Day At The Track
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Southland harness racing trainer Aaron Swain gets a thrill out of training winners for new owners because he knows they're the future of the industry. The win by Sadhana today for owners Hayden Stronach, Connor Hillis, Shane Stronach and Scott Leader all started with a phone call from one of Swain's good mates.  "One of my mates said he he had some workmates who were keen on getting into a horse. The All Age Sales were the next day," Swain who shares in the ownership said. He bought the Western Ideal filly which is out of the In The Pocket mare Gem Power, for $4,200 and since then she's been the apple of her new owners' eyes.   "They come to see her once a week in the paddock and give her a pat. They've never owned a horse in their lives and hardly ever went to the races until this girl came along. They're probably the best bunch of owners you could have. They pay you the day after you send the bill. They all come to every single workout and trial." Happy Faces with Judy Pangiotidis (Lady In Red) who's just retired after 32 years serving drinks at Ascot Park      - Photo Bruce Stewart. Gem Power won once, and at stud left Ideal Power which won four races which included two heats of the Nevele R Fillies Series. Sadhana qualified at Central Southland Raceway in September last year and according to Swain has taken time to mature.  "She didn't show me too much early but she turned a corner and has got better as we've gone on. She'll get better with more racing."  For most of the race driver Nathan Williamson had Sadhana parked and at the end of the 2200 metres under a hard drive she toughed it out to beat Divine Justice by a neck.   Bruce Stewart Soutland Harness Racing

Graeme Anderson, the leading strike rate New Zealand trainer this season for those with more than 20 starters, will be out to enhance his record at Forbury Park on Thursday night with Delightful Jay (race 2), Hopes And Dreams (race 7) and Bakari (race 9).   Anderson advanced his score to 23 wins from 59 starters when Titan Banner and All Star Musician were successful at Wyndham last Saturday. His strike rate is .5273. Both those horses and stablemate Eamon Maguire are engaged at Invercargill on Saturday.   “I am happy with them all. Delightful Jay is an unknown having her first start for us,’’ said Anderson, who trains on the beach at Westwood, near Dunedin.   Bakari (race 9 )has been freshened since he last raced in December. He won at Forbury Park late in November in his first start from the Anderson stable. The runner up that night, Royal Bengal carried on to win at Gore and Roxburgh. Bakari was placed in his two subsequent starts in December before he was freshened.   Hopes And Dreams (race 7) was a winner two starts back at Waikouaiti then finished second to Break Dance at Winton. She has won at Forbury Park.   Her owners Neville Cleaver and Kevin Strong also have Gangnam Style in the race. Gangnam Style should be the better for his race at Wyndham last Saturday when he finished fifth after becoming awkwardly placed. He won a double at Forbury Park during the winter and carried on to win at Addington.   Delightful Jay, who has not raced since November, finished two and half lengths from Titan Banner in a two-horse trial at Forbury Park on February 18.   Brads Kenny (race 8), unbeaten in two starts at Forbury Park, is in the right order to extend his record there. The Phil Williamson-trained trotter has been minor placed in his three starts since he won at Forbury Park on February 2. He started a fresh campaign with a nine and three quarter length win at Omakau in January.   Brads Kenny has had his racing restricted to 11 starts by a knee ailment.   Bear’s Rest, who has won twice at Forbury Park, shares the 20m handicap with Brads Kenny.   The 3yr-old filly Madison Jane is among four horses Williamson has engaged in race 5.    The others are Bobbins, Pyramid Monarch and Jeddy R Ya Reddy. Madison Jane was freshened after finishing third at Invercargill on January 28. She had won fresh up at Roxburgh earlier in the month after a win at Forbury Park in July.   The Williamson stable won heats  at the Washdyke trials on Wednesday with Pyramid Magic and Bet’s Commando.   The 3yr-old filly Bet’s Commando has not raced since July and Pyramid Magic has been off the scene since he won from a 60m handicap at Invercargill in November.   Trainer Aaron Swain has sounded a note of caution about Expresso Martini (race 10), a standout on form and assessment in the claiming race.   “He could be a run short but his class should carry him through,’’ said Swain, who took over Expresso Martini (11 wins) after he was successful in a claimer at Invercargill on January 23.  Expresso Martini ran fourth in a workout at Wyndham on February 4.   “A stone bruise popped out after his workout which could have accounted for his showing. He had to miss a week’s work.”   Tayler Strong

Young harness racing trainer Aaron Swain recorded his biggest training win at Ascot Park on Saturday when Betta Go Fernco won the Arden Lodge Robin Dundee Crown for fillies and mares. Driver Dexter Dunn opened the throttle early and from barrier seven had Betta Go Fernco in front and trucking along. "That's the only way to treat her out there really. She just lacks that acceleration so when they go she's just left a bit flat footed. She steps it up when she has to and she's a good rolling mare," said Swain. In a very tight finish Betta Go Fernco held out a stern challenge from RR Sand Dollar to win by a nose with a head back to Laytons Lass.  "From where I was standing I thought we'd been swamped and got third. She just keeps finding and has a will to get to the line."  The five year old Gotta Go Cullect mare is raced by Brian and Elizabeth Ferns.  "It's great for them. They've helped me all the way, ever since I met them so today I returned the favour."  The winning time of 2-01.4 equalled Raksdeal's track record.  "I didn't think she was good over a short distance but she proved us wrong out there today. We may look at the final heat for the Southern Belle Speed Series and she's also qualified for the Southern Country Cups Final." Betta Go Fernco was bred by the Fer's and is out of their six win Miles McCool mare I'm A Star.  "She's a great mare to have at home but if you don't know how to drive her there's no point in hopping in the cart. I'm the only one that knows her and drives her at home. She gets a bit stirred up and may put you into the outside fence. You've just got to let her do her own thing in the prelim or she could stretch your arms by four inches."  The Mark Jones trained Ariadne Lavros also broke a track and Southland record when she won a C1 and C2 stand event over 2700 metres. Her time of 3-25.2 shaved nearly a second off the old record held by Highland Girl.  The Brett Gray trained Young Conqueror looks as though he's putting his hand up for the Supremacy as well, getting up to beat Royal Bengal in the Forklifts New Zealand Three Year Old Mobile Pace. He's owned by Robert and Sharon Symon and was driven by Nathan Williamson. Young Conqueror (4) beating Royal Bengal (6) and The Governor (7)    - Bruce Stewart.     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Leading reinsman Dexter Dunn grabbed another three wins at Wyndham on Friday and in doing so shot five wins clear of Blair Orange in the national harness racing drivers premiership. Betta Go Fernco in the hands of Dexter, was in front all the way and beat a game Acolyte by a neck. Trained by Aaron Swain, she's owned by Brian and Elizabeth Ferns.  Art Courage showed she has a chance of being a candidate for Southland Oaks filly when she won the Alabar Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. Driven by Dexter Dunn she beat eleven rivals running the 1609 metres in 1-56.7. By Art Major, she's the second foal of the seven win Courage Under Fire mare Port Courage. Art Courage is trained by Michael House. Art Courage (5) beating Manuka Valley (4)                               Photo Bruce Stewart. Dexters other winner was the Brian Norman trained San Fermin who led all the way and who was unwanted by the punters paying more than $10 on the tote. San Fermin is a full sister to the two win mare Vedika (Washington VC - Vera Lane) who also raced out of the Brian Norman stable.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Bruce Stewart  

Harness Racing blood runs deep in twenty three year old Aaron Swain’s veins.   With the Southern Harness industry struggling to get young people into the game he's taken a bit of a punt and taken up training.   “I just thought with people getting out (of the industry) I’d take a stab and get in,” he said.   Swain trained his first winner Beau Cishlom on Trans-Tasman Drivers Day at Ascot Park last month.   “I saw him on Tom Kilkelly’s website Horse Trader and I thought he looked alright when he ran third at Forbury. Dave Clark at Riverton owned him so I did a bit of a deal. He’s a nice horse to have around.”   Beau Cishlom is owned by Swain’s partner Rose Keast and Wendy Clark.   “She’s (Rose) not from a horse background." "She’s from a motor racing background. Her father was head mechanic for Angus Fogg, a V8 driver.”   Swain leases twelve boxes and two acres at Lorneville from Dean Laurie an agricultural contractor who lives down the road.   “He was going to bowl the place and cut everything for baleage." "He knew nothing about horses but thought it looked too good to trash so he gave me a yodel one day and asked me if I wanted to move in." Initially it was "no" but I had a good think about it and I ended up moving in." "Dean’s real good to deal with.”   The property has an 800 metre track and was formally used by the late Bill Grice and Tony Stratford; twelve boxes, four day yards and three paddocks.   New Zealand Cup winner Bonnies Chance is buried on the property.   Swain started by initially breaking in horse for clients like Nathan Williamson, Kina Craig Stud and Jan Holmes.   Now he has four horses in training, three being broken in and the rest being jogged up.   “I’ve also got a seventeen and a half shire (type of Draft Horse) in the paddock." "He’s a big bugger and he’s for a wedding party at Bendigo Station." "They want him to go in the carriage. I’ve got to put him in the cart so I’m expanding the business in a way. I don’t know whether I’ve got a cart to fit him.”    If his colours look familiar they are. He’s inherited the yellow and white colour used by his auntie, Denise Swain. Denise has had a lifetime involvement in harness racing and trained open class pacer Clancy which won twelve races including the Hannon Memorial and Thames Cup. His biggest pay day was when he ran second to Christopher Vance in the 1991 New Zealand Cup.   “It’s good to have the colours but there’s also a lot of pressure, as the colours have won a lot of good races." "Every time I race I feel like she’s watching.”   Swain has been around harness racing all his life. His father Murray trains and mother Wendy has owned plenty of horses.   “Thanks to her (Denise) and Dad for passing on their knowledge and mum for her support." "Denise said to me the other day that you can’t buy knowledge." "I also appreciated the help of Brian and Elizabeth Ferns for the use of their stables." "I tried to get out of it and worked on a beef and sheep station." "I also had a stint over in Aussie but you always get lured back.”   While in Aussie he worked at Shannon Price’s stables in Queensland when quality pacers Caesars Folly and Terror Time were competing.   Terror Time won twentythree races including the $150,000 Group One 2011 Garrard’s Nursery Pace Final for two year olds at Albion Park. Caesar’s Folly won the three year old version on the same night. He was bred by Tuapeka Lodge and won thirty one races.   When Swain returned to Southland he also had a stint  at Hamish Hunter's stable. By then a family was on the way.   “Bailey was on the way so I thought there’s not much money in being a stablehand so I went and worked at Farmlands for about three years." "That was a good time.”   Bailey who's three and Hunter who's nearly two have the honour of having the Lorneville stable named after them - Huntley Lodge.   A recent addition to the stable is Franco Harrison which was purchased for $4,000 for which Swain has formed a syndicate of first time owners.   “They’re a bunch of young fellas that want to have a bit of fun on the Central Otago circuit." "They wanted something running down the straight so they all put money in." "They’re first time owners and there are eight of them.”   Franco Harrison started with Steven McRae before being bought by the goHarness syndicate and transferred to Cran Dalgety’s stable. He’s since been with Greg and Nina Hope and latterly with Brad Mowbray. Dalgety got two wins out of the gelding while the Hopes also got a win.   “He’s a C1 horses and we’ll be looking at starting him in the Junior Drivers’ race which is penalty free.”   Aaron Swain knows training race horses is a hard road but it hasn’t deterred him from trying and to help pay the bills he supplements his income by eeling.   “I’m just focusing on pre-training and breaking in horses and that way you’ve always got an income coming in." "I also catch a few eels commercially which helps a lot moneywise. Most afternoons I try to get out eeling.”   You can’t help but be impressed by the energy Aaron Swain carries for the industry.   His pedigree and the support he has around him would suggest that there’s going to be more than one winner. The colours demand it, eh Denise! Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   -   Check site here

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