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It felt like a homecoming for Ashburton trainer Ben Waldron when his mare Queen Bee Bardon won the Peters Generics Roxburgh Cup today. He was born and bred in Omarama which is just over the hill from Roxburgh, but he moved to the Canterbury region when he was ten. “It’s a massive thrill for me to win a race like this because it’s a wee bit like coming home. Of all the big races this means as much as any of them. It’s a great bunch of guys that run the Roxburgh Club,” he said. Many were surprised to see Queen Bee Bardon back up so soon after a gut busting run in the record breaking Central Otago Cup just two days ago at Omakau.   “All things considered it was a pretty good run. It looked bad but it was a 25 (second) opening quarter. Then she worked again shortly after settling and it was always going to take it’s toll. We had to be realistic and there was improvement there if we could just use her once (in today’s race).” Waldron said the Gotta Go Cullen mare recovered well from the Omakau run. “She’s as hard as nails. As she’s got older and older she’s got tougher and tougher. She’s one of those horses that bounces back remarkably quickly. She’s a good bit of livestock, you might say. She ate up and got on with it. She was tired after the run but recharged her batteries and got back into it.” In today’s 2700 metre Cup, driver Craig Thornley settled Queen Bee Bardon last with Mr Kiwi making the pace. When Pats Dragon and Especial moved forward three wide Thornley latched onto the three wide train. On turning in Queen Bee Bardon was the widest runner and she powered home down the outside to nail Nearis Green by half a length with a head back to Mr Kiwi.   Queen Bee Bardon winning the 2019 Roxburgh Cup - Photo Wayne Huddleston Wild Range Photography.  “I like to leave my drivers to do their thing otherwise I’d do it myself. We obviously wanted to give her an easier trip. Craig did a fantastic job. He’s a bloody good horseman,” said Waldron after the race. Today’s win was Queen Bee Bardon’s seventh in forty four starts and according to Waldron in many of her races she’s been unlucky. “She’s very rarely copped a decent run. She ran second in a Jewels Final behind Piccadilly Princess as a four year old. Generally speaking she hasn’t had a whole lot of luck. She’s been crook at the wrong time. It sounds pretty silly but her record is disappointing compared to what she feels like. She’s pretty sharp.” Waldron says her rating of 79 puts her into a challenging grade. “It is difficult. There is always a nice horse coming through. It’s a tricky grade because you’ve got a lot of potential cup horses on the way through. Or do you try off big marks in a race that’s a bit easier?” Queen Bee Bardon’s next target is likely to be the $100,000 Group One New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Stakes at Addington on the 15thFebruary. “I’ve never been frightened to line her up. You’ve got to have a go.” Although she’s six, Waldron feels Queen Bee Bardon is just starting to peak. “Unfortunately she’s been a slow developing mare. She’s quite a big mare. She’s had a lot of wee niggles and quite a bad virus at one point. Sometimes these types of horses that are from left field breeding can turn up later in life.” Queen Bee Bardon is out of the Bionic Power mare Margaret Bardon and is owned by Renee Williams (Ben’s Fiancée), Gordon Guthrie and Mike Chequer. Guthrie and Chequer had shares in Mr Molly which Waldron trained to win fourteen races including the 2009 Northern Southland Cup Invercargill Cup double. Although she seems to have been round the racetracks for a long time Waldron says there are no plans to retire her. “There’s been no real reason to retire her because it’s felt like she’s got more wins in her.”          Bruce Stewart

Kevin Schuck, of Myross Bush (near Invercargill) achieved a rarity in the horse racing world as the breeder of the first three horses to finish in a race at Roxburgh last Wednesday (4/1/2017). Spotlight The Valley, Overcast and De Vito, all bred by Schuck, landed the trifecta in the 2600m race for C1 to 6 trotters which was contested by 14 horses. “It is very exciting from a breeders point of view,’’ said Schuck, who has been breeding thoroughbred and standardbred horses for 29 years. He is a jeweller by profession. “I just love the trotters and love the breeding side of things,’’ he said. Spotlight The Valley, Overcast and De Vito are the first foals of different mares and each has now won four races. They are by different sires. Spotlight The Valley is raced by the Sunbeam syndicate and trained at Balfour (Southland) by Robert Wilson. Overcast is raced by Schuck and Longbush trainer Alan Paisley. De Vito, raced by the Balfour syndicate, has won twice this season from the Ryal Bush stable of Nathan Williamson after two wins for Billy Heads last season. Spotlight The Valley is a 5-year-old mare by Skyvalley from Streaming Sunbeam, who had four minor placings in 20 starts. “I bought her (Streaming Sunbeam) at the yearling sale for her bloodlines and that has worked out,” said Schuck. A $16,000 purchase in 2007, she is by Armbro Invasion from A Touch of Sun, who subsequently left Sarah Lindenny (10 wins) and King Denny (Harness Jewels races at three and four). Overcast is a 7-year-old mare by Sundon from Cochy Bondhu  who won four races for Schuck and trainer Paisley. Cochy Bondhu is by Chiola Hanover from Sylvia’s Star (Gee Whiz – Elgin Princess). De Vito is a 5-year-old gelding by Sundon from Lady Eileen, an unraced mare by Armbro Invasion and one of four foals Schuck bred from Elgin Princess. Another was Mr Mayfly, who won six races when trained by Wilson for the Balfour syndicate. Mr Mayfly was sold to Australia in 2015. “I started off with thoroughbreds and then switched to trotters,’’ said Schuck. He bred the winner Fast Forward from the thoroughbred mare, Ravensdale (Grey Gull - Game Girl) in 1988. Fast Forward (by Codeene) won a race at Gore when trained by Len Casey before being sold to Macau. Schuck had his first venture into standardbred ownership with the trotter Dean’s Pride, a Game Pride – Cathy Crockett gelding  who won a race at Forbury Park in 1991 when trained  at Invercargill by Murray Brown. Soon after Schuck won four races with the pacer Barbed Wire from the Brown stable. Both  horses were sold to Australia. Tayler Strong

Woodend Beach trainers Greg and Nina Hope had a memorable first time racing horses at Roxburgh on Wednesday when Mossdale Conner won the Roxburgh Cup  and Cindy Bromac was successful. The wins continued a great holiday innings for the Hope stable after the group one National Trot in Auckland with Quite A Moment; six wins at the Westport and Reefton meetings and another at Omakau on Monday with Mossdale Rose, a sister to Mossdale Conner. Ricky May has been the winning driver. Mossdale Conner overcame a 40m handicap and powered down the outer to win by half a length from Better Enforce. Mossdale Conner and Mossdale Rose are both raced by their Riversdale (Southland) breeder Archie Affleck. Mossdale Rose chased home the up and coming Royal Bengal at Roxburgh. The weather was fine for the Cup but conditions were marginal for reinsmen in races four and five when heavy showers and wind lashed the course and turned the track to slush. Reinsmen were almost driving blind. “I was struggling to see,’’ said Ricky May, who drove Gracey Lacey in race 5. Murray Brown, the trainer of Ben Washington (race 4) said his driver Brent Barclay told him he was unable to see properly and also that the horse did not handle the conditions. Mitchell Kerr, who drove Supreme Banner in that race said  the conditions were “shocking”. “It is pretty bad,” said Dexter Dunn, who has driven in races throughout the world. Doug Gordon, a Roxburgh horseman who has been attending race meetings on the course since he was a three-year-old in 1935, said it  was the “worst it has been here, apart from  the first meeting of the Tuapeka Trotting Club when it snowed.” Graeme Rowland, the judge for the club, said the conditions for race 4 were the third worst he had experienced in 39 years in the role. “The only worse conditions were snow one day at Oamaru and heavy fog at Timaru,’’ he said. The stipendiary stewards ordered mudguards be worn on the sulkies of horses after race 3. The use of the mobile gate was abandoned for race 4 after the motor vehicle was unable to get traction to accelerate clear of horses. The race and subsequent  mobile start listed races were dispatched from a moving start with the clerk of the course, Graeme Mee assembling horses. Abandonment of the meeting was not considered. “We downgraded the track to slushy after race 4 but no safety concerns were expressed by the drivers,” said Liam Tidmarsh, the chairman of stewards. Some races turned into processions, a reflection of horses not suited by the track condition. The last horse was 149 lengths from the winner in the Cup. Madison Jane justified her hot favouritism for the C0 trot with a seven and a half length win when the weather was fine. “She is only a wee thing but she has a great attitude,’’ said Phil Williamson, the trainer of the 3yr-old filly who was having her first race since July. She led over the last 1200m. Spotlight The Valley won the other trot by four lengths after starting from 20m and leading for the last 1500m. Gavin Cook repeated his win of two years in the race for amateur drivers. He drove the longshot Redmaro, owned by his wife, Marie Keith and Robyn Gibson, of Upper Hutt and Wanaka were on hand to see their 4yr-old Late Mail regain winning form. “He (Late Mail) showed a lot early but was no good at three and Chris McDowell has done a good job getting him back on track,’’ said Keith.   Tayler Strong

The Williamson stable will pin their hopes in Madison Jane at Roxburgh today after scratching her half sister Alderbeck. The stable won both trotting races at Omakau on Monday with Brads Kenny and Monty Python and have won six races since December 17. Alderbeck was among those winners when successful at Gore  on December 27.  The Pegasus Spur – J D Pat mare has won six of his 13 starts since she began racing at Roxburgh 12 months ago. Her Gore win was his second in four starts this season, “She is just not 100 per cent  with some filling in a leg,’’ said Brad Williamson, who was to have driven her. He has the drive on Madison Jane, who along with  Pyramid Mustang will represent the stable in race 2. Madison Jane has not raced since July when she won at Forbury Park, a race that was penalty free as she was a 2yr-old. She won a trial at Cromwell last Saturday. Pyramid Monarch is also starting afresh after four placings in nine starts last season. A 40m handicap may not be beyond Mossdale Conner in the Roxburgh Cup. The winner of 12 races including a Taylor Mile and the 2016 Northern Southland Cup, Mossdale Conner was running on late for fourth in the Central Otago Cup free-for-all at Omakau won by Classie Brigade in track record time on Monday. Mossdale Conner was held up in the closing stages. It Ain’t The Money, the winner of three of his five starts, has been scratched  from race 10 after a hind leg injury. ‘’It is nothing serious but he has hurt a back leg in the paddock. He was feeling it when I went to hopple him yesterday,’’ said Allan McVicar, his Chatton owner-trainer. “He was alright jogging on the grass but not so good on the all-weather. It will take a while to heal.” The Lis Mara 4yr-old began racing in October and he has since won at Ascot Park (twice) and Gore on Boxing Day. Tayler Strong

Roxburgh is the place to be this Friday (4 January) when the Interislander Summer Festival of harness racing takes place at the Roxburgh Racecourse, South Island, New Zealand.

Harness racing punters didn't miss a beat in today's (Tuesday) Roxburgh Cup sending out the Joanne Burrows trained Indrah a warm favourite to win the feature race. The daughter of Courage Under Fire duly obliged in the hands of in form reinsman Craig Thornley, securing a half length victory over the Tony Stratford trained and driven Flying Diamonds, Elation Franco finished 1 1/2 lengths away in third.

It is a busy but exciting time for Southern Harness racing over the upcoming festive season. Several traditional and very popular race meetings are scheduled for the region over the Christmas and New Year period.

New Zealand's exciting new harness racing, galloping and greyhound commentator Thomas Wood regards his family, Reon Murtha and George Simon as the biggest influences in his brief but impressive racing calling career to date.

A double driving sucess for harness racing driver Peter Davis was one of the highlights at the Roxburgh Trotting Club's meeting today (Monday).The templeton horseman was at his best behind the well travelled Another Homer, winning the Roxburgh Cup (2700 stand).

The New Zealand racing industry has hit out at Labour MP Brendon Burns, who has urged gaming trusts which give large percentages of their distributed funds to racing stakes money to stop. "Even if their own trust deeds allow such practices, the funding of gambling through gambling is regarded as inappropriate by many New Zealanders," the Christchurch Central MP said.

Don't be distracted by Distraction when assessing chances in both the $100,000 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Yearling Sales (Northern Hemisphere time) Final, and the $15,000 Prelude - both for two-year-old pacers at Alexandra Park on Fridays 12 and 5 June respectively.

Franco Ambassador made the headlines at Winton in December when he brought about the first defeat this season of classy filly Beaudiene Bad Babe and now he has won his last four, two in New Zealand and two in Australia.

Two wins in three days including today's (4 January) Roxburgh Cup is the result to date for John Hay and Announcement on their trip to Central Otago, and they'll be going for the clean sweep on Tuesday.

After more than half a century of involvement, Oamaru owner Bill Stevenson is still winning races; the latest coming at Gore today (9 December) with Fineansunny, one of his own breed. Stevenson recalled after the win that he had gained his first victory back in 1956, with Cat's Luck at Roxburgh.

The Southland Harness Racing Awards for the 2007-08 Racing Season are being held this Sunday at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill.

The Dunn juggernaut continued at Roxburgh today (4 January) when Veecmee, trained by Robert Dunn and driven by son John, took out the $15,000 Roxburgh Cup for 2008.

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