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Budding superstar pacer U May Cullect has kept his unbeaten run intact by beating a strong harness racing field in the Listed $40,000 Uncut Gems (Geldings and Entires) Classic tonight at Addington Raceway. The margin was only a nose but U May Cullect showed the sort of will to win only the good horses have, when he got up the passing lane to beat a seasoned open class pacer in Classie Brigade and driver John Dunn. Another top northern pacer Triple Eight who had finished an unlucky fourth in last weeks Harness Jewels was a neck away in third, with a further six length gap away to the rest of the field headed by Smokin By. U May Cullect (5 B g Gotta Go Cullect - Ides Of May) ran the 2600m mobile in easy conditions in a very quick 3-08.7 a mile rate of 1-56.7 with a closing 800m run in a sizzling 55.9 seconds. U May Cullect winning tonights Uncut Gems. U May Cullect is currently the third favourite for this years edition of the New Zealand Cup to be run on 12th November. Trainer/driver Kirstin Barclay has driven the horse in all of his seven wins to date. Earlier in the night Woodlands trainer Steve Baucke caused a major upset when he won the Listed $40,000 Mares Uncut Gems Classic with his Shadow Play mare I'mallaboutthebase. I'mallaboutthebase got home quickly from three deep on the fence for driver Tim Williams to win by a length beating the early leader Flyin Milly Mac. I'mallaboutthebase winning the Mares Uncut Gems Classic   Harnesslink Media

Kirsten Barclay isn't scared of the challenges that lie ahead of Southland sensation U May Cullect. Because the way she looks at it, if taking on the best horses and trainers in the country doesn't excite her, she is in the wrong job. Barclay is the co-trainer and driver of unbeaten pacer U May Cullect, who is very good and might even be very special. He faces the biggest challenge so far of his six-start career in the $40,000 Uncut Gems Male Pace at Addington tomorrow night, up against genuine open class horses in Classic Brigade and Triple Eight. The Uncut Gems are for horses who haven't won a race worth more than $55,000 and didn't run top three in the recent Jewels. With better legs, U May Cullect would be ineligible by now. He only started racing this season as a 5-year-old because he had damaged the tendon in his near-side leg twice as a younger horse. When he did finally make it to the races this season the shock value was instantaneous, with his six wins having come with an average five-length margin. While his margins and times, including a 1:52.1 mile at his second start, are those of a good horse, his explosive speed and the same pacing action that made his sire Gotta Go Cullect one of the best juveniles of his era are what set him apart from the other open class pretenders. Already a rating90 horse U May Cullect is as good as qualified for the New Zealand Cup, which would be a dream come true for Barclay, who trains him with Paul "Tank" Ellis. But the road to the New Zealand Cup, or any other serious open class races next season, leads through the pacing might of the All Stars stables, led by Spankem and defending Cup hero Thefixer. Barclay is unfazed. "We know how good these top horses are and how good trainers Mark [Purdon] and Natalie [Rasmussen] are," she offers. "But if you aren't excited by taking them on then I think you are in the wrong game. That is what we want to do, go up against the best and see how we go. "I am not saying we will beat their best horses but there is only one way to find out. "So if he holds together and we are lucky enough to be in a race like the Cup I'd be excited about it, not scared of them." Although beating the elite is a far cry from beating up on Southland's next best, some of the horses U May Cullect meets over the 2600m mobile tomorrow night would not be out of place in a New Zealand Cup so if he beats them easily the hype machine will change gear. While U May Cullect was too old to contest the Jewels, it would have been a fascinating drag race up the Addington straight had he sat on Turn It Up's back on Jewels day, particularly as the Auckland Cup winner understandably wasn't as sharp as earlier in the season. Barclay admits as exciting as her new equine toy is — "he is amazing to drive at full speed" — she tries not to get carried away with what the future holds. "For me it is a big deal to be going to Addington with a really good horse who we think can win. "This week's race is a big deal for us and I'll be a bit nervous. "Before we won with him there in April I had only ever won one race at Addington before." That was 17 years ago so Barclay is entering foreign territory but at least she is doing so with an owner who backs her, a canny training partner she trusts and U May Cullect, who is as weird as he is fast. "Yep, he is a bit of a weirdo," she admits. "He spends most of his time being worked at the beach and he doesn't really like people fussing over him. He is a bit of a loner. "But he is lovely to work with and every time we find a new challenge for him he loves it." Challenges don't come much bigger in harness racing than the second Tuesday in November at Addington. Barclay won't shy away.   Michael Guerin

Such is the ease in which star Southland pacer U May Cullect is winning, today driver and co-trainer Kirstin Barclay had to remind the five year old that getting to the line first is what good pacers do. “I had to give him a wee slap today. He’s just got into the habit of pulling up because there’s no competition. He’s actually going to be better coming off their backs. But really happy as that was a nice step up in grade,” she said after the gelding scored another emphatic victory at Winton today. From barrier three Barclay took the Tom Kilkelly owned gelding straight to the top and he easily won the 1609 metre trip by three lengths from stablemate Paddyproudfoot.  “Paddy went super. I was rapt with a wee man.” The winning time was 1-53.1. “There was a race for him at Addington but we decided to stay down here and support the local clubs at the end of the season because people are coming out to see him.” U May Cullect winning today Although in front again today, Barclay says she’d like to educate U May Cullect to race in the field. “If we can get a preferential race he should get a draw and take a sit. The first time in that higher grade that’s what I’d like to do to give him confidence.” So what’s next? “No plans. We’ll take him week by week. He still needs a spell somewhere along the line.” U May Cullect returning after winning - Photo Bruce Stewart This was the gelding’s fifth start and fifth win and I can’t remember the last Southland trained pacer to win their first five starts. Microscopic, after running fourth on debut won his next six races while Honkin Vision ran second on debut then won four straight. Later in the day today the Mitchell Kerr trained Zinny Mac driven by Nathan Williamson broke the track record for three year old colts and geldings. His time of 2-54.3 was 0.1 of a second better than the previous record broken in December by Robyns Playboy. The win was one of two for Kerr who trained Justasec to win the last race of the day. The win was also one of three for Southland’s leading reinsman Nathan Williamson. Meanwhile Jonny Cox did the right thing for his family by winning the Cox Family Celebration Trot on the Amber Hoffman trained Imran Khan. The Pegasus Spur six year old won by an impressive five lengths and Cox threw in a victory salute well before the winning post for good measure. Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart Imran Khan is part-owned by Trackside presenter Mark McNamara and Matt Cross, jockey Samantha Wynn and ODT Journalist Jonny Turner.   Bruce Stewart

After he won on Diamonds Day a week ago it was expected that star pacer U May Cullect would be turned out for a month. But that’s now not the case. “When Tank went to feed him the next day he was going nuts around the paddock so he just thought we’d be better to tick away with him quietly and look at races every two to three weeks. We always do precautionary scans on him. We gave him a scan last week and the leg is perfect. We’ve got no real plans. We’ll go to Winton and I’m not sure what will happen after that,” said co-trainer Kirstin Barclay. He’s been the big find of the Southern harness racing season and he's created talk right across the national harness scene when winning all of his four starts impressively. “We knew he was a nice horse but the way he’s stepped up in every race has been amazing. Everything he does he does so easily. To be fair he hasn’t stepped up against quality yet but the times he’s run, especially his 1-52 mile at Winton untouched, shows he’s more than capable of going a bit quicker.” Barclay says the horse has continued to get better and better and has taken everything in his stride. “The big thing is that he can be keen off the gate but as soon as he’s crossed over or you ask him to come back to you after you’ve come out of the gate he just relaxes. At Addington he was keen, took a trial and just went to sleep. It was the same at Winton. He’s a pretty smart cookie and nothing really worries him.”   Bruce Stewart

Chuckles continued his great run for owner Tom Kilkelly and trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis when he won the second to last Nuggets Final at Ascot Park today (Saturday). And it was fitting that the race was sponsored by Kilkelly’s business Regent Car Court. It was only the Grinfromeartoear gelding’s third start after he qualified at Wyndham in November last year. “He qualified really nice but had a wind problem so he had to go away and have an operation. He’s come a long way in a short time,” said Barclay. The three year old is out of the Badlands Hanover mare Uroc On and is named after master horseman Mark Purdon. “The horse’s stable name is Mark. Tom and Julie used to sit and watch Mark on Trackside interviews and he always had a wee chuckle so that’s how he got his name.” From Gate Six Barclay worked Chuckles to the front before handing up to stablemate Hampton and then Tulsa Jaccka. When Love The Blues became the fourth leader Chuckles was posted four back on the inside. With 800 metres to run Jaffie J started to move up. Barclay gave Chuckles a flick with the reins and he got onto that runners back. With 500 metres to go she got Chuckles into top gear and he sprinted hard three wide. “I knew Wayne’s one (Tulsa Jaccka) had a good turn of foot so I wanted to get a bit of a break on it before it got to the lane.” Chuckles sustained a good sprint in the run home beating Tulsa Jaccka by three quarters of a length with the winner’s stablemate Hampton making ground late for third another three quarters and a length away. Chuckles and Kirstin Barclay beating Nathan Williamson and Tulsa Jaccka - Photo Bruce Stewart Barclay noted the gelding was keen today and that was noticeable when he was trailing Hampton early in the event. “He just wasn’t himself today. The track was a wee bit looser, he was fresh, looking at everything and buggering around a little bit. He knuckled down when it was time to do the job.” It was another great drive by Barclay who’s in an excellent vein of form at the moment, undoubtedly buoyed by the thrill of driving U May Cullect. The win was one of two on today’s card for Barclay. In the last two weeks she’s won five races. Her other win today was on the Ricky Gutsell trained Maahes which won the Southland Express Mobile Pace at odds of 34-1. Maahes winning at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart   Bruce Stewart

Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harness racing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. This week’s show features Southland trainer/driver Kirstin Barclay following her four win training haul with training partner Tank Ellis on Saturday – including the remarkable win by U May Cullect. We are live at Phar Lap Raceway, chatting to Timaru HRC President Elizabeth Shand about the upcoming Mother’s Day meeting. Junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson chats to us following her first pacing winning drive at Timaru with Sweet Mary and Canterbury owner Wendy Nordqvist explains why she loves harness racing ownership. All that plus our usual update with Bookie Richard Wilson.   HRNZ Marketing

It was one of those stellar days that don’t come along very often. Harness racing trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis geared up four winners today at Ascot Park for Southland’s Diamonds Day - the premier race day of the season. The ‘quaddie’ of wins was spearheaded by the stable’s glamour pacer, the unbeaten U May Cullect which stole the show. The partnership which is only in its first season, has recorded two wins in a day twice before, but this was a milestone on another level. Today Barclay wasn’t sure if she’d let U May Cullect press forward from the outside of the front line, stating that the horse would make up its own mind and she would just be the passenger. The horse was keen and Barclay let him roll forward from the outside of the gate. From that point Barclay was in for the ride, and the five year old cruised down to the line for another emphatic win, beating My Georgie Boy by six and a half-lengths running the 2200 metre mobile in an impressive 2-41.9. It’s likely this will be the gelding’s last start for the season as the connections have some bigger plans for him next season. “Kirstin and Tank are making a plan and they’re talking about not racing him again because we’re hoping to get to the Cup. If we turn him out now he can come back for the likes of the Hannon and he’ll be off the front,” said owner Tom Kilkelly. U May Cullect is eligible for a Super Nuggets Final in a weeks’ time but he’s unlikely to front. “I’ve got a nice paddock for him locked up. Kirstin will look after him. I find you don’t want to treat them with kid gloves because that’s when things can go wrong. I don’t want him wrapped up in cotton wool.” Kilkelly has raced some nice horses over the years including Guns N Roses and Shard Ark but he says U May Cullect is another level. He says he’s starting to feel the pressure that goes with owning a good horse which is unbeaten. “Today I did get nervous. I don’t normally, but today in the last few minutes before the race I did because everyone was talking him up and he’s got a lot to live up to now.” He said the horse continues to get better. “They worked him on Wednesday and Kirstin said he worked better than before he went to Christchurch. Tank said his resting heart rate after the run was down to 40. The best I had a horse down to when I was training was 60 to 65 –they don’t come back to 40. So that just shows you the size of the heart. He’s special.” On his return to the birdcage U May Cullect received applause from the Southern Harness fans who generally reserve it for the very best. Kilkelly says although his name is in the race book as the owner he would like to think the province will also share in the success U May Cullect is having. “We could have taken him further north but he’s a Southland horse. He’s not mine he’s ours. I said to Mick Guerin (Northern Journalist and Trackside Presenter) three things. He’s not for sale, he’s staying on the beach with Kirstin and Tank and Kirstin drives him. I said to him there’s a tar sealed road between Invercargill and Christchurch now.” U May Cullect - Bruce Stewart Photo The prefect day was capped for Kilkelly when Chuckles won the last race. It was a very good aggressive drive by Barclay. From barrier five she speared the Grinfromeartoear gelding to the top. She handed the lead to Flaming Jim with 1600 metres to run. Flaming Jim was then attacked by hotshot Justasec which eventually made the lead with a lap to run. Chuckles That battle certainly played into Chuckles hands as the trailing horse. With 800 metres to run Barclay pulled Chuckles out from three back on the inside but her progress was halted as he locked wheels with Flaming Jim. However she got going again and at the 400 metres Barclay was dishing it up to Justasec. On straightening Chuckles proved too tough for Justasec, winning by three and a half lengths. Another easy winner for Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis - Chuckles The Sun shining bright on Chuckles completing a great day for owner Tom Kilkelly Earlier in the day the Barclay/Ellis stable scored an upset win in the Williamson Racing Stables Handicap Trot when Wee Man Trouble beat higher assessed horses. With 400 metres to run driver Blair Orange could see that some of the back markers had a bit of ground to make up on the leader De Vito so he popped out of the trailing position and pinched a five length break on the bulk of the field. Wee Man Trouble It proved to be the winning of the race. Wee Man Trouble held on to beat a late charging War Admiral by a length. The win elevates Wee Man Trouble to seventh on the leader board for the $125,000 Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby. Wee Man Trouble The stable’s other winner was Paddyproudfoot. Driver Kirstin Barclay once again used her horse’s gate speed and from barrier six the Washington VC gelding was taken straight to the top. With a lap to run she handed up to the second favourite Pitch Perfect. Paddyproudfoot On straightening for the run home Pitch Perfect got away by two lengths but Paddyproudfoot came resolutely down the middle of the track to win by a length and a quarter. Paddyproudfoot Meanwhile other winners on the day included Full Noise which wore down a brave Neverneverland in the Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Trot. The win puts the Majestic Son gelding in the top twelve in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Ruby. Full Noise Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr brought the majority of his team south but walked away with only one win. It came in race two with Change Is Good which was driven by Nathan Williamson. Change Is Good Nathan Williamson got the perfect sit behind pacemaker Bridesdale Robyn in the Foveaux Communication Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. At the top of the straight he got the passing lane run to win by a length and a quarter. Vintage Cheddar scored a well-deserved win in the Regent Car Court Southern Country Cups Handicap Pace. Driver Brad Williamson tucked the four year old in behind leader Santanna’s Rocket which took him to the passing lane. Vintage Cheddar which is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson and trained by Alister Black made full use of the lane to beat Smokin By by a length and three quarters. Vintage Cheddar By Bruce Stewart

We didn't know it at the time but when the five-year-old U May Cullect put a couple of potentially career-ending setbacks behind him to win on debut at the Northern Southland meeting a fortnight ago, it was a case of 'you haven't seen anything yet'. Plenty on course that day were in awe of the performance of the Tom Kilkelly-owned gelding who suffered tendon damage at three and four but came back to record a 1:57.9 mile rate when winning over 2200 metres by four lengths. They were in all sorts of raptures on 'Wairio Mile Day' at Central Southland Raceway on Saturday. Drawn 13 in a 13 horse field, U May Cullect settled in the last pair and made only minor progress when the one out line moved. But just outside the 400, when driver Kirstin Barclay - who in partnership with Paul Ellis also trains the gelding at Oreti Beach - asked him to sprint, the acceleration was incredible. U May Cullect stretched out to an eight and a quarter length win and stopped the clock at 1:52.1, just 0.2 seconds outside the track and Southland record held by Delightful Memphis. It was clearly the day's fastest. The time did however better the previous Southland 1609 metre record for entires and gelding of 1-52.5 recorded by Mach’s Back at Wyndham at the end of January and the Winton track record for aged geldings and entires of 1-53.9 which was held by Fly Like An Eagle. “He was a bit keen out of the gate but relaxed beautifully,” Barclay said. “Then when I asked him to go, I've never felt any horse turn on the speed like he did.” After his first win, Kilkelly described U May Cullect as a day to day proposition and while that hasn't changed, he is clearly enjoying the ride. “There's no backing off now,” Kilkelly said.     Mac Henry for Southland Harness racing

There was a bit of talk around first starter U May Cullect at Ascot Park yesterday and a few punters were obviously listening. The five year old, which started as second favourite, doesn’t have a flash pedigree but as we know in racing that doesn’t always count. The Gotta Go Cullect gelding has also been a lesson in perseverance for owner Tom Kilkelly and his trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis. “We took him to the workouts when he was three and he went pretty good. One of the guys that worked for asked me if I'd sell him. I said no. He said I’ll give you $50,000 for him. I said SOLD. The next day he popped a tendon. We turned him out and we had another go and he popped it again. So we gave him a big break on the block out at Riverton on the hill,” said Kilkelly. Since returning to training he’s been worked on Oreti Beach by Ellis. In today’s 2200 metre mobile driver Kirstin Barclay took U May Cullect straight to the front from Barrier Six. And at the end of the 2200 metres he had plenty to spare, beating favourite Ohoka Achilles by an impressive four lengths running the journey in 2-41.2. Winning salute - Photo Bruce Stewart U May Cullect is out of the Albert Albert mare Ides Of May which has also left Victoria May, a 1-51 horse in America, and he was bought at the 2014 Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale for $5,200. “...We were pretty confident. His tendon has stayed perfect so far and if he stays sound he’ll win some more races. When he broke down we thought that was the end of it. A lot of people told me I was wasting my time. He’s still a day to to day proposition.” Ask Me Major was another horse Kilkelly owned that showed promise, winning once from just three starts, but unfortunately his career was shortened by injury. Kilkelly says U May Cullect is the nicest horse he’s raced since Shard Ark and Guns N Roses. Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart  Meanwhile Wee Man Trouble also trained by Barclay and Ellis , did the right thing for major sponsor of the Northern Southland Cup Meeting, Dave McHugh. He began well from the back mark and driver Blair Orange positioned him back on the outside. He joined pacemaker Crusher Collins with 600 metres to run and 100 metres off the winning post Wee Man Trouble got to the lead to beat a brave Crusher Collins  by a length and a quarter. The Superfast Stuart four year old has been a consistent performer throughout his short career, winning four of his seventeen starts and being placed in three others.   Bruce Stewart

Invercargill lawyer Murray Little was in the winners circle twice at the Wyndham harness racing meeting yesterday (Saturday) when two of the horses he owns and bred won their respective races. Betterthanbrie started the ball rolling in Race Two. She settled in the last group of runners after drawing barrier thirteen and improved three wide on the back of Thisexcusebetterbeit inside the last 700 metres. Driver Dexter Dunn brought the three year old wide into the straight and she let down strongly to beat Thisexcusebetterbeit by a length and a quarter with a half a length back to favourite Semiramide who was late getting clear.  The Betterthancheddar filly qualified as a two year old from Wayne Adams barn but is now trained by Paul 'Tank' Ellis at Oreti Beach. "She got a wee injury about four or five months ago. We turned her out and decided to put her on the beach which is quite good because I get to drive her on Saturdays and Sundays," said Little who owns the barn Ellis trains out of. Betterthanbrie is out of the nine win Holmes Hanover mare Suvarno Hanover which Little owns. "I've had her (Betterthanbrie) since she was weaned and I'm never going to sell her because she's the only filly I've got out of Suvarno Hanover." Little got into the family when be bought Mach Varno at the sales. "Then Ged Mooar rang me and said do you want to buy the mother in foal to Courage Under Fire. I bought her and I've been breeding from her ever since." The Courage Under Fire colt never raced but the next foal by Bettors Delight named Wannabet won three in New Zealand and another eight in Australia. He's paced a mile there in 1-53.9. Suvarno Hanover's next foal is Betterthanbrie while she also has an American Ideal two year old colt named Wannahavtime. "He's growing and going to be a big horse so we just tipped him out this week. Kirstin Barclay's got him and he was going really well on his second prep." Little also sold the mare's yearling colt by He's Watching at the recent Christchurch sale for $18,000. He thinks there's still improvement in Betterthanbrie judging from the way she's been running on in her previous starts and he says he'd love to start her in Invercargill at the end of next month.  "I'll talk to Tank but I'd love her to race in the Southland Oaks because her mum won it." Murray Little with stable helpers                      - Photo Bruce Stewart  Later in the day the talented Mach's Back returned to the winners circle after a horror run of noughts. He settled in the last group of horses early. With 1300 metres to run, driver Ricky May sent the four year old forward three wide. He got cover briefly from favourite Come Dance With Me which had followed him up. At the 400 these two horses got down to business and under the urgings of May, Mach's Back proved too good winning by a length and a quarter. The winning time was 2-56.3. "He had teeth problems and was crossfiring but they've got that sorted out," said Little prior to the win yesterday. Like Betterthanbrie he also bred Mach's Back which is by Mach Three out of Dream Angel a full-sister to high class mare One Dream which won eighteen races and nearly $900,000.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Betterthanbrie winning    Mach's Back winning  

Senorita Margarita broke a fourteen year old track and Southland harness racing record when she won at Ascot Park yesterday. The three year old filly by Vintage Master has only been in the south for six weeks after being leased out of Mark Jones stable. Her 2-46.5 for the 2200 metre stand bettered Precious Title’s 2-47.1 set in 2003. The time also created a new all-comers record. Now trained by Kirstin Barclay, Senorita Margarita began well and lead all the way for stable driver Andrew Suddaby. “She stepped good. We weren’t too sure how she would go from a stand because both of her workouts had been from the mobile. I got her on the right foot and she went away good,” he said. Suddaby was quick to assess the situation and with Spoilsport on his back - the rest of the field split into two bunches and strung out, he didn’t allow the chasers to make up any significant ground. “I didn’t think I was going that quick but running 2-46 is probably why they were strung out. I had a look a few times and we were (the first two) out by a wee way so I just kept the pedal to the metal and it worked in the end.” The winning margin was three quarters of a length with Ideal Art running second. Senorita Margarita winning        - Photo Bruce Stewart “At the top of the straight I thought the others were going to get past me. She may have knocked off a bit and was waiting on the others. If we’d gone another 100 metres I still think she would have held them out (anyway).” Senorita Margarita is out of the nineteen win Holmes Hanover mare Oaxaca Lass. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

It was just a matter of waiting for giant pacer Ask Me Major to mature, and both owner Tom Kilkelly and trainer Kirstin Barclay were prepared to do that. Last week at the Northern Southland harness racing meeting you can see the gelding switch on, halfway down the straight when he ran an improvers fourth.  Today after lobbing the one one he came up the middle of the track and held on to narrowly beat a fast finishing Patanjali by a nose. The angle is deceptive but Ask Me Major (4) beats Patanjali (1) by a nose  The Ask Me Major story has plenty of twists and turns, starting on day two at the 2012 Sale of the Stars in Christchurch.  "He came through (the ring). He was by Major In Art and they couldn't get a bid on him because he was huge.They said 'someone give us a thousand dollars' so I put my hand up, gave them a thousand and that was it," said Kilkelly. Kilkelly had a soft spot for the giant black colt because he'd successfully raced his half-sister Ask McArdle which won five races for him. Fast forward to November 2015 and Ask Me Major qualified as a five year old, but there's certainly been some trials and tribulations on the way to today.   "He's broken down three times in the tendon. We gave him over a year off and this time in we've really looked after him. Kirstin does it all. She wraps him continually with one of those pulse blankets and does the legs as well everyday. He's got ice boots - you name it he gets every little bit of treatment." Kilkelly says despite his size the gelding paces perfectly.  "Normally with a big horse they can pace out of kilter but he paces lovely. I always said he's my cup horse. I'm not sure whether it's the Tin Shed Cup (raced on the grass at Balfour) or the New Zealand Cup," he said laughing.  Such is Barclay's dedication to Ask Me Major that she had to be part of the birdcage photo today even though she was driving a stablemate of the winner.  Winning connections                               - Photo Bruce Stewart.  "After he won she gave someone the horse she was driving so she could get her photo taken with him. You don't normally get that emotional with horses but he's pretty special to us this fella."  The horse has also impressed seasoned reinsman Andrew Suddaby who had the reins again today. "Suds said he is totally green and was talking about putting some blinds on to wake him up but we decided it was better to run him just the way we are." Despite his progress the stable's not getting too carried away.  "He's still just a day to day proposition. Kirstin keeps looking at the legs and saying I think there's a bump there." So it's back to the routine again tomorrow.  "He never works between races. He just jogs all week and then races at the weekend. That way you're not putting pressure on him all the time."     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing    

It was a stellar day for Southland harness racing driver Andrew Suddaby who drove three winners on the card at Winton on Saturday.  His winners were Pegasus Merrily for Matt Saunders and My Rona Gold and Grace Burns for Kirstin Barclay. Suddaby who drove his first winner at Timaru in January 1995 has now driven 220 winners. It's not the first time he's driven three winners in one day, and in fact in August 2005 he drove four in one night at Forbury Park (Boulder Bay, Jaccka Turbo, Copper Belt and Elvis Rocks).  Number two with My Rona Gold - Photo Bruce Stewart.      Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

 - Zoey's Gift confirmed her spot in the group two New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on 31 March with a New Zealand record winning performance at Winton on Saturday. Third daughter of the group one winning mare Jasmyn's Gift, Zoey trotted the 2400 metres from behind the mobile in 3:03.5, best ever for a three year old filly. The previous record had also been set on the track, by Jen Jaccka two years earlier. She was driven by Matthew Williamson and trained by his father Phil who has reservations about running in the Oaks but knows she is only eligible for it once. “I hope she will be competitive but I'm not getting too carried away,” he said. “She's a fair sort of horse but the 1950 mobile start is a bit draw-dependent. Her mother was outpaced in the Oaks and this filly might be too.” Jasmyn's Gift was having her third start when only eighth in the 2003 Oaks, but went on to win 17 of her 48 goes. Williamson said Zoey's Gift was too big to race as a juvenile and the family is better with time. “She should have a big future,” he said. - Matthew Williamson gained a second win on Saturday when he guided Gotta Del to victory in the C3 to C5 mobile 2400. They led all the way and cleared out to score by five and three quarter lengths in 2:58.2. Gotta Del is trained by Clark Barron for his breeder and owner Ian Hunter who won with his trotter Delestic last Sunday. The horses share the same third dam in the trotting winner Delalee. She left the group two winner Aron Del who finished fourth in the 1989 Rowe Cup. - Trainer Kirstin Barclay gained her first bag of three winners when My Rona Gold, Grace Burns and Magical Marn were successful. Grace Burns, a winner at Waikouaiti 11 days earlier, is raced by her breeder Tom Kilkelly. The mare is named after a sister of Kilkelly's father in law, long time southern harness administrator Peter Burns. Kilkelly also races the three year old Magical Marn, a $15,000 purchase at the 2015 premier sale. “Tom picked him but didn't go to the sales, I had to do the bidding and was a bit nervous, I went slightly over his limit,” Barclay said. Five year old grey mare Rona Gold is raced by Barclay's husband, Nick, Kilkelly's wife Julie, and Julie's daughter Holly Brown. Barclay was the successful driver of Magical Marn while Andrew Suddaby won on My Rona Gold and Grace Burns. - Earlier in the day, Suddaby had won the C0 claimers on Pegasus Merrily to give him three for the day. He'd previously achieved the feat at Invercargill in January 2002, and Forbury Park in November of both 2004 and 2005, but his best was Copper Belt, Jaccka Turbo, Boulder Bay and Elvis Rocks at Forbury Park in May 2005. Pegasus Merrily was trainer Matt Saunders' third win since his move to Tapanui on 6 January. He has taken over the seven-days-a week Four Square store there and trains on the old Tapanui race-course, sharing the facilities with galloping trainers Nikki and Barrie Blatch. “I can have three there, I paddock train them,” said Saunders. His first two wins were with Marshal Star, on the grass at Cromwell and Waikouaiti. Saunders said he sold the six year old to the Central Districts during the week and had only just replenished his team to three and it is back to two again. Pegasus Merrily, who won the mobile mile in 1:56.7, was claimed for $4500 by Rowena Mackintosh after spending about six weeks with Saunders. - Nathan Williamson kicked off a trainer-driver double with the unbeaten Shezacullengirl in a C0 mile. The daughter of Chloe Hanover had won her sole start as a juvenile in April and was getting ready to kick off in October when she strained a muscle in her back end. She paced the mile in 1:57.3 and pleased Williamson. “She doesn't thrill you at home but turned it on on raceday,” he said. Talented trotter Sundons Wish made it two from three and Williamson reckons he is back on track after failing at Ascot Park in January. “He was tying up and is trained out of the paddock now,” Williamson said, “he's got a good motor and trotted nice and square today.” - Rain had soaked the track before the C1 and C2 mares and fillies mile but Break Dance still managed to clock 1:55.9, fastest of the three mobile miles on the day. Break Dance is trained at Waikouaiti by Amber Hoffman and one of two winners for Blair Orange whose drives this season are about to crack the million dollars in earnings. In the final race of the day, fellow Cantabrian visitor, the Cran Dalgety-trained Baileys Rock gave Orange his second win. - Operative Asset, dam of the good performers Citylight and Belkmyster, struck again when I'm Jimmy James won at just his second time to the races. The three year old by Big Jim was bred and is owned and trained by Steve Baucke at Woodlands who said he had I'm Jimmy James running at two, he showed ability but he turned him out to grow. A half brother by Mach Three was picked up by Mark Jones for $12,000 and last week's sales. Baucke has an American Ideal two year old filly from operative Asset, she has a foal at foot by A Rocknroll Dance, and is in foal to Sportswriter. Mac Henry

"It was good to finally get the monkey off my back and get a bit of stress off the shoulders;" the first words  harness racing trainer Kirstin Barclay said after Just Say Go and Don't Pass I'm Fast won consecutive races at Winton today. Just Say Go in the hands of junior reinsmans Jamie Campbell won the John Keenan Memorial Mobile Pace comfortably by one and three quarter lengths. "I was pretty confident. He raced well first up at Invercargill in the slush with a hopeless draw and ran on strongly. We took him to Balfour last weekend and again he ran home strongly. It was a poor field today so we were confident." The win was Campbell's second in his career.  "It was great to get the win for Jamie. He's been a big help to us over the years. If we've ever been stuck we could always ring him and he'd come and give us a hand."  In the next race Don't Pass I'm Fast beat the claimers, running the mile in 1-59.9. After a nice trip driver Andrew Suddaby eased the Art Official mare out of the one one and took the lead at the top of the straight. She held on to beat favourite Longevity by three quarters of a length. Don't Pass I'm Fast winning                                                 Photo Bruce Stewart "Shes improving all the time. I really liked her early on after she showed a lot in track work but didn't show up on the racetrack. We've changed the way we train her. We've backed right off her. She used to cop a fair bit of work because she's a big strong looking horse. Andrew, who helps us out, suggested that maybe we try going the other way. She often has a day off before the races. She does very little." Don't Pass I'm Fast is out of the Wingspread mare Fast Winger. She also left the ill-fated Almost A Christian which won four of his eight starts and Still Laughin the winner of seven for Ken and Clark Barron.  Don't Pass I'm Fast returning to the birdcage          Photo Bruce Stewart Both Just Say Go and Don't Pass I'm Fast are owned by Tom Kilkelly. Don't Pass I'm Fast won the Regent Car Court Claimers Mobile Pace. Regent Car Court is owned by Kilkelly so it was a great result.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

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