Fergie a favourite with Proctor

By Jonny Turner

Winton trainer Trevor Proctor does not want to let the specially named Tact Fergie out of his sight following the debutante’s impressive win at Ascot Park on Thursday.  

The Art Major 3yr-old from grand producer Tact Hayley, who Proctor races with his partner Diane Dynes, impressed when cruising to victory with Brent Barclay in the sulky in race 3.

Tact Hayley is named after Dynes’ niece, Hayley McLeod and Tact Fergie is named after her son, Fergie.

The McLeod family has been through a tough time recently, spending much of their time in Auckland where Fergie’s sister, Charlotte, is in Starship Hospital.

Proctor has sent most of his stable runners to Australia in recent seasons including Tact Tama, who is unbeaten in five starts from Tim Butt’s Sydney stable.

Butt has been keen to get his hands on the talented Tact Fergie, but the horse’s link to the McLeod family means Proctor is having a hard time letting the horse go.

“I told Tim the story and that I am struggling to let him go.”

“Even though he would be better over there – he gets close to a knee, even though the farrier has finally got him right.”

“But on a big track like [Menangle] with Tim Butt training him, I would imagine he would improve.”

When Proctor was preparing Tact Fergie for the races alongside Tact Tama he rated the former as potentially better than his close relation, who has already won in a sensational 1.51.0 mile rate at Menangle.

The Dynes and McLeod families have a close connection with junior driver John Morrison, with Charlotte even wearing a set of his silks in his support while in Starship Hospital.

Morrison scored vital wins to extend his lead in the national junior driver’s premiership at yesterday’s meeting.

The reinsman’s victories with Narcissist (race 1) and Kagee VC (race 5) helped him edge two wins clear of his nearest rival, Dylan Ferguson, going in to this weekend’s three-heat New Zealand Junior Driver Championship.

Thunder, rain, hail and sleet were not enough to stop Afterburner from showing off his firepower at Ascot Park.

The Invercargill venue lived up to its status as the world’s southernmost venue when the coldest of conditions hit the course.

Afterburner hardly looked fazed by the cool temperatures when switching his afterburners on to run to an easy win in race 2, also with Barclay driving.

The opinion trainer Brett Gray has of the 3yr-old suggests yesterday’s win is almost certain not to be his last.

“He just jogged that today – I know this is a big statement, but he could be the nicest trotter I have had,” Gray said. 

“He has got a lot of ability.”

“On the big tracks he could go with anything.

Afterburner bolted in on debut in March before struggling when thrown in against race-hardened and experienced trotters in his next three starts.

The son of eight-race winning Sundon mare, Knapdale Girl, then hinted he was ready to show more of his best when second behind Tweedledee at Ascot Park earlier this month.

“He struggles to around the bends on the smaller tracks, even when he run second last time he wasn’t happy.”

“He deserves a break now, so he will go out and be much better when he comes back in on the bigger tracks.”

Afterburner and fellow recent Ascot Park winner, Madrik, are two of just four live foals bred in New Zealand by French trotting sire The Best Madrik.

The winner of more than €1,000,000 in stakes is available to breeders via frozen semen through Australasian stud Haras des Trotteurs.


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