My Way (Sunday 25th January 2015)
Trainer Neville Skinner knows his time training quality trotter Alley Way is nearing an end.
The six year old squaregaiter has now virtually won his way out of the Southland classes and his future lies in Canterbury where it's likely that Colin and Julie DeFilippi will take over the training.
Yesterday's win in the Brendan Franks Farriers Handicap Trot was the six year old's eighth career win and he now carries a C7 rating.
"I was pleased with the way he went last week. He was only run down by a horse (Springbank Sam) that's won three hundred thousand so I knew he'd go pretty close today. Matty did the right thing. He was parked, went round to the lead and handed up to Dwindle Mist. He said that he just jogged it today," said Skinner after the win.
Alley Way's winning margin over a late charging Experiment was by two lengths with Dwindle Mist half a length back in third. The time was a respectable 3-28.4. The Fiery Ginga holds the track record of 3-27.8.
The Monarchy gelding is raced by Skinner, his sister Judy Ward, her husband David and Geoff McMaster. He's out of Armbro Invasion mare No Way which Skinner won one race with. No Way is a half sister to Idid It My Way (14 wins) and the promising Any Old Way (2 wins and 2 placing from only five starts).
The winning connections with Alley Way - Photo Bruce Stewart
"There's a C2 to C7 at Waikouaiti for him then we'll look at going up to Christchurch to Colin and Julie De Filippi's. I'll hang on to the training of him for a while then hand him over to Colin and Julie."
The gelding was earmarked to start at this years New Zealand Cup meeting but caught a virus after his Tuapeka run and his training had to be eased.
"I think that break we had at Cup time has made him a wee bit bigger and stronger."
Dash For Cash (Sunday 25th January 2015)
Makarewa trainer Tony Barron realises he had a lucky break when he got a phone call from Canterbury trainer Bruce Negus.
"Bruce Negas rang me one night to see whether I'd look after three of his horses over the Christmas period basically for the Northern Southland and Invercargill Cup meetings and he said I could put Delightful Dash in my name. He said that he wanted access to Dexter (driver Dexter Dunn) and that there was more chance of getting him to drive her down here rather than in Christchurch. We've been very lucky to get a nice horse dropped at our gate," he said.
Delightful Dash's win in yesterday's Robin Dundee Crown was her second for Barron and her sixth career win from just twenty three starts.
Delightful Dash with Dunn on board left the gate fast but BD Windermere took the top with Dunn settling three back on the running line. With just over a lap to run he moved off the inside to sit parked. At the top of the straight BD Windermere and Delightful Dash had the finish to themselves with Delightful Dash doing best, winning by a neck with Sell A Bit a further length and a quarter back in third. The winning time was 2-03.1. The race record of 2-02.4 is held by 2013 winner The Receptionist while the track record of 2-01.4 is held by Raksdeal.
John Stiven from sponsors Arden Lodge, Tony Barron and Peter Kett with the Robin Dundee Crown - Photo Fotosouth
"She's a lovely mare. I had another by Lis Mara Christy Breanna and she was a nice mare but this one's better. You just have to wait on them. If you look at his (Lis Mara's) record he got better when he got to four. She's with you all the way and is beautifully gaited with a big motor. She's really enjoyed being down here and just got better and better down here."
The mare is part owned by Barry Barber of Karitane.
"I don't know Barry that well. When I was kid I remember him owning horses at Bryce Buchanan's. Barry was part owner of Cluden Creek which won the Wellington (galloping) Cup ten years ago. He said he's been going to the Cup ever since. I said that this mare was a pretty good chance today but he said that he couldn't make it, that he was committed to Wellington. He's been going back ever since he won the Cup which was fair enough."
So where to next?
"I'm taking her to Addington where she's eligible for a Super Series Final. The only question mark is that the race is a standing start."
Barron is also taking Experiment, Phoenix Warrior and Queen Kenny on the trip north.
Bonnie Win (Friday 16th January 2015)
The formline suggested winning wasn’t too far away for the Tony Stratford trained filly Bonnie’s Khalessi, however she faced a strong non-winner field in yesterday’s Northern Southland’s Vets Mobile Pace.
From barrier six driver Clark Barron took Bonnie’s Khaleesi to the back of the field as second favourite Tact Tate speared to the lead. When Dexter Dunn, driver of favourite A Damn Good Excuse moved out of the one one at the 400 Barron was presented with plenty of room to move from four back on the inside. He came the widest with the filly and stormed home to win by one and a half lengths from A Damn Good Excuse with Leigh Major a half a length away in third. The winning time was a respective 2-43.4.
“I’ve had her in work since July. She’s had a couple of stone bruises and an injury to her back leg on the way. We qualified her and didn’t have much luck in her first start and then she went well at Gore. We didn’t take her up to Central (Otago) as we just thought we’ve give her an easy week and aim her for these two premier days (Northern Southland and Invercargill Cup Days). Clark gave her a beautiful trip – the exact trip she needed. She did nothing early and she had one run at them. The mother was like that,” said Stratford.
Bonnie's Khalessi and Clark Barron returning to scale at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart
Bonnie’s Khalessi is by Live Or Die out of the ten win Camtastic mare Bonnie’s Lass and is part owned by Macca Lodge’s Brent and Sheree McIntyre. Brent is on the committee of the Northern Southland Trotting Club.
“I have always liked her. She’s one that never takes a lot out of herself at home – she’s very lazy actually. But the quicker we worked her the better she got. I think she’s going to end up being quite a nice filly.”
Fresh Fiction (Friday 16th January 2014)
Despite not having raced since cup day at Addington on November 11th, Pulp Fiction’s record when fresh was highlighted again at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park yesterday when he won easily.
Driven by regular pilot Dexter Dunn, the three year old colt settled back on the outside and got a lovely tow into the race when Costa Del Magnifico improved with just over a lap to run. After being left three wide for 50 metres Dunn masterfully slotted into the one one. On straightening, Costa Del Magnifico hit the lead but Pulp Fiction finished best, winning by three lengths and running the 2200 metres in 2-41.7.
“He’s a bit of an athlete so he’s always pretty ready when he comes to the races. He felt super the whole way today. Around the bend I was travelling really well so I knew they’d have to be pretty good to outsprint him,” said Dunn.
The Pulp Fiction crew - Photo Bruce Stewart
Trainer Tony Stratford, who has done a great job in managing the colt, says two targets remain.
“We’ll build towards the Supremacy Final and the Derby with a bit of luck. We’ve always believed he’s a great stayer which he proved when he won the Riverton Cup,” he said.
The country this season has been blessed with a stellar crop of three year olds and both Dunn and Stratford realise Pulp Fiction will have to lift to another level to compete at the highest level.
“Any other year he would have been in the top group but with horses like Follow The Stars it’s going to be tough for him,” said Dunn.
But Stratford has noticed further development in the quality three year old.
“He was flying prior to going to Christchurch but he’s a far better horse now. He feels more mature, a bit more heavily set and a better all-round horse. I’m sure he is so we’re heading in the right direction,” he said.
Shak'n Off (Sunday 28th December 2014)
Gordon and Colin Lee and their pacer Shak'n Cullen put the disappointment of their Wairio Cup scratching behind them with a dominating win yesterday at Gore.
The five year old gelding swung sideways at the start at his last start and affected directly or indirectly, five other runners in the race, all of which were late scratched.
But yesterday, from a handy three draw Gordon pushed the son of Christian Cullen out of the gate expecting hot favourite Titan Banner to take up the early lead from the inside. However that was not the scenario that played out.
"I was aware of where Titan Banner was and that's why I changed my mind when I came out of the gate. I thought he'd lead but I saw that Dexter was struggling to get out of the gate so I went for it then. I thought that if I could lead he'd (Titan Banner) be three back and I've got a chance.When my horse gets his own way in front he's always going to be hard to beat. I didn't think they'd beat him on the turn. I thought Titan Banner three back on the rails was going to have to be real quick to beat my horse. He was nice and relaxed today and he only picked up the bit when the other horses came at him," said Gordon Lee.
The winning margin was three quarters of a length with Titan Banner closing late. Shak'n Cullen's next start could be in the Roxburgh Cup.
The winning connections with Shak'n Cullen after his win at Gore - Photo Bruce Stewart
A New Diamond (Sunday 21st December 2014)
The new Diamonds Day concept for Finals Day at Ascot Park next April continues to gather momentum.
Southern Bred Southern Reared and Southern Harness Clubs are delighted to announce that Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania USA is the new sponsor of the two year old race for Diamonds Day.
Diamonds Day will be held at Ascot Park in Invercargill on Sunday 12th April 2015.
What promised to be the race of the day ended up being a disaster for the Wairio Trotting Club.
The $15,000 Wairio Cup which had drawn a top field was decimated when Shak'n Cullen, In The Kitty and Jango Fett ran into each other. The chaos also affected the chances of Char Do Neigh and The Wrath Of Robyn.
Char Do Neigh was able to recover and he and the other runners continued to race. Canardly Lover trained by Hamish Hunter took the cup, beating Twilight Franco by three quarters of a length. It was Hunter's fifth success in this race, with previous winners were Josephine Bret (1984), Yandoon (1992),Grenadier (2004) and Franco Ledger (2013).
After the race the Stewards launched an enquiry as to whether In The Kitty, Shak'n Cullen, Char Do Neigh, Jango Fett and The Wrath Of Robyn had been denied a fair start and whether what happened prejudiced their chances. After hearing evidence from the Stewards, starter Ben Ward and the respective horsemen, the JCA ruled that all of these horses had been denied a fair start and all were declared late scratchings.
Williamson 99 Not Out (Sunday 21st December 2014)
The Williamson name is at the forefront of sport at the moment with cricketer Kane Williamson in superb form for the Black Caps in the one day series against Pakistan, and local harness trainer/driver Nathan Williamson is also grabbing the spotlight, producing two winners at Wairio yesterday.
The most important win came with up and coming trotter Dwindle Mist's win in the Jaccka Lodge Handicap Trot. She won in impressive fashion.
Surprisingly the six year old mare started as the fifth favourite. Her form this season has been impeccable with the only glitch being a last start 8th at Oamaru in an invitation drivers event. She had impressively won at Invercargill on the Friday and then backed up two days later at Oamaru.
"She just missed away at Oamaru. She's a funny horse. You have to do things systematically with her. She had a different driver there and things didn't work out. I'm sure she would have backed up but on the day she missed away," he said.
In yesterday's race Dwindle Mist easily made up her 40 metre handicap and Williamson had her camped three back on the outside. When No Potato shot to the lead at the 600 metres he moved off the back of Moon Countess and issued his challenge. She came away to win by three lengths from No Potato with Experiment making ground late for third. It was the Sundon mare's fifth win in just nineteen starts.
"She's racing really well and got her confidence. She's a nice mare. We'll race at Gore next week then perhaps on to Omakau or Roxburgh. But it depends on what she does in the meantime. She may get handicapped out of some of those races."
Dwindle Mist and Nathan Williamson returning with win number 99 - Photo Bruce Stewart
Dwindle Mist is part owned by Williamson's parents Phil and Bev and she started her career with Phil. She's been with Nathan since the start of this season.
Earlier in the day Williamson trained and drove Grey Power to win. The five year old Monkey Bones gelding was bought at the sales and Williamson did a late preparation with him as a two year old.
"I thought he went near enough. He was then turned out and I didn't see him for a couple of years. Last year he qualified as a four year old and had one start at Roxburgh where he galloped. He was pretty inexperienced back then but with a spell he's matured and he's come back good. He's not 100% yet but his manners were impeccable today."
Grey Power rests up after winning at Wairio yesterday - Photo Bruce Stewart
Christian Grey Win For Adams (Sunday 21st December 2014)
Ascot Park trainer has had a quiet start to the season but you can expect his green and white colours to be to the fore over the Christmas New Year as more of this team hit the race tracks.
Adam's scored yesterday at the Wairio meeting with maiden winner Christian Grey
He was bought at the 2013 Sale of the Stars for $15,000 is by Christian Cullen and is closely related to Courage Under Fire on his dam's side.
"I bought him at the sales for Michelle and Jess (Horton) and I've had him since he was a yearling. Craig Kennedy in Christchurch broke him in. He wasn't a two year old because he was a big sort of rangy horse so he's just taken a bit of time. His first run (6th at Wyndham) was quite good and today's run was really good. I think he'll progress. In the last week at home he's really lifted and I think he'll do a good job."
In the Nightcaps Hotel Mobile Pace driver Craig Ferguson settled the gelding three back on the rails while Dexter Dunn took favourite Leolas Delight to the lead. When the field straighten Ferguson shot the three year old up the passing lane to nail the favourite by a neck.
Craig Ferguson gets one for boss Wayne Adams with Christian Grey - Photo Bruce Stewart
Meanwhile the promising Arden Castle from the Adams stable is due to return to the race track shortly. The Major In Art gelding won one race and was placed in just a handful of starts last season.
"He'll go to the workouts today (Sunday) and I'll nominate him for Gore or Winton. I think he's come up real good."