The Southern Harness season kicks off at Gore on Saturday 10th August, and the Club have once again put up a $1,000 bonus plus a cool down rug for its Spring Fling.
The bonus will be paid to the highest point’ earner for two catogories (filly or mares and colt or geldings) over the first three days the Club races in August and October. Points will be allocated from first to fifth placings.
Star Southland pacer U May Cullect is into his second week of work at Oreti Beach for trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis.
His first major assignment is the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Thursday 24th October.
In his first season of racing he became the first southern trained horse to win his first seven starts. He also paced a mile in 1-52.1 at Winton which was a track and Southland age record.
U May Cullect is one of the favourites for Southland Horse of the Year at the Southern Harness sponsored Harness Awards to be held at scot Park Hotel on Sunday 11th August.
Meanwhile Kirstin Barclay and Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis in their first season of training in partnership, have won the Southland Trainers Premiership recording thirty eight wins, eight clear of last year’s winner Brett Gray.
Their list of winners this season include U May Cullect (7), Wee Man Trouble (5) and Paddyproudfoot (4).
Barclay and Ellis train out of two stables – Tisbury and Oreti Beach and their first season success could see them win the Southland Achievement of the Year Award.
Paul Ellis with Wee Man Trouble and U May Cullect – Photo Bruce Stewart
Southern Harness will have a new mobile vehicle for the forthcoming season.
They have taken delivery of a 2019 Ford Ranger 4WD Mobile Barrier Vehicle which has replaced the 2WD Holden Southern Harness has used since 2012.
Southern Harness’s new mobile – Photo Supplied.
The need to upgrade became urgent after the old vehicle lost traction a couple of times during the season.
The purchase of the vehicle has been made possible with funding from the Racing Safety Development Fund.
EH Ball Ltd will continue to be branding sponsors.
Forgotten pacer Lamborne Road is being tried again by Tahakopa trainer Brian Norman.
The rising eight year old by Washington VC last started at Addington at the end of March 2017 for Invercargill trainer Wayne Adams.
He won five races for Adams from just eighteen starts before he began suffering from a lung infection.
Norman says he’s progressing well in his new environment.
The Peter Hunter trained Unloaded won his third race in as many starts when he wore down The Croupier in the Macca Lodge South of the Waitaki Final at Addington on Friday night.
The four year old Mach Three gelding, raced by the Gottashearasheep Syndicate, sat parked for the last lap for driver Sam Ottley and proved too tough, beating The Croupier by a head.
Unloaded has won $17,490 for his connections in the last three weeks, racing in the Macca Lodge sponsored series and winning two heats and the final.
Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson says quality trotting mare Dark Horse is due to go to the workouts next month.
The rising seven year old mare hasn’t started since running in the 2017 Dominion Handicap at Addington.
“She seems fine at the moment. I’ll probably take her to Winton for a private run in the next couple of weeks. We’ll know how much this layoff has effected her when she starts racing I suppose,” said Williamson.
Dark Horse – Photo Bruce Stewart
Williamson says his other trotting star Chinese Whisper has just come back into work and won’t be seen until November. He won both of his two starts as a three year old impressively.
Meanwhile Franco Santino will remain in work and will be aimed at the Kurow Cup.
“The way it’s worked out, he’s been ready at the wrong time of year. We didn’t have much luck last season. When he was ready to race he got a wee bit of a bug, and later in the season he hurt his leg in the box.
Another Williamson trotter Hawaiian Hula (Dream Vacation – Kylie Ree) is progressing well in a new preparation. She qualified in May 2018 as a two year old and hasn’t been sighted since. She’s a half sister to Springbank Lachie.
“She had chips in her knee and was a wee bit scratchy every now and then so we decided to take the chips out. Because she was a big filly she was going to be best served with time.”
The Southern Programme Committee have decided that there won’t be a Super Nugget Final this season and instead they’ll programme six Nugget finals over the season, each worth $15,000.
Southern Harness Manager Jason Broad says both the Nugget and Ladyship Finals in the new season could possibly be run under preferential barrier draw conditions based on winning stakes.
He also says there’ll be a wider time gap between finals.
In other programming news, Broad says junior driver races will continue to be for one win horses but will also include 40-55 rating events which will incorporate horses that have won two or more races.
There’s also some consideration being given to holding $1,000 Two Year Old non-tote races from late November.
Broad says this is to encourage horses to get out for a run without incurring a penalty. It’s planned to run these on race days.