June 2021

Tac Mac’s Win Special

Bruce Stewart

5th June 2021

It’s nearly twenty years to the day since popular Bluff Fisherman and Rugby player Terry Dixon was tragically killed at Tisbury while heading to work.

It’s very fitting then that the raced named after him at the Invercargill Harness Racing Club’s meeting at Ascot Park today was won by Tac Mac – a horse that is part owned by Terry’s brother Colin.

“We ended up not going out (oystering) and I tried to ring him but he had already left for Bluff,” Colin said reflecting on his brother’s death.

Tac Mac – File

Going into today’s meeting the Dixon family asked if the Terry Dixon Memorial race could be used for the race Tac Mac was nominated for.

“Jason Broad and Lindsay Beer did a great job in getting the race allocated to Tac Mac.”

Dixon said the day was very special with lots of the family in attendance.

“It was a great family day, all the Bluffies came up and all of Terry’s mates. My son Mason and his two children (Mia and Riley) flew in on Tuesday from Perth. They all came out and got their photos taken. It was bloody awesome. All the family are going to the Foveaux Hotel tomorrow for Terry’s 20th anniversary and then we’re going to watch a few races at the Jewels.”

Driver Brent Barclay settled the three year old filly in the second half of the field before improving around the field to sit parked and control the race with just over a lap to run.

“He actually controlled the race from there. She’s actually quite a nice wee horse this,” trainer Brent Shirley said.

As the back part of the field started to improve inside the last 600 metres Barclay looked around and pushed the mare forward to pressure pacemaker Celebration. Inside the last 400 metres Tact Mac hit the front and down the home stretch she held on tenaciously to beat Dachy by half a length.

Tac Mac is out of Lis Mara mare Tact Minaj who is out of the Tact Hayley Jane. Tact Minaj started her racing career with Trevor Proctor but won her only race with Brent Shirley.

Tact Minaj is a half-sister to Tact Hayleys Delight and the highly promising Tact Tama, the winner of his five starts in Australia.

Tac Mac is Tact Minaj’s first foal while her second Rat A Tact Tact (American Ideal) was sold recently to Wyndham trainer Gordon Lee. Her latest foal, a filly, is by Raging Bull.

Shirley was on a bit of a break with his family in Queenstown today so wasn’t on-course to see the win.

Tac Mac had one start as a two year old, and this season has won three of her thirteen starts for owners Colin Dixon, Ali Barron-Dixon, Noddy and Jane Orr, Mark Tempelton, Linda Tempelton and Jimmy Wilks. In five of her other starts she’s run second. Her total stakes this season are $23,158.00.

“She’s a bit cranky on the ground but once she’s in the cart she’s beautiful to work with. She’ll probably do a nice job next season.”

Williamson 900

Bruce Stewart

11th June 2021

At Forbury Park last night, Southland driver Nathan Williamson notched up another significant milestone in winning his 900th race in New Zealand whilst driving Jasmine Jaccka for good friend Brett Gray.

The four year old mare lead all the way and won by a length. In the following race Williamson drove Ah Mach (whom he also trains) to win her first race. The win was his seventy third driving win for the season.

“She trotted good all the way and was too good,” he said about Jasmine Jaccka.

When I spoke to him last night he was at Wendy’s having some chicken strips before heading home to Southland.

“I was aware I was close so it’s good to get it done.”

It’s been a stellar season for Williamson. He’s currently in the top six in the National Drivers and Trainers Premiership, as a trainer he’s had his largest stakes earning season ($764,075), and in the National Trainers Premiership (on the UDR rating – 40+ winners or more) he’s currently third behind Hayden Cullen, and Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

He also trained his first $100,000 plus stake earner (in one season) in Pembrook Playboy who was the province’s leading stake earner.

Williamson was quick to label winning the Southern Supremacy Stakes (Ragazzo Mach) and the Invercargill Cup (Pembrook Playboy) as his most satisfying wins for the season.

“To win them both was great but the Southern Supremacy stands out because I’ve been beaten in the race by some short margins. To win was a huge relief and the way the horse did it showed he was one of the best three year olds in the country.”

Ragazzo Mach winning the 2021 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes

Pembrook Playboy winning the Invercargill Cup

Williamson has recently returned home after being in Auckland supervising his three runners at last weekend’s Harness Jewels.

Ragazzo Mach was his highest achiever at the Jewels, finishing fourth in the Three Year Old Emerald after sitting parked for the last lap.

“He went a huge race. I’m pretty sure if he’d drawn where the winner or the trailer had drawn he would have definitely won. We were just unlucky to have sat outside the leader.”

In his Jewels assignment, Kiwitrix galloped on the last bend and finished last while Pembrook Playboy ran eighth in the Four Year Old Emerald.

Williamson said that while Pembrook Playboy’s run was good, Kiwitrix unfortunately got checked.

“He (Pembrook Playboy) didn’t really have a race at all. I think his last half was the quickest of the race. He’s bounced back really well. I’ve left both of them in Auckland for the Un-cut Gems.”

Williamson also drove You’re So Fine for Gray in the Two Year Old Emerald. Although he was ten lengths away from the impressive winner Akuta, he was less that a length away from the second, third and fourth horses.

“It was a big run. We were just unfortunate. We were in the middle of the pack and had to go three wide because if you sit you get flushed back to last. He got left without cover. He was only having his third start and he was probably too green to sit parked at that sort of speed.”

You’re So Fine

Ragazzo Mach left for Perth on Wednesday where he’ll race out of Mike Reed’s stables.

“I stayed in the north and put him and You’re So Fine on the float on Tuesday night at 9-30.”

He believes they will do a good job in Australia.

“They’re both quality horses that are going to great trainers.” You’re So Fine will be trained by Gary Hall senior.

His other drive at the Jewels was on the Southland trained Pearl Harbour which ran fifth in the Four Year Old Diamond.

Williamson says Pembrook Playboy will be spelled when he returns home.

“He won’t be able to have too long off – about a month and come back for the Hannon.”

On a personal level Williamson says there won’t be time for him and the family to have a break.

“We’re pretty busy doing a lot of young ones. As you know I like bringing the young ones through and keeping the quality high so we’ll be putting them through their paces in the next few months.”

One young horse that has impressed him is a colt by What The Hill out of Miss Pegasus.

“I bought him at the Sales. He’s a lovely horse that broke in nice. The ownership is made up of a big group.”

Williamson says he’s excited about the changes that will bring New Zealand and Australian horses’ birthdates into alignment, providing an opportunity to re-jig the new season’s racing programme.


Nathan’s 900 winners – fact sheet

First winner: Brooker 18th August 2005 at Forbury Park.

100th winner: Waihemo Cullen – Cromwell 7/01/2008

500th winner: Splash Cola -Invercargill 24/01/2015

700th winner: Picketts Ridge -Gore 10/02/2018

800th winner: Allaboutjoy -Wairio 21/12/2019)

900th winner: Jasmine Jaccka – Forbury Park 10/06/2021

Trainers for whom he’s driven winners: Own (248), Phil Williamson (96), Brent Shirley (57), Katrina, Roger and John Price (44) and Brett Gray (28).

Pacing winners: 566

Trotting winners: 334

Biggest winner: Springbank Richard 63-20-7-4.

Australian winners: (3)

Best seasons (winners and stakes): 2016 591-100-74-59 $719,327 UDR .2720

Most driving wins in one day: Four – 11 times.

  • Northern Southland TC 26/09/2014: Fantasy Dream Girl, Sonova Gun, Onedin Mach and Costa Del Magnifico,
  • Invercargill HRC 5/12/2014: I Smart, Degas, Dwindle Mist and Costa Del Magnifico
  • Riverton TC 1/11/2015: Jen Jaccka, Tas Man Bromac, Machrie and Grey Power
  • Invercargill HRC 15/03/2015: Sheeza Shark, Ode To Success, Zac Mac and Lola Jaccka
  • Invercargill HRC 24/01/2015: Poppymalda, Cool Changes, Tas Man Bromac and Splash Cola
  • Forbury Park TC 16/06/2016: Cullens Lady, Culler Coded, Hurricane Banner and Spur Wing
  • Gore HRC 24/04/2016: Fiddlethefool, The Jinja Ninja, Sun’s Invasion and One Cool Chick
  • Invercargill HRC 22/11/2015: Zen Warrior, Grey Power, Black Athena and Pavarotti
  • Gore HRC 13/10/2018: Wayward Roc, Stay Aboard, Delightful Deal and Please Shuddup
  • Riverton TC 20/10/2019: Tairlaw Toll, Tweedledee, Pembrook Playboy and Rockabilly Blues
  • Invercargill HRC 8/05/2021: Port Pegasus, Ideal BB. Tulsa Jaccka and Sand Wave

Listed winners (6):

  • 2006 Ordeal Trotting Cup (Jasmyn’s Gift)
  • 2007 Three Year Old Ruby (Springbank Richard)
  • 2008 4 year old Ruby (Springbank Richard)
  • 2009 Ordeal Trotting Cup (Springbank Richard)
  • 2017 PGG Wrightson Uncut Gems Trotters Classic (Dark Horse)
  • 2019 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sale Trotting Final (Ultimate Stride)

Group Three (12):

  • 2008 4 year old Trotters Championship (Springbank Richard)
  • 2009 DG Jones Trotting Cup (Springbank Richard)
  • 2009 Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile (Springbank Richard)
  • 2010 DG Jones Trotting Cup (Springbank Richard)
  • 2011 4 year old Trotters Championship (Larix)
  • 2012 Interdominion Heat – Shepparton (Springbank Richard)
  • 2013 Trotters Championship (Phil’s Gift)
  • 2021 Central Otago Cup (Pembrook Playboy)
  • 2021 Invercargill Cup (Pembrook Playboy)
  • 2021 Summer Cup Addington (Pembrook Playboy)
  • 2021 Caduceus Club of Southland Alabar Fillies Classic (Nutcracker)
  • 2021 Northern Southland Cup (Pembrook Playboy)

Group Two (2):

  • 2021 Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic (You’re So Fine)
  • 2021 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes (Ragazzo Mach)

Group One (3)

  • 2006 NZ Trotting FFA (Jasmyn’s Gift)
  • 2007 HRI Victoria Trotters Derby (Springbank Richard)
  • 2009 Dominion Handicap (Springbank Richard)

Harness Jewels winners:

  • 2007 Three Year Old Ruby – Springbank Richard
  • 2008 Four Year Old Ruby – Springbank Richard

Southland Junior Drivers premiership (2): 2009 and 2010

Southland Driver premierships (13): 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. (NB: Henry Skinner holds the record with 16)

Invercargill HRC Drivers Championship – Individual (1): 2018

Cherokee Jack Wins On Debut

Bruce Stewart

19th June 2021

“He’s a bit green but I’ve got a bit of time for him,” trainer Tony Stratford said after Cherokee Jack won on debut at Ascot Park today.

Stratford bought Cherokee Jack along with Leithen Burn and Sweet Lizzie at a weanling sale three years ago, and they’ve all now been winners.

Cherokee Jack

Stratford intention when he went to the Sales was to buy a horse by Bettor’s Delight.

“That’s why we bought Leithen Burn. The Bettor’s weanlings were going for good money at the time and he was one of the cheaper ones. I was filling in time later on, wandering around looking at horses and spotted him (Cherokee Jack) in the box. He was way down at the end, as far away as he could be, and he was lying in the box asleep. I gave him a whistle and he got up and I thought – he’s quite a nice horse – so I thought we’d have a smack at him as well.”

Cherokee Jack was offered at the sale by Woodlands Stud and in his pedigree has The Orange Agent and high class Australian winner Cincinnati Kid.

In today’s race driver Blair Orange had Cherokee Jack back from the gate when it pulled away and he settled the gelding second to last on the outside before he improved to sit parked with just over a lap to run. In an ice cool drive, Orange didn’t hustle the three year old first starter, instead handling him quietly to win by a half a head from another first starter Livy Desma.

“Blair looked after him. He got round, kept him out of trouble and just looked after him coming down the straight which was good. Although he won by a small margin it appeared as though he was just sitting on him.”

Cherokee Jack (8) winning through the middle

Winning connections

Stratford trains out of the Gore Racecourse. Although it has an all-weather track it won’t be used next season with the Gore Harness Club down to race two of it’s meeting at Wyndham and the other two on the grass track at Gore.

“As long as the gallops are held at Gore we should be fine to carry on. For us, as far as I’m concerned, Gore is a training centre now. If the gallops shut up shop here we could be in a bit of bother. I’m at the track on my own at the moment but normally Ross and Chris Wilson, Matt Brinsdon, Tony Holland and Alan McVicar have horses training here.”

Stratford said he’s in a rebuilding stage and that he has a few two year olds and some yearlings he likes.

“I’ve got a Vincent filly out of Tara Tutaia (Somebeachsomewhere – Tara Gold). She’s a really nice filly and will be good enough to race at two. She’s only small but she’s built like a wee colt. I’ve also got an Always B Miki two year old filly out of Love The Look that Stevie Sloan owns. It’s a big strapping bold going filly.”

Meanwhile Tweedledee sewed up the Caduceus Club of Southland Trotter of the Year title at Ascot Park when she won her seventh race for trainer Lyndon Bond and driver Sam Ottley.

Hot Favourite Wins

Bruce Stewart

19th June 2021

Today’s Southern Standardbred Breeders Fillies and Mares Final drew a small field of six but the standout Miss Mucho didn’t let her battalion of supporters down, winning comfortably by two and a half lengths.

Miss Mucho warming up

Driven by Sheree Tomlinson like the best horse in the race, the Mach Three mare settled off the pace before heading to the parked spot. From there she was too strong for place getters Boudica and Rakarippa.

Dachy leads with Miss Mucho sitting parked

Miss Mucho winning easily

Back to the birdcage

“She’s improved. She didn’t come up in the spring – ate and worked well but just didn’t race well. We gave her a wee spell and she’s never missed since,” said trainer Tony Barron.

“She always had boils or pimples down her side. Since she’s had a spell and come back there’s been no sign of them. We also had a lot of pollen in the air during the spring and she’s a heavy breathing Mach Three so I think that might have affected her.”

The Fillies and Mares Final was a late season initiative by Southern Harness with four heats run before today’s final. Miss Mucho won a heat in May but was the only heat winner to front for the final.

“It’s a nice stake and I’m a bit disappointed that more Southland horses didn’t front up. There’s been some good mares races down here all season.”

Miss Mucho, which has now won five races, is owned by Otama farmer Kenny Baynes.

“She’ll stay down here with Kenny for a couple of weeks. She’s in a happy space so we’ll give her a wee freshener.”

This season has been a good one for Barron who’s won eight races from his sixty one starters. The star of the team is Lifes A Beach which won three races and banked $62,350.

“Cheryl and I only work a small team. We tick away pretty good. Between selling at the yearling sales and training a small team with good loyal clientele it works out pretty good.”

He reckons he’s got a stronger team heading into next season.

“We have Mary Austin who raced down here, Miss Mucho, Lifes A Beach which will come back as a rating 55 horse and a real nice team of maiden horses.”

Barron is also breeding from Queen Kenny with good friend Gordon McKenzie. The Monarchy mare won nine races and her first foal Queen Alida recently won the Group One IRT Australian Need for Speed Princess Final.

Meanwhile Gore trainer Robin Swain was rewarded for his perseverance when fifty two start maiden The Naenae Express won today.

The Naenae Express after winning his first race.

The well-bred Saint Tropez also won his first race for Browns trainer Des Baynes and The Test Syndicate.

Saint Tropez beating Tartan Roxy