Day At The Track
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Gore trainer Syd Breen had a moment to cherish at Wyndham on Saturday when he prepared Sagwitch and Santanna's Rocket to quinella the MLT/Three Rivers Hotel Wyndham Cup. “I've never had a quinella in a race before,” an excited Breen said “but that's the second time I've had three in a race and Sagwitch has won them both.” “I broke him as a yearling and liked him, Paul Matheson bought him, then as a two-year-old sold him to Australia for $100,000,” explained Breen. “But he didn't pass a vet test so Paul and his wife Nancy carried on with him and gave me 10 percent. He is Nancy's first horse. After training for a period during the 1990s, Breen had a break and described Sagwitch - seven wins - as his best, at least since resuming in 2014. Matheson, who manages the Falls Hotel in Mataura for the race sponsoring Mataura Licensing Trust, also has a share in Santanna's Rocket. So too has Ross Cleland, described by Breen as an integral part of his operation. “Ross has had shares in a lot of good horses, Night Allowance was one of them.” Another enjoying the result was winning driver and former local,but now Rangiora-based Mark Hurrell, who had finished last aboard Sagwitch in the Autumn Cup at Ascot Park a fortnight ago. “He stepped good today, he's not always the best away,” Hurrell said. “He was slow away last time then they went slow and sprinted home, it didn't suit him. He's better if they go hard and he doesn't need to do any work.” Sagwitch settled fifth in line but when the one-out train formed a lap out, the five-year-old was shuffled back. Last from the 1200 to the 600, Hurrell then moved the five-year-old forward four wide and he kept the run going right to the post winning by a length and a quarter in a smart 4:00.9. “I could have moved when they went forward but I didn't want him to do much so waited before I put him in the race, he just kept going,” said Hurrell. Tyler Dewe's joy after winning aboard The Commando in the Lamb Drive/Cattle Graziers Trot at Wyndham on Saturday could well have been ever greater. The Commando was the 599th winner for trainer Phil Williamson who had expected a big run at Addington on Friday night from Ultimate Stride. The abandonment of the meeting, as consequence of the shooting drama in Christchurch, put paid to that. Had the juvenile made a winning debut on Friday, the next day Dewe would have been handed the honour of getting the 600th. However, the win itself was enough for Dewe who joined the staff at Williamsons around Christmas time and has relished his time in Oamaru. “It's good to get the opportunity, I love it there,” said Dewe who was scoring on a Williamson horse for the first time. “Matt helped me get the job and I stay with Brad.” Dewe was also thrilled to get the win for his grandfather Arnold Dewe “He has been one of my biggest supporters and is quite ill,” he said. The Commando was bred by Bev Williamson and passed to her son Matthew who had driven the four-year-old in all but one of his previous starts. Attendance at a birthday party in Australia meant Matthew missed the win. Bev Williamson also featured as the winning breeder of Chinese Whisper, successful in the Neville Cronin Memorial Trot. The three-year-old out of Little Contessa was trained and driven by Bev's son Nathan and is raced by Nathan's wife Katie in partnership with farrier Brendan Franks. A Sundon gelding, Chinese Whisper was racing for just the second time and despite the unruly draw of 13, was comfortable when making it two from two. Back in the field early, he got a drag up on the back of Robbie Royale commencing the last lap, led from the 900 and was too strong. “I've never pulled the plugs on him yet so I don't know what would happen but he is probably doing his best anyway,” Nathan Williamson said. “He's got good breeding, manners, gait, speed, but physically is not ready to do much more. There's a Gold Chip coming up for him so we'll have to make a decision whether to carry on or let him strengthen, he should be a better four-year-old.”   by Mac Henry for Southland Harness Racing

Outsider Sagwitch became the eleventh winner this season for Gore trainer Syd Breen when he won the House of Travel Lakers Summer Cup at Ascot Park today. When talking to Breen early in the season I remember him being quite frustrated as his horses were running lots of placings at the time. But things have certainly changed since the beginning of November, and junior driver Mark Hurrell has been a big part of the success, driving seven of the winners – some penalty free. “Mark went to school with my nieces. He kept ringing me up. I told him to keep ringing. His first drive was on Lorretta Franco. Everything he’s driven for me he’s won on,” said Breen.     Sagwitch is by Lisa Mara out of Shoshoni Sunrise, an OK Bye mare which won six races for trainer Alan Paisley including the 2002 Roxburgh Cup. He’s a half-brother to millionaire Southern Bred Southern Reared pacer Washakie. Breen weaned Sagwitch as a foal and broke him in for breeder Lester Paisley as a yearling. He’s now won six races from thirty five starts and banked $41,678. After running tenth in the Roxburgh Cup six days ago Sagwitch didn’t have today’s Summer Cup on his schedule.   “I only really started him here but the race wasn’t going to get off the ground so I put him and Mucho Macho Man in. It was Santanna’s Rockets (another Breen runner) race to win as far as I was concerned.” Since Roxburgh Sagwitch has had a quiet time. “He hasn’t done much since Roxburgh, just four days jogging round the hill.” In today’s feature pacing race driver Mark Hurrell drove the five year old forward, surprisingly beating out stablemate Santanna’s Rocket which had drawn his inside. Hurrell then let Jonny Cox and Santanna’s Rocket take the lead before Please Shuddup took up the running which left Sagwitch three back on the inside. At the 400 Sagwitch was second last on the inside in the eight horse field. Hurrell plotted a path up the inside and he beat Royal Bengal by a length and a quarter. The overall time for the 2200 metre mobile was 2-42.0. Mark Hurrell driving out Sagwitch                       - Photo Bruce Stewart “He’s just got a wicked quarter on him and saved (for one run) he can go swoosh. Mark was pretty happy with him at Roxburgh and he wanted to drive him today. He was going to go to Wyndham next but he won’t be going there now. That race today was worth two races (in stakes) anyway and he’s got a cup and a dress rug.” Breen owns the gelding with Paul and Nancy Matheson. Winning connection and sponsors                                         - Photo Bruce Stewart  It paid $25.30 to win and $3.90 for a place. “Aaron Swain dropped off a bag of feed I’d won from winning a race at a Sunday meeting (part of the McMillan Equine Feeds promotion) and Sagwitch was out in the paddock just being an absolute clown. Aaron said ‘who’s that? I said it’s Sagwitch.’ He said ‘he’s well and I said yeah he’s paying four (dollars) for a place.’ He went over to his truck got on his phone and backed him. It’s rare, but when he’s right he tells you.”   Bruce Stewart

Gore trainer Syd Breen admits that Santanna Blue Chip gelding Santanna’s Rocket struggled last season. Going into last season expectations were high after he recorded some good results against a good crop of three year olds. But at the end of his four year old season he’d only won once from fourteen starts. “After he ran second on the grass at Oamaru we just couldn’t get him right. He’s had bad feet and we’re pretty sure it was a deep seated corn and we just couldn’t get it to come out. In the end we just had to bite the bullet and butcher his feet back and  we just waited for them to grow. It’s taken six months for his feet to come right and he’s still got a bit of a hole there. Shoeing wise we’ve just got aluminiums (shoes) all round and just elevated them two degrees behind. Aluminiums give him more surface areas to stand on. Franksie (farrier Brendon Franks) has done a great job,” he said. This season Santanna’s Rocket started off with a twelfth placing at the Riverton Meeting before he won easily at Forbury Park two weeks ago. And after his work during the week Breen was confident of a top showing yesterday in the Regent Car Court Mobile Pace. “I thought he was the best thing I’d ever taken to the races. He’s just gone from a nice enough horse to one that I think will go a long way. Brad said today that he still wasn’t concentrating properly. He said he feels like he could run 36 (2-36 for 2200 metres) if he concentrated. We’ve got the galloping hood on him and it just sharpens him up a bit.” In yesterday’s race Santanna’s Rocket was taken straight to the top by driver Brad Williamson and ran the field along at a solid clip. He went down to the line winning easily winning by two and three quarters of a length. The showy style of Santanna's Rocket winning easily for Brad Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart. Next up will be the Gore Cup on the 27th of this month. “After he worked the other day I said 'he’ll win today and then we’ll go to the Gore Cup.' It’s a 60 front (R60) and he’ll be off the front.”   Yesterday’s win was Breen’s 30th from 298 starters. “I wanted to win 30 races by the time I had 300 starters so that was done today.” Santanna’s Rocket is owned by Paul Matheson, Ross Cleland and Barry Harvey. “They had a good old bet up in Christchurch so they’ll be pretty happy. They did multis with Mucho Macho Man (which won at Forbury Park on Thursday).” Breen is having a good trot at the moment having won eight races in four weeks. His winners have been Lorretta Franco (2), The Night Hawk (2), Santanna’s Rocket (2) and Mucho Macho Man (2). “Ross bought me a one armed spreader and it’s just helped him (Mucho Macho Man) and The Night Hawk out no end. You just put it on one side. It’s not tight and it just keeps them off the knee. It works like the old type of guiders used to work. Brett Gray put me onto them. He’s had a bit of success with them. Now he’s probably wishing he hadn’t told me.” Breen also credits regular drivers Brad Williamson and Mark Hurrell for the run of successes. “Mark gives them the trip, gives you good feedback and the Williamson boys you just can’t get better.”   Bruce Stewart

It hasn't been the best of times recently for Gore harness racing trainer Syd Breen. Five weeks ago he lost an old mate when the Flashing Red gelding Flashing On, winner of four races, had to be put down wih a twisted bowel. "It was gut wrenching. I saw him every day and he was just a big awesome horse. He was just full on nonsense around the place but as soon as you put the cart on he was just all business," said Breen. Although the whole experience is still pretty raw the win today by another stable runner Lorretta Franco would have gone some way in healing the hurt.  She's a product of Spreydon Lodge and Breen has had the Changeover mare since April when she came down for the Winton meeting. Today from barrier three driver Matty Williamson powered Lorretta Franco off the gate and took her straight to the front. Turning in for the run home Williamson still had a handful of horse. He looked over his shoulder and promptly pinched a nice break. The five year old mare held on to win easily by two and a half lengths from a fast finishing Shawami Lass. Lorretta Franco winning with Matty Williamson               - Photo Bruce Stewart.  "She's a wee tradesman who can pull a bit. We've been lucky that we've got a few good draws. We've tried a few different bits on her and I think she'll learn to relax again. She was a ready made racehorse when she got here and a great doer who loves being in work." Lorretta Franco is raced by the Organ Donations Save Lives Syndicate along with The Flashing On Syndicate who were transferred into the ownership recently along with Breen, Ross Cleland and long time stable helper Stevie Heads. Going into today's race there was a certain amount of confidence.  "I told the Organ Donation syndicate that I thought she could win. It's not very often that I label them. She can win another race and still start in the Nuggets Final in October (Northern Southland Meeting on 7th October). It's a great idea." Breen is only working a small team but two of his stable stars Santanna's Rocket and Sagwitch are progressing well.  "I'm pretty happy with Santanna's Rocket. He's thickened up through the girth and he's a strong horse now. He was a bit immature last season. Sagwitch won three races last year and not many three year olds do that. His coats taken a wee while. I've always had a bit of time for him and I think he's a horse that will just get better and better. They both really wintered well and they were only out for six weeks. Get Real is going through his paces. The money's so good for these maiden pacers now. He's only a kick in the bum away from winning a race."   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

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