Day At The Track

Costa off to Australia

12:00 PM 03 Apr 2017 NZST
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Costa Del Magnifico.jpg
Costa Del Magnifico
Photo - Bruce Stewart

One of Southland's favourite pacing sons Costa Del Magnifico will do his future harness racing in Australia.

The winner of twelve races and $129,333 leaves the Shirley barn on Thursday and will head to the Melbourne stable of Geoff Webster.

"It's a bit of a shame but the way the handicap system is it's impossible to race them down here. To take him to Addington is too big an ask. In Australia he can race twice a week for $20,000 and at the end of each month he can race in a $50,000 final. If he's good enough Geoff can take him up to Sydney. There are a lot more opportunties and the horse deserves it," said Shirley.

Another Southland pacer Franco Ledger also spent time with Webster in the 2015-2016 season winning the Group One 2015 Bohemia Crystal FFA at Menangle.

"We spoke to Brendon McIntyre (Manager of the What Ever Syndicate which raced Franco Ledger) and he couldn't speak highly enough of Geoff."

Shirley says the horse's owners Murray and Sandra Allen will continue to own the horse while he races in Australia.

"I think his third at Waikouaiti was his best run this year. He was off fifty metres, he caught the field then lost another ten metres when another horse galloped and he got within a length of the winner."

His wins this season have been in the Gore Grass Track Cup for which he came off 35 metres and The Northern Southland Summer Cup off 50 metres which he won by five and a half lengths.

Two of his twelve wins stand out for his trainer. 

"I enjoyed winning with him at Addington. He went up there and he broke the 2400 metre track record (2-58.8 - stand). It'll probably be a track record that'll be held for some time. The Invercargill Cup (2016) was good. It's a very hard race to win. It's only been won by a Southland horse three times since Prince Rashad won it (1997) and I've won it twice." 

Costa Del Magnifico's other important wins were; 2016 Country Cups Final, Alabar Super Series Final at Addington and 2015 Wairio Cup.

He still holds a Winton 3200 track record of 3-59.8 when he won the Wairio Cup and a 2600 metre stand record on the grass at Gore.

He was named Southland Horse of the Year at the 2016 Southland Harness Awards. 

"I do get attached to them. I don't run many horses and they get pampered. Murray knows it's the best thing for the horse. We've talked about selling and looked at all the options. He's been a big part of this horse on race day. He used to gear him up and wash him. Murray thanked me for that. I didn't push him but I encouraged it." 

 Sandra and Murray Allen and Brent Shirley at last year's Southland Harness Awards 

Shirley says the Allens certainly won't be lost to the industry. 

"He's (Murray) got a lovely Washington VC yearling colt that's related to Westburn Grant." 

Meanwhile Costa Del Magnifico's half brother John Coltrane which qualified impressively at Wyndham in November has been turned out and won't race until next season.

"We'll jog him up over the winter. Of all the horses out of the mare (Satire Franco) he'd have the most speed."  


Bruce Stewart
Southland Harness Racing

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