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Today’s win by Yankee Party was Winton trainer Katrina Price’s 100th.   She’s the first female trainer in the province to reach the milestone. Her training career began with her father in-law Roger Price in the 1999-2000 season. Their first winner was Gypsy Road at Ascot Park in November 1999 and the Road Machine gelding was driven by Brent Barclay. The partnership with Roger eventually produced seventy six winning races. In the 2013/14 season Katrina started training in partnership with her husband John and together they’ve trained 77 winners, the first being Surprise Party at Gore in October 2013. Yankee Party has come a long way in a short time, qualifying at Gore in the middle of last month. She’s by American Ideal, a stallion the Prices have had a good amount of success with.               “We’ve mainly had American Ideals out of the Party family. The combination certainly seemed to have clicked. The American Ideals are nicely gaited and seem pretty easy to work with, and they want to do it (win).” “She’s quite a big filly who has just really come to it at home. She was just a bit dumb and didn’t really know how to finish it off, then all of a sudden the penny dropped,” said Katrina. Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart The winning time was a smart 2-45 for the 2200 metre mobile - 10 seconds under the required time. “We don’t normally qualify them like that but we knew the Sales were coming up so we said to Nathan it would be nice if she qualified well.” Her half brother Stag Party sold for $100,000 while the other Price prepared yearling by Captaintreacherous sold for $110,000. “(We’re) absolutely rapt. They’ve gone to great homes so they’ve got every opportunity, if the horses are good enough.” On the back of her smart qualifying time Yankee Party was sent out hot favourite. She was noticeably a bit fractious prior to the start today. “She’s been a big sleeping giant who’s woken up a bit.” Rather than give the filly a break Katrina says they may continue to race her. “The way she’s been coming through the runs I think we’ll truck on. There’s the Ladyship and after that we’ll make a decision on what we do next.” Price, who was born in Dunedin and moved to Balcultha as a seven year old has always been around horses. She grandfather had show ponies while her father Trevor Bell had show, rodeo and gallopers, including Eye Chance which won seventeen races. Eye Chance was by Random Chance and won the Oamaru, Cromwell, Gore, Tapanui, Winton and Wairio Cups. He also won the 2003 Sydenham Hurdles. “I was at the shows as a little kid and later that’s how John and I met.” She trained at Dunedin Teachers College and taught at Tweedmuir Intermediate. “I taught for four years fulltime and then part time for another couple, working horses in the morning. I always wanted to train full time. I started off being quite scientific but the more you do you realise with every theory there’s a lot of exceptions.” Her best season as a trainer was 2008 when she trained ten winners with Roger for a UDR of .3686. Some of the stable winners were; Presidential Reign, Scotty Mach, Cullen’s Consort and Bella’s Fella. Win number 100 for Katrina Price with husband John - Photo Bruce Stewart  Meanwhile the Prices quality two year old filly Pearl Harbour has been side-lined with an injury. “She got an infection in her knee so that’s why she’s missed the last couple of Young Guns Heats so she’s probably looking doubtful for the Young Guns Final at the moment.” Another Price horse Rockabilly Blues has also been away from the racetrack. “She’s had a virus. She’s all clear now and back in work. She’ll go to the workouts either this Friday or the one after and she’ll head to a Southern Belle heat.” Meanwhile today, Leithfield Beach trainer Robbie Holmes produced two winners out of class mare Kiwi Ingenuity. 12 - Kiwis Are Flying winning for Robbie Holmes - Photo Bruce Stewart Kiwis Are Flying, a four year old by Bettor’s Delight got the ball rolling, and three races later his younger sister Team Kiwi hung to win the Speights Ale House Mobile Pace.   Bruce Stewart

The much anticipated debut of Chinese Whisper ended the right way when he impressively won the first race at Ascot Park today. The three year old had been given a methodical preparation and he’s been unbeaten. He’s won six workouts and two trials. He qualified at Wyndham on November 21st running 3-14.5 - seven seconds inside the qualifying time. “It’s all about his education. He was pretty fractious and he’s been a work in progress all the time. He’s done a ton of miles and he still has a long way to go. He’s always had the ability but it was all about the manners,” said Williamson. After beginning well trainer driver Nathan Williamson settled the horse in the one one. With 400 metres to run he launched the gelding three wide and he trotted down the middle of the track to win by a length and a quarter with The Commando in second. There were a further ten lengths back to the third horse Gazza Galleon.  “He trotted pretty well. There were a couple of long ones there today. The style of impressive first starter Chinese Whisper - Photo Bruce Stewart Although HRNZ Website says Nathan’s mother Bev bred the horse he was actually bred by this trainer. “I had a mare I was trying to get in foal to Sundon and couldn’t. Mum said she would lend me a mare and I ended up getting Little Contessa so I was pretty lucky there. I was a bit slow in getting the paper work in so that’s why it’s got Mum down as the breeder. This breeding game is a long time in the making. ” And the name?  “I made it up just because the rest of them are named Whisper. I was trying to think about something with whisper and Chinese Whisper came up.” Williamson originally owned Chinese Whisper with his wife Katie but his share is now owned by local farrier Brendon Franks who shoes Williamson’s horses. “Franksie wanted to race a horse with us and it just happened to be this one and he goes okay.” Hawaiian Hula is also in the Williamson stable and was educated with Chinese Whisper. She showed promise last season but has had to be put aside. “She got chips taken out of her knee in the spring otherwise she would have been racing before him, as she was a bit more advanced. It was nothing major so she’ll be a nice four year old next year.” Ella Franks, Julie McEwan-Franks, Laura Franks, Millie and Katie Williamson, Nathan Williamson, Brendon Franks, Ollie Kite and Shane Phillips - Photo Bruce Stewart. Williamson reports that star trotter Dark Horse is back in the stable after having had two leg injuries. “She’s back in work and it’s the long road back again I suppose. It’ll be next season for her but we’ll put a good foundation into her and hopefully the leg will stand up.” Chinese Whisper is a well related gelding, being a full brother to Irish Whisper which won eleven races. He’s (Chinese Whisper) one of a talented and well-bred bunch of three year old trotters in the province which include Full Noise, Get Lucky, Tolkien, Big Iron and Jaccka Jeorge. Meanwhile one of the most talked about maiden pacers in commission, Slate, looks set to head to the races after an impressive win at the Winton Workouts on Friday. Slate winning his Winton Workout on Friday - Photo Bruce Stewart Browns trainer Des Baynes has turned has back on offers for the Changeover gelding preferring to race him at this stage. The four year old qualified impressively in 3-04.6 over 2400 metres, winning by six and a half lengths.   Bruce Stewart

Two starts for two wins. An impressive start for the career of filly Dixie Star. The Stephen Boyd trained Bettor’s Delight three year old lead and held on to win the $12,000 ILT Nugget Final at Ascot Park today. “It’s great having races like this, a good incentive to come down,” Boyd said. Dixie Star was bought at the 2017 Sale of the Stars for $8,000 and is out of the five win McArdle mare Dixie Belle. This is the Black Watch family that has produced many good fillies, like Star Of The Ball and Pembrook’s Delight. Since her last win at Winton on February 17th Boyd has kept Dixie Star ticking over. “We don’t do much with her at home so it was a natural improvement really. She only has the hopple runs. It seems to be working. She’s fit enough and wasn’t blowing when she came back.” In today’s feature Northern reinsman David Butcher took her straight to the front and she showed gameness to beat off all challengers, beating the favourite Burlington by three quarters of a length. Dixie Star winning the Nuggets - Photo Bruce Stewart “Richard Bull, one of my owners, is a good friend of David’s and he arranged for him to come down.” Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart   Boyd is now eying up the Ladyship Final for Dixie Star on March 16th at Wyndham. “We’ll definitely come down for the Southland Oaks as well.” Boyd says he has thirty horses in work. “I break in a lot of horses for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen so we don’t have many racehorses.” Stephen has held a license for eighteen seasons and has trained in total, twenty two winners. Eleven of those wins have happened this season, four of them in Southland. “I got out of it for a while and drove a courier truck but Dad (John) got sick so I came back to help the business.” His father does all the freeze branding for all the horses in the South Island and he also held a trainers license. Two of the better horses he trained were Dainty Smooth, the winner of seven and Dainty Judy which won six. Stephen Boyd’s first training win was at Westport in March 2000 when Smokey Range which he drove, won.   Bruce Stewart

The lightly raced Born To Boogie surprised her trainer Brett Gray when she won the Arden Lodge Robin Dundee Crown at Ascot Park today(Saturday). “I wasn’t 100% happy with her coming into this race. I thought she was a bit sharper last week. I thought she had something coming on but it’s worked out okay so obviously I was panicking over nothing,” Gray said. After sitting parked early, cover arrived when Naiya Franco moved to sit outside leader Jody Direen. When Bridesdale Robyn shot round the field with 600 metres to run Barclay popped out of the one one and started to make his run. Born To Boogie took half the straight to get past Jody Direen and she held on to win by a length and a quarter from a late charging Rockabilly Blues. “She’s got a bit of speed and is good with one run. Rockabilly Blues was unlucky. It was our turn for a bit of luck today.” Born To Boogie (10) beating Rockabilly Blues (9)                - Photo Bruce Stewart. Born To Boogie was bred by Northern Southland Stud Macca Lodge and was sold for $17,000 at the 2016 Yearling Sales to Merv and Meg Butterworth. The Rock N Roll Heaven filly started her career with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, but sustained a leg injury. She was sent south to the Gray stable where she qualified and won her first two races. “She’s still a day to day proposition but we’re keeping her pretty sound.” Today’s win was her third and Gray said the Southern Belle Speed Series will probably feature in her future programme. Macca Lodge is offering a black Sweet Lou filly which is a half -sister to Born To Boogie at next month’s Christchurch National Yearling Sales. Meanwhile Annie Fitz caused a big upset in the SBS Bank Mobile Pace winning at odds of 29-1. Annie Fitz winning at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart She managed to avoid an early melee which wreaked the chances of some runners. Driver Craig Ferguson settled the Bettor’s Delight mare last of the seven runners that were left in the race. With 1400 metres to run he secured the one one. At the top of the straight Annie Fitz peeled out and came down the middle of the track to beat B Mac C by three quarters of a length. This was achieved despite getting a flat tyre at the 600 metres which finally separated from the rim after the finish line. It was the mare’s sixth win for breeder, owner and trainer Ross Wilson. Bruce Stewart

It’s been a long way back for Ryal Bush trained Rakarover. He won his last race a year ago at Wyndham, but subsequently suffered from a quarter crack problem. “It was a pretty bad one so we opted to put him out for the rest of the season. He was going alright at the start of this season but he actually had two quarter cracks; one on the hind leg and one on the front foot so it’s been catch up from there really. He’s a horse that when you turn him out he always gets a bruised foot so he’s probably susceptible to it,” said trainer Peter Hunter. Hunter says Rakarover’s return to racing has been difficult. “He had to come back straight into the Country Cups grade. They’re nice horses so you just don’t turn up and win again. Once he got down below the 60 rating in a grade, where he could show a bit of muscle, he was competitive. His last two races have been quite nice. I thought his run at Wyndham for seventh was pretty good. He ran a similar time to the winner.” Today,  in his fourth race back from injury, Rakarover,  owned by Brendon Fahy, stayed out of the early rush. “I knew he didn’t have gate speed. I knew Vin Scully would have a bit more punch out of the gate.” Hunter placed him early in the one one behind favourite Mighty Flying Art before that horse went to the lead leaving him parked.  Cover arrived soon after when Ultimate Rocker came round to sit parked with a lap to run. “I was pretty pleased to get cover with a round to go. The back straight was pretty hard going.” With 500 metres to run Hunter hooked the five year old American Ideal gelding out and made his challenge down the middle of the track,  letting down nicely to beat a game Mighty Flying Art by half a length. “The second horse (Mighty Flying Art) went pretty good. He worked pretty hard.” Sharing the story with Clerk of the Course Sally McKay - Photo Bruce Stewart.  Hunter and his wife Jo are enjoying a good season with eight wins on the board and a handy team of race horses in the stable. “I guess I’m lucky to have owners that have owned the old brigade and have hung round and used the handicap system. Horses like Ansett Flight, My Georgie Boy and Bold Ruler. They’re handy horses and the handicap system has helped them stay in Southland. I’m lucky in that way and the horses are a year old and probably going better.”   Hunter also has some nice young stock coming through including a half-sister to Rakarover named Rakastella which qualified at Ascot Park last month. She’s a two year old filly by Art Major. “A nice filly. We’ll probably have a go at the two year old fillies’ races. She’s strong and ran a two minute mile rate when she qualified which was pretty good considering what she had done (in preparation). She’s got a wee bit of natural ability.” Meanwhile Hunter’s drive in the Fasttrack Insurance Nugget Final on Prince Abbey didn’t get any luck, having to sit parked in windy conditions. He ended up running fifth behind winner Sounds Bettor which is trained by Geoff and Jude Knight at Roxburgh. Sounds Bettor (3) winning for Matty Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win was just reward for the Bettor’s Delight mare which had finished in a stake earning position  in eleven of her fourteen starts this season. She’s raced by The Central Courage Syndicate. One of the syndicate members Bill Bain also owned the second horse Bunter’s Dream.   by Bruce Stewart

Hot favourite Funatthebeach pulled his army of supporters through in the Group Three $32,000 Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill Cup today. “He felt really good and was travelling well. He’s a lovely horse to drive. He wants to win and you strive to drive these sort of horses,” said driver Tim Williams after the race. In today’s feature pace Williams was happy to stay at the rear of the eight horse field, as Queen Bee Bardon made all the pace. It was Shezacullengirl that carted him into the race with 1300 metres to run, before he improved three wide, coming down the straight to take up the parked spot. “He seems to race kindly that way so I thought we’d just take luck out of it.” In turning in, Funatthebeach mastered Queen Bee Bardon and he ran down to the finish line to beat Royal Bengal by three quarters of a length. The winning time was 4-01.6. “Coming down the straight he dropped the bit but he ran 4-01 off a handicap so maybe he was coming to the end of it.” It was the gelding’s fourth Cup win in five starts. This season he’s won the Geraldine Cup in late November, the Ashburton Cup in December, the Central Otago Cup in early January and now the Invercargill Cup. “He came through his race at Omakau really well because he’s such a great eater and drinker so the runs don’t take too much out of him.” And more Cup starts are on the programme for the Somebeachsomewhere four year old, owned by Trevor Casey and Paul Hailes. “We’re looking at the Amberley Cup (6th February) and on the  February 15th there’s a Free For All race at Addington for him.” Williams says Funatthebeach has improved since his three year old season at which time he was slightly down the pecking order amongst a highly talented group of three year olds in the Purdon Rasmussen stable. “He’s improved a lot. After the Jewels last season they chose to geld him and it’s been a good thing. It’s helped him mature I think.” Sponsors and winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart It was the second time Mark Purdon has won the Invercargill feature. He trained Highview Tommy to win in 2011 with his training partner at that time, Grant Payne. Funatthebeach’s breeders Braeside Lodge, are offering a half -brother by Art Major at next month’s Auckland Yearling Sales. Meanwhile War Admiral, driven inch perfectly by Samantha Ottley, easily won the Brendon Franks Farrier Handicap Trot; the main trot of the day. The style of War Admiral winning for Sam Ottley   -   Photo Bruce Stewart At his last start at Wyndham he blotted his formline, breaking on the final bend when challenging. Ottley has now driven the four year old gelding three times for two wins and a second. Today’s win was his sixth from just seventeen starts and it places him third on the leader board for the end of season Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.   Bruce Stewart

Robbie Royale was always going to be hard to beat at Ascot Park today. He ran a creditable seventh in strong company at Wyndham on Thursday and today's race was a massive drop in class. Trained by Brett Gray and driven by Brent Barclay he began safely and was allowed to settle into his gait for the first 100 metres. With 1600 metres to run Barclay moved the five year old forward and was forced three wide by Zoned Scarlett which also improved on his inside. Barclay allowed Zoned Scarlett to trot to the front before taking the top with 1200 metres to run. From there he held the lead beating her by three quarters of a length.   "He was good in front today. We thought we'd take everything else out of play by taking him to the front and let him roll," said Brent Barclay.  It was Robbie Royale's second win and the first for Brett Gray who took over his training last month from owner trainer Brian Norman. He's always shown he has the potential to progress further, but has broken in a number of his starts.  "He's a work in progress because he's still got a few rough strides in his gait but he feels like he'll win another couple of races alright. He's just very touchy in the mouth. When you grab him he's inclined to throw his head and that's when you lose him. You just have to go with him for the first three hundred metres until he balances up. We've got a softer bit in his mouth and he's getting better." His sire Raffaello Ambrosia left 50 foals in New Zealand with sixteen qualifiers or race winners. The best so far is Conon Bridge which has now won twenty one races and $264,367. He was good enough in 2015 as a two year old to win a Breeders Crown. Robbie Royale's fourth dam Castleton Queen is the mother of Sir Castleton, the winner of forty four races and of Castleton Pride which won eleven including the 1975 Interdominion Trotters Grand Final at Alexandra Park.  Sir Castleton won nine of his first twelve starts. He started an amazing four times in the Group One Rowe Cup finishing tenth in 1981, third in 1982, first in 1983 and second in 1984. He was trained for all bar three of his starts by Mawson MacPherson. Wayne Smart trained him for the lfinal three races and he won them all.  Meanwhile Star Reactor credited his sire Auckland Reactor with his sixty ninth individual winner; thirty seven in Australia and thirty two in New Zealand. Star Reactor - Photo File The Allan Beck trained mare trailed the leader and favourite Duke Of Dundee throughout the 2200 metres and she let down nicely up the passing lane to beat Duke Of Dundee by half a length with Don't Need An Excuse another two and a half lengths back in third. Auckland Reactor prodigy have now won $1.7 million between them.   Bruce Stewart

Outsider Sagwitch became the eleventh winner this season for Gore trainer Syd Breen when he won the House of Travel Lakers Summer Cup at Ascot Park today. When talking to Breen early in the season I remember him being quite frustrated as his horses were running lots of placings at the time. But things have certainly changed since the beginning of November, and junior driver Mark Hurrell has been a big part of the success, driving seven of the winners – some penalty free. “Mark went to school with my nieces. He kept ringing me up. I told him to keep ringing. His first drive was on Lorretta Franco. Everything he’s driven for me he’s won on,” said Breen.     Sagwitch is by Lisa Mara out of Shoshoni Sunrise, an OK Bye mare which won six races for trainer Alan Paisley including the 2002 Roxburgh Cup. He’s a half-brother to millionaire Southern Bred Southern Reared pacer Washakie. Breen weaned Sagwitch as a foal and broke him in for breeder Lester Paisley as a yearling. He’s now won six races from thirty five starts and banked $41,678. After running tenth in the Roxburgh Cup six days ago Sagwitch didn’t have today’s Summer Cup on his schedule.   “I only really started him here but the race wasn’t going to get off the ground so I put him and Mucho Macho Man in. It was Santanna’s Rockets (another Breen runner) race to win as far as I was concerned.” Since Roxburgh Sagwitch has had a quiet time. “He hasn’t done much since Roxburgh, just four days jogging round the hill.” In today’s feature pacing race driver Mark Hurrell drove the five year old forward, surprisingly beating out stablemate Santanna’s Rocket which had drawn his inside. Hurrell then let Jonny Cox and Santanna’s Rocket take the lead before Please Shuddup took up the running which left Sagwitch three back on the inside. At the 400 Sagwitch was second last on the inside in the eight horse field. Hurrell plotted a path up the inside and he beat Royal Bengal by a length and a quarter. The overall time for the 2200 metre mobile was 2-42.0. Mark Hurrell driving out Sagwitch                       - Photo Bruce Stewart “He’s just got a wicked quarter on him and saved (for one run) he can go swoosh. Mark was pretty happy with him at Roxburgh and he wanted to drive him today. He was going to go to Wyndham next but he won’t be going there now. That race today was worth two races (in stakes) anyway and he’s got a cup and a dress rug.” Breen owns the gelding with Paul and Nancy Matheson. Winning connection and sponsors                                         - Photo Bruce Stewart  It paid $25.30 to win and $3.90 for a place. “Aaron Swain dropped off a bag of feed I’d won from winning a race at a Sunday meeting (part of the McMillan Equine Feeds promotion) and Sagwitch was out in the paddock just being an absolute clown. Aaron said ‘who’s that? I said it’s Sagwitch.’ He said ‘he’s well and I said yeah he’s paying four (dollars) for a place.’ He went over to his truck got on his phone and backed him. It’s rare, but when he’s right he tells you.”   Bruce Stewart

Despite not having the use of the Balfour track, local trainer Robert Wilson still managed to chalk up a double at the Invercargill Harness meeting at Ascot Park yesterday. Spotlight The Valley got the ball rolling in the first race when she got the prefect trip in the trail and came up the passing lane to beat Canterbury visitor Rebel Kibbybones by half a length. “She’s as solid now as she’s been for a couple of years. She went super early on but like a lot of horses she had a year off last season (didn’t go quite so well). She’s muscled all round so it’s just a maturity thing and she looks a million dollars,” Wilson said. Four races later Betterthancheddar mare Better Galleon capitalised on a similar run beating Excellent by a length and a half. “She went super and won with a bit in hand. There’s more in store for her.” Better Galleon is owned by Cleland Murdoch The Fanny Allen Family Trust and Wilson. Back to the birdcage                                                  - Photo Bruce Stewart. His only other runner at the meeting, Franco June was severely checked and took no serious part in his race. Another horse in the stable, De Vito, has come up well in this preparation after returning to Wilson following a stint in the North Island. “He’ll line up in some of the better trotting races over the Christmas circuit. He’s a class horse and he’s not properly fit yet. He’s a bugger of a horse because he’s hard to keep condition on. Our main focus is to try and build him up.”   Bettor Galleons win was Wilson’s thirtieth win as a trainer and it wasn’t the first time he’d won two races in one day. In November 2014 Mr Mayfly and Lucky Lands both won at Forbury Park. Wilson trains on the Balfour track which has been unusable in the last week. “We've been struggling getting work into them because we got six inches of rain in five days. The track has been out of action and will probably be for all of next week as well. We might have to go to Gore.”      Bruce Stewart

The owners of Ivana Legacy are having the time of their lives. So far the diminutive American Ideal mare has provided them with four wins and a trip to Christchurch for Cup Week and the ride looks set to continue. She’s owned by the Chop A Nick Syndicate which is made up of members of the Squash City Club, Jess Ramsay, Karen Ramsay, Anika Sollitt, Grant Milne, Steve Clarkson, Danny O’Connor and Kayla Rusk. She qualified and was trained initially by Wyndham trainer Brendon McLellan before the group bought her off the Horse Trader website run by new Southern Harness board member Tom Kilkelly. “Scott Ramsey rang up and bought her off Brendon for $1,000. We were looking for a horse to replace trotter Nathan D. We watched a few replays of her races and thought we might have a bit of fun and get a win out of her. We’ve got four now,” said driver and stable spokesperson Andrew Armour whose wife Shannon trains Ivana Legacy. In yesterday’s Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Pace Ivana Legacy got the perfect trip tucked in behind the pacemaker Go Getta. “She’s a good standing start horse and has got good manners and if she gets the suck along she’s got a potent 200 metre sprint.” Little horse beats Big horse - Ivana Legacy beating Go Getta - Photo Bruce Stewart  Despite running out of the money on Cup Day, Armour says the trip to Christchurch has done the mare the world of good. “That’s what the trip was all about. The long term aim is to hopefully take her back up there for the South of the Waitaki Winter Series. She’ll have a couple more runs and we’ll turn her out because she’s been up for a while now.” Trainer Shannon Armour wasn’t on-course yesterday to enjoy the win. She was away at a horse show with her hack. She’s into her second season as a trainer taking over the colours her husband used up until 2017. “She’s taken over and does a fair bit with her (Ivana Legacy). She maps out her programme. She’s been placing her quite well to be fair.” Happy bunch - Photo Bruce Stewart  Andrew, who has been involved in the harness industry for a good part of his life now works for ICC Parks and Reserves Department at Queens Park while Shannon manages the Travelex Foreign Exchange Booth at House of Travel Lakers. They have two children; Brooklyn who is three and Beauden who is five months. “I’m really enjoying it. I’m able to mix work and horses and the children. So we’re just busy enough.”    Bruce Stewart

Gore trainer Syd Breen admits that Santanna Blue Chip gelding Santanna’s Rocket struggled last season. Going into last season expectations were high after he recorded some good results against a good crop of three year olds. But at the end of his four year old season he’d only won once from fourteen starts. “After he ran second on the grass at Oamaru we just couldn’t get him right. He’s had bad feet and we’re pretty sure it was a deep seated corn and we just couldn’t get it to come out. In the end we just had to bite the bullet and butcher his feet back and  we just waited for them to grow. It’s taken six months for his feet to come right and he’s still got a bit of a hole there. Shoeing wise we’ve just got aluminiums (shoes) all round and just elevated them two degrees behind. Aluminiums give him more surface areas to stand on. Franksie (farrier Brendon Franks) has done a great job,” he said. This season Santanna’s Rocket started off with a twelfth placing at the Riverton Meeting before he won easily at Forbury Park two weeks ago. And after his work during the week Breen was confident of a top showing yesterday in the Regent Car Court Mobile Pace. “I thought he was the best thing I’d ever taken to the races. He’s just gone from a nice enough horse to one that I think will go a long way. Brad said today that he still wasn’t concentrating properly. He said he feels like he could run 36 (2-36 for 2200 metres) if he concentrated. We’ve got the galloping hood on him and it just sharpens him up a bit.” In yesterday’s race Santanna’s Rocket was taken straight to the top by driver Brad Williamson and ran the field along at a solid clip. He went down to the line winning easily winning by two and three quarters of a length. The showy style of Santanna's Rocket winning easily for Brad Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart. Next up will be the Gore Cup on the 27th of this month. “After he worked the other day I said 'he’ll win today and then we’ll go to the Gore Cup.' It’s a 60 front (R60) and he’ll be off the front.”   Yesterday’s win was Breen’s 30th from 298 starters. “I wanted to win 30 races by the time I had 300 starters so that was done today.” Santanna’s Rocket is owned by Paul Matheson, Ross Cleland and Barry Harvey. “They had a good old bet up in Christchurch so they’ll be pretty happy. They did multis with Mucho Macho Man (which won at Forbury Park on Thursday).” Breen is having a good trot at the moment having won eight races in four weeks. His winners have been Lorretta Franco (2), The Night Hawk (2), Santanna’s Rocket (2) and Mucho Macho Man (2). “Ross bought me a one armed spreader and it’s just helped him (Mucho Macho Man) and The Night Hawk out no end. You just put it on one side. It’s not tight and it just keeps them off the knee. It works like the old type of guiders used to work. Brett Gray put me onto them. He’s had a bit of success with them. Now he’s probably wishing he hadn’t told me.” Breen also credits regular drivers Brad Williamson and Mark Hurrell for the run of successes. “Mark gives them the trip, gives you good feedback and the Williamson boys you just can’t get better.”   Bruce Stewart

With the scratching of Rockabilly Blues, Honor And Glory was always going to be hard to beat in today’s Nuggets Final at Ascot Park. Although only sixth at his last start driver Brent Barclay wasn’t too disappointed with the run. “We just got too far back. They ran a good half and a good quarter and he still made ground at the finish. At the end of the day when I analysed it, it wasn’t a bad run after all,” he said. In todays $12,000 feature, Barclay settled the gelding four back on the inside. At the 400 metres he moved forward and was forced three wide when Bottle Rock came off the inside running line. Once balanced Honor And Glory ran home nicely down the middle of the track to beat Bottle Rock by four and three quarter lengths running the 2200 metres in 2-40.5. “He’s still very green. Today is only his third start and he’s had a couple of workouts and a trial. We might just give him a wee spell and see what’s coming up further down the track. It didn’t feel like 2-40 (pace) today but he got to the line really good.” Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart One of Honor And Glory’s main goals is the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting on 9th March. He’s out of the former New Zealand record holder for 2200 metres Breath Of Life and is owned by Diane and Noel Cournane and The Butterworth Racing Syndicate. Rockabilly Blues was scratched due to a minor leg injury.   Bruce Stewart

Blair Orange knows Ascot Park well and he drove RnR Windermere to her strengths in an inch perfect performance for an all the way win today. The big Rocknroll Hanover mare is best in front according Andrea Tither who part owns her with husband and trainer Jack. “Three times in front for three wins,” she said. RnR Windermere qualified at three and won her first race as a five year old. “She’s taken a lot of time. She’s six and has just come right. But she’s very big and has been growing all the time. The whole breed is a bit like that. Jack has got more patience than me.” She’s out of the maiden Christian Cullen mare Sheza Windermere who’s been an excellent broodmare for the Tithers. Her first foal VC Windermere won four of his eighteen starts while the mare,s next foal BD Windermere won four races here and another five in Australia. Blow A Cloud followed, and won four races in New Zealand and another nine in Australia. He’s since headed to America where he’s also won races. Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart The race was part of the Woodlands Stud sponsored Invited Drivers Series and Andrea says once they drew Orange they were confident the mare would perform well. “We were pretty happy when we drew him. Putting the sliding blinds on has really done the trick too.” The only other horse the Tithers have in work is a three year old by A Rocknroll Dance out of Sheza Windermere. “He’s a nice horse but he’s going to take time too.” The Invited Drivers Series was won by the South Of The Waitaki Team with sixty two points while the individual competition was won by Nathan Williamson with twenty nine points. Samantha Ottley was second with fourteen points.   Bruce Stewart

Border rivalry will be to the fore when the What The Hill Drivers Challenge takes place at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Friday (23 November). The challenge repeats last year’s successful format where a team of six from North of the Waitaki took on a team from South of the Waitaki. The North of the Waitaki team took the team honours on that occasion spearheaded by a former Southlander now domiciled in Canterbury, Gavin Smith, who took the Individual honours. However both teams were tied on points going into the final heat so it was a close run thing. As the defending champion Smith returns as part of the north team this year joined by Ricky May, Blair Orange, Samantha Ottley, Tim Williams and Jim Curtin. Attempting to wrest the silverware back onto this side of the Waitaki is the South of the Waitaki team led by the Williamson brothers – Nathan, Matthew and Brad along with Brent Barclay, Craig Ferguson and Allan Beck. The invited drivers compete in four heats with points allocated to the first five home on each occasion with 10 points for a win, 7 for second, 5 for third, 3 for fourth and 1 for fifth. Each driver receives the points they accumulate towards finding an individual champion while their points also go into their teams score to find the champion team. The event is a twilight meeting with the first race timed to start at 3.38pm. It is a perfect night to come out and enjoy some top class racing. Admission to the course will be free. One punter will take home a meal voucher from Level One Restaurant & Bar in Invercargill when a draw of all losing on course tote tickets is made after Race 6 while also after race 6 all children on course receive a free bag of lollies.   HRNZ Marketing

Picketts Ridge won his fourth race at the Riverton meeting on Sunday and Gore trainer John Ryan realises he's going to have to travel with him.  The Skyvalley gelding, owned by Ryan and Tony and Philippa Holland is now rated R75 and his days of racing consistently in the province may be numbered. "He's going to get handicapped out of it shortly. We won't be going to the Cup meeting or anything like that. We may have to take a wee trip up there at some stage to see how he can handle those trotters," said Ryan after the five year old came off 30 metres to beat King Cassidy by a head in the Neville Cleaver Fishing Aparima Handicap Trot. Picketts Ridge, in only his second season of racing is one of the province's most promising squaregaiters. At the end of last season he was starting to show his qualities and the rate of improvement has continued this season.  "He's developed a wee bit more. Last year he couldn't handle a 1000 metre track. At his first start at Gore he'd just break round the corners but that was also because he was recovering from injury. Last season we stuck to the big tracks." Ryan says he's trotting a lot better this season and is more relaxed on race day.  "This season he's working 10 seconds quicker on the Gore track and he's handling the bends a lot better. He's had three runs on a 1000 metre track now...... I'm real happy with the way he comes to the races. He goes to sleep in his stall and is more relaxed about it all." Driven by regular driver Nathan Williamson, Picketts Ridge settled midfield early before following King Cassidy forward with just over a lap to run. At the 550 metres mark King Cassidy took over from pacemaker Grace O'Malley with Picketts Ridge up challenging. King Cassidy and Picketts Ridge set down to fight out the finish and there was a head between them at the line. "He (Williamson) said he didn't trot as good today. I put it down to leaving the old shoes on. I should have perhaps reshod him. It's been a bit of an experiment in the last couple of weeks. I went from a mid weight heavy shoe with him to aluminiums and he won two races. The old saying is weight takes away the speed. He's handled the transition (shoe changes) well in that respect," stated Ryan. Ryan is a dab hand with trotters, he previously trained ten win mare Golden Gate.  "She had sheer speed. I'm not sure whether he'll get to that speed but he's only had ten starts." Sunday was a good day for Ryan with Golden Gate producing her first foal at Macca Lodge - a colt by Love You. "I got a photo from Brent (McIntyre). The mare's looking happy and the foal looks a bit bedraggled." Meanwhile it was a good day for good mates Alan Lindsay and Cleland Murdoch. The Invercargill based owners who have a share in quality pacer Swamp Major won with separate horse yesterday. Zenola's Art at odds of 14 to 1 won the Ryder Plumbing and Roofing Mobile Pace for Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis, while in the next race Triple VC owned by Murdoch and the Fanny Allen Trust overcame recent bad luck when he won the SBS Bank Mobile Pace. Ryder Plumbing principle Trevor Ryder also bred and shares in the ownership of Swamp Major.  Meanwhile Murray Little in partnership with his nephew Malcolm and Malcolm's wife Sarndra won the Fillies and Mares Feature with Excellent, while Allaboutdreams owned by Malcolm and Sarndra came in a half a length back in second place   Bruce Stewart

The Riverton Cup was always going to be tactical and when driver Matty Williamson took Airpark Flyer to the front with 1600 metres to go he knew his brother Nathan on Franco Santino, sitting at back of the field, was going to have to be good to beat him. With a lap to run Nathan did move Franco Santino forward to sit parked but Airpark Flyer proved every inch a stayer when he out muscled Franco Santino winning by a length and a half. The Dali five year old owned by Graeme Harris and Heather Jerard started his career with trainer Peter McClelland. "I always love the horses. As a young fella I worked part time up in Auckland as a waiter round the race tracks. I always wanted to own by own horse. My neighbour Peter McClelland asked me if I was interested in buying him. I fell in love with him and stuck with him through wind operations. I thought it was good to name him Airpark Flyer like the old freight train that he is. It's good for putting my business name out there," said Harris who owns Airpark Canterbury - the only South Island privately owned 24/7 off-site airport car parking business. Airpark Flyer winning the 2018 Riverton Cup - Photo Bruce Stewart. Harris has really got the racing bug and is enjoying the success Airpark Flyer's bring to Jerard and himself.  "His stable name is George. Trent brought him down yesterday. He checked him in the float and he was vitually asleep. He's got a kind demeanour about him but he's like Mike Tyson going into a boxing ring. When that gear goes on him he knows it's game on." With all the spoils - Photo Bruce Stewart Airpark Flyer won his first race for McClelland in November in 2017 at Rangiora when driven by Williamson. His form then deserted him and in September 2018 under the guidance of his new trainer Trent Yesberg he returned to the same track to record his second win. From that point on he's proved to be one of the finds of this season, winning four of his five starts.     "He's been a funny horse to work out but he just seems to be getting better and better. I don't do a lot of traditional training with him. We do a lot of interval training. He's thrived and gone to another level. I went to University and studied science and that sort of stuff and I try to incorporate a lot of that in my training techniques so whatever I do it's backed up by science. I work very closely with my vets and I'm big on soundness," Yesberg said.  Yesberg is perhaps best known as being one of Canterbury's best yearling preparers but he was always going to get into the training game.  "I've worked with some great trainers but I've never seen a horse go from what he was doing to what he's doing now. I think he'll go a long way particularly with the way he can stay. It's impressive."  Like most good horses Airpark Flyer has a tremendous will to win and has developed into a robust racehorse.  "When I got him he wasn't really quick but he's just getting faster and faster. Now his whole body is sound and he's really athletic. He has a great will to win. I can't really work him in company because he just runs them into the ground. You literally can't pull him up if you work him with company so he does a lot of his work by himself." And Yesberg is also big on individual feed regimes. "I'm pretty particular with my diets. All my horses are on individual diets. I don't feed one thing across the board. Airpark Flyer is quite a big horse and he does really well so I've got to be really careful with his weight management." And he points out that Williamson and Airpark Flyer are the perfect match.  "Yeah it suits his driving style a lot. Matty's a nice aggressive driver and the horse loves that sort of thing." Yesberg is in his fifth season of training after working for Brent Lilley, Greg and Nina Hope and having also spent time in America. "Greg and Nina have been a big influence on my career. I've picked up a lot of their training techniques." He's starting to get a few racehorses around him and he continues to prepare yearlings as well.  "It's a really successful part of my business. I've got twenty yearlings coming in for the sales so it's going to be busy for the next couple of months." Yesberg says Airpark Flyer is likely to have his next start in the Geraldine Cup on the 24th November. "The Country Cups is probably his go. He's such a good stand start horse so that's where he's placed best."  Yesberg also won earlier with trotter Missy Moo which won by twenty three and a quarter lengths. She was also driven by Matty Williamson.      Bruce Stewart 

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