I'm looking for memorabilia from Cardigan Bay and Robin Dundee to display in the Legends Lounge on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park at the end of April. We have a number of items already but to truly honour these two legends we'd like a bit more. All care will be given to look after this material. If you can help please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 021-337-616.
Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson recently notched up 500 trotting winners in New Zealand when Astral Ruler won at the Wyndham HRC meeting at Cromwell on 7th January.
He can proudly be known as the first New Zealand trainer to achieve such a feat and his winning record with the square gaiters is expected to last for a long time.
Southland Harness Website editor Bruce Stewart caught up with Phil at a recently held Invercargill Cup meeting at Ascot Park and had a chat with him about his involvement in harness racing.
You became keen on horses while at Port Molyneux School. The trainer of the great Stella Frost Len Tilson had a stable next to the school?
Yes. That’s where my interest started. I used to see them in the paddock next door as they jogged past. It looked pretty exciting. Then I started to listen to the commentaries on the radio and that sounded exciting too.
I understand that when you left school you had a short stint as a jockey before weight caught up with you.
It all started for me on a Saturday when I was supposed to have been going back to school on the Monday for my third year at High School. Bob Beck just happened to be visiting and said he was looking for an apprentice jockey and would I be interested. I thought to myself, that would be better than going back to school for another year. I looked at my mum and asked her if I could. Bob said he’d come back the next morning and pick me up.
Note: Phil’s mother aged 90 is still living at Kaka Point.
You rode one winner, Frosty Light?
Yes. I’ll never forget that. It was here at Ascot Park and it was the first leg of the double. In those days you could claim a 7 pound allowance as an apprentice jockey. The first ride I had I rode 3 pound over so I had a weight problem from day dot.
You mentioned that Alistair Kerslake got you interested in harness horses. How did that come about?
Yes. My first involvement was with Alistair and Betty. I learned a lot there for sure. He was quite a tough man but I learned a lot.
When did you start work at the local Tannery in Oamaru?
When I finished with Alister I came back to Oamaru and started working for Dick Prendergast. I was there for quite a while but ended up going to the Tannery and working nights.
Around that time you married Bev.
When I got to Oamaru I was staying with neighbours of her mother and father and I was working a couple of horses on their track so I got to know her.
Did her father have any good horses?
Yes. We won the Roxburgh Cup with Willow Way. Their best horse though, was Wee Willow. Henry Skinner was their main driver in those days. Then I came on the scene.
Note: Willow Way was by Jack Chance out of Wee Willow. He won the 1991 Roxburgh Cup by half a length with Phil driving him to victory. Wee Willow also left Gemini Jo which won seven races. Phil drove her in all her victories. Bev Williamson’s maiden name was Mills and her father Ron was a hobby trainer.
At this time you were training Role Model.
The owners called in one day and I was doing the night shift. I was just pottering around with a few horses and helping the father in-law at home. These two gentlemen came in and said, would I be interested in training a horse for them. I told them I hadn’t trained any horses before. I asked them what the horse was and one of the guys said I wouldn’t have far to look to see him. Unbeknown to us it was at a neighbours place. It was on rough hilly country and the horse was just at the bottom of one of the gullies. Role Model was a very plain looking horse but I couldn’t see a lot wrong with him. I went back to Bev and said they seem like really nice guys and if ever we were going to train it’d be now. That’s how I got started.
He won races pacing, but you decided to switch him to trotting?
We used to take him from where we lived to the race course in the cart. I was taking him back one day and he took off trotting and I couldn’t believe it. He was quite neat at it. I asked the owners if they would mind if I worked him up on the next prep trotting. They weren’t that keen. They didn’t want a bar of him being a trotter because he’d already won five races as a pacer. Once we starting trotting him and I took him to the workouts they could see how good he was so we switched him. He won his first start at Addington as a trotter.
He won eight races trotting, including your first group race, the New Zealand Trotting Free For All. How did that feel?
Yeah it was a big thrill that night.
So at what stage did you decide to concentrate on training trotters?
The next horse I got to train was Frances Jay Bee. We’ve won some good races from the progeny of her. At that point I also realised you could get into the higher end of the trotting game because the better stallions were less of an outlay. Sundon was probably standing for around $3,000 but if you were trying to go to the leading pacing sire you’d probably need $12,000. So that made sense to us because we didn’t have a lot of money. They were also cheaper to buy as trotters were looked at as being second rate at the sales. So I was able to buy into the better end of them for a lot cheaper.
What influence did Sundon have on the trotting game?
To me he’s just been a super sire. He’s the Bettor’s Delight of the trotters I’m sure. He stamped his progeny. They were great looking athletic horses which were a lot different to the older Standardbreds who were big tough horses with roman noses.
When the Sundons came on-line, you had two very good ones early, in One Under Kenny and Allegro Agitato.
You weren’t working with them long before you knew you had something special. They had what the average horses don’t have.
Sundons can be a bit hot headed though?
It’s probably a fair enough comment but you know if you’ve got a V8 motor in there somethings going to happen if you have an altercation in the early days. They may pull back and break a rope because they have the power to do it. But they can do things other horses can’t do because of their motor. You’d give up a bit of the hot headedness for the motor every time.
One of your first speedy Sundon trotters was Lets Get Serious – he had a fair bit of talent?
He was a very good horse. He didn’t show it in the very early days. When you take a good horse off the place they normally step up. That’s the difference between a good one and an average one. A lot of horses can work well at home but can’t take the next level. Every good horse I’ve had has always stepped up. He was like that.
With trotters you have to be patient?
You’ve got to have common sense. Some horses take time and you just have to understand that.
As a trainer who’s been an influence on your career?
Dick Prendergast was a big influence in those early days. He was a great horseman and had a lot of success and a bit of it has rubbed off on me. When I first went to Auckland I stayed with Barry Purdon and leant a lot there particularly getting the young horses going. Tony Herlihy is another that’s had an influence on me. We’ve stayed with him a lot on our recent trips.
Jasmyn’s Gift was a special trotter as well?
She was, because we bred her and it was good for us just starting out. When you have a horse that can race in the Dominion Handicap it’s special.
Note: Jasmyn’s Gift ran third in two Dominion Handicaps in 2005 and 2006. She also provided Nathan Williamson with his first Group One winner as a driver when she won the 2006 New Zealand Trotting Free For All at Addington.
As you’ve mentioned, The Dominion Handicap is a very special race for trainers of trotters.
It’s such a difficult race to win and everything has to go right on that special day. Springbank Richard was able to do it for us. I’ve had numerus placings with other horses.
Do you have a horse that has the potential of winning a Dominion?
No. My son has.
Springbank Richard was another great horse you trained?
He came along and was a super good horse. He had a big V8 motor and a lovely gait and was just an all-round great great horse.
Note: Springbank Richard has been Phil Williamson’s biggest stake earner to date (see details below) and only Dominion Handicap winner. He provided Nathan Williamson with his first Group One winner in Australia when he won the Victoria Trotter Derby in May 2007.He also won back to back Harness Jewel titles winning at three in 2007 and as a four year old in 2008. He was driven on both occasions by Nathan.
How important is shoeing? Do you do your own?
Malcolm Oakes has shod my team in later years and before that Bruce Wallace did a lot of the shoeing in the early days with Role Model especially. Ken Kinzett before that. It’s very important to have their feet right. It’s more important to have a good horse though. Brendon Franks looked after the shoeing while we were in Central.
Most of the trotting races are from a standing start. Are trotters more difficult to get away?
The thing about the good ones Bruce, is that they can miss away and still win because they’re just better. All the time they’re getting that practice in and by the time they’ve had a start or two it’ll come to them. Springbank Richard was a slow learner when Tony Barron had him. It’s just the manners and time brings that right. I was just lucky to get him at the right time. Manners with trotters just come with experience.
Of the horses you have trained there must have been few that haven’t reached their potential. Do any come to mind?
Leighton Hest. He was a bit of an underachiever. He won a Jewels. He was troubled with soreness. He was a very very good horse.
Note: Leighton Hest provided Matty Williamson with his first Group One winner when he won the 2009 Four Year Old Ruby at Ashburton in May 2009. He won seven of his nine starts at four and ended his career with a record of 43-12-6-6 and $205,242.
Are there any other horses you’d like to mention?
Springbank Sam won twenty races for us and was placed second five times in Group One races. He’s now in America.
Note: Springbank Sam was sold at the sales as Jack Galleon for $26,000. He went on to win $319,756 for Alister and Denise Smith. He won in every season that he started from a two year old to an eight year old. He ran second to Paramount Geegee at two and three in four Group One races. At four he was beaten only by Charlemagne in the Four Year Old Ruby at Cambridge. His last Group placing was in the 2013 Rowe Cup when he was beaten by Stig. He’s a national record holder, the only one on the Omakau track, recording 3-12.8 for the 2600 metre mobile.
What’s the fastest trotter you’ve trained?
It’s between Allegro Agitato and Springbank Richard.
And trotter with the all round game?
One Over Kenny. You don’t win a million dollars unless you’re a very good horse.
Are you excited about where trotting is going? Some meetings have up to three trotting races on their card now.
I think people are starting to see that’s there’s good money in trotting now. Back in the day people had the perception that trotters all galloped and who would want to have a trotter. Trotters can race consistently and earn well if they’ve got a bit of ability. A lot of people have woken up to the fact they can be good earners and in some cases earn better money than pacers.
Your three boys all drive. Do you notice any differences in their driving styles?
Matty’s probably the most aggressive of the three. Nathan and Brad are very similar. Nathan was always very talented from the get go. Brad’s probably had to work at it but he’s made a good fist of it of late. It’s pretty hard to come out of the shadow of two pretty successful brothers. Now I think he drives as good as his brothers do with the right opportunities.
How important was it to get to 500 trotting winners for you?
We’re proud of the fact that we were the first to do it. But I’ve always got my feet on the ground.
Have you ever ventured to America or Scandinavia to see trotters race?
I never have. It would be nice to do it someday. Tony Herlihy who goes to America and Canada a bit tried to get me to go but I haven’t got there yet. There’s been no break in the workload to do it Bruce.
You have good staff with your boys, Steve Allen and Charlotte Purvis. And your wife Bev plays a major part in the operation?
She does all the business side of the operation, like accounts. I don’t even turn the computer on. That’s Bev’s department. I learnt not to get involved there. In the early days Bev use to drive. She’s a capable driver around the workouts and trials. She used to beat me plenty of times. She’s got a great work ethic.
Note: In these later years Phil and Bev have taken a working holiday in Central Otago and their trotters have dominated the New Year circuit. At Omakau, Springbank Eden, Royal Kenny, Springbank Sam, Brad’s Kenny and Jasmyn’s Gift all hold track records. At Roxburgh, Davey’s Gift and Pyramid Monarch are in the record book.
An enjoyable interview with Phil Williamson. It’s easy to see that he identified trotters as his speciality fairly early on and has crafted out a career that’s rewarded him with 500 winners - a remarkable feat. As trotting ranks start to increase markedly we can be rest assured there are a few more winners to be added yet.
Phil Williamson’s fact sheet on 500 winners:
First trotting winner: Role Model - New Zealand Metropolitan June 1995
500th winner: Astral Ruler - Wyndham HRC at Cromwell January 2017
Leaving drivers of the 500 trotting winners: Matty Williamson drove 151, Phil 100, Nathan 94 and Brad 94.
Winning tracks: Addington 98, Forbury Park 84, Ascot Park 80 and Oamaru 41.
Biggest winners 10 wins or more: Allegro Agitato (21), Springbank Sam (20), One Over Kenny (19), Jasmyn's Gift (17), Springbank Richard (17), Lets Get Serious (10), Monnay (10), Monty Python (10) and Role Model (10).
Note: One Over Kenny won 32 races in her career including the Australasian Trotters Championship in 2007. She was trained by Tony Herlihy in the latter part of her career. She won a total of $1,098,007 in stakes.
Biggest winners by stakes: Springbank Richard ($403,567.50), One Over Kenny ($372,936.25), Allegro Agitato ($353,476.25), Jasmyn's Gift ($164,651.21) and Springbank Sam ($150,935.00).
Biggest stake won in one race by any horse: $138,220.00 (Springbank Richard 2009 Dominion Handicap).
First Group win: Role Model 1996 New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group Two).
Group One wins: 10
Group Two wins: 9
Group Three wins: 5
Multiple wins - Group races:
Four Year Trotter Championship (Group Three): Lets Get Serious (2006), Springbank Richard (2008) and Leighton Hest (2009)
Ashburton Trotter Flying Mile (Group Three): Allegro Agitato (2004 and 2005) and Springbank Richard (2009).
Cambridge Trotter Flying Mile (Group Two): Allegro Agitato (2005 and 2006) and One Over Kenny (2007).
Lyall Creek Stakes (Group Two): Allegro Agitato (2006) and One Over Kenny (2007).
National Trot (Group One): Allegro Agitato (2006) and One Over Kenny (2007)
New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group One): Role Model (1996), Allegro Agitato (2004 and 2006) and Jasmyn's Gift (2005).
Important overseas wins: 2007 Victoria Trotting Derby (Group One) Springbank Richard, Interdominion Trotting Championship Heat winner - Shepperton (Group Three) Springbank Richard and 2005 VHRC The Holmfield One Over Kenny.
Harness Jewels winners: Springbank Richard – Three Year old Ruby and Four Year Old Ruby and Leighton Hest Four Year Old Ruby.
DG Jones Memorial/Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup (Group Three): Springbank Richard (2009 and 2010)
New Zealand Trotting Free For All (Group One): Allegro Agitato (2005) and Jasmyn’s Gift (2006).
Ordeal Cup: Jasmyn’s Gift (2006) and Springbank Richard (2009).
Other Group Wins: New Zealand Trotting Oaks (Group Two) One Over Kenny (2005), Northern Trotting Derby (Group One) One Over Kenny (2005), New Zealand Sires Stakes Trotting Championship One Over Kenny (2005), Dominion Handicap (Group One) Springbank Richard (2009), Rowe Cup (Group One) One Over Kenny (2007) and Southern Lights Trot (Group Three) Springbank Sam.
Best season (wins): 2015 and 2016 (58 winners)
Best season (stakes): (2007) $693,861
Total trotting stakes won (500 winners): $3,486,646.91
Southland Loses Two Harness Ambassadors (Tuesday 14th March 2017)
In the past two weeks Southland has lost a successful breeder and owner/trainer in Andrew Sellars.
And unfortunately we also lost a great horse, Diamond Field.
Andrew Sellars passed away on Friday 3rd March at his home in Myross Bush. Over the years he had bred three cup class horses all out of his wonderful mare Leyava.
I recently had the privilege of sitting down to talk with Andrew about his life with horses, especially about the Leyava story. He had a wonderful way of telling a story in precise detail, he had a real passion for the standardbred and he had a sharp wit. It was a pleasure to write the Leyava story and he told it so well.
Last year Leyava was honoured at the Southland Harness Awards becoming the first broodmare ever to receive such an accolade in the Award's 27 year history.
The Leyava story is still on this website, on the home page just below this story.
Andrew Sellars doing what he loved best - looking up the pedigrees - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Also at the weekend Southland lost one of it's best trotters in Diamond Field.
The rising 31 year old was living out his retirement at Michelle Blackie's property at Makarewa. Michelle is the daughter of Bob Blackie who was a member of the syndicate that raced Diamond Field.
Diamond Field started his racing career with Allan Beck in Winton and won eight races for him before he ventured onto the big stage. He ultimately won 33 races and $536,607 in stakes, and was one of the first truly Australasian Trotting Stars of his time.
He was raced by the Southland Standardbred Number Two Syndicate, members of which were present for many of his wins on both sides of the Tasman. He was good enough to start in five Interdominion Finals, winning in 1994.
Diamond Field earlier this season paraded at the Riverton Trotting Club meeting and was presented in wonderful condition. Some of his owners travelled down from Timaru to see him that day.
Michelle Blackie leading Diamond Field with Allan Beck in the cart - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Age: 1986 Bay Gelding by Yankee Jolter out of Robyn Evander
Bred by: Nigel and Marianne Sim
Raced by: Southland Standardbred Number Two Syndicate
Trained by: Allan Beck, Roy and Barry Purdon, Mark Purdon, Neil Cavallaro and Patrick O’Reilly
Race record: 150 starts, 33 wins, 29 seconds, 20 thirds for $536,607 in stakes.
Best season: As a 7 year old 19 starts, 7 wins, 4 seconds and 2 thirds for $212,480
Successful trainers with wins: Roy and Barry Purdon (12), Allan Beck (8), Mark Purdon (6), Neil Cavallaro (5) and Patrick O’Reilly (2). (33)
Successful driver with wins: Tony Herlihy (15), Allan Beck (7), Paul Cavallaro (4), Mark Purdon (3), Patrick O’Reilly (2), AL Chapman (1) and Kirk Larsen (1). (33)
New Zealand Records:
•11/05/1996 Auckland TC 2200 metre stand 2-48.8
•04/05/1996 Auckland TC 2700 metre stand 3-26.6
•18/03/1995 New Zealand Metropolitan TC 2000 metre mobile 2-29.3 NB: This record stood for 16 years before being bettered by I Can Doosit 2-25.0.
•1994 FAI Rowe Cup (Group One) $90,000 OC Handicap Trot 3200 metres.
•1994 Interdominion Trotting Championship at Harold Park
•1996 FAI City of Sails FFA Trot (Group Two) M5 and faster 2200 metres.
•1993 Air New Zealand New Zealand Trotting Free For All (Group Two) OC FFA Mobile 2600 metres
•1993 Radio Pacific Challenge Stakes (Group Two) C5 and faster FFA Mobile 2700 metres
•1995 Firestone Firehawk New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group Three)
•2nd 1993 Dominion Trotting Handicap (Group One)
•2nd 1993 Rowe Cup (Group One)
•3rd 1997 V.L. Dullard Trotters Cup
•1996 Waikato Times Flying Mile (Group Two)
•1995 New Zealand Trotting FFA (Group Two)
•1994 National Trotting FFA (Group Two)
•1997 EB Cochran Trotters Cup
•1993 New Zealand Trotting Championship (Group Three)
•1993 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup (Group Three)
Australian form: 28 starts, 9 wins, 7 seconds and 4 thirds for $153,178 in stakes.
Note: Diamond Field started in five Interdominion Championship Finals finishing 4th (1993), 1st (1994), 3rd (1995), 6th (1996) and 6th (1997).
The locally trained Likethelook caused a major boilover when at odds of 84-1 he won the Alabar NZ/Caduceus Club of Southland Autumn Futurity Mobile Pace at Ascot Park yesterday.
The rank outsider was tucked away nicely by regular reinsman Shane Walkinshaw while second favourite Rakarover and Dexter Dunn set a torrid pace with favourite Young Conqueror sitting on the outside in close attendance.
Just when it looked like the two hot shots would dominate the finish Likethelook who had used up little energy, shot up the inside to nab Young Conqueror by a neck. Rakarover was a further three quarters of a length back in third.
Likethelook's winning time of 3-21.5 was just outside the race record of 3-20.2 held by last year's winner Moonrock.
"In that sort of field I thought he was going to be well covered but I just buried him away back on the fence and the gaps just opened when they needed to. I thought the first two were off and gone but he did really well to drag them back in," said Walkinshaw.
It was a great result for Invercargill trainer Brian Nichol who is helped out by follow trainer Sam Balloch. Nicol nominated both of his team, Likethelook and half brother Cast A Shadow for the Futurity.
Walkinshaw says if he's on his game Likethelook has more wins in him.
"He's definitely got the ability but it's often the case of whether he shows it. Tucked away and saved for one last run he's usually pretty good. It's great for Brian to pick a race like this up. He deserves it."
Likethelook getting up on the inside to beat the two favourites - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Trainer Brian Nichol is congratulated by Sam Balloch - Photo Bruce Stewart.
85-1 long shot Likethelook heading back - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Meanwhile Trendy Bromac continued on her winning way when she easily beat a field of C1 fillies and mares yesterday. After being wide early driver Dexter Dunn took the three year old filly to the top with a mile to run. She proved too good, winning by two and three quarter lengths. Trained by Michael House she looks like a strong chance in the Southland Oaks next month.
Easy as - Trendy Bromac and Dexter Dunn - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Although retired from training he still likes to be hands on at the stable which is now run by his son John and John’s wife Katrina and he’s still a keen breeder.
“I can come back driving with the right type of horses. I’ve got to do something. You’ve got to get up and going in the morning,” he says.
The Price family have been involved in horses for over 100 years with Roger’s dad Jack Price and his brother Vic successfully racing gallopers.
Rorke’s Drift (Calibre – O’Rorke’s Fancy) was probably one of the best gallopers the Price family raced. He won the Birthday Handicap raced over a mile and a quarter at Wingatui in 1916 (4 year old), 1918 (6 year old), and 1921(9 year old).
He also won the Dunedin Cup (one and half miles) twice in 1916 and 1919 and the Riverton Cup in 1917.
The extended Price family also owned other Riverton Cup winners in The Smuggler (1933), Wild Career (1938 and 1940), Secret Flight (1942) and Fair Trial (1944).
The Smuggler won the Great Autumn Handicap at Riccarton in 1934 and ran third in the 1933 NZ Cup.
To add to the list, Vic Price also raced Golden Silver which won the 1968 Invercargill Cup when trained by Rex Cochrane.
But it’s the Standardbreds that Roger has been involved with for most of his life.And its one mare’s record, that of Belladonna that he’s extremely proud of.
When you look at Belladonna’s progeny line on the HRNZ website you could think “good consistent mare that’s left some handy winners.”
But dig a little deeper and go offshore. Add up what her progeny has done on the racetrack and she has a truly remarkable record. She’s the dam of horses that have won 115 races.
When researching this article you start by looking at mares that have won the coveted New Zealand Broodmare of the Year Award.
The only mare (that I can see) that sits above Belladonna (and she’s another Southland bred horse) is Loyal Trick who posted her record mainly through the deeds of Young Quinn (59), Loyal Gentry (46) and Gold and Brown (21). She’s left winners of 128 races.
The Belladonna family goes back a fair way and is also responsible for producing quality Southland owned mare Fight For Glory. Fight For Glory’s fourth dam is New Way and her fourth dam is Miri Rei which is also the fourth dam of Belladonna. Both were bred by JA Flynn.
Miri Rei also left a handy type in Master Kent (Garrison Hanover – Maidstone).
He was good enough to race in the 1966 Kindergarten Stakes finishing second to Holy Hal. Trained by Cecil Devine, he won two races at three and three as a four year old. He also had numerous placings including third in the 1968 Cheviot Cup.
“He was probably the best we had out of the family. He sliced a tendon when he was the favourite for the Methven Cup. Cecil Devine was one of the nicest guys when it came to owners. He always said no one knows more about your horse than you and me.”
Belladonna’s mother Bella Kent (Brad Hanover – Maidstone) was raced by Roger and Linc McLean and won one race for trainer Henry Skinner at the Northern Southland meeting in February 1976.
“She showed a lot of ability. Every time we got her fit she was always in season and she would not run when she was in season. We got sick and tired of that so we put her to Bo Scots Blue Chip.”
Belladonna qualified at Winton in December 1991 for Price, then was sent up north.
“She showed some ability down here. In those days we used to have a couple of hundred horses at the trials. It was difficult to get a win at the trials to get a start at the races. I got tired of that and Richard Brosnan put me onto this lady in the North Island. She had three starts with the horse up there and she went pretty average so she was sent back home.”
Although she was tried again it was to no avail, so a career at stud beckoned.
“I think we had another go after she got home but she didn’t go much good so coming home from the trials one day we decide to drop her off at the stud to be served by Bo Scots Blue Chip. He was an exceptionally good racehorse so I went there.”
Her first foal was Cadillac Kent which won once when Peter Ferguson drove him to win at Forbury. He was sold shortly afterwards and went on to win another twenty races in Australia.
The mare’s next winner was Holmes Hanover filly Bellaholmes. She won her first two starts for training partners Roger and his daughter-in-law Katrina Price. She finished her racing career in the south by running fifth in the 2001 Southland Oaks final, won by Shortys Girl. Soon afterwards her training was taken over by Mark Purdon who drove her to finish third in the New Zealand Oaks.
“She was an exceptionally good mare. We thought it was better to have her up there to win that race (New Zealand Oaks) but unfortunately she drew the outside of the front row and finished third.”
At her next start she won the Group Two North Island Breeders Stakes. That was her sixth win. Soon after she was sold to Joe Muscara and continued her racing career in America where she won another sixteen races.
“Selling her was better money than there was in farming. She hardly ever ran out of the money over there. She was a typical Holmes (Holmes Hanover). She was tough but she could run as well.”
After Bellaholmes, the winners continued from Belladonna and many, after reaching their mark (handicap) here or commanding good money, were sold to either Australia or America.
“Most of the breed have been able to run out of the gate and that’s what kept me in the game.”
One that never made the races but was rated by Price, was Master Chef (Frugal Gourmet – Belladonna)
“As a three year old he ended up cracking a pedal bone and we turned him out for six months. We brought him back and took him to the trials. He bolted in (winning by nine lengths) and he was ready to take to the races and then he split the cannon bone again. He showed me a lot of ability.”
Of the four American raced foals out of Belladonna, Scotty Mach has won the most races winning 30 and recording the fastest mile time of 1-49.4.
“He was a typical Mach Three. He wanted to run and we had a lot of fun with him. You get to the stage in New Zealand where you get up to that top class which is tough. In America they can put them in classes that suit them. The same thing happens in Australia. We’ve sold a lot of one win horses here and they’ve gone on to win a lot more races whereas here they’d be struggling to win another race.”
Although Roger has stepped away from breeding leaving that up to John and Katrina, he’s still keeping an eye on two of Belladonna’s daughters - Bellavita (Mach Three) which has a Well Said yearling filly and is due to foal to American Ideal, and Donnamach (Mach Three) whichhas been served by He’s Watching.
So with a few more quiet drives and the excitement of seeing Belladonna’s family continue to produce winners, Roger and his wife Helen have a few more chapters left to be written in terms of their involvement in harness racing in Southland.
Belladonna’s winning list:
Left 12 foals 10 qualified and won 115 races.
Cadillac Kent (Cadillac) 1 New Zealand win and 20 Australian wins (21)
Bellaholmes (Holmes Hanover) 6 New Zealand wins and 16 American wins (22)
Pocket Master (In The Pocket) 0 New Zealand wins and 11 American wins (11)
Pocket Express (In The Pocket) 4 New Zealand wins and 8 American wins (12)
Bella’s Fella (Holmes Hanover) 1 New Zealand win and 8 Australian wins (9)
Scotty Mac (Mach Three) 9 New Zealand wins and 30 American wins (39)
Bellavita (Mach Three) 1 New Zealand win (1)
Donnamach (Mach Three) 2 New Zealand wins (2)
Some of our high rating mares (number of wins):
Loyal Trick dam of Young Quinn (59), Judy Charles (2), Loyal Gentry (46) and Gold and Brown (21) total 128.
Significant dam of National Image (13), The Unicorn (29), Pacific Flight (47), Gliding By (8), All Bar One (5), Gold Crusader (1) and Sign Of Home (1) total 104
Colwyn Bay mother of the great Cardigan Bay (80), Conway Bay (1) and Bold Bay (3) for a total of 84
Scuse Me dam of Megabucks (12), Splendid Dream (2), La Filou (1), Coca Vicola (1), Pardin Me (1), Imagine Me (9), Toledo (8), Abide By Me (4), Idolise Me (4), Adore Me (26), Ohoka Jett (1) and Have Faith In Me (14) total 83
Fleet’s Pocket mother of Mighty Pocketlands (4), Flying Pocketlands (21), Mighty Flying Thomas (22), Mighty Flying Mac (14), Flying McPocket (6), Mighty Flying Major (8), and Mighty Flying Deal (4) Total 81.
Splendid Dream dam of Hands Christian (13), Christen Me (32), Splendid Bet (5), Aliante (8), Dream About Me (16), Accumulator (1) Total 75.
If you know of other mares (there will be a few) that have hit 100 plus winners, please contact me email@example.com
The diminutive gelding was bred by Roger, Helen, John and Katrina Price from their Christian Cullen mare Chicago Blues which they bought off Aidan Johnstone for $40,000 at the 2008 Yearling Sales.
Chicago Blues is from the famed Black Watch family and her dam Bluejeanbabyqueen is by Jenna’s Beach Boy out of the nine win Vance Hanover mare Pacific Flight whose wins included the 1993 New Zealand Oaks. She then went on to have a successful racing career in America winning a further thirty eight races and recording a mile time of 1-51.2.
Bluejeanbabyqueen despite her international pedigree didn’t reach any great heights on the race track. She started her career in America in 2004 before she came to New Zealand where David and Catherine Butt took over her training. Her only win was at Wyndham in March 2016.
Chicago Blues is Bluejeanbabyqueen’s first foal and one of only two winners from her eight live foals.
“We were interested in her (Chicago Blues) but she was passed in. She wasn’t a big filly. It was Aidan Johnstone who sold her. He had a terrible sale that year. One other yearling that he had which was probably going to fetch a bit slipped over on the concrete and broke a pelvis. She (Chicago Blues) went early in the sale but after that I guess he was keen to sell because he hadn’t had a very lucky sale at all.” Katrina said.
Consequently Chicago Blues was bought by the Prices privately a week later.
“We always wanted something out of the Black Watch family and she was one that we targeted for that reason.”
Looking back into Chicago Blues pedigree; as well as leaving Bluejeansbabyqueen, Pacific Flight also left the unbeaten Sirius Flight (The Big Dog) which won five of its five starts in America.
Chicago Blues third dam is Significant which has made a major contribution to the New Zealand breeding scene. She’s left winners of 104 races with her biggest winners being Pacific Flight (47 wins) and The Unicorn (29).
Sirius Flight after her stint in America went to stud in New Zealand where she has left Malak Uswaad (9 wins) and Timeless Perfection (6 NZ wins). She’s owned by Cavalla Bloodstock and they continue to breed from her. They offered a colt foal by Raging Bull out of Lady Moonlight (Sands A Flyin – Sirius Flight) at last year’s Yearling Sales which was bought by Chrissie Dalgety for $27,000.
Commentator Mark McNamara and Cavalla Bloodstock are breeding from another one of Sirius Flight’s daughters Miss Moonlight Shadow (Christian Cullen). Her son Schweinsteiger by Falcon Seelster was purchased by the owners of Franco Ledger – the Whatever Syndicate,and Hamish Hunter for $16,000, also at last year’s sales.
But back to Chicago Blues.As a racehorse she showed potential.
“She had a lot of ability but she had a few problems as well. She used to lock on and hang very badly. As a four year old she used to tie up really badly. We only had her right a couple of times. One of those days she ran a super second to Malak Uswaad at Winton when those two cleared out from the field. She was hormonal and always in season so we had to make the decision to quit,” said Katrina.
“She showed a lot of speed when we first broke her in,” added John. It was just a matter of slowing her down.”
At the end of her racing career Chicago Blues was sent up to Cran Dalgetys.
“She just wouldn’t go for him because she just kept hanging so we brought her home,” said Katrina.
So twenty three starts yielded three wins, two seconds and a third. She was sent to Bettor’s Delight to begin her stud career.
Her first foal Chicago Bull was born on the 14th October 2014.
“He was small but nuggety so he go the nickname Bull straight away,” said Katrina. We castrated him early because Peter Williams said “I think you should cut him. It might help him grow,” said John.
He never did grow much and for a start there were reservations about him even making it as a racehorse.
“He wasn’t a natural at the start. He just wouldn’t pace at all. I was going to give up on him but John had another go and the day he started pacing he was just off.”
It was then that he started to show real potential.
“Up here at Winton one day be worked 2-04 one day, half in 56 in September and did it on his ear. The year before we’d had Democrat Party and we thought he was as good as her at the same stage,” stated John.
I’ve had other horses that have felt good until you hit top speed. Whereas he never felt good until you hit that top speed. The faster you went the bigger he felt,” said Katrina.
John and Katrina Price
He won at Winton twice as a two year old and buyer interest began to heighten but his size was putting some off.
“They’d ring up and say they’d checked him and he was too small. The guy that wanted him originally from Perth said he wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up buying another horse that’s gone no good,” Katrina said.
Chicago Bull finished his two year old season by running seventh in the Two Year Old Emerald at Ashburton behind Lazarus. His time for the 1609 metres that day was 1-53.7 and he was less than five lengths from the winner. He was then sold to clients of Gary Hall Senior’s stable in West Australia.
“It was a strong crop that year with horses like Lazarus. He ran home in better than 25 that day when he came along the rails. That’s what sold him really. They bought him a week after that,” said John.
North Island bloodstock agent Peter Blanchard did the deal.
“He was a neat wee horse to work with. He was always on your side. As far as a two year old goes whatever we asked him to do at home he never ever stop trying and he was always hitting the line really strongly,” said Katrina. “At home I always thought we never got to the bottom of him. He always had his knockers because he was so small and you were always worried that he’d reach his limit quickly. He’s in the right spot at Gloucester Park. He just seems to like that track.”
His Australian record is impeccable - sixteen wins, three seconds and four thirds from twenty three starts.
His wins include the Group One West Australian Derby, Group One McInerney Ford Four Year Old Classic and $450,000 Group One West Australian Pacing Cup. He has now won $854,314.
Chicago Blues continues to be bred from, producing a colt by Somebeachsomewhere named Maliblu Beach and a two year old filly by Rock N Roll Heaven.
“He (Maliblu Beach) was just the complete opposite in every respect to Bull. He was huge, ugly, slow and dirty, said Katrina.
“We roped him so many times but he’d still kick you so he’s not around.” added John.
The two year old Rock N Roll Heaven filly appears to be better.
“She’s really big. She’s done a bit and is a nice filly but she’s in the paddock.”
And the good news is that Chicago Blues has just had a colt by Bettor’s Delight making him a full brother to Chicago Bull. And she’s returning to that sire.
“We want a colt. Don’t want fillies. We had a run where we had 23 foals and we had 21 fillies. We really want colts,” said John.
Although the Prices are having a quiet time on the training front there are plenty more foals to be broken in and tried and certainly some rich pedigrees to match up with the wide array of stallions available.
Chicago Bull still has plenty of racing ahead of him and the Prices will no doubt continue to watch a bit of late night Trackside as he tends to do most of his racing in Western Australia.
And despite his diminutive stature he’s proof that size doesn’t matter.
The Cirrus Run
Essentially though the story centres around a breeder who worked as a gardener at Anderson Park Invercargill and had small block of land on Bay Road close to Hampton Lodge where many good thoroughbreds were born. From his Bay Road property with a fixed breeding plan he bred some the most influence mares in Southland’s breeding history.
The breeder was Noel Drake.
Outside the province you may not have heard of NJ Drake but as the story is told with the help of Noel’s son Ken and an old scrapbook things will fall into place.
We’ll rewind the clock back to 1931 when a chestnut mare called Auburn Sun was born.
Among other things she was the fourth dam of Majestic Charger the winner of thirteen race and Adios Adieu which won 11. But it’s through Auburn Sun’s Dillion Hall daughter Air Mail that this part of the story begins.
Air Mail was trained by Wes Butt and raced by Arnold Simpson.
Jim Drake, the father of Noel was a stock agent for JG Wards in the late 1940’s and Arnold Simpson was a client.
Noel was in his late teens at the time and use to follow Air Mails racing career.
“There was only on-course betting in those days so whenever Arnold wanted to have a bet he used to give it to Dad to put on,” said Ken.
Air Mail broke down and was retired in 1953 and a partnership was struck between Simpson and Noel Drake to breed from the mare.
“The arrangement was that Dad picked the sire and paid for the service fee. They sent her to Josedale Grattan (1941 New Zealand Trotting Cup winner) who was leading sire at the time.”
The resulting foal was Kiwi Grattan. He won at his first appearance in public at the Birchwood meeting in saddle pace. He was trained by Wally Scott and went on to win nine races including the FJ Smith Memorial Handicap at Alexandra Park beating Scottish Command and Girl Brigade.
“Dad raced Kiwi Grattan in partnership with Wally. He was actually the first horse from Southland to win at the night trots in Auckland.”
Her second foal by Italian sire Canova wasn’t as successful.
Canova stood at Greenlane Stud at Lorneville. He raced as a trotter winning 14 races.
“For a while they couldn’t get American sires into New Zealand so they bought Italian stallions in. That was all you had or New Zealand bred horses. Dad would tell you that he was no good and probably put Southland back a few years.”
In total Air Mail left ten live foals and her best race track runner was Kiwi Hanover which won 26 races including the South Australian Cup.
“Dad’s father retired in Australia and Kiwi Hanover ended up in New South Wales where he lived. Quite often we’d get a telegram saying ‘Cheeky’ won at the showgrounds last night. We always called him cheeky at home.”
But it’s been Air Mail’s daughters that feature on the pedigree page of a host of winner’s right up until this day. And it’s from a mare named Cirrus that we pick up the story.
Cirrus was the last foal produced by Air Mail who died empty at the age of 25 in 1968 six weeks after Cirrus was weaned.
“Dad leased Cirrus to Owen Crooks as a young horse without a right of purchase because he really wanted to keep her. She came home and was sent to stud as a three year old.”
Her first foal was produced in 1971. By Tempest Hanover his name was Devastator. He won three races here and another thirteen in America. He was sold as a weanling, raced in Southland and was later sold to the Kenwood Syndicate.
“When the foals came home from stud we always spent a lot of time handling them. They were always taught to lead on the mares. You could trim their feet before they were weaned. For six weeks before the foals were weaned we would start feeding the mares and the foals so when the foals were weaned they knew what hard feed was.”
Cirrus’s second foal was Motu Princess. She was sold for $1,000 as a weanling at the Southland Standardbred Sale and bought by George Timperley of Coutts Island in the Rangiora District. She was unnamed at that point but Timperley named her Motu (Maori for Island) Princess. She began her career as a two year old in March 1975 at Addington finishing 10th behind a smart Fancy Fred.
She went on to win seven races. Her second win was in a heat of New Zealand Probationary Drivers Championship at Timaru when driven by a young Colin De Filippi.
As a broodmare Motu Princess left Motu Mister Smooth the winner of eight races including a heat of the Sires Stakes and the 1991 Amberley Cup. He also had success as a stallion.
The mare’s third foal was Hurricane Kiwi which was bought as a foal by Southland trainer Jack Duncan.
“Dad had known Jack for many years. Dad had family from the Caps (Nightcaps) and Jack had originated from there. I went out to the trials one day at Winton and Jack and Mrs Duncan were sitting in front of us. He asked if Dad he had any foals and day said yes he did have one by Armbro Hurricane. Jack phoned that night and came out the next day and had a look at the foal and dropped the cheque off that afternoon.”
Murray Faul was bought into the ownership and Hurricane Kiwi qualified as a late three year old. He won seven races here and from only four starts in America won once.
Born in 1974 a young colt by Armbro Del was to become the star of Cirrus’s breeding career. He too was sold for $1,000 as a weanling at the Southland Sales and once again bought by George Timperley. He too would carry the Motu prefix – Motu Prince.
“I remember when he came home from the stud only three months old. When we started handling him he was an absolute sod of a horse. We had a crush and we used to get the foals in the crush and handle them from there but we just couldn’t get him in the crush.”
Motu Prince won his first race - the New Brighton Two Year Old Stakes for trainer Maurice Flaws. He also finished second to Glide Time in both the Welcome and Sapling Stakes and was third behind Lord Module and Locarno in the Cashmere Two Year Old Stakes at Addington.
But it was the following season that he won his biggest prize in the 1977 New Zealand Derby.
“He was trained to the minute. In those days you didn’t have to notify your drivers. The Derby was on Saturday night and there was no driver listed for him in the paper on Saturday morning. My car was parked out in the drive and we were trying to pick up 3ZB in Christchurch. The caller Reon Murtha say Peter Wolfenden has got Motu Prince away really well. Dad and I looked at each other and said Peter Wolfenden!!! We couldn’t believe it. He pulled him in the trail and pulled out at the top of the straight and did the business.”
In the Derby he beat Glide Time by two lengths with Timely Robin four lengths back in third. The beaten runners included Lord Module, Roydon Scott and Main Star.
Motu Prince’s winning time for the 2600 metres of 3-21.1 was a new race record.
Flaws once told Drake.
“He’s a hell of a horse and he’s got a great motor but you wouldn’t want to go near him.”
He won six races as a three year old ending his season in Gore running third behind Hurricane Squire and Lord Module in the Tanqueray Stakes. He finished his career winning seven races an also ended up in the stallion barn.
The mare’s next foal was Kiwi Guy (Berry Hanover) which won two races for Jimmy Bond and was later exported to America where he won nine races.
From a breeding prospective Cirrus was by an Adios stallion. Adios horses crossed with Tar Heel blood was the golden cross in America in the 1960’s and 1970’s before Meadow Skipper, Most Happy Fella and Albatross took over.
“Dad thought that the Adios cross with a Dillion Hall mare would do the business. All the horses out of Cirrus were by Tar Heel sires. Dad was sure that if he had that double cross of Adios blood across a Tar Heel sire they’re be alright.”
Successful Southland sire Majestic Chance was by an Adios sire (Adios Butler) out of a Tar Heel mare (La Chance). He was one the big success stories in Southland.
Her next foal was Bakano was to be her last in this country. By Armbro Hurricane she won on debut and was Ken Drakes first runner at the races, and first winner. But that was to be her only win in ten starts. As a broodmare she did leave Cacao which won four races for Frank Cooney.
Bernie Forde, Ken Drake, Gavan Hamilton and Noel Drake after Bakano's win at Winton
Cirrus, who was named 1978 Southland Broodmare of the Year, was sold as a 14 year old to Illinois Stud in Coleambally Valley near Wagga Wagga.
In Australia she left Cirrus Star (Most Chance) who in turn left Preux Chevalier filly Three Dawns which won sixteen races.
Although some of the Southland and Australian branches of the family dating back to Auburn Sun have dried up other strands have continued to flourish.
Cirrus’s half - sister Kiwi Direct had more luck as a broodmare. By Express Direct she won twice – once for Ray Todd at Invercargill in December 1969 when driven by junior driver Ned Black and the following year when trained her part owner Bill Coats who shared in the ownership with Hec Donaldson.
As a broodmare Kiwi Direct left Direct Kiwi (Knowing Bret) 13 wins, Supreme Kiwi (Knowing Bret) the winner of one race and the dam of Kiwi Supreme the winner of nine races. Kiwi Direct is also the fourth dam of the brilliant Kiwi Ingenuity the winner of eleven races and over half a million dollars for former Southlander Hamish Scott and his partner Kim Lawson.
Kiwi Direct also produced Sly Kiwi the winner of the 1974 Methven Two Year Old Stakes beating Noodlum off level marks at the same age. Sly Kiwi (Sly Yankee – Kiwi Direct) didn’t leave any winners on the racetrack but one of her daughters Sly Tabella (Saigon) is the dam of Sly Soky the dam of Sly Flyin. It’s a family that Southlanders Debbie and Mark Smith continue to successfully breed from.
Another half - sister to Cirrus was Kiwi Air which was also bred by Drake.
“She had two white hind feet and they used to get quite a bit of greasy heel Bert (Bert Lawton from Hampton Lodge) put Dad onto the right track. We used to get sulphur from the chemist and mix it with pig lard. Equal amounts. Mum used to put it in the cake mixer and mix it all up. You’d put it on the old girls back legs. She didn’t like it but it used to dry her up.”
One of Kiwi Air’s foals Tempest Air left smart colt Kiwi Dillion (Mister Hillas) which won twice here before heading to America. Henry Hoover (Knowing Bret) was her second foal and he won eight races. Both were raced by Linda and Wayne Pierce.
Gold Ace also stems from this family with the stallions fourth dam being Kiwi Direct.
“Dad was primarily a breeder and he got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing foals that he had sold go on a do well for other people. In later years he got a great thrill out of seeing horses like Kiwi Ingenuity and Gold Ace doing well.”
Another daughter of Kiwi Air, Ima Kiwi left handy horses Golden Wings (5), Trist Mist (4), Admiral Kiwi (6).
And a good indication that the family is still alive and well is illustrated in the latest Sale of the Stars catalogue.
Lot 153 Kenny Rogers (A Rocknroll Dance) has Air Mail as his seventh dam while lot 234 Motu Girls Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Motu Racey Girl) has Motu Princess as her fifth dam. Of interest is that one Ned Black is preparing Motu Girls Delight. Remember he drove one of the family (Kiwi Direct) to win in 1969.
So there’s been many twists and turns in writing this story. The Drake family although not involved at all in breeding these days still take an interest in horses that NJ Drakes name appears somewhere in the pedigree page. The stud career of Gold Ace will undoubtedly be watched with interest as will the progeny of Kiwi Ingenuity and other mares like Pemberton Shard.
And here’s a long shot.
What about sending a mare to Buy Kiwi Made a Presidential Ball stallion out of Kiwi Express that Hamish Scott and Kim Lawson own?
So in writing this story you realise the influence Noel Drake has had in shaping some top modern bloodlines. Thanks Ken for sharing your dad’s story.
In harness racing the ‘Tact’ prefix is steeped in history dating back to the 1940s when the Light Brigade mare Tactic was born. She was from the famous First Water family that have left many winners in Southland – some associated with the Dynes family.
The Tact family which has left champion race horses Tactile, Noodlum and Blacks A Fake lives on in Southland, now under the guidance of Bessie Dynes, her daughter Diane and her partner Trevor Proctor. And judging by the quality of some of the family’s recent winners the name is set to stay and perform into more generations.
It was Tactile though that got the breed it’s earliest recognition.
He was a champion New Zealand juvenile in the early 1960s - winning five Derbies as a three year old; a feat unparalleled in Australasian Standardbred history.
Tactile was part owned and trained in Southland by the late Derek Dynes who shared in the ownership of him with cousin Jim Dynes. After his racing days were over he sired 316 foals, leaving 79 winners. The best of these was Tac Warrior.
“That was one regret we had, that Dad never got to see him race overseas. And if Dad was here now he would have the most incredible memory of family bloodlines. It was his passion.” said Diane.
Bessie and Diane Dynes with Trevor Proctor at their Winton property - Photo Bruce Stewart.
The Tact horses have not only shone overseas, they have also provided plenty of highlights on the domestic front. And 83 year old Bessie Dynes (wife of the late Derek) has certainly enjoyed being there to see them.
“I just used to watch them race. I loved watching them,” she said.
Despite her age Bessie remains hands on and keeps herself busy helping Proctor at the stables just down the road from where she lives.
“She still goes round to the boxes. She shattered her shoulder a couple of months ago and had a total shoulder replacement,” said Diane.
“She does the boxes better now that she has a new shoulder. I think the new shoulder has made all the difference because she used to leave a bit of shit behind,” added Trevor laughing.
On the breeding front the Dynes family still have plenty of well bred mares to carry on the Tact name.
Tactwyn a daughter of Tactics is the fourth dam of Tact Lizzie, one of the quality mares Bessie and Diane are breeding from today.
As a race mare Tact Lizzie won ten races with her biggest win coming in the Group One 2010 PGG Wrightson New Zealand Breeders Stakes. She was one of the outsiders paying $64.30 to win.
She has passed on her ability to her foals. From four live foals she’s left the talented Tact Tate (McArdle) which won three races in a short career here before heading to Australia.
“As a foal he was that shy you couldn’t get near his head. We had to give him cuddles. Then he went the opposite and thought he was pretty smart,” said Trevor.
He won a further eight races in Aussie and five of those, he won in a row. His best win to date was the Nestle Professional 4 year old Bonanza at Melton where he paced a mile in 1-51.9. He also ran fourth in last season’s Chariot Of Fire and finished his season winning the Group Three Mount Eden at Menanagle.
Tact Lizzie’s second foal Tact Rousey (Art Major) also looks promising, winning once last season and running a number of placings from just ten starts.
“She ran a quarter in 24.8 one day out here and under a hold. I’ve never had a horse that’s done that. If we can get her right she’ll win two or three races down here quite easily,” said Trevor.
Tact Lizzie’s third foal is by Lis Mara and the family have had to wait on her to develop.
“I worked her in the cart for the second time today. She’s big and solid and a beautiful pacer. I said to Ian Wilson if she’s got speed she’ll win races as she’s such a nice mover,” he said.
Her latest foal is a yearling filly by Art Major.
Tact Lizzie is currently in foal to Rock N Roll Hanover. Although her progeny will continue to be tried by the family there could be a shift in focus down the track.
“As we get older and get sick of the racing we may breed them for the sales. Once you get a horse like Tact Tate doing his thing in Australia and if Tact Rousey comes up her foals are going to be worth a bit,” said Trevor.
Tact Hayley has also been the star of the Dynes broodmare band. She has left the winners of forty five races with her best being Tact Hayley Jane (Albert Albert) 10 wins, Tact Lizzie (Christian Cullen) 10 wins, Spectactular (Christian Cullen) 10 wins and Tact Major (Art Major) 7 wins.
Despite being the ripe old age of 24 she is still being bred from and has left untried stock by Christian Cullen and Auckland Reactor. She’s due to foal to Art Major.
“Ian Wilson broke the Auckland Reactor filly in for me as a yearling. He’s broken in a lot of horses and never broken in anything like it. She’s such a natural. She ran a quarter in 35 as a yearling.”
The Dynes are also breeding from two of Tact Hayley’s daughters - Tact Hayley Jane and Tact Marie Knight (In the Pocket).
Tact Hayley Jane’s best foal so far in the Bettor’s Delight mare Tact Hayley’s Delight. She’s won over $250,000 - winning four races in New Zealand and a further ten in Australia. Her best wins came in the Group Three Baby Bling Stakes and the Group Two Sibelia Stakes.
Tact Marie Knight is also on the board, producing Ideal Tact (American Ideal) which won two races here and a further eleven in Australia.
They are also breeding from Tact Ruby (Better’s Delight – Tact Marie Knight) and Tact Charlotte (Bettor’s Delight – Tact Hayley Jane).
They’ve leased Tact Ruby, recently leased Delightful Tactic to Macca Lodge, and sold Tact Aunty.
Flash Tactics is another mare on the property, but despite winning eight races as a racehorse she’s been a shy breeder and was last bred from in 2013.
One mare from the family that performed on the racetrack but didn’t do so well as a broodmare was Tact Boyden. She won seven of her nineteen starts and ran third in the 1982 DB Fillies Final at Addington behind Rain Girl and Capri.
“Dad sold her to the States for something like 90 grand. That was massive money. He bought a good chunk of a farm in Ashburton with that. We paid $25,000 to buy her back.”
Her best foal was Tactical Manoeuvre which was by Soky’s Atom and won four of her seven starts for Mid-Canterbury trainer Brian Saunders. She won her first two start at Greymouth in 1994.
The Dynes and Proctor primarily operate from their 5 acres home block which is opposite the Winton Race course. But they also own the house next door which has a further 6 acres attached to it and they lease a further 60 acres from Bessie and Diane’s brother Robert.
“We foal our mares here on the home property but graze them up the road on the 60 acres “said Diane.
“When dad came back from Ashburton (1993) he may have had 25 mares on the property and Trevor and I did the foaling for a couple of years so we got to know what went on.”
One of the pair’s earliest memories in the foaling paddock was of a mare’s desperate attempt to save her foal.
“One of Dad’s mares foaled and the foal was born dead. The mare tried to revive it. She was sucking the foal’s nostrils and the wee foals head would come up and then bang on the ground. She did it over and over. She was desperate to revive the foal. It was amazing,” said Diane.
Trevor also has some memories from that time.
“I had to stay with a mare for a couple of hours and get the foal on but she would bite it and go to savage it like it was foreign. She and I were mates so when I gave her a smack she knew right from wrong. Once the foal got sucking she was away. If I wasn’t there she would have killed it.”
And there are two other foalings that stand out in Diane’s mind.
“We had a young maiden mare who was unaware that she had foaled. The foal was lying behind her and I guess in hindsight we should have spun the foal around and got it on her feet so she could lick it and mother it. But she didn’t and she didn’t want to have anything to do with. Also when we foaled Flash Tactic who was a bit of a pet to us she followed Trevor across the paddock and left the foal in the middle of the paddock on its own. Then she realised.”
Away from training horses Trevor also runs a small painting and decorating business. He was also a top provincial rugby referee for 15 years.
“I was number two at one stage behind Paddy O’Brien. I also coached the top five referees but had to give it up because there was no time for the horses. ”
He comes from a non racing background, hailing from the Southland coalmining town of Ohai.
“I was mates with the Franklins and they used to have horses. I used to go down there and ride them at the weekend. When I met Diane I went up to Ashburton and Tony Kelly said do you want a drive? I got into doing fast work and loved it.”
Diane also runs her own business called Renu.
Renu has a range of knitwear using recycled woollen clothes which she gets from the Salvation Army and Op Shops and then crafts into one off garments. She says everything’s recycled and she has 80-100 garments on the rack at any one time.
“It’s all about balance. I started off that part of the business because I felt I needed to do something I really enjoyed doing. We were nominated for an award in the Benson and Hedges Awards in Wellington twenty five years ago and we made an outfit for Linda Jones once. So that’s as famous as I’ve got. I do workshops and teach as well and hope to go overseas in the near future.”
Her biggest markets are Wanaka A&P Show and the Arrowtown Autumn Festival Market.
With the Tact and Dynes names still very much to the fore, there’s plenty to go on with, both on the creative and breeding front.
There’s likely another good horse or an awarding garment, just around the next corner.
Adams At It Again (Sunday 18th December 2016)
"He got very crook with a lung infection. We brought him back and he's had two workouts. We were very pleased with his workouts. The only thing we thought today was that ten months off the scene might have been too much at this stage," said Adams.
After initially settling four back on the inside driver Shane Walkinshaw was able to get the gelding off the running line as the early pace opened the field up. He ended up in the one one. When Man I'm Good moved forward with Erin Jaccka with a lap to run Walkinshaw spotted the move and hooked out in front of the two runners that were progressing. At the 400 he pushed off the outside line when Erin Jaccka weakened and made his challenge winning easily by a length and a half from leader Bakari.
Lamborne Road and Shane Walkinshaw winning easily at Winton yesterday - Photo Bruce Stewart.
He's owned by Stephen and Nicky Keast and Nicky's parents Joe and Rayleen Thompson. He's a full brother to the handy mare Storm Light which won eight races.
"I think he's (Lamborne Road) got two or three more wins in him yet. We just have to place him but he'll be competitive in any field he gets into."
Meanwhile the handy Phil Williamson trained trotter Astral Ruler won his second race in the hands of junior driver Matt Anderson yesterday. He had a half a neck to spare over Spotlight The Valley.
Astral Ruler (7) beating Spotlight The Valley (4) - Photo Bruce Stewart
Bags Of Winners
The likes of Mary-Jane Thomas, Murray Little and Lester Smith are all lawyers, race horse owners and breeders in the province.
But it must be said that Murdoch is the biggest and the most successful to date.
His initial interest in the horse industry was in the thoroughbred code back in the boom years of the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.
“Initially I was more interested in gallopers because when I was a kid Southland had Rex Cochrane, Ted Winsloe and Bill Hillis. The best trainers in New Zealand. We also had Kurdistan and Bellborough. I used to follow the gallopers more than the trots. I was brought up in the Eiffel Tower era,” he said.
But that changed when he and a few mates bought a mare off Southland trainer Johnny Henderson.
“I was friendly with Mike Hughes (Tour of Southland winner) and he arranged to buy a mare called Cheeky Lass with a foal at foot by Knowing Bret, and she was in foal to Knowing Bret. I think we paid $6,000 for her. Mike, Peter Kerslake and I went a third each. The foal at foot was Mike Adios which was my first winner.”
Mike Adios wasn’t initially trained in Southland.
“Nifty Norman arranged to send him to Derek Jones and that was my first win as an owner. He won a penalty bearing trial at Addington so I never even saw it.”
Mike Adios beat fourteen other rivals at the Canterbury Owners and Breeders Trials with a winning stake of $1,000.
“He had some issues so we brought him back down here. He was trained by Murray Brown and he gave Murray his first win as a trainer.”
Brown has trained 69 winners for Murdoch whether it be individually, through shared ownership or in syndicates.
Murdoch has also had winners trained by Ali Malcolmson, Billy Heads, Tim Butt, Dave Anderson Hamish Hunter, Ken Barron and Phil Williamson.
Fast forward thirty two years and Murdoch is still breeding and racing plenty of horse flesh with shares in a good number of racehorses such as Sam Galleon, Swamp Major, Northview Dave, American Magic (American Ideal – Cher’s Magic),Triple VC, Ideal Art, Arnold and Elle Ko (Highlanders Syndicate).
He’s also breeding at the top end of the trotting market with Past Chairman of HRNZ Gary Allen.
“I got to meet Gary when I was the president of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club and going to the trotting conferences. Over the years Gary and I have become close friends and are breeding from C J Galleon (which we own) and also on an alternate years, Rae Galleon & Niamey which Gary owns in partnership with Trevor Casey.”
CJ Galleon has left James Galleon (Washington VC) which qualified at Gore, winning by fourteen lengths and pacing 9.2 seconds under qualifying time. He was sold to Australia for big money and has since won eight from thirteen starts for Gary Hall in Western Australia.
“The Halls really like the horse. I think he has had some injury issues. We’ve got a full brother at home. Brent McIntyre (Macca Lodge) actually saved the mare from going to Gore and he’s bred a foal out of her and she’s going back to Washington.”
Cleland Murdoch and one of his many winner with Murray Brown - Northview Dave
On the trotting side of breeding with Gary Allen, they bred alternate years from the Sundon mare Rae Galleon which is a full sister to Belle Galleon the winner of eleven races - owned by Trevor Casey and Allen. and also Niamey (Chiola Hanover – Game Flyer) which is also owned by Casey and Allen.
Niamey has left Pocaro (Group One 3 year old Ruby at Ashburton - 13 wins), Springbank Sam (20 wins) and Daenerys Targaryen (15 wins including the Group One Seelite Redwood Classic at her first start), and the promising Sam Galleon the winner of four of his eleven starts.
“Gary and I have a half-brother to Sam Galleon by Majestic Son entered in the sales and we’re sending the mare to Love You. She’s had seven foals for seven winners including two Group One winners and one of her daughters Pocaro won a Group One race and has also left a Group One winner. We’re also breeding from Galleons Respect which has left the very promising King Soloman and have a half-brother to him entered in the sales.”
Over the years Murdoch has also managed a few syndicates, including the Watch Your Step and Highlanders Syndicates.
“Racing horses with syndicates is a lot of fun. If you happen to win a race it’s usually a big day. When you win a race on your own you put your chest out and think I’ve done alright but that’s about it. Syndication is the way to go. It’s sharing the risk because it’s got too expensive. Some of our leading trainers are charging a daily rate that’s getting up there with Australian galloping trainers.”
And it was through a syndicate that Murdoch was involved in the purchase of the American bred mare Watch Your Step in the early 2000’s.
“We bought her off John Stormont - an Auckland bloodstock agent who’d bought a few horses from Murray. He bought a very good horse off us called Onedin Sapreme which we sold for big money. John rang Murray up one day and said he had this American mare whose mother was a half-sister to Beach Towel.”
Murdoch recalls that the Syndicate paid about $60,000 for the mare who had an In The Pocket colt at foot (Stopwatch) and was in foal to the same sire.
“We sold the first one for about $50,000 and we thought this was easy. We sold the next one for $15,000 ( Announcement).”
Announcement won eight races for Ashburton trainer John Hay. Stopwatch and Announcement both went on to win races in America.
The Watch Your Step syndicate is still going and sold a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Cher Magic (Christian Cullen – Watch Your Step) for $55,000 at last year’s sale. The group have a Well Said colt to sell at this February’s sale. The mare is booked to American Ideal.
“We also have a horse called American Magic out of the mare at Murray’s which qualified last year as a two year old. He’s a pretty smart horse and I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t put the hoof in the till.”
One of the stars of the Murdoch portfolio is the Art Major four year old Swamp Major which was bred by good friend Trevor Ryder and is trained by Ken and Tony Barron.
“Trevor was going to buy a filly from Sandy Yardley out of Hot Shoe Shuffle.. He asked me if I was interested in going in. I hummed and harred. We were duck shooting one day and Murray Brown said why do you fella’s want to buy a horse out of Hot Shoe Shuffle. You’d be better off to buy one out of Trevor’s own breed. We sat down over a couple of cups of tea, we did the deal and bought Swamp Major as a weanling.”
From eight starts last season he won three races and was only out of the money once.
“He’s potentially as good a horse as I’ve had.”
Murdoch is also breeding from a number of his own mares.
They include Northview Desire an unraced mare by Real Desire. Ray Green trains her first foal Northview Hustler which he rates.
The race track performances of Ideal For Real in Australia and He’s Watching in American have helped Murdoch to make up his mind about sending Northview Desire to American Ideal. Both Ideal For Real and He’s Watching are by American Ideal out of Real Desire mares, as is Northview Desire.
Ideal For Real has won thirteen races from twenty one starts. He’s unbeaten in his last seven starts, winning the Group Two Breeders Crown for four year olds at Melton in August while He’s Watching was unbeaten in eight two year old starts and named USA Two Year Old of the Year. In those eight starts he set five track record and two world records.
One mare that has sentimental ties is North View Lass (Live Or Die – Trans Lass). She descends from Cheeky Lass and has a two year old Badlands Hanover colt called Northview Cam (named after Cleland’s late father).
He’s also breeding with Murray Brown from Judes Cullen (Christian Cullen – Highview Jude), Cher Magic (with The Watch Your Step Syndicate). Her foals include Chers Bettor Babe (4 wins) and Chers Magic Jet (Australian) and she has a Bettors Delight two year old colt and a Well Said yearling colt.
Of the many racehorses he’s bred he rates Northview Punter as the best. He won twenty seven races in Australian winning $500,260. He finished third in Group One WA Pacing Cup, second in Group One Freemantle Cup and won 2014 Group Three August Cup.
“He was a lovely horse and I sold him for not much money. That year I had another two year old called Northview Cardle. He was showing a hell of a lot of promise and we trialled him after the sales and sold him to Australia for huge money. If I had sold this horse before the sales I wouldn’t have sold Northview Punter because I didn’t make any money out of him.”
On the trotting side of his ownership Murdoch’s first winner in that gait came at Roxburgh in April 1988 when Cilla’s Son (Alias Armbro – Sure Mart) trained and driven by Ali Malcolmson won. Despite being unsound he ended up winning five races for twenty four starts. Murdoch also had success with King Galleon (King Conch-Galleon’s Best) which won eight races.
Those successes have heightened his interest in the square gaiters.
Last year there were only 540 trotting mares bred from - down from 700.
“The Australians have been raiding our best families. I personally think that we have to do our bit to encourage them (owners of trotting mares). What also worries me with those mares is that Love You’s book is full, Muscle Mass will probably get over 100 mares or so, so what happens to the rest of them?” The lack of a variety of quality fresh or chilled semen is a concern. On the other hand, breeders have access to some incredible stallions at very discountable prices.
Murdoch views the recent changes to Southern Harness’s stake structure as a move in the right direction.
“We’ve got our dates in the early part of the year right by racing fortnightly until the end of October and weekly after that. Stakes are heading in the right direction but I’m not happy with the differential between trotters and pacers for maiden races.”
On an administration level he’s on the NZSBA Executive having also served a term as President and he’s also Vice Chairman of the Sires Stakes Board.
“At any one time we (Sires Stakes Board) have funds well in excess of seven figures under our control. In response to some criticism about the Sire Stakes Series being very elite - the reality is that it has become elite because the standard of our horses is just so good.”
He says the Sires Stakes Board has helped fund five new races worth $40,000 which were run last season and will also be run this coming season. The Board is the major player in age group racing.
“There’s never been a better time to breed a horse. I own or have an interest in about eight mares that are going to stud this year. Speaking to people like John Stiven, he’s got about 16 going to stud.”
Cleland Murdoch continues to make a significant contribution
to Harness Racing both on the local Southland scene and nationally - with bags
Eastern Southland trainer Wayne 'Sid' Breen loves the stock of dual New Zealand Cup winner Flashing Red and so do some of his owners - particularly those based in Australia where Flashing Red won most of his races.
His latest runner from the sire is Flashing On who after failing in the South of the Waitaki race at Addington on Show Day redeemed himself thanks to a canny Nathan Williamson drive at Ascot Park today.
The five year old gelding broke nearing the home straight at Addington which disappointed his owners as his form heading into the race was very good.
"He travelled up good but never really ate up that well that night. He paced awful in the prelim. He saw all the big balloons the kids were running around in the paddling pools with and the eyes popped out of his head. He can throw in a bad one from time to time and it just happened to be in a thirty grand race," said Breen.
He said they all took the result on the chin and regrouped.
"I brought him down last Friday and Tommy Beckett (horse chiropractor) went over him. He gave him a bit of a jolt, bang and a crack. Tommy said he was quite sore in the muscles but that could have been from the travelling too. He worked real good on Friday so we thought he'd be spot on."
Flashing On and Nathan Williamson winning Race Two - Photo Bruce Stewart
Heading to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart.
The gelding has only been with Breen since April after he was leased after running sixth in a claiming race at Gore.
"I had a big horse called Flashing On Empty and he ran third to Knockmanaugh and Simple Pleasure at Wairio. I quite liked him but he used to hit a knee bad. Shane Matheson got him a home on one of the big stations as a hack. Mark Gutsell said to me that this horse would suit me. The boys in Aussie are mad on Flashing Reds so we thought we'd better go with him. He's just been doing hill work since I shifted out to Billy Heads old place at Waimumu."
The gelding is raced by Breen, Paul Matheson, Ross Cleland, Peter and Shaun Kidd (Aussie connection), Shane Matheson and Lisa Barry.
"I'm keen on racing him in the Country Cups races."
Four In A Row (Friday 11th November 2016)
Wow it was one of those days!
Southland horses went to Addington on Show Day and cleaned up - winning four races.
Sure one was always going to be in the South Of the Waitaki race for horses south of the Waitaki River which Bettor Ops duly won. And we knew Captain Dolmio had a very good chance at winning his race after his run on the first day.
But who would have thought Golden Gate and long shot Luciano would add to the tally at long odds?
The golden run started with the Kirk Larsen trained Bettor Ops winning the Macca Lodge South Of The Waitaki Mobile Pace.
He was taken back from his barrier five draw when a strong pace was set up front.
“Four of the horses inside of me had led at their last start and I thought there would be a fair bit of fireworks so I was hoping that they went hard early,” said Larsen.
The leaders started to come back to the field in the last 500 metres as some began to feel the pinch.
“Down the back I was trying to flush Clark out (Clark Barron driving Rakarolla). I thought he might have got going a bit earlier. When they did go that's when Flashing On broke and the others got away from us a bit. I thought s.... have we got enough time to pick them up?”
Kirk Larsen and Bettor Ops getting the better of Rakarolla and Clark Barron - Photo Ajay Race Images
Bettor Ops which is owned by father and son Sydneysiders Reg and David Turner ran down a game Rakarolla to win by a head. Rakarolla who was having his first start since February was as impressive as the winner.
“He’s gone huge considering it’s his first run. I’m lucky to have had a couple of runs under my belt,” said Larsen on the run of the second horse.
Bettor Ops was having his eighth start and after winning at Gore Larsen was keen to start him at Addington.
“I thought he would be suited by the big track. He hasn’t had very many starts and he’s gone through the grades pretty quick so rather than win an $8,000 race at home we looked at getting a good stake like today.”
He picked up $15,900 for his win.
Returning to the birdcage - Photo Ajay Race Images
Larsen said Bettor Ops has really developed this season and is starting to grow up and race accordingly.
“As a three year old he was a big awkward bugger and he’s taken a lot of making to get where he’s at. He’s starting to do things right and I noticed that this year he was starting to develop a bit of speed which he didn’t have earlier on.”
The Turners weren’t on-course today but they are great fans of New Zealand bloodstock, winning lots of races with Atitagain. Reg was part of the Dominator syndicate which also owned Late Bid (1995 Australian Derby winner) and Seelster Sam, and they also had a share in Franco Nepia.
“Basically they wanted to buy horses until they had one good enough to race and enjoy. I think they’ll be pretty happy to race him for a bit yet.”
Larsen is not getting carried away, preferring to give the gelding more ring craft.
“He’s a C3 horse now so it won't be easy. We’ll bring him home and freshen him up and look for a race for him. He’s only had eight starts. He stepped away from the stand at the workouts and he was pretty good. If we can play around with him and get him a bit more seasoned we may look at the Country Cups after Christmas.”
Sponsors Sheree and Brent McIntyre with Bettor Ops - Photo Ajay Race Images
In the next race Gore trainer John Ryan notched up a career highlight winning his first race as a trainer at Addington.
His nine year old Earl mare Golden Gate broke a New Zealand mares record when she won the Peninsular Beachfront Resort ‘Mooloolaba' Handicap Trot.
“She might be nine years old but she’s still learning the game,” he said.
It wasn’t the mare's first trip to the mecca of New Zealand harness racing – she was on the track last month.
“I came to Christchurch a month ago and she didn’t travel that well. In her race she went away and then galloped after about 150 metres. This time I brought another horse with her and this trip has been the making of her.”
Golden Gate qualified as a five year old at Gore in August 2012 winning her first race at Winton in December 2013 as a six year old.
In today's race she was driven inch perfect by leading junior reinsman Rory McIlwrick who had her in the one one and ready to pounce when the field turned into the home straight. She beat Hey Yo by three quarters of a length.
Her late start is due to being injured as a young horse.
“She had a shaft go through her neck and she nearly died. She was tied up to the wall at the stable and another horse bolted off the track without the driver and went between her and the wall and the sulky shaft went into her neck. It took her ages to get over that and she was very claustraphobic after that.”
The time of 3-16.4 is a new national record for mares over 2600 metres. The previous record of 3-16.7 was jointly held by Habibti (10/10/2104) and Kincaslough (03/10/2014).
Rory McIIwrick and Golden Gate breaking a New Zealand record - Photo Ajay Race Images
Rory McIIwrick and owner trainer John Ryan - Photo Ajay Race Images
Although he’s not getting too far ahead of himself Ryan is considering a trip to Auckland at some stage.
“She works better the opposite way around. I’ve been working her with pacers all the time and she was starting to hang so I started to work her on her own the other way round. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how she’s been handling it. I don’t think too much ahead as I haven’t had a decent enough horse but I may go up there sometime and test the water.”
Ryan who is recently retired after a lifetime in the meat industry is no stranger to Addington, having driven horses there which were trained by his father William.
Back to the present, Golden Gate was initially nominated for The Dominion Handicap but Ryan decided to go for the easier option.
“She has always gone good over two miles. She was third to Harriet Of Mot in a Group Three race. I probably could have started her in the Dominion and she wouldn't have disgraced herself but you’ve got to get the run like she did today.”
He’s now trained the winners of 19 races, 9 of those having been with Golden Gate who is now an open class trotter.
Following on from Golden Gate's success today was the Wyndham trained Luciano who's caused a blowout at this year’s Cup Week, winning the $32,000 Show Day Futurity Mobile Pace.
He paid $91.10 to win and $16.80 for a place.
Driven by Zac Butcher the Bettor’s Delight gelding settled at the tail of the field early on. He then got into the three wide train. At the top of the straight Butcher pulled him out and he came resolutely down the outside to nab the favourite by half a head. They ran the 2600 metre mobile in 3-11.0 a mile rate of 1-58.1.
Trained by Brendon McLellan and owned by his wife Megan, he's the first foal out of the Pacific Rocket mare Lucy Legacy which won seven races.
He has a liking for Addington where he's recorded four of his five wins.
Luciano and Zac Butcher getting up at 91 to 1 - Photo Bruce Stewart
Next Southland winner was Gore trained pacer Captain Dolmio.
He was backing up from Cup Day when he ran second. In that great run he lead the field and set up Southland bred Mr Mojito to win in record breaking time.
“We were a bit worried after the first day. He was a bit tired but he bounced back,” said trainer Matt Brinsdon.
Today Captain Dolmio began brilliantly from the 20 metre mark and was taken forward by driver John Dunn, settling fifth on the inside running line. With 2100 metres to go Dunn took him off the inside, progressed forward and was in front at the 1800.
“It wasn’t the plan to go to the front. We were going to have a quiet run.”
On straightening Dunn let him go and he won easily by two and a quarter lengths from Mighty Flying Major.
Returning to the birdcage - Photo Ajay Race Images
“I’ve just been down to see him and he’s as good as gold,” Brinsdon said after the run.
Raced by the Captain Dolmio Syndicate the Grinfromeartoear gelding was being considered for a campaign in Auckland but Brinsdon would love to win his hometown Cup.
The Dolmio grin - Photo AJay Race Images
“We’ve just had a talk to Robert and John and we don’t think he might be as good that way around so he won’t race up there at Christmas. We’ll come home and aim for the Gore, Invercargill and Northern Southland Cups.”
And if you haven't already worked it out if you ran a $10 all up win bet through the back to back Southland winners you would have collected $683,687.28. Nobody did,so that's why you got good odds on Luciano and Captain Dolmio.
Allan McVictories (Sunday 30th October)
For the first time in his twenty seven season training career Gore trainer Allan McVicar trained two winners on the same day at Ascot Park yesterday.
Both Will I Am and It Ain't The Money, both out of the Riverboat King mare Macy Belle were purchased at the Sale of the Stars in Christchurch. Will I Am for $13,000 and It Ain't The Money for $17,000.
"I didn't want to buy this fella (It Ain't the Money) but I liked him as soon as I saw him. I'd missed out on everything else I was going to get so I ended up with this fella," McVicar said.
Prior to the four year old's first start where he finished thirteenth at Gore earlier this month he had had a very extensive workout and trial education.
"He's had eight to nine workouts and won seven of them. I qualified him last season as a three year old but he was by Lis Mara and they take a bit of time. He qualified in 3-04 but I thought he wasn't quite mature enough. He's still got a bit of filling out to do. He's always been a nice pacer but I've just had to wait on him."
The win was also the first for junior driver Mark Hurrell who has was also on board when the horse qualified.
In yesterday's SBS Bank Mobile Pace Hurrell took the gelding straight to the lead after favourite Sportzstar broke shortly after the start. It Ain't The Money maintained that spot holding on easily to beat Jayedgar by two and a half lengths.
"That was quite a good maiden field and my fella's pretty green so I wasn't overly confident."
Mark Hurrell raises the whip and salutes his first victory as a reinsman on It Ain't The Money - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Heading to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart
Winning smile and thumps up - Photo Bruce Stewart
Earlier in the day Will I Am who had beaten Riverton Cup winner Pulp Fiction in a workout at Gore nine days ago was made favourite in the Ryder Plumbing Mobile Pace. He duly obiliged holding on to beat Mighty Flying Deal by a head running the 2200 metre mobile in 2-42.8. He was handled by Blair Orange.
Will I Am beating Mighty Flying Deal - Photo Bruce Stewart
Plenty Of Smiles At Grinaldi
There are few Southlanders more passionate about their horses than Ben and Karen Calder.
They breed from a small band of broodmares, and often top up their racing stock by purchasing at the national sales.
And it’s one of their homebred pacers, Mr Mojito that’s providing them with much satisfaction at the moment.
Ben Calder is a no fuss sort of guy who shies away from the limelight and just goes about breeding and purchasing horses whilst enjoying racing them either with his wife Karen and good friends and family.
The first horse the Calders raced of any note was Grinaldi the winner of ten races, and $162,712. He also owned Sunning which won eight races including the Group One Victorian Trotters Oaks, Bought In The Pub, New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes winner, and The Oyster Man which won five races. And there have been a host of others.
Ben and Karen live at Ryal Bush 10 minutes north of Invercargill where they’ve set up their show piece property Grinaldi Lodge. Southland’s leading trainer Nathan Williamson currently works out of their stable.
The latest Grinaldi Lodge horse to emerge from the same bloodlines as Grinaldi is Mr Mojito; a rising star in the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable.
Mr Mojito was always highly rated by Ben and original trainer Brett Gray. He won a workout then qualified at Young Quinn Raceway in January 2015 as a two year winning by four lengths and running a mile in 1-59.5. He was purchased that day by Butterworth Racing Syndicate.
He was put aside to mature, and his much anticipated debut came later in the year on the same course in November. Sent out third favourite, he settled last and never improved, to finish over 200 lengths from the winner. Stewards ordered a post-race veterinary examination which confirmed the gelding had suffered an atrial fibrillation.
He returned to racing in April this year, winning easily at Central Southland Raceway. Shortly afterwards he was transferred to the Purdon-Rasmussen’s Rolleston stable.
Since joining that stable he’s been in hot form running second behind the highly talented Heaven’s Rock before putting a picket form line together of four impressive wins.
“He appears to have the X factor. He’s looked super and going forward in richer comp any he says to me that he can do it,” said Ben.
He was bred by the Calders out of their In The Pocket mare Wanaka Bay.
“All of the In the Pocket mares had a bad attitude. Wanaka Bay was trained by Becky (Alan Beck). She lay down on the track after one of her early workouts but won her first race.”
Mr Mojito winning at Winton for Brent Barclay
The Calders also have a two year old half-brother to Mr Mojito by American Ideal but had the misfortune to lose a Bettor’s Delight foal recently.
“It was slipped in the paddock and was about seven week premature.”
Sunning has also been a good broodmare for the Calder with only one of her seven live foals of racing age not winning races.
She’s left Burano (10 wins), Medora (3 wins), Sunny Vacation (5 wins), No Potato (5 wins), Santorini Sunset (5 wins) and Agnes Brown (2 wins). Her two year old Breaking Bad (by Angus Hall) is about to come back into work with Kevin Townley.
As well as breeding from a handful of mares Ben was active at the last round of yearling sales purchasing six yearlings, all with rich pedigrees.
Paramount King (Love You – Paramount Star) is with northern training partnership John and Josh Dickie who share in the ownership of the colt. His dam won seven races and is the mother of Paramount Geegee the winner of fourteen races including the Harness Jewels Thee Year Old Trotting Ruby, Great Northern Trotting Derby and New Zealand Trotting Derby and $357,236, and Paramount Queen which won eight races and $122,612. It’s a family that the Dickie’s have had a huge amount of success with.
They also have a Betterthancheddar – Baptism of Fire colt which is a half-brother to Highview Tommy the winner of fifteen races and $885,062.
“He’s broken in nicely and shows a bit. They like him.”
Other stock in the north for the Calders includes a two year old Art Major – Gretna’s Best colt who’s with Brent Mangos. Named Bronco Banner he’s closely related to Smooth Gretna the winner of fifteen races.
“He also broke in nice.”
Another sales purchase is Nuburgring (Bettor’s Delight – Cullen’s Creation)
“He’s trained by Kevin Townley and is related to Courage Under Fire. He got an infection in his tendon sheath and is coming home to heal.”
Townley a long time trainer and friend of the Calders also trains another yearling purchase Swoon (Monarchy – Hot Vacation).
“His second dam is the mother of Sheemon and Karen and I have a half share in him with Kevin and Margaret Townley. We may have to change his name.”
Robinson Crusoe (Somebeachsomewhere – Asabella) was also bought by Grinaldi Lodge at the sales. This is the mare’s seventh foal and she’s the dam of four winners including Ohoka’s Bondy (22 West Australian wins), Dancing Diamonds (9 wins and $343,276) and Code Red (12 wins).
“He’s trained by Brad Mowbray who shares in the ownership with his wife Mel and was strong minded and difficult to break in. He was big but so was Brad. He was put out for a spell and he’s come back as a true gentleman. I’ve tried to breed a Somebeachsomewhere a couple of times but didn’t have much luck so it’s nice to have one.”
Outside of their sales purchases this year the Calders have plenty of other horses ready to hit the racetracks.
Ash is a three year old Ben is looking forward to getting to the races. He’s by The Pres out of Tamarix and is a half-brother to Larix, Given and Larch. His four dam Haakondahl is the mother of Sapling (22 wins including the Great Northern Pacing Derby).
“We’ve had to wait on him as he’s gone through a growing spurt.”
Another trotter on the books is a Muscles Yankee colt out of Classic Armbro - a daughter of the great Merinai. Named Sertorius he’s also on the books of John and Josh Dickie.
Tour Director an Art Major gelding out of Bremner Bay who won once from five starts is also back on the active list.
“He’s stranded a tendon and is being worked up at Nathan’s.”
Foo Fighter an American Ideal gelding out of Lucy’s Way which is a full sister to Wanaka Bay (dam of Mr Mojito) qualified at Wyndham as a two year old. He’s owned by Juliette Earl, Karen Calder, Katie Williamson, Neville Cleaver, Kevin Strong, Sid Slee, Robyn Jones and Alan Jones. His first start is eagerly awaited as he qualified well.
He’s a half-brother to Treble Cone which won impressively at her first start when trained by John Earl. She had two other starts before heading to the broodmares paddock. She has a nice American Ideal colt called You Too which is owned by the Calders and Earls.
So between homebred stock and young horses purchased at the sales Ben and Karen Calder have plenty to watch this season.
And hopefully plenty more pleasurable moments to share with friends and family without too much fuss, which is just the way they like it.
That’s the case with Brittany Willis and Haig McGorlick of Tisbury just out of Invercargill.
Neither has history or heritage in the game but neverth less they’re giving both breeding and training a go - albeit on a small scale.
Brittany got her first taste of horses at a young age while she was at primary school.
“We had school days where they had pony rides. You could do sewing, cooking or pony riding. I was away sick on the day everyone got to choose and I got put in sewing. I wasn’t domesticated at all so I used to sneak out of class and sit by the pony rides. I became obsessed and got offered this pony for the school holidays for two weeks at Christmas. Two weeks turned into six weeks which turned into three months and six months later we bought the pony,” she said.
She soon joined Pony Club and competed there and at Eventing fixtures before becoming a groom for friends who had showjumpers.
“I became hooked, I got my first standardbred as a hack at 18 and just fell in love with the breed.”
She then experienced her first taste of standardbreds while working at Tom Kilkelly stables for a couple of month when she was 20.
“I also did a bit of standardbred rehoming. I’ve been doing that off and on for the last seven years.”
In 2010 both she and Haig moved to Perth Western Australia, chasing the mining money.
“I was sick of my job and we wanted to do something different so we got jobs in the mining industry there. We didn’t have horses for a while but got in toe with Graham Bond, a family friend and the rest in history.”
Bond is currently working at 430 acre Allwood Stud Farm in WA where Follow The Stars and Tinted Cloud stand.
He trained in Drummond in Southland for a good number of years before moving to Rakaia then onto West Australia. He was a regular buyer of horses out of New Zealand which he trained in Perth.
One such purchase was J Walker which was bought out of the Geoff Small stable. Bond, Willis and McGorlick shared in the ownership of the Christian Cullen gelding which won eight races before he was sold on.
Their next venture was to purchase Kamwood Girl a young Courage Under Fire mare who’d retired after winning eleven races in Australia.
“Bondy found her actually. He said - I’ve found this broodmare. Do you want to go halves. Before that we had no desire to breed. He then decided he wanted out so he could focus on other horses he had, so we own her now.”
So with a broodmare in toe the next step required a bit of luck.
“I bought a ticket in the Western Australian Standardbred Breeders stallion service raffle and won the service to Art Major and that’s where this horse came from. It was huge. It was to promote breeding in Western Australian which we didn’t do because we got her (Kamwood Girl) in foal and sent her back to New Zealand. We were pretty lucky and it was a good start for us.”
Brittany Willis and Art Major gelding Foveaux Major - Photo Bruce Stewart.
Returning home the couple have set up a small stable at Brittany’s parents five acre property at Tisbury and in a few weeks they take over land with a house next door which has seven acres of land.
Brittany has also taken out a training licence and has rented a couple of boxes and a paddock at Ascot Park.
She has just the two horses in work. Cullect Alot is a three year old filly that’s been broken and is just starting in work. She’s by Gotta Go Cullect out of Wren A lot, an unraced Sir Vancealot mare which is out of the five win Admiral Halsey mare Royal Wren. She’s owned by Graham Bond.
Her other horse is two year old Foveaux Major - the foal the couple bred by sending Kamwood Girl to Art Major. So the numbers are small at this stage but you’ve got to start somewhere.
Brittany has also sent up an equestrian business called Foveaux Equestrian.
She imports Kentaur products which are a high end equestrian range from the Czech Republic, for which she is the exclusive New Zealand agent. She also sells Red Light Therapy products.
“They’re a high end product. It is a limited market. 90 per cent of our business has been from Canterbury north mainly online but we also go to horse shows and do trade stands.”
She’s also a qualified Equine Bowen Therapist after completing a two year course at Smart Bowen International in Melbourne.
“I started to get Bowen Therapy done on myself when I had back problems and found it to be absolutely amazing. I thought if it was good for me I wondered if we could get it done on our racehorses. I found someone who did Equine Bowen Therapy and the results on our horses were fantastic so it inspired me to study it.”
Their ties to racing horses in WA haven’t gone away either and Willis and McGorlick still have a twenty percent interest in Dame Puissant a well performed race mare in Western Australia.
She’s by Tintin In America out of Glenferrie Magic and was owned by Trackside presenter Matt Cross and junior driver Kimberley Butt.
She qualified as a two year old and was sold by the pair. From twenty two starts she’s won five races, and has been placed second and third twice.
As a two year old she ran third in the Group Three Two Year Old Fillies Gold Bracelet at Gloucester Park and at three finished third in the 2016 Group One West Australian Oaks.
She’s trained by Robbie Williams.
Their broodmare band has also expanded and they have three mares on their books.
The two other mares they own are Kamwood Beauty and Hennessey Franco.
Kamwood Beauty is an unraced American Ideal mare out of the five win In The Pocket mare Kamwood Diva. She’s a half-sister to Real Kamwood which won five races for Paul Kerr.
Hennessey Franco is by Red River Hanover out of Heather Franco. She’s a half-sister to Franco Hat Trick which won eleven races here, another nineteen in Australia before being a big winner in America. His biggest stake days in Australia were memorable. He won the $120,000 Nissan Chariots of Fire and he ran second to Our Sir Vancelot in the 1998 $100,000 Group One Australian Pacing Championship at Albion Park.
Hennessey Franco was bought by McGorlick for $400 at this year’s PGG Wrightson All Age Sales in foal to Tintin In America.
“Initially we were breeding to sell but with the unraced mares they are less commercial. With Kamwood Girl we are breeding to sell but the other two - we’ll see what happens.”
This young couple, who recently sold a Washington VC yearling colt out of Kamwood Girl for good money, are working hard to establish a foothold in Southern breeding circles and it’s great to see.
The Expanding Arden Lodge
John is based in Tapanui, a town that’s produced two prominent harness names in the last four decades; Stiven and Lischner. John Lischner, the town’s butcher and small time trainer, became New Zealand’s leading trainer in 1997 and 1999 while based in Canterbury. He was also a breeder.
John Stiven’s parents Doug and Noreen operated a milk run in Tapanui and started breeding from their first mare Stormy Star in 1969.
In 1974 they registered the name ‘Arden’ (a name that John believes came from the television series Doctor Findlay’s casebook) with the New Zealand Trotting Conference. Doug passed away in 2001 and John helped his mother to continue the Arden operation, doing the hands on work and also in an advisory capacity. Noreen passed away in 2012.
John started his working life as a carpenter and working at local sawmills.
He formed Deloraine Timber in 2005 which takes timber orders and manages the product from the sawmill to the client.
“Eleven years ago we started out own little business buying and selling timber. It’s not as big as it used to be because a lot of sawmills have closed but we’ve got some pretty good clients that we’ve had from early days,” said John.
John admits breeding started as a hobby but with fifteen mares now on the books it’s certainly become a business.
“It’s a full on busines’s what we’re doing now. I guess we’ve grown to where we are now, and it just proves we can cut the mustard.”
Of all the horses Arden Lodge has had on its book Stiven rates Winter Rose as the best mare he’s had on the property.
She recently received the 2015 Broodmare Excellence Award. Her progeny include Bettor’s Strike, Rocknroll Arden, Southwind Arden, Arden’s Choice, Bella Arden, Winter Strike, and Garden Rose.
The Stiven family has also been honoured with Southland Broodmare Awards through mares Arden Regal, Arden’s Dream and Winter Rose.
The best horses sold away from the Sales are Arden Meadow which won the WA Derby in 1986, and last year’s New Zealand Cup winner Arden Rooney.
The best sales results have been Arden’s Place—an Artsplace colt out of Winter Rose which sold for $110, 000, Arden’s Ruler—a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Achieve A Dream which fetched $100,000, and Bettor’s Strike, a Bettor’s Delight colt out of Winter Rose which was knocked down for $70,000.
As the next round of yearling sales draw near John’s excited about his eight colts and two fillies mix.
“It was pretty exciting getting the calls from Mac (Brent McIntyre from Macca Lodge) when all the colts were coming. It makes a huge difference commercially. When it’s a colt you can do what you want – take it to the sales or race it.”
When you run over John’s current mares, many are in foal or being served by Somebeachsomewhere. That’s because he’s a big fan.
“Through the trip Brent McIntyre, Mark O’Connor and I had to the states to see Panspacificflight we got to see Somebeachsomewhere. I was always a fan and we got one of his first foals in New Zealand - Someardensomewhere who we syndicated. There’s no doubt the buyers are warming to him as the years have gone by and he sold well at last year’s sales. He quinellaed the Fan Hanover in Canada recently with Pure Country beating Darlinonthebeach.”
Three of the colts Arden Lodge are taking to next February’s sales stand out at this stage.
An Art Major colt out of Rock N Roll Arden - her first foal, Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Winter Rose and a Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Arden’s Darlin.
Stiven says it’s easier to sell colts but the top end fillies also sell well.
“The thing is though, they’re the ones (fillies) you want to keep to go forward with. If we hadn’t kept Arden’s Darlin we wouldn’t have been where we are now. She’s been a huge help. We took her to the sales and didn’t sell her so we just got lucky there.”
Arden’s Darlin is the dam of four win Rock N Roll Heaven gelding Celestial Arden who looks as though he will improve with age.
“We’ve got a half-sister to Arden Rooney by Well Said which we’ve kept on purpose and she’s going into work shortly, and we’ve also kept a Somebeachsomewhere filly out of Garden Rose. We’ve also put two Somebeachsomewhere colts into the one syndicate. They’ve been broken in and look promising. One’s going to the All Stars Stable and the other is going to Barry Purdon.”
John sees this option as a way of spreading the Arden name and introducing new people into the industry.
“It takes the risk out of the sale. It’s another way of doing it. It’s got a whole lot more people that know a bit more about Arden Lodge now. They become interested in all of the Arden horses not just their own one. It’s been a new exciting part of Arden Lodge and we’ve really enjoyed it.”
Showing faith in the industry, John recently purchased mares off Tuapeka Lodge in Lawrence. The first was leased mare Ruby Morn.
“We were attracted to her because she was by Presidential Ball and they cross well with Panspacificflight so that got us into the Tuapeka Lodge breed.”
He later took up the option to buy two more; Real Wing and Raindowne.
“I was talking to Dan (Cumming) later on and they’ve decided to cut back. They had a list of eleven mares and we took a couple of those.”
He also purchased Tuapeka Art.
Earlier this month they also purchased a trotting broodmare Sufin Sunsation off Terry and Andrea Taylor of Pleasant Point.
This young unraced Sundon mare is closely related to Cabaletta (7 wins), Allegro Agitato (22 wins) and Skyvalley the winner of 24 races including the Group One ABC Three and Four Year Old Finals and the 2009 Bill Collins Sprint.
At the administration level John is also the current President of the Southland Breeders Association.
“It’s been going for a long time and there’s a handful of us that are second generation. It’s good to be a part of. We raise money to put into fillies races and support the breeders with stallion seminars.”
He’s also one of the driving forces behind the South’s breeding banner Southern Bred Southern Reared.
“It’s a wonderfully positive group to be a part of. Everyone has grown together.”
Over the years they’ve been able to access some nice mares to lift our broodmare band quality.
John says he enjoys the total process from researching the pedigrees and stallions, to rearing foals, to seeing them succeed at the races.
Broodmare Band and stallion/mare/foaled/served by:
Mark and Pauline O’Connor have been breeding horses for twenty years and their Denario name has had a fair amount of success over the years at the National Yearling Sales.
Both Mark and Pauline come from harness racing backgrounds with Pauline having a rich pedigree.
“She was brought up on a farm and has been around horses all her life. Her mother was a Dalgety so her uncle is Jim Dalgety and cousin is Cran Dalgety,” said Mark.
Mark also has a ‘bloodline’ which is perhaps a bit more grass roots.
“It started when I was young kid and my father worked on the tote in Southland and travelled around to both galloping and harness meetings. My grandfather was JJ Burke who was a hobby trainer and I got some exposure to stable and training environment.”
One of a handful of winners for Burke was Darkie Song in the Borough Handicap at Winton in 1972 when driven by TB Fordyce. Darkie Song was owned by A R McEachern who also owned and drove the second horse Garrison Band - also trained by Burke. Darkie Song and Garrison Band were half-brothers.
When Mark left high school he worked for NZI Trust and whilst working there he undertook tertiary study.
“I did most of my study when working. I went to the local community college which is SIT now. I did the last year full time at Otago University so made a few jaunts out to Forbury Park. I remember back in the day you got your bursary allowance at the start of the term so there was always a great lunge by the guys to take the money out to the races.”
After University he was employed by local accounting firm Ernst and Young.
“I had ten years with them including two years in Canada; towards the end of that time. Pauline and I had just got married. I got a contract role in Toronto for two years and we went to a few race meetings over there. There was a track in downtown Toronto at the time called Greenwood and we also went to Mohawk and Woodbine.”
Two years after returning from Canada the O’Connors purchased a ten acre life style block on the outskirts of Invercargill rearing bobby calves for the first two seasons before they started to accumulate a few riding horses. At that time Pauline was a teacher at James Hargest College.
“When I was first courting Pauline I went to my first yearling sales with her and her parents. I thought it was pretty good fun and got the bug. She started a riding school for kids after schools twice a week offering the basics of riding for young children. She’s currently got ten horses that are been ridden twice a week. She started to grow her horse numbers so I bought a few harness broodmares.”
The first mare the O’Connors bought in 1996 for $3,500 was the Talk About Class mare Campeche in foal to Safely Kept. The resulting foal Flow Denario won one race for Alan Paisley. She’s now owned by Dexter Dunn who’s since bred the five win Mach Three gelding Mach Denario from her.
The second foal Dreamo Denario, won four but it was the next foal Fake Denario that put the Denario name on the map.
He was bought by Stephen Reid for Robert Famularo and won the Australian Breeders Crown and Sires Stakes Final as a three year old before he was sold to America. While racing there he recorded a mile World Record on a 5/8 track of 1-48.4.
Denario translated is Latin for money, and the Fake Denario family certainly has plenty of big money earners in its extended pedigree. It’s produced the likes of Delightful Lady (47 wins), Jacron (9 wins), Grinaldi (10 wins), Ross The Boss (10 wins), Slugger (10 wins), Davey’s Jill (10 wins) and Kotare Jaeger (8 wins).
Over the years lots of horses have passed through the O’Connors hands either as yearlings for sale or as racehorses. And they had some good returns. They sold Cee Cee Denario for $65,000 in 2008, Romeo Denario for $55,000 in 2012 and Magnifico Denario for $46,000 in 2014.
They now have a much smaller operation with fewer mares but still have a focus of breeding good saleable stock.
“When you’re breeding for the yearling sales you have to be reasonably brutal because if you haven’t got any well credentialed offspring close up in your line you’re going to struggle.”
They’re now breeding from Averil’s Atom (Soky’s Atom – Quest Of Glory), Southern Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Averil’s Atom), Presidential Sweet (Presidential Ball – Stylish Sweetheart) and Shezaball (Presidential Ball - Averil’s Atom).
Shezaball winning at Ascot Park for Tim Williams
They’ve also leased out two mares; Goodtogo Denario (Presidential Ball) and Ergo Denario (Bettor’s Delight) to Woodlands Stud.
“I haven’t had an in-depth discussion with the principals of Woodlands but my understanding is that they were directing a lot more progeny to the weanling and yearling sales and they also wanted to get a good number of mares locked in for Sweet Lou.”
Over time both Mark and Pauline have been great supporters of the racing side to the industry and have raced many of their horses with friends and acquaintances including Shezaball which won eight races and recorded a 1-56.2 mile time.
“We had a lot of fun racing her and those friends have stayed in and formed a breeding syndicate so hopefully we can carry on with that ride. She’s probably our best credentialed broodmare at the moment.”
The mare’s first foal by Rock N Roll Heaven will race for the O’Connors while her latest foal, a colt by Art Major, will go through the yearling sales.
“He’s called Ronnie Denario and is a nice striking type.”
Also heading to the Christchurch sales next year are a well bred filly by Somebeachsomewhere out of Averil’s Atom, a Sportswriter colt out of Southern Delight and a Rocknroll Dance filly out of Presidential Sweet called Jive Denario.
On the racing front the O’Connors are excited about a Somebeachsomewhere filly with Cran Dalgety called Mantis Denario.
“She qualified back in February and we’re hoping she’ll perform and help the progeny that’s going through the ring next year.”
Another arm to the O’Connor breeding operation is Stylish Breeding Partnership with former Southlander now Queenstown based Owen Shaw.
“Owen and I have been friends since we were kids. He hadn’t been involved in harness racing before but liked the idea of seeing some action around the track. We bought some mares originally to breed from and we raced Stylish Arden. We bred a horse out of her by Camtastic called All Style and didn’t sell it because it got caught up in a fence a few weeks before the sale. We took it home and tried it ourselves. It was no star and we sold it for a couple of thousand dollars. The second horse we bred from the mare was Cut And Style (Presidential Ball). She didn’t fetch what we wanted so we brought her home and raced her.”
Cut And Style was sold as a four year old after winning three races for Invercargill trainer Wayne Adams. She won a further four races in New Zealand before being exported to America.
One of the last acts for the partnership was the purchase of For The Corz (Lis Mara) bought at the Christchurch weanling sales 18 months for $7,000. She’s a rising three year old filly and a half-sister to big Australian winner Corzin Terror. (19 wins and $276,857). This is the family of Sogo (13 wins) and Hitchcock (10 wins).
“That’s probably our last horse under the Stylish Breeding banner.”
Although Mark is the face of Denario Breeding he’s quick to acknowledge his wife Pauline as being an essential part of the operation.
“She’s a critical part of the Denario breeding operation. She’s the horsewoman and knows how to handle the horses correctly and gives them the right direction and grooming as a young animal. I’m responsible for the feeding. Luckily she’s a school teacher, so she doesn’t get a holiday over the Christmas break as the yearling are brought in everyday at that point. We have a weaning process where if we’ve got three or four mares in the paddock we just pull one mare out at a time rather than separate them all cold.”
On the business front Mark is CEO of South Port and is also on the executive of New Zealand Standardbred Breeders, and is impressed with the strength of the group around him.
“John Mooney is doing a fantastic job as Chairman. He’s committed and invested in the breeding side of the industry.”
There’s also a recognition that there are challenges.
“It’s a game that’s become more challenging because of the challenging entertainment offerings in the market.”
But the O’Connors are continuing to do their bit to get more people involved in the industry.
“We’ve formed a racing syndicate to race Muso Denario (Rocknroll Hanover – Averil’s Atom) with my older brother Stephen who’s going to be the syndicate manager. Half the crew are from where I work at South Port and the other half are from the Marist Rugby Club. There are fifteen shares and about twenty people involved and I think that’s the way forward. We need to try and broaden the base as much as we can and give an insight into how the game works. It always looks a bit mysterious looking from the outside in. It’s about getting a bunch of people who know about it and mixing them with greenhorns and help them understand the risks and the upside.”
And one final comment of ownership from O’Connor.
“If all people involved in harness racing took that approach and invited their circle of friends that weren’t involved, we would have a much broader base to draw on and that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.”
The Sellars Story
She probably didn’t get the national recognition she deserved but Southland mare Leyava certainly did a great job as a broodmare for the Sellars family of Myross Bush.
There are plenty of horse tales about where horses have come from and how luck was involved – right place right time. This is the story of Leyava and begins in the early 1940’s at Seaward Downs just east of Invercargill.
“They had a rabbit board that came around fumigating rabbits. It was a unit drawn by a horse. My father (Jack Sellars) asked the rabbiters what the horse was. They told him it was a good racehorse named Fortune’s Favourite. And that Davie Todd trained it. He rang Davie, who said yes he did train it, that it was no bloody good but it was a good family. So Dad ended up paying 25 pounds for her,” said Andrew Sellars.
Andrew Sellars - Photo Bruce Stewart
Once in the paddock the family who were relative newcomers to the breeding of Standardbreds, had lengthy discussions about which stallion to choose before deciding to send her to Indianapolis, three times New Zealand Cup winner.
From that mating Pollyapolis arrived in 1946.
“An old friend of the family Jack Winter trained her initially before she went to Wes Butt. She won six races.”
Once Pollyapolis’s racing days were over Jack Sellers started breeding from her and she left a number a nice horses including Trigside (Flying Song) which won a Gore Cup (1963), and Va Vite which won ten races.
By that time Jack Sellars had also bought from George Youngson, Rustic Maid. She became the dam of twelve winners including 1950 New Zealand Cup winner Chamfer, and 1946 New Zealand Derby winner Free Flight.
“Dad was keen to breed a filly at the end of her career. He said to me that he wasn’t going to breed off two horses and asked if I wanted to take Polly (Pollyapolis) saying I could get a foal from her. I thought that was pretty good. Initially I was going to go to U Scott but I was advised because he was in such demand that if I missed out on getting in foal you didn’t get any refund. I thought I can’t afford that. Clem Scott advised me to go to Garrison Hanover. From that we got Leyava.”
A racing partnership between father and son was formed and Jack and Andrew Sellars began racing the mare.
“She had ability, but had a poor attitude to racing. Dave Kerr trained her and she won two races and had numerous placings. After she finished racing I took her over on my own for breeding.”
The name Leyava is a combination of Andrew’s wife Shirley and daughter Avalon’s names.
“We nearly lost her before we got her in foal the first time. She was on the property here and my neighbour had stored some bags of wheat. She pushed the door open and got an oversupply of wheat into her system. She was very close to dying. The neighbour rang Cliff Irvine in Christchurch and asked him what we should do. He said get her into a good muddy watery area and let her stand in there for a couple of days and she came right. We don’t know why it worked but you never questioned Cliff Irvine.”
Her first foal was Sassenach by Young Charles.
“I trained him as a two year with the help of Henry Skinner. Maurice Skinner had him for a few weeks just to get him used to company. I took him to a few trials and then sent him up to Jim Winter to train on a training arrangement.”
He soon showed Winter that he had ability as a three year old and had his first start on Cup Day in the Riccarton Stakes, finishing third when driven by Doug Watts. He won four races at that age including the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs Three Year Old Championship.
“All the best three year olds in the South Island were in that race. He lost seventy yards at the start and won by three lengths in a New Zealand record time for three year olds. It was an outstanding performance.”
Bob Young at that point had taken over the driving.
“He was a very astute man. A real old Scotsman. We weren’t punters but after the Riccarton Stakes we had two or three hundred pounds in stakes money. He was in the Cross Stakes at New Year. I said to Jim that we should just put that stake money on him because he should win that race. We put it on but he broke up badly and he just made up a few places. Jim who was not used to big punting was a bit upset at my suggestion. He mentioned it to Bob who said God if I’d known that I would have tried a bit harder. He thought he could have still won but was just saving the horse.”
The following year as a four year old he won six races and started in the 1971 Interdominions Series at Addington.
“He was only a four year old. He won his first two heats and ran second in his third heat. He was the second highest qualifier for the final behind Holy Hal another Southlander.”
The final was won by Junior’s Image who was later disqualified after returning a positive swab. The promoted winner was Stella Frost.
As a five year old, Sassenach returned to racing at Ashburton in October before progressing to the Cup meeting in Christchurch raced then over four days.
“He was throwing his head around a lot and Bob Young couldn’t steer him. One vet suggested that it could have something to do with the seed out of the grass. Jim threw a nose guard on him on the third night and he duly won and was roundly booed because he’s been pretty well backed on the first two days.”
He came out on the last night of what was a four day cup carnival and won the Ollivier Handicap against the Cup horses.
He then travelled north for the Auckland Cup and ran fifth on a wet track showing signs of soreness.
“He was sent home to me and I pottered around with him and treated his legs. I took him to Riverton on the old grass track and won the Riverton Cup with him. Apart from Riverton, which was an equalisator meeting, I couldn’t quite get a win with him.”
Then export agent Bob McArdle approached Sellars and he was sold to Canada in June 1976.
His New Zealand race record was 78 starts for 12 wins and 6 seconds and 6 thirds.
Sassenach winning as a three year old at Addington
Leyava’s second foal Ryal which was by Canny Scot was also racing and winning races at this stage. Jim Dynes had bought him as a weanling.
He was also fashioning a good racing record and ended up winning 8 races including the New Zealand Autumn Stakes and Canterbury Free For All in 1973.
He raced against what was a vintage group of open class pacers like Robalan, Speedy Guest, Young Quinn, Hi Foyle and Arapaho.
“He went to America and won forty odd races over there.”
Shavande was Leyava’s next foal. He was by Hundred Proof and was trained by Andrew from his property on Roslyn Road just out of Invercargill.
“He was as good as any of the horses she’d left. He had a very bad attack of strangles. Peter Williams (Vet) did a hell of a good job to save him.”
After being nursed back from this major setback he won a double at Wyndham.
“He also won a Gore Cup and he was sold to America. Doug McNaught thought he was an outstanding horse. He was on his way to cup class no doubt about that.”
The next foal from the mare was Hi Lo’s Forbes colt Stylist.
“He had some ability but was bad in his gait when tried at high speed. Jim Dynes took him over to try and straighten him out. They won a race with him and one for me.”
Lumber Dream was the next port of call for Leyava and that mating produced another colt named Profiteer.
“The most intelligent horse I ever had. He was cunning with brilliant speed.”
He was trained initially by Sellars and recorded his first win at Wyndham in November 1977 winning by three lengths, running the 2400 metres in 3-08.
“Peter Wolfenden phoned me wanting to buy him but I said he was too good to be selling.”
A year later although still racing well, Profiteer was starting to win the battle of the wills in the south so he was sent to Gavin Hampton in Canterbury to train.
“He was sent up prior to the Reefton Cup which was the richest C2 race in the country at that time. He won that race and came back and won two races at Addington. Then Lucky (Profiteer) worked Gavin out so he came back down here.”
At that point Sellars had to reinvent the horse’s training and racing regime.
“I knew the whip and Profiteer didn’t go together so I got wee Austin Stack to drive him. He was a quiet wee driver. He got placing after placing with him but never won. He was running off long marks and doing not too bad so I whipped him up to Addington and I won with him. I got Paul Hampton (Gavin’s son) to drive him because I thought the horse would know Gavin. I’ve never yelled so loud for a horse.”
Profiteer finished his career in March 1982 and commenced a short career in the stallion barn.
He sired 35 live foals and left three winners - Auburn Profit (6 wins), He’s A Gun (5 wins) and The Developer (2 wins).
“He was never going to get a lot of mares because he was a cheat, but a very fast one.”
Socialite (Armbro Del) was the mare’s next foal. She was unraced.
Zabadak (Nevele Bigshot) was the next off the Leyava production line. He initially won five races for Henry Skinner including an impressive double at Wyndham in March 1981 culminating in the 3200 metre Wyndham Cup.
“Peter Davis drove him. Henry drove him to win on the first day but he decided to drive another horse in the stable (Eden’s Joy off 40 metres 6th). Peter took him straight to the front and donkey licked them (4 ½ lengths in 4-11.0 over 3200 metres on slushy track). At the time it was a Southland record.”
At the end of that season Skinner decided he wasn’t going to carry on training.
“Allan Devery phoned me and said would I consider sending Zabadak there as he was getting a bit more serious about training professionally. I said yes as long as he took another horse called Stampede. Henry had qualified Stampede. Allan wasn’t very sure about it so he rang Brendon Fahy, a good friend of mine. Brendon told him that if Zabadak won four races for him next season Stampede would win seven so Allan took him.”
It was the beginning of a very fruitful relationship between Sellars and Devery.
“Allan was an outstanding conditioner and trainer and he won the next seven races with him (Zabadak). He won all eleven races with Stampede.”
One race that remains in Sellars memory was the day Zabadak won at the Canterbury Park Trotting Club meeting in January 1983.
“He tried to kick Gavin (Hampton) out at the start. It was a mile race. He’d decided that they weren’t going fast enough in the lead up and he started bucking and kicking. He was kicking himself right out the back by five and six lengths. He settled down and caught the field and Gavin, who could be pretty severe when he wanted, decided to send him around the field at the half. He beat the likes of Hands Down. That’s the sort of horse he was. On his day he could beat anything.”
His most important win was in the Firestone Cavillino Stakes on Cup Day 1983. He won eleven races from 64 starts banking $53,325 in stakes.
At that point Zabadak’s younger brother Stampede had also finished his racing career. He also won eleven races including the Interdominion Consolation, and he finished second in the Kaikoura Cup and third in an Easter Cup.
Sellars was keen to give him a shot as a stallion.
“I was keen for him to have that chance. He was a beautiful horse with a lovely nature. He had arthritic knees which restricted him a little bit as a racehorse.”
He notched up a moderate record as a sire, helped by two quality horses in Defoe and Stands To Reason.
“At the height of his career he (Stampede) had 194 mares. It was the season when Defoe had won the Lion Red Mile and was dead unlucky not to win the Messenger. And Brendon Fahy’s horse Stands To Reason won the $150,000 Sires Stakes Final in Auckland (1990).”
Post Stampede Leyava had just two more foals, both fillies Saligna (Lumber Dream) and Sakina (Son Of Afella) and that’s when a breeding arrangement with Brian West began.
“We had a few mares. Brian suggested that he would take them all up there, look after the stud side of it and prepare the progeny for sale. It never worked out that great. I can’t blame Brian as he used good sires. It was one of these breeds that seem to mix better with sires like Nevele Bigshot, Hundred Proof and Canny Scott.”
The horse market back in the mid 80’s was relatively buoyant and in February 1986 Sellers was offered big money for the unraced Saligna and Sapele.
“Sapele was trained by the Lees. She was about to go to the trials when I was approached by Paul Davies on behalf of John Curtin to see whether he could buy these two Lumber Dream mares. I said no because I didn’t want to let two Lumber Dream mares go out of this breed. Anyway I put a price on them $100,000 for Saligna (Lumber Dream –Leyava) and $60,000 for Sapele (Lumber Dream – Socialite). He bought the $100,000 one. I sent the other one (Sapele) to stud and she died.”
From eleven named foals Leyava left seven winners of fifty five New Zealand races. A grand record for a mare that was bred from a mare bought from the Rabbit Board.
Although the breed has faded somewhat, like many of the old pedigrees in this country there are still a number of mares that trace back to Leyava being breed from.
Brian West is breeding from a Mach Three mare named Titled who is a great granddaughter of Leyava. She has a qualified two year old called His Royal Harness who is trained by Chris McDowell and a Stunin Cullen yearling filly.
West is also breeding from two other granddaughters of Socialite in Flashbang (McArdle- Susan Who) and Famous Lover (Dream Ahead – Susan Who).
Well that’s the Leyava story, and it’s really only half the tale because of course foundation mare Pollyapolis’s other filly Va Vite (by Young Bob) has also plenty of upside to her stud career.
She left Largs (Lordship) the dam of Glen Moria (10 wins) and handy performers Calton Hill (Smooth Hanover) 5 wins, and his full sister Churnside also 5 wins.
But ………….. another story for another day perhaps.
The Raks Of Rakauhauka
Southland breeder Brendan Fahy has made famous the prefix “Rak” or “Raka” – a reference to the district of Rakauhauka where he lives and farms.
Horses like Raksdeal, Rakarebel, Rakarazor and Rakarolla have been to the fore recently but there have been a number of Raks or Rakas over the past 30 years starting with the original Rakauhauka in 1985.
Over the years he’s used the prefix in combination with his children’s nick names, precious stones, cars, and the stallion’s name to name his horses. Sometimes it takes a bit of working out!
The man behind all this is Brendan Fahy and he’s been involved in harness racing for a long time as an owner, breeder and administrator.
His father was part of the Cead Mile Syndicate which raced the Canny Scott mare Royal Twinkle. She won five races for trainer Brian Gliddon and she ran fourth behind Ar Miss (dam of Armalight) in the 1972 New Zealand Oaks.
“I used to go to the races as a kid with Dad. My uncle, Bill Murphy lived opposite Andrew Sellars and later on I’d go to the races with Andrew with horses like Sassenach, Stampede and Zabadak. I actually named Zabadak,” said Fahy.
His background is farming - although it’s not as fulltime as it used to be. He’s reduced the size of his property from 450 acres to 250 acres, selling some off to his children and running a few beef cattle with his horses. He also leases land to local growers who grow tulips and root vegetables.
“My accountant said it was a good thing to be doing.”
Although he was interested in racing in the early days he soon became a keen breeding student and in 1979 he headed north, chequebook in pocket, to the Christchurch sales.
“I went up and bought Sentimental Belle. It had to be by Lumber Dream out of a U Scott mare. There were four horses in the New Zealand Cup the previous year on that cross. She was only a wee dot. I thought I’d get her for a song but as it turned out she was the second highest filly of the day.”
Once paid for, local transporter and former jockey Ronnie Weaver bought the filly to her new home in Southland.
“Ronnie carted her home. Dad was at home and didn’t know I was having a decent old splurge at the sales. Ronnie got her out of the float and said to Dad – “it doesn’t look much for ten grand does it!!” Dad nearly fell over backwards.”
Sentimental Belle was trained by Hamish Hunter and started eleven times for a handful of placings.
“She never won a race because she had a bad training accident.”
She was soon at the court of popular stallion Smooth Fella and her first foal was name Rakauhauka. The beginning of the legacy.
“We got $20,000 for him at the sales and he was sold to the Treuer brothers. I think that was one of the highest priced yearlings to come out of Southland at the time. The Aussie couldn’t pronounce Rakauhauka so they changed it to Sentimental Fella.”
He won 28 races in Australia.
Two years later Fahy bred what he potentially thinks was the best horse he’s ever bred. She was by Admiral Halsey and named Rakamo.
“She was only a wee wee thing. Clark (Barron) was at Winton at the time and I gave him a half share to train her. We went to the workouts one day and she reared up at the start and fell over. He gave her a few days off and she came back and qualified really well.”
She had her first start at Wyndham in March 1990 beating Diane Score by two lengths, running a mile in 2-02.6.
“Then Vinny Knight came over especially to drive her at the Winton trials and as a two year old filly she won the free for all. He bought her for $50,000 for Pacers Australia. She went to Melbourne. At her first start (at Moonee Valley) she raced the best fillies. I think they had a hell of a punt on her. She led and at the quarter she was only a length ahead but at the finish she was 25 metres in front. She also raced the colts and beat them. She had the most potential of all the horses I’ve bred.”
Rakamo broke down as a young horse and ended up with Peter Walsh in Sydney.
“I met him at the sales one day – he said, “she wasn’t very big mate but she was the best.” She won a few races for him in Sydney.”
She has also been successful as a broodmare leaving Hy Royale (Lotsa Clout) the winner of 20 races, $263,564 and the 2009 Group Two Governors Cup at Gloucester Park, Confinement (Safely Kept) 14 wins and Sokyamo (Soky’s Atom) 11 wins.
“Funnily enough Clark got an email from a fella in Aussie the other day wanting to know if there were any of her bred still around.”
Fahy also had some success with Sentimental Belle’s full sister Sentimental Reason whom he bought later.
“Stewart Somerville a long-time friend raced a horse called Armbro Wings. He was going to a presentation in Canterbury and couldn’t get anyone to go with him so I went up with him. That night we meet these people who were selling a full sister to Sentimental Belle. There and then we bought Sentimental Reason. After we got her home they rang and said they were meaning to tell us that she was an RH mare. The first foal from her that Stuey and I bred was Bulluraz which was Clark Barron’s first winner as an owner.”
Bulluraz was trained by Ron Barron and owned by brothers Tony and Clark Barron.
Brendan later bred Blotch (Admiral Halsey) from Sentimental Reason.
“She has a great white patch on her stomach. She was a trotter and Stuey wasn’t keen to carry on (with Sentimental Reason) so I bought him out. I tried to get her in foal up north but I couldn’t so I brought her home. Andrew Sellars used to buy oats off me so I swapped a service fee to Stampede for a couple of tons of oats. So that’s how we got Stands To Reason.”
Another one of her daughters Blip (Oblivion II) qualified here before being exported to Australia. She won three races and left a couple of handy horses in Frame Game (Impressionist) which won 23 races including the listed 2005 Warangal Pacing Cup. Blip also left Deliverthegoods (Sealed N Delivered) 16 wins.
Over the years Fahy has prided himself of keeping up to date with the latest breeding trends and has spent hours looking through stud books and on the internet doing his background research.
“I still keep an eye on the radar (America). I knew every Lumber Dream in the stud book off by heart at one stage. Artsplace seems to be doing a similar job in America to what Lumber Dream was doing back then, so when I could get the semen to him I took it and that’s how I bought Raksplace.”
Later on when Western Ideal became available he jumped at the opportunity to cross him with Raksplace.
The resulting foal was Raksdeal who was a star racehorse but is now one of Fahy’s broodmares along with Raksplace (Artsplace – Rakamobile), Rakarach (Son of Afella – Sentimental Belle), Rakabaa (Western Terror - Rakarach), Rakarata (Art Major - Rakarach), Penny Gem (Artsplace – L’armour) and Rakaudi (Holmes Hanover – Rakamobile).
Rakarolla, Rakarazor and Raksdeal
Like all breeders Fahy has experienced in recent times the unpredictability of the breeding cycle.
“I’ve got seven yearlings. All seven mares got in foal that year which is unusual. The next year I sent six mares away and got one in foal (Sombeachsomewhere filly out of Penny Gem) and then this year I sent all six to stud and the whole lot got in foal again.”
Fahy is always on the lookout for the next best thing in the stallion ranks and two fresh faced ‘boys’ he’s interested in are Shadyshark Hanover and Always A Virgin.
Shadyshark Hanover (Cam’s Card Shark) served 15 mares in New Zealand and in America he’s left 88 foals for 51 starters and 31 winners. He’s currently third in the first season sires.
Always A Virgin (Western Ideal) sired Always B Miki which is the 2015 Breeders Crown Older Horse Pace Champion and Color’s A Virgin the 2015 Breeders Crown Old Mare Pace Champion.
Fahy has a filly by Always A Virgin out of Coughin.
“If you start sending them all to Mach Three, Art Major or Bettor’s Delight you can’t keep going (as a breeder). If they don’t work out (with a new stallion) it’s not costing you an arm or a leg. I sent Penny Gem to American Ideal, Western Ideal, Rocknroll Hanover and Somebeachsomewhere. So I think she’s had a good chance and rather than wait and not get her in foal I thought I’d send here to Shadyshark Hanover.”
Like most New Zealand breeders he has his opinion on why the industry in going through a tough time at the moment.
“We’ve heard for the last thirty years that we have to breed because there’s going to be a shortage of horses. I think there is a shortage of racehorses. It’s getting so expensive to race horses. I’m not blaming the trainers because you don’t see many of them driving around in Mercedes do you. Everything has gone up except the stakes. I was looking at the stakes when Rakarach was racing in 1990 and she was racing for six and a half thousand then, that’s twenty five years ago. The costs have probably gone up three fold.”
He also says the export market isn’t the same as it has been in the past especially for the horses at the lower end of the price range.
“Two or three years ago you could qualify a horse and there’d be three or four guys trying to buy it. You could flick that horse off for $12,000 - $15,000 because you may think you had a half-brother at home that’s better. That keeps you going. But now you go to the races and run third in a maiden race and you’re lucky to get anyone to buy it at all. If you’re breeding horses all the time you need to be able to move them on. You get so many horses you’d need to own a station to run them.”
Fahy says you don’t have to breed horses if you don’t want to.
“There’s some real genuine people especially in Southland,” and he says that’s what’s kept him going.
On the racing front Fahy has always encouraged his trainers to travel and one of his first ventures outside of the province was with Stands To Reason. He won the 1990 Sires Stakes Final at the Franklin meeting at Alexandra Park.
“I think the biggest problem with Southlanders is that they under rate themselves, both trainers and drivers. I remember Allan Devery when he was training. He wasn’t frightened to have a crack. It also puts the value of your horse up. Sometime you’re judged by the company you run in. Alex Milne said years ago that if you’re not in you can’t win.”
And to prove the point Fahy remembers racing Only The One (Holmes Hanover – Rakamobile) in a heat of the Sires Stakes at Forbury Park against hot favourite Roman Gladiator.
“Someone said you never know. He (Roman Gladiator) could get a flat tyre. It would be the only chance we had. But anyway as it turned out he got two flat tyres and the tyres came right off and wrapped around the rim. We did beat him but not by much.”
Only The One finished sixth and Roman Gladiator was a nose back in seventh.
He also took Rakarach north after she won the New Zealand Sires Stakes Prelude at Rangiora. She trekked to Auckland running fifth in the Group Two Ladyship Stakes behind Pocket Queen before running ninth behind Tupelo Rose in the 1999 New Zealand Sires Stakes Championship. The winning time for the 1700 metres was 2-01.7. That time remained a New Zealand record until it was broken by Ideal Belle in 2013 - 14 years later. Incidentally that new record time was set up by a game Raksdeal owned By Fahy.
He also encouraged Ryal Bush trainer Peter Hunter to take Rakarebel to Addington and Auckland.
“He was racing against horses like Beaudiene Bad Babe and Raglan down here so we took him to Auckland. He raced really well up there and I’m sure it puts the value of your horse up when you race against better horses.”
After racing at Addington in April 2011 a training deal was struck between Fahy and Western Australian trainer Gary Hall Senior to race Rakarebel in Australia.
“After he’d won his first two starts over there he rang me wanting to buy him so I sold him.”
Rakarebel won his first eight starts at Gloucester Park and has now banked $336,363.
On the training front, Fahy shares his horses between Southland trainers Peter Hunter and Clark Barron.
“Peter handles all the horses as foals and does a hell of a good job. I used to give him the pick of them and Clark would get the others. Anyway, Pete said that he was such a poor picker that he didn’t care which ones he gets now. I pick them now. If there’s four they get two each.”
Fahy provided both Barron and Hunter with their first training wins. Barron trained Best Dressed to win for Brendan and wife Barbara at Ascot Park in September 1989 and Hunter trained Only The One - his first winner at Tuapeka in November 2013.
To date Barron has trained 30 winners for Fahy while Hunter has trained 16.
The best Rak horses for Clark Barron so far are Raksdeal (5 wins) and Rakalees (4 wins) while for Peter Hunter it’s been Rakarebel (6 wins) and Rakabolt (3 wins).
Alex Milne also trained for Fahy in the early days. Winners including Stands To Reason, Rakarach, Rakeitin, The Porsche, Rakillac, and Sensuous.
Over the years Fahy has built up a strong band of broodmares all originating from Sentimental Belle with the exception of Penny Gem.
So there’s plenty more Raks on the way.
Incidentally I haven’t been the only visitor to Sentimental Lodge Rakauhouka in the past fortnight - the crew, cast and cars of Pork Pie had been on site filming in Brendan’s sheep yards so here’s what I’m thinking:
Rakaudi already has foals named after cars (Rakarover and Rakabeamer) so will Rakarup or Rakamini be the name of her next foal?
Horses and Hounds – Neil Timms has Both.
By Bruce Stewart
Southland breeder Neil Timms wasn’t born into harness racing but he was born to be involved.
He went to Primary School in Christchurch, and attended Waitaki Boys in his last year at high school. It was very early, when still at Primary School that he first developed an interest in Standardbreds.
“My Uncle used to farm at Irwell and his neighbour was Gerald Johnson who got horses off Noel Simpson. He had Luck’s Way (Lucky Hanover – Dilly Dally - winner of five races including the 1961 Greymouth Cup) which was one of the first horses ever to be sold to Wales. And he had Thunderina which was a good race mare,” said Timms.
Thunderina left Out To Win gelding Candillo which won seven races in New Zealand before being exported to America.
“I also got to know Cecil and Phil Heywood at Springston. They had an Ayrshire stud and used to train a few. They won the Methven Three Year Old Stakes with Chatterton. We used to go to Addington a bit when night trotting was taking off.”
Chatterton won the 1973 TS Harrison Three Year Old Stakes at Methven beating Eclipse, Mighty Gay and Kotare Legend.
It wasn’t long before Timms started to breed his own horses. In fact he’s credited along with John Burrows, for breeding Landora; the dam of quality mare Landora’s Pride, the winner of 34 races including a Rowe Cup and Dominion Handicap.
Burrows and Timms became friends when they both worked in the Oxford area. Burrows was a hobby trainer prior to becoming the private trainer for Ian Langford who owned Even Speed. Neil tells the story of how he and Burrows obtained Landora.
“I was playing rugby for Old Boys in Kurow and we went back to a mates place, Alex Familton. This horse had just come back from Chertsey. They couldn’t get it to go. I mentioned it to Johnny Burrows who had just sold a horse called Johnny’s Pal to Sir Roy McKenzie. We decided to lease her for the right of purchase of $3,000. She was dual gaited. She could work a mile and a half free-legged in 3-15 and go round the other side of the track and turn around and she would trot. She had a bone growth on her knee so we got that operated on and she went from strength to strength.”
At her first start at Methven in a field of 22 she was unplaced when 17/17 in the betting. The winner was Castleton Pride which later went on to win the 1975 Interdominion Final, being driven by John Langdon.
Landora was retired after winning two races and Timms and Burrows bred Scotty Boy (Scottish Hanover).
At that point Timms went off to America, England and Wales and wasn’t sure when he’d return so it was decided to sell Landora in foal to Game Pride. She was bought by the Allingham family and the resulting foal was Landora’s Pride.
In early 1973 he bought what was to become his foundation mare Lucky Surprise.
“Gerald Johnson said it was a real tough family. We bought her off Fred Barclay who was a possum skin buyer. He used to come down here and get skins off the Gutsells and play cards. He was a bit of a gambler. The first one I bred from her was Jersey Girl (Jersey Hanover). We sold her to Australia. The next one was Keyanau (Key Club). Bryce Buchanan and I raced her. She could run under the qualifying time but would run off the track. I hacked her up in Te Anau – she was my main hack. Then I started to breed from her. The first foal was Kiwi Gold (Knowing Bret) and I sold him.”
Keyanau’s half-sister Orange Queen (Bachelor Hanover) left Queenship (Lordship). She was an outstanding broodmare leaving Lord Hillas (6 wins), Queen’s Advocates (4 wins) Carefree Princess (8 wins), Noble Fella (9 wins), Horatius (4 wins) and Man Of Steel (4 wins). She’s the only mare to leave winners of two of Southland’s premier races; The Southern Supremacy Stakes (Noble Fella 1987) and Southland Oaks Final (Carefree Princess 1986).
Mini Clare (Armbro Del) another half –sister, left smart Gaines Minbar mare Remote which won nine races.
In 1978 Timms ventured to America again consigned to look after 43 race horses that were heading off shore. He travelled with Brian Meale, Peter Bagrie and Charlie Hunter and was away for three months. Included in the shipment were Sly Brewer and Final Curtain.
“Most of the horses were pre-sold. I stayed with Paul Jessop at Hollywood Park. He was training a lot of Brian’s horses. Young Quinn was there at the time. I also took stallions to England on that trip.”
Once back home Keyanau’s second foal, Keyali was sold to Charlie Smaill and Archie Affleck. She went on to win seven races.
“We’d just bought a block of land at Wyndham and that horse paid three quarters of the mortgage.”
Keyali left Kute Jaccka, the winner of 4 races and she is the grand dam of Mossdale Conner which won 12 races including the Taylor Mile in New Zealand record time.
“Every horse that got up and running we sold. I got $35,000 for Keyafella who was also out of Keyanau.”
Keyafella won 30 races in Australia and over $200,000 in stakes.
Other foals from the mare that were sold include Renegade which won 2 races In New Zealand and another 4 in Australia and Mate Of Mine which won 3 and was also successful in America.
One foal he did keep was Aliora (Paulsboro) which won 4 races for Ali Malcolmson and was the dam of Fella I Know.
“I sold him to Kelvin Harrison.”
Two of Aliora’s other foals; Ali’s Home and Ali’s Fella, are two mares Timms is still breeding from.
Also in the early days Timms helped Bryce Buchanan with weaning, mouthing and long reining all his foals.
“I used to help them when they went away on holiday when I was living in Te Anau. He was still milking cows at that stage. He was a very astute trainer.”
While in Wyndham Timms also had a brief stint as a stud master standing Stanley Rio for his good friends George and John Noble.
“When they sold their property they didn’t have anywhere for him to go. I said I’d take him. He only covered about five mares a year, he wasn’t the easiest horse to handle. He didn’t like anything in his paddock – birds or anything. When they used to have the A&P Show I had to put him in a box because he’d see the kids with the ponies in the float park near his paddock and put his ears back.”
All the way through this period Timms has had another source of good income – dogs. Like harness racing the interest also started when he was still at High School. He bred both heading and huntaways.
“Some years I’ve sold up to 200 broken in dogs. When I was doing casual mustering I ended up selling a few as well. It got bigger and bigger. I was coming back from the North Island with twenty odd dogs to break in each trip.”
He said back in the day you could get $6,000 for a good station dog.
“A lot of the dogs I buy are broken in and just need finishing. The main market was the North Island where they do stock work 24/7 whereas down here our stock is behind string (hot wire) for four or five months. People haven’t got time to break in dogs these days.”
But lets get back to the horses. Although Timms was having success with his own breed he was keen to look at other options and in 2010 he boarded a plane and headed to Christchurch with Brent McIntyre from Macca Lodge and Gore breeder Paul Pierce.
“We were thinking about buying a couple of weanlings to do up for the sales but they hadn’t been very well done. Luckisaladytonight came up in foal to Christian Cullen. I thought she’d go for 60 grand. She got to 25 so I wacked one bid in and she was knocked down to me. I said we gotta find a bar here. They’d spent seventeen grand on this new stadium complex and it didn’t have a bar – I needed a whiskey!! I had to come home and sell a few dogs and a car to pay for the hind leg and the tail. I sold three hundred ewes and lambs and a few cattle. I got out of it because I sold the foal (Cullen Keefe) for forty eight grand.”
Three of her progeny; Cullen Keefe (4 wins), The Manipulator (4 wins from 8 starts) and Ladys Are Ideal (1 win from 2 starts) have had their successes.
Luckisaladytonight is in foal to Somebeachsomewhere. Her weanling filly by Panspacificflight has been bought by Macca Lodge.
“I send her to good stallions because everyone want foals out of her.”
The Manipulator is one horse Timms is excited about and still has a share in.
“He went through the sale ring but he’d hurt his hind leg in the joint. We had to tell the auctioneers it had been X-rayed and it had been all right but that devalued him. Tony Herlihy bought him and I kept a quarter share. He went up to Tony’s and he couldn’t get him to pace. We got him back to Macca Lodge and Tommy Behrnes (chiropractor) worked on him. He thought he’d got him right but he kept on running off the track. Macca had him ready to go to the workouts. Tommy came back three months later and discovered his hip was out. The one start he did miss (running a place) was because he injured his knee. He was operated on and had to be boxed for three months.”
Luckisaladytonight has also left Well Said two year old qualifier Afterdinnerspeaker which is trained by Ken Barron. He was sold as a weanling.
“He was likely to be a $100,000 horse at the yearling sales. If you get good money before the sales you’ve got to sell. I’ve sold weanlings here for $15,000 to $25,000 but for a real good one you could get $50,000 to $60,000.”
Although Luckisaladytonight is doing a great job, Timms still has plenty of his ‘old’ breed to go on with.
Ali’s Home (Holmes Hanover - Alioro) has left Even Flow the winner of 6 races. Even Flo has recently been added to his broodmare band so Timms has given Ali’s Home to a friend to try his luck.
“Just gave her to a friend of mind Paul Mulder at Woodlands. He’s just started to get into breeding. She (Even Flo) ended up with a quarter crack. She never got over it. She’s going to American Ideal.”
One Ali (Live Or Die – Bo Ali Chip) has Tintin In America and Net Ten EOM colts while Ali’s Fella (Son Of Afella – Alioro) is proving to be valuable leaving Ted West (6 wins) and Sioux West (3 wins).
Onlyali (Badlands Hanover – Ali’s Fella) has Gotta Go Cullect and Gotta Go Cullen fillies and a Net Ten EOM colt, Schapelle Rapido (Mach Three – Laprida) has a Net Ten EOM filly, while Just One Amy (Artsplace – Ali’s Home) has two Panspacificflight colts.
“Just One Amy qualified and then hurt her leg. Malcolm Shinn has a two year old from her by Panspacificflight. You don’t normally hear from him but he’s rung me twice. You usually get a shoeing bill from him but I haven’t. He rates him as good as a two year old that he’s had. He’s trained something like 13 group winners.”
Although Timms usually doesn’t go to first season sires particularly if he’s going to the sales, there’s one stallion he is supporting in Net Ten EOM.
“I’ve got 5 here and they’re terrific looking horses. You couldn’t fault one of them. They’ve got a good balance about them and they’re natural pacers.”
Weanlings earmarked for next February’s sales are colts out of Ali’s Fella and Just One Amy and a filly out of Ali’s Home.
From his downsized property of 20 acres at Riversdale in Northern Southland Timms is kept busy running the farm, a dog motel and feeding his next crop of weanlings. Young horses are enough to keep this breeder happy.