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Nathan Williamson

 

Williamson Century Season           

 

Back in the late 50s into the mid 70s classy Southland based drivers like Ken Balloch and Henry Skinner drove between 20 and 30 winners a season.

Skinner had what was regarded as a sensational season in 1974 driving a record 38 winners. He equalled that record in 1987, and almost ten years later  in 1996,  Clark Barron also drove 38 winners.

Two seasons later in 1998 Barron set a new bench mark of 69 winners in a season.

It was another seventeen years before that record was broken when in 2015 after winning the Southland Drivers Premiership for the fifth successive year, Nathan Williamson drove 78 winners in the season.

Then this season the magic 100 mark was reached by Williamson, a first for a Southland based driver.

 

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Franco Ledger.

 

 

Hamish Hunter: 40 years 500 winners                  

 

Last month Southland Harness trainer Hamish Hunter became the first southern based horsemen to train 500 winners.

Heís been based at his Ryal Bush training establishment since 1980 but was born and bred in Wyndham and trained initially at Edendale.

Like most interested in standardbreds he started out as a probationary driver in 1973, winning his first race on his fatherís horse Scottish Water at Omakau in January 1974.

 

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Southern Harness's Real Deal 

         

Thereís been plenty of healthy debate and solid negotiation, but the balls are about to land on the new structure and funding model for Southern Harness.

Club presidents from all southern clubs including Central Otago and Roxburgh are expected to sign a Heads of Agreement contract in Gore next Thursday night.

This document will confirm a new Southern Harness Board consisting of three members who were nominated by the Clubs. They are Murray Little of the Invercargill Club and John Earl and Kevin McNaught both of the Winton Club.

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SOUTHLAND HARNESS AWARDS

 

SUNDAY 14 AUGUST 2016 at ASCOT  PARK HOTEL, INVERCARGILL


Doors open 4.30pm   - Start 6 pm                $70 PER HEAD

Tickets available from Karen Milne, Clark Barron, Neville Skinner, Peter Hunter

 

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Murray Swain New South Island HRNZ Board Member (Friday 27th May 2016)

Bruce Stewart

Murray Swain has always been passionate about harness racing and now heís got the chance at the highest level to put some of his ideas on the table.

Heís not new to administration having held positions as President of the Winton HRC and as a board of Southern Harness.

Although administration at this level has been a passing thought, Swain didnít expect an opportunity to take a position on the board of HRNZ would come so soon.

ďBeing on the board of Southern Harness was a thought, but not Harness Racing New Zealand. That just came about with Alisa (Smaill) retiring. Iíve been asked over the last few years if Iíd give it a go but the timing just hasnít been right,Ē he said.

The Swain name is well known in harness racing in Southland and Murray mixes farming and commercial eeling with horse training on his Roslyn Bush property. 

He farms on 300 acres with mainly dry stock, fattening lambs and cattle.

ďIíll probably concentrate on cattle now as theyíre less labour intensive if Iím going to do this job so itís a bit easier instead of dagging sheep.Ē

Being on the HRNZ board means there will have to be other changes at home.

ďThere are about twelve meetings in Christchurch. I havenít told him yet but Aaron (son) will have to look after the horses when Iím away.Ē

As well as being a breeder, trainer, driver and administrator Swain also likes to have the odd bet and has a very good understanding of racing from a punters viewpoint.

He says the key thing in his new role is to listen to all industry players.

 ďA lot of people out there complain about a lot of things. You just have to sift through it and work out which is worthy or not. I have a lot of ideas I can add to the industry and I think I can pull the clubs together. My intention is to be an asset (on the board).Ē

On the breeding front he currently has nine foals on the ground and six mares in foal with about thirty horses all up. And heís keen to ensure that other owners continue to breed.

ďIf you do breed to a lesser stallion I want you to get a fair return. My main aim is to look after the grass roots, encouraging people to breed horses and race them more.Ē

Over the years heís realised that selling is often the only way to remain sustainable in the industry.

ďIf you sell you go again. If you win a good stake it encourages you to go again. I think weíve got behind (in stakes) and weíve got some ground to make up.Ē

  

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 Murray Swain

  

Over the years he has also trained and raced a number of handy horses, his best being Scoots a Holmes Hanover mare out of Outspoken which won seven races before she was sold to America in 2000.

ďShe won another thirty (races) in America against the best Free For All mares over there. At one point she was the fastest mare to leave Australasia. She won a half a million dollars in America.Ē

Other good winners from his stable were Radar Installed, the winner of 10 races. Hayton Brain a Sir Vancelot gelding won nine races and a further thirteen in Australia including the Group Two Celebrity Sprint, the Group Three FHRC Members Sprint, Group Three Village Kid Sprint at Northam and the Group Two Mount Eden Sprint. He also ran third in the Group One Australian Pacing Championship.He ended his career having won $369,672.

Mister Kentucky and Oomph were other good winners Swain has trained.

Although he acknowledges thereís plenty to learn about board protocol he says heís keen to offer his services on a number of subcommittees.

ďI think Iíve got a very good knowledge of handicapping. Iím also interested in setting conditions and rules for age group racing including concessions. Iíll see whatís available but I know where I want to be. I donít mind sitting out on the edge as long as itís sustainable. I also donít mind being wrong. Thereíll be some pretty knowable guys up there. You canít be scared to try and canít be scared to fail.Programming is very important too. We need to get every horse on the track every second week with just ten races. Harness Racing is at a very crucial point at the moment and failure isnít an option.Ē  

Murray Swain will assume his new position following the Annual Conference on 30th July, replacing Ailsa Smaill who is retiring after being on the Board of HRNZ for the past 12 years.

 

 

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