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On what was a run-of-the-mill raceday at Ascot Park today a two year old trotter emerged as being a horse to watch in the future. Majestic Son gelding Full Noise handled the pressures of his first start against more experienced runners like a pro, and easily beat eleven other runners in the Hamil Saddlery Trot over 2700 metres. Full Noise began slowly but well and settled in sixth place early. With 1600 metres to run driver Brent Barclay moved him off the running line to sit parked for the last lap.  "He never batted an eyelid out there. He's so laid back when he's parked so it worked out really good. I'd say he's got a very bright future," said Barclay.  As the leaders turned for home Full Noise was asked to go and he trotted nicely down to the winning post to beat Superfast Ninja by three quarters of a length.  "He's a lovely horse and a beautiful trotter. I've driven him in every workout and trial and he's just a natural." His time of 3-35.2 was a new track record for two year old trotters who rarely run this distance.  Full Noise winning on debut in those famous Baynes colours - Photo Bruce Stewart. Trainer Brett Gray was also suitably impressed but he's known what's under the horses bonnet for a while.  "Kirstin (Barclay) broke him in. I did a few weeks with him before Christmas and loved him. I turned him out and brought him back in. He's just a natural. The second row draw today worried me a bit but Brent drove him a treat and the horse would have learned a lot today. He hasn't raced in a big field," he said.  After the win Gray wouldn't be drawn as to what the plans are for the two year old. "I've just got to talk to the owners. I think he's a horse for the future and I really want to look after him." The Majestic Son gelding which is owned by Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, is out of the Sundon mare Knapdale Girl which won three races in New Zealand and a further five in Australia. Knapdale Girl is from a family the late Colin Baynes developed and raced over many years. It's the family that's produced quality trotters like Cool Cat which won ten races and Bearcat which won seven. Winning connections                           - Photo Bruce Stewart.  Full Noise is the first foal from Knapdale Girl. She has a yearling colt by Coktail Jet stallion The Best Madrik and a weanling filly by Pegasus Spur.   Another branch of the family produced many good trotters for Maurice Skinner including Adiantum which won eight races and Maori Maiden the winner of seven.  Full Noise is named after a Yak-3 V12 World War Two fighter owned by Graeme Frew, an Air New Zealand pilot. Frew qualified for the National Championship Air Races in Reno in America where he broke a race record last year. He also recently bought the plane down to Wanaka for the Warbirds Over Wanaka. And in true pioneering spirit the plane carries the same number (35) as Southlander Burt Munro's Indian Motorcycle which also raced in America. "We were actually in Reno last year when he was there. They put the plane in a container and took it over there. A local guy Jay McIntyre who is a renowned engineer who lives in Blenheim now, went over with him and put the plane back together. They did a fantastic job over there," said Penny.  The win by Full Noise brings the number of wins for Kenny Baynes this season to 17. War Machine (5), War Admiral (3), Especial, Convair Hustler(1) Too Cool (1) Royal Bengal (3), Full Noise (1) Envious (1) and Especial (2).  Full Noise, Royal Bengal and Convair Hustler are raced by Baynes Racing Limited (Kenny and Penny) while the other horses are raced by Kenny and his wife Jo.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

"It worked out really well. Everything went to plan," were the comments from driver Brent Barclay after winning the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on the Winton trained Duke Of Wellington. In today's Group Three feature, Barclay settled the American Ideal gelding in seventh place off the rails. With two laps to run he was sitting four back on the outside. With 850 metres to run Barclay pushed out and got into the three wide line to followed up Mighty Conqueror and Hail Christian. Turning in he made his challenge four wide and Duke Of Wellington let down nicely to beat Hail Christian by three quarters of a length. "He was a bit keen today and did well to keep going so I was really happy. He just knocks off when he gets there (to the front)."  Winning connections, trainer Lauren Pearson holding rug and owner Lester Smith next to her - Photo Bruce Stewart. Duke Of Wellington, which was Winton trainer Lauren Pearson's biggest training win, was bred by Invercargill Lawyer Lester Smith who had raced the gelding up until the Supremacy today. He was sold last week to Australians Merv and Meg Butterworth and part of the arrangement was that Smith remained in the horse for today's race. "Merv phoned before the race and said 'make sure you make a good speech' so I hope I didn't let him down," Smith said he was reluctant to sell but he looks to have a nice filly to carry on with. "I was but I've got this filly (half-sister Rise Above This) to go on with."  Duke Of Wellington is named after a hotel in Melbourne. "The hotel was established in 1853. It's the oldest pub in Melbourne. I drink there sometimes when I'm there for the Australian Open in January." Smith used to buy yearlings at the sales but changed tack when prices rose. "I used to go to the sales and found the ones that I wanted were far too expensive so I decided to breed from a couple of mares - Weka Lass and Galleons Honour." Galleons Honour, the dam of Duke Of Wellington, is by Christian Cullen out of Galleon Cheer.   "I got her from a dispersal sale at Kerry Hoggards. He'd bought her for $80,000 as a yearling and she won her first race beating the likes of De Lovely. She wasn't the same afterwards. So I bought her as a broodmare."   The win today was a great boost for the locals. Southland horses have had a lean run in this race over the past decade. Since it's inception in 1984, Southland trained horses have won the race 14 times. The last Southland winner was I’m Full Of Excuses, winning for Clark Barron in 2015. Prior to that Looksaflyer won in 2006 driven by Brent Barclay. "It's great today for Brent and Lauren.That's the biggest thrill really," Smith said after the race. Smith won the 1997 Supremacy Stakes with Atitagain which was trained by Wayne Adams. The gelding won four of his eleven three year old starts and ran fifth in Bogan Fella’s 2007 New Zealand Derby. He was exported shortly after and did a grand job in Australia, winning a further twenty two races. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Mach's Back continued the stellar season Murray Little and trainer Paul Ellis are having when he impressively won at Winton today.  "We just rolled along and I just let him do what he wanted to do," was how driver Blair Orange described his winning drive on Mach's Back which won the Drymix Concrete Mobile Pace. Orange was driving the four year old for the first time with regular driver Dexter Dunn sticking with favourite Governor's Bay.  "He had to be tough today and he was. I wasn't too worried about being wide early. He's shown in some of his runs that he can do it at both ends." Mach's Back after being wide early, was taken to the top by Orange with Governor's Bay hard on his back.  "At the 400 I felt him (favourite Governor's Bay) lose my back so after that I wasn't too worried about him," Orange said.  The winning margin was a length and a quarter from a late stayers run from Franco Santino. The eye catching run came from Kilowatt Kid who charged home to run fourth just three lengths away from the winner. Mach's Back winning from Franco Santino (wide) - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win was Mach's Back's second this season and owner Murray Little's fifth. Other winners for Little have been Betterthanbrie (2) and Shezacullengirl (1). He also owns Mach Three two year old filly Havtime which qualified for Nathan Williamson and is now in Auckland with Barry Purdon.  It was Mach's Back's trainer Paul Ellis's eleventh win of the season making it his best season to date in the sixteen he's been training.  Meanwhile Winton trainer Lauren Pearson wasn't overly confident in winning the two year old race today with her Bettor's Delight filly Rise Above This.  When asked if she was confident she replie "Not really, when you're racing horses like Zinny Mach that ran 1-53 in the Kindergarten Stakes. You're never confident especially with two year olds. We were just hoping she'd go well."  Driven by her partner Brent Barclay, Rise Above This was sent forward early before handing up to favourite Zinny Mach.  "She didn't come out the gate like she has done before so that was just a pass. She seemed sensible out there and was asleep in the box beforehand so nothing phased her too much." Zinny Mach lead until the top of the straight before being collared firstly by Bottle Rock then Rise Above This which came up the inside passing lane. Rise Above This won by three quarters of a length from a late charging Robyns Playboy. Pearson says she's unsure as to where the talented filly will go next but there are some options.  "We'll see what happens. She's paid up for the Breeders Crown but we'll just have to see. It's a bit hard racing against the colts and geldings but I thinks there's a couple of fillies races here next month." Rise Above This was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith who races the filly. He also races her half brother Duke Of Wellington - the winner of three races this season.  "I don't think he's ever been there when one of them have won. He reckons the horses go better when he's at home watching on TV."  There has been some buyer interest in Duke Of Wellington but Pearson says nothing serious is on the table at the moment.  "I think at this stage he'll try and sell him and keep the filly."  Duke Of Wellington is now being set for the $45,000 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in the fortnight on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park.  "He just had a canter the other day and a light hopple today and he felt real good so we'll line up next week and give him a run before the Supremacy."       Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Mach's Back winning  

Winton trained harness racing mare Tact Maggie is finally starting to live up to the reputation she had early in her short career. The Lis Mara four year old showed sparkling form at some of her workouts and trials early this season but hasn't been particularly consistent on race days Trainer Trevor Proctor said after today’s (Saturday) win - the second in a row for Tact Maggie - that it wasn’t until regular driver Brent Barclay told him to increase her workload that she improved. “After two or three races Brent made the comment to me that she was short (of work) so I poked a bit more work into her and bang. I also took the Murphy blind off her that was just to keep her straight. She hasn’t missed that. I was surprised she sprinted up the lane as good as she did today. She’s a big beautiful pacing mare. When you bring her out it’s nothing fantastic. She doesn’t have real speed like her mother had,” said Proctor. Her early season workout and trials form has also caught the eye of Australian buyers and normally Proctor is a seller. “I had her for sale. Amanda Turnbull trialed her. She was getting a team together to buy her but I haven’t heard back. At this stage we’re happy enough to race her and breed from her next season.” Returning to the winners enclosure - Photo Bruce Stewart. Out of the ten win mare Tact Lizzie, Tact Maggie was having only her sixth race day start today. “Because she was a big horse it never entered my head to even race her because no-one pays me to do this. I wasn’t in a hurry to race her.” From barrier two driver Sheree Tomlinson took the mare forward early before handing up to Varenna and settling nicely in the trail. “Today Sheree said she relaxed all the way. During the week Chelsea Faithful drove her (in work) and said she was a different horse from the week before.” In some of her previous starts she was tried in front. “The day we tried to pull her back at the workouts she was taking it on. She broke and lost thirty to fifty metres but finished right in behind them running her last mile in two minutes with the last half in fifty six. When Brent said I wasn’t giving her enough, I thought you’ve got to be joking but he was right.” Proctor says Tact Maggie is likely to start on her home track at Winton before running her season out on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park.  Meanwhile evergreen pacer Groomsman won his ninth race in his one hundred and twenty one start career when he held on to beat Vera's Delight in the Regent Car and Commercial 125 North Road Pace.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Tact Maggie winning at Ascot park

Duke Of Wellington continued his progress towards the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day when he impressively won at Ascot Park yesterday. He's been one of the most progressive three year olds in the province this season but has required plenty of time to mature. “As a yearling he was real gangly so we turned him out and gave him time. As a two year old we brought him back in but he was too gangly so we biffed him back out again. After that he’s come back nice and strong. We waited for him to develop and it’s worked out,” said trainer Lauren Pearson. He also looks to have fined down as a racehorse. “We’ve probably been too fat. Everyone says I have my horses too fat. He’s holding his condition quite well at the moment so that’s good.” The three year old by American Ideal is owned and was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith. Pearson, who trains Duke Of Wellington at Winton says you can't get a line on the horse at home but he brings his A game to the race track. “He’s a big dummy at home and you can’t go on his work at home because he’s that lazy but on race day...... He’s starting to cotton on a wee bit. The pull down blinds have made a difference with him.” So, with his third win in the can, he's well on target to be in the frame for the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes later this month. “Yeah that’s our aim. It’s going to be a real good field.He’s going good enough so you’ve got to have a crack at it. I like his attitude and with him being so laidback at home he doesn’t over exert himself. Then he comes to the races and knows what it’s all about. For a big horse he’s got a good bit of speed.” After the early rush in today's race driver Brent Barclay settled Duke Of Wellington into the one one. That's where he stayed until the 400 when Barclay brought him out to make his run. He cruised to the line to easily win by two lengths from two Brett Gray runners Convair Hustler and Rockaball. “Brent said he was a bit toey behind the gate but once he was on the journey he knows how to relax. That helps when you’re trying to beat the good ones." Pearson said Duke Of Wellington is easy to train and she hasn't done too much with him since his impressive win over a mile in 1-53.9 at Winton at the end of last month. “Since his last race he’s had a couple of hopples and two canters and that’s it.” Duke Of Wellington is out of the one win Christian Cullen mare Galleon Honour which Smith bought in 2010. Galleon Honour is out of Galleons Cheer, a talented Albert Albert mare which won five of her nine starts for Hamish Hunter before injury curtained her career. Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart Pearson recently qualified a two year old filly out of Galleons Honour called Rise Above This. She's by Bettor's Delight. “Yeah she’s goes quite nice. I think we’ll take her to Winton for the two year old race. She’s a filly, so it makes it hard. She seems to have stepped up every time she’s gone off the place. She’s got a nice bit of speed.” Galleons Honour has been a great broodmare for Smith with her first four foals all qualifying. Her first foal Dazed and Confused qualified impressively here but was unraced when sold to an Australian interest. Under the name Laszro, he's won nine races in Australia. The mare's second foal Venice Beach by Somebeachsomewhere won three times for Pearson before she was also sold to Aussie where she's gone on to win another four races. The win today elevated Duke Of Wellington up the points table for the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes. One trainer I talked to today said New Zealand Derby winner Sheriff isn't coming down for the Supremacy. It's also highly unlikely that the all conquering All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will have a runner in this years three year old feature. Although Duplicated has started twice in the province he probably won't be high enough on the table (based on stakes won) to get a start.   Meanwhile earlier in the programme business partner and fellow lawyer Murray Little continued his great season when Betterthanbrie won her second race in just four starts. The Betterthancheddar three year old filly made the most of a inside trailing position to beat Jody Direen by half a length.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Duke Of Wellington winning yesterday

Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray doesn't want to look too far ahead but by the way his trotter Smokey Mac in going he may have to. The four year old Thanksgiving gelding - after his win today (Saturday) at the Wairio meeting, leads the Four Year Old Trotting Ruby for the end of season Harness Jewels.  "Yeah he's heading the table now. It's a long time between now and then but we'll definitely have a go if he's going good. He's the type of horse that'll get around that track (Cambridge). You still have to cop a draw up there but fortune favours the brave," said Gray. In today's Western Electrical 2008 Limited Mobile Trot, Smokey Mac led early before handing up to stablemate Jen Jaccka. Just before straightening driver Brent Barclay pulled Smokey Mac out from the trailing position and he let down nicely to beat Jen Jaccka by half a length with War Machine a nose back in third.  Smokey Mac (4) winning the main trot of the day for Brent Barclay - Photo Bruce Stewart. "I'm rapt with both of them and happy with the way Jen's (Jen Jaccka) going too. Smokey will go to Addington for the four and five year old championship and Jen will go up the following week," said Gray.  Gray says Smokey Mac's next target is the $30,000 Group Three Lamb and Haywood Four and Five Year Old Trotting Stakes at Addington on Easter Saturday.   "I'm going to go there next, then give him a wee freshen up and then concentrate on the Jewels maybe. But I'm a bugger to change my mind."   The win was his seventh from seventeen starts and all the way through he's been driven by stable driver Brent Barclay.  "Brent's done a big job with this horse by just improving his attitude. He's been the key to his success. I can't thank him enough. But he's got a long way to go yet. He's got a lot of natural ability but we just have to pipe it. He's been pretty lucky because Brent's been driving him without knocking him around. He's a horse that needs that too."  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing    

There's no doubt the Ryal Bush harness racing trainer Brett Gray will get a personal training best this season. The only question is whether he can hang onto his lead in the Southland Trainers Premiership. He geared up two feature race winners yesterday (Saturday) at the Invercargill Harness Racing Clubs meeting on the grass at Ascot Park. The well bred Convair Hustler was the first of his two winners in the $12,000 Invercargill Licensing Trust Nuggets Final. Driver Dexter Dunn sat parked with the Mach Three gelding for a good part of the 2050 metre race before getting cover from Duke of Wellington from the 800 metres. Duke of Wellington looked to have his rivals covered but Dunn drove Convair Hustler off his back on the inside to score by half a head. The time of 2-37.6 was the fastest of the day for 2050 metres. Convair Hustler (6) and Dexter Dunn winning from Duke Of Wellington (8)  - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win qualifies Convair Hustler for the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland Trotting Clubs meeting this Saturday but Gray is not sure whether he'll line up. "I don't know how he'll back up being so close. I'll see how he pulls up and have a talk to the owners. He did disappoint me over the mile the other day (when he backed up) but he's a Mach Three so a wee bit in and out," Gray said after the win. Convair Hustler, which is raced by the Baynes Racing Syndicate, is named after the Convair B-58 Hustler plane, the first operational jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. I suspect he was named by John Baynes, a keen aviator whose wife Penny is one half of the Baynes Racing Syndicate with her brother in-law Kenny. None of the winning owners were on course today with Penny reported to be in Whitianga. Young Conqueror, also trained by Gray won the next race - the ILT Foundation Autumn Cup. Starting off the 10 metre handicap, the Mach Three four year old settled ninth for driver Brent Barclay. With 600 metres to run Young Conqueror was fourth last with plenty of work to do. He tracked Shortys Mate into the race then came home with the good stayers run to beat Shortys Mate by a neck with another length back to Pass The Speights. It was the geldings fifth win in only nineteen starts and qualifies him for the bMac Sheetmetal 2005 Limited Southland Country Cups Final to be held on Diamonds Day at the end of April. Other leading candidates for the series final are; Gotta Del, Royal Bengal, Shortys Mate, The Big Boss, Bevan's Cullen and Deliska.  The two wins yesterday put Gray on twenty five wins for the season - six wins clear of his nearest rival Nathan Williamson. From a PB prospective for the last two seasons he's trained twenty six winners.  Gray's set to line up some of his big guns at this Saturday's Northern Southland meeting including Smokey Mac and Jen Jaccka who will race in the Group Three Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights. "Zealand Star will line up in the Super Nuggets Final. He went really good at the workouts on Friday. I'm really happy with him at the moment."  Other features on the card at the meeting are the $20,000 Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks, the $25,000 Group Three Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Two Year Old Fillies Mobile Pace and the Group Three Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Trotting Cup worth $40,000. Meanwhile grass racing has helped turn the corner for the Hamish Hunter trained Tiziano. Up until the beginning of February her form had been average at best, but since grass track racing became an option for the four year old Big Jim mare she's regained form. Another grass track victory for Tiziano and Matty Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart. A fourth at Gore indicated she had a liking for the surface. That was followed up by a win at Oamaru, a third at Waikouaiti at the end of last month and another win yesterday at Invercargill.    Bruce Stewart  Southland Harness

Quality trotter Smokey Mac took the next step when he dealt to a very good field of R66 and faster trotters at Ascot Park today (Saturday). He's been the trotting find of the Southland season so far and continues to impress his Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray. “I actually think he’s turned a corner. At Roxburgh he blew a bit and he just wasn’t right. He had a cut on his leg. I thought we’d just take him home and take him to the workouts. But we kept him at home to keep him settled. In the past ten days he’s gone forward and stopped blowing.” The plan worked and after leading, then handing up to War Machine, he came up the passing lane for driver Brent Barclay to beat Alderbeck and War Machine. “He’s better from behind. He won a nice race at Winton coming from last. He’s got speed and he’s one of those horses you’ve got to go with. It was just another genuious Brent drive.” The four year old gelding, which is owned by John and Pam MacLeod of Winton, is still a work in progress says Gray. "He’s got a few tricks up his sleeve but they’re getting less.” Smokey Mac is named after John MacLeod whose nickname is Smokey. "Pam never told me about the name until it came through," said John. Smokey Mac is out of the Armbro Invasion mare Uncatchable and her pedigree goes back to a breed that Doug McCormick has had plenty of success with.  "We bought the mare with a foal at foot online in a standardbred auction. She was with Ross Hope. She had The Badger at foot. We put her in foal to Thanksgiving again and got Smokey Mac." The MacLeods are enjoying the success Smokey Mac is having. Today's win was his fourth this season from just seven starts. "It's absolutely amazing." Winning connections and sponsors. Pam and John MacLeod far right - Photo Bruce Stewart Gray says he hasn't looked too far ahead in setting out a programme for the four year old.  “We’re just going to have to place him, be wary and pick good races for him. He’s not a week in week out racehorse," he said.  Earlier in the day Gray also won with the Charlie and Ailsa Smaill owned Elva Jaccka, taking out the 2700 metre stand event by four and a half lengths. Elva Jaccka cruising down to the line for Brent Barclay - Photo Bruce Stewart.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing Smokey Mac winning at Ascot Park

Well Said gelding Son Of Lana gave a big group of owners a thrill at Ascot Park today(Monday) when he easily won his first race on his home track. The Murray Brown trained three year old is owned by the Kiwi Connection Syndicate, Fairsay Syndicate and a handful of other individual owners including regular stable clients Murray Heath, Bevan Brown and Barry Croft. "He had a start as a two year old and broke a couple of times. In his last two starts we've got him. He was perfect last week and good again today. Scotty Ramsay (stable foreman) got the Onslow Street Squash Club involved while Arty (Arty Shirley) got together members of the Waikiwi Rugby Club," said Brown. In today's race Son Of Lana settled back for driver Brent Barclay. He improved wide with just over a lap to run to sit parked. He took the lead just before turning in and beat a late charging Archman by a length and three quarters.   Returning to the birdcage with driver Brent Barclay                   - Photo Bruce Stewart He is out of the In The Pocket mare Long Live Lana which won twice for Paul Burrows. As a broodmare her first foal Delightful Lana won seven races in New Zealand and also campaigned in Australia where she had a number of group placings. Her best performance was running third in the Group One NSW Oaks won by Southland owned filly Fight For Glory which ran a World Record time of 2-50.3 for the 2400 metre mobile. Son Of Lana is Long Live Lana's third foal.  "He seems quite sensible from the stand so a one win stand may suit him."  Winning owners    -     Photo Bruce Stewart Son Of Lana was purchased by Dave and Catrina Gordon for $27,000 at the 2016 Sale of the Stars sale. His name then was Marlboroman. The Gordon's have both since passed away and Catrina offered the horse for lease to the large group of owners last season. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Son Of Lana winning at Ascot Park  

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  

Well Said colt Nota Bene Denario showed his versatility when he won at Ascot Park today (Saturday). The three year old, which had led all the way at Wyndham on November 19th, came off a nice early sit before driver Brent Barclay took him round to the front with a lap to run. "I think he can race from pretty much anywhere. They backed off the pace so I thought because they were going that slow that I'd better get around them. I think he probably knocks off a bit in front," said Barclay. Nota Bene Denario stayed down in the south at Brett Gray'sstable after his win at Wyndham and went to the Winton Workouts last Friday where he was driven from behind. He won his heat impressively running his last 800 metres in better that 54 seconds.  "He's a very very fast horse if you saw his run at the Winton Workouts. He's got wheels," said Gray. Flying - Nota Bene Denario and Brent Barclay        - Photo Bruce Stewart. The colt, which was bought by Robert and Sharyn Symon and placed in Terry and Glenys Chmiel's stable, has now won two of his three starts and Gray presumes he will return home to the Chmiel's Leeston stable.  Meanwhile junior driver Ellie Barron knocked off another of her early season targets when she won on her grandfather's horse Mass Invasion today. She had her first win on Somejoy, part-owned and trained by her father Clark, and this is another win for the family. Ellie Barron and Mass Invasion                           - Photo Bruce Stewart. The seven year old Muscle Mass mare owned by Owen Crooks ran down pacemaker Grace O'Malley. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing

Age proved no barrier at Ascot Park today. Previous Southland Harness Racing Secretary Peter Burns and his wife Rewa share in the ownership of Ever Ready with their daughter Julie Kilkelly and today the Falcon Seelster gelding rocked punters in the first race winning at odds of 52-1. From eight starts the horse's best placing prior to yesterday had been a fourth for Tisbury trainer Kirstin Barclay. The four year old is out of Abba Bromac which Julie raced with her husband Tom. Abba Bromac was bred by Bob McArdle of Bromac Lodge.   “Bob was a friend of Peter's from years ago and he came down and sold them Ever Ready. We raced his half-sister (Ashira Bromac). He’s a one speed type of horse and Kirstin did the job today. Peter was shaking (with excitement),” said Tom. Ever Ready and Kirstin Barclay beating a game Razcal Alley - Photo Bruce Stewart.  Later in the day Night March, a seven year old by Courage Under Fire, won his third race for veteran Gore trainer Maurice Kerr. It was the horse's seventy fifth start and he's been a consistent pacer all through his five seasons of racing.  “He’s been a good little horse. We bred him and he’s been here all his life. I do it just as a hobby now. I could have sold him but decided not to,“ said Kerr who drove the horse for three starts prior to retiring at the end of the 2014 season.  “I’ve always stuck to the local drivers like Robin Swain and Brent Barclay," he said. Night March (11) and Brad Williamson winning at Ascot Park today - Photo Bruce Stewart Kerr began driving in the late 1960s for his father Davey Kerr, then started training in his own right in 1978. He's trained over 200 winners in that time but has scaled down over the years.  “I’m working four horses. There’s a couple of three year olds that might be alright next year. They haven’t been off the place yet. It’s enough to keep me going.” Lyndon Bond, son of Jimmy Bond who was Maurice Kerr's old driving buddy, also produced a winner on the Invercargill card today when Martin McGuinness, another son of Falcon Seelster, won the second Invitation Drivers race in the hands of Sam Ottley. Bred by the Grice brothers, he's been a model of consistency throughout his sixty starts and todays win was his fifth. “He’s an awesome wee horse to have. He’s nothing brilliant but if he gets the right run he does the job," said Bond. The six year old is raced by a group of mates and their wives who go by the In Touch Syndicate. All are from Mataura where Bond trains. When asked who makes up the syndicate Bond said "Snow Swain - he’s the supervisor on the Mutton Slaughter chain. He’s a bit of a hard case and follows the horses everywhere. He’ll be at the Mataura pub – The Zoo. Others in the group are my wife, Peter Hazlemore and Mike Cain and their wives. The Cains were the only ones here today.” From barrier two on the second row Ottley placed Martin McGuinness fifth early as McKenzie Mara and Canardly Remember went to war up front. "They were going hard which was his go."  Martin McGuinness ended up five back on the inside. Ottley managed to get him off the running line before the 600 metres but had plenty of work to do with most of the field in front of her. He was starting to run on, got a nice drag into the run home on the back of Lorretta Franco before charging through late to beat Grace Burns by a neck.  Martin McGuinness and Sam Ottley - Photo Bruce Stewart. “It was penalty free today. He’s won five races so he’s been a neat wee horse for the syndicate.” The win capped off a great day for the Bond and Kerr families with both horses travelling to the track in the same truck. “Maurice and Dad were masters and they’ve been together all the way through. The horses travelled to the races together today. There were only two horses on the truck and they both won. My horse can get a bit cantankerous on the float and he’ll kick with another horse in beside him. Maurice will be smiling and Dad will be sitting at home with a grin and a half on.” Although not on track Lyndon said his father would be at home getting a thrill out of both horses winning. Bond retired from race driving in 2014 after a bad smash at Wyndham. “He has his ups and downs but he’s getting out of bed and bouncing around doing the yards in the morning and the jog team so he’s still full on. He does a great job.” Lyndon says Martin McGuinness's next start will be at Oamaru on the grass. "He loves the grass."  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

"He's pretty green as you can see but he's got a motor," were Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray's words in describing Mr Kiwi who won on debut at Wyndham today. Gray says win loss or draw, today the horse was always going to be turned out and he'll go to part-owner Ben Calder's Grinaldi Lodge tomorrow morning. "He taken a bit to click onto the racing game. We'll give him a good month off and we'll go again. I think he's six months away so we'll attack later in the season. We've got some nice races like the Supremacy but we'll just play the cautious game and hopefully it'll reward us." Prior to today's debut Mr Kiwi had been to seven workouts - all at Winton, winning five including his last two. Gray and regular driver Brent Barclay have played the patience card all the way through knowing that the half  brother to the talented Mr Mojito was worth waiting for.  Mr Kiwi after winning at Wyndham                        Photo Bruce Stewart "I think in time he could be quite a nice horse. I think you just have to wait for the American Ideals. In today's race Mr Kiwi settled in the rear division in a strung out field. When he got in to the three wide running line with just under a lap to run driver Nathan Williamson had to give him a reminder with the whip to keep his mind on the job.  "He also got a bit of a check so he did pretty well on debut. He's come from last down the back so he's gone bloody good. Nathan had never driven him before and we told him he was a trick to drive. Brent gave him instructions on how to drive the horse. Nathan thought that was a bit weird,but Brent was right on the money. Brent told him (Williamson) that you've always got to be on his case because you might think that he's flat as a biscuit but there's always something left."  Mr Kiwi (12) beating Matai Will (1) and James Butt (10)                  - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning margin was a length from rank outsider Matai Will.  Gray's wife Gina has a share in Mr Kiwi along with breeders Ben and Karen Calder and Earl Shannon and his partner Mrs J Banjnoczi - Shannon.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Smokey Mac is starting to string together a good formline but trainer Brett Gray isn't looking too far ahead with the promising trotter. In yesterday's main trotting race at Gore driver Brent Barclay took the son of Thanksgiving to the lead from the 10 metre mark and made the backmarkers Poppymalda (40 metres), Alderbeck (50 metres) and Father Christmas (40 metres) work hard. The handicap proved too much for this trio with Smokey Mac holding on to win by a length and a quarter from Poppymalda with a nose back to a late finishing Alderbeck in third. "With the draw and with the backmarkers you want to keep them working a bit so we took him to the front. But he's got a great sprint from in behind," said trainer Brett Gray.  Smokey Mac is out of the Armbro Invasion mare Uncatchable and is closely related to Charlie Wood and Perfect du Jour both of which won seven races. He's owned by John and Pam Macleod from Winton who also him and Gray says he's been a bit of a project. "He's just one of those horses. He's always had ability but you just don't know which way he's going to go. So the jury is out at the moment. It'll really be interesting how good he goes when he has to really dig deep. But he does keep on surprising me."  And the stable have sorted out what works best for Smokey Mac particularly on race days.  "As long as his attitude doesn't pull him up I think he'll be okay. We do work him on race day morning and we've got permission to take him around to the start late, it's really working well at the moment. Every time he races now he relaxes and drops the bit. At home he just ambles round and doesn't work that great by himself but if you take a stick with you he'll be away, so he's a bit of a character. He's still only learning but he's really made some progress this year."   Later in the programme Erin Jaccka returned to the winners circle when she held on by a neck to beat Jabali. It was the five year old mare's third win from eighteen starts and Gray says he was pleased to see her win yesterday on the rain affected track.  "Maybe with the wet track she appreciated it a bit more. I was a bit worried about the track though, as she can jump out of her gear." Erin Jaccka looked very smart as a three year old winning a mile race at Winton in what was then a track and Southland record time of 1-53.9, but she hasn't built on that form. "We suspect it was a joint issue (that was affecting her) but we haven't really got to the bottom of it. We work on her knees a bit. We do give her treatment for arthritis by injecting her in the muscle which covers all the joints." Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Southland's leading trainer from last season Brett Gray, was back training winners at Winton today. Four year old mare Ideal Conquest capped off solid maiden form by leading all the way to win the Terror To Love At Pinelea Farm Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace.  She was bought by Winton Plumber Marty Fairbairn at the 2015 Australian Classic Yearling Sale when offered by Woodlands Stud on behalf of Charlie Roberts.   "I thought she was sold. I was talking to Tony Barron and said to him - gee that was a cheap horse. A guy overheard me and told me the horse hadn't sold and would I help him out. The reserve was $5,000. I said give me a minute. I shot outside and rang Robert Symon. He's the man with all the money. 'Robert Butterworth' I call him. We bought her and decided that the girls (wives) would own her (Sharon Symon and Daphne Fairbairn). I took her home and the first thing she did was kick a horse I'd paid quite a bit more for. We discovered that you couldn't get near her so that's why she was a $5,000 purchase," Gray said. Ideal Conquest is by American Ideal out of the one win In The Pocket mare Pocket Conquest. Her dam is the smart seventeen win mare Victor Supreme. Her winning time over the 1609 metres today was 1-56.9 and she won by three lengths. She was driven by regular pilot Brent Barclay.  Ideal Conquest winning easily "She's such a big mare we wondered whether a mile was suitable. We were going to be looking for standing starts but she's got a bit of an attitude," added Fairbairn. Some thought will be given now, to whether she'll be set for the Southern Belle Speed Series or take on more staying tests.  "I haven't worked that out yet. We'll see what the owners think. We've just got to go with her rather than plan," said trainer Brett Gray.  The Gray trained trotter Smokey Mac was sensational when he won Race Three. The four year old Monarchy gelding was slow to go and settled well off the pace early. He was second to last of the main bunch with a lap to run. At the 400 metre mark he skipped for a few strides when following a retreating Our Budd and was taken back to last. As the field opened driver Brent Barclay wove a path through the middle of the field and he stormed home to beat pacemaker Scarlet Lane easily by a length and a half.   Smokey Mac winning "He was unbelievable. He had a wee skip and still won. He's perfect around the place but when he gets to the races he gets a bit hypo. We've had a couple of workouts but we've been careful with him because he can over race. He's got the ability but it's his attitude we have to work on," said Gray about the talented squaregaiter.  "We just work him in the morning on the day of the races and that takes a wee bit of the sting out of him and try to take him onto the track as late as possible."  Meanwhile Gray also won both the days qualifying heats. The well bred Mr Kiwi, which is a half brother by American Ideal to Mr Mojito, won his mobile heat in 3-05.3.  "He's pretty green. He's got a bit of ability but he just has to switch into it. I'll look to freshen him up." The Ryal Bush trainer's second winner was Live Or Die entire The Heart Rulz. He's owned by loyal owner Caroline Pannett. "She's getting excited and we're all happy for her. She's got a nice horse." He's out of the three win Master Mood mare Nevalookbak.  Bruce Stewart Southern Harness Racing

Trainer Peter Hunter may be confined to the kitchen for a while, making his favourite bangers and mash, and because of the way his team is going on the race track at the moment he's afraid he may have to stay there. The Ryal Bush harness racing trainer has been sidelined after being concussed in a nasty smash on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park at the end of last month. Since then his wife Jo has been doing most of the hands on work with the team, and in the last two weeks the stable has picked up three wins.   “They told me to take it quietly and said I’d get tired, and I do. The teams going quite good without me so I’d better stay put. I like bangers and mash and can cook spuds," he told me after Bold Ruler won his second race at the Invercargill meeting today (Saturday). It seems that the Changeover gelding, which is owned by Hunter's brother in law Brendon McIntyre and Bill Moffatt has been around forever. Today's was his sixty fifth start. His last win was on this track at this meeting two years ago. Brent Barclay, Bold Ruler, Jo Hunter and Brendon McIntyre       - Photo Bruce Stewart. “He’s a bit different – precious. He had a bit of ability when he was young but wasn’t strong enough to run young. He qualified behind Pulp Fiction. His three year old season was a washout, he just wasn’t strong enough. He’d just gone the odd good race to keep you interested. This year he’s been really good.” Bold Ruler was on warning after refusing to go with the mobile arm at Winton last weekend resulting in driver Brent Barclay pulling him out of that race. “He never races good at Winton. The starting point throws him a bit because it’s near the gate. With those sorts of things he plays on it and he over thinks things. Brent didn’t pull the plugs on him today. He couldn’t believe how different he was (in mood) from last week.” Bold Ruler and Barclay ended up slotting into the one one. He managed to get on to the back of Magnetic Watch inside the last 800 metres. He was carted up by that horse until the field straightened and he came resolutely down the middle of the track to beat pacemaker Wayward Roc by a length. Bold Ruler and Brent Barclay winning at Ascot Park       - Photo Bruce Stewart But not happy with just winning, the horse carried on under a tight hold for another lap before Barclay was able to point him in the direction of the birdcage.  “That’s him showing off.” The Hunters and Bold Ruler's owners have had to be patient with the five year old which has a few tricks.  “He races a bit more kindly. He's not so revy out there and he’s quite nice to train now. He never used to be. Pull down blinds make a difference to him. They just sort of bluff him. I wouldn't play cards with him, he’d be quite good at it I’d imagine.” Hunter also says he's a bit bossy around the stables and needs to be watched. “I’ve got to be careful (with who he’s paddocked with) because he beats them up. He’s by himself at the moment because he beat up the last one.” Bold Ruler was purchased at the 2013 Sale of the Stars for $19,000 when he was offered by Regal Lodge Stud. He's closely related to Bogan Fella. His lifetime earnings are now over $25,000. Later in the programme Rakarover owned by loyal stable client Brendon Fahy cleared maiden ranks when he beat the favourite The Night Hawk by a length. It was the three year old's first start in six weeks. Prior to today's win he'd run second twice and third four times.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

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