October 2019

Northern Southland Wrap

Bruce Stewart

Junior driver Ellie Barron took luck out of the equation when she took Alpine Retreat straight to the lead in the first trot of the day at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park today.

Alpine Retreat winning by the biggest margin of the day – Photo Bruce Stewart

She proceeded to open up a good margin on the chasing pack and with a good number of his rivals breaking, Alpine Retreat ended up winning by eleven lengths.

The win was a family affair as Grandfather Ron and father Clark (who trains the gelding) share in the ownership.

New Zealand’s leading driver Blair Orange made the most of a good draw when he took Yoha straight to the lead in the next race. He was able to dictate all the pace with favourite Renegade Rose on his back.

The three year old Terror To Love filly proved too strong, beating Renegade Rose by a length and three quarters with Allaboutjoy running home nicely for third.

Orange went back to back when another of the progeny of Terror To Love, Terror The Christian, beat another Canterbury visitor Payment Plan.

Co-trainer Chris Wilson missed seeing his first winner when Robyns Playboy returned to winning form in the Ultimate Machete at Alabar Handicap Pace.

Wilson, who now trains in partnership with his father Ross, was away in Oamaru watching his sons Callum and Riley playing hockey.

When Robyns Playboy last started in the Hannon Memorial, it finished seventh. Racing in a lower grade today helped his cause, and brought his wins to a total of seven.

Robbie Royale won his second race in as many weeks when he proved too strong for backmarker Monty Python in the feature trot of the day.

The six year old lead for part of the race before handing up to Monty Python with a lap to run. When the field straightened for the run home, driver Brent Barclay came up the inside to beat Monty Python by half a length with the handicap being the difference at the business end of the race.

Robbie Royale has now won seven races for Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray.

Well known Southland Harness Administrator Peter Burns passed away in Invercargill on Tuesday.

Peter Burns was an Accountant by profession and served for many years as Secretary for most of the Southern Clubs.

He also spent a long period on the Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand.

On the breeding front he was one of the leading lights in promoting the syndication of the successful imported sire Knowing Bret, and he managed the Syndicate’s financial affairs.

His late wife Rewa also enjoyed the harness industry as a breeder and owner.

The family’s finest homebred racehorse was Haughty Romeo. He was New Zealand’s first three year old pacer to go under two minutes when he ran 1-58.4 in a time trial at Winton.

Peter’s funeral will be held on Monday.

Onesmartfella, Just That.

Bruce Stewart

The locally trained Onesmartfella won the gold when most thought the Nuggets Final at Ascot Park today would go to either of the Canterbury raiders, Willison or Carlos Bromac.

In the great front running drive by Nathan Williamson and without too much attention from other runners, the Tintin In America gelding took out the $15,000 final by two and a half lengths from Carlos Bromac, with a head back to favourite Willison.

Onesmartfella is trained at Ascot Park by Brent Shirley and is owned by breeder John Edminstin and good mate Tony Whaanga.

Onesmartfella is out of the Lis Mara mare Kentucky Girl which won her first race,  but unfortunately broke down and was retired to the broodmare paddock.

Onesmartfella which was named by Tony, is the mare’s first foal.

“He named it in the Zoo Bar at the Falls Hotel in Mataura,” Shirley said.

He said Onesmartfella was small in stature and the stable had to wait on him.

“I always knew he had speed but I didn’t know how much bottom he had. We found out last time (when he ran second after been challenged) that he had a bit of bottom.”

Shirley isn’t sure where Onesmartfella will start next but said he’ll look out for a Junior Drivers race which will be penalty free.

The win was the forty first for Edminstin as an owner. His winners include When The Music’s Over and Rowchester. He’s also part of the BBC Syndicate.

Earlier in the day Williamson won with Pembrook Playboy who he’d thought would be a run short. But the horse showed good qualities after he lead and easily recorded his first win.

“I just thought he might have needed the run but he got away with some easy sectionals in front and that helped.”

From barrier five Williamson pushed forward and after 200 metres was in front.

Pembrook Playboy leading with a lap to run – Photo Bruce Stewart

“He was pretty green in front – he was running round a bit. He was a bit lazy – but when I asked him to quicken he did.”

The winning margin was four and a quarter lengths with outsider Kramer running second.

“I think he’ll improve with the run.”

Williamson says he’ll target the Nuggets races with the three year old and look at lining up in the Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes at Gore at Christmas time, and perhaps the Supremacy later in the season.

Later in the day Triroyale Brigade also won for the stable.

He capitalised on a nice trail and sprinted too well for junior driver Mark Hurrell to beat Lawrence and Betterthanbrie both of which came home late.

Williamson says he’s expecting Triroyale Brigade to have a good season.

Winning owners

The winning drive was the second of the day for Hurrell who also won on the Craig Laurenson trained Dismara.

Given a great run, Dismara proved too good for thea twelve other runners in the Kubala Seeds Mobile Pace.

Placed in the outside running line, Hurrell followed Black Ops forward at the 350 metre mark and came down the middle of the track to win impressively by one and a quarter lengths.

Dismara winning for Mark Hurrell

It was the mare’s third win in forty five starts.

Meanwhile Williamson’s quality trotter Dark Horse made an appearance at the Winton Workouts yesterday racing against the pacers.

The Bacardi Lindy mare hasn’t been seen at the race track for nearly two years after sustaining a number of injuries.

“She’s come through the run nice and is sound so that’s the main thing. She’ll have another run (workout) somewhere and we’ll access where we go after that,” Williamson said.

Dark Horse holds a nomination for the Dominion Handicap.

Dark Horse at the Winton Workouts on Friday

Macca Gets Millionaire

Bruce Stewart

New Macca Lodge trotting stallion En Solitaire will have millionaire trotter One Over Kenny as one of the broodmares on his serving list this spring.

One Over Kenny, the winner of thirty two races and $1,098,007.00 is owned by Lex and Heather Williams.

“Lex inspected him and liked what he saw,” said Macca Lodge’s Brent McIntyre.

One Over Kenny won two Group One Rowe Cups, the National Trot and New Zealand Trotting Championship twice, and she won six races in Australia including the Group One 2007 Australasian Trotters Championship.

As a broodmare, all of her six foals of racing age have won races, including One Over Da Moon (22), Ultimate Stride (6), One Over Da Stars (5) and One Over Da Skye (5).

En Solitaire is the first of super sire Ready Cash’s male offspring to be available to New Zealand breeders.

He’s out of the Love You mare Ushuaia Wood and is bred on the same cross as super star trotters Bold Eagle and Face Time Bourbon. Bold Eagle has won forty five of his sixty six starts and his wins include twenty Group One victories. He’s won 4.6 million euros. Face Time Bourbon is the winner of fifteen of his seventeen starts and has banked 652,150 euros.

Bold Eagle will make his North American debut in the 2019 Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park later this month.

En Solitaire will stand on farm for $1,500 + GST.

“He’s a real nice type – a beautiful horse” said McIntyre.

McIntyre is also excited about having semen available at Macca Lodge for Dragon Again stallion Fear The Dragon.

He won five of his eleven starts as a two year old, pacing 1-50.4.

He came into his own as a three year old and raced against an outstanding crop including Downbytheseaside.

His biggest win at three was in the $1 million North American Cup in which he defeated Downbytheseaside and Huntsville and pacing his life time record of 1-48.8.

He ended his career with seventeen wins from twenty seven starts and banked $1.5 million.

“When I was over in America I went to see the guy that owns him and saw the horse’s foals. His stock are outstanding.”

The young sire has received tremendous support in Ohio, with 140 mares booked in each of his first two seasons.

His first Australian foals are due to be born this spring.

“He was a very very good horse and he’s got all the credentials to be a good stallion. He’s the best credentialed stallion we’ve ever had here. We’ve got thirty five mares booked and hopefully we’ll get fifty.”

Fear The Dragon will stand for $4,500 + GST on a positive test or $6,000 + GST on a live foal.

Matty Milestone

Bruce Stewart

Oamaru reinsman Matty Williamson drove his 800th winner at Gore today.

“I had a look a fortnight ago and then Charlotte (partner Charlotte Purvis) said I was on 799. The goal is to beat Nathan (brother) to 1000 so I’ve got him in a bit of bother now, as long as I don’t get injured – touch wood,” Williamson said after driving favourite Stingray Tara for Ryal Bush trainer Hamish Hunter to win.

Williamson said his career highlights so far are winning three Group One races on Leighton Hest, Pembrooks Delight and Luisanabelle Midfrew.

“Leighton Hest was my first which was massive, Pembrooks Delight my first pacing win for the Knights who were big supporters of me when I started, and Luisanabelle Midfrew for Nigel McGrath. Hopefully there’s another Group One horse coming along.”

Williamson said representing New Zealand in the World Drivers Championship in Sweden was another highlight.

“Yeah the trip of a lifetime. I was really lucky. I loved all the people I met. The trainers were great to drive for just like they are here.”

Stingray Tara lead from Gate Two and dictated all the terms to hold out an improved Ronnie Pickering by three quarters of a length.

“He’s gone super. The horse felt good. He’s quite lazy but when I asked him at the top of the straight he really dropped his bum and went. I’m thinking the grade rise shouldn’t be too hard for him.”

Stingray Tara holds out Ronnie Pickering – Photo Bruce Stewart

Win number 800 for Matty Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart

In the last few seasons Williamson has driven the majority of Hunter’s horses,  as the veteran driver takes a step back from raceday driving.

“Hamish is great to drive for. There is never any pressure. Even when I drive a bad race, I say sorry, and he says good as gold.”

Matty’s brothers Nathan and Brad are expected to reach their own milestones this season.

As a driver Brad is three wins away from 300 while older brother Nathan has fifteen winners to drive before he gets to 800.

Plutonium Lady Wins Ladyship

Bruce Stewart

Burnham trainer Mark Jones has always been a fan of Southern Harness racing. He loves to head south to set up his three year olds for both the Southern Supremacy Stakes and the Southland Oaks later in the season.

In consecutive races at Gore today he produced a couple of three year olds that look capable of featuring in both those finals at Ascot Park in April.

Plutonium Lady easily won the $15,000 Ladyship Final beating hot favourite Need You Now by six lengths after leading and clearing out at the top of the straight.

The winning time of 2-43.2 was impressive, in the cold easterly conditions.

“She’s still got a lot to learn but a typical Bettor’s on race day when she becomes a racehorse,” Jones said.

Plutonium Lady winning the Ladyship easily for Sam Ottley – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

Winning owners – Photo Bruce Stewart

Plutonium Lady had won two races ago at Winton and is now the early season leader on the Southland Oaks leader board.

“She might have one more go at the Sires Stakes Heat at Addington. We won’t take her to Auckland. We’ll just target the filly’s races down here and she may go to the New South Wales Oaks in February. Late in the season will be the Nevele R and New Zealand Oaks and the Southland Oaks. She’ll be a better filly later on so if we look after her now it’ll work out good.”

Plutonium Lady is owned by Sir Loins Limited and Starmark Limited which consist of Grant Hatton, Michael Jones and Jim Haines.

“It looks as though we picked the right one out at the sales.”

In the next race Burnham Boy was posted three wide from the start with driver Sam Ottley having to let him drift back to the rear. With just over a lap to run she took the Bettor’s Delight gelding three wide to improve round the field and sat parked from the 800. Just before turning in, Ottley pulled the ear plugs and soon took the lead from pacemaker Fireforefiddle. And typical of the Bettor’s Delight breed, fought bravely to beat Targaryen by a length and a quarter.

Burnham Boy also wearing number 4 saddle cloth winning for trainer Mark Jones – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart

In the last race of the day Ottley reined Ideal Draw to win. It was the driver’s 400th winner.

Earlier in the week Jones announced that from the beginning of next month, he and Benny Hill are going into training partnership.

“It’s a new challenge and a chance to refocus and get back on track. It’s an indication that two pretty above average trainers are battling, so we decided to join forces and get stronger. That’s the way forward. The big trainers are getting bigger so we have to combine our forces and get our owners together. It’s got to be better in the long run.”

Earlier in the day Helluva Way cleared maiden ranks at Gore for harness identity Art Bloxham.

The five year old having its fifteenth start, muscled out favourite Orlando Magic by a head.

Helluva Way (2) beating Orlando Magic – Photo Bruce Stewart

Returning to the birdcage with driver Blair Orange – Photo Bruce Stewart

It’s was Bloxham’s first winner since Commanding View at Roxburgh in 2008.

Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray and stable driver Brent Barclay scored an early double when A Cracker Knight and Edie Jaccka won races two and three.

A Cracker Knight getting his maiden win at Gore – Photo Bruce Stewart

A Cracker Knight one of two early winners for Brent Barclay – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Edie Jaccka holding out Black Ops – Photo Bruce Stewart

Back to the winning owners Charlie and Alisa Smaill – Photo Bruce Stewart

The drop back system worked perfectly for Skyvalley mare Spotlight The Valley in the McKeown Group Junior Drivers Trot.

Spotlight The Valley has won seven races, and today raced against horses who’ve had either one or two wins. After trailing leader Justan’s Sister, she came up the passing lane for driver Johnny Morrison to nab Justan’s Sister by a head.

Driver John Morrison drives Spotlight The Valley up the inside to win – Photo Bruce Stewart

Trained at Balfour by Robert Wilson, the seven year old is raced by the Sunbeam Syndicate.

Rehab Letter

This is the wonderful story of Mighty Flying Major and his life after racing.

He was bred by Lex and Heather Williams from Waimate, prepared for the 2013 Sale Of The Stars by Trent Yesberg and Stacey Markham, and sold for $65,500 to Dunedin owner Steve Thompson.

Mighty Flying Major – Photo Supplied

Mighty Flying Major was trained initially by Ken Barron then Ken and Tony Barron when that partnership was formed.

He won ten races from thirty six starts and was placed another twelve times, banking $139,425.

He last raced in New Zealand in November 2017 running seventh in a Free For All race won by The Fixer.

Throughout his New Zealand career he ran in a number of Group races finishing second in the 2014 Sapling Stakes, fourth in the Sires Stakes Final (2014), third in the Group Two Alabar Classic in Auckland and third in the 2016 Kaikoura Cup.

He was sold to Australia in December 2017 but only started three times there.

The letter below picks up on the Mighty Flying Major story and was passed on to me (Editor) by Lex and Heather who bred the Art Major gelding.

Hi Lex and Heather,

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you but I just wanted to let you know I am the owner of Mighty Flying Major and I wanted to let you know he is well and doing great things in the show world here in Australia.

I was given him by Lauren Tritton after he broke down with a branch ligament injury in January 2018.

I have slowly rehabbed him and started doing some Led classes at shows. Being extremely successful he is currently Australian National Champion High Point Led Gelding 2018/19.

I started him slowly under saddle and in March he did his first show ridden at the Standardbred State Championships, coming home with many Reserve Champions.

Since then he’s done just a few shows, weekend before last winning Supreme ridden Standardbred at his 4th show under saddle.

The weekend just gone has been a major breakthrough as we competed for just his 5th show at The Newcomer Horse of the Year where he is the first Standardbred to qualify for the Southern Cross Show Horse Championships 2020. Very exciting!

Above all those wins I have to say he is just the sweetest and most honest, kind hearted horse.

I absolutely love him to bits and he has a forever home here with me.

I have to thank you for breeding such an amazing boy.

Kindest regards

Sal Scott

Forgotten Valley Stud

Paddy Takes Out Riverton Cup

Bruce Stewart

Oreti Beach trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis demonstrated their fine conditioning skills when they produced Paddyproudfoot to win fresh up in yesterday’s 2700 metre DT King Transport Limited Riverton Cup.

“It’s not as if he’s had a big spell or anything. He’s only had a couple of weeks off and he’s been in light work,” said co-trainer Ellis.

Paddyproudfoot had his head down when the tapes were released and initially was at least twenty lengths from the early leader Nota Bene Denario.

“He normally goes away but Kirstin said he was just being a little bugger over that first 1000 metres.”

Barclay remained patient as the lead changed when favourite Franco Santino took over with a lap to run. At that point Paddyproudfoot was starting to get keen and Barclay send him forward with 600 metres to run and he sprinted up three wide and three lengths from the leader. Barclay started to shake the reins at the gelding to keep him on the job and he came down the middle of the track with a strong staying run to beat a late run from Kilowatt Kid.

Paddyproudfoot pricked his ears at the winning post with the winning margin three quarters of a length. Robyns Playboy was another three quarters of a length back in third. The winning time was a very respectable 3-22.6, 0.3 seconds outside Pulp Fiction’s race record of 3-22.3.

“They’re not bad horses that he beat. When you look at the video the good ones (Robyns Playboy and Franco Santino) all started off the same mark. He ended up giving them all of a start.”

Paddyproudfoot beating Kilowatt Kid in the 2019 Riverton Cup – Photo Bruce Stewart

Rosemary Duggan (holding Riverton Cup) Brian Duggan  and Peter Duffy (holding the 1914 New Zealand Cup), Julie Duffy and RTC President Bruce Stewart. Photo Wild Range Photography.

The ten start gelding has flown under the radar a bit but yesterday’s win was his fifth in his short career.

“The only time’s he hasn’t run in the money was at Blenheim when he was held up and had a wee gallop and when he galloped at Forbury when he was going to win. He’s ticking all the boxes at the moment anyway. Maybe next year we could be getting ready for November (New Zealand Cup).”

He’s owned by long-time friends Peter and Julie Duffy and Brian and Rosemary Duggan.

Paddyproudfoot was bred by the Duggans and is the first foal out of the Mach Three mare Beaudiene Brilliance which won two races.

The mare’s next foal is a three year old Sportswriter filly named Lila Rose which is rated by her trainer Laura Pearson.

“I’ve known Peter since I was 18 when I became his stock agent. We’ve raced horses for forty years”, said Brian.

One of the better horses the pair has raced was Motu Elite Hanover which won seven races when trained by Tony Barron.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to Cup Week now,” quipped Ellis looking at the owner while celebrating in the President’s Room after the win.

The mare’s next foal is a three year old Sportswriter filly named Lila Rose which is rated by her trainer Laura Pearson.

The win was Ellis’s second in the Riverton Cup. He won with Eastwood Atom in 2001. As a driver Barclay won the race in 2005 driving Wingandaprayer.

Robyns Playboy Wins Tuapeka Cup

Bruce Stewart

Robyns Playboy (file)

As a first season trainer Chris Wilson hasn’t been on course to see either of Robyns Playboy’s two wins this season and he’s starting to wonder if that’s a good omen.

“I was told I had to go camping so I’m down at Pounawea with the family, snorkelling for paua. So I watched the race by my phone,” he said.

Yesterday the four year old was driven with a good deal of confidence by regular pilot Craig Ferguson and he proved too tough for second favourite Cast No Shadow, beating him by a length and a quarter.

The winning time of 3-21.5 was a new race record for the 2700 metre stand, erasing Pats Delight’s 2018 record of 3-21.6.

“We said we’d sit back and drive him for one run. He probably went a wee bit sooner than what he would have liked but that’s how it played out. He really stuck to his guns.”

The Shadow Play four year old now has an assessment of R90 and the Junior Free For All at Addington on Cup Day, or a Discretionary Handicap on Show Day looked likely targets but Wilson says he’s likely to stay in Southland.

“We’re thinking the stakes are pretty good at Wyndham and there’s a Junior Drivers race so he’s either going there for a free win or we’ll toss him out for a spell. He’s been in work since August so a wee freshener might be good for him.”

The win in the Tuapeka Cup was Robyns Playboy’s eighth in twenty one starts.

Meanwhile Robyn Maree, the dam of Robyns Playboy, has recently foaled a Shadow Play colt making him a full-brother to the quality pacer.

“She’s been a tough one to get a foal out of. Dad didn’t have too much luck with his breeding last season, losing two mares, and two others slipped their foals. This year we’ve had a couple of colts and a filly at this stage.”