Day At The Track

Gray will get a personal best

07:33 AM 05 Mar 2018 NZDT
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Convair Hustler,harness racing
Convair Hustler after winning at Ascot Park
Photo Bruce Stewart

There's no doubt the Ryal Bush harness racing trainer Brett Gray will get a personal training best this season. The only question is whether he can hang onto his lead in the Southland Trainers Premiership.

He geared up two feature race winners yesterday (Saturday) at the Invercargill Harness Racing Clubs meeting on the grass at Ascot Park.

The well bred Convair Hustler was the first of his two winners in the $12,000 Invercargill Licensing Trust Nuggets Final. Driver Dexter Dunn sat parked with the Mach Three gelding for a good part of the 2050 metre race before getting cover from Duke of Wellington from the 800 metres.

Duke of Wellington looked to have his rivals covered but Dunn drove Convair Hustler off his back on the inside to score by half a head. The time of 2-37.6 was the fastest of the day for 2050 metres.


Convair Hustler (6) and Dexter Dunn winning from Duke Of Wellington (8)  - Photo Bruce Stewart.

The win qualifies Convair Hustler for the $20,000 Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland Trotting Clubs meeting this Saturday but Gray is not sure whether he'll line up.

"I don't know how he'll back up being so close. I'll see how he pulls up and have a talk to the owners. He did disappoint me over the mile the other day (when he backed up) but he's a Mach Three so a wee bit in and out," Gray said after the win.

Convair Hustler, which is raced by the Baynes Racing Syndicate, is named after the Convair B-58 Hustler plane, the first operational jet bomber capable of Mach 2 flight. I suspect he was named by John Baynes, a keen aviator whose wife Penny is one half of the Baynes Racing Syndicate with her brother in-law Kenny. None of the winning owners were on course today with Penny reported to be in Whitianga.

Young Conqueror, also trained by Gray won the next race - the ILT Foundation Autumn Cup. Starting off the 10 metre handicap, the Mach Three four year old settled ninth for driver Brent Barclay. With 600 metres to run Young Conqueror was fourth last with plenty of work to do. He tracked Shortys Mate into the race then came home with the good stayers run to beat Shortys Mate by a neck with another length back to Pass The Speights. It was the geldings fifth win in only nineteen starts and qualifies him for the bMac Sheetmetal 2005 Limited Southland Country Cups Final to be held on Diamonds Day at the end of April. Other leading candidates for the series final are; Gotta Del, Royal Bengal, Shortys Mate, The Big Boss, Bevan's Cullen and Deliska. 

The two wins yesterday put Gray on twenty five wins for the season - six wins clear of his nearest rival Nathan Williamson. From a PB prospective for the last two seasons he's trained twenty six winners. 

Gray's set to line up some of his big guns at this Saturday's Northern Southland meeting including Smokey Mac and Jen Jaccka who will race in the Group Three Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights.

"Zealand Star will line up in the Super Nuggets Final. He went really good at the workouts on Friday. I'm really happy with him at the moment." 

Other features on the card at the meeting are the $20,000 Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks, the $25,000 Group Three Caduceus Club of Southland/Alabar Two Year Old Fillies Mobile Pace and the Group Three Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Trotting Cup worth $40,000.

Meanwhile grass racing has helped turn the corner for the Hamish Hunter trained Tiziano. Up until the beginning of February her form had been average at best, but since grass track racing became an option for the four year old Big Jim mare she's regained form.


Another grass track victory for Tiziano and Matty Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart.

A fourth at Gore indicated she had a liking for the surface. That was followed up by a win at Oamaru, a third at Waikouaiti at the end of last month and another win yesterday at Invercargill. 

 

Bruce Stewart 
Southland Harness

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