Annie Fitz returns in style
By Jonny Turner
Annie Fitz made a scintillating return from the retirement paddock to the racetrack when scorching home to win at Ascot Park on Saturday.
The 8yr-old set heads turning just two races in to harness racing’s post lockdown return at Southland’s headquarters when scoring at huge $40 odds for driver Craig Ferguson.
Notching a seventh win in her 161st start was not something trainers Ross and Chris Wilson had in mind when Annie Fitz last stepped out in February.
Then, the Bettor’s Delight mare was meant to be in foal to emerging sire Sweet Lou with the prospect of producing a blueblood from the Wilsons’ Robyn breed ahead.
Instead, Annie Fitz’s breeding and racing careers were looking redundant after she both failed to get in foal and did not spark up on the race track.
“She is meant to be retired,” Ross Wilson said.
“She was served by Sweet Lou but she didn’t get in foal.”
“After her last start Craig said she had lost interest and she didn’t want to do it [race] any more.”
Annie Fitz was set for a life of leisure in Wilson’s broodmare band.
But, some bad behaviour put an end to that.
“Every time I would go out to feed them she would be kicking the other horses.”
Having a brand new set of shoes fitted before her last start made Wilson’s decision to start working the Annie Fitz again an easy one.
It paid off when the mare charged home between runners from four deep on the fence to win.
Annie Fitz held out fellow outsider, To Ri Caitlin, by a length to set up a huge $253 quinella.
Ferguson later made it a winning double when driving The Croupier to win race 7 for Balfour trainer Shane Matheson.
Canterbury trainer Michael House started his new venture in Southland off on an excellent note when winning two races on Saturday.
House had a team of 13 horses entered at Ascot Park that will stay in the province and race at upcoming meetings.
Zoned Scarlett notched the first victory of House’s southern mission when winning her first start from his stable in race 6.
The trainer scored his second when Stinger Lindenny took out race 11.
Westwood beach trainer Graeme Anderson had Wolf West fit and ready to resume ahead of race 5.
Some smart driving from Matthew Williamson saw the 4yr-old slot in to the one-one after being trapped wide in the early stages.
Williamson set Wolf West alight at the 1400m, the pair charged to the front before never letting his rivals get a look in.
The pacer went on to score impressively by three and a half lengths.