Ray Jenkin’s Winning Return Where It All Started

Ray Jenkin’s Winning Return Where It All Started

24th December 2021

Bruce Stewart

Former Southland horseman Ray Jenkins began his training and driving career in Central Southland and his win in the sulky of trotting mare Belisma at Winton today was immensely satisfying.

When Jenkins was training in the area in the 80s and 90s, his first driving success was on the Winton track –  thirty-five years ago with Globe Pride. The last winner he drove on the course was The Doctor in 2011.

Belisma four back on the outside with a lap to run

The win today was Belisma’s second in a row, having won earlier this month at Wyndham.

“She’s down here on a learning curve,” Jenkins said. Belisma is trained by his daughter Amber at West Melton.

In today’s race Belisma started from the outside of the unruly line and was very slow away.

“I hold her together at the start because she can put in a few wobbly ones. I’d sooner get her trotting and levelled up.”

Once she got trotting smoothly Jenkins managed to get a good run in the outside running line behind Port Pegasus and driver Nathan Williamson.

“I was confident when I got on Nathan’s back. I knew he’d drag me into the race.”

Inside the last 400 metres Port Pegasus progressed forward three wide, giving Belisma a good drag into the race. At the 300-metre mark Port Pegasus began to struggle, so Jenkins moved the Majestic Son mare four wide to make her run, and she came down the centre of the track to beat Maudarchy by a length.

“She’s got a good turn of foot. Although she’s been running on, I still haven’t properly let her go yet.”

Belisma coming down the outside for Ray Jenkins

Closer to the finish line

Winning salute

Belisma is owned by Jenkins in partnership with Ryal Bush couple Leo and Jenny Curtin.

Jenny and Leo Curtin with Belisma and Ray Jenkins

“They raced Justamollyarcher. We sold him and this mare is the replacement. We were looking for ten months until we found the right one. We trialed a couple, but things weren’t dead right, or the price wasn’t right. We trialed her at home and I liked her, but we knew it wasn’t about just throwing her in the cart. There was a lot to sort out.”

As Jenkins spends a fair chunk of his time in Australia these days, he doesn’t currently hold a New Zealand trainers licence.

“I can’t hold a trainer’s licence when I’m not there and the horses race. Amber holds the licence and she’s the boss. I get up in the morning, have a coffee, look at the board, and go and do what I’m told to do.”

Jenkins has travelled to Aussie each year for a number of seasons, spending his time there in Queensland. His ambition is to represent New Zealand at the Interdominions in Australia. 

“I go because I try to beat the Aussies. I take horses over but not all the time. I also buy some there. I’ve had a bit of success at the Interdominions but not in Australia. To go over there for that series you must have your horse at its absolute peak. But it’s never quite worked out for me.”

Jenkins trained Tobago to run second in the 1991 Interdominion Trotters Final in New Zealand  beaten by a length and a half by Fraggle Rock.

He owns a property in Logan Village in Queensland a semi-rural town with a population of about 5,000, inland on the south side of Brisbane. 

“There’s a bunch of racing people like Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham. Jack Butler’s just over the road at the  McCarthy’s old place. They are great over there. Friendly people on the racetrack. My first drive over there was on B Happy and I won which was satisfying, I do not know whether I’ll train too many more over there now. I sold three when Covid started, and I haven’t replaced them.”

Jenkins says horses are trained differently in Australia.

“My track is 600 metres. There’s four to five inches of sand so you can’t sprint them up. It’s just conditioning work on the track. You take them to the trials or to the races. There’s five meetings in seven days.”

Belisma is out of one-win Armbro Invasion mare Maia who is a half-sister to twenty-win trotter Vulcan.