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Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harnessracing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. This week we chat to Matty Williamson following his trip to compete in the World Drivers Championship in Sweden; Dr Andrew Grierson of Woodlands Stud updates us on Speeding Spur’s American campaign and goals and Ashburton trainer Brent White joins us following a weekend of spoils in Nelson. All that plus our usual Bookie Update with Richard Wilson.   Jess Smith HRNZ Marketing

 Kiwi reinsman Matthew Williamson is within striking distance of the lead in the World Driver's Championship in Sweden after driving a dead heat winner yesterday. Williamson is just four points behind series leader Ulf Ohlsson after the third day of the championships was held at Fornaboda, a day which included a race for cold bloods. Williamson had a second early before he deadheated in the next race with US rep Yannick Gingras, the man who became so well known to Kiwi harness racing fans as the regular pilot of Lazarus last year. "It was a good day and I think I drove pretty well," said Williamson.  "We are getting up the leader board now and probably have a chance. "But none of my horses for tomorrow seem to be near the top of the market so we will have to drive them well. "It has been a wonderful experience, there are some great people here and I am loving getting to know everybody. And we will keep doing our best for the silver fern." Nine out of the competition's 24 races have now been decided, and the next five races will take place at Sundbyholm racetrack in Eskilstuna.   by Michael Guerin   Leaderboard 1.Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden) – 76.5 2. Eirik Hoitomt (Norway) – 74 3. Matthew Williamson (New Zealand) – 72.5 4. Rick Ebbinge (The Netherlands) – 72 5. Mika Forss (Finland) – 67 6. Doug McNair (Canada) – 64.5 T7. Michael Nimczyk (Germany) – 64 T7. Franck Nivard (France) – 64 9. James MacDonald (Canada/ITA) – 62 10. Yannick Gingras (USA) – 61.5 11. Rodney Gatt (Malta) – 58 12. Todd McCarthy (Australia) – 49  

Matthew Williamson allowed himself the moment most young New Zealand representatives surely take on Sunday night. He unpacked his flash new driving colours, the black ones with the silver fern, tried them on and checked out how he looked in the mirror. "It was a bit surreal to be honest, it definitely made me puff the chest out," says Williamson. On Friday, the Oamaru horseman will wear those colours for real but on the other side of the globe in harness racing's World Driver's Championships in Sweden. Harness racing drivers' championships are a curious beast because the best driver could draw the worst horses in the ballot and finish last. And vice versa. But New Zealand drivers have a disproportionately high success rate, with six individual champions in the 29 series that have been contested: Dexter Dunn, Mark Jones, Maurice McKendry, Tony Herlihy, Robert Cameron and the late Kevin Holmes. The Kiwi success rate can, at least partially, be put down to our drivers being among the most versatile in the world. After all, they drive horses on left and right-handed tracks, in stand and mobile starts, on grass, grit and clay tracks, over a wide range of distances. And of course, they drive both trotters and pacers. That would sum up 28-year-old Williamson, having cut his teeth in the sometimes rustic scene of the deep south before becoming a regular near the top of the national premiership. He leaves tomorrow for the champs which begin on Friday and continue for a week, even driving on the first day of the famous Elitlopp meeting in Stockholm on Saturday. "It is getting real now, it was after I put the colours on Sunday night," says Williamson. "I think a lot of kids grow up hoping they get to wear the silver fern so that is pretty amazing." Williamson made a sacrifice for that privilege, giving up driving at the Jewels at Addington on June 1. "It probably means missing three Jewels drives but I am thrilled to be going." And Williamson is the man for the job because Swedish harness racing is all trotting, with no pacers, and Williamson is from trotting royalty. His father Phil holds the record for the most trotting winners trained in a season in New Zealand and his brothers Nathan and Brad are also top drivers. Remarkably, the quartet drove the first four home in a trotting race at Gore on Saturday. Of Matthew's 780 career successes in New Zealand, 280 have been in trotting races, an extremely high percentage for a leading driver. So while Williamson is going to Sweden to try to win, he is also going there to learn. "It sounds like we will be going to some of the stables over there ... I can't wait to see how they do things with the trotters," he admits. "So while the driving comes first I will be asking their trainers plenty of questions to learn as much as I can and see what I can bring home." Even if he can wear the silver fern to WDC glory, Williamson has an even more important moment waiting for him upon his return. His fiancee, talented reinswoman Charlotte Purvis, is expecting the couple's first child on June 10. "So I am hoping the baby can hold on till I get back."   Michael Guerin

The drive by Brad Williamson set up the win for talented trotter Majestic Man in the Group Three Southern Lights at Ascot Park today (Saturday). When fthe avourite Kings Landing made the lead, his driver Tim Williams put the brakes on and Williamson was having none of that. With 2000 metres to run, in the lightning move, he shot Majestic Man forward and challenged the leader. “To be honest he’s a bit more of a speed horse but when Tim got to the front he backed off the tempo. I couldn’t allow that to happen. We had to get in a positive position,” he said. With 1400 metres to run Williamson was on top with the Majestic Son four year old and at the finish had half a neck to spare on Kings Landing which ran home up the passing lane. Williamson says there was confidence around the stable that the four year old would perform well despite  having been away from racing for 65 days. He trialled at Oamaru last Saturday winning his heat by six lengths. “He trialled exceptional. If you’d seen it you would have thought he was in with a very good show. He got home in 27 seconds and change, and was hard held. We had a lot of confidence that he was fit and ready.” It was a super effort by his trainer Phil Williamson to get Majestic Man ready. And it was a bit of a case of revenge as Kings Landing had beaten Majestic Man on Show Day at Addington. “A similar thing happened on Show Day. The speed wasn’t overly hot. Mark (Purdon) was up parked and he sprinted home and beat me. Today was the opposite.” The win was Majestic Man’s eighth in only nineteen starts. Back to the birdcage after win number eight - Photo Bruce Stewart. “We thought a bit of him as a young horse and he won the Two Year Old Sires Stakes Final but weakened right off quite badly after the run. He’s strengthening up and with hard racing he's got better as he’s got older. He’s still got to step up to the open graders yet.” The Jewels is well and truly on Majestic Man’s radar and another target is also possible.       “The Rowe Cup's been mentioned if he’s going good enough.” Majestic Man is raced by the Griffin Syndicate. Winning connections and sponsor - Photo Bruce Stewart  It was the fourth time Phil Williamson has won the Southern Lights. His previous winners were; Mystic Son (2009), Springbank Sam (2013) and Monty Python (2017). He brought his team south early this week, starting two well-bred two year old trotters Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride at the Winton Workouts on Friday. Cracker Hill is a Muscle Hill – Juneamy Castleton gelding which is trained by Brad. It  beat Ultimate Stride, a Love You colt out of the millionaire trotter One Over Kenny. The winning margin was a nose but both horses we’re extended. Cracker Hill (8) just gets there from Ultimate Stride at the Winton Workouts - Photo Bruce Stewart Ultimate Stride was sold by Lex and Heather Williams of One Over Lodge in Waimate for $160,000 at the 2018 National Sales in Christchurch. He was bought by Australian’s Emilio and Mary Rosati and left with Williamson. Cracker Hill, which was also bred by the Williams, was passed in for $40,000 at the same sale.  Another impressive trotter that had a win on Friday was the Brent McIntyre trained Cuchulainn: a full-brother to the quality trotter Pickett’s Ridge the winner of four of his ten starts. Both are by Skyvalley out the Sundon mare Come Follow Me. Meanwhile Nathan Williamson’s classy trotter Chinese Whisper is staying put for the time being. He was under offer during the week but the deal fell through and he’s expected to have his next start in the province at Wyndham on Saturday.   Bruce Stewart

Matty Williamson has a special personal reason to be thrilled about winning the right to represent New Zealand at the World Drivers Championships in Sweden in May. Because while Williamson can’t wait to put on the silver fern, he also sees the trip as a chance to learn lessons for his future training career. Williamson has been confirmed as the New Zealand rep for the series after last season’s premiership winner Blair Orange decided to stay in New Zealand to concentrate on local business. With Dexter Dunn driving in North America, Williamson was HRNZ’s next choice and he was elated to get the call. “Obviously representing your country is a big deal for anybody so that part I’m really proud of,” said Williamson. “And I am looking forward to the challenge of driving against all those top drivers and meeting them and other people. “But I am also hoping we can get to some of the big training establishments over there too. “Obviously we will meet some of the trainers at the races but to see how they train their horses and learn some things would be great. “It is all trotting horses and we have a lot of those at home obviously and I have been lucky enough to drive some very good ones which I hope that helps me in the series. “But also means I can learn while I am there. “I am very excited about the whole trip and the only downside of the timing is Charlotte (Purvis, Williamson’s partner) won’t be able to come because she is pregnant and the trip comes too late for her. “So with that happening in our lives and now the World Champs it is a pretty exciting time.” As if Williamson didn’t have enough reason to be excited the WDC will coincide with the running of Sweden’s legendary trotting race the Elitlopp at Solvalla on the last weekend in May. “I hear that is pretty amazing so that is another real bonus. “I am just thrilled to get the opportunity.”   Michael Guerin

Winton breeder Neville Skinner had one of those harness racing rarities when his name was in the race book four times for the first race on the card at his home track at Winton on Monday. He bred the winner Only One Way, as well as Helluva Way (5th) and Tommy Tiddler (9th).  All three horses drew next to each other at the barrier. The occasion would have been even rarer if Lucky Me which had drawn five, had started. After a good start driver Matty Williamson took Only One Way straight to the top and he remained there for the entire journey, running out a three and a quarter length win over Star Dude. This was the three year old’s second career start and after the highly promising Chinese Whisper was scratched, he was made a commanding favourite. “Last time in (as a two year old) we thought quite a lot of him but he just weakened off a bit. Although he went quite a nice race (in the New Zealand Two Year Old Trotting Stakes) we thought he might have done a little bit more than he did. Hopefully this time after a break he’ll be a better horse and kick on a bit,” said Williamson. The Skinner trio - Helluva Way (Allan Beck), Only One Way (Matty Williamson) and Tommy Tiddler (Ellie Barron) - Photo Bruce Stewart  Trained by Phil Williamson he’s owned by Neville Skinner, his sister Judy Ward her husband David and their cousin Grant McMaster. The same group owned the ill-fated Alley Way which won eleven races. Matty Williamson says the Majestic Son three year old will still have to improve if he’s to step up to the better grade. “He didn’t steer very well today so hopefully we can iron that out because going up a grade he’ll be wanting to be doing everything right. He was hanging a bit today but he’ll be a lot better for that one.” The winning connections with Maurice Skinner holding the Jimmy Dillion Cup - Photo Bruce Stewart Williamson says the Hambletonian at Ashburton in February will give the team a better idea if the horse is worthy of a start in some of the age group races later in the season. Only One Way is of a breed that former local vet Peter Williams and the Skinner family have had a lot of success with. The breed stems back to the broodmare Princess Way which produced a host of winners for Neville and Judy’s father Maurice including Arbitrator (3), Gregory Peter (6), Arlington (3), Whizz Way (3) and Sundon’s Way (15). No Way is a daughter of Whizz Way. Once again Canterbury based trainers dominated the Southern meeting with Ivan Court winning Race Two with outsider Choice Lustre. Aylesbury trainer Stephen Boyd won with Back In Black, Vi Lee and I’ve Already Told You. All were driven by Mark Jones. It was the first time Boyd had trained three in one day.   Bruce Stewart

Tony and Cheryl Barron love returning home to Southland and winning races. It was the perfect scenario for them today at Gore when Global Domination beat a small but handy field of three year olds in The Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes. In doing so he also set a new three year old and all-comers track record. The winning time was 2-39.8.The previous record of 2-40.7 was held by the Cran Dalgety trained Art Union and was set in 2015. By Bettor’s Delight out of Christy Breanna, Global Domination was bred by Tony Barron and after qualifying last November won his first three starts before running eighth then fifth in Sire Stakes Heats at Addington. “He probably got there a bit early as far as the grades go. We werent scared to take on the big boys. He didn’t disgrace himself getting within four lengths (when he ran fifth behind Ultimate Sniper),” said Barron. In today’s three year old feature driver Matty Williamson (who was driving him for the first time) took an early trail behind pacemaker and favourite Robyns Playboy. As they approached the winning post for the first time Global Domination jumped footprints on the track (mine), broke, and came down pacing. “He’s always been a funny bugger like that. I had the shadow roll right up. It’s just a part of the breed. They’ve all done it.” Robyns Playboy took Global Domination to the Kubala Seeds Passing Lane and once balanced he came up the inside running line to beat Fear Cruisin by half a length with Cast No Shadow another half a length back in third. Win, lose or draw today, Barron said Global Domination is going out for a spell. “I took a blood test off him last week and he’s getting over a bug. I just wanted to get a start in him for the Supremacy (Southern Supremacy Stakes). So that one is out of the way and a bit of money in the bank.” Global Domination is out of the six win Lis Mara mare Christy Breanna, which Barron also trained.  Peter Marshall and the Barron family have had success with this breed over a few decades. “I think he’s the best one. The whole family have been nice horses and they’ve got better and better but I think this fella’s a notch up. Time will tell.” Winning connections                               - Photo Bruce Stewart Tony with wife Cheryl have scaled down their operation since Tony and his brother Ken decided to train separately. Tony and Cheryl are training between seven and ten horses and are currently preparing five colts for the February Sales. Tony’s pick is a Bettor’s Delights colt out of Elite Medley which is from the same family as today’s winner. There is also a full brother to Global Domination called Calatural Damage later in the sale. The Cardrona Distillery/MLT Three Year Old Stakes is an attempt by the Gore club to resonrecte the Tanqueray Stakes which was run on the course in the mid 1970’s and early 1980’s. The Tanqueray Stakes for three year olds was first run in 1974 when hot favourite Lunar Chance ($1.75 and $0.95) driven by Keith Lawlor won beating Flying Tempest and Eclipse. The race was run for eleven seasons with other winners were Bronze Regal (1975), Monarque (1976), Islafax (1977), Hurricane Squire (1978), Shona Way (1979), Ryal Pont (1980), Auburn Bret (1981), Trilobal (1982) Starling (1983) and North Fleet (1984). In 1980 it was afforded Group Two status. Once the Southland Oaks (1983) and Southern Supremacy (1984) became part of the Southland racing calendar the race was discontinued. Islafax caused the biggest upset in 1977 when she beat Sapling and Belmer’s Image. She was owned by local Harness Racing identity Ken McRae and trained and driven by Ray Todd. She paid $71.65 and $11.50. The race that year was raced for $5,250 by far the biggest stake of the day. Many also remembered the 1978 edition when Hurricane Squire trained and driven by Richard Brosnan beat the mighty Lord Module. Meanwhile Majestic Man won his sixth races when he held out arch rival War Admiral in the Gore Mitre 10 Handicap Trot.   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. One more show until Cup Day! This weeks guests are Todd McCarthy, driver of Tiger Tara, Airpark Canterbury sponsored driver Matthew Williamson, the voice of Cup week Mark McNamara and Laurie Goodson regarding the traditional Cup Week golf tournament and Bookmaker Richard Wilson.   Jess Smith

After his talented horse Tiger Thompson has been sold overseas from his stable, harness racing trainer Brad Mowbray will be looking for a replacement pacer to go through to the top grades.  Kingmaker might be that horse and he is a leading chance in the third leg of pick six at the New Zealand Metropoliton meeting tonight at Addington. The son of Mach Three has won his first two races in succession with the last win in 1-58.7 mile rate with a quick last half in better than 57 seconds.  Driver Matthew Williamson will have plenty of options on Kingmaker from gate two and he looks a good chance to make it a hat trick of wins tonight. Kingmaker is currently a $2.70 Fixed Odds win favourite with the New Zealand TAB. Tonight the pick six is on Races 4-9 inclusive guaranteed to $25,000 if struck.   Leg 1     Race 4 [7:10pm] A big finisher from last week Bettor Getta Lover has drawn badly again in tonights race but has the class to overcome the draw. Chatty Man from the in form Paul Court stable has run two good seconds at his previous two starts and is also a great winning chance. Pocket Call was well supported last start and was a good winner at recent trials and is another worth including in the first leg. A R Rose has also been ok at recent workouts.   Leg 2     Race 5 [7:40pm] There look to be several winning chances in the second leg of pick six.  Rogie Falls is the top chance and TAB favourite who draws the ace in the mobile 1950m race. He is needed along with Kapai who had good support at his first race day start. The mobile will suit Kapai and also Midnight Memories who was good running home late last start. Zeddie Marit is a bit of an unknown but the TAB bookies have kept him safe and he did win his qualifying trial and is also needed.   Leg 3     Race 6 [8:10pm] Kingmaker has won his first two races and does look to have a bit of a motor but this is a decent step up so no good thing. De Lancome should get a good run from the ace draw and could swoop late if the pace is on. Spare a thought for Nurburgring who was unlucky last start and draws ok in barrier three. Franco Texas has the gate speed and could lead but has not been finishing off his races like he can but is needed. Sails also ran home well last start and if she got a cart into the race before the turn could upset them.   Leg 4     Race 7 [8:39pm] A tricky leg of pick six here with a stand start affair over the 2000m stand. Prestonpans gets his chance from the ace if he can begin quickly and keep handy.  You really need as many horses as the budget allows in this leg but we favour Huey lewis, Hit The Sky, Flamboyant and Hercules Morse as the best of the rest in this race.   Leg 5     Race 8 [9:09pm] An even field of rated 40 to 50 trotters from the mobile. Tehoro Tease is probably the pick of them and she could lead again with Robbie Holmes in the sulky. Amabede needs to be driven with a sit but is dangerous with one run at them and Lady Beatrix Bourbon will appreciate the mobile and has drawn ok in Barrier three.   Leg 6     Race 9 [9:34pm]  The final leg is an even go and there are many chances. One Direction has been racing well and has drawn to race handy and he looks the pick of them. Others needed are Motoring Major who is racing ok and Just Dance who has been disappointing but can lob up when in the right mood.   Suggested Pick Six   ($30.00 for 10%) Leg 1     3,11,12 Leg 2     1,12 Leg 3     1,2,3,4,10 Leg 4     1,4,7,10,13 Leg 5     3,5 Leg 6     3,8   Harnesslink Media

Yesterday the Waimate Trotting Club had a successful harness racing return to their home track for the first time in nearly five years, since high winds damaged the grandstand and other buildings back in September 2013. The club which held its first totalisator trotting meeting at the racecourse on December 9, 1950, had been using the Oamaru racecourse for its race meetings for the last few years, while a $400,000 redevelopement took place at the Waimate track.  Club president Lex Williams said, "It has been a great day with a large crowd in attendance and it was fantastic to see harness racing return to Waimate." "The last five years have been challenging, but we have had some great community support and the members have worked hard to make it happen "We had a sports day here as well today, with wheelbarrow racing, sheaf tossing, and sulky racing so it was a lot of fun," he said.  Sheaf tossing during sports day at the races        - Waimate Racing Club photo This years Waimate Cup was won for the second time in two years by the Hamish Hunter trained Acolyte who led for most of the way and came out a narrow winner after a gruelling home stretch battle. Acolyte was driven by local reinsman Matthew Williamson and paced the standing start 2600m in 3-28.0 with a closing 800m in a slogging 63.6 with the 400m in 31.9. Acolyte winning the Waimate Cup   Harnesslink Media

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

Three year old trotting gelding Majestic Connies was on his best behaviour today(Sunday) when he stepped, lead and won the GT Chamberlain Builders Limited Gold Chip Final at Wyndham. At his previous start on this course in the middle of last month he broke at the start and was pulled up.  "He drew one the other day and there were some playing up out the back and he was just standing too long. I thought before the race he was as good as any of the others," said driver Matty Williamson. In today's race Majestic Connies began well and trailed early leader Ace Commander. With 1600 metres to run Williamson took the three year old to the lead and there he stayed. He held on to beat a late charging Ash by two lengths. Majestic Connies winning for Matthew Williamson       - Photo Bruce Stewart.   "He's probably one of Dad's that's underrated, rather than overrated. He ran third in a Yearling Sales Trot last year so he's quite a good horse. He bowled along good today. He's a bit on the lazy side but did enough to win. He's probably been a bit weaker than Dad's other two good ones (Springbank Lachie and Majestic Man) buts he's getting better."  He's owned by long time stable clients Neville Simpson and Allan Mason (who raced Lets Get Serious), both of Oamaru. Also Peter Evans of Christchurch and the Wagovi Syndicate of Cromwell led by Gordon Stewart. Majestic Connies is by Majestic Son out of the two win Continentalman mare Sunny Connie. Her pedigree goes back to Tuft mare Ilsa Voss which won fourteen races.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Hornby trainer Brad Mowbray was 'King Of Cups' for the Central Otago race meetings, winning all three cups on the circuit which wrapped up today(Sunday) at the Wyndham HRC meeting at Cromwell. Never before has a trainer won all three cups; Central Otago, Roxburgh and Cromwell in one year. A remarkable feat spread over just five days.  The winning spree began at Omakau on Tuesday when Tiger Thompson won the Group Three Central Otago Cup. He's a quality son of Big Jim and from a limited career he's now won five of his eighteen starts. Last season as a three year old he was just below the best in his age group, but had some wayward tendencies and Mowbray says he was always going to get better with age. "He starting to string a few together. We think he's maturing but I'm not going to nail my colours to the mast. All these trips away to Wyndham and Central Otago are really going to help him."  There has been some talk about taking Tiger Thompson to Auckland to tackle some of the big four year old races but Mowbray hasn't got any set plans. "I haven't decided with him. I think we might be able to do enough round here (South Island) and then worry about things when we get a bit older. He needs a little bit of nurturing as much as he needs toughening up. He's a pretty headstrong horse. You need the right people to handle him and you can't send the kid out to put him in the paddock. He's in charge. He starts misbehaving a bit more when he gets to the races. He's like a little kid at Christmas." The second Cup in the prize cabinet was the Roxburgh Cup won on Thursday by quality four year old mare Delishka. She showed her toughness when under a hard drive by Matty Williamson she held out a spirited challenge to beat Royal Bengal by a head. It was the mare's first race from a standing start.   "She's probably a bit underrated. It didn't surprise me that she won. I was really pleased she stepped because it was her first ever try." Although there's some very good mares races like the Group Two Mares Championship and the Group One New Zealand Breeders Stakes coming up at Addington in February, Mowbray says he's looking to head across to Australia to race for some big money.  "I think we're going to send her to Aussie. There's some pretty big mares races over there. Over a month there's about $400,000 in stakes she can run for just against the mares. Mel (Brad's wife) will go over with her. The Jewels is our main aim once she gets back." Seven year old gelding Four Starzzz Shiraz completed the three cup wins when at odds of 57-1 he won the Cromwell Cup on the Cromwell grass track today.  "He's an older horse who's done a few miles and he was always going to be a bit happier on something a bit softer. We just brought him down because we were bringing all the others but we thought he'd be half a show. I thought he'd go a good race today because he wasn't far away from a handy field on Tuesday (Central Otago Cup) and with the class difference I thought he won't be too far away." The Four Starzzz Shark gelding was well handled by first season junior driver Charlotte Purvis. It was her third career win and first driving a pacer. "She drove him one night at Addington for us and got on really well so we thought we'd give her another go." Mowbray shares in the ownership with Christine Maynard, wife of amateur driver Mike Maynard.  "We'll just potter way and might have another start in the Country Cups so we can get into the final. I didn't have any money on him and Mike only had five a place." Four Starzzz Shiraz was bought by Mowbray and Maynard primarily as a horse to race in amateur driver races. He's been with the stable since July last year but had only had four starts for the stable prior to today's win. It was the gelding's ninth win in a sixty five start career. Over the space of five days the three pacers banked the stable $33,000.   "It'll be good if it was the Coast. We'd be getting a bit more," Mowbray said when reminded that the three race meeting circuit in Central didn't carry any bonuses unlike the one run on the West Coast.                          Maybe this is something the Clubs could look at for next year. In the meantime Mowbray's pretty happy with his haul.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing Tiger Thompson winning the Central Otago Cup   Deliska winning the Roxburgh Cup    Four Starzzz Shiraz winning the Cromwell Cup

Woodlands dairy farmer and horse trainer Steve Baucke won his first race of the season when his Bettor's Delight mare Delight My Soul driven by Matty Williamson capitialised on a perfect trail to beat leader Ideal Conquest by a length. “Very good drive from Matty. He handed up to the right horse, no one came around so it was a good run for her." Baucke said. Delight My Soul has looked promising since she started racing as a three year old but probably needs the right run to use her strength as a sit and sprint horse. Baucke says she also had a few issues this time in. “We had a bit of a problem with her breathing early on. She races in a hutton (bit) now and her tongue is tied. It’s made a difference so now she’s good and hopefully can carry on from last season.” Delight My Soul is out of the In The Pocket mare Soleil D'or so is a member of the famous Black Watch family. Baucke bought the mare for $35,000 at the Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale. He then on-sold her in 2015. “She had five fillies in a row for me. I sold her and she had a colt.” Soleil D'or last foal for the Bauckes was Imallaboutthebase which is by Shadow Play. She qualified at two and ran in last season's Kindergarten Stakes. “She’s got real gate speed. She started off alright this season but has had a few back problems. We’re getting that sorted and she’s not too far away from getting onto the track again.” The Bauckes farm 320 cows on 300 acres. They currently have 13 horses on the property including five race horses, four broodmares and two yearling colts they're preparing for February's Christchurch yearling sales.  "I milk in the morning and work the horses at lunch time and do more farm work in the afternoon when my wife Christine milks the cows. One of the colts we've got is a three quarter blood brother to Arden Rooney. He’s out of a Art Major mare who's a half to Arden Rooney. He’s a real nice Bettor’s (Bettor's Delight) colt and we’ve also got a Rock N Roll Dance colt out of a half-sister to City Light.” Winning connections                                - Photo Bruce Stewart Baucke is originally from the North Island. His father Herbert trained horses in the 1980s and '90s. The Bauckes moved to Southland in 2000 and Steve rekindled his love for the game by taking out a training licence in 2010 after he became friends with Southern breeder Dave Kennedy.  “I moved next door to Kennedy and got the bug again.” Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Sky Tower trained by Bruce Wallace at Chatton near Gore won his maiden trot at Wyndham today (Sunday). By Skyvalley out of the Shouldn't Do It, the six year old certainly has plenty of breeding. Shouldn't Do It is by Holmes Hanover out of Francis Jay Bee therefore a half-sister to millionaire trotter One Over Kenny (32 wins), One Kenny (19 wins) and One Under Kenny (11 wins). "He taken a bit to get going this horse but he's a half-brother to Ruby's Jewel which won five races. He's such a bloody clown because after a run you wouldn't think he'd had a race. You'd get him home and he'd be tearing round the paddock. He's caused himself an injury and also walks on his hind legs when you go to feed him," said Wallace.     Driven by Matty Williamson, Sky Tower began well. He initially trailed the leader before heading to the front with just over a lap to run and held on by a fast diminishing half a neck to beat Miss Moppet. Sky Tower and Matty Williamson holding out Miss Moppet and Matt Purvis   - Photo Bruce Stewart. "I might give him a weeks spell because he's had a few runs at the workouts and a few hard runs at the races. We might aim for the Christmas circuit. We'll have a bit of fun and then look at shipping him off to Australia I suppose."   Wallace says Ruby's Jewel is due to foal to Pegasus Spur and he's also working a nice two year old filly called Annie's Jewel. She is by Majestic Son out of Miss Afton. Miss Afton is a half-sister by Armbro Invasion to Frances Jay Bee.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Gore trainer Tony Stratford is on a bit of a roll. Early into the new season he has four winners on the board from just sixteen starters. The latest two winners came at Invercargill yesterday when Macandrew Majic and Benio Ben won their respective races. Macandrew Majic easily won the More FM Mobile Pace by eight and a half lengths.  "I've had him since we were up at Macca Lodge. His first start was a duck egg but he galloped away from a stand and took no part. He ran third at his next start and fifth at Forbury when they ran 2-41.0. At his next start be was pulled up because he fractured a hind pastern. It was quite bad. Brendon Bell did the op and we just wanted to save him and look after him. He's got four or five screws in his leg and he was out for six months" said Stratford. This was the five year old's first start for eleven months and it was a very good training feat by Stratford who readied the gelding for yesterdays race with just two workouts.  "When we kicked off again we didn't have any problems with him. He had a good workout at Gore which he won in good time and we had a quiet run around at Winton. I was expecting a bold run." Macandrew Majic is part owned by Megan Tutty (nee Reidie) who used to work for Murray Brown. She shares in the ownership with her parents and two brothers. Meanwhile one of the early season finds in Southland, Benio Ben also trained by Stratford continued on his winning way when he won the Net Ten EOM at Macca Lodge Mobile Pace. It was the four year old's second win this season. Driven by Matty Williamson the gelding began well to lead before handing up to Rockaball. Williamson then came out of the trail to take up the running. The winning margin at the end of the 2200 metre journey was a length over Rockaball. "He went awesome. I wasn't expecting too much to be fair because it was such a step up. I said to the owners if he ran in the top four I'd be happy," said Stratford. The time was a slick 2-41.8 with the last half run in 57 seconds and the final quarter in 28.5.   "He burnt twice in the first six hundred metres and held them out easily really."  In the birdcage - Photo Emma McSoriley  The first Southland Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland Meeting at Ascot Park is Benio Ben's next target and then Stratford will look at the South of the Waitaki race on Show Day during Cup week. "I always thought he was a pretty nice horse but he was disappointing when he qualified so we biffed him out. This year he hasn't worked super at home but he's doing it when it matters (on raceday)." The Gotta Go Cullect gelding was bred by Alan Steel, Stratford's uncle and his good friend Trevor McCall.  "He's got a real high cruising speed. Most horses when they're running halves in a minute you know they are. He's doing it as though you're running a half in ten. A bit like Pulp Fiction." Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Benio Ben winning at Ascot Park

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