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“It worked out perfect,” said trainer Alister Black after Keep On Dreaming recorded his third harness racing win at the Invercargill HRC meeting at Ascot Park today. The quality three year old won his first two starts but finished fifth at Winton last month. “He was crook last start. We treated him. He didn’t need a gut buster today.” Brad Williamson pushed the Bettor’s Delight gelding forward from barrier five with Sweet Belle taking up the front after an early battle with American Mac. Turning in, Sweet Belle looked to have the race won but Keep On Dreaming came strongly up the inside to win by one and a quarter lengths. Black says Keep On Dreaming is likely to race again on the 23rd April at Winton and then head into the Supremacy in early May. “He needs a bit of racing to get switched on. He’s still green and does silly little things. It’ll come to him and he’ll be a lot sharper next time. He loves looking at stuff. That’s why he’s go the blinds on today.” The win was the first for regular stable driver Brad Williamson who recently returned from Australia after a successful campaign with Majestic Man. Williamson has been in quarantine for fourteen days and returned home to Oamaru last week. “Yep it’s good to have him back. It saves me ringing around to find a driver,” said Black. The Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes looks to have a quality group of three year olds this season. The Group Two feature will be run on Diamonds Day on 2nd May. “It’s probably one of the better crops. Time’s always going to be his friend.” Keep On Dreaming is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thompson and was bought at the 2019 National Yearling Sales in Christchurch. “He was a nice cut of a horse. He wasn’t heavy and was probably a bit on the small side and that’s probably why they got him for what they did.” American Lightning looked on track for the Southern Supremacy in May when he won his seventh race at Ascot Park today. Black Op trained and driven by Allan Beck won his fifth race holding to beat a late charging Better Galleon. Northview Peg showed her liking for the sprint distance when she lead from start to finish to win the Regent Roundabout Mobile Pace over 1700 metres. A Rocknroll Dance filly Classy Dancer won her maiden race for trainer Tony Barron and driver John Morrison. Crusher Collins was in the right mood today winning her mobile trot beating stablemate Tweedledee. She’s trained by Lyndon Bond an was driven by Gerard O’Reilly. View the full Invercargill results click here!   By Bruce Stewart

Southland is fortunate to have a very strong group of Country Cup horses this season and today it was the consistent Vintage Cheddar’s turn to win. Pre-race debate centred on the handicaps and how this would play out in today’s $20,000 Winton Businesses Cup. The main players were expected to be Robyns Playboy (20 metres), Vintage Cheddar and U May Cullect (30 metres) and backmarker Pembrook Playboy who was starting off 40 metres. When the tapes were released Pembrook Playboy galloped, adding at least 10 metres to his handicap while Vintage Cheddar settled sixth behind pacemaker Sagwitch. When Memphis Tennessee moved up on the outside running line inside the last 1000 metres driver Brent Barclay slotted Vintage Cheddar on his back with U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy getting into that train. At the 400 Barclay moved Vintage Cheddar out three wide and U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy started to make their runs. On straightening, he encouraged the six year old to power up and he shot two lengths clear of his two main rivals. That was the winning of the race – Vintage Cheddar holding on to beat the late charging U May Cullect by a diminishing three quarters of a length, with Pembrook Playboy a half a length back in third. “Yeah, went super. He got a beautiful run and when Brent asked him to go he went. It was perfect. And good to get one back on Nathan (Williamson – Pembrook Playboy). He’s been a force to be reckoned with all season and finally we were able to turn the tables on him,” said trainer Alister Black. Vintage Cheddar’s time was 2-57.9 while U May Cullect ran the journey post to post in 2-58.1 and Pembrook Playboy 2-57.3. The last 800 metres off the front was 56.4 and 400 27.3. “It’s very competitive and I’d say this would be the strongest the Country Cups grade has been for a while. They’re all pretty even.” It was a first for Brent Barclay to win his home town cup. His father Keith won the race in 1977 with Forward Play. Black says Vintage Cheddar’s main end of season aim is the Group One $100,000 Easter Cup at Addington on 3rd April. “He still has to front up to the top liners, which he hasn’t done, but he’s raced the tier underneath and been very competitive. We might go to Christchurch for a couple of Free For All’s then he’ll go to the Easter Cup and come home for the Country Cups Final and that’ll probably be us for the season.” Vintage Cheddar is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson. Winning connections            --Bruce Stewart Photo Earlier in the day Black won with three year old trotting filly Dont Ask, owned by Lindsay Thomson. “She trotted all the way and that’s twice she’s got round now. I’ll probably wait until the Gold Chip Final. She just has to learn her trade. She’ll be better next season.”   by Bruce Stewart

Today’s win in the Southern Belle Final, taken out by Plutonium Lady was very similar to that of Rocker Band in 2016. Both horses were four year olds, both trained by Mark Jones and driven by Sam Ottley, and it doesn’t end there. “She (Rocker Band) was in Auckland a week before and came south and won this race (too). Mark is a big supporter of the Southland races. They look after us really well down here,” Ottley said. From barrier five Ottley pressed the turbo early to take the lead. “She got to the top comfortably, it was always the place to be. She just got to roll along and dictate and do what she wanted. She was happy there and ran up the straight nicely.” At the end of the 1609 metre journey Plutonium Lady held on to win easily by three and three quarter lengths from second favourite Yankee Party who came home well from last.   Today’s win was the Bettor’s Delight mare’s ninth and it lifted her stake earnings to $157,159. “Her ratings have probably shot through the roof and its gets so hard now at that sort of mark. You just have to weigh up the options.” Sam Ottley with Plutonium Lady        --Bruce Stewart Photo Both Ottley and Jones are big fans of this mare’s Series and have supported it over the thirteen years it’s been running. “These sorts of races are awesome and what a quality field it was today. She’s been up and down the country. It doesn’t seem to worry her. When the good money is on you just have to chase them.” It was Plutonium Lady’s third win in a row on the back of scoring a double in Auckland. “She’s hit a real purple patch.” Meanwhile Leer lived up to her reputation, when she won on debut for Charlton trainer Bruce Wallace and driver Brent Barclay. Leer is out of the Jereme’s Jet mare Bay Jet and is a half-sister to Wildwest, the winner of nine of his fifteen starts in Australia including his first seven. Forbury Park trainer Darryn Simpson trained the quinella in Race Three with Emdeegee driven by Sarah O’Reilly beating stablemate Zealous Spur. Both horse are owned by Geoff Clarke. Captain Pins capped off good place form by going one better in winning Race Four, his maiden race. The Captaintreacherous gelding unleashed a great burst of speed to hit the front and held on to beat With Grace by a half a length. RK Finn continued Wyndham trainer Craig Ferguson’s good season in the following race when he capitalised on a good trip behind pacemaker Calico Hill to win by half a head. It was the gelding’s second win in eight starts. The much travelled Ivana Legacy won Race Six, her ninth win for Invercargill trainer Shannon Armour. The seven year old American Ideal mare has been active at Addington recently, but has returned home to Southland and finished an unlucky fourth at the Northern Southland Meeting last weekend. Her win today was one of three for Brent Barclay. Quality trotter Chinese Whisper made a successful return to racing when he got up to win Race Nine. It was the Sundon gelding’s seventh win in just thirteen starts for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. He last raced at Forbury Park in October. View the full Winton results click here!   by Bruce Stewart

Young Wyndham trainer Craig Ferguson won his first Group race at Ascot Park today. However he was there neither to drive or watch Nutcracker win the Group Three Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Fillies Classic. He had another important event – to be groomsman for an old school mate Rory McCall, so Nathan Williamson got the drive today. Williamson made full use of the horse’s gate speed and took her straight to the front. With the lap to run the small field were just ambling past the winning post but the action amped up inside the last 800 metres with Anna Love steaming up on the outside to put pressure on Nutcracker. Williamson still had a good handful of horse inside the last 400 metres but the diminutive Bettor’s Delight filly had to withstand the outside challenge of Anna Love. And Woodlea Beaver was coming at her on the inside, but she held on tenaciously to beat Woodlea Beaver by half a length. Nutcracker is out of the Christian Cullen mare Rockin Cullen. She was bred and is raced by Paul and Brendan Duffy. “We were quietly confident but being a first starter we didn’t know which way it would go. Nathan held them up in the middle part of the race and that was the winning of the race. He got a cheap section there and she always has a bit of fight at the end,” Brendan said after the win. Trained at Wyndham by Ferguson, Duffy said the stable has been happy with the filly’s progress leading into today’s debut. “Everything he asked of her she kept doing. She kept improving at each trial and workout he gave her.” Duffy said he’s not sure how many more races Nutcracker will have this season. “We’ll just weigh it up. We’re not big on racing two year olds. You see a few fade away to nothing if you push them. She’s pretty small which may mean she may need a break soon but everything Craig has thrown at her she seems to be handling.” Nutcracker with winning connections     – Photo Bruce Stewart Paul and Brendan have been breeding horses for a number of years and when they bought Rockin Cullen they were buying back into the famed Black Watch breed which was started by their family in Southland in the early 1900s. “We’ve stuck at this for long enough and hopefully there’s going to be a return. We’ve had battlers here and there with the odd one being okay but she looks something else. We went to the accountant yesterday and he questioned why we race horses. But winning today may show him.” Nutcracker is a sister to the highly talented Yorokobi who’s raced by the pair out of the Regan Todd’s stable. He’s won two of his eight starts. Nutcracker was the first Southland horse to win the two year old feature since Beaudiene Bad Babe won it in 2008. The winning time was 2-50.3 with the last 800 metres run in 57.2 and 400 in 27.9. Woodlea Beaver was second, half a length back. View the full Ascot Park results click here!   Bruce Stewart

Majestic Man’s win in the Group One Trotters Mile at Menangle last night capped off a remarkable six race run for not only the horse, but for trainer Phil Williamson and his son Brad who drove in his Australian campaign. “It was great for Brad. He’s put a fair bit into getting over there and looking after the horse. He’s done a great job. We didn’t want to go to all the hassle of going over there for no result. Fourth was his worst (placing) so the trip was a great success” said Phil Williamson. In that time Majestic Man won three Group One races, won $152.750 in stakes and trotted a mile in 1-53.5. He’s now won eighteen of his fifty five starts and banked $559,162 for his owners the Griffins Syndicate. Williamson says with Covid disrupting everything worldwide it was a major logistical nightmare to get both horse and driver across the Tasman. “The horse’s flights were cancelled twice. Brad had flown over a couple of days before the third flight was due to leave. I thought if we didnt get the horse over there Brad would be stuck in Australia with a quarantine time that he can’t change. It was a wee bit stressful I will admit.” The travel for Majestic Man wasn’t helped by blood tests having to be analysed in both New Zealand and Australia. “Because of the high demand in Australia they ran out of test kits. It was tough on IRT (horse Transport Company). I’m so thankful to them for getting us there. Without them we wouldn’t have made it for all those early races. They had to get the horses that were more urgent across first.” Williamson says once there it’s just been a matter of keeping the horse happy. “He’s had a whole season of racing here so he was fit. Because he’s been racing nearly every week over there he hasn’t needed a whole lot of hard work. Brad’s been able to train him lightly and just work on keeping his health great.” Of the six races Majestic Man in which Williamson raced, the most satisfying win was his first, the Dullard Trotters Cup. “There was a fair bit of pressure on the horse to get there, Brad had to sacrifice a fair bit with his own stable put on hold so it was great to win this time honoured race and smash the Melton track record.” The six race plan was; Group One TAB VL Dullard Trotters Cup (1st), What The Hill Great Southern Star Heat (2nd), Group One What The Hill Great Southern Star Final (3rd), Group One Alderbaran Park The Knight Pistol (4th), Group One TAB Australian Trotting Championship (1st) and Group One Aquagait Equine Centre Trotters Mile (1st). It was trainer Phil Williamson’s ninth Group One win in Australia. Springbank Richard won the New South Wales Trotting Derby, One Over Kenny the Australasian Trotting Championship, Allegro Agitato the Grand Prix in 2005, Liberty Stride – Father Patrick @ Nevele R Stud Breeders Crown Series and Ultimate Stride won both the Volstead Redwood Classic and Alderbaran Park Breeders Crown. Williamson has now won twenty Group One races on both sides of the Tasman with Allegro Agitato winning five of these. While the Majestic Man returns to New Zealand on Tuesday Brad has to wait out his time in Australia to fit into his pre-booked quarantine in Auckland. He’s expected to be back in Oamaru on Tuesday 6th April. “I think Brad is going to look after Anthony Butt,s team in Sydney for a while, while Ants goes back to Melbourne. After that he’s going to have a bit of a look round and go to one or two of the stables. Like New Zealand, Australia is full of good trotting people and they’re more than happy to say, hey come out and have a day with us.” Williamson says Majestic Man has the all-round trotting game. “He never breaks, he’s fast and he can stay. He’s been a very good horse from day dot. At his very first start at Forbury he went from last to first so he looked a wee bit special. He’s a bit of a pin up boy and at the peak of his powers at the moment. If he stays sound and healthy hopefully we’ll have another couple of seasons in him.” Once safely back in New Zealand Williamson says Majestic Man will be prepared for the Anzac and Rowe Cups before being spelled. “There’s nothing to stop us going back to Australia next year and have another crack at it.” The result was a good one for the Griffins Syndicate who race Majestic Man. During the years the syndicate has operated they’ve owned Majestic Man (18), Monty Python (14), Dark Horse (14), Sol Invictus (7) Sarah Palin (6), Rugged Cross (3), Lord Roydon (2), Bet Pray Love (2), Westerly Wind (2) Arc De Triomphe (1) Rugged Peak (1), Shutterup (1) and Mega Pixels (1). The syndicate also has shares in the Seafield Trotting Syndicate and the Griffins Number Two Syndicate whose winners have been Father Christmas (17), Cuddly Jess (5) and Daiquiri (4) and hope they can continue their winning run at the Northern Southland Trotting Clubs meeting at Ascot Park on Saturday when Dark Horse lines up in the Great Southern Star. They’ve won the race twice with Monty Python in 2017 and Majestic Man in 2019. If Dark Horse wins she will be the syndicate’s 100th winner.   by Bruce Stewart

The Riverton Trotting Club carded two Free for Alls, a Nuggets Final and a heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series today at Central Southland Raceway in Winton, and they were rewarded with some top harness racing. The pacing FFA was won by comeback horse U May Cullect. He lead early and ran his last 400 metres in a slick 25.8 to beat favourite Pembrook Playboy. “I was thrilled. Nathan’s horse (Pembrook Playboy) has been racing against the good ones so I thought we’d have to use our speed,” said co-trainer and driver Kirstin Barclay. From gate four Barclay went forward to take the lead inside the first quarter of the race and dictated the tempo. “I was really lucky to get a breather in the middle and run that quick last quarter. Nathan’s horse is so fast but you can’t catch them when they’re running those sorts of quarters.” U May Cullect looked very well and primed for today’s 1609 event and Barclay says the stable is not planning too far ahead, preferring the horse to tell them where to race next. “There are a couple (of) wee things that bother me at times but I think it’s just muscular. We just get the vet to go over him after every race and keep on top of things. But he seems pretty well within himself.” U May Cullect’s win today was his third over a mile on this track. He’s now won nine races in fourteen starts. Pearl Harbour capped off some good form to win the last heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series when she came from well back to beat Might Be Me by a head. “That’s just her racing pattern. You have to save her for one run, you can’t do any work early. They ran hard early today and it panned out well,” said driver Brent Barclay. Trained by Katrina and John Price the Somebeachsomewhere mare has now won six of her twenty two starts. “I haven’t driven many as fast as her over three hundred metres. She’s just electric.” Idealism confirmed his potential among a good crop of Southland three year olds when he won the Nuggets Final today in the hands of Nathan Williamson. Realising his main rival, stablemate Keep On Dreaming was behind him, Williamson set the gelding alight inside the 600 metres and that was the winning of the race. “Yep super drive,” said trainer Alister Black. On straightening Idealism mastered pacemaker Lynryd Skynryd, winning by three quarters of a length with Keep On Dreaming running home for fifth more than five lengths back. “I think if you reversed the draws you’d probably reverse the result to be fair.” Black said Idealism will be aimed at the end of season Southern Supremacy Stakes. “I think he’s going to be a better four year old. I didn’t pay up for the Derby for that simple reason.” Dark Horse showed quality when she won her fourteenth race winning  over a mile today. Running in the inside running line the eight year old mare was taken one out with 400 metres to run by driver Craig Ferguson. “She was cruising,” She challenged pacemaker Rydgemont Son though it took her most of the straight to get past him. “The second horse certainly made it tough for us. We really had to knuckle down up the straight.” The winning margin was just a neck. “In the end she did it easy and didn’t want to pull up after the line. She was just foxing a wee bit.” The Gordon and Colin Lee trained Bertie Jones had a nice win on debut today. The four year old was an impressive qualifier on this course in January and won today’s race by two lengths in the hands of Brent Barclay. Trotter Gold Chain trained by Bob Butt was the biggest winner of the day, clearing out to take the line by eleven lengths. The Muscle Hill mare has now won four of her seventeen starts.   by Bruce Stewart

Katrina Price was confident she had two high quality colts that were prepped and ready to sell at the National Standardbred Yearling Sales in Christchurch today, but to end up with the top two lots was an exceptional result. “It was pretty amazing. One out of the box,” she said. Both yearlings attracted lots of pre-sale interest and Katrina and husband John had high hopes of doing well. They were hoping they’d get into six figures. “They were two beautiful colts and I said a few times that you don’t get two colts like this every year.” Collectively the pair sold for a staggering $630,000 which must be a record for a vendor with just two yearlings in a sale. “When you get into those figures everything becomes a bit of a blur.” The stunning looking Chicago Bear was the first of their consignment to come into the ring and he was bought by Cran Dalgety for $310,000. “Anything after that was just going to be a bonus.” Forty six lots later Mandinka was sold to a phone bid for $320,000. “They both had beautiful pedigrees that were up to date. They were just great colts in the flesh and in temperament.” Mandinka is beautifully bred, being out of Hartofdixie an American Ideal mare. The family had left big winners including Maxim and Christian Me. Hartofdixie is a relatively recent purchase for the Prices, being bought during lockdown. They later bought her foal Mandinka. “We bought her colt as a speculative buy. We took the risk and have been well and truly rewarded. We’re thrilled to have the mare and she’s in foal to Bettor’s Delight and we’re hoping that she’ll have a filly.” The buyers were certainly chasing the better bred colts today, particularly those by leading sire Bettor’s Delight. Whereas yesterday a high number of yearlings were passed in. “Yesterday was a bit of a battle but today it’s heated up. If you brought along a good article with a good page by Bettor’s Delight you were certainly well rewarded.” In addition to taking out the top two lots Katrina and John prepared the highest selling trotter on the first day of the Sale. Concise, consigned by Dave Kennedy sold for $120,000. The Prices also prepared Tuapeka Dan for Tuapeka Lodge and he achieved the fourth highest pacer sold, going for $240,000. A stunning few days at the Sales for Price’s Bloodstock.   by Bruce Stewart

Under pressure for a while, Southland owner Neville Cleaver has agreed to sell his very promising colt Ragazzo Mach. Cleaver said the Mach Three youngster will remain in Nathan Williamson’s stable until the New Zealand Derby. He was bought by clients of Mike Reed with the deal been done by Peter Lagan. “They were quite happy for Nathan to carry on training him and for me to collect the trophy if he wins. Nathan’s really rapt to be hanging onto him,” Cleaver said. The sale process has been drawn out with more than six buyers looking at purchasing Ragazzo Mach. “He was vetted this morning and it’s all done as far as that’s concerned. Peter Lagan has got my bank account number so that’s the next stage.” The buyers began phoning Cleaver before Ragazzo Mach started racing. “It started at $150,000 which I turned down. He won impressively at Invercargill, then the offer went up to $200,000. I turned down $330,000 for him and ended up getting well north of that. After his last run at Addington Peter said the run was super and you couldn’t expect a horse to go better than that. I had a few sleepless nights. They kept putting the vetting off on me three times and they (early buyers) didn’t come up with the money, that crew. That all happened over a week so I took him off the market.” Not one to slow down, Cleaver was active on the buyers bench at today’s National Standardbred Yearling Sale in Christchurch, paying $140,000 for Flash Black – a Bettor’s Delight colt out of In The Pocket mare Simply Devine. “He’s a powerful colt and he’s got two year old written all over him. I wanted to buy a Bettor’s Delight colt. I had quite a few marked down to buy on pedigree.” Once Cleaver had the pedigree page sorted he inspected all of his choices. “I like to see the hind leg overstepping the front leg which tells you a horse in going to have a good stride on it and he fitted the bill there.” The colt attracted spirited bidding. “I thought I might get him for under $100,000. I just kept chipping away but they kept putting my weights up.” Today’s outlay was the biggest Cleaver has spent on one horse at a sale. “It’s been creeping up each time I go back. I’ve loosened the purse strings.” He paid $60,000 for Ragazzo Mach, $52,500 for Franco Santino, $50,000 for Hopes And Dreams and $20,000 for Onedin Mach. “I’ve got a Bettor’s Delight out of Hopes And Dreams that will be going to the workouts and trials, hoping to qualify.” Meanwhile, for the second day in a row a Southern Bred Southern Reared yearling topped the Sale. Tuapeka Dan, a Bettor’s Delight colt out of 10 win race mare Bonnie Joan was sold to Australian buyers for $240,000. The colt was prepared for the Cummings family by Katrina Price at Winton. And yesterday at the Trotters Sale, Southland breeder Dave Kennedy sold a Father Patrick colt out of Rae Galleon for $120,000 – the top price paid. The Sale continues tomorrow with some high quality lots which include Chicago Bear, a full brother to millionaire pacer Chicago Bull.   by Bruce Stewart

Rory Mcllwrick loves a bit of banter whether it be with the Williamson family, or the wider harness racing community. Today he was at the top of his game, winning a double at the Winton meeting including the feature mare’s race the Southern Belle Speed Series, with the Owen Lawrence trained Miss Auckland. The Auckland Reactor mare is in peak form at the moment having won her last three starts which includes today’s mares feature in which she beat Pay Me Speedy trained by Chelsea Faithful. “Chelsea and I have had a bit of banter going for a long time. I told her  I was coming for her and the banter started when Miss Auckland was dropping out and finishing last in a maiden. I really enjoyed that win. It was one of the better ones,” Mcllwrick said. From a handy inside draw Mcllwrick positioned Miss Auckland back on the inside after beginning well and trailing pacemaker Silk. Silk was pressured by A Taste Of Honey but took Miss Auckland to the passing lane and McIlwrick drove her up the inside to beat a brave Pay Me Speedy by three quarters of a length. “I was surprised we beat her to be fair but we’ll take it. She’s turned a corner. Speedy’s a pretty nice horse. Maybe if we reversed the draws it would have reversed the results but this girl she just hits the line real good. She’s now one of those horses that just keeps savaging the line. The harder they go the better. She’s got great gait speed and she can stay. She’s doing it all at the moment.” This is the first time Ascot Park trainer Owen Lawrence has won three races in a row with any horse. In the early 2000s Armbro Invasion trotter The Jailer won three of his last five starts running second in the other two. “I’ve always had faith in her. She’s improved as she’s got a wee bit older. When I first started her she ran last in her first three races. Hopefully there’s a wee bit of improvement yet,” Lawrence said. The win qualifies Miss Auckland for the $20,000 Southern Belle Speed Series final at the Winton Meeting on the 20th March. Earlier in the programme another mare continued her winning form for Mcllwrick. The Craig Laurenson trained trotter Miss Bamboocha won her second race in three starts when she came from back in the field to run down favourite Afterburner The eight year old mare has now won five races and has recorded eleven seconds and eleven thirds in ninety three starts.   by Bruce Stewart

Branxholme trainer Alister Black has a good bunch of quality three year olds this season and Idealism got his name on the winner’s board when he impressively won the John Kennan Memorial Mobile Pace at Winton today. “He’s a pretty laidback character like most of the American Ideals. He just goes about his job and does it well,” said Black. From a second line draw driver Nathan Williamson positioned the three year mid field before moving up to sit parked. “It didn’t worry me at all. I was dumbfounded that he wasn’t a $1.80 favourite after his last race. That run was nothing short of superb.” Idealism let down nicely in the straight to win by a length and three quarters from favourite Captain Pins. “He’ll go to the Nuggets and then we’ll give him a wee let up. We’ll look at the Supremacy in May but he’ll have to win another race at least.” The three year old is owned by Craig Milne, his father Ian, Pete and Lorraine Carnie, Lyn Philp, Paul McEntyre and Black’s wide Sheree. Winning connections                           --Bruce Stewart Photo Both Milne and McEntyre work for Black on a casual basis. “Paul brings his own wages. He does the boxes and has a couple in work including Wai Key Wee so he’s having a good run. Most of these owners were in Dazzle Me.” Black said winning the John Keenan Memorial bought make memories of when he drove as a junior driver. “This win was special. I drove a couple of winners for John (Glen Atom 2002 and Cool Man Cam 2001). He was a real good guy.” Another promising three year old Ohoka Agent, owned by Black’s key stable clients the Thomson brothers finished on for third after having no luck in the run home. “I’m pretty lucky. Ian and Lindsay Thomson are massive supporters. They put a lot of money into the game.” The next Nuggets Final will be run at the Riverton meeting at Winton on Thursday 4th March and it promises to be a cracker with the Thomson owned Keep On Dreaming set to clash with Idealism and a number of other promising three year olds.   by Bruce Stewart

Southern Bred Southern Reared has thoroughly established it’s brand and is a market leader in the preparation and sale of Standardbred yearlings for the Christchurch Sales. The group heads to the Sales having hosted another very successful yearling tour within the Southland and Otago regions, and having marketed their stock across a wider variety of media platforms than in previous years. “As the tour rolled on it grew from ten cars following the bus to thirty. It was great,” said group spokesman Mark Smith. Smith says interest in the tour is widening with new prospective buyers checking out the bloodstock. “Joshua Dickie, Matty and Brent White, Ian Middleton from Lincoln Farms and Marty Smith who took the place of John Dunn (attended). We might have to have a mini van behind the bus next year!” Smith says the comments from trainers and buyers were very positive. “Very high standard and the preparation of the SBSR yearlings is just getting better and better.” The Christchurch Sale which starts on Monday at 3.00pm has strong representation of SBSR yearlings. “You look through the catalogue and there’s some great pedigrees on both the trotting and pacing side. You look at how many Captaintreacherous colts and fillies are available. It’s just amazing.” Smith says the auctioneers are going to be busy verbally updating the catalogue as SBSR yearlings come into the sales ring. “Since the catalogue went to print there have been winners all over Australasia, like Boots Electric winning the Group One Bonanza in Melton last week.” SBSR has embraced digital technology and have done a number of things a bit differently this year. “We’ve been doing podcasts on Campbell’s Comment and Nigel Armstrong from harnessracingunhinged was down live streaming on his phone. Debbie (wife) was at home watching all of the SBSR parades on her phone. The parade had two thousand likes the day after. As a group we’re embracing the new technology.” Smith feels that despite Covid preventing Australian buyers from attending the Sale, horses will continue to be sold across the Tasman. “We had a spare seat on the tour so we put Lindsay Colwell (vet) on the tour. I believe she’s been inundated with requests to look at horses by Australian buyers.” The after match function at John and Katrina Price’s When questioned about standout types on this tour Smith had no trouble highlighting some that he believes will attract strong bidding. “I do like the Chicago Bear. He’s an absolute stunner. The Arden Lodge Captaintreacherous colts were standouts. Lot 398 (Capitaine Arden) and Lot 274 (Venturesome Arden). The Bettor’s Delight colt out of Galleon’s Cheer for Dave and Dawn Kennedy was a standout. The trotting colt at the White’s (lot 135) One Over Da Line looked great.” Chicago Bear not fazed by the attention For the past two seasons SBSR has sponsored a race night at Addington and this year they spread their wings a bit further, venturing to Auckland and sponsoring a complete race night at Alexandra Park. “The promotion was very successful. The comment was that we’d come all the way from Invercargill to promote the SBSR brand, so we were well received. We had all our yearling videos playing in the hospitality room.” With only a few days left Mark Smith feels this will be another good Sale for SBSR. “We’re feeling quite confident going into the Sale. I understand Lincoln Farms are looking at buying up to twelve yearling so that’s good numbers.” And the future? “We’re all volunteers and we can’t do much more. We’d like to get a couple more people on our committee.”   by Bruce Stewart

Last night’s premier harness racing at Addington will long be remembered by those of us in the south. There was great excitement when having her last race in New Zealand, Southern mare Watch Me Now upset hot favourite Amazing Dream in the $102,000 Group One Breeders Stakes. Driver Kirstin Barclay schooled Watch Me Now off the gate from a wide draw and took the lead just after the winning post, before handing up to hot favourite Amazing Dream. Inside the last 400 metres Amazing Dream, Watch Me Now and Need You Now broke away from the field. On straightening Amazing Dream and Watch Me Now set down for a stride by stride battle with Barclay throwing everything at the Southern mare to get her up to win by a head. “Everything went to plan for once. You’re always hopeful that you can beat mares like her but you don’t expect to,” Barclay said. The time of 3-07.2 was a new New Zealand record, bettering The Orange Agent’s previous record of 3-07.4. The last 800 metres was run in 55.1. “She was travelling well all the way. She was bang on ready.” Owned by the Sloan and Gibb families, the mainstream public were unaware the Breeders Stakes was to be her last race in New Zealand, as she had recently been sold to American interests. “It was bitter sweet and pretty emotional. It’s a bit heart breaking really but she’ll do a massive job over there.” It was by far Barclay’s biggest race day win in her twenty two years of driving. She has previously won a Listed race on U May Cullect and the Group Three Kindergarten Stakes driving El Nino. It was also the first Group win for Watch Me Now’s Oreti Beach training partnership of Barclay and Tank Ellis. “We’ve liked her from day one. Kerry O’Reilly broke her in and said she was a nice horse.” Southland mares have a great record in the race. Bonnies Chance won it three times in 1980s, Shortys Girl won in 2002 and 2003 and Tact Lizzie won at long odds of 63-1 in 2010. Meanwhile Pembrook Playboy underlined his rising status at last night’s meeting, taking the next step and winning the Group Three Coca Cola Summer Cup. He beat last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Self Assured by the barest of margins. Williamson secured the trail behind pacemaker The Fixer and the entire ran up the passing lane and held out Self Assured by a nose. “I heard Matt Cross say that I got there, but I wasn’t really sure because I couldn’t see that other horse. Were absolutely rapt,” said Williamson. Williamson took his horses north midweek and he said Pembrook Playboy didn’t travel that well. “He’s bit of the bugger not to settle in. He gets a bit worked up when he’s away. He’s good at home as he knows his routine. He seemed a little bit more settled tonight. He’s doing a bit of travelling coming up so we hope that’ll be the making of him.” Prior to last nights Group Three Williamson made sure the Bettor’s Delight entire had his mind on the job, giving him a sharp section in his warm up. “He travelled pretty keenly in the running and was definitely focused, and he dug in well at the finish. When the money is handed out it’s a good habit to get into.” Although last night’s win was up there as a career highlight Williamson said winning the Invercargill Cup is still at the top of the list. At the conclusion of last night’s meeting in Christchurch Williamson was travelling south to Oamaru for the night. It would be an early start to get back home and then into Invercargill for the Riverton Meeting at Ascot Park today. Williamson said last night, “We’ll get him home and get him on the green grass. He tucked up a bit on this trip. We’ll set him for the Northern Southland Cup. I might have him at the Riverton Meeting (4th March) as there’s a Free for All which could be a good leadup.” It was the Bettor’s Delight four year olds eighth career win from fifteen starts and his third in a row. The win elevates him to second behind Copy That in the Four Year Old Diamond for the end of season Harness Jewels. Also at last night’s meeting the Williamson trained Ragazzo Mach ran a gallant second in a high quality R57-R75 pace – a race that included a few New Zealand Derby aspirants. After covering extra ground he came on strongly at the end of the 1980 metre race and got within three quarters of a length of favourite It’s All About The Faith. “He went a great race. He was working the whole way. It was a slick time and he certainly wasn’t disgraced.” Williamson trained trotter Dark Horse also had to settle for second, beaten by Muscle Mountain by half a length. “I think she wasn’t quite at her best without taking anything away from the winner. It was a phenomenal run. He’s the new kid on the block and was pretty impressive.” It’s proving to be a pretty successful season for southern trained horses which we would expect would be reflected at the Sales this week. Click here for full results from last nights Addington meeting   by Bruce Stewart

Southland bred Boots Electric scored an upset win in the Group One $100,000 Four Year Bonanza at Melton in Australia on Saturday night and this is a major boost for Northern Southland breeder Paul Hailes just ahead of next week’s yearling sales. Formally trained by Hailes father in-law Brent McIntyre and owned by his son Cain and Hailes, the Somebeachsomewhere gelding qualified in spectacular fashion this time last year at Wyndham when he won by ten lengths, running the 2400 metre mobile in 2-58.1. Paul and Cain then sold the gelding to clients of Australian trainer Anthony Butt and he’s now won nine of his seventeen starts and banked $119,560. “We were pretty lucky to get the deal done there. He went to Cran’s (Dalgety) for a wee bit. They were intending on giving him a couple of starts over here but Covid came and that never happened,” Paul said. Boots Electric’s other major win this season was in the Group Three VHRC Caduceus Metropolitan Pace Final at Melton. Some large bets were placed on the four year old leading into Saturday night’s feature and his odds which had opened at 101-1 were reduced to 31-1. “I had a wee bet on him but I didn’t break the bank. It was pretty exciting.” His winning time for the 1720 metres was 1-58.9 – a mile rate of 1-51.2. The win qualifies Boots Electric for the Chariots of Fire. Watch the race replay click here! The win was a timely one for Hailes who has a Sweet Lou colt in next week’s NZB National Standardbred Sale in Christchurch. Zamperini is out of Glenburn Joy an American Ideal mare which won two races. Glenburn Joy is a half-sister to Boots Electric. Zamperini is being prepared by Halies father in-law Brent McIntyre at Macca Lodge. “He’s a nice wee guy. He’s not a big horse but he’s athletic and a racy type. They say the smaller Sweet Lous are the good ones.” Glenburn Jewel has two other colts of racing age –  Castledrum, a Captaintreacherous three year old and Redcastle a two year old by Sweet Lou. “We actually haven’t done too much with them yet. Castledrum is quite a big horse so we thought we’d leave him. After the sales are out of the way we might start working on him. We’ll probably bring in the Sweet Lou as well.” Saturday night was the first time Hailes has bred a group one winner. Boots Electric was named by Cain after musician Jesse ‘Boots Electric’ Hughes. Hailes says Glenburn Jewel slipped her Fear The Dragon foal, but is now in foal to Always B Miki while Glenburn Joy is in foal to Betting Line.   by Bruce Stewart

Westwood Beach trainer Graeme Anderson has always had an opinion of Tres Chic and he’s just had to wait to prove his point. The Mach Three mare qualified as a three year old but didn’t race at that age because she kicked a fence and injured the lower part of a leg. As a four year old she raced just twice. “The time out hasn’t done her any harm,” said Anderson who trains the mare with Mike Love. Neither Anderson or Love were on-course today with Anderson recuperating from a recent operation. “I had a few bone chips removed from the knee about six weeks ago. It was a bit of a struggle at the start but I’m going right. It’s a long way to come south and Mikes having a few days off.” Anderson hasn’t worked a horses since his operation and was unable to celebrate because of his medications. “I’ll have to go and have a cup of tea. Mikes been driving her. We’ve changed a few things on her. She’s been going really well but she’s had a few breaks in her races so we had to get to the bottom of that.” Today’s win was the five year olds third, and second on this track. She’s only had eleven career starts and was driven today by junior driver Ellie Barron. “I talked to Ellie this morning and said to her that Tres Chic is a big strong mare. And when they eased the pace she got a lovely trail behind Pay Me Speedy. It was a very good drive and I was very happy with that. It was a very good field today and the horse had to be on her game.” Tres Chic was bred by Lochiel Accountant Stu Gillian who races her in partnership with Anderson. “I played cricket against him but he’s a lot older than me. You can put that in the story (laughter). He used to referee me in rugby. We had a horse called Match Point who did a good job. He’s also had a share in Titan Banner, Eamon Maguire and Spirit Of St Louis.” Anderson says Spirit Of St Louis is now in the Joshua Dickie stable in Auckland and is due to go to the workouts. “There’s nothing down here for him. We’re targeting the New Zealand Messenger and the Noel Taylor Mile.”   by Bruce Stewart

Leithen Burn is one of a handful of quality three year olds racing in the province this season. And judging by his win today at Winton it won’t be his last. Trained by Tony Stratford the Bettors Delight gelding was purchased for $18,000 at the 2018 Autumn Weanling Sale in Auckland when offered by Woodlands Stud. “He took a long time to get gaited up. He never paced when we broke him in but he just gets better and better,” Stratford said. Leithen Burn showed promise when he qualified at Winton in December and in both of his races this season prior to today’s win, he’s raced greenly. “Blair told me we needed to change a few things. He’s a Bettor’s Delight so he’s willing.” In today’s Goodman Plumbing Mobile Pace driver Blair Orange settled Leithen Burn fourth with White Lightning taking up the pacemaker’s role. With 1100 metres to run Orange hooked the three year old out from the running line and took him to the front. He was confident having a good look around inside the 400 metres. Orange just had to rein Leithen Burn up to win by a length and three quarters from Tommy Waterhouse with another three quarters of a length back to first starter Idealism. Early pacemaker White Lightning was thirteen and a quarter lengths back in fourth. “Those Bettors Delights – the harder they go the better they go.” The winning time was 2-56.8 or the 2400 metre mobile. Leithen Burn is owned by the same owners as Pulp Fiction and Lilac Flash with Stratford’s uncle, Alan Steel, heading up the group. Leithen Burn is out of the Mach Three mare Eyecatcher Three whose second dam Atomic Lass is the mother of champion pacer Auckland Reactor, the winner of twenty seven races and almost one and a half million dollars. Also at Winton today Bettors’ Delight filly Bettastar looked like Southland Oaks material when she cleared maiden ranks for trainer driver Nathan Williamson. Bred and raced by Tuapeka Lodge, Bettastar was taken to the lead and held out Endless Dreams by three quarters of a length. The winning time was 1-54.5. Bettastar is out of the three win Christian Cullen mare Petra’s Star who’s the dam of big Australian winner Galactic Star. Tuapeka Lodge is offering a Sweet Lou filly out of Petra’s Star at the yearling sale next week so the win by Bettastar was perfect timing. Southern Harness Chairman Tom Kilkelly shared in the ownership of two winners today with Kase winning his maiden in the hands of co-trainer Kirstin Barclay and Smokin Bandar doing everything right for Kerryn Tomlinson in winning the Enfield Generics Mobile Trot by five and quarter lengths. He ran the mile in 1-57.5. Smokin Bandar trained by Craig Ferguson wins in the Kilkelly colours   -- Bruce Stewart photo Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray scored a double when Peregrine won her maiden trot and Cassius Bromac won his second race for the MCC Syndicate. Flight Crew was just .3 of the second outside Melina Lowe’s New Zealand and Southland record when she won the New World Winton Mobile Pace. The Panspacificflight four year old owned by Katie Williamson and trained and driven by husband Nathan did battle with pacemaker Lynryd Skynryd inside the 400 metres and then had to fight off a late charge from Onesmartfella, to win by half a neck. The winning time was 2-53.9. Meanwhile trials were held at Winton on Friday and it was great to see the fresh faces of the two years olds. Kirk Larsen produced Scarlet Ribbon to win his qualifier over 1609 metres. The Captaintreacherous filly is out of the ten win Washington VC mare Askmenow. She ran second to Rozelski as a two year old in the 2012 Caduceus Club of Southland/Nevele R Fillies Classic at the Northern Southland meeting. Scarlett Ribbon beat another well bred filly in Joyfuldolly by a neck. The winning time was 2-01.8. Bertie Jones set tongues wagging when he won his qualifier in 3-00.8 running his last half in 56.0 seconds. The son of Prodigal Seelster had two and a half lengths to share over Stoneyroyd. Bertie Jones is a member of the Black Watch family and is trained at Wyndham by Gordon and Colin Lee. Quality three year old Ragazzo Mach won his workout beating another quality three year old American Lightning by a length. His winning time was 3-00.7 with the last 800 metres run in an impressive 55.2 and 400 metres in 27.1. He’s down to start next Friday at Addington in the $40,000 Listed Woodlands Stud Sires Stakes Harness ‘7,000’ over 1950 metres.   by Bruce Stewart

Winton horsewoman Julie Baynes-White has been around horses all her life and recently has joined the list of preparers for the National Standardbred Yearling Sales. “I’ve always had dressage horses and bred my own ponies. I’ve been showing horses for about thirty years. All the Standardbred guys didn’t really know who I was,” she said. Baynes-White has certainly made a name for herself in the pony and show horse world. Three of the ponies she’s bred have been champions in their sections at the Horse of the Year Show – Beechcroft Chablis, Beechcroft Socialite, and Beechcraft Playboy. Beechcraft Playboy was the Supreme Champion at the 2016 Canterbury A&P Show. Her hack Villa Maria also won Supreme In-hand at Horse of the Year. “Over the years I’ve bred some top hacks and ponies. Ponies that have gone over to Australia with the New Zealand Showing Team.” Julie grew up on Stoney Creek Station near Mandeville. Her grandfather William McLeod raced gallopers in the 1960’s. She first became involved with Standardbreds when she worked at Colin Baynes at Otama. “I worked with John (Baynes) on the stud and did my apprenticeship there, and then I married Kenny (Baynes).” One of the highlights in her early Standardbred days was seeing Clancy run second in the 1991 New Zealand Cup. The Haughty Romeo gelding was bred by Colin Baynes and owned by members of the Baynes family. At this year’s Christchurch Sale to be held this month Julie has six yearlings on her books and she says she’ll be calling on some of her showing and pony friends to help present her horses. “We’ve got a really good bunch coming up to give us a hand. They’re some of my showing friends and they’re experienced. They know how to walk horses out and how to stand them up which is a big thing when you’re showing them to prospective buyers. The showing game is like prepping young stock for the sales. You make them look good, you cover up faults if you can, make them behave well and feed them well.” At the 2019 sales Julie prepared four colts, all of which have been winners. They were Outamyway (Love You – Do It Your Way), American Dealer (American Ideal – Maddison Delight), Brannigan (American Ideal – Paula’s On Fire) and Luke John (Mach Three – Zenardle). “American Dealer was our favourite. He was such a nice guy to have around. A real tradesman.  Luke John has done such a good job and so has Outamyway.” Since his sale Outamyway has started seven times, winning the Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million 1 Trot. He was also second in the Group Two Sires Stakes Championship. American Dealer has won seven of his fifteen starts including the Group One Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final and the Group Two Alabar Three Year Old Classic. Luke John has recorded three wins from his twelve starts and he ran third to American Dealer in the Group Two Alabar Three Year Old Classic. Whilst Brannigan (renamed Soho Bob) has won three races as a two year old in Australia. Last year Julie took four yearlings to the sales and reports out of the Brent Mangos stable suggest Lets Fly Together (Art Major – Flying Miss Williams) has a bit of X factor. Baynes-White operates from her property just out of Winton where she’s been for fifteen years, buying the property off Wayne and Lesley Deegan. She runs the property with husband Tim White. “When we came here there was a basic stable block and not a lot of fencing. I’ve put in a few extra sheds, shelter belts, fences and an arena.” The 30 acre property has a 900 metres all-weather track. “It’s a good track to work on with a good camber. This area is also a good producing area. It’s dry because we’re on a river bed.” Tim is a well- known farrier and has trained thirty seven winners in the twenty three seasons he’s held a licence including trotters Perfect Hold (8) and McArthur Park (6). His best two pacers were McBeths Boy (5) and Motu Crusader (4). Motu Crusader went on to win another twenty three races in Australia and ran second in the 2010 Queensland Derby. “I do the horses and Tim looks after the PR.” After the sales Julie will be packing up the float and heading north again for the Horse of the Year. “As soon as I finish the sales we come back and I have a week or ten days off then I’m way back up to Hastings. I’ll take two of mine, (horses) and a couple of friends may come up with me.” This year the stable is taking six standardbred yearlings to the Christchurch sale. 135- One Over Da Line (Majestic Son-One Over Kenny – colt) A bay colt out of the twenty six race winning mare One Over Kenny. She’s been an excellent broodmare leaving seven winners from her seven foals of racing age. One Over Da Line is a full-brother to sixteen win trotter One Over Da Moon which won the Harness Jewels Two Year Old Ruby and the Ashburton Flying Mile. One Over Kenny has also left quality trotter Ultimate Stride the winner of five races and $84,801. One Over The Line            – Photo Kristel Mack Saunders    “He’s a really good type. We’ve had him since he was weaned. We get Lex’s (Williams) yearlings quite early which is great. They get used to our routine. He’s got a purposeful walk which I like. He takes you and you don’t have to drag him. He’s a good size and I think there’ll be quite a bit of interest in him.”   181 – Moment Of What (What The Hill – Moment Of Sun – colt) The first foal out of the six win Love You mare Moment Of Sun. There’s plenty of depth to his pedigree with his third dam Naraya being the mother of Stig, the winner of twenty two races including the Dominion Handicap and Rowe Cup. Moment Of What             – Photo Kristel Mack Saunders “He’s a very good natured horse. He’s well bodied, has a good walk and is very easy to deal with.”   221 – Sweet Woodbine (Sweet Lou – Shezcheaphy – filly) This Sweet Lou filly is the second foal out the two win Royal Mattjesty mare Shezacheapy that Tim and Julie own. There’s plenty of stout staying blood in this family with Holmes Hanover and Plat Du Jour featuring on this filly’s dam side. Sweet Woodbine                              – Photo Kristel Mack Saunders “Right from when she was a foal she stood up and said ‘look at me.’ Clark Barron has her brother by Washington VC which he really likes.”   306 – Ubid Ubuy (Bettor’s Delight – Catalina Banner – filly) This fillies pedigree features the ‘golden cross,’ being by Bettor’s Delight out of a Christian Cullen mare. Ubid UBuy’s third dam is Corporate Banner the dam of Mainland Banner – the New Zealand Cup winner plus winner of sixteen other races. It’s also the family of Rocker Band, Return To Sender and Titan Banner. Ubi Ubuy                   – Photo Kristel Mack Saunders “She’s got the sweetest nature. She’s easy to do anything with. She came in a bit later than the others and is a bit finer.”   342 – Mightyflyin Supastar (Art Major – Fleet’s Pocket – colt) Out of the remarkable producer Fleet’s Pocket this colt is a brother to a host of winners including Flying Pocketlands (21 wins), Mighty Flying Thomas (24 wins) and Mighty Flying Mac (16 wins). This family seems to nick with Art Major and this colt is by that sire. Mightyflyin Supastar                  – Photo Kristel Mack Saunders “He’s super. I really like him. He’s got something about him. When he came here he was little but he’s really blossomed. He’s one of my picks after working with him. He moves really well round the paddock.”   363 – Always In Action (Always B Miki – Heart Stealer – colt) Plenty to like in this colt’s pedigree. His dam is an unraced Bettor’s Delight mare whose mother Fight Fire With Fire (Artiscape) won seven races and $151,656. This family has also produced Mark Dennis (46 wins) and Elle Mac the winner of twelve races. Always In Action         – Photo Kristel Mack Saunders “He’s quite an athletic type. He’s a bit smaller but zooms round the paddock. He’s got a nice way of going and he’ll fill out to be a nice colt.” Buyers can view Julie’s yearlings on Monday 8th February between 6:30pm and 6:55pm at 41 Substation Road Winton.   by Bruce Stewart

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