Day At The Track

Junior drivers steal the limelight

04:57 AM 18 Oct 2009 NZDT
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Craig Thornley
Craig Thornley
File Photo

Junior harness racing drivers had a day out like never before when they won the first seven races at the Wairio Trotting Club's special Mile Day fixture at the Central Southland Raceway in Winton today Sunday 18 October 2009.

Senior Canterbury driver Craig Thornley put a spoke in the wheel of the junior rumble and interrupted the remarkable pattern when he gained a hollow win with hot favourite Move Over in race eight.

In form driver Anthony Butt who gained seven wins at his last two meetings at Methven and Addington was not on course but his distinctly promising junior son Chris got the young fellows away to a flying start in race one with his uncle Tim Butt's Premier Stables runner Bargain Basement (by Sundon) at the outset of the 10 race card.

Carl Hanna was next to strike for the juniors in race two with Gammarads (Jeremy's Gambit) for trainer Allan Paisley.

It was then Matthew Williamson's turn to extend the junior strike rate with his father Phil's promising trotter Lavra Miriam, a half sister by Earl to Interdominion champion trotter Delft.

Mitchell Kerr was next to climb onto the junior bandwagon with father Paul's talented 4 Year Old Auditor General, one of the day's most impressive runners in the fourth event, posting a slick 1:56.3 in race four in his seventh win from 18 starts.

Junior Ryan Hayter, who cut his teeth in harness racing with West Australian trainer Andrew de Campo (south of Perth) did the right thing by his new boss Kirk Larsen when having his first Kiwi drive with Chay Bromac (Falcon Seelster) in race five.

Driver Hayter (aged 22) gained 18 wins in Australia before shifting to Larsen's stable at Branxholme near Invercargill on 5 October.

Tim Williams then obliged in race six for his boss Robert Dunn with Ian Dobson's Yankee Dream (by Dream Away).

The 3 Year Old filly who won four of her six starts at two last season was having her first start since the Jewels edition for juvenile fillies at Ashburton on 30 May last season.

Champion junior and all-comer Dexter Dunn made it seven from seven for the young brigade with the Ross Wilson trained Von Regal (by Village Jasper).

Trainer Paul Kerr said that Auditor General would race at Ashburton on Labour Day (Monday Week) as a pipe opener for his next major mission at Addington on Cup Day.

Kerr went to $70,000 to secure the son of Christian Cullen at the 2007 NZ Premier Sale of yearlings for owners and good stable clients Nick Harris, Mark Padget, Keith Ovens and Bruce McRae.

The winner's grand dam Better Bet won the Gr 2 Southland Oaks and a heat of the Hydro Flow Series.

This branch of the Peri taproot established by former Open Class mare Bright Highland (10 wins) has produced former top filly and race mare Preferred and Marc Bohan, winner of a prolific 43 races in USA.

"He was a bit skinny and weak last season but he has matured and strengthened,'' trainer Kerr said from Christchurch.

"He has always been a lovely horse and pacer but he was impeded last season by untimely little setbacks that stopped him making the Jewels at Ashburton.''

Kerr's 17 year Old junior driver son Mitchell has gained an outstanding 22 wins since starting his driving career only last Christmas.

"He is still on the way up and should get better and better and hopefully carry on,'' Kerr said of Auditor General who has won seven of his 18 starts.

"There is not much chance of his making a Messenger horse because he is not suited by the right handed way of going at Alexandra Park.''

Trainer Kerr recalled an early driving and training success at Central Southland Raceway with diminutive Southland Oaks winner Star of Bethlehem who later left multiple Derby winner Stars and Stripes for John Lischner and Ken Barron.

"She was only small but she won that heat that day of the Southland Oaks and went on to win the final,'' he recalled of Star of Bethlehem who also left Light and Sound and who could ever forget him after the key role he played in a major Blue Magic saga?

If Auditor General was arguably the day's smartest winner, then hot favourite Move Over was hardly less impressive with a cakewalk success in race eight, sizzling over his last quarter in 26.6 at the end of a sedate mile in 2:01.9.

The upstanding and long striding runner up to Highview Tommy in the Superstars Championship has now won six of his nine starts and is headed for the top, all things even.

Lavra Miriam, a half sister to highly performed giant trotter Delft, set a track record of 1:57.4 for a trotter over a mile, eclipsing Summit Invasion's 1:59.2 set four years ago.

The winner of four of her 17 starts, the daughter of Earl, a proved siring son of USA standout trotting sire Balanced Image, is raced by her Yaldhurst breeders Mary and Kypros Kotzikas from Phil Williamson's Oamaru barn.

Results from the Wairio Trotting Club's meeting today (Sunday 18 October, 2009) at the Central Southland Raceway in Winton were:

Race 1: The Tim Butt and Phil Anderson trained BARGAIN BASEMENT (Sundon) Chris Butt.

Race 2: The Allan Paisley trained GAMMARADS (Jeremy's Gambit) Carl Hanna

Race 3: The Phil Williamson trained LAVRA MIRIAM (Earl) Matthew Williamson

Race 4: The Paul Kerr trained AUDITOR GENERAL (Christian Cullen) Mitchell Kerr

Race 5: The Kirk Larsen trained CHAY BROMAC (Falcon Seelster) Ryan Hayter

Race 6: The Robert Dunn trained YANKEE DREAM (Dream Away) Tim Williams

Race 7: The Ross Wilson trained VON REGAL (Village Jasper) Dexter Dunn

Race 8: The Jamie Gameson trained MOVE OVER (Badlands Hanover) Craig Thornley

Race 9: The Vin Devery trained NATAL FRANCO (Badlands Hanover) Clark Barron

Race 10: The Steve Lock trained Styx Delight (Bettors Delight) Graeme Thomas


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