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By Jonny Turner Eastern Southland pacer Sagwitch will return to his happy place to contest Sunday's Tuapeka Cup. The Syd Breen-trained 6yr-old returns to racing in the 2700m feature at Forbury Park after a mild ailment ended any chance of him heading towards the New Zealand Cup. Sagwitch was among several southerners rushed off their feet in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on September 22 when Spankem ran a blistering 53.3sec last 800m to win. Sagwitch picked up a minor bug in the days after the Hannon and has not raced since. "He just got a bit crook after he went to the Hannon," Breen said. "I was quite happy with him in the Hannon after he missed away and lost a bit of ground. But afterwards, he went a bit off-colour, so we eased up on him and gave a freshen-up. "He is brightening up now and I am quite happy with him." Sagwitch will attempt to resurrect his season and endorse his claim as a country cups specialist on Sunday.  The Lis Mara pacer will attempt to add the Tuapeka Cup to his Winton Businesses Cup, Wyndham Cup and Northern Southland Summer Cup titles from last season. And he will do it at a track where he often races well. Sagwitch has won three times and placed once in eight starts at Forbury Park. He has not been to trials or workouts since his Hannon run but Breen is confident his horse can go a good race. "He can get a bit fired up at the workouts and I have been trying to stick to stands [standing starts] with him. "It is not an overly strong field, so I am hoping he can step away and make one run at them. "If he steps, they will know he is there." Robyns Playboy looks the horse to beat in the feature following his strong effort in last weekend's Riverton Cup. The Ross and Chris Wilson-trained 4yr-old fought on for third after working around the field in a quickly run race won by Paddyproudfoot. Robyns Playboy and Sagwitch share the 20m back mark, 10m behind Cast No Shadow. Cast No Shadow resumed with a dominant win after free-falling down in grade in his first run for the season at Methven. The race should hold no fears for the Paul Court-trained pacer who spent the tail end of last season racing the country's best 3yr-olds. Bettathanfast and Swamp Major look two of the best chances off the front mark in the Tuapeka Cup. Trainer Cran Dalgety will be aim for back-to-back cups after producing the ill-fated Pat's Delight for a sensational win in the race last year. He and training partner Nathan Purdon start Bettathanfast, who must improve on his manners after botching the beginning of his last start at Addington. The injury plagued but talented Swamp Major gets a prime opportunity to turn around his form. Westwood Beach pacer Spirit Of St Louis will attempt a repeat of his impressive last-start win at Forbury Park nine days ago. The 3yr-old bolted in, beating Tuapeka Cup contender Triroyale Brigade, in what was his first start for over six weeks. Spirit Of St Louis should strip fitter for that run and should be very hard to beat. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The Southland Harness Awards will celebrate a season of successes at the Ascot Park Hotel on Sunday 11th August. The night will be hosted by former Trackside presenter Jess Smith with the awards putting the spotlight on our best broodmares, horses, drivers, trainers, junior drivers, contributor’s, personalities and owners. Categories and contenders include: Washington VC – Bryleigh Stud Southland Broodmare of the Year   Touch of Rose (Mach Three – Rose Sand) Owner: Kelvin Reed The dam of three winners in the 2018-2019 season:  Ferritt’s Sister (3) $36,145 Fiery Ferret (2) $17,725 The Ideal Touch (1) $13,885 The Ideal Touch finished 4th in the Two Year Old Emerald at the Harness Jewels.   Chicago Blues (Christian Cullen – Bluejeanbabyqueen) Owners: John Price, Mrs. Katrina Price, Roger Price and Mrs. Helen Price. Dam of three horses to race this season which won a total of 15 races and $262,048 in the season under review. Chicago Bull won nine races, earned $186,473 and also won two Group Two races. Rockabilly Blues ($37,880 1-55.6) and Perfect Stride ($37,695 1.56.1) each winners of three races.   Christian Dreamer (Christian Cullen – Dreamy Atom) Owners: Vin and Daphne Devery The dam of two horses to race this season which won a total of $224,537. Catch The Dream (2) $19,070. Amazing Dream (3) $205,467 including wins in the Listed NZ Yearling Sales Two Year Old Fillies Final, and the Group One Caduceus Two Year Old Fillies Classic. She was second in the Group One NZ Sires Stakes Two Year Old Fillies Championship and third in both the Group Two Delightful Lady Classic and Group One Two Year Old Diamond.   Robyn Maree (Holmes Hanover – Maree Robyn) Owner: Ross Wilson The dam of two horses to race in the 2018-2019 season Robyns Playboy (6) $73,219. Rake (3) $25,615.     Southland Harness Awards – Night N Day - Southland Horse of the Year   Get Lucky - Owners: Ian and Lindsay Thomson Broke the Gore track and Southland trotter’s record for three year old colts and geldings for 2200 metre stand, recording 2-52.8. Southlands leading stakes earning trotter this season banking $76,976. Won the Listed PPG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Three Year Old Final.   I’mallaboutthebase - Owners: Steve and Carol Baucke Won three races during the season including the Listed Uncut Gem Mares Classic at Addington.   Vintage Cheddar - Owners: Ian and Lindsay Thomson The winner of five races during the season including two on premier nights at Addington.   Sagwitch - Owners: Paul Matheson, Mrs Nancy Matheson and Syd Breen. Won the 2019 Southland Country Cups series with 94 points. Won three races in the 2018-2019 season including the Winton and Wyndham Cups.   U May Cullect - Owner: Tom Kilkelly Recorded a new track and Southland mobile record at Winton for four year old and older geldings and entires over 1609 metres of 1-52.1. Won his first seven races including the Listed Uncut Gems at Addington for geldings and entires.   Robyns Playboy – Owner: Ross Wilson Recorded a new Wyndham track and Southland mobile record for three year old colts and geldings over 2400 metres of 2-53.0. This time was also a new all-comers track and Southland record. Southland leading trained pacer earning $70,299. Won the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final.   NZB Standardbred Southland Achievement of the Year nominations   Syd Breen 2018- 2019 training stats: 102-17-13-7 $137,299 - UDR .2603. Recorded his best ever training season with seventeen wins. Trained the winner of the Southland Country Cups competition Sagwitch. Biggest winners: Santanna’s Rocket (4), Mucho Macho Man (4), Lorretta Franco (3) and Sagwitch (3).   Kirstin Barclay and Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis 2018- 2019 training stats: 258-38-40-31 $372,919 - UDR .2703. Leading Southland trainers for the 2018-2019 season with 38 winners in their first season of training in partnership. Seventh on the national training premiership and fifth in the South Island premiership. Biggest winners: U May Cullect (7), Wee Man Trouble (5) and Paddyproudfoot (4)   Alister Black 2018- 2019 training stats: 46-13-7-3 $168,626 - UDR .3889. The highest ranked Southland UDR trainer with a rating of .3889. Fourth on the national UDR list of trainers with 10 or more winners behind Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Barry Purdon and Mitchell Kerr. Biggest winners: Vintage Cheddar (5) and Get Lucky (4). Won his first black type race during the season (PPG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Three Year Old Final.)   Ross Wilson 2018- 2019 training stats: 162-15-17-15 $174,034 - UDR .2357. Trained Southland leading stakes earning pacer Robyns Playboy. Recorded his 100th training win during the season when Bridesdale Robyn won at Gore. Biggest winners: Robyns Playboy (6), Bridesdale Robyn (4) and Annie Fitz (3).   Best of luck to all on the night.  Tickets for the Southland Harness Awards are still available on-line     Bruce Stewart

Addington’s most consistent horses of the spring are in for a big reward. Because not only will they be winning their usual stakes but the five most consistent pacers between August 16 and October 25 will share in a new $20,000 bonus scheme.  And the Dunstan Horse Feeds Met Mega Series which begins next week won’t discriminate between the best horses in the country and maidens. The series will be open to all horses of both gaits with points accrued in all races at the 11 eligible meetings. Every horse who races will get points for every start. The top five horses on October 25, regardless of class or if they even win a race, will win $20,000 between them, distributed to their owners. The points for the races will be 10 for a win, 7 for second, 4 for third, 3 for fourth, 2 for fifth and one point for every other runner. So at the end of the series, a first for Addington, the Mega Series winner will get $10,000, second place $4000, $3000 for third, $2000 for fourth and the fifth horse’s owners will get $1000, all of that on top of the stakes money won at the eligible meetings. The news series should appeal to a wide array of owners because it not only rewards regular attendees at Addington but while open class horses are eligible they will be starting later and in less race. And any wins in even the most elite races are worth no more than a maiden trot. So while the best horses could accrue 20 or 30 points by winning three open class races, a consistent horse who starts at 10 meetings could accrue more by recording 10 fourth placings. “We are looking forward to  partnering with Dunstan Horse Feeds to bring you this new series,” says long-time Addington racing secretary Brian Rabbitt. “Our aim is to reward those who attend Addington race meetings regularly and are competitive in doing so.” The series is a nice sponsorship fit for Dunstan, with their brand and the series likely to be in the forefront of connections of so many horses throughout the series. Territory Manager for Dunstan Horse Feeds Kristie Hill agreed. “Dunstan Horse Feeds are excited to  be teaming up with Addington Raceway to bring you the series,” said Hill. “It is a series any horse, regardless of rating, can win so it is another step in Dunstan’s commitment to the Standardbred/Harness Racing Industry in New Zealand.”   Michael Guerin

Virgil's win in the Group Two Diamond Creek Farm Two-Year-Old Classic at Ascot Park on Saturday made it a lucrative weekend for his Melbourne co-owner Jean Feiss, who races the All-Stars trained harness racing gelding with her husband Bill. The previous night, Feiss was at Alexandra Park watching her juvenile filly Amazing Dream triumph in the group one Woodlands Stud Caduceus Classic “I was already booked for Auckland so when word came Virgil would be nominated for today, I was able to add Invercargill,” said Feiss who flew to Auckland on Friday, then Invercargill via Christchurch on Saturday morning. She was booked to follow the reverse route on Saturday when returning to Auckland after the Diamond Day fixture, before heading home on Sunday. Driven by Tim Williams, favourite Virgil bided his time early and wasn't asked for much until second favourite William Wallace moved forward across the top. The two set down to a decent battle in the straight but the All-Stars rep prevailed by half a neck in 2:41.0, less than half a second outside the race record.   The Sweet Lou two year old Virgil after his second win.  Jean Feiss (left) with Ged Mooar from Nevele R, John Stiven (SBSR), Mark Smith (SBSR) and Tracey White (Woodlands Stud) It was the fifth running of the feature and the third win for Williams, following Lazarus in 2015 and A Bettor Act last year. Virgil is by Sweet Lou from the Bettor Delight mare Pacing Delight, a half brother to Amazing Art, Pacing Major, All U Need Is Faith and other winners. He was catalogued for last year's Australasian Classic Sale but withdrawn. Not before Feiss had inspected him at Woodlands Stud though, so when he was later offered at the Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale before last year's Jewels, Feiss was ready. “I liked him when I saw him at the stud before the first sale,” said Feiss who admits she is often asked what she is looking for. “Really, everyone looks for the same things but all interpret them a bit differently. He looked lovely again on sale day.” Feiss paid $150,000 for the gelding and hasn't been disappointed. Virgil has only once missed a top-three finish in seven starts and Saturday's win took his stake earnings past $60,000. “He was broken in straight after the sale and has been kept going. Mark (Purdon) said he's always 'wanted to be there' and does what he's asked. He might not be among the very best but has always been pretty good even against the really good ones.” Addington hosts a $175,000 Sale Series race for two-year-olds next Friday and in normal circumstances, Virgil might have been there. Feiss pointed out though that he wasn't eligible and that was one of the reasons the Invercargill race had been included in his programme. “He'll be kept in for the Jewels, then we'll hope for more improvement as a three-year-old.” Virgil is second on the list of qualifiers for the Two-year-old Emerald and Amazing Dream, second on the list for the Diamond. 'Southern Bred Southern Reared' Amazing Dream was offered at last year's Premier Sale by Vin and Daphne Devery and knocked down to Feiss for $77,500. Her weekend winnings were $57.000. By Mac Henry  

The owner of Australasian stud Alabar Alan Galloway, was in Southland last week on the SBSR bus trip. He was also here on other harness racing business in particular to secure the down under breeding rights to kiwi bred stallion Lazarus. Southland was his first port of call and I suspect possibly the easiest part of his journey to New Zealand. Galloway was last in Southland over twenty years ago when he came here with John Coffey to conduct breeding seminars. “The place is beautiful. I’ve just sent some pictures of the big round bales to my son and said ‘you have to lift your game,” he said when I spoke to him at Dave and Dawn Kennedy’s Bayswater property in Western Southland. Alabar was founded in Adelaide in the 1950s by Alan’s parents Alan senior and his wife Barbara. The name is derived from the letters of their first names. The main breeding operation is based on 2000 acres in the Echuca area, but plans are afoot to move into the New South Wales market. “When we do, we’ll be eligible for their stakes races there. You have to look at the states in Australia as individual countries because they’re individually funded. To get access to the money you’ve got to have a stallion base in that particular state so that means buying a property and setting up a base and moving stallions there.” Galloway says he was born into the business.  “I knew what I wanted to do when I was six years old.” Before taking up the reins from his father, who is 92, he travelled the world expanding his knowledge and experience, but he still likes to be hands on.  “At one point we bred three thousand foals in four months. I think that would be a record. I like to be hands on. I’ve got scars all over my wrists and teeth marks where horses have had me on the ground trying to kill me.” Bloodstock agent John Curtin, who was travelling with Galloway, says the Australian is world renowned for his technical knowledge of breeding and semen transportation. But perhaps the most important business for the Alabar boss is to meet Duncan Taylor one of the brothers that bought and raced New Zealand champion racehorse Lazarus. “We’re trying to negotiate a deal as are all the other big farms. We’ve been interested in him since his three year old days.” The process has been going on for a while but Curtin, who is helping to broker the deal says it should be done once the yearling sales are over. During the process Galloway has gained a lot of respect for the way in which Taylor Made Stallions do business. “Not many school me on the breeding industry but the Taylor boys have. They took him (Lazarus) up there, raced him, and syndicated him for about four million American. So they’re out already. They won a million up there with him and now they’re bringing him back here and they’re going to sell him for another four million. He’s one of those horses you see every decade.” Lazarus which won 37 of his 51 starts and amassed $4,125,988 is currently standing in the State of New Jersey which New Zealand Bloodstock agent John Curtin described as being dead in the water until they got a big cash injection from the government. Lazarus is the only stallion standing in the State and has a full book of mares in this first visit to the breeding barn. Galloway is hopeful that Alabar can win the down under breeding rights but says it may have to be in partnership. “You can’t give him to anyone because you need the infrastructure to manage a horse like that. I feel as though we’ve got the advantage with location here and in Australia and we’ve got sixty percent of the market.” Alabar has certainly grown since the early days when they stood Kentucky, Windshield Wiper, Whats Next and Golden Greek. In recent years Art Major has been on their books and in 2011 they merged their stallion operation with The Stallion Station which meant Mach Three and Courage Under Fire were added to the Alabar roster. Their quality breeding bloodstock now includes A Rocknroll Dance, He’s Watching, Rock N Roll Heaven, Roll With Joe and Sportswriter. More recently Always Be Miki joined the breeding barn in a deal struck with Nevele R Stud. Galloway says Alabar Australia now wants to venture into the syndicate of racehorses and copy the model Graeme Henley from Alabar New Zealand has used with success through the deeds of Chase Auckland. “We’re copying Graeme. We need to promote that. I kind of dropped the ball there. We left that to private enterprise. We’ll be going to the public with the colt and the filly we bought in Melbourne, we want new people coming into the game.” Galloway is excited about the new venture and sees the syndicate attracting new faces to the harness industry. “It’s the first time it’s been done in Australia for a while. You need a dealer’s licence which are hard to get these days. Too many crooks in the past have given it (syndication) a bad name and the government have made it very very difficult. We’ve got industry backing with HRA and Harness Racing Victoria because they know Alabar is a blue chip company which stands by it’s name.”   The filly Alabar purchased for $42,000 is by Art Major out of Mint Julep. Mint Julep is a daughter of Jadah Rose the winner of thirty one races including the 2005 Vicbred Super Series for two year old fillies and the 2006 Vicbred Super Series for three year old fillies. So there’s a nice pedigree there. The colt which will be syndicated is by Bettor’s Delight out of Rye Hanover which was purchased for $65,000. “We thought he was way undervalued. We thought he was a hundred to a hundred and twenty thousand dollar colt.” Rye Hanover was initially bred from in America leaving four foals before she was bought to New Zealand where she left Blazin N Cullen the winner of twenty six races and Rockin Roll Lad which won nine. Rye Hanover was one mare bought here in a package deal organised by Curtin.  “She was one of the best bred mares and cost $300,000 US which was big money back then,” he said. The syndicates will be managed in Australia by Brett Coffey.   Alabar is also upgrading its broodmare band and this week purchased Nike Franco which won thirty two races, paced a mile in 1-48.0 and was the fastest mare in North America in 2017. “We spent a million bucks in the last twelve months just on mares in the Australian and New Zealand market but we’re looking at the US market as well. We’re seriously making some bids on some well-known mares at the moment.” So exciting times ahead as Alabar continues to expand its business and who knows, Lazarus could be part of that.   Bruce Stewart

A horse racing club has been left reeling and bewildered after its national authority revealed plans to stop racing at the Blenheim racecourse. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has described Waterlea Racecourse as "no longer required" from this year, and said the Marlborough Racing Club should race at Riccarton Park instead. The NZTR Venue Plan, released this week, revealed plans to stop racing at nearly half the country's courses by 2030, following Racing Minister Winston Peters' Messara report last August, which recommended selling off tracks across the country to save the "deeply distressed industry". Club president Eric Bowers said the news came as a shock, as the Messara report said the Waterlea Racecourse deserved a refurbishment. "It is a bit disappointing. We were one of the ones that was supposed to be staying open," Bowers said. "But it's all open to negotiation, and we will be making a submission against it. They're happy to visit us and have a look at things, so I'm sure we can put something together that might change their mind." The plan said Marlborough had a lack of horses and relied on North Island horses at its meetings. It did not mention the venue's condition or facilities, but said many venues suffered from a lack of investment in recent years, and struggled to comply with health and safety regulations. "We can sit and do nothing, but in 10 years' time, when racing has withered on the vine, we will all be culpable for its demise," the report said. "Competition and technology have combined to marginalise racing to the extent that it no longer holds the same position in the Kiwi psyche as it once did." Bowers said Waterlea Racecourse was "a great grass track" with "pretty good" stables and was due to celebrate its centenary next January. Members were currently fixing a leak in the grandstand roof but generally, repair jobs were "nothing major". The club owned 50 per cent of the land and buildings, shared with the Marlborough Harness Racing Club. The harness racing club was not affected by the report as it had its own national racing authority, but it was unclear what would happen to the venue if the other club sold its share. Marlborough Mayor John Leggett would not say if he believed the club should continue racing at the site, saying it was something for the club to decide. If the racecourse closed altogether, Leggett said he expected most of the land to become residential. "We've got plans to develop the residential area out toward the northwest, so it would be good to keep as many parks and green spaces as we can. But that is well down the track, and ultimately the land owners would have the final say." The Ministry of Education had unsuccessfully approached the clubs about buying half the racecourse for the co-location of Marlborough Girls' and Boys' Colleges in 2016. Ministry head of education infrastructure service Kim Shannon said the plan would not change the decision to build on McLauchlan St, announced in December. NZTR's final decision about Waterlea Racecourse was likely to take "some months", and the ministry would not delay the co-location project to see what happened, she said. "Planning has commenced on how to best deliver modern, and fit-for-purpose, facilities to support students in Marlborough." Submissions about the NZTR plan close on March 19. Waterlea Racecourse is half owned by the Marlborough Racing Club, and half by the Marlborough Harness Racing Club.     SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF PHOTO Marlborough Harness Racing Club vice president Mike Rangi, left, and Marlborough Racing Club president Eric Bowers at Waterlea Racecourse.     SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF PHOTO The clubs are currently fixing a leak in a grandstand roof. By Jennifer Eder Reprinted with permission of The Marlborough Express

NON-WIN (MR) RACES Following a meeting of the Southern Harness Programming Committee yesterday we would like to announce that effective today for the duration of the current season, all non-win (MR) races will carry a minimum stake of $10,000 (an increase from $8,000). This includes todays Wyndham Harness Racing Club Meeting which has three non-win (MR) races carded. The $1500 bonus paid by Harness Racing NZ will be added onto the $10,000 stake. This is something Southern Harness have been striving to achieve and we hope that this will give breeders, owners and trainers renewed confidence in the industry in the south.  Jason Broad General Manager Southern Harness Racing

There are plenty of great reasons to attend the Invercargill Harness Racing Club’s Cup Day meeting on Saturday 26 January. A seven night stay at the Peninsular Beachfront Resort in Mooloolaba plus $1000 towards your airfares courtesy of Beach Road Holiday Park is one of the big prizes on offer on the club’s premier day of the season. Best of all, that prize can be won by anyone on course and it is as easy as filling in a coupon and awaiting the lucky draw which will win someone accommodation valued at $2415 Australian dollars along with $1000 NZ of airfares. That same coupon will also give you the opportunity to win with The Bet’s In The Bag where four draws will be made throughout the day to win one of several betting vouchers of no less than $100 to use on the day. In addition two people can win a share of the Tricode Syndicate’s runner, Please Shuddup. The prize includes the opportunity to spend a day enjoying hospitality with syndicate members in their own corporate box, plus benefits such as a stable visit to see the horse being geared up and should it win, a photo as part of the syndicate in the birdcage after the race. The syndicate will also place a $100 win bet on Please Shuddup in its race and also a $10 bet on every other race throughout the day for the lucky prize winner. A losing ticket draw after Race 6 will win one previously unlucky punter a $50 meal voucher courtesy of Level One Restaurant & Bar. To win any of these great prizes you must be on course on the day and be 18 years of age and over. Entry details for all of these great competitions will appear in the Southland Express over the next two weeks.  Bruce Stewart

From a breeding perspective it couldn’t have been a better result for Malcolm, Sarndra and Murray Little. Their harness racing mare Shezacullengirl overcame a second row draw to win the thirty seventh running of the Equine Stakes sponsored this year again by AON Insurance. “Murray and Malcolm put a lot into the industry and are really big supporters of our stable. We use Murray’s beach property to train the horses. It’s great to get a good win for good owners like that,” said Kirstin Barclay who co-trains the Christian Cullen mare with Tank Ellis. In today’s mares feature she started from gate two on the second row. The early pace from the start was hot so that opened up some gaps and driver Brent Barclay was able to get a nice run through. But when Sadhana went to the lead Shezacullengirl was left parked. However cover arrived when Bridesdale Robyn improved to take the parked spot. Bridesdale Robyn hit the front early in the run home but Shezacullengirl was coming with a sustained run down the middle of the track and had to be driven hard to beat a late run along the passing lane from outsider Dachy. “He (Brent Barclay) said she was angry in the prelim but during the race she just drove perfect.” The winning margin was a head. Shezacullengirl (10) beating Dachy on the inside. Owners Sarndra (pink top) and Malcolm Little (black with blue stripes) can be seen to the left of the widest runner Bettor Enforce (6) - Photo Bruce Stewart. “Last start she hung in at the start and the trailing horse smoked her wheel so that came off the rim. She only went 100 metres and had to be pulled up. She did feel really good last week and we were expecting her to go good with a bit of luck.” It was the five year olds sixth win from twenty seven starts. Today’s time for the mile was 1-55.0. “Tank and I will have to look at a programme for her. I don’t think she’s eligible for the Southern Belle. A broodmare career is beckoning sooner rather than later I would imagine now that she’s got her mile time.”     Bruce Stewart

Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson is hopeful that quality trotting mare Dark Horse will make it back to the race track but he also knows there are no guarantees. The Bacardi Lindy mare got injured in the paddock the day before she was due to race in the Southern Lights at the Northern Southland meeting in March last year. “I noticed a wee bit of swelling in the leg. I trotted her up and she was feeling it a bit. Brendon Bell (vet) came and he scanned it and she had an injury to her suspensory. We’re not really sure how it happened,” he said. She had two weeks off before having an operation and had stem cell treatment which helps the healing process. She was then boxed for a period of time. “We then began walking her, starting off slowly at five minutes a day. We ended up walking her an hour a day. With a suspensory it’s got to be stretched and walking is the only way to do that.” The walks were done by Williamson’s father-in-law Ross Jones. “Ross ended up building a special frame on his vehicle. She was so fresh and well being couped up in the box all day that she’d get away from you if you were leading her. She liked the routine of following the truck and walked for an hour every day.” A five minute jog was introduced to her routine and this was slowly lengthened. “She’s doing fast work now. She’s had a month of fast work but she’s still quite a wee way away. She’s carrying a lot of condition and she’s going to take a while to come up. I’m not going to put any undue pressure on her especially when she’s on the way up.” Williamson says the rehabilitation for a suspensory injury normally takes eleven months from when the injury occurred. “With the stem cell treatment Brendon said you may be able to trim a month off. I don’t think we need too. We’ll just let her tell us. She seems good to go now but we just need to take it quietly.” One thing you do notice with Dark Horse is that she is bigger in condition than she’s ever been in her career. Since the injury she’s been scanned three times. “The last time was before I started jogging her so that gave me the all clear. I’ll get Brendon to come and rescan before Christmas just to make sure everything is looking really good before I step her training up. You only get one chance to get her back so you have to make sure its right.” The six year old mare is raced on lease by the Griffin Syndicate and the Seafield Trotting Syndicate and from twenty starts she’s won nine races receiving $84,541 in stakes. “What I’ve heard from certain trainers is that if they make it back to a certain stage they’re right. If we can race through the winter then give her a break I think I could say the leg’s okay. But you never can be too sure.” Delightful Deal in the cart with Ollie Kite with Chinese Whisper (far side) and Dark Horse on the lead - Photo Bruce Stewart  “One good thing is that she’s put the condition on. If her leg holds strong it’ll be a good thing. As I increase her work load I’ll put solution on and wrap her leg just to keep everything nice and tight.” Williamson says the 2019 edition of the Southern Lights in March is her main target. “Last year there were good races for those higher graded trotters. If she can get a few races down here that’ll be vital. If she comes up as well as we hope there could be a trip to Addington or Auckland later in the season.” He says she may have to go into the Southern Lights fresh. ‘She’ll have to go to at least two workouts to get her match fit, carrying a bit more condition it may have to be more. In the past she’s been one of those horses you could just tick over and she’d produce on the day but this time she’s going to have to put in some hard training miles just to get that condition off.” Although cautious Williamson is also excited about getting the mare back onto the racetrack and has given her every chance to do that. “She definitely feels a lot more powerful and stronger than she did before.”   Bruce Stewart

The death occurred in early March, after a long illness, of D.R.  (Royce) Cleal. Royce trained and drove many horses in a long career notching up many winners from a limited number of drives each season. His first win was with Star Raider at the Hokitika races in 1955. He trained Intercede (Smokey Hanover-Caprice) for Digger Hartigan and Peter Phibbs. She was the winner of four races before being sold to America. Black Pan (Jerry Adios -Garrison Lady ) won four races as did  Braeburn (Brahman -Direct Approach.) He had a great day at Methven in February 1979 when he reined in two winners. The first was behind Greymouth’s Len and Rosie Goodall trained Karleda Maid (Port Boxer-Viva Lady) who paid $34 for a win. In the next leg of the treble he drove the Westport Wonder, Canny Tina (Canny Scott-New Tina) to victory. She was trained at Westport by Paddy O’Toole and paid $31.  Thurber’s Command won the last leg of the treble but there were no live tickets on him so the treble pool ($92,000) was shared by the two ticket holders on the second horse. One was Bob Dayne from Greymouth and the other was Royce’s brother-in-law, Max Walsh. Max and Royce headed to the Yearling sales with the winnings (well some of them) and purchased an H.T Luca –Sly Imp yearling filly they named Lady Luca. Royce trained and drove Lady Luca throughout her career for Max and wife Jeanette. She only had 32 starts for 3 wins, 7 seconds and three thirds. Lady Luca ran second in the 1982 Westport Cup to the well performed Ansett (her next start was in the NZ Breeders Cup in which she finished 5th to Bonnies Chance and Armalight.) The winning margin for Ansett was half a head with four lengths back to the third horse. Royce drove many horses for local trainers and among the ones he reined home first were: Stoney Cold for K.J. Beveridge, Omanu and Neveles Own for FP Higgins, King Turk for T.A. Craddock, Rosewood Lady for C.R. Woodcock, and Ailsa Hanover for W.N Forsyth. With limited opportunities he was chosen as a reserve for the Drivers’ Championship in 1980. The other reserve drivers were Pat O’Reilly, Kevin Townley and Trevor Thomas so he was in pretty good company. Royce drove well over seventy winners from limited opportunities with his final winner being at Nelson at the ripe old age of 69. Today his nephew, Trevor Walsh carries on the family tradition training at Patterson Park and driving on race days.   Courtesy of Dan Moloney Westport Trotting Club  

Southland celebrated another very good harness racing season last night with Southern Harness supporters celebrating the achievements of 2017-18 at Ascot Park Hotel. The big awards for the season went to Kenny Baynes, Duke Of Wellington and Joyfuljoy. Chatton farmer and horseman Kenny Baynes won the Achievement of the Year Award on the back of a stellar season as an owner. Kenny races horses in partnership with his wife Jo as well as Penny his sister-in-law under Baynes Racing Limited. Horses he owned won twenty one races, of which seventeen were trained in Southland. Three of his horses qualified for the Harness Jewels at Cambridge with young trotter Full Noise running second in the 2 year old Ruby. Baynes is also President of the Gore Harness Racing Club and a generous sponsor of harness racing in the province. It was a good night for Baynes, Full Noise won the Two Year Old of the Year - the first time a trotter has taken out this category. The Southland Horse of the Year this year sponsored by Elite Racing Products, was won by quality three year old Duke Of Wellington. He was also named Southland Three Year Old Colt or Gelding of the Year. The strapping American Ideal gelding was bred by local lawyer Lester Smith who owned him up until he end of the season, when he was bought by Merv and Meg Butterworth. He faced the starter ten times for five wins and four placings, earning stakes of $54,280. He then capped off his season with a good win in the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes over 2700 metres. Duke Of Wellington was trained by Lauren Pearson at Winton and he proved his versality by recording a 1.53.6 mile at Wairio in March. Road Machine mare Joyfulbelle won the prestigious Southland Broodmare of the Year. She’s owned by the Miracle Lodge Syndicate which consists of Eric Parr and Clark Barron. As a broodmare Joyfulbelle has produced eight named foals. These include; Joyfuljoy (11 NZ wins and 1-51.6 USA), Jumpforjoy (7 wins), Fullofjoy (1 win), Pride N Joy (Qualified 1-59.5), Bettor Joy (10 wins), and Somejoy (6 wins).    Pride N Joy is the dam of two winners this season; Gift Of Joy, and this year’s Group One winner in Australia Majorpride. Joyfulbelle's latest two foals are Vergeofgreatness (a Washington VC 3 year old colt) and Alexjoy (an Art Major two year old filly). Her breeding legacy now extends into her daughters who are also leaving quality race horses. Other awards:   Contribution Awards   Jason Broad Jason has held the position as Secretary of many different harness associations over the years, and include the Trainer & Drivers Association, Southland Standardbred Breeders, Caduceus Club, S.T.O.T.B, Invercargill Workouts, and NZ Racing Managers. He has also been raceday secretary for the Omakau Trotting Club since 2002 and the Nelson Trotting Club since 2006. He's currently a trustee of Kids Kartz, which he helped set up 2009. Jason was appointed General Manager of Southern Harness in 2016.    Ross Wilson Ross has been instrumental in helping junior drivers to get on the map.  Dexter Dunn drove the five Wilson winners in 2010, Adam Sanderson 12 wins, Craig Ferguson 19 as a junior and 11 since becoming an open driver and many others have had wins for the stable.  Outside training, Ross has been on the Gore Harness Racing Club for many years and the Gore Workouts Committee. Ross has held a icence to train since 1980.   Graeme Robertson QSM Graeme has made an extraordinary contribution to the Riverton Trotting Club, being elected to the Committee in 1961 and serving concurrently for the next fifty seven years. He served as Vice-President between 1972 and 1974 and was Club President 1974-1977. Since 1978 he’s been the Treasurer of the Club - forty years! He clearly remembers 1978 as the year the club was granted its first totalizator licence.  Graham was made a life member in 2002. He’s seen the club develop from a small on-course only club that raced on a Thursday to a fully licenced trotting club that punches above its weight.  Graeme was awarded the QSM for his Services to Sport in 2017.     Southern Standardbred Breeders Trophies (leading stake earners 2017-2018) Two Year Old Filly: Rise Above This - Owner: Lester Smith - Trainer: Lauren Pearson. Three Year Old Filly: Betterthanbrie - Owner: Murray Little - Trainer: Paul Ellis.  Aged Mare: Somejoy - Owner: Miracle Lodge Syndicate - Trainer: Clark Barron.    1-58.0 Pins Betterthanbrie - Murray Little - Wyndham 17.03/2018 1-56.2. Debnita Rose - Paul Hailes, Jonny Turner and Carl McIntyre - Oamaru 24/09/2017 1-57.4.  Franco Tai - Robert and Sharon Symon - NZ Metro 20/10/2017 1-57.0. Havtime - Murray Little and Malcolm and Sarndra Little - Auckland 11/05/2018 1-58.0. Mach's Back - Murray Little - Winton 14/04/2018 1-57.3. Mighty Conqueror - Mark Shirley and Malcolm Dewe - Winton 14/04/2018 1-57.7. Patanjali - Robert and Sharon Symon - Forbury Park 05/04/2018 1-58.0 Raksbet - Brendan Fahy - Ashburton 25/02/2018 1-55.1 and Wyndham 18/01/2018 1-56.5 Group Certificates  Bettor Joy - Breeder - Miracle Lodge Syndicate (Group Two Ladyship Stakes) Duke Of Wellington - Breeder - Lester Smith (Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes) Pat's Delight - Breeder - Charlton Park Enterprises (Pat Kubala) (Group One Three Year Old Emerald and Group Two Summer Cup). New Zealand Records Jen Jaccka - Charlie and Alisa Smaill - 2400 metre stand (trotting mares) 28/09/2017 - Winton - 3-00.9. Full Noise - Baynes Racing Limited 2700 metre stand (two year old trotting colts and geldings) 07/05/2018 -Ascot Park -3-35.2.  Southern Standardbred Breeders Fastest Mile Rate - Filly or mare 2017-2018 Somejoy 1-53.2 Wairio Trotting Club at Winton 24th March 2018 - Owner: Miracle Lodge Syndicate - Trainer: Clark Barron.  Southland Harness Awards - Two Year Old Colt or Gelding of the Year Full Noise - Owner: Baynes Racing Limited - Trainer: Brett Gray. Robin Dundee Club - Three Year Olds Of The Year  I'mallaboutthebase (filly) -Owners: Steve and Carol Baucke - Trainer: Steve Baucke. Duke of Wellington (colt/gelding) - Owner: Lester Smith - Trainer: Lauren Pearson.  Caduceus Club of Southland Trotter of the Year Grace O'Malley - Owner: Go Ziggy Go Limited - Trainer: Curly Thomas     Southland Trainers and Drivers Association 2018 Awards Trainer of the Year: Brett Gray (34) Driver of the Year: Nathan Williamson (42) Junior Driver of the Year: Sheree Tomlinson (30) Trotting Driver of the Year: Brent Barclay (12) Southland Harness Racing Award of Excellence Sheree Tomlinson - First woman driver to win the time honoured Dominion Handicap Trot Pat's Delight - Winner of the Group One Three Year Old Emerald. Havtime - Winner of the $146,250 Listed New Zealand Yearling Sales Fillies Final It's Ella was also honoured on the night. The Washington VC mare won sixteen races including the Group Two Caduceus Club Mares Championship in 2007 and 2008 as well as the 2007 Group One PGG Wrightson New Zealand Breeders Stakes.  Another excellent season for Harness Racing in Southland. Congratulations to all winners and to those who were nominated. We look forward to another successful season where Southland breeders, trainers and drivers put their names on the harness racing map. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

The annual Southland Harness Awards Dinner will be held this year on Sunday 12th August at Ascot Park Hotel. Sponsored by Southern Harness the night will celebrate all the highlights of what’s been a busy season. Horse of the Year, Broodmare of the Year and the Achievement Award for the 2017-2018 season will be the  three most sought after prizes are. Perhaps the most intriguing, will be the Achievement Award for which there are four nominations; Brent Barclay, Brett Gray, Kenny Baynes and Sheree Tomlinson. Brent Barclay finished second in this season's Southland Drivers Premiership, just pipped at the post by Nathan Williamson's winning drive at Oamaru today. Barclay's primary source of winners came from the Brett Gary stable and his season highlights came in driving Full Noise in the $125,000 Group One Two Year Old Ruby at Cambridge for a second placing and in winning the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes with Duke Of Wellington. His drives amassed $391,737 this season, a personal best since his driving career bagan in 1990.  Brent Barclay  Sheree Tomlinson became the first female driver to win the time honoured Dominion Handicap at Addington in November when she drove her Grandfather's horse Amaretto Sun to win. The then nineteen year old is also the youngest driver to win the race and just the second junior driver to win the Group One feature; the first being Anthony Butt who won in 1987 driving Simon Katz. Tomlinson is once again the province's leading junior driver with thirty wins – a personal best. She also finished third in the National Junior Drivers Premiership. Sheree Tomlinson Brett Gray is once again Southland’s leading trainer for the 2017-2018 season. With thirty four winners it's a personal best for the Ryal Bush trainer. He also trained a Group One place getter in Full Noise which established a Southland and New Zealand record for two year old trotters. Another trotter from his stable also broke a Southland and New Zealand record. Jen Jaccka’s 3-00.9 for the 2400 metre stand at Winton last September established the new mark for mares. The $328,628 in stakes the Gray stable won was another PB, and was $100,000 more than his stable won the previous year. Brett Gray Murray Brown become a part of a small number of Southland based trainers to train 500 races when Soapbox won at Gore in September. Brown has been training for thirty four years. His first ever win was with Mike Adios on 22nd September 1984. His most sucessful winner Beaudiene Bad Babe, won twenty two races including a Group Two Caduceus Club of Canterbury Premier Mares Championship twice. (2010 and 2011). She also won the 2010 Nevele R Stud Four Year Old Diamond at Cambridge and the 2009 Group Two Macca Lodge/Nevele R Southland Oaks Final. Other good winners for Brown include Freeway Don (11 wins), Awesum Teddy (10 wins), Highview Jude (9 wins), Rimesaut (8 wins) and Mister Dale (8 wins). Murray Brown Kenny Baynes, as part of Baynes Racing Limited and in partnership with his wife Jo owned horses that won nineteen races this season. The President of the Gore Harness Racing Club owned or had a share in War Admiral (3), War Machine (5), Royal Bengal (3), Mucho Macho Man (1), Especial (3), Envious (1), Too Cool (1), Full Noise (1) and Convair Hustler (1). All horses excepting Royal Bengal were trained in Southland. Baynes had three starters in this season's Harness Jewels; Royal Bengal, Full Noise and War Machine. Full Noise ran second in the $125,000 Two Year Old Ruby. Kenny Barnes   The Horse of the Year finalist are Duke Of Wellington, Smokey Mac, Somejoy and War Machine. Duke Of Wellington qualified at the end of October last year and in his first season of racing he started ten times and was in the money each time. He won five races, including his last four, ran second three times, and third and fourth once each. He ended his season with an impressive win in the $45,000 Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes. His season’s earnings were $54,280. Duke Of Wellington Somejoy was Southland’s leading mare for the season. She won six races from ten starts and earned her connections $47,230. She also broke a Southland mares record when she won at Winton in March, running a mile in 1-53.2. Somejoy Only ninety five dollars separated the two trotters in the final of Southland Horse of the Year. War Machine started fifteen times for five wins and earned $43,995 while Smokey Mac trained by Brett Gray faced the starter fourteen times for six wins and banked $43,900 for his owners. Smokey Mac War Machine The Broodmare of the Year finalists are Galleons Honour, Jumpforjoy and Righteous Franco. Galleons Honour owned by Invercargill Lawyer Lester Smith, produced four individual winners in the season under review. Duke of Wellington led the charge, winning five races, (including his last four), running second three times, and third and fourth once each. He ended his season with a flourish winning the $45,000 Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes. His season’s earnings were $54,280. Venice Beach (renamed My Venice Beach), which Smith sold in March last year has also had a successful season for her dam Galleons Honour.  The Somebeachsomewhere mare has won $25,738 for six races this season, and lowered her winning mile time to 1-53.6. Another of Galleon Honours' foals, Rise Above This won her first start at Winton pacing a mile in 1-58.5. To cap off the season the mare's only other foal to race this season - Laszlo - (formally Dazed And Confused), also won a race at Globe Derby Park. The four horses are the mare’s first four foals of racing age. Her next foal also by Somebeachsomewhere, is a yearling. Jumpforjoy's first foal Somejoy had a very good season. She won six races from ten starts and earned her connections $47,230. She also broke a Southland mares record when she won at Winton in March running a mile in 1-53.2. Righteous Franco owned by Gore breeder Pat Kubala is the final mare in the Southland Broodmare section of the Awards. Her big winner of the season was the Bettor's Delight colt Pat's Delight. Pat's Delight's biggest win was when he beat Sheriff in the Three Year Old Emeralds on Harness Jewels Day at Cambridge. He won six races and $171,313. His clash in the New Zealand Derby was one of the highlights of the season. Sheriff beat Pat's Delight by a nose running the 2600 metre mobile in a new New Zealand record of 3-05.4. The New Zealand Derby and Three Year Old record for this distance has been broken in each of the past three years. Another of Righteous Franco’s foals Lightning Mach, won two races in America in the 2018 season. The mare's next foal is an Art Major two year old named Prince Art which qualified at Rangiora in May. The Southland Harness Awards Dinner is a great celebration of Southland's successful harness racing industry. Tickets cost $75 per person, or $70 per person if paid online. If you would like to purchase tickets online, click on the following link and complete the form. Due to catering requirements there are no door sales. The last day to purchase tickets is Monday 6th August - don't miss a great night! The doors will open at 4:30pm. The dinner starts 6:00pm.   Bruce Stewart

Southland produced it best crop of three year old colts and geldings for some time this season with plenty to like about the top stakes winners in this group. Duke Of Wellington was the standout. He qualified at the end of October last year and started ten times, never running out of the money. He won five races and ended up winning in the $45,000 Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes. His season's earnings were $54,280, the highest stakes earner (any age or gait) to be trained in Southland. The next best three year old stakes wise was the Nathan Williamson trained Franco Santino which currently sits on four wins from eight starts and earnings of $29,220. Branxholme trainer Alister Black produced three nice three year olds as well with Kilowatt Kid leading the trio recording three wins from ten starts and earning his owners Lindsay and Ian Thomson $27,430. They also own Vintage Cheddar which won two of it's seven starts and $18,390. Lawrence, also owned by the Thomsons, was Black's other nice three year old. He won twice in ten starts and earned $17,320. Other handy three year olds in the south this season were: Mighty Conqueror which won three of his four starts and earned $20,000, Ardtoo which won twice and banked $13,400 and Convair Hustler which earned $13,160 including one win. Interestingly Franco Santino, Ardtoo, Convair Hustler, Kilowatt Kid and Mighty Conqueror all won a final of the Nugget Series run in Southland this season. The series was a new initiative with each of the ten finals carrying a stake of $12,000. The Northern Southland Trotting Club also held a $20,000 Super Nuggets Final which included all the early Nuggets winners. This was won by Kilowatt Kid. Three year olds won ten of the eleven Nuggets Finals (including the Super Nugget) with colts and geldings winning eight. Two three year old fillies Dunrobin and Born To Boogie, won the last two finals. The odd one out age wise was four year old Zealand Star which won it's final at Winton in February. The Nuggets proved a great stakes springboard for Southerners wanting to gain entry into the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes with nine of the twelve runners this year coming from the province. Entry to the Supremacy is gained through stakes won in Southland during the season. Wouldn't it be great if Southland was to put on a four year race next season to cater for these quality horses.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

As a cloud hangs over the future of Blenheim's colleges, a cloud has lifted over the town's racecourse, for now.  The Ministry of Education confirmed on Thursday it had concluded talks regarding its three preferred sites for the proposed co-located colleges; Waterlea Racecourse, an Alabama Rd vineyard and a property on Battys Rd. Marlborough Racing Club president Eric Bowers said they got an email from the ministry on Monday, saying the ministry was no longer interested in the 31-hectare racecourse. The same day, the community learnt the decision to co-locate Marlborough Boys' College and Girls' College was under review, with alternative options of refurbishing the existing schools or building a co-educational school back on the table. Bowers said the email made no difference to him, as the racecourse was never for sale. Public consultation about future options for the colleges started as Marlborough Girls' College has several old and leaky classrooms.   "They said they accepted our decision and they would look at alternative sites. But that didn't change anything for us, because we told them some months ago we weren't selling," Bowers said. The ministry was looking for a greenfield site of about 15ha for the $63m colleges, to be built side-by-side by 2021, as announced three years ago. It approached the joint owners of Blenheim's only racecourse, Marlborough Racing Club and Marlborough Harness Racing Club, more than two years ago, hoping to purchase about half the site. The Waterlea Racecourse, in Blenheim, is nearly 100-years-old.   But the clubs refused, saying in November 2016 they needed the space for galloping and thoroughbred racing. There were 60 horses living there permanently, with stabling at Waterlea Racecourse for 150 horses.  Stables, offices, jockeys' rooms and a grandstand would all have to be rebuilt or moved, if the colleges were built on the site, estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars. Rebuilding stables, offices, jockeys' rooms and a grandstand would have cost tens of millions of dollars.   The ministry identified Alabama Rd as its preferred site a month later, and then confirmed in August 2017 it was discussing the racecourse with NZ Racing. The discussion was to ensure "we fully understand all factors regarding the Waterlea Racecourse's current position", and better understand the organisational structure and operation of the racing codes and clubs, she said. Bowers said the discussions with NZ Racing were pointless. The Marlborough Harness Racing Club jointly owns Waterlea Racecourse with the Marlborough Racing Club.   "We were under a confidentiality agreement at the time. But the reality is, NZ Racing doesn't own the racecourse." Marlborough families made many sacrifices over the years to keep the 98-year-old racecourse going, Bowers said. "We've had the racecourse nearly 100 years now, it's one of the oldest in New Zealand. Many people in Marlborough donated thousands and thousands of hours to develop that course there. Marlborough Boys College principal Wayne Hegarty, left, and Marlborough Girls' College board chairman Bernie Rowe are waiting to hear if the co-location project will go ahead.   "During the Depression years, the clubs went broke and they had to sell the course. But after World War II one family actually mortgaged their homes to buy it back, and the clubs paid them off over some years through hard work at the races. So it's an asset we felt shouldn't just be sold off to the Government." And if racing did "disappear in time", Bowers hoped the property would stay owned by the community, he said. "But that won't be in the near future. The racing industry is very strong here." A 24ha vineyard on Alabama Rd was the ministry's "preferred option" in December 2016.   He felt the ministry should refurbish the colleges at their current sites, he said. "It would be a heck of a lot cheaper than building two new ones. But they are the experts." Shannon said the decision was made to review the business case for co-location in late February, due to increasing costs and difficulties finding the right site. Marlborough College was co-educational until 1962, when it changed its name to Marlborough Boys' College.   "We then completed the strategic planning, development and implementation processes for the review," Shannon said. "Next we contacted both college principals in March to talk them through the next steps. They were then free to share that information with the school community," she said. Marlborough Boys' College principal Wayne Hegarty‚Äč said he waited until he had formal correspondence from the ministry before he informed students and parents. "They contacted us by phone and said there was going to be a review, so I asked them to put something on paper ... the first thing we saw on paper was the press release on Monday. "They said all options were open, but we wanted to be able to dig down to what that meant, and that's what we were waiting for." Shannon confirmed the ministry's negotiations with the owners of their top three sites had concluded. "We did enter talks with the owners of the Waterlea and Alabama Road sites but those discussions did not progress to a point where the ministry could be confident of a successful outcome," Shannon said. "We only pursue those that meet our criteria, present a preferred long-term addition to the school network and the best value for the Crown. Battys Road was included in our initial long-list but was not progressed to the next stage."  The owner of the Alabama Rd site, Montford Corporation director Haysley MacDonald, said the ministry never actually made an offer on his 24-ha site in east Blenheim. "We've never had negotiations as far as pricing goes. They've come and looked at it, they've done testing, but that's all that's happened," MacDonald said. MacDonald said he felt "totally messed around", but would still consider an offer if the ministry made one in the future. "Everything is negotiable. But they've never made that leap forward. There's no for sale sign on the gate, put it that way. And I've got a business to run, and that vineyard is an important part of it, growing grapes." Father-of-five MacDonald said he thought the co-location project should go ahead. "I went to Marlborough Boys' College myself, and it was a good school to go to, but the infrastructure was pretty tired and that was 20-odd years ago. "I'm all for a new school. I don't care where, but the current sites are already too small, and we do have a growing population to think of." By Jennifer Eder Reprinted with permission of The Marlborough Express

The Waimate Trotting Club will return to their home track this season. The meeting will be held on Sunday 25 March this year and will see racing action return to Waimate Racecourse Recreation Reserve for the first time since 2013. Following a severe wind storm that caused widespread damage that year the meeting was transferred to nearby Oamaru. Since then the grandstand has been demolished and a new administration block put in place to help with the race day amenities. Club President Lex Williams is thrilled with the move back home. “The club has been working really hard to get the meeting back home” said Williams. “The track has come back in great order, and we have had very good reports on it following inspection.” He noted that not only was it good for the committee but had far reaching positive effects. “We’ve had a lot of support from the community and some large businesses have stepped in to help us free of charge which we are very grateful for.” “It has also really helped us with finding sponsorship for our meeting by having the meeting at home. And we expect a large turnout on the day from the locals.” The feature race on the card will be the Waimate Cup and the race day is going to have an old fashioned sports day theme. “We’ll be having a huge range of contests from sack races for kids to gumboot throwing with some really great prizes on offer,” said Williams. “We encourage families and industry members to come along and enjoy the day and the new facilities oncourse.”   Jess Smith

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