Day At The Track
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Gore trainer Syd Breen had a moment to cherish at Wyndham on Saturday when he prepared Sagwitch and Santanna's Rocket to quinella the MLT/Three Rivers Hotel Wyndham Cup. “I've never had a quinella in a race before,” an excited Breen said “but that's the second time I've had three in a race and Sagwitch has won them both.” “I broke him as a yearling and liked him, Paul Matheson bought him, then as a two-year-old sold him to Australia for $100,000,” explained Breen. “But he didn't pass a vet test so Paul and his wife Nancy carried on with him and gave me 10 percent. He is Nancy's first horse. After training for a period during the 1990s, Breen had a break and described Sagwitch - seven wins - as his best, at least since resuming in 2014. Matheson, who manages the Falls Hotel in Mataura for the race sponsoring Mataura Licensing Trust, also has a share in Santanna's Rocket. So too has Ross Cleland, described by Breen as an integral part of his operation. “Ross has had shares in a lot of good horses, Night Allowance was one of them.” Another enjoying the result was winning driver and former local,but now Rangiora-based Mark Hurrell, who had finished last aboard Sagwitch in the Autumn Cup at Ascot Park a fortnight ago. “He stepped good today, he's not always the best away,” Hurrell said. “He was slow away last time then they went slow and sprinted home, it didn't suit him. He's better if they go hard and he doesn't need to do any work.” Sagwitch settled fifth in line but when the one-out train formed a lap out, the five-year-old was shuffled back. Last from the 1200 to the 600, Hurrell then moved the five-year-old forward four wide and he kept the run going right to the post winning by a length and a quarter in a smart 4:00.9. “I could have moved when they went forward but I didn't want him to do much so waited before I put him in the race, he just kept going,” said Hurrell. Tyler Dewe's joy after winning aboard The Commando in the Lamb Drive/Cattle Graziers Trot at Wyndham on Saturday could well have been ever greater. The Commando was the 599th winner for trainer Phil Williamson who had expected a big run at Addington on Friday night from Ultimate Stride. The abandonment of the meeting, as consequence of the shooting drama in Christchurch, put paid to that. Had the juvenile made a winning debut on Friday, the next day Dewe would have been handed the honour of getting the 600th. However, the win itself was enough for Dewe who joined the staff at Williamsons around Christmas time and has relished his time in Oamaru. “It's good to get the opportunity, I love it there,” said Dewe who was scoring on a Williamson horse for the first time. “Matt helped me get the job and I stay with Brad.” Dewe was also thrilled to get the win for his grandfather Arnold Dewe “He has been one of my biggest supporters and is quite ill,” he said. The Commando was bred by Bev Williamson and passed to her son Matthew who had driven the four-year-old in all but one of his previous starts. Attendance at a birthday party in Australia meant Matthew missed the win. Bev Williamson also featured as the winning breeder of Chinese Whisper, successful in the Neville Cronin Memorial Trot. The three-year-old out of Little Contessa was trained and driven by Bev's son Nathan and is raced by Nathan's wife Katie in partnership with farrier Brendan Franks. A Sundon gelding, Chinese Whisper was racing for just the second time and despite the unruly draw of 13, was comfortable when making it two from two. Back in the field early, he got a drag up on the back of Robbie Royale commencing the last lap, led from the 900 and was too strong. “I've never pulled the plugs on him yet so I don't know what would happen but he is probably doing his best anyway,” Nathan Williamson said. “He's got good breeding, manners, gait, speed, but physically is not ready to do much more. There's a Gold Chip coming up for him so we'll have to make a decision whether to carry on or let him strengthen, he should be a better four-year-old.”   by Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

Outsider Sagwitch became the eleventh winner this season for Gore trainer Syd Breen when he won the House of Travel Lakers Summer Cup at Ascot Park today. When talking to Breen early in the season I remember him being quite frustrated as his horses were running lots of placings at the time. But things have certainly changed since the beginning of November, and junior driver Mark Hurrell has been a big part of the success, driving seven of the winners – some penalty free. “Mark went to school with my nieces. He kept ringing me up. I told him to keep ringing. His first drive was on Lorretta Franco. Everything he’s driven for me he’s won on,” said Breen.     Sagwitch is by Lisa Mara out of Shoshoni Sunrise, an OK Bye mare which won six races for trainer Alan Paisley including the 2002 Roxburgh Cup. He’s a half-brother to millionaire Southern Bred Southern Reared pacer Washakie. Breen weaned Sagwitch as a foal and broke him in for breeder Lester Paisley as a yearling. He’s now won six races from thirty five starts and banked $41,678. After running tenth in the Roxburgh Cup six days ago Sagwitch didn’t have today’s Summer Cup on his schedule.   “I only really started him here but the race wasn’t going to get off the ground so I put him and Mucho Macho Man in. It was Santanna’s Rockets (another Breen runner) race to win as far as I was concerned.” Since Roxburgh Sagwitch has had a quiet time. “He hasn’t done much since Roxburgh, just four days jogging round the hill.” In today’s feature pacing race driver Mark Hurrell drove the five year old forward, surprisingly beating out stablemate Santanna’s Rocket which had drawn his inside. Hurrell then let Jonny Cox and Santanna’s Rocket take the lead before Please Shuddup took up the running which left Sagwitch three back on the inside. At the 400 Sagwitch was second last on the inside in the eight horse field. Hurrell plotted a path up the inside and he beat Royal Bengal by a length and a quarter. The overall time for the 2200 metre mobile was 2-42.0. Mark Hurrell driving out Sagwitch                       - Photo Bruce Stewart “He’s just got a wicked quarter on him and saved (for one run) he can go swoosh. Mark was pretty happy with him at Roxburgh and he wanted to drive him today. He was going to go to Wyndham next but he won’t be going there now. That race today was worth two races (in stakes) anyway and he’s got a cup and a dress rug.” Breen owns the gelding with Paul and Nancy Matheson. Winning connection and sponsors                                         - Photo Bruce Stewart  It paid $25.30 to win and $3.90 for a place. “Aaron Swain dropped off a bag of feed I’d won from winning a race at a Sunday meeting (part of the McMillan Equine Feeds promotion) and Sagwitch was out in the paddock just being an absolute clown. Aaron said ‘who’s that? I said it’s Sagwitch.’ He said ‘he’s well and I said yeah he’s paying four (dollars) for a place.’ He went over to his truck got on his phone and backed him. It’s rare, but when he’s right he tells you.”   Bruce Stewart

Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders knows how to turn a horse's formline around and that was demonstrated today at Ascot Park when Pete's Dash beat Doubt Me Not by half a neck. Saunders has had Pete's Dash for about four weeks before which he was raced out of Steve Clarke's barn. The gelding's last start at Forbury when he ran second for Saunders indicated his fortunes were changing. Although he like most trainers likes to train up and coming horses, he also likes the challenge of spotting horses that he thinks he can improve.  "I look for horses that have run between fourth and tenth at Addington, are running good times and are not too far behind the winners. There's a bit of a drop to a rating 40 in Southland. Horses like him are cheap and handy to finish the season down here and improve what has been a pretty average season for me up until now," he said.   Prior to joining the Saunders team the Changeover four year old's best run was a fourth at Banks Peninsula in March.  "I haven't changed anything really. Just a change of scenery. He's bloody fit and in great nick. This week he hadn't done much because it snowed. Maybe he was fresher because I couldn't work him." Driver Mark Hurrell settled Pete's Dash off the pace early until the 1500 metres when he decided to move forward three wide. He was caught wide for the length of the home straight and Hurrell had to rein the gelding up and pull the air plugs with a lap to run. He sat parked for the last lap. And in a hard drive to the line Pete's Dash beat Doubt Me Not by half a neck with another half a head back to Dismara who'd tried to lead all the way.  Pete's Dash (6) and Mark Hurrell getting up to win at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He's still got quite a bit to learn. Peter Hunter (fellow Southland trainer) said the Changeovers get better with age. They haven't got a lot of speed but they're pretty tough." Today's meeting was the last of the season in Southland and now the focus turns to the Forbury Park Winter season.  "I may take him up to Forbury for a run or two and get rid of him but I may bring him back. I'm not sure."  It was Saunders' twenty fourth career win and his third for this season but he looking forward to the return of some of his better horses such as Betstars Blue Jean. "She's a good horse. She's just taken me a long time to figure out and I did towards the end. Simply Dreaming who was the Southland Two Year Old Of The Year last season has had a long spell because he wasn't right over Christmas. Blarney Babe is a nice maiden." Saunders moved to Tapanui at the start of last year to run the local Four Square store and mixes working in the shop with training horse at the Tapanui Racecourse.  "It's good because it keeps me fresh. The sheep are about to go on the track for a month so it means I can have a holiday because I can't work horses. I'm really enjoying the mix actually." The former Highlander and Southland Stag outside back says there are a few similarities between training for rugby and training race horses.  "The breed has changed and you don't need to work them for so long. I do a bit more speed training and working my horses a bit more like a galloper - sprinting hard at the end of a jog. Its like the back end of footie training where you don't do too much leading into a game." Pete's Dash was bred by Clive and Rona McKay and is out of the Holmes Hanover mare Sensitive Poplar. She has left good types in Nemesis (5 wins), Lauramegan (7 wins) and Clive (6 wins). Pete's Dash is raced by The Sue Ping Syndicate, Bratk Syndicate and Saunder's wife Joleen.    Bruce Stewart Soutland Harness Racing

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