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Racing industry participants should know tomorrow whether they can continue to care for their animals. Racing bosses are hopeful strict new protocols around the use of stables and training facilities could see them approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries and horses and dogs can be looked after at their usual high level by those who work inside the industry. Racing was halted around the country on Monday in preparation for the Level 4 alert that comes into effect at 11.59pm tonight, as which point racing can not take place. That means there will be no racing until the Level 4 alert is reduced to Level 3, a level at which horse and dog racing would seem to be allowed again but in front of no crowds and with restrictions including travel. While nobody knows when Level 3 will be reached again those inside the racing industry don't just face the enormous financial worries many New Zealanders do but the more pressing problem of keeping that horses and greyhounds safe and healthy. The animals need to be fed and exercised, their stables or quarters cleaned daily, all of which is crucially important for not only the horse's welfare but their viability as racing animals in the future. If they can not be trained and their owners decide to retire or give up on them some horses and dogs may find new homes but many will not, especially in the economic meltdown that looms in the months and years ahead. The two equine codes, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and Harness Racing New Zealand have agreed to adhere to the same strict protocols, which would ensure only essential working personnel were allowed at training tracks and that all safety measures implemented by the MIP would be followed. NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry said the two codes applications, with the list of protocols they already have in place and new ones to be implemented, were lodged on Tuesday night at 5.55pm. "Both equine codes have had dialogue with the Ministry today and we are hopeful we will have a decision from them tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Saundry, who says his team has worked closely with HRNZ. "I have been in contact with HRNZ's chief executive Peter Jenson several times today and we both realise we have to work together and have the same measures in place." The codes are confident training tracks and stables can remain safe places of work under these protocols and that people in racing can look after their horses without in any way risking the further spread of Covid-19. "Sure there are economic issues around this further down the track and employment ones now but first and foremost this is about looking after the horses, keeping them healthy," says Saundry. "If we can't do this, it becomes a huge horse welfare issue." Already training tracks like the Franklin Park harness facility at Pukekohe have been closed but the Herald understands that will be a short-term measure and should the MPI rule positively on them being crucial to animal welfare, protocols will be put in place there that could see it open before by the weekend. News that the care and training of horses and dogs may be able to continue, albeit with restrictions, will not only ease the pressure on trainers struggling to find places to send horses who couldn't be worked, but also allow them to continue to employ staff. ************************************* At a time when so many things we take for granted are changing, sometimes by the hour, here are some Covid-19 related racing points you may have missed. ** The $1.275 million Harness Jewels meeting which was to have been held at Cambridge on May 30 has been cancelled. The meeting would have required substantial inter-island travel, which even if racing is back up and running by May, is unlikely to be possible. It will also enable industry participants who were aiming horses at the meeting to spell them now if that is deemed necessary. ** Trackside television will continue on air (Sky 62 and 63) for the time-being with its main focus being Australian racing. But there will be no domestic production from New Zealand with Trackside's Auckland headquarters shut down so racing coverage will be simulcast from overseas channels. ** Racing continues in Australia and there is still confidence in an ever-changing landscape that the major meeting at Rosehill will be held this Saturday and even possibly The Championships the following two Saturdays at Randwick. ** Harness racing in New South Wales was suspended as a precaution yesterday after one of their stewards was found to have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. That steward has been tested and if he returns a negative test to the virus HRNSW hopes to resume racing immediately, possibly by this weekend. ** The Dubai Cup, one of the world's richest race meetings, which was to have been staged without a crowd this Saturday has been called off.   Michael Guerin

Lochie Marshall –  A club man through and through Harness racing stalwart Lochie Marshall is being remembered as a tireless worker for the industry. Born “Lachlan MacArthur Marshall” he died in his home town of Geraldine this week after a battle with Leukaemia. He had a long association with the sport, as a race-caller, trainer, and administrator. He was a past president and life member of the Geraldine Trotting Club, which is currently celebrating its 150th year.  “He was part of the club’s fabric,” says current Geraldine president Mark Weaver, “the sort that makes every club stick together.” “As a builder his skills were handy …... and the number of trials and work-outs he organised, well god knows how many.” As a commentator Marshall was described as a “chanter” and he was a regular at racetracks and on the airwaves.  He called his first races in 1964 as a 19 year old and while South Canterbury and Central Otago were his most common gigs, he did have stints further afield at Forbury Park, Hutt Park and Riccarton.   He commentated until the early nineties, about the same time he started training winners. He had 13 wins from 196 starters, exclusively with trotters. His most successful association was with Missie Castleton. She has had 81 starts for six wins and $62,701 in stakes. Marshall trained her up until his deteriorating health forced him to transfer her to other stables. Harness Racing New Zealand says “Lochie was very well known and very respected throughout the industry and his craft will be sadly missed by all.”

The announcement from the government yesterday that New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 4 has seen racing across all codes cease until at least April 23rd. This will result in a significant restructuring of the balance of the current season. At present, we have no more insight into when racing might resume than the public does, however we need to be prepared to race again as soon as a revised Alert level allows us to do so.   The HRNZ board has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the Harness Jewels and has formally advised the host club, Waikato BOP Harness, that this is the case. There has been no decision reached yet regarding what this means for where the 2021 Harness Jewels will be held. HRNZ understands that the connections of those horses striving for qualification will be disappointed by this news, however it is important that this be communicated as early as possible to allow connections to make decisions regarding the placement of their horses. All codes will be under significant financial pressure as the TAB is impacted by the suspension of most global racing and sports. This is the most significant factor, along with the uncertainty around when racing will resume, in the board’s decision to cancel the Harness Jewels.   A number of feature races were due to take place over the next four weeks, including a number of Group Ones; New Zealand Derby, Easter Cup, NZ Trotting Derby, with the Rowe Cup due to run on May 1st.  The suspension of racing will also affect qualification for the feature race administered by the New Zealand Sires Stakes board, including the new Harness Millions races. Any decisions on rescheduling these very important races will be a key element of the season review that the HRNZ team is currently working on. The NZSS board is committed to working with HRNZ and the industry to find a workable solution. HRNZ will continue to issue regular updates the harness racing community as the situation evolves. 021 320 106 021 998 982     HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    At just 14 hands high it was no surprise when the racemare formerly known as Trina Jaacka got the nickname Peanut.  Now she lives in Balfour in Southland,  with owner Jane Orr describing  her as like “a little Labrador who follows you around the paddock.” “She’s a kind little soul”. After her deeds on the track which included one win for Southland trainer Murray Brown the now 13 year old is enjoying life after racing .  “She was bred by Charlie and Ailsa Smail, and bought off Shannon and Archie Armour for my daughter Madeleine four years ago to learn to ride,” says Orr. Her latest exploit has been pulling a wagon for eight days at the Goldfields Cavalcade. It was her first attempt and Jane Orr’s fourth. The 28th Cavalcade  was held in  South Otago and Eastern Southland  with  the finish at Owaka in the Clutha District,  with Peanut covering around 25 kilometres a day.    “She worked hard, but she enjoyed it.” And Peanut clearly looked good doing it too. So good that she was the winner of the 2020 Cavalcade photo competition. A shortlist of the ten best looking Standardbred photos was drawn up, and after an on line vote Peanut took out the first prize of a $250 voucher courtesy of Dunstan Horse Feeds. Other Standardbreds living on the Orr farm include  6-race winners Hurricane Banner and The Receptionist.  “ I love promoting my little standy for life after racing, she has attended Waimea Plains Pony Club, pony camps, in December last year Madeline did the Wyndham A & P Show SB classing, pony trot and jumping,  also I’ve joined the Gore Shafts n Wheels Club for driving her.” The 2021 Calvacade will finish in Twizel,  Peanut may just be getting a trip north.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Racing industry bosses are appealing to keep training tracks and stables open as a national horse welfare issue looms. Horse racing, like the rest of the country, is set to come to a crashing halt on Thursday when the Covid-19 alert level 4 comes into effect, although racing itself stopped yesterday, with no meetings of any of the three codes going ahead today or tomorrow. The TAB will continue to operate, offering betting on overseas sports events and, more importantly from a turnover point of view, Australian racing. That and Hong Kong racing will now be the focus for any Kiwis who enjoy their racing, as Australian racing has survived its Government's latest restrictions, with racing there to continue for now but with no crowds and no crossing of borders. The loss of horse and greyhound racing for at least a month will be felt hard by those inside the New Zealand industry, few of who have meaningful cash reserves and the shutdown raises an enormous array of future problems, many of them financial. But the most immediate issue racing bosses will seek clarity on today is the welfare of the horses and dogs. New Zealand has thousands of racehorses and horses in training to become racehorses and they need to be looked after daily. Unlike domestic pets, they can't come live in people's homes. They have strict diets, exercise regimes and need controlled and safe living environments. They also need their stables cleaned, medical needs seen to and even their shoes replaced, all of which are essential to preserve their health. If stable and farm workers can't go to work, the health and even lives of horses could be endangered. "That is the first and most important focus for us now," said New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chief executive Bernard Saundry. "The horses have needs and we need skilled people to look after them. At that most basic level, they have to be fed and their stables cleaned, they are all health issues. "But so, too, is their exercise. It is potentially dangerous to have a fit and healthy horse, and then stop working it and leave it in a stable." So the three codes will appeal to the Ministry for Primary Industries today to declare training tracks, stables and farms used to train horses essential work places. That may confuse some non-racing people who will question why a racing stable should stay open on a basic level while their business has to close. The simplest explanation is this: would you tell the staff at Auckland Zoo they can't go to work and leave the animals to fend for themselves? Right. Then it's really pretty simple. Already there is the problem of the huge financial hardship the racing industry is going to be put under at all levels. The loss of TAB turnover will severely impact racing codes and clubs for years and that will quickly effect the stakes racing clubs can offer. Less stakes means less money to pay bills and plenty of the ordinary New Zealanders who own racehorses as a hobby or passion are also set to lose their jobs or undergo severe financial pressure. So some will struggle to pay their horse trainers, who in turn may struggle to pay staff, who are tax-paying members of the economy like most other people. So this isn't a racing problem, this is an economic problem, no different to the hospitality industry or any other in New Zealand. Racing bosses will try and advise industry participants as soon as possible on what measures the MPI deem appropriate for training tracks, stables and farms while they will also work with horse people and dog trainers on what assistance is available from the Government for their loss of earnings. But the problems are only beginning. What happens if 100, or 1000, horse and dog owners realise they can't afford to pay their horse bills next month? That raises the very painful question of what happens to those horses and dogs. Trainers do their best to re-home retired horses and dogs but there are only so many homes to be found. Unless racing can return soon, there are going to be horses and dogs who have nowhere to go. Racing bosses are confident the industry can return to racing with the very strict protocols which were already in place if and when the Covid-19 alert reverts to level 3. The goal now is for them to be ready to act on that as soon as it happens, whether next month of further away. Because thousands more New Zealanders will lose their job unless racing starts up again inside a few months. And to do that, the horses and dogs, the stars of the show, need to be fit, healthy and in training. If that isn't allowed to happen, they will ultimately be the first victims in racing's sad chapter in their national tragedy. RACING'S DARKEST DAY •  All New Zealand horse and dog racing finished for at least a month yesterday. •   Industry bosses are now fighting to keep training centres open for animals and staff. •   If that is not allowed it will create an enormous animal welfare issue. •   The economic impact on the racing industry will be brutal but could be lessened by horses and dogs staying in training to allow a quicker resumption when the Covid-19 alert level returns to 3.   by Michael Guerin

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    Champion reinsman Blair Orange is now a tantalising one win away from 2000 winners, but like everyone else he will now have to wait and see if, and when, the milestone will be his.   The escalation of the COVID-19 alert to level 4 means all racing is off for at least four weeks.  It’s an uncertain time for all. At the Forbury Park Trotting Club’s 6 race grass track programme at Wingatui he kept the best for last as he piloted Well Said Love to a narrow win. It was an impressive finishing burst from the four year old younger brother of three-time NZ Cup winner Terror to Love. Paying $4.90 it started a second favourite to Black Ops, who broke before launching mid race and then wilting. Orange started the day on 1998, needing two wins to become just the seventh New Zealand driver to crack the 2000 barrier and join Tony Herlihy (3530), Maurice McKendry (3268), Ricky May (2949), David Butcher (2428), Dexter Dunn (2226) and Colin de Filippi (2028). Before his win in the sixth and final race of the day,  Orange had finished second on three occasions, with Windsor in the opening trot, and then Fiery Reactor and Coolhand Easton. “Fiery Reactor” was beaten by the impressive Graeme Anderson-trained Celebrating in race three. The three year old was having just his second start and the win wasn’t an easy watch for backers.  The $2 favourite driven by Matthew Williamson broke mid-race and was a clear last before circling the field and winning comfortably by three quarters of a length.  Coolhand Easton was beaten by 23-to-one outsider Gomeo Denario for trainer Amber Hoffman and driver Brent Barclay. And that wasn’t the only upset winner on the programme, at more lucrative odds was $30 outsider Miss Bamboocha who  held on to win the Dunedin City Motors Handicap Trot. It was win number three from 67 starts for the seven-year-old. That gave Edendale trainer Craig Laurenson a double.  He won both the day’s trotting races after Sage Trouble took out the Shearing Handicap Trot, ahead of Orange’s drive Windsor. It was just win number two from 34 starts. With Wingatui being the last meeting for a while, just when and where the next winners come from no one knows. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The announcement from the government today that New Zealand would move to Level 4 of the COVID-19 Alert System in 48 hours means that all racing will cease for the next four weeks from Tuesday 24 March. Harness Racing New Zealand, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Greyhound Racing New Zealand and the TAB, have met to discuss what steps the industry needs to take to protect the livelihoods of its participants. While the country will effectively be in lockdown, the welfare of our animals remains as an essential service during this time. Horses and dogs will still need to be fed, worked and cared for during this time. Trainers will need to look at stringent procedures around staffing levels and ensure they are adhering to the requirements of Alert Level 4. The codes will be addressing this in more detail tomorrow. We recognise that these are challenging times for everyone within our industry and we will be working closely with those impacted to help them through the coming weeks. As has been announced, the government is providing financial assistance for those impacted and the codes will provide guidance for those wanting help as to how they go about seeking that assistance. While the country is presently at level 3 alert moving to level 4 on Wednesday will involve the following: People instructed to stay at home Educational facilities closed Businesses closed except for essential services (eg supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities. Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities Travel severely limited Major reprioritisation of healthcare services. The codes will issue regular updates to their participants as this situation evolves.   HRNZ

Following the abandonment of the two-day Manawatu meeting this week, a replacement meeting has been scheduled for this Thursday night (March 26) at Cambridge Raceway. HRNZ would like to take the opportunity to extend our apologies to the connections of horses who were due to race at Manawatu this week. We regret having to make the difficult decision to cancel this meeting after the Government advice that Level 2 is now in place under the new Covid-19 Alert System. We continue to be focused on the health and well-being of our participants, along with keeping racing going as long as we can in the very difficult environment that we are all having to adjust to. The approved Programme is online to view here. Nominations close with HR Waikato on Tuesday at 11:00am.   HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    Wedding plans for a well-known racing couple have been put on hold, and Covid-19 is the reason why. Canterbury-based driver-trainers Kimberly Butt and Jonny Cox had put a circle around April 17, at Darfield’s Bangor Farm. Now that’s off and been rescheduled, with fingers crossed, to October 9. The decision, Kimberly Butt says was ultimately straight-forward “It just puts a lot of people at ease, it just wasn’t feasible.” The problem is two-fold. 140 people were on the invite list and large gatherings of people are a no-no at the moment because of the Corona Virus outbreak. The other revolves around her dad, Anthony Butt, who’s based in Australia and facing lengthy periods of self- isolation if he travels. “There was no pressure to postpone but he’s a big part of it so it would be rude not to and it was just easier to call it off now.” Anthony Butt and his partner Sonya Smith live in Sydney and prepare a big team owned by high profile entrepreneurs Emilio and Mary Rosati at Menangle. As he’s based in Australia he needs to self- isolate for 14 days when he arrives, and then do the same across the Tasman on his return.  “He’s just too busy training and driving, it’s not so viable.” Before moving across the Tasman, Butt was best known for his association with star trotter Lyell Creek (34 wins) and his three New Zealand Cups with Flashing Red  (2006-07) and Blossom Lady  (1992). Kimberly Butt is the fourth generation of her family to be involved in racing, dating back to her great grandfather and seven times leading trainer Wes Butt in the 1940-60s.      The couple have been together for five years with about a dozen horses in work at their Dunsandel stables, 30 minutes south of Christchurch. Currently Butt has 114 wins from 1430 drives, since reining her first winner in 2014.   By October she’s hoping the Corona Virus crisis will be over.  She’s not alone there. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    Trotting star “Tickle Me Pink” has run her last race, her future now will be as a broodmare. The four-year-old bay mare pulled up with muscle soreness after a lacklustre ninth on February 21 at Cambridge with subsequent investigations finding “multiple hotspots”. Breeders Breckon Farms saying the decision just made sense. “Extended rest could have seen her race again but given the depth of her CV and the battles she'd already overcome it was decided it was in the mare’s best interest to retire her.”    In 2018 “Tickle” nearly died after suffering from travel sickness during a trip to Australia. She made a triumphant and emotional return to the track, winning the Group 2 Sires Stakes Championships.  Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy trained and drove her in all 16 starts, winning nine of them, including the Group 1 3YO Harness Jewels.  She won $160,174 in stakes. She also set a New Zealand record of 2.07.2 over 1700 metres at Cambridge. Crtitical to the horse’s success was Chanelle Lawson. Chanelle said, “I feel so grateful to have been part of her story. She was a pleasure to do anything with and it won’t be the same without her around. She took me on the ride of a lifetime and for that reason will forever be my “One In A Million”.  “Tickle” will now join her mother Luby Ann in the broodmare band at Breckon Farms base at Ohaupo. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    How keen Waikouaiti mare Kiwi Crusher is to race in the feature trot at Wingatui today could decide her winning chances. The Amber Hoffman trained squaregaiter comes in to the 2200m event after going a big race after pulling hard in her last start at Forbury Park. Kiwi Crusher brushed the inside of her sulky wheels with her hooves when fighting on for third behind Valley Star and Da Moon’s Mission. Hoffman has gone to extra lengths ahead of today’s race to make sure the same doesn’t happen again today in race 4. “It better not happen again because I have gone and bought her a new cart,” the trainer said. “It had happened before and I didn’t want her doing it again, so I got an extra long sulky.” Hoffman hopes Kiwi Crusher’s new wheels will help her mare relax, but is not convinced they will be an instant fix for the mare’s over racing. “She was very fired up for a week after her last start, but she seems to have settled down now and her work has been good.” “I just hope she will settle and doesn’t go back to over-racing.” Kiwi Crusher starts from the 15m back mark in today’s 2200m feature alongside promising 4yr-old Andy Hall. The trotter will be driven by junior reinsman Mark Hurrell, who has recently started working for Hoffman. Andy Hall was an impressive winner of his first two starts before galloping out of his last outing at Wyndham. The Nathan Williamson trained trotter has won and run fifth in two workouts since then. Hoffman also starts the consistent Motoring Major in today’s feature pace. The 5yr-old comes in to the highly competitive 2200m mobile after running third and fifth in his two starts last month’s Waikouaiti meeting. Hurrell will try to adopt different tactics today. “He was up on the pace in both of his starts at Waikouaiti,” Hoffman said. “We are going to try to drive him a bit quieter at Wingatui.” “He sprinted up really well in his work on the beach this week, so he should go a good race.” Hoffman has a big team of three horses in race 5. To Ri Caitlin has the best draw of Hoffman’s trio in barrier 5. The 5yr-old will be having her first start for the Waikouaiti trainer today. “She is quite a nice horse and I quite like her.” “Her work has been quite good since she arrived, so I would expect her to go a pretty good race.” Gomeo Romeo has had one start for Hoffman and disappointed at Forbury Park, earlier this month. The trainer is hoping for better when the 6yr-old starts from barrier 7 today. “His work has been good enough, but he is better suited to standing starts and there are not a lot of them around at the moment.” “He was very disappointing at Forbury, so we are hoping for much better.” Rakagem has been relegated to being the outsider among Hoffman’s three starters after drawing the outside of the front line in barrier 9. Hoffman’s trio clash with leading contenders Black Ops, Allaboutjoy and Wolf West. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner   Rocknroll King will attempt to take his game to the mainland in today’s Waimate Cup. The Robert Dunn trained pacer headed west to show off his staying prowess to win the 3200m Inangahua-Grey Valley Cup in his last start at Reefton. The 4yr-old will step back in distance and head south in an attempt to make it back to back cup wins in today’s 2600m handicap. Driver Gavin Smith can not see why Rocknroll King can not go another great race. “He went really good on the coast, this race is a wee bit harder, but not a lot harder.” “He won with a wee bit in reserve over there [Reefton], so if he got a reasonable run he would be right in it again.” Rocknroll King starts on the 10m mark alongside fellow recent grass track winners One Direction and Shadow Minister. Both Vulcan Star and Gilligan’s Island will attempt to complete hat-tricks of wins from the front line. The favourite, Bettathanfast, will start from the 30m following his big performance to run second to Stars Tonight in his last start at Addington after sitting parked throughout. Bettathanfast was the $5.50 favourite, ahead of Rocknroll King ($6), when the Waimate Cup fixed odds market opened last night. Smith lines up two trial winning first starters from his stable at today’s meeting. Kiwi X Factor comes in to his 2000m standing start assignment after stretching out to win his by four lengths at the Rangiora trials. The 3yr-old has the motor to make an impact on race 4, but is yet to fully develop his racing game. “He is going to be a nice horse, but he can’t be hustled up too much yet, he needs to be looked after,” Smith said. “But he is going to be a lot better than a maiden.” “He is not one of mine that will just jump to the front, he will have to be handled a little bit quieter.” Kiwi X Factor has been rated the $5.50 third favourite by bookmakers behind equal favourites, Lizzie Richter and Uber Express ($4.80). Smith will start his 2yr-old, Helluva, against older horses over 1700m in race 5. The trainer-driver has high hopes for the pacer later this season. “He goes really good and if he keeps improving he could be up with the better 2yr-olds later.” “But, he is still a bit soft, mentally.” “That is why we have gone with an easy option first up.” “He can do a bit wrong, he is not hardened and he is not a racehorse yet, either.” Helluva has been rated a $7 chance by bookmakers. Mossman, who galloped in tight quarters and was pulled up in his last start at Addington, headed the market for race 5 at $4. Smith also starts Amulet from his stable in race 6. The trotter has the ability to win the race, but needs to show it today. “She has the ability, but has been very frustrating.” Smith also drives Atarah in race 3 and Don’t Look Back in race 11. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury filly Who Made Who rocked her rivals when thundering to an impressive debut at Winton on Saturday. The 3yr-old shook her opposition all race long when showing electric speed on a slushy track to score by two lengths for driver Brent Barclay. Trainer Steven Boyd had given the Sweet Lou filly a good grounding going in to her debut, stepping her out in six trials and workouts over the past year. Who Made Who’s size and scope has meant she has been a long work in progress. But, it also means there is plenty more to come. “She is a very nice filly, she has taken a bit of time to strengthen up, she is a big girl,” Boyd siad. “But, she is going good now.” “She has always show ability, it has just been a matter of hanging fire and now hopefully we are away.” Who Made Who put in a polished performance, leading soon after then start, before scoring by two lengths over American Eyretime for driver Brent Barclay. The quinella makers cleared out from the rest of the pack by a massive seven lengths. Who Made Who’s victory was so comfortable she barley got a sweat up. “She was really relaxed and she came in afterwards and her nostrils were not even moving,” Boyd said.  “I hardly needed to wash her, she hardly got a sweat up.” “She did it really easy and that’s good, you want them doing everything nice in their first run.” The possibility of travel restrictions in response to the COVID19 pandemic look the only factor that stands between Who Made Who and more success in Southland. Boyd plans to return south after the Sweet Lou filly qualified for a graduation final following her victory. Another good performance would put Who Made Who in Southland Oaks contention. “We will come down and try to qualify for the Oaks, we just need to work out how many more starts she might need.” “It is going to be quite a strong field this year.” “But, first we might take her to the next premier meeting at Addington.” Who Made Who was not the only Sweet Lou pacer on song at Winton. Spirit Of St Louis showed he was on track for a New Zealand Derby tilt when beating a smart field in Saturday’s feature pace. The Graeme Anderson trained 3yr-old showed new versatility when easing off the gate and getting back in the field, before powering home to win in a competitive finish for driver Matthew Williamson. Spirit Of St Louis ran a sizzling 26.8sec last 400m on a rain-affected Winton track to score by a head over deat-heaters Parama and Born To Boogie. Anderson and Williamson also combined to win Saturday’s 2yr-old event with American Lightning.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The ban on 100 people or more gathering together due to the impact of Covid 19 created an unprecedented race day at Winton, devoid of the public. Horses, trainers, drivers, registered stablehands, raceday officials and media only, were permitted to be present on the racetrack, and only those named on the register were allowed through the gate, which was then padlocked. With just a dozen cars in the car park, no racebooks or totalizator and at most fifteen people watching each race from the stand, it was an odd experience. Full marks to those present who treated it professionally as usual, but not a raceday as we know it. Between races  -not a soul in sight                               --Bruce Stewart photo   Tote closed for the day                        --Bruce Stewart photo Bruce Stewart

American Lightning was the first winner in an extraordinary day at Winton today. In the first ‘no public’ day of racing in the south brought about by the Corona Virus, the return to the birdcage by American Lightning was devoid of celebrations with not even part-owner and trainer Graeme Anderson on-course, preferring to stay at home and watch the races on television. The two year old colt was taken back early by driver Matty Williamson while Boyzhavtime speared to the lead. Williamson started to get serious inside the four hundred and took the colt wide. He finished the race off nicely and got up to beat a game Boyzhavetime by a neck. The winning time for the 1609 metres was 1-58.5. “He didn’t pace so good in the wet but he never drew a breath,” said Anderson happy with the way the colt ran and pulled up. American Lightning is by American Ideal out of Christian Cullen mare Zesty Philly. Anderson bought him at the sales paying $16,000. American Lightning getting up to beat Boyzhavetime on the inside    --Bruce Stewart photo He trained Zesty Philly with his then training partner Amber Hoffman after getting the mare from Gavin Smith. Anderson and Hoffman won one race with her at Winton in August 2012. “I got her second hand and she had all the ability in the world but she had a crook back. We gave her a few starts and she went huge then she succumbed to her old injury. I was always keen to buy one out of her.” The colt is owned by Anderson, Steve Pulley, Ray Chaiklin, Bruce Masson, Virginia Duncum, Edwin Corby, Kieran Corby and Tony Gow. “He’s a lovely big strong two year old. There’s a lot of Christian Cullen in him. They went their last quarter in 27 on the wet track and he must have gone better than that so it was a good run. I think we’ll push on with him. The Welcome Stakes is on the same night as the Derby. If Spirit Of St Louis does what he’s supposed to do today they’ll both go to Addington.”   Bruce Stewart

Afterburner won as he liked in his first start at Winton The three year old trained by Brett Gray and owned by Baynes Bloodstock and like many of their horses, his name is connected to aviation.  Afterburner trotted down to the line to beat Superfast Kiwi by four lengths. Although his headgear was removed Afterburner appeared to have plenty in hand at the finish and he looks like a promising trotter. He’s the first winner for Coktail Jet sire The Best Madrik who has left only four foals in New Zealand, all of which are three year olds. Another of The Best Madrik’s foals Madrik, which races out of the Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis stable, is qualified but unraced. He too looks promising. Afterburner’s out of Knapdale Girl an eight win Sundon mare whose first foal is the four win trotter Full Noise. The Optimist appears to have a liking for Winton, having won two races both on the Central Southland course. She overcame a second line draw and a stout challenge by The White Rabbit to win by a nose. Kiwitrix can’t seem to win a trick. The talented trotter has galloped a number of times when racing, and today just when he looked as if he’d win his second race he galloped shortly before the finish line and was relegated to second with Christmas Babe promoted to first. Kickupyaheels won the fourth heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series today. Kickupyaheels and Johnny Morrison winning the Southern Belle Speed series heat.   --Bruce Stewart photo The four year old A Rocknroll Dance mare won last weekend at Wyndham and produced a similar run, finishing late wide out on the track to beat Bunters Dream by three quarters of a length. First starter Who Made Who looked like a potential Southland Oaks filly when, in the hands on Brent Barclay, he beat American Eyretime by two lengths. The Sweet Lou filly out of Arden Banner is trained at Aylesbury by Stephen Boyd and prior to today’s debut had won five of her six trials or workouts ironically when driven by Terry Chmiel who drove the runner up today. Arden Banner won twice in her thirteen start career. Her biggest win was in the Group One 2008 Sires Stakes Fillies Championship when she beat close relative Arden’s Darlin. Who Made Who will have to start once more in the district before she’s eligible to start in the Southland Oaks Final at Ascot Park at the end of next month. Who Made Who winning for Brent Barclay                --Bruce Stewart photo Major Watson lived up to his potential when he impressively won the Western Electrical Limited Mobile Pace. Trainer Nathan Williamson thinks a bit of the four year old which won two starts in a row earlier in the season but hasn’t had too much luck since. Owned by Williamson and Ben and Karen Calder the son of Art Major has now won three races from eight starts. Mach’s Back returned to winning form today. The six year old last win was at Wyndham on the 31st January 2019 over a mile in 1-52.5. From a second line draw driver Brent Barclay took the gelding back. He came down the middle of the track to beat a brave Stingray Tara which had sped to the lead at the 800 metres, and pinched a break at the top of the straight but was unable to hold out Mach’s Back which won by a half a head. The Kirk Larsen trained Forsure capped off some consistent form to win for driver Blair Orange.   Bruce Stewart

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