Son Of Brahma Gets Third Win (Sunday 4th February 2018)


Bruce Stewart


Brett Gray has had Gotta Go Cullett gelding Son Of Brahma for fifteen months.


He was bought by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate in November 2015 after he was spotted at trials as a two year old.


Gray qualified him as a three year old and after winning two races back to back in January 2016 his form dropped away.


"He's been going a bit better this year but just needs to get the right run. He just needs to get that one crack at them. He can't do an ounce of work in the running," he said.


Son Of Brahma was bred by the late Colin Baynes and is out of the two win Village Jasper mare Brahma Girl who has also left four win gelding Royal Bengal. 


In today's R40-R49 mobile pace, driver Blair Orange settled the gelding well off the pace. With a lap to run he was third last. At the 500 metres he progressed Son Of Brahma three wide as part of the improving back runners. When the field straightened the gelding let down nicely to beat Nighmarch by two lengths.



Son Of Brahma winning for Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Heading back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart 


He's now won three races in his twenty five starts and has also picked up a number of placings. It was one of three wins on the card for New Zealand's leading reinsman Blair Orange. His other wins were Majestic Lavros for Mark Jones and Ideal Breeze for Des Baynes.



Ideal Breeze (13) one of two winners for Blair Orange at Wyndham - Photo Bruce Stewart 


Orange remains locked in battle with Dexter Dunn for the drivers premiership. Dunn drove five winners at the NZ Met meeting on Friday night and three at Geraldine yesterday. Orange still leads the premiership with 114 winners with Dunn sitting on 94. 


Meanwhile Brent Barclay and Nathan Williamson are locked in their own battle for the Southland Drivers Premiership. Barclay who last won the premiership in 2008 has a four win buffer over Williamson.


Barclay won two races at Wyndham today driving Maidonthebeach and Duke Of Wellington.



Maidonthebeach winning for Brent Barclay - Photo Bruce Stewart






Majestic Connies Wins Gold Chip Final (Sunday 4th February 2018)


Bruce Stewart


Three year old trotting gelding Majestic Connies was on his best behaviour today when he stepped, lead and won the GT Chamberlain Builders Limited Gold Chip Final at Wyndham.


At his previous start on this course in the middle of last month he broke at the start and was pulled up. 


"He drew one the other day and there were some playing up out the back and he was just standing too long. I thought before the race he was as good as any of the others," said driver Matty Williamson.


In today's race Majestic Connies began well and trailed early leader Ace Commander. With 1600 metres to run Williamson took the three year old to the lead and there he stayed. He held on to beat a late charging Ash by two lengths.


"He's probably one of Dad's that's underrated, rather than overrated. He ran third in a Yearling Sales Trot last year so he's quite a good horse. He bowled along good today. He's a bit on the lazy side but did enough to win. He's probably been a bit weaker than Dad's other two good ones (Springbank Lachie and Majestic Man) buts he's getting better." 




Majestic Connies and Matty Williamson leading with a lap to run - Photo Bruce Stewart.



At the finish - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart


He's owned by long time stable clients Neville Simpson and Alan Mason (who raced Lets Get Serious), both of Oamaru. Also Peter Evans of Christchurch and the Wagovi Syndicate which includes Gordon Stewart and Wayne Nixon of Cromwell and Vincent McLachlan of Waikouaiti.


Majestic Connies is by Majestic Son out of the two win Continentalman mare Sunny Connie. Her pedigree goes back to Tuft mare Ilsa Voss which won fourteen races. 







Henry Gives Field a Start And a Beating (Sunday 4th February 2018)


Bruce Stewart


Henry Hubert didn't like his one draw at Wyndham today.

After being well off the gate when it dispatched in the Nuggets Final, starter Ben Ward deemed that the horse behind Henry Hubert - Franco Rebel, was disadvantaged at the start and he called a false start.


Henry Hubert was then sent to the outside of the second row for the re-run. But at the end of the day it didn't matter.


Driver John Dunn settled the three year old last after the early rush with Vin Scully taking up the early lead. At the 1000 metre mark Dunn followed up a couple of improving horses and was putting the pressure on Vin Scully at the 800 metres. At the 600 metres Henry Hubert had taken the lead and there he stayed beating Vin Scully by two and a quarter lengths. 


"The last two weeks he's drawn one which was probably the worst I could have drawn. He's been really good from outside the front line. There's no need for it (his behaviour) but he'll come to it," said Dunn.



Easy winner in the rain - Henry Hubert - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Back to the dry - Photo Bruce Stewart


The Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in April on Diamonds Day is certainly one of the Bettor's Delight colt's late season aims. 


"He's got the ability but his manners and his gate manners would need to improve for us to bring him down. But that's definitely the aim. He went massive in the Sires Stakes Consolation getting home in the sectionals like he did." 


Dunn was full of praise for the Southern Harness scene, complimenting the area on it's various series.


"We have Pitch Black trained by father in-law (Craig Edmonds with his daughter Aimee) and Borntobeastar which we hope to bring down for the Southland Trotting Oaks." 


The $20,000 feature will be held at the Northern Southland Trotting Club's feature day on Saturday 10th March. 







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.




Talented Rogue Gets First Win (Saturday 10th February 2018)

Bruce Stewart

To say that Picketts Ridge has been a bit of a handful is a major understatement!

The 'problem child' spent the early part of his life with Gore trainer Tony Holland who picked him up from Macca Lodge when he was looking for a horse to take on holiday to Cromwell.

“He’d done six weeks jogging which suited me. He had a bit of a history of bucking. The wife was half scared of him. Thats why I ended up giving him to John. He’s got more carts than I have,” said Holland with a rye smile.

Holland said Picketts Ridge has had some major meltdowns - twice on the Gore track and twice at home.


“Out on the track one day I was jogging him and having a chat to Tony Stratford and a couple of horses came towards me. Did he go off! He broke the cart in half and got away, with the cart on, down to the far corner of the racecourse. I got within twenty metres of him and he just walked up to me. I’ve never had a horse do that to me. I went home, put another cart on him and we went straight back out. You couldn’t have got a quieter horse.”

Current trainer John Ryan says he got to know Picketts Ridge well in the early days working his own horses with the gelding last season, and also seeing him at the trials at Winton one day.

“My mare (Kiwi Inspiration) trotted off the mark and after a while I looked back and Tony’s horse (Picketts Ridge) was still at the start. The next thing he was up beside me and won. He must have trotted 3-10 but didn’t qualify because he broke,” said Ryan.

That was in March last year and Holland said at one point he was close to sacking the horse.

“The day before the trials at Wyndham I was giving him standing start practice and once again he got into it (bucking and kicking). It was all in mid-air. You had to feel it. I said that was it, bugger him. A fella wanted to buy him and was supposed to be at the trials but he didn’t turn up. Nathan drove him at the trials and won on him and he qualified easily.” 

That was in April last season as a three year old. After that his training was taken over by Ryan. 


“I took him right back to basics. He’d had a few injuries and had a lot of healing to do so we used that time to put him back onto the long reins,” he said.



Ryan says he’s also changed the gear the trotter was wearing, putting a special homemade add-on to the horse’s cropper (see picture). It’s a piece of polythene pipe that’s taped to the top of the cropper which holds the tail higher than usual.


“It’s actually off one of the markers on the track. It means he couldn’t get his tail down and start bucking. Nine times out of ten they clap their tail before they buck. When they clap their tail it sends a signal to the brain to kick and buck. He’s been picture perfect since.”



Picketts Ridges cropper - Photo Bruce Stewart


Ryan says there’s still plenty of sorting out to do but the potential is certainly there.

“He’s got a future. He feels like as good a horse as I’ve ever had. In saying that he trotted really roughly when he finished second at Wyndham. If I can get him trotting as good as he should be he could be anything.”

Ryan says at the moment he has to be driven in a certain way.

“I was working him on the grass and running him down the straight the other day. I just let him go and he rolled into a break. I said to Nathan 'keep him on the bit and hang on'.

That’s what Williamson did today and he held on to beat Nottingham K Two by three quarters of a length.


Nathan Williamson holding together Picketts Ridge. Nottingham K Two gets close in second placing - Photo Bruce Stewart.  

John also suspects the horse is feeling his hocks and he’s considering giving the horse a short break.

“When I was in Auckland I stayed with Claire and Dave McGowan. Claire’s a wonderful horse physio. Six days a week she’s flat tak from daylight to dark. She’s advised me to ice pack his hocks. I’ve got a set (of special ice packs) arriving this week. She said to take him quietly and not work him too hard which I have done this week.”

Picketts Ridge is out of the Sundon mare Come Follow Me and was bred by Macca Lodge. Come Follow Me is out of the nine win Gee Whiz II mare Be Not Afraid.


Picketts Ridge heading to the winners circle - Photo Bruce Stewart





Philippa Holland, John Ryan and Tony Holland with Picketts Ridge and Nathan Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart. 



Holland, who shares in the ownership of Picketts Ridge with his wife Philippa, works shift work at Fonterra and finished at 5am this morning. He doesn’t train too many horses and recently sold his unbeaten Washington VC pacer Back In The Day who will do his future racing in Melbourne.

“I got four or five good offers for him. I said 'I’m keeping this one - he’s got the X factor'. I got a text (from Peter Larkin) with a huge offer and it buggered me seeing that. I said to the Aussie - you’ve stuffed me making the offer like that. He said that’s usually the best way.” 

Meanwhile Ryan’s good mare Golden Gate is in foal to Love You.

“She’s not at the peak of her powers at the moment but is enjoying being in work.  It’s good to have her so settled at this time of year. Normally she’s in and out of season and she can be a proper old dog. We can race her until the end of next month before the 120 days are up.”

The win on Picketts Ridge was Southland driver Nathan Williamson’s 700th.




Gore Briefs (Saturday 10th February 2018)

Bruce Stewart

Thirteen start maiden Von Richthofen provided Waimumu trainer Ricky Gutsell with his first training success at Gore today.

The Panspacificflight five year old trailed leader Gotta Good Looker and shot through on the inside to win, paying $36.30.


Roughie Von Richthofen winning with Matty Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart.


Gore trainer Ross Wilson confidently predicted on-course that Annie Fitz would get a good run and win the race he sponsored today.

That’s how it turned out with the Bettor’s Delight mare receiving the perfect trail behind stablemate El Dinero. In the straight she let down nicely to beat perennial place getter Nightmarch by a length and three quarters.


Annie Fitz and Charlotte Purvis winning for race sponsor Ross Wilson - Photo Bruce Stewart.


In the Hokonui Honda Pace no one was sure who had won with driver Matty Williamson suggesting to Alan Beck that his drive Ideal For Sure had got there. The judge Bruce Young had a tough call to make and was taking a close look at the photo finish. At the point of the announcement Beck was bringing Ideal For Sure back to the birdcage and had saluted the judge only to hear that Williamson and Arma Twospoons had in fact won by a nose. 


In a tight finish Arma Twospoons (1) trained by Daniel Reardon and driven by Matty Williamson beats Ideal For Sure (5) Allan Beck - Photo Bruce Stewart.


Sales bound Neil Timms and trainer Brent McIntyre were in the winner’s circle mid programme when Tintin In America gelding The Bull Pen capitalised on a perfect trip to win his first race.

The winning margin was three quarters of a length.

McIntyre has five yearlings to present at the sale in Christchurch.


The Bull Pen and Brad Williamson beating Silver Dale - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Brent McIntyre, Neil Timms and Caine McIntyre with The Bull Pen and Brad Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart

No More Change got a well-deserved win but those on-course had no idea how the race unfolded as the course speaker system failed prior to the start.

The Changeover mare had finished second six times and third seven times in her 41 starts. Driven by junior driver Jamie Campbell the six year old which is part owned by his mother, won by two and three quarter lengths from Canardly Remember. It was Campbell’s third win as a driver.




Jamie Campbell raises his whip with a flourish when winning with No More Change - Photo Bruce Stewart 

Westward Beach trainer Graeme Anderson did what he does best when he geared up Somebeachsomewhere mare Jakira to win the Shane Matheson Crutching Mobile Pace.

Anderson has an exceptional strike rate at rejuvenating horses at his beach establishment and today's run was her first for her new trainer. It was the mare’s third win at her fifteenth start. She was previously trained by Cran Dalgety.


Andersons UDR this season is .4282. His 48 runners have won twelve times, run second 10 times and third 9 times.

 Jakira_winning_at_Gore_950_x_463.jpg Jakira winning for Graeme Anderson and Dexter Dunn - Photo Bruce Stewart. 



Sundons Wish returned to winning form in the hands of trainer Ian Jamieson.


The lightly raced Sundon gelding has been having trouble with his feet according to owner Neville Cleaver.

He said Jamieson is just starting to get on top of the problem and the grass surface suited the horse today.

“I’m keeping you on,” Cleaver said to Jamieson after the win.

It was the gelding’s sixth win from just twenty starts.



Sundons Wish (7) and Ian Jamieson beating Smokey Mac (14) and Ace Commander (3) Photo Bruce Stewart. 







Pass The Speights Wins Cup (Saturday 10th February 2018)

Bruce Stewart

“He was travelling good throughout. He had a few traffic problems just around the top but once he cleared a few tired runners he felt good,” trainer driver Brendon McLellan said after driving Pass The Speights to win the McDowall Painting and Decorating Gore Grass Cup.

The Bettor’s Delight gelding settled four back on the inside after the early rush for positions with Smooth Mara leading out. Star Commander, the hot favourite which was slow to begin, caught the field and made his move with 800 metres to run, looping the field to sit parked beside Smooth Mara. That left Pass The Speights last on the inside.

Turning in, Pass The Speights still had a lot of ground to make up on Smooth Mara and Star Commander but he did it nicely; nabbing Star Commander by half a length at the line.

“I could sort of tell that Blair’s horse (Star Commander) was coming to the end of it halfway down the straight so I thought I was going to pick him up.”

Pass_The_Speights_winning_at_Gore_950_x_469.jpg Pass The Speights (7) and Brendon McLellan beating Star Commander (11) Photo Bruce Stewart  


Owned by Bruce and Al Sinclair, the five year old is relatively lightly raced having had only twenty seven starts prior to today’s run.

“He’s come up good this season. I was happy with his first run – his fitness just gave out in that one. He missed away last week so you couldn’t get a line on him to be fair.”


  Bruce and Al Sinclair with Pass The Speights and Brendon McLellan - Photo Bruce Stewart


Today’s $12,000 feature was the gelding's fourth win and his first on the grass.

“He’s a good pacer so he handles anything really.”




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