Speed to the fore

By Mac Henry

Six sub-two minute mile rates and some local records were served up at Central Southland Raceway on Saturday.

Sell A Bit won the day's $20,000 feature Southern Belle Speed Series for mares in a race record 1:54.1, Donegal Kahlum set a Southland record for three year old fillies of 1:54.9, and That's Hunting Pink established a Winton track record of 4:02.5 (2:02.0) for 3200 metres from a stand.

Sky Commander trotted 2400 metres from a stand in 3:04.2, a Southland record for a three year old trotter, while Santorini Sunset set a new track record for the same trip of 3:02.8.

Smithy clocked 2:55.9 (1:58.0) for the 2400 mobile, Northview Major 2:56.8 (1:58.5) and Match Point 2:57.1 (1:58.8) for the same trip, while Chicago Bull won the two year old race in 1:58.2.

In winning the Southern Belle, Sell A Bit joined the likes of Beaudiene Bad Babe, Pembrook's Delight and Helena Jet who went on to become Jewels winners or runners-up in the same year.

Trainer Brent White hopes to have Sell A Bit at Ashburton on 30 May.

World champion Dexter Dunn was at Winton on Saturday and didn't disappoint, winning with Santorini Sunset, Match Point, Donegal Kahlum and Northview Major.

He was also the owner of Northview Major having claimed him at Invercargill on 5 December.

It was Dunn's first drive on the five year old in seven starts since and Northview Major's first win since May 2014, when Dunn was also the driver.

Northview Major is trained by Graeme Anderson, as is Match Point who was having his first start from the stable.

“He has thrived since he's been down,” Anderson said of the five year old owned locally by John and Heather Blakely and Stu and Pauline Gillan.

The Calder family were other locals to taste success.

They race Santorini Sunset from the stable of Kevin Townley and the four year old out of a half-sister to Sundon broke Moment Of Sun's two and a half month old track record when winning.

Ben and Karen Calder missed it though, being instead in Auckland for an Eagles concert.

Heats for the 12 April Diamond Day graduation finals were held with Sky Commander winning the one for trotters.

He was purchased earlier this year by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate of prominent Melbourne owners Merv and Meg Butterworth and is trained by Brett Gray.

A daring Shane Walkinshaw drive saw Geordie Sivad win the heat for pacers by a neck after leading by a wide margin in the middle stages.

Chicago Bull came from last across the top to overhaul unbeaten Canterbury visitor Chevrons Champion in the two year old mile.

The trip was cut out in a leisurely 1:58.2 with the last 800, initially announced as 54.1, later amended to not available because of an equipment malfunction.

A Bettor's Delight gelding out of Southland Oaks place-getter Chicago Blues, Chicago Bull can still be described as pint sized but co-trainer Katrina Price said he has strengthened since first produced and grown out of pony class, just.

She trains him in partnership with husband John and they are hoping the two year old feature on Diamonds Day gets off the ground while longer term, the Jewels, because they are in Ashburton this year, is another worthwhile aim.