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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