Ferguson running red hot

By Mac Henry

Craig Ferguson continued at Winton on Saturday from where he left off at Wyndham last Saturday to end the two days with seven wins and a second.

Two of his wins and the second were on horses trained by his Invercargill boss Wayne Adams – Bettor's Avenue, Summertime Lizzie and Arden Castle – and the third on Milligan.

Ferguson has driven Milligan in all four of his wins, commencing 12 months ago on the grass at Gore.

The Gore grass track meeting is on again this Saturday and not surprisingly Milligan will be back there this year.

He is trained by Ross Wilson who races the big four-year-old with his wife Yvonne, sons Chris and Robert, and daughter Monica.

Chris in the president of the Gore club and has earmarked the Grass track Cup for Milligan.

Workouts were held on the grass at Gore on Sunday and Wilson said there were 60 entrants, double last year. “It bodes well for good fields,” he concluded.

Bettor's Avenue is raced by his co-breeder Jan Williams along with Annie Corkery, Patricia Dunne and Judith McGrath, all of Invercargill, Paula Holmes of Rangiora and Pip Murdoch of Wellington.

He was starting for just the second time.

“He got back in his first start and a horse galloped in front of him,” Ferguson said, “he was green but took a lot from it. He's still learning how to race but has a bit of ability.”

Summertime Lizzie was also racing for the second time.

She is raced by Tony Irwin, Ian Stewart and Maurice Stevenson and was the second winner on Saturday by Santanna Blue Chip, a sire Adams hints represents good value.

The mare qualified at two, he said, but puffed a leg and was put aside.

“She drew 16 her first start and tried to come round them, it was different from the good draw today,” Adams said.

Matthew Williamson also drove three winners, two for trainers Geoff and Jude Knight.

The first, Santanna Magic by Santanna Blue Chip, was having his second win from five starts for the Knights while the second Al Raza, was getting ready for the $20,000 Southern Belle Speed Series in a fortnight.

Williamson's third winner was four year old trotting mare Zhenya for father Phil. Zhenya won a harness plus for her Wellington owner Reg Caldow.

Phil said she was the first horse he'd had for Caldow but he now has a two year old Love You filly as well.

“I like her at this early stage but she'll take time, she won't race at two,” he said.

Asked if Zhenya was being considered for the Jewels, he replied any of his who qualify will go, but unless you've got a star, your chances of winning are slim.

Mokosun finished second giving Phil the quinella. The day's other trot also produced a stable quinella, for Brett Gray with Jen Jaccka and Sky Commander.

Jen Jaccka, a half-sister to Dominion Handicap winner Jess Jaccka was starting for just the second time, having blown her first start in December.

“She got stage fright and was a bit hypo so we've taken our time,” Gray said.

“She's won every other time she's gone out. She's done the miles and has got the family ability, she'll go for the Trotting Oaks.”

Booster, claimed for $7000 by junior driver Rory McIlwrick on 10 February, had his first start since and returned a $3000 winning stake.

Trained now by Nathan Williamson, Booster was driven by McIlwrick and won by six and a half lengths.

“I asked him for more and he kept giving,” McIlwrick said, “he'll go to Waikouaiti for an invited drivers race, its penalty free.”

The claiming price at Winton was $7500 but here were no takers.

Royal Counsel was just 1.2 seconds outside Hannah Jaye's Southland record for the 2400 metre mobile when she paced the trip in 2:55.5 on Saturday.

“She did it easy,” her co-trainer and driver Gordon Lee said, confirming Royal Counsel won't race again until the Southern Belle Speed Series final in a fortnight.

Dean Taylor had a worthwhile trip from Ladbrooks on the outskirts of Christchurch, winning with both Crackabella and Scotlynn Mach.

Crackabella led throughout and paced the mobile mile in 1:56.7.