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Despite Southland having its best summer in years, the dry hot conditions didn’t produce the number of track records we might have expected. Whereas last season over thirty track records were broken, this season the numbers were down with only thirteen pacing and seven trotting records broken across the province, including Southern tracks in Central Otago. The leading track for breaking records was Ascot Park Invercargill, with two pacing records and four trotting records broken. The two pacing records were three year old Christian Cullen gelding Karmic Way which recorded 2-04.43 for the 1700 metre mobile which was also a Southland record, and two year old colt A Bettor Act which ran 2200 metres from the mobile in 2-40.6, a new Southland and New Zealand record. Luby Lou, the winner of the inaugural Southland Trotting Oaks ran a new Southland record at Ascot Park when she recorded 2-47.9 for her 2200 metre mobile win. War Admiral showed his potential when he won over the same distance in 2-48.0 which was also a track and Southland record.  Finally quality two year old trotter Full Noise which debuted over 2700 metres from the stand against older opposition, created a new two year old track, Southland and National record when he trotted the distance in 3-35.0. Central Southland Raceway proved to be the fastest track in the province though with Franco Santino recording the fastest mile time of the season in the province when he won in March in a time of 1-52.0. It was also a Southland record for three year old colts and geldings. Somejoy added to her record when she broke the four year old and older mare’s track record running the mile in 1-53.2. Two trotters to break records this season on the Winton track were Jen Jaccka 3-00.9 for the 2400 metre stand which was also a New Zealand record, and Sundons Wish which ran 3-02.5 over the same distance to break the Open Entires and Geldings record. Young Quinn Raceway in Wyndham had four records broken this season. The Robbie Holmes trained Kiwi On Show recorded a 1-52.2 mile time and broke the Mares and All-Comers record while War Dan Delight broke the long standing Kindergarten Stakes race record when he posted 1-53.3 for the 1609 metre mobile. His time was also a track and Southland record for his age. Kiwi On Show                - Photo Bruce Stewart.           The other track record holder was the ill-fated Steiger which recorded 2-57.2 to break the 2400 metre stand record of aged entires and geldings. Omakau was the home of two track records this season; Maidonthebeach posted 2-27.5 for the 2000 metre mobile, a new mare’s track record, while Hicori ran his 2600 metre standing start in 3-20.9. A new record for three year old colts and geldings. At Roxburgh two records were broken. War Machine ran 3-28.2 over 2700 metres from the stand and Deliska broke the 2700 metre stand record when she won the Roxburgh Cup in 3-25.0. The Gore all weather surface produced just one track record when Nemura Franco broke the three year old fillies’ record for the 2200 metre mobile, winning in 2-41.4. No records were broken this season at the Gore grass track meeting while at Ascot Park at its first grass meeting in years, seven new records were created. At Cromwell on the grass two pacing and one trotting records were broken. Leah Mac broke Idealistic Lass’s mare's record over 1800 metres from the mobile. The new record is 2-13.8. Idealistic Lass remained in the record books however when she recorded 3-22.7 over 2600 metres from the stand. On the trotting front the promising Kenny’s Dream broke Dark Horse's three year old fillies record for the 2600 metre stand recording 3-28.8.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Southland harness racing trainer Aaron Swain gets a thrill out of training winners for new owners because he knows they're the future of the industry. The win by Sadhana today for owners Hayden Stronach, Connor Hillis, Shane Stronach and Scott Leader all started with a phone call from one of Swain's good mates.  "One of my mates said he he had some workmates who were keen on getting into a horse. The All Age Sales were the next day," Swain who shares in the ownership said. He bought the Western Ideal filly which is out of the In The Pocket mare Gem Power, for $4,200 and since then she's been the apple of her new owners' eyes.   "They come to see her once a week in the paddock and give her a pat. They've never owned a horse in their lives and hardly ever went to the races until this girl came along. They're probably the best bunch of owners you could have. They pay you the day after you send the bill. They all come to every single workout and trial." Happy Faces with Judy Pangiotidis (Lady In Red) who's just retired after 32 years serving drinks at Ascot Park      - Photo Bruce Stewart. Gem Power won once, and at stud left Ideal Power which won four races which included two heats of the Nevele R Fillies Series. Sadhana qualified at Central Southland Raceway in September last year and according to Swain has taken time to mature.  "She didn't show me too much early but she turned a corner and has got better as we've gone on. She'll get better with more racing."  For most of the race driver Nathan Williamson had Sadhana parked and at the end of the 2200 metres under a hard drive she toughed it out to beat Divine Justice by a neck.   Bruce Stewart Soutland Harness Racing

Invercargill horseman Shane Walkinshaw doesn't train too many horses these days due to the fact that harness racing isn't his full-time employment. Today at Ascot Park the only horse he has in his stable - Glens Of Tekoa - easily won an MR 45-MR50 mobile 2200 metre race. From barrier five the Sir Lincoln gelding bobbled for a few steps before settling in the last three on the outside. With 1300 metres to run Walkinshaw sent the three year old forward when the speed was eased. He sat parked for a short period before Key Reactor which was three wide and hanging, finally gave him cover inside the last 600. With 300 metres to run Walkinshaw worked Glens Of Tekoa out three wide and he let down nicely to beat Bush Man by a length and a half.   "He was travelling super the whole way. We ended up getting a nice run so it all helped," Walkinshaw said. Glens Of Tekoa winning for trainer driver Shane Walkinshaw - Photo Bruce Stewart. He's out of a family that hasn't left too many winners recently but extends back in pedigree to good horses like Bachelor Star, Main Adios, Bionic Star and Main Star which were all bred and developed by Alister Kerslake.  "I've had him since he was two. I've always liked his attitude. He's got a great temprament and wants to race. If they've got the will to do it, you can't ask for much more. I had to wait on him but he's strengthened up nicely as a three year old. He'll be better next year too. I might give him one start at Forbury and then flick him out."  Walkinshaw, who trains his horses out of Mark and Debbie Shirley's barn trained his last winner, Give Me The Night at Ascot Park in December 2015.  He ended the day driving two other winners, Magnetic Watch and Franco Huntington and now sits on 297 driving wins. Meanwhile the Southland Drivers Premiership is going down to the wire with Brent Barclay on 40 winners, three ahead of last seasons premiership winner Nathan Williamson.    Bruce Stewart Soutland Harness Racing

Tapanui trainer Matt Saunders knows how to turn a horse's formline around and that was demonstrated today at Ascot Park when Pete's Dash beat Doubt Me Not by half a neck. Saunders has had Pete's Dash for about four weeks before which he was raced out of Steve Clarke's barn. The gelding's last start at Forbury when he ran second for Saunders indicated his fortunes were changing. Although he like most trainers likes to train up and coming horses, he also likes the challenge of spotting horses that he thinks he can improve.  "I look for horses that have run between fourth and tenth at Addington, are running good times and are not too far behind the winners. There's a bit of a drop to a rating 40 in Southland. Horses like him are cheap and handy to finish the season down here and improve what has been a pretty average season for me up until now," he said.   Prior to joining the Saunders team the Changeover four year old's best run was a fourth at Banks Peninsula in March.  "I haven't changed anything really. Just a change of scenery. He's bloody fit and in great nick. This week he hadn't done much because it snowed. Maybe he was fresher because I couldn't work him." Driver Mark Hurrell settled Pete's Dash off the pace early until the 1500 metres when he decided to move forward three wide. He was caught wide for the length of the home straight and Hurrell had to rein the gelding up and pull the air plugs with a lap to run. He sat parked for the last lap. And in a hard drive to the line Pete's Dash beat Doubt Me Not by half a neck with another half a head back to Dismara who'd tried to lead all the way.  Pete's Dash (6) and Mark Hurrell getting up to win at Ascot Park - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He's still got quite a bit to learn. Peter Hunter (fellow Southland trainer) said the Changeovers get better with age. They haven't got a lot of speed but they're pretty tough." Today's meeting was the last of the season in Southland and now the focus turns to the Forbury Park Winter season.  "I may take him up to Forbury for a run or two and get rid of him but I may bring him back. I'm not sure."  It was Saunders' twenty fourth career win and his third for this season but he looking forward to the return of some of his better horses such as Betstars Blue Jean. "She's a good horse. She's just taken me a long time to figure out and I did towards the end. Simply Dreaming who was the Southland Two Year Old Of The Year last season has had a long spell because he wasn't right over Christmas. Blarney Babe is a nice maiden." Saunders moved to Tapanui at the start of last year to run the local Four Square store and mixes working in the shop with training horse at the Tapanui Racecourse.  "It's good because it keeps me fresh. The sheep are about to go on the track for a month so it means I can have a holiday because I can't work horses. I'm really enjoying the mix actually." The former Highlander and Southland Stag outside back says there are a few similarities between training for rugby and training race horses.  "The breed has changed and you don't need to work them for so long. I do a bit more speed training and working my horses a bit more like a galloper - sprinting hard at the end of a jog. Its like the back end of footie training where you don't do too much leading into a game." Pete's Dash was bred by Clive and Rona McKay and is out of the Holmes Hanover mare Sensitive Poplar. She has left good types in Nemesis (5 wins), Lauramegan (7 wins) and Clive (6 wins). Pete's Dash is raced by The Sue Ping Syndicate, Bratk Syndicate and Saunder's wife Joleen.    Bruce Stewart Soutland Harness Racing

80 year old Invercargill trainer Owen Lawrence doesn't train too many horses these days and although there's been buyer interest in his pacer I'm Trouble, Lawrence is keen to hang on to him. "Dad's had offers for him but we're both enjoying this horse so we'll keep him," said Lawrence's daughter Carol Graham who drives the Changeover gelding in all his work. The three year old has had plenty of groundwork and roadtrips just to get him used to the race day environment.  "He's just come into his own in the last couple of months. He was a bit of a handful in his stall at the races. He knows what racing is all about now. He's always looked as if he would go alright. He went round the trials quite a bit because we didn't realise that we'd qualified him first up."  Today the three year old settled seventh on the outside. At the 400 driver Rory McIIwrick launched I'm Trouble three wide and he cruised up to the leaders just after turning in. He let down nicely to win by a length and a quarter from Better B Ready.  I'm Trouble winning his second race - Photo Bruce Stewart. "Rory said he did it on his ear. He's liked him for a wee while."  I'm Trouble was bred by Hamish Scott and Doctor Kim Lawson and is out of the Troublemaker mare Trouble In The Ranks. She won once from five starts. Her pedigree goes back to a breed the late Andrew Sellars had success with, breeding horses like Sassenach (12 wins), Ryal (9 wins), Zabadak (11 wins) and Stampede (11 wins).  Lawrence used to be a regular buyer at the yearling sales but he's now breeding from Arancia, a Washington VC mare he won four races with. She has fillies by Auckland Reactor and Sir Lincoln.  He's had a licence to train since 1986. His first winner was Our Angela driven by Doug McNaught at Wyndham in February 1987. Today's win was his twenty seventh. Twenty of those have been with trotters.     Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing  

Junior driver Ben Hope saw first hand how rough the weather can get in the deep south when he drove at Ascot Park for the first time today. The day was probably at it's best when he reined Kingslayer to win the Watts Backflow Junior Drivers Mobile Pace. Trained by his parents Greg and Nina Hope, the Christian Cullen gelding at only it's third start is still green and showed a few wayward tendencies in his preliminary.  "In the warm up he was keen and galloping and wasn't really on the job. When we got up on the gate he was very keen to go and had that wee gallop but to his credit he came back down quite quickly," said Hope. Three lengths off the gate at dispatch, Hope didn't panic and settled the favourite in last place with Ellie Barron taking second favourite Black Ops to the front.  "With a lap to go he was really pulling hard. I felt he probably would have choked down if I'd stayed there much longer." So Hope sent Kingslayer forward three wide with a lap to run.   "I saw Ellie batting her one (horse) up a bit so I thought I might be able to go round quickly enough to get in front of her which I did. It took a bit of work to get there and lucky enough the horse kept going for me."  Hope didn't get to the lead until the 500 metre mark and with 400 metres to run pulled the ear plugs and started to tap the gelding up to keep him rolling. Under a hard drive Kingslayer held on to beat a late charging Shelby Bromac by three quarters of a length with a nose back to a game Black Ops, and Machs Mareta another nose back in fourth.   Kingslayer (6) and Ben Hope beating Shelby Bromac (8) -Photo Bruce Stewart. "He's got the ability but he's a green horse and likes to run around. He has two prickers on and a jaw breaker to help his steering. He's got a big motor and we came down to try and win a junior drivers race with him and get points for the junior drivers championship. I'm currently in the top six. That was the goal and he duly delivered. It's my tenth win of the season."  Kingslayer is out of the Bettor's Delight mare Millwood Manhattan and was bred by Katie Carville. Millwood Manhattan won three races for Auckland trainer Tony Herlihy including her first start as a two year old. Kingslayer is her first foal. He's closely related to big winners; Ohoka Arizona (8 New Zealand wins), Ohoka Samson (3 NZ wins and 12 Australian) and Ohoka Colorado (3 NZ wins and 20 Australian wins).   "I'd say he should be able to win four or five at least. He just needs a bit more racing. He'll probably go out for a break now."   Although it was cold for his first drive on Kingslayer, the weather turned later in the afternoon and was at it's worst when Hope drove Rockntommy Rulz in Race Six. The first start two year old settled last early and lost his way in the doom and gloom finishing twenty two lengths from the winner - the aptly named Fun In The Dark.  Fun In The Dark is trained and was driven by Matt Purvis. Purvis's sister Charlotte won earlier in the day on the Phil Williamson trained Madison Jane. It was the Monarchy mare's third win in four starts. She's now won five races in total and was up against a field made up primarily of one win horses.  Meanwhile it was a super day for Ascot Park trainers Mark and Debbie Shirley. They brought two horses to the races; Cullens Avenue and Mighty Conqueror and they both won. Mark shares in the ownership of both with good friend Malcolm Dewe. Mighty Conqueror's half-brother Young Conqueror ran second to his younger sibling.  Shane Walkinshaw drove both.  Mark is the President of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Westward Beach harness racing trainer Graeme Anderson doesn't start too many two year olds and Motu Top Mach was the first he's taken to the races since Eamon Maguire won his first start at Forbury in July 2016. "He's a natural strong wee two year old. I had his half-sister Motu Moonbeam which was a good mare for me. She's won about $450,000 in America. That was the reason I bought him. He was only seven thousand dollars so that helped," said Anderson. From two on the second line driver Dexter Dunn pushed the gelding through and was in front inside the first four hundred metres. From there it was easy with Motu Top Mach winning by four and three quarter lengths without the removable deafeners being released.  Victory salute                    - Photo Bruce Stewart.  "He's been in front in his previous start. He's got a bit of gate speed and got through from the second line today. Dexter said he wasn't concentrating last week so I put the half blinds on him today and it was a lot better. There's still improvement in him." Motu Top Mach was broken in by Mark Fuller in Christchurch. "He did a wonderful job. He came home to me bullet proof and gaited up. I get the easy part really."   He's owned by Gerard Cayford, Ray Chalklin, Stuart Gillan, Tony Gow, Steve Pulley, Anderson and the Hunter Boys Syndicate. Chalklin, Gow, Anderson and Pulley along with Stuart Gillan's wife Pauline share in the ownership of Eamon Maguire which is one of the favourites for the $150,000 Group One Four Year Old Emerald at Cambridge next Saturday.  "This is the first horse the Hunter Boys have had with me. There's fifteen in the syndicate including Andrew Hunter and David Hunter who trains the Taieri Rugby Prems (Seniors)." Anderson has had a good run with the stock of Mach Three. Other winners from the stable by that stallion have been Belkmyster, Onedin Mach and Mako Banner. Motu Top Mach is the sixth foal out of the Live Or Die mare Top Tart. Her best winner is Motu Moonbeam which won four of her five wins for Anderson before heading to America. All of her six foals have qualified and won races.   The win was great for Tony O'Neil who's part of the Hunter Boys Syndicate. He's also in the Shearasheep Syndicate which owns Unloaded which also won earlier in the day. And he's a member of the What Ever Syndicate which own Schweinsteiger which won at Gore last Saturday.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

On what was a run-of-the-mill raceday at Ascot Park today a two year old trotter emerged as being a horse to watch in the future. Majestic Son gelding Full Noise handled the pressures of his first start against more experienced runners like a pro, and easily beat eleven other runners in the Hamil Saddlery Trot over 2700 metres. Full Noise began slowly but well and settled in sixth place early. With 1600 metres to run driver Brent Barclay moved him off the running line to sit parked for the last lap.  "He never batted an eyelid out there. He's so laid back when he's parked so it worked out really good. I'd say he's got a very bright future," said Barclay.  As the leaders turned for home Full Noise was asked to go and he trotted nicely down to the winning post to beat Superfast Ninja by three quarters of a length.  "He's a lovely horse and a beautiful trotter. I've driven him in every workout and trial and he's just a natural." His time of 3-35.2 was a new track record for two year old trotters who rarely run this distance.  Full Noise winning on debut in those famous Baynes colours - Photo Bruce Stewart. Trainer Brett Gray was also suitably impressed but he's known what's under the horses bonnet for a while.  "Kirstin (Barclay) broke him in. I did a few weeks with him before Christmas and loved him. I turned him out and brought him back in. He's just a natural. The second row draw today worried me a bit but Brent drove him a treat and the horse would have learned a lot today. He hasn't raced in a big field," he said.  After the win Gray wouldn't be drawn as to what the plans are for the two year old. "I've just got to talk to the owners. I think he's a horse for the future and I really want to look after him." The Majestic Son gelding which is owned by Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, is out of the Sundon mare Knapdale Girl which won three races in New Zealand and a further five in Australia. Knapdale Girl is from a family the late Colin Baynes developed and raced over many years. It's the family that's produced quality trotters like Cool Cat which won ten races and Bearcat which won seven. Winning connections                           - Photo Bruce Stewart.  Full Noise is the first foal from Knapdale Girl. She has a yearling colt by Coktail Jet stallion The Best Madrik and a weanling filly by Pegasus Spur.   Another branch of the family produced many good trotters for Maurice Skinner including Adiantum which won eight races and Maori Maiden the winner of seven.  Full Noise is named after a Yak-3 V12 World War Two fighter owned by Graeme Frew, an Air New Zealand pilot. Frew qualified for the National Championship Air Races in Reno in America where he broke a race record last year. He also recently bought the plane down to Wanaka for the Warbirds Over Wanaka. And in true pioneering spirit the plane carries the same number (35) as Southlander Burt Munro's Indian Motorcycle which also raced in America. "We were actually in Reno last year when he was there. They put the plane in a container and took it over there. A local guy Jay McIntyre who is a renowned engineer who lives in Blenheim now, went over with him and put the plane back together. They did a fantastic job over there," said Penny.  The win by Full Noise brings the number of wins for Kenny Baynes this season to 17. War Machine (5), War Admiral (3), Especial, Convair Hustler(1) Too Cool (1) Royal Bengal (3), Full Noise (1) Envious (1) and Especial (2).  Full Noise, Royal Bengal and Convair Hustler are raced by Baynes Racing Limited (Kenny and Penny) while the other horses are raced by Kenny and his wife Jo.    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

"It worked out really well. Everything went to plan," were the comments from driver Brent Barclay after winning the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on the Winton trained Duke Of Wellington. In today's Group Three feature, Barclay settled the American Ideal gelding in seventh place off the rails. With two laps to run he was sitting four back on the outside. With 850 metres to run Barclay pushed out and got into the three wide line to followed up Mighty Conqueror and Hail Christian. Turning in he made his challenge four wide and Duke Of Wellington let down nicely to beat Hail Christian by three quarters of a length. "He was a bit keen today and did well to keep going so I was really happy. He just knocks off when he gets there (to the front)."  Winning connections, trainer Lauren Pearson holding rug and owner Lester Smith next to her - Photo Bruce Stewart. Duke Of Wellington, which was Winton trainer Lauren Pearson's biggest training win, was bred by Invercargill Lawyer Lester Smith who had raced the gelding up until the Supremacy today. He was sold last week to Australians Merv and Meg Butterworth and part of the arrangement was that Smith remained in the horse for today's race. "Merv phoned before the race and said 'make sure you make a good speech' so I hope I didn't let him down," Smith said he was reluctant to sell but he looks to have a nice filly to carry on with. "I was but I've got this filly (half-sister Rise Above This) to go on with."  Duke Of Wellington is named after a hotel in Melbourne. "The hotel was established in 1853. It's the oldest pub in Melbourne. I drink there sometimes when I'm there for the Australian Open in January." Smith used to buy yearlings at the sales but changed tack when prices rose. "I used to go to the sales and found the ones that I wanted were far too expensive so I decided to breed from a couple of mares - Weka Lass and Galleons Honour." Galleons Honour, the dam of Duke Of Wellington, is by Christian Cullen out of Galleon Cheer.   "I got her from a dispersal sale at Kerry Hoggards. He'd bought her for $80,000 as a yearling and she won her first race beating the likes of De Lovely. She wasn't the same afterwards. So I bought her as a broodmare."   The win today was a great boost for the locals. Southland horses have had a lean run in this race over the past decade. Since it's inception in 1984, Southland trained horses have won the race 14 times. The last Southland winner was I’m Full Of Excuses, winning for Clark Barron in 2015. Prior to that Looksaflyer won in 2006 driven by Brent Barclay. "It's great today for Brent and Lauren.That's the biggest thrill really," Smith said after the race. Smith won the 1997 Supremacy Stakes with Atitagain which was trained by Wayne Adams. The gelding won four of his eleven three year old starts and ran fifth in Bogan Fella’s 2007 New Zealand Derby. He was exported shortly after and did a grand job in Australia, winning a further twenty two races. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Canterbury driver Tim Williams hasn't had too much to do with the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic winner A Bettor Act. The colt is trained by Williams employers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and has run second in it's last three starts for a variety of drivers. Today was Williams first drive on the Bettor's Delight colt and it proved to be a winning one. "Natalie, Mark and Nathan (Purdon) have all driven him. This was my first go and it was a nice day to pick up the drive," he said.  The winning time was a sensational 2-40.6 which was a new track, race, Southland and New Zealand record. The previous Southland record of 2-43.7 was held by last year's Classic winner the ill-fated Aloka. The previous New Zealand record of 2-41.0 was recorded by Mitch Maguire in 2016. "It helped early when the ones inside of us put the foot down and by the time we got to the mile the damage had been done. We were probably lucky we were out of the early burn." Williams took A Bettor Act to the front with 1600 metres to run.  "Once we got to the front he was pretty happy just to roll along. He set a nice clip but I was surprised the overall time was that quick."  He held on easily to beat Memphis Tennessee by two and a half lengths. "He's been a progressive type and each time he's gone to the races there's been a bit of merit in his runs." And when asked about where the colt sits in regards to the Purdon/Rasmussen two year olds, Williams thinks he's right up there. "With a bit of luck he could have won some of his last few starts. There's not much between those good ones. It might come down to barrier draws and who gets the better trip. He's not a Sales Series horse and that's why he was here today." Today's juvenile feature carried Group Three status for the first time and it's stake level was equal to both the Supremacy and Oaks finals. "It's a credit to the club for sticking with this race and bumping the stake up. Because he's not in the Sales Series and is targeting the Harness Jewels this was a good option for him." Tim Williams talking to Jason Teaz, John Stiven (SBSR), Ged Mooar (Nevele R), Nigel Fahy (Alabar) Ann and Ivan Behrnes, (Alabar) and Stacey Markham (Woodlands) - Photo Bruce Stewart. This year's Classic had ten runners in it - the most it's had in i'ts four year history. Seven of the runners were from Southland and John Stiven from Southern Bred Southern Reared said it was great to see so many locals supporting the race. "I'd like to particularly thank Ross Wilson who lined up three runners. It's great to get his support and that's what it's all about," he said. A Bettor Act was bred and is owned by the A Few Good Men Syndicate. He's out of the Christian Cullen mare A Christian Act which was bred by Harness Racing New Zealand Board member Brian Wastney who was on-course today to appreciate the win with the rest of the HRNZ Board members.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Shadow Play filly Dibaba, named after the Ethiopian middle and long distance runner Genezbe Dibaba who won gold at the 2016 Beijing Olympic; won her own gold at Ascot Park today in the Nevele R/ Macca Lodge Southland Oaks Final. From an outside second line draw driver and co-trainer Terry Chmiel had designs on the lead. He took up the running with two laps to run in the 2700 metre Group Two fillies feature.  Dibaba was not seriously challenged from that point and won easily by three lengths.  "I got away with some cheap quarters but she won it pretty easy and is a really nice filly. After her trip to Nelson she's just got better and better and coming down here helped. She's improved all season and she's grown a lot. Whether she's as good as the good ones we'll see but we'll give it a go" said Chmiel, who trains the filly in partnership with wife Glenys. When Dibaba returned to the birdcage she was in very high spirits and wouldn't stand still for the customary photo but Chmiel said that's fairly typical of her. Winning connections and sponsors                          - Photo Bruce Stewart. "She's a bit of an old madam at home but that's just the way she is."  Dibaba, which was bred by Aidan Johnstone is owned by Ray Seebeck and Colin Tennett both of Canterbury. "It's the first horse I've had for them. I drove a horse they owned called Beat The Monarch that was trained by Coaster Howe." It was the second time that Chmiel has driven the winner of this time honoured race. He drove the Coaster Howe trained Suvarno Hanover to win in 2007. Suvarno Hanover is the dam of Betterthanbrie which finished an unlucky third in today's feature. Returning to the birdcage                             - Photo Bruce Stewart The Chmiels also trained the 2016 winner of the Southland Oaks Nek Time. Glenys's father Bryce Buchanan trained the 1995 Southland Oaks winner Lovers Wish.  The Southland Oaks was started in 1983 and of the 35 finals held, Southland trained horses have won 16. The last Southland winner was the Gordon and Colin Lee trained Royal Counsel which won in 2014. The race was initiated by the inaugural Southland Oaks committee which included officials from each Southland club. That committee was Lew Stone (Winton), Allan Nicolson (Wairio), Murray Campbell (Riverton), Daryl McLellan (Wyndham), Lane Bakker (the initial sponsor), Jack Botting (Wyndham), Ian McPherson (Gore), Wattie Muir (Invercargill), Len Orr (Northern Southland) and Norman Pierce (Invercargill). Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Winton trained harness racing mare Tact Maggie is finally starting to live up to the reputation she had early in her short career. The Lis Mara four year old showed sparkling form at some of her workouts and trials early this season but hasn't been particularly consistent on race days Trainer Trevor Proctor said after today’s (Saturday) win - the second in a row for Tact Maggie - that it wasn’t until regular driver Brent Barclay told him to increase her workload that she improved. “After two or three races Brent made the comment to me that she was short (of work) so I poked a bit more work into her and bang. I also took the Murphy blind off her that was just to keep her straight. She hasn’t missed that. I was surprised she sprinted up the lane as good as she did today. She’s a big beautiful pacing mare. When you bring her out it’s nothing fantastic. She doesn’t have real speed like her mother had,” said Proctor. Her early season workout and trials form has also caught the eye of Australian buyers and normally Proctor is a seller. “I had her for sale. Amanda Turnbull trialed her. She was getting a team together to buy her but I haven’t heard back. At this stage we’re happy enough to race her and breed from her next season.” Returning to the winners enclosure - Photo Bruce Stewart. Out of the ten win mare Tact Lizzie, Tact Maggie was having only her sixth race day start today. “Because she was a big horse it never entered my head to even race her because no-one pays me to do this. I wasn’t in a hurry to race her.” From barrier two driver Sheree Tomlinson took the mare forward early before handing up to Varenna and settling nicely in the trail. “Today Sheree said she relaxed all the way. During the week Chelsea Faithful drove her (in work) and said she was a different horse from the week before.” In some of her previous starts she was tried in front. “The day we tried to pull her back at the workouts she was taking it on. She broke and lost thirty to fifty metres but finished right in behind them running her last mile in two minutes with the last half in fifty six. When Brent said I wasn’t giving her enough, I thought you’ve got to be joking but he was right.” Proctor says Tact Maggie is likely to start on her home track at Winton before running her season out on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park.  Meanwhile evergreen pacer Groomsman won his ninth race in his one hundred and twenty one start career when he held on to beat Vera's Delight in the Regent Car and Commercial 125 North Road Pace.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Tact Maggie winning at Ascot park

First starter Mighty Conqueror was very impressive when he won at Invercargill yesterday. The three year old gelding was bred by Mark Shirley and his best friend Malcolm Dewe and was broken in by Robbie Holmes. Shirley trains the American Ideal gelding with his wife Debbie. “He came down to me as a two year old. He’s just taken time to mature. He would have been racing before Christmas but he got kicked on the back leg so we put him aside. We’ve just been educating him at the workouts and trials. He’s a very nice horse with a big motor. He’s highly intelligent and he’s a supreme athlete - bottomless. I haven’t seen the bottom of him yet. We might have a bit of fun with this one,” he said. Shirley who's not getting too far ahead of himself, says the final of the latest Nuggets series next week at Winton will be the horse’s next start. “We’ll assess things after that,” he said when asked about starting in the Supremacy. The geldings winning time as an impressive 2-43.1 for the 2200 metre mobile. Mighty Conqueror winning on debut     - Photo Bruce Stewart. Shirley and Dewe have had horses together since they were teenagers including Dewy Boy (twenty one start maiden), Ochiltree Boy (trained by good mate Donny Morrison) and more recently Cullens Avenue (two wins). “To be fair, before we got into the Ballroom Babe family, we didn’t have a lot of luck. Malcolm does the breeding and we’re trying to get into the high end. We bought the mare off Mike O’Brien. Shane (driver Shane Walkinshaw) said he jogged it. The time was good. I don’t like to back them up that quick but I think he’ll be fine.” Mighty Conqueror is a three year old by American Ideal out of the Presidential Ball mare Ballroom Babe. She won seven races and has left Beckinsdale the winner of ten and the Brett Gray trained stayer Young Conqueror which has won five races.  Meanwhile seven year old trotter Splash Cola won her second race this season when she took out the main trotting feature of the day. She beat a game Its Elvis by a neck. It was the Sundon seven year old mares sixth win in just twenty seven starts.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Mighty Conqueror winning his first start  

Duke Of Wellington continued his progress towards the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day when he impressively won at Ascot Park yesterday. He's been one of the most progressive three year olds in the province this season but has required plenty of time to mature. “As a yearling he was real gangly so we turned him out and gave him time. As a two year old we brought him back in but he was too gangly so we biffed him back out again. After that he’s come back nice and strong. We waited for him to develop and it’s worked out,” said trainer Lauren Pearson. He also looks to have fined down as a racehorse. “We’ve probably been too fat. Everyone says I have my horses too fat. He’s holding his condition quite well at the moment so that’s good.” The three year old by American Ideal is owned and was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith. Pearson, who trains Duke Of Wellington at Winton says you can't get a line on the horse at home but he brings his A game to the race track. “He’s a big dummy at home and you can’t go on his work at home because he’s that lazy but on race day...... He’s starting to cotton on a wee bit. The pull down blinds have made a difference with him.” So, with his third win in the can, he's well on target to be in the frame for the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes later this month. “Yeah that’s our aim. It’s going to be a real good field.He’s going good enough so you’ve got to have a crack at it. I like his attitude and with him being so laidback at home he doesn’t over exert himself. Then he comes to the races and knows what it’s all about. For a big horse he’s got a good bit of speed.” After the early rush in today's race driver Brent Barclay settled Duke Of Wellington into the one one. That's where he stayed until the 400 when Barclay brought him out to make his run. He cruised to the line to easily win by two lengths from two Brett Gray runners Convair Hustler and Rockaball. “Brent said he was a bit toey behind the gate but once he was on the journey he knows how to relax. That helps when you’re trying to beat the good ones." Pearson said Duke Of Wellington is easy to train and she hasn't done too much with him since his impressive win over a mile in 1-53.9 at Winton at the end of last month. “Since his last race he’s had a couple of hopples and two canters and that’s it.” Duke Of Wellington is out of the one win Christian Cullen mare Galleon Honour which Smith bought in 2010. Galleon Honour is out of Galleons Cheer, a talented Albert Albert mare which won five of her nine starts for Hamish Hunter before injury curtained her career. Back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart Pearson recently qualified a two year old filly out of Galleons Honour called Rise Above This. She's by Bettor's Delight. “Yeah she’s goes quite nice. I think we’ll take her to Winton for the two year old race. She’s a filly, so it makes it hard. She seems to have stepped up every time she’s gone off the place. She’s got a nice bit of speed.” Galleons Honour has been a great broodmare for Smith with her first four foals all qualifying. Her first foal Dazed and Confused qualified impressively here but was unraced when sold to an Australian interest. Under the name Laszro, he's won nine races in Australia. The mare's second foal Venice Beach by Somebeachsomewhere won three times for Pearson before she was also sold to Aussie where she's gone on to win another four races. The win today elevated Duke Of Wellington up the points table for the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes. One trainer I talked to today said New Zealand Derby winner Sheriff isn't coming down for the Supremacy. It's also highly unlikely that the all conquering All Stars Stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will have a runner in this years three year old feature. Although Duplicated has started twice in the province he probably won't be high enough on the table (based on stakes won) to get a start.   Meanwhile earlier in the programme business partner and fellow lawyer Murray Little continued his great season when Betterthanbrie won her second race in just four starts. The Betterthancheddar three year old filly made the most of a inside trailing position to beat Jody Direen by half a length.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Duke Of Wellington winning yesterday

Dean Hunter has only been living in Canterbury for the last month having relocated to the garden city from Blenheim and today's win by Destiny Jones in the Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights was his first from his new barn at Russley. In today's trotting feature The Pres mare beat a nice field of squaregaiters, improving on her last start second to quality trotter Bordeax at Addington last week. Hunter has trained Destiny Jones for most of her career but good friend Kevin Townley has also had a stint at training her. “Kevin and I are very good friends and I’ve learnt most of my stuff from him.”  Hunter says Destiny Jones career hasn't been without drama.  “We’ve had our problems with her so it’s nice to have her back. She's had a wee nose bleed because she’s been popping blood vessels in her nose. It looks worse than it is. It isn’t happening further down but we’ve had to scratch her a few times. Hopefully we're on top of it now.” The hot pace set primarily by Splash Cola suited Destiny Jones and driver Blair Orange. With a lap to run they got a drag into the race when Sundons Wish improved. Just before straightening Orange hooked the six year old mare out and she came three wide to make her claim. She trotted nicely to the line beating a late run from Harriet Of Mot. The winning margin was one and a half lengths with another head back to Jen Jaccka. Destiny Jones trotting out to win the Southern Light - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time of 3-27.2 was just outside Dark Horse's track record of 3-26.7 but the time is a new race record as this was the first time the Southern Lights has been run over 2700 metres.  Hunter has held a trainers licence since 1988. He's trained twenty nine winners - twenty three of those being trotters. Other good trotters he's had in his stable have been Mo Hahn (by Earl) which won five races and Avon Develd (Gee Whiz II) which also won five. He also trains Dolly Jones a half-sister to Destiny Jones by Monkey Bones which ran third at Westport yesterday.    Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

At the start of the season Branxholme harness racing trainer Alister Black rated Kilowatt Kid as his best three year old. But  that was before Lawrence started to hit his straps and looked to have an advantage over his stablemate. However Kilowatt Kid has made a bit of a comeback in recent weeks and today's win in the Caduceus Club of Southland Super Nuggets Final has swayed Black's opinion again. “I don’t know what to put it down to really. I gave him a freshen and I've always thought he goes well fresh. Today he was like that and raced accordingly,” he said. The American Ideal gelding's form has been impeccable this season. He's won three of his eight starts and Black knew during the week that he was in tune for today's feature. “His work on Thursday was nothing short of superb. I woke him up a bit, saying come on son, it’s time to be a race horse.” Black, like all trainers, gets to know his horses and he's discovered how Kilowatt Kid best operates. "I’ve looked after him all the way through because I’ve really really liked him. Maybe I was being a wee bit soft on him.” Kilowatt Kid is owned by Ian and Lindsay Thomson both of whom have been great supporters of the young Branxholme trainer. “Without them I wouldn't be here. Ian and Lindsay have been so good to me. Words can’t describe it. What they’ve put into the game - I hope they get a good horse one day and I hope I’m around to see it and train it.” In today's final driver Blair Orange had Kilowatt Kid in the outside running line. With a lap to run stablemate Lawrence was putting pressure on the leader as well as on the favourite, The Bus. At the 600 Orange improved the gelding, taking him three wide and at the top of the straight he challenged the two leaders. In what was a  real staying test Kilowatt Kid got the better of The Bus just before the post, winning by half a neck.  Ian Thomson, Lindsay Thomson, Alister Black, Shirley Leakie (sister of the Ian and Lindsay), Blair Orange, Riley Black, Sheree Black and McKenzie Black    - Photo Bruce Stewart “He’s got an awesome attitude and a lovely way of going. I thought we had a good chance today even though Trottech completely wrote us off. I wasn’t so sure that we could bet The Bus, but we did.” Kilowatt Kid won't be targeting the New Zealand Derby, with Black preferring to stay close to home and aim at the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day at the end of next month.   Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

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