While a few breeders are scaling down and getting out of the harness racing industry it’s refreshing to know that some are trying their hand at this fickle part of the business and even more refreshing to know that there are some younger breeders getting into the game. That’s the case with Brittany Willis and Haig McGorlick of Tisbury just out of Invercargill. Neither has history or heritage in the game but neverth less they’re giving both breeding and training a go - albeit on a small scale. Brittany got her first taste of horses at a young age while she was at primary school. “We had school days where they had pony rides. You could do sewing, cooking or pony riding. I was away sick on the day everyone got to choose and I got put in sewing. I wasn’t domesticated at all so I used to sneak out of class and sit by the pony rides. I became obsessed and got offered this pony for the school holidays for two weeks at Christmas. Two weeks turned into six weeks which turned into three months and six months later we bought the pony,” she said. She soon joined Pony Club and competed there and at Eventing fixtures before becoming a groom for friends who had showjumpers. “I became hooked, I got my first standardbred as a hack at 18 and just fell in love with the breed.” She then experienced her first taste of standardbreds while working at Tom Kilkelly stables for a couple of month when she was 20. “I also did a bit of standardbred rehoming. I’ve been doing that off and on for the last seven years.” In 2010 both she and Haig moved to Perth Western Australia, chasing the mining money. “I was sick of my job and we wanted to do something different so we got jobs in the mining industry there. We didn’t have horses for a while but got in toe with Graham Bond, a family friend and the rest in history.” Bond is currently working at 430 acre Allwood Stud Farm in WA where Follow The Stars and Tinted Cloud stand. He trained in Drummond in Southland for a good number of years before moving to Rakaia then onto West Australia. He was a regular buyer of horses out of New Zealand which he trained in Perth. One such purchase was J Walker which was bought out of the Geoff Small stable. Bond, Willis and McGorlick shared in the ownership of the Christian Cullen gelding which won eight races before he was sold on. Their next venture was to purchase Kamwood Girl a young Courage Under Fire mare who’d retired after winning eleven races in Australia. “Bondy found her actually. He said - I’ve found this broodmare. Do you want to go halves. Before that we had no desire to breed. He then decided he wanted out so he could focus on other horses he had, so we own her now.” So with a broodmare in toe the next step required a bit of luck. “I bought a ticket in the Western Australian Standardbred Breeders stallion service raffle and won the service to Art Major and that’s where this horse came from. It was huge. It was to promote breeding in Western Australian which we didn’t do because we got her (Kamwood Girl) in foal and sent her back to New Zealand. We were pretty lucky and it was a good start for us.” Returning home the couple have set up a small stable at Brittany’s parents five acre property at Tisbury and in a few weeks they take over land with a house next door which has seven acres of land. Brittany has also taken out a training licence and has rented a couple of boxes and a paddock at Ascot Park. She has just the two horses in work. Cullect Alot is a three year old filly that’s been broken and is just starting in work. She’s by Gotta Go Cullect out of Wren A lot, an unraced Sir Vancealot mare which is out of the five win Admiral Halsey mare Royal Wren. She’s owned by Graham Bond. Her other horse is two year old Foveaux Major - the foal the couple bred by sending Kamwood Girl to Art Major. So the numbers are small at this stage but you’ve got to start somewhere. Brittany has also sent up an equestrian business called Foveaux Equestrian. She imports Kentaur products which are a high end equestrian range from the Czech Republic, for which she is the exclusive New Zealand agent. She also sells Red Light Therapy products. “They’re a high end product. It is a limited market. 90 per cent of our business has been from Canterbury north mainly online but we also go to horse shows and do trade stands.” She’s also a qualified Equine Bowen Therapist after completing a two year course at Smart Bowen International in Melbourne. “I started to get Bowen Therapy done on myself when I had back problems and found it to be absolutely amazing. I thought if it was good for me I wondered if we could get it done on our racehorses. I found someone who did Equine Bowen Therapy and the results on our horses were fantastic so it inspired me to study it.” Their ties to racing horses in WA haven’t gone away either and Willis and McGorlick still have a twenty percent interest in Dame Puissant a well performed race mare in Western Australia. She’s by Tintin In America out of Glenferrie Magic and was owned by Trackside presenter Matt Cross and junior driver Kimberley Butt. She qualified as a two year old and was sold by the pair. From twenty two starts she’s won five races, and has been placed second and third twice. As a two year old she ran third in the Group Three Two Year Old Fillies Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park and at three finished third in the 2016 Group One West Australian Oaks. She’s trained by Robbie Williams. Their broodmare band has also expanded and they have three mares on their books. The two other mares they own are Kamwood Beauty and Hennessey Franco. Kamwood Beauty is an unraced American Ideal mare out of the five win In The Pocket mare Kamwood Diva. She’s a half-sister to Real Kamwood which won five races for Paul Kerr. Hennessey Franco is by Red River Hanover out of Heather Franco. She’s a half-sister to Franco Hat Trick which won eleven races here, another nineteen in Australia before being a big winner in America. His biggest stake days in Australia were memorable. He won the $120,000 Nissan Chariots of Fire and he ran second to Our Sir Vancelot in the 1998 $100,000 Group One Australian Pacing Championship at Albion Park. Hennessey Franco was bought by McGorlick for $400 at this year’s PGG Wrightson All Age Sales in foal to Tintin In America. “Initially we were breeding to sell but with the unraced mares they are less commercial. With Kamwood Girl we are breeding to sell but the other two - we’ll see what happens.” This young couple, who recently sold a Washington VC yearling colt out of Kamwood Girl for good money, are working hard to establish a foothold in Southern breeding circles and it’s great to see. Bruce Stewart
Changeover 1:53.4 ($2,404,473), New Zealand's richest ever harness racing stallion and the winner of 19 Group and Listed races, has left some smart two-year-olds from his first crop in both NZ and Australia. In his first season he produced 151 foals in New Zealand and he has been represented by 43 qualifiers and 28 starters from that crop, 13 of which won including Controversial (1:57.1), the winner of three races including a Queensland Breeders Crown heat, fellow Breeders Crown finalist Beaudiene Bill, Prince Of Pops 1:59.8 (3 wins), Change The Rulz, an Addington winner in 1:58.9; promising Victorian winner Big Spending Telf; and Cambio, who won the Listed Yearling Sales Series NHT Final at its only start at Auckland. Another of Changeover's first NZ crop in Nuala, who is a filly from the Live Or Die mare Forever Blue, established an all aged track record at Oamaru, rating 1:58.8 for 2000 metres. At her first start on Australian soil Nuala blitzed her rivals at Pinjarra (WA), running her last 800 in 56.4 seconds. The Paul Kerr trained Oneover competed with real distinction in several of NZ's feature juvenile events and was placed third behind Alta Orlando in the Group 2 NZ Welcome Stakes. He looks like he will develop into a very nice three-year-old. Changeover was clearly NZ's leading first-season sire based on individual winners and stakemoney and he was the third leading overall sire of two-year-old winners. In Australia, Changeover produced 29 foals from his first crop racing as two-year-olds and he has achieved an excellent 44 percent winners-to-starters percentage ratio. With a 13.8 percent winners-to-foals strike rate, Changeover is second only to Sportswriter (19.4%) on the first-season percentage sires' list. Of nine foals to have raced, four have won and another two have been placed including the Vicbred Super Series and Home Grown Classic heat winner Licinia; the Albion Park winner Chang; Grace Campbell, a Launceston winner and runner-up in the Group 3 Evicus; and Glenferrie Boss, a 1:59.1 Victorian winner. Changeover, a son of champion sire In The Pocket and the Vance Hanover mare Chaangerr and from the maternal family of Chokin, Fly Like An Eagle and co, is lining up for his fifth season at Nevele R Stud, Christchurch. Courtesy Of Nevele R Stud
Champion harness racing reinsman Dexter Dunn has chased the double century the past two seasons and come up one win short on both occasions. “It was disappointing, especially considering I got so close both times,” said Dunn. “I would have rather finished those two seasons on 195 wins because seeing as I finished on 199 I couldn’t stop thinking what if I had done this differently or what If I had done that?” So to avoid disappointment again Dunn set himself different goals this season and just tried to drive every race as well as he could. And as so often happens, by not chasing it or even thinking about, Dunn brought up that elusive milestone. And he did it in style tonight at Forbury Park in what was their last race of the season. Dunn headed to Dunedin’s Forbury Park, which has been a happy hunting ground for him all season, with 197 wins under his belt and not really expecting to bring up the double century. But while Dunn drives plenty of winners for ‘the big guys’ like boss Cran Dalgety and father Robert Dunn, he also drives a fair few winners for the ‘battlers’. And it was one of them, Steve Lock of Invercargill, who provided him with an unexpected early double. Dunn brought up win 198 for the season aboard Snow Boy, a battling pacer come trotter, who finally broke maidens at start number 58. He then doubled the dose when winning aboard Lock’s in form pacer Blazing Bracelet, who remarkably gave Lock just his third win at Forbury Park in the past seven years - all three of them this season and two of them tonight. Dunn then produced a peach of a drive to extricate the Paul Kerr trained Whozideawasthis out of a tricky posisition and into the clear, allowing his charge to steam home for a narrow win to keep his unbeaten record at Forbury Park intact and give Dunn the magical milestone. Fittingly, Kerr forgot his colours so the win was brought up with Dexter wearing the colours of his father Robert Dunn. Dunn has now driven 200 winners in a season on three occasions, having also achieved the amazing feat in 2011 and 2008. Meanwhile, in form trotter Monnay overcame one of the biggest handicaps ever in recent years – 70 metres – when winning the feature trot race at Forbury Park. By Mitchell Robertson
American Ideal three-year-old Whozideawasthis continued his love affair with Forbury Park when remaining unbeaten on the Dunedin track last night. Trained by Paul Kerr in Ohoka, Whozideawasthis has ventured to Forbury Park on four occasions and has been victorious every time. Remarkably, the colt has had eight starts on other tracks and is yet to win a race. Kerr was also successful with capable Jereme’s Jet gelding Alta Jerome, who was driven by Kerr’s son Mitchell. Whozideawasthis was one of three winning drives for champion driver Dexter Dunn, who currently sits on 195 wins for the season and now looks certain to crack double century, a feat that he has narrowly missed in the last two seasons. Dunn was also victorious aboard the Cran Dalgety trained two-year-old filly Margarita, who is a Bettor’s Delight daughter of the smart mare Holloway. Given a nice run in the trail, Margarita powered up the passing lane to down two-win mare Pay Me Quick, who was game in defeat after sitting parked. Dunn then guided the Chris Thornley trained Joe The Hunter to an all-of-the-way victory in the penultimate event. Meanwhile, Monnay once again overcame his 60 metre handicap to win his second race in the space of six days, while Riga Doon, who is a full-brother to superstar mare Carabella, notched up his second career win when slogging it out for a nose victory in the last race on the card. By Mitchell Robertson
Capable American Ideal three-year-old Whozideawasthis looks set to maintain his perfect record at Forbury Park on Thursday night. Trained by Paul Kerr in Ohoka, Whozideawasthis has been to Dunedin’s Forbury Park on three occasions for three wins, the latest being last week where he was an easy 2 and ¼ length winner in what was his first run since mid - November. “He has come back a lot stronger this time and I expect him to be very hard to beat again on Thursday,” said Mitchell Kerr. “It doesn’t look an overly strong field on paper and he is generally pretty good from a standing start,” he added. Whozideawasthis, who will once again be driven by the country’s leading reinsman in Dexter Dunn, will be at short odds in race four on Thursday night and, although he should win, King Louie is capable of testing him. Rated by Jonny Cox as one of his best drives of the weekend, King Louie was herculean when recovering to finish in third after making an early break in his last start and looks one half of the Quinella. Whozideawasthis is just one of three very good chances that the father-son duo of Paul and Mitchell Kerr will line up on Thursday. The first of them is two-year-old filly Princess Art, who was very impressive at the recent Ashburton trials, brushing home in 27.2 to win easily. “She is a pretty nice filly, who will take some beating over 1700 metres from the ace,” enthused Kerr. “She got out of the gate good at the trials, so there is no reason she shouldn’t be able to lead from the draw,” he added Princess Arts is an impeccably bred filly by Art Major out of smart Badlands Hanover mare Natal Franco. Rounding out Kerrs’ three-pronged Forbury Park attack is Alta Jerome, who was desperately unlucky when finishing second on this track at his last start. “We were in the trail behind Speight’s Girl and I thought it would be the perfect place to be but there must have been something wrong with her as she stopped badly down the back straight and dragged us right back to last,” explained Kerr. “It was a great effort to recover and finish a strong second,” said Kerr. Kerr said the race looks a two horse war between Alta Jerome and Goodness Gracious Me, who was super at the recent Motukarara workouts pacing 2:42.2 for the 2200 metre journey. “The 2700 metres should really suit him so hopefully he will be able to outstay her,” he concluded. By Mitchell Robertson
Former All Black Zac Guildford punched the wrong person when he was drunk at a house party earlier this month, says the father of the victim. The Sunday Star-Times can reveal the victim of Guildford's attack was Ryan Kerr, son of well-known Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Paul Kerr.
Star juvenile pacer Alta Christiano has been sold to a West Australian syndicate but will not be lost to New Zealand any time soon. Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Paul Kerr confirmed the sale but says the outstanding son of Christian Cullen will remain in his care until at least next year.
Blowing $400,000 worth of races in six days comes with some benefits. For example, for his harness racing connections of Alta Christiano it means their exceptional colt goes into Saturday's $1.2 million Harness Jewels raceday at Cambridge under a lot less pressure.
Ohoka conditioner Paul Kerr has bad news for rival harness racing trainers hoping Alta Christiano was flattened by the juvenile pacing run of the season last Saturday (May 12).
If you wanted to witness quality harness racing tonight (Friday March 23) then all you had to do was cross to Addington Raceway in Christchurch for a couple of hours between 7.35pm and 9.30pm. Wow the standard of racing was impressive and all the big names were to the fore. If this is the start of what's to come in 2011-12, then it's going to be a bumper season.
Despite the programme only calling for 10 races Auckland Trotting Club this Friday night had the resources to run 13 races...so the northern harness racing club obliged. Racing Manager Kevin Smith takes up the story.
The Paul Kerr trained Alchemist booked herself place in the $200,000 Group One Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Final being held at Alexandra Park on December 31 with a decisive victory in heat three of the harness racing series held at Addington Raceway last night (Friday).
The preliminary and confirmatory harness racing analysis of the post race urine sample taken from Auditor General following his win at Menangle Park on Saturday November 27, 2010 have shown to contain the prohibited substance Dexamethasone.
The Paul Kerr trained Auditor General looked primed and ready for a return to the races at short notice with an impressive win at today's(Monday) Addington harness racing trials.
"I'd had to have been totally hopeless not to win that," was the way harness racing trainer and part-time reinsman Paul Kerr described his first winner in the sulky since the 2003/04 season. Not that Kerr is a regular pilot on raceday by any stretch, in fact the Ohoka horseman has donned the colours on just 12 occasions in the past six seasons.
The Paul Kerr trained Auditor General made it three wins on end when he easily won the ILT Foundation Summer Cup (2700 stand) at the Invercargill Harness Racing Club's meeting at Ascot Park today (Sunday).