Day At The Track

New race for trotting fillies

09:51 AM 19 Jan 2018 NZDT
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A new trotting race for three year old fillies has been programmed in March - a first for Southland.

Sponsored by Haras des Trotteurs, the $20,000 Southland Trotting Oaks will be run over 2200 metres from behind the mobile at the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting at Ascot Park on Saturday 10th March.

The race is two weeks prior to the Group Two New Zealand Trotting Oaks.

"Southland is a good fit for the race. It's a very strong standardbred nursery. Pat (Haras des Trotteurs principle Pat Driscoll) was very keen to develop and support fillies races. You also get good support as a sponsor in Southland. They appreciated your support and you tend to get that back more so than other centres. I've dealt with Bill McDonald (President of the Northern Southland TC) previously and he's very big on making sure the sponsors get values for their sponsorship," said Haras des Trotteurs General Manager Jonathan McNeil.    

The race will also be actively promoted by the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders who are keen to promote what has become the 'growing gait' in New Zealand harness. McNeil says there are other initatives which make trotting a significant part of the future of the industry here.

"The main focus of the operation is to grow the fillies races. We're involved in the trotting side of the Sires Stakes now. A part of that agreement was that the Sires Stakes Board look at developing a trotting fillies series for the Sires Stakes."  

He says that there are about 200-250 trotting fillies bred every year and if owners are presented with races like the Southland Trotting Oaks, then that will help grow the industry.

"If we can develop our trotting horses to a higher level and go forward it opens up a bit of a market. It's a long way from that at the moment but if we could produce the same world class trotters as we do pacers it would be great."

He says the Australians are also looking at ways to generate strong overseas revenue from trotting. 

"Every Monday night at Melton they make the last races trotting races. They're beamed into France lunch time Sunday. There's a million dollar turnover on those races from France. From a Haras de Trottuers point of view, once we start getting more horses with French sire lines, the French are going to recognise the pedigrees so you'll end up growing the market."

Haras des Trotteurs Principal Pat Driscoll is also keen to look at sending young trotting fillies over to New Zealand to help support the cause. 

"He's not afraid to send them over there and race them but only if it works. Right horses at the right time. You can't just go over there for one race. You need a few options if you have a bad day."

Hara des Trotteurs stand eleven trotting stallions and the one McNeil is most excited about is Used To Me the first French Group winner to stand in Australasia. He only has a small first season crop but they look very promising. 

"He had two starts here in Australia as well for two wins. Of this twenty two years old Anton's (Yabby Dam Farms trainer Anton Golino) best two year old fillies are both by Used To Me. So we're really excited about that. Potentially this horse has got a lot of up side. He stands in the flesh here and we shipped him to New Zealand just to get him up and running." 

Orlanda Vici is another French stallion McNeil is excited about.

"His oldest New Zealand progeny have just turned two. The people that've got them are really liking them. There's only a few."

So things are in place for the Southland Trotting Oaks to begin another chapter in the Southern Harness story.  

Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson is one who should be keen to support the event. He has four qualified or race winners that are eligible to start - Kenny's Dream, Majestic Galleon, South Park and Our Foxy Lady. 

And as for the day - it's added to an already mouth watering day of harness racing with other races including the three Group Three races - Southern Lights, Caduceus Club of Southland Two Year Old Fillies Mobile and Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup. There's also the Super Nuggets Finals worth $20,000.

Bruce Stewart
Southland Harness Racing 

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