News Briefs : March 6

Muscle Mountain is back

Champion trotter Muscle Mountain has been back at the trials and impressed with a top win at Rangiora yesterday. Starting off a 40m mark, the seven-year-old won his 2600m heat in 3:26.00, with a 2:05.6 mile rate. He was home in 57.1 and 28.1, three lengths ahead of Mighty Logan. He's being aimed for Cambridge's Night of Champions where his connections Cullen Breeding Limited have already got a slot, and confirmed him, in the $575,000 TAB Trot. Before then he will likely line up at Addington against reigning Trotter of the Year Oscar Bonavena.

Beach Ball bounces back

New Zealand Cup place-getter Beach Ball has gone back to his original trainer Kevin Chapman. The five-year-old had been transferred to Brendon Hill ahead of his third placing in the country's biggest race last November as Chapman recovered from hip surgery. His last race was a third in December's Invercargill Cup. Chapman and wife Barbara bred and race the son of Somebeachsomewhere, who has a career record of 11 wins from 39 starts.

Seddon Shield series finale

There are now just two chances left for those wanting to take out the new Seddon Shields Trotters' series. The final races in the series - at Westport this Friday and Reefton on Sunday - will decide who walks away with the first prize of $10,000 as well as the $3000 and $2000 for second and third. Boyz Invasion, who has started in all seven races of the series so far, leads on 26 points, with Muscle Bank second on 22 following a winning double at Blenheim on January 19 and 21.

Rural sports awards this Friday

Harness racing will be represented by three finalists at this Friday's NZ Rural Sports awards at Palmerston North. Junior driver Wilson House is up for Young Rural Sportsperson of the Year while Sam Ottley is a finalist for Sportswoman of the Year and Harness Unhinged's Nigel Armstrong has been recognised for his contribution to rural sports. The awards will be held at Awapuni as part of this weekend's New Zealand Rural games.

Entries open for weanling sale

Entries are now open for the NZB Standardbred National Weanling Sale at Karaka Sales Centre on Thursday 23 May. Entries opened on Monday 4 March via the NZB Standardbred Portal. The weanling sale follows the national yearling sale that was held at Karaka and Christchurch in February which saw turnover of $12,614,500 for 269 yearlings, with an average price of $46,894. The top lot was the $340,000 paid for Don't Stop Dreaming's brother, from Brian West's Studholme Bloodstock draft.

Ferguson king of the south

Craig Ferguson was the star of the show at the Southland Harness racing awards at Invercargill on Saturday night. The Wyndham trainer-driver took out Southland achievement of the year award and his striking grey trotter Smokin Bandar took out Southland Horse of the Year. Ferguson had 34 training wins in 2023 (with a strike rate of .5364) and 48 driving wins. Both were personal bests. Nathan Williamson took out trainer and driver of the year.

Awards on the night were as follows:

Regent Car Court Horse Of The Year: Smokin Bandar – owned by Tom & Julie Kilkelly, Shea and Holly McKenzie, trained by Craig Ferguson
Achievement Award: Craig Ferguson
Southern Standardbred Breeders Assn Elite Broodmare of the Year: Democrat Party – John & Katrina Price
Macca Lodge Broodmare Of The Year: The Fiery Filly – Tom Kilkelly
Caduceus Club Trotter Of The Year: Dwindle Star – owned by Bev Williamson, trained by Phil Williamson
Robin Dundee Club 3yo Gelding Of The Year: Captain Tom – owned by Ian and Lindsay Thomson, trained by Alister Black
Robin Dundee Club 3yo Filly Of The Year: Julie Jaccka – owned by Ailsa and Charlie Smaill, trained by Brett Gray
Fastest Mile Of The Year: Ruby Roe – owned by John & Katrina Price, trained by Nathan Williamson
Donaghy’s Trainer Of The Year: Nathan Williamson
Driver Of The Year: Nathan Williamson
Junior Driver Of The Year: Mark Hurrell

Club News : Invercargill

The Northern Southland Trotting Club hold their final meeting of the 2023/2024 season at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill this Saturday (9 March) with a day of quality harness racing. Feature races include the Group 3 Caduceus Club Of Southland/Alabar NZ 2-year-old Fillies Classic, Race 7 on the programme over a distance of 2200m for a stake of $40,000, the Lumsden Four Square Autumn Cup raced over 2700m for a stake of $18,000, the Mark Jones Racing Stables/Gordon Sutherland Memorial Trot for a stake of $20,000 over 2700m plus the prestigious Ascot Four Square Stella Frost Stakes. Kidz Kartz racing is also scheduled on the programme. Admission at the gate is free but the club also offers their $50 Gold Card access to the Top Of The Park with superb viewing and food and beverage. The first race is timed to start at 12.00 noon and owners are welcome in the Alabar Owners Room on the first floor of the main grandstand where they can enjoy hospitality throughout the day.










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