December's breeding and ownership winners

The winners of Harness Racing New Zealand's monthly breeder and owner awards have been decided for December.

In an initiative to highlight those that help keep our sport going, HRNZ has been making the monthly awards since October last year. All owners and breeders who win a race during the month are eligible, with a random number generator selecting the two winners.

December's winners are breeder Mark Booth for Lizzie Richter's win at Ashburton on December 21 and Shona Nairn, who is one of the owners of El Conqueror who won three times in the month. Coincidentally both live in Leeston in Canterbury.

Mark Booth has bred or co-bred horses since his first Vance Marie (Sir Vancelot - Donna Marie) in 2000, including a number with the well-known "Richter" name.

Max Richter, for instance, was bred by Booth and Hemi Waretini and sold to Australia in 2013. He went on to win 30 races.

"When I first started breeding I couldn’t afford the good sires and went with what I could afford," says Booth.

"With a bit more money to use I went with Sweet Lou because he was new on the scene and had speed whereas my breed seemed to have stamina but couldn’t sprint quickly when asked and had to work up into a top speed."

Lizzie Richter (Sweet Lou - Vance Marie) has now won nine races, and Booth was on course to see her gutsy win at Ashburton just before Christmas.

She was last with a lap to go, circled three wide, sat parked and managed to get up by a nose to beat the pacemaking Haley Robyn.

"I was definitely on course at Ashburton. I have only missed a couple of her wins last year at Oamaru due to helping my neighbours with their harvest in late January early February."

December was a good month as an owner of El Conqueror for Shona Nairn.

She is the mother of well-known trotting trainer Paul Nairn and the daughter of harness racing legend, Jack Litten of Caduceus and False Step fame.

El Conqueror lived up to his name at Ashburton on December 21, and at Westport and Reefton on December 28 and 30 and they were very contrasting victories. The son of Sebastian K just got up by a nose to beat Mainbocher at Ashburton only to have much easier victories on the grass on the Coast. At Reefton he cleared out to win by nearly three lengths.

"I wasn't there but I was certainly watching it on Trackside," Nairn says, "he had a great run of form didn't he?"

Horses have always played a big part for the wider Nairn family, with Shona and/or husband Graeme having an interest in more than 40 trotters over the years.

Naturally enough Paul Nairn has been their go-to trainer.

"It's helpful isn't it?" she laughs about the family connection.

As well as El Conqueror (5 wins) other horses she's been involved with include Conon Bridge (8 wins), Insist (4 wins), Inspire (9 wins) and Outamyway (9 wins).

HRNZ would like to congratulate both winners and your trophies are on the way.

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