September 2018

No Doubts (Saturday 8th September 2018)

Bruce Stewart

The formline indicated a win was due and the Doug McLachlan trained Doubt Me Not duly did the business, winning at Winton today.

The five year old gelding by Gotta Go Cullect was bred by Robin and Amanda Swain and is raced by McLachlan and his partner Sylvia Crighton along with a group of other owners which include former Wyndham trainer Megan Irvine.

“Robin had a problem with the horse with his gait and sent him down originally for a bit of chiropractic work. I had a look at (him) and really quite liked him, offered Robin some money and the deal was done,” McLachlan said.

The gelding was rated perfectly in front by stable reinsman Shane Walkinshaw and held on to beat Depend On Washie which ran home well up the passing lane.

Doubt_Me_Not_winning_at_Winton_950_x_576.jpgDoubt Me Not (2) and Shane Walkinshaw hanging on to beat Depend On Washie and Tim Williams – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Doubt_Me_Not_returning_at_Winton_950_x_566.jpgBack to the birdcage

McLachlan said he’s spent quite some time getting Doubt Me Not in the right condition to race, and it hasn’t been without it’s setbacks.

“Early on he got quite crook and had a real cough to him. We’ve tried to get on top of that and he still can cough but it doesn’t affect him at the races. Seems like a kennel cough more than anything.”

Doubt Me Not is a member of the famous First Water family that Robin Swain’s former employer and training partner the late Colin Baynes bred successfully from.

The Swains bred Oneinamillion, a Son Of Afella gelding that won two of his four starts here before winning a further thirty two races in Australia. He ended his career in America where his best mile time was 1-49.6. Gentle Sir, the winner of eight races is also a member of this branch of the family.

McLachlan says Poldark is another horse that’s came io the stable to be ironed out.

He learned chiropractic skills from Roland Brensall, a close relative who worked in the Otago region and has been practicing for twenty five years.

“I’ve always been interested in it and most nights I’m on the internet looking at things and new techniques.”


Good On Ya Kiwi (Saturday 8th September 2018)

Bruce Stewart

One of the shining lights of the Southern Harness scene, Mr Kiwi scored his second career win when he got up to beat a tenacious Honey Cullen by half a length at Winton today.

The four year old gelding showed plenty of class at times in his three year old season but maturity and consistency just weren’t there.

“He won first up last season and he was so green. We had a wee few issues this season but he went super at Gore. He’s just been a bit more ‘with us’ this season. He’s got a big motor and he’s really matured,” said trainer Brett Gray.

Gray says the American Ideal gelding has been a bit of ‘a trick’ at home but says he’s turned a corner this time round.

“He was so lazy, then he’d get quite keen but this time in he’s been really good.”

There have also been issues this week with a minor injury but the horse was good enough to overcome them today.

“We got a stone bruise during the week so that was my only worry. We were under the pump but he still did it which was pretty cool.”

Mr_Kiwi_winning_at_Winton_950_x_422.jpgBrent Barclay and Mr Kiwi (2) getting the better of Honey Cullen and Brad Williamson – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Mr_Kiwi_returning_at_Winto_950_x_564.jpg Saluting the judge

This was Mr Kiwi’s second win in five starts and Gray says he’s got a bright future.

“I think he could go a wee way actually. He’s a bright hope. I’m not too sure what I’m going to do with him. We might give him a wee spell and have a go at the South of the Waitaki at Addington.”

Out of the In The Pocket mare Wanaka Bay, Mr Kiwi was bred by Ben and Karen Calder who now reside in Wanaka. The Calders race the gelding with Errol Shannon and Mrs J Bajnoczi-Shannon.

“Ben and Karen have been great to me and my wife Ginny. Love winning races for them.”

Mr Kiwi is a half brother the Mr Mojito which won seven of it’s ten starts in New Zealand and a further four races in Australia including the Group Two Garrard Horse and Hound Four Year Old Championship at Gloucester Park in December 2016.


Hard To Stoppit

Bruce Stewart

Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders keeps a regular eye on racing at Addington. He’s notices horses that race at the premier circuit which run good times, but don’t finish in the top four or five. He’s made a habit for some time of buying some of them and then tries them in easier Southland graded races. Stoppitt is one such horse.

“He ran seventh to Gran Chico last start and they reckon he’s a Derby horse,” he said.

By Gotta Co Cullect, Stoppitt had previously been trained by Grant Anderson and Saunders has had him for just over three weeks.

“He was pretty tired after a couple of Addington runs so we haven’t done much with him. I thought he was going to be short of a run today. Matty (Williamson) said he did come to the end of it but he’d done enough.”

From barrier three Williamson, who had driven the horse at his previous two starts, took him straight to the front.

“He’s not got a lot of speed so he just had to go out there and do it. That’s why I wasn’t sure whether he was ready or not.”

Saunders has certainly found a bit of a niche in spotting these horses and bringing them south.

“Now the way the maiden races are, you’re getting six or seven grand for a maiden win so if you can get them for half that or under you can turn them over pretty quick and do alright.”

He shares in the ownership with John Cutler of Cutler’s Real Estate in Dunedin.

“I saw him at a golf tournament and he said to me if I had anything to flick him an email. I did and he jumped in. He’s in India at the moment on a big trip so he’ll be chuffed.”


Davey Delivers

Bruce Stewart

Trainer Phil Williamson knew today that if Davey Mac had his mind on the job at Ascot Park he’d be hard to beat.

Williamson had openly stated that quality trotter Majestic Man whom he also trains would be the hardest to beat but the start would perhaps be an issue for him, and that’s the way the race panned out.

“Once we got round the first bend and he started to trot solid I knew then that they’d have to come and get him. Wee Majestic Man missed the start so he’s probably gone massive,” he said.

Once in front Williamson put the handlebars down and it was all about ‘catch me if you can.’

“He’s always had ability but he’s been decidedly disappointing in some of his races because he hasn’t gone as good as he can do at home or at the trials. But today he got cracking a bit. Actually I couldn’t pull him up so that’s a good sign.”

The winning margin was five and a half lengths with Williamson sitting quietly on the gelding. Majestic Man came a gallant second.

“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him at the end of the race because if you go into a gallop right at the end you think ‘what did you do that for?”

Last season was Davy Mac’s first, and he went with a big rap. But after winning his first start as a five year old his form dropped away.

“He was a whole lot more on the pulse today. He wanted to race a lot more than he did when he won his first race here. You’d have to say he’s come a wee way but there’s plenty of room for him to come a lot further. He’s got the ability of a good horse but he’s probably going to be one of those horses that’s going to be a work in progress.”

He’s owned by Williamson’s wife Bev who bred the Sundon six year old out of her Britewell mare Little Contessa – making him a full brother to Irish Whisper, the winner of eleven races and Heard The Whisper, which won seven.

“He’s a nervy Sundon and he wants to go out and run his first half in a quick time.”

Williamson says he’s going to have to manage the gelding’s programme carefully so he reaches his full potential.

“I’m going to space his races because he puts a lot in (to racing) and he takes a lot out of himself.”

Phil’s win on Davey Mac was one of five driving wins by the Williamson family on the day.

Meanwhile former Invercargill Cup winner Vi Et Animo made a surprise visit to his favourite track today as the mount for Clerk of the Course Sally McKay.

He was on the fresh side and certainly put McKay’s arms to the test.


Arden Homecoming

Bruce Stewart

John and Judy Stiven got a lot of satisfaction when Countess Of Arden won in their racing colours at Ascot Park today.

The Net Ten EOM filly which was bred by the Tapanui couple had a tough introduction to racing last season, fronting up as a two year old to the unbeaten Princess Tiffany. At that point she was trained by Barry Purdon.

After three starts in the north she was bought home to West Otago and sent to the spelling paddock.

When she went back into work it was with Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson.

In today’s race from the inside of the second row, she had to be eased round Last Hurrah who was slow to start in front of her. Once the field settled Countess of Arden was second last.

As the speed dropped off with just over a round to run Williamson sent the filly forward and with a lap to run she was in front and held on to win by a neck from the trailing horse Gomeo Denario.

It was noticeable that Countess Of Arden was switching off and on as she went down to the line so you’d expect once she fully learns the racing game she’ll improve.

Countess of Arden is out of Young Tegan and her pedigree goes back to a host of good fillies including Eden’s Joy which won six races for Henry Skinner and Young Eden which won the 1987 New Zealand Oaks.

“The depth of Southland in this family is unbelievable. We took a foal out of her before this one – a filly by Panspacificflight. She was a cracker but unfortunately she got a virus and died before it was weaned. I’d only borrowed the mare at that stage and I rang Russell (owner Russell Hollows) to tell him about the dead foal and he asked me if I wanted to buy the mare. We ended up doing that and it was the first year Net Ten EOM came out so we put her to him and this is the result,” said John Stiven.

Young Tegan is now part of the extensive band of broodmares at Arden Lodge.

“Last year we sold A Rocknroll Dance colt out of her which Colin MacPherson bought. This year she’s got a Sweet Lou colt and is in foal to Always B Miki.”

The Stivens are now the biggest Southland vendors of yearlings at the National Sales and they have five colts and six fillies on their books for next February sales. John is particularly excited about an Art Major colt out of Venus Serena.

“He’s sensational.”

He says others that are looking good are an Art Major colt out of Tricky Woman and a Captaintreacherous colt out of Southwind Arden.

Interesting times ahead, at the track and at the Sales.

Queen Of The Nite Gets First Win

Bruce Stewart

Ellie Barron reckons it’s taken a while for Mach Three mare Queen Of The Nite to click onto the racing game. But she feels that by driving her back in the field the well bred mare is gaining more confidence and racing a lot better.

“The biggest thing for her is just confidence. Dad tried driving her a couple of times in front and she was galloping and all sorts. It’s about putting her to sleep in the race and running her home really,” Barron said.

From gate five Barron eased Queen Of The Nite back, settling third last. With 750 metres to run she got onto the back of an improving Poldark and progressed forward. She was pushed four wide at the 600 when Jamies Bad Boy pushed out. From there she ran home resolutely down the centre of the track to beat Flogging Molly by half a head.

“She was travelling sweet. She’s a lovely horse to drive. I probably would have won a bit easier but she got pushed four wide so she’s actually gone very well. I felt I was comfortable 100 (metres) out, then I could just see the ears of Nathan’s horse (Flogging Molly) and it was quite close at the finish.”

Queen_Of_The_Night_winning_at_Winton_950_x_369.jpg (5) Queen Of The Nite getting up on the outside for Ellie Barron – Photo Bruce Stewart

Queen_Of_The_Nite_returning_at_Winton_950_x_562.jpg Returning to the birdcage – Photo Bruce Stewart.

Queen Of The Nite was initially trained by Ken and Tony Barron in Canterbury and was sent south for better opportunities last season. Ellie’s mother Jackie took over the ownership in July this year and Queen Of The Nite’s form this season has been very solid.

“I think she’ll be competitive in the next grade as she doesn’t mind a bit of distance. The harder they go the happier she is.”

Her pedigree is stacked full of winners. Her dam Sirius Flight by Big Dog won all of her five starts in America while her mother, Vance Hanover mare Pacific Flight won a total of forty seven races. Thirty eight of those were in America winning a total of $562,345. Sirius Flight, which is owned by Cavalla Bloodstock has also left Timeless Perfection, the winner of seven and Malak Uswaad which won nine races.


The Empress – Empresses

 Bruce Stewart

When a horse is having it’s first start and is paying $2.10 to win, the expectations are understandably high and it imposes some pressure for both trainer and driver. However after she managed to navigate around the breaking Elegant Jewel at Winton yesterday, there were no doubts The Empress was going to live up to her reputation.

Driver Brent Barclay pushed her forward from the second line and had to go four wide into the first bend in his quest for the lead. On straightening to run down the back of the track the Art Major filly was in front and thats where she stayed, winning impressively. Barclay only had to run the reins over her rump for her to pull away and win by two and a quarter lengths.

“Like most horses she’s probably better from behind. Being favourite and having her first start, Brent took the initative and took out any bad luck,” said trainer Robin Swain.

The_Empress_winning_at_Winton_950_x_343.jpgThe Empress winning for Brent Barclay at the Central Southland Raceway – Photo Bruce Stewart

The_Empress_returning_950_x_624.jpg Heading back to the winners circle – Photo Bruce Stewart 

The Empress was bred in Australia but has a strong Southern breeding connection. She’s out of the Washington VC mare Easton All Action which was owned by Brian Norman and won three of she nine starts for Graeme Anderson and Amber Hoffman in 2011. Easton All Action won another nine races in Australia and The Empress is her first foal.

“I think when the mare finished racing (in Australia) Brian actually tried to buy her back.”  

The Express is owned by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate which normally buys New Zealand horses and sends them to other New Zealand stables or flys them over to Australia. However for The Express the trip went the other way.

“Merv bought her at the sales and sent her over here. I broke her in and also had her as a two year old. She went up to Mark’s (Mark Purdon) for a month and got a small injury. It was nothing major and she just needed a bit of time out. Merv has just left her with me for a while and we’ll see what happens.”

Swain says she was always going to take time.

“I had her running along for a bit as a two year old but she was such a big filly. When I picked her up at Diane Cournane’s place as a yearling I thought she looked like a two year old.”

He says The Empress will have her next start in the first Ladyship Stakes Final at Gore in a fortnight. It’s a $12,000 race over 1700 metres.

“After Christmas I think she’s got the potential to be right up there with those good fillies I’ve driven if she keeps improving. She’s got a strong will to win and Brent said she got lost a bit in front and would be better coming from behind.”

The win on The Empress was the first of three for Barclay who followed it up with back to back wins on Mighty Flying Art and King Cassidy.

Mighty_Flying_Art_returning_at_Winton_950_x_601.jpgMighty Flying Art – Photo Bruce Stewart