Franco Santino and Nathan Williamson



Santino Smashes Track Record


Mile racing, more than most, is about breaking records and Neville Cleaver - owner of Franco Santino which smashed the Southland three year old record at the Wairio meeting today, was over the moon about not only the win, but the record that came with it.


And so too was the horse's trainer and driver Nathan Williamson. 


"Thrilled to be doing that. We were humming along right from the start. We'll have to look at the Southern Supremacy now,"


Read More...  








 Blair Orange and Somejoy 

Somejoy Wins Eighth Race


Logic said Somejoy would easily win her heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series today and she did just that.


From barrier nine driver Blair Orange realised he was on a hiding to nothing if he pressed forward so he eased the mare out of the gate and settled at the rear...



Read More...                        





 Brent Barclay and Smokin Mac   



Mac Smokin


Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray doesn't want to look too far ahead but by the way his trotter Smokey Mac in going he may have to.


The four year old Thanksgiving gelding - after his win today at the Wairio meeting, leads the Four Year Old Trotting Ruby for the end of season Harness Jewels. 


"Yeah he's heading the table now. It's a long time between now and then but we'll definitely have a go if he's going good. He's the type....



Read More...    




Come Dance With Me Oaks Chance
(Saturday 24th March 2018)


Bruce Stewart



Rangiora trainer Mitch Kerr missed his flight south today but his quality three year old filly Come Dance With Me did all the flying.


The Bettor's Delight filly was caught three wide early so driver Dexter Dunn sent her forward and she was travelling so well that she was taken to the top inside the 800 metres. From there she was never in doubt of winning, going to the finishing post under a hold to win by six lengths from Triroyale Brigade.  


"With Dexter on he gets the best out of them doesn't he. It was very pleasing. I really think the mile was right up her alley today," said stable representative Matt Anderson.


The winning time was 1-54.5 with the last 800 metres run in 56.9.



Under a tight hold - Come Dance With Me - Photo Bruce Stewart.




Back qualified of the Southland Oaks - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Come Dance With Me is now qualified for the Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southland Oaks Final on Diamonds Day at the end of April.


She was bred by Dennis Bennett and Linda Joyce and is out of the seven win Christian Cullen mare Lady Dancer. Her dam Jodi Vance left quality colts including Surprise Package which won thirteen races, a Victoria Cup and a further fourteen races in America. Jodi Vance also left Gentle Western which won four races here and thirteen more in the states.


 Come Dance With Me was bought by Paul Kerr at the Sale Of The Stars for $17,500. 


 Meanwhile Anderson notched up his 100th winner when he drove The Doorman to win at Forbury Park on Thursday. He currently leads the National Junior Drivers Championship with thirty two winners.  


"It's all coming together quite nicely. We just have to keep the foot down. Down south has been my main support, trainers have put me on unconditionally. Up home it can get a bit hard but if you draw the line and focus down here it's helpful. The travel's okay. You can't drive winners sitting on the couch at home."






Hello everyone


I'd like to invite you to join us Wednesday 4th April at the Ascot Park Racecourse, for a conversation about the racing industry.  Please register your attendance below.


It's been a busy start to 2018 for our Industry.  Weather, combined with track infrastructure has ensured the challenges impacting racing continue, but there's also a lot to be positive about with good Karaka sales, solid wagering, renewed Government commitment for the industry and some great racing. No doubt there will be a range of hot topics for discussion at my next round of industry conversations during March and April 2018.


We're absolutely committed to updating the industry on the work NZRB has underway to increase profitability and welcome the opportunity to hear from you first hand.


I encourage you to come with any questions you may have and together, we'll do our very best to answer them all.


I'm delighted to be joined by Edward Rennell, Chief Executive of Harness Racing New Zealand at this session.  We'll begin our discussion at 6pm, which will last for around an hour. Within this hour there will be time for questions, and I invite these from the floor. 


At 7pm we will continue the conversation over tea and coffee.


Should you have any particular issue you require detail on, you can email this to us in advance to


Please register your attendance here.


If you have any questions please contact our Head of Industry and Government Relations, Ian Long.


I look forward to meeting with you.





John Allen


New Zealand Racing Board




Destiny Jones Wins Main Trot
(Saturday 10th March 2018)

Bruce Stewart

Dean Hunter has only been living in Canterbury for the last month having relocated to the garden city from Blenheim and today's win by Destiny Jones in the Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights was his first from his new barn at Russley.

In today's trotting feature The Pres mare beat a nice field of squaregaiters, improving on her last start second to quality trotter Bordeax at Addington last week.

Hunter has trained Destiny Jones for most of her career but good friend Kevin Townley has also had a stint at training her.


“Kevin and I are very good friends and I’ve learnt most of my stuff from him.” 


Hunter says Destiny Jones career hasn't been without drama. 


“We’ve had our problems with her so it’s nice to have her back. She's had a wee nose bleed because she’s been popping blood vessels in her nose. It looks worse than it is. It isn’t happening further down but we’ve had to scratch her a few times. Hopefully we're on top of it now.”


The hot pace set primarily by Splash Cola suited Destiny Jones and driver Blair Orange. With a lap to run they got a drag into the race when Sundons Wish improved. Just before straightening Orange hooked the six year old mare out and she came three wide to make her claim. She trotted nicely to the line beating a late run from Harriet Of Mot. The winning margin was one and a half lengths with another head back to Jen Jaccka.



 Destiny Jones trotting out to win the Southern Light - Photo Bruce Stewart.




Returning to the birdcage with Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


The winning time of 3-27.2 was just outside Dark Horse's track record of 3-26.7 but the time is a new race record as this was the first time the Southern Lights has been run over 2700 metres. 


Hunter has held a trainers licence since 1988. He's trained twenty nine winners - twenty three of those being trotters.


Other good trotters he's had in his stable have been Mo Hahn (by Earl) which won five races and Avon Develd (Gee Whiz II) which also won five.


He also trains Dolly Jones a half-sister to Destiny Jones by Monkey Bones which ran third at Westport yesterday




Northern Southland Briefs
(Saturday 10th March 2018)

Bruce Stewart

Bettor’s Delight colt Another Masterpiece showed that he’d improved from a good third in the Sapling Stakes when he easily won the ILT Northern Tavern Mobile Pace for two year olds.

Taken straight to the front by Tim Williams Another Masterpiece, the only runner with raceday experience, beat two Southland trained runners Eloquent Mach and Bottle Rock.

“He’s still pretty green but every time he steps out he improves. We’ll see how he pulls up today as to whether he comes down for the Kindergarten. We have two other horses pencilled in to come down – Jack Jones and War Dan Delight,” said stable manager Michelle Neilson.

Another Masterpiece is trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.


  Another Masterpiece winning for Tim Williams - Photo Bruce Stewart.




Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart. 



A former Purdon/Rasmussen trained horse Bettor Be Gold won the next race.

He's now trained by Regan Todd at Woodend Beach, and he was too good for a large field of R45-R54 horses.

Driven by Samantha Ottley, the four year old had to settle in second place after being beaten for gate speed by Ansett Flight. But with 1800 metres to go Ottley came off the back of Ansett Flight to take the lead. That was how the order stayed with Better Be Gold winning by one and a half lengths.

It was Bettor Be Gold’s fifth start. As a two year old, he won the Garrards NZ Sires Stakes Series Silver and only had one start at three.


Better Be Gold winning for trainer Regan Todd and Samantha Ottley - Photo Bruce Stewart.


Bettor Than Gold - Photo Bruce Stewart.

The Canterbury run was broken by 16-1 long shot Carlo Gambino when the Wyndham trained four year old came from the back in the field to win by three quarters of a length.

The Mach Three four year old is out of Holly Patron.

“He needs the right run and he got that today,” said trainer driver Brendon McLellan.  


Carlo Gambino and Brendon McLellan winning at Ascot Park today - Photo Bruce Stewart.

Maiden winner Carlo Gambino - Photo Bruce Stewart.


Trainer Jack Harrington is considering nominating BD Son for the New Zealand Trotting Derby after the three year old gelding won the AON Insurance Brokers Gore Handicap Trot at Ascot Park today.

“After today’s win we’ll have to throw in a nomination. He’s a good wee horse. The biggest issues are in his head. We’ve had six starts with him. And the situation is that in work with another horse or in a race, he tries to get into fifth gear and goes too good for himself. When he gets in front he just latches on (to the bit) or when he sees another horse it’s all handlebars down,” he said.


 BD Son and Dexter Dunn beating Spotlight The Valley - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Three year old gelding BD Son after winning his third race - Photo Bruce Stewart 


Diminutive filly Kayla Marie showed she's all heart when she won the Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Fillies Classic.

By Bettors Delight out of Braeside Star the two year old is owned by Braeden Whitelock and his wife Caroline who bred the filly.

Driver Michelle Neilson settled her near the back of the field and when stablemate and favourite Dracarys broke and was out of play she moved Kayla Marie up to sit parked.

Inside the last 700 metres she moved the filly up to go head to head with leader Havtime and she won by half a length from Olivia Rachel who followed her into the race.

The winning time was 2-45.2.

“She’s got a lot of guts and tries her heart out. She sat parked at her last start and narrowly got beat and it was a gutsy run. Today she’s gone even better,” said Neilson.

It's been a magic few days for the Whitelocks. Princess Tiffany, which they part own with Phil and Margaret Creighton won the Group Two Delightful Lady Classic at Alexandra Park last night. 


 Kayla Marie holding out Olivia Rachel - Photo Bruce Stewart.



 Winning salute from Michelle Neilson.


Michelle Nielson, Kayla Marie, Clark Barron (CCS), Brendon Fahy (CCS), Debbie Smith (CCS), Vin Devery (CCS) and Nigel Fahy (Alabar) Photo Bruce Stewart.


Envious underlined her class when she won the Fillies and Mares feature at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park.


Trained by Jo Baynes, who shares in the ownership with husband Kenny, the Changeover mare worked her way to the front and stayed there for the rest of the 2200 metre trip.

Envious easily beating Diaba - Photo Bruce Stewart.




Envious returning 950 x 633_1.jpg 

 Winning salute from Matt Anderson - Photo Bruce Stewart.








Hogan’s Heroes

Former Southlander Paul Hogan has been breeding horses for a good number of years but it’s only just recently that he’s starting to see some quality stock coming through.

“Its 40 years later, but patience is a great thing. We may not be going if it wasn’t for a promise I made to PJ (Paddy) Dunne. It’s a hobby we enjoy (as a family). We don’t have boats or anything like that and we tend to spend our money on something we can see,” he said.

Hogan’s first venture into the industry was in the late 1970s when he bought a Nordell Skipper filly from Invercargill Vet Paddy Dunne.

Donore was bred by Dunne’s wife Grace and was out the Dick Adios mare Adiola.

“Paddy and I worked together for 16 odd years (for MAF in the freezing industry). We spent a lot of quality time together. In a lot of ways he was like a second father. He was a true blue Irish Kiwi. He did a lot for Southland Harness Racing over the years.”

Donore won two races for Drummond trainer Graham Bond. Her first win at Ascot Park in Invercargill was by ten lengths, and driven by Henderson Hunter.

As a broodmare her five live foals all qualified. Not bad for a mare that was served early on by stallions like Trusty Scot, Del Cavalla and Adios Vic.

Donore herself had a really sound pedigree that goes back to the Sungod mare Auburn Sun - an outstanding broodmare leaving Kiwi Grattan, the winner of nine races, Kiwi Air the dam of Tempest Air which left Kiwi Dillion (21 wins in America and 1-54.2) and Henry Hoover (8 wins). Auburn Sun also left Air Mail (Dillion Hall) who was the source of many good horses including Cirrus for Noel Drake. Cirrus left Motu Prince, Motu Princess and Hurricane Kiwi all of which won seven races.

Another product of Airmail was Kiwi Direct whose family has left a string of winners over the years and continues to provide good racehorses for Hamish Scott and Kim Lawson.

In amongst breeding and racing horses Paul showed an interest in learning the skills of being a blacksmith.

“It was because I wanted to do a bit myself. I did a year and a half with Charlie McDonald. I then went to the states for a year having taken a break from MAF. I didn’t just want to go on an OE. I wanted to do something with purpose. Bill Miller who was our tutor was a well - respected farrier. He was at Sportsman Park in Chicago for about twenty odd years. Harness horses were his thing so it was a real blessing to get beside him. I shod Amish mules, working horses, thoroughbreds - all sorts. It was a great experience.”

After the farriers course had finished Hogan stayed on in America for an extra two months and learned to treat quarter cracks and general foot trauma. It was a skill he put to good use when he returned home to New Zealand.

“Spirit of Zeus was probably one of the best horses I fixed. Brian (O’Meara) used to fly me up. I was also shoeing Christian Cullen (then two) at the time as well. Another horse I worked on was Natal Franco.”

While he was in the States he also got more insight into breeding and realised that he couldn’t approach it without a plan.


“We bred, as loyal Southlanders, to the local studs with limited success and no real plan. The foals were average in conformation and performance and it wasn’t until I went to Amfor about twenty odd years. Harness horses were his thing so it was a real blessing to get beside him. I shod Amish mules, working horses, thoroughbreds - all sorts. It was a great experience.”

After the farriers course had finished Hogan stayed on in America for an extra two months and learned to treat erica in 1986 for Farrier School that I met some old retired trainers from California.”

 They helped Hogan develop a plan for the future.

“They were adamant that we were losing Adios blood from the dam side and that that needed to be present, plus Albatross blood for improved confirmation. They also suggested that we needed to bring in Big Towner blood for speed and conformation. We didn’t see a Big Towner horse out here for a long time and when Ludell Hanover came out it made a big difference to our (Hogan’s) breed. ”

Donore already had the Adios blood in her pedigree.

“When Ludell Hanover came to Kina Craig he also brought Adios blood on his dam side and he was by Big Towner. The three foals we bred by Ludell Hanover - two out of Donore and the other one out of Alondra (Transport Chip – Adiola) all won races.”

So Donore went to Ludell Hanover and her first foal by that stallion Kickya Shoes Off was sold to Australia where he won five races.

But the birth of her next foal, also by Ludell Hanover was to be her last as Donore died shortly after.

“She got up to give her foal a drink and then died.”

Hogan had to send out an SOS message on the local radio station 4ZA (coincidentally it was probably this writer  that put the message on air, being the presenter of the Friday night racing programme Track talk at the time) looking for a foster mother. Balfour equestrian breeder Robert Grant answered the call providing Hogan with an Anglo-Arab mare that had produced a dead foal a day earlier.

“I brought the mare home and the foal sidled up to her straight away.”


 Cass Hanover with her Anglo-Arab foster mother with Paul Hogan.


So Paddy Dunne’s old breed was hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

As the filly, named Cass Hanover started to grow, Hogan could see that his plan to breed to a Big Towner stallion was going to be beneficial.

“Cass Hanover really gave us that strong physique that the old fellas were talking about so the plan paid off.”

From only sixteen starts as a racehorse she won three and was third a further three times. Paul trained and drove her.

“I probably cost her two wins through inexperience.”

As a broodmare Cass Hanover left four foals by Miles McCool, Cameleon, Spirit Of Zeus and Washington VC.

The filly by Washington VC was the only one to get to the races.

“It was Yvonne’s (wife) choice to go to Washington VC. In hindsight it was a very very good choice. That made a hell of a difference to where we were heading. She really liked the horse. We went out to the Norman’s. He’s not a tall horse but he’s got a beautiful head on him. She took a liking to him. The Normans had done such a good job with Son Of Afella and Yvonne’s argument was ‘why wouldn’t they do a good job with Washington VC’.”

The Washington VC filly named Bubba Ho Tep won four races out of the Cran Dalgety barn. She was retired after running a courageous second to San Rafaella in the Canterbury Mares Speed Series at Addington in February 2012. She had strained a suspensory ligament on her near side.

Her first foal Bringitonhome (Courage Under Fire) was sold to Greg Payne for $22,000 at the 2015 Sale of the Stars. He wasn’t sighted on the racetrack at all early on and when enquires were made as to what the horse was up to, Hogan was able to buy him back.


“We’re fortunate to have been able to buy him back off Greg and we’re grateful for that. I guess he was always coming home given his name. He did nothing as a three year old and I think things happen for a reason. I think that time off is going to stand to him. I think he’s going to be a nice four and five year old. The stable like him.”

From three public appearances for Cran Dalgety Bringitonhome is unbeaten at two workouts and won his qualifying trial at Rangiora by two and a quarter lengths in 2-28.4 for the 2000 metres mobile.

Bringitonhome is raced by the Hogans with good Southland friends Ross Ramsey and Murray and Jill Forde. He won recently at Addington at his first start.

Bubba Ho Tep’s second foal, Mistahmistah, a colt by Sportswriter has only been beaten once in six appearances and that was to stablemate Times Stride at his very first workout at Ashburton in April. He’s won two workouts and two trials and won his first start at Addington in July.

His win at Addington was a milestone in itself. It provided driver Dexter Dunn with his 2,000th winner.



Mistahmistah after his first win. Paul and Yvonne Hogan and two of their daughters are on your right 


He’s since been sold to Australia and won his first start for new trainer Kyle Harper at Gloucester Park in mid-December.

“I hope he does a great job because it would be great for the breed. He’s certainly started well.”

The mare’s next foal, a colt by Shadow Play, is a yearling.

“The Shadow Play is a beautiful looking yearling. We’ve just finished gaiting him up at Jeff Whittaker’s.”

Bubba Ho Tep has just had a filly foal by Sportswriter.

 “The old retired trainers that I talked to were also adamant that good fillies had to ‘bring back’ to the sire the blood of his dam. So by putting Bubba Ho Tep to Sportswriter we achieved that.”

Sportswriter’s second dam is by Big Towner while Bubba Ho Tep’s dam Cass Hanover is of course by Big Towner stallion Ludell Hanover.

“Bubba was a nice big horse with speed and stamina. She’s done a grand job with her first three colts and now she’s left us a beautiful filly.”

So after a somewhat slow start Hogan says his breed has gone to another level. But he knows not to get too carried away.

“Let’s be clear. It’s early days for Bubba but it’s very encouraging. She’s leaving them with speed and they’re a nice type of horse.”

Buppa Ho Tep was served by Always B Miki in the middle of December.

‘He’s a bit of a class act on his bloodlines. He’s a sensational looking horse. We’ve got a doubleup of Big Towner. We’ve got Albatross and Adios thick through his pedigree. If she leaves us a filly we’ll be over the moon or if she leaves us a colt we’ll be as happy as.”

Away from the horses - when you dig back into Hogan’s own bloodlines there’s some interesting stuff there. His mother’s Grandfather was Ned Condon.

“He had draught horses that ploughed around Riverton and Thornbury. I think he ploughed the original Riverton racecourse and he was Clerk of the Course for a few years.”

The pedigree line is interesting on his father’s side too where thoroughbred trainer PT (Putt) Hogan appears.

He trained many winners including Queen of Song which won the 1936 Wellington Cup as a four year old and also raced in the 1936 Melbourne Cup running fourth behind 100-1 shot Wotan. Queen Of Song also won the 1939 Dunedin Cup as a seven year old.

His best galloper though was Rorke’s Drift which was described as one of the most enduring and best handicap weight carriers in Southland in his time. His career started at the Ashburton A&P Show where he ‘won his ticket’ as a carriage horse.

He was gelded, but not before he’d left two handy steeplechasers. He was then sent to Invercargill to be developed as a jumper by his owner Mr J Grigg. His trainer PT Hogan soon discovered that he had good ability on the flat and his jumping career was put on hold.

After showing his worth as a race horse he was put up for auction and bought by Mr FA Price for 650 guineas. Mr Price raced him for most of his career.

By the end of his career Rorke’s Drift had won 23 races including three Birthday Handicaps at Wingatui, two Dunedin Cups as well as the Riverton, Winton, Southland and Wyndham Cups. He also won the Winter Hurdles in 1922 at Trentham as a ten year old. He continued to race until he was twelve.

Coincidentally, FA Price who owned Rorke’s Drift, is former Winton harness trainer Roger Price’s grandfather.

Other winners for Putt Hogan included Town Major which won the 1931 Parliamentary Handicap and Sirius which won the 1905 Winton Cup.

There’s also a bit of breeding on Yvonne’s side of the family. Her father Graeme Wright was a regular racegoer and owned Free Trouble with Eddie Geary and trainer Ron Barron. The Young Charles gelding won four races. He provided Clark Barron with his first winning drive at Forbury Park in October 1980. 

“That’s the strong racing part that comes through. I think it’s in your genes alright,” Paul commented.

So after working for Ecolab during the past 28 years as an account manager for the New Zealand and Australian markets Paul Hogan who celebrated his 60th birthday recently, is taking it a bit easier and enjoying being close to the bloodstock he’s bred.

Paul and Yvonne live on a 50 acre block at West Melton next door to Coaster Howes.

“They do their spelling here. We get Jeff and Tracey (Whittaker) to do all the weaning and breaking in because they’ve got a great set up.”

So breeding and racing Standardbreds is an experience that Paul and Yvonne are continuing to enjoy with their three daughters Lydia, Jemma and Virginia alongside a few old Southland mates.

I suspect there a bit more to come in this story yet.








Coast To Coast Higgins

John Higgins (Higgie), has been an Insurance Agent for forty two years and he’s been around Standardbreds for slightly longer. He’s lived in Invercargill for over forty years but does a fair amount of his business in Central Otago and his beloved West Coast. In fact every December and January he heads to the Coast and takes in the racing on the summer circuit.

Higgins was born in Westport where the family are well known, having bred and raced horses for many years.

One of thee Standardbred families they’ve had success with was started in the early fifties when Jim (J.E.) Higgins bred Kingcobra mare Pitterpat. She was out of a Jack Potts mare Red Queen. Pitterpat won twice.

“Uncle Frank and Uncle Jim had a farm. They had stables and used to do a lot of horses with Dad (Sid). My Grandfather was a legal bookie. It was like the old days – a lot of the work was done in the billiard saloon. Trotting was really strong in Westport. There were the Higgins and the Reedys,” said John.

Pitterpat’s first foal was Honest Master filly Coolit. Coolit left Patsy Marie (Schell Hanover) and her claim to fame was beating the ‘boys’ Bionic Adios and Fouroux in the 1980 Methven Two Year Old Stakes. She was trained by Higgin’s cousin Bob Higgins.

John went to school at St Pauls School in Dunedin and that’s where he became more hands on with horses.

“I used to go to Forbury Park and help around there. When I came to Southland I mucked around with horses at Jock Purdue’s. I also helped Bryce Buchanan and Gary McEwan. I then went out on my own doing some pre-training.”

His first horse was King Red. He was by Ferndale Bachelor out of Ann Frank. Ferndale Bachelor was a colonial stallion by Bachelor Hanover out of Queen Ngaio making him a half-brother to Waratah (Johnny Globe) which won eight races and Trio (Lordship) which won sixteen. Queen Ngaio herself won ten races. She was by Light Brigade and she was trained by Felix Newfield. As a four year old she won five races – four in a row including two on the same day at Oamaru in October 1958.

In 1989 Higgins also part-owned a daughter of Queen Ngaio - a Garrison Hanover mare called Reassurance. Higgin’s bred from the mare for a few seasons and raced one of her progeny Georgia Rose. Georgia Rose was trained by Buchanan and ventured north to Auckland and raced in a number of two year old fillies races. She won once at the Franklin meeting in the hands Michael Langdon. At that point Michael’s father John had taken over her training. She was then exported to Australia and won another five races there. As a broodmare mare in Australia, Georgia Rose has left Alberado (Albert Albert) 18 wins, Modern Warrior (Modern Art) 14 wins and Bettor Atom (Bettor’s Delight) 15 wins.

In the late 1980s Higgins also purchased with Buchanan, Heather’s Bo (Bo Scot Blue Chip – Heatherloch). Heatherloch turned out to be a prolific breeder leaving Scottish Loch (7 New Zealand wins plus 30 American wins), Yankee Loch (20 trotting wins) Scotch Cloud (12 USA wins) Cloud Over (30 USA wins).

“Bryce and I bought her (Heather’s Bo) at the sales and paid about $20,000 for her which was dear at the time. She had arthritis so she never raced.”

Heather’s Bo did leave Eileen Monica which won seven races and Patches (Live Or Die) which recorded 17 wins.

Later on Higgins started to breed from the Bo Scots Blue Chip mare Patsy McCreedy which was a descendant of the old mare Pitterpat. Patsy McCreedy left good pacer Padraig (Holmes Hanover) which won five races for Murray Brown before heading to America where he won another 14. She also left Starship gelding White Star Rocky which won two races in New Zealand before winning another eleven races in Australia.

Lyse Doucet, a Holmes Hanover mare out of Patsy McCreedy, is still being bred from by Higgins. She’s left seven foals so far with the best being Eilis Rose. She was by Courage Under Fire and Higgins raced her with John Thompson. She won four races in New Zealand for Murray Brown. She was exported to Australia in 2012 and ended up winning another six races there, recording a best mile rate of 1-53.9.

“She used to break up and had bloody issues here. One of the reasons we sent her to Australia was mile racing.”

She was brought back to New Zealand to breed from and she has a three year old American Ideal filly called Ideal Millie, an unregistered Art Major filly and is in foal to A Rocknroll Dance.

Incidentally, John Thompson recently owned the winner of the Group One $1,000,000 Kingston Town Stakes, Pounamu. He also owned the 2000 Caulfield Cup winner Diatribe. He races his horses in the colours of black with the silver fern.

“He was from Queenstown originally but now lives in Sydney. I got him started with pacers and he got into gallopers in a big way.” 

Booster (Badlands Hanover), which won seven races and his full brother Sniggihdis (Sid Higgins spelt backwards), which had ten New Zealand and Australian wins, are other winners out of Lyse Doucet.

She’s also the dam of the promising Liberty Dance - a Mach Three filly with Mark Jones that ran second once in two starts last season as a two year old. She was the favourite in last season’s Sweet Lou Leonard Memorial Stakes, finishing sixth. The mare’s latest foal also a filly, is by Somebeachsomewhere.

The Higgins family are also breeding from a full-sister to Eilis Rose in Mary Niven. Her Rocknroll Heaven filly Rocknroll Nevin has won two races to date for Higgins’ brother Robert. He also owns her next foal by A Rocknroll Dance.

John has raced many horses over the years. They were mainly trained by the late Bryce Buchanan and Findlay Road trainer Murray Brown.

One of his better ones was good two year old Badlands Hanover filly Hemisphere. She won three of her twenty two starts including the Group Three Nevele R Stakes for Two Year Old Fillies beating Arden’s Darlin and Delight Me. She also won a heat of the Sires Stakes for Two Year Old Fillies and dead heated for second with Arden’s Darlin in the 2008 Caduceus Classic for Two Year Old Fillies, one and a half lengths behind winner Rona Lorraine.

“After the Jewels she was never the same horse. She did have a respiratory issue which we got looked at at Massey which never came to anything. In saying that we probably pushed her a bit as a two year old because she was a big horse when you look at her now. She probably never matured until she was four or five.”

Hemisphere was out of the OK Bye mare Trans Tasman. She is a half - sister to handy horses Caps Off and Badlands Bute.


 John Higgins and Murray Brown after Hemisphere's win at Addington.


“Trans Tasman is out of Te Phyno. Danny Boyle had that breed. He loaned her (Trans Tasman) to me. I’d always supported Nevele R. That’s how I got Hemisphere.”

Hemisphere’s second foal, a filly by Stunin Cullen named Bardot, qualified recently at Rangiora for Benny Hill and he could be Higgins next nice horse.

“They’re not saying much. She’s a nice pacer and does everything right. They think she’s got a lot to learn as she’s a bit of a green horn. Everything she does she seems to improve each time. She’s been turned out at my cousin Joan Adair’s place. She used to own Windbag. We tried a couple of times to get her (Hemisphere) in foal to Christian Cullen but couldn’t. That’s why we went to Stunin Cullen. Hemisphere is in foal to Sweet Lou and she’s got a nice two year old Bettor’s Delight filly which Brent Barclay and Lauren Pearson have broken in and like.”

So for a guy who’s put a bit of money into the Standardbreds it would be nice to see him reap the rewards from Bardot and of course tell the story of a few wins over a few beers between here and the West Coast.

Editor’s note: Since this article was written Bardot has gone on and won her first starts for Higgins.




Adam Bowden

Diamond Creek Farm is fast becoming a major player in the New Zealand Standardbred breeding industry with stallions like A Rocknroll Dance, Sweet Lou, Father Patrick and Always Be Miki.

Diamond Creek Farm is based in North America. They has two farms, both of which are run by thirty six year old Adam Bowden.

“I’d like to think we’re an up and coming stud that’s knocking on the door of the top two or three,” he said.

Bowden was introduced to harness racing as a kid with his grandfather and father racing cheap claimers in the state of Maine.

“It’s not a harness heavy state (Maine) but we went to the track at the weekends and I learned how to do the maths, reading the programme and figuring out odds. They got out of it and growing up I was not involved in horses at all,” Bowden said.

His father Chris now runs an acquisitions and management company specializing in real estate while his grandfather Glen is the President of a small trucking company in Maine.


Adam’s interest waned somewhat when both his grandfather and father got out of the industry and he concentrated on getting an education. But the dream of getting back into the industry never went away.

“During my freshman years at college I reached out to Hanover Shoe Farms looking at getting back into it. I figured I’d start with the biggest and the best. I worked for them for two years. After University I learned how to shoe horses and did that for a number of years and ended up managing a couple of farms learning from the ground up.”

Diamond Creek Farm was started in 2005.

“We started with three farms in Kentucky and expanded to Pennsylvania to take advance of the breeder’s awards there. We sold two farms in Kentucky and now have one in each state.”

Bowden says the Kentucky farm in the horse rich Paris area is 260 acres and it has a special significance.

“We developed it from scratch. It was an old cattle farm that didn’t really have anything on it. It’s my pride and joy. When I bought it the grass was over my waist and there was no road or fencing on it.  I took a lawn mower and cut out the road. “

The Pennsylvania property was already a stud farm. It’s situated at Wellsville and is just under 150 acres.

“It was in major need of some TLC.”

In the early days the focus was just on developing the farms, the facilities and the quality of the broodmares, not having stallions on farm.

“We didn’t do it for the first few years because we were getting the farms off the ground and expanding our broodmare band.”

When the broodmare quality started to get better, consideration was given to purchasing stallions and Bowden’s approach was to be revolutionary.

“I was 30 years old and who’s going to entrust their horse with a guy that has never done it before? We had to go out and take a rise and buy into these horses before others did. Most people bought into stallions when horses were done racing. We changed the way people are now entering the stallion market by going after these horses as early two year olds.”

Although Ponder was on the scene in the early days Bowden still regards A Rocknroll Dance as the first stallion Diamond Creek Farm got involved in.

“He was the first really big horse we invested in. We’ve followed that model and now everyone is chasing after us by getting involved earlier. He was the horse as a two year old, that we identified as the one we wanted to go after and build our reputation on. He had some struggles during his racing career but he was still one of the top horses at three and four. He then entered the stallion barn and ended up breeding to a full book in his first year. We’ve been thrilled with not only the people that breed to him but also the guys buying the horses.”


 Adam Bowden


He’s one of the leading sires of two year olds in North America at the moment and Bowden proudly points out that two of his top three progeny were bred by Diamond Creek Farm, including quality colt Lost In Time.  

“We ended up buying back into the best one Lost In Time. If Lost In Time is named Two Year Old of the Year it’ll be a huge boom for a first year stallion to get off the ground like that. Somebeachsomewhere did it with Captaintreacherous in his first crop and Andover Hall did it with Donato Hanover. These horses need a good colt right away. A Rocknroll Dance did it with 69 live foals compared to some of these other horses that have a hundred plus.”

A Rocknroll Dance has served 373 mares in three seasons in New Zealand and has 146 named foals that are either two year olds or yearlings. He has a further 50 unregistered foals. To date five of his two year olds have qualified.

“The reports are good. I think they broke (in) well and I think the trainers like them. But it only matters if they do it on the track so they’re going to have to show up and win some big races.”

Bowden says after being around a lot of his progeny either on the home farms or at the recently held sales he’s got to know what a typical A Rocknroll Dance horse looks like.

“Looks wise we find we can spot them now. They’re maybe not the prettiest horses in the head but as long as they win people are prepared to forgive that. They’re beautiful bodied horses. In the states they’re good gaited horses, got good attitudes and they try very hard. That was one of the things about A Rocknroll Dance that stood out. He was tough and tried all the time. If he can pass those traits on, the sky’s the limit for him.”

Yankee Cruiser stallion Sweet Lou is also on the Diamond Creek Farm roster. He won close to three million dollars and was Dan Patch Two Year Old Pacing Colt of the Year, Dan Patch Older Pacer of the Year and US Pacer of the Year. He’s served 175 mares in two seasons on the job and his oldest crop in New Zealand are yearlings.

“Lou’s an interesting one because he puts a bit more colour into the breed. More than these other plain bay horses. They’re flashy and have a presence. People pay for that up here. He stood for half the service fee of Captaintreacherous and he out averaged him at both sales. His stock are a bit quirky because he was that way. The training reports so far are very optimistic and I tend to be a bit more cautiously optimistic than most but based on the reports we have so far he’s going to be a big hit.”

Diamond Creek Farm are also huge investors in trotting and have 35 trotting mares on their books. The farm is the home of trotting stallion Father Patrick.

He won 23 of his 33 starts and banked $2.6 million in three seasons of racing. He’s also the holder of two World Records and his best mile time was 1-50.4. He’s been a popular addition to the stallion ranks in New America getting 73 mares in his first season and 135 the next season when he was fully in his stride.

 “He stood for a high fee up here and still raced in the year he stood so he had a very limited number of mares. The response at the sales was huge. He stamps them as much as Lou does but in the opposite way. They’re plain paper bag wrapping type horses, but they’re corrected, great bodied horses, have great length and scope to them. He seems to have cleaned up a lot of the conformational flaws that mares have. They’re not a big heavy horse. They’ve got a sleek refined look and look as though they can trot a hole through the wind. Training reports are great. We’ve invested a ton of money in these young stallions hoping that one of them or all of them hit. Reports so far are on the up for both Sweet Lou and Father Patrick.”

Bowden says part of Diamond Creek Farm’s philosophy is that they like to have a share in all of the stallions they stand.

“That shows the ownership groups that we want to be a player and we believe in the horse. We try and buy at least twenty percent of every horse we’re involved in. We back them with our horses and our client’s horses. We do that from the beginning for at least the first four years. We’ve made the syndicates lots of money and I’m proud of the work I’ve done. It’s a team effort from the girls in the office to the stallion handlers.”

Always B Miki is another stallion on the Stud’s book. He’s the only horse in history to win a race in sub 1-47 more than once. He was named 2016 US Horse of the Year and won over $2.8 million.

“Always B Miki was a freak on the track and exhibited class, courage, and the ultimate desire to win. We were in the right place at the right time when it came to securing the ability to stand the horse. Relationships matter and a friendship with the owners allowed a deal to be struck and the rest is history. As one of his owners reiterates to me, ‘He is the gift that keeps on giving.’"


He’s available to downunder breeders through Nevele R and Alabar Studs.


Another exciting prospect for breeders is Downbytheseaside. He’s a son of Somebeachsomewhere which won over wo million.



“Plans are to shuttle him to the Southern Hemisphere. He doesn’t have a deal in place yet but if everything goes according to plan then he would arrive for the 2018 breeding season. He’s got a full book here. We’re limited to 140 breeding mares per year. We’ve got 200 contracts in so we have to go through them and decide. He’s the next new big one we’re going after and making him into hopefully the next great one.”   


Bowden has been to New Zealand three times now and has been impressed with the quality of land and the people that are involved in the industry here – the reason he sends stallions to the southern hemisphere.

“John Curtin was gracious enough to take me round and introduce me to all kinds of people in New Zealand and Australia. The response we got from A Rocknroll Dance piqued my interest. He was a horse that would ‘fit’ travelling. He travelled and performed well when he raced. His semen quality and numbers were excellent and off the charts, so there was no reason not to do it.”

A Rocknroll Dance has shared New Zealand custody, being available at both Nevele R and Alabar Studs.

“He was an expensive horse to get involved with and it was nice to get the backing of two major farms. For a horse to be successful you need involvement and the client base that both farms provide made for a deal that was too good to pass on.”

Diamond Creek Farm has between 15 to 20 staff depending on the season with the heavier number during the yearling prep and foaling season.

“We’ve been lucky enough to find great people that are prepared to go back and forth between the farms depending on the season.”

Each year they prepare between 30 and 50 yearlings.

“We take most of our yearlings to the sales but we have a handful of mares that we keep everything out of, no matter what.”

They’re also keen investors in the future of the industry and offer internships which run between six and  twelve months.

“We struggled for years trying to find quality help that was willing to give us time and we could never seem to find people we were happy with. We’ve gone for younger kids - boys and girls from University who were looking to get their foot in the door and we provide that opportunity.”

 At the recent Lexington Yearling Sales they sold an A Rocknroll Dance - Somewherovrarainbow colt for $330,000. Somewherovrarainbow, which is owned by Bowden, won 18 races and $1,264,348 and paced a mile in 1-48.0. She was the winner of the 2012 Dan Patch Award for Two Year Old Filly of the Year.

“It was to dissolve a partnership. It was great for the horse, the stallion and my mare. We ended up keeping it by buying out our partner. We had to pay that type of money to do that.”

Another top end mare on Diamond Creek Farms books is Bettor’s Delight mare See You At Peelers. She won 26 of her 31 starts and was named Dan Patch Award two and three year old filly of her year.

The stud is also credited with winning three respective Breeders Crown races at Woodbine in October 2015. The winners were Pure Country, Creatine and Divine Caroline. Creatine and Pure Country were part-owned by Bowden.

On the breeding front in New Zealand the number of pacing mares being served this season is the lowest for some time. Bowden says it’s a similar situation in America.

“It’s the same here. It’s a pain in the butt. It’s tough to make money. You’ve got to find a niche and you’ve got to really explore it to make money and that’s very difficult to do. The guys that used to breed five to ten mares are no longer involved. You’re left with some major farms and guys that breed to one or two mares. The middle guy is gone.” 

Diamond Creek Farm has a total of 31 pacing broodmares on their books.

Bowden says one part of the industry that appears to be growing in New Zealand is trotting. Figures released by NZSBA show the number of trotting mares being served is growing.

“The first time I came down there it was the forgotten gait. In the last few years it picked up because more and more horses are available to the breeders and that can only be good for the sport.”

Diamond Creek Farm also races some of it’s stock, generally capping the number at 20 race horses per season. Their racing stock includes Pure Country ($2,233,566 and 1-48.0). She was named two and three year old filly of her year. Race horses owned by the stud are trained by Jimmy Takter, Ron Burke, Linda Toscano and former Southern boy Nifty Norman.

“She (Pure Country) is out of a mare (Western Montana) that I purchased. She (Western Montana) was the third horse I ever purchased when I got involved in 2005 so Pure Country is a pure homebred.” 

They’ve also ventured into sponsorship in New Zealand, being naming rights sponsors of the Group One New Zealand Derby and also The Group Two Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic in Southland. They also sponsor a race on Breeders Crown and Hambletonian Days.

Without doubt Diamond Creek Farm will have a major influence on the New Zealand Breeding scene over the next few years and beyond.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response from breeders down under and we hope like heck that these horse turn out.”

Editors note: Woodlands Stud have secured the services of Downbytheseaside.




Anthony MacDonald to hold ownership seminars in New Zealand


Harness Racing New Zealand is thrilled to announce that Canadian harness racing trainer and driver, Anthony MacDonald, will visit New Zealand in September.


Best known as the founder of the fractional ownership operation ‘The Stable’, MacDonald has been a driving force in
increasing ownership in Canada and introducing new blood into harness racing.


MacDonald ran for local government in Guelph in 2014, campaigning to help save harness racing following the loss
of slot machine funding and raising awareness about the sport and what it provides in terms of local employment and


During his time campaigning he knocked on hundreds of doors, and realised that there was a huge untapped market
of potential owners.
He talked to people who had heard of horse racing, but had the perception that it was only for
rich people. They had no idea that they could be involved; let alone how to become a part of it. With this in mind,
MacDonald started ‘The Stable’ in September 2015, with the aim to make horse ownership easy for a whole new market,but also to break down the walls of communication and demystify harness racing to the outside world.


He would take on horses that hadn’t sold at yearling sales for vendors, but also has been purchasing yearlings from
sales too, and would market the horses to potential new owners as they were being broken in and worked. This allowed people to see the horse in action and follow its progress by way of video and live drone updates, before committing to purchasing a share.

MacDonald has ensured that the shares remain affordable, with shares as small as one percent available. With initial
buy in costs varying, depending on the purchase price of the yearling, and then a set fee per month ensures the owners know what it will cost them. The Stable markets itself strongly on the fact that this is not a money making venture –but an affordable form of entertainment.

Each yearling is then listed on with its own profile, cost breakdown, monthly progress video reports
and stunning live drone footage of the horse working in a set with other young horses. There is a strong focus on utilisingsocial media as a communication tool also so you can watch the horse work from anywhere in the world. In fact,The Stable has owners all across the world now, including New Zealand.

The results in just three years have been outstanding. In the first year The Stable had 65 owners join into 25 horses.
The following year 140 owners went into 62 horses. And in 2017, 392 owners went into 106 horses.

But what is most impressive is the retention rate. 97 percent of those owners have now gone on to join into other horses,from year one to two to three with The Stable.

The Stable has been a huge success story in not only selling shares, but selling the industry of harness racing and the
thrill it provides just by being an owner. Reaching a whole new market of owners who previously felt ownership was
far out of their league financially.

A passionate public speaker, MacDonald will bring his experience and findings to New Zealand and will hold free
seminars in Invercargill, Christchurch and Auckland. These seminars will not only be open to trainers and syndicators
who are interested in finding out more about how they can attract new owners, and find out more about communication options that are available to them, but to all who are interested in attending.

“I’m really excited to be coming to New Zealand. It has always been a place I wanted to visit. I might have a foreign
accent, but my love for racing is the same as yours,” MacDonald joked.

 “The future of our industry will rely heavily on its ability to provide the general public with a fresh option for their
entertainment dollars. We are the only industry that offers participation at an affordable price and that alone has the
power to tip the entertainment scales in our direction in the future,” MacDonald said.

“The Stable’s pillars are: Communication; Customer Service; Professionalism and Hard Work. These are things that
are very attainable and sustainable in any industry, especially ours.”

This will also be a wonderful opportunity for cadets and junior drivers to learn more about self-promotion and
communication, first hand from a harness racing trainer and driver who has forged a new path in the international

Below are the dates for the Anthony MacDonald seminars proudly presented by Harness Racing New Zealand, which
will be free to anyone who wishes to attend. Please note numbers are limited at some venues:


Friday 21 September 2018 7pm Mararoa Room - Ascot Park Hotel, Southland.





 Williamson 700 (Saturday 10th February 2018)



Bruce Stewart


Today at Gore Southland driver Nathan Williamson drove his 700th winner when Picketts Ridge won Race One. 


His first winner was Brooker for his father Phil at Forbury Park in August 2005.


Williamson has won the Southland Drivers Premiership for the past eight years but this year he's been challenged by former premiership winner Brent Barclay who drives primarily for the powerful Brett Gray stable.


Nathan is part of the Williamson trotting dynasty which includes father Phil and brothers Matty and Brad - all of whom drive. 


But as far as the Williamson family pecking order goes Nathan is still top dog with 700 winners followed by Matty 674, Phil has 327 and Brad 229.


On stakes won, Matty is on $5,755,279. Nathan sits at $5,680,917. Phil is on $1,751,310 and Brad $1,740,413.

Between them the family has won a remarkable 1,926 races and $14,927,919!




Nathan’s 700 winners – fact sheet

First winner: Brooker 18th August 2005 at Forbury Park.
100th winner: Waihemo Cullen Cromwell 7/01/2008
500th winner: Splash Cola Invercargill 24/01/2015

700th winner: Picketts Ridge Gore 10/02/2018

Trainers for whom he's driven winners: Own (176), Phil Williamson (93), Brent Shirley (49), Katrina, Roger and John Price (31), Billy Heads (23), Geoff and Jude Knight (20) and Brett Gray (17).

Pacing winners: 428

Trotting winners: 272

Biggest winner: Springbank Richard 63-20-7-4.

Best season (winners and stakes): 2016 591-100-74-59 $719,327 UDR .2720


Most driving wins in one day: Four

Northern Southland TC 26/09/2014: Fantasy Dream Girl, Sonova Gun, Onedin Mach and Costa Del Magnifico,

Invercargill HRC 5/12/2014: I Smart, Degas, Dwindle Mist and Costa Del Magnifico

Riverton TC 1/11/2015: Jen Jaccka, Tas Man Bromac, Machrie and Grey Power

Invercargill HRC 15/03/2015: Sheeza Shark, Ode To Success, Zac Mac and Lola Jaccka

Invercargill HRC 24/01/2015: Poppymalda, Cool Changes, Tas Man Bromac and Splash Cola

Forbury Park TC 16/06/2016: Cullens Lady, Culler Coded, Hurricane Banner and Spur Wing

Gore HRC 24/04/2016: Fiddlethefool, The Jinja Ninja, Sun's Invasion and One Cool Chick

Invercargill HRC 22/11/2015: Zen Warrior, Grey Power, Black Athena and Pavarotti



Listed winners:
• 2006 Ordeal Trotting Cup (Jasmyn’s Gift)
• 2007 Three Year Old Ruby (Springbank Richard)
• 2008 4 year old Ruby (Springbank Richard)
• 2009 Ordeal Trotting Cup (Springbank Richard)
• 4 year old Trotters Championship (Larix)

Group Three
• 2008 4 year old Trotters Championship (Springbank Richard)
• 2009 DG Jones Trotting Cup (Springbank Richard)
• 2009 Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile (Springbank Richard)
• 2010 DG Jones Trotting Cup (Springbank Richard)
• 2013 Trotters Championship (Phil’s Gift)

Group One 
• 2006 NZ Trotting FFA (Jasmyn’s Gift)
• 2009 Dominion Handicap (Springbank Richard)



Southland Junior Drivers premiership: 2009 and 2010
Southland Driver premierships: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,2014, 2015 and 2016.






Branxholme’s Boutique Barn

Despite selling one of Southland’s longest serving Standardbred Stud farms; Kina Craig in Balfour, Ross and Robyn Jones were never going to walk away from the harness racing industry.

Enthusiasm for harness racing in Southland has lead them to the decision to design and construct a purpose built boutique breeding barn with accommodation attached.

The showcase establishment has sixteen well- appointed paddocks and lanes on thirty five acres. All paddocks are deer fenced.

“It’s (deer fencing) cost us an arm and a leg. The property is purpose built whereas Balfour was just added onto from a sheep farm. This place was built from a blank page and we built it exactly how we wanted it,” said Ross.

The operation is located at Branxholme in Southland, inland from Makarewa and Ryal Bush and is adjacent to their son in-law Nathan Williamson’s training establishment.

The property was previously owned by the late Des West and has never had horses on it.

Ross says it’s time to do things on a smaller scale.

“I’ve taken on some local clients where the mares will just come in and foal. The likes of Kirk Larsen, Ben and Karen Calder - and the Thomson boys are just over the road. Diane Cournane is going to send over her mares. We’ll also serve a few and get them to come back in sixteen days to test them.”

So the numbers will be relatively small because they plan to accommodate between twenty five and thirty mares.

“I’ll feel my way for the first couple of years to see how we go with the space and the spring and summer grass growth. This is a totally new area and climate for us.”



 Ross Jones


It’s certainly a far cry from the days of operating the 500 acres at Kina Craig which was established in 1980 by Ross and his father Allen who’s now in his 95th year.

Jones says in the end, Kina Craig was looking after up to 400 mares.

“It did get a bit big near the end and it ruled your life really. We always knew that this was what we were going to do when we sold at Balfour. It was a five year plan and it’s all unfolding now.”

You can’t help but be impressed by the detailed thought that’s gone into the establishment, for example the design of the box doors and gates which allow the transfer of mares and foals to happen easily and safely. The foaling box is 6 metres square while the other two boxes are 5x4.5 metres. All are well padded.

There are five floodlit foaling paddocks adjacent to the boxes and ‘Horse House,’ (their name for the accommodation block).

A roller door into the back of the feeding bay makes for easy access for the feed delivery truck. A serving crush is also part of the stabling area.

The two paddocks closest to the house and foaling barn have special built-in covered areas attached to the fences, providing shelter for mothers and new borns from the prevailing weather.


 The set up without the finishing touches


Breeders will continue to have access to the world’s leading pacing and trotting stallions through frozen semen.

“I’ve had quite a few people wanting me to wean the foals as well. I’ve got about twenty five people already. I quite enjoy weaning the young ones so that’s exciting too.”

The only permanent mares on the property are their own mare Dolly McD and a small number of mares owned by Nathan and Katie, their daughter.

One of those mares is Kylie Ree the dam of She’s Allthe Craze and the promising Springbank Lachie.

The property is named Poppymalda Acres after Ross’s good trotting mare so there’s another prospective lodger after she finishes on the racetrack.

The couple are currently living on site in the ‘Horse House’ having sold their home in Bainfield Road. They plan to buy another property in Invercargill.

The accommodation block is well appointed with a bedroom, shower, toilet and all the mod cons.

Ross and Robyn plan to be live on site for four months of the summer from September through to January each year.

“We don’t plan to have many mares here in the winter. It’s only thirty five acres so we’d like to keep it all nice like this,” he said pointing towards the well grassed paddock free of horses. 

The Jones are only breeding from Dolly McD - a 12 year old Mach Three mare. In a short breeding career she’s left Statham (6 wins), Bernie Winkle (3 NZ wins and 7 Australian wins) and the promising Toby O’Gara (1 win).

Dolly McD is a half sister to Joyfulbelle, the winner of eight races and the dam of Southland Oaks winner Jumpforjoy and three year old filly Bettor Joy.

So gone are the days when the Jones foaled up to 200 mares. This operation, on the face of it, will be more leisurely.

When you visit the property you can see they’ve utilized the learnings from thirty plus years of managing mares and foals and have designed a quality barn and surronds that will serve them well and bring them much enjoyment.

 And there’s always a helping hand next door - right?






The Whiterig Robyns

Whiterig horseman Ross Wilson has been around horses most of his life and despite wanting to scale down and just be a hobby trainer he still has a racing team of twelve and a band of eight broodmares to look after. The scaling down hasn’t happened yet!

Ross grew up in the Winton district and lived next door to legendary Winton trainer Harry Cox so there was always a chance he’d get involved in the industry.

“My father (Bob), had an old trotter called Palema which was by U Scott. He trained it for about three years and it finally got to the races at Winton. They had a garden in the birdcage in those days. I remember it backing into the fence and the garden. It was a late scratching because they couldn’t get it onto the track. That was his only foray into harness racing. They’re actually his colours that I race in today. I always had it over him. (His father). I said at least my buggers get onto the track.”

Ross’s first horse was bred by the late Eric Butler.

“I used to deal with him through Dalgetys (Stock Firm) and he had horses on his farm. I said to him one day could a get a lend of a mare to breed from. I got an old mare called Mary Bank. I sent her to Lord Butler who stood next door at Harry Cox’s. We called him Will Butler. Dad went in shares with me. I couldn’t get a licence at the time so Harry trained it. It won a non-tote race at Winton and that’s all it ever won.”

Will Butler did run a couple of placings in his forty start career including a second on Easter Saturday at Forbury Park in 1980.

The next foal out of Mary Bank was a Majestic Chance colt called Mister Majestic.

“Eric actually bred it and I saw it one day in the paddock and liked it as a foal. I paid $1,500 with two contingencies of $250 for its first two wins. I won eight races with him and won $20,000 and I sold him for $20,000. In those days my salary was $2,000 per year so it set me up for life really. “

Mister Majestic won a further five races in America and his best mile time there was 1-59.2.

Ross is still breeding from a descendant of Mary Bank. Grinfromeartoear mare Outkast is out of Walk On By whose second dam is Mary Bank.


Ross Wilson




In the late seventies things got a bit more serious on the breeding and racing front when he met Graeme Edgar from Tapanui.

“I knew Graeme also through my work at Dalgetys. There was a yearling sale in Invercargill in those days and he said to me could I sort out a yearling that could make a broodmare one day. We sorted out a few and had a look at them. As soon as I saw Ryal Robyn I said ‘this is the one’. We didn’t actually know what a sour mean …….. she was. She just sat in the back of the box.”

Ryal Robyn was purchased for $1,200. She was by Nevele Big Shot out of Ryal Faye and was bred by Ross Dynes at Ryal Bush. Ryal Faye was by Light Mood out of Petronella. Petronella later left Knowing Bret gelding Vita Man which won nine races for trainer Ali Malcolmson and owner Ray Anicich. Anicich had a lot of success with that side of the family, also breeding Kelly Dillon which won five, Mathew Lee (15) and Mystic Gold (9) including the 1997 Southland Oaks.

Petronella was by Whipster. Her half-sister Newella (Newport Chief) won six races and was the foundation mare for the late Eddie Hailes of Balfour.  

Ryal Robyn was put into training with Les Norman.

“He didn’t get on very well with her at all. We sent her up to stud. Ray McNally was working for the stud at the time and saw her arrive. He didn’t know Graeme but he rang him and said he’d like to train her and ended up winning three races with her.”

Her wins were at Marlbourgh, New Brighton and Timaru. 

So in the mid-1980’s Edgar started to breed from Ryal Robyn with her first foal Pride of Robyn being by Lordship.

“One day he said to me, ‘because you did the right thing in buying that mare (Ryal Robyn,) you can get a foal out of her.’ So I went to Son Of Afella and got a filly foal (named Robyn’s Treasure). Graeme said to me ‘what about racing her together’ so we ended up doing that.”

Ultimately Robyn’s Treasure won seven races including the 1994 New Zealand Oaks, and seven days later the DB Fillies Final - both at Addington.

At that point the family was starting to expand and Edgar was breeding from other branches of the family.

“Graeme and I raced a few and he’d give me one mare on the condition that I could get a foal out of it. So I ended up with three branches of the family.”

Ross’s son Chris is also breeding from a branch of the family – Brooke Robyn (Artiscape – Maree Robyn). She’s left El Diablo which won four races here and a further ten in Australia.

“We’ve actually got a two year old by Mach Three. That’s the first time she’s been to a decent sire,” Ross said.

When it comes to breeding Ross Wilson likes to generally stick to a tried and true formula.

“I’ve got a philosophy of breeding to proven sires. Although for the first time this year I’ve sent one to He’s Watching only because I’ve heard good things about what he’s doing.”

Wilson says he doesn’t do a lot of work with the young horses.

“We don’t do a lot with them until they’re two year olds. We break them in as weanlings. We get them back in only to make sure they don’t stick us up. I’ve got a nice American Ideal out of Real Robyn which is the same cross as He’s Watching. It’s the first foal we’ve had that gets around like a race horse. So I’ve sent her back there (to the stallion) because of that.”

Robyn’s Treasure died three years ago after she had a paddock accident in which she shattered her shoulder. The Christian Cullen filly foal had to be hand reared.

Named Bridesdale Robyn, she is part-owned by Wilson and Judy Dillon who was responsible for hand rearing her.

“She wouldn’t drink for a start. I was pulling my hair out but then she started to drink from a bucket. She must have got really hungry. She never looked back and was drinking ten litres a day. Two and a half litres, four times a day," she said. 

Despite being talented, Bridesdale Robyn still has some learning to do.

“She hasn’t got a very good steering wheel at the moment. She’s got a big motor and she’s a lovely horse actually. The only good ones we’ve breed from Robyn’s Treasure have been by Christian Cullen (Robyn’s Cullen (9), Rocking Robyn (3) and Bridesdale Robyn (1). The rest have been no bloody good but often it comes through in the next generation.”

Wilson and Edgar have both named horses after each other. Stanley Ross Robyn named after Ross won two races for Hamish Hunter before being exported to Australia where he’s won another four. He was third in the 2016 Queensland Derby and finished second to Salty Robyn in the Hondo Grattan so it was a breeding quinella for the Robyn breed. Salty Robyn was bred by Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders. He’s by Art Official out of Holly Robyn, a Live Or Die mare out of Robyn’s Treasure. Salty Robyn has won sixteen races in Australia and $214,705 and paced a mile in 1-49.2.

Parnell, which is Graeme Edgar’s nickname, was named by Wilson. He was by Santanna’s Blue Chip but never won a race from twelve starts.

 So the eight mares Ross Wilson is breeding from are:

  • Robyn Joan (Holmes Hanover-Robyn’s Measure) Her best winner is My Guy Mac.

  • Regal Treasure (Holmes Hanover – Robyn’s Treasure) winners include Vo Regal (5) and Robs Ideal (7).

  • Von Regal (Village Jasper-Regal Treasure)

  • Regal Art (Art Major-Regal Treasure)

  • Robyn Maree (Holmes Hanover – Maree Robyn) Robyn’s Bad Boy (8)

  • Real Robyn (Real Desire-Robyn’s Treasure)

  • Von Haley (Somebeachsomewhere – Vo Regal)

  • Outkast (Grinfromeartoear-Walk On By) dam of Jerry Fitz (12) and Mulligan (6).

Wilson says that since Ryal Robyn was bred from in 1985, direct descendants from her have won 317 races. And judging by the passion and commitment Ross has for the harness industry there’ll be plenty of Robyns to come.









Macca Lodgers

Macca Lodge’s Brent McIntyre has been around horses all his life and is still living the dream.

It hasn’t been easy at times but he and wife Sheree have survived the lows of farming and also experienced the boom - and that’s helped.

Brent was born to be involved in horses. However Sheree is a city girl who’s been a nurse for most of her working life.

His racing interest goes back to his grandfather Davey who owned a few nice horses including Embark which won the Wairio Cup when driven by his father’s uncle, Jock McDonald.

Brent’s father Graeme also trained horses and drove in the first ever Roxburgh Cup at Gore when he was 18.

“Old Davey Todd used to duck shoot over home with my grandfather. When we were kids Cardigan Bay was our hero. He was a good old bugger old Davey and you used to get a whole lot of good stories out of him when you were kids. I got the bug when I was a wee kid,” said Brent.

Up until recently Brent has spent most of this working life mixing farming, horses, shearing and being a freezing worker.  He spent three years doing the night shift at the Makarewa Freezing Works and another twelve years at Blue Sky Meats. And he shore sheep for six to seven years.

“That’s what you had to do in those days.”

And it was while he was at the works that he got his first horse.

“I was working in the boning room at Makarewa in those days. It was full of harness boys. Murray Brown, Andy Laidlaw, Ron McEwan and Donny McRae, and all those guys. Ron said he’d been down at Ascot Stud and looked at a horse by Majestic Chance and he thought there was one there that I should buy. Grant Shirley actually owned it. He (Grant) was only a young lad then and so was I – both in our twenties. Anyway I went down there and knocked on the door and Gil (Gil Shirley owner of Ascot Stud) came to the door. I said I just called in to make an offer on that horse. He said ‘offer, there’ll be no offers. It’s Grants horse and its fifteen hundred dollars.’ I said righto.”

The name of the horse was Silver Blue (Sonny Silver - Blue Chance) which qualified and started fourteen times but was unplaced.

“It had a crook back. I know what was wrong with it now, but at the time I was too inexperienced to know.”

At that time Brent and Sheree farmed four hundred acres at Tussock Creek and times were pretty tough.

“You were living to keep your name on the mailbox. When the dairy boom happened it made it all worthwhile. We were sheep farming. I worked through that era and I thought I was going to get out earlier but then something would go wrong and I had to stay another few years. When the dairy boom happened, property was worth a dollar and we had a bit of equity.”

Transzan was the first horse Brent and Sheree bred. She was by Transport Chip out of the Hi Foyle mare Hi There.

And it’s from Transzan that they bred one of their foundation mares Just Jazzan.

“Trist Mist was going well at the time and she was by Transport Chip out of a Knowing Bret mare so we bred Transzan to Knowing Bret – reverse breeding - and got Just Jazzan.”

As a racehorse Just Jazzan was initially trained by Graeme McIntyre before Brent took over. She provided Brent with his first winner at Invercargill in 1992 and won a total of six races. As a broodmare she only left two live foals. The first Bonnie Lass won ten races and is still being bred from at Macca Lodge.

It was while they were at Tussock Creek that Brent spotted that the Northern Southland breeding establishment Jaccka Lodge was on the market.

“Charlie’s (Charlie Smaill) place came up and we decided to have a go. I thought that would be more interesting than sheep because I’d had a gutsful of them. When we put the tender in there were two people with the same amount. A dairy farmer and us. If the others had got it, the place would have basically been pulled down and converted to dairy. Obviously Charlie didn’t want that to happen and we ended up getting it.”

So in 2008 Brent and Sheree embarked on a new adventure renaming Jaccka Lodge Macca Lodge.

A few years later, friend and fellow breeder John Stiven suggested that McIntyre should get into the stallion business and Panspacificflight came on the radar.

“I’d read about him. He’d been quite a nice horse early on but he broke down. I just rang up the owners and left a message. I got a phone call about a week later from Jacob Millar. He said ‘did you realise that I’m Amish?’ I said ‘no – what’s that?’ (laughter) and he explained. I said that’s fine - it doesn’t worry me. We ended up doing a hand shake deal over the phone!!! I’d been talking to Max Bowden about doing the deal on stallions and he said make sure you get it signed up or they’ll nail you to the floor. So I said to Jacob ‘do you want me to send over some papers and get things signed up?’ He said ‘no - your word is your word.”    

The following year McIntyre with Stiven and Mark O’Connor went to North America, met Jacob Millar, had a good look around and attended the North American Cup.

He freely admits that it hasn’t been easy for Panspacificflight but in amongst his small crop numbers he has left some nice horses. These include Last Flight In

(1-53.8 AUS), Wick (1-52.8 USA), Arden’s Choice (7 New Zealand wins and $282,296), The Manipulator (4 New Zealand wins), Straight Thru Blue (6 Australian wins), Southern Pursuit (4 New Zealand wins), Little Rascal (8 New Zealand wins and 2 Australian) and Glenisla (10 wins Australia). McIntyre says he generally gets between twenty five to thirty mares each season.

“He’s actually done quite a good job. He was North America Two Year Old Sire of the Year with his first crop. But here he was up against the likes of Bettors Delight and Art Major and people don’t like going outside the square. We’ve done alright. He got thirty (mares) last year and twenty the year before that. When you haven’t got the numbers it’s a struggle.”

McIntyre said it was while travelling through North America that he secured the services of Net Ten EOM. The Somebeachsomewhere stallion is out of Glowing Report which was the Older Pacing Mare Of The Year in America in 2006. As a racehorse Net Ten EOM had a limited race career but paced a mile in 1-49.4. As a stallion he’s off to a great start in the Northern Hemisphere. At the time of writing he’s had six individual two year old winners from his first crop.

“We’re getting some good reports on them down here too. Once you teach them something they remember. We’ve found that they’re quite intelligent horses, good gaited and athletic. There’s not many of them on the ground. John Stiven’s got a nice filly that Mark Smolenski broke in and he thinks the world of it. It’s going up to Barry Purdons. We’ll find out how good it is somewhere down the track.”

The name of the filly is Countess Arden (Net Ten EOM – Young Tegan).

A recent addition to Macca Lodge is one of Southland’s favourite sons Franco Ledger. He won twenty five races and $682,514. and will stand at Macca Lodge this coming season for free.

“He’s got six or seven booked in already. We have to train him up (to serve mares). Bill Keeler’s going to come down and give me a hand.”

McIntyre says the population at Macca Lodge has also grown in the last year, since nearby Kina Craig Stud closed down with his property taking on an extra 100 mares.

After going through a few gloomy years Brent believes that things are looking pretty good in the South for the coming seasons.

“This is the most positive year that I’ve gone into since I started, with the stakes going up. Everyone’s rowing the boat in the same direction down here.”

He also says now is the time to buy a broodmare with some nice mares coming on the market, particulary in the middle range.

“People have been getting out of it (breeding) so there’s the odd plum to be picked here and there. The real top end mares still demand pretty good money though.”

In the last few years Macca Lodge itself has invested in some good families.

Brent recently bought Asajah, a Christian Cullen mare out of an Artsplace mare which is closely related to Elsu. Her only foal of racing age is Shenandoah a Somebeachsomewhere filly.

“She (Asajah) has all the great broodmare sires all the way through. She leaves nice types. Her first foal didn’t win a race last season but was placed a couple of times in Group Ones.”

Hot Toddy is another under the Macca Lodge name. She’s a young Falcon Seelster mare out of the thirteen win Live Or Die mare Lady Toddy.

“Sheree ended up buying her. I didn’t know about it. The boys that owned her decided to pull the pin and Hot Toddy was in foal to Pans so Sheree did the deal. I actually drove Hot Toddy one day when I was up at Ken Barrons. I thought she was pretty smart. It stuck in my mind.”

They’ve also bought some of the stock from the Cummings family of Lawrence when they culled some of their mares at Tuapeka Lodge.

These include young Christian Cullen mare Gracy Lady which is out of Spring Thaw. She has only one foal on the ground - an American Ideal colt called Hindu Pocket which is owned locally by the Thomson Brothers of Branxholme.

Another from Tuapeka Lodge is Lillian, a Falcon Seelster mare. Her biggest winner is Caesars Folly the winner of thirty two races in Australia including the Gold Coast Derby.

They also bought Raconteur which is the dam of Talkerup and Ask Again.

Buying stock off Tuapeka Lodge isn’t new to McIntyre. He bought Albert Albert mare Jamie off the Cummings family in the early 2000s. She went on to win seven races and still holds the Winton and Southland record for 2400 metres stand (mares) of 2-57.2.

Another mare he recently bought was Lollipop Dreams - a Dream Away mare that’s closely related to Sweet Talking Man and Stylish Sweetheart.

So as spring approaches there are plenty of Macca mares ready to produce the next generation of racehorses.

They are:

Bonnie Lass (Sweet Lou), Gracy Lady (Art Major) Hot Toddy (Changeover), Jamie (Net Ten EOM), Lillian (Panspacificflight), Lollipop Dreams (Betterthancheddar), Mach N Elle (American Ideal), Nifety Franco (Sweet Lou), Raconteur (Mach Three), Shipshewana Flight (Net Ten EOM), Traceys Delight (Sweet Lou), Art For Artsplace (Panspacificflight) and Mama Cool (Panspacificflight).



Brent and Caine McIntyre - Photo Bruce Stewart 


And after a few years of trying different things at Macca Lodge including a ready to run sale, there’s been a shift in philosophy this season.


McIntyre says he’s now going to send his top end mares to the best stallions, while the other mares will be served by Macca Lodge stallions with an eye to breaking their progeny in, getting them running along and leasing or selling them.


“That’s what we’re going to do from now on. I used to be ruthless then I became not so ruthless, but I’m back on the drafting gate now. The horses have got to be that good now. We like to dabble around with them. Caine (their son) will get his (training) license shortly and we’ll go into partnership.We looked at getting them running along and sending them to other trainers but we’ve decided to do them ourselves. We’ll just employ someone in the breeding season to help and take turns at going to the races with the horses. It’s quite good to get off the place.”

And McIntyre says Caine has become an integral part of the operation.

“He’s in partnership on the place now but I’m still breaking him in (laughter). He’s really good on the stud side of it and he’s getting better with the training and driving.”

As the ten year anniversary of the formation of Macca Lodge approaches, Brent McIntyre and his family continue to develop and grow their operation with positive commitment to harness racing in Southland.   




Just Jacckas

Charlie and Ailsa Smaill have spent most of their adult life involved in harness racing. Both have been involved in administration of the industry with Ailsa being on the board of HRNZ for twelve years and Charlie serving as a director of Nevele R since 2009.

They’ve owned and bred hundreds of horses. In fact an amazing 537 horses have their registered name ‘Jaccka’ as a prefix (colts and geldings) or as a suffix (fillies and mares) - 285 boys ranging from Jaccka Adobe to Jaccka Wizard and 252 girls from Alexandra Jaccka to Worthy Jaccka.

Interestingly enough there is no Jaccka Charlie or Ailsa Jaccka!!!

And right in the middle of the girl’s list is a mare that’s proved to be the best Jaccka of them all – Janine Jaccka.

As a broodmare she’s produced a host of quality square gaiters and provided the Smaills with undoubtedly one of their many career highlights as owners – Jaccka Justy one of her sons winning the Dominion Handicap.

But the story begins without a Jaccka in sight and a horse called Account.

He was the first horse Charlie raced in partnership with his father Charlie H Smaill and trainer Phil Cross from Pyramid near Gore.

He was by Majestic Chance out of Complete and was bred by Ascot Stud. He won his first start as a four year old at Gore in December 1983, driven by Robin Swain.

In 1987 young Charlie bought with friend Archie Affleck, a filly called Keyali off Northern Southland breeder Neil Timms. She was by Gaines Minbar out of Keyanau who was by Key Club out of Lucky Surprise. Lucky Surprise left a handful of good mares – Orange Queen (Bachelor Hanover) who was the second dam of Lord Hillas, Queen’s Advocate, Carefree Princess and Noble Fella. Lucky Surprise also left Mini Clare who was the dam of Remote.

The purchase of Keyali proved to be a masterstroke for the partnership. She not only won her first start for them and trainer Hori Lee but went on to win a total of seven races.

“She’d run some pretty good quarters before we bought her. Archie had never been involved in horses at all. She started him off in the horse business. We had many a good day with her and a bit of fun,” said Charlie Smaill.

As a broodmare Keyali’s first foal was Kute Jaccka which was by Holmes Hanover. She won four races.

Smaill and Affleck raced Kute Jaccka early in her career but when she retired Affleck owned her outright and started to breed from the mare. Her first foal by In The Pocket was Mossdale Kara which is the dam of Mossdale Connor the winner of thirteen races.

In the early days Smaill also raced Popsicle (Surmo Hanover – Classic Artist) which won ten races. He was good enough to finish second behind Honkin Vision in the 1989 New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes. At three he ran third in the New Zealand Derby. His best season was as a four year old when he won six races. He was also trained by Hori Lee at Wyndham.

“Sometimes I wonder why I let him go. We had a lot of fun with him and he was such a nice horse to have around. He ended up in Canada in one of those heated barns. He was winning races right up until he was fourteen.”

Popsicle ended up winning fifty five races overseas and with career earnings of $360, 806.

His dam Classic Artist was by Knowing Bret out of Creation and was bred by Craig Legat. Popsicle was her first foal. She didn’t leave anything else of note although one of her last foals Champaign Jaccka bred by Smaill did leave the evergreen pacer Our Southern Man.

Charlie did breed from one of Classic Artist’s daughters Cabsav Jaccka which left Tinted Cloud gelding Jaccka Clive which won thirty one races in Australia and $493,178.

“It was a great family but it was boys only. You hardly ever saw a filly win a race. That was one of the reasons why I didn’t carry on breeding from that family.”

Smaill has been a farmer most of his life, spending eight years at Clydevale from 1968 before moving to Glenlapa (in Northern Southland) in 1976 where he bred and reared sheep and cattle. From the early days he enjoyed being hands on.

“Up at Glenlapa we put a track in and I was pre-training the odd one.”

It was while they were at Glenlapa that they started to get a bit more serious about breeding.

“When we were there we’d bought a property down the valley just next door to us. I met Bob McArdle when he bought Popsicle off us. He kept leaning on us to set up an AI centre. I had fifteen kilometres of deer fencing material on site. It was back in the days when you looked at diversifying your property the best you could. I sat down one day and looked into the economics of it and we decided to change direction. We set up an AI centre.”

So Glenlapa became the first Jaccka Lodge in 1995.

In 2002 Charlie and Ailsa leased Glenlapa to their son Charles and bought 600 acres, setting up the second home of Jaccka Lodge.

So where did the Jaccka name originate from?

“Once we started to breed a few we found it difficult to name them. It was an annual frustration. Ailsa and I put a prefix together using the initials of our names and our four kids – Kristine, Charles, Janine and Amanda.”

After six years at Jaccka Lodge they decided to sell up and downscale. Brent and Sheree McIntyre bought the property in 2008 renaming it Macca Lodge.

“It had become a seven day a week business. It really wasn’t the semi-retirement that it was set out to be and we’re very pleased that Brent and Sheree took it over.”

They now have a 250 acre farm at Riversdale in Northern Southland. 

“We breed about six to seven foals a year, we also fatten our son’s lambs.”

Although they continue to breed pacers from a small number of mares their main focus is on trotters – particularly the stock of Sundon mare Janine Jaccka which Charlie bought as a weanling in 2002.

“In those days we used to take a truck load of weanlings up to Christchurch. I was always on the lookout for a trotting mare. This filly walked into the ring as a weanling. I looked at her pedigree and it was pure trotting as far as you can see. There wasn’t a dual gaited sire in sight.”

This unnamed weanling became Janine Jaccka. She was out of Spiritual Power a Pernod Eden mare out of an American bred mare Super Brenda (by Super Bowl). Super Brenda did a good job at stud leaving Real Force (Florida Pro) 11 wins, Chiola’s Luck (Chiola Hanover) 4 wins and Our Super Force (Pernod Eden) 10 wins.

As the family is steeped in trotting blood Smaill is surprised the breed hasn’t been more successful in other branches.

“I keep shaking my head and wondering why. I guess it’s the old adage – there are no rules in breeding. Everything we’ve had out of our mare has done well for us.” 

For the first three seasons Janine Jaccka was sent to Continentalman.

“He was sent down as a bit of a promotion when we first opened what is now Macca Lodge. I just liked the horse. He was lovely to handle. We had him around for a couple of weeks before he went back. Alex Milne broke the mother (Janine Jaccka) in and her foals. He said she was a bit slow. She was also a huge mare. We put her in foal as a two year old and got Jaccka Jack. No one was more surprised than Alex when Murray Gray turned up at the trial with Jack as a two year old. The breed’s a bit like that. Once you get them settled down and do a lot of ks with them, away they go. ”

Smaill says most of Janine Jaccka’s foals have shown the same fiery trait.

“I remember Jack, Justy and Jess – they were all wild foals. I can remember them squealing – they were difficult and weren’t easy.”

But it’s a gait that he’s enjoyed the challenges of.

“It’s something that has always interested me. It’s a different skill set to get them going. She’s (Janine Jaccka) not a friendly mare. The only time you can get near her is when she’s pregnant. They’ve all got that streak in them where they’ve been difficult to catch in the paddock.”

Janine Jaccka is only fourteen and is still producing winners and good quality foals.

“We’ve got an Andover Hall gelding. He’s been broken in and a bit like the first few. He wasn’t a real natural as a youngster but Alex keeps telling me that he (Jaccka Jeorge) will be a young horse. He’s just built like one. He’s the oldest of the Andover Halls and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on him.”

Because she’s such a big mare breeding from Janine Jaccka hasn’t always been based on the right sized stallion match.

“I would have gone to Love You but his foals are on the big side so I thought it wasn’t probably the right thing to do. I’ve never measured Janine Jaccka but the vet has to get up on a box to palpitate her.”

As well as providing the Smaills with their biggest win in the industry, Jaccka Justy has also given Charlie as a small time trainer, his most satisfying moment.

After being trained by Nathan Williamson for whom he won his first start in December 2010 Jaccka Justy then ran thirteenth in his next start. Smaill took him home to Riverdale and with plenty of patience and individual care he returned wearing his colours to Ascot Park in May 2011 where he provided Smaill with his first winner as a trainer.

“It took me five months to get him back to the races. We just kept working away at him and tried to understand him a bit more. I’d been to a couple of workouts. If I’d have to pick a highlight in racing it’d be coming here (Ascot Park) and him winning his first start for me. It was Murray Gray that suggested that I keep him. I was actually looking for someone to give him to but Murray said why wouldn’t you keep going with him, and we did. He bolted in (that day) and I was staggered. I play that race so many times. Somehow we just clicked. It had a bit to do with the wind operation as well as it helped him relax.”

Jaccka Justy was to win six more races under Smaill’s guidance. He ended up winning thirteen races and $235,467. His biggest win was in the 2014 Group One Hellers Dominion Handicap. He was driven by Jonny Cox and trained by him and Amber Hoffman.

Of the six foals that have raced by Janine Jaccka - all have been winners. Jaccka Justy (13), Jaccka Jack (14), Jess Jaccka (5), Jocy Jaccka (3), Jen Jaccka (5) and Josh Jaccka (1). In all, her progeny have won forty one races and $462,322.





 Jen Jaccka after her record breaking run at Winton - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Janine Jaccka from her seven named foals has left three fillies – two of which the Smaills are now breeding from - Jess Jaccka and Jocy Jaccka.

“With Jess’s first foal (Jina Jaccka) we’ve had a frustrating time. Every time we’ve brought her in she’s been sore. We can’t seem to find out what it is.”

And of all the Jacckas running around at the moment Smaill is most enthused about Jen Jaccka.

“She’s starting to show that she may be competitive among the better grade horses.”

Outside of Janine Jaccka he’s also breeding (on lease) from What Rose Trot the winner of five races for Graham Chalmers. She’s only left two named foals including the promising Pegarose which has won two of her three starts for Nathan Williamson.

“Kevin Campbell our farrier was really keen on her. She’s in foal to Muscle Mass.”

Although the Smaills have scaled down the number of pacing mares they are breeding from they still have some nicely bred mares to send to the breeding barn.

Odette Jaccka, which won five, is in foal to A Rocknroll Dance and they’re also breeding from Badlands Hanover mare Expresso Jaccka. She’s left the promising Erin Jaccka the winner of two races and a former Winton track record holder for a mile in 1-53.9. 

“We’ve given her (Erin Jaccka) a spell and we’re starting to do a bit of jogging with her now. Something went wrong with her, we just couldn’t put our finger on it. We’re just going to have a bit of a play with her ourselves and see where we end up.”

Over the years, Charlie’s been looking to replicate in pacing what he’s achieved with trotting. And he did follow a line of success early on.

“I’ve been looking for a pacing family like we have with the trotters but haven’t quite struck it yet. We did have a good one which we had a bit of luck with – a mare called The Other Woman (Falcon Seelster –Heirloom Hanover) but for some reason we’ve lost the family.”

The Other Woman left a handful of foals including Jaccka Tana (Badlands Hanover) which won three races here and another nine in Australia and Jaccka Twain (Artsplace) which won three for trainers Geoff and Jude Knight and a further thirteen races in Australia.

However Charlie says he given up that line of thought now.

And after starting with pacers and breeding plenty of them, Charlie and Ailsa Smaill are now enjoying what Janine Jaccka is giving them and looking forward to racing the next generation of trotters from her daughters.

“If this family goes into the next generation we’ll probably end up with predominantly this family. It wouldn’t worry me (just having trotters) because it’s the trotting side of it (the industry) that’s growing. The standards just got so much better and it’s great to be part of that.”





The Snow Show

Wyndham trainer driver Brendon “Snow” McLellan has been involved in harness racing since the mid-1980s and it was through his association with the late Jim and Irene Holland that he started to become interested in breeding.

“When they came back to Wyndham, Jimmy was jogging up a horse called Boyden’s Beau (Boyden Hanover – Honest Mistress). He’d been up at Terry Mays and had broken down. Jimmy brought him down to the racetrack and I carried on with him. He was the first one,” said McLellan when recounting a long and rewarding friendship with the Hollands.

Boyden’s Beau won his first race at a Southland OTB Trial dead-heating with Truth. It was McLellan’s fourth training win. Boyden’s Beau ended up winning four races.

Honest Mistress was by Honest Master out of Eden’s Pride which was a half-sister to Adios Adieu (11 wins) and Young Beau (5 wins). Also in the pedigree is Air Mail, the foundation mare to the wonderful family developed by Noel Drake.

But it wasn’t until 2002 that McLellan started breeding in partnership with the Hollands and the legacy continues today for Brendon and his wife Megan as six of the eight mares they’re breeding from descend from the two strands of the Holland breed.

“We started with Shania Patron. I said to Jimmy you send the mare to stud, I’ll pay for the service fee and we’ll go halves in the foal. That’s how we started off.”

Shania Patron was by Holmes Hanover out of the El Patron mare Patroness. Patroness also left handy types in No Return (9 wins) and Anna Patron (5 wins).

As a racehorse Shania Patron won seven races. At two she won the 2000 Sires Stakes Fillies Championship Final at Addington which was McLellan’s first group winner as a trainer. She also won the New Zealand Sires Stakes Fillies Championship at Alexandra Park that same season.

At three she won the 2001 Wayne Francis Memorial New Zealand Oaks beating Sparks A Flyin by a nose. That was McLellan’s first Group One trained winner. But at stud she hasn’t quite left stock that have matched her ability.

“She’s been average really. She hasn’t left anything as good as herself.”




Brendon McLellan



The McLellans have a number of unraced stock from the mare so there’s still hope. The mare has a three year old colt by Bettor’s Delight, a two year old filly by Betterthancheddar, A Rocknroll Dance yearling filly and a Terror To Love weanling colt.

They’re also breeding from their quality Washington VC mare It’s Ella. She won sixteen races for Megan and Jimmy and Irene Holland.

She belongs to the other side of the Holland breed which started with Exmoot (Hi Lo Forbes – Tactwyn). It’s a pedigree that belongs to the much famed First Water family and has left champions Noodlum and Tactile and many other top race horses.

Exmoot’s 1984 foal by Son Of Afella was Just Ella which McLellan trained to win six races. Her last foal was It’s Ella.

“She (It’s Ella) showed a fair bit of ability as an early three year old. She had soundness problems all the way through with her tendons. The swimming pool (at the Wyndham track) prolonged her racing career, we were probably lucky to get what we got out of her to be honest.”

It’s Ella’s wins included the $100,000 Group One PGG Wrightson New Zealand Breeders Stakes and the Group Two Caduceus Club of Canterbury Premier Mares Championship (twice).

“The horses that she has left have felt like good horses. Tetrick (Art Major) was a nice horse but he had soundness problems and we couldn’t get on top of them. I think she’s capable of leaving quite a nice one.”

Joe Batters, an eight start maiden by Bettor’s Delight out of It’s Ella, looked promising in his first season of racing and he’s expected to improve when he returns as a four year old in the new season.

“He’s got a bit of ability. He’s just taken a bit of time to come to it. He’s above average.”

It’s Ella also has a two year old Somebeachsomewhere gelding called Running On Empty.

The McLellans are also breeding from one of It’s Ella’s daughters - Falcon Seelster mare Ellakazoo.

“She had a couple of starts and could run a bit but just used to get on her knees so we retired her.”

She has left three fillies - by Bettor’s Delight, A Rocknroll Dance and Terror To Love.

They are also breeding from Holly Patron, a Bettor’s Delight mare out of Shania Patron. Holly Patron won five races. She’s left colts by Mach Three and American Ideal as well as a Sportswriter yearling filly.

“I don’t mind the American Ideal two year old.”

A full sister to Shania Patron, I’m On My Way is also being bred from. As a racehorse she won once from seventeen starts. As a broodmare she’s left Barrack (Badlands Hanover) which won three of his fifteen starts here and another seven in Australia. She’s also the dam of Sammy The Bull -five New Zealand wins and another six races in America.

Also on the list of mares they’re breeding from is Lucy Legacy (Pacific Rocket – Some Legacy). She won seven races and also traces back to Exmoot. Some Legacy won the 1990 Group One DB Draught Fillies Series Final at Addington when trained by Terry May. She was by Niatross stallion Silk Legacy and ended up winning five races.

Lucy Legacy is also doing a good job at stud having already left Luciano the winner of five races. He’s recently been exported to America. She’s also left a colt and a filly by Bettor’s Delight.

Separate from the mares that trace back to the two strands of the Holland breed, the McLellan’s are also breeding from Soky’s Atom mare Vera’s Atom - bred by Bruce Stirling.

“I trained for Bruce early on. We raced Vera Lillian, Vera’s Atom’s mother. It’s a breed that leaves nice consistent horses so we’re just carrying on.”

This family has produced quite a few nice racehorses over the years including quality mares Eden’s Joy and Evamay.

The best of Vera’s Atoms foals to date is Vera’s Delight the winner of six.   

Also on the McLellan breeding CV is the Mach three mare De Bruin which is out of Hilarious Blue Chip.

“We’ve had a bit of success with the family. Rathbone, Honiball, Happy Patron, Smart Boy, Not Holm are all out of that breed. She’s the only filly.”

Rathbone won nine races here and won a further eleven in America. He’s paced 1-52.1. Happy Patron won nine races in New Zealand with his major win being in the 1986 John Brandon Flying Pace. He also ran third in the New Zealand Derby a week later. He was exported to America in 1998 where he won another nine races. Smart Boy is another from the family. His lifetime record is 92-17-11-12.

So as you can see the McLellans have plenty of well - bred youngsters coming on line and because they don’t send them to the yearling sales it’ll be enough to keep Brendon busy at his Wyndham stable.

And of the youngsters; which one does he like?

“The Bettor’s Delight two year old filly out of It’s Ella. She’s probably the pick of the young ones and the Somebeachsomewhere out of her goes alright too.”

And with three times New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love popping up on the pedigree page a few times he’s one trainer who’ll get an early indication of how this former champion’s progeny will shape up down the track.









Bain – From Sheep to Standardbreds.

Roxburgh breeder Bill Bain has been involved in animal genetics most of his life.

It just happens that he’s gone from breeding award winning sheep, to breeding and racing Standardbreds.

Bill is a fourth generation farmer in the Roxburgh district, and prior to retirement farmed five miles south of Roxburgh on a 1500 acre block. He also had a runoff block which backed onto the Old Man Range.

For years he successfully bred Corriedales continuing on with the breed that had been started by his late father Arnold.

“It’s a New Zealand breed that started in the 1890s. Dad started a stud in the early 1940s. When I left school at the end of 1960 I wanted to get into them a bit more. Dad had sixty ewes. I’ve been share farming for the last ten years with the Wilsons in West Melton and we got up to five to six hundred ewes,” he said.

Bain started showing his stock at A & P Shows in the Central Otago area in the early days before heading to the Christchurch shows in 1970.

“In 1971 I took two sheep there and blow me down I ended up getting two red tickets (first prizes). In 1974 there was a World Conference in Christchurch and I took out first woolly sheep at the show and he ended up scooping the pool. And it was also named champion.”

Sheep bred by Bain still go to the shows but are now under his breeding partner’s name of GR and RW Wilson.  

In the 1970s Bain also started a Dorset Downs Stud and for fifteen years he held a one day sale on his farm, selling up to 120 rams at each sale.

“I think we were averaging seven to eight hundred dollars. That was really good money for sheep then.”

The high point of those sales was receiving nine thousand dollars for one ram selling a half share in another for ten thousand dollars.

Always in amongst the sheep there were horses which were mainly ridden as hacks on the farm.

“My father had gallopers with Hec Anderton. We always used to make good lucerne hay. I tried to keep it for my rams but he always kept the best for his horses. His best galloper was Harkaway. It only won one race but he thought he’d won the Melbourne Cup I think. He started to breed off her but she had twins and that was the finish of her.” 

Arnold Bain was also the first Clerk of the Course for the Roxburgh Trotting Club so there was an early connection to the local Standardbred community.

Bill’s brother-in-law Norman Sinclair who lived at Lincoln, got Bill and his wife Pauline interested in racing.

“He got Pauline and I a horse called Reklaw’s Girl in the early 2000s. She was bred by Merv Walker. We gave it to Alan Parker to train. We took her to her first race meeting and she came home in the middle of the field. At her second start she came flying home and got third. Someone wanted to buy her but I said ‘no way.’ It took 26 starts before she won (laughter).”  

In 2001 Bill and Pauline decided to retire from the farm handing it over to their son David. Tragically he was killed in a car accident shortly after. The following year they sold the farm.

In amongst the racing of horses Bill Bain progressed his interest in the breeding side and in 2006 he bought into Presidential Ball mare Onedin Dancer.

“Geoff and Jude Knight had been given this filly to break in by Lynley Stockdale. After she qualified they wanted to put her on the market, so I approached them to see whether they would sell a half share. I finished up buying Lynley out. She (Onedin Dancer) had a lot more ability than she showed.”

She won twice as a three year old before being retired at four at which point they started breeding from her.

Onedin Dancer was well enough bred being a half -sister to Onedin Crusader (the winner of seven here and a further 15 in Western Australia) and Onedin Legacy who’s nine wins included an Invercargill Cup.

Of the foals she (Onedin Dancer) has left, Changeover gelding Onedin Onyx has been the best of her foals, winning six races.

In the years that followed, Bain bought more of the Stockdale’s Onedin line including Washington VC mare Ashanna who had won three races in the North Island for Mike Stormont.

“We won two more races at Forbury that winter then I put her to stud. I also bought the last of the Onedin line Stylish Onedin. She’s been the best mare for me at the sales. Her foals have sold for reasonable money. Her best has been Onedin Mach who won ten here and was sold to America. She’s got a full brother foal to Onedin Mach at foot.”

Stylish Onedin a Stand Together mare won twice. She’s also left a couple of very good race horses in Onedin Hustler which won seven races for Peter Hunter and has gone on to do a good job in Australia winning another seventeen.

After taking horses to the sales and getting moderate returns Bain realised that he had to look at buying into more modern families and in 2009 he sorted out five well-bred fillies at the Christchurch sale and headed north with a $30,000 budget.

At the end of the second day of the sale he got what he finally wanted.

“I was looking at buying a filly that was well bred with a mother that had won races with a good time. I was told not to spend too much so we bought Pembrook’s Delight.”

Friend Judy Campbell was bought into the partnership and the Bettor’s Delight filly began her racing career as a three year old.

As a four year old she was in her prime winning five races that season including the $150,000 Group One 2012 Four Year Old Mares Diamond at Cambridge.

“We were rapt just to have one in the race. Pauline and I had just come back from South America. Geoff (co-trainer Geoff Knight) had rung me a couple of weeks before, after she had a run at Addington where she went terrible. They found out she was dehydrated. I rang him when we got into Auckland and he said ‘she’s just worked super.’ Matty was told to go to the front and hand up to one horse (Bettor Cover Lover). It worked out perfectly. I didn’t realise she’d won because we were back a bit from the winning post. Just to get a place for us was good enough. To win we were over the moon. I’m not a big bettor but I got her at fixed odds of 51 to 1. I got enough to shout for the locals when we got home. We took the cup and cover down to the pub. It was a good night for the district.”

Pembrook’s Delight ended up winning nine races before heading to stud. Her first foal by Somebeachsomewhere (named Beach Boy) was sold to Michael House who reoffered him last year at his Ready to Run sale. He remains unsold.

“I spoke to Michael and he said he was going well. He got a bit crook. It took him a long time to get over the sales. He said he’s turned down $50,000 for him. He said they’ll have to pay more than that for him now.”

Her next foal, a filly by Art Major, was bought by Robert Dunn at this year’s sale.

“Although we only got $35,000 for her I don’t think she was too dear at all.”

Her latest foal is another filly by Art Major.





 Bill Bain - Photo Bruce Stewart


Although he still has a handful of young progeny from his older mares Bain freely admits that the Onedin horses have probably served their purpose and it’s time to move on and head in a more commercial direction.

“It’s probably an old fashioned breed. But if you want to sell at the sales you’ve got to have a bit more background.”

To that end he has recently bought two very well bred mares.

Heart Stealer was bought at the 2013 Australian Classic Yearling Sale for $95,000. He now shares in the ownership with his wife Pauline and friend Doug Gollan.

She’s a five year old mare by Bettor’s Delight out of Fight Fire With Fire. Fight Fire With Fire was trained throughout her career by Mark Purdon and Grant Payne winning seven times in forty four starts banking $151,657.

Heart Stealer is unraced and has a yearling filly by Sir Lincoln.

“She (Heart Stealer) looked good on the sale day but she never grew from the day we bought her. She could have qualified but we decided to put her in foal.”

In 2015 he also bought Change Time which had won seven races when trained by Ken Barron. She’s by Christian Cullen out of Chaanger and as a yearling was bought by Thompson Bloodstock for $45,000. Bain has bred an Art Major filly from the mare.

“We bought her (Change Time) after we sold the Corriedale stud. I gave my grandson Ryan a half share. He’s a qualified mechanic.”

Chaanger which was by Vance Hanover won six races in a limited career. Her claim to fame though was leaving Changeover the winner of 29 races and nearly two and a half million dollars.

Bain has also recently purchased a weanling off Vin Devery which is by Bettor’s Delight out the 14 win Badland’s Hanover mare Western Dream.

“Paul Davies did the deal. He also found Change Time for me. My nick name round here is Bunter so I’ve called this young one Bunter’s Dream. He’s being broken in at the moment.” 

Bain has also been a part of the strong group of racing syndicates that Geoff and Jude Knight have set up in the Central Otago area. As well as being part of the successful Central Courage Syndicate he’s also in the Yshearasheep Syndicate which raced six win pacer Christian Ruler and the Gottashearasheep Syndicate which had success with Memphis Mafia. That syndicate’s latest race horse, a two year old by Mach Three colt out of Cap Off called Unloaded, qualified recently.

“I said to somebody that you’re better off having a tenth share in ten horses than having one by yourself.”

Bain was also a handy rugby player in his day playing halfback for Otago Country. He played in the same era as All Black halfback Chris Laidlaw.

“I never played against him. He was too good for Town versus Country games.”

He’s played golf over the years and has won local junior bowls titles. He also recently received a special contribution award for Harness Racing in Otago and is in his last year as President of the Roxburgh Trotting Club

During his sheep breeding days he was President of the New Zealand Corriedale Society and the New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association. After he ceased breeding he was named a Life Member of both Associations as well as the Dorset Downs Association.

After a lifetime involvement in matching rams with ewes, Bill Bain is more than ever carrying that knowledge and experience into breeding racehorses. He’s getting a lot of enjoyment from it and with his recent investment in modern bloodlines, I’m sure there’ll be more success to come.






Bill Keeler - Hardly Mainstream

There’s not too much that’s conventional about Roxburgh breeder and former stud master Bill Keeler. But that’s the way he likes it.

He’s a no fuss sort of guy who seldom goes to the higher end stallions, preferring to choose sires that he feels match his mares, and are within his budget. And this has proved to be a winning formula for the former Southlander.

Keeler, who has been breeding horses for thirty plus years comes from a family which had no interest in horses, but that all changed when he was at high school.

“I got interested at school. We used to sit in alphabetical order. On one side of me was Ross Malcolm and the other side was John Muirhead. John ended up being a stipe and Ross’s father backed horses like Manaroa back in the day. Murray Todd was around too and his father Ian had a horse called Old Salt. We went to the gallops and the trots,” he said.

So it wasn’t long before Keeler got the racing bug. His first winner was a galloper called Royal Caddon which was trained at Gore by Steve Allen.

As he became more interested he gravitated to standardbreds and began to help out at the Hedgehope stable of Maurice and Val Skinner.

“I was dairy farming at the time and used to fit in an hour here and an hour there. I drove Benrodden out there. One thing lead to another. I had horses at the Skinners and around at the Barrons” (Ron and Tony Barron).

Benrodden by Armbro Hurricane won two races for Skinner before winning a further seven for Graeme Hale.

But Keeler’s lucky break came in the mid-1980s.

“One day I picked up two mares and a horse called Skipper Dale. He was three and had been broken in. He used to lie down and my job was to get him to jog around the roads without lying down, which I did after six weeks. Ken Baron got him and he qualified him but it took a long time.”

Skipper Dale went on to win 18 races for owner John Howard and trainer Patrick O’Reilly.

“Anyway, the mares I had were Ngahere and her sister Chatter Box. I sent them both to Vance Hanover. The deal was that I got one of the foals and the syndicate that owned Vance Hanover got the other. I had the choice of foals out of Lumber Dream mare Ngahere which had left Skipper Dale or the one out of Parlez Vous mare Chatter Box. Everyone in the world would have taken the foal out of the Lumber Dream mare. But I chose the other one (Vance Hanover – Chatter Box) which was Cath Hanover.”

Incidentally the Vance Hanover – Ngahere colt named Kiwi Bomber won three races in New Zealand for Graeme Anderson before winning another two in Australia.

So that’s how Bill Keeler started his marvellous association with a mare that gave him plenty of enjoyment and left him a host of winners.

As a racehorse Cath Hanover had one start from Jack Stroud’s stable but broke a pedal bone.

“We served her and got a foal out of her (Cordon Hops) then she came back into work after we weaned the foal. She was one week off going to the workouts at Lindsay Woodward’s place and she went amiss again.”

So it was to the breeding barn that Cath Hanover went and what an amazing record she’s left.

At last count of the 15 named foals she left, 10 had qualified and 8 had won a total of 179 races between them.

Her biggest winner was Mister Dale which was by Knight Rainbow. He won a staggering 80 races – eight in New Zealand and the remaining 72 in America. He started an amazing 328 times for a record of 72-55-48 and $217,909 in stakes. His best mile time was 1-53.0.

Erle Dale is the mare’s other big winner - winning 18 races in Australia before chalking up a further 21 in America. He’s still racing.

Other winners include: Cordon Hops (Devil’s Adversary) 15, Bravo Star (Direct Flight) 9, Rocky Beau (Pacific Rocket) 15, Captain Dale (Julius Caesar) 9 and Marshal Dale (Knight Rainbow) 12.

One of the mare’s progeny that didn’t make it to the races was a horse called Rapid Skipper who was by Totally Ruthless.

“I had three horses in the paddock. Bravo Star, Jester Dale and Rapid Skipper. Rapid Skipper was the best by a long long way. He went to the workouts on one set of shoes and won by the length of the straight. We turned him out and he came back in and was going really good. He got a bit of swelling on the knee. He wasn’t lame and there was no mark. The swelling went down and we backed off him for a couple of weeks. He then went to the workouts again and broke down and we had to put him down. He was one that got away. ”

Of all the horses Cath Hanover left Erle Dale was the one Keeler got the biggest return from.

“It’s never enough (laughter). Erle Dale grossed us $210,000. We sold him out of Australia where I owned and raced him.”

Erle Dale was trained by the Fitzpatricks and that’s where Keeler’s racing colour of yellow with green diagonal stripes came from.

“Going around Harold Park they stood out so I thought I’d get something like that. Brad Morris said to me one day ‘are you training for Bart (Bart Cummings)? They’re similar to his colours.”

So as you can see Keeler’s list of winners didn’t come from the top echelon of stallions – quite the opposite.

“Flavour of the day doesn’t do much for me. I bred five by Artsplace and they were all nil. They couldn’t run to save themselves. We’ve bred four or five Klondike Kids that have gone pretty good.”

Cath Hanover’s last visit to a stallion was in 2011 when she was served by American Ideal.

“I thought perhaps I should get a filly because you could breed fillies or colts out of her depending on what you wanted. I thought I’d better have a filly just to finish off her breeding career. Bugger me days it was upside down in her and she died foaling about two weeks early.”

In the early years Keeler ran a dairy farm at Makerewa near Invercargill before selling up and working at the Freezing works.

“There was a butter mountain in Europe. They complain about the prices now – the prices then were zero. They were swapping butter for Lada’s (cars) and everything else. We were paying 30% on our overdraft and the banks were killing us.”

After selling the farm he decided to set up a stud farm - Kaylea Stud also at Makerewa where he initially stood Armbro Raven and Call Back.

Knight Rainbow owned by Trish Dunell was also on the books and he’s still in the care of Keeler at Millers Flat.

“He was at Graeme Lambs and he served a couple of mares. He rang me up one day and said I’ve sold my farm and that that horse is coming to your place so he duly arrived. He does a good job teasing up the mares and once in a blue moon he serves one.”

While in Southland he also served on the Invercargill Harness Racing club’s crash crew with his old mates Lindsay Woodward and Lex Dudfield.

He was also one of the first to do AI in Southland.

“I was one of the first in New Zealand to serve a full commercial book of mares with a horse called Talk Show Lobell who was a total flop. We served a few with Armbro Invasion and got going from there. I got up to 100 (mares) one year.”

Over the years he ran Kaylea Stud he had a good number of breeding triumphs.

“My claim to fame was around two mares Victoria Foyle and Chipaluck. One was seven the other eight and they hadn’t got in foal. One actually ran with a stallion. All the experts in the world have had a look at these mares for the last few seasons. So I got them served and the first time the vets saw them was at 42 days. They were both positive. My first two positives that year.”

Keeler also seemed to be able to produce foals to order.

“I said in the newsletter that most of the foals next year were going to be colts. Jim Dalgety shook his head and said incredible. He said there was an old fella on the coast that did that. Anyway the upshot was that only two people (of the 74) told me they had fillies.”

And when pressed to elaborate he said, “If I tell you I’ll have to kill you.” (laughter).

He’s also bred from another daughter of Chatter Box - Nellie Dale. She didn’t leave a lot of foals but did leave the talented Mach Three gelding Loch Nagar which won six of his twenty starts.

“It was just an absolute fluke that we got a Mach Three. He was very unsound. He just had a massive heart.”

Fast forwarding to today and Keeler is still breeding from two of Cath Hanover’s unraced daughters - Gracie Dale (Make A Deal) and Rhonda Dale (Iam A Fool) as well as Makarewa Jill (CR Commando – Sherree’s Pride) and Al Zahra (Mach Three – Red Chinelle). And he’s still getting plenty of success by breeding to the cheaper stallions.

Gracie Dale has left some well performed horses including Grey Steel (Island Fantasy) which won three races for Mark Shirley before winning another 17 in Australia and Justa Dale (Klondike Kid) which won once here but has won a further 6 races in Australia and has run a mile in 1-52.7.

“For pedigree experts he’s (Greysteel) interesting. He’s reversed sex cross to three great stallions including No Nukes. (Abercrombie and Albatross are the other two). So she’s (Gracie Dale) had two really good ones by nondescript stallions.”

Greysteel is 3x3 reverse sex to No Nukes, 3x4 reverse sex to Abercrombie and 4x4 reverse sex to Albatross.

Another one of Gracie Dales foals also showed potential.

“Armor Dale (Gotta Go Cullect) looked promising. He had a bit of an empty head but he could run a bit. At his first serious workout he ran past Al Raza one day but he broke his back leg.” 

Renee Dale a two year old filly by Sir Lincoln out of Rhonda Dale was recently sold by Keeler to Sydney after she qualified at Wyndham.

He’s also breeding from the Dream Away mare Dreamy Romance.

“Her first foal by Julius Caesar won a race but wasn’t much chop. The second foal was Quatro Knight. He’d been in the cart three or four times. Alex McDonald (who bred lots of very good horses) said to me ‘I’ll trade you anything in my paddock for that horse.’ I said ‘what about your partners?’  “Ah stuff them’ he said. ‘I’ll make my own decisions thanks.’ I held onto him. He was a beautiful mover and he duly qualified as a two year old but he got crook and he was never the same again.”                                                                    

Dreamy Romance’s third foal was Rainbow Romance. Keeler said “At his third start in America he was a half a head and a half a length away going 1-49. He’s a Knight Rainbow. The next foal was My Rona Gold which is by Klondike Kid which has gone quite she had an American Ideal and it’s the only one that’s no good.”


Keeler has lived in Roxburgh for five and a half years now and he says he loves the warmer climate.

“It does get hot. When it rains you smile and take your clothes off and dance in it.”

On the recreational front he’s part of the group that runs the swimming pool at Millers Flat and he’s still managing 20 to 30 lengths a day. He also plays a bit of squash after playing for the Makarewa Squash Club for years.

When I spoke to Keeler he was recovering from breaking a hamstring which happened when he was shoeing a yearling. He says at one point he was being transported around the district lying flat on the back seat of a car. Some sight!!

So Bill Keeler’s life has been full of interesting twists and turns and even in the time I spent with him there could easily have been a books worth of tales.




Ryder Having A Ball

Bruce Stewart


Invercargill plumber Trevor Ryder is having a ball, especially at present, racing his quality gelding Swamp Major with some good mates as well as breeding from a select group of well-bred mares.

His interest in harness racing began in the 1990s when Diamond Field was racing out of the Alan Beck Winton stables.

“A friend of mine, Geoff Mollett was in the syndicate that raced him. He worked at Mico Wakefield and my company dealt with them. I started going to the races. From there Geoff and I with some other friends raced a filly called Black Rain,” said Ryder.

Black Rain was well bred, being by Vance Hanover out of Cassel’s Dream. Cassel’s Dream’s second dam, Vandette was by Great Evander which left handy horses in Van Forbes (6 wins), Van Garrison (6), Cassel (8) and Heidette (9).

“She (Black Rain) didn’t fulfil her promise. Went out raging favourite in both of her starts and was quickly named blocked drain.”

The lack of success didn’t put the group off and they commissioned Beck to go to the yearling sales where he purchased Franco Cuisine which was by Andrel out of the Overtrick mare Chateaubriand.

“He had a lot of potential but was involved in a smash at Invercargill where Beckie was catapulted up in the air. He never came back quite the same after that.”

Franco Cuisine ultimately won three races from thirty six starts.

Ryder said at that point he really got the racing bug and was keen to go up another notch. Star Of The Ball was identified as a yearling that Ryder and trainer Gareth Dixon were keen on buying at the Auckland sale.

“I wanted to get up into that premier racing – two and three year olds racing. I thought I’d have a crack myself at buying at the sales. I got a lot of help from Peter Lagan and Sandy Yardley. Peter gave me a list of five or six yearlings and at that particular time I met up with Gareth (Gareth Dixon). We weren’t sure whether we would get her as we thought she might be above my limit.”

Gareth Dixon was a Southland boy. His father Ken ‘Fast Track’ Dixon was also a plumber.

Star Of The Ball by Presidential Ball out of the OK Bye mare Star Fleet was duly purchased. Ryder particularly liked the fact that Black Watch was on the pedigree page.

After racing three times at two, Star Of The Ball won her first race at her second start as a three year old at the Franklin meeting at Alexandra Park.

“At that point I can remember Gareth saying that she could be one of the top three year old fillies in the country that year. Unfortunately along came Molly Darling, Foreal and Mainland Banner,” he said laughing. 

Star Of The Ball won four of her eighteen starts as a three year old including a heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series at Ashburton running the 1609 metres in 1-56.1.

“We also qualified for the Breeders Crown and that’s a trip I’ll never forget. We met John Caldow, Gavin Lang and Chris Alford (Aussie harness legends). We had a night out with a meal and few drinks and a few more drinks. She ran third in her heat and was a very unlucky sixth in the final.”

Star Of The Ball ended her racing career having won eight races and was sent to Christian Cullen. The resulting foal was named Mervynstar after Ryder’s father who had passed away that same year. He was prepared for the sale by Top Notch Lodge and offered at the 2007 yearling sale in Auckland.

“There was a bit of a rumour around that we might be surprised by the opening bid. It opened up at $150,000 and I just about fell off my perch. He ended up at $220,000 which was a pretty special start to the breeding game for us. It was the top lot of the sale.”

The horse was bought by Clive and Rona McKay and raced out of Michael House’s stable. He was renamed Two Twenty.

“He had potential but had breathing issues and he had a couple of operations.”

Two Twenty won once in sixteen starts.




 Trevor and Linda Ryder with Pam and Lindsay Turner with Mervynstar - Supplied.


The mare’s second foal by Bettor’s Delight was named Merv. He recorded four wins here before heading to Australia.

“Because of the handicap system there was nothing really left for him in Auckland after that. He was racing against C6 and C7 horses and it got too hard. I raced him with good mates Alan and Joy Lindsay and Scott and Sue McCrea.”

He was trained for the partnership (Tad Syndicate) in Australia by David Thorn and only started six times, but won four races.

Ryder says members of the syndicate were lucky enough to be in Australia when he was in career best form.

“The races just happened to be on the same night as the All Blacks were playing Australia. He won at Menangle in 1-53 flat which was quite good five or six years ago and the All Blacks beat Australia. That was a good trip.” 

Star Of The Ball’s third foal was Macha (Mach Three). He was sold to clients of Ken Barron’s stable for $40,000 and qualified as a three year old when running second behind Arden Rooney at Rangiora. He was then on-sold to Australia and won eight races fairly quickly including a heat of the Victoria Derby beating Bit Of A Legend and Ohoka Punter. Ohoka Punter went on to win the final. Macha also ran second to Alta Christiano in the 2013 West Australian Derby.

Hokuri Railrida (Mach Three) was the next foal. He won two races and is also now in Australia.

“He started with Gareth and the Hokuri Syndicate who are a group of mates who go white baiting with me on the West Coast raced him. We bought him south to Murray Brown’s and on the way down he got travel sickness. Not many horses survive that but we got him racing but he didn’t show the promise he had in Auckland.”

McArdle Star (McArdle) was the next colt out of Star Of The Ball. He was bought for $30,000 by Steve Thompson of Dunedin. He won his first three starts and ran fifth in Have Faith In Me’s 2015 New Zealand Derby. He won five races here before heading to Victoria where he’s won another two.

The next foal was Swamp Major (Art Major).He’s raced by Trevor and his wife Linda, Alan Lindsay, Scott and Sue McCrea, Cleland Murdoch and John Duff.

“Potentially he’s the best horse I’ve owned. He’s hopefully going to be back in work in May and back racing in early spring. He had an accident on the training track leading into Cup week and broke his pedal bone. In the Vero Stakes he was the only one making ground on Lazarus and Classie Brigade. Ken always said he’d like to be sitting in the back of those two horses over a short distance and see what happened.”

Last season as a three year old Swamp Major won three races and was placed six times in only ten starts.

“You can’t keep them all but I like to keep say, every second one and have some fun with my mates.” 

The mare’s last foal of racing age is Rocknroll Star. He was bought by Michael House for $27,500 at the sales last year and sold recently in House’s two year old running sale for $75,000. He was bought by Emilio Rosati and has had a name change. He’s now called Times Stride.

Star Of The Ball now resides at Kevin and Bonnie Williams Tall Tree Lodge, is in foal to Art Major and is likely to return to Bettor’s Delight.

“She’s had eight colts in a row and I’m just praying for a filly.”

Ryder is also breeding from Grinfromeartoear mare Selucam. She’s out of Tuapeka Pocket. She’s qualified but is unraced.

“The feedback on her was always positive but she had fetlock problems. Normally I prefer to breed from mares that have had three wins or more but I decided to keep her based on the feedback I was getting from the stable.”

She’s in foal to Auckland Reactor and lives locally at Macca Lodge.

Another mare on the Ryder Bloodstock books is Christian Cullen mare Perfect Sensation. She won three races for Ryder when racing from the Dixon stable in Auckland. Her third dam is champion mare Hilarious Guest.

“I decided I wanted a Cullen filly. She too had quite a lot of potential but she had some back and leg issues. Her first foal died and we had issues with the mare as a result of that.”

Since then she’s produced a Better’s Delight colt called Bettor Sensation which was bought by Colin De Filippi and is owned by Trevor Casey.

Trevor and Linda Ryder also owned a share in Falcon Seelster mare Falcon Flybye. She’s a sister to a host of winners including Flying Pocketlands, Mighty Flying Major and Mighty Flying Mac.

Although they’ve opted out of the mare their names are still on four of her foals, all of whom have been winners. The best is Alotbettor (10) and Fleeting Grin (6).

He also still has a share in Cher’s Magic as a part of The Watch Your Step Syndicate.

Star Of The Ball’s latest yearling Ball Of Art - a full brother to Swamp Major, sold to Barry Purdon for $50,000.

“Depending on our own sale we’ll be looking at getting a Bettor’s Delight filly. I’d also like to get an Art Major filly on board at some stage as well. I’m always looking at the top end. I think the odds are not in your favour if you’re at the other end of the scale.”

Ryder says he likes to look after his mares and not over race them because long term he believes they will produce better foals.

“Gareth did a great job in looking after Star. She only had thirty odd starts and that’s where I like it to be with breeding in mind. I don’t like the mare to be burnt out.

He says he enjoys his involvement in harness racing as an owner, breeder and sponsor.

“I’ve had a ball since I jumped onboard in 1990. I’ve raced a couple of nice mares in Highview Jude (9 wins) and Star of The Ball and now we’ve got Swamp (Swamp Major) and that’s in the space of just twenty five years. I probably enjoy it more (ownership) if it’s in a syndicate.”

So like many southern breeders Ryder is seeing an opportunity to buy into some of the best New Zealand families, gathering around him a small group of well-bred mares. It keeps his passion alive, and combined with racing some of his horses with his mates, it’s the perfect scenario.



500 Phil.

Bruce Stewart


Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson recently notched up 500 trotting winners in New Zealand when Astral Ruler won at the Wyndham HRC meeting at Cromwell on 7th January.

He can proudly be known as the first New Zealand trainer to achieve such a feat and his winning record with the square gaiters is expected to last for a long time.

Southland Harness Website editor Bruce Stewart caught up with Phil at a recently held Invercargill Cup meeting at Ascot Park and had a chat with him about his involvement in harness racing.

You became keen on horses while at Port Molyneux School. The trainer of the great Stella Frost Len Tilson had a stable next to the school?

Yes. That’s where my interest started. I used to see them in the paddock next door as they jogged past. It looked pretty exciting. Then I started to listen to the commentaries on the radio and that sounded exciting too.

I understand that when you left school you had a short stint as a jockey before weight caught up with you.

It all started for me on a Saturday when I was supposed to have been going back to school on the Monday for my third year at High School. Bob Beck just happened to be visiting and said he was looking for an apprentice jockey and would I be interested. I thought to myself, that would be better than going back to school for another year. I looked at my mum and asked her if I could. Bob said he’d come back the next morning and pick me up.

Note: Phil’s mother aged 90 is still living at Kaka Point.

You rode one winner, Frosty Light?

Yes. I’ll never forget that. It was here at Ascot Park and it was the first leg of the double. In those days you could claim a 7 pound allowance as an apprentice jockey. The first ride I had I rode 3 pound over so I had a weight problem from day dot.

You mentioned that Alistair Kerslake got you interested in harness horses. How did that come about?

Yes. My first involvement was with Alistair and Betty. I learned a lot there for sure. He was quite a tough man but I learned a lot.

When did you start work at the local Tannery in Oamaru?

When I finished with Alister I came back to Oamaru and started working for Dick Prendergast. I was there for quite a while but ended up going to the Tannery and working nights.

Around that time you married Bev.

When I got to Oamaru I was staying with neighbours of her mother and father and I was working a couple of horses on their track so I got to know her.

Did her father have any good horses?

Yes. We won the Roxburgh Cup with Willow Way. Their best horse though, was Wee Willow. Henry Skinner was their main driver in those days. Then I came on the scene.

Note: Willow Way was by Jack Chance out of Wee Willow. He won the 1991 Roxburgh Cup by half a length with Phil driving him to victory. Wee Willow also left Gemini Jo which won seven races. Phil drove her in all her victories. Bev Williamson’s maiden name was Mills and her father Ron was a hobby trainer.

At this time you were training Role Model.

The owners called in one day and I was doing the night shift. I was just pottering around with a few horses and helping the father in-law at home. These two gentlemen came in and said, would I be interested in training a horse for them. I told them I hadn’t trained any horses before. I asked them what the horse was and one of the guys said I wouldn’t have far to look to see him. Unbeknown to us it was at a neighbours place. It was on rough hilly country and the horse was just at the bottom of one of the gullies. Role Model was a very plain looking horse but I couldn’t see a lot wrong with him. I went back to Bev and said they seem like really nice guys and if ever we were going to train it’d be now. That’s how I got started.

He won races pacing, but you decided to switch him to trotting?

We used to take him from where we lived to the race course in the cart. I was taking him back one day and he took off trotting and I couldn’t believe it. He was quite neat at it. I asked the owners if they would mind if I worked him up on the next prep trotting. They weren’t that keen. They didn’t want a bar of him being a trotter because he’d already won five races as a pacer. Once we starting trotting him and I took him to the workouts they could see how good he was so we switched him. He won his first start at Addington as a trotter.

He won eight races trotting, including your first group race, the New Zealand Trotting Free For All. How did that feel?

Yeah it was a big thrill that night.

So at what stage did you decide to concentrate on training trotters?

The next horse I got to train was Frances Jay Bee. We’ve won some good races from the progeny of her. At that point I also realised you could get into the higher end of the trotting game because the better stallions were less of an outlay. Sundon was probably standing for around $3,000 but if you were trying to go to the leading pacing sire you’d probably need $12,000. So that made sense to us because we didn’t have a lot of money. They were also cheaper to buy as trotters were looked at as being second rate at the sales. So I was able to buy into the better end of them for a lot cheaper.

What influence did Sundon have on the trotting game?

To me he’s just been a super sire. He’s the Bettor’s Delight of the trotters I’m sure. He stamped his progeny. They were great looking athletic horses which were a lot different to the older Standardbreds who were big tough horses with roman noses.

When the Sundons came on-line, you had two very good ones early, in One Under Kenny and Allegro Agitato.

You weren’t working with them long before you knew you had something special. They had what the average horses don’t have.

Sundons can be a bit hot headed though?

It’s probably a fair enough comment but you know if you’ve got a V8 motor in there somethings going to happen if you have an altercation in the early days. They may pull back and break a rope because they have the power to do it. But they can do things other horses can’t do because of their motor. You’d give up a bit of the hot headedness for the motor every time. 

One of your first speedy Sundon trotters was Lets Get Serious – he had a fair bit of talent?

He was a very good horse. He didn’t show it in the very early days. When you take a good horse off the place they normally step up. That’s the difference between a good one and an average one. A lot of horses can work well at home but can’t take the next level. Every good horse I’ve had has always stepped up. He was like that.

With trotters you have to be patient?

You’ve got to have common sense. Some horses take time and you just have to understand that.

As a trainer who’s been an influence on your career?

Dick Prendergast was a big influence in those early days. He was a great horseman and had a lot of success and a bit of it has rubbed off on me. When I first went to Auckland I stayed with Barry Purdon and leant a lot there particularly getting the young horses going. Tony Herlihy is another that’s had an influence on me. We’ve stayed with him a lot on our recent trips.

Jasmyn’s Gift was a special trotter as well?

She was, because we bred her and it was good for us just starting out. When you have a horse that can race in the Dominion Handicap it’s special.

Note: Jasmyn’s Gift ran third in two Dominion Handicaps in 2005 and 2006. She also provided Nathan Williamson with his first Group One winner as a driver when she won the 2006 New Zealand Trotting Free For All at Addington.

As you’ve mentioned, The Dominion Handicap is a very special race for trainers of trotters.

It’s such a difficult race to win and everything has to go right on that special day. Springbank Richard was able to do it for us. I’ve had numerus placings with other horses.

Do you have a horse that has the potential of winning a Dominion?

No. My son has.

Springbank Richard was another great horse you trained?

He came along and was a super good horse. He had a big V8 motor and a lovely gait and was just an all-round great great horse.

Note: Springbank Richard has been Phil Williamson’s biggest stake earner to date (see details below) and only Dominion Handicap winner. He provided Nathan Williamson with his first Group One winner in Australia when he won the Victoria Trotter Derby in May 2007.He also won back to back Harness Jewel titles winning at three in 2007 and as a four year old in 2008. He was driven on both occasions by Nathan.

How important is shoeing? Do you do your own?

Malcolm Oakes has shod my team in later years and before that Bruce Wallace did a lot of the shoeing in the early days with Role Model especially. Ken Kinzett before that. It’s very important to have their feet right. It’s more important to have a good horse though. Brendon Franks looked after the shoeing while we were in Central.

Most of the trotting races are from a standing start. Are trotters more difficult to get away?

The thing about the good ones Bruce, is that they can miss away and still win because they’re just better. All the time they’re getting that practice in and by the time they’ve had a start or two it’ll come to them. Springbank Richard was a slow learner when Tony Barron had him. It’s just the manners and time brings that right. I was just lucky to get him at the right time. Manners with trotters just come with experience.

Of the horses you have trained there must have been few that haven’t reached their potential. Do any come to mind?

Leighton Hest. He was a bit of an underachiever. He won a Jewels. He was troubled with soreness. He was a very very good horse.

Note: Leighton Hest provided Matty Williamson with his first Group One winner when he won the 2009 Four Year Old Ruby at Ashburton in May 2009. He won seven of his nine starts at four and ended his career with a record of 43-12-6-6 and $205,242.

Are there any other horses you’d like to mention?

Springbank Sam won twenty races for us and was placed second five times in Group One races. He’s now in America.

Note: Springbank Sam was sold at the sales as Jack Galleon for $26,000. He went on to win $319,756 for Alister and Denise Smith. He won in every season that he started from a two year old to an eight year old. He ran second to Paramount Geegee at two and three in four Group One races. At four he was beaten only by Charlemagne in the Four Year Old Ruby at Cambridge. His last Group placing was in the 2013 Rowe Cup when he was beaten by Stig. He’s a national record holder, the only one on the Omakau track, recording 3-12.8 for the 2600 metre mobile.

What’s the fastest trotter you’ve trained?

It’s between Allegro Agitato and Springbank Richard.

And trotter with the all round game?

One Over Kenny. You don’t win a million dollars unless you’re a very good horse.

Are you excited about where trotting is going? Some meetings have up to three trotting races on their card now.

I think people are starting to see that’s there’s good money in trotting now. Back in the day people had the perception that trotters all galloped and who would want to have a trotter. Trotters can race consistently and earn well if they’ve got a bit of ability. A lot of people have woken up to the fact they can be good earners and in some cases earn better money than pacers.

Your three boys all drive. Do you notice any differences in their driving styles?

Matty’s probably the most aggressive of the three. Nathan and Brad are very similar. Nathan was always very talented from the get go. Brad’s probably had to work at it but he’s made a good fist of it of late. It’s pretty hard to come out of the shadow of two pretty successful brothers. Now I think he drives as good as his brothers do with the right opportunities.

How important was it to get to 500 trotting winners for you?

We’re proud of the fact that we were the first to do it. But I’ve always got my feet on the ground.

Have you ever ventured to America or Scandinavia to see trotters race?

I never have. It would be nice to do it someday. Tony Herlihy who goes to America and Canada a bit tried to get me to go but I haven’t got there yet. There’s been no break in the workload to do it Bruce.

You have good staff with your boys, Steve Allen and Charlotte Purvis. And your wife Bev plays a major part in the operation?

She does all the business side of the operation, like accounts. I don’t even turn the computer on. That’s Bev’s department. I learnt not to get involved there. In the early days Bev use to drive. She’s a capable driver around the workouts and trials. She used to beat me plenty of times. She’s got a great work ethic.

Note: In these later years Phil and Bev have taken a working holiday in Central Otago and their trotters have dominated the New Year circuit. At Omakau, Springbank Eden, Royal Kenny, Springbank Sam, Brad’s Kenny and Jasmyn’s Gift all hold track records. At Roxburgh, Davey’s Gift and Pyramid Monarch are in the record book.

An enjoyable interview with Phil Williamson. It’s easy to see that he identified trotters as his speciality fairly early on and has crafted out a career that’s rewarded him with 500 winners - a remarkable feat. As trotting ranks start to increase markedly we can be rest assured there are a few more winners to be added yet.





Phil Williamson’s fact sheet on 500 winners:


First trotting winner: Role Model - New Zealand Metropolitan June 1995


500th winner: Astral Ruler - Wyndham HRC at Cromwell January 2017


Leaving drivers of the 500 trotting winners: Matty Williamson drove 151, Phil 100, Nathan 94 and Brad 94.


Winning tracks: Addington 98, Forbury Park 84, Ascot Park 80 and Oamaru 41. 


Biggest winners 10 wins or more: Allegro Agitato (21), Springbank Sam (20), One Over Kenny (19), Jasmyn's Gift (17), Springbank Richard (17), Lets Get Serious (10), Monnay (10), Monty Python (10) and Role Model (10).


Note: One Over Kenny won 32 races in her career including the Australasian Trotters Championship in 2007. She was trained by Tony Herlihy in the latter part of her career. She won a total of $1,098,007 in stakes.


Biggest winners by stakes: Springbank Richard ($403,567.50), One Over Kenny ($372,936.25), Allegro Agitato ($353,476.25), Jasmyn's Gift ($164,651.21) and Springbank Sam ($150,935.00).


Biggest stake won in one race by any horse: $138,220.00 (Springbank Richard 2009 Dominion Handicap).


First Group win: Role Model 1996 New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group Two). 


Group One wins: 10

Group Two wins: 9

Group Three wins: 5


Multiple wins - Group races:


Four Year Trotter Championship (Group Three): Lets Get Serious (2006), Springbank Richard (2008) and Leighton Hest (2009)


Ashburton Trotter Flying Mile (Group Three): Allegro Agitato (2004 and 2005) and Springbank Richard (2009).


Cambridge Trotter Flying Mile (Group Two): Allegro Agitato (2005 and 2006) and One Over Kenny (2007).


Lyall Creek Stakes (Group Two): Allegro Agitato (2006) and One Over Kenny (2007).


National Trot (Group One): Allegro Agitato (2006) and One Over Kenny (2007)


New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group One): Role Model (1996), Allegro Agitato (2004 and 2006) and Jasmyn's Gift (2005). 


Important overseas wins: 2007 Victoria Trotting Derby (Group One) Springbank Richard, Interdominion Trotting Championship Heat winner - Shepperton (Group Three) Springbank Richard and 2005 VHRC The Holmfield One Over Kenny.


Harness Jewels winners: Springbank Richard – Three Year old Ruby and Four Year Old Ruby and Leighton Hest Four Year Old Ruby.


DG Jones Memorial/Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup (Group Three): Springbank Richard (2009 and 2010)


New Zealand Trotting Free For All (Group One): Allegro Agitato (2005) and Jasmyn’s Gift (2006).


Ordeal Cup: Jasmyn’s Gift (2006) and Springbank Richard (2009).


Other Group Wins: New Zealand Trotting Oaks (Group Two) One Over Kenny (2005), Northern Trotting Derby (Group One) One Over Kenny (2005), New Zealand Sires Stakes Trotting Championship One Over Kenny (2005), Dominion Handicap (Group One) Springbank Richard (2009), Rowe Cup (Group One) One Over Kenny (2007) and Southern Lights Trot (Group Three) Springbank Sam.


Best season (wins): 2015 and 2016 (58 winners)


Best season (stakes): (2007) $693,861 


Total trotting stakes won (500 winners): $3,486,646.91 









Southern Centurion

Bruce Stewart


77 year old Southland breeder Roger Price played rep basketball until he was 35 years of age, and he’s had a good level of fitness through the years. However in the last three years he’s has had two hip operations and a dislocated shoulder but despite this he reckons he’s got a bit more ‘game’ time in harness racing.

Although retired from training he still likes to be hands on at the stable which is now run by his son John and John’s wife Katrina and he’s still a keen breeder.

“I can come back driving with the right type of horses. I’ve got to do something. You’ve got to get up and going in the morning,” he says.

The Price family have been involved in horses for over 100 years with Roger’s dad Jack Price and his brother Vic successfully racing gallopers.

Rorke’s Drift (Calibre – O’Rorke’s Fancy) was probably one of the best gallopers the Price family raced. He won the Birthday Handicap raced over a mile and a quarter at Wingatui in 1916 (4 year old), 1918 (6 year old), and 1921(9 year old).

He also won the Dunedin Cup (one and half miles) twice in 1916 and 1919 and the Riverton Cup in 1917.

The extended Price family also owned other Riverton Cup winners in The Smuggler (1933), Wild Career (1938 and 1940), Secret Flight (1942) and Fair Trial (1944).

The Smuggler won the Great Autumn Handicap at Riccarton in 1934 and ran third in the 1933 NZ Cup.


To add to the list, Vic Price also raced Golden Silver which won the 1968 Invercargill Cup when trained by Rex Cochrane.

But it’s the Standardbreds that Roger has been involved with for most of his life.And its one mare’s record, that of Belladonna that he’s extremely proud of.

When you look at Belladonna’s progeny line on the HRNZ website you could think “good consistent mare that’s left some handy winners.”

But dig a little deeper and go offshore. Add up what her progeny has done on the racetrack and she has a truly remarkable record. She’s the dam of horses that have won 115 races.




Roger Price.


When researching this article you start by looking at mares that have won the coveted New Zealand Broodmare of the Year Award.

The only mare (that I can see) that sits above Belladonna (and she’s another Southland bred horse) is Loyal Trick who posted her record mainly through the deeds of Young Quinn (59), Loyal Gentry (46) and Gold and Brown (21). She’s left winners of 128 races.

The Belladonna family goes back a fair way and is also responsible for producing quality Southland owned mare Fight For Glory. Fight For Glory’s fourth dam is New Way and her fourth dam is Miri Rei which is also the fourth dam of Belladonna. Both were bred by JA Flynn.

Miri Rei also left a handy type in Master Kent (Garrison Hanover – Maidstone).

He was good enough to race in the 1966 Kindergarten Stakes finishing second to Holy Hal. Trained by Cecil Devine, he won two races at three and three as a four year old. He also had numerous placings including third in the 1968 Cheviot Cup.

“He was probably the best we had out of the family. He sliced a tendon when he was the favourite for the Methven Cup. Cecil Devine was one of the nicest guys when it came to owners. He always said no one knows more about your horse than you and me.”

Belladonna’s mother Bella Kent (Brad Hanover – Maidstone) was raced by Roger and Linc McLean and won one race for trainer Henry Skinner at the Northern Southland meeting in February 1976.

“She showed a lot of ability. Every time we got her fit she was always in season and she would not run when she was in season. We got sick and tired of that so we put her to Bo Scots Blue Chip.”

Belladonna qualified at Winton in December 1991 for Price, then was sent up north.

“She showed some ability down here. In those days we used to have a couple of hundred horses at the trials. It was difficult to get a win at the trials to get a start at the races. I got tired of that and Richard Brosnan put me onto this lady in the North Island. She had three starts with the horse up there and she went pretty average so she was sent back home.”

Although she was tried again it was to no avail, so a career at stud beckoned.

“I think we had another go after she got home but she didn’t go much good so coming home from the trials one day we decide to drop her off at the stud to be served by Bo Scots Blue Chip. He was an exceptionally good racehorse so I went there.”

Her first foal was Cadillac Kent which won once when Peter Ferguson drove him to win at Forbury. He was sold shortly afterwards and went on to win another twenty races in Australia.

The mare’s next winner was Holmes Hanover filly Bellaholmes. She won her first two starts for training partners Roger and his daughter-in-law Katrina Price. She finished her racing career in the south by running fifth in the 2001 Southland Oaks final, won by Shortys Girl. Soon afterwards her training was taken over by Mark Purdon who drove her to finish third in the New Zealand Oaks.

“She was an exceptionally good mare. We thought it was better to have her up there to win that race (New Zealand Oaks) but unfortunately she drew the outside of the front row and finished third.”

At her next start she won the Group Two North Island Breeders Stakes. That was her sixth win. Soon after she was sold to Joe Muscara and continued her racing career in America where she won another sixteen races.  

“Selling her was better money than there was in farming. She hardly ever ran out of the money over there. She was a typical Holmes (Holmes Hanover). She was tough but she could run as well.”

After Bellaholmes, the winners continued from Belladonna and many, after reaching their mark (handicap) here or commanding good money, were sold to either Australia or America.

“Most of the breed have been able to run out of the gate and that’s what kept me in the game.”

One that never made the races but was rated by Price, was Master Chef (Frugal Gourmet – Belladonna)

“As a three year old he ended up cracking a pedal bone and we turned him out for six months. We brought him back and took him to the trials. He bolted in (winning by nine lengths) and he was ready to take to the races and then he split the cannon bone again. He showed me a lot of ability.”

Of the four American raced foals out of Belladonna, Scotty Mach has won the most races winning 30 and recording the fastest mile time of 1-49.4.

“He was a typical Mach Three. He wanted to run and we had a lot of fun with him. You get to the stage in New Zealand where you get up to that top class which is tough. In America they can put them in classes that suit them. The same thing happens in Australia. We’ve sold a lot of one win horses here and they’ve gone on to win a lot more races whereas here they’d be struggling to win another race.”

Although Roger has stepped away from breeding leaving that up to John and Katrina,  he’s still keeping an eye on two of Belladonna’s daughters -  Bellavita (Mach Three) which has a Well Said yearling filly and is due to foal to American Ideal, and Donnamach (Mach Three) whichhas been served by He’s Watching.

So with a few more quiet drives and the excitement of seeing Belladonna’s family continue to produce winners, Roger and his wife Helen have a few more chapters left to be written in terms of their involvement in harness racing in Southland.


Belladonna’s winning list:

Left 12 foals 10 qualified and won 115 races.

Cadillac Kent (Cadillac) 1 New Zealand win and 20 Australian wins (21)

Bellaholmes (Holmes Hanover) 6 New Zealand wins and 16 American wins (22)

Pocket Master (In The Pocket) 0 New Zealand wins and 11 American wins (11)

Pocket Express (In The Pocket) 4 New Zealand wins and 8 American wins (12)

Bella’s Fella (Holmes Hanover) 1 New Zealand win and 8 Australian wins (9)

Scotty Mac (Mach Three) 9 New Zealand wins and 30 American wins (39)

Bellavita (Mach Three) 1 New Zealand win (1)

Donnamach (Mach Three) 2 New Zealand wins (2)

Some of our high rating mares (number of wins):

Loyal Trick dam of Young Quinn (59), Judy Charles (2), Loyal Gentry (46) and Gold and Brown (21) total 128.

Significant dam of National Image (13), The Unicorn (29), Pacific Flight (47), Gliding By (8), All Bar One (5), Gold Crusader (1) and Sign Of Home (1) total 104

Colwyn Bay mother of the great Cardigan Bay (80), Conway Bay (1) and Bold Bay (3) for a total of 84

Scuse Me dam of Megabucks (12), Splendid Dream (2), La Filou (1), Coca Vicola (1), Pardin Me (1), Imagine Me (9), Toledo (8), Abide By Me (4), Idolise Me (4), Adore Me (26), Ohoka Jett (1) and Have Faith In Me (14) total 83

Fleet’s Pocket mother of Mighty Pocketlands (4), Flying Pocketlands (21), Mighty Flying Thomas (22), Mighty Flying Mac (14), Flying McPocket (6), Mighty Flying Major (8), and Mighty Flying Deal (4) Total 81.

Splendid Dream dam of Hands Christian (13), Christen Me (32), Splendid Bet (5), Aliante (8), Dream About Me (16), Accumulator (1) Total 75.

If you know of other mares (there will be a few) that have hit 100 plus winners, please contact me






Price’s Bullish

Bruce Stewart


The latest star to come out of the John and Katrina Price Winton stable Chicago Bull, is now doing a fantastic job in Western Australia for trainer Gary Hall.

The diminutive gelding was bred by Roger, Helen, John and Katrina Price from their Christian Cullen mare Chicago Blues which they bought off Aidan Johnstone for $40,000 at the 2008 Yearling Sales.

Chicago Blues is from the famed Black Watch family and her dam Bluejeanbabyqueen is by Jenna’s Beach Boy out of the nine win Vance Hanover mare Pacific Flight whose wins included the 1993 New Zealand Oaks. She then went on to have a successful racing career in America winning a further thirty eight races and recording a mile time of 1-51.2.

Bluejeanbabyqueen despite her international pedigree didn’t reach any great heights on the race track. She started her career in America in 2004 before she came to New Zealand where David and Catherine Butt took over her training. Her only win was at Wyndham in March 2016.

Chicago Blues is Bluejeanbabyqueen’s first foal and one of only two winners from her eight live foals.

“We were interested in her (Chicago Blues) but she was passed in. She wasn’t a big filly. It was Aidan Johnstone who sold her. He had a terrible sale that year. One other yearling that he had which was probably going to fetch a bit slipped over on the concrete and broke a pelvis. She (Chicago Blues) went early in the sale but after that I guess he was keen to sell because he hadn’t had a very lucky sale at all.” Katrina said.

Consequently Chicago Blues was bought by the Prices privately a week later.

“We always wanted something out of the Black Watch family and she was one that we targeted for that reason.”

Looking back into Chicago Blues pedigree; as well as leaving Bluejeansbabyqueen, Pacific Flight also left the unbeaten Sirius Flight (The Big Dog) which won five of its five starts in America.

Chicago Blues third dam is Significant which has made a major contribution to the New Zealand breeding scene. She’s left winners of 104 races with her biggest winners being Pacific Flight (47 wins) and The Unicorn (29).

Sirius Flight after her stint in America went to stud in New Zealand where she has left Malak Uswaad (9 wins) and Timeless Perfection (6 NZ wins). She’s owned by Cavalla Bloodstock and they continue to breed from her. They offered a colt foal by Raging Bull out of Lady Moonlight (Sands A Flyin – Sirius Flight) at last year’s Yearling Sales which was bought by Chrissie Dalgety for $27,000.

Commentator Mark McNamara and Cavalla Bloodstock are breeding from another one of Sirius Flight’s daughters Miss Moonlight Shadow (Christian Cullen). Her son Schweinsteiger by Falcon Seelster was purchased by the owners of Franco Ledger – the Whatever Syndicate,and Hamish Hunter for $16,000, also at last year’s sales.

But back to Chicago Blues.As a racehorse she showed potential.

“She had a lot of ability but she had a few problems as well. She used to lock on and hang very badly. As a four year old she used to tie up really badly. We only had her right a couple of times. One of those days she ran a super second to Malak Uswaad at Winton when those two cleared out from the field. She was hormonal and always in season so we had to make the decision to quit,” said Katrina.

“She showed a lot of speed when we first broke her in,” added John. It was just a matter of slowing her down.”

At the end of her racing career Chicago Blues was sent up to Cran Dalgetys.

“She just wouldn’t go for him because she just kept hanging so we brought her home,” said Katrina.

So twenty three starts yielded three wins, two seconds and a third. She was sent to Bettor’s Delight to begin her stud career.

Her first foal Chicago Bull was born on the 14th October 2014.

“He was small but nuggety so he go the nickname Bull straight away,” said Katrina.  We castrated him early because Peter Williams said “I think you should cut him. It might help him grow,” said John.

He never did grow much and for a start there were reservations about him even making it as a racehorse.

“He wasn’t a natural at the start. He just wouldn’t pace at all. I was going to give up on him but John had another go and the day he started pacing he was just off.”

It was then that he started to show real potential.

“Up here at Winton one day be worked 2-04 one day, half in 56 in September and did it on his ear. The year before we’d had Democrat Party and we thought he was as good as her at the same stage,” stated John. 

I’ve had other horses that have felt good until you hit top speed. Whereas he never felt good until you hit that top speed. The faster you went the bigger he felt,” said Katrina.



John and Katrina Price 



He won at Winton twice as a two year old and buyer interest began to heighten but his size was putting some off.

“They’d ring up and say they’d checked him and he was too small. The guy that wanted him originally from Perth said he wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up buying another horse that’s gone no good,” Katrina said.

Chicago Bull finished his two year old season by running seventh in the Two Year Old Emerald at Ashburton behind Lazarus. His time for the 1609 metres that day was 1-53.7 and he was less than five lengths from the winner. He was then sold to clients of Gary Hall Senior’s stable in West Australia.

“It was a strong crop that year with horses like Lazarus. He ran home in better than 25 that day when he came along the rails. That’s what sold him really. They bought him a week after that,” said John.

North Island bloodstock agent Peter Blanchard did the deal.

“He was a neat wee horse to work with. He was always on your side. As far as a two year old goes whatever we asked him to do at home he never ever stop trying and he was always hitting the line really strongly,” said Katrina. “At home I always thought we never got to the bottom of him. He always had his knockers because he was so small and you were always worried that he’d reach his limit quickly. He’s in the right spot at Gloucester Park. He just seems to like that track.”

His Australian record is impeccable - sixteen wins, three seconds and four thirds from twenty three starts.

His wins include the Group One West Australian Derby, Group One McInerney Ford Four Year Old Classic and $450,000 Group One West Australian Pacing Cup. He has now won $854,314.

Chicago Blues continues to be bred from, producing a colt by Somebeachsomewhere named Maliblu Beach and a two year old filly by Rock N Roll Heaven.  

“He (Maliblu Beach) was just the complete opposite in every respect to Bull. He was huge, ugly, slow and dirty, said Katrina.                                                                                                

“We roped him so many times but he’d still kick you so he’s not around.” added John. 

The two year old Rock N Roll Heaven filly appears to be better.

“She’s really big. She’s done a bit and is a nice filly but she’s in the paddock.”

And the good news is that Chicago Blues has just had a colt by Bettor’s Delight making him a full brother to Chicago Bull. And she’s returning to that sire.

“We want a colt. Don’t want fillies. We had a run where we had 23 foals and we had 21 fillies. We really want colts,” said John.

Although the Prices are having a quiet time on the training front there are plenty more foals to be broken in and tried and certainly some rich pedigrees to match up with the wide array of stallions available.

Chicago Bull still has plenty of racing ahead of him and the Prices will no doubt continue to watch a bit of late night Trackside as he tends to do most of his racing in Western Australia.

And despite his diminutive stature he’s proof that size doesn’t matter.




The Cirrus Run

Bruce Stewart


This is a story started off about being about a mare called Cirrus that produced the winners of 23 races over two seasons but like all good stories I found myself wandering off with interesting diversions.

Essentially though the story centres around a breeder who worked as a gardener at Anderson Park Invercargill and had small block of land on Bay Road close to Hampton Lodge where many good thoroughbreds were born. From his Bay Road property with a fixed breeding plan he bred some the most influence mares in Southland’s breeding history.

The breeder was Noel Drake.

Outside the province you may not have heard of NJ Drake but as the story is told with the help of Noel’s son Ken and an old scrapbook things will fall into place.   

We’ll rewind the clock back to 1931 when a chestnut mare called Auburn Sun was born.

Among other things she was the fourth dam of Majestic Charger the winner of thirteen race and Adios Adieu which won 11. But it’s through Auburn Sun’s Dillion Hall daughter Air Mail that this part of the story begins.

Air Mail was trained by Wes Butt and raced by Arnold Simpson.

Jim Drake, the father of Noel was a stock agent for JG Wards in the late 1940’s and Arnold Simpson was a client.

Noel was in his late teens at the time and use to follow Air Mails racing career.

“There was only on-course betting in those days so whenever Arnold wanted to have a bet he used to give it to Dad to put on,” said Ken.

Air Mail broke down and was retired in 1953 and a partnership was struck between Simpson and Noel Drake to breed from the mare.



Air Mail 


“The arrangement was that Dad picked the sire and paid for the service fee. They sent her to Josedale Grattan (1941 New Zealand Trotting Cup winner) who was leading sire at the time.”

The resulting foal was Kiwi Grattan. He won at his first appearance in public at the Birchwood meeting in saddle pace. He was trained by Wally Scott and went on to win nine races including the FJ Smith Memorial Handicap at Alexandra Park beating Scottish Command and Girl Brigade.

“Dad raced Kiwi Grattan in partnership with Wally. He was actually the first horse from Southland to win at the night trots in Auckland.”

Her second foal by Italian sire Canova wasn’t as successful.

Canova stood at Greenlane Stud at Lorneville. He raced as a trotter winning 14 races.

“For a while they couldn’t get American sires into New Zealand so they bought Italian stallions in. That was all you had or New Zealand bred horses. Dad would tell you that he was no good and probably put Southland back a few years.”

In total Air Mail left ten live foals and her best race track runner was Kiwi Hanover which won 26 races including the South Australian Cup. 

“Dad’s father retired in Australia and Kiwi Hanover ended up in New South Wales where he lived. Quite often we’d get a telegram saying ‘Cheeky’ won at the showgrounds last night. We always called him cheeky at home.”

But it’s been Air Mail’s daughters that feature on the pedigree page of a host of winner’s right up until this day. And it’s from a mare named Cirrus that we pick up the story.

Cirrus was the last foal produced by Air Mail who died empty at the age of 25 in 1968 six weeks after Cirrus was weaned.

“Dad leased Cirrus to Owen Crooks as a young horse without a right of purchase because he really wanted to keep her. She came home and was sent to stud as a three year old.”

Her first foal was produced in 1971. By Tempest Hanover his name was Devastator. He won three races here and another thirteen in America. He was sold as a weanling, raced in Southland and was later sold to the Kenwood Syndicate.

“When the foals came home from stud we always spent a lot of time handling them. They were always taught to lead on the mares. You could trim their feet before they were weaned. For six weeks before the foals were weaned we would start feeding the mares and the foals so when the foals were weaned they knew what hard feed was.”

Cirrus’s second foal was Motu Princess. She was sold for $1,000 as a weanling at the Southland Standardbred Sale and bought by George Timperley of Coutts Island in the Rangiora District. She was unnamed at that point but Timperley named her Motu (Maori for Island) Princess. She began her career as a two year old in March 1975 at Addington finishing 10th behind a smart Fancy Fred.

She went on to win seven races. Her second win was in a heat of New Zealand Probationary Drivers Championship at Timaru when driven by a young Colin De Filippi. 

As a broodmare Motu Princess left Motu Mister Smooth the winner of eight races including a heat of the Sires Stakes and the 1991 Amberley Cup. He also had success as a stallion.

The mare’s third foal was Hurricane Kiwi which was bought as a foal by Southland trainer Jack Duncan.

“Dad had known Jack for many years. Dad had family from the Caps (Nightcaps) and Jack had originated from there. I went out to the trials one day at Winton and Jack and Mrs Duncan were sitting in front of us. He asked if Dad he had any foals and day said yes he did have one by Armbro Hurricane. Jack phoned that night and came out the next day and had a look at the foal and dropped the cheque off that afternoon.”

Murray Faul was bought into the ownership and Hurricane Kiwi qualified as a late three year old. He won seven races here and from only four starts in America won once.

Born in 1974 a young colt by Armbro Del was to become the star of Cirrus’s breeding career. He too was sold for $1,000 as a weanling at the Southland Sales and once again bought by George Timperley. He too would carry the Motu prefix – Motu Prince.

“I remember when he came home from the stud only three months old. When we started handling him he was an absolute sod of a horse. We had a crush and we used to get the foals in the crush and handle them from there but we just couldn’t get him in the crush.”

Motu Prince won his first race - the New Brighton Two Year Old Stakes for trainer Maurice Flaws. He also finished second to Glide Time in both the Welcome and Sapling Stakes and was third behind Lord Module and Locarno in the Cashmere Two Year Old Stakes at Addington.

But it was the following season that he won his biggest prize in the 1977 New Zealand Derby.

“He was trained to the minute. In those days you didn’t have to notify your drivers. The Derby was on Saturday night and there was no driver listed for him in the paper on Saturday morning. My car was parked out in the drive and we were trying to pick up 3ZB in Christchurch. The caller Reon Murtha say Peter Wolfenden has got Motu Prince away really well. Dad and I looked at each other and said Peter Wolfenden!!! We couldn’t believe it. He pulled him in the trail and pulled out at the top of the straight and did the business.”

In the Derby he beat Glide Time by two lengths with Timely Robin four lengths back in third. The beaten runners included Lord Module, Roydon Scott and Main Star.

Motu Prince’s winning time for the 2600 metres of 3-21.1 was a new race record.

Flaws once told Drake.

“He’s a hell of a horse and he’s got a great motor but you wouldn’t want to go near him.”

He won six races as a three year old ending his season in Gore running third behind Hurricane Squire and Lord Module in the Tanqueray Stakes. He finished his career winning seven races an also ended up in the stallion barn.

The mare’s next foal was Kiwi Guy (Berry Hanover) which won two races for Jimmy Bond and was later exported to America where he won nine races.  

From a breeding prospective Cirrus was by an Adios stallion. Adios horses crossed with Tar Heel blood was the golden cross in America in the 1960’s and 1970’s before Meadow Skipper, Most Happy Fella and Albatross took over.

“Dad thought that the Adios cross with a Dillion Hall mare would do the business. All the horses out of Cirrus were by Tar Heel sires.  Dad was sure that if he had that double cross of Adios blood across a Tar Heel sire they’re be alright.”

Successful Southland sire Majestic Chance was by an Adios sire (Adios Butler) out of a Tar Heel mare (La Chance). He was one the big success stories in Southland.

Her next foal was Bakano was to be her last in this country. By Armbro Hurricane she won on debut and was Ken Drakes first runner at the races, and first winner. But that was to be her only win in ten starts. As a broodmare she did leave Cacao which won four races for Frank Cooney.


Bernie Forde, Ken Drake, Gavan Hamilton and Noel Drake after Bakano's win at Winton 


Cirrus, who was named 1978 Southland Broodmare of the Year, was sold as a 14 year old to Illinois Stud in Coleambally Valley near Wagga Wagga.

In Australia she left Cirrus Star (Most Chance) who in turn left Preux Chevalier filly Three Dawns which won sixteen races.

Although some of the Southland and Australian branches of the family dating back to Auburn Sun have dried up other strands have continued to flourish.

Cirrus’s half - sister Kiwi Direct had more luck as a broodmare. By Express Direct she won twice – once for Ray Todd at Invercargill in December 1969 when driven by junior driver Ned Black and the following year when trained her part owner Bill Coats who shared in the ownership with Hec Donaldson.

As a broodmare Kiwi Direct left Direct Kiwi (Knowing Bret) 13 wins, Supreme Kiwi (Knowing Bret) the winner of one race and the dam of Kiwi Supreme the winner of nine races. Kiwi Direct is also the fourth dam of the brilliant Kiwi Ingenuity the winner of eleven races and over half a million dollars for former Southlander Hamish Scott and his partner Kim Lawson.

Kiwi Direct also produced Sly Kiwi the winner of the 1974 Methven Two Year Old Stakes beating Noodlum off level marks at the same age. Sly Kiwi (Sly Yankee – Kiwi Direct) didn’t leave any winners on the racetrack but one of her daughters Sly Tabella (Saigon) is the dam of Sly Soky the dam of Sly Flyin. It’s a family that Southlanders Debbie and Mark Smith continue to successfully breed from.

Another half - sister to Cirrus was Kiwi Air which was also bred by Drake.

“She had two white hind feet and they used to get quite a bit of greasy heel Bert (Bert Lawton from Hampton Lodge) put Dad onto the right track. We used to get sulphur from the chemist and mix it with pig lard. Equal amounts. Mum used to put it in the cake mixer and mix it all up. You’d put it on the old girls back legs. She didn’t like it but it used to dry her up.”

One of Kiwi Air’s foals Tempest Air left smart colt Kiwi Dillion (Mister Hillas) which won twice here before heading to America. Henry Hoover (Knowing Bret) was her second foal and he won eight races. Both were raced by Linda and Wayne Pierce.

Gold Ace also stems from this family with the stallions fourth dam being Kiwi Direct.   

“Dad was primarily a breeder and he got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing foals that he had sold go on a do well for other people. In later years he got a great thrill out of seeing horses like Kiwi Ingenuity and Gold Ace doing well.”

Another daughter of Kiwi Air, Ima Kiwi left handy horses Golden Wings (5), Trist Mist (4), Admiral Kiwi (6).

And a good indication that the family is still alive and well is illustrated in the latest Sale of the Stars catalogue.

Lot 153 Kenny Rogers (A Rocknroll Dance) has Air Mail as his seventh dam while lot 234 Motu Girls Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Motu Racey Girl) has Motu Princess as her fifth dam. Of interest is that one Ned Black is preparing Motu Girls Delight. Remember he drove one of the family (Kiwi Direct) to win in 1969.

So there’s been many twists and turns in writing this story. The Drake family although not involved at all in breeding these days still take an interest in horses that NJ Drakes name appears somewhere in the pedigree page. The stud career of Gold Ace will undoubtedly be watched with interest as will the progeny of Kiwi Ingenuity and other mares like Pemberton Shard.

And here’s a long shot.

What about sending a mare to Buy Kiwi Made a Presidential Ball stallion out of Kiwi Express that Hamish Scott and Kim Lawson own? 

So in writing this story you realise the influence Noel Drake has had in shaping some top modern bloodlines. Thanks Ken for sharing your dad’s story.






The Dynesty

Bruce Stewart


In harness racing the ‘Tact’ prefix is steeped in history dating back to the 1940s when the Light Brigade mare Tactic was born. She was from the famous First Water family that have left many winners in Southland – some associated with the Dynes family.

The Tact family which has left champion race horses Tactile, Noodlum and Blacks A Fake lives on in Southland, now under the guidance of Bessie Dynes, her daughter Diane and her partner Trevor Proctor. And judging by the quality of some of the family’s recent winners the name is set to stay and perform into more generations.

It was Tactile though that got the breed it’s earliest recognition.

He was a champion New Zealand juvenile in the early 1960s -  winning five Derbies as a three year old; a feat unparalleled in Australasian Standardbred history.

Tactile was part owned and trained in Southland by the late Derek Dynes who shared in the ownership of him with cousin Jim Dynes. After his racing days were over he sired 316 foals, leaving 79 winners. The best of these was Tac Warrior.

“That was one regret we had, that Dad never got to see him race overseas. And if Dad was here now he would have the most incredible memory of family bloodlines. It was his passion.” said Diane.




  Bessie and Diane Dynes with Trevor Proctor at their Winton property - Photo Bruce Stewart.


The Tact horses have not only shone overseas, they have also provided plenty of highlights on the domestic front. And 83 year old Bessie Dynes (wife of the late Derek) has certainly enjoyed being there to see them.

“I just used to watch them race. I loved watching them,” she said.

Despite her age Bessie remains hands on and keeps herself busy helping Proctor at the stables just down the road from where she lives.

“She still goes round to the boxes. She shattered her shoulder a couple of months ago and had a total shoulder replacement,” said Diane.

“She does the boxes better now that she has a new shoulder. I think the new shoulder has made all the difference because she used to leave a bit of shit behind,” added Trevor laughing.

On the breeding front the Dynes family still have plenty of well bred mares to carry on the Tact name.

Tactwyn a daughter of Tactics is the fourth dam of Tact Lizzie, one of the quality mares Bessie and Diane are breeding from today.

As a race mare Tact Lizzie won ten races with her biggest win coming in the Group One 2010 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Breeders Stakes. She was one of the outsiders paying $64.30 to win.

She has passed on her ability to her foals. From four live foals she’s left the talented Tact Tate (McArdle) which won three races in a short career here before heading to Australia.

“As a foal he was that shy you couldn’t get near his head. We had to give him cuddles. Then he went the opposite and thought he was pretty smart,” said Trevor.

He won a further eight races in Aussie and five of those, he won in a row. His best win to date was the Nestle Professional 4 year old Bonanza at Melton where he paced a mile in 1-51.9. He also ran fourth in last season’s Chariot Of Fire and finished his season winning the Group Three Mount Eden at Menanagle.

Tact Lizzie’s second foal Tact Rousey (Art Major) also looks promising, winning once last season and running a number of placings from just ten starts.

“She ran a quarter in 24.8 one day out here and under a hold. I’ve never had a horse that’s done that. If we can get her right she’ll win two or three races down here quite easily,” said Trevor.


Tact Lizzie’s third foal is by Lis Mara and the family have had to wait on her to develop.

“I worked her in the cart for the second time today. She’s big and solid and a beautiful pacer. I said to Ian Wilson if she’s got speed she’ll win races as she’s such a nice mover,” he said.

Her latest foal is a yearling filly by Art Major.

Tact Lizzie is currently in foal to Rock N Roll Hanover. Although her progeny will continue to be tried by the family there could be a shift in focus down the track.

“As we get older and get sick of the racing we may breed them for the sales. Once you get a horse like Tact Tate doing his thing in Australia and if Tact Rousey comes up her foals are going to be worth a bit,” said Trevor.

Tact Hayley has also been the star of the Dynes broodmare band. She has left the winners of forty five races with her best being Tact Hayley Jane (Albert Albert) 10 wins, Tact Lizzie (Christian Cullen) 10 wins, Spectactular (Christian Cullen) 10 wins and Tact Major (Art Major) 7 wins.

Despite being the ripe old age of 24 she is still being bred from and has left untried stock by Christian Cullen and Auckland Reactor. She’s due to foal to Art Major.

“Ian Wilson broke the Auckland Reactor filly in for me as a yearling. He’s broken in a lot of horses and never broken in anything like it. She’s such a natural. She ran a quarter in 35 as a yearling.”

The Dynes are also breeding from two of Tact Hayley’s daughters - Tact Hayley Jane and Tact Marie Knight (In the Pocket).

Tact Hayley Jane’s best foal so far in the Bettor’s Delight mare Tact Hayley’s Delight. She’s won over $250,000 - winning four races in New Zealand and a further ten in Australia. Her best wins came in the Group Three Baby Bling Stakes and the Group Two Sibelia Stakes.

Tact Marie Knight is also on the board, producing Ideal Tact (American Ideal) which won two races here and a further eleven in Australia.

They are also breeding from Tact Ruby (Better’s Delight – Tact Marie Knight) and Tact Charlotte (Bettor’s Delight – Tact Hayley Jane).

They’ve leased Tact Ruby, recently leased Delightful Tactic to Macca Lodge, and sold Tact Aunty.

Flash Tactics is another mare on the property, but despite winning eight races as a racehorse she’s been a shy breeder and was last bred from in 2013.

One mare from the family that performed on the racetrack but didn’t do so well as a broodmare was Tact Boyden. She won seven of her nineteen starts and ran third in the 1982 DB Fillies Final at Addington behind Rain Girl and Capri.

“Dad sold her to the States for something like 90 grand. That was massive money. He bought a good chunk of a farm in Ashburton with that. We paid $25,000 to buy her back.”

Her best foal was Tactical Manoeuvre which was by Soky’s Atom and won four of her seven starts for Mid-Canterbury trainer Brian Saunders. She won her first two start at Greymouth in 1994.

The Dynes and Proctor primarily operate from their 5 acres home block which is opposite the Winton Race course. But they also own the house next door which has a further 6 acres attached to it and they lease a further 60 acres from Bessie and Diane’s brother Robert.

“We foal our mares here on the home property but graze them up the road on the 60 acres “said Diane.

“When dad came back from Ashburton (1993) he may have had 25 mares on the property and Trevor and I did the foaling for a couple of years so we got to know what went on.”

One of the pair’s earliest memories in the foaling paddock was of a mare’s desperate attempt to save her foal.

“One of Dad’s mares foaled and the foal was born dead. The mare tried to revive it. She was sucking the foal’s nostrils and the wee foals head would come up and then bang on the ground. She did it over and over. She was desperate to revive the foal. It was amazing,” said Diane.

Trevor also has some memories from that time.

“I had to stay with a mare for a couple of hours and get the foal on but she would bite it and go to savage it like it was foreign. She and I were mates so when I gave her a smack she knew right from wrong. Once the foal got sucking she was away. If I wasn’t there she would have killed it.”

And there are two other foalings that stand out in Diane’s mind.

“We had a young maiden mare who was unaware that she had foaled. The foal was lying behind her and I guess in hindsight we should have spun the foal around and got it on her feet so she could lick it and mother it. But she didn’t and she didn’t want to have anything to do with. Also when we foaled Flash Tactic who was a bit of a pet to us she followed Trevor across the paddock and left the foal in the middle of the paddock on its own. Then she realised.” 

Away from training horses Trevor also runs a small painting and decorating business. He was also a top provincial rugby referee for 15 years.

“I was number two at one stage behind Paddy O’Brien. I also coached the top five referees but had to give it up because there was no time for the horses. ”

He comes from a non racing background, hailing from the Southland coalmining town of Ohai.

“I was mates with the Franklins and they used to have horses. I used to go down there and ride them at the weekend. When I met Diane I went up to Ashburton and Tony Kelly said do you want a drive? I got into doing fast work and loved it.”

Diane also runs her own business called Renu.

Renu has a range of knitwear using recycled woollen clothes which she gets from the Salvation Army and Op Shops and then crafts into one off garments. She says everything’s recycled and she has 80-100 garments on the rack at any one time.

“It’s all about balance. I started off that part of the business because I felt I needed to do something I really enjoyed doing. We were nominated for an award in the Benson and Hedges Awards in Wellington twenty five years ago and we made an outfit for Linda Jones once. So that’s as famous as I’ve got. I do workshops and teach as well and hope to go overseas in the near future.”

Her biggest markets are Wanaka A&P Show and the Arrowtown Autumn Festival Market.

With the Tact and Dynes names still very much to the fore, there’s plenty to go on with, both on the creative and breeding front.

There’s likely another good horse or an awarding garment, just around the next corner.   






Bags Of Winners

                                                                                              Bruce Stewart

Invercargill Lawyer Cleland Murdoch (also known as “Bags”) is among a small group of the legal fraternity in Invercargill that have and interest and or investment in harness racing.

The likes of Mary-Jane Thomas, Murray Little and Lester Smith are all lawyers, race horse owners and breeders in the province.

But it must be said that Murdoch is the biggest and the most successful to date.

His initial interest in the horse industry was in the thoroughbred code back in the boom years of the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.

“Initially I was more interested in gallopers because when I was a kid Southland had Rex Cochrane, Ted Winsloe and Bill Hillis. The best trainers in New Zealand. We also had Kurdistan and Bellborough. I used to follow the gallopers more than the trots. I was brought up in the Eiffel Tower era,” he said.

But that changed when he and a few mates bought a mare off Southland trainer Johnny Henderson.

“I was friendly with Mike Hughes (Tour of Southland winner) and he arranged to buy a mare called Cheeky Lass with a foal at foot by Knowing Bret, and she was in foal to Knowing Bret. I think we paid $6,000 for her. Mike, Peter Kerslake and I went a third each. The foal at foot was Mike Adios which was my first winner.”

Mike Adios wasn’t initially trained in Southland.

“Nifty Norman arranged to send him to Derek Jones and that was my first win as an owner. He won a penalty bearing trial at Addington so I never even saw it.”

Mike Adios beat fourteen other rivals at the Canterbury Owners and Breeders Trials with a winning stake of $1,000.

“He had some issues so we brought him back down here. He was trained by Murray Brown and he gave Murray his first win as a trainer.”

Brown has trained  69 winners for Murdoch whether it be individually, through shared ownership or in syndicates.

Murdoch has also had winners trained by Ali Malcolmson, Billy Heads, Tim Butt, Dave Anderson  Hamish Hunter, Ken Barron and Phil Williamson.

Fast forward thirty two years and Murdoch is still breeding and racing plenty of horse flesh with shares in a good number of racehorses such as Sam Galleon, Swamp Major, Northview Dave, American Magic (American Ideal – Cher’s Magic),Triple VC, Ideal Art, Arnold and Elle Ko  (Highlanders Syndicate).

He’s also breeding at the top end of the trotting market with Past Chairman of HRNZ Gary Allen.

 “I got to meet Gary when I was the president of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club and going to the trotting conferences. Over the years Gary and I have become close friends and are breeding from C J Galleon (which we own) and also on an alternate years, Rae Galleon & Niamey which Gary owns in partnership with Trevor Casey.”

CJ Galleon has left James Galleon (Washington VC) which qualified at Gore, winning by fourteen lengths and pacing 9.2 seconds under qualifying time. He was sold to Australia for  big money and has since won eight from thirteen starts for Gary Hall in Western Australia.

“The Halls really like the horse. I think he has had some injury issues. We’ve got a full brother at home. Brent McIntyre (Macca Lodge) actually saved the mare from going to Gore and he’s bred a foal out of her and she’s going back to Washington.”




 Cleland Murdoch and one of his many winner with Murray Brown - Northview Dave


On the trotting side of breeding with Gary Allen, they bred alternate years from the Sundon mare Rae Galleon which is a full sister to Belle Galleon the winner of eleven races - owned by Trevor Casey and Allen.  and also Niamey (Chiola Hanover – Game Flyer) which is also owned by Casey and Allen.

Niamey has left Pocaro (Group One 3 year old Ruby at Ashburton - 13 wins), Springbank Sam (20 wins) and Daenerys Targaryen (15 wins including the Group One Seelite Redwood Classic at her first start), and the promising Sam Galleon the winner of four of his eleven starts.

“Gary and I have a half-brother to Sam Galleon by Majestic Son entered in the sales and we’re sending the mare to Love You. She’s had seven foals for seven winners including two Group One winners and one of her daughters Pocaro won a Group One race and has also left a Group One winner. We’re also breeding from Galleons Respect which has left the very promising King Soloman and have a half-brother to him entered in the sales.”

Over the years Murdoch has also managed a few syndicates, including the Watch Your Step and Highlanders Syndicates.

“Racing horses with syndicates is a lot of fun. If you happen to win a race it’s usually a big day. When you win a race on your own you put your chest out and think I’ve done alright but that’s about it. Syndication is the way to go. It’s sharing the risk because it’s got too expensive. Some of our leading trainers are charging a daily rate that’s getting up there with Australian galloping trainers.” 

And it was through a syndicate that Murdoch was involved in the purchase of the American bred mare Watch Your Step in the early 2000’s.

“We bought her off John Stormont - an Auckland  bloodstock agent who’d bought a few horses from Murray. He bought a very good horse off us called Onedin Sapreme which we sold for big money. John rang Murray up one day and said he had this American mare whose mother was a half-sister to Beach Towel.”

Murdoch recalls that the Syndicate paid about $60,000 for the mare who had an In The Pocket colt at foot (Stopwatch) and was in foal to the same sire.

“We sold the first one for about $50,000 and we thought this was easy. We sold the next one for $15,000 ( Announcement).”

Announcement won eight races for Ashburton trainer John Hay. Stopwatch and Announcement both went on to win races in America.

The Watch Your Step syndicate is still going and sold a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Cher Magic (Christian Cullen – Watch Your Step) for $55,000 at last year’s sale. The group have a Well Said colt to sell at this February’s sale. The mare is booked to American Ideal.

“We also have a horse called American Magic out of the mare at Murray’s which qualified last year as a two year old. He’s a pretty smart horse and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t put the hoof in the till.”

One of the stars of the Murdoch portfolio is the Art Major four year old Swamp Major which was bred by good friend Trevor Ryder and is trained by Ken and Tony Barron.

“Trevor was going to buy a filly from Sandy Yardley out of Hot Shoe Shuffle.. He asked me if I was interested in going in. I hummed and harred. We were duck shooting one day and Murray Brown said why do you fella’s want to buy a horse out of Hot Shoe Shuffle. You’d be better off to buy one out of Trevor’s own breed. We sat down over a couple of cups of tea, we did the deal and bought Swamp Major as a weanling.”

From eight starts last season he won three races and was only out of the money once.

“He’s potentially as good a horse as I’ve had.”

Murdoch is also breeding from a number of his own mares.

They include Northview Desire an unraced mare by Real Desire. Ray Green trains her first foal Northview Hustler which he rates.

The race track performances of Ideal For Real in Australia and He’s Watching in American have helped Murdoch to make up his mind about sending Northview Desire to American Ideal. Both Ideal For Real and He’s Watching are by American Ideal out of Real Desire mares, as is Northview Desire.

Ideal For Real has won thirteen races from twenty one starts. He’s unbeaten in his last seven starts, winning the Group Two Breeders Crown for four year olds at Melton in August while He’s Watching was unbeaten in eight two year old starts and named USA Two Year Old of the Year. In those eight starts he set five track record and two world records.

One mare that has sentimental ties is North View Lass (Live Or Die – Trans Lass). She descends from Cheeky Lass and has a two year old Badlands Hanover colt called Northview Cam (named after Cleland’s late father).

He’s also breeding with Murray Brown from Judes Cullen (Christian Cullen – Highview Jude), Cher Magic (with The Watch Your Step Syndicate). Her foals include Chers Bettor Babe (4 wins) and Chers Magic Jet (Australian) and she has a Bettors Delight two year old colt and a Well Said yearling colt.

Of the many racehorses he’s bred he rates Northview Punter as the best. He won twenty seven races in Australian winning $500,260. He finished third in Group One WA Pacing Cup, second in Group One Freemantle Cup and won 2014 Group Three August Cup.

“He was a lovely horse and I sold him for not much money. That year I had another two year old called Northview Cardle. He was showing a hell of a lot of promise and we trialled him after the sales and sold him to Australia for huge money. If I had sold this horse before the sales I wouldn’t have sold Northview Punter because I didn’t make any money out of him.”

On the trotting side of his ownership Murdoch’s first winner in that gait came at Roxburgh in April 1988 when Cilla’s Son (Alias Armbro – Sure Mart) trained and driven by Ali Malcolmson won. Despite being unsound he ended up winning five races for twenty four starts. Murdoch also had success with King Galleon (King Conch-Galleon’s Best) which won eight races.

Those successes have heightened his interest in the square gaiters.

Last year there were only 540 trotting mares bred from - down from 700.

“The Australians have been raiding our best families. I personally think that we have to do our bit to encourage them (owners of trotting mares). What also worries me with those mares is that Love You’s book is full, Muscle Mass will probably get  over 100 mares or so, so what happens to the rest of them?” The lack of a variety of quality fresh or chilled semen is a concern. On the other hand, breeders have access to some incredible stallions at very discountable prices.

Murdoch views the recent changes to Southern Harness’s stake structure as a move in the right direction.

“We’ve got our dates in the early part of the year right by racing fortnightly until the end of October and weekly after that. Stakes are heading in the right direction but I’m not happy with the differential between trotters and pacers for maiden races.”

On an administration level he’s on the NZSBA Executive having also served a term as President and he’s also Vice Chairman of the Sires Stakes Board.

“At any one time we (Sires Stakes Board) have funds well in excess of seven figures under our control. In response to some criticism about the Sire Stakes Series being very elite - the reality is that it has become elite because the standard of our horses is just so good.”

He says the Sires Stakes Board has helped fund five new races worth $40,000 which were run last season and will also be run this coming season. The Board is the major player in age group racing.

“There’s never been a better time to breed a horse. I own or have an interest in about eight mares that are going to stud this year. Speaking to people like John Stiven, he’s got about 16 going to stud.”

Cleland Murdoch continues to make a significant contribution to Harness Racing both on the local Southland scene and nationally - with bags of enthusiasm.                                                                             

By the way you’ll need to ask him why he’s called Bags, and why he raced a horse called Wide Awake Bags.  I forgot to ask!






Plenty Of Smiles At Grinaldi


Bruce Stewart

There are few Southlanders more passionate about their horses than Ben and Karen Calder.

They breed from a small band of broodmares, and often top up their racing stock by purchasing at the national sales.

And it’s one of their homebred pacers, Mr Mojito that’s providing them with much satisfaction at the moment.

Ben Calder is a no fuss sort of guy who shies away from the limelight and just goes about breeding and purchasing horses whilst enjoying racing them either with his wife Karen and good friends and family.

The first horse the Calders raced of any note was Grinaldi the winner of ten races, and $162,712. He also owned Sunning which won eight races including the Group One Victorian Trotters Oaks, Bought In The Pub, New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes winner, and The Oyster Man which won five races. And there have been a host of others.

Ben and Karen live at Ryal Bush 10 minutes north of Invercargill where they’ve set up their show piece property Grinaldi Lodge. Southland’s leading trainer Nathan Williamson currently works out of their stable.

The latest Grinaldi Lodge horse to emerge from the same bloodlines as Grinaldi is Mr Mojito; a rising star in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable.

Mr Mojito was always highly rated by Ben and original trainer Brett Gray. He won a workout then qualified at Young Quinn Raceway in January 2015 as a two year winning by four lengths and running a mile in 1-59.5. He was purchased that day by Butterworth Racing Syndicate.

He was put aside to mature, and his much anticipated debut came later in the year on the same course in November. Sent out third favourite, he settled last and never improved, to finish over 200 lengths from the winner. Stewards ordered a post-race veterinary examination which confirmed the gelding had suffered an atrial fibrillation.

He returned to racing in April this year, winning easily at Central Southland Raceway. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the Purdon-Rasmussen’s Rolleston stable.

Since joining that stable he’s been in hot form running second behind the highly talented Heaven’s Rock before putting a picket form line together of four impressive wins.

“He appears to have the X factor. He’s looked super and going forward in richer comp any he says to me that he can do it,” said Ben.

He was bred by the Calders out of their In The Pocket mare Wanaka Bay.

“All of the In the Pocket mares had a bad attitude. Wanaka Bay was trained by Becky (Alan Beck). She lay down on the track after one of her early workouts but won her first race.”





Mr Mojito winning at Winton for Brent Barclay


The Calders also have a two year old half-brother to Mr Mojito by American Ideal but had the misfortune to lose a Bettor’s Delight foal recently.

“It was slipped in the paddock and was about seven week premature.”

Sunning has also been a good broodmare for the Calder with only one of her seven live foals of racing age not winning races.

She’s left Burano (10 wins), Medora (3 wins), Sunny Vacation (5 wins), No Potato (5 wins), Santorini Sunset (5 wins) and Agnes Brown (2 wins). Her two year old Breaking Bad (by Angus Hall) is about to come back into work with Kevin Townley.

As well as breeding from a handful of mares Ben was active at the last round of yearling sales purchasing six yearlings, all with rich pedigrees.

Paramount King (Love You – Paramount Star) is with northern training partnership John and Josh Dickie who share in the ownership of the colt. His dam won seven races and is the mother of Paramount Geegee the winner of fourteen races including the Harness Jewels Thee Year Old Trotting Ruby, Great Northern Trotting Derby and New Zealand Trotting Derby and $357,236, and Paramount Queen which won eight races and $122,612. It’s a family that the Dickie’s have had a huge amount of success with.







Paramount King



They also have a Betterthancheddar – Baptism of Fire colt which is a half-brother to Highview Tommy the winner of fifteen races and $885,062.

“He’s broken in nicely and shows a bit. They like him.”

Other stock in the north for the Calders includes a two year old Art Major – Gretna’s Best colt who’s with Brent Mangos. Named Bronco Banner he’s closely related to Smooth Gretna the winner of fifteen races. 

“He also broke in nice.”

Another sales purchase is Nuburgring (Bettor’s Delight – Cullen’s Creation)

“He’s trained by Kevin Townley and is related to Courage Under Fire. He got an infection in his tendon sheath and is coming home to heal.”

Townley a long time trainer and friend of the Calders also trains another yearling purchase Swoon (Monarchy – Hot Vacation).

“His second dam is the mother of Sheemon and Karen and I have a half share in him with Kevin and Margaret Townley. We may have to change his name.”

Robinson Crusoe (Somebeachsomewhere – Asabella) was also bought by Grinaldi Lodge at the sales. This is the mare’s seventh foal and she’s the dam of four winners including Ohoka’s Bondy (22 West Australian wins), Dancing Diamonds (9 wins and $343,276) and Code Red (12 wins).

“He’s trained by Brad Mowbray who shares in the ownership with his wife Mel and was strong minded and difficult to break in. He was big but so was Brad. He was put out for a spell and he’s come back as a true gentleman. I’ve tried to breed a Somebeachsomewhere a couple of times but didn’t have much luck so it’s nice to have one.”

Outside of their sales purchases this year the Calders have plenty of other horses ready to hit the racetracks.

Ash is a three year old Ben is looking forward to getting to the races. He’s by The Pres out of Tamarix and is a half-brother to Larix, Given and Larch. His four dam Haakondahl is the mother of Sapling (22 wins including the Great Northern Pacing Derby).

“We’ve had to wait on him as he’s gone through a growing spurt.”

Another trotter on the books is a Muscles Yankee colt out of Classic Armbro - a daughter of the great Merinai. Named Sertorius he’s also on the books of John and Josh Dickie.

Tour Director an Art Major gelding out of Bremner Bay who won once from five starts is also back on the active list.

“He’s stranded a tendon and is being worked up at Nathan’s.”

Foo Fighter an American Ideal gelding out of Lucy’s Way which is a full sister to Wanaka Bay (dam of Mr Mojito) qualified at Wyndham as a two year old. He’s owned by Juliette Earl, Karen Calder, Katie Williamson, Neville Cleaver, Kevin Strong, Sid Slee, Robyn Jones and Alan Jones. His first start is eagerly awaited as he qualified well.

He’s a half-brother to Treble Cone which won impressively at her first start when trained by John Earl. She had two other starts before heading to the broodmares paddock. She has a nice American Ideal colt called You Too which is owned by the Calders and Earls.

So between homebred stock and young horses purchased at the sales Ben and Karen Calder have plenty to watch this season.

And hopefully plenty more pleasurable moments to share with friends and family without too much fuss, which is just the way they like it.



New Faces

Bruce Stewart


While a few breeders are scaling down and getting out of the industry it’s refreshing to know that some are trying their hand at this fickle part of the business and even more refreshing to know that there are some younger breeders getting into the game.

That’s the case with Brittany Willis and Haig McGorlick of Tisbury just out of Invercargill.

Neither has history or heritage in the game but neverth less they’re giving both breeding and training a go - albeit on a small scale.

Brittany got her first taste of horses at a young age while she was at primary school.

“We had school days where they had pony rides. You could do sewing, cooking or pony riding. I was away sick on the day everyone got to choose and I got put in sewing. I wasn’t domesticated at all so I used to sneak out of class and sit by the pony rides. I became obsessed and got offered this pony for the school holidays for two weeks at Christmas. Two weeks turned into six weeks which turned into three months and six months later we bought the pony,” she said.

She soon joined Pony Club and competed there and at Eventing fixtures before becoming a groom for friends who had showjumpers.

“I became hooked, I got my first standardbred as a hack at 18 and just fell in love with the breed.”

She then experienced her first taste of standardbreds while working at Tom Kilkelly stables for a couple of month when she was 20.

“I also did a bit of standardbred rehoming. I’ve been doing that off and on for the last seven years.”

In 2010 both she and Haig moved to Perth Western Australia, chasing the mining money.

“I was sick of my job and we wanted to do something different so we got jobs in the mining industry there. We didn’t have horses for a while but got in toe with Graham Bond, a family friend and the rest in history.”

Bond is currently working at 430 acre Allwood Stud Farm in WA where Follow The Stars and Tinted Cloud stand.

He trained in Drummond in Southland for a good number of years before moving to Rakaia then onto West Australia. He was a regular buyer of horses out of New Zealand which he trained in Perth.

One such purchase was J Walker which was bought out of the Geoff Small stable. Bond, Willis and McGorlick shared in the ownership of the Christian Cullen gelding which won eight races before he was sold on.

Their next venture was to purchase Kamwood Girl a young Courage Under Fire mare who’d retired after winning eleven races in Australia.

“Bondy found her actually. He said - I’ve found this broodmare. Do you want to go halves. Before that we had no desire to breed. He then decided he wanted out so he could focus on other horses he had, so we own her now.”

So with a broodmare in toe the next step required a bit of luck.

“I bought a ticket in the Western Australian Standardbred Breeders stallion service raffle and won the service to Art Major and that’s where this horse came from. It was huge. It was to promote breeding in Western Australian which we didn’t do because we got her (Kamwood Girl) in foal and sent her back to New Zealand. We were pretty lucky and it was a good start for us.” 




Brittany Willis and Art Major gelding Foveaux Major - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Returning home the couple have set up a small stable at Brittany’s parents five acre property at Tisbury and in a few weeks they take over land with a house next door which has seven acres of land.

Brittany has also taken out a training licence and has rented a couple of boxes and a paddock at Ascot Park.

She has just the two horses in work. Cullect Alot is a three year old filly that’s been broken and is just starting in work. She’s by Gotta Go Cullect out of Wren A lot, an unraced Sir Vancealot mare which is out of the five win Admiral Halsey mare Royal Wren. She’s owned by Graham Bond.

Her other horse is two year old Foveaux Major - the foal the couple bred by sending Kamwood Girl to Art Major. So the numbers are small at this stage but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Brittany has also sent up an equestrian business called Foveaux Equestrian.

She imports Kentaur products which are a high end equestrian range from the Czech Republic, for which she is the exclusive New Zealand agent. She also sells Red Light Therapy products.

“They’re a high end product. It is a limited market. 90 per cent of our business has been from Canterbury north mainly online but we also go to horse shows and do trade stands.”

She’s also a qualified Equine Bowen Therapist after completing a two year course at Smart Bowen International in Melbourne.

“I started to get Bowen Therapy done on myself when I had back problems and found it to be absolutely amazing. I thought if it was good for me I wondered if we could get it done on our racehorses. I found someone who did Equine Bowen Therapy and the results on our horses were fantastic so it inspired me to study it.”

Their ties to racing horses in WA haven’t gone away either and Willis and McGorlick still have a twenty percent interest in Dame Puissant a well performed race mare in Western Australia.

She’s by Tintin In America out of Glenferrie Magic and was owned by Trackside presenter Matt Cross and junior driver Kimberley Butt.

She qualified as a two year old and was sold by the pair. From twenty two starts she’s won five races, and has been placed second and third twice.

As a two year old she ran third in the Group Three Two Year Old Fillies Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park and at three finished third in the 2016 Group One West Australian Oaks.

She’s trained by Robbie Williams.

Their broodmare band has also expanded and they have three mares on their books.

The two other mares they own are Kamwood Beauty and Hennessey Franco.

Kamwood Beauty is an unraced American Ideal mare out of the five win In The Pocket mare Kamwood Diva. She’s a half-sister to Real Kamwood which won five races for Paul Kerr.

Hennessey Franco is by Red River Hanover out of Heather Franco. She’s a half-sister to Franco Hat Trick which won eleven races here, another nineteen in Australia before being a big winner in America. His biggest stake days in Australia were memorable. He won the $120,000 Nissan Chariots of Fire and he ran second to Our Sir Vancelot in the 1998 $100,000 Group One Australian Pacing Championship at Albion Park.

Hennessey Franco was bought by McGorlick for $400 at this year’s PGG Wrightson All Age Sales in foal to Tintin In America.

“Initially we were breeding to sell but with the unraced mares they are less commercial. With Kamwood Girl we are breeding to sell but the other two - we’ll see what happens.” 

This young couple, who recently sold a Washington VC yearling colt out of Kamwood Girl for good money, are working hard to establish a foothold in Southern breeding circles and it’s great to see.



The Expanding Arden Lodge


Bruce Stewart


John Stiven and his Arden Lodge operation are the biggest Standardbred breeders south of the Waitaki and are currently breeding from sixteen mares including for the first time a newly arrived trotting mare.

John is based in Tapanui, a town that’s produced two prominent harness names in the last four decades; Stiven and Lischner. John Lischner, the town’s butcher and small time trainer, became New Zealand’s leading trainer in 1997 and 1999 while based in Canterbury. He was also a breeder.

John Stiven’s parents Doug and Noreen operated a milk run in Tapanui and started breeding from their first mare Stormy Star in 1969.

In 1974 they registered the name ‘Arden’ (a name that John believes came from the television series Doctor Findlay’s casebook) with the New Zealand Trotting Conference. Doug passed away in 2001 and John helped his mother to continue the Arden operation, doing the hands on work and also in an advisory capacity. Noreen passed away in 2012.

John started his working life as a carpenter and working at local sawmills.

He formed Deloraine Timber in 2005 which takes timber orders and manages the product from the sawmill to the client.

“Eleven years ago we started out own little business buying and selling timber. It’s not as big as it used to be because a lot of sawmills have closed but we’ve got some pretty good clients that we’ve had from early days,” said John.

John admits breeding started as a hobby but with fifteen mares now on the books it’s certainly become a business.

“It’s a full on busines’s what we’re doing now. I guess we’ve grown to where we are now, and it just proves we can cut the mustard.”

Of all the horses Arden Lodge has had on its book Stiven rates Winter Rose as the best mare he’s had on the property.

She recently received the 2015 Broodmare Excellence Award. Her progeny include Bettor’s Strike, Rocknroll Arden, Southwind Arden, Arden’s Choice, Bella Arden, Winter Strike, and Garden Rose.

The Stiven family has also been honoured with Southland Broodmare Awards through mares Arden Regal, Arden’s Dream and Winter Rose.

The best horses sold away from the Sales are Arden Meadow which won the WA Derby in 1986, and last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Arden Rooney.

The best sales results have been Arden’s Place—an Artsplace colt out of Winter Rose which sold for $110, 000, Arden’s Ruler—a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Achieve A Dream which fetched  $100,000, and Bettor’s Strike, a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Winter Rose which was knocked down for $70,000.

As the next round of yearling sales draw near John’s excited about his eight colts and two fillies mix.

“It was pretty exciting getting the calls from Mac (Brent McIntyre from Macca Lodge) when all the colts were coming. It makes a huge difference commercially. When it’s a colt you can do what you want – take it to the sales or race it.”

When you run over John’s current mares, many are in foal or being served by Somebeachsomewhere. That’s because he’s a big fan.

“Through the trip Brent McIntyre, Mark O’Connor and I had to the states to see Panspacificflight we got to see Somebeachsomewhere. I was always a fan and we got one of his first foals in New Zealand - Someardensomewhere who we syndicated. There’s no doubt the buyers are warming to him as the years have gone by and he sold well at last year’s sales. He quinellaed the Fan Hanover in Canada recently with Pure Country beating Darlinonthebeach.”

Three of the colts Arden Lodge are taking to next February’s sales stand out at this stage.

An Art Major colt out of Rock N Roll Arden - her first foal, Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Winter Rose and a Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Arden’s Darlin.

Stiven says it’s easier to sell colts but the top end fillies also sell well.

“The thing is though, they’re the ones (fillies) you want to keep to go forward with. If we hadn’t kept Arden’s Darlin we wouldn’t have been where we are now. She’s been a huge help. We took her to the sales and didn’t sell her so we just got lucky there.”

Arden’s Darlin is the dam of four win Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Celestial Arden who looks as though he will improve with age.  

“We’ve got a half-sister to Arden Rooney by Well Said which we’ve kept on purpose and she’s going into work shortly, and we’ve also kept a Somebeachsomewhere filly out of Garden Rose. We’ve also put two Somebeachsomewhere colts into the one syndicate. They’ve been broken in and look promising. One’s going to the All Stars Stable and the other is going to Barry Purdon.”

John sees this option as a way of spreading the Arden name and introducing new people into the industry.

“It takes the risk out of the sale. It’s another way of doing it. It’s got a whole lot more people that know a bit more about Arden Lodge now. They become interested in all of the Arden horses not just their own one. It’s been a new exciting part of Arden Lodge and we’ve really enjoyed it.”  

Showing faith in the industry, John recently purchased mares off Tuapeka Lodge in Lawrence. The first was leased mare Ruby Morn.

“We were attracted to her because she was by Presidential Ball and they cross well with Panspacificflight so that got us into the Tuapeka Lodge breed.”

He later took up the option to buy two more; Real Wing and Raindowne.

“I was talking to Dan (Cumming) later on and they’ve decided to cut back. They had a list of eleven mares and we took a couple of those.” 

He also purchased Tuapeka Art.

Earlier this month they also purchased a trotting broodmare Sufin Sunsation off Terry and Andrea Taylor of Pleasant Point.

This young unraced Sundon mare is closely related to Cabaletta (7 wins), Allegro Agitato (22 wins) and Skyvalley the winner of 24 races including the Group One ABC Three and Four Year Old Finals and the 2009 Bill Collins Sprint.

At the administration level John is also the current President of the Southland Breeders Association.

“It’s been going for a long time and there’s a handful of us that are second generation. It’s good to be a part of. We raise money to put into fillies races and support the breeders with stallion seminars.”

He’s also one of the driving forces behind the South’s breeding banner Southern Bred Southern Reared.

“It’s a wonderfully positive group to be a part of. Everyone has grown together.”

Over the years they’ve been able to access some nice mares to lift our broodmare band quality.

John says he enjoys the total process from researching the pedigrees and stallions, to rearing foals, to seeing them succeed at the races.

Broodmare Band and stallion/mare/foaled/served by:

  • Tosca Hanover (Walton Hanover) Panspacificflight colt – mare served by Bettor’s Delight).

  • Winter Rose (In The Pocket) Somebeachsomewhere colt –mare served by Somebeachsomewhere).

  • Achieve A Dream (In the Pocket) –mare served by Sweet Lou

  • Young Tegan (In The Pocket) Net Ten EOM filly – mare served by A Rocknroll Dance

  • L’oiseau de Nuit (Christian Cullen) Well Said colt – mare served by Bettor’s Delight

  • Arden’s Darlin (Bettor’s Delight) Somebeachsomewhere colt – mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Ardenart (Artsplace) Somebeachsomewhere filly – mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Southwind Arden (Bettor’s Delight) Rocknroll Hanover colt – mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Ruby Morn (Presidential Ball) Panspacificflight colt –mare served by Art Major

  • Ardensplace (Artsplace) Somebeachsomewhere colt – mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Garden Rose (Artsplace) - mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Rocknroll Arden (Rocknroll Hanover) Art Major colt - mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Rockahula Arden (Rocknroll Hanover) Panspacificflight colt –mare served by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Tuapeka Art (Art Major) - mare served by Shadyshark Hanover

  • Real Wings (Badlands Hanover) - mare served  by Somebeachsomewhere

  • Sufin Sunsation (Sundon)  served by TBC






    John Stiven feeding young stock at Arden Lodge - Photo Supplied. 



Twenty Denario’s


Bruce Stewart 



Mark and Pauline O’Connor have been breeding horses for twenty years and their Denario name has had a fair amount of success over the years at the National Yearling Sales.

Both Mark and Pauline come from harness racing backgrounds with Pauline having a rich pedigree.

“She was brought up on a farm and has been around horses all her life. Her mother was a Dalgety so her uncle is Jim Dalgety and cousin is Cran Dalgety,” said Mark.

Mark also has a ‘bloodline’ which is perhaps a bit more grass roots.

“It started when I was young kid and my father worked on the tote in Southland and travelled around to both galloping and harness meetings. My grandfather was JJ Burke who was a hobby trainer and I got some exposure to stable and training environment.”

One of a handful of winners for Burke was Darkie Song in the Borough Handicap at Winton in 1972 when driven by TB Fordyce. Darkie Song was owned by A R McEachern who also owned and drove the second horse Garrison Band - also trained by Burke. Darkie Song and Garrison Band were half-brothers.

When Mark left high school he worked for NZI Trust and whilst working there he undertook tertiary study.

“I did most of my study when working. I went to the local community college which is SIT now. I did the last year full time at Otago University so made a few jaunts out to Forbury Park. I remember back in the day you got your bursary allowance at the start of the term so there was always a great lunge by the guys to take the money out to the races.”

After University he was employed by local accounting firm Ernst and Young.

“I had ten years with them including two years in Canada; towards the end of that time. Pauline and I had just got married.  I got a contract role in Toronto for two years and we went to a few race meetings over there. There was a track in downtown Toronto at the time called Greenwood and we also went to Mohawk and Woodbine.”

Two years after returning from Canada the O’Connors purchased a ten acre life style block on the outskirts of Invercargill rearing bobby calves for the first two seasons before they started to accumulate a few riding horses. At that time Pauline was a teacher at James Hargest College.

“When I was first courting Pauline I went to my first yearling sales with her and her parents. I thought it was pretty good fun and got the bug. She started a riding school for kids after schools twice a week offering the basics of riding for young children. She’s currently got ten horses that are been ridden twice a week. She started to grow her horse numbers so I bought a few harness broodmares.” 

The first mare the O’Connors bought in 1996 for $3,500 was the Talk About Class mare Campeche in foal to Safely Kept. The resulting foal Flow Denario won one race for Alan Paisley. She’s now owned by Dexter Dunn who’s since bred the five win Mach Three gelding Mach Denario from her.

The second foal Dreamo Denario, won four but it was the next foal Fake Denario that put the Denario name on the map.

He was bought by Stephen Reid for Robert Famularo and won the Australian Breeders Crown and Sires Stakes Final as a three year old before he was sold to America. While racing there he recorded a mile World Record on a 5/8 track of 1-48.4. 

Denario translated is Latin for money, and the Fake Denario family certainly has plenty of big money earners in its extended pedigree. It’s produced the likes of Delightful Lady (47 wins), Jacron (9 wins), Grinaldi (10 wins), Ross The Boss (10 wins), Slugger (10 wins), Davey’s Jill (10 wins) and Kotare Jaeger (8 wins).

Over the years lots of horses have passed through the O’Connors hands either as yearlings for sale or as racehorses. And they had some good returns. They sold Cee Cee Denario for $65,000 in 2008, Romeo Denario for $55,000 in 2012 and Magnifico Denario for $46,000 in 2014.

They now have a much smaller operation with fewer mares but still have a focus of breeding good saleable stock.

“When you’re breeding for the yearling sales you have to be reasonably brutal because if you haven’t got any well credentialed offspring close up in your line you’re going to struggle.”

They’re now breeding from Averil’s Atom (Soky’s Atom – Quest Of Glory), Southern Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Averil’s Atom), Presidential Sweet (Presidential Ball – Stylish Sweetheart) and Shezaball (Presidential Ball - Averil’s Atom).




Shezaball winning at Ascot Park for Tim Williams



They’ve also leased out two mares; Goodtogo Denario (Presidential Ball) and Ergo Denario (Bettor’s Delight) to Woodlands Stud.

“I haven’t had an in-depth discussion with the principals of Woodlands but my understanding is that they were directing a lot more progeny to the weanling and yearling sales and they also wanted to get a good number of mares locked in for Sweet Lou.”

Over time both Mark and Pauline have been great supporters of the racing side to the industry and have raced many of their horses with friends and acquaintances including Shezaball which won eight races and recorded a 1-56.2 mile time.

“We had a lot of fun racing her and those friends have stayed in and formed a breeding syndicate so hopefully we can carry on with that ride. She’s probably our best credentialed broodmare at the moment.”

The mare’s first foal by Rock N Roll Heaven will race for the O’Connors while her latest foal, a colt by Art Major, will go through the yearling sales.

“He’s called Ronnie Denario and is a nice striking type.”

Also heading to the Christchurch sales next year are a well bred filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of Averil’s Atom, a Sportswriter colt out of Southern Delight and a Rocknroll Dance filly out of Presidential Sweet called Jive Denario.

On the racing front the O’Connors are excited about a Somebeachsomewhere filly with Cran Dalgety called Mantis Denario.

“She qualified back in February and we’re hoping she’ll perform and help the progeny that’s going through the ring next year.”

Another arm to the O’Connor breeding operation is Stylish Breeding Partnership with former Southlander now Queenstown based Owen Shaw.

“Owen and I have been friends since we were kids. He hadn’t been involved in harness racing before but liked the idea of seeing some action around the track. We bought some mares originally to breed from and we raced Stylish Arden. We bred a horse out of her by Camtastic called All Style and didn’t sell it because it got caught up in a fence a few weeks before the sale. We took it home and tried it ourselves. It was no star and we sold it for a couple of thousand dollars. The second horse we bred from the mare was Cut And Style (Presidential Ball). She didn’t fetch what we wanted so we brought her home and raced her.”  

Cut And Style was sold as a four year old after winning three races for Invercargill trainer Wayne Adams. She won a further four races in New Zealand before being exported to America.

One of the last acts for the partnership was the purchase of For The Corz (Lis Mara) bought at the Christchurch weanling sales 18 months for $7,000. She’s a rising three year old filly and a half-sister to big Australian winner Corzin Terror. (19 wins and $276,857). This is the family of Sogo (13 wins) and Hitchcock (10 wins).

“That’s probably our last horse under the Stylish Breeding banner.”

Although Mark is the face of Denario Breeding he’s quick to acknowledge his wife Pauline as being an essential part of the operation.

“She’s a critical part of the Denario breeding operation. She’s the horsewoman and knows how to handle the horses correctly and gives them the right direction and grooming as a young animal. I’m responsible for the feeding. Luckily she’s a school teacher, so she doesn’t get a holiday over the Christmas break as the yearling are brought in everyday at that point. We have a weaning process where if we’ve got three or four mares in the paddock we just pull one mare out at a time rather than separate them all cold.”

On the business front Mark is CEO of South Port and is also on the executive of New Zealand Standardbred Breeders, and is impressed with the strength of the group around him.

“John Mooney is doing a fantastic job as Chairman. He’s committed and invested in the breeding side of the industry.”

There’s also a recognition that there are challenges.

“It’s a game that’s become more challenging because of the challenging entertainment offerings in the market.”

But the O’Connors are continuing to do their bit to get more people involved in the industry.

“We’ve formed a racing syndicate to race Muso Denario (Rocknroll Hanover – Averil’s Atom) with my older brother Stephen who’s going to be the syndicate manager. Half the crew are from where I work at South Port and the other half are from the Marist Rugby Club. There are fifteen shares and about twenty people involved and I think that’s the way forward. We need to try and broaden the base as much as we can and give an insight into how the game works. It always looks a bit mysterious looking from the outside in. It’s about getting a bunch of people who know about it and mixing them with greenhorns and help them understand the risks and the upside.”

And one final comment of ownership from O’Connor.

“If all people involved in harness racing took that approach and invited their circle of friends that weren’t involved, we would have a much broader base to draw on and that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.”



The Sellars Story

Bruce Stewart



She probably didn’t get the national recognition she deserved but Southland mare Leyava certainly did a great job as a broodmare for the Sellars family of Myross Bush.

There are plenty of horse tales about where horses have come from and how luck was involved – right place right time. This is the story of Leyava and begins in the early 1940’s at Seaward Downs just east of Invercargill.

“They had a rabbit board that came around fumigating rabbits. It was a unit drawn by a horse. My father (Jack Sellars) asked the rabbiters what the horse was. They told him it was a good racehorse named Fortune’s Favourite. And that Davie Todd trained it. He rang Davie, who said yes he did train it, that it was no bloody good but it was a good family. So Dad ended up paying 25 pounds for her,” said Andrew Sellars.




Andrew Sellars - Photo Bruce Stewart


Once in the paddock the family who were relative newcomers to the breeding of Standardbreds, had lengthy discussions about which stallion to choose before deciding to send her to Indianapolis, three times New Zealand Cup winner.


From that mating Pollyapolis arrived in 1946.

“An old friend of the family Jack Winter trained her initially before she went to Wes Butt. She won six races.”

Once Pollyapolis’s racing days were over Jack Sellers started breeding from her and she left a number a nice horses including Trigside (Flying Song) which won a Gore Cup (1963), and Va Vite which won ten races.

By that time Jack Sellars had also bought from George Youngson, Rustic Maid. She became the dam of twelve winners including 1950 New Zealand Cup winner Chamfer, and 1946 New Zealand Derby winner Free Flight.

“Dad was keen to breed a filly at the end of her career. He said to me that he wasn’t going to breed off two horses and asked if I wanted to take Polly (Pollyapolis) saying I could get a foal from her. I thought that was pretty good. Initially I was going to go to U Scott but I was advised because he was in such demand that if I missed out on getting in foal you didn’t get any refund. I thought I can’t afford that. Clem Scott advised me to go to Garrison Hanover. From that we got Leyava.”

A racing partnership between father and son was formed and Jack and Andrew Sellars began racing the mare.

“She had ability, but had a poor attitude to racing. Dave Kerr trained her and she won two races and had numerous placings. After she finished racing I took her over on my own for breeding.”      

The name Leyava is a combination of Andrew’s wife Shirley and daughter Avalon’s names.

“We nearly lost her before we got her in foal the first time. She was on the property here and my neighbour had stored some bags of wheat. She pushed the door open and got an oversupply of wheat into her system. She was very close to dying. The neighbour rang Cliff Irvine in Christchurch and asked him what we should do. He said get her into a good muddy watery area and let her stand in there for a couple of days and she came right. We don’t know why it worked but you never questioned Cliff Irvine.”

Her first foal was Sassenach by Young Charles.

“I trained him as a two year with the help of Henry Skinner. Maurice Skinner had him for a few weeks just to get him used to company. I took him to a few trials and then sent him up to Jim Winter to train on a training arrangement.”

He soon showed Winter that he had ability as a three year old and had his first start on Cup Day in the Riccarton Stakes, finishing third when driven by Doug Watts. He won four races at that age including the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs Three Year Old Championship.

“All the best three year olds in the South Island were in that race. He lost seventy yards at the start and won by three lengths in a New Zealand record time for three year olds. It was an outstanding performance.”

Bob Young at that point had taken over the driving.

“He was a very astute man. A real old Scotsman. We weren’t punters but after the Riccarton Stakes we had two or three hundred pounds in stakes money. He was in the Cross Stakes at New Year. I said to Jim that we should just put that stake money on him because he should win that race. We put it on but he broke up badly and he just made up a few places. Jim who was not used to big punting was a bit upset at my suggestion. He mentioned it to Bob who said God if I’d known that I would have tried a bit harder. He thought he could have still won but was just saving the horse.”  

The following year as a four year old he won six races and started in the 1971 Interdominions Series at Addington.

“He was only a four year old. He won his first two heats and ran second in his third heat. He was the second highest qualifier for the final behind Holy Hal another Southlander.”

The final was won by Junior’s Image who was later disqualified after returning a positive swab. The promoted winner was Stella Frost.

As a five year old, Sassenach returned to racing at Ashburton in October before progressing to the Cup meeting in Christchurch raced then over four days.

“He was throwing his head around a lot and Bob Young couldn’t steer him. One vet suggested that it could have something to do with the seed out of the grass. Jim threw a nose guard on him on the third night and he duly won and was roundly booed because he’s been pretty well backed on the first two days.”

He came out on the last night of what was a four day cup carnival and won the Ollivier Handicap against the Cup horses.

He then travelled north for the Auckland Cup and ran fifth on a wet track showing signs of soreness.

“He was sent home to me and I pottered around with him and treated his legs. I took him to Riverton on the old grass track and won the Riverton Cup with him. Apart from Riverton, which was an equalisator meeting, I couldn’t quite get a win with him.”

Then export agent Bob McArdle approached Sellars and he was sold to Canada in June 1976.

His New Zealand race record was 78 starts for 12 wins and 6 seconds and 6 thirds.




 Sassenach winning as a three year old at Addington  


Leyava’s second foal Ryal which was by Canny Scot was also racing and winning races at this stage. Jim Dynes had bought him as a weanling.

He was also fashioning a good racing record and ended up winning 8 races including the New Zealand Autumn Stakes and Canterbury Free For All in 1973.

He raced against what was a vintage group of open class pacers like Robalan, Speedy Guest, Young Quinn, Hi Foyle and Arapaho.

“He went to America and won forty odd races over there.”

Shavande was Leyava’s next foal. He was by Hundred Proof and was trained by Andrew from his property on Roslyn Road just out of Invercargill.

“He was as good as any of the horses she’d left. He had a very bad attack of strangles. Peter Williams (Vet) did a hell of a good job to save him.”

After being nursed back from this major setback he won a double at Wyndham.

“He also won a Gore Cup and he was sold to America. Doug McNaught thought he was an outstanding horse. He was on his way to cup class no doubt about that.”

The next foal from the mare was Hi Lo’s Forbes colt Stylist.

“He had some ability but was bad in his gait when tried at high speed. Jim Dynes took him over to try and straighten him out. They won a race with him and one for me.”

Lumber Dream was the next port of call for Leyava and that mating produced another colt named Profiteer.

“The most intelligent horse I ever had. He was cunning with brilliant speed.”

He was trained initially by Sellars and recorded his first win at Wyndham in November 1977 winning by three lengths, running the 2400 metres in 3-08.

“Peter Wolfenden phoned me wanting to buy him but I said he was too good to be selling.”

A year later although still racing well, Profiteer was starting to win the battle of the wills in the south so he was sent to Gavin Hampton in Canterbury to train.

“He was sent up prior to the Reefton Cup which was the richest C2 race in the country at that time. He won that race and came back and won two races at Addington. Then Lucky (Profiteer) worked Gavin out so he came back down here.”

At that point Sellars had to reinvent the horse’s training and racing regime.        

“I knew the whip and Profiteer didn’t go together so I got wee Austin Stack to drive him. He was a quiet wee driver. He got placing after placing with him but never won. He was running off long marks and doing not too bad so I whipped him up to Addington and I won with him. I got Paul Hampton (Gavin’s son) to drive him because I thought the horse would know Gavin. I’ve never yelled so loud for a horse.”

Profiteer finished his career in March 1982 and commenced a short career in the stallion barn.

He sired 35 live foals and left three winners - Auburn Profit (6 wins), He’s A Gun (5 wins) and The Developer (2 wins).

“He was never going to get a lot of mares because he was a cheat, but a very fast one.”

Socialite (Armbro Del) was the mare’s next foal. She was unraced.

Zabadak (Nevele Bigshot) was the next off the Leyava production line. He initially won five races for Henry Skinner including an impressive double at Wyndham in March 1981 culminating in the 3200 metre Wyndham Cup.

“Peter Davis drove him. Henry drove him to win on the first day but he decided to drive another horse in the stable (Eden’s Joy off 40 metres 6th). Peter took him straight to the front and donkey licked them (4 ½ lengths in 4-11.0 over 3200 metres on slushy track). At the time it was a Southland record.”

At the end of that season Skinner decided he wasn’t going to carry on training.

“Allan Devery phoned me and said would I consider sending Zabadak there as he was getting a bit more serious about training professionally. I said yes as long as he took another horse called Stampede. Henry had qualified Stampede. Allan wasn’t very sure about it so he rang Brendon Fahy, a good friend of mine. Brendon told him that if Zabadak won four races for him next season Stampede would win seven so Allan took him.”

It was the beginning of a very fruitful relationship between Sellars and Devery.

“Allan was an outstanding conditioner and trainer and he won the next seven races with him (Zabadak). He won all eleven races with Stampede.”

One race that remains in Sellars memory was the day Zabadak won at the Canterbury Park Trotting Club meeting in January 1983.

“He tried to kick Gavin (Hampton) out at the start. It was a mile race. He’d decided that they weren’t going fast enough in the lead up and he started bucking and kicking. He was kicking himself right out the back by five and six lengths. He settled down and caught the field and Gavin, who could be pretty severe when he wanted, decided to send him around the field at the half. He beat the likes of Hands Down. That’s the sort of horse he was. On his day he could beat anything.”

His most important win was in the Firestone Cavillino Stakes on Cup Day 1983. He won eleven races from 64 starts banking $53,325 in stakes.

At that point Zabadak’s younger brother Stampede had also finished his racing career. He also won eleven races including the Interdominion Consolation, and he finished second in the Kaikoura Cup and third in an Easter Cup.

Sellars was keen to give him a shot as a stallion.

“I was keen for him to have that chance. He was a beautiful horse with a lovely nature. He had arthritic knees which restricted him a little bit as a racehorse.”

He notched up a moderate record as a sire, helped by two quality horses in Defoe and Stands To Reason.

“At the height of his career he (Stampede) had 194 mares. It was the season when Defoe had won the Lion Red Mile and was dead unlucky not to win the Messenger. And Brendon Fahy’s horse Stands To Reason won the $150,000 Sires Stakes Final in Auckland (1990).”

Post Stampede Leyava had just two more foals, both fillies Saligna (Lumber Dream) and Sakina (Son Of Afella) and that’s when a breeding arrangement with Brian West began.

“We had a few mares. Brian suggested that he would take them all up there, look after the stud side of it and prepare the progeny for sale. It never worked out that great. I can’t blame Brian as he used good sires. It was one of these breeds that seem to mix better with sires like Nevele Bigshot, Hundred Proof and Canny Scott.”

The horse market back in the mid 80’s was relatively buoyant and in February 1986 Sellers was offered big money for the unraced Saligna and Sapele.

“Sapele was trained by the Lees. She was about to go to the trials when I was approached by Paul Davies on behalf of John Curtin to see whether he could buy these two Lumber Dream mares. I said no because I didn’t want to let two Lumber Dream mares go out of this breed. Anyway I put a price on them $100,000 for Saligna (Lumber Dream –Leyava) and $60,000 for Sapele (Lumber Dream – Socialite). He bought the $100,000 one. I sent the other one (Sapele) to stud and she died.”

From eleven named foals Leyava left seven winners of fifty five New Zealand races.  A grand record for a mare that was bred from a mare bought from the Rabbit Board.

Although the breed has faded somewhat, like many of the old pedigrees in this country there are still a number of mares that trace back to Leyava being breed from.

Brian West is breeding from a Mach Three mare named Titled who is a great granddaughter of Leyava. She has a qualified two year old called His Royal Harness who is trained by Chris McDowell and a Stunin Cullen yearling filly.

West is also breeding from two other granddaughters of Socialite in Flashbang (McArdle- Susan Who) and Famous Lover (Dream Ahead – Susan Who).  

Well that’s the Leyava story, and it’s really only half the tale because of course foundation mare Pollyapolis’s other filly Va Vite (by Young Bob) has also plenty of upside to her stud career.

She left Largs (Lordship) the dam of Glen Moria (10 wins) and handy performers Calton Hill (Smooth Hanover) 5 wins, and his full sister Churnside also 5 wins.

But ………….. another story for another day perhaps.







The Raks Of Rakauhauka

By Bruce Stewart


Southland breeder Brendan Fahy has made famous the prefix “Rak” or “Raka” – a reference to the district of Rakauhauka where he lives and farms.


Horses like Raksdeal, Rakarebel, Rakarazor and Rakarolla have been to the fore recently but there have been a number of Raks or Rakas over the past 30 years starting with the original Rakauhauka in 1985.


Over the years he’s used the prefix in combination with his children’s nick names, precious stones, cars, and the stallion’s name to name his horses. Sometimes it takes a bit of working out!


The man behind all this is Brendan Fahy and he’s been involved in harness racing for a long time as an owner, breeder and administrator.

His father was part of the Cead Mile Syndicate which raced the Canny Scott mare Royal Twinkle. She won five races for trainer Brian Gliddon and she ran fourth behind Ar Miss (dam of Armalight) in the 1972 New Zealand Oaks.


“I used to go to the races as a kid with Dad. My uncle, Bill Murphy lived opposite Andrew Sellars and later on I’d go to the races with Andrew with horses like Sassenach, Stampede and Zabadak. I actually named Zabadak,” said Fahy.


His background is farming - although it’s not as fulltime as it used to be. He’s reduced the size of his property from 450 acres to 250 acres, selling some off to his children and running a few beef cattle with his horses. He also leases land to local growers who grow tulips and root vegetables.


“My accountant said it was a good thing to be doing.”


Although he was interested in racing in the early days he soon became a keen breeding student and in 1979 he headed north, chequebook in pocket, to the Christchurch sales.


“I went up and bought Sentimental Belle. It had to be by Lumber Dream out of a U Scott mare. There were four horses in the New Zealand Cup the previous year on that cross. She was only a wee dot. I thought I’d get her for a song but as it turned out she was the second highest filly of the day.”


Once paid for, local transporter and former jockey Ronnie Weaver bought the filly to her new home in Southland.


“Ronnie carted her home. Dad was at home and didn’t know I was having a decent old splurge at the sales. Ronnie got her out of the float and said to Dad – “it doesn’t look much for ten grand does it!!” Dad nearly fell over backwards.”


Sentimental Belle was trained by Hamish Hunter and started eleven times for a handful of placings.

“She never won a race because she had a bad training accident.”

She was soon at the court of popular stallion Smooth Fella and her first foal was name Rakauhauka. The beginning of the legacy.


“We got $20,000 for him at the sales and he was sold to the Treuer brothers. I think that was one of the highest priced yearlings to come out of Southland at the time. The Aussie couldn’t pronounce Rakauhauka so they changed it to Sentimental Fella.”


He won 28 races in Australia.


Two years later Fahy bred what he potentially thinks was the best horse he’s ever bred. She was by Admiral Halsey and named Rakamo.


“She was only a wee wee thing. Clark (Barron) was at Winton at the time and I gave him a half share to train her. We went to the workouts one day and she reared up at the start and fell over. He gave her a few days off and she came back and qualified really well.”


She had her first start at Wyndham in March 1990 beating Diane Score by two lengths, running a mile in 2-02.6. 


“Then Vinny Knight came over especially to drive her at the Winton trials and as a two year old filly she won the free for all. He bought her for $50,000 for Pacers Australia. She went to Melbourne. At her first start (at Moonee Valley) she raced the best fillies.  I think they had a hell of a punt on her. She led and at the quarter she was only a length ahead but at the finish she was 25 metres in front. She also raced the colts and beat them.  She had the most potential of all the horses I’ve bred.”


Rakamo broke down as a young horse and ended up with Peter Walsh in Sydney.


“I met him at the sales one day – he said, “she wasn’t very big mate but she was the best.” She won a few races for him in Sydney.”


She has also been successful as a broodmare leaving Hy Royale (Lotsa Clout) the winner of 20 races, $263,564 and the 2009 Group Two Governors Cup at Gloucester Park, Confinement (Safely Kept) 14 wins and Sokyamo (Soky’s Atom) 11 wins.


“Funnily enough Clark  got an email from a fella in Aussie the other day wanting to know if there were any of her bred still around.”


Fahy also had some success with Sentimental Belle’s full sister Sentimental Reason whom he bought later.


“Stewart Somerville a long-time friend raced a horse called Armbro Wings. He was going to a presentation in Canterbury and couldn’t get anyone to go with him so I went up with him. That night we meet these people who were selling a full sister to Sentimental Belle. There and then we bought Sentimental Reason. After we got her home they rang and said they were meaning to tell us that she was an RH mare. The first foal from her that Stuey and I bred was Bulluraz which was Clark Barron’s first winner as an owner.”


Bulluraz was trained by Ron Barron and owned by brothers Tony and Clark Barron.


Brendan later bred Blotch (Admiral Halsey) from Sentimental Reason.


“She has a great white patch on her stomach. She was a trotter and Stuey wasn’t keen to carry on (with Sentimental Reason) so I bought him out. I tried to get her in foal up north but I couldn’t so I brought her home. Andrew Sellars used to buy oats off me so I swapped a service fee to Stampede for a couple of tons of oats. So that’s how we got Stands To Reason.”


Another one of her daughters Blip (Oblivion II) qualified here before being exported to Australia. She won three races and left a couple of handy horses in Frame Game (Impressionist) which won 23 races including the listed 2005 Warangal Pacing Cup. Blip also left Deliverthegoods (Sealed N Delivered) 16 wins.


Over the years Fahy has prided himself of keeping up to date with the latest breeding trends and has spent hours looking through stud books and on the internet doing his background research.


“I still keep an eye on the radar (America). I knew every Lumber Dream in the stud book off by heart at one stage. Artsplace seems to be doing a similar job in America to what Lumber Dream was doing back then, so when I could get the semen to him I took it and that’s how I bought Raksplace.”


Later on when Western Ideal became available he jumped at the opportunity to cross him with Raksplace.


The resulting foal was Raksdeal who was a star racehorse but is now one of Fahy’s broodmares along with Raksplace (Artsplace – Rakamobile), Rakarach (Son of Afella – Sentimental Belle), Rakabaa (Western Terror - Rakarach), Rakarata (Art Major - Rakarach), Penny Gem (Artsplace – L’armour) and Rakaudi (Holmes Hanover – Rakamobile).




 Rakarolla_returns_1.jpg Rakarazor_300_x_200.jpg Raksdeal_300_x_200.jpg

Rakarolla, Rakarazor and Raksdeal 


Like all breeders Fahy has experienced in recent times the unpredictability of the breeding cycle.


“I’ve got seven yearlings. All seven mares got in foal that year which is unusual. The next year I sent six mares away and got one in foal (Sombeachsomewhere filly out of Penny Gem) and then this year I sent all six to stud and the whole lot got in foal again.”


Fahy is always on the lookout for the next best thing in the stallion ranks and two fresh faced ‘boys’ he’s interested in are Shadyshark Hanover and Always A Virgin.

Shadyshark Hanover (Cam’s Card Shark) served 15 mares in New Zealand and in America he’s left 88 foals for 51 starters and 31 winners. He’s currently third in the first season sires.


Always A Virgin (Western Ideal) sired Always B Miki which is the 2015 Breeders Crown Older Horse Pace Champion and Color’s A Virgin the 2015 Breeders Crown Old Mare Pace Champion.

Fahy has a filly by Always A Virgin out of Coughin.


“If you start sending them all to Mach Three, Art Major or Bettor’s Delight you can’t keep going (as a breeder). If they don’t work out (with a new stallion) it’s not costing you an arm or a leg. I sent Penny Gem to American Ideal, Western Ideal, Rocknroll Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere. So I think she’s had a good chance and rather than wait and not get her in foal I thought I’d send here to Shadyshark Hanover.”


Like most New Zealand breeders he has his opinion on why the industry in going through a tough time at the moment.


“We’ve heard for the last thirty years that we have to breed because there’s going to be a shortage of horses. I think there is a shortage of racehorses. It’s getting so expensive to race horses. I’m not blaming the trainers because you don’t see many of them driving around in Mercedes do you. Everything has gone up except the stakes. I was looking at the stakes when Rakarach was racing in 1990 and she was racing for six and a half thousand then, that’s twenty five years ago. The costs have probably gone up three fold.”


He also says the export market isn’t the same as it has been in the past especially for the horses at the lower end of the price range.


“Two or three years ago you could qualify a horse and there’d be three or four guys trying to buy it. You could flick that horse off for $12,000 - $15,000 because you may think you had a half-brother at home that’s better. That keeps you going. But now you go to the races and run third in a maiden race and you’re lucky to get anyone to buy it at all. If you’re breeding horses all the time you need to be able to move them on. You get so many horses you’d need to own a station to run them.”


Fahy says you don’t have to breed horses if you don’t want to.


“There’s some real genuine people especially in Southland,” and he says that’s what’s kept him going.


On the racing front Fahy has always encouraged his trainers to travel and one of his first ventures outside of the province was with Stands To Reason.  He won the 1990 Sires Stakes Final at the Franklin meeting at Alexandra Park.


“I think the biggest problem with Southlanders is that they under rate themselves, both trainers and drivers. I remember Allan Devery when he was training. He wasn’t frightened to have a crack. It also puts the value of your horse up. Sometime you’re judged by the company you run in. Alex Milne said years ago that if you’re not in you can’t win.”


And to prove the point Fahy remembers racing Only The One (Holmes Hanover – Rakamobile) in a heat of the Sires Stakes at Forbury Park against hot favourite Roman Gladiator.


“Someone said you never know. He (Roman Gladiator) could get a flat tyre. It would be the only chance we had. But anyway as it turned out he got two flat tyres and the tyres came right off and wrapped around the rim. We did beat him but not by much.”


Only The One finished sixth and Roman Gladiator was a nose back in seventh.


He also took Rakarach north after she won the New Zealand Sires Stakes Prelude at Rangiora. She trekked to Auckland running fifth in the Group Two Ladyship Stakes behind Pocket Queen before running ninth behind Tupelo Rose in the 1999 New Zealand Sires Stakes Championship. The winning time for the 1700 metres was 2-01.7. That time remained a New Zealand record until it was broken by Ideal Belle in 2013 - 14 years later. Incidentally that new record time was set up by a game Raksdeal owned By Fahy.


He also encouraged Ryal Bush trainer Peter Hunter to take Rakarebel to Addington and Auckland.


“He was racing against horses like Beaudiene Bad Babe and Raglan down here so we took him to Auckland. He raced really well up there and I’m sure it puts the value of your horse up when you race against better horses.”


After racing at Addington in April 2011 a training deal was struck between Fahy and Western Australian trainer Gary Hall Senior to race Rakarebel in Australia.


“After he’d won his first two starts over there he rang me wanting to buy him so I sold him.”


Rakarebel won his first eight starts at Gloucester Park and has now banked $336,363.


On the training front, Fahy shares his horses between Southland trainers Peter Hunter and Clark Barron.


“Peter handles all the horses as foals and does a hell of a good job. I used to give him the pick of them and Clark would get the others. Anyway, Pete said that he was such a poor picker that he didn’t care which ones he gets now. I pick them now. If there’s four they get two each.”


Fahy provided both Barron and Hunter with their first training wins. Barron trained Best Dressed to win for Brendan and wife Barbara at Ascot Park in September 1989 and Hunter trained Only The One - his first winner at Tuapeka in November 2013.


To date Barron has trained 30 winners for Fahy while Hunter has trained 16.


The best Rak horses for Clark Barron so far are Raksdeal (5 wins) and Rakalees (4 wins) while for Peter Hunter it’s been Rakarebel (6 wins) and Rakabolt (3 wins).


Alex Milne also trained for Fahy in the early days. Winners including Stands To Reason, Rakarach, Rakeitin, The Porsche, Rakillac, and Sensuous.


Over the years Fahy has built up a strong band of broodmares all originating from Sentimental Belle with the exception of Penny Gem.


So there’s plenty more Raks on the way.


Incidentally I haven’t been the only visitor to Sentimental Lodge Rakauhouka in the past fortnight - the crew, cast and cars of Pork Pie had been on site filming in Brendan’s sheep yards so here’s what I’m thinking:


Rakaudi already has foals named after cars (Rakarover and Rakabeamer) so will Rakarup or Rakamini be the name of her next foal?














Horses and Hounds – Neil Timms has Both.

By Bruce Stewart 


Southland breeder Neil Timms wasn’t born into harness racing but he was born to be involved.

He went to Primary School in Christchurch, and attended Waitaki Boys in his last year at high school. It was very early, when still at Primary School that he first developed an interest in Standardbreds.

“My Uncle used to farm at Irwell and his neighbour was Gerald Johnson who got horses off Noel Simpson. He had Luck’s Way (Lucky Hanover – Dilly Dally - winner of five races including the 1961 Greymouth Cup) which was one of the first horses ever to be sold to Wales. And he had Thunderina which was a good race mare,” said Timms.

Thunderina left Out To Win gelding Candillo which won seven races in New Zealand before being exported to America.

“I also got to know Cecil and Phil Heywood at Springston. They had an Ayrshire stud and used to train a few. They won the Methven Three Year Old Stakes with Chatterton. We used to go to Addington a bit when night trotting was taking off.”

Chatterton won the 1973 TS Harrison Three Year Old Stakes at Methven beating Eclipse, Mighty Gay and Kotare Legend.

It wasn’t long before Timms started to breed his own horses. In fact he’s credited along with John Burrows, for breeding Landora; the dam of quality mare Landora’s Pride, the winner of 34 races including a Rowe Cup and Dominion Handicap.

Burrows and Timms became friends when they both worked in the Oxford area. Burrows was a hobby trainer prior to becoming the private trainer for Ian Langford who owned Even Speed. Neil tells the story of how he and Burrows obtained Landora.

“I was playing rugby for Old Boys in Kurow and we went back to a mates place, Alex Familton. This horse had just come back from Chertsey. They couldn’t get it to go. I mentioned it to Johnny Burrows who had just sold a horse called Johnny’s Pal to Sir Roy McKenzie. We decided to lease her for the right of purchase of $3,000. She was dual gaited. She could work a mile and a half free-legged in 3-15 and go round the other side of the track and turn around and she would trot. She had a bone growth on her knee so we got that operated on and she went from strength to strength.”

At her first start at Methven in a field of 22 she was unplaced when 17/17 in the betting. The winner was Castleton Pride which later went on to win the 1975 Interdominion Final, being driven by John Langdon.

Landora was retired after winning two races and Timms and Burrows bred Scotty Boy (Scottish Hanover).

At that point Timms went off to America, England and Wales and wasn’t sure when he’d return so it was decided to sell Landora in foal to Game Pride. She was bought by the Allingham family and the resulting foal was Landora’s Pride.

In early 1973 he bought what was to become his foundation mare Lucky Surprise.

“Gerald Johnson said it was a real tough family. We bought her off Fred Barclay who was a possum skin buyer. He used to come down here and get skins off the Gutsells and play cards. He was a bit of a gambler. The first one I bred from her was Jersey Girl (Jersey Hanover). We sold her to Australia. The next one was Keyanau (Key Club). Bryce Buchanan and I raced her. She could run under the qualifying time but would run off the track. I hacked her up in Te Anau – she was my main hack. Then I started to breed from her. The first foal was Kiwi Gold (Knowing Bret) and I sold him.”

Keyanau’s half-sister Orange Queen (Bachelor Hanover) left Queenship (Lordship). She was an outstanding broodmare leaving Lord Hillas (6 wins), Queen’s Advocates (4 wins) Carefree Princess (8 wins), Noble Fella (9 wins), Horatius (4 wins) and Man Of Steel (4 wins). She’s the only mare to leave winners of two of Southland’s premier races; The Southern Supremacy Stakes (Noble Fella 1987) and Southland Oaks Final (Carefree Princess 1986).

Mini Clare (Armbro Del) another half –sister, left smart Gaines Minbar mare Remote which won nine races.

In 1978 Timms ventured to America again consigned to look after 43 race horses that were heading off shore. He travelled with Brian Meale, Peter Bagrie and Charlie Hunter and was away for three months. Included in the shipment were Sly Brewer and Final Curtain.

“Most of the horses were pre-sold. I stayed with Paul Jessop at Hollywood Park. He was training a lot of Brian’s horses. Young Quinn was there at the time. I also took stallions to England on that trip.” 

Once back home Keyanau’s second foal, Keyali was sold to Charlie Smaill and Archie Affleck. She went on to win seven races.

“We’d just bought a block of land at Wyndham and that horse paid three quarters of the mortgage.”

Keyali left Kute Jaccka, the winner of 4 races and she is the grand dam of Mossdale Conner which won 12 races including the Taylor Mile in New Zealand record time.

“Every horse that got up and running we sold. I got $35,000 for Keyafella who was also out of Keyanau.”

Keyafella won 30 races in Australia and over $200,000 in stakes.

Other foals from the mare that were sold include Renegade which won 2 races In New Zealand and another 4 in Australia and Mate Of Mine which won 3 and was also successful in America.

One foal he did keep was Aliora (Paulsboro) which won 4 races for Ali Malcolmson and was the dam of Fella I Know.

“I sold him to Kelvin Harrison.”

Two of Aliora’s other foals; Ali’s Home and Ali’s Fella, are two mares Timms is still breeding from.

Also in the early days Timms helped Bryce Buchanan with weaning, mouthing and long reining all his foals.

“I used to help them when they went away on holiday when I was living in Te Anau. He was still milking cows at that stage. He was a very astute trainer.”

While in Wyndham Timms also had a brief stint as a stud master standing Stanley Rio for his good friends George and John Noble.

“When they sold their property they didn’t have anywhere for him to go. I said I’d take him. He only covered about five mares a year, he wasn’t the easiest horse to handle. He didn’t like anything in his paddock – birds or anything. When they used to have the A&P Show I had to put him in a box because he’d see the kids with the ponies in the float park near his paddock and put his ears back.”


All the way through this period Timms has had another source of good income – dogs. Like harness racing the interest also started when he was still at High School. He bred both heading and huntaways.

“Some years I’ve sold up to 200 broken in dogs. When I was doing casual mustering I ended up selling a few as well. It got bigger and bigger. I was coming back from the North Island with twenty odd dogs to break in each trip.”

He said back in the day you could get $6,000 for a good station dog.

“A lot of the dogs I buy are broken in and just need finishing. The main market was the North Island where they do stock work 24/7 whereas down here our stock is behind string (hot wire) for four or five months. People haven’t got time to break in dogs these days.”

But lets get back to the horses. Although Timms was having success with his own breed he was keen to look at other options and in 2010 he boarded a plane and headed to Christchurch with Brent McIntyre from Macca Lodge and Gore breeder Paul Pierce.

“We were thinking about buying a couple of weanlings to do up for the sales but they hadn’t been very well done. Luckisaladytonight came up in foal to Christian Cullen. I thought she’d go for 60 grand. She got to 25 so I wacked one bid in and she was knocked down to me. I said we gotta find a bar here. They’d spent seventeen grand on this new stadium complex and it didn’t have a bar – I needed a whiskey!! I had to come home and sell a few dogs and a car to pay for the hind leg and the tail. I sold three hundred ewes and lambs and a few cattle. I got out of it because I sold the foal (Cullen Keefe) for forty eight grand.”

Three of her progeny; Cullen Keefe (4 wins), The Manipulator (4 wins from 8 starts) and Ladys Are Ideal (1 win from 2 starts) have had their successes.

Luckisaladytonight is in foal to Somebeachsomewhere. Her weanling filly by Panspacificflight has been bought by Macca Lodge.

“I send her to good stallions because everyone want foals out of her.”

The Manipulator is one horse Timms is excited about and still has a share in.

“He went through the sale ring but he’d hurt his hind leg in the joint. We had to tell the auctioneers it had been X-rayed and it had been all right but that devalued him. Tony Herlihy bought him and I kept a quarter share. He went up to Tony’s and he couldn’t get him to pace. We got him back to Macca Lodge and Tommy Behrnes (chiropractor) worked on him. He thought he’d got him right but he kept on running off the track. Macca had him ready to go to the workouts. Tommy came back three months later and discovered his hip was out. The one start he did miss (running a place) was because he injured his knee. He was operated on and had to be boxed for three months.”

Luckisaladytonight has also left Well Said two year old qualifier Afterdinnerspeaker which is trained by Ken Barron. He was sold as a weanling.

“He was likely to be a $100,000 horse at the yearling sales. If you get good money before the sales you’ve got to sell. I’ve sold weanlings here for $15,000 to $25,000 but for a real good one you could get $50,000 to $60,000.”

Although Luckisaladytonight is doing a great job, Timms still has plenty of his ‘old’ breed to go on with.

Ali’s Home (Holmes Hanover - Alioro) has left Even Flow the winner of 6 races. Even Flo has recently been added to his broodmare band so Timms has given Ali’s Home to a friend to try his luck.

“Just gave her to a friend of mind Paul Mulder at Woodlands. He’s just started to get into breeding. She (Even Flo) ended up with a quarter crack. She never got over it. She’s going to American Ideal.”

One Ali (Live Or Die – Bo Ali Chip) has Tintin In America and Net Ten EOM colts while Ali’s Fella (Son Of Afella – Alioro) is proving to be valuable leaving Ted West (6 wins) and Sioux West (3 wins).

Onlyali (Badlands Hanover – Ali’s Fella) has Gotta Go Cullect and Gotta Go Cullen fillies and a Net Ten EOM colt, Schapelle Rapido (Mach Three – Laprida) has a Net Ten EOM filly, while Just One Amy (Artsplace – Ali’s Home) has two Panspacificflight colts.

“Just One Amy qualified and then hurt her leg. Malcolm Shinn has a two year old from her by Panspacificflight. You don’t normally hear from him but he’s rung me twice. You usually get a shoeing bill from him but I haven’t. He rates him as good as a two year old that he’s had. He’s trained something like 13 group winners.”

Although Timms usually doesn’t go to first season sires particularly if he’s going to the sales, there’s one stallion he is supporting in Net Ten EOM.

“I’ve got 5 here and they’re terrific looking horses. You couldn’t fault one of them. They’ve got a good balance about them and they’re natural pacers.”


Weanlings earmarked for next February’s sales are colts out of Ali’s Fella and Just One Amy and a filly out of Ali’s Home.

From his downsized property of 20 acres at Riversdale in Northern Southland Timms is kept busy running the farm, a dog motel and feeding his next crop of weanlings. Young horses are enough to keep this breeder happy.






websites, seo & social media
Invercargill GoreWintonWyndham