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By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk    Bruce Negus went to Auckland for what he called “a day’s entertainment” He ended up buying 10 horses, more than any other purchaser, at Monday's NZB Standardbred weanling sales at Karaka (May 3). He forked out between $2000 and $9000 each for them. “The market was quite strong, and dearer than anticipated.” But still Negus got 10 weanlings - five colts and five fillies - for a total $40,000 - just $4000 more than the price of just one of the sales toppers, an Art Major filly and a Bettor’s Delight colt. “I will break them in as time permits …. it might be 18 months before we see what they’ve got.” While most of the offerings coming from reputable and/or established stallions Negus says he was often buying on price alone. “I’m a chip off the old block, Dad used to buy cheap horses and I like to buy cheap horses.” Bob Negus trained for more than half a century from the late 1950s, and drove 134 winners including Armalight in her 1981 New Zealand Cup win over Bonnie’s Chance and Hands Down. Though Bruce Negus says he bought on “sentiment” as well. For example, he was interested in the opening lot of the day, a What The Hill – On The Mantelpiece filly because she is a close relative to Sundons Flyer, a 12-race winner for Negus who’s won more than $130,000. She is a bit on the smaller side – but she’s a kind filly.” Negus snapped her up for $3000. Three of the colts will stay and get broken in in Auckland, the remainder will head to his property at Burnham on the outskirts of Christchurch. Buying big numbers at auction is nothing new to Negus. Years ago he secured more than a dozen at one All Aged Sale. “And a lot of them turned out pretty good.” Among them were now three-year-old race winners Katherine ($15,062), Mark Dunnett ($13,295) and Buffy Northstains ($5,185). “I can afford to buy them because I train them myself” Negus will forever be associated with the great Courage Under Fire (41 wins, $1,551,941) and twenty years on still has a strong love for the sport. “I do it while I still can,” the 68 year old said, “I reckon I’ve got shares in 50 horses.” So far in 2020/21 he’s trained 20 winners, with Corravally Star leading the way with four wins this season, including the listed $40,000 Harness 7000, and earnings of more than $50,000. His purchases at Karaka were : Lot 1 What The Hill – On the Mantelpiece Filly $3,000 Lot 22 Downbytheseaside – So Many Words Colt $4000 Lot 29 Majestic Son – Susan Colt $9000 Lot 43 Sweet Lou – Yasmine Bromac Filly $4000 Lot 47 Sweet Lou – Arden’s Pearl Filly $4000 Lot 73 A Rocknroll Dance – Chevelle Star Colt $2000 Lot 75 Ultimate Machete – Cracka Dawn Colt $3000 Lot 95 Downbytheseaside – G B Blaze Colt $4000 Lot 101 What The Hill – KC Spur Filly $4000 Lot 129 Sweet Lou – Nicky’s Power Filly $3000

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk     Grasstrack racing has been a massive success this season , and there will be even more meetings in 2021/22. The dates calendar was released last week and it has 38 grasstrack meetings next season, including three dual code meetings. That’s an increase of four on this season, and includes the return to Hawera in Taranaki. Their two meetings will be held over Waitangi weekend (February 4 and 6 2022). There will be two other North Island meetings at Wairarapa and Kapiti, and 34 in the south. Mt Harding at Methven and Motukarara will be the busiest grasstracks in the country with seven meetings each next season while Westport gets three and Geraldine doubles its quota to two. Gore will also race on the grass twice, as will Oamaru, and the Forbury Park Trotting Club at Wingatui. Methven hosted the last grasstrack meeting of the season on April 26. Methven Trotting Club president Mark Lemon is reasonably happy with next season’s allocation saying “we can handle one meeting a month” though he thinks nation-wide there is still potential to have even more grasstrack meetings over the warmer months. “We should be having a meeting on every Sunday – and we are not doing that.” Grasstrack racing’s popularity with the punter is well known. This season for instance Methven turned over more than a million dollars at five of its seven meetings, with a best of $1,565,647 on October 11. The Hororata Club’s meeting there also did $1,132,720. Mark Lemon : “When you add it all up it was over $9.5 million at Methven … the only two we didn’t do a million on were the two when we only had nine races.” And Lemon says having big open races is the key. “We are very conscious of carding races that get full fields… we don’t have favourite-dominated races.” Of the season’s 34 grasstrack meetings, held between September and April, 25 surpassed turnover of a million dollars. The biggest was Westport on Boxing Day at $1,893,014, while Marlborough (Jan 17), Banks Peninsula (Jan 24), Methven (Oct 11), Banks Peninsula (Dec 29) Wyndham (Jan 6) and Gore (Dec 27) all went over $1.5m.

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk     When it comes to preparing and driving winners few are going better than Sheryl Wigg. "Strike rate Sheryl” became the first amateur driver in this country to chalk up 50 wins at the weekend, and that was from just 150 drives. Together with her twin sister Cheree (six driving wins this season) the Wiggs are a dominant force in the amateur driving ranks. “She goes alright,” jokes Sheryl of her sibling and regular race rival.  The pair famously dead heated a race at Motukarara in 2018. The Auckland-based Sheryl Wigg brought up the milestone with the Greg and Nine Hope-trained Dalness First in the Amateur Drivers race at Rangiora on Sunday. The four-year-old Changeover  mare got the perfect trip in the trail, clearing out to win by one and a half lengths. “I was real proud to wear the Hope’s colours ….  I had never driven for them before,” says Wigg. Her winning ratio has been phenomenal with eight winners this season from 22 drives (and a UDR of .5253). She prides herself on being competitive, “ I like to give them a show and put them in the race.” And it’s not just in the sulky that she’s having success.  She’s only recently starting training in her own right,  taking over the stables formerly run by her partner Tim Vince. And with only eight horses in work twice this season she’s trained the trifecta at Alexandra Park. On March 12 she completed the trifecta with Mighty Monica, Kayla Maguire and Prodigal Pete and on April 16 she repeated the feat with Frankie Jones, Kayla Maguire and Mighty Monica. “It just seems to be my year,” says Wigg. As for the preference between training and driving? “There’s more pressure when training, but both are exciting.” And she has some big ambitions. She’d like to train 10 winners this season (she’s currently on three) and in future years would like to train a winner in  a “black type” race with one of her younger horses while her driving goal is “to represent New Zealand in some way”. Specifically she wants to wear the Silver Fern at the next Amateur Drivers’ world championships. “The next one is next year hopefully.” In the meantime she just hopes her golden run continues. “I love winning.”

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk   Mike Brown knew the time was right - the time for his grand old campaigner Johnny Eyre to say goodbye to the racetrack. “The horse is well,” says Brown, “but I just didn’t want him to go off the boil and drop out of races. It’s just the right thing to retire him. ” “Johnny” after all is now 10 – and his finale, a sixth at Methven last Sunday, was his 166th start. He finishes with 13 wins and 30 placings, with earnings of $146,351. To illustrate just how long he’s been around he made his debut in the 2013 Sapling Stakes as a two-year-old.   “There are so many highlights,” he says, including three Country Cup victories. The North Canterbury-based Brown bred and raced the son of Christian Cullen out of Wai Eyre Lady.  He’d earlier won two races with Wai Eyre Lady in 1999 and 2000 before she became a broodmare and produced good racehorses like Eyre County (6 wins) and  Drover’s Eyre (9 wins). But Johnny Eyre was the most successful progeny. Of his 166 starts, 123 of them were on grass, for 12 wins and 23 placings. His sole victory on the grit was at Addington in September 2016. “He was always a pleasure to do anything with,” says Brown. Fittingly it was Methven where Johnny Eyre had his swansong. He is the most “winningest” horse ever at Mt Harding.  He’s believed to be the only horse to have had four wins there.  His fourth win there in February this year was also the last of his career. He also won four races at Reefton – and raced there 16 times. And his record in the Reefton Cup is remarkable. In 2016 he won the Cup for the first time, only to deadheat with Baileys Knight the very next year. There were also three second placings, to Seel The Deal (2015),  Franco Hampton (2018) and Just Holla (2019) before a ninth in 2020. In 2017 Johnny Eyre had his most successful year, earning $38,030. The West Coast circuit was very much Johnny’s go – he trekked across the Southern Alps every year since he was a three-year-old Over the years Johnny had at least 20 different drivers, with Sam Ottley winning five races with him, more than anyone else.   Brown says Johnny Eyre finishes his career in good health – “his legs are perfect” - and that right now he deserves to enjoy the good life on the farm.

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk    Jack Harrington’s emerging as a trainer to follow after what he’s described as “one of his best weekends”. Over two race meetings at Addington on Friday and Methven on Sunday he had quite the strike rate - four placings and a winner at massive odds. “It’s been building the last month or so and it’s great the team is starting to fire.” Tas Girl Bromac won her second race in seven starts when she upset at odds of 60-to-one at Addington on Friday night. “She’s a head scratcher of a horse…. She showed a lot of promise early on and it’s nice she delivered on her potential.” Two races earlier Salvo was second and the three-year-old Love You filly will back up again this Friday – this time with Harrington replacing Tim Williams in the sulky. “She’s drawn nine so that’s tough from the mobile but she is racing well.” Harrington will also drive Jeremy Wells on Friday after he was one of three horses to place at Methven on Sunday. Jeremy Wells was third, with Quik Shot and That’s Entertainment both finishing second. “Jeremy Wells is a bit hit and miss – but he’s capable of winning some races, the stars just need to align.” Harrington’s successful weekend rekindled memories of 2016. “I had a winner at Forbury Park at 9 o’clock at night and then Hey Yo won at Addington the next day.” Buffy Bay was that Dunedin winner (December 9 2016) while among Hey Yo’s opposition the next day included none other than the third-placed Tornado Valley (38 wins - $990,297) who has gone on to become a trotting superstar in Australia. Hey Yo has won eight for Jack and his dad Dave Harrington with earnings of $157,480, with the half sister to brilliant four-year-old Bolt For Brilliance now in the broodmare paddock. Harrington himself has lofty goals in the trotting game. “The two races I’m striving to win are the Trotting Derby and the Dominion, those are the two on top.” Harrington currently has 14 in work and divides his time between the main stables at Swannanoa in North Canterbury and Mike Brown’s Wai Eyre Farm just down the road, where he fast works his horses. He now has five wins, six seconds and four thirds for the season. His previous best was 12 wins in both 2017 and 2018. Overall he has trained 41 winners (and driven 16 winners) since starting out in 2015. Needless to say he’s hoping his golden streak continues. “It’s a tough industry and winning races is the best advertising.”

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk     New Zealand Trotting Derby winner Five Wise Men has gone to the top of the Harness Jewels 3YO Ruby leaderboard. The highly impressive son of Muscle Hill beat a fast finishing Time Up The Hill and Son Of Patrick in Friday’s Group One feature for the three-year-old trotters at Addington. It was his sixth win in eight starts and took his season’s earnings to $95,450. That was enough for him to go past Wanna Play With Me at the top of the leaderboard. After her second placing, Time Up The Hill moves up from 8th to 5th while Royal Del (11th) and Salvo (12th) make the cut, at the expense of One Over All and Outamyway. The top 12 horses in each of the nine categories will make the final fields for the Jewels at Cambridge on June 6. The week’s other big mover was Cosmic Major, who went from 10th to second in the 2YO Emerald, on the back of his win over Akuta and co in Friday night’s Group Two Welcome Stakes. Montana DJ remains the leader in that category. Another impressive winner on Friday night was Lifes A Beach for trainer Tony Barron. The Bettor’s Delight filly has now won three in a row and in the 3YO Diamond has moved up to eighth from 10th. The runaway leader of this division is Bettor Twist. Commander Cathy’s win in the Schweppes Mobile pace at Alexandra Park on Friday has seen her go from 21st to 12th, with Ruby Mach dropping one to 13th. In the 3YO Emerald there are no changes to the 12 while in the 4YO Emerald Steel The Show has gone from 14 to 12, with Gilligans Island dropping one to 13. In the 2YO Ruby Highgrove is a runaway leader, while the Jason and Megan Teaz-trained Emma Joy has gone from 12th to third, after winning at Cambridge on Thursday. Ahwel, who finished second in the same race, makes the 12 for the first time. In the 4YO Ruby Bolt For Brilliance remains on top from Friday night’s NZ Trotting Championship victor Muscle Mountain with another winner at the meeting American Pride moving up from 18 to 7, with Kiwitrix dropping one place to be 13th. To check the complete leaderboard please check here

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    It’s two months to the day till the IRT Harness Jewels at Cambridge.  After every race meeting the leaderboard for each category is being updated to work out who’s in and who’s not.  The nine Group Ones, each with a stake of $100,000, will be held on Sunday June 6. This week Enjoy Me, who was second in the 3YO Diamond behind runaway leader Bettor Twist, has been withdrawn.    The leaders of each category will be easily seen on race day with their drivers donning the Harness Jewels yellow silks. Unbeaten two-year-old trotter Highgrove was a winner in yellow at Addington on Saturday. It was his third in as many starts for Robert and John Dunn.  He is a clear leader of the 2YO Ruby.  Natalie Rasmussen was also wearing yellow in the Easter Cup with 4YO Diamond leader Amazing Dream third behind Self Assured and Spankem.   Among the Harness Jewels leaders in action at Addington’s Premier night this Friday will be Krug (3YO Emerald) in the New Zealand Derby, Bolt For Brilliance (4YO Ruby) in the New Zealand Trotting Championship and Wanna Play With Me (3YO Ruby)  in the New Zealand Trotting Derby.   To check out the full leaderboard click here  

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk     The racing career of the unbeaten Shut Up N Dance is over. The four year old mare, sensational in winning three from three, has been one of harness racing’s star performers in recent weeks. And she wasn’t just turning heads by winning she was destroying her opposition. She won her debut by more than 10 lengths, and again toyed with her rivals in her two subsequent starts, the latest at Addington just 10 days ago. But problems with her tendons means she will never feature on the racetrack again. “She had a hole in her tendon 18 months ago and she had cell treatment to potentially buy some time,” says breeder-owner Dayle Kinzett. The Art Major mare was also transferred north from Nathan Williamson to Regan Todd’s beach operation at Woodend to try and keep her sound though Kinzett knew the odds were against her. “We raced her sparingly and thought if we could get 2 or 3 more races, and the plan was to make it to the Jewels (in Cambridge in June) before retiring her.” “She certainly showed some freakish ability, “ says Kinzett, “The disappointment is that we are not going to get the chance to really see her let down, she was winning so easy.” Shut Up N Dance was named after the song of the same name, released by Walk the Moon in 2014 She was also the first horse Kinzett bred. “We bought her mother (Dance N Delight) at the yearling sales eight years ago … and Shut Up N Dance was the first to race in our colours.” While the mare’s racing career has been cruelly cut short Kinzett says he’s more philosophical than bitter. “We are thankful we got her to the races and showcased a bit of her ability. And we can’t thank Nathan & Regan and their teams enough for everything they did for her to get her as far as we did” And for Regan Todd it’s a blow to lose such a talent. “It is gutting ...to the naked eye she looked fine but when she was checked out the vet recommended her to stud.” “She was pretty exciting.” Shut Up N Dance was the first of three progeny for Dance N Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Hurricane Dancer) who is now a nine year old. There is also Get Up N Dance (Rock N Roll Heaven – Dance N Delight) who has qualified and been to trials for Nathan Williamson, and a yearling (Shut Up N Dance’s full brother) called Rise Up N Dance. Shut Up N dance will now head to the broodmare’s paddock and while no stallion’s been decided for her as yet Dayle Kinzett can only hope the next generations have the same spark that Shut Up N Dance had. “She was a special horse.”

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk    Addington hosts the latest installment of the 3YO Flying Stakes this Friday and it features a red-hot field with emerging stars like Krug, Ragazzo Mach, It’s All About Faith, Pace N Pride and Luke John. They’ll be vying to join some elite company that have prevailed in previous editions including Copy That (2020), Ultimate Machete (2017), Lazarus (2016), Changeover (2007), Monkey King (2006), Baileys Dream (2005), Courage Under Fire (1999), and Honkin Vision (1990). Ten years ago the race featured one of the great age group rivalries of the time. On May 14 2011 it was Terror To Love versus Gold Ace in the Group 2 Vero Stakes.   Drawing 11 and 12 both went back off the gate over 1980 only for Gold Ace to improve three wide for driver Peter Ferguson, going to the lead 200 metres from home. But Terror To Love’s driver Jim Curtin tracked his nemesis every step of the way, producing a sustained sprint when he had to. “What a finish,” said commentator Mark McNamara, “it could be a dead heat.” Instead it was. Nothing could separate the pair. The two were one and a quarter lengths clear of Major Mark (Mark Purdon). It was the fifth meeting of the pair in that 2010-11 season, a season where Gold Ace definitely had the better of Graham and Paul Court’s star pacer. The first chapter was on New Zealand Cup day in 2010 when Gold Ace won the Sires Stakes’ final with Terror To Love 7th. In December Terror To Love turned the tables with victory in Auckland before the Steven Reid-trained Gold Ace won the Elsu Classic in Auckland before beating Terror To Love by half a neck in the New Zealand Derby at Addington (23/4/2011). Following their dead heat at the Vero Flying Stakes, Gold Ace triumphed at the Harness Jewels in Ashburton. In six three-year-old meetings it was Gold Ace 4 ½ - Terror To Love 1 ½. For that season Gold Ace won 9 from 13 and $484,387 (Terror To Love 8 from 15, and $166,724) and was duly named New Zealand’s three-year-old pacer of the year. In all Gold Ace won six group Ones, and 22 races in all from 69 starts, amassing $1.247m in stakes. Not bad for a horse that was bought at the Australasian Classic Yearling sale for $27,000. After his stellar three-year-old season Gold Ace had some major successes like the Golden Nugget in Perth and he took out the $150,000 Free-For-All on Show day at Addington in 2012 beating Pure Power, and Terror To Love. But he didn’t kick on the same way that Terror To Love did. By the time he went to stud in 2015 he’d been named Pacer of the year three times, and Horse of the Year twice and had become the third horse ever to win three New Zealand Cups in a row. His career record was 31 wins from 76 starts and nearly $2.5 in stakes. The two 13-year-olds are now at stud, Gold Ace standing for $1000 at Nevele R Stud, while Terror To Love ($3000) is at Court’s Pinelea Farm. Now is the time for a new rivalry, and as well as Group Two glory, Friday’s winner is also guaranteed a start in the 2021 Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Pacing Derby.

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk    How appropriate that after Krug won the Northern Derby in extraordinary fashion at Alexandra Park that co-trainer Chrissie Dalgety celebrated with some bubbles. After all Dalgety had just completed an amazing quaddie, becoming the fourth sibling in her family to train a Group One winner, joining her brothers Roddy, Anthony and Tim Butt. “It’s my biggest achievement in racing,” says Dalgety, of her first Group One triumph, “and gosh, the way he went.” Krug, bearing the same name as the famous French champagne, produced a sparkling Derby performance on Friday night that saw the $1.80 hotpot clear out to a 15 length lead mid-race and then hold on for driver Tony Herlihy to win the $200,000 feature by 3 and ¾ lengths. “It was a scary watch,” says Chrissie Dalgety who co-trains with husband Cran at their Kentuckiana Lodge stables just outside Christchurch, “the horse was on a mission.” Chrissie Dalgety is also a part- owner of the boom colt who’s now won 11 from 18 and $373,820. With Covid 19 restrictions derailing their plans to make it a big family occasion on track Dalgety wasn’t at Alexandra Park to watch the Derby in person, opting to watch it from the Balle stables in Pukekohe, where their horses were staying. “After the races the horses came back, we gave them a pat, a feed and we popped a bottle of champagne.” It was Krug’s first Group One after going close with a second to American Dealer in the Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final last year. Roddy Butt was the first to win a Group One with Justaboyden in the Western Australian Pacing Cup in 1995. Tim Butt is a multiple Group One winner starting with Happy Asset in The Ben Hur in 1998, while as a trainer-driver Anthony had his first with Line Up in the 2020 Victoria Derby. “When I trained my first winner Tim said we’d be the first four siblings to all train winners and said you have to win a Group One now.” That first winner was Lovesomewhere for Dalgety and then co-trainer Nathan Purdon at Addington in August last year. Together they trained 16 winners before Cran and Chrissie joined forces this season. They have had six wins so far. “There have been a lot of successful families when you think of the O’Reillys, and the Purdons , but I certainly don’t know of anyone else doing it.” The Dalgety-Butt-Jones dynasty casts long shadows in harness racing, with Bob Butt (Chrissie’s second cousin) the seventh Butt to drive in a New Zealand Cup, following on from Wes, Robin, Murray, Anthony, David and Roddy. Robin, Chrissie's uncle, won the big race with Camelot in 1984, and Anthony took it out three times with Flashing Red (2006/7) and Blossom Lady (1992). Flashing Red was trained by Tim Butt, while their grand-father the legendary Derek Jones trained Blossom Lady and Hands Down (1980) to win. His son Peter Jones did the driving that day and also trained and drove the upset 1985 Cup winner Borana. It's a family tradition Chrissie Dalgety is also keen to be part of. “One thing we’d love to achieve is the New Zealand Cup, it's our dream.” The Dalgetys have got close before, with Christen Me and 2009 runner-up Bettor’s Strike. “That would be the ultimate.”

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk    North Canterbury trainer Regan Todd isn’t one to get too carried away but he concedes that Shut Up N Dance is “pretty exciting”. Todd had success on Friday and Sunday at Addington, both with daughters of Art Major. The eye-catching Shut Up N Dance (Art Major – Dance N Delight) made it two from two while Play Philly (Art Major – Shezaball) took out the Group Three Downbytheseaside Leonard Memorial Stakes On Friday Shut Up N Dance won by nearly four lengths. She went straight to the lead, handed up to Five Star General and then shot up the passing lane when the second favourite rolled off the fence turning for home. “It worked out perfect,” said Todd As comprehensive a victory as it was, it was still nowhere near the staggering 10 length demolition she produced on debut. As for the future Todd has plans, especially now that top mares Amazing Dream, Watch Me Now and Beyond Words have all been sold overseas, though Amazing Dream will race here till June at least. “She’s pretty exciting isn’t she,” Todd says of Shut Up N Dance, “among the targets will be some of the premier meetings coming up and then onto the (Harness) Jewels” Todd got the horse from Nathan Williamson. She’d shown a lot of promise for Southland’s top trainer but was shifted north to be trained on the beach at Woodend. “She’s had some leg issues so we will try and keep her sound,” says Todd. And then in yesterday’s Group 3 Downbytheseaside Leonard Memorial Stakes for the two-year-old fillies Play Philly (Art Major – Shezaball) won her second race in just three starts. But it was a very different sort of winning performance with Robbie Close getting her into the clear after being three back the fence and then hanging on to win by a head from Suntan in a gutsy performance. “She was getting tired but she stuck on,” says Todd. The filly has come a long way in a short space of time. “She was awful as a yearling. She couldn’t pace – it took three preps before she started getting better.” “It’s great for the owner too (Scott Elliffe/Heritage Ventures), it’s the first horse he’s had with us.” Todd is now looking at an Auckland campaign for the filly, with up-coming Sires Stakes and Harness Millions races. Todd’s dual success takes him to 24 wins for the season, his best is 38 (in 2020) though stakes-wise he's set to have his best season yet . And he’s hoping for many more Art Major winners as well. “We picked up a couple at the (yearling) sales - I wouldn’t mind a stable full of them.”

By Dave Di Somma, Harness Racing News Desk      A chance to own what’s believed to be a one-off piece of trotting memorabilia is currently on Trade Me.  They are a pair of Teal Pants signed by history-making driver Kerryn Manning. They were given to Harness Racing New Zealand to auction off as part of the Teal Pants campaign to raise awareness and funds for ovarian cancer research.  The auction finishes on Thursday afternoon.   Earlier this year  Manning became the first woman in history to rein home 4000 winners, she also created history when she trained and drove the 2015 New Zealand Cup winner Arden Rooney.  The Victorian took time out from her busy schedule to talk to HRNZ Marketing about the pants and what she thinks they are worth, as well as her achievements on the track.   To view the auction which finishes on Thursday - click here

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk  Southland driver-trainer Kirstin Barclay has had one last chance to say “see you later” to Watch Me Now. The two combined for their first ever Group One in the Breeders Stakes at Addington last month in what was the mare’s last race before heading offshore. It was an emotional win for Barclay and recently she took time out from her time at the NZB Standardbred yearling sales in Christchurch to have one last sit behind the horse she admits to being “very attached to”.     HRNZ Marketing

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk      High profile Southland breeder Katrina Price admits the last week has had its stresses. “The curve ball that was thrown at us - it’s been trying on the nerves,” she said, referring to the yo-yoing of Covid Alert Levels that saw this week’s NZB Standardbred yearling sales in Christchurch abruptly delayed. The sales, scheduled for Monday, were stopped their tracks and then postponed till this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. What it meant for Price was a long float trip back to Southland with three colts. “I was driving home thinking we have a full truck and empty pockets, but I guess that’s better than an empty truck and empty pockets so you have to look at the positives.” The decision to head home was to get them back to familiar and comfortable surroundings. “And they travelled so well, they haven’t left a crumb of feed.” They will head back to Christchurch first thing Sunday morning with a Father Patrick colt (Cochise) she’s preparing on behalf of Beaudiene Breeding up for sale early on Monday. The trotters’ parade is at 1pm, with the sale underway at 3pm. Also in the truck will be two highly-regarded Price Bloodstock Bettor’s Delight colts, with the well-related Chicago Bear being touted as a potential sales topper in Christchurch. He’ll go under the hammer on Wednesday. Price is well aware of the hype around the colt but says that “doesn’t equate to money in the pocket. But he is lovely and with his pedigree …” Chicago Bear is the fifth foal out of Christian Cullen mare Chicago Blues and a full brother to Chicago Bull. His exploits across the Tasman are well known. Bred by the Prices and foaled in 2012, Chicago Bull was exported to Perth as a two-year-old. He has now won a colossal 61 races from 92 starts, with stakes earners of around $NZ2.5m. He is the second highest race winner in the history of Southland harness racing, behind the incomparable Cardigan Bay (80). Price Bloodstock’s other yearling up for sale is Mandinka, out of Hartofdixie, an American Ideal mare who won six races for Barry Purdon. “He's from a beautiful family with such a good nature – I don’t think there’s much between them”. In his breeding line is the so-called “Me” horses including Dream About Me, Christen Me, and Adore Me. At the Auckland sales turnover topped $5m, at an average of over $50,000. It’s hard to know how that will translate to the Christchurch sales which are a much bigger event with nearly 300 lots compared to Karaka’s 134. Of those 75 are from Southern Bred Southern Reared. “It’s a diverse draft,” says Price, “and really nice quality.” One that Price hopes will see her drive south next week with an empty truck and full pockets.

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk     In Tracy Cadwallader’s words she now has “horses coming out my ears”. That’s because the only harness racing trainer in Hawkes Bay has had an influx of horses to her stable. “It’s hard to say no and I love the training side of it.” And it’s bringing results. On Tuesday (Feb 16) she got the first placing of her training career when Easy Does It got up for third in race 3 at Palmerston North. It was her first podium finish in 20 starts, dating back to the late 1990s. Back then she only had a few starters before changing tack and riding a lot of trackwork for a number of North Island thoroughbred trainers. She also took time out to have a family – she has a six-year-old. Wednesday’s placegetter Easy Does It is owned by Merv Martin. Cadwallader and Martin have a lot of horses in partnership – “I train them and own half of most of them”, she says. Eleven-race maiden Sipowicz (also owned by Martin) had a start for the stable at Manawatu as well, finishing fifth. All up Cadwallader has seven horses in work, and two being broken in. There are also 10 broodmares on site, with Martin selling two yearlings at last weekend’s Karaka Sales - Halfasleep (Lot 26) went for $5000 and Lot 41 Busload Of Faith for $25,000. “It never ends,” she says, “I have horses coming out my ears.” Some of the barn’s newcomers are well-known, including one of her more recent acquisitions, Madame Connoistre. She now leases the six-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare with Martin, after she won three from 19 with Joshua Dickie. They also lease Waingaro Ideal (one win – 6 starts) after the son of American Ideal had previous stints with Doug Gale and Nicky Chilcott. Others in her care include the unraced trio of five-year-old Highview Tommy mare Amoreena, Blaze Maguire (3 B c Bettor’s Delight – Saccha Maguire), and Indisposed (2 B g A Rocknroll Dance – Mystic Potion). The only trainer in Hawkes Bay, Cadwallader is well known for going the distance for her horses. She’s no stranger to doing the four hour round trip to the Palmerston North track as the 1000 metre track on her property isn’t suited to doing fast work. "Everyone at Palmerston North has been so supportive, I can't thank them enough, Dan Lynch, John and Stephen Doody and everyone else have gone out of their way for us." Home is a 30 hectare (75 acres) farm an hour’s drive from Hastings at the base of the Ruahine Ranges. “A lot of horses love the rolling countryside – they do a lot better.” In case you were wondering Cadwallader is “Welsh” – and yes it can be a pain having such a distinctive surname – “it drives me nuts sometimes”. With more and more horses heading to the races it may well be a name you’ll get to hear a lot more of in the weeks and months to come.

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk    It took 89 starts for Hans Ideal to finally get a win at the weekend – and some of the mare’s nearest and dearest weren’t there to see it. The seven-year-old capitalized on a perfect run to win at the Riverton Trotting Club meeting at Invercargill on Saturday for the father and son training combo of Ross and Chris Wilson. Ross races the horse along with son Rob and daughter-in-law Hannah. “They weren’t there, they were playing golf at the Gore Golf Classic,” said Ross Wilson, “we might have to get them imposed on the photograph! ” The horse was named after Hannah, following on from full brother Robs Ideal (named after Rob Wilson), who won seven races. Both Hans Ideal and Robs Ideal were bred by Ross Wilson, and are by American Ideal out of Regal Treasure. Hans Ideal’s victory has been a long time coming. She started racing as three-year-old in 2017, and before the weekend had been second on ten occasions and third eight times. “She’s been threatening to win one,” says Ross Wilson, “she loves sitting on the fence, two or three back and having one run at them.” And that’s exactly what happened at Ascot Park with driver Craig Ferguson getting home by three-quarters of a length. “It was just one of those races where everything panned out,” said Ferguson, “it was a bit of a thrill and a reward for Ross’ perserverance.” Hans Ideal (R9) will back up at Winton this Sunday. Her victory brings back memories of some of the horses over the years that had long overdue successes - pacers like Tortuff who won his first and only race for Timaru trainer Dick Caskey at start number 119. That victory for driver Peter Shand was at Gore in August 1998. Ferguson had three winners on the day, and two for the Wilsons. He bookended the programme with Hans Ideal (Race 1) and Robyns Shadow (Race 10) who produced a winning run down the outside to edge out Omaggio and favourite Sentry in the last of the day. View results for Riverton click here Now 70 Ross Wilson’s based at Whiterig near Gore where he has eight horses in work, and a band of broodmares at Macca Lodge. Synonymous with the “Robyn” horses Wilson’s current stable star is 12-race winner Robyns Playboy, who finished tenth in last year’s New Zealand Cup. Since the 1980s he has trained 113 winners on his own account and a further 18 during the past two seasons with son Chris. His most successful season was in 2019 (15 wins, $174,034 in stakes) with Robyns Playboy, Swift Robyn and Bridesdale Robyn among his winners. This season the winning tally stands at nine and that’s something Wilson senior is well aware of because of a rivalry he has with with friends, gallops trainers and fellow Southlanders Nikki and Barrie Blatch, who are based at Tapanui. “A chocolate fish goes to the trainer with the most wins,” says Ross, “it was a draw last year, this season I’m three ahead.”

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