May – 2021

Playboy Cups King

Bruce Stewart

2nd May 2021

The Nathan Williamson trained Pembrook Playboy capped off a remarkable run of the Southern Cups when he won the end of season Southern Country Cups Final on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park today.

From thirteen starts this season the four year old Bettor’s Delight entire has won seven races including the Northern Southland, Invercargill, the Central Otago Cups and the Summer Cup at Addington.

Pembrook Playboy warming up with Nathan Williamson

“It’s been a great season. He’s been the benchmark horse for the free for all horses down here,” said Williamson.

After running in single file for the first part of the 2700 metres Williamson was able to slot into the one one with 1500 metres to run.

At the 400 metres he let Pembrook Playboy go but at that point brother Matty Williamson pinched a break on Deus Ex. Nathan called on Pembrook Playboy to extend.. He got the better of Deus Ex in the last 200 metres and won by half a length.

“He felt bright and happy. It’s just a matter of keeping him healthy and happy. He’s had plenty of racing.”

Pembrook Playboy getting the better of Deus Ex

Owner Chris Alcock and family with sponsor Tom Kilkelly

The win gave Williamson his first $100,000 plus winner and elevated Pembrook Playboy to second in the Four Year Old Diamond behind Copy That.

“We’ll get him up there (to the Jewels) quite early – two or three weeks before. I‘m not sure whether he’ll need another race. There’s a Free for All at Addington in a fortnight which we may run in on the way up.”

Williamson didn’t have much luck with class trotter Chinese Whisper earlier in the day – he broke with 600 metres to run.

“I went up the inside. I was following Sundons Wish who was struggling a bit. I thought I could go inside him and then come back out. On the point of the bend he shied away from the other horse and lugged in and touched a track marker. He got a real fright and jumped off stride. He’s a spooky nervy horse so that was the reason.”

Bettor Talk Art Wins Oaks for Todd

Bruce Stewart

2nd May 2021

“I used to come as a kid and watch these races. Even just to have a horse in a race like this is a big thrill. I’m rapt to have won this one,” commented Woodend Beach trainer Regan Todd after Bettor Talk Art won today’s Macca Lodge/Nevele R Stud Southland Oaks Final at Ascot Park.

Bettor Talk Art warming up with Robbie Close

Todd was born and bred in Wyndham, a thirty minute drive east of Invercargill and worked for Canterbury trainer Mark Jones before branching out on his own in 2011.

“We always enjoy coming down here. It’s always good to catch-up with family and we get pretty well looked after wherever we stay.”

In today’s Group Two feature driver Robbie Close followed early pacemaker Sweet Belle to trail after the first 100 metres.  The favourite Lifes A Beach then took up the running, putting Bettor Talk Art three back on the inside. With 1400 metres to run Better’s Tart and Braeview Kelly progressed forward three wide with Braeview Kelly softening up Lifes A Beach before taking over the lead with 800 metres to run. As the field opened up Close eased Bettor Talk Art off the inside to sit parked for the last part of the 2700 metres which proved to be the winning of the race.

Speaking of that part of the race afterwards Todd said “He drove the horse to perfection. Some of those nice horses did a bit of work early. To the horse’s credit she stuck on because she did a wee bit of work down the back.”

To continue the story, at the 400 Bettor Talk Art and Braeview Kelly raced head to head and Bettor Talk Art held on to beat a brave Lifes A Beach which came again by three quarters of a length with Sweet Belle one a half lengths back in third.

Bettor Talk Art hanging on to beat Lifes A Beach

The winning time was 3-21.2.

Oaks winner returning

HRNZ’s  Gary Woodham offering trainer Regan Todd part of the winning stake – a plate of sandwiches whilst Southern Harness Board member Murray Little looks on.

Winning connections, sponsors and club officals

Bettor Talk Art was bred by Steve and Maureen O’Brien. Steve held a training license for a number of years training twenty winners, including the dam of Bettor Talk Art – Lets Talk Art which won six races.

“Mark Jones trained a horse called Lets Hustle for them which was a full brother. He came to us late in his career and then this filly came along. She didn’t look that great early on but to her credit she’s come to it. We’ve given her a good spell here and there. She’s just got better and better,” stated Todd.

And Oh The Relief!

Bruce Stewart

2nd May 2021

The relief was there for all to see at Ascot Park today when star three year old Ragazzo Mach returned to winning form, taking out the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes for Branxholme trainer driver Nathan Williamson.

“There was a lot of pressure with that horse. He was sold for a big figure and I’m so rapt for the owners (Swandoo Harness Racing Pty Limited Syndicate). They’re just great people and put a lot into the game and I wish them all the best with the horse once he gets to WA (West Australia),” Williamson said after the five and a half length win and a flourish of the whip at the end of the race.

Ragazzo Mach warming up in the Alabar colours

It was also the first time the Southland trainer has won the three year old feature. He finished second in last season’s edition with Pembrook Playboy who was beaten by Burnham Boy, and in 2015 Tas Man Bromac trained by Williamson was beaten by a nose by I’m Full Of  Excuses.

“It’s been my bogey race. Franco Santino ran third one year. I’ve just had awful draws and terrible runs.”

Talking of luck, Ragazzo Mach had very little of it in the two Addington races   among the elite three year olds prior to today’s race at home, and Williamson was keen to put both the Flying Stakes and Derby behind him.

“I think he was going through a bit of a growth spurt. On reflection he probably wasn’t at his best although he seemed great.”

In today’s $40,000 feature Yorokobi was taken to the front from the gate with Ragazzo Mach settling fifth on the outside.

“We stayed out of that early burn until they sorted themselves out.”

With 1600 metres to run Williamson took Ragazzo Mach forward three wide to take the lead.

“I worked him into it and he was back to his best today.”

At the 400 metres Williamson let the colt run and he quickly opened up the field with just Yorokobi staying in touch. But with 100 metres to run Williamson slapped the reins and he shot clear to win easily in 3-17.7 smashing the race track and Southland record of 3-19.1 held jointly by Highview Tommy and Eamon Maguire. Third placegetter Idealism came in eight and a half lengths behind.

Williamson saluting the crowd after Ragazzo Mach’s win in the Supremacy

“He’s such a great horse running a track record and (he) finished the race off in 26 (26.9 seconds).  He’s a great stayer. It’s just a shame we didn’t draw well in the Derby.”

Winning connections, sponsors and club officials

The winning stake today elevated Ragazzo Mach to fifth in next month’s Three Year Old Emerald at Cambridge.

“He may race at Winton in a fortnight. We’ll just try and plan it so we’re right on Jewels day.”

Always B Miki Progeny Dominate Diamond Creek Farm Classic

Bruce Stewart

2nd May 2021

Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray won his first Group race today when Always B Miki gelding You’re So Fine won the Group Two Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic.

The win was the first by a Southland trained horse in the race’s seven year history.

Asked after the presentation if it was a career hightlight, Gray said “Hell yeah.”

You’re So Fine and Nathan Williamson warming up

Duke Of Cornwell and Cantfindabettorman took turns at setting a solid pace in front. With a lap to run Cantfindabettorman led with second favourite Franco Indie sitting parked. Driver Nathan Williamson was sitting three back on the inside with You’re So Fine. With 600 metres to run he was able to push off the inside to track favourite Republican Party forward.

Inside the 400 metres Williamson elected to run You’re So Fine up the inside. He then moved off the inside and was able to push out another width before coming down the middle of the track. He let down nicely to win by two lengths with another son of Always B Miki Franco Indie finishing second.

You’re So Fine extending out to win The Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic.

“……. he’s a genius. Nath’s a great mate and great horseman,” said Gray.

The winning time of 2-39.6 was a national, new race, track and Southland record. The previous record of 2-40.6 was held by 2018 Diamond Creek Farm winner A Bettor Act.

Returning to the birdcage

The MCC Syndicate and sponsors with You’re So Fine

You’re So Fine gave punters an indication he was a serious racehorse when running third in last month’s Kindergarten Stakes and Gray was confident of a good run today in Southland’s richest harness race.

“We had a bit of a foot issue before the Kindie but I was rapt with his workout the other day and I’ve been happy with his work since.”

You’re So Fine is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Syriana and is a half-brother to the well preformed Meticulous which won nine races. He’s part of the famed Black Watch family with has second dam being Corbie.

“It was a great thrill to win that for Brett. He’s an underrated horse. Southland had a great day. Regan (Todd) is a Southlander so we’ve finally held our own,” said Williamson.

You’re So Fine was bought by the MCC syndicate at the 2020 National Standardbred Yearling Sales for $14,000 and is named after the Toni Basil song Hey Mickey which includes the line ‘You’re So Fine You Blow my Mind Hey Mickey.’

The fifteen strong Makarewa Country Club (MCC) syndicate has raced horses  for twenty seven years.

“It’s a great syndicate. We’ve bought a few at the sales and had a bit of success. It’s working out pretty good,” Gray said.

The syndicate is managed by Errol Forde and includes Bernie Forde, Margaret West, Darryl Hewitson, Ack McLeod, Bob McKay, Mike Booth, Philippa Blackler, Ann Malcolm, Jenny McIvor, John Flynn, Donna Herrick, Brian Butson and Murray Lodge.

“Most of the syndicate live (in) or are from the area. It’s the biggest thrill I’ve had in harness racing,” said secretary Ann Malcolm.

Ron Barron was one of the founding members and initially trained the syndicate horses. Son Tony also trained for the group but when he moved to Canterbury Brett Gray took over.

The MCC Syndicate also races gallopers, with shares in the well preformed City Slicker and Western Dreams.

“He’s a pretty cool handsome dude at home. We love him and he commands plenty of attention,” Gray said.

You’re So Fine’s sire Always B Miki is owned by the race’s sponsors Diamond Creek Farm and stands at Nevele R Stud in New Zealand. He was a 1-46 horse in America winning over two and a half million dollars. He’s the fastest horse of all time and was named 2016 US Horse of the Year. He became the only horse to win a race in a sub 1-47 mile time more than once – he did it four times.

His oldest progeny are two year olds and already he’s left nine qualifiers and three race day winners.

Following today’s win Gray is unsure as to where the gelding will go next.

“I was thinking about turning him out after this but I’d just like to check on a couple of things like the sales series. I definitely won’t be going to the Jewels. Nath and I think he’ll make a very good three year old and they’ve got to have a break somewhere.”

Diamond Creek Farm Classic Great Result For Sponsor

Bruce Stewart

8th May 2021

The running of the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic provided a perfect result for its sponsor.

Southland trained You’re So Fine in the hands of Nathan Williamson won the Group Two feature, beating Franco Indie by two lengths with another five lengths back to third         placegetter Cantfindabettorman. Both You’re So Fine and Franco Indie were sired by Diamond Creek Farm stallion Always B Miki.

You’re So Fine

“Diamond Creek Farm and Always B Miki syndicate partners are thrilled with his success both domestically and internationally. In the US, he currently sits at number two (in the stallion list) behind the late, great Somebeachsomewhere in 3 year old earnings,”said Diamond Creek Farm representative Shaun Laungani.

In America last weekend Always B Miki’s gelded son Southwind Gendry, won the first leg of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in 1:49.4.

“We anxiously anticipate the campaign of Southwind Gendry and undefeated Breeders Crown Champion and Two Year Old Pacing Colt of the Year, Perfect Sting. With great early results in New Zealand and Australia coupled with the return of some of the top young pacers from last year, the future for Always B Miki is extremely bright.”

Diamond Creek Farm also owns the sire of the third place getter Cantfindabettorman (by Sweet Lou).

This season’s edition drew the biggest field in the race’s short history with ten runners facing the starter. This was the first time a Southland trained horse has won the Group Two feature and a record number of Southland trained horse (5) fronted up.

The winning time of 2-39.6 (1-56.7 mile rate) was a race, track, Southland and New Zealand record.

You’re So Fine was purchased by Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray at the New Zealand Standardbred Sales in Christchurch for the MCC syndicate for $14,000.

The Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic was initiated by Southern Bred Southern Reared. This year was the sixth running of the race and this year’s stake of $50,000 was the largest staked race in the province this season.

The race was also popular with punters who wagered $126,253 on the race. The only race with a higher turnover was the Southland Oaks which recorded $147,527. Diamonds Day total turnover was $1,155,284.

Sweet Home – Lynryd Skynryd

Bruce Stewart

8th May 2021

Mister consistent Lynryd Skynryd capped off his season with his second win at Ascot Park today.

The five year old trained at Ascot Park by Jack Tither made the most of a handy draw and was taken straight to the top by junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson. From there he was never headed. The winning margin was a length and a quarter.

Lynryd Skynryd with a lap to run

Named by part owner Narelle Pollock after the band Lynryd Skynryd whose biggest hit was ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ Tither said the giant gelding was always going to take time.

“Hopefully time will be his friend but we’ll find out next year. He’s done a lot better this season than I thought he would. I thought we’d have to wait until he’s six and fills out a bit,” he said.

At the finish.

The big fella heading back

By A Rocknroll Dance, Lynryd Skynryd seems to race best when he’s in front.

“He loves it in front.”

The gelding is out of the Christian Cullen mare Shez Windermere and was bred by Tithers father-in- law Murray Faul. The mare is now owned by Otautau breeder Brent Smith. Her six foals of racing age have all qualified with RnR Windermere winning five races and BD Windermere winning four here, and another five in Australia.

Headache Horse Tolkien Gets Another Win

Bruce Stewart

8th May 2021

“That’s as good as he’s gone,” trainer driver Kirk Larsen said after Tolkien won his fourth race at Ascot Park today.

“He hasn’t been an easy horse. He’s got a real quirky nature and is his own boss. He trains well at home but you just don’t know which horse is going to turn up on the day.”

Tolkien warming up

Consequently the gelding has been a very difficult horse to follow both for his trainer and punters, but he had a few things in his favour today.

“Being on the second row I thought that would help which it did. If he draws two or three on the front and there’s a delay and they muck around he loses it.”

Although he ran down the track at his last starts, his previous two runs had been good.

“The last start he missed away but before that he raced behind the mobile which he loves but you don’t get that many down here.”

Larsen said the horse normally gets worked up while travelling to the races or in his box prior to the race but today was different.

“Normally in the float he’s a bloody idiot – he rocks and rolls and mucks around but today for some reason he was as calm as anything. I’ve struck him like that a couple of times. Anytime he’s been like that, he’s gone pretty well.”

After trotting off the mark today Larsen settled the five year old midfield on the outside. As other horses started to improve at the 600 he had to give up his good spot and move Tolkien around the field.

“He felt extra good. When I peeled, I didn’t really want to go but I had to get handy.”

At the 300 he had trotted up to the leader Palisade and hit the lead on straightening. He beat  Insist The Win by two and a quarter lengths.

“For some reason he’s trotting the bends a lot better. He always used to crab the bends and run in a bit but now he’s actually running out and since he’s been doing that he’s trotting the bends a lot better.”

Tolkien winning for Kirk Larsen

Heading to the birdcage

Tolkien is owned by Lynette Philpot and Larsen’s son Tristan. Philpot raced Auckland Cup winner Howard Bromac from the Larsen stable.

“Michelle’s (Tristan’s mother) sister Susan Hayes was actually in the horse as well but she gave her share to Tristan for this eighteenth birthday.”

So after a frustrating run of luck and a few ‘outs’ the Larsen’s are rewarded by a trotter that hasn’t finished winning yet.

“There was a time when he was frustrating me so much I was going to put him on Gavelhouse (auction site) but we stuck with him and he’s won two since then.”

Larsen says the stable has a good number of young trotters coming through.

“Tristan has always been keen on the trotters and we’ve got a few around us. They have three trots a day now so if you haven’t got one you’re missing out. I remember working at Bryce Buchanan’s. They had ten sets of bell boots and shoes welded inside other shoes. She was a bit of a battle to get them going but trotters are so much better these days.”

Ideal BB Wins For Faithful

Bruce Stewart

8th May 2021

Winton trainer Chelsea Faithful was expecting new recruit Ideal BB to run well at Ascot Park today, but getting a win did surprise her.

“I was expecting her to go nice but not to win like that,” she said.

Chelsea Faithful

Ideal BB settled third last early avoiding an early galloper before running two back on the outside. At the 400 driver Nathan Williamson let the mare slide forward and she let down nicely centre track to get up and beat pacemaker Superfast by two and a quarter lengths. The winning time of 2-45.9 was respectable on a cold day.

“I thought she’d be short for the run today and she will improve. She’ll win another one relatively easily I think.”

Shortly after the finish Ideal BB looked to be in trouble as he galloped and had to be taken to the inside of the track.

“I stopped watching and everyone said ‘what happened to your horse. Did it break its leg?’ She pulled a shoe just before the finish putting in a couple of rough ones. It looked a lot worse than it actually was.”

Ideal BB and Nathan Williamson winning – Photo Monica Toretto

Ideal BB qualified for Kirk Larsen at Winton in October 2019 and had two race day starts from the stable – the last 12 months ago.

“Kirk did all the work with her. She hasn’t raced for a year. She was spelled to strengthen up because she’s quite a big mare.”

Faithful has had the American Ideal mare for three months.

“She’s had two workouts for me. The first one she went fair but in the second I was much happier with her as she found the line nicely.”

Ideal BB is raced by Dunedin Doctor Onn Chin who’s had lots of success with the Tartan breed, which he’s had for many years.

“Onn have been pretty good to me let me have a go with them. The one’s I’ve got here at the moment are not superstars but they’re honest and go good races every week. These are their last race horses. Kirk liked her (Ideal BB) but she hadn’t shown too much. Coming here was a change and something different. Being in a smaller stable suits her because she’s quite an anxious horse. She does a bit of thinking but she loves the one on one (attention).”

Recently retired Tartan Trilogy is still at the stable.

“He’s been a pest. He’s the stable GP at the moment. He keeps them all in line. I’ve just got Tartan Raider to come back.”

Faithfuls success, and the way in which she turns her horse out on race day, mean her services have been in demand, but she has limited stable space.

“It’s frustrating at the moment. I’ve got so many horses here that I don’t have enough boxes for and some of them have to stay outside. I don’t really like paddock training them especially in winter. I’m waiting for the builder to come and put up two more boxes which will be ideal.”

Faithful is now looking at starting Ideal BB in a junior driver’s race.

“They’re not that easy to win at times. I’ll look to get Mark Hurrell to drive her but he’s suspended at the moment so it’ll depend on when he gets back.

Meanwhile stable star Pay Me Speedy is likely to line up at Addington this Friday.

“It’s Premier night and there’s a $20,000 race there for her. She’s good enough to go so there’s no point in shying away. It’s a 2600 metre mobile which should suit her down to the ground.”

It’ll be the first time the young trainer has ventured to the metropolitan track. “I’m a bit nervous already. I’ll be a good experience for both her and me. It’ll make her grow up.”

Faithful works for Williamson during the day and trains her own horses when she can.

“I’ve got to go now and work Tartan Roxy.”

Today’s win was one of four for Williamson.

‘Raka’ Quinella Provides Boost For Fahy

14th May 2021

Bruce Stewart

The past year hasn’t been easy for Brendon Fahy but today’s win by first starter Rakanotta lifted his spirits, and  with his other runner Rakareplay coming in at second to give him the quinella, the lift was doubled.

“I don’t think I’ve had one before. I’ve had two wins in one day but not a quinella,” he said.

Rakanotta beating stablemate Rakaplay

Trained at Ryal Bush by Peter Hunter, Rakanotta is by Somebeachsomewhere and out of quality mare Raksdeal. The three year old filly certainly has a presence.

“Pete says she’s the biggest horse he’s ever trained. When he got her he said she was like a big broodmare. For a big horse she seems to be quite spritely. She’s not clumsy.”

Fahy says Hunter has always had an opinion of the filly.

“When he broke her in he quite liked her but then the stable got the virus so she had to be turned out.”

Rakanotta indicated she was ready for her debut at the races with a sound second at the Winton Workouts last Friday.

“He was hopeful but you don’t know at their first start.”

A closer look at the finish


Mach Three filly Rakareplay was three lengths back in second improving on her last start fourth.

“She didn’t go that good at her last start. She gets a bit hot before her races but she went nice today.”

Fahy says he hasn’t had too much luck breeding from Raksdeal. The mare’s first foal Rakanellie looked promising but had to be retired from the racetrack.

“She showed a lot of ability but she had a knee problem.”

Ragazzo Mach Gets The Job Done

15th May 2021

Bruce Stewart

It wasn’t the dominating win many were expecting but with a bigger picture in mind, Ragazzo Mach and trainer driver Nathan Williamson got the job done.

The finish was tight and a bit messy as Chuckles got within a neck of Ragazzo Mach and the sulky wheels touched, but Ragazzo Mach held out the challenger.

“Craig’s horse was running around a bit and it got a bit tight just after the line but he was good enough to get the job done,” Williamson said.

Tight quarters at the end of the mile

It hadn’t been in the plan to race Ragazzo Mach  at the Winton Harness Racing meeting today, but Williamson told me during the week that the colt had got away on him and needed another run to take the edge off.

“He went well. He needed the run badly and that’s why we were here. He’s big in order (condition).”

Still hard on the bit after his run at Winton today

Ragazzo Mach along with stablemates Pembrook Playboy and Kiwitrix head north on Monday for the Harness Jewels in Cambridge early next month.

“It’s to Christchurch then Bulls then onto Cambridge. We’ll be up there by Wednesday afternoon. We want to go early and settle in. They’ll go to the Jewels Trials the week before (Jewels Day).”

Williamson says he’s happy with four year old Pembrook Playboy who will also start on Jewels Day.

“He doesn’t tend to need racing like this fella.”

Southland trained horses that are currently eligible for the Harness Jewels are:

  • Pembrook Playboy –Nathan Williamson (2) Four Year Old Emerald.
  • Kiwitrix – Nathan Williamson (10) Four Year Old Ruby.
  • Ragazzo Mach – Nathan Williamson (5) Three Year Old Diamond.
  • You’re So Fine – Brett Gray (4) Two Year Old Diamond.

The last and only Southland trained winner on Jewels Day was Beaudiene Bad Babe at Cambridge in 2010.

Southland breeders Todd and Fleur Anderson will have a special interest in this year’s Harness Jewels. They’ve bred seven runners that are currently eligible or on the fringe of making the cut for this season’s feature day at Cambridge.

  • Dance Til Dawn (Art Major – Shimmy Shoe)-ranked 5th in the Two Year Old Diamond
  • Allegro (Bettor’s Delight – Safedra)-ranked 12th in the Two Year Old Diamond
  • Emmy (Bettor’s Delight – De Lovely)-ranked 13th in the Two Year Old Diamond
  • La Rosa (Bettor’s Delight – Safedra)-ranked 2nd in the Three Year Old Diamond
  • Blameitonthenight (Bettor’s Delight – Gotta Go Harmony) –ranked 17th in the Two Year Old Emerald
  • The Falcon (Bettor’s Delight – Tandias Bromac) – ranked 11th in the Three Year Old Emerald
  • Bad To The Bone (Bettor’s Delight – Beaudiene Bad Babe) – ranked 4th in the Four Year Old Emerald.

Ultimate – Strides into Jewels

Bruce Stewart

22nd March 2021

Trainer Phil Williamson admits it’s been a bit of a battle to get Ultimate Stride into this season’s Harness Jewels but the win today at Ascot Park sealed the deal for the talented trotter.

“There’ve been a few little things that haven’t been right but he’s a very good horse,” he said after the entire won his eleventh race.

His form line this season has been very in and out and this has frustrated Williamson as he’s targeted the Harness Jewels.

“We’ve had a few changes with gear but it’s been mainly shoeing. We’ve tried to get him to race consistently rather than good today and not so good next week. He’s a lovely horse to do anything with. There’s just a level of frustration when you’re working him towards a race. One day he’ll be nice and relaxed and the next time he’ll be as keen as mustard. Then he runs in one week and then out the next so there’s always something happening.”

In today’s Ryal Bush Transport Handicap Trot the four year old began well from the forty metre mark. With 1800 metres to run driver Matty Williamson took Ultimate stride forward and 400 metres later he took over the role as pacemaker.

Ultimate Stride leads with a lap to run

With 600 metres to run Williamson opened the throttle and Ultimate Stride started to stretch out. Turning in he had six lengths on the chasing pack. Boyz Invasion finished the race off really well to get within three quarters of a length of Ultimate Stride.

At the finish

Back after win number eleven

Today’s win elevates Ultimate Stride into tenth position and he now looks certain for a start in the Group One $100,000 Garrard’s Horse and Hound Four Year Old Ruby at Cambridge in a fortnight.

“The travel won’t worry him. We’ll travel up and see how we get on with the big boys.”

Top qualifiers in the Ruby are Muscle Mountain and Bolt For Brilliance.

“Muscle Mountain is a star in the making who is probably a star now and Bolt For Brilliance is probably the same. This fella’s not too far behind them on sheer ability but it’s just the ring craft. The draw’s going to be crucial so with a good draw he’ll have his chance but it will also come down to manners on the day. He would be one of the better chances.”

Ideal BB Two in a Row

Bruce Stewart

22nd May 2021

Winton trainer Chelsea Faithful freely admits she got a bit of a helping hand this week to prep Ideal BB for her second win at Ascot Park today.

Faithful has been in Christchurch all week supervising her two runners at Addington.

“I’ve got to thank my Mum and Jamie Campbell. Jamie hoppled Ideal BB once and galloped Tartan Trilogy in front of her. They’ve followed my instructions (laughter),” she said after the American Ideal mare’s impressive win.

Ideal BB warming up for Sarah O’Reilly

“She’s quite a nice mare that seems to be getting better with each run. It’s great for the owners (Onn and Raewyn Chin) who have been great supporters of me.”

In today’s junior drivers event Sarah O’Reilly settled Ideal BB just beyond midfield. At the 800, O’Reilly had Ideal BB three back on the outside running line with the leaders running a strong clip. As the leaders started to struggle O’Reilly’s decision to move the mare forward was a master stroke.

“I was surprised. I was thinking she was going a long way from home but Sarah’s drive was a ten out of ten.”

At the 400 metres Ideal BB had taken the lead but was three wide. On straightening she stretched out like a good horse beating Onedin Hurricane by two and a quarter lengths, running the 2200 metres in a respectable 2-43.7.

“I think she’ll be better for that run. She definitely didn’t blow as much after today’s run compared to her first win which means she’s getting fitter. She should improve naturally with some racing.”

Ideal BB with winning connection – Photo Monica Toretto

Ideal BB is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Tartan BB which is out of the thirteen win Holmes Hanover mare Tartan Lady.

The following is part of an article which Southland journalist Mac Henry wrote in December 2010, explaining how Tartan BB was named.

Shortly after producing Tartan B B, Tartan Lady’s health began to deteriorate and within a few weeks she was sent to the Southern Vet Centre in Invercargill and attended to by veterinarian Brendon Bell. Dr Chin, a retired GP of Mosgiel, said Bell scanned Tartan Lady and found a massive hernia.

“I have checked and there has only ever been one survivor (from the operation) and that was at a top American equine university,” he said at the time.

Fellow veterinarian Mike Brown described the problem as a hernia of the diaphragm and confirmed at the time that the operation conducted by Bell had never previously been done successfully in New Zealand.

Three years on and Dr Chin is still full of praise for the locally-born Bell who joined the Southern Vet Centre from Auckland, having returned there from Illinois University where he worked under Dr Gordon Baker.

“He did a fantastic job, Tartan Lady stopped breathing a couple of times, I wanted to name the foal Tartan Bell after Brendon but couldn’t get it so settled for Tartan B B,” he said.

Back to the present day, Faithful has been away in Christchurch in the past week, supervising Pay Me Speedy and Tartan Roxy both of whom started at Addington.

“I was happy with her (Pay Me Speedy) run on the first night. She did quite a bit of work. She was three wide for the whole last lap and maybe that took a wee bit out of her. She can have a break now and come back as a five year old. The trip away did her the world of good. She’s not getting to the races and shocking and carrying on.

Pearson Pulls Off Pearler

Bruce Stewart

22nd May 2021

There’s no doubting Winton trainer Lauren Pearson’s conditioning skills, and despite having an average form line and not having been at the races since February, Dream Of Glory was in the right shape to win his second race at Ascot Park today.

The Art Major gelding qualified for Canterbury trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen but after only three starts for the stable, in June 2020 he was transferred south to Pearson’s stable.

Dream Of Glory winning for Brent Barclay at Ascot Park today

Although he won at Ascot Park that month, his form dropped away in his next six starts.

He was fitted for today’s run with two workouts at the Winton track, winning on the 14th, and running second on the 7th of May.

“Lauren just hoped he would run on. It was a perfect drive. A Natalie Rasmussen drive (laughter),” owner Diane Cournane said of driver Brent Barclay’s drive.

Dream Of Glory is the fifth foal out of seven win Village Jasper mare Breath Of Life.

“He’s just had a few issues with soreness so I said to Lauren ‘just take your time with him because he’s a very big boy.’ He has brushed a knee but he seems to be growing out of that.”

Barclay positioned Dream Of Glory behind pacemaker Ohoka Agent. After a tough run three wide for most of the last lap, Tac Mac hit the lead at the top of the straight but Dream Of Life made full use of the passing lane and got up to beat Tac Mac by a head with Rakanotta storming home for third.

Two number two for the well bred Dream Of Glory-Brent Barclay’s 50th winner for partner Lauren Pearson.

Brent Barclay, Dream Of Glory, Lauren Pearson and her aunty Diane Cournane

Breath Of Life has been a good broodmare for Cournane, producing Fight For Glory (14), GI Joe (5), Honor And Glory (2) and Hopeing for Glory (2).

“We have just weaned her latest filly foal and full sister to this guy, and she’s also got another yearling filly that Lauren and Brent will train.”

Cournane is also breeding from Fight For Glory.

“Her first foal (Glory’s Delight) pulled a ligament behind her knee and Mark and Natalie said to turn her out for a year so she’s at home. Lauren and Brent have just broken in her second filly (Delightful Glory) and she’s got a colt by Bettors (Bettor’s Delight) that’s going to the Sales.”

Cournane, who runs a successful agistment farm at Bush is also into thoroughbreds.

“I’ve just bought a thoroughbred mare out of Peter Vela’s good breed. She’s by Pins and is in foal to Darci Brahma. They’re telling me up there that I stole her (laughter). I still like the thoroughbreds as well.”

Diane, husband Noel along with Pearson, Barclay and Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray, have shares in Tavistock galloper Volvik which has won three of its twenty four starts for Canterbury trainer Lyn Prendergast.

Meanwhile trotting mare Andiamo made the most of a perfect trip to win her first race at Ascot Park today.

Trainer driver Kirk Larsen got the drag behind pacemaker Majestic Jag before popping out inside the last 400 metres to win by three quarters of a lengths from Jasmine Jaccka.

Andiamo winning race one at Ascot Park

Closer to the finish

Winning salute

The Andover Hall mare looks more solid this time in.

Seven win gelding Santanna Mach appreciated the drop in grade when he won the Southland Express Mobile Pace by an impressive five and three quarters of a length for Blair Orange.

Trained by Michael House, a great supporter of Southern Harness, the seven year old was well handled by Orange who stayed out of the early action and brought Santanna Mach home down centre track. Airwave was second.

Santanna Mach winning for Blair Orange

Back to scale

In the very next race Orange was at it again when he came down the middle of the track to win with Superfast.

Superfast. Win number two for Blair Orange

The Washington VC filly had run a couple of placings in this campaign and the win was well deserved for horse, trainer Brian Norman and owners Keith and Tracey Norman.

Orange continued his red letter day when he reined his third winner – another House runner, Midnight In Memphis to beat perennial place getter Bettors Highlight by a nose.

Midnight In Memphis (9) winning for the House/Orange combination

Winning salute

House made it three wins when Zoned Scarlett won her eighth race in her 119 start career.

The eight year old mare took on her usual pacemaking role and held on by a head to beat Insist The Win.

Zoned Scarlett and Sam Ottley hanging on to win

Orange later won on Dress Code making it four wins on the day’s card.