Maggie Goes Back To Back (Saturday 7th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

Winton trained mare Tact Maggie is finally starting to live up to the reputation she had early in her short career.

The Lis Mara four year old showed sparking form at some of her workouts and trials early this season but hasn't been particularly consistent on race days.

Trainer Trevor Proctor said after today’s win - the second in a row for Tact Maggie - that it wasn’t until regular driver Brent Barclay told him to increase her workload that she improved.

“After two or three races Brent made the comment to me that she was short (of work) so I poked a bit more work into her and bang. I also took the Murphy blind off her that was just to keep her straight. She hasn’t missed that. I was surprised she sprinted up the lane as good as she did today. She’s a big beautiful pacing mare. When you bring her out it’s nothing fantastic. She doesn’t have real speed like her mother had,” said Proctor.

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Tact Maggie and Sheree Tomlinson easily winning at Ascot Park today - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Returning to the winners enclosure - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

Her early season workout and trials form has also caught the eye of Australian buyers and normally Proctor is a seller.

“I had her for sale. Amanda Turnbull trialed her. She was getting a team together to buy her but I haven’t heard back. At this stage we’re happy enough to race her and breed from her next season.”

Out of the ten win mare Tact Lizzie, Tact Maggie was having only her sixth race day start today.

“Because she was a big horse it never entered my head to even race her because no-one pays me to do this. I wasn’t in a hurry to race her.”

From barrier two driver Sheree Tomlinson took the mare forward early before handing up to Varenna and settling nicely in the trail.

“Today Sheree said she relaxed all the way. During the week Chelsea Faithful drove her (in work) and said she was a different horse from the week before.”

In some of her previous starts she was tried in front.

“The day we tried to pull her back at the workouts she was taking it on. She broke and lost thirty to fifty metres but finished right in behind them running her last mile in two minutes with the last half in fifty six. When Brent said I wasn’t giving her enough, I thought you’ve got to be joking but he was right.”

Proctor says Tact Maggie is likely to start on her home track at Winton before running her season out on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park. 


Meanwhile evergreen pacer Groomsman won his ninth race in his one hundred and twenty one start career when he held on to beat Vera's Delight in the Regent Car and Commercial 125 North Road Pace.  

 

 

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Groomsman (3) and Matty Williamson beating Vera's Delight (4) - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to scale - Photo Bruce Stewart. 

 

  

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Duke Dominates (Saturday 7th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

Duke Of Wellington continued his progress towards the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day when he impressive won at Ascot Park today.

He's been one of the most progressive three year olds in the province this season but has required plenty of time to mature.

 

“As a yearling he was real gangly so we turned him out and gave him time. As a two year old we brought him back in but he was too gangly so we biffed him back out again. After that he’s come back nice and strong. We waited for him to develop and it’s worked out,” said trainer Lauren Pearson.

 

He also looks to have fined down as a racehorse.

 

“We’ve probably been too fat. Everyone says I have my horses too fat. He’s holding his condition quite well at the moment so that’s good.”

The three year old by American Ideal is owned and was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith. Pearson, who trains Duke Of Wellington at Winton says you can't get a line on the horse at home but he brings his A game to the race track.

 

“He’s a big dummy at home and you can’t go on his work at home because he’s that lazy but on race day...... He’s starting to cotton on a wee bit. The pull down blinds have made a difference with him.”

So, with his third win in the can, he's well on target to be in the frame for the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes later this month.

 

“Yeah that’s our aim. It’s going to be a real good field.He’s going good enough so you’ve got to have a crack at it. I like his attitude and with him being so laidback at home he doesn’t over exert himself. Then he comes to the races and knows what it’s all about. For a big horse he’s got a good bit of speed.”

After the early rush in today's race driver Brent Barclay settled Duke Of Wellington into the one one. That's where he stayed until the 400 when Barclay brought him out to make his run. He cruised to the line to easily win by two lengths from two Brett Gray runners Convair Hustler and Rockaball.

 

“Brent said he was a bit toey behind the gate but once he was on the journey he knows how to relax. That helps when you’re trying to beat the good ones."

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The style of The Duke winning his third race - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

Pearson said Duke Of Wellington is easy to train and she hasn't done too much with him since his impressive win over a mile in 1-53.9 at Winton at the end of last month.

 

“Since his last race he’s had a couple of hopples and two canters and that’s it.”

Duke Of Wellington is out of the one win Christian Cullen mare Galleon Honour which Smith bought in 2010. Galleon Honour is out of Galleons Cheer, a talented Albert Albert mare which won five of her nine starts for Hamish Hunter before injury curtained her career.

 

Pearson recently qualified a two year old filly out of Galleons Honour called Rise Above This. She's by Bettor's Delight.

 

“Yeah she’s goes quite nice. I think we’ll take her to Winton for the two year old race. She’s a filly, so it makes it hard. She seems to have stepped up every time she’s gone off the place. She’s got a nice bit of speed.”

Galleons Honour has been a great broodmare for Smith with her first four foals all qualifying. Her first foal Dazed and Confused qualified impressively here but was unraced when sold to an Australian interest. Under the name Laszro, he's won nine races in Australia. The mare's second foal Venice Beach by Somebeachsomewhere won three times for Pearson before she was also sold to Aussie where she's gone on to win another four races.

 

The win today elevated Duke Of Wellington up the points table for the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes.

 

One trainer I talked to today said New Zealand Derby winner Sheriff isn't coming down for the Supremacy. It's also highly unlikely that the all conquering All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will have a runner in this years three year old feature. Although Duplicated has started twice in the province he probably won't be high enough on the table (based on stakes won) to get a start.  

 

Meanwhile earlier in the programme business partner and fellow lawyer Murray Little continued his great season when Betterthanbrie won her second race in just four starts. The Betterthancheddar three year old filly made the most of a inside trailing position to beat Jodi Doreen by half a length. 

 

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Betterthanbrie (5) winning at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Returning with Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart.  

 

 

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Smart Winner For Old Mates
(Saturday 7th April 2018)

   

Bruce Stewart

 

 

 

First starter Mighty Conqueror was very impressive when he won at Invercargill today.

The three year old gelding was bred by Mark Shirley and his best friend Malcolm Dewe and was broken in by Robbie Holmes. Shirley trains the American Ideal gelding with his wife Debbie.

“He came down to me as a two year old. He’s just taken time to mature. He would have been racing before Christmas but he got kicked on the back leg so we put him aside. We’ve just been educating him at the workouts and trials. He’s a very nice horse with a big motor. He’s highly intelligent and he’s a supreme athlete - bottomless. I haven’t seen the bottom of him yet. We might have a bit of fun with this one,” he said.

Shirley who's not getting too far ahead of himself, says the final of the latest Nuggets series next week at Winton will be the horse’s next start.

“We’ll assess things after that,” he said when asked about starting in the Supremacy. The geldings winning time as an impressive 2-43.1 for the 2200 metre mobile.

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 Mighty Conqueror winning on debut for Shane Walkinshaw - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

 

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Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

Shirley and Dewe have had horses together since they were teenagers including Dewy Boy (twenty one start maiden), Ochiltree Boy (trained by good mate Donny Morrison) and more recently Cullens Avenue (two wins).

“To be fair, before we got into the Ballroom Babe family, we didn’t have a lot of luck. Malcolm does the breeding and we’re trying to get into the high end. We bought the mare off Mike O’Brien. Shane (driver Shane Walkinshaw) said he jogged it. The time was good. I don’t like to back them up that quick but I think he’ll be fine.”

Mighty Conqueror is a three year old by American Ideal out of the Presidential Ball mare Ballroom Babe. She won seven races and has left Beckinsdale the winner of ten and the Brett Gray trained stayer Young Conqueror which has won five races. 

 

Meanwhile seven year old trotter Splash Cola won her second race this season when she took out the main trotting feature of the day. She beat a game Its Elvis by a neck. It was the Sundon seven year old mares sixth win in just twenty seven starts. 

 

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Splash Cola (6) and Nathan Williamson getting the better of Its Elvis and Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Returning win number 201 for trainer Nathan Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

  

 

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Spirit Of Delight Wins Belle
 (Saturday 14th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

The Regan Todd trained mare Spirit Of Delight which is part-owned by new Southland Stags Rugby coach Dave Hewett won the $20,000 Southern Belle Speed Series Final at the Central Southland Raceway at Winton today.

 

The four year old, driven by Samantha Ottley came with a late run to get up and beat Especial by a head with a further length and a quarter back to favourite Somejoy. 

 

 

"The speed was on a little bit early which suited her. They kept going round and I was a wee bit concerned when I got back a bit. I know when she's on her game she's got a wicked sprint which she's shown in the past. She's a typical Bettor's Delight - only does what she has to but when you push the go button she's really got some wheels there," said Ottley after the win.

 

 

Turning in Ottley had got back further than she would have liked and it took her a while to get Spirit of Delight up and going. But she came with a paralysing run down the outside of the track.

 

"When I hooked her out I was mucking about trying to get my plugs (ear plugs) out. I got balanced up and asked her to go and she really lifted. To her credit there were a couple of nice mares ahead of her so it was no mean feat getting past them. She hit the line strongly and it's great getting these wins that's for sure."

  

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Spirit Of Delight (4) beating Especial (6) - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Winning salute - Photo Bruce Stewart. 

 

 

The winning time was 1-55.2. It was the second time Ottley has won this race. She won with Rocker Band back in 2016. The win was the mare's second this season and fourth career win. Her only other win this season was on this track at the end of last year when she won the Equine Stakes, driven by Brendon McLellan. 

 

Meanwhile Alta Shelby looks to be getting back to the form he showed early in his three year old season when he comprehensively dealt to a field of R51 - R53s.

 

The Mach Three colt lead all the way and won easily by four and a half lengths running the 2400 metre mobile in a smart 2-56.0. 

 

"He's just starting to come back into form which is pretty pleasing. I thought he would go really close today. We changed a bit of gear on him. He's a bit of a head shaker so I put a chinguard on him and it's made all the difference. He's starting to live up to his potential and what he showed early on," said trainer Mitch Kerr who's considering a start in the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in a fortnight.

 

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Alta Selby and Dexter Dunn winning easily today - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back a winner - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

 

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 Little Doubt - Mach's Back (Saturday 14th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

Mach's Back continued the stellar season Murray Little and trainer Paul Ellis are having when he impressively won at Winton today. 

 

"We just rolled along and I just let him do what he wanted to do," was how driver Blair Orange described his winning drive on Mach's Back which won the Drymix Concrete Mobile Pace.

 

Orange was driving the four year old for the first time with regular driver Dexter Dunn sticking with favourite Governor's Bay. 

 

"He had to be tough today and he was. I wasn't too worried about being wide early. He's shown in some of his runs that he can do it at both ends."

 

Mach's Back after being wide early, was taken to the top by Orange with Governor's Bay hard on his back. 

 

"At the 400 I felt him (favourite Governor's Bay) lose my back so after that I wasn't too worried about him," Orange said. 

 

The winning margin was a length and a quarter from a late stayers run from Franco Santino. The eye catching run came from Kilowatt Kid who charged home to run fourth just three lengths away from the winner.

 

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Mach's Back winning from Franco Santino (wide) - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Coming back with Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

The win was Mach's Back's second this season and owner Murray Little's fifth. Other winners for Little have been Betterthanbrie (2) and Shezacullengirl (1).

 

He also owns Mach Three two year old filly Havtime which qualified for Nathan Williamson and is now in Auckland with Barry Purdon. 

 

It was Mach's Back's trainer Paul Ellis's eleventh win of the season making it his best season to date in the sixteen he's been training. 

 

Meanwhile Winton trainer Lauren Pearson wasn't overly confident in winning the two year old race today with her Bettor's Delight filly Rise Above This. 

 

When asked if she was confident she replie "Not really, when you're racing horses like Zinny Mach that ran 1-53 in the Kindergarten Stakes. You're never confident especially with two year olds. We were just hoping she'd go well." 

 

Driven by her partner Brent Barclay, Rise Above This was sent forward early before handing up to favourite Zinny Mach. 

 

"She didn't come out the gate like she has done before so that was just a pass. She seemed sensible out there and was asleep in the box beforehand so nothing phased her too much."

 

Zinny Mach lead until the top of the straight before being collared firstly by Bottle Rock then Rise Above This which came up the inside passing lane. Rise Above This won by three quarters of a length from a late charging Robyns Playboy.

 

Pearson says she's unsure as to where the talented filly will go next but there are some options. 

 

"We'll see what happens. She's paid up for the Breeders Crown but we'll just have to see. It's a bit hard racing against the colts and geldings but I thinks there's a couple of fillies races here next month."

 

Rise Above This was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith who races the filly. He also races her half brother Duke Of Wellington - the winner of three races this season. 

 

"I don't think he's ever been there when one of them have won. He reckons the horses go better when he's at home watching on TV." 

 

There has been some buyer interest in Duke Of Wellington but Pearson says nothing serious is on the table at the moment. 

 

"I think at this stage he'll try and sell him and keep the filly." 

 

Duke Of Wellington is now being set for the $45,000 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in the fortnight on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park. 

 

"He just had a canter the other day and a light hopple today and he felt real good so we'll line up next week and give him a run before the Supremacy."    

 

 

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All Conquering
(Saturday 14th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

Mighty Conqueror continued on his winning way when he won his second start at Winton today with the win impressing his regular pilot Shane Walkinshaw. 

 

"He's got a bit going for him. He can roll along all day and he's got a bit of speed as well," he said.

 

In the Winton Mitre 10 Nuggets Final the three year old was taken to the top by Walkinshaw.  

 

"I've never asked him to go off the gate so it was a new thing for me and him but he did get off it real easy." 

 

From that point horse and driver dictated all the terms, and the American Ideal gelding which is owned by his co-trainer Mark Shirley and good friend Malcolm Dewe won impressively by a length and three quarters from a brave Betterthanbrie. 

 

"He was travelling good all the way and did it all under his own steam."

 

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Mighty Conqueror and Shane Walkinshaw winning at Winton - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Two starts two wins - Photo Bruce Stewart.

  

The win impressed his driver who's reined a few good three year olds in his fourteen seasons of driving. 

 

"He's definitely up there. He's got the ability but he just needs to get the ringcraft. He just goes out there and  mucks around a bit. He's one of those racehorses that will relax for you and when you ask him to run he'll run."

 

Walkinshaw doesn't work in the harness racing industry anymore, now working for On Gas during the week and driving at the races at the weekend. 

 

"I'm loving the change with the work during the week and the horses at the weekend. It's great to be back and driving a nice horse like that."

 

The win certainly highlights the success of the Nuggets Series and the bearing it now has on the Southern Supremacy Stakes Leaderboard.

 

Eight of the nine Nuggets Finals including the Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting have been won by three year olds; The Bus, Franco Santino, Nota Bene Denario, Ardtoo, Henry Hubert, Convair Hustler, Kilowatt Kid and now Mighty Conqueror. The $12,000 stake money offered in this races has certainly helped these horses up the leaderboard of the Supremacy, and two wins from only two starts in normal races doesn't guarantee you a start in the Group Two feature anymore. Nuggets appears to be the new pathway to the Supremacy. They have been like heats for the three year old colts and geldings. 

 

Trainers Mark Shirley and his wife Debbie still have to decided whether Mighty Conqueror will line up in the Supremacy.

 

The Winton Business's Cup was won today by the Ken and Tony Barron trained Royal Bengal.

 

The four year was originally trained in Southland by Robin Swain before heading to Canterbury. Owned by Baynes Racing Limited which is Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, he carries the colours made famous by Kenny's father the late Colin Baynes. The same colours were worn when Kamahl driven by Colin Baynes won this race in 1983.

 

The winning margin today was a length and a quarter with Star Commander running second.

 

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Royal Bengal adding the Winton Cup to the Gore Cup he's also won this season - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Winning connections and friends - Photo Bruce Stewart. 

 

The race was marred by the second favourite Aloka breaking at the 450 metre mark. He was pulled out of the race by driver Blair Orange and found to have fractured his left hind cannon bone. Unfortunately for all his connections he had to be euthanaised. 

 

 

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Dibaba Wins Gold (Sunday 29th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

Shadow Play filly Dibaba, named after the Ethiopian middle and long distance runner Genezbe Dibaba who won gold at the 2016 Beijing Olympic; won her own gold at Ascot Park today in the Nevele R/ Macca Lodge Southland Oaks Final.

 

From an outside second line draw driver and co-trainer Terry Chmiel had designs on the lead. He took up the running with two laps to run in the 2700 metre Group Two fillies feature. 

Dibaba was not seriously challenged from that point and won easily by three lengths. 

 

"I got away with some cheap quarters but she won it pretty easy and is a really nice filly. After her trip to Nelson she's just got better and better and coming down here helped. She's improved all season and she's grown a lot. Whether she's as good as the good ones we'll see but we'll give it a go" said Chmiel, who trains the filly in partnership with wife Glenys.

 

When Dibaba returned to the birdcage she was in very high spirits and wouldn't stand still for the customary photo but Chmiel said that's fairly typical of her.

 

"She's a bit of an old madam at home but that's just the way she is." 

 

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 Dibaba and Terry Chmiel winning the Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southland Oaks Final - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Joyous owners - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Winning connections and sponsors - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

  

Dibaba, which was bred by Aidan Johnstone is owned by Ray Seebeck and Colin Tennett both of Canterbury.

 

"It's the first horse I've had for them. I drove a horse they owned called Beat The Monarch that was trained by Coaster Howe."

 

It was the second time that Chmiel has driven the winner of this time honoured race. He drove the Coaster Howe trained Suvarno Hanover to win in 2007. Suvarno Hanover is the dam of Betterthanbrie which finished an unlucky third in today's feature.

 

The Chmiels also trained the 2016 winner of the Southland Oaks Nek Time.

 

Glenys's father Bryce Buchanan trained the 1995 Southland Oaks winner Lovers Wish. 

 

The Southland Oaks was started in 1983 and of the 35 finals held, Southland trained horses have won 16. The last Southland winner was the Gordon and Colin Lee trained Royal Counsel which won in 2014.

The race was initiated by the inaugural Southland Oaks committee which included officials from each Southland club. That committee was Lew Stone (Winton), Allan Nicolson (Wairio), Murray Campbell (Riverton), Daryl McLellan (Wyndham), Lane Bakker (the initial sponsor), Jack Botting (Wyndham), Ian McPherson (Gore), Wattie Muir (Invercargill), Len Orr (Northern Southland) and Norman Pierce (Invercargill).

 

 

 

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Duke Reins Supremo (Sunday 29th April 2018)

 

 

Bruce Stewart

 

"It worked out really well. Everything went to plan," were the comments from driver Brent Barclay after winning the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on the Winton trained Duke Of Wellington.

 

In today's Group Three feature, Barclay settled the American Ideal gelding in seventh place off the rails. With two laps to run he was sitting four back on the outside. With 850 metres to run Barclay pushed out and got into the three wide line to followed up Mighty Conqueror and Hail Christian. Turning in he made his challenge four wide and Duke Of Wellington let down nicely to beat Hail Christian by three quarters of a length.

 

"He was a bit keen today and did well to keep going so I was really happy. He just knocks off when he gets there (to the front)." 

 

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 Duke of Wellington and Brent Barclay winning the 2018 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Winning connections (trainer Lauren Pearson holding rug and owner Lester Smith next to her - Photo Bruce Stewart. 

 

Duke Of Wellington, which was Winton trainer Lauren Pearson's biggest training win, was bred by Invercargill Lawyer Lester Smith who had raced the gelding up until the Supremacy today. He was sold last week to Australians Merv and Meg Butterworth and part of the arrangement was that Smith remained in the horse for today's race.

 

"Merv phoned before the race and said 'make sure you make a good speech' so I hope I didn't let him down,"

 

Smith said he was reluctant to sell but he looks to have a nice filly to carry on with.

 

"I was but I've got this filly (half-sister Rise Above This) to go on with." 

 

Duke Of Wellington is named after a hotel in Melbourne.

"The hotel was established in 1853. It's the oldest pub in Melbourne. I drink there sometimes when I'm there for the Australian Open in January."

 

Smith used to buy yearlings at the sales but changed tack when prices rose.

 

"I used to go to the sales and found the ones that I wanted were far too expensive so I  decided to breed from a couple of mares - Weka Lass and Galleons Honour."

 

Galleons Honour, the dam of Duke Of Wellington, is by Christian Cullen out of Galleon Cheer.  

 

"I got her from a dispersal sale at Kerry Hoggards. He'd bought her for $80,000 as a yearling and she won her first race beating the likes of De Lovely. She wasn't the same afterwards. So I bought her as a broodmare."  

 

The win today was a great boost for the locals. Southland horses have had a lean run in this race over the past decade. Since it's inception in 1984, Southland trained horses have won the race 14 times. The last Southland winner was I’m Full Of Excuses, winning for Clark Barron in 2015. Prior to that Looksaflyer won in 2006 driven by Brent Barclay.

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"It's great today for Brent and Lauren.That's the biggest thrill really," Smith said after the race.

 

Smith won the 1997 Supremacy Stakes with Atitagain which was trained by Wayne Adams. The gelding won four of his eleven three year old starts and ran fifth in Bogan Fella’s 2007 New Zealand Derby.

He was exported shortly after and did a grand job in Australia, winning a further twenty two races.

 

 

 

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A Bettor Act Wins In Record Time (Sunday 29th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

Canterbury driver Tim Williams hasn't had too much to do with the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic winner A Bettor Act.

 

 

The colt is trained by Williams employers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and has run second in it's last three starts for a variety of drivers. Today was Williams first drive on the Bettor's Delight colt and it proved to be a winning one.

 

"Natalie, Mark and Nathan (Purdon) have all driven him. This was my first go and it was a nice day to pick up the drive," he said. 

 

The winning time was a sensational 2-40.6 which was a new track, race, Southland and New Zealand record. The previous Southland record of 2-43.7 was held by last year's Classic winner the ill-fated Aloka. The previous New Zealand record of 2-41.0 was recorded by Mitch Maguire in 2016.

 

"It helped early when the ones inside of us put the foot down and by the time we got to the mile the damage had been done. We were probably lucky we were out of the early burn."

 

Williams took A Bettor Act to the front with 1600 metres to run. 

 

"Once we got to the front he was pretty happy just to roll along. He set a nice clip but I was surprised the overall time was that quick." 

He held on easily to beat Memphis Tennessee by two and a half lengths.

 

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A Bettor Act and Tim Williams winning the Group Three Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Tim Williams talking to Jason Teaz, John Stiven (SBSR), Ged Mooar (Nevele R), Nigel Fahy (Alabar) Ann and Ivan Behrnes, (Alabar) and Stacey Markham (Woodlands) - Photo Bruce Stewart.  

 

"He's been a progressive type and each time he's gone to the races there's been a bit of merit in his runs."

 

And when asked about where the colt sits in regards to the Purdon/Rasmussen two year olds, Williams thinks he's right up there.

 

"With a bit of luck he could have won some of his last few starts. There's not much between those good ones. It might come down to barrier draws and who gets the better trip. He's not a Sales Series horse and that's why he was here today."

 

Today's juvenile feature carried Group Three status for the first time and it's stake level was equal to both the Supremacy and Oaks finals.

 

"It's a credit to the club for sticking with this race and bumping the stake up. Because he's not in the Sales Series and is targeting the Harness Jewels this was a good option for him."

 

This year's Classic had ten runners in it - the most it's had in i'ts four year history.

 

Seven of the runners were from Southland and John Stiven from Southern Bred Southern Reared said it was great to see so many locals supporting the race.

 

"I'd like to particularly thank Ross Wilson who lined up three runners. It's great to get his support and that's what it's all about," he said.

 

A Bettor Act was bred and is owned by the A Few Good Men Syndicate. He's out of the Christian Cullen mare A Christian Act which was bred by Harness Racing New Zealand Board member Brian Wastney who was on-course today to appreciate the win with the rest of the HRNZ Board members. 

 

 

 

 

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Swamp Win - Major (Sunday 29th April 2018)

 

Bruce Stewart

 

Art Major gelding Swamp Major repaid his group of loyal owners when he won the bMAC Sheetmetal Limited Diamonds Day Handicap Pace at Ascot Park today.

 

It was the gelding's first win in over two years after he went amiss.  He was good enough as a three year old to run placings behind the likes of Heaven Rocks, Lazurus, Moonrock and Buster Brady.

 

He's been trained for most of his career by Ken Barron but has  recently been transferred to the Woodend Beach establishment of former Southlander Regan Todd. 

 

"He's just got better with racing but that's what you'd expect after being away from the track for so long. I toyed with putting him in the Northern Southland Cup the last time we were down. In hindsight I'm glad we didn't. We were going to go to Ashburton (cancelled meeting) with him so we were real lucky," Todd said.

 

Going into today's R60 and faster handicap he was one of three runners off the front mark and driver Samantha Ottley made the most of that advantage. 

 

"After Thursday's work we were going into it happy. I knew the back markers would be hard to beat but it was just good that he stepped out and got to the front real early."

 

After trailing for the first part of the race Ottley hooked the gelding out from the trail and took over the lead with two laps to run. She held on to the lead right to the finishing post beating Mighty Santana by three quarters of a length. 

 

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Swamp Major beating Mighty Santana - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

Swamp Major is owned by breeder Trevor Ryder, along with Allan Lindsay, Scott McCrea, Sue McCrea, Cleland Murdoch and John Duff. 

 

"I'm pretty lucky really. Most people would start panicking. They've just let me do my thing and the horse has paid them back today."  

 

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Returning to scale - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Cleland Murdoch, Trevor Ryder, John Duff, sponsor Brendon McIntyre and Allan Lindsay - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

 

 

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