Shezacullengirl Heads To Auckland (Friday 1st December 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Quality Southland mare Shezacullengirl has been floated to Auckland in preparation for a couple of big assignments during the next fortnight.


The Christian Cullen four year old mare left for Auckland on Wednesday and will be stabled at Brent Mangos's Pukekohe stable.


"She does all her work on the beach and it's 20 minutes from Mango's place to the beach, so it's spot on," said trainer Paul Ellis. 


Her targets are the Group Three Caduceus Club Northern Breeders next Friday, and the $100,000 Group One Rosslands Queen Of Hearts on the 15th December. Both are raced over 2200 metres from the mobile.


At her last start at Invercargill Shezacullengirl was impressive when she tenaciously held on to beat Franco Tai by half a length in a smart time of 2-41.2. 


"Real good. She's got a bit of a ticker. Gav Smith (driver) was worried about Franco Tai on his back. He (Franco Tai) did bugger all work. We had a go at the other one (Delishka) and still held them off so she's gone bloody good." 



Shezacullengirl holding out all challengers at Ascot Park on Friday  - Photo Bruce Stewart


Shezacullengirl was initially trained by Nathan Williamson who won two races with her in her three year old season. She was later transferred to Ellis's Oreti Beach barn where she's enjoyed the smaller stable and beach environment. 


"She never sees a hopple. She canters and plays around then goes to the races and tries her guts out. Can't see that there's any point in changing anything." 


Ellis acknowledges that the Auckland races will be a bit of a test but says his mare is in peak condition at the moment. 


"Fitness isn't an issue. The trip up there won't worry her too much. The Auckland way round might be the only thing but the only way you're going to find out is to try. I'll run her that way round at Mango's on Monday and may take her into Alexandra Park for a bit of pace work on Wednesday." 


Ellis will travel up to Auckland on Sunday to supervise the mare's preparation.  


"We'll see what happens. We'll probably give her a spell after that. They're (owners) pretty keen to have a go at the Jewels at Cambridge. We just need to be earning money I suppose."


Shezacullengirl is currently fourteenth on the leader board for the Four Year Old Diamond. 


The last time Ellis was in Auckland was with trotter Idle Bones which won three races there before she was sold to clients of Brent Mangos.  







Ardtoo Gets One (Saturday 9th December 2017)


Bruce Stewart


It's taken not quite a season, but Ardtoo finally lived up to the potential Wyndham trainer Russell Ferguson always knew was sitting there.


"We really liked him as a two year old. We had him set for the Kindergarten (Stakes) but it came undone that day. We turned him out straight away and he's come back as a better three year old. I think he'll be better still in the Autumn," said Ferguson.


After sitting wide early, the three year old Auckland Reactor gelding held on easily to win his maiden race at Ascot Park today.


Ardtoo (5) and Craig Ferguson beating TC Business (8) and Dexter Dunn - Photo Bruce Stewart.  


Ardtoo which is owned by Ferguson and his wife Susan was driven by son Craig making a family affair.  


"I work my horses on their own. They don't get company. Craig and I swap horses over every now and then. It helps turn them into race horses."  


It was a good change of luck for horse, trainer and driver as a fortnight ago on the same course Ardtoo went over the top of Jennys Rose and driver Shane Walkinshaw in a nasty accident that saw Walkinshaw taken to hospital. 


"He (Ardtoo)came out of that good. Craig did exceptionally well to hold onto him. I gave him a workout last weekend and didn't ask him to do anything. He handled that really well so there are no long term effects."



Returning to scale - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Ardtoo is the last foal out of the Dream Away mare Tobetoo. 


"I bred his mother and his grandmother. His mother could really run but she had a wind problem so we retired her from breeding. She had a Washington VC filly but she was small so I gave her away."


Ferguson doesn't train many but likes a Betterthancheddar two year old which is out of the Mach Three mare Warp Speed which won three races. He bought the gelding at last year's sales for $15,000. Named Bottle Rock he's closely related to Il Vicolo and Stunin Cullen. 


Today's win was the trainers first since Ohbeoperative won at the Riverton meeting in October 2007. 









Plenty In The Tank (Saturday 9th December 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Oreti Beach trainer Paul 'Tank' Ellis has put the disappointment of Shezacullegirl's poor run at Alexandra Park on Friday behind him and the win at Ascot Park today by Machjagger certainly helped.


"It's taken ages to get her looking good again. She's looking good now and has gone good," said Ellis after the Justa Tiger mare won narrowly. 



 Machjagger (15) beating Wayward Roc (1) by a half a head - Photo Bruce Stewart.



The Winner - Photo Bruce Stewart


Ellis has had the mare at his stable for a while now, having transferred out to the beach while still under Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray's name. The mare has officially raced under Ellis's name twice, and he's been able to try different training methods with her. 


"This week Hilly (stable foreman Paul Hillis) has been riding her. Dexter (Dunn) was happy with her last week. He said that she just got outsprinted. This week he drove her more aggressively and he wasn't going to get outsprinted. She gets down on her bumpers but when she's looking good and she's all muscled up over her behind she doesn't get down on them."


Machjagger has now won four races including on the grass at Waikouaiti. The Wyndham Meeting at Cromwell early in the New Year is one of her targets. 


"She's got a real good group of owners. There'll be a few drinks over Christmas hopefully for them. The boys have got a crib up in Cromwell so that's where she'll be." 


Meanwhile Ellis's quality mare Shezacullengirl which finished last in the Northern Breeders Stakes in Auckland on Friday night is coming home.


"She chaffed up real bad on one side. She never chaffs up. It was caused by going that way round. She's in a real happy spot down here so I'll bring her back. Mango (driver Brent Mangos) said she just didn't feel right the whole way. We'll get her back. There are plenty of races after Christmas for her."









Bene Back Up (Saturday 9th December 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Well Said colt Nota Bene Denario showed his versatility when he won at Ascot Park today.


The three year old, which had led all the way at Wyndham on November 19th, came off a nice early sit before driver Brent Barclay took him round to the front with a lap to run.


"I think he can race from pretty much anywhere. They backed off the pace so I thought because they were going that slow that I'd better get around them. I think he probably knocks off a bit in front," said Barclay.



 Flying - Nota Bene Denario and Brent Barclay - Photo Bruce Stewart.





Heading to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.


Nota Bene Denario stayed down in the south at Brett Gray's stable after his win at Wyndham and went to the Winton Workouts last Friday where he was driven from behind. He won his heat impressively running his last 800 metres in better that 54 seconds. 


"He's a very very fast horse if you saw his run at the Winton Workouts. He's got wheels," said Gray.


The colt, which was bought by Robert and Sharyn Symon and placed in Terry and Glenys Chmiel's stable, has now won two of his three starts and Gray presumes he will return home to the Chmiel's Leeston stable. 



Meanwhile junior driver Ellie Barron knocked off another of her early season targets when she won on her grandfather's horse Mass Invasion today.


She had her first win on Somejoy, part-owned and trained by her father Clark, and this is another win for the family.


The seven year old Muscle Mass mare owned by Owen Crooks ran down pacemaker Grace O'Malley.



Ellie Barron and Mass Invasion getting the better of Peter Hunter and Grace O'Malley - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Returning - Photo Bruce Stewart. 












Class On Grass (Friday 8th December 2017)

Bruce Stewart

Although there are a few things to finalised the decision has been made that the Invercargill Harness Racing Club will race on grass on Saturday 3rd March.

One of the main issues yet to be sorted is the distance of all the races. They will either be 2000 or 2100 metres. Course caretaker Warren Broad and local Stipe Liam Tidmarsh will look at dispatch points and talk about safety limits before distances are confirmed.

Southern Harness General Manager Jason Broad says if the weather's wet the meeting will be transferred to the all-weather surface as early as Wednesday of that week. If this is necessary, the distances raced will be 2200 metres.

The last time the Invercargill grass track was used for harness racing was in 1971. 


The March meeting feature races will include a heat of the Country Cups ($12,000) for R60 and faster pacers, and a $12,000 Nugget Final. All other races will be raced for either $8,000 or $9,000.

Broad says some thought has been given to running a Grass Track Series with Oamaru, Gore and Waikouaiti.

Meanwhile a new race named The Southland Trotting Oaks, worth $20,000 is likely to be confirmed in the few weeks. Broad says final confirmation of sponsorship just needs to be signed off.

He says Haras des Trottuers have expressed an interest in supporting the race and the NZSB Association is very supportive and will help publicise it to the industry.

Its down to be raced at the Northern Southland Meeting in March which is two weeks before the New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington, Broad says.

A total of $195,000 in stakes will be up for grabs on the day. The club will be holding the Group Three Yardhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup, Group Three Southern Lights Trotting Handicap, Caduceus Club of Southland Fillies Pace and a $20,000 Super Nuggets Final. Broad says it's the second biggest day on the Southern racing calendar behind Diamonds Day in April.

All horses that finish first or second in any Nuggets race during the season are eligible for the Super Nugget Final.

Further Nugget heats have been programmed for Winton (31st December), Northern Southland (11th January), Wyndham (4th February) and Invercargill on the grass (3rd March).

The next heat of the Gold Chip trotting series will be held on Saturday 23rd December at the Wairio meeting at Winton.




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