Ameigo Wins and Stunin First Winner (Sunday 8th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Ambro Ameigo has been with a few trainers but none more patient than Knapdale horsewoman Kath O'Connor.


She's had the Armbro Invasion gelding for three seasons now and everything went right yesterday at Ascot Park when the seven year old won his first race at start number sixteen. 


"A couple of trainers had tried him, sacked him and he was going on the truck to Gore. My daughter Serenity works at Macca Lodge. She liked him and we thought that if he couldn't make it as a trotter he might make a nice hack," she said.


So Kath rang the gelding's breeders Maurice Horton, Ray Paterson and Henry Ford to see whether she could take him on.


"They were thrilled. Maurice still thanks me for saving him and we've become really good friends." 


In yesterdays race Ambro Ameigo began well to lead early before Cuddly Trouble took over. At the 500 metres driver Robin Swain came away from the trail and was up challenging Cuddly Trouble. Ambro Ameigo trotted down to the line to beat a late finishing Our Budd by a length and a quarter. 


"Rob (driver Robin Swain) drove him very positively. He stepped good and did everything right. At his last start he got knocked over. The time before that at Invercargill be was a bit sore in the feet so we've put pads on. He's a super sensitive horse. We've had good weather down here and the tracks have been hard. That's what tripped him up last time so that's why we've gone back to the pads."



Ambro Ameigo and Robin Swain warming up prior to their win at Ascot Park yesterday - Photo Bruce Stewart.





Ambro Ameigo beating Our Budd - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


O'Connor says that when she got the gelding, he lacked confidence.


"He's a girls horse and loves his pats and kisses. That's what turned him round. It taken a long time just to win his trust."


He's only the second horse O'Connor has trained. The first was Ronnoco which she won three races with (as a trainer).


O'Connor's cousin, the late Brian O'Connor, trained horses in the Dunedin area for many years and Kath has taken over his colours.


"I said to Brian when he was alive, one day I'll nab those colours and it's his cart that we use too. Brian loved his trotters so he will be thrilled." 





Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


O'Connor grew up going to the races at Forbury with her father and when she moved to Southland the late Colin Baynes was her neighbour at Knapdale.


"I worked for him for twenty years. Robin (Swain) taught me how to drive and it went from there."   


Ambro Ameigo is a very well related gelding. He's out of the Simon Roydon mare Princess Afton which is a half sister to Frances Jay Bee the winner of six races and the dam of One Kenny (19 wins), One Under Kenny (11 wins) and millionaire trotter One Over Kenny (32 wins and $1,098,007). Princess Afton is also a half-sister to Raymauwarrhen Sun the winner of twenty two races.


Andrew Stuart has a three year old colt by Monkey Bones out of Princess Afton called Kenny Del and she's about to have a foal by Superfast Stuart.  


Meanwhile Eye Candy became the first winner for Christian Cullen sire Stunin Cullen.


The three year old filly trained by Paul Court held on to win by a neck to beat Delightful Deal.


Eye Candy has a strong Southland connection being out of Have A Look whose dam Private Encounter was bred by Brian Church and Betty Lee. Private Encounter is a half-sister to Pacific Playgirl which won two races here for Wyndham trainer Gordon Lee before winning a further 16 in Australia. 






Eye Candy warming up - Photo Bruce Stewart.





Eye Candy (4) beating Delightful Deal (7) in s tight finish - Photo Bruce Stewart.





  Returning with Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Stunin Cullen which stands at Pinelea Farm in Canterbury has 84 live foals and nine qualifiers. A handful of those qualifiers have recorded placings on race day. 








Charlotte Gets First Win (Sunday 8th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Twenty three year old Charlotte Purvis hoped her first win was going to be on a Phil Williamson trained trotter because that was always going to be the perfect start to her career.


That's what happened yesterday at the Northern Southland meeting when she drove Pyramid Magic to win the GJ Gardner Homes Handicap Trot. 


Phil is her employer and the trainer of Pyramid Magic and his son Matty Williamson is Charlotte's partner. 


"Yeah it was a great thrill especially being on one of Phil's horses. He's been right behind me the whole way," she said. 


Purvis has been interested in harness racing for a while, her father John having owned horses for a good number of years and her brother Matt, (currently working for Nathan Williamson), has been employed in the industry since he was sixteen. Her grandfather Les Purvis was a Stipendiary Steward in the Canterbury and Otago region.


"I was into the pony club and went showing every weekend. The pretty side of horses. I met Matt two and a half years ago and that's when I first drove a horse." 


At that point she was working as a beauty therapist in Christchurch.


"Every weekend I'd come down to Oamaru, see Matt and work for Phil."


She's now been working fulltime for Phil for two years so has spent a bit of that time with Pyramid Magic. 


"He's always been my favourite and I've been driving him at trials. His manners are impeccable but he can get on the nickel. He knows me well." 


Yesterday's drive was only her nineteenth and she is thankful not only to Phil Williamson for his support but also to other trainers who've given her the opportunity to drive their horses. 


"Ross Wilson and Bruce Negus really supported me early on in my career." 


Purvis says once she had her first drive behind a trotter she was hooked but some of her family weren't overly keen on her pursuing it as a career. 


"I never thought I'd get out there on race day and give it a go. Matt (Williamson) pushed me. I wanted to give it a go but my Dad said 'do you know what you're getting in to? It's tough out there and not as easy as it looks.' I put my big boots on and said no, I can give it a crack."    


From the thirty metre mark Charlotte had Pyramid Magic away well, settling last of the nine horse field. When Jaccka Josh improved Purvis hopped onto his back and progressed forward. Jaccka Josh flattened out with 400 metres to run and Purvis pulled the right rein and hopped off his back. In a sharp burst of speed Pyramid Magic hit the lead at the top of the straight. Pegarose, which had trailed Pyramid Magic then came off his back, but the call 'Charlotte's in' by commentator Dave McDonald confirm her first win. The winning margin was a neck. 





Sam Galleon (Brad Williamson)leads from Danielle Amore (Matt Williamson)- The winner Pyramid Magic is two back on the outside - Photo Bruce Stewart.







Pyramid Magic (9) beating Pegarose (6) - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


"He was travelling nice the whole way and at the 400 metres I pulled him out and asked him to go. I was very worried at the finish when Nathan (driving Pegarose) came up. I thought he was going to get me. It was cool having Nathan beside me because he's been a big supporter too. Matty was stoked. It was cool to do a Williamson first four."



Pyramid Magic and Charlotte Purvis returning after her first win -Photo Bruce Stewart. 


So all the Williamson family got a great view of their newest recruit winning. Brad was six and half lengths back in third and Matty was another three quarters of a length back in fourth. Phil and Bev were of course in the stand cheering. 







 Returning to the birdcage and being congratulated by owner Neville Hazlett - Photo Bruce Stewart. 











Doitson Did It (Sunday 8th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


The well bred Doitson did just that at his first start at Ascot Park yesterday.


The Bettor's Delight colt is part owned by Tony Hickman who was on-course yesterday to see the three year old beat second favourite Franco Santino.


"He's gone alright at trials but it's a different story on race day, " said Hickman whose brother Kevin owns Valachi Downs - a thoroughbred stud near Matamata.


Tony's owned a handful of nice horses including In The Pocket gelding Jackson Browne. He won six races for Gerard O'Reilly before Davey and Catherine Butt won another five races with him including the 2006 Northern Southland Cup.  



Doitson had been sighted at two trials - running second in May to the Nigel McGrath trained Sheriff while he won his second trial on the same course last month. 


"We expected him to go well and hoped he'd do things right. He'll come back for the final and if he's going good in April he'll come back again for the Supremacy," said co-trainer Davey Butt.


The final he's referring to is the second final of the Nuggets Series at the Riverton Trotting Club meeting on Sunday 5th November.


If he wins that final he'll also be eligible for the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final in which all Nugget winners and second place getters are eligible to start. That race will be held at the Northern Southland meeting in March.


Doitson is the first colt out of the one win Christian Cullen mare Sister Bertrand. Her third dam is Hazel Hanover the dam of Holmes Hanover. 




Doitson (Red) beating Franco Santino - Photo Bruce Stewart.




Returning to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Butt has reined 1,134 winners. However he's been suffering from vertigo and prior to yesterday hadn't driven at the races since June when he drove Wilma's Mate to win the $100,000 Four Year Old Ruby at Ashburton. 


"I'm still driving work at home but not at the races. The specialist reckons in another three to six months it should be gone. I can't balance properly and everything's a bit shaky when I'm moving."


When asked if he was missing race day driving he said, "A wee bit with horses like Wilma's Mate. You miss the good ones."








Jayedger Wins For Orange (Sunday 8th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


He hadn't raced since running thirteenth at Addington on Show Day in the South Of The Waitaki so it was a master class in training by Roslyn Bush trainer Murray Swain to prepare Jayedgar to win in a good time at Ascot Park yesterday.



"He got a four mil (millimetre) tear of a muscle and had six months out," said Swain when recounting the injury that put the breaks on a promising career.


Swain purchased Jayedger at the 2014 Auckland Weanling Sales for $6,500. 


"We went up to buy Isaiah's brother and thought we'd have to pay up to twenty five (thousand) for him but he went for seventy five. Jayedgar was next in the ring and I said he's not a bad looking horse. I was trying to find something for the lads."


The five year old Art Official gelding is owned by Wayne Pope, Swain, L. Morresey and Alistair Mackintosh.


"He's (Mackintosh) in Wanaka. We told him not to back him because we thought he'd need the run. It was a big effort by the horse. It was more the horse's ability than the trainer. Blair said he went to the line easily." 


The winning margin was two and a half lengths and the time for the 2200 metre mobile was a smart 2-42.5. 


"I thinks he'll be a nice wee Country Cups horse. If he pinged out in the Country Cups races he'd keep them honest. Today's win makes up for the South of the Waitaki race when he hung. I think he was sore beforehand when he won at Wyndham."


It was one of four wins for Canterbury reinsman Blair Orange.





Jayedgar easily winning at the Northern Southland meeting yesterday - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Returning to the birdcage - One of four winners for Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Some of the winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Note: The Art Major - Natural Creation colt that Swain wanted to buy at the Auckland sale was named Magnetic Stride. He was exported to Australia where he is unraced. 








 No Stopping The Bus (Sunday 8th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart



The Bus trained by Mark Jones proved too good for eight other rivals in the inaugural $12,000. Caduceus Club Of Southland Nuggets Finals at the Northern Southland Meeting at Ascot Park yesterday. 


He held on to beat Kilowatt Kid by three quarters on a length. 


"It's a good series down here and there's the final in March so that's good. The Northern Southland Club used to fly me down, the owner likes coming and you've got the Supremacy so it works in good," said trainer Mark Jones. 


The Art Major colt qualified for yesterday's final when he won at Gore at the end of September. After that win he ran second to Hail Christian at Addington before winning on the same track eight days ago.


With just over a lap to run driver Sam Ottley took the three year old forward to sit parked outside leader Benio Ben. When Some Excusesomewhere improved with a lightning move at the 500, The Bus had got the lead. Some Excusesomewhere broke turning for home and The Bus was left in front. The only challenge came from the trailing horse Kilowatt Kid which got within three quarters of a length of the winner. 


"He's lazy and knocks off and only has to do what he has to, but when they come at him he goes again."



The Bus (outside) beating Kilowatt Kid - Photo Bruce Stewart.



Returning with Sam Ottley - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


The Bus is out of the 37 win Falcon Seelster mare Rondel Franco who raced extensively in America. He's owned by Grant Hatton who also raced The Bus's half-brother Saveapatrol which won the inaugural 2013 Northern Southland Autumn Futurity.


Jones says The Bus will continue to race here before heading to Australia at the end of the season. 


"After the Supremacy he'll go to Australia where he's paid up for a few series." 


And after that he sees him racing in some of the staying races next season. 


"He's probably a Country Cups type horse. He's not up with the elite three year olds." 




Sam Ottley, The Bus, Andrew Suddaby (obscured) Bill McDonald President of the Northern Southland TC, Grant Haddon and Neil Timms - Photo Bruce Stewart









Mac Smokin (Sunday 15th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Smokey Mac is starting to string together a good formline but trainer Brett Gray isn't looking too far ahead with the promising trotter.


In yesterday's main trotting race at Gore driver Brent Barclay took the son of Thanksgiving to the lead from the 10 metre mark and made the backmarkers Poppymalda (40 metres), Alderbeck (50 metres) and Father Christmas (40 metres) work hard.


The handicap proved too much for this trio with Smokey Mac holding on to win by a length and a quarter from Poppymalda with a nose back to a late finishing Alderbeck in third.


"With the draw and with the backmarkers you want to keep them working a bit so we took him to the front. But he's got a great sprint from in behind," said trainer Brett Gray. 



Smokey Mac at the Winton Workouts prior to him qualifying - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


Smokey Mac is out of the Armbro Invasion mare Uncatchable and is closely related to Charlie Wood and Perfect du Jour both of which won seven races. He's owned by John and Pam Macleod from Winton who also him and Gray says he's been a bit of a project.


"He's just one of those horses. He's always had ability but you just don't know which way he's going to go. So the jury is out at the moment. It'll really be interesting how good he goes when he has to really dig deep. But he does keep on surprising me." 


And the stable have sorted out what works best for Smokey Mac particularly on race days. 


"As long as his attitude doesn't pull him up I think he'll be okay. We do work him on race day morning and we've got permission to take him around to the start late, it's really working well at the moment. Every time he races now he relaxes and drops the bit. At home he just ambles round and doesn't work that great by himself but if you take a stick with you he'll be away, so he's a bit of a character. He's still only learning but he's really made some progress this year."  


Later in the programme Erin Jaccka returned to the winners circle when she held on by a neck to beat Jabali. It was the five year old mare's third win from eighteen starts and Gray says he was pleased to see her win yesterday on the rain affected track. 


"Maybe with the wet track she appreciated it a bit more. I was a bit worried about the track though, as she can jump out of her gear."


Erin Jaccka looked very smart as a three year old winning a mile race at Winton in what was then a track and Southland record time of 1-53.9, but she hasn't built on that form.


"We suspect it was a joint issue (that was affecting her) but we haven't really got to the bottom of it. We work on her knees a bit. We do give her treatment for arthritis by injecting her in the muscle which covers all the joints."   










Black - Thomson Combo Get Two
  (Sunday 15th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


Lindsay and Ian Thomson and horses bred by Tuapeka Lodge are on a bit of a roll at the moment.


On the back of Kilowatt Kid winning at Winton at the end of last month Lawrence and Six Diamonds added to the tally at Gore yesterday. All three horses were bred by the Cummings Family of Tuapeka Lodge and are owned by the Thomsons of Branxholme.


Six Diamonds, a five year old gelding out of Raindowne, was having his first start since winning at Forbury in June. He'd been fitted for yesterday's assignment with two workouts. 


"His first workout was very good while the second one wasn't so good. But we had a few issues that we had to tidy up which we did. He's trained good since," said trainer Alister Black.


The gelding has only had nineteen starts and has been well looked after by Black. 


"He's only a wee horse and he used to fire up but now he's a bit more tractable."


He's now won five races and his connections will look at perhaps targeting some the Country Cup races around Christmas-New Year. 


"He's very good from a stand but there's going to be some nice horses in those Country Cup races this year."  


Black's second success for the day was the wellbred Lawrence when he easily won the Gore Windscreen 'N' Glass 2000 Ltd Mobile Pace. He's improved from his previous start which was also his first, when he ran fourth.  


"I didn't think he could beat Kirk. (Thatswhatisaid) Normally I don't say anything to the driver but Brad (driver Brad Williamson) hadn't driven this guy. I said before he went out as soon as they button off don't be afraid to go round. If you get round don't be frightened to give it to them from the 600 and that's what he did," said Black commending his driver on a perfect drive.


Like Six Diamonds, Lawrence has been well looked after and not rushed into racing early. 


"When he was a two year old he had a couple of little foot issues and he wasn't all that good in his gait. We looked after him. Carl Hanna drove him at the workouts and I drove him when he qualified. We never really let him go. I always knew he was going to be alright. His feet are real good now and he's a lot happier."



Lawrence warming up at Winton prior to his first start last month - Photo Bruce Stewart.


Both Six Diamonds and Kilowatt Kid have Tuapeka Dream in their pedigree while Lawrence comes from the other Cummings family which traces back to Sakuntala. 


"I'm quite lucky I've got two owners that quite like buying their horses. They're so natural. Dan Cummings and the rest of the family do a wonderful job. They make your job easy."


Meanwhile Kilowatt Kid is having a bit of a break from the race track after impressing at both of his starts this season. He was a very good winner at Winton on debut before running quality colt The Bus to three quarters of a length in the Nuggets Finals at the Northern Southland meeting last Saturday. 


"He's having ten days off. I haven't mapped out a plan for him but he won't be too overtaxed this year. His two main goals are the Super Nuggets Final ($20,000 at Northern Southland in March) and the Southern Supremacy Stakes Final (April on Diamonds Day)."


Black says there have been offers for the gelding but he's not on the market. 











Dillon Wins With Nice Filly
 (Sunday 15th October 2017)


Bruce Stewart


The royally breed Bridesdale Robyn impressed when she won at Gore yesterday.


She's owned by Judy Dillon and Ross Wilson who also trains the filly. Wilson and Graeme Edgar raced Robyn's Treasure, Bridesdale Robyn's dam. She won seven races including the 1994 New Zealand Oaks, DB Fillies Final double at Addington. 


Judy was given the mare by Wilson and Edgar so she could retire on the Dillon family farm.


"I was allowed a foal which we got but when Bridey (Bridesdale Robyn) was six weeks old Robyn's Treasure had a paddock accident. She shattered her shoulder and had to be put down. I had to hand rear the foal and 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. Since then she never looked back and was drinking ten litres a day. Two and a half litres, four times a day," she said. 



By Christian Cullen, Bridesdale Robyn is named after stock that the Dillons produce on their farm 'Bridesdale' at Ardlussa in Northern Southland. They raise Romney and Dorset Downs sheep on what was originally an 800 acre block - some of the farm has since been sold to their son. The home block is now 100 acres.


"All my sheep have the prefix Bridesdale and I couldn't get that name so Ross suggested I try Bridesdale Robyn."


Bridesdale Robyn started twice as a two year old last season.


"She was up against the Purdon/Rasmussen horses and the boys (colts and geldings) but went round and did everything right."


In yesterday's win driver Craig Ferguson took her straight to the lead. 


"She likes it out in front. She hasn't learned to relax when she's trailing up so she's a work in progress. It wasn't a very hard run for her today. She'll be lining up again shortly but that's (programming) Ross's job." 



Bridesdale Robyn with Craig Ferguson as a two year old at Winton last season - Photo Bruce Stewart. 


She was taken to just two workouts this season prior to yesterday's start  


"Ross has always liked her. He broke her in and has done all the preparation. At the workouts two weeks ago she just strolled round and won easily. We don't know what sort of bottom (depth) she has to her yet." 


There's plenty of heritage in the Dillon family name. Judy's husband Richard's uncle Charlie Dillon (C.E. Dillon) owned and trained horses at Kaweku near Riversdale.


"Bryce Buchanan and John Ryan worked for him. He raced Novelda (Dillon Hall - Charming Child) which won the 1947 Wyndham Juvenile Stakes."


He also bred and raced King Hal which won the 1960 Great Northern Derby. He was trained by Ces Donald and driven by Derek Jones. 


Novelda's full-sister Nadine left the handy pacer Johnny Dean (Johnny Globe - Nadine) which Charlie raced. He won five races, four as a four year old in the 1960-61 season. He was trained by RJ (Sid) Kemble. Garrison Royal was another handy horse Charlie Dillon raced, also trained by Ces Donald.


Dillon raced many horses with the Sherwood prefix.


Judy is still an active breeder with a handful of mares. Her Camtastic mare Daisy Belle, which has left the nine win gelding Jimbob Jac, has a nice colt by Somebeachsomewhere called Archman. He's three and is currently getting ready to qualify for Geoff and Jude Knight. 


Judy's father Eric Butler with Alan Jones operated the first mobile vehicle in Southland. Eric also bred horses producing Mister Majestic (Majestic Chance - Mary Bank) which won eight races and was the first horse Ross Wilson trained. He was also his winner when he won at Roxburgh in April 1980.















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