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 Nathan Williamson and Sekkie Monkey 

 

 
Sekkie Monkey Gets The Money

 

Sekkie Monkey upset a strong field of maiden trotters at Ascot Park today.

The four year old daughter of Monkey Bones was the sixth favourite in a race that was expected to be dominated by well bred Jaccka Jeorge and Liberty Stride.

“That was a good maiden field and I wasn’t sure how we would go. But she went well,” said trainer driver Nathan Williamson.

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Blair Orange and Hampton

 

Hampton Lives Up To It's Breeding

 

Sportswriter gelding Hampton had a bit to live up to.

Until today, his Christian Cullen dam Baptism Of Fire had left six winners from eight foals of racing age including Highview Tommy (17 wins and $1,021,904) Highview Chartom, Highview Teejay and Highview Freddy; all five win horses.

“Everything out of that mare has won races with the worst winning four. So he (Hampton) should be able to get another couple of wins at least. This horse will be better in twelve months,” said Kirstin Barclay who co-trains the gelding with Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis.

 
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 Gazza Galleon and Matty Williamson

 


Gazza Wins Gold Chips

 

The $12,000 Aldebaran Park Gold Chip Trot Final was taken out by Gazza Galleon at just his fifth start. The Majestic Sun three-year-old is trained at Oamaru by Phil Williamson and raced by a couple of his loyal owners Bill Stevenson and Neville McNee. Matthew Williamson was driving the colt for just the second time, having handled him on debut in his one and only juvenile start.

“He went good but galloped,” Matthew said, “this season Dad had been on in all his starts, to teach him, because of his greenness....


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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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