Day At The Track

Dillon wins with nice filly

09:01 AM 16 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Bridesdale Robyn,Harness racing
Bridesdale Robyn with Craig Ferguson as a two year old at Winton last season
Photo by Bruce Stewart

The royally breed Bridesdale Robyn impressed when she won at Gore yesterday.

She's owned by Judy Dillon and Ross Wilson who also trains the filly. Wilson and Graeme Edgar raced Robyn's Treasure, Bridesdale Robyn's dam. She won seven races including the 1994 New Zealand Oaks, DB Fillies Final double at Addington. 

Judy was given the mare by Wilson and Edgar so she could retire on the Dillon family farm.

"I was allowed a foal which we got but when Bridey (Bridesdale Robyn) was six weeks old Robyn's Treasure had a paddock accident. She shattered her shoulder and had to be put down. I had to hand rear the foal and she wouldn't drink for a start. I was pulling my hair out but then she started to drink from a bucket. She must have got really hungry. Since then she never looked back and was drinking ten litres a day. Two and a half litres, four times a day," she said. 

By Christian Cullen, Bridesdale Robyn is named after stock that the Dillons produce on their farm 'Bridesdale' at Ardlussa in Northern Southland. They raise Romney and Dorset Downs sheep on what was originally an 800 acre block - some of the farm has since been sold to their son. The home block is now 100 acres.

"All my sheep have the prefix Bridesdale and I couldn't get that name so Ross suggested I try Bridesdale Robyn."

Bridesdale Robyn started twice as a two year old last season.

"She was up against the Purdon/Rasmussen horses and the boys (colts and geldings) but went round and did everything right."

In yesterday's win driver Craig Ferguson took her straight to the lead. 

"She likes it out in front. She hasn't learned to relax when she's trailing up so she's a work in progress. It wasn't a very hard run for her today. She'll be lining up again shortly but that's (programming) Ross's job." 

She was taken to just two workouts this season prior to yesterday's start  

"Ross has always liked her. He broke her in and has done all the preparation. At the workouts two weeks ago she just strolled round and won easily. We don't know what sort of bottom (depth) she has to her yet." 

There's plenty of heritage in the Dillon family name. Judy's husband Richard's uncle Charlie Dillon (C.E. Dillon) owned and trained horses at Kaweku near Riversdale.

"Bryce Buchanan and John Ryan worked for him. He raced Novelda (Dillon Hall - Charming Child) which won the 1947 Wyndham Juvenile Stakes."

He also bred and raced King Hal which won the 1960 Great Northern Derby. He was trained by Ces Donald and driven by Derek Jones. 

Novelda's full-sister Nadine left the handy pacer Johnny Dean (Johnny Globe - Nadine) which Charlie raced. He won five races, four as a four year old in the 1960-61 season. He was trained by RJ (Sid) Kemble. Garrison Royal was another handy horse Charlie Dillon raced, also trained by Ces Donald.

Dillon raced many horses with the Sherwood prefix.

Judy is still an active breeder with a handful of mares. Her Camtastic mare Daisy Belle, which has left the nine win gelding Jimbob Jac, has a nice colt by Somebeachsomewhere called Archman. He's three and is currently getting ready to qualify for Geoff and Jude Knight. 

Judy's father Eric Butler with Alan Jones operated the first mobile vehicle in Southland. Eric also bred horses producing Mister Majestic (Majestic Chance - Mary Bank) which won eight races and was the first horse Ross Wilson trained. He was also his winner when he won at Roxburgh in April 1980.

Bruce Stewart
Southland Harness Racing


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