October – 2021

Bruce Stewart

5th October 2021

The Southland Harness Awards were scheduled to be held tonight at the Ascot Park Hotel. However unfortunately due to current Covid 19 restrictions being at Level Two, the Southland Awards Committee has cancelled the event and made the decision to release the Award results on this website at 8pm on Tuesday 5th October.

So here we go!!

Southland Horse of the Year 2021

Finalists: Pembrook Playboy, Ragazzo Mach, Vintage Cheddar and Watch Me Now.

Winner: Pembrook Playboy

Pembrook Playboy

  • Ran third in the Group Three Superstars at Addington behind Self Assured and Amazing Dream.
  • Won the Group Three Northern Southland Cup in a race, track, and Southland record.
  • Won the Group Three Summer Cup at Addington, beating Self Assured and The Fixer.
  • Other wins included the Group Three Invercargill Cup and the Group Three Central Otago Cup at Winton in which he beat Classie Brigade and Watch Me Now.
  • He ended his season by running third in the Listed Uncut Gems in Auckland.
  • He was the leading Southland trained stake earner, banking $107,375 for owner Chris Alcock.

Southland Broodmare of the Year 2021

Finalists: Glenburn Jewel, Kylie Ree, Mach N Elle and Southwind Arden.

Winner: Southwind Arden

  • The Bettor’s Delight mare’s progeny was headlined by Somebeachsomewhere entire South Coast Arden. He impressively won a double at Addington before heading to the Harness Jewels at Cambridge where he bravely won the Group One Four-Year-Old Emerald in a super time of 1-51.6. This season (August 2020-July 2021) he won six of his thirteen starts and $122,558 for northern trainer Brent Mangos.
  • Southwind Arden’s other foal to race was Platinum Stride which won three races this season and ran third in the Group One VHRC Caduceus Three-Year-Old Classic at Melton. He won $27,061 during the season.

John and Judy Stiven from Arden Lodge

NB: This is the fifth time the Stiven family has won this award. Their other Southland Broodmare of the Year winners were Arden Regal (2003), Arden’s Dream (2008), Winter Rose (2012) and Tosca Hanover (2016). Southwind Arden is a daughter of Winter Rose.

Southland Achievement of The Year 2021:

Finalists: Chelsea Faithful, John and Katrina Price, Kirstin Barclay, and Nathan Williamson.

Winner: Nathan Williamson:

  • Drove his 900th winner during the season under review.
  • Trained three runners at the Harness Jewels
  • Won the Southland Driver of the Year Premiership for the 13th consecutive year. Finished in the Top Five in the New Zealand Drivers Premiership (August 2020-July 2021).
  • Won the Southland Trainers Premiership with the most wins and the highest stake ever recorded by a Southland based trainer. Finished in the Top Five in the New Zealand Trainers Premiership (August 2020-July 2021).

  • NB: Nathan Williamson also won this award in 2013 when it was titled Southland Harness Personality of the Year.

Contribution to Southland Harness Racing Award:

Brent McIntyre

  • Stud master at Southland’s largest harness racing nursery – Macca Lodge.
  • Bred, raced, and trained quality mares Jamie (7 wins) and Bonnie Lass (10 wins)
  • Has been a trainer since 1993, training 53 winners.
  • Was Southland Harness Awards 2012 Personality of the Year.
  • Committee member of the Northern Southland Trotting Club.
  • Co-breeder of Group One and New Zealand record holder Watch Me Now.
  • Macca Lodge is a major sponsor of Southern Harness meetings including co-sponsor of the Southland Oaks.
  • Also sponsors the South of the Waitaki race during Cup Week in Christchurch.

Brent McIntyre

Other Awards:

Southland Standardbred Breeders Awards:

Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year:  Nutcracker (P and BR Duffy) – Trainer: Craig Ferguson.


Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year:  Tac Mac (C R Dixon, Mrs A M Barron-Dixon, D J Orr, Mrs J M Orr, M A Tempelman, L Tempelman, P F Forde, J G Wilks) – Trainer: Brent Shirley.

Tac Mac

Aged Race Mare of the Year: Watch Me Now (S H Sloan, Mrs C M Sloan, B R Sloan, Mrs J K Sloan, Mrs H A Gibb, A J Gibb) – Trainers: Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis.

Watch Me Now

Group Certificates:

  • Amazing Dream (Vin and Daphne Devery): 1st Group One Free for All – Addington 26th March 2021, 1st Group Two Premier Mares Classic – Addington – 29th January 2021, 1st Group One Auckland Cup – Auckland – 31st December 2021, 1st Group Three Northern Breeders Stakes – Auckland – 4th December 2020 and 1st Group One Nevele R Fillies Series Final – Addington – 10th November 2020.
  • Nutcracker (Paul and Brendan Duffy): 1st Group Three Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Fillies Classic – Invercargill 13th March 2021.
  • One Apollo (Lex and the estate of Heather Williams): 1st Group Three DG Jones Memorial Trotting Cup – Banks Peninsula – 27th September 2020 and 1st Group Three Southern Lights – Northern Southland – 31st March 2021.
  • Play Philly (Mark and Pauline O’Connor): 1st Group Three Leonard Memorial Stakes – Cheviot – 7th March 2021.
  • South Coast Arden (John Stiven): 1st Group One Four-Year-Old Emerald – Cambridge – 6th June 2021.
  • Vintage Cheddar (Ian and Lindsay Thompson): 1st Group Three New Zealand Junior Free for All – Addington 10th November 2021.
  • Watch Me Now (Brent McIntyre): 1st Group One New Zealand Breeders Stakes – Addington 12th February 2021.
  • Emma Frost (Bill Keeler): 1st Group Three Northern Trotting Stakes – Auckland – 26th February 2021.

NB: These Group Certificates will be presented at the annual HRNZ awards.

New Zealand Record Holders:

  • Splash Cola 2-30.6 – 5th February 2021 – 2000 metre stand – Addington (IW Hunter) – Trainer RW Todd.
  • Watch Me Now 3-97.2 – 12th February 2021 – 2600 metre mobile – Addington (S H Sloan, Mrs C M Sloan, B R Sloan, Mrs J K Sloan, Mrs H A Gibb, A J Gibb) – Trainers: Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis.

Watch Me Now in record breaking form at Addington

Southland Harness Awards Two-Year-Old Colt or Gelding of the Year: You’re So Fine – MCC Syndicate then from 8th June 2021 Mrs BV Richardson, MCC Syndicate and GL Moore – Trainer Brett Gray.

You’re So Fine

Southern Standardbred Breeders Fast Mile Rate Filly/Mare: Yankee Party 1-53.7 – Wairio 19th December 2021 – Owners FJ and KV Price – Trainers: John and Katrina Price.

Yankee Party

Robin Dundee Club Three-Year-Old Filly of the Year: Tac Mac (C R Dixon, Mrs A M Barron-Dixon, D J Orr, Mrs J M Orr, M A Tempelman, L Tempelman, P F Forde, J G Wilks) – Trainer: Brent Shirley.

Robin Dundee Club Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding of the Year: Ragazzo Mach (NB Cleaver) – Trainer: Nathan Williamson.

Ragazzo Mach

Southland Trainers and Drivers Awards:

Trainer of the Year: Nathan Williamson (48 wins).

Driver of the Year: Nathan Williamson (82 wins).

Junior Driver of the Year: Ellie Barron (14 wins).

Trotting Driver of the Year: Nathan Williamson (26).

Caduceus Club of Southland Trotter of the Year: Tweedledee – Owner: JR Bond – Trainer: Lyndon Bond.


 1-58.0 Pins (Pacers) and 2-00.0 Pins Trotters:

  • Arden Messi (John Stiven) – 11/09/20-NZ Metro- 57.6.
  • Braeview Kelly (Paul Pearce) – 25/10/20-Tuapeka-54.8 .
  • Chablis (Syd Brown) -28/05/21 – Auckland-57.7.
  • Gayle Force (Tim Grant) -12/11/20 – Ashburton-54.7.
  • Hampton (Wayne McEwan) – 29/10/20 – Invercargill-57.5.
  • I’mallaboutthebase (Steve Baucke) -27/11/20 – NZ Metro-57.8.
  • Mach’s Back (Murray Little) -17/04/21-Wairio – 57.8.
  • Miss Auckland (Owen Lawrence) -21/02/21 – Winton-54.3.
  • Nota Bene Denario (Robert Symon) -03/09/20 – Invercargill-57.9.
  • Outamyway (Trotter) (Peter Williams)-02/10/2020 – NZ Metro-1-59.9.
  • Rakarippa (Brendan Fahy) -31/12/20 – Winton-55.4.
  • Rough and Ready (Robert Symon) -28/05/21 – Auckland-56.7.
  • Sassy’s VC (Marty Fairbairn) -04/03/21 – Riverton-56.6.
  • Sentry (Ian Bennett) -10/10/20- Northern Southland –57.9 and 15/10/20 – Wairio-1.55.5.
  • Smokin Annie (Paul Hailes) – 11/06/2021-NZ Metro – 1-57.9.
  • Smokin Bandar (Trotter) (Tom Kilkelly) – 07/02/2021 – Winton – 1-57.5.
  • Suzie Rocks (Noddy Orr) – 25/06/21-NZ Metro –55.9.
  • Sweet Lizzie (Tim Grant) -20/08/20-Winton -1.56.1 and 10/12/20-Winton –57.5.
  • Swell Time (Steve Baucke) – 06/08/20 -Invercargill-55.6, 15/11/20-Winton 1.56.1 and 27/11/20-NZ Metro-1.56.6.
  • Tenzing Bromac (Wayne McEwan) – 05/03/21 – NZ Metro-56.7.
  • The Maroon Marauder (Ray Knight)- 13/11/20 – NZ Metro-55.1.
  • Town Echo (Stu Gillan) -28/05/21-NZ Metro – 57.2 and 20/06/21 -NZ Metro-1.57.5.
  • Tres Chic (Stu Gillan) -21/05/21-NZ Metro – 56.3 and 07/02/21-Winton –1.57.9.
  • Yankee Party (John and Katrina Price) -19/12/2020-Wairio –1-53.7.

 Congratulations to all the entries and winners!

The winners will be acknowledged at upcoming Southern race meetings.

We thank you all for your understanding and hope to see you on course soon.

Southland Harness Awards Committee.

Get Up N Dance Did Just That

Bruce Stewart

9th October 2021

Get Up N Dance underlined his bright future when he sat parked and won his third race at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park today.

After winning at Addington in July and August, the three-year-old started today’s race as a $2.10 favourite.

Get Up N Dance warming up for Nathan Williamson

Eight-win mare Jody Direen led from barrier release and driver Nathan Williamson stayed out of the early rush from gate six. With a lap to run he moved Get Up N Dance up to sit parked and he was too strong for a game Jody Direen and Mucho Macho Man, which came late along the passing lane for third. The winning time was 2-41.8.

“It was a good run fresh up and I was really thrilled, but surprised at the time. It didn’t feel as though they went that quick,” Williamson said.

Winning his third race (6)

Returning to the birdcage

Nathan Williamson, Get Up N Dance, Jamie Campbell and Dale Kinzett

He said Get Up N Dance is nominated for the $30,000 Show Day Futurity at Addington next month run over 2600 metres.

“Today he was ready to go but I think he’ll naturally progress because he’s still got some of his coat to lose. He’s had a trip to Addington before so that’s going to help him.”

Get Up N Dance is by Rock N Roll Heaven out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Dance N Delight.

“He’s got a handy sort of a motor and can do a bit of work and can stick on, so he’s got a good all-round game. He’s still a bit wayward at times but by the time he has another six or seven starts I think he’ll get his head around the racing game.”

Get Up N Dance is raced by his breeders Dale and Kaye Kinzett.

“The Kinzett family is from Oamaru and they’re family friends. Dad trained Dance N Delight. She unfortunately went amiss and didn’t race.”

Dale’s father Ken was a blacksmith at Addington in the 1960s and 70s.

“He then moved down to Oamaru and was blacksmith at the racecourse. He had one or two trotters that he messed around with,” Dale said.

Williamson also initially trained Dance N Delight’s first foal, Shut Up N Dance which created a real buzz when she raced last season.

After having one workout for the southern stable she was then sent north to Woodend Beach trainer Regan Todd because she had leg issues.

Shut Up N Dance raced three times for Todd winning all of her starts at Addington. At her first start she won by ten and a half lengths pacing the 1980 metres in 2-22.3 a mile rate of 1-55.6.

“She was something. Unbelievable,” Williamson said.

Dale was on course today to see Get Up N Dance win and he also visited the Williamson stable at Branxholme this morning to see Rise Up N Dance, a rising two-year-old by Art Major go through his paces.

He says Shut Up N Dance will be served by American Ideal while Dance N Delight will return to Art Major.

Meanwhile a number of classy Southland trained horses stepped out at the Goodman Plumbing Winton Workouts yesterday.

The Learners Mobile Pace was won narrowly by the Nathan Williamson trained Ann Marie. She’s a Bettor’s Delight filly out of the Somebeachsomewhere mare Tuapeka Helen who is a half-sister to Lawrence.

Ann Marie beating her stablemate at the Winton Workouts

Another well bred, Who’s Better also trained by Williamson was a head back in second. She’s also by Bettor’s Delight and is out of the Christian Cullen mare Cullen Who which won five races for Tony Barron.

The winning time was 3-13.4 with the last 800 run in 58.8 seconds.

Wayne McEwan, who now trains in Te Anau, geared up the winner of the second Learners Mobile Pace when Expects Delays beat Princess Popsicle by a head with Watchlist a length back in third. Expect Delays is a five year old Auckland Reactor mare out of Peter Marshalls ‘Medley’ breed.

Expect Delays winning for John Bennett

Henry Maguire looked to have plenty of raw talent when he left the mobile behind five rivals but still got up to beat Love Lou Longtime by a nose.

Henry Maguire on the outside winning his workout heat

Trained by Peter Hunter for the Gotashearasheep Syndicate the Rock N Roll Heaven two-year-old is a half-brother to eight-win pacer Mikey Maguire. The winning time was 3-06.4 with the last 800 metres run in 58 seconds.

Hurricane Hendrix, also two and by Rock N Roll Heaven, won his Non-Winners Mobile Pace over 2400 metres. His winning margin was a length and a quarter over Tartan Raider.

Hurricane Hendrix winning at the Winton Workouts

Hurricane Hendrix is out of the eight-win American Ideal mare Star Of Isis.

The Michael House trained Johnny Mac in the hands of Tyler Dewe easily won the main pacing heat in a smart 3-01.5. His winning margin over Quaddie VC was two lengths with Sand Wave making ground late to run third, two and a quarter lengths back.

Johnny Mac beating Quaddie VC

In the last heat Don Ameche, a qualified unraced four-year-old trotter by Dream Vacation out of Lady Eileen beat horses with better credentials – Jannah Jaccka (2 wins) and Andy Hall (5 wins).

Don Ameche on the inside winning the last heat

Don Ameche is trained by Robert Wilson who also trains his half-brother Willangus Lad (3).

Sacred Mountain Wins for New Owners

Bruce Stewart

9th October 2021

Sacred Mountain did the right thing for her new owners Merv and Meg Butterworth when she broke the hearts of her race rivals in the Olphert Contracting Gold Chip Final at Ascot Park today.

Sacred Mountain leading with a lap to run

The Muscle Hill three-year-old led for most of the journey and was left without any real competition when her main challenger Millie’s Gift broke on the final bend. That left Sacred Mountain clear, and she went on to win by fourteen and a half lengths in the hands of regular driver Blair Orange.

Winning by a wide margin

“Merv bought her on Monday. We haven’t had any discussion about where she’s going but she does trot nicely the Auckland way round (right-handed),” said trainer Brian Norman.

Returning to the birdcage

Today’s race was Sacred Mountain’s seventeenth and she’d always shown potential but had broken in a number of her previous starts.

“She’s always had ability but she just used to get sore on her back. We gave her a good break and I was hoping she’d come back better.”

Sacred Mountain is out of the seven-win Sundon mare Aceofdiamonds which was trained by Sam Moore for most of her career. She ran eighth in the 2007 Group One New Zealand Trotting Championship when trained by Phil Williamson.

Aceofdiamonds has been an excellent broodmare, leaving quality trotters Sky Commander and Ace Commander.

Sky Commander won three races in New Zealand for Norman before Butterworth bought him. He went on to win another thirteen races in Australia. He finished second in the Group One Victoria Trotters Derby and third in the Group One Trotters Cup at Gloucester Park. He won stakes of $152,536.

Ace Commander won five races here before he headed to Australia. He’s only had two starts in Aussie and has been off the scene since March 2020.

“He’s just on the come back now in West Australia and he’s pretty happy with where he’s at.”

Norman said the deal with Merv Butterworth includes sending Sacred Mountain back to New Zealand when she finishes racing.

“Ace Commander and Sky Commander were good but of the three she (Sacred Mountain) is the fastest by quite a margin. They were perfect racehorses whereas she used to hang and have wee niggles. I couldn’t find out what they were, but I never looked either.”

Today’s win was Sacred Mountain’s second.

Meanwhile smart two-year-old Sporty Charlie added another string to his bow when he proved too tough for a small field in the Macca Lodge Nuggets Final. In his first start at Wyndham, he flashed home late to win impressively but it today’s race he sat parked for the last lap and outstayed Over The Odds to win by half a length running the 2200 metres in 2-42.2.

Sporty Charlie (3) winning his second race

Returning to the birdcage

Winning connections

Thursday night was another stellar night for Southern Bred Southern Reared bred horses at Addington.

One Over All, an Angus Hall three year out of One Over Kenny showed great tenacity to come back when clearly headed to win. Lex Williams and the late Heather Williams bred him, and it was the three-year-old gelding’s fifth win in his first season of racing.

Romeo Shard bred by Debbie and Mark Smith, underlined his qualities when he impressively won his first race for Northern trainer Brent Mangos.

The Bettor’s Delight three-year-old is out of the Western Ideal mare Priscilla Shard. He has carried a private reputation for some time and he duly delivered at his third start. Priscilla Shard is a sister to a host of good winners including Likmesiah (13), Mighty Cullen (8) and Mister Presley (9).

Mark Purdon and Hayden Cullen have a full sister to Romeo Shard in their Rolleston stable. The Smiths have a yearling, Art Major filly out of Priscilla Shard and a rising yearling colt by Captaintreacherous.

To cap off the night, the John and Katrina Price bred Republican Party won his second race for Cran and Chrissie Dalgety.

Republican Party at Ascot Park

His winning margin was an impressive five lengths. He clocked a time of 2-22-1 for the 1980 metre mobile – a mile rate of 1-55.4. The New Zealand record of 2-19.6 is held by One Change.

The Bettor’s Delight two-year-old colt is out of six-win American Ideal mare Democrat Party.

Back Page News Front Page Act

14th October 2021

Bruce Stewart

Talented filly Back Page News showed a touch of class when she beat a small select field of fillies and mares in the Raging Bull at Macca Lodge Ladyship Final at the Wairio meeting today.

In the hands of caretaker trainer Brad Williamson, the two-year-old Sportswriter filly got to the front where she likes to be, and held on to beat Feelthejoy by three quarters of a length running the mile in 1-57.6.

“She’s a lot happier in front. In her second start at Wyndham, she was in a trail and was pulling and hanging so I went round the field and sat parked but she’s a lot better free rolling in front,” Williamson said.

Today was only the filly’s fourth start for Woodend Beach trainer Cam Jones.

“She raced well at her first start at Oamaru and Cameron decided to leave her with me and target a fillies maiden mobile, but we ran down the track against a particularly good field. But she has improved. She beat a really good field of horses today so we’re over the moon,” Williamson said.

Jones, in his first season of training, has crafted a very good record with mainly horses that appear to have reached their limit for other trainers. From just fifty-one starters he’s won fourteen races.

“He’s got a good UDR, and his horses go pretty good so I’m sure he’ll be over the moon with her. She’ll go out for a spell now.”

Back Page News is by Sportswriter out of the Christian Cullen mare Hard Days Night and is out of a breed made famous by Norwegian Wood Breeding Limited who’ve named a lot of their horses after Beatles songs.

Smokin Bandar Smokes Them

14th October 2021

Bruce Stewart

Smokin Bandar was on his best behaviour at Winton today when he stepped and cleared up a good field of intermediate trotters.

The Monkey Bones grey hasn’t been super dependable from a standing start, but today in the hands of junior driver Mark Hurrell he stepped away nicely from the twenty-metre mark, got up in front and won easily.

Smokin Bandar warming up

“If he trots (away) he’s normally pretty safe after that. You cross your fingers every time. It was an easy enough watch once he got away,” said trainer Craig Ferguson who was watching from the stand.

The winning margin was a length and a half from another son of Monkey Bones, Count Eyre, with a further half a length back to Dominion Handicap aspirant Andy Hall who was having his first start in five months.

Smokin Bandar beating Count Eyre

It was the five-year-old’s twentieth start and sixth win for his breeder Tom Kilkelly, wife Julie and other members of their family.

Winning connections

Smokin Bandar was made favourite after an impressive win at last Sunday’s Wyndham Workout, and it was his first start since he last raced at Invercargill in May.

“He seems to go better fresh. We didn’t do too much with him after his workout. We mix his work up a bit with a bit of swimming and work on the track. He seems to have matured a bit this time in.”

Williamson Heads North

Bruce Stewart

17th October 2021

Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson has headed north on the biggest trip of his short training career.

Williamson left Southland early this morning with junior driver Ollie Kite and six horses on the float, and he has a variety of targets over the next four weeks.

The greatest test will be next month’s $600,000 Group One New Zealand Trotting Cup which has Southland Horse of the Year Pembrook Playboy in the mix for Williamson.

After leading in the Canterbury Classic Pembrook Playboy was run down late, beaten a neck by one of the Cup favourites South Coast Arden.

“I was thrilled with his run. He’s come through the race and is fit and well. The Flying Stakes at Ashburton will be next but I’m going to give him a quiet trial on Thursday at Ashburton,” Williamson said.

Pembrook Playboy

Chris Alcock with the Horse of the Year trophy and cover presented by Southland Harness Award Committee Members Brendon Fahy and Alex Milne

The team will be based at Lavros Lodge in Canterbury, one of the two operations of former Southlander Regan Todd.

Also on the float are Sand Wave, Andy Hall, Millie’s Gift, and Love Lou Longtime who will be joined at the Canterbury base by Get Up N Dance which raced at Addington on Friday night.

Sweet Lou gelding Love Lou Longtime had three starts in April, running two seconds and a third.

“I’ll try and get him cherry ripe for the Cup Day maiden.”

Love Lou Longtime

Although well bred Millie’s Gift hasn’t been on her best behaviour at her last two starts, but she has enough talent to race again at Addington.

“The trip away won’t do her any harm. I’ll race her on Thursday night and see how she progresses.”

Millie’s Gift

Somebeachsomewhere two-year-old Sand Wave looked unlucky at his first start in a new campaign at Wairio on Thursday. He was held up at the business end of the race and ran second to the talented Quaddie VC.

“I’m not sure about starting in the Sires Stakes although he’s paid up. I’d like to have a go at the South of the Waitaki race with him. There is also a suitable race on Show Day in his grade.”

Sand Wave

Andy Hall began his new season on Thursday, running a close third also at the Wairio meeting.

“I was really rapt with him. He hit the line well. He’s not looking as strong as I would like him to be. Although he’s paid up for the Dominion, his goal is just being at the Cup meeting. If you take the top fifteen or so horses out of the trotting rank, he’d be very competitive. In saying that he will go round in the Dominion if he gets a start, and he won’t run last. He’s not a bad horse.”

Andy Hall

Andy Hall is currently ranked 18th in the Dominion with the cut-off point being 15.

Nikol Franco Wins at Good Odds

Bruce Stewart

17th October 2021

It’s unusual for a horse carrying the Spreydon Lodge colours to start at odds of 15 to 1, but that was the case with  Nikol Franco in Race Seven at Oamaru today. Her formline of ten to none may have put a few punters off.

“She hasn’t been anything special all the way through. She’s just done enough to keep us interested. On her dam’s side there’s been some nice horses that have done a good job overseas, so she was worth persevering with because of that. We thought if we could win a couple of races it would keep the breed going,” said McRae.

The Art Major filly is out of the Union Guy mare Nature Franco which won three races and left four win mare Nemero Franco.

Nikol Franco won on debut at Addington in February before leading then stopping at her next start at Westport.

“She can choke down sometimes, so we put a choking device on her. It’s not obvious because she doesn’t make a lot of noise but when she gets keen, she can cut her own wind off.”

She was then given a break before resuming at the Met, but she broke and finished eleventh.

“She’s a funny old thing who can get worked up when she’s behind the mobile, so we pulled the plug and took her back to the stands where she’s a lot more settled.”

In today’s race she was tucked away early before getting off the inside at the right time. She was late getting clear and just when pacemaker Wolfenstein looked to be in for a hometown win, Thornley drove Nikol Franco hard at the line and she got up to win by a head.

“When I saw the draw, I thought she wasn’t going to have a winning chance, but it was a ten out of ten drive from Craig.”

Now a high rating R50 horse McRae said it’s going to be hard short term to place the mare in the highly competitive Canterbury circuit.

“We may have to wait until Christmas when things thin out a bit to place her in a suitable race but she’s probably looking at the broodmare paddock next year.”

Double For Black

Bruce Stewart

24th October 2021

Branxholme trainer Alister Black’s two winners at Ascot Park today will join New Zealand Cup aspirant Vintage Cheddar on the big stage at Addington in the next few weeks.

Talented trotter Dont Ask, won her third race for Black and owner Lindsay Thompson when she beat Winning Bones by a length and a quarter.

Dont Ask warming up for Brad Williamson

The three-year-old Father Patrick filly has always shown ability but has let punters down on the odd occasion by breaking. However Black says she’s improved.

“She’s come a long way this time in. She’s starting to get more settled,” he said.

Dont Ask leading Winning Bones with a lap to run

Striding out to win

Back to the birdcage

The win sealed a trip to Addington for Cup Week.

“She’ll race on Show Day. I think the trip away will help her too. She’s always had the ability, but her problem was in the head department but she’s starting to act a bit more sensibly now even in her work at home.”

Later in the programme the talents of Idealism were on show when the three-year-old led, was sternly challenged by Calypso Rock, and then had to hold out a late run by I’mallaboutthebase.

“He’s a pretty fair animal with a bit of bottom and I reckon he’s only at ninety per cent at the moment with ten per-cent improvement in him.”

Idealism pressured by Calypso Rock with a lap to run

Idealism (5) beating I’mallaboutthebase

Back to the birdcage

Black says it was a good positive drive by stable driver Brad Williamson who drove two other winners on the Tuapeka card today as well.

“When you’re driving a good horse, you have to give them the opportunity to win the race and that’s the thing I like about Brad. He drives positive and when he’s on a nice one he’ll put them into the race. A good solider always leads from the front.”

Black says Idealism will now target the South of the Waitaki on Show Day.

“I’ll take him to the Cup Trial and give him a nice wee quiet run and give him a look at Addington.”

The American Ideal gelding is owned by Craig Milne, his father Ian, Pete and Lorraine Carnie, Lyn Philp, Paul McEntyre, and Black’s wife Sheree and has now won three of his seven starts.

Winning owners and sponsors

“I think he’ll be a real nice Country Cups horse after Christmas.”

Paddy Triumphs in Tuapeka Cup

Bruce Stewart

24th October 2021

As Tisbury trainer Kirstin Barclay rightly points out, Paddyproudfoot has a good horse’s record.

“His record shows that, and he hasn’t had that many starts,” she said after the six-year-old won the $20,000 Dan Cummings Memorial Tuapeka Lodge Cup at Ascot Park today.

Paddyproudfoot and Kirstin Barclay heading into the birdcage prior to the Cup.

The Washington VC gelding had been off the scene prior to his start on this track at the beginning of the month. Prior to that, his last start was at Addington nearly two years ago.

“It did take a bit of work getting him back. He’s such a good doing wee horse. We were lucky to give him a run here a couple of weeks ago with Max (Hill) driving him to help the horse get some race fitness and we’ve had a good training week on the beach.”

In today’s feature Paddyproudfoot began well but had to be shaken up early to get his mind on the job.

“He can be a little bit of a bugger and take the piss out of you sometimes. As soon as he stepped off the mark, he went to drop the bit, so I had to pull the plugs to get him to cross over to the front.”

He then slotted into the trail behind favourite Robyns Playboy which today was driven by Matty Williamson with his usual pilot Craig Ferguson committed to Chuckles whom he trains.

Robyns Playboy leading with Paddyproudfoot in the trail with a lap to run

“He travelled beautifully. There were some slow sectionals and I thought Robyns Playboy would have too much sharp speed for us, but my horse dug in really well.”

The closing 800 metres was run is a slick 55.1 and the final 400 metres in 27.5. The winning margin was half a head with Robyns Playboy running a game second and just falling short of winning his third Tuapeka Cup.

Kirstin Barclay driving out Paddyproudfoot to get up and beat Robyns Playboy

The win was a credit to Barclay’s conditioning skills and her easy access to Oreti Beach where she and former training partner Tank Ellis trained many winners.

“It makes a difference being an older horse and getting enough work into him. You always want to look after them when they’ve had an injury but he’s at the stage where he has to step up.”

It was Paddyproudfoot’s sixth win at only his fourteenth start and Barclay says the win has earned him a trip to Cup week.

“We might look at the Junior Free For All. He follows speed really well. As we saw today, he followed a horse that’s been racing well in the top grade, so he deserves a chance.”

Paddyproudfoot is raced by Peter and Julie Duffy and Brian and Rosemary Duggan.

Sponsors, Tuapeka committee and the owners of Paddyproudfoot

Peter Cummings representing the Cummings family with Rosemary and Brian Duggan

The win was some compensation for the Barclay stable who sadly lost the services of their stable star U May Cullect last week.

Minnie Wins Maiden

Bruce Stewart

24th October 2021

Oamaru trainer Matthew Williamson is genuinely excited about two-year-old trotter Minnie McGoogan and has some bigger plans mapped out for the filly.

Although today’s win at the Tuapeka Trotting Club’s meeting at Invercargill wasn’t against the strongest field, the race served it’s purpose in educating the talented racehorse, and will give her a solid grounding for the bigger races ahead.

Minnie McGoogan warming up prior to her win today

Today was only Minnie McGoogan’s second start. Her first was at Addington just over a week ago where she was beaten by One Thirtythree.

“She just wasn’t as good as I’ve had her for that run. I’ve been having wee seasonal issues with her which I’m still not quite on top of. I think once they go away, you’ll see even a better version of her,” Williamson said.

In today’s One Over Da Moon – Southwest Shearing Trot, Williamson took her straight to the lead and despite Kiwi Heir applying some pressure, Minnie McGoogan proved her high-end qualities and cleared out to win by four- and three-quarter lengths.

“I didn’t have to pull the plugs today but if we’re going to take on the better horses later on, she’d need to be winning like she did today. She’s good from the stand and the mobile and is probably tractable beyond her years.”

Minnie McGoogan and Matty Williamson leading with a lap to run

On her own at the finish

Returning to the birdcage

Williamson not only trains and drives Minnie McGoogan but also shares in the ownership with Invercargill Real Estate Agent Craig Heyrick and his wife Tania.

“She’s always been nice gaited. As a yearling bowling around, she had that part of the game which is a good start. She’s been pretty smart even as an early two-year-old but she was big, so we turned her out instead of racing her.”

The Heyrick’s, Clark Baldwin and Williamson, raced Minnie McGoogan’s dam Winnie McGoogan who won two of her four starts.

“She had a lot of ability. She broke a pedal bone when she won at Oamaru. She ran home in 56 and two steps past the line she broke down and was retired. She had a lot of ability and was running around with some of the better two-year-olds.”

Williamson says there’s a suitable race for Minnie McGoogan at Addington in a couple of weeks and then he’ll look at bigger targets later in the season.

“She’ll race in the fillies races, and we’ll also have a crack at racing the boys at some stage providing she shows she’s up to it, but I think she will be.”

U May Cullect – Facts and Frames

Bruce Stewart

20th October 2021

U May Cullect 

Sire: Gotta Go Cullect

Dam: Ides of May (Albert Albert mare)

Owner: Tom Kilkelly

Trainers: Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis

Driver: Kirstin Barclay

Qualified: Ascot Park – Invercargill 27th February 2019 over 2200 metres from behind the mobile in 2-48.9 on an easy track on a rainy day.

The wins:

Win Number One:  9th March 2019 – Northern Southland Trotting Club at Ascot Park – Invercargill.

Winning margin:  4 lengths

Distance:  2200 metres  mobile

Time:  2-41.2 (mile rate of 1-57.9)

Win Number Two:  23rd March 2019 – Wairio Trotting Club  Central Southland Raceway  – Winton.

Winning margin:  8 and ¼ lengths

Distance:  1609 metres mobile

Time:  1-52.1 (Track and Southland record at only his second start)

Win Number Three:  5th April 2019 – New Zealand Metropolitan Club – Addington Raceway -Christchurch.

Winning margin:  4 ½ lengths

Distance:  1980 metres mobile

Time:  2-22.5 (1-55.9 mile rate)

Win Number Four:  27th April 2019 – Invercargill Trotting Club – Ascot Park – Invercargill.

Winning margin: 6 ½ lengths

Distance: 2200 metre mobile

Time: 2-41.9 (1-58.4 mile rate)

Win Number Five:  11th May 2019 – Winton Harness Racing Club – Central Southland Raceway -Winton.

Winning margin:  3 lengths

Distance:  1609 metre mobile

Time:  1-53.1

Win Number Six:  3rd June 2019 – Invercargill Harness Racing Club – Ascot Park – Invercargill

Winning margin:  5 ½ lengths

Distance:  2700 metres stand

Handicap:  30 metres

Time:  3-22.3 (2-00.5 mile rate)

Win Number Seven:  14th June – New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club – Addington Raceway – Christchurch

Winning margin:  Nose

Distance:  2600 metre mobile

Time:  3-08.7 (1-56.7 mile rate)

Win Number Eight:  13th February 2021 – Riverton Trotting Club – Ascot Park Raceway – Invercargill

Winning margin:  A neck

Distance:  2700 metres stand

Handicap:  40 metres

Time:  3-17.9 (1-57.9 mile rate)

Win Number Nine:  4th March 2021 – Riverton Trotting Club – Central Southland Raceway – Winton

Winning margin:  1 ¼ lengths

Distance:  1609 metre mobile

Time:  1-56.8


 Lifetime:  17 starts 9 wins, 1 second and 1 third

Stakes won: $92,280

  • 2019 Southland Horse of the Year
  • Central Southland Track and Southland record holder for 1609 metre mobile four year olds and older entires and geldings – 1-52.1 Winton 23rd March 2019.


Nathan Williamson – 300 Training Wins

Bruce Stewart

25th October 2021

The rise of Southland trainer Nathan Williamson continues, with the 2020 – 2021 season  the Branxholme based horseman’s best to date, both for the number of winners he’s trained and  the stakes winnings he’s earned.

Today’s win with Andy Hall at Ashburton brings his total to 300 wins all up! And to boot, he’s achieved the milestone in the shortest time in the provinces long trotting history.

He’s also closing in on the all-time Southland record of 333 winners, trained by the late Henry Skinner. It’s looking likely that by the end of the new season he’ll be Southland’s leading trainer of all time.  A remarkable feat for someone that’s just in his twelfth season of training.

Looking at the list of winners Williamson has trained, it’s clear they’re not over raced and when they do go to the races they have an excellent strike rate.

Williamson moved down to Southland from Oamaru in June 2008 straight after Springbank Richard won his second Harness Jewels. He initially worked for Branxholme trainer Kirk Larsen, before starting his own training career utilising Alex McDonald’s property on Flora Road.

“I never trained a winner from there, but I had a few young horses. One of them was Latheronwheel who ran in the Harness Jewels as a maiden two-year-old trotter,” he said.

In that season Latheronwheel recorded two Group placings.

From there he moved to Ryal Bush and trained at Grinaldi Lodge, a bespoke training establishment owned by Ben and Karen Calder.

“I started to train a few more horses so I rang Ben and he and Karen gave me a massive leg up. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and will be forever grateful for their help. Ben still has shares in a few horses with me, so we’ve had a good association over the years.”

The Calder’s property had a purpose-built training facility including a track, two big barns, good paddocks and a swimming pool.

“Ross and Robyn (Jones – parents of Williamsons wife Katie) ended up selling Kina Craig Stud and moved down. They helped me for twelve months while I was at Ben’s.”

He trained a good number of winners for the Calders while he was there, including Burano, Foo Fighter and The Ultimate Kina.

Williamson’s first win came in December 2010 at Ascot Park when he trained Jaccka Justy to win on debut for Riversdale owner Charlie Smaill.

Jaccka Justy warming up on the day he won his first race

“It was Invited drivers’ day. Southland won the Drivers Championship and I ended up training my second winner that day which was Burano. Dexter drove him for me in one of the Invited Drivers races. It was a special day, and I can tell you I had a sore head the next morning.”

Jaccka Justy went on to win thirteen races for Smaill.

“He was an extremely talented horse but he had a few issues with his manners early on. Charlie took him home and sorted him out and that helped in making him into the super horse he was. He ended up going to the beach with Amber (Hoffman) and Jonny (Cox). He was an extremely good horse from day one.”

Owner Charlie Smaill certainly got the best out of the talented son of Continentalman, winning six races. Jonny Cox won with the gelding three times while Amber Hoffman and Jonny Cox won a further three races with him including the 2014 Group One Dominion Handicap.

It was while he was at Grinaldi Lodge that Williamson bought the property at Branxholme which at that stage was bare land.

“The track was the first thing to be put on the property. Ben gave me some great advice telling me that I need to set up the track and let it settle down before working horses in the winter. We used it initially to jog horses over the summer.”

After the track came the barns, stables and house. The setup now has sixteen original yards plus ten new ones and eighteen boxes.

File photo’s taken in 2017

His first winner from the property was Foo Fighter at the Invercargill Cup meeting in January 2017. Dark Horse won later that same day.

Foo Fighter warming up prior to his win on Invercargill Cup Day 2017

Dark Horse beating Monty Python on Cup Day 2017

“I like to keep to no more than thirty horses. We could handle more but I like to have a good number of staff per horse, so nothing is missed, and the horses are getting A1 treatment. I’d rather have it that way rather than stretching it.”

Williamson currently employs five staff – Ollie Kite, Chelsea Faithful, Georgia Goodman, Nicky Ward and Shaun Kennard.

Ollie Kite with Dark Horse in the cart

“I would say that I’m not an easy person to work for because I’m very meticulous. I like things done my way. I don’t like short cuts.”

Williamson prides himself on conditioning his horses so they’re ready on race day and as a trainer has an excellent strike rate (UDR).

“If I could have thirty horses I might as well have the best thirty. I always had a mindset never to turn young horses away because they have the potential to be anything. I’d rather train a young horse than a tried-and-true horse. In the last few years, I’ve tried to do that, and the results are starting to come through.”

Neville Cleaver is one of Williamson’s long-standing clients. Their first winner was Sunrise Delight at Gore in August 2011 which Cleaver owned with good friend Kevin Strong. Other winners owned or part-owned by Cleaver that have won for Williamson include Rocky Road (2), Onedin Mach (8), Aidens Rocket (3), Gangnam Style (3), Sundons Wish (2), Denn Nee Nose Best (1), Scarlett Lane (3), Revitalise (1), Delight N Gold (2), Franco Santino (9) and Ragazzo Mach (7).

In total he’s trained forty-four winners for Cleaver.

“He’s been a great owner. Sunrise Delight was the first horse I trained for him and Kevin Strong. We then went to the sales and bought Onedin Mach and ever since then he’s been pretty lucky really.”

Sunrise Delight

Onedin Mach

Williamson says it’s been Cleaver’s desire to always have a racehorse in his name that has led to him breaking one of his golden rules.

“He’s probably the exception to my rule. I’ve taken on horses like Delight N Gold and Scarlett Lane. Nev just took a cheap punt because he didn’t have any quality horses racing at that time. He just wanted to have a play around and keep involved in racing. Neville’s now got enough quality horses, so he doesn’t have to worry about those sorts of horses now.”

Delight N Gold

At the yearling sales in February Cleaver, who had just sold Ragazzo Mach for good money, outlaid $140, 000 for a Bettor’s Delight yearling out of in The Pocket mare Simply Devine, named The Black Flash.

“He’s doing everything right at this stage. He’s just gone out for a small break. It looks as though he’ll make a two-year-old.”

Williamson’s had some very good horses in the twelve years he’s been training and regards Armbro Invasion mare Poppymalda as one of the best trotters he’s trained along with Dark Horse. Poppymalda was bred by Canterbury horseman Mike De Filippi.

“Mike rang me and said he had a horse for sale. I ended up buying her and I took a third share with Ross and Robyn and Barry Dent. If she hadn’t got injured, she would have reached the top level.”

From just twenty-eight starts over five seasons she won eight races and was placed a further seventeen times. Her best season was in 2015 when as a four-year-old she won four races from just ten starts. That season she ran third in the Group One Four-Year-Old Ruby.


Dark Horse is another trotter that’s put the Williamson colours on the big stage. She won fourteen races over five seasons. She completely missed her six-year-old season and as a five- and seven-year-old only started seven times.

She was nursed back to racing a number of times which not only reflected Williamson’s high opinion of the mare but also his great conditioning skills.  Early on he believed she could have won a Dominion Handicap or a Rowe Cup.

“She was never that brilliant when she came back after breaking down the first time. She beat Group One horses in her early days. We think that if everything had held together it could have been exciting. She was a great mare and there’s every chance she’ll leave a great foal.”

Dark Horse

Williamson says the Griffins and Seafield Trotting syndicates that raced her, have planned with the Grices (horse’s owners) to race some of the foals out of Dark Horse, who will be served by Majestic Son this breeding season.

Art Major mare Shut Up N Dance was another talent.

“She was freaky good from early days. Dayle (Kinzett) and I decided to send her to the beach at Regan’s (Todd) to give her the best chance of getting to the races. She won three races which is more that she would have won if she’d stayed here. If she’d had good legs, she could have been anything.”

In the early days a horse Williamson held in high regard was Classievale which he’d bought at the yearling sales.

The three-year-old was by Courage Under Fire out of Heathvale and he won four workouts before winning his qualifying trial by seven lengths.

“Had I known what I know now I wouldn’t have sold him. I got really good money, but I would have liked to have raced him because he felt like an open class pacer.”

He won eleven races from twenty-eight starts and was good enough to run fourth in the 2012 Miracle Mile won by Caribbean Blaster.

As well as Nathan’s distinctive colours his helmet also has a uniqueness about it and there’s a story behind its origins.

“I was over in Australia with Springbank Richard. Ross (Payne) had just bought a new helmet and he said if you win the Victorian Derby, I’ll give you my helmet. I bought it home and found it much more comfortable than the one I had. It’s an Australian style helmet and Ross had done an Aussie design on it.”

The distinct helmet

He’s now concentrating on his next group of rising two-year-olds, picking out a Captaintreachous filly out of Shezaball and an Art Major full-brother to Shut Up N Dance as a couple he has high hopes for.

“They could have something there if they keep on improving”

He’s also dabbling in the breeding game and has four mares including Poppymalda who’s currently empty and Hawaiian Hula which is in foal to Marcoola.

He also borrowed I Smart from Brent and Raewyn Shirley and recently bought Bettors Delight mare Dakota Grace and is sending both to Captain Crunch.

Williamson is very appreciative of his family – his wife Katie, his father Phil who’s always just a phone call away, and Katie’s parents Ross and Robyn Jones, who live on an adjoining property. They’ve all been a big part of his success.

“Ross is the estate manager and Robyn looks after the children while Katie is teaching at Makarewa School. Katie also handles the books. She’s the brains of the operation when it comes to that sort of stuff.”

Williamson’s outstanding season was led by two exceptional horses in Pembrook Playboy and Razzazo Mach who between them, won five group races.

Pembrook Playboy winning at Addington

Pembrook Playboy also became his first $100,000 winner in one season and was named Southland Horse of the Year. Williamson also won the Southland Trainer of the Year award for the fifth time.

Chris Alcock owner of Pembrook Playboy with the Southland Horse Of The Year cover.

And with the fire power of horses like Andy Hall, Chinese Whisper, Get Up N Dance, Sand Wave, Hurricane Hendrix and Love Lou Longtime along with some promising young stock the success looks set to continue.

Williamson admits that training full-time is hard work and family life sometimes suffers.

“It becomes your life. Sunday is like a Monday and there’s no such thing as a weekend. It is pretty taxing on family. There’ll be a time when I’ll be able to slow down, I hope.”

It may not be anytime soon.

But with Cup Week fast approaching the excitements levels should justify his hard work.

The Top line:

Williamson trained horses which have won six Group or Listed races include:

  • Dark Horse – Listed Uncut Gems – Addington 2017
  • Pembrook Playboy – Group Three Central Otago Trotting Cup – Winton 2021
  • Pembrook Playboy – Group Three Invercargill Cup – Ascot Park 2021
  • Pembrook Playboy – Group Three Summer Cup at Addington – 2021
  • Pembrook Playboy – Group Three Northern Southland Cup – Ascot Park – 2021
  • Ragazzo Mach – Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes – Ascot Park – 2021

Ragazzo Mach winning the Southern Supremacy Stakes

Pembrook Playboy winning the Invercargill Cup

He’s also trained a number of Group or Listed placegetters including: Latheronwheels (2), Jag’s Invasion (1), Onedin Mach (1), Tas Man Bromac (3), Poppymalda (1), De Vito (1), Dark Horse (4), Franco Santino (2), Ragazzo Mach (1), Pembrook Playboy (2) and Chinese Whisper (1).

Major winners (5 wins or more):

  • Dark Horse (T) 33-14-6-3 $144,276
  • Pembrook Playboy 26-11-3-6 $151,200
  • Onedin Mach 37-10-4-9 $68,338 (including two wins for Graeme Anderson)
  • Tas Man Bromac 31-10-7-7 $119,722
  • Franco Santino 40-9-8-3 $90,969
  • Splash Cola (T) 91-13-9-6 $140,777 (seven of these wins for Williamson, the balance being from Regan Todd’s stable).
  • Chinese Whisper (T) 17-8-1-3 $61,475
  • Poppymalda (T) 25-8-5-4 $58,045
  • Bet’s Bet (T) 20-8-4-0 $38,857
  • Ragazzo Mach 13-7-3-0 $79,262
  • Galaxy Hunter 37-7-8-6 $43,218
  • Booster 54-7-1-4 $35,652 (five wins for Williamson)
  • Grey Power (T) 49-6-6-6 $42,976
  • Stathem 22-6-7-0 $52,028
  • Dwindle Mist (T) 27-6-8-3 $42,999
  • Nickelson 29-6-11-4 $42,758
  • Triroyale Brigade 43-5-8-10 $55,345
  • Andy Hall (T) 17-5-2-3 $51,670
  • Kiwitrix (T) 26-5-6-1 $46,023
  • Seekie Monkey (T) 23-5-5-2 $40,740
  • Kiwi Focus 30-5-2-3 $31,735
  • Latheronwheel (T) 25-5-3-3 $38,429

100th winner: Dwindle Mist – Wairio 20th December 2014

200th winner: Franco Santino – Wairio 24th March 2018

Major Southern Race Winners:

  • Southern Supremacy Stakes – Ragazzo Mach 2021
  • Wyndham Cup – Triroyale Brigade 2020
  • Northern Southland Cup – Pembrook Playboy 2021
  • Riverton Cup – Tas Man Bromac 2015
  • Invercargill Cup – Pembrook Playboy 2021
  • Northern Southland Summer Cup – Franco Santino 2020
  • Roxburgh Cup – Tas Man Bromac 2016
  • Central Otago Cup – Pembrook Playboy 2021
  • Wairio Cup – Ragazzo Mach 2020
  • South of the Waitaki – Stathem 2015

Duke Wins for Pearson

Bruce Stewart

28th October 2021

Duke Of Cornwall’s return to racing at Ascot Park today was on a winning note for catch driver Matty Williamson.

The gelding’s usual driver Brent Barclay was confined to stable duties today after he was suspended for his drive on American Eyretime last week.

Duke Of Cornwall warming up

From inside the second row Williamson got three back on the fence where Duke Of Cornwall looked uncomfortable. Miraculously when Boo raced wide out of the first bend Williamson was able to push off the inside, and the horse speared through to take the lead much to the surprise of commentator Justin Evans.

“Good drive that. I still don’t know how it happened. I’ll have to look at the replay,” said trainer Lauren Pearson.

From there Williamson dictated all the pace with the favourite Van Liberty sitting parked.

“He’s no good in front at home. It was a major surprise to see him there.”

Duke Of Cornwall leading with a lap to run

Duke Of Cornwall went down to the line to win by two and a half lengths from a brave Van Liberty.

At the finish line

The time of 2-02.8 was a new track and Southland record for two-year-old colts and geldings. The previous record for that age group over the 1700 metres from the mobile was 2-03.3 and was held by Ashley Locaz. Duke Of Cornwall paced his last 800 metres in 56.8 and the 400 in 28.1.


In the last regular season Duke of Cornwall lined up in the Kindergarten Stakes running fourth behind the classy winner Akuta. He had two other starts before Pearson turned him out.

“He’s filled out a lot and his work seems to be a lot stronger this time in.”

The son of Sweet Lou is owned by former Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith who now lives in Wanaka.

“As soon as he saw the draw, he decided he wasn’t coming down. He would have been watching it somewhere.”

Pearson is also looking after a full brother to Duke Of Cornwall (Duke Of Scotland) and his dam Galleons Honour is due to foal to Art Major.

“He’s (Duke Of Scotland) going to need a lot more time. He’s had two preps. He’s more like Duke Of Wellington.”

Galleons Honour has been an excellent broodmare for Smith with all her foals of racing age winning races. Her best winner was Duke Of Wellington which won five of his ten starts including the Southern Supremacy Stakes.

Pearson said Duke Of Cornwall will be aimed at the Nuggets Final on Thursday 18th November on his home course at Winton.

“Brent will be back then.”

Special Win for Our Pinocchio

Bruce Stewart

28th October 2021

The win at Ascot Park today by Our Pinocchio was special on two fronts; it was the first winning drive for Kaleb Bublitz and the 100th winner of a group of syndicates that’s led by the Griffins Syndicate.

Our Pinocchio warming up for Kaleb Bublitz

Our Pinocchio is owned by the Griffins Syndicate and the Griffins No 3 Syndicate.

“This was the Griffins No 3 Syndicate’s first winner,” one of the founders Neil Bennett said.

The original Griffins Syndicate was formed in 2008 when Bennett, Greg Crawford and a few others visited Mid Canterbury breeders Bevan and Keith Grice’s property.

“We went to the Grice’s and looked at a horse by Courage Under Fire, but we ended up getting a horse called Mellow Puff and that’s where the Syndicate’s name came from (Mellow Puffs were made by Griffins). He was a nice trotter, but he never got to the races,” said Crawford.

Seventy-four of the one hundred wins for the group of Syndicates were for the original Griffins Syndicate and fifty-eight of those wins were by horses that were bred by the Grices.

Most of their wins were progeny of Sundon mare Juliana and included Sarah Palin (10), Monty Python (15), Father Christmas (11) and Dark Horse (14).

Dark Horse was recently retired from racing and has remained in Southland at Ross and Robyn Jones Branxholme property. She was served at the weekend via AI from Majestic Son.

“We’re down to get a foal. It’s just a word of mouth agreement – gentleman’s agreement,” said Mark Noonan, the Syndicate’s statistician.

Over the years the five Syndicates – Griffins, Seafield Trotting, BPL, Griffins No 2 and Griffins No 3 Syndicates have used a variety of trainers  including  Phil, Nathan, Brad and Matty Williamson along with Michael House and Andrew and Lyn Neal.

The group was formulated with thirty shares.

“We got broke at one stage and put out another ten shares and then we started winning again so the people that came in then thought it was easy.” Bennett added. “We’ve had members come and go. They retire and lose that discretionary income but they’re all honourary members.

Noonan said “When I send out an email it goes to 135 people.”

The Griffins Syndicate’s first winner was also at Ascot Park in April 2011 when Sundon filly Rugged Cross trained by Phil Williamson and driven by his son Matty won her maiden race.

Their best horse to date is Majestic Man which has won eighteen races and $585,425.

In today’s race Bublitz took Our Pinocchio off the mobile gate and straight to the lead. From there he controlled the tempo and the three-year-old trotted away to win by three lengths.

Our Pinocchio (2) is first out of the gate

Leading with a lap to run

At the finish

First winning salute

Kaleb Bublitz and Phil Williamson

Members of the Griffins Syndicate and Griffins No 3 Syndicate

Founding members Neil Bennett, Greg Crawford and Mark Noonan

Later in the programme Bublitz made it a memorable day when he reined home Von Art trained by Matty Williamson to win by half a length. The Fast Ten programme ended with Phil Williamson training Jimmy Carter to win in the last, driven by hisson Brad.

A great day for the Williamsons.