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Harness racing is due to return in the south with ten race meetings scheduled to be held at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill between 30 May and 30 July. The meetings will be dual code events held in conjunction with the Southland Greyhound Racing Club and all the meetings during this period will be closed to the public. Television coverage will be provided on Trackside channels throughout this time. Racing came to a halt in the region after the Wairio Trotting Club meeting at Winton on 21 March and will resume with an eight-race harness programme alongside a programme of greyhound races on 30 May. Dates (Ascot Park Raceway, Invercargill): Saturday 30th May Saturday 6th June Saturday 13th June Saturday 20th June Saturday 27th June Thursday 2nd July Thursday 9th July Thursday 16th July Thursday 23rd July Thursday 30th July Event Hub

By Jonny Turner   Smart trotter Muscle Mountain began his 3yr-old season just like he started his 2yr-old term when winning the Orari Challenge Stakes on Saturday. The Greg And Nina Hope trained gelding got his sophomore season off to the perfect start when beating a smart line up to win the first 3yr-old trotting feature of the season. With regular stable drivers Ricky May and Ben Hope sidelined it was left to Matthew Williamson to partner Muscle Mountain and the reinsman made the most of the one off opportunity. “With Ben being suspended it was a bit of a one off drive, so it was good to be able to win with him,” Williamson said. “He is a nice trotter and he should go on with it after today and be in for a big season.” Williamson gave Muscle Mountain a perfect run in the one-one throughout behind his stablemate, Midnight Dash. Midnight Dash rallied hard in the straight, but was eventually overhauled by Muscle Mountain to secure a Hope trained quinella. “He did it easy enough, but I did have to hold him together down the straight,” Williamson said. Muscle Mountain’s task was made slightly easier when several of the leading chances in the race galloped. One Majic Kenny botched the mobile score up before recovering to go a big race and run fourth. The favourite, Tailored Elegance, galloped when challenging in the home straight. The Hope stable took out another of the trotting races at Orari on Saturday when Bev K’s One broke her maiden. Williamson will attempt to keep his winning form up at Wyndham on Sunday. The reinsman rates the Hamish Hunter trained Holy Havoc in race 5 as the leading chance among his nine drives. “He went a pretty good race for fifth on Thursday and has a nice draw in one.” “He should get every hope and be a pretty good chance.” Williamson also drives I’m Watching You in race 2, Tartan Robyn in race 8 and Stingray Tara in race 9 for Hunter. The reinsman said each were good eachway hopes, without looking standouts in their races. Punters look to be banking on Williamson to turn around the fortunes of Delight N Gold in race 6. He is the new pilot of the Earl Swain trained mare, who opened at remarkably short $2 win odds in the race’s fixed odds market. Delight In Gold brings patchy form to a race almost without any strong exposed form. “She is in the right field and has gone some good races before.”    “Hopefully she can improve and she would be a chance.” Williamson drives Slainte in race 1 and Monty Python in race 4 for his father, Phil. “Monty Python is an eachway chance, but it will be hard for him off 45m.” “He hasn’t been going too bad and he is slowly getting back to his best.” “Slainte would be a good chance if he did everything right, but that is no certainty.” Williamson also drives Bub’s VC in race 3 and Jacks N Jazz in race 10.   

Two harness racing mates, Bronson Munro and Craig Ferguson combined to win the $15,000 Gold Chip Final for trotters at Wyndham yesterday. Skyvalley mare Sunny Valley trained by Munro and driven by Ferguson caused a minor upset when she beat Galleons Future by two and a quarter lengths. “She went well at her last run but we thought being in the Nugget Final we were up against it. But she stepped up,” Ferguson said after the run. He took the five year old to the lead early before handing up to Matai Jetstar. who took him to the straight and from there Ferguson was able to angle Sunny Valley into the clear. “We got to the middle of the track at the top of the straight and when I pulled the ear plugs and asked her to go she showed speed like a pacer – changed gear and went.” It was the mare’s first win in ten starts and the biggest of her young trainer’s short career. Sunny Valley “I’ve been down here a couple of weeks staying with Craig. To get a result like that with the two of us, I’m rapt. Craig and I have been great mates for a long time.  $15,000 stake for a maiden is pretty good,” said Munro who’s in his second season of training. Sunny Valley was bred by Lew Driver and is a product of a long line of Roydon Lodge mares. Her mother Sundon’s Sensation recorded two thirds in fifteen starts and Sunny Valley was her only foal. “She’s a contagious tart. She’s pretty hard to deal with sometimes. Out on the track her manners are perfect and that’s a credit to Donny Ross who did a lot of education with her. He’s still got a share in her so it’ll be a great thrill for him as well.” Local Southern Harness Board member Tom Kilkelly scored back to back wins at Wyndham yesterday. The double was kicked off by Gotta Go Cullen six year old Lite Percussion which led all the way winning the MLT/Three Rivers Hotel Mobile Pace by three and a half lengths and running the 1609 metres in 1-56.2. He was taken to the front by driver and co-trainer Kirstin Barclay and won easily. Consistent Major Meister won the next race for the same combination.  He led early before handing up to favourite Raksjameson. Barclay waited for the passing lane then reined the three year old colt up the inside to win by a length and a half from Raksjameson. Meanwhile four nicely bred two year olds appeared at the Winton Workouts today. Beach Start (Net Ten EOM – Weka Lass) won the heat by a neck from Yorokobi (Bettor’s Delight – Rockin Cullen) with a neck back to Who’s My Mother (Sweet Lou – Dancing Dixie) and another neck back to Special Dream (Bettor’s Delight – Christian Dreamer). Beach Start and Brent Barclay beating Yorokobi and Tristan Larsen at the Winton Workouts – Photo Bruce Stewart. Bruce Stewart

Ryal Bush trotter Cuchulainn is currently in a purple patch of form. His win at Wyndham today for harness racing trainer Brett Gray and Butterworth Racing Syndicate was his second this season and backs up an impressive win last weekend on Cup Day at Ascot Park. “He started the season okay but I had a bit of a viral thing go through the stable and when he ran fourth (in record time to Super Fast Pat at Winton) I backed off him and got him treated. He’s looking a lot better and he’s a lot sharper,” said Gray. In today’s Caldwell Contracting Limited Handicap Trot driver Brent Barclay settled Cuchulainn third on the inside behind pacemaker Zoned Scarlett. The order remained the same until the 450 mark when Barclay seized the opportunity to get the drop on his main rival Dark Horse and moved the gelding off the running line. In the sharp burst of speed he was up challenging Zoned Scarlett for the lead at the top of the straight. He trotted nicely down to the line to beat Dark Horse by two and a quarter lengths running the 2400 metres in 3-04.3. “It worked out pretty good today. He’s a high speed horse.” Cuchulainn and Brent Barclay beating Dark Horse – Photo Bruce Stewart Dark Horse’s run was very encouraging. She gave 30 metres to Cuchulainn in the handicap and ran the distance in 3-02.4. Driver Nathan Williamson reported to a steward afterwards that she went rough in her gait when he pulled the earplugs halfway down the straight. Like most of the Butterworth Racing Syndicate horses Cuchulainn will probably end up in Australia where Merv and Meg Butterworth live, but Gray’s hoping he may stay in the province until at least the end of the month. “He’ll probably end up racing in Auckland or Australia in time but it’s up to Merv. Hopefully I can get to the Northland Southland meeting and the trot there ($30,000 EasiFeed Southern Lights).” Cuchulainn, which is named after a Celtic Warrior of medieval Ireland, was bred at Macca Lodge by Brent and Cane McIntyre and is by Skyvalley out of the three win Sundon mare Come Follow Me. Cuchulainn He continues the great run his sire Muscle Yankee stallion Skyvalley is having at the moment. War Admiral won at Addington on Friday night while super star trotter Tornado Valley won the $250,000 Group One Great Southern Star at Melton last night. War Admiral, Tornado Valley and Cuchulainn are all out of Sundon mares. Cuchulainn’s full brother Picketts Ridge also looks very promising, winning five races in a short career which has been hindered by injury. He looked ready to resume when running second to Dark Horse at a recent Wyndham Workout. Cuchulainn was originally raced by the McIntyres and trained by Brent, winning two races before the Butterworth Racing Syndicate bought the gelding. He was transferred to Gray’s stable shortly afterwards. Today’s win was his fourth from just eleven starts. Bruce Stewart

Gore harness racing owner Anne Brinsdon hasn’t had many chances to watch her horse Major Menace race recently. However it was her lucky day today. Having it’s seventeenth start at the Wyndham meeting, she was there to watch Major Menace, which she part owns with her son Matt, win her first race. Matt said “She’s (Anne) super excited today. She broke her hip so she hasn’t seen any of her races recently but she was on-course today. It was a pretty good tonic for her and Dad’s up in the home so he’ll be watching too,” Driver Jonny Cox settled the five year old Art Major mare in the last five from a second row draw. He followed Sherwood Maggie into the race at the top of the straight. Cox waited as long as he could before hooking Major Menace out to the centre of the track and she came home nicely to beat Better Thana Missus by a head with a half a neck back to Sherwood Maggie in third. “The blinds worked the oracle today. She’s a funny wee thing. She doesn’t always put her best foot forward.” Major Menace (11) beating Better Thana Missus (12) – Photo Bruce Stewart Jonny Cox, Major Menace, Matt Brinsdon his mother Anne and wife Cheryl. Photo Bruce Stewart. Brinsdon said Major Menace has been a slow maturing horse which wasn’t quite strong enough to qualify as a three year old, but qualified at four. “She’s always had enough in her to bag a win or two so she’s probably destined for the broodmare paddock.” Major Menace The dam of Major Menace Holmes Hanover mare Phantom Menace won eight races for Brinsdon and his mother, and has left Phantom Grin the winner of eight, and Can Go Like El which also won eight in Australia. “She’s in foal to Always B Miki and that’ll be her last foal. She’ll be retired, she’s twenty one now.” Meanwhile Auckland Reactor three year old Willie Go West looked like Southern Supremacy Stakes material when he easily won over a mile. Willie Go West Owned by Vicki Purdon and her son Michael and trained by Michael, the three year old was pushed out of the gate to lead early over the 1609 metre journey. Driver Sarah O’Reilly opened the small field up and at one point was eight lengths in front. It looked as though the field was going to catch Willie Go West but O’Reilly was only foxing and she went down to the line to win by five and half lengths from I’m Watching You. The winning time was 1-54.1. Willie Go West and Sarah O’Reilly winning at Wyndham – Photo Bruce Stewart Willie Go West is out of the unraced Bettor’s Delight mare Bettor Go and was bred by Studholme Bloodstock which has a half-brother by Art Major in this month’s Christchurch Sale. Bruce Stewart

The win by Heisenberg in yesterdays re-run of the Central Otago Cup has led to a very generous donation by the horse’s connections, owners Ross and Angela Gordon, trainer Robert Dunn and the horse’s regular driver John Dunn. The race was originally run at Omakau but had to be abandoned when champion driver Ricky May suffered a major medical incident and was flown to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition. The Group Three feature race was re-run yesterday at the Young Quinn Raceway at Wyndham and was won by Heisenberg in a very quick time. Robert Dunn explained that after the race Ross Gordon rang him and said he and Angela wanted to express their appreciation for the care Ricky May received on the 2nd January at Omakau. “Ross, Angela, Johnny and I decided to donate four and a half thousand dollars of the Cup winnings to charity.  $1,500 to the helicopter trust fund for picking up Ricky, $1,500 to St John who were great on the day and $1,500 to Team Teals Ellie Barron (who performed mouth the mouth on May). Ross wanted to do that and I said to him that Johnny and I would come on board as well.” Driver John Dunn was trailing May in the race at Omakau and saw the incident unfold. He managed to pull his horse back and warn trailing drivers. John Dunn wasn’t on hand yesterday when Heisenberg won. The horse was driven by stand-in driver Tim Williams who took the talented pacer to the front and held out a game Nandolo by half a neck. “Yep he’s much better in front with the pace on. He will learn to use the speed he’s got in other ways but he’s one of those horses that likes getting into his own rhythm. He used to be a devil of a horse to run in and out and it made it difficult for Johnny to drive. He’s far better when he concentrates so that’s why we’ve got the hood on him. He runs a lot straighter with that on but the only thing is it sets you up for horses that swoop off your back,” said Robert Dunn. The winning time of 2-52.4 for the 2400 metre mobile was a new track, Southland and New Zealand record. “He’s racing more genuinely this year. We possibly gelded him later than we should have. He was always a horse with potential, but he was green.” Yesterday’s win was the horse’s sixth. Dunn said Heisenberg is likely to join his Auckland base at some point later in the season and this time should be better the Auckland way round. “He struggles a bit in Auckland. He tended to get in a little too much on the turns. But it was just because of his racing manners early on. I’m sure when we bring him up for the Taylor Mile and the New Zealand Messenger he’ll be much better.” The Art Major gelding was bought at the 2017 Auckland Sales by Gorton and Dunn – then named Viva La Vida. “Ross changes all of his horses names. He’s generally got a reason. We both loved the horse on type, he looked racy and we thought he might make a young horse. Ross has a good eye for horses which he’s developed. He actually comes from a horse family. His mother and father Don and Carol were one of the very first preparers at the yearling sales. They prepared yearlings for I reckon a half a century. On his mother’s side is champion horseman Felix Newfield and also Kevin Chapman.” Ross and Angela own Telfer Electrical and have three branches in Christchurch and outlets in Nelson, Cromwell, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill. “They bought the company just over twenty years ago when it was small and they’ve turned it into a very successful business.” The Gordons have been very good clients for Robert Dunn over many years. They’ve owned and raced The Fed Express (5 New Zealand wins – bred by Ross’s parents Don and Carol), Code Black (2 New Zealand wins and 17 Australian wins), Robbie Burns (10 New Zealand wins and 1-49 USA) and Henry Hubert (7 wins). “I’ve had their horses for years and we’re still waiting to get our first Group One winner. The one we thought was going to be the bees knees was a horse called Say My Name (6 wins from just 18 starts). He’s was exceptionally talented but had ongoing bone issues.” The Gordons also own up and coming Above N Beyond. “He’ll be aimed at the Derbies. We think he could be a real player in the three and four year old races. He’s a horse with a lot of upside.” And as the Yearling Sales approach Gordon and Dunn will be having a close look at the full brother to Heisenberg who’s in the ring early on 17th February at the Auckland Sales. “He’ll be on our list.” Bred by Chris and Tina Barlow of Highfield Bloodstock and named Crusader, you’d have to say this may be one horse if Ross and Robert buy him that may not get a name change considering they’re all Cantabrians   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    Southland pacer Stingray Tara will attempt to fly his family’s flag at the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting at Ascot Park today. It has been left to the Hamish Hunter trained pacer to keep his family name up in lights following the retirement of his star full brother Tiger Tara, last month.  Stingray Tara goes in to race 1 after producing a win his brother would be proud of in his last start at Winton. Sitting parked throughout a mile (1609m) event was not enough to stop the 4yr-old from producing a tough win for junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson. Driver Matthew Williamson is looking forward to getting back in the sulky behind Stingray Tara after watching that effort from the side lines.  “It was a pretty big effort at Winton, if he could produce a run like that he would have to be hard to beat.” Williamson will drive the first two favourites at today’s twilight meeting. Slainte will start at short odds in race 2 after impressing in his trials for trainer Phil Williamson. The horse started at Cromwell on Sunday, but was deemed a late scratching after suffering interference at the start. “He has got the ability, but he is going to have to do things right to win,” Williamson said.  “We have made a couple of changes after Cromwell, so hopefully that will help him.” The father and son combination of Phil and Matthew Williamson also start Only One Way in race 7. The 4yr-old produced an emphatic win in his last start at Omakau and there looks little reason he can not continue his hot form in today’s 2700m feature handicap trot. “He is going really well, but his is getting back in the handicaps,” Williamson said.  “He should still be a pretty good chance.”  Star Ruler is one of two strong chances Williamson drives for trainers Geoff And Jude Knight. The 6yr-old went close at Cromwell on Sunday and looks well placed to win race 5, today. “He seems to have lifted a bit lately, so he has to be a good chance,” Williamson said. “He is a horse that will need the right run, though.” Jacks N Jazz may have been an even stronger winning chance than his stablemate had he drawn the front line of the mobile. Drawing barrier 1 on its second line means he will luck in race 8. If he gets it, the 6yr-old can figure in the finish, Williamson said. I’m Watching You is Williamson’s drive in race 6, a graduation final filled with talented types. If the 3yr-old can not win today he will be a horse to follow when he returns to maiden grade, Williamson said. Canterbury raiders Yossi, Folklore and Moonlite Drive look the horses to beat in the 2200m event. Williamson drives Kingmaker, who takes on another talented line up in race 10, today’s fast class pace. The Brad Mowbray trained pacer clashes with leading contenders Franco Santino, Bettathanfast and Cast No Shadow in the 2200m mobile. Williamson also drives A Rocknroll Maid in race 3 and I Had A Dream in race 4 today. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Interdominion star A G’s White Socks could book a ticket to Australia if he continues his form resurgence in Thursday’s Central Otago Trotting Cup. Like many holiday makers, the Canterbury pacer has gotten out of the city and headed to the more relaxing surrounds of Central Otago for today’s popular meeting. The Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer would have been a leading contender in Tuesday night’s Auckland Cup had he stayed north after his Interdominion campaign. Avoiding standing start racing and the possibility of an Australian trip mean Omakau racegoers get to see A G’s White Socks in Thursday’s 2000m group 3 feature. “The reason we brought him down was to have a go with him at Omakau and then make our mind up about him going to Australia,” Greg Hope said. “We also didn’t really want to put the horse through standing starts again.” “They are not his forte and we just felt we could undo things if he went in the Auckland Cup.” The Hunter Cup at Melton would be A G’s White Socks’ main aim if he books his Australian trip with a good run on Thursday. Reverting to mobile racing and a change of A G’s White Socks’ feeding regime saw the 6yr-old bounce back to his best form with two Interdominion heat wins before his commendable fifth in the series final. The pacer has not started since that effort behind Ultimate Sniper. Pleasing work since then means A G’s White Socks is fit and ready for Thursday. “He had about five days off after the final and then he flew back down and I have been pretty pleased with him since,” Hope said. “He has worked nice.” Most of A G’s White Socks’ rivals’ form leading in to Thursday’s feature comes through two races. Heisenberg beat home Jazzy Star and Nandolo when winning last week’s Ashburton Cup. Vintage Cheddar sprinted past Franco Santino and Swamp Major to win the Wairio Cup days prior. The Hopes have a team to follow at today’s Omakau meeting. Luella looks a strong chance in race 11 following her third behind talented fillies Sugar Loaf and Pearl Harbour at Winton on Tuesday. Mossdale Art was a brave mile (1609m) winner in the smart time of 1.53.7 at the same meeting. The 4yr-old will take on a talented field in race 9. Bev’s K One starts for the Hope stable in race 2 after producing two solid trial performances recently.   Didjabringthebeers happy to be home Canterbury trotter Didjabringthebeers has been back in his happy place ahead of today’s feature trot at Omakau. The 6yr-old brings a patchy form line in to the 2000m mobile event thanks to a less than impressive Interdominion campaign. The Monarchy squaregaiter was clearly off his game during the Alexandra Park series, producing two uncharacteristic breaks in its last two heats. Exactly why the horse was not happy in Auckland remains a mystery to trainer John Howe. But what is clear to the West Melton horseman is that his trotter is happy to be home. “I am not exactly sure what went on in Auckland to be honest,” Howe said. “I don’t think it was the right-handed way of going because he has worked really well that way down here.” “Something wasn’t right, he just wasn’t happy up there.” Didjabringthebeers has not started since he was pulled up on night three of the Interdominions, nearly a month ago. Howe has no concerns about his 6yr-old’s fitness going in to today’s race with that gap between races. “He seems to have bounced back well,” Howe said. “I gave him a good hit out at home this week and he seems pretty right.” The last time Didjabringthebeers faced conditions similar to today’s race – racing left handed over a sprint distance – he produced a career best effort for third behind Tough Monarch in the group 1 New Zealand Free For All at Addington. Fellow Interdominion campaigner Pres The Belle looks one of the horses to beat in today’s feature trot. The Robert Dunn trained trotter relished a drop in class from the Auckland series when showing brilliant gate speed to lead an win her last start at Addington. Heavyweight Hero, who is another leading contender for today’s race, was left in Pres The Belle’s wake when six length behind her in second. Howe also starts Nandolo in today’s Central Otago Trotting Cup. The trainer expects the pacer to be fitter for his last start fourth in the Ashburton Cup. Nandolo was run down by three horses rated at longer odds than him, including Central Otago Trotting Cup rival Heisenberg, in the Christmas Eve event. Howe suspects the horse’s fitness was not quite up to the mark and he should strip in better condition on Thursday. “He got away on me a bit, he had a really good blow after the race, he might have been a run short.” “To my eye he had Heisenberg beaten at the top of the straight and next thing he got tired in the last 150m.” “But, he was the first horse home off 30m.” Nandolo and Heisenberg will start from level marks from behind the mobile on Thursday. Howe’s day starts in race 7 when Aladdin Sane lines up after winning his first start for the season at Ashburton. The 4yr-old will clash with highly talented Southland trotter Chinese Whisper and the consistent Only One Way.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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 https://forms.gle/gWyNZ7bAKhMsibda7     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

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