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The Gore trained Robyns Playboy looked to be on target for the New Zealand Derby when he impressively beat a quality field of mainly three year olds in the Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park yesterday. In the $20,000 feature, Zinny Mach took an early lead but Robyns Playboy’s driver Craig Ferguson pressed forward and hit the lead with 1600 metres to run. “I thought he had a bit more gate speed and that he would hold the front but when Zinny Mach crossed him it was looking a bit dangerous particularly if Nathan didn’t hand up,” said trainer Ross Wilson. Ferguson then dictated the speed of the race and with his ears pinned back Robyns Playboy went down to the finish line beating two latecomers Memphis Tennessee (second by one length) and Barrett a nose back in third. Wilson says Robyns Playboy has a strong character and can be a bit of a handful at home as well as on raceday sometimes, but today he was fine. “Sometimes he'll pull in the pre-lim and you can’t pull him up but he was more settled today.” So his next start will be on the 5th April is the $200,000 Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Derby. “I’m not going to go for any lead up race. That’ll be his next start. He’s a very fit horse and he doesn’t take a lot of work. He hasn’t come to the end of his run yet. At home he does quite a bit of cantering on the frame and leading up to a race he only needs about three hopples.” This will be the first time Wilson has had a runner in the Derby. “Hopefully we’ll carry on to the Jewels. We’re aiming Bridesdale Robyn at the Jewels too. To have a horse at those events is a real thrill.” Today’s win elevates Robyns Playboy to fourth in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Emerald. The winning Wilsons - Photo Bruce Stewart  The win was Ferguson’s seventeenth of the season and equals his best season as an open driver and Robyns Playboy is clearly the best horse he’s driven. “He’s got a very high cruising speed and Craig says he just waits on them.” Meanwhile the biggest upset of the day came in the Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks when the Gavin Smith trained Swiss Miss beat more fancied runners in the $20,000 feature for three year old trotting fillies. Just when it looked like Cheerful and Majestic Chevron were going to fight out the finish Nathan Williamson got Swiss Miss wound up and she stormed down the outside to beat Majestic Chevron by half a neck with a nose back to Cheerful. The winning time of 2-47.9 equals the race and track record held by last year’s winner Luby Lou. The New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on the 22nd March looks to be shaping up to be a fairly even contest. Bruce Stewart

Star Ruler finally got his maiden win at Gore today (Saturday) and co-trainer Geoff Knight was happy about that. The most consistent non-win horse running round in the south, held on to beat Futura Easton by three quarters of a length for Knight, his wife and co-trainer Jude, and the Corner Shop Syndicate. It was a winning ‘double’ as the syndicate is headed by race sponsor Brian Pitcher; the Gore representative for AON Insurance. “We’ve made him the patron of the syndicate because he’s only ever missed one of his horses’ races,” said Geoff. Today was the Washington VC gelding's twenty third start and before today’s win he’d recorded six seconds and five thirds. “He’s a great syndicate horse because he’s run a lot of places and today in a $10,000 maiden he’s got the job done. I’m rapt for the horse because he’s finally won a race.” Hanging on to beat Futura Easton - Photo Bruce Stewart  Star Ruler was driven by Canterbury driver Tim Williams. “Really grateful to Tim because he’s stuck with him all the way through. He liked him because he always tries.” Co-trainer Geoff Knight watching the mobile dispatch with Star Ruler second on the outside and heading to the front - Photo Bruce Stewart. Over the years the Knights have been great advocates of syndicate racing and the Corner Shop Syndicate is one of their oldest groups. “Central Courage Syndicate is the oldest and the Corner Shop Syndicate is the second oldest. They’ve probably been with us for fourteen years. It was called the Corner Shop Syndicate because in Oturehua near Poolburn there’s a new pub that started up. It used to be the old Poolburn Pub and the boys used to say 'let’s go down to the corner shop for a beer on Friday night.” The syndicate have raced a number of horses including Lionels Meddle which won four races for the group and Valhalla which won two races and was placed numerous times. “We’ll look for a junior driver’s race next. He loves the grass so maybe we’ll go to Oamaru while he’s in the zone because the one win horses get preference up there.” Wayne Huddleston, Geoff Knight, Jude Knight, Tim Williams and Brian Pitcher - Photo Bruce Stewart  After years of racing a big team the Knights are looking to scale down their Roxburgh operation to concentrate on race horses rather than young stock. “We’ve got the RD 1 and RD 2 mail runs now so we’ve scaled down and we're only going to work ten to twelve horses. A lot of the younger horses will go south to Nathan Williamson and Craig Ferguson for their early education and some of them may even stay there. We’re just at a time in our lives where we want to spend time with our grandkids and do a few more trips. Working racehorses is quite easy but young ones are a big commitment. Unless you give them a 100% the horses (young ones) need to be somewhere else.” They have five grandchildren – four in New Zealand and one overseas. “We’re heading to Perth in March for my sixtieth birthday. We’re all going to catch up with my brother over there and my sister’s coming over too.” Geoff has always been a forward thinker when it comes to the harness industry and he says the wider harness family needs to help boost the diminishing horse population. “We’re at the crossroads really. Most of the owners that are still in the industry are still breeding but I reckon if every trainer bred one horse it would make a huge difference.” Today’s stake was $10,000 for non-win horses after Southern Harness announced last week that all maiden races were going to carry that stake level. “It’s unbelievable. Southern Harness should be really commended because they’re putting the industry money back into the industry. There’s a few clubs that aren’t.” As a footnote one of the Corner Dairy Syndicate members was course photographer Wayne Huddleston. For this race he had to get Kirsty Adams to take the winning photo. Meanwhile Lady Zara capped off a consistent formline when she came down the middle of the track to win the Hokonui Honda Trot for Winton trainer/driver Alister Kyle. The Pegasus Spur four year old had recorded two thirds prior to today’s race and the win was her first in eight starts. Ellie Barron did the right thing for the Teal Pants Campaign when she won the Gore Town and Country Club Trot on Nottingham K Two. Nottingham K Two on the inside winning for Ellie Barron - Photo Bruce Stewart  Barron is the local Ambassador for the Teal Pants Campaign. The win means Harness Racing New Zealand ($200), Woodlands Stud ($100), Gore HRC ($100) and Southern Harness ($100) donate money to the Australian New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group for help with research into ovarian cancer. Later in the day other Teal drivers Sarah O’Reilly (Bigandme), Kim Butt (Sheeza Sport) and Sheree Tomlinson (Hurricane Banner), added to the fundraiser. A great day for the cause. Another Teal win - Bigandme winning for Sarah O'Reilly - Photo Bruce Stewart    Bruce Stewart

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

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

There were plenty of surprises related to Robyns Playboy’s win at Wyndham today. With a winning margin of an impressive nine and a half lengths, and a time of 2-53.0 - a new track and Southland record for both three year olds and all-comers, Robyn’s Playboy was the standout performer of the day. “We were hoping for cover and to drive him for just one run. He hadn’t had a workout and had a fair spell,” said Gore trainer Ross Wilson after the win. Driver Craig Ferguson sat the Shadow Play gelding parked for the first 800 metres before he took the lead. With 400 metres to run he had his eight other rivals struggling. On straightening Ferguson pulled the ear plugs and Robyns Playboy instantly extended his lead, going down to the finish line nine and a half lengths ahead of I’m Trouble. “He’s just got a great cruising speed and doesn’t stop. He’s got a real big motor in him we know that. It was very pleasing.” The time 2-53.0 bettered Return To Senders 2014 Three Year Old and All-comers track record of 2-55.1, broke the long standing 2007 Three Year Old Southland record held by Rider On The Storm (2-54.5) and equalled Nex Time’s Southland’s All-comers record of 2-53.0. The time was only 0.5 of a second outside of the National Three Year Old record of 2-52.5 held by The Dorchester. This season Wilson has seen Robyns Playboy become the real deal and live up to the high opinion he had of the horse when he started his career last season. “Initially he could run but didn’t know what to do. You’d pull him out and he’d just muck around beside the other horse. He’s cottoned on now. When you pull him out he’s got to get going. He’s been working with Bridey (Bridesdale Robyn) the last couple of weeks and she went well at Addington. There’s not much between them. He’s the all-round horse. He’s got gate speed and he can stay.” So now the main worry for Wilson is where to place the quality three year old. “I don’t know what to do with him now because if you start again you’re racing horses that are near cup class.” One race for three year olds that Wilson is considering is at Gore on 27th December. It’s worth fifteen thousand dollar and is sponsored by Cadrona Distillery. The Gore Club hopes to make this race an annual feature. “I won’t go north with him, I’ll just muck around with him down here. We’ve had a few inquiries for him but he’s not for sale. He gets you out of bed in the mornings.” So impressed with Robyn’s Playboy is he, that Wilson plans to send his dam Robyn Maree back to Shadow Play.   Bruce Stewart

Opening his three year old season, Betterthancheddar three year old Bottle Rock won on his home course of Wyndham today.  Trained by Russell Ferguson, Bottle Rock was purchased at the 2017 Sale of the Stars in Christchurch for $16,000.  "He's part way there in paying for himself. I liked his breeding. He was out of a three win Mach Three mare. That took my fancy and I went back and had a look at her races and she'd won nice enough. He was a nice cut of a horse," he said. Bottle Rock is out of Warp Speed whose third dam is Burgundy Lass, the mother of Il Vicolo the winner of 26 races. It's also the same family as Stunin Cullen and Gotta Go Cullen.  Last season he had four starts as a two year old chasing home horses like War Dan Delight, Another Masterpiece, A Better Act and Memphis Tennessee.  "We were chasing some good ones last year. He held his own and I was super happy with him last season." The gelding then had a three month break and prior to his start today he'd won both his workouts. From gate six driver Craig Ferguson slotted him into the one one. With 600 metres to run he was sent forward to challenge leader Flaming Jim. In a close finish Bottle Rock held on to beat Flaming Jim by a neck with a late charging The Mighty Cullen a half a length back in third.  Bottle Rock (6) beating Flaming Jim (13) and The Mighty Cullen (9) - Photo Bruce Stewart "I was super happy because they ran the first mile in 1-56. Craig had him in a real nice pozy and I knew that pulling him out and sprinting would be his go. Craig said he was waiting for them a bit at the end - he's still a bit green." Russell Ferguson who owns Bottle Rock with his wife Susan, says a race at Ascot Park is the gelding's next target.  "There's a Nuggets race at Invercargill on the 23rd (November) so that will probably be his next start. I like that series and we had a bit of luck in it last year so we'll try and follow the same path this year."  Ferguson won a $12,000 Nuggets Final at Winton last season with Ardtoo. But the Auckland Reactor gelding won't be seen this season. He's recovering from a minor suspensory tear.    Bruce Stewart

At Winton on Saturday Bettor’s Delight mare Melina Lowe proved age is no barrier when it comes to breaking records. In winning, the seven year old aided by a perfect run behind pacemaker Shezacullengirl, covered the 2400 metres from behind the mobile in 2-53.6. The time bettered Hannah Jaye’s 2-54.3 which was a track, Southland and New Zealand posted in 2012. Driver Sheree Tomlinson was so confident inside the last 300 metres that she didn’t wait for the passing lane, pulling Melina Lowe off the back of Shezacullengirl before the two straightened up for the run home. At the finish Melina Lowe stuck her head out gamely to beat Magnetic Watch which ran home late up the inside. “Sheree said she was travelling good all the way and felt she was going to win easily. She said the horse pulled up in the last 50 metres and when I told her what time they went, that explained why,” said trainer Craig Ferguson. The all-comers record for the distance at the Central Southland Raceway is held by three year old filly Nek Time which recorded 2-53.0 in 2016. Owned by Paul and Brendan Duffy of Edendale Melina Lowe has spent most of her career with Kirk Larsen but was transferred to Ferguson’s stable at the end of last season. She was having her eighth start for the barn. “She had a few niggly issues and I think the change of scenery and the pool at Wyndham helps older horses,” said Ferguson. Melina Lowe is out of Washington VC mare Biddy Mulligan whose second dam was quality Transport Chip pacer Chipaluck. Chipaluck, trained for most of her career by Ronnie MacDonald, won nine races. Her best season was as a three year old, when she won five races including the Group One 1985 New Zealand Oaks and the Group Two Ladyship Stakes in Auckland. “I used to milk Ronnie MacDonald’s cows when he went to the races. I was only sixteen when I started doing that and we became quite good friends. We were both breeding Aryshires. Owen Crooks had Chipalong (Apollo’s Way – Chipaluck) at that stage and she didn’t have a home so Ronnie offered her to us. My son Brendan and I went off and bought the mare home. When we got home he said ‘Dad do you think we should open a bank account?’ I said what for? He thought there was going to be money coming in I think. There was a bit of learning to taking place there,” said Paul Duffy laughing. Chipalong’s first foal was Biddy Mulligan. “She had speed everywhere but up the straight so we put her aside (to breed from).” Biddy Mulligan is also the dam of Arthur Lowe which won four races in New Zealand and another six in Australia. He won at Gloucester Park on Friday night so it was a great weekend for the Duffys. Paul says the Lowe name comes from the family farm which is on Lowe Road at Seaward Downs. “I bought the farm back in 1972. The original owner was Levi Lowe. We called one horse Levi Lowe and have gone with the Lowes ever since.” Meanwhile Ferguson says Melina Lowe may well be suited to the rise in class. “She follows speed really well and I think racing against the better faster horses will suit her.”   Bruce Stewart

Harness racing sire Changeover produced back to back winners at Gore today(Sunday) when Edie Jaccka and Jacks N Jazz won their respective races. Edie Jackka, which is raced by her breeder Charlie Smaill, had six starts as a three year old last season but trainer Brett Gray said she was always going to improve with age. “She went near enough but was just a little bit weak. We had a few starts and then Charlie chucked her in the paddock. I didn’t realise that Nathan’s one was scratched (Delightful Deal was late scratched in the race because of a foot abcess). It would have been the one to beat so I thought that was pretty cool. It made life easier. She had to do a bit of work and left no excuses for anything else. She’s actually been working super at home,” said Gray. After sitting back early driver Brent Barclay took the four year old mare to the lead with just over a lap to run and she won by a length and a quarter from Heavens Art. Edie Jaccka and Brent Barclay winning at Gore - Photo Bruce Stewart One race later another horse sired by Changeover, Jacks N Jazz won his R47-R49 mobile pace.   Out of the Union Guy mare Surfing Franco, he was bought for $6,000 at the yearling sales by co-trainer Jude Knight. “He was one of the last lots and she felt a bit sorry for him. He was a big dumb bugger, always going to take a bit of time and last year was a good year for him. We kept him on the unruly because he was a bit panicky last season. But by the end of the season we were confident that this year would be a better one for him,” said Geoff Knight, who co-trains the five year old. Craig Ferguson has a firm grip on Jacks N Jazz with a lap to run - Photo Bruce Stewart Jacks n Jazz is named after Geoff’s daughter Jazmin and grandson Jackson. Jasmine’s husband Tony Crofts has a quarter share in the horse, Jude owns a quarter, while the other half share is leased to the Have Fun Syndicate. Driver Craig Ferguson took Jacks N Jazz straight to the lead from barrier three and withstood a number of challenges throughout the 2200 metre journey holding on to beat Triple VC by a head.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

It's been a while coming but three year old filly I'mallaboutthebase recorded her breakthrough win at Winton today. The Shadow Play filly trained by part-owner and breeder Steve Baucke, showed early promise as a two year finishing second to Dizzy Miss Lizzy in the Group Three Alabar New Zealand/Caduceus Club of Southland Fillies Mobile in March last year. Since then she's recorded three other seconds and a third in her thirteen starts. In today's PGG Wrightson Mobile Pace, driver Craig Ferguson took luck out of play and from a handy draw went straight to the front with the favourite. He got away with a few 'cheap' quarters and the filly sped home in 56.7 seconds (last 800 metres) which put paid to her rivals. The winning margin was three lengths and the overall time was 3-01.9. "She got a nice draw today, got out in front and did what she likes to do. She's hard to beat when she pulls a 56 half. It was a very good drive from Craig. He said she just jogged it," said Baucke who owns the mare with his wife Carol.  "She hasn't had too much luck and had a few bad draws. We took her shoes off at Addington and the track was deep (on the night she raced) and she wasn't getting any grip. The start before that she was second which was a good run for her. We've also had a few problems with her back muscles. Suzanne Toomey (masseur) came once a fortnight and she also massaged her a couple of days before she raced. When she was sore she was hard to steer round the corners. Being young and longer in the back I think there's just a weak area there. It's not uncommon."  In the winners circle for the first time - Photo Bruce Stewart. Baucke has also been keeping a close eye on I'mallaboutthebase's half-sister Delight My Soul which is now racing out of the Ray Green stable in Auckland. "She's doing a great job up there. I'm proud of the little girl. She's bringing a bit of money in too." Since racing in Auckland she's had six starts for her new stable which resulted in two wins, a second, a fourth and a sixth. With the higher stakes in the north, she's banked $19,381.00.  "She's going to stud in the spring. I haven't finalised anything but I'm looking at Captaintreacherous." I'mallbaouthebase is out of the In The Pocket mare Soleil D’or from which the Bauckes have bred three fillies – Acapulco Sunrise (Santanna Blue Chip) which was unraced, Delight My Soul (Bettor’s Delight) and I'mallaboutthebase. Soleil D‘or is out of Corbie, a Vance Hanover daughter of Black Watch. “She had about six fillies so we decided to sell her. Then she had a colt. She hasn’t been bred from since so I’m not sure what happened there.” Steve and Carol Baucke have been in Southland for seventeen years, having shifted shifting south from Te Pahu south of Hamilton. They have a 320 cow dairy herd on 300 acres near Woodland. It’s also the home of four broodmares and a small team of racehorses which Steve trains. Carol’s parents Reg and Joyce Davey had horses too and raced Most Happy Milly, a Smooth Fella mare out Armbro Mill. Armbro Mill was a half-sister to Gold Rand which won eleven races. Most Happy Milly won five races, all as a three year old. She was trained by Maurice McKendry. The Daveys also raced thoroughbreds and actually bred Arwon the winner of the 1978 Melbourne Cup. He’s was by Aritzo out of Fair Flash and was originally named Flash Guy. His Australian owners changed his name to Arwon which is Nowra spelt backward. One of the syndicate members lives in Nowra. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

The Wyndham trained Ardtoo upset some more fancied runners in the Fairbairn Plumbing Limited Nuggets Final at Winton on Sunday. He was the rank outsider in the small field at $62.60 to win on the tote. Driver Craig Ferguson got the Auckland Reactor gelding through from the second line draw but was left parked for the first 1400 metres of the races. When Born To Run came around Ardtoo finally got cover. At the top of the straight he came out four wide and ran home resolutely down the middle of the track to win easily by two and a half lengths from favourite Shebang. His time of 2-59.1 was good on the slushy Central Southland Raceway.  The three year old is owned by his trainer Russell Ferguson and his wife Susan. Sunday's win was his second in a row, having had a win earlier in the month at Invercargill. "I knew it was a strong field but I was half confident because he's got this sheer amount of ability. People didn't share my confidence." Russell said he was surprised at how much the gelding paid. As part of the horse's training regime Ferguson has been taking him into Invercargill for some fast work. "I brought him to Invercargill on Thursday and he fast worked against one of Steve Lock's galloping pacemakers. He worked super."  Ferguson says he's now considering taking the horse for a road trip to Addington. "Yes, we'll look at that because he'll need to be ready for what we're targeting. We'll look at some age group racing so we can watch our rating points. We don't want to be racing older seasoned horses. Craig has backed me on that and has said to aim him at some decent races."  In the meantime Ardtoo has been turned out for a bit of a mid season break.  "He's in the paddock for ten days to a fortnight. Then we'll come back for the super final of the Nuggets. We'll support that Series all the way through because its a good concept. That'll lead us to the Supremacy Stakes."   Ardtoo is named after Wyndham Rural Delivery (RD2). "We own the RD run at Wyndham which Susan does so that's how he got his name."  Ferguson says he had some interest in the horse as a two year old but he declined it, and says he's not surprised he hasn't been approached this season. "It doesn't surprise me. I turned them all down last season and told them I was keen to keep him. We'll carry on racing him at the moment because we're having a bit of fun."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Pat’s Delight gave Gore owners Pat and Margaret Kubala a change of fortunes with an easy win at Forbury Park on Thursday night. The Kubalas, operating as Charlton Park Enterprises Ltd, lost Rapid Flight, a 3-year-old sister to Pat’s Delight a week earlier. Rapid Flight, who had been placed in four of her five starts, died from ryegrass staggers when due to resume work. The 2-year-old colt Pat’s Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Righteous Franco) is believed to have been affected by the same problem 12 months ago and he was on intravenous treatment for three days. Pat’s Delight, who finished third in his other start, led throughout 2200m and won by three and a half lengths. Righteous Franco has also left Rapid Mach (three wins) and Lightning Mach, both by Mach Three. Lightning Mach won 10 races for the Kubalas when trained by Cran Dalgety. He is also the trainer of Pat’s Delight. Lightning Mach was sold to the United States in July, 2016. She subsequently won her first three races and took a record of 1.51.2. Pat Kubala, who has a seed business, said anyone grazing horses should be aware of ryegrass varieties that have a low level of endophyte. That is a naturally occurring fungi in ryegrass when ingested affects the nervous system of animals, causing  “staggers”. Dunedin owner Russell Nieper also had a change of fortunes when he won with The Persuader, trained by Eion Latimer. His two win pacer Until Further Notice, trained by Latimer, has been diagnosed with a second fractured pastern. He was sidelined in December, 2015 with a fracture in his other hind leg. Gerard Cayford, the owner of Ygritte, said he would exercise a right of purchase on the 5-year-old trotting mare after her win, her third this year. He has the sister to dual Harness Jewels winner King Denny and half sister to Sarah Lindenny on lease from Trevor Casey. Ygritte won a race for Colin and Julie De Filippi before joining the stable of Amber Hoffman. The daughter of Majestic Son – A Touch of Sun had another 26 starts over 23 months before she regaining the winning list at Waikouaiti in February. Heard The Whisper, the six - win trotter owned by Cayford and trained by Hoffman, has fractured a cannon bone. He will require boxing for the next six weeks. Zsa Ziva has thrived during a stint with Makarewa trainer Craig Ferguson. She capped four minor placings with a six and a quarter length win in the hands of Sheree Tomlinson, whose mother Amanda Tomlinson and Grandfather Ken Ford race. She a half-sister to Zachary Binx (seven wins). “We have been doing little work with her (Zsa Ziva) between races,” said Sheree. Martin Denton did not get the win he wanted when he drove Och Aye The Noo on his 65th birthday, but he trained the winner Bourbon And Dry. He also had a great party at Forbury Park with a host of friends. Tayler Strong  

He's perhaps one of the most underated harness racing horses in Southland but once again Robyn's Bad Boy with the right run, proves he's classy enough to go to a better grade. He proved that today at Winton when he dented a few reputations by winning the Fairbairn Plumbing Limited Mobile Pace in track record time. He was driven by regular pilot Craig Ferguson. "He's a horse we drive for one run so if he doesn't get any luck he can look pretty ordinary. Even though he was parked for the last 1000 it suited him because he wasn't doing anything," said trainer Ross Wilson. Wilson timed the first 800 metres of the race to be run in 57 seconds and the field went to the mile in 1-55. "That's why they ran the last half in 59 seconds."  The overall time of 2-54.1 lowered the aged geldings and entire track record of 2-55.3 recorded in 2012 by Bettor's Brigadier. Nek Time holds the open track record of 2-53.0 The win didn't surprise his trainer especially after those sectionals and he also said that the horse's work during the week had been first class.  "He'd had a freshener and I just jogged him last week. I was really pleased with his work this week. He was just humming." Robyn's Bad Boy after winning at Winton              Photo Bruce Stewart So the plan now is to map out a programme for him in the next few weeks including the Gore and Roxburgh Cups. "Rob's Ideal is having a bit of a freshener too. I was planning the Gore Cup for him but I don't like racing them against each other too much. There are four or five races over New Year so I'll split them."  Wilson is also a great advocate of sending his horses to Australia when they reach their grade here and that's where Robyn's Bad Boy could end up.   "The appearance fees that Menangle pays, pays for your training fees for a month so anything you earn is basically profit. It's a bit of a no brainer really. He's the perfect little racehorse. The only thing is that he's getting out of his grade so I'll probably have to send him to Australia." Later in the programme the well bred Rocking Robyn led for most of his race and won for Wilson and driver Craig Ferguson. Rocking Robyn winning at Winton        Photo Bruce Stewart He's a full brother to Robyn's Cullen - both being out of Wilson's quality mare Robyn's Treasure which won seven races including the DB Fillies Final and New Zealand Oaks double in 1994 at Addington.   Rocking Robyn after winning at Winton        Photo Bruce Stewart Wilson said prior to the race that if Ferguson could get to the front and not get taken on, Rocking Robyn would be a chance and that's exactly what happened. He was too strong for favourite Royal Bengal, winning by a length and a quarter.    Bruce Stewart Southern Harness Racing

Jamie Campbell had something to tell his fellow teachers and pupils this morning (Thursday) after driving his first winner at Forbury Park the previous night. Campbell (25) drove trotter Armori to win the race for junior drivers at his 42nd drive. He gave the 15-to once chance the run of race behind the pacemaker and the 8-year-old mare came along the inner to win by a half a neck. Campbell is a teacher at Central Southland College, Winton, his teaches physical education and agriculture. He also assists his long time friend Craig Ferguson with stable chores at nearby Lorneville in his spare time. “I guess with six weeks school holidays coming up I will be doing a lot more work around the stables,’’ said Campbell. He took up his teaching position this year. He is in his second season as a junior driver. He previously worked three years for trainers Colin and Julie De Filippi when attending  the University of Canterbury. Armori, trained at Brighton by part-owner, Graeme McLay, has gained her four wins at Forbury Park. Bakari was an impressive winner in his first start from the Westwood stable of Graeme Anderson. Bakari,  a 3-year-old by Gotta Go Cullect – Jacaranda, had three placings in six starts when trained  at Amberley by part-owner, Kevin Chapman. He joined the  Anderson stable at the beach three weeks ago. “ I like him. He is a big horse. I told John (Dunn, the driver) to let him roll as he has pulled a bit,” said Anderson. The jaw-breaker bit was removed from Bakari prior to the start according to the stewards’ report. Bakari then hung in and paced roughly in the  score up and activated the removable ear plugs. Bakari  was soon clear in the lead, opened up a break of six lengths from the 900m and won by two and a quarter from Royal Bengal, who ran on well from back in the field. Bakari ran the 2200m (mobile) in a 2.41.1, a 1.57.8 mile rate, the fastest time of the evening and a smart effort in cool conditions. Bakari is the first foal of Jacaranda, an unraced half sister by Falcon Seelster to useful winners, Huey Hewett and Amboseli. Sagwitch, a 3-year-old half brother by Lis Mara to the big winner Washakie, was having his second start and first since April when he led over 2200m (mobile). He is trained at Waimumu, near Gore by Wayne(Syd) Breen for Paul and Nancy  Matheson, of Mataura. Sagwitch qualified in April and finished fourth in his lone start as a 2-year-old. “Wayne considered he was the nicest horse he had broken in so I bought him  from  Lester Paisley(breeder),” said Paul. He is in the ownership of Flashing On, who has won twice at Invercargill for Breen in the past two months. The  three wins, the best in a season for Breen, have coincided with a shift of stable from Gore to the nearby property formerly used by Billy Heads. He has four horses in work. He also works for Matheson, a hotel manager. Sagwitch is the last foal of Shoshoni Sunrise. Washakie, foaled in 2003, was her first and won 53 races and $1.8 million, mainly in Australia. Trainer Jonny Cox  again produced Franco Saxon for a fresh up win  for the 150 strong goHarness Staxofun syndicate. Franco Saxon, who had not raced for close on four months, had won his first start at Addington in May. Jema Jet, a newcomer to the Temuka stable of Brent White, outfinished Tortured Genius to clear maiden ranks. Omakau owner-trainer Bryan Woodhouse produced Lucky Pat’s Son to win a C0 trot in his first race for four and a half months Tayler Strong

Partners Craig Ferguson and Sheree Tomlinson drove back to back winners at Wyndham today. Ferguson who is only in his second year training, trained and drove Bonnie Medley to win the Titiroa Transport Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace while Tomlinson drove Sem's Delight to win the very next race - the Grand Hotel Roxburgh Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace.  Bonnie Medley is raced by The Southern Medley Syndicate which was put together by Ferguson and good mate Jamie Campbell. Bonnie Medley returning to the birdcage                               Photo by Bruce Stewart "The syndicate includes on whole heap of mates that have never raced horses before so that's half the buzz getting them involved. They're from Wyndham and Invercargill," said Ferguson. This is the young trainer's fifth winner from only 18 starters at the races and he's had to move from his father's property in Wyndham to a larger establishment. He now leases the late Bill Grice's property at Lorneville where he's been for the last month.   "I was set up at Dad's and its only set up for a handful of horses and I was just getting too many horses. I've got twelve horses there at the moment, mainly young ones."   All the money in today's race was on Ideal Legs and first starter Yankee Diva. Bonnie Medley started fourth favourite but Ferguson was relatively confident of a good showing. "She's had two starts now where she's sat in the trail and the leader has stopped. She flashed home last week and went real nice so we thought she'd go a good race today until we drew one on the second row again. They went fast up front and it opened up a bit."  Bonnie Medley is by Changeover out of Cassie's Medley, a lightly raced Badlands Hanover mare. This is the family of Bo Scot Medley the winner of seven races, Bold Cruiser (7 wins) and Badlands Jewel the winner of eight races including the 2008 Group One  Nevele R Fillies Final. "We'll look at the Drivers Day in Invercargill. You've got to be good to win those penalty free races but the way she went today I think she'll step up." A race later Sheree Tomlinson drove the Michael House trained Sem's Delight to win. The junior driver took the well bred mare straight to the front and stayed there right to the finish line beating Sweet As by a length and quarter. Sem's Delight winning at Wyndham                                    Photo by Bruce Stewart The win was some compensation for the bad luck the horse and driver had the previous week on the course.  "She got the one one but the parked one in front of us didn't give us a run into it and it was too hard coming from the back," said Tomlinson.  At the top of the straight the daughter of Hot Shoe Shuffle found a kick and was too good in the end.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Gore trainer Ross Wilson is hoping yesterday's double at the Northern Southland Trotting Clubs harness racing meeting is a sign of things to come. A win by El Dinero and a race later with Robyn's Bad Boy, has given him hope that he can break his personal best of nine winners this season. El Dinero's formline was written up in the race book as a horror show at his last start but that didn't deter Wilson.  "I've always had a high opinion of him actually. If it wasn't for the fact that he's by Santanna Blue Chip I'd be really excited about him. He works with Robyn's Bad Boy and he's just as good as him. We were pretty confident today with the draw that we'll get some of the money. He got a lovely run but still he did the job," he said. From barrier one, reinsman Craig Ferguson drove the four year old out to lead early before handing up to Ideal Ron with a mile to run. Ideal Ron took him to the passing lane. Ferguson took the opportunity and held on to beat a late charge from Three Hundy and El Dinero won by a neck.  Wilson wasn't surprised by the win but he was at what the winning dividend paid.  "Obviously no one listens to me. I told a lot of people that he would win and he still paid $30. We all made a bit of money off him." El Dinero returning to the birdcage      Photo by Bruce Stewart   In the next race Robyn's Bad Boy capped off some good early season form to win his sixth race. He was second last with 400 metres to run but charged home to beat Jabali by half a neck.  "He's a lovely wee horse that does everything right. He can follow speed and he can sprint at the end of it. For a hobbyist (hobby trainer) he's just a brilliant horse to have. He'll probably end up with Kerry Anne Turner in Australia at the end of the season." That win was Craig Ferguson's 108th. 24 wins have been for Wilson who's been a great supporter of the young reinsman.  Robyns Bad Boy winning out wide               Photo by Bruce Stewart This is the fifth time that Wilson has won two races in one day. Two have been with Robyn's Cullen and Von Regal (September 2009 and September 2010 at Winton) while Robyn's Bad Boy and My Guy Mac at Wyndham, and Von Regal and Jerry Fitz at Winton, both driven by Adam Sanderson provide the other double. Wilson's first training winner was Mister Majestic at Roxburgh in April 1980.  With only a small team he's confident of a good season. "I've got a real good team of horses this year and hopefully I can beat my season's best of nine wins. I've been trying to break ten wins and this year could be the year to do it." Rocking Robyn (Christian Cullen - Robyn's Treasure) and C2 pacer Robs Ideal are two he's looking forward to seeing on the race track again. "He's (Robs Ideal) had a couple of workouts and is on the comeback trail. I'm aiming him at the South of the Waitaki race at Addington."  One race later the Wayne Breen trained pacer Flashing On using Wilson's UFO cart won the Kubala Speeds Limited Mobile Pace by an impressive six and a half lengths.  Meanwhile Mataura trainer/driver Lyndon Bond drove his ninth winner and first since May 2010 when he reined home Explosive Star to win the first race at Ascot Park yesterday. Explosive Star and Lyndon Bond winning Race One at Ascot Park   photo Bruce Stewart The six year old gelding by Great Success was having his second start for Bond after winning one race from thirty four starts for Mike Heenan. His fourth dam is Edis Nova which won twelve races.  Explosiive Star returning to the birdcage                  photo Bruce Stewart He's owned by Lyndon's father Jimmy   Bruce Stewart  Southland Harness

Harness Racing trainer Brendon McLellan is back in Canterbury and hoping to go one better than last year. The Southland horseman arrived in Christchurch on Tuesday night with a four horse contingent to contest winter racing at Addington and around Canterbury over the next month. The main target is the South of the Waitaki Winter Warmer Series which begins next week with the first heat and culminates at the end of the month with an $11,000 Final. The series is available for horses graded up to the C1 level before the close of nominations for the first heat on Friday, July 8 provided they were registered as being trained in the Southland region prior to May 1, 2016. McLellan had moderate success in the series last year with Wick winning two of the four heats before finishing second to the exciting four-year-old Tact Tate who has since gone on to do good things in Australia. “It’s a good series, especially with very no options at home other than Forbury,” he said. “It certainly makes it worth coming up and having a crack anyway.” Three of the McLellan team will line up tonight at Addington to kick off their campaigns. Maiden pacer Luciano meets an even looking maiden field early on in the night and is expected to improve with the run. “I’m picking he’d be a run short, he does go ok though and will improve.” Mr Handleman, who raced in a heat of the South of the Waitaki Series last year goes around in the junior drivers’ event with Craig Ferguson in the sulky. “He’s a bit of an in and out sort of horse. He’s got some ability, but he doesn’t always put it out on the track. “We’ve gone back to the stand because he can begin when he wants too. “He’s here for the Series so we will know where we are at after this week anyway.” The third runner is the consistent Vera’s Delight who has been handed a tough barrier draw of nine in a 1950 metre mobile event for fillies and mares. The field includes Glenferrie Classic, Smoke N Fire, Donegal Rundlescreek, My Cash and Kotare Kasai so won’t be an easy task. “She’s got a job in front of her from out there, it’s going to be pretty tough. “But she does go alright and is more than capable, she will take some benefit out of the run too.” McLellan is based at the Woodend Beach branch of the Mark Jones stable while in Canterbury and will split his time between there and his home base in Southland. He is travelling down to Forbury on Friday to drive Vera Mac from his own stable and also Robyn Kim in the opening race of the night. Meanwhile the $3,000 bonuses offered for the First 4’s at Sunday’s abandoned Marlborough meeting have been transferred to tonight’s meeting meaning there’s extra reason to get involved throughout the night. With big even fields there’s every possibility of a few jackpots during proceedings which could see pools get significantly large as the night progresses. Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Westy Boyz, Deva Jones, Fira Sunset, Brylin Rose Race 2: Rapid Flight, Stunning Deal, Dalness Mac, Sheeza GNP Race 3: Freedom Fighter, Art I Am, Regal Grin, Big Buddie Race 4: He’s Like The Wind, Matatoki, Jean Sebastien, We’ll Meet Again Race 5: Kashana, Glenferrie Classic, Smoke N Fire, My Cash Race 6: Superfecta, Franco Nate, Woosh Factor, Mighty Empire Race 7: Franco Cristiano, GI Joe, Hypervelocity, Innocent Artist Race 8: Amaretto Sun, Clover Mac, Gee Up Neddy, Tornado Valley Race 9: Letspendanitetogetha, On The Rantan, McClinchie, Gabby’s Star Race 10: Junior, Ballymore Boy, Returntorocknroll, Franco Hamilton Best Bet: Freedon Fighter (Race 3) Value: Kashana (Race 5) Longshot: Franco Hamilton (Race 10) Matt Markham

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