November 2021

Pembrook Playboy out of Cup

Bruce Stewart

4th November 2020

Southland trainer Nathan Williamson has had to scratch Pembrook Playboy from Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup.

An emotional Williamson said less than an hour ago “You grow up in harness racing thinking about the New Zealand Cup. It’s like the Rugby World Cup for our sport. It’s been a tough day. I’ve rung the owner and the club to scratch him.”

The horse injured one of his hind legs and Williamson’s unsure of how or when it happened.

“We’ve done a lot of tests and it’s too soon to say what the issue is and whether he can come back. We’re not 100% sure.”

Pembrook Playboy ran an unlucky third at his last start in the Ashburton Flying Stakes, while at his previous start he led and was run down in the Canterbury Classic won by South Coast Arden.

“You put your heart and soul into it and this happens. I was growing in confidence every day that he’d be a chance. It’s so hard.”

Hunter Toasts 100th Training Win

Bruce Stewart

7th November 2021

At Ascot Park today Justalittlesip provided Ryal Bush trainer Peter Hunter with his 100th winner and the horse’s sire Franco Ledger, with his first siring success.

Justalittlesip was posted three wide early and Hunter had no option but to take the gelding to the front. He achieved that, and left second favourite Peroni parked.

Justalittlesip warming up for Peter Hunter

In an “all ‘alcohol’ finish, Justalittlesip went on to beat Peroni by a neck with Speights On Tap finishing third, a length and a half away.

“It was nice to get a win with him because he’s been going nice races without too much luck. He was pretty casual about things today and it was a pretty nice horse that ran second to him,” Hunter said. “He got a bit of a fright at the finish but once that horse levelled up, my horse got going again which was pleasing.”

Justalittlesip beating Peroni

Peter Hunter, Justalittlesip, Jo Hunter, Jaque McIntyre and Jimmy ‘the punter’ Tomlins.

Sire Franco Ledger won twenty-five races and $682,514 for Hunter’s brother Hamish and the What Ever Syndicate. His wins included two Hannon Memorials. After finishing his racing career, he stood at stud at Macca Lodge. He unfortunately died in 2020 having left just thirty-five foals.

Peter, wife Jo along with Jo’s brother Brendon McIntyre and his wife Jaque borrowed Justalittlesip’s dam Bettor’s Delight mare Justasip from James Geddes to breed from.

“I don’t know where his size comes from, but it must be in the genes somewhere because he’s going to grow into a decent size (unlike his sire or dam). He’s got good manners, a good attitude and is good to train so he ticks a few boxes. But as you know it gets a bit harder now.”

Of the one hundred winners Peter Hunter has trained, a sizeable number (27) have been for his brother in-law. These include Boogie Night (5), My Georgie Boy (4), Bold Ruler (4), Treasure Hunter (2), Vinni Gambino (1), Livin It Lovin It (1), Port Au Prince (1), Glenledi Captain (1) and now Justalittlesip.

McIntyre is also part of the Gottashearasheep Syndicate who raced Unloaded (5) and Memphis Mafia (2) out of the Hunter stable.

Another twenty-four of Hunter’s winners have been owned by Brendon Fahy, Rakarebel (6) and Rakarover (4) being the best.

“The two Brendons have been the backbone of my stable. Jo’s also a big part of the success and I couldn’t have done it without her really.”

Hunters first winner was Only The One, owned by Fahy, at the Tuapeka HRC meeting in 2003.

His best winners have been Elation Franco (8), Onedin Hustler (7), Rakarebel (6), Ansett Flight (5), Unloaded (5) and Rakarover (4).

Meanwhile Winton horsewoman Lauren Pearson proved she hasn’t lost her  driving prowess when reining Foreigner to win his third race at Ascot Park.

Pearson tends to concentrate on training these days, but with partner Brent Barclay sitting out a suspension, she took the reins on two of the stable’s three runners today.

Pearson has had the seven-year-old gelding since last month. It was previously trained by Grant Hunt. Foreigner last won at Geraldine almost two years ago and was having only his second start for Pearson.

Foreigner winning for Lauren Pearson

As a driver Pearson has reined forty-three winners and in 2002 she won the New Zealand Junior Drivers Championship.

Wattlebank Star looks to be in for a stella season, leading and winning at today’s Invercargill meeting.

The Bettor’s Delight three-year-old looked promising last season and has developed since being turned out.

Trainer- driver Kirstin Barclay had to use up some fuel in taking Wattlebank Star forward early to challenge second favourite Nutcracker for the front. The two went head-to-head for a brief period before Wattlebank Star hit the lead. She had enough at the end of the race to win easily by three and a quarter lengths.

Wattlebank Star winning for Kirstin Barclay

Haley Robyn Wins and Robyns Playboy off to Aussie

Bruce Stewart

7th November 2021

A handy draw made all the difference to diminutive filly Haley Robyn. She lead all the way and went down to the line to win her first race at Ascot Park today.

The Sportswriter filly debuted for Ross Wilson and son Chris at the end of last month and after sitting parked finished fourth in that one. But a better draw today gave driver Craig Ferguson the licence to head to the front, and there she stayed, beating Booties Delight by a length and a half.

Haley Robyn warming up for Craig Ferguson

“The other day she tried to get the lead and had to sit parked, and they went quite quick. She’s a nice filly and when she got her own way in front today, I knew she’d take a bit of knocking over,” Ross said.

Haley Robyn going down to the finish line

Returning to the birdcage

Haley Robyn is out of the Somebeachsomewhere mare Von Haley.

“She was terrible. The worst horse I’ve ever had. I spent two years trying to stop her kicking the hopples off and I had to give up in the finish. It was only the fact that I’d spent $12,000 on the service fee that I thought I’d breed a foal out of her, and Haley Robyn is her first foal. You’d swear this filly’s out of something else because she’s a lovely genuine filly.”

Ross shares in the ownership of Haley Robyn with his son Rob, Rob’s wife Haley, Ross’s daughter Monica and her husband Ben.

It’s NZ Cup time, and the Wilsons will travel north with Robyns Playboy on Tuesday for the $600,000 Group One New Zealand Trotting Club. The training partnership is more than happy with the gelding’s condition.

“We worked him this morning and he’s on top of his game. He’s kicking and bucking and we’re looking forward to having a go on Tuesday. We’ll need a bit of luck to be in the first few but it’s going to be fun being there.”

Robyns Playboy ran tenth in last years Cup and Wilson says the horse is in better shape this year.

“Last year he’d had a few more starts and this year he’s only had three starts and I feel he’s still on the way up.”

In what some would see as an unusual move Wilson will travel to Christchurch on the morning of the Addington feature.

“He’s a bit of a bugger as he doesn’t eat or drink when he’s away from home, so we’ll go up on the day. I did that when we went to Christchurch the last time and we left him in some cattle yards at Lincoln for a couple of hours, then carried on to the races.”

Wilson says this will by Robyns Playboys last start in New Zealand as he’ll head to Australia after Tuesday’s race where he’ll be trained by KerryAnne Morris.

“I’ll still own him, and they’ve got him entered for the Interdominions. At my age, the travelling from down here is a bit hard. KerryAnne and Robbie have had horses of ours before and Robbie’s (KerryAnne’s husband) been trying to get him for a couple of years. He’s finally sealed the deal. It’ll be a sad day when he goes because he’s been the best horse I’ve ever had.”

Big Win for Bond and Crusher Collins

Bruce Stewart

12th November 2021

Mataura trainer Lyndon Bond hit the big time when Crusher Collins won the first race at Addington Show Day today.

“It was awesome. She got a good run and finished it off well. It’s a magical day coming to Show Day and getting a win like this,” Bond said.

Crusher Collins and Sam Ottley (green breast plate) coming down the middle of the track – Picture Race Images

Driver Sam Ottley settled the mare back beyond midfield and got a nice drag inside the last 500 metres behind Idle Stuartia, wearing down pacemaker Trixton Time to win by a neck.

The winning time was 2-26.2 (mile rate of 1-58.8).

Bond and Ottley have formed a formidable winning combination in recent seasons, and since the beginning of the 2020 season Ottley has driven eleven of Bond’s sixteen winners.

“She’s been bloody brilliant.”

Crusher Collins has been staying at Jamie Gameson’s Burnham property whilst she’s been in Canterbury. Because she required a trial to obtain a clearance for a standing start Crusher Collins was taken to the Methven Workouts on Saturday.  

“She stood at the start and wouldn’t move so we started her in a mobile later in the day. She led and won, and Jamie said she felt brilliant. We’ve also had the blacksmith that looks after Mark (Purdon) and Natalie’s (Rasmussen) horses to see her because she was getting onto a knee. He changed her shoes around in front and she trotted a whole lot better today.”

Consequently after the trial and with the adjustments to her footwear, Bond had some confidence for today’s race.

“She was jumping out of her skin at Jamie’s. We were confident but you can never be too confident on race day.”

Bred by Bevan and Keith Grice, and raced on lease by Lyndon his wife Aimee and mother Colleen, Crusher Collins has been at Bonds since she was a foal.

“She’s always been a growly old girl, and a bit cantankerous. She’s been stood down a couple of times from standing starts, so the mobile suited today.”

The new season from January 1st will the last one for Bond as Crusher Collins will return to her owners.

“Next year she goes to stud, and we’ve worked out a deal with Keith and Bevan to get the first foal out of her. I’ve suggested we go to What The Hill but Bevan and Keith get to decide where she goes to.”

Dancing on The Big Stage

Bruce Stewart

13th November

Get Up N Dance underlined his potential when he thrashed a couple of good pacers at Addington yesterday.

The win by the Rock N Roll Heaven also went some way to heal the disappointment of having to scratch Pembrook Playboy from Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup.

Get Up N Dance cruising down to the line to win the Show Day Futurity – Picture Race Images

Despite finishing seventh at the Kaikoura meeting at the beginning of the month and hanging during that run Williamson wasn’t too concerned with Get Up N Dance going into yesterday’s Futurity.

“The horse can be like that and could have been like that yesterday if he’d drawn one. He’s just not the type of horse that likes going inside other horses – he gets claustrophobic. We did make a couple of changes and we took him out to Regan (Todd’s) place at the beach for the week. I think he did benefit from that,” Williamson said.

It was tough going working around the field early from a wide draw, before Get Up N Dance took on Socrates for the lead. And the next challenge wasn’t too far away as Romeo Shard got into the race inside the last 1000 metres. However Williamson wasn’t handing up. The best three horses; Get Up N Dance, Romeo Shard and Socrates then started to gap the rest of the field. Williamson let Get Up N Dance run when he turned for home, and he pulled away from the challengers.

“He went really good. We set him for that race. That’s been our plan ever since we took him up there in the winter.”

The winning margin was four and a quarter lengths and the time for the 2600 metre mobile was a very creditable 3-07.0. The national record over that distance for three-year-olds is 3-05.4 held by Sheriff.

“He’s a nice horse with a good motor but he probably needs to keep improving to get up to the real better ones. I think he’s a handy Country Cup horse through the summer.”

Williamson trains Get Up N Dance for breeders Dayle and Kay Kinzett. The gelding has now won four of his nine starts.

“He’s got a bit of speed, but his gait needs to improve to handle his speed.”

Nathan being congratulated by his Dad Phil after the win  –  Picture Race Images

The Branxholme trainer’s Dominion Handicap runner Andy Hall also performed with credit, finishing seventh in the Group One trotting feature in which winner Sundees Son smashed the New Zealand record for 3200 metres. It’s the first time the four-minute barrier has been broken in New Zealand Trotting history. Sundees Son’s new record time is 3-56.6. Andy Hall ran the journey in 4-00.2.

“He went four minutes so you couldn’t say that wasn’t a pretty good run. He lost a wee bit of momentum round the last bend and lugged in. I also got caught behind a horse that was stopping.”

Williamson says Andy Hall has the potential to compete at this level next season.

“He’s a good staying type. Last year he won on Cup Day running 4-07, and this year he ran 4-00 (for the 3200 metres). If he improves the same in the next twelve months we’ll be looking all right (smile). As I’ve said, I haven’t been able to train and work him the way I’d like to this season because he’s been light in condition. I’ll sit down and talk to Ian (owner Ian Hunter), but I’d like to give him a really good break and let him strengthen up and target those good races next year.”

Andy Hall

Williamson says the group of trotters racing now, is exemptional.

“They’re some of the best we’ve ever seen. They can run hard and keep running hard. Sundees Son just has a huge amount of stamina and now he’s got his manners sorted, he’s just the professional. Bolt For Brilliance’s run yesterday was also enormous so it makes it all exciting.”

Meanwhile Williamson Cup Class pacer Pembrook Playboy is getting on the float on Wednesday and heading home with the rest of the Williamson team.

Pembrook Playboy unfortunately had to be scratched from the Cup after he injured himself in the paddock just one day prior to the momentous race. He’s been held at the Vet clinic since.

“There’s no damage to his leg which is good. He’s just torn some muscles up high. He must have done the splits. It was pretty frustrating because it’s the wrong time of year to be doing that.”

Williamson said long term the injury won’t be a problem.

“The vet says give him a fortnight off for a start, but I’ll talk to Chris (owner Chris Alcock) to work out a bit of a plan. It might be good to give him a decent break because he’s never had one. He only had three weeks off after the Jewels and Uncut Gems. We’ll look at when there’s suitable races for him and work from there. I’d like to let him furnish right out if I could. That’s my thinking at this stage.”

Pembrook Playboy

Tisbury trainer Kirstin Barclay trained and reined her second winner in as many years in the Macca Lodge South of the Waitaki race at Addington.

Despite having to contend with a second row draw Barclay was able to lead and then trail, before letting Tommy Waterhouse run up the passing lane to beat favourite Idealism by a head.

Tommy Waterhouse winning on the inside from Idealism

Kirstin Barclay – a winning smile

It was a great tactical drive by Barclay. The three-year-old is owned by Te Anau horseman Wayne McEwan.

Local Owners Win Aussie Group One

Bruce Stewart

21st November 2021

There’s a McKenzie family in Southland that has long been associated with thoroughbreds.  However, one of it’s members, Gordon (Boof) McKenzie ventured into standardbreds as well.

Gordon, and long-time friend and standardbred trainer Tony Barron have forged a great partnership, and a successful one. And last night they won a Group One race on Breeders Crown night at Melton in Victoria Australia with their trotting filly Queen Elida taking out the Group One Cobbitty Equine Farm Breeders Crown Series 23 for three-year-old trotting fillies.

She’s owned by McKenzie, his sons Graeme, Blair and Brad, along with Tony and Cheryl Barron. She’s named after McKenzie’s granddaughters Elsie and Ida.

Queen Elida began her career with Barron before he sent her to Australia and former Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley.

“It’s terrific when a plan comes off. We planned this sixteen months ago. She was always a very nice filly with a good gait and beautiful manners. People say what a great job Lil (Brent Lilley) has done but we didn’t send over a mug. We sent her over there with the expectation that she’d do a job,” Barron said.

Driven by Chris Alford, Queen Elida settled seventh in the outside running line. At the 700 metres Alford hooked out and pushed Queen Elida forward before managing to slot her into the one one. Just before balancing up for the run home Alford angled the filly out and she let down to the winning line nicely to win by 2.8 metres.

Queen Elida has won ten of her nineteen starts, has earned $123,455 and the win was her third Group One victory in Australia. She also won the Victoria Trotting Oaks and Need for Speed Princess.

After last night’s win Barron and McKenzie have some thinking to do.

“I’ll have a talk to Brent. She’ll have a good spell but I’m not sure whether I leave her there and potter away. I’m actually keen to send her to America and bring her home in foal to the best stallion over there. That’s the big picture. I want to talk to Lil about it and Dexter (Dunn) as well.”

The McKenzie Barron partnership started in 2019 when McKenzie approached the then Southland based trainer to see whether he could get into the sport.

“Boof was always keen to buy a horse. He wanted a pacing horse or gelding, a two or three year old. I watched Queen Kenny go at Wyndham one day. There were a couple of false starts and she still stepped away. My horses were in the day at Wyndham and I asked Phil (who bred Queen Kenny with his wife Bev) if the mare was for sale. He said yes, but he’d want plenty for her. The rest is history.”

Queen Kenny won nine races for the new partnership including the Group Three Greenlane Cup at Alexandra Park in March 2016. She also ran third in the 2016 Group One Rowe Cup won by Monbet.

Queen Kenny after her win at Winton

Queen Elida is the mare’s first foal. Her second foal King Cabbl was taken to the 2020 National Yearling Sales in Christchurch and was a sale topper.

“Her second foal (renamed Toro Stride) broke an Australasian record ($280,000) at the sales.”

Toro Stride qualified for Williamson before transferring over to Australia where he’s had one start running seventh.

“He went awful. He’s been gelded and turned out, which is what he needed. He will win races.”

Barron and McKenzie have a two-year-old full sister to Queen Elida out of the mare.

“She’s named Queen Bee. She hasn’t got the gait or the manners that the other filly has got but she has got a big motor.”

McKenzie has a share in Queen Bee, maiden pacing mare Mary Austin, and he bought into a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Christy Breanna which Barron didn’t sell at this year’s yearling sale.

Since buying Queen Kenny in 2019 McKenzie has won thirty-one races with horses he’s raced with Barron, including Queen Kenny, Queen Elida, Regal Ideal and Cullen Who.

“We’ve had a great run in a very short time.”

Regal Ideal

The Williamsons have had further success with Queen Kenny’s dam Nice One Kenny who’S produced good Australian performers Princess Kenny, the winner of eleven races and Here Comes Kyvalley which has won four.

Nice One Kenny has plenty of pedigree depth. She’s a sister to millionaire trotter One Over Kenny which won thirty-two races, One Under Kenny which won eleven, and One Kenny the winner of nineteen.

Meanwhile Barron’s quality three year old Lifes A Beach has finished her Australian campaign with a disappointing ninth in her Breeders Crown Final on the same night.

“She just went fair. Josh (Dickie) text me and said she pulled a bit. She’ll come home and go to Auckland and race in the Queen of Hearts and the Northern Breeders and then she’ll come back down here for a couple of big races like the Breeders Stakes.”

Trotting Double for Wilson

Bruce Stewart

14th November 2021

Two wins today at Winton took Balfour trainer Robert Wilson to fifty training wins.

The double started in the New World Winton Handicap Trot when Angus Hall gelding Willangus Lad led for most to the journey for driver John Morrison, and was too good for his ten rivals, winning by a length and a half.

Willangus Lad warming up for John Morrison

The five-year-old has shown plenty of talent prior to today’s run, having won three of his twenty-four starts and being placed in ten others.

Lap to run

At the finish

“He’s a nice horse who’s come back strong. After he broke at Addington at the end of last season, we turned him out. When we reshod him we found underunners (like stone bruising) in both front feet, so he wasn’t a happy horse and did well to disguise it. He’s come back stronger than ever and he’s healthy, so probably in for a good season,” Wilson said.

Returning to the stables

Two races later One Two Menny demonstrated the improvement he’s made when he won the Gold Chip Final for trotters.

One Two Menny warming up for Kirk Larsen

The well-bred four-year-old began super fast and was up challenging for the front early before he galloped, losing ten lengths. Driver Kirk Larsen was able to get him back down trotting again and within 100 metres he easily trotted past pacemaker Minnie McGoogan.

Lap to run

From that point there was no stopping the talented square gaiter and he went down to the line untouched to win by five lengths from Jaccka Watch.

At the finish

One Two Menny hasn’t been with Wilson for long, having previously been trained by Ken Barron who won one race with the four-year-old.

“He could always run but he’s been a work in progress who’s improving all the time. I hope we’re winning with him.”

Back to the birdcage

To the stables

Wilson thinks the Balfour life agrees with One Two Menny.

“It’s just been time, going round and round and not panicking too much. We’re trying to keep him relaxed and I find him a lovely horse to work with. He and I get on pretty well together.”

One Two Menny is by Majestic Son out of Great Success mare One Two Kenny, a daughter of One Under Kenny, the winner of eleven races.

“As you can see he’s got huge ability and it’s a case of getting it out of him.”

Wilson has a good team of trotters in work at the moment. He also rates Don Ameche who finished eleventh in the same race.

“He’s going round and has just got to learn the trade. I think he’s got as much ability as One Two Menny and Willangus Lad. Sam (Ottley) drove him today and she was thrilled with him.”

Two Wins in The South for Telfers

Bruce Stewart

14th November 2021

Expect to see more of the Steve and Amanda Telfer team in the south as the season begins to ramp up.

The Canterbury arm of the operation brought three horses to Winton today with Rock N Dash and Cloudy Bay both winning, whilst their other runner Show Me Heaven ran an unlucky second.

Rock N Dash recording the first winner for Steve and Amanda Telfer in the south.

“They’re just tipping their toes in the water but with the numbers they’ve got and with the stakes the way they are it’s pretty enticing to get down here,” said driver Tim Williams who drove all three Telfer runners.

Rock N Dash was the first winner the partners have trained in Southland, but Williams is a familiar face in the south having spent the early part of his career with Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adam.

Returning

He then worked for a good period for the All-Stars Canterbury stable. However he took the opportunity to drive for the Telfers when they opened a satellite stable in Canterbury.

“I’m enjoying it. They’ve got well-bred stock, so I’ve fallen on my feet. We’ve got twenty in work at the moment which is a nice number. If they’ve got the right one’s they’ll not be afraid to send them south.”

The Telfers are serious about their commitment to racing in the South Island, having recently bought Jack Smolenski’s old property.

“They’re going to knock it over and start again and build a big flash barn. David White is the foreman; Amanda is based down here full time and Ellie Barron has just started in the last fortnight, so we’ve got a nice team around us.”

Local Nuggets Win

Bruce Stewart

14th November 2021

Locally trained Duke Of Cornwall proved he’ll be a worthy contender for the end of season Southern Supremacy Stakes when he won the $12,000 Nuggets Final at the Central Southland Raceway today.

Trained on the course by Lauren Pearson and driven by Matty Williamson, the two-year-old Sweet Lou gelding made up for an unlucky run for second at his last start to win easily.

Duke Of Cornwall warming up for Matty Williamson

In today’s pacing feature favourite Peroni and Wonthavtime both pushed out early, but Williamson asn’t part of the early fireworks.

“I let them sort it out and snuck round in the middle part,” he said.

After the early positions were sorted Williamson made his move and with just over 1600 metres to run, he took Duke Of Cornwall to the front and there he stayed.

Duke Of Cornwall leading with a lap to run

“He’s a lovely staying horse but he’s quite lazy and floats along. It doesn’t feel as though you’re doing much but it’s always there at the business end. As lazy as he is I think if you asked him to, he’d just go another lap. He’s a nice sized horse, a good pacer and I think running 2-56 shows he’ll go a fair way. He’s made of the right stuff.”

The winning margin was three quarters of a length with Peroni running second and Justalittlesip running home for third.

At the finish

Returning

The Good Oil -Harry Stamper

Bruce Stewart

18th November 2021

The favourite tag was right on the money when first starter Harry Stamper – trained and driven by Phil Williamson, won on debut at Winton today.

It was a great result for Phil and his wife Bev, especially since Bev bred both the winner and runner up Dwindle Star, both being out of the eight-win Sundon mare Dwindle Mist.

Harry Stamper warming up for Phil Williamson

“He’s a thick set wee fella but I think that’s a Majestic Son thing. He’s always been a good-looking horse right from when he was a foal and he’s developed into a reasonable racehorse,” Phil said.

The two-year-old trotter carried most of the TAB win pool after impressing at trials, including a good second behind smart filly Minnie McGoogan.

Williamson was impressed with the way Harry Stamper managed his first raceday start, showing a fair amount of maturity.

“He had every reason to gallop at the start. Westland Peak swung across in front of us and I thought the starter would have said false start.”

After a slow beginning Harry Stamper settled seventh some thirty lengths off tearaway pacemaker Pyramid Mystic. Inside the last 800 metres the gaps closed and Williamson pushed the two-year-old out three wide and asked him to improve with his stablemate Dwindle Star right on his tail.

Turning in Harry Stamper got past Pyramid Mystic and held on to beat Dwindle Star by a neck with Cheeky Monkey charging home for third.

Harry Stamper beats Dwindle Star

Back to the birdcage

The time of 3-10.8 was a new Southland and track record for two year old trotters over 2400 metres from the stand. The previous record of 3-16.0 was set by Ironman twenty seven years ago.

Harry Stamper is named after an oil driller in the 1998 American science fiction movie Armageddon which starred Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. There was a line in the movie that resonated with Williamson.

“The son in-law to be, told the boss fella of the oil rig, ‘the great Harry Stamper – all good no quit’ and I thought that was a great line. So that’s how he got his name.”

Williamson was also pleased with the run of Dwindle Mist.

“She’s a nice mare, lovely manners, very solid and I think she’ll do a good job.”

The Williamson team nearly bagged the trifecta with Pyramid Mystic running fourth after leading and breaking twice.

“She was pretty green. She’s been good round the trials at home but it’s a bit different when it’s race day on a different track. I’d say she’ll gets things right fairly quickly. I don’t expect that to continue.”

Meohmymartini Celebrates First Win

Bruce Stewart

18th November 2021

The nicely bred Meohmymartini won on debut, taking out the Creation Signs Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace over 1609 metres at Winton today.

From a handy gate, driver Brent Barclay took the American Ideal filly straight to the lead, got away with some slow sectional,s and held on to beat Marshmellow Millie by a length and a half.

Meohmymartini winning on debut for Brent Barclay

“She was lazy in front, but Brent got away with a bit. She went nice. I thought today’s race would be a bit short,” trainer Brett Gray said.

She’s out of the talented Grinfromeartoear mare Treble Cone that also won at her first start for trainer John Earl. The win was also over 1609 metres.

Treble Cone’s first foal You Too showed a fair bit of ability but after one start sadly he died at Earls property.

“We had a few issues early on with her (Meohmymartini), so we’ve just been bringing her on slowly and she’s just starting to come to it. She’s not the finished article.”

Returning to the birdcage

The three-year-old is raced by her breeders Ben and Karen Calder, Lu and Joe Bagrie and local galloping trainer Barry Howden.

“Joe has been a mentor to my wife Ginny and has always wanted to get into a horse. And Barry helps out at home, so I gave him a share as well.”

Lu and Joe Bargie, Russell Morton, Barry Howden, Brett Gray, Meohmymartini and Brent Barclay

Calder has had this breed since the 1990s and has raced a host of winners from the family including Cup class pacer Grinaldi and Kindergarten Stakes winner The Oyster Man.

“I won’t push on because it makes it harder getting points (in the rating system), but we’ll work from here.”

Ragazzo Mach ready to trial in Aussie

Bruce Stewart

24th November 2021

Former Southland star three-year Ragazzo Mach is set down to trial on Sunday in Western Australia for his new trainer Mike Reed.

“He was ready to trial a month ago, but he got an abscess in his foot. It broke out and put a big hole in the foot, so we had to back off him. He’ll be a bit underdone for the trial, but it’ll sharpen him up,” Reed said.

Reed added that he’s extremely impressed with what he’s seen.

“I’ve never driven him in fast work but Mark, my son has. He came off the track on Sunday morning and said ‘ …. he’s a nice horse.”

Reed said providing he pulls up well after the trial, Ragazzo Mach will go to the races in a week at either Pinjarra or Gloucester Park.

“He’s a horse with a good attitude and nicely gaited. I was talking to Nathan (Williamson – former trainer), and he said anything he does on the track he’ll do twice as much in a race. He really switches on.”

Reed said races such as the Four-Year-Old Gold Nugget will be targetted and if he shapes up, he may take him east.

Oaks and Supremacy Move Back to Heats

Bruce Stewart

24th November 2021

For the first time since 2010 the Southern Supremacy Stakes and Southern Oaks will be run in heats.

This is due to the fact that it’s felt a heats-based Series gives the valuable sponsors Nevele R, Macca Lodge and Alabar more exposure during the season.

Southland Oaks winner Bettor Talk Art

The Oaks this season will also have a name change. Having been the Southland Oaks since it’s inception in 1983 the race now becomes the Southern Oaks, reflecting the expansion of Southern Harness into the North Otago region.

The first heat will be run at the Roxburgh meeting on Tuesday 4th January with further heats to be held at Winton, Oamaru, Invercargill, Wyndham and Wairio. All heats will be worth $15,000.

The Southern Oaks Final will be run on Diamonds Day, Saturday 30th April 2022 at Ascot Park for a stake of $50,000. This will be the fortieth running of the three-year-old Fillies feature.

The Supremacy has been raced since 1984, and next April the $50,000 feature sponsored by Alabar will be run for the 39th time.

Last seasons Southern Supremacy Stakes winner Ragazzo Mach

The first heat for the 2022 Supremacy will be run at Omakau on Sunday 2nd January with further heats at Invercargill, Oamaru, Riverton, Northern Southland, and Winton.

All horses in both Series will need to start in at least two heats to be eligible for the finals.

Heats will be run using the preferential draw system based on stakes won, and all winners will automatically qualify for the final, providing they’ve started in two heats.

A points system will be used to determine the rest of the field.

The last three heats of each Series will be programmed as open races and both finals will be raced over 2700 metres from behind the mobile, and will carry Group Two status.

The Southern Country Cups Series started at Oamaru on the 17th October with the Robert and Jenna Dunn trained Jimmy Arma winning. The Tuapeka Cup won by Paddyproudfoot was the second heat, whilst unfortunately the third heat at Winton didn’t get off the ground.

The Series will be run over thirteen qualifying races with points allocated from first through to fourth.

Most of the Provincial Cups are included in the Series with the $30,000 final run on Diamonds Day.

Horses only need to start once in the series to be eligible for the final. The next heat will be the Wairio Cup on Saturday 18th December at Winton.

The Southern Belle Speed Series will start later in the season with the first of four heats being run at Winton on the 3rd February over 1609 metres.

The heats will each be worth $12,000 with the final held at Winton on 9th April, carrying a stake of $25,000.

The Series is for four year old and older mares up to a rating of R70, as at 1st January 2022.

With A Bang Wins Own Race

Bruce Stewart

24th November 2021

In a race that was named after him, With A Bang duly obligated when he won at Ascot Park today for the Tricode Racing Syndicate and Tricode Racing Syndicate Number Two.

The A Rocknroll Dance two-year-old started second favourite after having run well on debut, and driver Brent Barclay drove him like the best horse in the race, taking him straight to the lead.

With A Bang warming up

There he stayed, winning by two and three quarter lengths with the trailing horse and favourite Glorifilia finishing second.

“He’ll give the syndicate plenty of fun. He’s got a bit of high end speed. Brent said he jogged it and the ear plugs were still in,” said trainer Murray Brown.

In front with a lap to run

At the finish

A closer look

With A Bang is out of the McArdle mare Flashbang, the winner of four races, and he looks capable of progressing through the grades.

“We’ll head to the Nuggets Final which is worth twelve grand.”

Back to the birdcage

The two syndicates that own the gelding were put together by Invercargill City Councillor Peter Kett who’s also on the committee of the Invercargill HRC.

“They’ve got 150 or more members. We just qualified another one of their horses the other day,  Talkin Unowhat. He’ll make the grade too but he’s a bit immature and he has done things wrong. We’ve bought a Sweet Lou yearling off Dave Kennedy so that’ll keep us going.”

The race was named Own A Share In With A Bang Mobile Pace and after that impressive win Kett’s phone will be running hot.