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In his debut run, Jaccka Cooper provided a change of luck for owners Charlie and Alisa Smaill. The Smaills have had a string of placings recently with horses they own and yesterday’s win was welcomed by the couple who were on course to see the win. Jaccka Cooper is out of Art Major mare Comeon Jaccka which won a race for Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adams. “She had a bit of speed but didn’t carry on with it,” Charlie said. Comeon Jaccka is out of Comeon Franco which the Smaills purchased at a Wayne Francis sale in the mid 2000s. Comeon Jaccka was by Holmes Hanover out of Cherubic. Jaccka Cooper has taken a bit of time to organise but appears to be getting the hang of the racing game. “He looked quite nice as a three year old and I sent him down to Brett’s but his head didn’t grow with his body. He got upset with grit so we brought him home and turned him out.” In yesterday’s maiden race Jaccka Copper lead and had to withstand constant pressure throughout the run but he had enough resolve to hang on to win by a neck from Sentry which came up the passing lane. The A Rocknroll Dance gelding has been to the fore at trials and workouts. “He’s had four preparation runs and he’s won the lot.” Smaill who’s held a trainers licence off and on over the years, still like to be hands on at his Riversdale property. “Usually I do about a month with them before they go to Brett’s. I have a lady who’s worked for me for years. We get them up and running and reasonably fit.” Smaill mainly breeds trotters these days and particularly likes Janine Jaccka’s three year old colt Jaccka John. “I quite like him. I also have a Father Patrick that’s a brother to Jasmine Jaccka. He’s a bit headstrong but I quite like him too.” Meanwhile Paul Andrews trained his first winner when Tad Lincoln won his maiden race at Ascot Park. The six year old Sir Lincoln gelding out of Lady Writer was bred by John Earl and Tom Kilkelly. Earl trained him initially, then Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis had him for a number of starts. He also had a short stint for Adrian Wohlers before Andrews took him on in June of this year. He’s had fifteen starts for Andrews and at times has looked as though he could win another race. Andrews has held a license since 1993 and prior to this win has taken horses to the races 147 times. From gate four driver Mark Hurrell pushed Tad Lincoln forward but was left parked for the first lap before Marika gave him cover. At the 300 Hurrell pulled the gelding out and he came down the middle of the track to win by two lengths from Man I’m Good. Tad Lincoln was at odds of 28 to 1.   Bruce Stewart

Lex and Heather Williams have built a movie theatre, run an opera house, bred champion sheep, bought a yearling that appeared twice in the sales ring then went on to win a million dollars, and owned a mare that’s left foals that have collectively won over one hundred races. A lot of achievements in their fifty years of married life. And looking at the racing calendar both on and off the track there are more possibilities in store in the next few months. With the Harness Awards coming up shortly, two horses bred by the Williams – Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride, have been nominated for the Three Year Old Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year. Whilst One Apollo, also bred by the couple, is a nomination for Four Year Old Trotting Entire or Gelding of the Year. The Williams have shares in both Cracker Hill and One Apollo. Cornerstone to the couples breeding operation are trotting mare One Over Kenny and In The Pocket pacing matron, Fleet’s Pocket. Between them they have left the winners of one hundred and fifty four races with Fleet’s Pocket accounting for one hundred and seven of those. Most of their horses have the words ‘One’ or ‘Flying’ in them. Neither Lex nor Heather came from a racing background but Lex, who was born in Lawrence, spent a bit of time at Forbury Park. “My father (Tom) was a great gambler and a regular at Forbury Park. We used to go with him all the time. He never owned a horse but he loved his trotting.” And keen to impress Heather, Lex choose a night at the trots as a starting point for their relationship. “Heather and I had our first date at Forbury about fifty years ago. I remember telling her that one day I would own a horse.” In those days pacers like Intrepid, Garcon Roux, Stella Frost, Chequer Board and Manaroa were racing at Forbury. The trotters included Johnny Fling, Philemon, Precocious and Tony Bear. Married in 1970 Lex and Heather initially farmed at Lawrence before moving to Waimate where they spent thirty seven years running a stud sheep and beef farm. Originally 600 acres, the farm was reduced down to 140 acres when the Williams sold to an expanding dairy industry. “The lot that was left had a lot of hills on it and I think it was a great thing for developing yearlings. We bred South Suffolk and Texel sheep and won the National Lamb Competition in 1992 with three cross bred lambs from our own stud. Conformation was my thing. I did a lot of eye muscle measuring. The yield that they gave, blew the others out of the water. The meat to bone ratio was way higher they anyone else. That’s what helped me when I was buying horses. I was a great one on the muscling.” In 2002 they went to the yearling sales and bought Fleet’s Pocket and Galleons Memory (Albert Albert – Galleons Beauty). Galleons Memory qualified for Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson but never raced. She was from the same family as Chokin while Fleet’s Pocket trained by Tim Butt raced four times for a best placing of fifth at Greymouth. “We mated her as a three year old.” Of her first fifteen foals two year old and older, twelve have qualified with eleven winning races. Her first foal by Badlands Hanover ran four seconds in New Zealand before winning four races in Australia and that started her stunning career as a broodmare, in which she’s left the winners of 107 races. Her biggest winner has been Mighty Flying Thomas which won twenty four races. Her first twelve foals have qualified and nine have won races. Other mares that I can recall to leave winners of over one hundred races are: Loyal Trick (128), Belladonna (115), and Significant (104). The following year Lex and Heather went back to the sales and bought One Over Kenny under interesting circumstances. “We wanted to buy a trotter that year. Phil Williamson sorted One Over Kenny out – $20,000 was our budget. We got to twenty and the auctioneer said he’d take a half ($500) but he took a $1,000 from the next bidder. When the sales staff went to get the buyer’s signature he said oh no it was only twenty and a half.” The auctioneer then decided to bring the yearling back into the ring three lots later. “Heather said ‘why you don’t put in another bid.’ The other guy went to twenty and half and I went to twenty one. He said bugger you and pulled out and they knocked her down to me. We’ve spoken to the guy a few times since. It was his trainer that was more gutted about it.” One Over Kenny had a brilliant career as a race horse. Not only did she win thirty two races and won over a million dollars she was also named New Zealand Three Year Old Trotting Filly of the Year in the 2004/2005 season and Five Year Old and Older Trotting Mare of the Year in 2006/2007 and again in 2008/2009. She won seventeen Group or Listed races. In New Zealand she won nineteen races for Phil Williamson and seven for Tony Herlihy. Fifteen of her twenty six wins were at Alexandra Park. She won the Rowe Cup twice – in 2007 and 2009. One Over Kenny also won the six races in Australia winning just shy of a quarter of a million dollars there. One Over Kenny in action                                      – Photo Race Images Her biggest win was in the Group One Australasian Trotters Championship but Williams has a special spot for the VHRC The Holmfield which she won as a three year old in 2005. Her son One Over Da Moon won the same race in 2014. “I’d love to go back for The Holmfield with another one from the family. Timing hasn’t worked out at this stage,” Lex says. In recent years the Williams have bought into some of the best New Zealand trotting lines in purchasing Petite Sunset, Anna Castleton, Leithe Ellen and Landora’s Pearl. “I love my trotting so I said I’d like a mare out of the best families in the country. The trotters have a natural gait which appeals to me more than the pacer.” Petite Sunset which died in 2013 was a Sundon daughter of thirty five race winning mare Pride of Petite who won $811,816. Her dam was globetrotting mare Petite Evander. She won twenty one races in New Zealand and twenty six in America where she won $713,923. She also raced successfully in Europe. Lex and Heather bred two foals out of Petite Sunset including Petite One which won seven races for Greg and Nina Hope. She was bought by Taffy Limited in 2018. Petite One winning at Addington                                     – Photo Race Images Anna Castleton bred by the late Lachie Marshall is also from one of the best trotting families. Her third dam Castleton’s Queen left Sir Castleton (44 wins) and 1975 Interdominion Trotting Champion Castleton’s Pride (11 wins).  The Williams bred eight foals out of the mare before she died in 2018. Her best foal was her last, One Apollo. Leithe Ellen by Muscle Yankee, is a half-sister to twenty eight race winner The Fiery Ginga. The Williams bred a number of foals out of Leithe Ellen without too much success before selling her two years ago. Leithe Ellen’s three year old daughter Light Of Da Moon has had one start for Robbie Holmes. Landora’s Pearl by Earl was another well bred mare the Williams bought and bred from. She’s a granddaughter of Landora’s Pride the winner of thirty four races including the 1987 Rowe Cup and 1988 Dominion Handicap. Landora’s Pearl’s best winner in New Zealand so far has been Da Moon’s Mission which has won two races for Otago trainer Graeme Anderson. Landora’s Pearl is now owned by the estate of CJ Roberts. The Williams started taking yearlings to the sales in 2005 and as a breeder Lex is particularly interested in the dam side of pedigrees. “Most stallions are well bred. The maternal lines of the stallion and your own mare are important. When you look at the Angus Hall breed and his dam Amour Angus it’s absolutely staggering. She must have been the greatest mare ever.” As a yearling Cracker Hill went through the sales ring in 2018 but failed to reach his reserve. “We ended by syndicating him and we got Gary Preston to look after the group because I was looking after six other syndicates at that stage.” Trained by Brad Williamson he’s been one of the rising stars in the trotting gait and he has a couple of big assignments coming up next month in Auckland – the $85,000 Listed PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sales Three Year Old Trot on the 9th October and the $50,000 Group Two Haras des Trotteurs Sires Stakes Three Year Old Championship on the 23rd October. Cracker Hill                                                     – Photo Bruce Stewart Outside of Cracker Hill the couple have some other promising types. They bred One Apollo and also retained a share in the talented trotter. He’s one of the first foals by their stallion One Over Da Moon (Majestic Son – One Over Kenny). One Apollo has won seven races from just twenty eight starts including the Group Three Four and Five Year Old Trotting Championship at Addington last season. He’s trained by Brent White. “Being by our own stallion there’s a special attraction to him. Brent’s always had a very high opinion of him. He’s tried to look after him because he’s aiming at the Dominion this year.” Another trotter with White is Samanthas Moon. She’s also by One Over Da Moon out of Eyrewell Pegasus. “Brent’s very upbeat about her. We borrowed the mare. He’s excited about her but he said he’ll just have to take his time and that we won’t see her until Christmas.” Although they have sold Juneamy Castleton the dam of Cracker Hill, they’ve retained one of her daughters in Oneamy Vici who is due to have her first foal. By Orlando Vici, she qualified at Rangiora for trainer Robbie Holmes but never raced. “She was going to be a nice racehorse but got injured. She’s having her first foal to One Over Da Moon. They’re closely related because Juneamy Castleton is by Majestic Son and so is One Over Da Moon. I used to do that type of breeding when I was breeding sheep dogs. We called it two by two. It’s going to be interesting. It’s as close as you want to get.” At stud One Over Da Moon has left seventeen foals. Four have qualified with One Apollo (7) and Da Moon’s Mission (2) being his first two winners. Although initially hesitant around horses particularly young stock, Heather soon found a way of managing the youngsters that works for her. “She’s a good stock lady. She was a good trainer of dogs and became very very good at handling the foals. In the last few years we never had to break them because they were so quiet. She said there’s got to be an easier way than tying them up and having flank ropes on them so she read the Horse Whispers books. You have to start on them (the foals) when they’re very young. It became a trust thing between her and the foals. We got a lot of accolades from the trainers who said our horses were so easy to break in.” Outside of racing the couple were also in the entertainment game for sixteen years. “We ran a movie theatre for the Waimate community for five years and leased the Opera House in Oamaru for ten years before building a three cinema complex in Oamaru which we managed for two to three years.” Lex said it was a big part of the couple’s life and provided them with some entertaining moments. “We managed all the live shows that travelled through, acts like Charlie Pride and Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson. I got a licence when he (Wilson) was there and I sold 800 cans of Speights. There were 400 people at the concert. Kevin liked it when they were enjoying themselves. It took us all day to clean up the next day.” On the racing administration front Lex was President for the Waimate Trotting Club for ten years and filled in as Chairman of Forbury Park for a short period. He plans to get back into racing administration in the future. The couple have three sons; Stacey and Nigel who reside in Western Australia and Bradley who farms at Milburn just north of Milton. All three have a share in the One Over Da Skye’s (Majestic Son – One Over Kenny) yet to be born foal by Love You. One Over The Skye won four races for Greg and Nina Hope. “When we sell that at the sales they’ll be there to get their share (laughter).” These days the William’s mares are spread around stud farms in the south and their yearlings are prepared at Winton by Julie Baynes. She’s currently preparing a half-brother to Ultimate Stride by Majestic Son and an Art Major colt out of Fleet’s Pocket. With a new house that’s just weeks away from being lived in overlooking Ocean View Beach I suspect there’s already space allocated for the many racing photos the couple have collected over the years and extra room for those that are still to come. Reminiscing over racing photos and watching the sea roll in has got to be the prefect mix. The Williams mares and racing team Mares: One Over Kenny (Sundon – Frances Jay Bee) – in foal to En Solitaire Fleet’s Pocket (In the Pocket – Fleet Vance) – in foal to Sweet Lou One Over Da Stars (Love You – One Over Kenny) – Andover Hall One Over Da Skye (Majestic Son – One Over Kenny) – Love You Muscle Girl (Muscle Hill – Anreca Hest) – One Over Da Moon Oneamy Vici (Orlando Vici – Juneamy Castleton) – One Over Da Moon A Glass Of Tanqueray (Raffaello Ambrosia – Springfield Tiz) – One Over Da Moon Racing Team: One Apollo (Five Year Old Gelding by One Over Da Moon out of Anna Castleton) Cracker Hill (Four Year Old Gelding by Muscle Hill out of Juneamy Castleton) One Over Da Son (Five Year Old Gelding by Muscle Hill out of One Over Kenny) Da Moons Mission (Five Year Old Gelding by One Over Da Moon out of Landora’s Pride) Samantha’s Moon (Three Year Old Filly by One Over Da Moon out of Eyrewell Pegasus) Bev K’s One (Four Year Old mare by Love You out of Petite One) Flying Heathers One (Three Year Old Bettor’s Delight Filly out of Fleet’s Pocket) One Over All (Three Year Old Angus Hall gelding out of One Over Kenny) Light Of Da Moon (Three Year Old Filly by One Over Da Moon out of Leithe Ellen) You Fly With Me (Three Year Old Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Flying With Mrs Williams) Gotta Elect Bill (Two Year old Auckland Reactor colt out of Gotta Elect Neil)   Bruce Stewart

Pembrook Playboys win today has cemented trainer Nathan Williamson’s desire to race in the time honoured Hannon Memorial at Oamaru in ten days times. The Bettor’s Delight colt began well and settled four back on the inside as Canterbury visitor Memphis Tennessee made the early pace. With 1000 metres to run Williamson came off the inside to sit parked. Once balanced, Pembrook Playboy let down nicely with a powerful sprint to win easing down. Williamson had time to look over his shoulder to see that the opposition was well and truly covered. The winning margin was a length and three quarters with Pembrook Play running the 2400 metres post to post in 3-03.8 with the last 800 metres in 56.5. “He felt comfortable all the way,” said his trainer driver. Owned by Chris Alcock of Invercargill Pembrook Playboy last raced at Wyndham in March and came into today’s pacing feature with a trial and a workout under his belt. “We’re rapt with that first up. He only had two soft trials but I’ve been pretty happy with the way he went and has trained on since.” It was Pembrook Playboys fifth win from just ten starts. Williamson realised his potential early and looked after him last season knowing he’d develop into a nice four year old. “I just wanted to be sure he had a good break and he’s developed in that time.” Of the beaten runners, Memphis Tennessee was brave, running second. He’s been away from racing for nearly seven months, while third place getter Spirit Of St Louis lost lengths at the start and didn’t appear to quicken on the slushy track as well as he probably can. U May Cullect finished last, eight lengths from the winner, but he should be better for the run.   Bruce Stewart

Rookie trainer Maria Murrell comes from a thoroughbred racing and equestrian background but today at Winton she trained her first Standardbred winner when Bardot won a fillies and mares race. Murrell worked for the late Kelly Thompson for a number of years and had a few race day rides. She was also the original owner and operator of the popular Make N Bake bakery in partnership with her sister Angela. She took on another venture when last season she became a licensed trainer, after Bardot was sent south by Canterbury trained Brendon ‘Bennie’ Hill. “She’s had problems with ulcers, was a bit nervy and lost a lot of condition so Bennie thought the Southland grass would be good for her,” Murrell said. Bardot looked really promising when winning her first start as a three year old in the Listed Harness 5000 in February 2018 at Addington. Murrell, who lives at Mona Bush, has used both Young Quinn Raceway and Ascot Park to train Bardot. “She’s been a bit nervous but is settling down. It’s been a bit of a learning curve and a bit different for me. There’s a lot more gear. Gordon Lee, who had less horses to work, showed me how to put on the hopples and things. He’s been really good.” Bardot is owned by Murrell, her ‘stable foreman’ Andrew Patterson, Bruce Martin and John Higgins. Higgins raced her dam Hemisphere which won three races, two as a two year old including the Group Three Nevele R Stakes at the Cheviot meeting. Andrew Patterson, Maria Murrell, Bardot and Brent Barclay – Photo Bruce Stewart. “We tried to get her (Hemisphere) in foal to Christian Cullen but she wouldn’t take so we sent her to Stunin Cullen.” Unfortunately Higgins hasn’t had much luck in breeding from the daughter of Badlands Hanover. Two of her foals have died, while in 2019 she didn’t get in foal to Sweet Lou. Her only other foal Hepburn – a five year old Bettor’s Delight mare qualified recently and has had one start for Murrell.   Bruce Stewart

A raising of the whip when Wattlebank Lass won at Ascot Park today acknowledged the recent sad passing of Barbara Fahy, wife of well-known Southland breeder and owner Brendan Fahy. “She was a loyal supporter of the Barrons, Milnes and Hunters and I’ve trained for her and Brendan for twenty odd years. She and Brendan were our first clients and it was just something pretty special for us. She was a lovely lady,” said Wattlebank Lass’s trainer driver Peter Hunter. The Fahys provided Hunter with his first winner Only The One – a Holmes Hanover gelding out of Rakamobile. The win was at the 2003 Tuapeka meeting at Forbury Park. Wattlebank Lass has been one of the most consistent mares in commission this winter, running placings behind some smart types in Avana, Sweet Lizzie and Braeview Kelly. “She’s hardened up a bit from when she first started. Time has been her friend. She’s probably got better as the weeks have gone by.” Hunter says the Art Major mare is slowing starting to grow up. “She’s always been a bit of a hard case, from the time we broke her in. She just goofed around.” From barrier five the Ryal Bush reinsman took Wattlebank Lass straight to the front and there she stayed, holding out favourite Endless Dream by an impressive three and a half lengths. “She was pretty happy out there, casual, but it worked out good. She has been striking nice horses but I think she’s probably ready for the next step because she’s race hardened. We’ll give her a spell now as she’s been racing all winter.” Wattlebank Lass is owned by Roxburgh couple Bill and Pauline Bain, their grandson and Peter and Jo Hunter.   Bruce Stewart

“There’s no such thing as a certainty but he was quite close to it,” Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gary said after quality three year old The High Ruler won on debut at Ascot Park today. The Bettor’s Delight gelding was sent out as favourite, paying  $1.60 in the McCallum’s Group Ltd Mobile Pace and was taken straight to the lead by stable driver Brent Barclay. Although he knocked off at the end he won by a length and a quarter from Lynryd Skynryd which sat outside of him for most of the trip. “He was a wee bit goofy in front today but he did the job. He’s one of those horses that gets you out of bed in the morning.” The High Ruler was broken in by Kirk and Tristan Larsen. “He’s done everything perfect. Not real flash. It wasn’t until we took him off the place that we thought ………… we’ve got something here.” The High Ruler is owned by long time stable client Ross Ludermann who’s currently recovering from surgery. “It’s been great for Ross. Ross and Bev have been great for us. They’ve had a few horses in our stable and it’s great to see him having a nice one. Hopefully that’ll cheer him up a bit.” The High Ruler has impressed at trials and workouts and Gray expected a big showing today. “He’s a typical Bettor’s Delight. But he’s got very high speed particularly off the back of a horse.” And there’s been buyer interest in the three year old. “He’s a keeper so Brent and I are lucky that we get to play with a nice one.” Gray said he normally turns horses out after they qualify but he felt that taking the horse to the races would act as a good tonic for Ludermann. So now with the win under his belt, a nice spring paddock awaits. “He’s going out to ‘horse heaven’ at Diane Cournane’s even though I haven’t told her yet. He’ll have two to three weeks off then we’ll get him back racing round Christmas.” And Gray thinks The High Ruler can progress through the grades. “He’s just a lovely relaxed horse. If I manage him well I think I can.” The Ludermanns gave Gray the dam of The High Ruler (The Highlight) and he has a yearling colt out of her by He’s Watching. She’s due to foal to Fear The Dragon. “I need to go to something a bit better now (laughter). If I go back to Bettor’s (Bettor’s Delight) I just need to find the $25,000.” Ludermann as a junior driver drove his father’s horse Radiation to win at the Vincent Jockey Club meeting in January 1967. He held a trainers licence for sixteen years between 1988 and 2004 and geared up seven winners with his first being Careful Guest at Forbury Park in March 1988. Careful Guest is The High Ruler’s fourth dam.   Bruce Stewart

Although it’s still just over a month away, trotting fans, particularly those of the Williamson trotters Ultimate Stride and Cracker Hill are looking forward to the two talented squaregaiters going head to head next month in Auckland. Trained by Phil (father) and Brad (son) respectively, they will clash in the PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sales Three Year Old Trot on the 9th October, and the $50,000 Group Two Haras des Trotteurs Sires Stakes Three Year Old Championship on the 23rd October. No doubt there’s been plenty of quiet ‘observation’ going on as both horses are trained on the same property. “The banter has been huge. It can come up at any time and it can last a while. We’re all looking forward to the challenge to find out which one is the better one. I think Brad’s horse may be faster but we’re just hoping we’ve got the tougher one,” said Matty who is the regular driver of Ultimate Stride. The Love You trotter missed most of his three year old season through injury but returned late in the season to win twice at Ascot Park in June and July. His last win was by an impressive seven lengths and he broke the Ascot Park and Southland Track Record for Three Year Old Colts and Geldings recording 3-27.4 for the 2700 metre stand. His biggest lifetime win as a two year old was in the 2019 Group One Breeders Crown at Melton which he won by 37.8 metres. Ultimate Strides has won eight of his twelve races and banked $160,000. His dam One Over Kenny won the Sires Stakes Three Year Old Championship in 2005. Ultimate Stride winning at Ascot Park                                 – Photo Monica Toretto Cracker Hill has won seven of his twelve starts – six as a three year old in just eight runs. He’s banked $90,078.00. In June Cracker Hill broke the Ascot Park and Southland Track Record for Three Year Old Colts and Geldings for 2200 metre mobile running the distance in 2-43.7.  His biggest win was in the Group Three Hambletonian at Ashburton. “They’re two very good horses that are going to be fighting fit going into those Auckland races. Ultimate Stride possibly handles the left hand way of going a bit better than mine. I think the draw will have a big part to play when they go head to head. I think we may have a bit more speed point to point but I might be a little bit biased,” said Brad. “I think Brad may have the faster horse but when they’re getting along at record pace it’ll be then we’ll see which is the best or if Tony’s (Herlihy, trainer of Bolt For Brilliance) one is better than both,” Phil added. Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride have met three times before as two year olds, and Phil says there’s no doubting Cracker Hill’s staying ability. “If you watch Cracker Hill’s run when he ran second to Matua Tana – that run was phenomenal. He sat three out beside the leader for the last round. That had X-factor about it. I’m not sure whether Ultimate Stride could have done that. Since then Brad’s horse has done nothing but scare me (laughter).” And as Phil rightly points out, neither Cracker Hill or Ultimate Stride have raced the Auckland way round yet. “I think it’s a bit early for Brad to make that call (laughter). We’ve only been going that way round at home and we’ve never worked together,” he said. Both trainers point out that the Tony Herlihy trained Bolt For Brilliance is very much in the frame as well. “Tony lives up there so he’s got a little bit of an advantage. I’m sure they’re looking forward to it as much as we are. He came from behind at the Jewels and beat them both. He’s probably sitting there waiting on us and there’s a few others,” said Phil. Bolt For Brilliance (outside) beating Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride at Addington – Photo  Bruce Stewart He agrees the draws and the way the race is run will play its part. “Especially over 2200 metres. They’re both fast out of the gate so it’ll be game on, that’s for sure. I’m looking forward to it. That’s why you’re in racing,” said Phil. Cracker Hill was the leading three year old stake earning trotter last season but his run of success was disrupted by Covid-19. “There’d be no one happier than I if Brad could win those races. I think he’s already been pretty hard done by. I think he had the Derby at his mercy because we weren’t going to be there and he was beating the horses that were going around at the time,” said Phil. Looking over the New Zealand Record Book, Ultimate Stride holds the mobile 1980 metres New Zealand record for two year old trotters of 2-27.7 recorded at Addington, while Cracker Hill holds the three year old record for the same distance also recorded at Addington of 2-27.2. “Brad’s horse is going super but Dad’s horse is very good as well. We’re hoping that we’ve got the tougher of the two. Hopefully we draw inside him and can make it tough. It’s going to be a great race and I think everyone will be looking forward to it when they clash,” said Matty. Both horses were bred by Lex and Heather Williams.   by Bruce Stewart

“I’m lost for words,” an emotional trainer driver Nathan Williamson said after Dark Horse won at Ascot Park today. It was unreal.” It truly was one of the great comeback stories. “She’s had two suspensory (injuries). Ross Jones (father in-law) was walking her every day. We did the rehab one hundred percent right the way through.” It was the eight year old mare’s tenth win. She last won at Tuapeka in October 2017 – twenty two months ago, and had last raced in March finishing second to Pres The Belle in the Group Three Southern Lights at the Northern Southland meeting. “You always worry first up – no workouts no trials. She’s just unreal.” Today in the Brendan Franks Farrier Handicap Trot Dark Horse stayed at the back of the field for most of the journey. Inside the last 500 metres she started to get a cart into the race on the back of In Sequence but that horse broke rounding the last bend. “I was jogging at the 400, I got checked really badly and it probably cost me about four lengths. She just picked up after that and just did it easy really.” Dark Horse came down the middle of the track to win easily by a length and a quarter from Rydgemont Milly. “Look at her go. Dark Horse – she has gone wooshca giving them wind burn off the fifty (metres), wow,” called commentator Justin Evans. Williamson was seen to give a little satisfying fist pump as the mare came down to the line. Today’s win was testimony to the outstanding skills of her trainer. To have her relatively match fit for a season debut off fifty metres and win with her ear plugs still in was exceptional. “It’s a bit emotional really. She’s the best horse I’ve ever had and as good as anything I’ve ever driven and I’ve been lucky to have driven some good ones. I was just so gutted when she broke down and then had another injury. I thought she was never going to come back. I followed the vets’ advice. Brendon Bell initially, then Guy Alexander who’s a part owner. Brendon recommended that I send her to Guy for some extra treatment.” I personally remember interviewing Nathan’s father Phil three years ago and asking him if he had another Dominion Handicap horse in the stable and he said “No but my son has.” The win capped off three great months when trotters trained by the Williamson family, Phil, Brad and Nathan were the stars of lockdown racing in the south. We’ve been lucky to see Cracker Hill, Ultimate Stride, Chinese Whisper and now Dark Horse win in the province. Meanwhile star Southland pacer Robyns Playboy proved how potent he is as a frontrunner when he beat up ten rivals in the main pace of the day. After beginning well driver Craig Ferguson took the Shadow Play gelding to the top and there he stayed running a new track and Southland record of 3-19.8 for the 2700 metre stand with his last 800 metres cut out in 56.7. The previous record, recorded in 2015 of 3-20.1, was held by Isaiah. The New Zealand record of 3-17.2 is held by Triple Eight. Harness fans in the south are starting to get excited with the pending return of U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy and the possibility of all three squaring off against each other.   Bruce Stewart

“He came down here as a maiden with good form and carried that right through even though he’s jumped up the grades,” said driver Brad Williamson after Wecandream won his third race in Southland at Ascot Park today. Bred locally by Mark and Debbie Smith the Art Major gelding was trained initially by Brent White in Ashburton before Branxholme trainer Alister Black took over. He’s been in the south for three months and has been one of the most consistent pacers during lockdown. From a wide draw Williamson took the five year old forward to challenge early pacemaker Miss Mucho with the two going head to head for the first two hundred metres. “My horse got quite keen and was feeling so well so I decided to let him run and Brent (Brent Barclay driving Miss Mucho) was quite happy to trail me at that point.” Wecandream held on to beat My Mate Ben by a length. “I never pulled his pull down blinds but I pulled his plugs at the top of the straight and he did what he had to in the last couple of hundred metres.” Pre-race trainer Alister Black was fairly bullish about his charge’s chances and Williamson saw that first hand. “He was kicking out a bit before the race when we were getting the cart on. He’s certainly thriving on racing down here.” Wecandream is owned by the Palmers Syndicate. “He’s getting up in the grades now so it’s going to be tough but he’s definitely getting better. Today’s the best he’s ever gone.” The Lauren Pearson trained Maximus Prost won his second race in three starts when he took out the last race on the card. Perfectly positioned in the one one driver Brent Barclay let him run inside the last two hundred and he came powerfully down the middle of the track to beat pacemaker Who’s Smokin by a length and a quarter.   Bruce Stewart

The marvellous run of Otago’s latest harness racing training partnership, that of Graeme Anderson and Mike Love, rolled on at the Central Southland Raceway today. Anderson and Love who train at Westwood Beach, has only been in action since the beginning of the new season. From just eight runners they’ve produced four winners and there looks to be more in store for the pair and their stable driver Matty Williamson. Who’s Smokin got the wheels spinning in Race Seven today by blasting the mobile arm from gate eight to take up the running. From there Williamson controlled the tempo and after being passed by Foregone Conclusion half way down the straight, she came back to win by a head. “Very good run from her. She’s a big dumb filly who’s just starting to work things out. She’s got great gate speed and she travelled really nicely today. Coxies one (Foregone Conclusion) put half a length on her but she fought back and won it. There’s enough ability there,” said Williamson after the run. Who’s Smokin is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Who’s The Bird which won two races for Kevin Court. Her best foal Smokin Bird won ten races including the 2015 Group Two Southland Oaks. Another one of the mare’s foals High Courage won eighteen races in Australia before being exported to America. In the next race the Anderson/Love colours struck again when Tres Chic took the next step and won her second race in seven days. Horses often find it hard to win their second race as they’re pitted against harder one and two win horses. But not Tres Chic. “Being up a grade, it was a hell of a good effort to stick on the way she did,” Williamson said. Williamson pushed the Mach Three mare through from the outside of the second row and ended up following favourite Tulsa Jaccka through in the outside running line. But Tres Chic was carted three wide before reaching the lead with a lap to run. “Even though we were following them out she had to do her fair share of work in that first bit.” The challenges came like a cavalry charge as the field straightened with some runners coming six wide but Tres Chic showed a good level of toughness to outstay them all, winning by three quarters of a length from Tulsa Jaccka. Tres Chic is owned locally by Stewie Gillan in partnership with Anderson, and has continuing improvement has impressed Williamson. “She looked quite good at the trials before her first start but had a few minor gear changes. She got her head down and went a bit rough in those first starts. They’ve put an over check on her and that seems to be the key. She’s just got better and better. Mike thinks she’ll turn into a nice stayer and she’s got a good turn of foot to go with it too.” Meanwhile the stable’s tightest assessed horse Spirit Of St Louis will head to Addington for the Maurice Holmes Vase on the 28th August.   Bruce Stewart

Gore harness racing trainer Lyndon Bond was surprised at the odds placed on his trotter Tweedledee which won at Winton today. “He was very stiff last week at Invercargill. Sam (Ottley) came back and was rapt with the way he went. I thought the Big Fish (tipster Craig ‘The Whale’ Thompson) may have spotted him. We’ve got a good divvy today at seven bucks with Get Lucky in the race. Good result,” he said. In today’s Elite Racing Products Handicap Trot driver Samantha Ottley settled the five year old gelding three back on the inside as the field raced in single file. When King Cassidy popped out inside the last 1000 metres Tweedledee hopped onto his back. At the top of the lane, King Cassidy and Tweedledee set down to fight out the finish with the Bond trained square gaiter prevailing by three quarters of a length. “Another year on him he’ll be a nice wee horse.” Tweedledee is by Superfast Stuart out of the Dr Ronarail mare Tyron’s Doctor who is from a good Southland trotting family. Tweedledee has Cilla’s Pride and Sure Mart high up on his dam side. “Dad (Jimmy) was a good mate of Michael Heenan who told him he had a mare he was giving away for free. We put her in foal to Superfast Stuart and he’s the resulting foal. She’s back in foal to Superfast Stuart.” Bonds other runner in todays main trot Crusher Collins was once again disappointing, finishing sixth seven lengths away from her stablemate. “She’s not a hundred percent. She’s been in for a long time and won the Southland Trotter of the Year so she can go out for a spell.”   Bruce Stewart

After disappointing at his last start, Gore trained Robyns Playboy was back on his game at Ascot Park today. Driver Craig Ferguson took the five year old straight to the front and he peeled off a last 800 metres in 55.1 to win by eight and three quarter lengths. “He just loved it in front and Craig said that he just wanted to go at the 800 and he didn’t even pull the plugs at the end. It’s the first time he’s won being hot favourite,” said Ross Wilson who trains the gelding in partnership with son Chris. The win cements the gelding’s place in the first race of the New Zealand Cup build up – the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on the 20th of September.  But despite the easy win today Wilson is under no illusion as to how difficult it will be to win the early season feature. “It’s a different story when you get up amongst those Purdon horses. We went up to the Hannon last year thinking we were going alright and they ran home in 53 and we got beaten by ten lengths. But last year he wasn’t 100% health wise and this year he is and that’s going to make a big difference I think.” Wilson says Robyns Playboy will be given an easy time over the next few weeks and he says he’ll probably have one more start before the Hannon. “He’s a very athletic horse who doesn’t take a lot of work. He’s only had two hopple runs since he last raced. He’s a great winded horse and that’s good because you can be easy on him and you don’t have to knock him around the same to get there.”   Bruce Stewart

It’s very likely Ascot Park winner The Red Robber has run his last race for Gore trainer Tony Stratford. “That will probably be it for him now. He’ll probably be retired. We’ll go home and sleep on the win. He’s done a good job but he is limited and I can’t see him going round and round for the hell of it. He’s honest, he tries and I wish I had a barn full of horses like that,” Stratford said. Driver Blair Orange took the seven year old straight to the top and he hung on tenaciously to beat Ripsnorter by a neck. Stratford says the Cleland Racing Syndicate which shares in the ownership of The Red Robber has a new recruit in the barn ready to replace the gelding. Beauty Barry is a four year old who’s had one start for Gavin Smith and has been moved south. “He’s quite nice and I quite like him. We’ll look at lining him up at Winton.” The Red Robber was made favourite in today’s race after running an unlucky sixth last week. “He went really well last week and we were pretty confident with him drawing one today.”   The Panspacificflight gelding has now won three races and finished either second or third ten times. Stratford has a good bunch of three year olds in the barn that have performed well over the winter. “Sweet Lizzie will line up next week, Braeview Kelly is a couple of weeks away from kicking off again and Major Punter is still out. We’ll certainly head up the road with Braeview Kelly as she’s paid up for the Sires Stakes and the Sales Series.” Stratford said Altimeter and Ideal Draw have been  sold recently. “They left this morning for Aussie. It’s a shame to lose those types of horses but it makes way for some young stuff.” Meanwhile In Sequence trained by Amber Hoffman and driven by stable driver Mark Hurrell beat stablemate Kiwi Crusher by a head. It was the six year old mare’s first start for the Hoffman barn having previously been trained by Ken Barron. Fleetmaster a recent recruit to the Clark Barron stable, also won in the hands of Samantha Ottley. The Changeover gelding was previously trained by Mark Jones who brought the horse south and left him with Barron.   Bruce Stewart

Spotlight The Valley’s win at Ascot Park yesterday was special for her trainer and part owner Robert Wilson of Balfour. “She’s just been going through the motions lately and I always knew there was another win there. It was her ninth win which is pretty awesome really,” Wilson said. The Skyvalley mare got the perfect trip behind pacemaker Davey Mac and came up the inside passing lane to beat that horse by a length and a quarter. She was 10/10 in the betting paying $36 to win despite running third at her last start. Spotlight The Valley started her career with Billy Head but Wilson took over her training shortly after. She’s won nine races, run second 17 times and third 14 times, earning The Sunbeam Syndicate which owns her $89,322. “She’s just so honest. A lovely horse. The syndicate have had three pay outs over a long time so she’s been a great syndicate horse. The group are spread around – Timaru to Roxburgh.” Wilson says a trip to the breeding barn is now on the cards for Spotlight The Valley. “We’ve been talking about it so that’s half pie the plan, so we’ll probably get her in foal. There’ll always be a home at my place for her.” Spotlight The Valley was bred by Kevin Schuck who also owned an unqualified filly out of the mare by Muscle Mass and a two year old Sundon colt which is at Nathan Williamson’s. The mare has also left qualified Angus Hall gelding Danangus Fella which is trained at Kurow by Petra Luzumova. Wilson and his wife Eleanor owned Soky’s Atom gelding Atomwise in the late 1990s. He won five of his eight starts in New Zealand for Southland trainer Alan Devery and won another nine races from fifteen starts in Australia.   Bruce Stewart

Canterbury horseman Paul Court made his last trip south for a while yesterday and was rewarded when Tom Martin trained by his father, won. “I picked him out at the sales. He’s owned by a syndicate who’ve had a bit of fun with him which is good,” Paul said. The Mach Three entire was taken straight to the front by driver Blair Orange and he won easily by two and quarter lengths from Rocknroll King. “He’s a big bugger and time is going to be his friend. He’s a big staying type.” Court leaves Canterbury next week and heads to Canada with his wife Chantelle and their children and he’s looking forward to the change. “Very much so. Can’t wait. It’s a shame to say goodbye to all my mates but I’ll be back at some stage for a holiday.” Court has been training in his own right from 2008 until last season and geared up 141 winners of which Orange drove 104. “The highlight of my career was training (with his father Graham) Terror To Love and getting to work with this man here. (Referring to Blair Orange). He’s a good mate so it’s good getting successes with Styx.” Court’s best winner was Hail Christian but he trained other good horses in Cast No Shadow, Mongolian Hero, Malik, Stun Gun, Stick Man, Mongolian Cavalry and RR Sand Dollar. Paul trained with his father between 2009 and 2015 winning 98 races including the 2011, 2012 and 2013 New Zealand Cup with Terror To Love. Tom Martin was bred by Julie Davie, Peter Cummings and the late Father Dan Cummings of Tuapeka Lodge and is out of the Life Sign mare Raindowne.   Raindowne was bought by John and Judy Stiven of Arden Lodge in 2016 and they’ve bred a Bettor Delight filly out of the mare which has just turned three, a Captaintreacherous filly which is two and they have a yearling colt by the same sire.   Bruce Stewart

This story was initiated by my interest in the connection Menangle trainer Tim Butt has to harness racing in southern New Zealand, the way in which My Field Marshal has very much put him back on the Australian Harness map, and the fact that Southland bred pacer Tact Tama looks like his next star. However, in looking into the background of Tim Butt, the story frame expanded because as a trainer this former Canterbury horseman has forged a remarkable career. His record in both countries speaks volumes of his ability to pick stock, train to win and target the big races on both sides of the Tasman. Then there was that remarkable run on the Dominion Handicap when between 1999 and 2011 he won the race as a trainer an incredible eight times, something fellow trainer Mark Jones has been reminded of. “When I won it the first time (with Master Lavros) he walked past and said ‘Congratulations, seven more to go. And when I won the second time he walked past and said ‘Still six to go’. Cheeky bugger,” said Jones who drove many winners for Butt. The feats of horses like millionaires Lyell Creek, Flashing Red, Take A Moment and Stunin Cullen are well documented. But when you look at the list of other winners (printed below) a host of very good horses have helped to shape this trainer’s outstanding record. And a handful of these horses came from other stables with Butt reinvigorating their careers – Mah Sish, Report To Duty, Mister DG and Mr Feelgood are examples. “He’d get horses from other trainers and improve them, which is the sign of a very good trainer,” Jones said. Camtastic gelding Mister DG won nine races for Manawatu trainer Stephen Doody before Butt secured him. “We tried to buy him early on. As a seven year old they got an offer to sell him to America because he was on his mark in New Zealand. As a courtesy they rang us. We paid quite a lot of money. He might have won 100 k when we got him and I think he ended up winning 600 grand in four months. One of my big disappointments though was not winning the Interdominions in Perth. He just ran out of track. He got fourth – a short half head and short half head and a short half head behind three great horse, Jofess, The Falcon Strike and Sokyola. Another ten to fifteen metres he would have won it,” said Butt. Tim also rates Vulcan as another great horse which to some extent lived in the shadows of some of the trainer’s more illustrious trotting stars like Lyell Creek and Take A Moment. “He won two Jewels. He was a bit underrated. He came along at the wrong time when there were horses like Stig and I Can Doosit. He won five Group One’s in twenty two days.” That winning streak included a Great Southern Star Heat, Great Southern Star Final, Trotting Grand Prix, The Knight Pistol and New Zealand Trotting Championship. “That’s unheard of. He still didn’t get trotter of the year which annoyed me a bit, but never mind.” Winning connections after Vulcan’s Dominion Handicap win      – Photo Race Images Another horse Butt had success with was American bred Grinfromeartoear stallion Mr Feelgood. “We bought him out of Kentucky. Basically Kevin Seymour wanted a horse for the Interdominions because he was sponsoring it. We sourced a horse through Nifty Norman who was a good friend. We paid $600,000 US but he won it back in his first season.” Mr Feelgood won thirty nine races, banking $3,336,157. He won the 2009 Interdominions at Albion Park beating Blacks A Fake by half a neck. Washington VC gelding Report For Duty was another horse Butt trained at the end of it’s racing career. He was developed into a cup horse by Patrick O’Reilly. “He was a little tradesman. He ran third in two Hunter Cups.” Tim took Mah Sish to Australia. He won seven races for Ladbrook trainer Dean Taylor before Butt took over the reins. “Dean developed him and he looked a good horse. Dean didn’t travel that much and we just thought the horse needed to be in those good races in Australia. He nearly won a million dollars. He ran second to Themightyquinn in the Interdominions and won the Hunter Cup.” Mah Sish was part owned by Greg and Leigh Ayres. Leigh is Derek Jones’ daughter and Tim’s aunt. The Mach Three gelding ended his career winning fifteen races and $955,165. The Ayres also had a share in a number of other Butt runners including Raglan, Report For Duty and Elusive Chick. But there was one budding grand circuit horse that got away; Soky’s Atom gelding Quick Step Bromac which Butt bought off David Butcher. “He was really promising. He was heading up to Auckland on the float with a real good trotter I had called Sonofadon. We bought him down and he won on Show Day and was just starting to hit his straps. I thought he was my next Cup horse. He hopped on the float and headed north but they rang us from Bulls and said the horse had died of travel sickness. They all had blood tests before they left and they were all perfect.” Butt began his training career in 1989 with his first winner being Dubois Moss at Nelson in January 1989. From 1995 he was consistently training over twenty winners a season and his first two good horses Swan Creek and Happy Asset were both winning their first races in that season. It didn’t take long for Butt to realise there were also good pickings for the right horses in Australia and in 1998 he took a small team across the ditch lead by trotter Novander Whiz. The Gee Whiz 11 square gaiter won his first start in Australia beating Aussie champion Noopy Kiosk in the McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup at Geelong. Lord Lester was also part of the team and he won a heat of the Victoria Derby before running third in the Derby won by Holmes DG. On that same trip Happy Asset ran fourth in The Hunter Cup. “That was a pretty good first introduction to Australian racing,” Butt said. From that point he began making regular trips to Australia chasing the big dollars. “We always like to chase races like the Hunter Cup and the Interdominions. They were special races back in those days. They had a lot of hype. The final of the Interdominion was worth a million dollars when Shakamaker won and Lyell Creek won the mile. Harness racing was pretty big then.” By 2018 Butt was away from home quite a bit and relocating to Australia became a reality. “I had to travel a lot when I took Field Marshal to Australia. The way things were transitioning in New Zealand was when you got a good horse you had to spend most of your time in Australia.” Another reason for Butt relocated to Australia was because he found it was easier to place horses around a fairer handicap system, and there were more weekly race meetings within close proximity to his home base. “When I came over, the only horse I took over to Australia that would have been competitive in New Zealand was Let It Ride. I think we won 60 odd races in that first year.” Butt has a 24 horse barn at Menangle which is says is the toughest place he knows to win a race. The Menangle Barn                                     – Photo Kate Butt “Tact Tama at his second start had to go 1-51 to win so that’s about the level you’re at.” He says locally there are around ten to fifteen races meetings where he can race a horse every week and be competitive. “Very seldom is there a horse in my barn that I can’t take somewhere and win. There’s tracks like Newcastle, Wagga and Dubbo.” Butt says training from a barn complex without grassy paddocks requires a different mindset. “I did a lot of homework before I came over. Guys like Chris Waller train from establishments like ours. Most of the successful galloping trainers train from complexes. It’s the same in Honk Kong and Japan.” He says without a doubt the profile he’d developed over the years of successfully winning big races in Australia, helped him procure facilities at Menangle. “I was lucky with my profile. Every time we had a hit and run mission we were generally pretty successful. We’ve won Group One races in just about every state. You have to apply to get in. I only got a few boxes originally but after being there for sixteen months they built a barn especially for me.” Butt has three full time staff with his wife Andrea doing all the organising. “She organises all the horses, the paddocks and washes down. We start at about six, or about five o’clock in the summer. We’re pretty much under control by one o’clock. The boys come back at three and the horses go back on the walker. There are no fences to mend. It a pretty easy lifestyle. We put the float on and we’re at the track in three minutes.” Andrea and Tim Butt with Flashing Reds New Zealand Cup   – Photo Race Images. Daughter Kate does all the media. She has a degree in Hotel and Business Management and has Fridays off to do any media work like Twitter and Facebook. “My generation doesn’t understand it so much but I can see the benefits of being in touch with all your owners. We get a lot of good reports back on how we contact them and the photos they get. We use My Stables which is an app that’s pretty easy to work.” Over the last while Butt says he’s attracted new owners to his barn. “There’s such a big pool of wealthy owners. In New Zealand you could probably count them on one hand.” Butt says he’s been lucky that some of his New Zealand owners have stayed with him. He cites Shona and Syd Brown. “Syd was good friends with my father. Syd’s a great stockman and his horses come up in immaculate condition. He’s got a great breed. He breeds to the best stallions and he looks after his stock so you’re halfway there.” “Syd still loves his New Zealand racing but sometimes you’ve got to see where the best opportunities lie.” Another New Zealand owner is Virginia Duncum who has a share in recent Ascot Park winner American Lightning. He says the style of racing in Australia is different to that in New Zealand and he’s had to change his training regime. “When I first arrived my horses were staying. At the start they were lost for speed but in the finish they were clawing the ground back again. I had to get them a bit sharper. The kiwis are great conditioners who take a long term view with horses. The Aussies are probably better week to week because they race so much. We’re better at setting a horse for a particular race. Here there’s a $30,000 race every week so you don’t hone your skills in the same way.” He says another thing that’s different is that many of the products he uses to treat his horses are available at the local Saddlery Store. “It keeps the cost of things down. For a lot of things in New Zealand you have to go through a vet. Things like iron injections are twenty bucks a shot here. In New Zealand they may be a hundred. I also think with processed feed the trainers in Australia have closed the gap.” His son Riley is part of the set up and is starting to create his own career in the industry as a driver. “It’s quite good. He’s had a bit of everything, he’s driven some roughies. He’s got good hands and he can nurse them around but he has to learn the tactics and the aggression and not to be too aggressive. Southland bred and developed Tact Tama’s been good for him because he gives you a bit of power and confidence.” Riley Butt and Tact Tama                            – Photo Kate Butt Butt says Southland has always been a great source of quality bloodstock and he’s continued to buy the right stock out of the province. “Southland’s such a great breeding ground going back to Son Of Afella and Washington VC. Horses down there are given time to develop. Back then a nice horse could run fourth or fifth. Nowdays a nice horse wins by five or six lengths and everyone wants it. There’s not the depth there was, but there’s still plenty of nice horses that come out of Southland.” He says he also has a good network of friends around the South Island that are always on the lookout for race horses. “People like Craig Thornley keep an eye out for me in Christchurch. There are people I prefer to buy off because I know they develop their horses.” He continues to keep a close eye on the New Zealand racing industry and says that during the Covid19 lockdown NZ had the opportunity to reshape it’s handicap system. “It’s great to get back racing but with Covid it gave New Zealand a chance to start on a blank page and get the handicap system right. There’s so much more they could do.” He also says New Zealand owners are treated poorly compared to their Australian counterparts. “The owner doesn’t get a fair crack. If a horse gets up in the grades too quickly they get exported to Australia. Ideally you want them racing in New Zealand with the owners having the time with them. It’s about making money. It’s trying to get back 80 cents in the dollar or close to it. “ He says there are more options when racing a horse in Australia. “Our (New Zealand) horse population is bigger that Queensland or Perth but they seem to race more often. In New Zealand we trial horses too much. Those horses should be racing. When you’re at the trials there’s no earning capacity.” One recent purchase from Southland is the Christian Cullen gelding Tact Tama which was bought out of the Winton stable of Trevor Proctor. “We took a bit of a punt of him. Brent Barclay liked him at the trials when he drove him. We like to buy horses before everyone else is trying to buy them and take a bit of a risk. He’s come up really well. He’s got a good attitude. He’s a lovely laid back horse.” He also recently purchased another Proctor trained pacer, Tact Tory which is unqualified. “He was a bit of a punt because he hadn’t done a lot. The same owner that bought Tact Tama bought this one. I liked his breeding. He’s a big sort of guy. He was actually in the yearling sales in Canterbury but was withdrawn because he had bone chips in his hocks which is not a problem.” He was also interested in buying Tact Fergie – another Proctor trained gelding. “They’re going to keep this one. I think I’ve given them a little too much money” (for Tact Tama –laughter). Another horse heading Butt’s way soon is the Kirk Larsen trained Forsure which is owned by Shona and Syd Brown of Mosgiel. “We had a stable down in Southland thirty odd years ago so we’ve always had a relationship with Kirk. I trained Honour Bromac to win a couple and I said to him that he should breed from her. He did and she left Howard Bromac.” Forsure’s full-brother My Field Marshal undoubtedly restarted Butt’s career and after showing sensational form at four in New Zealand he developed into a Grand Circuit horse in Australia. “He’s back in work. He probably put me back on the map after having a quiet time with good horses. This will probably be his last campaign. We’re looking at taking him back to Perth.” Butt is excited about a young French trotter Holzarte Vedaquais which has just arrived at the barn. “It’s been a bit of a challenge with Covid and the exchange rate. He got out of quarantine on Wednesday and they closed the Victoria border on Wednesday night but they let the horses through so we were bloody lucky.” Tim Butt and Holzarte Vedaquais                                – Photo Kate Butt The horse was purchased in a joint venture between Aldebaran Park principal Duncan McPherson, well known trotting owner Pat O’Driscoll from Haras des Trotteurs, Greg and Leigh Ayres, Fred Cruz and Sydneysider Bob Jones who bought half the horse. “Le Trot (French Trotting Organisation) took a group of us up there for ten days. They took us to all the studs and race meetings. I was the only one that bought a horse but I’m sure a lot more will be bought in the future.” Butt says the young trotter was up with the best two year olds in France. “You couldn’t get a better horse. I’ve bought French horses before and this one’s streaks ahead of them on credentials.” And down the track, all going well, Butt would like to bring him to New Zealand. “It’s a big investment. I want to bring him down to New Zealand if he’s good enough and race in races like the Dominion and the Rowe Cup.” Another recent purchase is Knockawarwon a full-brother to American star Shartin. “He’s just a three year old. Craig (Thornley) did the deal for me. I’ve got a few fingers in a few pies and I know what I want. I like to buy horses a bit above average. I don’t go for the middle of the road horses.” Although Butt doesn’t have a lot of trotters in the stable, one that’s making her mark is Dizzysjet (Quaker Jet filly) which finished second to Elite Stride in the NSW Trotters Derby. Tim acknowledges that part of his success on both sides of the Tasman is due to his brother Anthony’s driving skills. Anthony drove 535 of his 832 winners. “Yep Ants was a big part of the stable. He’s a big race driver. Cool, decisive, and he drives with the right amount of aggression.” Canterbury horseman David Earnshaw was also an integral part of Tim’s operation. He worked for Butt for over 20 years and drove 45 winners from the stable. “One Cup meeting he ran second in the Dominion with Roydon Flash and third in the Cup driving Tribute.” Prop Anderson also worked for Butt for over 15 years and travelled around the world with Lyell Creek. Anderson and Butt trained in partnership for four seasons from 2007 to 2011 and notched up 175 wins. Butt has had numerous success in the past, and it’s clear to see that there’s plenty for him and his family to be getting on with. Plenty of exciting young talent and by the law of averages another star is probably just round the corner. Not that he’s forgets his former champions like Lyell Creek. “Yep he’s still alive. Mum looks after him. He’s running around in the same paddock as Vulcan.” Some of the numbers: Won 90 Group races in New Zealand. 39 Group One races, 40 Group Two, 11 Group Three and 14 Listed races. Won 21 Group One races, 9 Group Two, 7 Group Three and 5 Listed races in Australia. Total 127 Group races in Australasia. Trained 4 Rowe Cup winners Lyell Creek (2000, 2001 and 2004) and Take A Moment (2003). Has also owned a Rowe Cup winner in Stig (2013). This season so far he’s trained 56 winners in Australia for stake earnings of $540,666 and currently sits in eighth position in the highly competitive NSW premiership. Current Australian Grand Circuit Trotting Master as the leading trainer of Grand Circuit trotters between 2000 and 2019. His leading trotters on the Grand Circuit were Lyell Creek in 2000 and 2001, Take A Moment in 2003 and 2004, Lyell Creek in 2005, Mountbatten in 2008 and Vulcan in 2013. Butt has won 8 Dominion Handicaps as a trainer. 1999 (Lyell Creek) 2000 (Lyell Creek) 2001 (Take A Moment) 2002 (Take A Moment – Dead heated with Martina H) 2003 (Take A Moment) 2004 (Lyell Creek) 2007 (Mountbatten) 2011 (Vulcan) NB: He also had a share in 2008 winner Stig. Won New Zealand Trotting Cup twice with Flashing Red Took out the Interdominion Trotting Championship three times with Take A Moment (2001 and 2003) and Lyell Creek (2000). Won Interdominion Pacers Championship with Mr Feelgood in 2009. Won Auckland Cup with Happy Asset (1999) and Flashing Red (2007). First Group win was with Lord Lester in the 1997 Group Two Members Golden Mile at Thames beating Holmes DG by a neck. First Group One win was with Lyell Creek in the 1999 Dominion Handicap at Addington. Best New Zealand season as a trainer was in 2005 when he trained 60 winners second only to Geoff Small who trained 82. In that season he trained horses like Foreal, Take A Moment, Tuherbs, Tribute, Lyell Creek and Mister DG. Trained 832 winners in New Zealand; 648 on his own account, 175 with Prop Anderson and 9 with Jonny Cox. Of the 832 winners Tim trained in New Zealand, 535 were driven by brother Anthony, 45 David Earnshaw, 28 Mark Jones, 23 Dexter Dunn, 23 Blair Orange, and 21 by Kim Butt. Trained three Hunter Cup winners: 2012 Choise Achiever, Mister DG 2004 and Mah Sish 2013. Miracle Mile winner: 2018 My Field Marshal. Winner of the Blacks A Fake: 2018 Let It Ride. NSW Breeders Four Year Old Challenge: Let It Ride: Millionaires while under Butt’s care: Lyell Creek 113-56-15-11 $2,961,137 Stunin Cullen 42-18-4-2 $1,493,716 My Field Marshal 75-29-18-7 $1,492.582 Take A Moment 67-39-9-3 $1,164,356 Flashing Red 16-6-3-2 $1,065,988.38 Vulcan 127-20-20-11 $1,025,892 Other big winners for Butt are (hopefully I’ve got them all!!): Foreal (18) Tribute (16) Happy Asset (14) Choise Achiever (13) Raglan (13) Pocket Me (13) Elusive Chick (13) The Flyin Doctor (12) Novander Whiz (11) Cam Before The Storm (11) Roydon Flash (11) Mister DG (11 and $704,233,.05) Let It Ride (9) Cullen’s Creek (9) Tuherbs (9) All Talk (9) Theaneson (9) Eastnor Lad (9) Hilarity Lobell (9) Mountbatten (8) Greenburn Creek (8) Ray (8) Mah Sish (8) Centreofattention (8) Novander Whiz (8) Swan Creek (8) Red Tip Governor (7) Another Moment (7) The Big Mach (7) Astral Traveller (7) Smart Seeker (7) Hostile Grins (7) Hanovander (6) The Sniper (6) Jungle Jane (6) Lord Lester (6) Genius (6) Lota Speed (6) Dudinka’s Cullen (6) Report For Duty (4 and $407,373.52) Mr Feelgood (4 and $896,487.00)     Bruce Stewart

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