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Branxholme trainer Alister Blacks feels he’s finally making headway in getting Get Lucky back to full health. The five year old gelding rewarded his trainer’s patience when he won at Cromwell today. There was a bit of a gap between his last win (Oamaru May 2019 as a three year old) and this one. “He got crook and I couldn’t get him healthy but I think we’re starting to head it off now. He seems very bright and happy within himself,” Black said. Get Lucky had a number of small niggly health issues and Black says he has high GGTs. “We don’t really know why he suffers. We’ve done all sorts of tests on him. Trying to work out his workload having high GGTs has been hard. I’ve had to experiment this year and I think I’m on the right track.” Black wasn’t prepared to disclose how he’s got on top of the problem. “That’s my trade secret. They can all work it out for themselves.” Due to Covid Get Lucky had only two starts as a four year old. “We had to pull up stumps and start again.” This season he’s started ten times prior to today’s run having taken out four seconds and two thirds. Today he was handled by regular driver Brad Williamson. “It was an absolute peach of a drive. To come out and then drop back down. It surprises me why he hasn’t got a full book every meeting.” Owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson Get Lucky is out of the unraced Sundon mare Bree. Meanwhile Black was very happy with Vintage Cheddar’s run in the Cromwell Cup. “He started off forty metres, he was fresh up and Brad came back in and said it might have been a different story if they’d gone five to ten seconds quicker, because it was really only a dash up the straight.” Vintage Cheddar got within half a length of winner Plutonium Lady. “They ran home (on the grass) in 28.6 and he didn’t quit.” Unfortunately the Omakau race meeting had to be cancelled due to heavy rain but Black’s hopeful the Omakau Cup will be rerun. This will be the next likely target for Vintage Cheddar. “I heard they may run it on the 20th (January) at Winton. He’s also got the Invercargill and Northern Southland Cups and the Summer Cup at Addington. Later on the Easter Cup. It looks as though he’s going to be here for the New Zealand Cup next year which is even better.”   By Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    The weather is the big hurdle standing between Vintage Cheddar and a hat-trick of wins in Wednesday’s Cromwell Cup. Southland trainer Alister Black will head across the Otago border four days later than he originally intended after having primed his open class star for a big run in the rained out Central Otago Cup at Omakau. After shining brightly at the New Zealand Cup Carnival with two outstanding wins, a wet grass track is the last place a star like Vintage Cheddar should be racing. But with the Cromwell track in good order considering the amount of rain that has fallen in Central Otago over the past week and weather websites forecasting a largely fine day, Cromwell racegoers are set to see the pacer in full flight. “He was pretty well bang on the money for Omakau to be fair,” Black said. “He had a week off after Cup Week and he has come back real good.” Vintage Cheddar was far from ready to be competing against his open class counterparts when returning from his short spell. The six-year-old had thrived, which prompted Black to give him three workouts to get him back to race fitness. “He had put on a hell of a lot of weight during his week off and I got a bit of a shock,” Black said. “So that is why he has had three workouts this time in, and because there have been no races for him, either.” “But I thought I better get this horse trimmed down.” Vintage Cheddar has had just one start on a grass track ahead of Wednesday’s 2600m feature. The Junior-Free-For-All winner paced roughly in the early stages of the Gore event before he was badly held up in the straight. Black does not expect the grass surface at Cromwell to be an issue for his 40m backmarker if it is in a reasonably dry condition. “He has come a long way since that run at Gore.” Should the track become heavy, the trainer said he would consider scratching his horse. Alongside Vintage Cheddar, just one other horse won twice at the New Zealand Cup Carnival in Humble Ladd. The trotter clashes with the Black trained Get Lucky in Wednesday’s feature trot at Cromwell. Get Lucky is much more proven on grass tracks than his stablemate and comes into his 2600m assignment after running second to race rival Tweedledee in the Gore Trotters’ Cup. “He is really good on grass, he loves it,” Black said. Get Lucky has the major advantage over his main rivals, The Dominator (30m) Tweedledee (10m), of starting from the front line. Black is not reading too much into that edge and goes into the race with full respect for his horse’s opposition “It will be interesting for him.” “Master Lavros and Andy Hall are scratched, so that helps.” “But The Dominator is still in there and he is a class horse of the field now and he will be hard to roll.” “I don’t think it would be any disgrace if Get Lucky ran second to him.” Brad Williamson will drive both Vintage Cheddar and Get Lucky at Cromwell on Wednesday.

First Class (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) lived up to his name when scorching to an impressive win in the Group Three Kindergarten Stakes (1609m) at Wyndham on Saturday.  Driver Tim Williams controlled the pace of the race, which made the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained pacer impossible to run down in the two-year-old feature. First Class headed a trifecta of NZB Standardbred’s 2019 National Yearling Sale graduates when holding out Delightful Dude (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and American Lightning (NZ) (American Ideal). First Class went to the line with his earplugs intact while pacing his last 400m in a sizzling 26.4 seconds, holding out Delightful Dude by three-quarters of a length, winning Saturday’s mile feature in 1.56.6. “It worked out good for him, especially with his gate speed, he is a good gaited wee horse,” Williams said. First Class is raced by Gary and Kerry Woodham, Phil and Glenys Kennard, Jim and Ann Gibbs and the Breckon Racing Syndicate, the same group that owns current New Zealand Horse Of The Year, Spankem (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight). The Kennards purchased First Class for $55,000 at NZB Standardbred’s 2019 National Yearling Sale and syndicated the pacer after he was offered as part of Rosedale Farm’s Christchurch draft. Delightful Dude held second by a length and three-quarters over American Lightning. The runner-up was purchased by All Stars Racing Stables for $80,000 when offered by the Belmont Park draft. Third place-getter American Lightning was purchased for $16,000 by trainer Graeme Anderson from the Birchbrook Breeding draft. First Class came in to the Group Three Kindergarten Stakes after placing second to star two-year-old and fellow NZB Standardbred graduate, Krug (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), in last month’s Group Three Sapling Stakes.   Vendor Rosedale Farm Purchaser PI & GJ Kennard Bloodstock Breeding Bettors Delight x Amaretto Bromac Sale Lot 353, NZB Standardbred’s 2019 Christchurch National Yearling Sale, $50,000 Bred by Bromac Lodge Limited   NZB Standardbred

Wyndham winner Kickupyaheels is from a harness racing family that’s produced a host of winners over the past twenty years. The Rocknroll Dance mare trained by Robin Swain has shown a fair amount of ability in her first season of racing but she’s also shown some wayward tendencies. “She’s a stroppy damn thing but she’s got a lot of speed. I think she’ll win a few races and develop into quite a nice mare,” Swain said. In yesterday’s race she settled back before improving inside the last 300 metres when Swain brought her five wide just before the home straight. She let down nicely to beat Airwaves by a length and three quarters. The win was her second from eight starts. “We could have sold her a few times but Peter Neil the guy that raced Roman Gladiator with me decided to race her.” Swain plans to push on with the racing for Kickupyaheels and will start her in the fourth heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series at Wairio this Saturday. “She’s probably the sort of mare that needs the right run.  Some races just won’t suit her so you just have to wait for the next time.” Kickupyaheels is the twelfth foal out of Direct Deal mare Little Egypt which was originally owned by Swain’s sister Denice. Little Egypt showed a lot of ability as a young horse, winning a 1609 metre trial at Ashburton for Denise in January 1999 by five lengths, running the distance in 1-58.4. “At that time not many two year olds would run that time. Mark Purdon and John Seaton were keen to buy her but on the Friday night before they were to come down there was a storm with thunder and lightning and the horse got out, went over the fence and cut it’s leg.” As a broodmare she’s left Montecrengle (14 wins) and Pelusiac (11 wins and $97,961). This is the family of Ann Other Porsche the winner of thirty seven races. Her Badlands Hanover daughter Lady Antebellum has left Billy Badger and Stars Tonight, both the winners of eight races and Need You Now which has won four. Another of her daughters, Christian Cullen mare Summer Ale, qualified and raced once. She left a couple of winners – Summertime Lizzie (Santana Blue Chip) which won twice and Argyle Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) which won two in New Zealand and another eighteen races in Australia. She’s paced a mile in 1-52.1. Meanwhile Buck provided a welcome change of luck for Ascot Park trainer Brent Shirley. Buck (1) and Nathan Williamson winning at Wyndham        --Bruce Stewart photo It was the trainer’s second winner this season – the first being Onesmartfella in October. Buck, having his third start got up to beat Glenledi Captain by half a neck in the Neville Cronin Memorial Mobile Pace. The Courage Under Fire four year old was lead back to the birdcage by Clerk of the Course Sally McKay riding Bucks uncle Vi Et Animo. Vi Et Animo and Buck’s dam Dyed Blonde are both out of Blondies Pocket.   Bruce Stewart

Bettor’s Delight colt First Class had the necessary race experience and ringcraft to dominate today’s Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham and driver Tim Williams used that to perfection. He controlled the pace of the race from the front with the knowledge that his main rival, stablemate Delightful Dude was on his back. There were no mid-race moves and from the 500 William notched First Class up a gear making sure none of the back runners could make any ground. “He got it pretty cheap down the back and was able to dictate the race from the 500 to 600. He won nicely and he still had the plugs in,” said Williams. The overall time was 1-56.6 for the 1609 metres with the last 800 metres run in 56.6. “Yep he did it nice. He’s just a great wee horse. Great doer, great gaited and doesn’t wear a lot of gear. He tries hard and is a lovely wee two year old,” said Williams. The winning margin was three quarters of a length with Delightful Dude running second and Otago visitor American Lightning a further length and three quarters back in third. “It worked out well. He can be a little bit racy but he relaxed really well once he got to the front so I thought there wasn’t much point in going much harder than I needed to.” Williams drove him in his first three trials before he headed north to race in Auckland. “I know the horse pretty well and the trip to Auckland has been the making of him. They grow up and it turns them into race horses. It was nice to get a win for him today because he’s had a couple of placings up until today.” First Class is trained at Rolleston by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Purdon has won the Kindergarten four times as a stand alone trainer with So Cool (2002), Lennon (2003), Ohoka Arizona (2007) and Messini (2013). He’s also won the time honoured race in partnership with Grant Payne with Sir Clive in 2008 and in the last seven seasons, with partner Natalie Rasmussen. He’s won the race six times with Itz Bettor To Win (2014), Waikiki Beach (2015), Pacing Major (2016), War Dan Delight (2018) and Flying Even Bettor (2019). Williams is in a purple patch of form at the moment having driven 15 winners in the last 16 days. This was his second Kindergarten Stakes winner, having driven Messini to win the Group Three race in 2013. Today’s win was Tim’s forty fourth group winner – 19 Group Threes, 11 Group Twos and 14 Group Ones. He’s fast approaching his 500th winner, currently being on 484. First Class is raced by Phil and Glenys Kennard, Breckon Racing Syndicate, Gary and Kerry Woodham and Jim and Ann Gibbs. Kerry and Gary Woodham with First Class and Tim Williams He was bred by Bromac Lodge and is out of the Falcon Seelster mare Amaretto Bromac which won two races. The Kennards bought the colt at the 2019 Christchurch Sale for $50,000. The same group of owners won last year’s edition with Flying Even Bettor. And the Kennards and Gibbs also had a share in 2016 winner Pacing Major.   Bruce Stewart

Just a nose separated two of the most consistent pacers in Southland, Triroyale Brigade and Nota Bene Denario, in today’s MLT Three Rivers Hotel Wyndham Cup. Both deserved the spoils, but it was the Nathan Williamson trained Triroyale Brigade that claimed the $9,150 winning stake. “He tries all the time, he’s as honest as and this is a reward for consistency,” said Williamson who had three runners in this year’s Cup. Tim Williams drove the winner, whilst Williamson handled Pembrook Playboy. Franco Santino was driven by Brendon McLellan. From the front Triroyale Brigade began brilliantly before handing up to Mistacullect and he got Triroyale Brigade to the top of the straight. Williams then manoeuvred the four year old to the outside of Mistacullect and he came home powerfully, holding out a late charge by Nota Bene Denario which came up the passing lane. “He’s just got perfect manners and puts himself into the race all the time. He had a good draw and was beautifully driven by Tim.” Owned by the Better Have Tried Syndicate which includes trainer Austin Stack and his wife Miriam, Williamson’s wife Katie and her parents Ross and Robyn Jones. None of the owners were on track to receive the trophy today. Nathan Williamson with Wyndham HRC committee and sponsors (MLT)   --Bruce Stewart photo “Austin is in Auckland and Ross and Robyn are looking after things at home. It’s sad they’re not here because they follow him around everywhere.” Williamson and wife Katie have just had their second child – a boy whom they’ve named Lachie. Pembrook Playboy which started as favourite was a length and three quarters back in third after losing a big stretch of ground at the start. “I was thrilled with him. He probably lost 40 metres at the start, he gave Santino (Franco Santino) twenty metres and he finished the race off well. He just peaked on his run in the last 100 metres. He just hasn’t had a stand before and that was the worry but he got a beautiful run in transit afterwards.” Franco Santino was only six lengths from the winner at the finish, running the 2400 metres post to post in 2-59.8 – the fastest in the race. Williamson says Franco Santino and Pembrook Playboy will head to Addington while Triroyale Brigade will follow the Country Cup course. “He (Triroyale Brigade) just keeps putting his hand up and there’ll be another race for him somewhere.”   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner     Trainer-driver Nathan Williamson has both youth and experience among his three pronged attack on tomorrow’s Wyndham Cup. The Branxholme horseman will start experienced campaigners Franco Santino and Triroyale Brigade alongside up and comer Pembrook Playboy and in the 2400m handicap. The Wyndham Cup will be nothing new for experienced country cups campaigner Franco Santino, who starts from the back mark of 30m. That handicap and the horse’s experience make the 5yr-old Williamson’s leading chance. "I would probably lean towards Franco Santino. It’s a smaller field this week and don’t think the handicaps will be such a big problem," the trainer-driver said. Franco Santino was off just a 10m handicap when ninth in last weekend’s Northern Southland Cup behind Henry Hubert. Once the pacer got back on an electric closing 800m of 54.7sec he had no winning chance. "I was pleased with him at Northern Southland. It was just one of those races he couldn’t get into," Williamson said. "He usually begins pretty well, but he got squeezed up at the start. "He hit the line strongly and I timed his last 800m in 54.5sec and last 400m in 26.5sec, so he couldn’t have gone much faster." Pembrook Playboy comes into the race after producing a scintillating finish to beat older horses in his last start at Ascot Park. Although the pacer clearly has the talent to match most of his rivals in tomorrow’s feature, Williamson is wary about what kind of position the horse will get into. Pembrook Playboy will have just his second career standing start in the often tricky spot of barrier 1 on the 10m mark. "Starting there is another reason why I would favour Franco Santino. "He hasn’t had a lot of standing starts, so I am probably going to have to be a bit cautious with him early. "He has had one stand and he paced away, but he was on the second row. "I am confident he will pace away, but it’s just how much hustle and bustle there will be early to get him off the fence." Leading driver Blair Orange will steer Franco Santino, with Williamson sticking with Pembrook Playboy. Williamson’s knowledge of the pacer should help Pembrook Playboy begin as well as he can tomorrow. Sticking with the 3yr-old will also allow the trainer-driver to keep a close eye on the horse’s progress towards next month’s New Zealand Derby. "He is a lovely horse going forward and it wouldn’t surprise me if he come out and won. "He has got the derby as a bit of a target in three weeks, so if I stay on him I will be able to assess his progress. "I do think he is up to this race, but these country cup races can be the undoing of these young horses if they get too tough a run." Tim Williams will drive Williamson’s third stringer, Triroyale Brigade. The 5yr-old gelding steps back up a grade after convincingly beating a lesser line-up on Northern Southland Cup day. "I can’t see a reason why he can’t go a good race again. "He will step well and put himself in the race and if he is in the trail or three-deep he will be finding the line." Lawrence (10m), Parama and Robyns Playboy (20m) look three of the biggest threats to the Williamson trio as they step back in class from last weekend’s Northern Southland Cup. Lawrence battled into fourth after enjoying a perfect run behind Henry Hubert and Robyns Playboy ran sixth after getting off the speed. Parama steps up in class after winning his last start at Wyndham. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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

By Jonny Turner    Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight will attempt to keep their strong run of recent form going at Wyndham today. The husband and wife trainers have been striking at a good rate over the summer months while they juggle racing a small team with their day jobs as rural delivery contractors. The Knights kept their momentum going when the consistent Jacks N Jazz won at big odds at last weekend’s Invercargill Cup meeting. Despite running second in his three starts leading in to the meeting, the 6yr-old scored a $18 win price. Last weekend’s victory was a case of the horse getting the extra ounce of luck he needed to break through for a deserved victory, Geoff Knight said. “He paid huge money considering how he had been going.” “He got a lovely run and that was the difference, really.” The Knights will attempt to cash in again with the three runners they take to Wyndham today. Wolfenstein is in a similar position to what Jack N Jazz was going in to his Ascot Park win ahead of today’s opener. Despite having not missed a top four finish in his past four starts, the pacer was rated a $15 outsider when race 1’s fixed odds market opened, last night. The way the Wolfenstein is working and feeling, that quote might turn out to be good value for punters. “He is thriving at the moment,” Knight said. “He has been a horse hard to keep condition on, but lately he has been better and better.” “It’s partly down to him maturing, but also we treated him for stomach ulcers a while ago.” “Since then he has been a very happy horse.” Wolfenstein beat a field down on form to win his maiden four starts ago, before being competitive while stepping up in company in each run since. “He beat a pretty average field at Forbury, then beat a stronger field in his next start.” “He ran a really good third against a nice field at Cromwell then his fourth at Wyndham last time was pretty good, too.” Delightful Gloria also has her form trending upward ahead of race 6, today. The 4yr-old improved on her fresh up sixth at Cromwell to produce a third at Ascot Park, before winning her last start at Wyndham, recently. Whether she can win again on the track today could depend on where she lands from barrier 1 on the second row, following out the pole-marker, Miss Waikiwi. “She is improving all the time and she is a great follower of speed,” Knight said. “If Miss Waikiwi were to lead and we were to trail, or if we were three back on the markers, she would be a great place chance.” Star Ruler has been in career best form for the Knight stable heading in to race 4. The 6yr-old should get a good run through at the start from barrier 2 on the second row as he follows out one of the likely leaders in Groomsman. “He doesn’t win out of turn as he has only won the one race, but he is in the best form of his career,” Knight said.  “He should be thereabouts in that field.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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

Thursday’s Wyndham Harness meeting set the stage for a landmark moment for gavelhouse.com Standardbred with Seamark the first winning graduate bought off the revolutionary site. Leading throughout, while being constantly niggled at by his opposition, Seamark was a gutsy winner of the Kindergarten Stakes Saturday 14th March Mobile Pace over 2400m in the hands of Samantha Ottley. Purchased by Graham Hand for $2,700 in August, the five-year-old Christian Cullen gelding was offered on as an unraced horse, for sale to dissolve a partnership having qualified as a two-year-old. Thursday’s race was just his second start, having finished runner up earlier in January, taking his earnings to $6,800 with more in store judging by his obvious talent. Trainer Regan Todd was thrilled for Seamark’s connections who are new to the industry “He’s the first horse to race for Graham Hand and Glenn Morrison and they are loving the experience, “I’m amazed at how easy the process is with the online sales and it’s a great facility to have for the industry and a great way to get new people into the game. “Graham and Glenn have also bought two yearlings recently that are currently being broken in and are progressing well while Seamark will have a quiet 10 days or so to get over the run before we see how he’s come through it and come up with his next target."                                                                                                --Race Images photo Entries for the next gavelhouse.com Standardbred auction are due online by 7pm Wednesday 22 January. The auction will launch at 5pm on Thursday January 23 and will run through until 7pm Wednesday 29 January.  The standard listing fee is just $125 + GST with 5% commission on a successful sale, contact Cam Bray if you would like to discuss selling on the site: cam@gavelhouse.com or call 021737199

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury horseman Jesse Alford became doubly popular with his family when scoring his first win as a trainer with Held To Ransom at Wyndham on Sunday.  Alford missed watching the victory up close after putting family before going to the races and took in the win while attending a baby shower for expectant partner Josie Reid. Held To Ransom's win meant Reid, who is due to give birth in January, did not just receive baby-related gifts at the celebration. And the 5yr-old's victory meant she was not the only one going home from the event with a present. Alford races Held To Ransom with his mother, Petra Curnow, Reid, her brother, Campbell Reid, and her sister-in-law, Joelle Reid. The trainer's family members came into the mare's ownership after Alford struck up a deal with his employer, Andrew Stuart. "I joked to Andrew one day about five weeks ago, and said `would you take a certain amount of money for the horse?"' Alford said. "He looked at me and said `yes', so, I messaged a couple of people that I knew were keen on getting a horse." The purchase of the pacer prompted Alford to apply for his trainer's licence. Alford did not have wait long to strike his first success with that licence as Held To Ransom's win came in just his second start for his stable. The Cantabrian was keen to purchase the Live Or Die mare as he and Stuart were both aware of the horse's ability. She has been unable to show much of her potential at the races because of hoof problems. "She is quite a good mare. We think she can win a couple, but she has got a lot of issues," Alford said. Alford trains Held To Ransom at Woodend Beach to help the mare's battle with her feet issues. Yesterday's win gave him quick reward for the earlier starts he has each morning before going to work for Stuart. "I normally get up a bit earlier and train her from the beach and swim her a lot," Alford said. "I feed breakfast to her and then go to Andrew's place and then come back in the afternoon and finish up with her." Alford said he would have won his first start as a trainer with the horse had he not handed the lead away in her first start from his stable. The trainer's commitments in Christchurch meant Jonny Cox drove Held To Ransom to win on Sunday.  Rather than being frustrated at missing out on the winning drive, Alford was happy Cox was able to be the driver who brought home his first winner. "It was awesome that Jonny could win with her.“ “He is one of my best mates - he is the reason I am in racing." Stuart, who developed the horse before selling her to Alford's family, also earned credit as the winning breeder alongside partner Becky Sutorius. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Wyndham committee man Ian Hunter has spent the past decade developing his trotting breed. And the win by the highly talented Andy Hall which won on debut at the Young Quinn Raceway today highlights the breed’s continuing success. Hunter has bred a host of winners from Andy Hall’s dam Delcola, (herself the winner of six races) which include Splash Cola (9), Delestic (3) and Delson (3 wins from 8 starts). Andy Hall was made favourite in today’s race on the back of some impressive workout wins. From barrier one he began slowly but safely for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. “The only way I thought he could make a mistake was if I tried to rush him at the start,” he said. After racing back for the first part Williamson was able to get a good drag into the race when Susies Way started to move up in the outside running line with 1000 metres to run. At the 600 Williamson moved the giant trotter out three wide and progressed forward. At the top of the straight Andy Hall was on equal terms with Susies Way but proved too strong at the finish, winning by two and a quarter lengths. “He showed good manners, trotted well and finished the race off so I couldn’t have been happier. He’s got a nice way of trotting and generally he’s quite solid that way.” Williamson has had the Andover Hall gelding since he was a young horse and he says at times he’s been a bit of a handful but the talent has always been there. “He was broken in and had a prep as a young horse, then he had preparations at two and three. He’s just kept on growing. He’s been in and out of the stable so he’s been well schooled. That’s probably where he gets his good manners from.” Williamson says he’ll back off the horse a bit now and he probably won’t be seen at the races for at least another four weeks. “I’ll keep him on the big tracks for now. He’s promising, and looks like a horse with a bit of a future.” In the second trot of the afternoon Williamson, driving the favourite and last start winner Sekkie Monkey, had to settle for second. After sitting parked for the entire journey she couldn’t quite get to pacemaker Whatwillbeewillbee driven astutely by Jonny Cox. The winning margin was a nose. Cox had won earlier in the day on Held To Ransom, providing young trainer Jesse Alford with his first winner. Alford was unable to drive the mare as he was suspended at last weekend’s Wyndham meeting for careless driving. Cox salutes – First winner for trainer Jesse Alford – Photo Bruce Stewart Meanwhile the first season training partnership of Ross and Chris Wilson scored back to back wins when Swift Robyn won her second race and Bridesdale Robyn won her sixth race in a heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series. At the 600 metres driver Craig Ferguson launched Swift Robyn forward in a lightning move. She was three wide and challenging just before straightening for the run in and came down the middle of the track bravely holding on to beat Bettors Atom by a length and a quarter. Bridesdale Robyn was the winner in Race Four. Ferguson blasted her off the gate from the wide draw and got to the top after a short battle with Team Kiwi. Bridesdale Robyn (7) winning her Southern Belle heat    – Photo Bruce Stewart From that point the Christian Cullen mare ran her rivals along at speed. Heading up the straight, Bridesdale Robyn and Team Kiwi had a good old battle with the Wilson trained mare getting there by a head. The 1609 metres was run in 1-55.5.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    The lure of a penalty free win has progressive Canterbury pacer Yorkshire trekking to Wyndham on Sunday. The Steven McRae trained 4yr-old heads south after adding to his nearly perfect race record with a fighting win on Ashburton Flying Stakes day. Yorkshire has looked well up to competing at the New Zealand Cup Carnival in the three wins from  just four starts. The appeal of a penalty free win has outweighed taking the A Rocknroll Dance pacer to the nation’s biggest harness racing stage.  “It is a $15,000 race and penalty free for junior drivers, so it is a good opportunity for him,” McRae said. “He has won three races pretty quickly, so it he could get a penalty free one it would be ideal.” “He has shot up the grades, so he will be racing the big fish soon and he will still be a pretty green horse.” Yorkshire’s greenness was on show in his last start win at Ashburton. The horse was headed in the straight when his mind was not fully on the race in front of him, before he rallied again for driver Craig Thornley and won. “Craig said he was as green as anything,” McRae said. “Coming up to the bend it was a matter of what he was going to win by.” “The others come up to him and run past him before he went again and he pulled away at the post.” “He feels like he will run all day - he is definitely good enough.” Canterbury junior driver John Morrison has been charged with keeping Yorkshire’s mind on the job on Sunday.  The combination of Yorkshire’s greenness and his quick rise through the harness grades means McRae goes in to the 2400m handicap with full respect for his horse’s rivals. “It is quite a good field – there are two or three that could easily beat him and he could even beat himself.” Leading Southern pacer Robyns Playboy will chase the first penalty free win of his eight-win career in Sunday’s event for reinswoman Sheree Tomlinson. The Ross and Chris Wilson trained 4yr-old comes in to the Hunter Family Handicap after producing a big finish to win the Tuapeka Cup. Robyns Playboy (30m) will give Yorkshire (10m) a 20m head start on Sunday. Sunday’s race features the return of former smart 3yr-old Mighty Flying Art. The 4yr-old ran second behind Paddyproudfoot in his only workout ahead of his return to racing.  It is possible McRae may campaign Yorkshire on the Otago and Southland Christmas and New Year racing circuit following Sunday’s race.  However the pacer could also head to the spelling paddock over summer. “He has only had four starts, but he has been in work eight or nine months, so he will tell us when he is ready for a wee spell,” McRae said.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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