her,” Williamson remarked.

He commented that Miss Crazed was on the big size as a juvenile and didn’t race at two, but could have been an Oaks filly at three and will win more races.

Ascot Park Briefs and Pictures

Bruce Stewart

27th June 2020

Auckland Reactor gelding Jimmy Richter capped off some consistent form when winning in the hands of Nathan Williamson at Ascot Park today, with the winning margin a head. Prior to his last start the five year old had run two good placings. 

Jimmy Richter coming back to scale

The Brad Mowbray trained Southern Belle capitalised on a good draw to win her first race, the three year old Bettor’s Delight filly trailing leader Racing Minister.  She got up a win by half a head in the hands of Matthew Williamson.

Southern Belle beating Racing Minister

Southern Belle and Matthew Williamson

Day Dreamin added to the excellent late season record of Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson when she easily won her maiden trot by two lengths from Evermore.

Day Dreamin and Brad Williamson

The four year old Dream Vacation mare which was having her third start is owned by Williamson’s wife Bev and was driven by their son Brad.

Six year old Monarchy trotter Windsor proved too strong in the second trot of the day.  He led early before driver Blair Orange handed up to Horse Of Course. Inside the last two hundred metres Windsor had too much kick for Horse Of Course, winning by a length and a quarter.

Spirit Of St Louis – Sensational

Bruce Stewart

27th June 2020

Those on course at Ascot Park today were treated to one of the most sensational runs  seen in years by a pacer.

At about the 600 diminutive Sweet Lou three year old Spirit Of St Louis looked to be in a hopeless position.

After stepping nicely from the twenty metre mark driver Matthew Williamson settled the gelding last on the outside with Betterthanbrie making the pace.

Half way down the back straight most horses were off the inside running line so Williamson decided to run Spirit Of St Louis up the inside.

‘It was looking good coming off the back because I thought I’d get on the back of Kirk (Kirk Larsen driving Maidonthebeach).”

But that move soon looked flawed as horses began to move sharply round the outside and Maidonthebeach wasn’t progressing.

“I got held up badly by the two Gray runners (Nota Bene Denario and Born To Boogie) coming round and I had to go behind them. I ended up giving up the ground I’d made back to them.”

Williamson was still seven lengths off the leader turning in and wide on the track. Halfway down the straight Spirit Of St Louis was still only going to run second but he sustained his finish and nabbed a game Betterthanbrie right on the line, winning by a nose.

“Coming round the last bend I could tell he was jogging. It really surprised me how well he let down. It was a phenomenal run just to get up.”

Spirit Of St Louis ran his last 400 metres in 27.8. The overall time of 3-22.6 was 0.6 outside the track and Southland record of 3-22.0 held by Tas Man Bromac.

Spirit Of St Louis wide out just getting up

Unsure owners anxiously waiting for the judge’s call

A happy Matthew Williamson returning to scale

After the run Williamson was full of praise for the horse.

“He’s got good high speed and is a lovely natured horse. He’s such a laid back wee fella and pretty lazy. You don’t know how you’re going until you wake him up.

Williamson also praised the horse’s Westwood Beach trainer Graeme Anderson.

“I don’t want to talk about him too much,  it’ll go to his head (laughter) but he’s done a great job with this horse. His runners are always ready.”

So after today’s sensational effort how does Williamson rate Spirit Of St Louis?

‘I think he’s the best. With the run today to beat the older horses and to give them the ground he did was a hell of a good effort. With that one cold shot at them he’s at his best.”

Spirit Of St Louis is owned by Trevor Casey, Anderson, Tony Gow, Steve Pulley, Ray Chaiklin, Pauline Gillan and Edwin and Kieran Corby.

Larsen Gets First Win

Bruce Stewart

27th June 2020

“It was good to get the monkey off the back,” was the comment from junior driver Tristan Larsen after he drove Duke Of Dundee to win at Ascot Park today.

Tristan Larsen after his first win

Trained by Larsen’s father Kirk at Branxholme the four year old gelding was given the perfect trip behind pacemaker Iwanadancewitsumbody. On straightening, Tristan drove Duke Of Dundee up the passing lane, beating Vin Scully by three and three quarter lengths.

“It was pretty good to do it for Dad and long-time owner Gordon Smith who’s had a lot of horses with us, so it’s pretty cool.”

Tristan Larsen and Duke Of Dundee

First win and back to the birdcage

Larsen has spent all of his life around horses but didn’t have plans to make it them his career.

“Not early on. I was a typical boy and liked rugby and mates. Then I came of age, went to the races a bit more and got a love for it.”

He drove in the Kidz Kartz programme for a season and then progressed to ‘big horses’ when he drove Auckland Cup winner Howard Bromac at home.

“When he was a pacemaker Dad let me have a sit behind him so that was a pretty good start.”

Larsen works for his father for two hours in the morning then heads to Brett Gray’s Ryal Bush stable before returning to his Dad’s stable to help feed up.

“It’s really good to be attached to two stables driving wise as you get more opportunities.”

Later in the programme Dad Kirk produced another winner when the royally bred Forsure beat favourite American Eryetime by half a length.

Forsure and Kirk Larsen

The Art Major three year old is out of the eighteen win Washington VC mare Foreal and is owned by Shona and Syd Brown.

Cracker Just That

Bruce Stewart

27th June 2020

“It felt like track work to be fair, trainer driver Brad Williamson said after Cracker Hill easily won his sixth race at Ascot Park today. He’s just getting better and better with every run.”

The six length win was from the front without the ear plugs being pulled and the time was 0.6 off the New Zealand record of 2-43.0 held by Royal Aspirations.

“He’s just got a high cruising speed. If I’d have guessed the time I would have said three minutes for 2200 but we went a Southland record.”

The previous track and Southland record for three year olds was shortlived being recorded last Saturday by Ultimate Stride at 2-47.4.

Williamson made the most of the front line draw today, and headed straight to the top.

“When he draws the front line in a mobile he’s always pretty hard to beat because his gate speed is as good as any. Which makes it pretty easy.”

Brad Williamson and Cracker Hill wide out heading to the front

Down to the line for an easy win.

Once again consistent mare Crusher Collins which trailed the leader, had to make do with second placing.

Williamson says Cracker Hill takes everything in his stride and acts like an experienced race horse.

“As you can see he’s like a sensible campaigner and just wants to be a really good race horse. I think in twelve months time he will be.”

Some thought is now being given to an Australian campaign.

“Nothing is set in stone but I’ve made a few plans to head to Australia with him to Brent Lilley’s but it’s not confirmed yet. I’d like to get over and contest the Victoria Derby. He’ll have a wee freshen up and whether I race him again before I go to Australia or not, I’m not sure.”

Cracker Hill is owned by Gary Preston, Sue Preston, Wayne Morris, Mike Arnold, Ray Scott, Joan Scott, Jenny Rhodes and Lex Williams.

He’s by Muscle Hill out of the Majestic Son mare Juneamy Castleton which won four races for Canterbury trainer Mark Jones.

The family goes back to quality trotters Castleton’s Pride which won the 1975 Interdominion Trotters Final and ten other races, and 1983 Rowe Cup winner Sir Castleton which won forty four races. The breed was developed by Mawson MacPherson.

Juneamy Castleton is now owned by Brent Smith who lives in Otautau. The Love You yearling colt that Smith offered at this year’s sale was bought by Preston under All Things Harness Racing for $40,000.  Smith also has a Father Patrick weanling colt out of the mare.

Southern Feature Races To Go Ahead

Bruce Stewart

30th June 2020

It’s great news that three key 2019-2020 Southern Group races are to go ahead in the new season.

The Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes, Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southland Oaks and Diamond Creek Farm Classic for two year olds have been confirmed for the new season although the exact date and venue are still to be confirmed.

“It’s a fair old calendar for the two and three year old colts and geldings. And the three year old fillies have the remainder of the Nevele R Fillies Series and the final which will be run on Cup Day,” said John Price who’s the main driving force behind getting the races back on track.

The Supremacy and Oaks will be Group Three races.

“It is good for the breeders, the owners, and Southland to get them up and going,” he said.

The stake level is likely to be $30,000 for each, but before a final figure can be settled on Price has to have talks with key sponsors regarding their contributions.

“I can’t see too much of a problem with them agreeing.”

Southland Standardbred Breeders Association, SBSR, New Zealand Bloodstock, Southern Harness, and the National Body of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders all supported the application to run the feature races.

“There was good genuine support right across the board to run the finals.”

The top qualifiers for the Southern Supremacy are: Spirit Of St Louis, Pembrook Playboy, See Ya Write, Minstrel, Yossi, Forsure, Burnham Boy, Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon, Carlos Bromac, Willison, Major Meister, Croesus and Longueval.

The leading contenders for the Southland Oaks are: Watch Me Now, Pearl Harbour, Bailey’s Dream, Plutonium Lady, American Eyretime, Renegade Rose, Sugar Loaf, Need You Now, Delightful GNP, Princess Jessie, Stylish Memphis, Flossie and Mossdale Lottee.

Watch Me Now

Price is also advocating that the final of the Southern Belle Speed Series be run on the same day.

U May Cullect Back

Bruce Stewart

30th June 2020

After being injured in 2019, star Southland pacer U May Cullect has been given the all clear to recommence serious work in preparation for the new season.

Owner Tom Kilkelly and wife Julie floated the gelding north to Dunedin yesterday with stablemate Smokie Bander and vet Peter Gillespie did a series of scans on the horses’ injury.

“Peter did the initial scan to see how bad the injury was, a scan mid-term and the final one yesterday. I couldn’t believe the difference between the three scans. Both horses legs are as good as you can get them so I’m absolutely rapt,” Kilkelly said.

Although the signs are good the injury still has to be managed and one of the key components to that is shoeing.

“We have to get that dead right so there’s no pressure on the tendon. Peter is coming down in a couple of weeks to have a discussion with our farrier Snow Devery to show him exactly how it’s done. Snow will only look after U May Cullect (be the sole farrier) so we get consistency.”

U May Cullects road to recovery has taken nine months and Kilkelly has been charged with looking after and exercising him daily.

“He’s been boxed for nine months and wasn’t allowed out in a paddock. We started off walking him for fifteen minutes. Then it went to some walking and some trotting, then at the end it was 45 minutes of trotting a day.”

Kilkelly says the horse looks different.

“He’s really bulked up and they’ve really got something to work on now. They took him out to the beach this afternoon and that’s where he’ll be based from now on. They’ve both had an unlimited amount of lucerne hay so they’ve been living like kings.”

When the Southland race dates are finalised on Friday and the stable will have a clearer idea of when the U May Cullect will return to racing.

“Hopefully he’ll line up down here before he goes to the Hannon on the road to the Cup.”