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By Garrick Knight    When you talk to Brad Williamson, it quickly becomes apparent that he has an aptitude for race tactics. He’s a student of the game. Does his research. Knows his opponents and what he needs to do to beat them. So, it’s no surprise that he has a clear idea in his head ahead of Saturday night’s $150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final at Alexandra Park. Williamson drives second-favourite Majestic Man for his father, Phil and they face a rather daunting task trying to beat the even-money pop Winterfell, and Mark Purdon. “Just at the moment, Winterfell appears to be in the zone and I don’t think any trotter could sit outside him and beat him,” Williamson says. With that statement he’s justifying what was a meritorious effort by Majestic Man to run third after sitting parked outside Winterfell in a New Zealand record in the final heat last Friday night. This week is a different kettle of fish though – both horses are drawn well and Williamson fancies his chances of finding the markers first. But it’s not as much of a formality as many might think. “It’s a tricky one because obviously Majestic Man has super gate speed, but Winterfell is also a lot quicker than people realise. “I had trouble crossing him in the Northern Derby and I wasn’t able to get across him when we were drawn side by side in another race. “That being said, Majestic Man is in the zone and the markers are the place to be so I have to get there.” Williamson confirmed his father had given him a clear directive accordingly. “Dad mentioned to me that he does want me to cross and, realistically, looking at the race, that’s the only way I could see us winning.” But the lead isn’t something Williamson wants, either. In fact, he wants the trail. “I don’t think he’ll be able to lead and win in this race.” So, does he hand to Marcoola and put Winterfell three back, or is he expecting Purdon to immediately come out and challenge for the front? Honestly? he doesn’t especially care. “Both Winterfell and Marcoola are stayers and when they find the front won’t be giving it away. “So, we’ll be handing up to which ever is the first of them to come looking. “And I’m 90 percent sure that will be Winterfell.” Williamson is banking on his horse’s sheer speed coming to pass in one last stretch battle. “Majestic Man is as fast as anything in the race over a quarter but I’m picking Mark is not going to leave it to a sharp sprint home. “It’s not going to be a slowly run race, that’s guaranteed being an Inter Dominion Grand Final. “Winterfell broke the New Zealand record under a hold last week and probably had a couple of seconds up his sleeve, too.” Even then, it will be out of Purdon’s hands anyway as a bevvy of decent trotters try and get in to the race from wide or second line draws, primarily Marcoola. “It’s not really going to affect me, what the other horses do, because the markers are the place to be in this race. “But, being a Grand Final, I don’t think everybody is going to be sitting back and not moving.” Outside of the big three, Williamson reckons Temporale, who maps to sit four pegs for most of the race, could be the blowout option. “Looking for an outsider, Temporale has got the best draw of the others outside of Winterfell, in my opinion. “He’s drawn to sit on the markers on a likely record run and all he’ll need is a wee bit of luck of the last 800 metres. “And you’d back Tony Herlihy, out of anyone, to find a path through them. “He knows the track better than anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him take advantage of a cold shot at them.” With all the planning and thinking done ahead of time, Williamson was looking forward to getting up to Auckland and just taking it all in. After all, he’s a live chance of joining the greats of the game – Anthony Butt, Mark Purdon, Gavin Lang, Tony Herlihy, Barry Purdon, Doody Townley, David Butt, Peter Jones – as the winning driver in an Inter Dominion Trotting Grand Final. The annals of harness racing history await the lad from Oamaru. “There is just something about it that I’m really looking forward to. “The Inter Doms are all anyone is talking about at the moment and I’m privileged to be a part of it.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Cracker Hill played no part in the dramatic opening to 'Wairio Mile Day' but was awarded victory in the first, despite being second across the line. And for trainer-driver Brad Williamson it wasn't even a new experience. “That's fourth time I've been promoted to first, twice after interference and twice after the winner returned positives,” he said. Tinwald visitor Dora Explorer was called in the winner, only to be relegated for causing interference to Big Iron entering the back straight. Big Iron lost about 40 lengths in the incident before rallying to finish fourth, less than four lengths from the 'winner'. “I wasn't affected by the interference,” Williamson said, “and was happy with second. He was more green in the straight than I expected and that was probably the difference between winning or coming second.” A two-year-old on debut, Cracker Hill was passed in at the yearling sales by his breeders Lex and Heather Williams. According to Williamson, Gary Preston of Queenstown later secured the youngster, put a syndicate together and had him broken in a Jamie Keast. “I met Gary at the Oamaru races one day, he asked me if I would train it for them. They are some of the same syndicate that races One Apollo.” A winner at Winton last month, One Apollo is trained at Ashburton by Brent White. “He was ready for a second prep when I got him, he'll only have four or five races this time but will be aimed at the premier two-year-old trots, that win would qualify him for the Jewels.” One of only two juveniles in the field, Cracker Hill's time was 2:07.1, almost certainly a New Zealand record for two-year-old over a mile from a stand. Later in the programme, Brad Williamson also got a double for the day, the second in the sulky of Santanna's Rocket. Trained at Gore by Syd Breen, the five-year-old clocked 1:53.7, second fastest winning time of the day. It was the continuation of a successful period for Breen who at Wyndham last week took out the local Cup quinella with Sagwitch and Santanna's Rocket. Breen's strike rate this season sits at 15 wins from just 62 starts.   Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

The drive by Brad Williamson set up the win for talented trotter Majestic Man in the Group Three Southern Lights at Ascot Park today (Saturday). When fthe avourite Kings Landing made the lead, his driver Tim Williams put the brakes on and Williamson was having none of that. With 2000 metres to run, in the lightning move, he shot Majestic Man forward and challenged the leader. “To be honest he’s a bit more of a speed horse but when Tim got to the front he backed off the tempo. I couldn’t allow that to happen. We had to get in a positive position,” he said. With 1400 metres to run Williamson was on top with the Majestic Son four year old and at the finish had half a neck to spare on Kings Landing which ran home up the passing lane. Williamson says there was confidence around the stable that the four year old would perform well despite  having been away from racing for 65 days. He trialled at Oamaru last Saturday winning his heat by six lengths. “He trialled exceptional. If you’d seen it you would have thought he was in with a very good show. He got home in 27 seconds and change, and was hard held. We had a lot of confidence that he was fit and ready.” It was a super effort by his trainer Phil Williamson to get Majestic Man ready. And it was a bit of a case of revenge as Kings Landing had beaten Majestic Man on Show Day at Addington. “A similar thing happened on Show Day. The speed wasn’t overly hot. Mark (Purdon) was up parked and he sprinted home and beat me. Today was the opposite.” The win was Majestic Man’s eighth in only nineteen starts. Back to the birdcage after win number eight - Photo Bruce Stewart. “We thought a bit of him as a young horse and he won the Two Year Old Sires Stakes Final but weakened right off quite badly after the run. He’s strengthening up and with hard racing he's got better as he’s got older. He’s still got to step up to the open graders yet.” The Jewels is well and truly on Majestic Man’s radar and another target is also possible.       “The Rowe Cup's been mentioned if he’s going good enough.” Majestic Man is raced by the Griffin Syndicate. Winning connections and sponsor - Photo Bruce Stewart  It was the fourth time Phil Williamson has won the Southern Lights. His previous winners were; Mystic Son (2009), Springbank Sam (2013) and Monty Python (2017). He brought his team south early this week, starting two well-bred two year old trotters Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride at the Winton Workouts on Friday. Cracker Hill is a Muscle Hill – Juneamy Castleton gelding which is trained by Brad. It  beat Ultimate Stride, a Love You colt out of the millionaire trotter One Over Kenny. The winning margin was a nose but both horses we’re extended. Cracker Hill (8) just gets there from Ultimate Stride at the Winton Workouts - Photo Bruce Stewart Ultimate Stride was sold by Lex and Heather Williams of One Over Lodge in Waimate for $160,000 at the 2018 National Sales in Christchurch. He was bought by Australian’s Emilio and Mary Rosati and left with Williamson. Cracker Hill, which was also bred by the Williams, was passed in for $40,000 at the same sale.  Another impressive trotter that had a win on Friday was the Brent McIntyre trained Cuchulainn: a full-brother to the quality trotter Pickett’s Ridge the winner of four of his ten starts. Both are by Skyvalley out the Sundon mare Come Follow Me. Meanwhile Nathan Williamson’s classy trotter Chinese Whisper is staying put for the time being. He was under offer during the week but the deal fell through and he’s expected to have his next start in the province at Wyndham on Saturday.   Bruce Stewart

For the past few years Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson has packed up his horses and set up at Cromwell for the duration of the Central Otago Harness Racing Circuit. He's dominated one race in particular – the Trotting Free For All at Omakau. Since 2013 he's won the race six times and in yesterday’s feature he started three horses; Smokey Mac, Jen Jaccka and up and comer Majestic Man. It was the latter that came out on top. Williamson said the win was a bit of a surprise for him. “He’s a very nice horse but today was a bit of a step up. This was his first free for all type race. I didn’t really expect him to beat them. He’s in the zone, in form and has got the winning habit going.”  Driver Brad Williamson sat the Majestic Son gelding parked for the first part of the journey. He moved him forward to the lead when stablemate Jen Jaccka started to progress forward realising she may well take the lead, which she did. Jen Jaccka looked to have the race in safe keeping when she shot clear by three lengths with 300 metres to run but Brad Williamson didn’t panic and Majestic Man ground down a game Jen Jaccka to win by a neck. “I knew it would be tough as Jen Jaccka has been really pleasing us of late.” As a young horse Majestic Man progressed through age group racing at two and three. “Last year he was running second to good horses at Group One level in races like the Derby.” The only real blip on the radar last season was his performance in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge. “He got a kick in the leg so that’s why he didn’t go any good in the Jewels. We had to treat him with a fair amount of antibiotics to clean up the injury. This year he’s come back bigger and better which we hoped he would and were just hoping he can improve more to get up to the very elite level.” After yesterday's win Williamson will give the gelding a break as he plans his path to the Jewels at Addington. “We are going to be a bit cautious with him. We’re Jewels bound and we won’t be doing too much racing in the interim. We’ll try and have him as good as we can for that race. He’ll have a freshener. He’s in great form at the moment and it seems a strange time to back off but you just can’t keep pushing the accelerator all the time.”        The Trotting Free For All has been run twelve times since it started in 2008 and Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson has won the race six times – the last four on the trot. His previous winners have been Alderbeck (2018), Monty Python (2017) and Springbank Sam (2013, 2014 and 2016). “We get a great thrill out of winning any race. We try to have our horses at their best for these types of meetings. We plan to have our horses at their peak at Christmas time and at Cup time.” Meanwhile another Williamson runner Shes Like The Wind won on debut at Omakau. Shes Like The Wind winning in the Williamson colours - Photo Wayne Huddleston Wild Range Photography By Majestic Son out of the Sundon mare Sun Mist the three year old filly was taken straight to the top by driver Matty Williamson winning by eight and three quarter lengths. His time from behind the mobile was 2-35.4 setting a new track record for three year old trotting fillies. “Yeah good filly with potential there. We just have to work on gait. It’s just not 100% yet, it’s just on the bends. Some horses can trot the bend really fluently and with some it takes them more time to get confident with it. It’s just a matter of having more practice and we’ll see if she gets better or not but when she does she’ll be competitive to race in the nice three year old fillies races we’re hoping.” Sun Mist is a daughter of champion mare Merinai which won nineteen races including a Rowe Cup and Dominion Handicap. Sun Mist has been a great breeder for her Winton owner Michelle Caig, leaving Pretty Sunday the winner of fifteen races, Sonofearl which won twenty three and Rosemma which won eight. Caig is presenting a quality Love You colt out of the mare at next month’s New Zealand National Standardbred Yearling Sales.  Meanwhile the Mark Purdon Natalie Rasmussen trained Funatthebeach set a new track record when he won the McLarens Transport/RD Petroleum Trotting Cup. His time for the 2000 metre mobile was 2-22.2. The previous open track record was 2-25.8 recorded by Bettor Think Twice in 2015. Funatthebeach winning the McLarens Transport/RD Petroleum Trotting Cup - Photo Wayne Huddleston Wild Range Photography The New Zealand record for 2000 metres mobile of 2-21.8 is held by another Purdon runner Auckland Reactor. That was recorded in Auckland in 2008. In today’s pacing feature driver Tim Williams didn’t get involved in the early rush with the Somebeachsomewhere gelding settling him at the tail of the field as Mossdale Rose, Queen Bee Bardon and A G’s White Sock took turns at leading. When Letspendanitetogetha made a lightning move with 900 metres to run Funatthebeach hopped onto his back. At the 600 it became obvious the race winner was going to be either A G’s White Socks or Funatthebeach, but Funatthebeach was the bravest winning by half a length.   Bruce Stewart  

The very talented square gaiter Get Lucky provided one of the highlights of the Gore meeting yesterday when he out-trotted nine rivals into the ground in the $12,000 Gold Chip Final. The result was not only a track and Southland record, it was also a good result for the broodmare Bree which quinellaed the event when That’s The Story finished second. The result was also a quinella for the Williamson brothers Brad (Get Lucky) and Nathan (That’s The Story). Get Lucky showed he was a quality horse in the making last season when he ran second to Enhance Your Calm in the New Zealand Two Year Old Trotting Stakes, beaten only by three quarters of a length. Trainer Alister Black said that as a two year old he showed a few wayward tendencies, but Black has seen him mature. “Probably in his head. As we know he could do things wrong. He was very good in his gait today but he’s still got a bit to learn.” In today’s Stallions Australasia Gold Chip Final he was taken to the lead early on by regular driver Brad Williamson and from there it was game over. “He (Williamson) said he felt super when he let him roll down the back. Half his problem is that he gawks a lot and doesn’t concentrate until you ask him to do a bit. When you do a bit he starts trotting out real nice.” The winning margin was six and three quarter lengths and Black thinks he’s not at his best in a front running role. “He’s probably best driven with a sit. He’s got very high speed saved up for a quarter and he’s shown that.” Today’s winning time of 2-52.8 was a new track and Southland record. The previous record held by Brad’s Kenny was 2-53.3 and set in 2014. Back to the birdcage                                 -   Photo Bruce Stewart  After today’s win, the $12,000 Hanley Formula Orari Challenge Stakes which is a mobile 1850 metres race for three year old trotters at the Geraldine meeting on February 2nd is on the radar. “After that we might leave him up in Christchurch. We may give him a trial round Addington just to see whether he can get round. Then he can come home, then we can go again.” The Hambletonian at the Ashburton track in late February is also on the programme. “I don’t know how much he’s improved but he hasn’t lost any of that ability. We won’t know that until we strike Oscar Bonavena and Enhance You Calm and all of those ones. But he’s another year older.” It was a great result for the sponsors of the race as Get Lucky is by Lucky Chucky is one of their stallions.   Bruce Stewart

The weather and track were sensational at Central Southland Raceway at Winton yesterday, and records tumbled as a result. Robyns Playboy started the run when he bettered the long standing three year old track record of 2-54.5 held since 2007 by Rider On The Storm. His new record time is 2-54.4. The gelding already holds the Southland record of 2-53.0 which he posted at Wyndham last month. From gate eight Robyns Playboy was caught wide early before driver Craig Ferguson had little option but to go forward and take the lead. “He worked bloody hard early. He was out three wide. They went to the mile in 55 (seconds). Then he was able to back it off. Craig said he was really settled today and he tried to get in but couldn’t so he just had to keep going. He said he was still going good at the finish,” said owner and trainer Ross Wilson. Early in his career Wilson said Robyns Playboy didn’t switch onto the racing game but now it’s a totally different story. “At home he’s starting to get too keen. I haven’t hoppled him since Monday because he went that fast on Monday. I’ve just cantered him behind the jogging machine. That’s why he’s going to the races because he’s tearing around being an idiot.” Understandably there has been plenty of interest from buyers to purchase the talented three year old but Wilson says he’s not on the market. “I tell them pretty quick that’s he’s not for sale. People say 'you don’t want to hear my offer' and I say 'No.' I always remember turning down $250,000 for Robyn’s Cullen when he was a two year old. It’s not about the money it’s just about having fun with a horse.” So with two track records in the space of four weeks Wilson says his next target is the Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes on his home course on the 27th December. After that there are some good stakes races on the horizon. “He’s the best horse I’ve ever had and you only get one chance with a race like the Derby. We’ll look at the Super Nugget Final, The Supremacy and after that I definitely want to have a go at the Derby.” Regular driver Craig Ferguson says Robyn’s Playboy is the best horse he’s driven. “Although we went a three year old record today I tried to look after him. If I’d let him go at the 600 he would have won a lot more convincingly. He’s got a good high cruising speed,” he said. The winning margin for Robyns Playboy in the John Keenan Memorial was a length and a quarter from Raffy Roo. A race later four year old trotter Majestic Man continued his rich vein of form when he narrowly won the main trot of the day. The four year old son of Majestic Son galloped at the start and settled third last with only Super Fast Pat and Rebel Kibbybones behind him. At the 800 metres driver Brad Williamson hopped onto the back of an improving War Admiral. Halfway up the straight War Admiral had mastered pacemaker Grace O’Malley with Majestic Man starting to make his run down the middle of the track. He just mastered a game War Admiral by a nose. The Phil Williamson trained trotter coming back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart. His winning time of 3-01.0 was a new track record bettering the previous record of 3-02.5 recorded by Sundons Wish last season. Majestic Man is raced by the Griffins Syndicate and it was some compensation for the group after their class trotting mare Dark Horse had to be turned out again after picking up another injury. Another large syndicate horse Please Shuddup won the next race and his time for the 2400 metre mobile was also a new track record. The Auckland Reactor four year old was tucked away nicely on the running line by reinsman Matty Williamson as Canterbury visitor Pats Dragon set a hot pace. Please Shuddup returning after winning at Winton -     Photo Bruce Stewart Smokin By and Cast No Shadow both had turns in front up the straight but Williamson used the passing lane to perfection to get up and win by three quarters of a length from Smokin By with a nose back to third place getter Cast No Shadow. The winning time of 2-53.3 was a new track record for entires and geldings for the 2400 metre mobile. The previous record of 2-54.0 was set in 2017 by Jimmy Mack. Meanwhile two relatively new trainers posted quinellas in back to back races at Winton. Gore trainer Ricky Gutsell trained Vintage Rose and Maahes to quinella Race One whilst a race later Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson scored a quinella with his two runners That’s The Story and Zoned Scarlett. Gutsell is in his third season of training and this was the first time he’s managed the feat while Williamson who is in his second season as a trainer quinellaed a race once before at Invercargill in February. Other winners today included Zinny Mach who won by an impressive four lengths and Fear Cruisin which won by a length and a half for trainer Peter Robertson of Templeton. Runner up to Fear Cruisin, Betstars Blue Jean was a game second after pulling a peeled tyre. In the last race of the day the Greg and Nina Hope trained and Ben Hope driven Mossdale Art added to her breeding potential when she won her 1609 metre mobile event in a smart 1-52.5. She’s owned by Mossdale breeder Archie Affleck and won by the biggest margin of the day – eight lengths.   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

John and Judy Stiven got a lot of satisfaction when Countess Of Arden won in their racing colours at Ascot Park today. The Net Ten EOM filly which was bred by the Tapanui couple had a tough introduction to racing last season, fronting up as a two year old to the unbeaten Princess Tiffany. At that point she was trained by Barry Purdon. After three starts in the north she was bought home to West Otago and sent to the spelling paddock. When she went back into work it was with Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson. In today’s race from the inside of the second row, she had to be eased round Last Hurrah who was slow to start in front of her. Once the field settled Countess of Arden was second last. As the speed dropped off with just over a round to run Williamson sent the filly forward and with a lap to run she was in front and held on to win by a neck from the trailing horse Gomeo Denario. It was noticeable that Countess Of Arden was switching off and on as she went down to the line so you’d expect once she fully learns the racing game she’ll improve. Countess of Arden is out of Young Tegan and her pedigree goes back to a host of good fillies including Eden’s Joy which won six races for Henry Skinner and Young Eden which won the 1987 New Zealand Oaks. “The depth of Southland in this family is unbelievable. We took a foal out of her before this one - a filly by Panspacificflight. She was a cracker but unfortunately she got a virus and died before it was weaned. I’d only borrowed the mare at that stage and I rang Russell (owner Russell Hollows) to tell him about the dead foal and he asked me if I wanted to buy the mare. We ended up doing that and it was the first year Net Ten EOM came out so we put her to him and this is the result,” said John Stiven. Young Tegan is now part of the extensive band of broodmares at Arden Lodge. “Last year we sold A Rocknroll Dance colt out of her which Colin MacPherson bought. This year she’s got a Sweet Lou colt and is in foal to Always B Miki.” The Stivens are now the biggest Southland vendors of yearlings at the National Sales and they have five colts and six fillies on their books for next February sales. John is particularly excited about an Art Major colt out of Venus Serena. “He’s sensational.” He says others that are looking good are an Art Major colt out of Tricky Woman and a Captaintreacherous colt out of Southwind Arden. Interesting times ahead, at the track and at the Sales.      Bruce Stewart

King Cassidy capped off a fine vein of form, by winning the Gold Chip Final for trotters at Winton on Sunday. It was the five year old's third win on the trot and a very good pay day for his connections, trainer Chris Gerken, Taylor Davies and his partner Tracey Ashton. Gerken, who trains at Fleming near Gore has had the The Pres gelding since August last year. "Neil Munro sent him down to me. He's got a wee bit of a hitch in his gait and he thought he needed a bit of time and they weren't prepared to wait on him. I think the gait thing is just conformation. The first race he had off the place was at the Hawea Gymkhana last year where he beat a couple of pacers," he said. He won his first race at Forbury Park in May this year when driven by Brad Williamson.  "He won that first race probably too quick for his own good. He got chucked in against horses like Golden Gate. It was way too rich and they were just rushing past him." Gerken, who shoes his own horses says the past few weeks have been a bit of a balancing act in deciding when to renew the horses footwear.  "Last week when he raced here the shoes were buggered. But I didn't want to change them before he raced. He got reshod during the week. It was perhaps one of the reasons he trotted rough today. He just needs a bit of wear and tear on his shoes."  Brent Barclay, Sonia Gerken, Chris Gerken, Taylor Davies and Tracey Ashton - Photo Bruce Stewart  In yesterday's race driver Brent Barclay allowed King Cassidy to settle at the rear before moving him round the field at the 1200 metre mark to sit parked outside leader Sky Tower. With 400 metres to run Barclay had the gelding in front and he held on to beat a late charge from Makarewa Rum by half and length. "His next start will be at Hawea on Wednesday. I'll see what sort of rating he gets after today. At Omakau he may have to start against the Free For All horses in a mobile. I don't want to start in a mobile just yet so I may have to look at Cromwell in a fortnight."  Taylor has been a loyal supporter of Gerkens and they were partners in John Henry Galleon and James Galleon.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Alister Black has always had a high opinion of the royally bred Kilowatt Kid and his judgement was reinforced today when he dealt to a strong field of maiden pacers at Winton. By American Ideal out of the eight win Live Or Die mare Wave Runner, Kilowatt Kid is owned by brothers Lindsay and Ian Thomson. "We spotted him at Dan Cumming's place on the Southern Yearling Tour. Alister liked him. A couple of years before, we'd bought Six Diamonds, which was also by American Ideal, off the (Cummings) family," said Lindsay. Wave Runner is also the dam of Break Dance (5 wins and 1-53.3) and Bonnie Joan (7 wins and 1-52.8). "We bought Kilowatt Kid before Bonnie Joan showed up so we were lucky to buy him when we did." The stable have been very patient with the gelding and were rewarded today when he won by a length and a half from another first starter in The Heart Rulz.  Kilowatt Kid and Brad Williamson beating The Heart Rulz (obscured)         - Photo Bruce Stewart. "Alister said he was a nice horse from day one and he's just looked after him. He qualified last season and was turned out. We thought he'd be a better three year old. I was always told that if you haven't got the best two year old in the country don't go chasing them." Black fitted the gelding for today's debut with two workouts. "We were confident. We weren't too sure about Chmiels horse (Nota Bene Denario) and we'd looked at the videos. I was pretty confident anyway (laughter)."  Kilowatt Kid was driven by Oamaru reinsman Brad Williamson who was also impressed by the horse's effort. "He's bred to get better with racing so hopefully that's the case. He feels very green and is still learning. Potentially he could be a nice horse," said Williamson. The early pace was set by favourite Nota Bene Denario and Dodgethebullet. Williamson followed The Heart Rulz forward. At the top of the straight it was all on for two of Southland's best early season maiden horses - The Heart Rulz held a slender lead before Kilowatt Kid slowly ground him down. The winning time was 2-59.9 and the winning margin was a length and a half. There were a further six and a half lengths back to third placegetter The Maroon Marauder.   "He wasn't travelling all that well and it wasn't until I was halfway round the last bend that I knew he was going to win - at the 500."  Birdcage group                                 - Photo Bruce Stewart The Thomson brothers, who have a farm and stable at Branxholme have been keen investers in harness racing since they sold their sheep farm about nine years ago. "When we sold the farm we set up at Branxholme and Alister came here and the hobby got out of hand (laughter)," said Lindsay. So understandably the brothesr are excited about Kilowatt Kid's future.  "Potentially he could be the best. Six Diamonds is a nice horse and we've looked after him too. We had New York Town and he's won a further six races in America." Lindsay has been racing horses since 1986. He bred and raced Young Reb - a Yankee Reb trotter which also won at it's first start on the Winton track for Wyndham trainer Brendon McLellan. "It was probably the worst thing that could have happened," he said highlighting the fact that he'd caught the harness racing bug. "I also had horses with Jim Ferguson in Canterbury."  They are for good reason, fans of the Woodland Stud stallion American Ideal and their latest 'project' by that stallion is Dazzle Me. He's a two year old out of Diamante and is closely related to Smiling Armada, Pembrook's Delight and Swamp Major.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Alderbeck today became the first winner of the new harness racing season for quiet achievers Phil and Bev Williamson.  After accepting the award for "Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing" at the national awards last Thursday, it was business as usual for the duo at the Oamaru harness racing club this afternoon (Sunday). Alderbeck was Phil Williamson's 546th winner since he started training in 1993. 526 of those wins or 96% have come from trotters proving what a great trainer of trotters Phil is. Phil was fairly confident of a good showing today from Alderbeck, saying " I think she will go a good race but I would not be putting the house on it at the short odds she is at today."   He said "there are quite a few in that race that could win with the right run". Son Brad gave punters of the favorite no cause for concern, firstly sitting parked and then pulling away in the straight to win easily by more than two lengths at the line.  Alderbeck (Pegasus Spur - J D Pat) trotted the 2600m race in a quick 3:20.2, with a closing 800m in 58.4 seconds.  Earlier in the day Bite The Bullet (Mach Three - Pistol Packing Mama) blasted home from the 800m in 54.2 to beat stablemate Dreams To Reality by a head giving John Dunn his second win of the season. Young trainer Mitchell Kerr has started the 2017/2018 season with a bang as another 3yo colt he trains in Alta Shelby easily won the last race at todays meeting. Alta Shelby (Mach Three - La Joconde) led for the last lap for driver Matt Anderson and sprinted his last 400m in a quick 27.4 seconds winning with plenty of petrol left in the tank. Kerr has gone to the top of the leaderboard in the trainers premiership with 3 wins from 3 starters giving him a perfect UDR of 1.0000 from his three starts so far this season. Alderbeck winning her race.     Harnesslink Media

Brad Williamson has chosen to drive Majestic Man in the 2-year-old trotters section of the Harness Jewels at Ashburton on Saturday. Brad was given the choice of drives by his trainer father, Phil, who also Springbank Lachie and Majestic Connies in the race. Brother Matthew is driving Springbank Lachie and another brother, Nathan will take the reins on Majestic Connies. “It was a tough decision. They are all good horses. I drive Majestic Man and Springbank Lachie at home,’’ said Brad. “Springbank Lachie was a bit sick after his last start second (eight lengths behind One Muscle Hill in the Yearling Sales Final) but he seems right again.” Brad (22) drove Springback Lachie to impressively win the NZ Trotting Stakes and Majestic Man to a last start win the Sires’ Stakes Championship. He has driven Majestic Man in two other wins from four starts. Matthew drove Majestic Connies in his last start win at Invercargill. He was also aboard BJ Lindenny, runner up to Majestic Man in the SS race. Brad (22) has had four drives in the HJ with his best effort a third on Monnay when there was a section for 5-year-old trotters at Ashburton in 2013.   Trainer Graeme Anderson was pleased with Eamon Maguire after driving him to win workout at Forbury Park on Sunday in preparation for the 3-year-old pacers section of the Harness Jewels. Eamon Maguire led for the last 1200m and he was not extended to return 2.44 for 2200m (mobile), the last 800m in 58.1. He finished a length clear of stablemates Elusive Flight and Sovereign Banner. “It was just what he needed. He is very well and on target but couldn’t have got a worse draw (nine – the outside of the front line),’’ said Anderson. Eamon Maguire has made his mark among the 3-year-olds this season with a dashing win in the Southern Supremacy Stakes final, a third in the NZ Derby and second in the Sires Stakes Sophomore Classic. Break Dance, who has not raced since she won at Alexandra Park on April 28, won a workout at Ashburton on Saturday. There is a race to suit the Amber Hoffman-trained mare at Invercargill on Saturday week. War Horse, a newcomer to the stable, won a workout at Forbury Park on Sunday. Tayler Strong

Edendale harness racing trainer Craig Laurenson has been training for South Otago owner Ian Bennett for eighteen years with Bennett providing Laurenson with his first win; Zapp, at the Tuapeka meeting in November 1999. The partnership produced another winner today at Gore when Two Ply won the Advance Agriculture Limited Mobile Pace.  Laurenson went to school with Bennett's children and the relationship developed from there. "He always came out to the farm. His father actually trained a few horses part time at one stage. I helped him get started. Zapp was the first horse I gave him. He won four races for me and went to America. I've been pretty loyal ever since," said Bennett.   Today was start number thirty two for Two Ply.  "He's finally starting to understand what racing is all about now. Craig always knew he had ability it's just been a long time coming out. I remember seeing him run as a two year old at the trials and he showed real speed that day. He never showed it much until he won at Winton. He showed it again about four starts ago. He's finally come to it in his last half a dozen starts."  Driver Brad Williamson settled Two Ply five back on the inside running line. Inside the last lap he managed to get him off the inside. Then approaching the 800 metres he moved out three wide and followed up Night March. At the top of the straight he was challenging out wide and ran down Night March to win by half a length. Two Ply and Brad Williamson beating Night March on the inside - Photo Bruce Stewart "In his first ten starts he was on the unruly. He finally sneaked one (a win) this time last year. The whole family are late maturing. They don't really start to race until they're late three year olds." Of the seventy two winners Laurenson has now trained, thirty six have been owned by Bennett. Their best winners have been On The Double (10), Lord Patrol (5), On Sky (5) and Zapp (4)   Bennett is still an active breeder with On The Double, her full sister Lady Patrol and Clifton Beauty still being bred from. "The best one out of her (On The Double) has been Wick who has now won eight or nine races in America." Wick won five races for Wyndham trainer Brendon McLellan.  Maximan is another good horse the Bennett/Laurenson partnership developed. He was out of Clifton Beauty and won three races for Laurenson before he was bought by Jim Curtin.  "When we sold him he had about eight seconds in a row. We then sold him to Jimmy and he won the Westport and Reefton Cups then he sold him on to Aussie." He's won a further nine races in Australia and has a lifetime record of 60-18-10-7 $220,129 (1-53.0 AUS).  Bruce Stewart Southland harness Racing  

The 2-year-old trotter Majestic Man displayed the potential to achieve major success with his first up win at Forbury Park last night.   Majestic Man left stride in the early stages and he stormed home from seven lengths from the lead at the 300m to win by a nose in the hands of Brad Williamson.   Majestic Man is trained at Oamaru by the master of trotters, Phil Williamson. The son of Majestic Son-Love Hate Revenge had a second to Aoraki at Ashburton and a win at Oanaru in trials beforehand.   Majestic Man is raced by the Griffins syndicate, who race Monty Python, winner of 11 races, including the Group Three Southern Lights from the Williamson stable.   The syndicate, Christchurch breeder Neil Bennett and the LHR syndicate won seven races with Sol Invictus, a half-brother by Sundon to  Majestic Man trained by Michael House.   The Griffins Syndicate, including Bennett, bred Majestic Man, the fifth foal of Love Hate Revenge, a Holdonmyheart mare who was a winner. She is also the dam of winners Bet Pray Love and Daiquiri. Bet Pray Love was retired and served by Windsong Espoir this season. Love Hate Revenge is in foal to the same sire imported by House.   The Griffins Syndicate have Monty Python on lease from Keith and Bevan Grice. They won six races with Sarah Palin, a sister to Monty Python, trained by Margot Nyhan, before relinquishing  the lease.   The syndicate with the Seafield Trotting syndicate, also race Dark Horse, a half-sister by Bacardi Lindy to Monty Python and Sarah Palin. The 4-year-old Dark Horse trained by Nathan Williamson has won five from 12 starts.   Reinsman Ricky May gave credit to trainers Greg and Nina Hope after he drove Cullenz Diamond to a maiden win.   “The Hopes have only had her a fortnight. She had a lot of issues,’’ said May.   The 4-year-old mare had six minor placings in 14 starts when first trained by Brendon Hill and later May and his father, Terry.   Cullenz Diamond is raced by Ricky’s wife, Judy and Ian Dobson. They bred  Cullenz Diamond from a mating of  the Dobson-owned Christian Cullen and Ruby Wax, an unraced mare owned by Judy.   The first foal of Ruby Wax (Falcon Seelster–Illustrious Lady) was Ten Diamonds, who won seven races with Judy in the ownership. The Mays were acutely disappointed when Ten Diamonds went amiss and could not be saved for breeding.   Ruby Wax did not produce a foal for another five years when she left Diamond King (two wins from two starts in NZ).   “Ian offered to put Ruby Wax in foal to Christian Cullen if I looked after the foal,” said Judy. Ricky drove the Dobson-owned Mainland Banner in her 17 wins including the 2005 New Zealand Cup.   Jimmy Bond, the owner of Explosive Star was on hand to see his trotter lead throughout on Thursday night. Bond, who turned 77 last month, trained and drove Crafty Kobba to win a heat and final of the Four-Year-Old Championship at Forbury Park in 1985.   “We put half blinkers on him (Explosive Star) tonight and Blair (Orange, the driver) said he was never off the bit,’’ said Bond, whose son Lyndon took over as the official trainer for the Mataura stable three years ago. It was the third win for Explosive Star since Jimmy leased the Great Success 6-year-old this season from clients of the Michael Heenan stable.   Tayler Strong    

Springbank Eden's win was a surprise to owners Alistair and Denise Smith. They watched the race from the main stand and thought from the angle they saw the finish that leader Moment Of Sun had held on. But Springbank Eden's driver Brad Williamson was confident enough to come back to the birdcage first even before the judge made his official call. His judgement proved to be right and the Phil Williamson trained trotter got the decision by half a head. Moment Of Sun's owner Brian Church was one of the first to congratulate the Smiths.   Springbank Eden wearing down Moment Of Sun              - Photo Bruce Stewart. Phil Williamson has now won 502 trotting races. His first training win was with pacer Role Model at Forbury Park in March 1993. His first trotting winner was the same horse at the New Zealand Metropolitan in June 1995. Of all the winners he's trained he's driven 99 to win and his sons Nathan (94), Matty (151) and Brad (94) have been a part of the Oamaru trainer's success with the squaregaiters.  Phil provided Nathan (Brooker) and Matty (Springfield Tiz) with their first wins as drivers while Brad's second winning drive and first trotting winner was Heezadoo Early, trained by his father.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The Williamson stable will pin their hopes in Madison Jane at Roxburgh today after scratching her half sister Alderbeck. The stable won both trotting races at Omakau on Monday with Brads Kenny and Monty Python and have won six races since December 17. Alderbeck was among those winners when successful at Gore  on December 27.  The Pegasus Spur – J D Pat mare has won six of his 13 starts since she began racing at Roxburgh 12 months ago. Her Gore win was his second in four starts this season, “She is just not 100 per cent  with some filling in a leg,’’ said Brad Williamson, who was to have driven her. He has the drive on Madison Jane, who along with  Pyramid Mustang will represent the stable in race 2. Madison Jane has not raced since July when she won at Forbury Park, a race that was penalty free as she was a 2yr-old. She won a trial at Cromwell last Saturday. Pyramid Monarch is also starting afresh after four placings in nine starts last season. A 40m handicap may not be beyond Mossdale Conner in the Roxburgh Cup. The winner of 12 races including a Taylor Mile and the 2016 Northern Southland Cup, Mossdale Conner was running on late for fourth in the Central Otago Cup free-for-all at Omakau won by Classie Brigade in track record time on Monday. Mossdale Conner was held up in the closing stages. It Ain’t The Money, the winner of three of his five starts, has been scratched  from race 10 after a hind leg injury. ‘’It is nothing serious but he has hurt a back leg in the paddock. He was feeling it when I went to hopple him yesterday,’’ said Allan McVicar, his Chatton owner-trainer. “He was alright jogging on the grass but not so good on the all-weather. It will take a while to heal.” The Lis Mara 4yr-old began racing in October and he has since won at Ascot Park (twice) and Gore on Boxing Day. Tayler Strong

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