March 2020

My Moments Now Wins Gold Chip

Bruce Stewart

Driver Matty Williamson made the most of the front line draw and My Moment’s Now’s fast beginning to win the ILT Gold Chip Final at Ascot Park today.

My Moment’s Now leading with a lap to run

The Andover Hall three year old trotted splendidly in front and was too good for her eleven rivals.

“She was travelling great and was trotting a lot better today. Things are going the right way. It was the best she’s felt today. I liked her beforehand but she gave me a real good feel today. She had one ear up coming down the straight and she did it quite easily. I know she had a head start but she put away a nice field. You don’t want to let them in cheap but she was good enough to roll along.”

My Moment’s Now too good for Matty Williamson

Williamson says the Purvis stable have a high opinion of the three year old and one suspects she may have the Southland Trotting Oaks on her radar.

Net Ten EOM two year old Beach Start impressed when he won the ILT Two Year Old Mobile Pace, a non-tote and qualifying heat at Ascot Park today.

The Lauren Pearson trained gelding driven by Brent Barclay, has been impressive in all his public appearances. He’s won two workouts and ran third in a qualifying trial at Winton last month.

He’s out of the six win Badland’s Hanover mare Weka Lass and in today’s trial he beat Yorokobi.

Beach Start winning his Invercargill Trial

Nicely compacted Beach Start

The gelding is owned by Matthew Smith, son of well known owner Lester Smith.

Matthew works as an orchard contractor in Cromwell and borrowed Weka Lass to breed Beach Start. Pearson is unsure of when the gelding will start his racing career as there’s been some interest in the horse.

Meanwhile, early winners on the day’s race card were Changeover four year old Deus Ex for Geoff and Jude Knight, and Hold Thumbs for Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders. Fireball led all the way to win his first race for Kennington trainer Greg Hunter.

Deus Ex winning at Ascot Park for Kerryn Tomlinson

Winning salute

Hold Thumbs winning for Mark Hurrell

No thumbs just three fingers

Fireball winning

Back to the birdcage

Later in the day Ashburton trainer Brent White recorded back to back wins with Cranbourne and Burlington.

Dipendra Trots On

Bruce Stewart

The aged Winton trotter Dipendra, which won it’s sixth race at Invercargill today, is very much a part of the Stevens family.

Although his trainer Tony Stevens says he’s regarded as a family pet around the stables it’s a different story when it comes to track work.

“He’s a proper old sod. He could be jogging round quite nicely, then all of a sudden he’ll just explode and you’ll be swinging out the back of the cart. All the Winton trainers know him now and they just get out of his way,” he said.

However around home Stevens says he’s a lamb. “He wouldn’t bite you, and the kids love him.”

Stevens has had the Monarchy gelding since he was a young horse. He was sent south after his brother who was working for Kevin Townley, suggested Tony may like to try the horse.

“They had this two year old up there and they asked me if I wanted to have a go with it. I said send the bugger down. They said I’d need to have company for him because he was a wee bit wayward. Oh boy, they didn’t know what wayward was.”

Dipendra qualified on his home track in November 2013 as a three year old but didn’t go to the races until 2015.

“We used to jog him up the gravel road at the race course and round to the red shed before bringing him back. Then I’d take him onto the track and give him three or four rounds and that went on for two years. Anyone else wouldn’t have put up with it.”

Up until this season the horse has also had tying up issues which Stevens says he’s finally got on top of.

“This is the first year I’ve been able to put decent work into him, whereas before he’d do a half an hours jogging and he’d tie up. We went back to some of the old receipes and they worked. I kicked out all the vets and chiropractors.”

Tony who is 73, has been around horses all his life, obtaining a drivers licence at the age of sixteen and a trainer’s license at twenty one.  He’s had some nice horses in his stable over the years including Beaudiene Fella and Wintonian.

At present he has one other hourse besides Dipendra – a two year old Majestic Son filly.

“I’ve just broken her in and I quite like her. I didn’t want another horse because when Dipendra retires I retire. But the kids said no. They bought the filly as a yearling and said ‘there you are that’ll keep you going.’

“I’d like to get him (Dipendra) back next season. I’ll use him to jog up the two year old. If he’s feeling good I’ll take him to the races.”

Today’s win was a family affair, with son Richard doing the driving.

“He was out of the game and rather than us running round looking for a driver each week, I said ‘why don’t you get your licence back because you only have to turn up on race day.”

In today’s 1700 metre mobile Richard took Dipendra straight to the lead. He dictated all the terms, holding on to beat Full Noise by half a length.

Dipendra stretches out for Richard Stevens

The Stevens Clan

Tinder Surprise Takes Out Nuggets

Bruce Stewart

Tinder Surprise didn’t set the internet alight early in his career, but trainer Aaron Swain always had an inkling there was something under the bonnet.

“He just keeps getting better and better and surprising me,” he said after today’s win in the $15,000 Caduceus Club Nuggets Final.

Swain purchased the Betterthancheddar gelding at the 2018 Sales in Christchurch for $7000.00 when the horse was named Gouda Than You.

“He was okay as a young horse but Brad Williamson looked after him as a two year old when I had too many horses. Brad did a great job and got him to workouts stage. We gave him a few workouts down here and he got a wee bit better every time. We freshened him over New Year and he came back in and grew another leg.”

On the back of his first up win the three year old was made favourite for today’s final and got back early before driver Blair Orange set him alight with 600 metres to run. He sustained his run right to the finishing line beating second favourite Longueval by half a length.

“I always thought he was a wee bit weak and better saved for one run but today he went massive.”

Tinder Surprise beating Longueval

Tinder Surprise is out of the Jereme’s Jet mare Jet Spirit.

“I had Ultimate Player which was out of that family so I’ve always wanted another one from that breed.”

Swain says the three year old is a nicely gaited horse.

“He gets across the ground. He’s quite a fine horse and it’s hard to hold weight on him.”

The gelding is raced by Swain and a group of mates.

“Some of the owners are new to racing and I’d say they’ll be having a big one tonight.”

Swain says Tinder Surprise will now head to the spelling paddock.

“He’ll be a very nice four year old.”

Tailored Elegance Wins Oaks

Bruce Stewart

“She might have been peaking on her run that last bit. She’s probably entitled to because she had to sit parked for a fair way,” driver Tim Williams said after three year old trotting filly Tailored Elegance beat Vacation Hill by a nose in the En Solitaire Southland Trotting Oaks today.

As Williams rightly pointed out Tailored Elegance has been running good races mainly against the colts and geldings.

“Pretty much all her career she’s had to chase the boys around so it’s nice to race against your own sex.”

Tailored Elegance settled fourth early with Vacation Hill and favourite Chloe Rose taking turns at leading. With 1200 metres to run Williams moved the Muscle Hill filly up to sit parked. At the 400 metres Tailored Elegance was up level pegging with Chloe Rose. Tailored Elegance mastered Chloe Rose halfway down the straight and then had to withstand a late charge by Vacation Hill which came up the passing lane. Tailored Elegance just got there by a nose.

The winning time of 2-44.2 was a new track, Southland and race record. The previous record of 2-47.9 was held by the inaugural winner of the Southland Trotting Oaks Luby Lou.

Tailored Elegance (7) holds out Vacation Hill

Both Luby Lou and Tailored Elegance are by Muscle Hill and were bred by Breckon Farm Limited. Williams also drove Luby Lou to win in 2018.

Tailored Elegance which is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen is raced by Breckon Farm and The Savvy Six Syndicate.

Ariella Wins Classic

Bruce Stewart

Ariella dented a few reputations when she downed a quality field of two year old fillies in the Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Fillies Classic at Ascot Park today.

The Dean Taylor trained Art Major filly was 5/6 in the betting and was expected by many to find it hard against the likes of Town Echo, Nina Simone and Sweet Lizzie.

In today’s Group Three feature, driver Robbie Close settled Ariella last on the inside while Shanika and Town Echo took turns at leading. With 1100 metres to run Ariella was three back on the inside. When Shanika moved off the inside running line just before the last turn Close was able to get a run up behind the leader Town Echo. Up the passing lane she was too good for Town Echo and Shanika.

The winning time of 2-41.5 smashed Northern Velocity’s race, track and Southland record of 2-44.5.

Ariella winning for Dean Taylor and Robbie Close

“She’s been a nice filly from day one. I put a boring pole on her the other day. Normally they play up particularly two year olds, but she didn’t flinch. She’s just improved every run. It makes a difference when you get a decent draw. You draw seven or eight at Addington and you’re buggered,” said Taylor.

The Art Major filly is owned by a stack of owners with the group being organised by Andrew Fry who bought the filly.

“She’s got the greatest set of owners you could ever have. They’ve had so many bad things happen to horses. Now they’ve finally got a good one. Andrew Fry owns her and he’s done a deal with a whole lot of his friends.”

She was purchased from Woodlands Stud at last year’s Weanling Sale.

“Before the sale we got Barry and Katrina Purdon to have a look at the filly and they reported that she had beautiful legs and a good head on her. Lesley (wife) and I were down at the Bluff Oyster Festival and Scott Phelan went to the sale to bid on her while Andrew was in Christchurch on the phone and he got her.”

Ariella, which means Lion of God in Hebrew, is a full sister to Isaiah who still holds the 2700 metre stand record at Ascot Park.

Henry Wins Second Cup

Bruce Stewart

The Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert won his second Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup at Ascot Park today.

Henry Hubert and Tim Williams with a lap to run in the Cup

“He traveled great throughout. He just felt sharp. Johnny (Dunn) was pretty happy with his work after his trial last week. On the way he won today he was right,” said driver Tim Williams who drove the Robert Dunn trained gelding to win the $40,000 staying feature.

From the 10 metre mark Henry Hubert settled third early and with two laps to run Williams took the Bettor’s Delight gelding to the front.

“When Brad (Williamson driving Vintage Cheddar) moved up at the half he just grabbed the bit a little bit more. When I asked him to go just past the quarter he really knuckled down and ran away.”

The winning margin was four and three quarter lengths from stablemate Classie Brigade with Vintage Cheddar half a neck back in third. The winning time was 3-21.9.

“The weathers nice, the track was fast and that’s what good horses do. He had a wee bit up his sleeve as he still had the hood on.”

Henry Hubert winning his second Northern Southland Cup

Henry Hubert is owned by Christchurch couple Ross and Angela Gordon.

Northern Southland Briefs

Bruce Stewart

Mossdale Art did the right thing for former Riversdale farmer Archie Affleck when he won the Grinaldi Lodge Mobile at the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting at Ascot Park today.

Mossdale Art, which has an outstanding record in the province, led early before handing up to favourite Burlington.

When the horses straightened up for the run to the finish, driver Ben Hope came down the middle of the track and got up to beat Burlington by half a length. The time for the 2200 metre mobile was 2-43.0 with the last 400 metres run in a super quick 26.8.

Mossdale Art beating Burlington

The Bettor’s Delight four year old mare is trained by Greg and Nina Hope at Woodend Beach.

Affleck has been a supporter of the club for a long time, having formerly lived and bred horses in the district.

One of the highlights of his involvement in the industry was winning the Northern Southland Cup at this meeting with Mossdale Conner in 2016.

The Mataura trained Crusher Collins capitalised on a perfect trail behind pacemaker Only One Way to win the Neville Cleaver Fishing Handicap Trot.

The Pres six year old mare driven by Stephen McNally exploded up the passing lane and won easily by two and a quarter lengths from Only One Way.

Crusher Collins winning at Ascot Park

It was the mare’s fifth win and with twenty one placings to her credit she’s been a good money earner for her connections. Her bank balance is now $55,000 from sixty three starts.

Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon proved too classy for his six rivals when winning the AON Insurance Brokers Gore Mobile Pace.

The Robert Dunn trained three year old was able to dictate his own terms in front for driver Tim Williams, with only the trailing horse Stingray Tara getting close.

The winning time was 2-44.3 with the last 800 metres run in 56.1 seconds.

Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon beating Stingray Tara

Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon looks like a leading chance for next month’s Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes.

Triroyale Brigade, on the quick backup after racing at Forbury Park on Thursday, made the most of the trail behind pacemaker Black Ops to win his fourth race.

Driven by Brent Barclay the five year old ran up the passing lane to win by a length and a half.

The time of 2-39. 9 was 0.3 outside of Kilowatt Kids Four Year Old and Older geldings record of 2-39.6.

Triroyale Brigade winning for Brent Barclay

Black Ops, one of the most improved pacers in the province was game running second, with favourite See Ya Write running on from the back to get to third.

Lulu Le Mans locked out her opposition by running a 25.9 last 400 metres when she won the NS Vets Total Vet Care Mobile Pace.

The Bettor’s Delight three year old was taken to the front from a wide draw by driver Samantha Ottley and won easily by three and three quarter lengths from Renegade Rose.

Lulu Le Mans winning for Team Teal and Sam Ottley

Pres The Belle Wins Southern Lights

Bruce Stewart

Trotting mare Pres The Belle is in the form of her life.

Since returning south after racing in Auckland the six year old mare has won three races and run second and third in two other starts.

In today’s trotting feature at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park, Pres The Belle started off the 30 metres mark and from there driver Tim Williams had what he described as a lucky ride.

“Everything came her way and we were lucky with the way the race unfolded. Everywhere I went just got me that little bit closer and she got there soft. She was too good for them,” he said.

Williams has now driven her in four of her thirteen wins and says the beach has made a huge difference.

“Since she’s been home from Auckland she’s been going great. Since she’s been at the beach (Woodend) her form has turned around.”

The winning margin was three and a half lengths from Dark Horse which looks to have lost none of her talent after being off the scene for two lengthy periods.

Pres The Belle is owned by Stu Campbell, Des Minehan, Stewart Heal and Dexter Nind.

The winning time of 3-24.0 was a new race, track and Southland record. The previous mare’s record of 3-26.7 for a 2700 metres stand was held by Dark Horse while the all-comers record of 3-26.3 was held by Monty Python.

“Down to the wire she was getting a wee bit tired but she still had the hood on”

Win number four for Tim Williams driving Pres The Belle

First Class Just That In Kindergarten

Bruce Stewart

Bettor’s Delight colt First Class had the necessary race experience and ringcraft to dominate today’s Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham and driver Tim Williams used that to perfection.

First Class warming up

Pre-race chat with Brent Barclay talking to Tim Williams and third placegetter Matty Williamson dialing in.

He controlled the pace of the race from the front with the knowledge that his main rival, stablemate Delightful Dude was on his back. There were no mid-race moves and from the 500 William notched First Class up a gear making sure none of the back runners could make any ground.

“He got it pretty cheap down the back and was able to dictate the race from the 500 to 600. He won nicely and he still had the plugs in,” said Williams.

First Class beating stablemate Delightful Dude

The overall time was 1-56.6 for the 1609 metres with the last 800 metres run in 56.6.

“Yep he did it nice. He’s just a great wee horse. Great doer, great gaited and doesn’t wear a lot of gear. He tries hard and is a lovely wee two year old,” said Williams.

The winning margin was three quarters of a length with Delightful Dude running second and Otago visitor American Lightning a further length and three quarters back in third.

“It worked out well. He can be a little bit racy but he relaxed really well once he got to the front so I thought there wasn’t much point in going much harder than I needed to.”


Williams drove him in his first three trials before he headed north to race in Auckland.

“I know the horse pretty well and the trip to Auckland has been the making of him. They grow up and it turns them into race horses. It was nice to get a win for him today because he’s had a couple of placings up until today.”

First Class is trained at Rolleston by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.

Purdon has won the Kindergarten four times as a stand alone trainer with So Cool (2002), Lennon (2003), Ohoka Arizona (2007) and Messini (2013).

He’s also won the time honoured race in partnership with Grant Payne with Sir Clive in 2008 and in the last seven seasons, with partner Natalie Rasmussen. He’s won the race six times with Itz Bettor To Win (2014), Waikiki Beach (2015), Pacing Major (2016), War Dan Delight (2018) and Flying Even Bettor (2019).

Williams is in a purple patch of form at the moment having driven 15 winners in the last 16 days. This was his second Kindergarten Stakes winner, having driven Messini to win the Group Three race in 2013.

Today’s win was Tim’s forty fourth group winner – 19 Group Threes, 11 Group Twos and 14 Group Ones.

He’s fast approaching his 500th winner, currently being on 484.

First Class is raced by Phil and Glenys Kennard, Breckon Racing Syndicate, Gary and Kerry Woodham and Jim and Ann Gibbs.

Kerry and Gary Woodham with First Class and Tim Williams

He was bred by Bromac Lodge and is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Amaretto Bromac which won two races. The Kennards bought the colt at the 2019 Christchurch Sale for $50,000.

The same group of owners won last year’s edition with Flying Even Bettor. And the Kennards and Gibbs also had a share in 2016 winner Pacing Major.

Deserved Cup Win For Triroyale Brigade

Bruce Stewart

Just a nose separated two of the most consistent pacers in Southland, Triroyale Brigade and Nota Bene Denario, in today’s MLT Three Rivers Hotel Wyndham Cup.

Both deserved the spoils, but it was the Nathan Williamson trained Triroyale Brigade that claimed the $9,150 winning stake.

“He tries all the time, he’s as honest as and this is a reward for consistency,” said Williamson who had three runners in this year’s Cup. Tim Williams drove the winner, whilst Williamson handled Pembrook Playboy. Franco Santino was driven by Brendon McLellan.

From the front Triroyale Brigade began brilliantly before handing up to Mistacullect and he got Triroyale Brigade to the top of the straight. Williams then manoeuvred the four year old to the outside of Mistacullect and he came home powerfully, holding out a late charge by Nota Bene Denario which came up the passing lane.

“He’s just got perfect manners and puts himself into the race all the time. He had a good draw and was beautifully driven by Tim.”

Mistacullect leads Triroyale Brigade with a lap to run in the Wyndham Cup

The angle is deceptive but Triroyale Brigade beats Nota Bene Denario by a nose.

Back to the birdcage

Nathan Williamson with Wyndham HRC committee and sponsors (MLT)

Owned by the Better Have Tried Syndicate which includes trainer Austin Stack and his wife Miriam, Williamson’s wife Katie and her parents Ross and Robyn Jones. None of the owners were on track to receive the trophy today.

“Austin is in Auckland and Ross and Robyn are looking after things at home. It’s sad they’re not here because they follow him around everywhere.”

Williamson and wife Katie have just had their second child – a boy whom they’ve named Lachie.

Pembrook Playboy which started as favourite was a length and three quarters back in third after losing a big stretch of ground at the start.

“I was thrilled with him. He probably lost 40 metres at the start, he gave Santino (Franco Santino) twenty metres and he finished the race off well. He just peaked on his run in the last 100 metres. He just hasn’t had a stand before and that was the worry but he got a beautiful run in transit afterwards.”

Franco Santino was only six lengths from the winner at the finish, running the 2400 metres post to post in 2-59.8 – the fastest in the race.

Williamson says Franco Santino and Pembrook Playboy will head to Addington while Triroyale Brigade will follow the Country Cup course.

“He (Triroyale Brigade) just keeps putting his hand up and there’ll be another race for him somewhere.”

Honkin Vision Put Down

Bruce Stewart

Former Southland  juvenile star Honkin Vision has been laid to rest at his owner’s farm just north of Invercargill.

Vin Devery knew the thirty three year old wouldn’t make it through another winter and had to make the decision to have the horse put down.

“His health was deteriorating. Normally he’d pick himself up in the summer enough to do okay in the winter but I felt he wasn’t going to this time,” Devery said.

The son of Honkin Andy set the 1988 – 1989 season alight when he became the first two year old to win over $250,000 in one season.

“That was a huge amount in those days.”

Vin bred the pacer after his brother, well-known trained Alan Devery, sold him the horse’s dam Frosty Vision with a positive test to Honkin Andy for $7,000.

The big leggy colt was broken in by Branxholme trainer Kirk Larsen before heading to Vin’s barn.

“I actually had him sold but he didn’t pass the vet.”

Honkin Vision debuted at Ascot Park in 17th December 1988 running second to Superliner and  beaten by a length and a half.

“He’s was underdone for that run.”

That was the first and only time the fledging starraced in Vin’s colours.

“I went on holiday at Christmas and sent him out to Alan and Henry to look after. When I got back they said ‘he’s too bloody good for you’ (laughter) and he stayed there.”

Four weeks later under the care of training partnership Alan Devery and Henry Skinner, Honkin Vision annihilated a field of two year olds at Ascot Park, winning by 35 lengths. He then ventured to Oamaru winning the Juvenile Stakes before he headed to Auckland where he won his first Group race – The Group Two DB Draught Mobile Pace running the 1700 metres in 2-04.7 – a mile rate of 1-58.2.

He then came home and won the Kindergarten Stakes, beating Popsicle by 13 lengths in 3-07.9 on a bitterly cold day. The time was a new race and track record.

His two biggest wins came later that season when he won the $145,000 Group One Cigna Insurance Sires Stakes and the $150,000 Group One Benson and Hedges Championship both at Alexandra Park.

“The most memorable moment for me was winning the Benson and Hedges.”

He finished the season having won eight of his eleven starts and only finishing out of the money once. His winnings for the season were $250,630. At the New Zealand Trotting Awards later that season he was named New Zealand Two Year Old Pacer of the Year.

He won a further six races as a three year old including a heat of the Sires Stakes in 1-56.8 at Ashburton. He went on to win the $150,000 Group One Sires Stakes Final and also won the Group Two John Branson Three Year Old Championship beating Christopher Vance. He beat the same horse in the second leg of the Triple Crown – the Flying Stakes before running sixth in the New Zealand Derby won by Winning Blue Chip. He was named Three Year Old Pacer of the Year at the end of the season.

He was winless at four, having  only three starts and at five he won another two races including the Firestone Eurosteels Free for All when driven by Denis Nyhan. After running second to Millie’s Brother in the Monsanto Free for All, Nyhan took over the training of Honkin Vision.

He end his racing career with 16 wins for stakes of $510,395.

“We were watching some of his videos the other night and the commentator said Henry had told him he was the best horse he’d trained and driven. Henry never told me that.”

Devery is certainly experiencing the ups and down of the industry at the moment. He’s enjoying watching Amazing Dream, which he bred, winning against both sexes in age group racing and has a full brother to Amazing Dream which qualified at Winton recently for trainer Kirk Larsen.

Special Dream (full-brother to Amazing Dream)

Unfortunately a filly he bred with the late Alan Blacker had to be withdrawn from last month’s National Sales in Christchurch after she developed sesamoiditis in one leg.

“I really liked her. She’ll be x-rayed at Christmas before we decide what to do with her.”

Despite the loss of his good mate Honkin Vision Vin Devery remains positive and still has plenty to look forward to in harness racing.

Honkin Vision

(Honkin Andy – Frosty Vision)

Owners: Vin and Daphne Devery

Trainers: Henry Skinner and Alan Devery

  • As a two year old he won 8 of his 11 starts and banked $250,630 – his biggest season as a racehorse.
  • From 43 starts Honkin Vision won 16 races for stakes of $510,395.
  • He was driven to win by Henry Skinner (14) and Denis Nyhan (2).
  • He won over half his races at either Addington (6) or Alexandra Park (3)
  • His biggest win was in the Benson and Hedges Championship which he won $91,750.00.
  • He also won the Sire Stakes Three Year Old Championship the following season.
  • He won two Group Three races, three Group Two and three Group One races.
  • As an aged horse his biggest win was in the 1991 Firestone FFA at Addington.
  • He was crowned Two year old of his year (1988/1989)
  • He was also Three year old of the year in the 1989/1990 season.

Kickupyaheels From Good Family

Bruce Stewart

Wyndham winner Kickupyaheels is from a family that’s produced a host of winners over the past twenty years.

The Rocknroll Dance mare trained by Robin Swain has shown a fair amount of ability in her first season of racing but she’s also shown some wayward tendencies.

“She’s a stroppy damn thing but she’s got a lot of speed. I think she’ll win a few races and develop into quite a nice mare,” Swain said.

In yesterday’s race she settled back before improving inside the last 300 metres when Swain brought her five wide just before the home straight. She let down nicely to beat Airwaves by a length and three quarters. The win was her second from eight starts.

“We could have sold her a few times but Peter Neil the guy that raced Roman Gladiator with me decided to race her.”

Swain plans to push on with the racing for Kickupyaheels and will start her in the fourth heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series at Wairio this Saturday.

“She’s probably the sort of mare that needs the right run.  Some races just won’t suit her so you just have to wait for the next time.”

Kickupyaheels is the twelfth foal out of Direct Deal mare Little Egypt which was originally owned by Swain’s sister Denice.

Little Egypt showed a lot of ability as a young horse, winning a 1609 metre trial at Ashburton for Denise in January 1999 by five lengths, running the distance in 1-58.4.

“At that time not many two year olds would run that time. Mark Purdon and John Seaton were keen to buy her but on the Friday night before they were to come down there was a storm with thunder and lightning and the horse got out, went over the fence and cut it’s leg.”

As a broodmare she’s left Montecrengle (14 wins) and Pelusiac (11 wins and $97,961).

This is the family of Ann Other Porsche the winner of thirty seven races. Her Badlands Hanover daughter Lady Antebellum has left Billy Badger and Stars Tonight, both the winners of eight races and Need You Now which has won four.

Another of her daughters, Christian Cullen mare Summer Ale, qualified and raced once. She left a couple of winners – Summertime Lizzie (Santana Blue Chip) which won twice and Argyle Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) which won two in New Zealand and another eighteen races in Australia. She’s paced a mile in 1-52.1.

Meanwhile Buck provided a welcome change of luck for Ascot Park trainer Brent Shirley.

Buck (1) and Nathan Williamson winning at Wyndham yesterday

It was the trainer’s second winner this season – the first being Onesmartfella in October.

Buck, having his third start got up to beat Glenledi Captain by half a neck in the Neville Cronin Memorial Mobile Pace.

The Courage Under Fire four year old was lead back to the birdcage by Clerk of the Course Sally McKay riding Bucks uncle Vi Et Animo.

Vi Et Animo and Buck’s dam Dyed Blonde are both out of Blondies Pocket.

Buck and Vi Et Animo (head bowing to the new kid on the block)

Team Teal Appeal Ends On A High

Bruce Stewart

The support of Southlanders for Team Teal over the past few weeks has been a great demonstration of their generosity.

Team Teal celebrities at Northern Southland

On Saturday at Wyndham the Robin Dundee Club presented Team Teal Southland Ambassador Ellie Barron with a cheque for $1,400.

That money was raised at the Winton Harness Meeting from a luncheon with guest Southern Steel legend Wendy Frew, as well as from a number of other fundraising initiatives.

“We took the donation buckets around, gave $50 to every female driver that won that day (Ellie Barron – twice, Sheree Tomlinson and Kirstin Barclay) plus fifty dollars to every winning filly or mare (Lilac Becky, Seekie Monkey, Cheezal and Carnegie Hall),” said Robin Dundee spokesperson Gail Paisley.

Jan Williams, Gail Paisley, Caroline Pannet and Ellie Barron at Wyndham

At the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting recently $1,745.20  was raised through the Celebrity Race which was one of the highlights of the day.

Elvis (Jason Broad) with one leg out and Kenny Baynes with a deflated mid section (an entire on a bad day) in the sack race.

Matty Williamson, Kirstin Barclay and Ellie Barron getting into the cream buns.

In all $8,047.30 was donated for Team Teal in Southland. A great effort!

Anderson Plans To Push On With American Lightning

Bruce Stewart

American Lightning was the first winner in an extraordinary day at Winton today.

American Lightning warming up

In the first ‘no public’ day of racing in the south brought about by the Corona Virus, the return to the birdcage by American Lightning was devoid of celebrations with not even part-owner and trainer Graeme Anderson on-course, preferring to stay at home and watch the races on television.

The two year old colt was taken back early by driver Matty Williamson while Boyzhavtime speared to the lead. Williamson started to get serious inside the four hundred and took the colt wide. He finished the race off nicely and got up to beat a game Boyzhavetime by a neck. The winning time for the 1609 metres was 1-58.5.

“He didn’t pace so good in the wet but he never drew a breath,” said Anderson happy with the way the colt ran and pulled up.

American Lightning getting up to beat Boyzhavetime on the inside

Back to the birdcage

American Lightning is by American Ideal out of Christian Cullen mare Zesty Philly. Anderson bought him at the sales paying $16,000.

He trained Zesty Philly with his then training partner Amber Hoffman after getting the mare from Gavin Smith. Anderson and Hoffman won one race with her at Winton in August 2012.

“I got her second hand and she had all the ability in the world but she had a crook back. We gave her a few starts and she went huge then she succumbed to her old injury. I was always keen to buy one out of her.”

The colt is owned by Anderson, Steve Pulley, Ray Chaiklin, Bruce Masson, Virginia Duncum, Edwin Corby, Kieran Corby and Tony Gow.

“He’s a lovely big strong two year old. There’s a lot of Christian Cullen in him. They went their last quarter in 27 on the wet track and he must have gone better than that so it was a good run. I think we’ll push on with him. The Welcome Stakes is on the same night as the Derby. If Spirit Of St Louis does what he’s supposed to do today they’ll both go to Addington.”

Wairio Raceday Isolated by Covid19

Bruce Stewart

The ban on 100 people or more gathering together due to the impact of Covid 19 created an unprecedented race day at Winton today, devoid of the public.

Horses, trainers, drivers, registered stablehands, raceday officials and media only, were permitted to be present on the racetrack, and only those named on the register were allowed through the gate, which was then padlocked.

Tote closed for the day

With just a dozen cars in the car park, no racebooks or totalizator and at most fifteen people watching each race from the stand, it was an odd experience.

Full marks to those present who treated it professionally as usual, but not a raceday as we know it.

Tactical Change leads the charge in Race Three in front of an empty stand

Between races  -not a soul in sight

Those watching the races

Clerk of the Course Sally McKay waiting for the next winner

Heading back to the stables

Wairio Briefs

Bruce Stewart

Afterburner won as he liked in his first start at Winton.


The three year old trained by Brett Gray and owned by Baynes Bloodstock and like many of their horses, his name is connected to aviation.  Afterburner trotted down to the line to beat Superfast Kiwi by four lengths.

Although his headgear was removed Afterburner appeared to have plenty in hand at the finish and he looks like a promising trotter.

Afterburner winning at Wairio for Brent Barclay. The first of three winners.

Back to the birdcage

He’s the first winner for Coktail Jet sire The Best Madrik who has left only four foals in New Zealand, all of which are three year olds.

Another of The Best Madrik’s foals Madrik, which races out of the Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis stable, is qualified but unraced. He too looks promising.

Afterburner’s out of Knapdale Girl an eight win Sundon mare whose first foal is the four win trotter Full Noise.

The Optimist appears to have a liking for Winton, having won two races both on the Central Southland course. She overcame a second line draw and a stout challenge by The White Rabbit to win by a nose.

The Optimist (9) beating The White Rabbit (1)

Kiwitrix can’t seem to win a trick.

The talented trotter has galloped a number of times when racing, and today just when he looked as if he’d win his second race he galloped shortly before the finish line and was relegated to second with Christmas Babe promoted to first.

Kiwitrix just before the winning post

Shortly after

Promoted winner Christmas Babe

Kickupyaheels won the fourth heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series today.

The four year old A Rocknroll Dance mare won last weekend at Wyndham and produced a similar run, finishing late wide out on the track to beat Bunters Dream by three quarters of a length.

Kickupyaheels and Johnny Morrison winning the Southern Belle Speed series heat.

First starter Who Made Who looked like a potential Southland Oaks filly when, in the hands on Brent Barclay, he beat American Eyretime by two lengths.

The Sweet Lou filly out of Arden Banner is trained at Aylesbury by Stephen Boyd and prior to today’s debut had won five of her six trials or workouts ironically when driven by Terry Chmiel who drove the runner up today.

Who Made Who winning for Brent Barclay

A close up of the winner

Win  number one

Arden Banner won twice in her thirteen start career. Her biggest win was in the Group One 2008 Sires Stakes Fillies Championship when she beat close relative Arden’s Darlin.

Who Made Who will have to start once more in the district before she’s eligible to start in the Southland Oaks Final at Ascot Park at the end of next month.

Major Watson lived up to his potential when he impressively won the Western Electrical Limited Mobile Pace. Trainer Nathan Williamson thinks a bit of the four year old which won two starts in a row earlier in the season but hasn’t had too much luck since.

Major Watson out on his own

Owned by Williamson and Ben and Karen Calder the son of Art Major has now won three races from eight starts.

Mach’s Back returned to winning form today.

The six year old last win was at Wyndham on the 31st January 2019 over a mile in 1-52.5.

From a second line draw driver Brent Barclay took the gelding back. He came down the middle of the track to beat a brave Stingray Tara which had sped to the lead at the 800 metres, and pinched a break at the top of the straight but was unable to hold out Mach’s Back which won by a half a head.

Mach’s Back (9) getting up to beat Stingray Tara (8)

Mach coming back

The Kirk Larsen trained Forsure capped off some consistent form to win for driver Blair Orange.

Forsure winning for trainer Kirk Larsen and driver Blair Orange

Last winner of the day !!!

Spirit Of St Louis Shows Plenty of Tenacity

Bruce Stewart

“I think you’d have to be happy – it was his first run for a while. He came down the outside of the track and he wasn’t going to get there but he tried really, really hard and picked them up,” trainer Graeme Anderson said of three year old Spirit Of St Louis which beat the older horses at Wairio today.

Spirit Of St Louis warming up

From a wide gate driver Matty Williamson took Spirit Of St Louis back. With 1000 metres to run he was able to improve three back on the outside line. When Spirit Of St Louis was asked to improve with 300 metres to run he was forced four wide. The gelding show tenacity and under strong urging from Williamson got up to win by a head with Parama and Born To Boogie dead heating for second. The mile was run in 1-56.5 on a slushy track with the last 800 metres timed in 56.9 and the last 400 metres in 26.8.

“He was at about ninety percent today so the run should tighten him up.”

Spirit Of St Louis (7) getting up to beat deadheaters Parama and Born To Boogie

Back to the birdcage

Like most trainers Anderson says it’s hard under the new handicap system to place three year olds and they’re regularly forced to race against the older horses.

“It’s always been tough. With the old handicapping system you used to get every second win free. But now you get up there (the grade) pretty bloody quick but you don’t have many options. We had to race down here because we’d have to have gone to Addington last night (Flying Stakes) and then come home again so it was a good fit.”

In a fortnight Anderson hopes to run the Sweet Lou three year old in the Group One New Zealand Derby.

“If they still hold the race we’ll go to the Derby now and hopefully lob three back on the fence, mind our own business and have a dash at them. We took Eamon Maguire on exactly the same path and he ran third in the Derby.”

Further up the road in the galloping code Anderson and a few of the owners in both Spirit Of St Louis and American Lightning watched Stella Creek, trained at Riccarton by Teri Rae, run second on debut.