November 2019

Tairlaw Toll Wins Again

Bruce Stewart

Somebeachsomewhere gelding Tairlaw Toll is proving to be something of an early season revelation with the four year old having won twice in four starts since resuming at Winton on the 26th September.

Tairlaw Toll going down to the line easily winning for driver Brad Williamson

Trainer Brent McIntyre puts the turnaround in Tairlaw Toll’s form down to the work Invercargill trainer Brent Shirley did with him last season.

“It’s all the hard work that Brent did last year. It’s paying off. I sent him down to him to train. He couldn’t get round my track because he touched a knee,” said McIntyre.

Shirley trained him for his first twelve starts.

“He’s still another year way in the body and the brain. I always thought he could be a nice horse. Brent got him and told me not to sell him because he thought someone would be ringing up wanting to buy him. But they never did, so I didn’t really have that problem.”

The plan now is to head to Addington for Show Day.

“We hope he keeps naturally improving because he’s off the unruly now. If he eats up tonight I’ll take him up to the race in Canterbury (Macca Lodge ‘trained south of the Waitaki Mobile Pace’).”

A nice race for McIntyre to win as he sponsored the Show Day feature.

Tomlinson Wins Drivers Championship

Lindsay Beer

The Downbytheseaside Drivers Challenge supported by Woodlands Stud saw a competitive contest for both the Individual and Team titles at Ascot Park
Raceway in Invercargill on Thursday.

Sheree Tomlinson from North Of The Waitaki won the Individual title after reining two winners across the four heats but the South Of The Waitaki Team banked solid points throughout the day to retain their Teams Title that they won last year.

Blair Orange had taken the early lead after winning the opening heat aboard
Fanny Hill before his Northern team mate, Tomlinson, won the next two heats
with Lawrence and Flash Party to take a nine-point lead into the final heat.

Although she failed to add to her tally her twenty points were good enough to
hold off Orange who scored five in the last to close to within four points. Craig
Ferguson was the best of the South Of The Waitaki team in third with 13 points, one ahead of team mate Matty Williamson.

The Teams Title was a see-saw battle. The South took an early lead with Brent
Barclay, Matty Williamson and Kirstin Barclay securing second third and fourth in the opening heat to lead the North team 15-11.

Tomlinson’s win in the next heat ably supported by John Morrison in second saw North gain a 29-23 lead and with Tomlinson winning the third heat the North Of The Waitaki Team took a 43-35 lead into the finale. However, brothers Brad and Matty Williamson, took the quinella with Ferguson also adding points to allow the South Of The Waitaki Team to retain the title they won last year 55 points to 49.

Tomlinson’s win was notable in that it was only the second time a female had
taken the title since the competition was instigated in 1989, the other occasion being in 1995 when Jan Gould of Central Districts did so.

Photo compliments of Wild Range Photography – Wayne Huddleston

New Partnership Off To A Flyer

Bruce Stewart

The new training partnership of Mark Jones and Benny Hill won it’s first two races at the Wyndham Harness Club’s meeting today.

Three year old Art Major colt Silent Major got the partnership on the board when he sat parked, then led and held on to beat Cassius Bromac. The winning margin was half a neck.

“He’s pretty green and lazy but he’s a nice little three year old. He’s got good manners but he hasn’t done bugger all,” said driver Ricky May.

Silent Major and Ricky May holding out Cassius Bromac – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning after the win  – Photo Bruce Stewart

It was just only Silent Major’s fourth start. He ran second on debut at Timaru, then he galloped at his next start at Addington.

“He drew the outside of the gate. I was pulling him back and he stuck his head down and galloped so we just wrote that one off.”

Silent Major is a half-brother to useful types in Back In Black, Hestia Franco and Heretic Franco.

Stylish Memphis proved her class when at her first start as a three year, she took full advantage of a trail to sprint home to win the Kubala Seeds Stella Frost Stakes for fillies and mares.

From a wide draw driver Ricky May took her forward to lead before handing up to Pearl Harbour.

“I could have stayed in front but I thought it was probably the right thing to do first up. She probably needed the run today,” May said.

May took the passing lane and held on to beat Total Diva.

“I got a bit lucky, Becky’s one galloped (Might Be Me).”

Might Be Me looked to be making the winning run down the middle of the track but galloped 30 metres before the finish line.

“She hit the line and pulled up. She did it at the trials the other day but Bettor’s Delights are like that. The others were right on the outside of the track so she probably didn’t see them. That was the only thing she did wrong today.”

Stylish Memphis holds out Total Diva  with a galloping Might Be Me and Allan Beck (white cap) three out – Photo Bruce Stewart.

In the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

In the presentation May said Stylish Memphis is likely to head to Auckland to try some of the bigger three year old fillies races.

“She’s a pretty nice horse and we haven’t seen the best of her. This was only her fourth start at the races and she ran fifth at the Harness Jewels so she’s not too far away.”

May says the Jones and Hill partnership is working around 65 horses between them and is enthused with the new training regime.

“They’re trying something different. They want to be competitive with the Purdons and the Dunns. With more owners it gives them more buying power to go to the Sales. It’s a big move and Benny was pretty nervous about it. He and Mark have been pretty good cobbers for a few years. The game needs things like this. I was with Benny at Addington when the news first came out and three or four of Mark Jones owners came up to him and said the move is going to be great. Benny’s owners are thinking the same I think.”

Portabella trainer Steve Ashton has trained a few horses over the years with the prefix Sunnivue, and the latest, Sunnivue Phileah, won today at Wyndham.

Sunnivue Phileah beating Kiwitrix – Photo Bruce Stewart

Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

Other Sunnivue winners for Ashton have been Sunnivue Impulse (6), Sunnivue Ted (9) and Sunnivue Caesar (4).

Tiger Moth provided Ashburton trainer Graham Bond with his first winner since Superfecta won for him in May 2017.

Tiger Moth and Nathan Williamson winning – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Bond has trained 76 winners – most of which were from his Southland base at Drummond in the 1980s and ’90s.

Abby May provided Milton trainer Lyndon Durham with his eighth winner today. He’s been training off and on since 2001 – his first winner was Chance A Knight at Gore.

Abby May easily winning her second race – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Abby May was having only  her thirteenth start today and was driven by Wyndham reinsman Craig Ferguson who also drove Sunnivue Phileah for the win.

Andy More Than Handy

Bruce Stewart

Wyndham committee man Ian Hunter has spent the past decade developing his trotting breed. And the win by the highly talented Andy Hall which won on debut at the Young Quinn Raceway today highlights the breed’s continuing success.

Andy Hall – File.

Hunter has bred a host of winners from Andy Hall’s dam Delcola, (herself the winner of six races) which include Splash Cola (9), Delestic (3) and Delson (3 wins from 8 starts).

Andy Hall was made favourite in today’s race on the back of some impressive workout wins. From barrier one he began slowly but safely for trainer driver Nathan Williamson.

“The only way I thought he could make a mistake was if I tried to rush him at the start,” he said.

After racing back for the first part Williamson was able to get a good drag into the race when Susies Way started to move up in the outside running line with 1000 metres to run. At the 600 Williamson moved the giant trotter out three wide and progressed forward. At the top of the straight Andy Hall was on equal terms with Susies Way but proved too strong at the finish, winning by two and a quarter lengths.

“He showed good manners, trotted well and finished the race off so I couldn’t have been happier. He’s got a nice way of trotting and generally he’s quite solid that way.”

Williamson has had the Andover Hall gelding since he was a young horse and he says at times he’s been a bit of a handful but the talent has always been there.

“He was broken in and had a prep as a young horse, then he had preparations at two and three. He’s just kept on growing. He’s been in and out of the stable so he’s been well schooled. That’s probably where he gets his good manners from.”

Williamson says he’ll back off the horse a bit now and he probably won’t be seen at the races for at least another four weeks.

“I’ll keep him on the big tracks for now. He’s promising, and looks like a horse with a bit of a future.”

In the second trot of the afternoon Williamson, driving the favourite and last start winner Sekkie Monkey, had to settle for second.

After sitting parked for the entire journey she couldn’t quite get to pacemaker Whatwillbeewillbee driven astutely by Jonny Cox. The winning margin was a nose.

Whatwillbeewillbee (6) trained by Brian Norman beating Sekkie Monkey – Photo Bruce Stewart

Winning smile – Photo Bruce Stewart

Cox had won earlier in the day on Held To Ransom, providing young trainer Jesse Alford with his first winner. Alford was unable to drive the mare as he was suspended at last weekend’s Wyndham meeting for careless driving.

Cox salutes – First winner for trainer Jesse Alford – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning – Photo Bruce Stewart

Meanwhile the first season training partnership of Ross and Chris Wilson scored back to back wins when Swift Robyn won her second race and Bridesdale Robyn won her sixth race in a heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series.

At the 600 metres driver Craig Ferguson launched Swift Robyn forward in a lightning move. She was three wide and challenging just before straightening for the run in and came down the middle of the track bravely holding on to beat Bettors Atom by a length and a quarter.

Game mare Swift Robyn winning at Wyndham – Photo Bruce Stewart

Bridesdale Robyn was the winner in Race Four. Ferguson blasted her off the gate from the wide draw and got to the top after a short battle with Team Kiwi.

From that point the Christian Cullen mare ran her rivals along at speed. Heading up the straight, Bridesdale Robyn and Team Kiwi had a good old battle with the Wilson trained mare getting there by a head. The 1609 metres was run in 1-55.5.

Bridesdale Robyn (7) winning her Southern Belle heat – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning with winning driver Craig Ferguson – Photo Bruce Stewart

Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

Hometown Hunter Handicap Win For Todd.

Bruce Stewart

Wyndham born and bred trainer Regan Todd won the feature pacing race of the day at Wyndham today when seven year old Art Major gelding Swamp Major won the time honoured Hunter Family Handicap Pace.

Driver Kirstin Barclay settled Swamp Major third behind early pacemaker Benio Ben.

“He began super and we settled three back, and he was absolutely charging,” Barclay said.

With 1500 metres to run Robbie Close took stablemate Bringitonhome forward and reached the front with 1250 metres to run. At that point Barclay moved Swamp Major off the inside running line and got the gelding into gear with designs on the lead.

“When the other horse galloped (Yorkshire) I thought we might as well not be unlucky. When I saw the stablemate go to the front I was hoping he’d let me go.”

By the 600 Swamp Major, Robyns Playboy and Bringitonhome had shot clear of the rest of the field. Barclay began chasing up the big gelding and he responded gamely, holding out and late charging Triroyale Brigade by a length and a quarter.

“He was actually travelling okay at the end but he switched off because he had no horses around him. He felt like he had a bit left in the tank but I had to throw the reins at him to keep him interested.”

The winning time for the 2400 metres was 2-58.8 with the last 800 metres run in 60.1 seconds.

“Wasn’t the prettiest of drives but I got the job done.”

Swamp Major winning for Kirstin Barclay – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning winner of the Hunter Family Handicap – Photo Bruce Stewart

Swamp Major was by bred Trevor Ryder who owns the Invercargill based roofing and plumbing business Ryder Roofing. He shares in the ownership with friends Alan Lindsay, Scott and Sue McCrea, Cleland Murdoch and John Duff.

“The horse is an absolute gentleman – a child could drive him in a race. He must be one of Sam Ottley’s favourites because she calls him The Big Dude. She’s right. He’s pretty cool.”

Swamp Major began his racing career with Ken Barron but injury saw him move to a beach training regime and to Regan Todd.

From only twenty five career starts over five seasons he’s now won five races, his last win being on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park in April 2018. As a three year old he was good enough to run third behind Lazarus and Classie Brigade in the Flying Stakes of 2016. Unfortunately injury prevented him from racing 18 months and he completely missed his four year old season.

Todd, who trains at Woodend Beach north of Christchurch, was introduced to the harness game at the Young Quinn Raceway.

His grandfather Ray Todd trained at the Wyndham course for years, and local trainer Brendon McLellan provided young Todd with his first winning drive when Elite Under Fire won at Gore in April 2009.

Todd moved to Canterbury early in his career and worked for Mark Jones for a while before branching out on his own in 2011. He has now trained over 100 winners from his Woodend base.

Todd also trained King Of Heroes to win earlier in the day today.

The Washington VC gelding, who has Southland connections in his ownership, came down the outside of the track to win the Kubala Seeds Mobile Pace by two and half lengths. He was driven by Robbie Close.

Washington VC winner Kings Of Heroes – Photo Bruce Stewart

Meanwhile Gore trained Renegade Rose recorded her first win after five placed runs behind some handy pacers.

Driver Matty Williamson took the three year old straight to the front and she proved too strong for Rakastella, winning by a length and three quarters.

Renegade Rose easily clearing maiden ranks – Photo Bruce Stewart

Winning connections – Photo Bruce Stewart

The three year old Sweet Lou filly is trained by Tony Stratford and is owned by Braeview Limited whose principle is Paul Pearce. Pearce had success a few season ago with Mach Three filly Luminesce, which won four races for Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adams.

Cassius Wins For MCC Syndicate

Bruce Stewart

Cassius Bromac finally got his first win on the board when he led to win easily at Ascot Park today.

The He’s Watching gelding was unlucky at his last start, so driver Brent Barclay took luck out of play by taking the three year old straight to the lead from Barrier Two.

There he stayed, dictating all the pace and going down to the line to win by two and a half lengths from Canterbury visitor Foregone Conclusion.

Cassius Bromac in front with a lap to run.

Goofing around at the finish

Win number one in the bag

Trainer Brett Gray was pleased to get the win but said Cassius Bromac is far from the finished product.

“He goofed around in front but I expected that. He shied and ran out. He’s always been a bit of a character. He seems to be better from in behind because he’s got a bit of speed like he showed last week, but he had to make our own luck today.”

Cassius Bromac was bought at the 2018 Sale of the Stars for $14,000 by Gray and the late Alan Blackler, who was one of the original members of the sixteen strong Makarewa Country Club Syndicate. He’s out of the McArdle mare Cozette Bromac and his second dam Crown Defender is the dam of recent New Zealand Cup winner Cruz Bromac.

Interestingly enough, in the lot before Cassius Bromac at that sale was another quality Southland three year old, Pembrook Playboy which won later in the day.

The MCC Syndicate which has been running for twenty six years is made up of Ron Barron, Margaret West, Errol Forde, Bernie Forde, Alex McLeod, Daryl Hewitson, Michael Booth, Murray Lodge, Bob McKay, Johnny Flynn, Owen McKenzie, Jenny McIvor, Brian Butson, Donna Herrick, Ann Malcolm and Philippa Blackler.

They’d previously raced a number of horses, including Mighty Flying Deal which won five races for them.

Earlier in the race programme today, Magnetic Watch caused a boil over, winning at odds of 48-1. The Robin Swain trained gelding was taken straight to the front and he held on to beat Black Ops by a length and a quarter.

Magnetic Watch easily winning for Shane Walkinshaw

Back to the birdcage with Clerk of the Course Sally McKay

Another He’s Watching three year old Fireforfiddle lead for most of Race Three and although challenged, he proved to be tough and beat Lucas Hood by a nose.

Fireforefiddle (4) just hangs on to beat Lucas Hood (6)

Back to the birdcage

He was driven by Matty Williamson who later drove Gazza Galleon to win for father Phil.

Gazza Galleon and Matty Williamson beating a brave Moniburns

Folklore, owned locally by Advance Agriculture Commercial Director Iain Wilson won for trainer driver Jonny Cox.

The Sportswriter mare came with a late run to win wide out on the track to win by a length and a half from Delight.

Folklore winning for Jonny Cox

In Race Six Cox partnered giant trotter Whatwillbeewillbee to win the main trot of the afternoon. It was the five year old Majestic Son gelding’s second win in as many starts. He’s trained at Tahakopa by Brian Norman.

Whatwillbeewillbee beating Rydgemont Milly wide out

Cox and Norman paired up later in the programme to win Race Nine with Whata Razzle Dazzle at odds of 12 to 1.

Pembrook Playboy Star On The Rise

Bruce Stewart

Pembrook Playboy was in the zone today at Ascot Park and proved he was our best three year old at this stage of the Southland season.

“Those small fields are always (tactical) and there were a few horses in the race that had chances.

“I had two choices. To go round and sit parked or too press on. If I pressed on that would leave See Ya Write parked again. That’s what I did and it couldn’t have worked out better. I’m thrilled that I was able to use him twice. He showed a lot of speed with a lap to go and he still had a kick at the finish,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson.

Pembrook Playboy strides on with a lap to run.

At the finish.

Back to the birdcage

Winning owner Chris Alcock with daughter Justine

Williamson decided to target today’s $15,000.00 Southland Express Nugget Final rather than going north.

“We sacrificed not going to the South of the Waitaki race at Addington to stay at home for this race.”

One of the races Williamson has on his radar for Pembrook Playboy is the $14,000 Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes at Gore at Christmas time.

“After that I’m not too sure as he’s getting pretty highly rated. We might just take him to Canterbury later on.”

Pembrook Playboy is by Bettor’s Delight out of the three win Christian Cullen mare Dudinka’s Star and is owned by Chris Alcock. He was bought at the Sale of the Stars for $28,000.

Ownership of good horses is not new to Alcock. His first horse was Majestic Chance gelding Black Stump which won four races.

He also won the 1978 Kurow Cup but was ultimately disqualified.

“We protested but there was no video footage because the fellow didn’t turn up that day,” Alcock said.

He also had a share in another son of Majestic Chance, Crow Bar which won nine races.

“He won on three of the days when the Cup Meeting was run over four days. On the other day he walked home (was pulled up).”

Alcock also had shares in Dynamite a full-brother to Crow Bar which won once.

He part-owns Canterbury trotter Izmok as well as recent Wyndham winner King Of Heroes and is in the Tri-Code Syndicate which races Please Shuddup.

Brad Gets 300

Bruce Stewart

When Brad Williamson drove his 300th winner last night, it was fittingly for his father Phil.

Fanny Hill, bred and owned by Southlander John Duff won at Alexandra Park on the first night of the Interdominions, bringing the 300th for Brad with it.

His driving career began in 2012, but he’s been involved with horses all his life, brought up on his parents Phil and Bev Williamson’s property at Oamaru with his two brothers Matty and Nathan.

“We played at our grandparent’s place next store. We had Riding for the Disabled ponies and we used to ride them around Grandad’s stables from the age of five. Matty and Nathan were always putting carts on their ponies and this was well before Kidz Kartz,” he said.

At school he says he wasn’t an A student but enjoyed maths and playing sport.  “I was very good at maths but pretty average at the rest. I was always in the top classes for maths – my only claim to fame at school.”

On leaving school he went into the harness racing industry, employed initially by his dad.

His first race day drive was at Kurow in August 2011 on Muscleman gelding El Castro which finished eighth. He didn’t have to wait long for his first win. It came later in the month, at Gore, when he won with Graceandtamika for trainers Geoff and Jude Knight.

As a junior driver Brad learned his craft working for Tony Herlihy, John Dickie and Murray Brown.

“I also spent a bit of time at Cran Dalgety. I was a good friend of Jack Trainor.”

As a driver Williamson hasn’t won a Group One race yet but has had success in a listed race on Get Lucky, has won three Group Three races driving Majestic Man (twice) and Springbank Lachie and he won a Group Two event with Majestic Man.

Despite being successful at driving he says he was always more interested in training.

“I’ve never been a big fan of driving at the races. I’d rather train one than drive one personally. For me it’s always been the training. I was always more interested in what we were doing during the week than the weekends when there were races.”

Therefore for the past three seasons he’s been mixing driving with training, and now owns a twenty two acre property next to his parents on Waiareka Valley Road in Oamaru.

He lives there with his partner Janelle Gibson who also has an equine background, having represented New Zealand as an equestrian rider.

“I’ve got a full stable set up there. I’ve got a couple of boxes and it’s all paddocked out with fencing. I’ve got a lane between my property and Dad’s where I can take my horses to his track.”

Brad says the most difficult aspect for a young person getting started in training is needing to grow clientele from scratch.

“It’s tough to get the support from quality owners. Everyone wants to be at the top level and the hardest part as a young trainer is getting quality stock. The older trainers are more established. You can’t just go to the sales and spend $100,000 on a Bettor’s Delight like you’d like to.”

Purchasing readymade horses from other stables proved to be a way to get started: Zoned Scarlett came from Darren Simpson and Mr Handleman from Brendon McLellan’s stable.

“I tried to buy some cheap out of form horses and syndicated them with friends who had limited funds. We bought some older horses, and won races and they had a lot of fun.”

Mr Handleman winning at Gore – Photo Bruce Stewart

His first training winner was Jeddy R Ya Ready in December 2017 at Forbury Park. But his first big break came one day at the races at Oamaru when he met Gary Preston, and this led to him getting stable star Cracker Hill.

“I’d never met him (Preston) before. Cracker Hill was passed in at the sales and Nigel McGrath ended up with the horse. He had trouble syndicating him and he went back to his vendors (Lex and Heather Williams). Then Gary syndicated the horse. Gary had lived in Oamaru a few years ago. I was lucky with how it all worked out.”

In his first season of racing Cracker Hill as a two year old he won on debut at Winton, but was disqualified in the listed Yearling Sales Two Year Old Trotters Final at Addington. He ran second in the Group Two Trotters Two Year Old Championship before finishing his season by running second in the Two Year Old Ruby at Addington on Jewels Day.

“Everyone notices you if you have horses that go well on days like the Jewels. I think it helped attract new owners.”

Cracker Hill is back in work and expected to return to the races in the next few months.

“He’s building up quietly and I’m happy with the way he looks. He’s filled out and is a great big strong horse for a three year old. Fingers crossed he performs as good if not better than last year.”

One of the other highlights in Williamson’s short training career to date was winning with Rydgemont Son on Cup Day earlier this month.

“On those days the races are the hardest to win. They’re usually dominated by Purdon and Dalgety horses. It was good to get a good result for an owner who’s been good to me in a short time.”

With 300 driving wins on the board and twenty seven training wins there’s still plenty in store for this young horseman on both the driving and training front where naturally because of his heritage, he’s leaning towards square gaiters.

“Definitely trotters. I don’t have half the experience with pacers that I do with trotters.”

On his immediate radar is handling Majestic Man for the remainder of the Interdominion series.

Williamson says Majestic Man’s best form has been in Auckland.

“He’s a horse that seems to turn his form around in Auckland.  We hope that when he gets up there he’ll get rejuvenated.  At Addington the other day he wore a murphy blind and a pole to help him with the bends but in Auckland he just has an open bridle and he just goes as straight as a die. Right from when he was a two year old he’s been fluent and straight that way round.”

Majestic Man and Brad Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart

Brad’s Driving Fact Sheet:

300 stats:  3159-300-284-290 $2,650,358 UDR .1755

Best season (Junior Driver):  2016 – 541-70-56-49 $347,093 UDR .2171

Best season (Open Driver):  2019 – 459-49-41-37 $591,064 UDR .1832

1st winner: Graceandtamika – Gore HRC – 28th August 2011

Three wins in one day:

  • Winton HRC – February 2016:  Dissolution, Pyramid Monarch and Sam Galleon
  • Wyndham – January 2018:  Idealistic Lass, Chilli Franco and Without Doubt
  • Wyndham – March 2018:  Ossessione, Lorretta Franco and The Doorman

Trotting winners:  167

Pacing winners:  133

Championship wins:  2016 New Zealand Junior Drivers Premiership (70 winners)

Number of winning drives (trainers list):

  • Phil Williamson (130)
  • Alister Black (31)
  • Self (19)
  • Syd Breen (13)
  • Eion Latimer (9)

Listed wins (1):

  • 2019 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sales Three Year Old Trotters Final (Get Lucky)

Get Lucky – Photo Bruce Stewart

Group Three wins (3):

  • 2017 New Zealand Two Year Old Trotting Stakes (Springbank Lachie)
  • 2019 Northern Southland Trotting Club Southern Lights (Majestic Man)
  • 2019 Four and Five Year Old Trotting Championship (Majestic Man)

Group Two wins (1):

  • 2017 Two Year Old Trotters Championship (Majestic Man)