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The Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis trained Love On The Rocks continued his good form when he won again at the Southern Harness meeting at Ascot Park yesterday. The three year old settled back early, where he stayed until the 600 when driver Kirstin Barclay followed Nota Bene Denario up three wide. Reined up, Love On The Rocks finished strongly down the middle of the track to beat Nota Bene Denario by a length and a quarter. “He’s got a really good turn of foot but he’s a funny wee horse. You don’t know how well he’s winning because you’ve got to tell him to go. He’s not one that hooks out and just goes. You have to drive him a bit but he seems to get to the line well within himself,” Barclay said. It was the Terror To Love gelding’s third win in row, having only qualified in December. “He’s coming through his races really well. We have no real plans. He pulled up so well we might give him one more race and then give him a bit of a break. It’s hard to turn them out when they’re going so well.” Love On The Rocks is one of a small handful of horses trained at the Barclay/Ellis stable at Tisbury. Most of their horses are trained at Oreti Beach. “He didn’t go that well out there. He’s just a bit lazy. For some reason he just didn’t fire at the beach but not all horses do.” Barclay and Ellis with 26 winners, sit one win behind Nathan Williamson in the race to win the Southland Trainers Premiership.   Bruce Stewart

Bluff photographer Monica Toretto started earlier this month as the Southland Harness racing on-course photographer, and is enjoying her new role. Born in Holland, Monica came to New Zealand as an eleven year old. She’s been a professional photographer for eighteen years and has been in Southland for twelve years. She has a strong connection with both standardbreds and thoroughbreds, owning her first standardbred when she was just sixteen. “I’ve grown up with them and I just love them. There’s something about them,” she said. Monica lived in Canada and America for a while and has worked in stables in New Zealand. “I used to work for Doug Gale and Colin Jillings. Right throughout everything I’ve done I’ve always taken photos. While I was in America I injured my back and a friend of mine gave me her old camera, and it was my first digital camera. I worked on a big training farm there and I just went around taking photos of horses training.” During her time with Gale in the early 1990s he had horses like Perfect Byrd and San Sabriel in his stable. Both won eight races. She’s also adopted a standardbred named Duffle Bag (Noodlum-Western Innocence) the winner of five races for Gale. “I bought the mare and bred a horse called Satchel, then sold her as a package.” Monica is also the official photographer for the Southland Shark Basketball franchise and she takes photos at rugby, wrestling and football events. Fashion is another interest. “I went back to SIT and did a degree in fashion. I now do fashion photography. We’ve set up a whole bunch of models and photographers and do a whole bunch of shoots.” She had entered the Hokonui Fashion Awards this year, but unfortunately the competition had to be called off due to Covid-19. Monica posts her photos on her website and she puts a smaller selection on her Facebook page. “I found in America they just sell the prints. Then people can organise their own frames, depending on what they like and on their decor.” Monica’s website is www.monicatoretto.co.nz   Bruce Stewart

Two year old trotter Love N The Port created a good impression when he beat older horses on debut at Ascot Park yesterday. The Love You gelding driven by Matthew Williamson stepped nicely and trotted wide early before settling three back on the outside with stable mate Springbank Mason taking up the role of pacemaker. With 600 metres to run Williamson pulled the two year old out and moved him up to challenge Springbank Mason. The two went head to head until 50 metres from the finish line when Love N The Port proved too strong, going away to win by a length and a half. “He’s shown a bit at home and has been pretty impressive at the trials,” said trainer Phil Williamson who was confident of a strong showing. The time of 2-55.1 bettered the track and Southland record of 2-58.1 held by Majestic Connies. The New Zealand record of 2-52.7 is held by Russell Galleon. “He’ll go out now for a spell and come back and race at Christmas time. We’ll look at perhaps running in the Derby if all goes well. He’s got good stamina so there’s a chance he’ll be there if he’s that good a horse. We’re not getting too carried away, we want to see more but he is a quality horse.” Love N The Port is owned by Christchurch Architect Keith Ussher and wife Sylvia White who works at ARA (Christchurch Polytechnic) as an accountant. Keith says they’ve owned horses for over twenty years. “We haven’t had one as good as this one. He looks pretty promising but he’s still got to do it,” he said. Previous winners for the couple include Clovelly Beach (4) and Ace Of Hearts (3) and they currently race Arocknatthepark and The Flying Fijian from Mitchell Kerr’s stable. Keith doesn’t have any family connection with harness racing but Sylvia’s father Tom Roberts bred and raced horses including Lumumba (Light Brigade) which won five races for Broadfield trainer Jim Winter in the mid 1960s. Love N The Port is out of the four win Sundon mare Ngaire Margaret which won once for Brent Weaver and three times for Andrew Faulks. “She was a beautiful trotter but she had so many issues. She broke her leg early on. We ended up sending her south for beach training with Andrew.  We soon learned not to go down (to Forbury Park) – every time we went down she stuffed it up and when we didn’t go she won.” Usher says the journey with Love N The Port hasn’t always been plain sailing. “When we sent him down he was a colt and a bit of a handful. I think they almost considered sending him back at one stage. He was a bit of trouble but no worries now.” This is the first horse the couple have had with Williamson. “We can’t speak highly enough of him (Williamson). When this fella was young we could see he was a little beauty so we decided to send him to the best. The main person behind sending him south was Sylvia’s son Adam (well-known Canterbury farrier Adam White). Phil’s had him down there for about twelve months and he’s said all along that he’d never be a two year old because he was too big. He’s improved so much lately Phil thought he’d give him one race and then tip him out.” The win continued Williamson’s excellent form with trotters in the south. He’s won eight of the eighteen trotting races carded at Ascot Park post Covid19 and he looks set to once again achieve being New Zealands leading trainer of trotters by the end of the current season. He currently sits on thirty three wins, ten clear of Robert Dunn. Both his winners yesterday were by star trotting stallion Love You and Williamson has another promising type in Leaf Stride qualified and ready to go in the new season. “I backed off him because he’s a great big horse. He’s got good ability and is quite an exciting horse. He’s been a work in progress because there have been lot of issues through the early part of his career. We had a few concerns around his manners early on but we’ve worked hard on that with him.” Leaf Stride is out of a daughter of Merinai – Sun Mist, and Williamson says he’s looking at lining the horse up in September.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    Powerful wins by three-year-olds Love On The Rocks and As Sweet As Honey at Ascot Park on Thursday came at just the right time. Love On The Rocks confirmed his status of Southland’s late season star when producing a sweeping finish to win race 10. For the second consecutive start the Terror To Love pacer made light work of stepping up from his previous win to race more seasoned opposition. Having the whole field in front of him at the 800m did not prove too much of a hindrance as co-trainer and driver Kirstin Barclay angled Love On The Rocks to the outside before the turn, where he unleashed a brilliant turn of speed. The victory gave the pacer Barclay co-trains with Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis a hat-trick of post-lockdown wins. Yesterday’s win came just days after the Southern Harness Racing organisation announced it would re-run its two and three-year-old features, which were put on hold during harness racing’s recent shut down. Though their revival has been confirmed, It has not yet been known when the Group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes Final, Group 2 Southland Oaks and Group 3 two-year-old Classics will be held. Love On The Rocks was not the only pacer who looked like a serious challenger in those upcoming events yesterday. Canterbury filly As Sweet As Honey took her first step towards qualifying for the Southland Oaks final with her win in race 9. Driver Blair Orange took no chances with the favourite, getting her away from the inner from her barrier one on the second row draw, shortly after the start. Orange took the Mitchell Kerr trained pacer around the field with a lap to go, before she ran away from her rivals to score by two and a half lengths. Fellow Canterbury filly Savvy Bromac also put herself in Southland Oaks contention with her win in Race 5. The victory came after another three-year-old Longueval boosted his Southern Supremacy Stakes hopes with long awaited maiden victory in race 6. Arguably the most impressive victory at Ascot Park yesterday came from a trotter that could not contest one of Southland’s upcoming three-year-old feature races. Though his performance yesterday and the speed at which he burst away from his opposition suggested he would not disgrace himself if he ever lined up against pacers. Ultimate Stride produced a faultless and emphatic victory in race 11. Driver Matthew Williamson barely asked the blueblood three-year-old for an effort as he charged away from his older rivals to win race 11. Though Ultimate Stride does not have any Southern features on his radar, he has targets further north. The Phil Williamson trained three-year-old will be a serious contender in the Sales Series Final on October 9 and Sires Stakes Championship on October 23.       Both races will be held at Alexandra Park.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Don’t be put off by star young trotter Ultimate Stride having never had a standing start in New Zealand just because he faces one at Invercargill today. Because trainer Phil Williamson is adamant it won’t be a problem. Ultimate Stride (Race 11, 4.35pm) takes on not only older horses but that standing start but trainer Phil Williamson says neither factor concerns him. “He has beautiful manners so I’d be stunned if he galloped from the standing start,” says Williamson. “Being a big field there is always the chance being off 20m they can have traffic problems but on the whole he should be too good for them.” The high-priced yearling purchase, Ultimate Stride dominated Australia’s best young trotters winning the Breeders Crown last season and returned with an effortless win in a mobile start race two weeks ago. Punters looking for a lunchtime bet could do worse than double down in race two on the Williamson team. “We have two trotters in the second race and I think one of the two will win,” says the trotting supremo. “The two-year-old Love N The Port might be the best of them and would probably win on raw ability but if he doesn’t then one of our others in Springbank Mason is also a good chance.” Michael Guerin

By Jonny Turner    A good problem has led to Canterbury trainer Mitchell Kerr lining up quality 3yr-olds A Taste Of Honey and Koenigsegg at Ascot Park on Thursday. Having too many smart 3yr-olds in the same grade has forced Kerr to send his pair south to avoid them clashing with The Flying Fijian, William Wallace and Storm, who will race at Addington on Friday night. It is also hoped A Taste Of Honey and Koenigsegg will return to Canterbury in even better shape than before they left. “I have got quite a few horses in the same grade, so these two are going down south so I can split them up,” Kerr said. “Neither of them has had a trip away, so it should be really good for them.” A Taste Of Honey will step out for the first time in over a year in race 9. A growth spurt and the Covid19 lockdown are the main reasons the Art Major pacer has not been seen since last year’s Harness Jewels. “She had a few wee growing pains – they hit her after the Jewels,” Kerr said. “She went through a massive growth spurt, so we decided to give her plenty of time out.” “We did have her ready to go before lockdown, but we got a bit unlucky there and had to put her out again.” A Taste Of Honey has impressed in three post-lockdown trials and workouts ahead of her return to racing. The 3yr-old ran on late in the first, before running second to her smart stablemate, Storm, in the next. A Taste Of Honey then won her latest Rangiora workout, when reeling off a 56.9sec last 800m. Those efforts signalled the lightly tried filly is ready to make another impact at the races. It is now just up to driver Blair Orange to find clear running for her from barrier 1 on the second row of the mobile. “She is a really nice filly and I am really happy with her,” Kerr said. “She has got the visitor’s draw, so she just needs a little bit of luck.” Koenigsegg will start for the first time since last October when stepping out in race 10. The 3yr-old’s recent time on the sidelines has been largely for the same reasons as his stablemate. “He is in the same boat as A Taste Of Honey – he went through a massive winter growth spurt,” Kerr said. “He had a real good break and he has come back in fine fettle.” Koenigsegg has had two Rangiora trials and workouts ahead of his return. The 3yr-old beat his stablemate William Wallace in the first, before chasing home star 2yr-old Krug when third a week later. “I didn’t really push him at the workouts either,” Kerr said. “So, he is going really well and I couldn’t really be any happier with him.” Koenigsegg meets a smart line up in what will be just his fourth career start with Orange in the sulky. The Mach Three pacer clashes with Southland up and comer Love On The Rocks and fellow Cantabrian Rocknroll King, who will be suited by the race 10’s mobile conditions. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

It’s great news that three key 2019-2020 Southern Group races are to go ahead in the new season. The Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes, Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southland Oaks and Diamond Creek Farm Classic for two year olds have been confirmed for the new season although the exact date and venue are still to be confirmed. “It’s a fair old calendar for the two and three year old colts and geldings. And the three year old fillies have the remainder of the Nevele R Fillies Series and the final which will be run on Cup Day,” said John Price who’s the main driving force behind getting the races back on track. The Supremacy and Oaks will be Group Three races. “It is good for the breeders, the owners, and Southland to get them up and going,” he said. The stake level is likely to be $30,000 for each, but before a final figure can be settled on Price has to have talks with key sponsors regarding their contributions. “I can’t see too much of a problem with them agreeing.” Southland Standardbred Breeders Association, SBSR, New Zealand Bloodstock, Southern Harness, and the National Body of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders all supported the application to run the feature races. “There was good genuine support right across the board to run the finals.” The top qualifiers for the Southern Supremacy are: Spirit Of St Louis, Pembrook Playboy, See Ya Write, Minstrel, Yossi, Forsure, Burnham Boy, Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon, Carlos Bromac, Willison, Major Meister, Croesus and Longueval. The leading contenders for the Southland Oaks are: Watch Me Now, Pearl Harbour, Bailey’s Dream, Plutonium Lady, American Eyretime, Renegade Rose, Sugar Loaf, Need You Now, Delightful GNP, Princess Jessie, Stylish Memphis, Flossie and Mossdale Lottee. Price is also advocating that the final of the Southern Belle Speed Series be run on the same day.   Bruce Stewart

“It felt like track work to be fair, trainer driver Brad Williamson said after Cracker Hill easily won his sixth race at Ascot Park today. He’s just getting better and better with every run.” The six length win was from the front without the ear plugs being pulled and the time was 0.6 off the New Zealand record of 2-43.0 held by Royal Aspirations. “He’s just got a high cruising speed. If I’d have guessed the time I would have said three minutes for 2200 but we went a Southland record.” The previous track and Southland record for three year olds was shortlived being recorded last Saturday by Ultimate Stride at 2-47.4. Williamson made the most of the front line draw today, and headed straight to the top. “When he draws the front line in a mobile he’s always pretty hard to beat because his gate speed is as good as any. Which makes it pretty easy.” Once again consistent mare Crusher Collins which trailed the leader, had to make do with second placing. Williamson says Cracker Hill takes everything in his stride and acts like an experienced race horse. “As you can see he’s like a sensible campaigner and just wants to be a really good race horse. I think in twelve months time he will be.” Some thought is now being given to an Australian campaign. “Nothing is set in stone but I’ve made a few plans to head to Australia with him to Brent Lilley’s but it’s not confirmed yet. I’d like to get over and contest the Victoria Derby. He’ll have a wee freshen up and whether I race him again before I go to Australia or not, I’m not sure.” Winning connections                                               --Bruce Stewart photo Cracker Hill is owned by Gary Preston, Sue Preston, Wayne Morris, Mike Arnold, Ray Scott, Joan Scott, Jenny Rhodes and Lex Williams. He’s by Muscle Hill out of the Majestic Son mare Juneamy Castleton which won four races for Canterbury trainer Mark Jones. The family goes back to quality trotters Castleton’s Pride which won the 1975 Interdominion Trotters Final and ten other races, and 1983 Rowe Cup winner Sir Castleton which won forty four races. The breed was developed by Mawson MacPherson. Juneamy Castleton is now owned by Brent Smith who lives in Otautau. The Love You yearling colt that Smith offered at this year’s sale was bought by Preston under All Things Harness Racing for $40,000.  Smith also has a Father Patrick weanling colt out of the mare.   Bruce Stewart

Those on course at Ascot Park today were treated to one of the most sensational runs seen in years by a pacer. At about the 600 diminutive Sweet Lou three year old Spirit Of St Louis looked to be in a hopeless position. After stepping nicely from the twenty metre mark driver Matthew Williamson settled the gelding last on the outside with Betterthanbrie making the pace. Half way down the back straight most horses were off the inside running line so Williamson decided to run Spirit Of St Louis up the inside. ‘It was looking good coming off the back because I thought I’d get on the back of Kirk (Kirk Larsen driving Maidonthebeach).” But that move soon looked flawed as horses began to move sharply round the outside and Maidonthebeach wasn’t progressing. “I got held up badly by the two Gray runners (Nota Bene Denario and Born To Boogie) coming round and I had to go behind them. I ended up giving up the ground I’d made back to them.” Williamson was still seven lengths off the leader turning in and wide on the track. Halfway down the straight Spirit Of St Louis was still only going to run second but he sustained his finish and nabbed a game Betterthanbrie right on the line, winning by a nose. “Coming round the last bend I could tell he was jogging. It really surprised me how well he let down. It was a phenomenal run just to get up.” Spirit Of St Louis ran his last 400 metres in 27.8. The overall time of 3-22.6 was 0.6 outside the track and Southland record of 3-22.0 held by Tas Man Bromac. After the run Williamson was full of praise for the horse. “He’s got good high speed and is a lovely natured horse. He’s such a laid back wee fella and pretty lazy. You don’t know how you’re going until you wake him up. Williamson also praised the horse’s Westwood Beach trainer Graeme Anderson. “I don’t want to talk about him too much,  it’ll go to his head (laughter) but he’s done a great job with this horse. His runners are always ready.” So after today’s sensational effort how does Williamson rate Spirit Of St Louis? ‘I think he’s the best. With the run today to beat the older horses and to give them the ground he did was a hell of a good effort. With that one cold shot at them he’s at his best.” Spirit Of St Louis is owned by Trevor Casey, Anderson, Tony Gow, Steve Pulley, Ray Chaiklin, Pauline Gillan and Edwin and Kieran Corby.   Bruce Stewart

“It was good to get the monkey off the back,” was the comment from junior driver Tristan Larsen after he drove Duke Of Dundee to win at Ascot Park today. Trained by Larsen’s father Kirk at Branxholme the four year old gelding was given the perfect trip behind pacemaker Iwanadancewitsumbody. On straightening, Tristan drove Duke Of Dundee up the passing lane, beating Vin Scully by three and three quarter lengths. “It was pretty good to do it for Dad and long-time owner Gordon Smith who’s had a lot of horses with us, so it’s pretty cool.” Larsen has spent all of his life around horses but didn’t have plans to make it them his career. “Not early on. I was a typical boy and liked rugby and mates. Then I came of age, went to the races a bit more and got a love for it.” He drove in the Kidz Kartz programme for a season and then progressed to ‘big horses’ when he drove Auckland Cup winner Howard Bromac at home. “When he was a pacemaker Dad let me have a sit behind him so that was a pretty good start.” Tristan Larsen                                   --Bruce Stewart photo Larsen works for his father for two hours in the morning then heads to Brett Gray’s Ryal Bush stable before returning to his Dad’s stable to help feed up. “It’s really good to be attached to two stables driving wise as you get more opportunities.” Later in the programme Dad Kirk produced another winner when the royally bred Forsure beat favourite American Eryetime by half a length. The Art Major three year old is out of the eighteen win Washington VC mare Foreal and is owned by Shona and Syd Brown.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    Catching Otago’s star three-year-olds Cracker Hill and Spirit Of St Louis looks an almost impossible task for their opposition at Ascot Park on Saturday. Cracker Hill looks as closest thing to a racecourse certainty since lockdown ahead of his clash off level marks from behind the mobile in race 7. A 20m handicap looks far from enough to stop Spirit Of St Louis when he has his first run since March in race 8, the meeting’s feature handicap pace. Trainer-driver Brad Williamson has Cracker Hill ready to rumble following his epic homestraight duel with Matua Tana at Addington four weeks ago. Matua Tana has gone on to notch a hat-trick of wins making Cracker Hill’s three-wide effort look even better. “I gave him plenty of time to get over that, because it was a pretty hard run,” Williamson said. “Obviously the form has been franked with Matua Tana going on to bigger and better things.” “That was pleasing to see him do a super job after beating us.” Most of Cracker Hill’s rivals will have a race fitness edge on him, but that should be no match for the three-year-olds class. Their best hope of beating him is if the favourite gallops out of contention, which looks a faint hope at best. “His manners are pretty good and they should hold him in good stead throughout his whole career,” Williamson said. “If he brings his A-game on Saturday he should be pretty hard to beat.” Spirit Of St Louis showed he had lost none of his brilliant speed when reeling off a fast last 800m in his only public appearance leading in to race 8. The Graeme Anderson trained three-year-old ran a 56.2sec split at the Oamaru trials two weeks ago. Cracker Hill is not the only winning chance among Williamson’s ten drives at Saturday’s meeting. The reinsman will reunite with the Phil Williamson trained Day Dreamin in race 4. The 4yr-old who a well beaten second behind impressive winner Miss Crazed at Ascot Park last weekend. Day Dreamin faces a similar dilemma tomorrow, clashing with another of her stablemates in Springbank Mason. “She is a winning chance – take the winner out of it last week and she has beaten the rest nicely enough,” Williamson said. “Springbank Mason is a handy looking maiden and will be hard to beat.” “There are two or three in there with good winning chances and I think Day Dreamin is one of them.” Jacks N Jazz looks a strong winning chance for Williamson after his big effort to run third behind Payment Plan at Ascot Park last weekend. The Geoff and Jude Knight trained 6yr-old fought on strongly despite sitting parked throughout. “He seems to race really well in the wet that fella, he ploughed through it so easily, sitting parked didn’t seem to worry him.” “If it is a wet day on Saturday he will be hard to beat.” Rin Tin Tin in race 2 and Longueval in race 11 are also among Williamson’s winning chances. Rin Tin Tin ran a good third behind in a chaotic race won by Braeview Kelly last weekend. Barrier four on the second row of the mobile is Williamson’s main concern ahead of Saturday’s event. Longueval has an excellent draw in barrier 2 as he looks to bounce back from a shock failure against in hot maiden field in race 11. Williamson also drives Kagee VC in race 1, Coolhand Easton in race 4, The Peaky Blinder in race 5, Whata Razzle Dazzle in race 8 and Rake in race 10. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Invercargill again today with an eleven race program starting at 12:05pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. The content and data on this video is provided for informational purposes only Check below the video for our selections for all of the races today for Invercargill. Invercargill 27th June 2020 Race 1 Man I’m Good drawn well for a change and a good place chance if he can hold a prominent position early…..To Ri Caitlin in top form and will start favourite here. Include…..Star Ruler possibly the early leader and a chance to hold a place with no major attackers during the race…..Jimmy Richter another with ok form who has to be included here. Selections:  Man I’m Good (1),   To Ri Caitlin (5),   Jimmy Richter (3),    Star Ruler (4)   Race 2 Southern Belle Canterbury form was ok and she will probably lead here. Good winning claims…..Rockngoodtime he could find the trail behind the favourite and a place hope in that situation…..Racing Minister disappointing last start but can bounce back here. Place claims…..Wecandream has form in strong races and although drawn wide is a chance to get some money. Selections:  Southern Belle (2),   Rockngoodtime (9),   Wecandream (8),    Racing Minister (6)   Race 3 Springbank Mason from a strong stable and tote the guide. Can win…Day Dreamin improved performance last start and mobile will help. Will be right in the fight….Jannah Jaccka ok last week and is getting fitter.Place hopes again……Robo Trouble mobile should help his manners and a rough place hope here. Selections:  Springbank Mason (7),   Day Dreamin (3),   Robo Trouble (4),    Jannah Jaccka (11)   Race 4 Duke Of Dundee nice draw here and has ability. Good chance to run in the money here…..Iwanadancewitsumbody possibly the early leader and she is improving. Not the worst here and can place…..Magnetic Watch bobs up now and then but hard to predict when. Maybe today is the day……Vin Scully might get a cosy run on the fence and a rough place hope from there. Selections:  Duke Of Dundee (1),   Iwanadancewitsumbody (3),   Vin Scully (9),   Magnetic Watch (5)   Race 5 Afterburner comes out of a strong field and well placed here. Can win…..Tolkien better performance last start and had excuses. Place hope in this field….Windsor upset winner from a similar draw last start. Go again…..Horse Of Course in good form and he should be thereabouts in a similar field here. Selections:  Afterburner (7),   Tolkien (5),   Windsor  (1),    Horse Of Course (6)   Race 6 Ivana Legacy going well and draw suits. Should be close to winning this….Melton Mafia running home well last start and drawn a bit better here. Can place…..Rakabeach unlucky last start and has the services of Blair Orange again this week. Winning claims if he can clear traffic…..Jacks N Jazz good draw and the probable leader here. Can hold on for a place. Selections:  Ivana Legacy (3),   Melton Mafia (4),   Rakabeach (9),    Jacks N Jazz (2)   Race 7 Cracker Hill top 3yo who looks home in this field. Just wins…..Humble Lad ok last start and should be improved. Place hopes best…..Crusher Collins is in good form and mobile suits. Place hopes only…..Nottingham K Two ok last start and coming back to his best. Top four is on again. Selections:  Cracker Hill (7),   Humble Lad (6),   Nottingham K Two (3),    Crusher Collins (4)   Race 8 Spirit Of St Louis coming in fresh and off a 20m handicap. Should be hard to beat in this field…..Nota Bene Denario good finish for second last week and he should be thereabouts again…..Born To Boogie form is not too bad and well placed in this field. Can run top three…..Stinger Lindenny good stand start horse who will head for the front. Place hopes best. Selections:  Spirit Of St Louis (10),  Nota Bene Denario (3),   Born To Boogie (8),    Stinger Lindenny (9)   Race 9 American Eyretime has great form and gate speed. Top selection in this field…..Forsure should get a cosy run on the fence and a place chance if he can clear traffic…..Buck might trail here and his last run ok.One for value….Call Me Keith racing well but draw not too good. Place claims if he can get a cart into it before the turn. Selections:  American Eyretime (2),   Forsure (9),   Call Me Keith (7),    Buck (1)   Race 10 See Ya Write good win fresh and he can step up to this grade. Winning claims….The Maroon Marauder down from Canterbury where was racing well. Include in this field…..Amore Lancome Tricky draw but racing well can place again with luck in the running….Superstar Legend only battling but better draw here. One to spice up the multiples. Selections:  See Ya Write (7),   Superstar Legend (2),   The Maroon Marauder (9),    Amore Lancome (8)   Race 11  Flight Crew never got into the race last start but trials have been good. Winning claims with manners….Jawbreaker savaged in front last start but stuck on well. Can win if he can clear traffic….Dream Of Glory he stuck on for fourth last start and is at decent odds.One for value here….Longueval gets a good draw to work with here and has been ok in his races. Can place. Selections:  Flight Crew (13),   Jawbreaker (9),   Dream Of Glory (10),    Longueval (2)     Harnesslink Media

The winning debut of Braeview Kelly at Ascot Park on Saturday came just a week after her impressive qualifying effort on the same course. The two-year-old Bettor’s Delight filly, trained at Gore by Tony Stratford, had cleared out in the hands of Stratford to win her five-horse 2200 metre trial by 11 and a quarter lengths in 2:49.1. For raceday, champion New Zealand reinsman Blair Orange took over the reins and Braeview Kelly faced a full field of 14 for the first time. Despite a second line draw, she shaved all but three seconds off her qualifying time when scoring by a length and a quarter. “That was just her third time off the place,” said Stratford, “the trial was the first time she had been among that many horses.” Braeview Kelly, second foal of the one-win American Ideal mare Idoloise, was a $27,500 purchase at the 2019 Christchurch yearling sales by Braeview Limited, the company of prominent Waimumu owners Paul and Mandy Pearce. Stratford also prepares Renegade Rose, a winner for Braeview Limited in 155.5 at Wyndham in November. “I got Braeview Kelly straight from the sales to break in,” Stratford said, “she wasn’t rushed but was ready to go when lockdown came. She had time off then I got her ready for the trial. Because she did so well I continued on to today but I’ll have to back off again now and look for a two year old race.” Having won against all ages, Stratford pointed out he has to be careful where he places her. However, because Braeview Kelly is nominated for the major series, there will be plenty to aim at in the future. Braeview Kelly was one of three winners for Orange on a day when all ten races were mobile start 2200 metre contests. His wins included the Michael House-trained Matrika in another of the races for non-winners. Both recorded a winning time of 2:46.2. Third win for Orange was the Brian Norman-prepared trotter Windsor who got up the passing lane to nab the Phil Williamson trained and Matthew Williamson driven Horse Of Course by half a neck. This denied the Williamsons a clean sweep of the trots having earlier won with Miss Crazed and later with Ultimate Stride. However, Matthew got his three by way of success behind Deus Ex. Trained by Geoff and Jude Knight, the four year-old recorded the day’s fastest time of 2:43.5. The combination of Mark Hurrell and Amber Hoffman struck twice with the back-to-back wins of Sheeza Sport and Payment Plan.   by Mac Henry

Ten months after winning the group one Breeders Crown for two-year-old colts and geldings trotters at Melton, Ultimate Stride extended his winning picket line to five with a classy return to racing at Invercargill on Saturday. Four of those five wins were achieved in Australia, in July and August last year, two of them at the elite level, After that, the stylish colt returned safely to his trainer Phil Williamson’s Oamaru base. But then trouble struck. “He’d been in the paddock for a fortnight then we found him lame, it was a broken peddle bone,” Williamson explained. “He had a number of x-rays and it was about six months before we could work him again.” The son of Love You and champion mare One Over Kenny was back at the trials on 23 May, the first of three before his raceday return. “We gave him a long slow preparation, wanted him well grounded before racing,” said Williamson. “I was thrilled with the run, to go 2:47 with plugs in. He’s pulled up well, that’s what naturally talented horses can do. ” Ultimate Stride was driven by Matthew Williamson who took him forward off the mobile arm. Reaching the front within 400 metres, they controlled play from then on and scored by two and three quarter lengths. “He went lovely,a soft kill to start off with, its good to have him back,” Matthew said.” As to the future, Phil Williamson said nothing is set in concrete. The rescheduling of some of the age group features will ensure Ultimate Stride is not short of rich opportunities on this side of the Tasman. However Williamson ruled out any attempts in the short term to improve his record in Australia as the colt’s owners, Emilio and Mary Rosati have another quality three-year-old Elite Stride to cover those options Earlier in the day, Phil and Matt Williamson scored with another promising trotter Miss Crazed. The three-year-old filly became the fifth individual New Zealand winner by the international sire Crazed. She is the first foal of Miss Pegasus (Pegasus Spur – Merinai) who was trained by Phil Williamson for most of her career. Among the nine wins of Miss Pegasus was one at Ascot Park in 2013. “Miss Pegasus had a lovely nature and nice all round game,” he said. “Miss Crazed is a nice filly to work with but not quite as sensible, she did alright today so it shows she is going the right way.” The winner of a six-horse trial in May broke at Addington on debut and again at Ascot Park a fortnight ago, although a massive run saw her get up to grab second. “She broke her first two starts, that was inexperience, I’m not saying it won’t happen again, she needs more practice so we will keep racing her,” Williamson remarked. He commented that Miss Crazed was on the big size as a juvenile and didn’t race at two, but could have been an Oaks filly at three and will win more races.   by Mac Henry

By Jonny Turner    Match fitness is the only concern trainer Phil Williamson has ahead of his star trotter Ultimate Stride returning to racing at Ascot Park on Saturday. The three-year-old will start for the first time since he trounced Australia’s best two-year-olds at last year’s group 1 Breeder’s Crown Finals in August. Ultimate Stride has spent much of his time since that win recovering from a broken pedal bone. The blueblood son of Love You and champion mare, One Over Kenny, has put the injury behind him and prepared for his return in race 8 on Saturday with two trials at Oamaru. Though finishing third behind Rydgemont Son and unplaced behind Humble Ladd may not look like sparkling form on paper, Williamson has been pleased with his chestnut’s lead up effort. “He is very well and even though he has been beaten in both of his trials I have been very pleased with him.” Ultimate Stride is clearly the horse to beat in Saturday’s 2200m mobile event given many of his opponent’s form pales in comparison to his Group 1 accomplishments. But, Williamson has been training long enough to know that racing is not quite that simple. Especially when his son, Nathan, has the talented Chinese Whisper in Saturday’s race. “I would like to think he could go out there and round them up, but it is not quite that easy.” “Race fitness would be my biggest concern.” “And there are some nice horses in there, Nathan’s one is a very nice horse in his own right.” Drawing barrier 8 under the race’s preferential barrier conditions adds to Ultimate Stride’s challenge. How keen the trotter feels for driver Matthew Williamson in his first start back under the pressure of race day could decide their early tactics. “I probably wouldn’t like to see him rushing out early, but it could depend on how keen he feels behind the gate.” “But, he will be getting around them at some stage.” Chinese Whisper has had two post-lockdown workouts to prepare for his return on Saturday. The four-year-old has not started since his third placing at Ascot Park in February. Jimmy Carter gives Williamson a strong hand in race 8. The five-year-old bounced back to winning form, after being pulled up in his two prior starts, when winning at Ascot Park last weekend. “He definitely wouldn’t be the worst chance, I could see him running in the first four,” Williamson said. Davey Mac and Horse Of Course also race under 2200m mobile conditions for the Williamson stable in race 5. Davey Mac will need to bring his manners after galloping out of contention behind Jimmy Carter last week. Horse Of Course was worked home stylishly to run third in the same event. “Horse Of Course would be a good eachway chance, I think all of our team are good chances on Saturday.’’ “And if Davey Mac brings his manners he will be in it.” Williamson starts Miss Crazed and Day Dreamin in race 1, another 2200m mobile event. Miss Crazed produced a huge finish for second after galloping early in her last start behind Arc De Triomphe. “She is going to be hard to beat if she trots the whole way.” Day Dreamin broke in her only start at Addington last month, but has since show improved manners in two trials. “I was happy with her trial at Ashburton on Wednesday, she should go a good race.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Oamaru horseman Matty Williamson continued a fine family tradition when he scored his first win as a trainer at Ascot Park today with Flossie holding on to beat outsider Hans Ideal by a nose. “It doesn’t say it in the race book but I bred her as well. I’ve had her the whole time so it was very satisfying going through the whole process and getting the win,” Williamson said. The three year old Shadow Play filly is owned by Williamson’s Uncle and Auntie Lance and Sharon Doran, his mother Bev and his partner Charlotte Purvis. “Because I train her there’s been no pressure other than from the missus. She (Flossie) has raced well in two starts so I haven’t had too much critiquing yet.” Williamson took Flossie to the front and dictated the pace but there were some anxious moments at the end. “I thought she was holding, but having the full blinds on she didn’t see those other horses coming wide late and she knocked off a bit. In hindsight I probably should have taken a sit with her but she got the job done so I’m rapt.” Williamson says Flossie has been a pleasure to train all the way through but that she’s likely to be sold. “She’s very laid back and she’ll continued to improve. Time will be her friend and she’s now for sale to the right person.” Williamson has only two horses in work. He qualified an American Ideal gelding called Mufusa last week at Oamaru. “He’s a nice horse. I expect him to do a bit and he may race before the season is out if he’s not sold.” Mufusa is owned by Geoff and Jude Knight, Williamson and his partner Charlotte. Williamson’s racing colours of orange with a chequered sash were the colours used by the late Dick Prendergast. Matt’s father Phil worked for Prendergast in the mid 1970s. “It was great for Matt especially with my old boss’s colours. Dick offered him the colours. He was a great fella to work for and he would have had a great thrill out of the win today. It was a thrill for us too as I’ve won in those colours a few times,” said Phil Williamson. The winning connections                                                     --Bruce Stewart photo Phil’s first winner as a junior driver was Hajano for Prendergast at Timaru in December 1977.  He also had success with the Prendergast colours driving Kimrock and Thelma Hest. Other winners at Ascot Park today were; Matai Jetstar which capped off a consistent form line to win for Alex Milne, Call Me Keith which won at odds of 76-1 for it’s breeder, owner and trainer Hamish Hunter, Melton Mafia for Wyndham trainers Gordon and Colin Lee, Allandale for Omakau trainer Lionel Sinnamon, Reattore for Mid Canterbury trainer Brent White and Winton trained mare Pearl Harbour for Winton trainers Katrina and John Price.   Bruce Stewart

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