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 John Morrison and Fiery Ferret 

 

 
Fiery Ferret Scores Ninth Win

 

Two years ago Fiery Ferret’s career looked to be over but the Mister Big gelding had other ideas.

“We were going to retire him because he had quite sore hocks. The owner Kelvin Reed just had so many other horses. I asked him if I could I have him for my granddaughter as a riding horse and he said that was fine. I put him in the paddock and he hated it so he was back on the jogging frame two weeks later. Kelvin and I went fifty fifty in the horse. He’s won five more races since then,” said co-trainer Jude Knight who drives the gelding in ..

 

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Born To Boogie

 

Born To Boogie Relishes Wet Track

 

“She’s a lovely wee mare who seems to go good on the wet tracks,” said trainer Brett Gray after Born To Boogie won her fifth race at Gore today.

The four year old was driven by the country’s leading junior John Morrison who was filling in for a suspended Brent Barclay.

Morrison took the Rock N Roll Heaven mare to the front with 2000 metres to run before handing up to Santannas Rocket. Just before the top of the straight Morrison hooked Born To Boogie off the back of Santannas Rocket and she came down the middle of the track to..

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 U May Cullect

 


U May Cullect Again

 

Such is the ease in which star Southland pacer U May Cullect is winning, today driver and co-trainer Kirstin Barclay had to remind the five year old that getting to the line first is what good pacers do.

“I had to give him a wee slap today. He’s just got into the habit of pulling up because there’s no competition. He’s actually going to be better coming off their backs. But really happy as that was a nice step up in grade,” she said after the gelding scored another emphatic victory at Winton today.


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Aldebaran Truly International


Bruce Stewart

“Trotting in Australia and New Zealand needs to be part of the world scene,” says a recent visitor to Southland, Aldebaran Parks principal Duncan McPherson.


McPherson attended the Winton Harness meeting in April as a guest of Southern Harness and HRNZ Board Member Kevin McNaught. Aldebaran were also sponsors of the Gold Chip Super Final, one of the features of the days racing.

 

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Kevin McNaught and Duncan McPherson - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

Aldebaran Park is an agistment and breeding organization with its ‘home’ farm in the heart of the Goulburn Valley region in Victoria but it also has branches in America and Sweden.


Aldebaran was set up by McPherson and well known Australian trainer Chris Lang and his wife Sharon.


“We rate ourselves as an international destination for trotters in the world and we started with Aldebaran Park in 2004. Chris and Sharon are great mates of mine and my father started with Graeme (Lang) back in 1962. Chris came to me and said we should get together and have some horses. The irony is that my late wife, myself, Chris and Sharon all have the star sign Taurus. The brightest star in the Taurus constellation is Aldebaran so that’s where the name came from,” said McPherson.


Duncan says the family connection goes further back than Aldebaran. His grandmother visited New Zealand in 1954 and bought horses out of Southland.


“We had the opportunity to buy the good ones but never had the money to.”


His father also visited New Zealand in the 1960s and bought a horse called Eden.

“She was by Morris Eden. Her best progeny was Rebecca Campbell. She won the 1975 Youthful Stakes and the 1976 South Australia Oaks.”


Eden was bred by the late Ted Lowe and was out of Cavendish which was a half-sister to the useful pacers Globe Direct (13 wins) and Chief Lochiel (9 wins).


Aldebaran these days concentrates on the trotting market and has about thirty five well bred mares under it’s name including one of the Australia’s greats, Maori Time.


She won twenty four of her sixty six starts including the Group One 2013 NSW Trotting Oaks, The Trotters Mile at Menangle and the 2016 and 2017 Aldebaran B Collins Trot. She won a total of $421,301 in stakes.


“Maori Time raced in the Elitloppett in Sweden. She’s heading for motherhood with Readly Express which won the Group One European Championship.”     


Aldebaran also consigns yearlings to the Australian and New Zealand Trotting Sales.


At the 2018 Prydes Australian Premier Trotting Sale they sold a full brother to Maori Time for $60,000. They also sold three trotters in this year’s NZB Standardbred Christchurch Sale.


Southlander Wayne McEwan bought Aldebaran Fawkes (Love You – Solar Power) for $21,000, KPC Racing Australia bought Aldebaran White Sox (Muscle Hill – U Dream) for $50,000 and Aldebaran Floss (Muscle Hill – Another Love) sold for $25,000.  


They also have two resident stallions on farm in Victoria - Group One USA winner Aldebaran Walkabout (Muscle Hill - Letsjustalkboutme -USA T3 1.52.2) and Skyvalley - NZ T 1.56.2 (Muscles Yankee - Chiolas Lass NZ).


McPherson knows Southland has produced some great pacing horses over the years but says it now has the opportunity to get fully into breeding world class trotters.


“In Australia we have very brown paddocks and are hard feeding. If we can understand where our food bowl is and where our potential outcome needs to be, I think there’s an opportunity to breed world class horses here in Southland.”


He says breeders in New Zealand and Australia now have access to the best trotting genetics in the world.


“We need to understand that we’ve been behind in our breeding. I always said it’s a twelve to fifteen year programme for us to catch up but as long as we’ve got our Muscle Hill and Dream Vacation mares we can probably catchup a bit quicker. I think we’re between year eight and year ten at the moment.
Australian and New Zealand Trotting has one of the fastest growing gene pools in the world. We can now go to studs in America and Europe and command some respect. Fifteen years ago they frowned upon us.”


And he says Australasia has the fastest growing sub two minute trotting gene pool in the world.

“We are breeding greater number of trotters than ever before. Finland only has between 150 and 200 broodmares. Australia has a gene pool of between 800 and 1000 mares.”        

Aldebaran also has a strong profile in America and is breeding horses in Australia to Northern Hemisphere time and then sending them to America to be trained.

“Our trainer up there is Jonas Czernyson and he’s won five grand circuit races in the last six years for us. Why do we send horses to America to race? We need to send a statement to the rest of the world that our trotters are internationally relevant.”

They also purchase well bred trotting stock out of America and bring them back to Australia.

“We were very fortunate. We bought a Cantab Hall filly at the 2010 Lexington Sales. We bought her to Australia and put her in foal to Muscle Hill and that foal Aldabaron Walkabout won the Bluegrass - a grand circuit race in America last season at Kentucky at the Red Mile. To send a weanling to America and win a stakes race like that is a great thrill.”

As part of their commitment to making the Australian Trotting stock more international they continue to buy fillies with international pedigrees and breed foals to Southern Hemisphere time.  

“We buy fillies from all round the world and impregnate them to southern hemisphere time and then import them back into Australia. We’ve been doing that programme for six to eight years. We now have a global gene pool at Aldebaran Park in Australia. We have Readly Express fillies, Viking Kronas fillies and Credit Winner colts. We think we can now take the sport to another level.”

They also have a presence in Sweden and have horses trained by Pasi Aikio, head trainer at Menhammar Stuteri.

Aldebaran are big sponsors of trotting in Australia and their sponsorships include naming rights to the Aldebaran Park Mile Rate at Tabcorp Park, the Monte Series and the Vicbred Super Series for Trotters.


They also sponsor the Maori Mile at the Bendigo Harness Racing Club which is the richest Group One sprint for open class trotters held in regional Australia. 


Their sponsorships now extend to New Zealand with the $20,000 Aldebaran Park Trotters Super Gold Chip Final at Winton.


Aldebaran Park is also a strong advocate of the HERO program in Victoria which sees the re-education and re-homing of Standardbreds following their racing and stud careers.


They’re also partners of the Harness Breeders Victoria "Follow the Foal" programme.


McPherson says that Aldebaran, through all promotions and sponsorships support their Charity Partner - Women's Cancer Foundation, raising awareness of Ovarian Cancer through support of the Team Teal (New Zealand) and Teal Pants (Australia).


“I think we have an opportunity through Team Teal to endear ourselves to the general public and to make our sport socially relevant. You then have an opportunity to attract sponsors. Sponsors equal ownership and ownership equals demand on progeny.”

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Southland - U May Cullect

 

Bruce Stewart

 

 

It was one of those stellar days that don’t come along very often.

Trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis geared up four winners today at Ascot Park for Southland’s Diamonds Day - the premier race day of the season.

The ‘quaddie’ of wins was spearheaded by the stable’s glamour pacer, the unbeaten U May Cullect which stole the show.

The partnership which is only in its first season, has recorded two wins in a day twice before, but this was a milestone on another level.

Today Barclay wasn’t sure if she’d let U May Cullect press forward from the outside of the front line, stating that the horse would make up its own mind and she would just be the passenger.

The horse was keen and Barclay let him roll forward from the outside of the gate.

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Kirstin Barclay and U May Cullect press forward from the gate - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

From that point Barclay was in for the ride, and the five year old cruised down to the line for another emphatic win, beating My Georgie Boy by six and a half-lengths running the 2200 metre mobile in an impressive 2-41.9.

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U May Cullect doing it easy with a lap to run - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

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Down to the line for an easy win - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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  Tom Kilkelly (the guy with the biggest grin) with wife Julie - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

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Smiles all round - Photo Bruce Stewart


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Connections and sponsors - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

 

It’s likely this will be the gelding’s last start for the season as the connections have some bigger plans for him next season.

“Kirstin and Tank are making a plan and they’re talking about not racing him again because we’re hoping to get to the Cup. If we turn him out now he can come back for the likes of the Hannon and he’ll be off the front,” said owner Tom Kilkelly.

U May Cullect is eligible for a Super Nuggets Final in a weeks’ time but he’s unlikely to front.

“I’ve got a nice paddock for him locked up. Kirstin will look after him. I find you don’t want to treat them with kid gloves because that’s when things can go wrong. I don’t want him wrapped up in cotton wool.”

Kilkelly has raced some nice horses over the years including Guns N Roses and Shard Ark but he says U May Cullect is another level. He says he’s starting to feel the pressure that goes with owning a good horse which is unbeaten.

“Today I did get nervous. I don’t normally, but today in the last few minutes before the race I did because everyone was talking him up and he’s got a lot to live up to now.”

He said the horse continues to get better.

“They worked him on Wednesday and Kirstin said he worked better than before he went to Christchurch. Tank said his resting heart rate after the run was down to 40. The best I had a horse down to when I was training was 60 to 65 –they don’t come back to 40. So that just shows you the size of the heart. He’s special.”

On his return to the birdcage U May Cullect received applause from the Southern Harness fans who generally reserve it for the very best.

Kilkelly says although his name is in the race book as the owner he would like to think the province will also share in the success U May Cullect is having.

“We could have taken him further north but he’s a Southland horse. He’s not mine he’s ours. I said to Mick Guerin (Northern Journalist and Trackside Presenter) three things. He’s not for sale, he’s staying on the beach with Kirstin and Tank and Kirstin drives him. I said to him there’s a tar sealed road between Invercargill and Christchurch now.”

The prefect day was capped for Kilkelly when Chuckles won the last race. It was a very good aggressive drive by Barclay. From barrier five she speared the Grinfromeartoear gelding to the top. She handed the lead to Flaming Jim with 1600 metres to run. Flaming Jim was then attacked by hotshot Justasec which eventually made the lead with a lap to run. That battle certainly played into Chuckles hands as the trailing horse. With 800 metres to run Barclay pulled Chuckles out from three back on the inside but her progress was halted as he locked wheels with Flaming Jim. However she got going again and at the 400 metres Barclay was dishing it up to Justasec. On straightening Chuckles proved too tough for Justasec, winning by three and a half lengths.

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Another easy winner for Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis - Chuckles - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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The Sun shining bright on Chuckles completing a great day for owner Tom Kilkelly - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

Earlier in the day the Barclay/Ellis stable scored an upset win in the Williamson Racing Stables Handicap Trot when Wee Man Trouble beat higher assessed horses.

With 400 metres to run driver Blair Orange could see that some of the back markers had a bit of ground to make up on the leader De Vito so he popped out of the trailing position and pinched a five length break on the bulk of the field. It proved to be the winning of the race. Wee Man Trouble held on to beat a late charging War Admiral by a length.

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Wee Man Trouble hangs on to beat War Admiral - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to the birdcage lead by Shannon Armour - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

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Winning connections and sponsors - Photo Bruce Stewart. 

 

The win elevates Wee Man Trouble to seventh on the leader board for the $125,000 Harness Jewels Four Year Old Ruby.

The stable’s other winner was Paddyproudfoot.

Driver Kirstin Barclay once again used her horse’s gate speed and from barrier six the Washington VC gelding was taken straight to the top. With a lap to run she handed up to the second favourite Pitch Perfect. On straightening for the run home Pitch Perfect got away by two lengths but Paddyproudfoot came resolutely down the middle of the track to win by a length and a quarter.

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The angle is deceptive but Paddyproudfoot (6) gets up to win - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Heading back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

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Winning connections and sponsor - Photo Bruce Stewart 

  

Meanwhile other winners on the day included Full Noise which wore down a brave Neverneverland in the Invercargill Workouts Committee Handicap Trot.

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Full Noise stretching out nicely to win at Ascot Park today - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to the birdcage with driver Brent Barclay - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

The win puts the Majestic Son gelding in the top twelve in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Ruby.

Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr brought the majority of his team south but walked away with only one win. It came in race two with Change Is Good which was driven by Nathan Williamson.

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 The first of two wins for Nathan Williamson - Change Is Good - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

 

Nathan Williamson got the perfect sit behind pacemaker Bridesdale Robyn in the Foveaux Communication Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. At the top of the straight he got the passing lane run to win by a length and a quarter.

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Delightful Deal winning the fillies and mares race on Diamonds Day - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Mud - no worries for Delightful Deal - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

Vintage Cheddar scored a well-deserved win in the Regent Car Court Southern Country Cups Handicap Pace. Driver Brad Williamson tucked the four year old in behind leader Santanna’s Rocket which took him to the passing lane. Vintage Cheddar which is owned by Lindsay and Ian Thomson and trained by Alister Black made full use of the lane to beat Smokin By by a length and three quarters.

  

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 Brad Williamson and Vintage Cheddar heading home up the passing lane - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

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Sponsor and winning connections - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

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Cracker Hill Off To Winning Start

Mac Henry

Cracker Hill played no part in the dramatic opening to 'Wairio Mile Day' but was awarded victory in the first, despite being second across the line.

And for trainer-driver Brad Williamson it wasn't even a new experience.

“That's fourth time I've been promoted to first, twice after interference and twice after the winner returned positives,” he said.

Tinwald visitor Dora Explorer was called in the winner, only to be relegated for causing interference to Big Iron entering the back straight. Big Iron lost about 40 lengths in the incident before rallying to finish fourth, less than four lengths from the 'winner'.

“I wasn't affected by the interference,” Williamson said, “and was happy with second. He was more green in the straight than I expected and that was probably the difference between winning or coming second.”

A two-year-old on debut, Cracker Hill was passed in at the yearling sales by his breeders Lex and Heather Williams. According to Williamson, Gary Preston of Queenstown later secured the youngster, put a syndicate together and had him broken in a Jamie Keast.

“I met Gary at the Oamaru races one day, he asked me if I would train it for them. They are some of the same syndicate that races One Apollo.”

A winner at Winton last month, One Apollo is trained at Ashburton by Brent White.

“He was ready for a second prep when I got him, he'll only have four or five races this time but will be aimed at the premier two-year-old trots, that win would qualify him for the Jewels.”

One of only two juveniles in the field, Cracker Hill's time was 2:07.1, almost certainly a New Zealand record for two-year-old over a mile from a stand.

 

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Cracker Hill taken at the Winton Workouts. That day he was wearing Nathan Williamson colours - Photo Bruce Stewart 

Later in the programme, Brad Williamson also got a double for the day, the second in the sulky of Santanna's Rocket. Trained at Gore by Syd Breen, the five-year-old clocked 1:53.7, second fastest winning time of the day. It was the continuation of a successful period for Breen who at Wyndham last week took out the local Cup quinella with Sagwitch and Santanna's Rocket. Breen's strike rate this season sits at 15 wins from just 62 starts.

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Slate Lives Up To Big Wrap

Mac Henry

Slate justified the decision of his Winton breeder owner and trainer Des Baynes to be patient, when the four-year-old won in 1:56.7 at just his second start.

“He was big, all legs and a bit weak, I didn't do much with him at two or three,” Baynes explained.

In November last year, Slate went to his first workout. Later in the month he had his one and only trial, qualified impressively and continues to improve.

“He's shown high speed but is green and inclined to over- race so has led. He's had two front row draws, needs a few trips in behind, they go harder in the next grade so he should get them now.”

By Changeover, Slate is the third foal of Dress to Impress.

“She had a drop of speed but bad feet,” Baynes said. “Her first foal Granite was a nice horse but got injured. Her latest is an American Ideal filly and she shows a bit.”

 

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Slate at the Winton Workouts - Photo Bruce Stewart 

Sheree Tomlinson didn't know she was driving Fire Bug on Saturday until she saw the fields but didn't waste the opportunity, winning in 1:55.3.

Drawn just one spot in from the outside of the second line, they went back at the start but then found a passage up the poles to soon be three back on the inner. Off the poles near the turn, the three-year-old on debut took time to work clear before finishing hard late.

“I didn't want to push her forward in her first start so went back, I was lucky to get up the inside,” Tomlinson said of the Mach Three filly, “everything was stopping on the turn so I got her out, she did it really easily.”

Fire Bug, from the stable of Mark Jones, was the first of three Canterbury visitors on the day.

Second of the Cantabrians was Classy Kid whose 2:00.3 was the fastest of the winning stand-start times. The striking grey six-year-old, driven by Amber Lethaby - who in partnership with husband Jason also trains the son of Klondike Kid – led out but soon trailed Kiwi Bloke who held the advantage until late in the race.

“He's never been far away and I would have led but the right horse to follow came round,”Amber Lethaby said. “I could have taken the lane but he hasn't sprinted so well in there in previous races so I chose to come off.”

Lethaby named the good stake and shortage of stand-start races in Canterbury as reasons for making the trip south.

Arden Lustre made it three wins for the visitors when winning the final event in 2:01.9. In the hands of Blair Orange, the winner of seven flew out when the stand-start tapes were released and was never headed from then.

 

 

 

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Playboy Derby Bound

Bruce Stewart

The Gore trained Robyns Playboy looked to be on target for the New Zealand Derby when he impressively beat a quality field of mainly three year olds in the Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting at Ascot Park yesterday.

In the $20,000 feature, Zinny Mach took an early lead but Robyns Playboy’s driver Craig Ferguson pressed forward and hit the lead with 1600 metres to run.

“I thought he had a bit more gate speed and that he would hold the front but when Zinny Mach crossed him it was looking a bit dangerous particularly if Nathan didn’t hand up,” said trainer Ross Wilson.

Ferguson then dictated the speed of the race and with his ears pinned back Robyns Playboy went down to the finish line beating two latecomers Memphis Tennessee (second by one length) and Barrett a nose back in third.

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Craig Ferguson and Robyns Playboy winning at Ascot Park yesterday - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

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The winning Wilsons - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

Wilson says Robyns Playboy has a strong character and can be a bit of a handful at home as well as on raceday sometimes, but today he was fine.

“Sometimes he'll pull in the pre-lim and you can’t pull him up but he was more settled today.”

So his next start will be on the 5th April is the $200,000 Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Derby.

“I’m not going to go for any lead up race. That’ll be his next start. He’s a very fit horse and he doesn’t take a lot of work. He hasn’t come to the end of his run yet. At home he does quite a bit of cantering on the frame and leading up to a race he only needs about three hopples.”

This will be the first time Wilson has had a runner in the Derby.

“Hopefully we’ll carry on to the Jewels. We’re aiming Bridesdale Robyn at the Jewels too. To have a horse at those events is a real thrill.”

Today’s win elevates Robyns Playboy to fourth in the Harness Jewels Three Year Old Emerald.

The win was Ferguson’s seventeenth of the season and equals his best season as an open driver and Robyns Playboy is clearly the best horse he’s driven.

“He’s got a very high cruising speed and Craig says he just waits on them.”

Meanwhile the biggest upset of the day came in the Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks when the Gavin Smith trained Swiss Miss beat more fancied runners in the $20,000 feature for three year old trotting fillies.

Just when it looked like Cheerful and Majestic Chevron were going to fight out the finish Nathan Williamson got Swiss Miss wound up and she stormed down the outside to beat Majestic Chevron by half a neck with a nose back to Cheerful.

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Swiss Miss gets up on the outside - Photo Bruce Stewart.

 

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Pretty happy driver - Photo Bruce Stewart

 

The winning time of 2-47.9 equals the race and track record held by last year’s winner Luby Lou.

The New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on the 22nd March looks to be shaping up to be a fairly even contest.

 

 

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 Northern Southland TC Adds to Teal Campaign

 

On Friday Harness driver Ellie Barron promised to make a 100 metre dash in costume at the Northern Southland Trotting Club meeting if $1,000 was pledged to the Teal Pants Campaign.

And if the donations reached $2,000 it was to become a match race between Ellie and fellow harness driver Kirstin Barclay (also in costume). Southern Harness Racing Board member Tom Kilkelly also joined in as the Teal Pants campaign in the south is about to come to a spectacular end!!  

Barron won the dash with Kilkelly and Barclay dead heating for second. Donations reached over $3,500.

 

Update:

 

  • $7,353.40 (on course donations, dash for cash + $500 Caduceus Club, $500 SBSR & $200 Robin Dundee Club).

 

  • $3,600.00 (plus 6 teal pants wins in the South over the campaign @ $600 each = $3600.00).

     

  • $10,953.40  TOTAL RAISED BY THE SOUTHERN HARNESS REGION

  

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Mossdale Archie

Bruce Stewart

The stunning maiden mile win in 1-52.5 by Mossdale Art at Winton in December has put the spotlight once again on ‘Mossdale’ horses raced by former Northern Southland and now Cromwell breeder Archie Affleck and his wife Margaret.

“Yeah that first start was pretty good. Goodness knows whether this is the peak or there’s more to come. Time will tell. I think the Hopes think she’s a bit special,” he said.

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Archie Affleck with wife Margaret and their grandchildren with Mossdale Art at Winton after her second win there - Photo Bruce Stewart 

 

The Mossdale Harness Racing prefix has been around since 1993 and stems from the Mossdale Clydesdale Stud near Otama which was owned by the late Thomas Logan, Archie’s Grandfather. It was later relocated to Tapanui where it’s now run by Archie’s brother Bill.

“I was being a bit of a smart ass one day and called a horse Mossdale Flyer. After that we just keep calling everything Mossdale.”

Mossdale Flyer was by Lake Hills Jeb out of Lady. Lady was by Holmes Hanover out of Lady Sherwood who was by Armbro Hurricane out of Zenover. So this is the dual gaited family that’s produced juvenile trotter Harvey Wilson and Zebec and pacing stars Elsu and Motoring Magic.

“We leased that mare (Lady) off Bob McArdle.”

Looking back on the history of the Mossdale Stud and in 1932 the then Governor General of New Zealand Lord Bledisloe visited the stud. It was the same year the first Bledisloe Cup was played for between the All Blacks and The Wallabies. The Cup is named after Lord Bledisloe.

Like the Standardbred industry the Clydesdale industry is suffering from a decline in breeding numbers. In the 2009/2010 season 97 mares were served in New Zealand while last season only 47 were put in foal.

Archie Affleck grew up in Northern Southland and his father (also Archie) instilled a strong work ethic in him and the boys of the family.

“My father was a Scotsman so he kept us working. I had four brothers and we all knew that we had to work if we wanted to go farming,” he said.

And farming young Archie did. He and Margaret farmed 4000 acres North East of Riversdale up the Waikaia Valley where they ran sheep and beef.

“We just kept buying bits.”

They have since sold the farm and moved to Cromwell.

“The last bit sold in March but we’ve been selling down for a year or two. All the good stuff has gone to dairy but the hill land is still beef and lamb.”

They’ve now taken on a completely different challenge, growing cherries on the three hectare property they’ve owned for three years.   

“This is a new experience. We’re picking this year after just three years but usually it takes four. Growing them on the wire makes it a bit quicker. Most of them go overseas but the local market has been pretty good this year. It’s a first year on our orchard but out daughter (Jane Miscisco) is in her second year so she should get a very good crop this year.”

On the Standardbred front all of the Affleck’s mares now reside in Christchurch.

“We could have run them here in Cromwell but the horse transport trucks don’t go past. I didn’t want to be loading up horses and carting them round. They’re up at Dancingonmoonlight.”

So getting back to how his racing and breeding interest began, it was while living in Northern Southland that Affleck ventured into racing and breeding Standardbreds initially, with Jaccka Lodge’s Charlie Smaill.

“Charlie pushed us into it. I was keen though because it was a bit of an outside interest to farming.”

The first horse they raced was Keyali which was bred by another Northern Southland breeder Neil Timms.

She was by Gaines Minbar out of Keyanau and had her first start at Invercargill in February 1987 when trained by Phil Cross. From January the following year Hori Lee took over the training and she won three races in a row.

“We thought we were made and then the next telephone call was to say she was lame. It brings you back down to earth again.”

She ended up winning seven races from forty nine starts before going to the broodmare paddock.

The mare’s first foal was Kute Jaccka (Holmes Hanover) which won four races.

“She was a big strong mare.”

Once Kute Jaccka retired from racing Affleck started to breed more seriously.

Kute Jaccka’s first foal Mossdale Kara qualified at the annual Balfour grass track meeting in December 2005 for trainer Tony Barron but never raced.

She had been the mare responsible for rejuvenating the Mossdale breed, leaving Mossdale Conner (13 wins), Mossdale Major (2 wins), Mossdale Sue (2 wins) and Mossdale Rose (6 wins). Mossdale Major is also the dam of Affleck’s latest star Mossdale Art.

Mossdale Conner is the best horse Affleck has raced so far. He’s the winner of 13 races in New Zealand including the Taylor Mile in 2015, the Northern Southland Cup in 2016 and the Green Mile at Methven in 2014. He was also placed third in the 2015 New Zealand Trotting Cup and ran a close second in the New Zealand Free For All at Addington.

And his favourite memories of the horse?

“My best memories were the Taylor Mile as well as running third in the New Zealand Cup then we thought we’d won the Free For All as well as the Northern Southland Cup.”

 

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 Mossdale Conner after his win in the Northern Southland Cup - Photos Bruce Stewart


Unfortunately Mossdale Conner was tragically lost in the United States after a battle with cancer.

He had only raced six times for his American trainer Peter Tritton, winning four, including the $150,000 Ben Stafford Junior Invitational - pacing the mile in 1.49.

“He was the horse. The fella that bought him was pretty sad to. He thought he was going to be something really special. While he was here we’d treated the horse for a cancer growth on his shoulder. Brendon Bell (vet) didn’t want to cut it out in case it interfered with the muscles. The buyer knew all about that before he bought him. Whether it was connected I don’t know.” 

Affleck is no longer breeding from Mossdale Kara.

“She had an accident and the last few years we’ve tried embryo transplant and it hasn’t worked.”

But he is breeding from some of her daughters. Mossdale Sue, which is a full sister to Mossdale Conner, has just left her first foal – a filly by Mach Three while Mossdale Rose although still racing is due to retire as she’s in foal to Sweet Lou.

Mossdale Kara wasn’t the only mare Affleck tried breeding from. In the late 1990s he bought On Leave from Ossie Throp.

“We had a whisky to confirm the deal.”

She was by Majestic Chance out of On Patrol. Affleck bred twelve foals out of her with the best being Mossdale Ross which won twelve races in Australia.

In the early days Affleck had his horses trained by Hori Lee and Kirk Larsen but now they’re all trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope. It’s a relationship that goes back to 1998.

“We had two at the sales and one didn’t sell and Anthea Sharp who had prepared the horses recommended that we send it to Greg. He went halves in it. When we went there Ben was barely walking - that was twenty odd years ago.”

The one they sold was Mossdale Jane, whilst the horse that went to the Hopes was Mossdale Cam (Camtastic – Taurus Ali). It won one race before Brian Meale bought him and exported him to America where he won another five races.

It was the beach training Greg and Nina Hope could provide that appealed to Affleck.

“I remember one of the Southland trainers – it might have been Tony Barron went up to Brighton Beach before he went to Auckland. I reckon you could just about see the horses smiling. It was better than running round in Southland in a circle. If I was a horse I’d want to be on the beach.”

Consequently all of  Affleck’s race horses go to Greg and Nina Hope.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for the Hopes, Ricky (May) and Ben (Hope) .”     

Mossdale Major’s next foal is a yearling colt by Mach Three.

“John Yesburg likes that one and we’ll race him.”

One stallion that’s nicked with the Mossdale breed is Bettor’s Delight.

“I’m not a big studier of pedigree but when you look at all the big races the Bettor’s Delights aren’t too far away.”

Although they probably moved to Cromwell for quieter times, I suspect Archie and Margaret are still kept pretty busy with grandchildren, cherries and a few trips to the races, where there’s bound to be a few more Mossdales winning races.

 

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