News Briefs : March 29

Smolenski recovering after mishap

Mark Smolenski is on the mend after a track accident at Rangiora earlier this month. The well-known trainer was tipped from his cart, bruising his back and lungs. He then developed pneumonia and had a week in hospital recovering. He is now back home and making good progress though it will be a few weeks before he's back in the cart.

Speedy trotter moving south

Current New Zealand record-holder Quik Barbie is heading south. The four-race winner has been transferred from Cambridge trainer Matty White to Robbie Holmes in North Canterbury with connections hoping a switch to beach training will pay dividends. The four-year-old daughter of Quaker Jet set a national 2YO fillies record when she won a 22000 stand at Cambridge on Christmas Eve in 2001 in 2:52.12.

Merlin goes to top

After winning the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby by a head on Friday night, Merlin is now the highest earning harness horse in NZ in 2023. The win, Merlin's second this year, sees him with stakes of $181,758. He overtakes superstar filly Millwood Nike who's second at $178,444. The unbeaten Millwood Nike won her 11th consecutive race, also at Alexandra Park on Friday, by taking out the Pascoes the Jewellers Northern Oaks by over a length. They are well clear of the in-form Sam's Town who has won five from eight this year, with earnings of $55,475.

Changes at NZB Airfreight

Long-standing NZB Airfreight Manager Greg Northcott is retiring, after being with the company since 1999. "Greg has been absolutely outstanding in his role," says NZB Managing Director Andrew Seabrook, "he has led his team admirably through some very tough times, navigating equine freighting through challenges such as Equine Influenza and COVID-19." Longtime colleague Sharon McDowell will replace him, with Northcott remaining with NZB Airfreight until the end of June to ensure a smooth transition.

Mile gets another outsider home

Veteran Southland trainer/driver Alex Milne's making a habit of reining home winners at big odds. He drove Matai Harry to win at $39.80 and $7.10 at Oamaru on Sunday. Before that he drove La Moth to win when she was paying $39.20 and $8.20 at Winton last September, and Maxwell Robyn at Gore last August, paying $20.30 and $4.30. Based in Edendale Milne's had 451 wins as a driver over the past 50 years.

Williamsons' big night out

Majestic Man has been named Otago Horse of the year at their annual awards. The night was a triumph for the Williamson family. Not only did their veteran trotter take out the highest award but Brad Williamson was named trainer of the year, and brother Matthew was Driver of the Year. The Otago Breeder of the Year award went to their mother Bev Williamson and her mare Dwindle Mist was awarded Otago Broodmare of the Year.

Red Army feature in auction

The latest gavelhouse auction closes On Friday night from 7pm and there are plenty of options. With high profile trainer Michael House offering up a number of horses, including the likes of Manawatu regulars like Mogul, Petronelli Gee and Franco Hoffman, there are 26 lots in all. To see the catalogue click here



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