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As predicted rising Southland trotting star Dark Horse got the right conditions and had the class to break a Southland trotting record at Winton today. Her 2-58.9 for the 2400 metre mobile betters the old record set in 2010 by Ready Set. The last 800 metres was run in 57.1 and 400 metres in 27.9. The national record over this distance for mares of 2-58.5 was recorded by Habibti Ivy when she won at Ashburton in February. From barrier five driver Nathan Williamson sent Dark Horse forward and after 200 metres the Bacardi Lindy mare was in front. "It's just nice to know that I have that gate speed if we have to use it. It’s the first time she’s drawn the gate. The last time she won behind the mobile she drew the second line. In the New Zealand Trotting Oaks last year she drew one but was planted up behind runners and she was never happy,” he said. With 900 metres to run driver Blair Orange took second favourite Eyre I Come to the lead. “We didn’t have to trail. I could have parked him but it was just a good experience." Once the field straightened up Dark Horse was presented with the passing lane and she comfortably cruised up the inside to beat Eyre I Come by three lengths. Well clear in track record time                           - Photo Bruce Stewart "I didn’t have to pull the plugs today. The main thing I have to watch with her is that she can come through (the passing lane)and go too quickly. She only had to do what she has to and I didn’t have to get after her. She was nice and controlled with everything she did.” So all roads now for the Griffins and Seafield Trotting Syndicates lead to Ashburton for the $100,000 McMillan Feeds Four Year Old Ruby in just over three weeks times. There she'll meet Rowe Cup winner Temporale and quality trotter Marcoola. "There are no plans to race her again before Ashburton but she may have a workout. It just depends on whether I think she needs one or not.” Winning owners                                         - Photo Bruce Stewart. The Williamson family have a good record in this race. Nathan and his father Phil won it at Cambridge in 2008 while Springbank Richard and Phil and Matty Williamson won with Leighton Hest the following year at Ashburton.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Racing for the first time since December 2015, starting from 30 metres behind and winning the Abernethy Contracting Ltd Trot by head - it was as if Poppymalda had never been away. Two years ago, on her way to finishing third in the Jewels at Ashburton, the now six year old had been successful in the equivalent race. Poppymalda was later sidelined by a tendon injury in her right (off) hind leg and her trainer Nathan Williamson has been patient during her recovery. Nothing will change. “She had a pretty hard run first up, she'll have an easy few days now, I want to see how she has come through this before making any decision about her,” Williamson advised. Box Seat viewers must have unloaded on Six Diamonds who was labelled by the panel as one of the best for the weekend and paid only $1.90 and $1.30 in the Osborne Rock Supplies Mobile. A Tuapeka Lodge-bred four year old, he is raced by Lindsay and Ian Thomson and was having just his 14th start. The American Ideal gelding is trained by Alister Black who said a virus had interrupted his career this season and took a while to clear up. Six Diamonds led out, trailed, took the passing lane and won comfortably to add a mobile start success to his earlier two stand-start wins. Black confirmed circumstances, rather than lack of ability or disliking for mobile starts accounted for his previous lack of wins from that mode. The influence of good mare On Patrol continued at Gore on Saturday when Two Ply justified her recent entries in the black book by taking the Advance Agriculture Mobile Pace. In a decade and a half of breeding, the daughter of Lordship produced On Leave (three wins), Soky's Patrol (seven wins in Australia), Holmes Patrol (three in Australia), On Sky (five from 10 in New Zealand before her sale to the United States), On The Double (10), Lord Patrol (11) and Final Patrol (one). Two Ply's dam is On The Double by Holmes Hanover, who raced for four seasons and was successful in each of them with her last win the 2017 Northern Southland Autumn Cup. On The Double is also the dam of Wick who won five for her South Otago owner and breeder Ian Bennett before being sold to the United States. Winton trainer Des Baynes and the Eight Proof Syndicate continued a successful combination when Ideal Breeze took the Southland Standardbred Breeders Mobile 2200 for non-winner mares and fillies at just her third start. “She got a good draw and (driver) Brendon (McLellan)gave her a nice trip, she'll strengthen more and next season should be suited by the mares' races, she sprints well,” Baynes said of the three year old. The syndicate previously raced Soky's Proof, a descendant of Tactics and grand-dam of Ideal Breeze, from the stable of Brendon Scobie. She left Beth's Boy, seven wins for Baynes and the syndicate before her sale to the United States in 2010, and Windproof, the winner of two. The winning run of Wyndham brothers Gordon and Colin Lee continued with the victory of Lynette The Vet in the Gore New World Trot. “She's a nice trotter with good manners and a good gait, she needs a nice trip and got it today,” Gordon Lee said. Previously trained by Murray Edmonds, the mare by Raffaello Ambrosio from Accelerando Del was bred and is raced Neil Manson from Little River on the Banks Peninsula. The High Achiever's win in the Fiona Scobbie of Bayleys Gore and Fiber Fresh Mobile was the right tonic for Ross Ludemann, who heard about it in his bed at Dunedin Hospital. A Tapanui farmer, Ross, his wife Bev and sons Simon and Geoff bred and race the three year old son of Bettor's Delight who is trained by Brett Gray. He is a half brother to the winners Lively Hero, The Highlight and The High Roller. Elusive Flight was the only runner claimed in the Regional Ford Gore and PGG Wrightson Claimers. The winner of seven was picked up for $5000 by Graeme Anderson and returns to the stable he raced from between April and October last year and recorded two wins, four seconds and three thirds. The Elsu eight year old only managed seventh on Saturday in a race won by Nerve Of Steel, having his first start for Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders and not wanted for $3000. Nerve Of Steel was driven Dexter Dunn in the second on the day's card. It was his only winner with a second and two thirds the biggest returns from his other 10 drives. Blair Orange with Clover Lady and The Best Christian was the only reinsman to win two. Mac Henry  

The run of Southland feature-race wins continued on Sunday for Canterbury trainer Nigel McGrath and North Island owners, Grant and Colin Eynon of Tauranga and Mark McKinnon of Auckland. Their latest winner was Aloka in the $38,000 group three Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic. A colt by Bettor's Delight, Aloka was driven by Blair Orange who in January won the Invercargill Cup aboard Classie Brigade for the same connections. He said Aloka was doing what he had to and keeps improving, suggesting he will have a bit of a future. McGrath also had the third placed Star Commander in the race, was pleased with both of them and said a place in the Jewels for the pair is the aim. Aloka cut out the trip in a Southland record 2:43.7 for those of his age. It's just the fourth year of the Two Year Old Classic and the third at 2200 metres with the winner going progressively faster each time. Lazarus took 2:47.0 when winning in 2015 and Mongolian Hero 2:43.8 last year. Orange had been aboard Mongolian Hero last year to give him two Diamond Creeks in a row. He was back on the three year old on Sunday when he won the Transport Engineering Southland Mobile 2200 in a blistering 2:39.6, a new all-comers record for Ascot Park Dark Horse was also in record setting mode, winning the Plumbing World Handicap Trot in 3:26.7, a Southland 2700 metres stand-start record for a trotting mare. Her trainer and driver Nathan Williamson said Dark Horse was trotting better than ever on Sunday and when she's right is “just a good horse”. The Jewels is the next aim for Dark Horse and he will let her tell him if she needs another run before hand. However, he feels she is needing more racing as she gets older and sees a mobile start race at Winton on 13 May as an appropriate option. Trainer driver Kirk Larsen had some worrying moments before Bettor Ops was declared winner of the bMAC Sheetmetal Southern Country Cups Final by a head over Glenferrie Classic. Sent out favourite and trailling the second favourite Glenferrie Classic to the turn, Bettor Ops took the passing lane, went to a clear lead, but just lasted. “He's a bugger for knocking off and he wasn't going to get going again,” Larsen said. The win was Larsen's first in the Country Cups Final since Howard Bromac in 2004 and like the former top-liner, Bettor Ops has Australian connections. “He's owned by Reg Turner and his son David from Sydney, we bought him at the sales, I've had a couple for them,” Larsen said. “He's a big horse and took a bit of organising but is hitting his straps now. We'll keep him going, he's in the Jewels, that might be a bit rich for him, and there's that new $40,000 Sires Stakes race in June.”   Mac Henry

“She’s the fastest I’ve sat behind,” said driver trainer Nathan Williamson after Dark Horse impressively won the main trot on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park today. Her time of 3-26.7 is a new track and Southland record for mares over the distance. The all-comers record of 3-26.3 is held by Dark Horse's half-brother Monty Python.  She's undoubtibly one of the rising trotting stars in the country and Williamson said he felt she was on her game today after breaking at the top of the straight at Winton at her last start when starting to cruise up to the leaders. “Yes I'm thrilled that she did things right today and to be honest she gave me a feel that she was going to do that (in her warm up). I’ve been a lot happier with her since Winton. The other day she was fresh back and just wanted to get it all done too quickly. Today she had real control and felt like the real deal," he said. After sitting back on the outside Williamson took the four year old mare forward with just under a lap to run. “That’s been my biggest concern - doing some midrace work but I just felt that they had backed off so much I thought I’d be in trouble sitting in the centre. It forced my hand to go round to the front. It didn’t bother her. She was strong at the line.” At the 600 Williamson let Dark Horse run and she opened up a gap on the chasing bunch. At the end of the 2700 metres she was eight lengths in front of the second horse Springbank Eden. “She was just waiting for them and losing concentration.” It was the mare's sixth win from just thirteen starts and puts her sixth on the Harness Jewels leader board in the 4 Year Old Ruby. “I got a lot out of the day. If we have to do a little bit of work then we can in a race like the Jewels so that was the biggest thing I got from today. I also pulled the plugs for the first time all year just to see how she’d handle that. She accelerated for about fifty metres really quickly and I thought that’ll do, so I just put the brakes on again.” Williamson doesn't have anything planned for her prior to the end of season mile at Ashburton. ‘She’ll just tell me. The best thing now is that she doesn’t need to race again because she doesn’t need any more qualifying money.” Dark Horse has always been rated by Williamson but he says it hasn't been plain sailing. “She’s a maintainance horse. We’ve nursed her through this far. I’ve been able to lift her work and I trialled her midweek just to take the edge off her. Normally she’d fall away (lose condition) with that (work) but her condition is fine and she’s putting on weight. I’m thrilled that she’s starting to put on weight and starting to muscle up. Her manners today were beautiful and everything she did today was perfect.” Winning owners        Photo Bruce Stewart Dark Horse is raced on lease by the Griffins and Seafield Trotting syndicates.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Two of the province's perrenial trotting placegetters scored well deserved harness racing wins at Ascot Park today. Moniburns who had 322232 in her formline prior to today's win had the lucky bird on her rump when she scored a well deserved win to clear maiden ranks. She was destined to run second to King Cassidy but he rolled into a break fifty metres short of the winning post, gifting Moniburns the win. Prior to today's win the five year old Monarchy mare had run eight placings in twelve starts for owner Paul Hillis and trainer Tank Ellis Denn Nee Nose Best who was purchased off trainer Earl Swain recently by Neville Cleaver capped off two placed runs since her purchase by winning her second race in her sixty seven race career today. Cleaver said Swain who trained the mare, was keen to sell after he was heading into hospital for an operation and couldn't continue training short term. A deal was done and the seven year old mare joined the Nathan Williamson stable earlier this month. Denn Nee Nose Best back to the birdcage                                                   - Photo Bruce Stewart She capitalised on a trailing run and came up the passing lane to beat Belmont Invasion by half a length. Denn Nee Nose Best has now won twice, has been placed second five times and third twelve times.  Cleaver is unsure of her future but indicated that she might do a stint on the Riverton Beach under the guidance of Adrian Wohlers. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

Bonnie Joan was sensational winning a heat of the Nevele R Fillies series at Forbury Park last night.    She ran her rivals ragged in New Zealand record time for a 3-year-old of any gender, 2.00.2 (1.53.8 mile rate) for 1700m (mobile) in drizzling rain on a saturated track. Her time was 0.2sec inside the record set by the filly Ideal Belle at Alexandra Park in 2013.   The time for Bonnie Joan was a track record for all ages, eclipsing the 2.01.8 mark set by filly Adore Me as a 3-year-old in ideal daytime conditions in 2012. The previous best in a Nevele R series heat at Forbury Park was 2.02.9 by Safedra in 2013.   Bonnie Joan had won over 2400m (mobile) in 2.53.8 (1.56 mile rate), 0.8sec outside a NZ record four days earlier at Winton.   “She is a nice filly who has got gate speed. It was a good effort to do those times in a few days and she did it comfortably,’’ said her driver Dexter Dunn.   “Nathan did a good job of looking after her.” Dunn was referring to Nathan Williamson who cared for Bonnie Jean during the week at Ryal Bush.   Bonnie Joan had won the first heat of the Nevele R series at Ashburton on February 4 in 1.52.8 for the mile.   The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere – Wave Runner is trained by Cran Dalgety for the Tuapeka Lodge syndicate comprising Peter and Dan Cummings and Julie Davie. Bonnie Joan is a half sister to Break Dance, who won the final of the Southern Belle series at Winton last Sunday in 1.53.3.   The Tuapeka Lodge syndicate have Break Dance leased out but the stud operation at Lawrence (Central Otago) sold her dam, Wave Runner, who won eight races.   Bonnie Joan gave Dalgety and Dunn their fourth win in a Nevele R series heat at Forbury Park. They also won with Safedra, Donegal Delight (2011) and Angela’s Dream (2008). Dalgety also won the 2007 heat with Dontdrinkthendrive, driven by Mark Jones.   Dalgety won the final in 2001 with Sparks A Flyin. She won a heat at Ashburton and did not race at Forbury Park.   Preferred (1983) and Venus Serena (2014) have gone on to win the final after success in the Forbury Park heat. Bonnie Joan is ineligible for the final heat of the series at Addington on April 21. The $140,000 final is there on May 12.   Bonnie Jean ended the unbeaten record in 10 starts of Partyon, who raced in the open and faded to fifth, 2.6 lengths from the winner.   “I think it was just the speed they went in her first race since March 3,” said trainer–driver Mark Purdon. Partyon will now go to the final heat, along with stablemate Spanish Armada, who won a heat at Addington on March 16.   Tayler Strong

Southland horseman Nathan Williamson will be looking to train his first Alexandra Park winner tonight (Friday), but admits it can wait until April 28 if need-be. That’s the night of the 2017 Rowe Cup. Tonight the Williamson trained and driven De Vito will be having his first look at Alexandra Park in an attempt to qualify for the Group One $150,000 feature at the end of the month. “I’ll be trying to win to get a start in the Rowe Cup. The race means a lot to our family because Dad (Phil) won the it in 2007. In trotting we all talk of having a Rowe Cup or Dominion horse. “I’m not getting carried away, but the Rowe Cup is in the back of my mind, if not this year – next year. He’s not even an open class trotter yet – just a good intermediate one. I’d love to get accepted for the race, so we will keep lining up in the lead-up races to see if he can get in. “Friday is the start of his build-up we will see exactly where he stands. He prefers the right-handed way in training back home, so I’m quite hopeful he will trot well,” Williamson said. “But it is his first race up here and no matter what happens he will be better for each run heading into the Rowe Cup Carnival,” he added. De Vito, who will be driven by his trainer, has drawn ideally at two in the feature trot of the night - the $14,999 Haras des Trotteurs Mobile for the R91 and faster squaregaiters. The Sundon gelding is an R82 rated trotter and will be competing against hardened Alexandra Park veterans like impressive last start winners - Prime Power (R114) & Temporale (R188), and Idle Bones (R100) & Yagunnakissmeornot (R82). "He's staying with Bernie (Hackett) and Michelle (Wallis) at Waiuku and is being beach-trained. I've got a lot of time for him. He feels like a good horse in the making. "I'm hoping he runs well up there because he's only five and if he doesn't make the Rowe Cup field this year then he could be back in 2018. I'm thinking the same with Dark Horse and Poppymalda (both five wins)," the Ryal Bush conditioner said. De Vito justified his $2.60 favouritism when winning a C2 to Oc trot from 10m behind by seven lengths at Wyndham two starts back (2:02.6 mile rate), and then he ran third behind Monty Python and Golden Gate at Invercargill last start (March 11). That last assignment was a 3200m standing start - the same distance as the Rowe Cup. He stopped the clock in 4:10. Tonight's distance is a 2200m mobile. De Vito has a 4-1-2 record over that journey and in a career spanning 19 starts back to April 2015, he has won five times - one each at Wyndham, Invercargill (twice), Waikouaiti, and Gore. “He’s a real consistent horse who has won or placed in 16 of his 19 starts. He’s working his way to being a good trotter – but he’s not even in the open class ranks yet. “What I’ve seen of him, I really like. I’ve had him for six starts now and he hasn’t ran worse than third. I got him off Billy Heads last year,” Williamson said. “I think he will be comfortable the right-handed way around and that’s a big factor when it comes to racing first-up at Alexandra Park,” the former St Kevin’s College student added. Williamson will also line up the lightly tried Somebeachsomewhere filly, Excellent, in the fifth race - the $12,000 Sims Pacific Metals Mobile for the 2-year-old pacers. She finished fourth (of six) when second favourite on debut in the $23,000 Group Three Alabar NZ - Caduceus Club Of Southland Fillies Pace (March 11) and then "went big" in the second heat of the $22,000 Sires Stakes heat at Alexandra Park on March 24. "Todd (Macfarlane) drove her well that night and only finished half a neck from winning. That run would have done her the world of good. "She's done well since then and is staying with Robert Dunn at Pukekohe. She drew nine that night and I'll drive her this time from barrier five. I like the way she has improved since arriving in Auckland," said Williamson. With helpful trainers like Dunn, Wallis and Hackett, Williamson said he could see himself campaigning more horses at Auckland when the big money is up. Duane Ranger

Whenever members of the All-Stars team venture south, they tend to dominate so expect that to continue at Invercargill on Sunday, especially with stable principals Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen also on the trip. They have runners in two of the legs of the first quaddie and as usual, they are 'must haves'. The other two legs are less clearcut. The Motor Central two year old Mobile 1700 kicks off the quaddie with Make Mine Diamonds and Purdon from three, Bare Knuckle and Matt Anderson from five, and Sicario and Rasmussen from six, all down to sport the blue silks with silver grey stars. Sicario, only male of the trio, impressed in his 2000 metre trial at Addington on Monday and looks the best of them. After tracking Cole Porter throughout, he closed nicely in the straight, stopping the clock at a tick over 2:30. In her heat, Make Mine Diamonds established her credentials when sprinting the last 400 metres in 27.7 to win in 2:32.8.  Bare Knuckle trialled in a bigger field against all ages, drew the outside, raced in midfield and sprinted home well for second. All three are needed for the first leg. The Saddlery Warehouse Handicap Trot is the second leg and in a race half-full of experienced runners with few wins on the board, the handicap runners look the ones to have. With 85 starts, Overcast has been around more than any of them but with five wins is also the most successful. He was a winner last month at Gore and looks competitive in this type of field. With five starts and one win each, Makarewa Rum and Takenoprisoners look the two with the most upside. Makarewa Rum, third behind Overcast in that Gore race, impressed again with his finish at Winton. Although a month away from racing, the four year old recently had a trials outing, winning a two-horse affair with a last half of 61.3. Of Nathan Williamson's 12 winners this season, 10 have been trotters and Takenoprisoners could be the next. He has been unsighted since last winter but on the Williamson factor alone, needs to be included.  The All Purpose Engineering / Clean-Biz Mobile 2200 is for up to rating 45 pacers and leaves plenty of room for an upset. Only three runners have had more starts than Bold Ruler and the five year old has only won once but even from a second line draw, the son of Changeover needs to go in. He has placed second or third on 14 occasions, is racing as well as anything in the field, and is in the right class of race to excel. A couple on the front row who need to be considered are Takitimu Express and Two Ply. Members of the team of Woodlands trainer Steve Baucke are racing well at the moment and Takatimu Express, with assistance from Dexter Dunn, overcame a second line draw over a mile at Winton last week to finish a close up third. In doing so, he came off the back of Bold Ruler on the turn and got past him late. From gate one in the same race, Two Ply was crossed early and shuffled four back. The regular black-booker had no room in the straight to let down but got to within three and a half lengths of the winner. Last leg of the quaddie is the Final Touch / BP North Road Mobile for MR46 to MR55 rated horses plus any non-winner two year olds. Eligible on both counts is All-Stars two year old More Than Lucky, fourth in the group three Kindergarten on debut and subsequently fifth in his own age group again at Addington. Despite facing horses up to and beyond twice his age, in the hands of Purdon on Sunday he has got to go in. Drawn outside him is Lilac Flash who is close to winning and with the services of Dexter Dunn will give More Than Lucky plenty to think about. The same applies to A Smart Excuse who has drawn inside More Than Better. Although he has gone 18 starts without a win, his chances of doing it in this field look real. Purdon gets one other chance on Sunday when he drives Jimmy Mack in the Regent Cars Under $7990 At Clyde Street 2200 metre mobile, first leg of the second quaddie. He takes the reins of the in-form Butterworth Racing Syndicate-owned Jimmy Mack, trained by Brett Gray. Standing in his way will be the former All-Stars trained All Star Magician, winner of his past three, all from the beach-based stable of Graeme Anderson. Mac Henry

Oamaru harness racing trainer Phil Williamson recently notched up 500 trotting winners in New Zealand when Astral Ruler won at the Wyndham HRC meeting at Cromwell on 7thJanuary. He can proudly be known as the first New Zealand trainer to achieve such a feat and his winning record with the square gaiters is expected to last for a long time. Southland Harness Website editor Bruce Stewart caught up with Phil at a recently held Invercargill Cup meeting at Ascot Park and had a chat with him about his involvement in harness racing. You became keen on horses while at Port Molyneux School. The trainer of the great Stella Frost Len Tilson had a stable next to the school? Yes. That’s where my interest started. I used to see them in the paddock next door as they jogged past. It looked pretty exciting. Then I started to listen to the commentaries on the radio and that sounded exciting too. I understand that when you left school you had a short stint as a jockey before weight caught up with you. It all started for me on a Saturday when I was supposed to have been going back to school on the Monday for my third year at High School. Bob Beck just happened to be visiting and said he was looking for an apprentice jockey and would I be interested. I thought to myself, that would be better than going back to school for another year. I looked at my mum and asked her if I could. Bob said he’d come back the next morning and pick me up. Note: Phil’s mother aged 90 is still living at Kaka Point. You rode one winner, Frosty Light? Yes. I’ll never forget that. It was here at Ascot Park and it was the first leg of the double. In those days you could claim a 7 pound allowance as an apprentice jockey. The first ride I had I rode 3 pound over so I had a weight problem from day dot. You mentioned that Alistair Kerslake got you interested in harness horses. How did that come about? Yes. My first involvement was with Alistair and Betty. I learned a lot there for sure. He was quite a tough man but I learned a lot. When did you start work at the local Tannery in Oamaru? When I finished with Alister I came back to Oamaru and started working for Dick Prendergast. I was there for quite a while but ended up going to the Tannery and working nights. Around that time you married Bev. When I got to Oamaru I was staying with neighbours of her mother and father and I was working a couple of horses on their track so I got to know her. Did her father have any good horses? Yes. We won the Roxburgh Cup with Willow Way. Their best horse though, was Wee Willow. Henry Skinner was their main driver in those days. Then I came on the scene. Note: Willow Way was by Jack Chance out of Wee Willow. He won the 1991 Roxburgh Cup by half a length with Phil driving him to victory. Wee Willow also left Gemini Jo which won seven races. Phil drove her in all her victories. Bev Williamson’s maiden name was Mills and her father Ron was a hobby trainer. At this time you were training Role Model. The owners called in one day and I was doing the night shift. I was just pottering around with a few horses and helping the father in-law at home. These two gentlemen came in and said, would I be interested in training a horse for them. I told them I hadn’t trained any horses before. I asked them what the horse was and one of the guys said I wouldn’t have far to look to see him. Unbeknown to us it was at a neighbours place. It was on rough hilly country and the horse was just at the bottom of one of the gullies. Role Model was a very plain looking horse but I couldn’t see a lot wrong with him. I went back to Bev and said they seem like really nice guys and if ever we were going to train it’d be now. That’s how I got started. He won races pacing, but you decided to switch him to trotting? We used to take him from where we lived to the race course in the cart. I was taking him back one day and he took off trotting and I couldn’t believe it. He was quite neat at it. I asked the owners if they would mind if I worked him up on the next prep trotting. They weren’t that keen. They didn’t want a bar of him being a trotter because he’d already won five races as a pacer. Once we starting trotting him and I took him to the workouts they could see how good he was so we switched him. He won his first start at Addington as a trotter. He won eight races trotting, including your first group race, the New Zealand Trotting Free For All. How did that feel? Yeah it was a big thrill that night. So at what stage did you decide to concentrate on training trotters? The next horse I got to train was Frances Jay Bee. We’ve won some good races from the progeny of her. At that point I also realised you could get into the higher end of the trotting game because the better stallions were less of an outlay. Sundon was probably standing for around $3,000 but if you were trying to go to the leading pacing sire you’d probably need $12,000. So that made sense to us because we didn’t have a lot of money. They were also cheaper to buy as trotters were looked at as being second rate at the sales. So I was able to buy into the better end of them for a lot cheaper. What influence did Sundon have on the trotting game? To me he’s just been a super sire. He’s the Bettor’s Delight of the trotters I’m sure. He stamped his progeny. They were great looking athletic horses which were a lot different to the older Standardbreds who were big tough horses with roman noses. When the Sundons came on-line, you had two very good ones early, in One Under Kenny and Allegro Agitato. You weren’t working with them long before you knew you had something special. They had what the average horses don’t have. Sundons can be a bit hot headed though? It’s probably a fair enough comment but you know if you’ve got a V8 motor in there somethings going to happen if you have an altercation in the early days. They may pull back and break a rope because they have the power to do it. But they can do things other horses can’t do because of their motor. You’d give up a bit of the hot headedness for the motor every time.  One of your first speedy Sundon trotters was Lets Get Serious – he had a fair bit of talent? He was a very good horse. He didn’t show it in the very early days. When you take a good horse off the place they normally step up. That’s the difference between a good one and an average one. A lot of horses can work well at home but can’t take the next level. Every good horse I’ve had has always stepped up. He was like that. With trotters you have to be patient? You’ve got to have common sense. Some horses take time and you just have to understand that. As a trainer who’s been an influence on your career? Dick Prendergast was a big influence in those early days. He was a great horseman and had a lot of success and a bit of it has rubbed off on me. When I first went to Auckland I stayed with Barry Purdon and leant a lot there particularly getting the young horses going. Tony Herlihy is another that’s had an influence on me. We’ve stayed with him a lot on our recent trips. Jasmyn’s Gift was a special trotter as well? She was, because we bred her and it was good for us just starting out. When you have a horse that can race in the Dominion Handicap it’s special. Note: Jasmyn’s Gift ran third in two Dominion Handicaps in 2005 and 2006. She also provided Nathan Williamson with his first Group One winner as a driver when she won the 2006 New Zealand Trotting Free For All at Addington. As you’ve mentioned, The Dominion Handicap is a very special race for trainers of trotters. It’s such a difficult race to win and everything has to go right on that special day. Springbank Richard was able to do it for us. I’ve had numerus placings with other horses. Do you have a horse that has the potential of winning a Dominion? No. My son has. Springbank Richard was another great horse you trained? He came along and was a super good horse. He had a big V8 motor and a lovely gait and was just an all-round great great horse. Note: Springbank Richard has been Phil Williamson’s biggest stake earner to date (see details below) and only Dominion Handicap winner. He provided Nathan Williamson with his first Group One winner in Australia when he won the Victoria Trotter Derby in May 2007.He also won back to back Harness Jewel titles winning at three in 2007 and as a four year old in 2008. He was driven on both occasions by Nathan. How important is shoeing? Do you do your own? Malcolm Oakes has shod my team in later years and before that Bruce Wallace did a lot of the shoeing in the early days with Role Model especially. Ken Kinzett before that. It’s very important to have their feet right. It’s more important to have a good horse though. Brendon Franks looked after the shoeing while we were in Central. Most of the trotting races are from a standing start. Are trotters more difficult to get away? The thing about the good ones Bruce, is that they can miss away and still win because they’re just better. All the time they’re getting that practice in and by the time they’ve had a start or two it’ll come to them. Springbank Richard was a slow learner when Tony Barron had him. It’s just the manners and time brings that right. I was just lucky to get him at the right time. Manners with trotters just come with experience. Of the horses you have trained there must have been few that haven’t reached their potential. Do any come to mind? Leighton Hest. He was a bit of an underachiever. He won a Jewels. He was troubled with soreness. He was a very very good horse. Note: Leighton Hest provided Matty Williamson with his first Group One winner when he won the 2009 Four Year Old Ruby at Ashburton in May 2009. He won seven of his nine starts at four and ended his career with a record of 43-12-6-6 and $205,242. Are there any other horses you’d like to mention? Springbank Sam won twenty races for us and was placed second five times in Group One races. He’s now in America. Note: Springbank Sam was sold at the sales as Jack Galleon for $26,000. He went on to win $319,756 for Alister and Denise Smith. He won in every season that he started from a two year old to an eight year old. He ran second to Paramount Geegee at two and three in four Group One races. At four he was beaten only by Charlemagne in the Four Year Old Ruby at Cambridge. His last Group placing was in the 2013 Rowe Cup when he was beaten by Stig. He’s a national record holder, the only one on the Omakau track, recording 3-12.8 for the 2600 metre mobile. What’s the fastest trotter you’ve trained? It’s between Allegro Agitato and Springbank Richard. And trotter with the all round game? One Over Kenny. You don’t win a million dollars unless you’re a very good horse. Are you excited about where trotting is going? Some meetings have up to three trotting races on their card now. I think people are starting to see that’s there’s good money in trotting now. Back in the day people had the perception that trotters all galloped and who would want to have a trotter. Trotters can race consistently and earn well if they’ve got a bit of ability. A lot of people have woken up to the fact they can be good earners and in some cases earn better money than pacers. Your three boys all drive. Do you notice any differences in their driving styles? Matty’s probably the most aggressive of the three. Nathan and Brad are very similar. Nathan was always very talented from the get go. Brad’s probably had to work at it but he’s made a good fist of it of late. It’s pretty hard to come out of the shadow of two pretty successful brothers. Now I think he drives as good as his brothers do with the right opportunities. How important was it to get to 500 trotting winners for you? We’re proud of the fact that we were the first to do it. But I’ve always got my feet on the ground. Have you ever ventured to America or Scandinavia to see trotters race? I never have. It would be nice to do it someday. Tony Herlihy who goes to America and Canada a bit tried to get me to go but I haven’t got there yet. There’s been no break in the workload to do it Bruce. You have good staff with your boys, Steve Allen and Charlotte Purvis. And your wife Bev plays a major part in the operation? She does all the business side of the operation, like accounts. I don’t even turn the computer on. That’s Bev’s department. I learnt not to get involved there. In the early days Bev use to drive. She’s a capable driver around the workouts and trials. She used to beat me plenty of times. She’s got a great work ethic. Note: In these later years Phil and Bev have taken a working holiday in Central Otago and their trotters have dominated the New Year circuit. At Omakau, Springbank Eden, Royal Kenny, Springbank Sam, Brad’s Kenny and Jasmyn’s Gift all hold track records. At Roxburgh, Davey’s Gift and Pyramid Monarch are in the record book. An enjoyable interview with Phil Williamson. It’s easy to see that he identified trotters as his speciality fairly early on and has crafted out a career that’s rewarded him with 500 winners - a remarkable feat. As trotting ranks start to increase markedly we can be rest assured there are a few more winners to be added yet.   Phil Williamson’s fact sheet on 500 winners:   First trotting winner: Role Model - New Zealand Metropolitan June 1995   500th winner: Astral Ruler - Wyndham HRC at Cromwell January 2017   Leaving drivers of the 500 trotting winners: Matty Williamson drove 151, Phil 100, Nathan 94 and Brad 94.   Winning tracks: Addington 98, Forbury Park 84, Ascot Park 80 and Oamaru 41.    Biggest winners 10 wins or more: Allegro Agitato (21), Springbank Sam (20), One Over Kenny (19), Jasmyn's Gift (17), Springbank Richard (17), Lets Get Serious (10), Monnay (10), Monty Python (10) and Role Model (10).   Note: One Over Kenny won 32 races in her career including the Australasian Trotters Championship in 2007. She was trained by Tony Herlihy in the latter part of her career. She won a total of $1,098,007 in stakes.   Biggest winners by stakes: Springbank Richard ($403,567.50), One Over Kenny ($372,936.25), Allegro Agitato ($353,476.25), Jasmyn's Gift ($164,651.21) and Springbank Sam ($150,935.00).   Biggest stake won in one race by any horse: $138,220.00 (Springbank Richard 2009 Dominion Handicap).   First Group win: Role Model 1996 New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group Two).    Group One wins: 10   Group Two wins: 9   Group Three wins: 5   Multiple wins - Group races:   Four Year Trotter Championship (Group Three): Lets Get Serious (2006), Springbank Richard (2008) and Leighton Hest (2009)   Ashburton Trotter Flying Mile (Group Three): Allegro Agitato (2004 and 2005) and Springbank Richard (2009).   Cambridge Trotter Flying Mile (Group Two): Allegro Agitato (2005 and 2006) and One Over Kenny (2007).   Lyall Creek Stakes (Group Two): Allegro Agitato (2006) and One Over Kenny (2007).   National Trot (Group One): Allegro Agitato (2006) and One Over Kenny (2007)   New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group One): Role Model (1996), Allegro Agitato (2004 and 2006) and Jasmyn's Gift (2005).    Important overseas wins: 2007 Victoria Trotting Derby (Group One) Springbank Richard, Interdominion Trotting Championship Heat winner - Shepperton (Group Three) Springbank Richard and 2005 VHRC The Holmfield One Over Kenny.   Harness Jewels winners: Springbank Richard – Three Year old Ruby and Four Year Old Ruby and Leighton Hest Four Year Old Ruby.   DG Jones Memorial/Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup (Group Three): Springbank Richard (2009 and 2010)   New Zealand Trotting Free For All (Group One): Allegro Agitato (2005) and Jasmyn’s Gift (2006).   Ordeal Cup: Jasmyn’s Gift (2006) and Springbank Richard (2009).   Other Group Wins: New Zealand Trotting Oaks (Group Two) One Over Kenny (2005), Northern Trotting Derby (Group One) One Over Kenny (2005), New Zealand Sires Stakes Trotting Championship One Over Kenny (2005), Dominion Handicap (Group One) Springbank Richard (2009), Rowe Cup (Group One) One Over Kenny (2007) and Southern Lights Trot (Group Three) Springbank Sam.   Best season (wins): 2015 and 2016 (58 winners)   Best season (stakes): (2007) $693,861    Total trotting stakes won (500 winners): $3,486,646.91    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Sundons Wish looked like a progressive squaregaiter when he won easily at Winton on Saturday. It was the five year olds second win in just three starts. He trotted off the mark and harness racing trainer driver Nathan Williamson took him to the lead early before handing up to favourite It's Elvis with a lap to run. As the front part of the field turned for home Sundons Wish was allowed to sprint up the lane beating It's Elvis by a length and a quarter. The style of Sundons Wish (4) beating It's Elvis (14) - Photo Bruce Stewart. "I was just pleased he got around in one piece and trotted nicely. Since his last start we've backed off him and changed his training a wee bit to try and get him trotting good. We know he's got the motor. He trotted nice and square today. We bought him up here last week for a private run and he trotted lovely," said Williamson.  Not only has Williamson changed his training regime but he's also made some gear changes with the half hopples coming off.  "He only needed them for confidence but I knew with the way he was working that we didn't need them today. We're training him out of the paddock and giving him a lot of strong work just to keep his muscles right. He's better with one sprint at them because he's not a horse who could do a lot of work at this stage. He's a confidence trotter, we'll just stick to what we're doing because he didn't touch in behind today. If he's trotting square he's a good horse." Sundons Wish is owned by his breeder Neville Cleaver and the horse's initial trainer Ian Jamieson of Winton. Ian Jamieson, Nathan Williamson, Sundons Wish, Oliver Kite, Neville Cleaver and Adrian Wohlers He's by Sundon out of Yule Ana - an unraced mare by Armbro Operative out of Little Miss Watch. Little Miss Watch, who was bred by Clarrie Woodward, won three races but as a broodmare left a handful of talented trotters including Sun Watch (7 wins), Musgrove (16), Aleana (6) and Flying Hardwick (22). Sun Watch who was trained by the late Bert Wohlers at Riverton still holds a New Zealand and track record at Winton. As a three year old in December 2003, he ran 2400 metres from a mobile in 3-02.3. Incidentally Wohlers' son Adrian who trained in Cambridge for a good number of years has just relocated back to Riverton and is keen to train a team on the beach in the Western Southland town. He's been a long time friend of Cleaver and was on-course today to share in the victory.  Cleaver reports that Yule Ana is back in foal to Sundon.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Southland breeders once again had mixed results at the harness racing Sale Of the Stars in Christchurch early this week. From a general sales perceptive there were a good number of top end yearlings sold. But on the other side of the ledger a number of horses were passed in and the fillies in the catalogue sold relatively cheaply. Leading the southern charge though, were John and Judy Stiven from Arden Lodge in West Otago who took seven colts and one filly to this years sale. Their top lot Arden Roanoke sold for $155,000 and was bought by Cran Dalgety while Arden Crest (sold for $80,000) and Arden Voyager (sold for $52,500) made up their top three lots. “We were very pleased. We thought we had three colts that could go to $100,000 and if one of them did we’d be alright. When you average the three of them out they basically did." said John. Arden's Crest and Arden Rumours went to Australian owners, Arden Surf was picked up by Southland trainer Nathan Williamson, Barry Purdon has Arden Voyager in his barn and Arden's Pearl was bought by Woodlands Stud. The rest of the lots will remain in Canterbury.  “It was a very good spread geographically and everyone that's got them has the ability to do a job with them.” Arden Roanoke was the sale's second top lot, only bettered by Franco Stallone ($190,000).  “He was always the favourite as Rocknroll Arden (his dam) is my favourite mare. To leave a colt like that first up was pretty good. He looked good from when he was born.”  This is the first time the Stivens have had a sizeable number of well bred colts at the sale and John says the SBSR tour helped sell his draft.  “We had some very good comments on the tour. I guess that put a bit of buoyancy into our trip up there. We had a number of people coming along and saying that your Mum and Dad would be proud of you. The result we got made us proud for them as well as us.” The Arden name is also starting to become more prominent on the other side of the Tasman and Arden Rooney's win in the 2015 New Zealand Trotting Cup has been a great promotional tool for the next generation. “I think we’re going to get a rub off for some time. It’s hard to quantify. We had Geoff Webster (Australian trainer of Southland pacer Franco Ledger) looking at quite a few of our draft before they went to the ring and he ended up buying Arden's Crest. I said to him 'you must know a bit about Arden Lodge with Franco Ledger racing against Arden Rooney' and he said 'sure do.' It’s huge what Arden Rooney has done for Arden Lodge - there’s no doubt about that.” The Stivens had one lot passed in - Arden In Flight - but he's gone to Canterbury trainer Grant Payne who's taken up a partnership deal with the Stivens. “Grant did that with Arden Rooney. He's been a good part of what Arden Lodge does for many many years. I’ve known him since I was a lad at school.” When asked if there were any disappointing results Stiven pointed to his well bred filly Arden's Pearl (Somebeachsomewhere - Ardenart). “I was surprised she only got to twenty. I thought she was as modern a breed as people could get. It was nice that the people at Woodlands Stud could see that and basically snapped her up. They’ve bought her for the long term.” Stiven says that what lifted this draft above others he has taken to the sales, were the number of colts they had to offer. They were undoubtedly better sellers than fillies.   “Having colts makes a horrendously big difference. To have Macca Lodge ringing up saying you’ve got another colt is music to your ears at that stage.” Stiven says one noticeable trend this year was that buyers were concentrating on buying at the top end of the market and were not so interested in spreading their purchasing dollar to horses in the lower price range. “I think the way multiple ownerships are set up now, trainers are targeting horses for their needs and the number they want. They’re putting more people into the horses they buy.” Other Southland bred horses fared well too. These yearling were all in the top twenty selling lots: Cheer The Major (Art Major- Cheer The Lady) $150,000; Dream Major (Art Major - Christian Dreamer) $120,000; Harmony Delight (Bettor's Delight - Gotta Go Harmony) $120,000; Findlay Road (Art Major - Priscilla Shard) $80,000 and Hopeing For Glory (Mach Three - Breath Of Life) $70,000. On the buying front Invercargill lawyer Murray Little, his nephew Malcolm Little and his wife Sandra of Cromwell invested in a nice range of fillies. Leading the purchases was Bettor's Delight filly Pembrook Ruby which is a full-sister to Pembrook's Delight, the winner of nine races and the winner of the Four Year Old Mares Diamond. They paid $41,000 for her. Major Joy (Art Major - Jumpforjoy) is now also under their ownership. They paid $27,000 for the daughter of the seven win mare. They also purchased Carrera Caress, a filly by Bettor's Delight out of Gentle Audrey. She's had eight foals to the races all of which have been winners including the ill-fated Gentle Western which won five of his ten starts and holds a Southland track record for three years.  At the lower end of their spend was Rocknroll Robin a A Rocknroll Dance filly out of Classy Fleet. This filly is from the Black Watch family. "Malcolm spent a lot of time studying. The A Rocknroll Dance we bought in the ring, because at $8,500 we thought it was a good buy. It was a buyers sale. If we'd bought those fillies last year or the year before they would have cost us another forty percent," said Murray.    Malcolm Little used to train horses in the mid eighties early nineties at Murray Gray's property at Ryal Bush. He's now retired but looks after the family cherry orchards in Cromwell. "He got back into them when I bought Popular for about $1,500. I broke her in and said to him I'll give you a fifty per-cent share for $1,500. Now he can't keep his hand down (went he's at the sales)."   Murray also, under the Havtime Breeding banner, purchased the Mach Three filly Movin Right Along - the first foal of the Bettor's Delight mare Bettor Move It. She won four races and was placed in a good number of age group stake races. He paid $36,000 for her. Movin Right Along Local trainer Wayne Adams, who's had marked success with his sales purchases, bought four between $10,000 and $18,000 while the Whatever Syndicate got back into the game buying The Mighty Cullen (Christian Cullen - Themightykendall) for $24,000. He's out of a full sister to I'm Themightyquinn. They also paid $52,000 for Bettor's Delight colt Stingray Tara a full-brother to Tiger Tara.   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

She hadn't raced for eleven month so it was a great training feat for Branxholme harness racing trainer Nathan Williamson to produce Shezacullengirl to win fresh up at Winton yesterday. The well bred filly won on debut at Invercargill in April last year as a two year old and was then turned out.  "She was ready to race in October but she had tying up issues which put us back. We had to back off completely. She had a couple of weeks off and a couple of weeks just going in the pool at Ben's (Grinaldi Lodge) to try and build up the hind quarters which she must have damaged in the paddock, The muscle issues have settled down now and her trial leading into today was okay. We were hopeful more than confident," said Williamson. In the Hydroflow Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace the daughter of Christian Cullen and Chloe Hanover was left parked early before getting cover halfway through the 1609 metre race.  "We were parked for a while but weren't doing any work or forcing the issue. Once she got a trial she travelled nicely. We got flushed out and had to make our run a wee bit early." Shezacullengirl (6) beating Yankee Diva (4) by three quarters of a length - Photo Bruce Stewart Shezcullengirl is owned by Malcolm Little and his wife Sandra of Cromwell and his uncle Murray Little. They bought her at the 2015 Sale of the Stars for $15,000 when she was at that time named Millwood Tiffany.  Malcolm Little, stable hand Oliver Kite, Sandra Little, Murray Little and Nathan Williamson "I thought she might need a race or two being away from racing for that long but she's pulled up good and there's a nice race for her at the Northern Southland meeting" said Williamson. The win is some compensation for Murray Little who recently due to injury, lost the service for the rest of the season for the talented Mach's Back. Also due to injury his American Ideal colt out of Suvarno Hanover was unable to make the sales.  Today's double win by Williamson puts him back on track to win another Southland training premiership. He now sits on ten wins for the season just one behind current leader Brett Gray.  Meanwhile Williamson is happy with the three purchases he made at last weeks yearling sales.  He paid $14,000 for a Dream Vacant filly out of Two Year Old Trotting Filly of the Year Kylie Ree Williamson trained the mare's first foal She's Allthe Craze which won once in five starts. He actually bought Kylie Ree in September his year. "It's a family I know and I looked at her on the off chance I might buy her. I really liked her and I'll syndicate her."   He also paid $27,000 at the Auckland sale to buy The Future. She's a Majestic Son filly out of seven win Gee Whiz II mare Cabaletta which has already left up and coming trotter Everybody Knows. The Future is from the same family as Allegro Agitato and Skyvalley.  To round out his spend he bought Arden Surf for $30,000 for a client.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The Brent Shirley trained, Nathan Williamson driven Costa Del Magnifico added to his harness racing 'cups record' when he won the McDowell Painting and Decorating Gore Grass Track Cup. His time of 3-20.4 was a new race and track record beating the old record of 3-27.6 recorded by Titian Banner which won last years Cup. With 1200 metres to run Dexter Dunn took second favourite Sovereign Banner to the lead and Williamson sent Costa Del Magnifico forward shortly after. By the 900 metres he'd hit the lead and from there he won untouched, by two lengths from Acolyte. The last 800 metres was run in 57. 7 and last 400 in 28.7. Impressive on a grass track.  He has now won the Gore Grass Cup, Northern Southland Summer Cup, Southern Country Cups Final, Invercargill Cup, Wairio and Winton Cups. Today's win was his twelfth in thirty five starts.  The track today at Gore was lightning fast with six track records being broken. They were as follows: Eamon McGuire: 2-15.3 over 1800 metres mobile for three year old colts and geldings. The old record of 2-19.4 was held by Fiery Ferret. Sheezus 2-18 .6 over 1800 metres mobile for three year old fillies. The old record of 2-29.0 was held by Canderdal . Envious 2-17.0 over 1800 metres mobile for mares. Old record - 2-21.5 was held by Vera's Delight. Costa Del Magnifico 3-20.4 for the 2600 open stand. Previous record of 3-27.6 was held by Titian Banner. Explosive Star 3-30.6 for the 2600 metres open stand for trotters. The record was held by Ottawa at 3-33.0. 2600 metre stand for trotting mares. The new record is now 3-33.3 claimed by Delestic. The old record of 3-44.4 was held by Chiola Belle.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Trotter Delestic has spent a few days in Gore recently as harness racing trainer Nathan Williamson looks to get some 'trotting miles' into the Majestic Son mare. He's bought her to the workouts, trials or races three times in the last ten days just to give her practice. From the unruly mark on the second row Delestic today began slowly but safely while her main rival and favourite Jaccka Josh galloped away. Ultimately that proved to be the difference between the two in the Hokonui Honda Trot. Delestics' winning margin at the end of the 2600 metres was two lengths.  Delestic winning easily at Gore on the grass surface           - photo Bruce Stewart      "She trotted good at the workouts and we were confident that if she showed her manners she'd go well. She's got a fair amount of ability but manners are her biggest issue," said Williamson.  The four year old was having her fifth race day start and she's been in the top three favourites in all her career starts. Her owner Ian Hunter was on-course to see her run today, taking a short break from a local bowls tournament.  Meanwhile her talented half sister Splash Cola who went amiss again recently, is due to start work again. "Hopefully  she won't go amiss this time. It was one of those wee niggly things that have been the story of her life. She's got a fair bit of ability and is right up there with horses like Dark Horse."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The small settlement of Woodlands, about 10 minutes drive from Invercargill, is best known in the breeding world for its Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate contenders. It is the home of the Dennis brothers and rearing place of The Phantom – second in the 1990 Melbourne Cup, The Phantom Chance – winner of the 1993 Cox plate, and so on. It is also the home of low key hobby breeder Paul Mulder who hopes that in the group one Chariots of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night, Dashofluck can do him proud and get one back for the harness code. Dashofluck entered calculations for the Chariots with his success a couple of Saturdays ago in the group two Paleface Adios Stakes. He stopped the clock at 1:50.00 when beating nine others including Waikiki Beach. Mulder said the Dashofluck story began when he went to the Cullen Breeding dispersal sale in 2010 to buy a mare. “I missed the ones I wanted, they were too dear,” said Mulder who settled for Dreamy Dash, paying $5500 for the Falcon Seelster mare who had produced nothing of note but was from a family of good horses. Dreamy Dash had been served by Gotta Go Cullen and produced a filly but Mulder said it didn't show much and died relatively young in a paddock accident. For her next mate he chose local stallion Washington VC and when asked why, said “because of the Australian market”. Dreamy Dash missed the first year but produced Dashofluck the next. “I did the usual foal handling stuff and then Carl Hanna took over,” Mulder explained. An educated Dashofluck passed then to Nathan Williamson who said he was in and out for a couple of years. “He always had high speed but his gait took a while to get right,” Williamson said. “A lovely horse who needed time and Paul waited.” After a series of workouts, Williamson took Dashofluck to a qualifying trial at Wyndham in January 2016, and he won the 2400 metre mobile event in 3:03.0, zipping home the last 800 in 56.7 seconds. The run impressed not only Williamson but also a local agent and a sale to Australia was soon transacted. Mulder said Dreamy Dash hasn't held in foal since. Seven of the nine Dashofluck beat in the Paleface Adios are back for the Chariots but two are emergencies so four are fresh runners. Among them are the All Stars additions, Lazarus and Chase The Dream, and another Southland-bred in Salty Robyn. Dashofluck has drawn three, one inside Lazarus. Mac Henry

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