News Briefs : October 4
NZ Cup still all go for Spirit Of St Louis
Star Aussie pacer Spirit Of St Louis remains on target to tackle the New Zealand Cup. The former Kiwi, who has soared to a $1.2m earner with Team McCarthy, has one final hurdle to clear – Saturday week’s Group 1 Victoria Cup.
“If he runs well at Melton, then we’re off to New Zealand,” Luke McCarthy said.
Although Spirit Of St Louis has not raced from a standing start in Australia, he has trialled well and he won two standing start races in his early days back in NZ with Graeme Anderson.
“He’s a smart, sensible horse. That’s part of the reason we’re keen on the race,” McCarthy said.
Spirit of St Louis has been one of Australia’s most consistent Grand Circuit performers for the past two years with 16 Group 1 starts netting two wins and seven seconds.
Delany gets call up for Juniors
Nathan Delany has been a late addition to the 12 drivers who will compete at the McMillan Equine Feeds New Zealand Junior Drivers' Championships. The championships start at Addington tomorrow night and will then head to Invercargill before finishing at Methven on Sunday. There will be six races in all. Delaney replaces Alicia Harrison, who made herself unavailable because she's committed to driving last start winner Fernleigh Cash in the Holmes DG at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The country's leading junior driver Sarah O'Reilly will be vying to win the championships for the fourth time in five years.
Two combos hit 50 training wins
Half centuries were brought up by two training combos over the past week. Graeme Rogerson and Dylan Ferguson registered their 50th training success with Shez Bella at Cambridge last Thursday with Mark and Nathan Purdon achieving the same milestone with With Style at Addington on Friday. The Purdons are currently second in the premiership, 40 wins behind runaway leaders Robert and Jenna Dunn on 90. Blair Orange is easily the leading driver on 113 wins, with John Dunn second on 85.
Ferguson continues winning streak
Major Art continued Craig Ferguson's amazing strike-rate this season. The win at Gore was Ferguson's 22nd in 58 starts this year, giving him a UDR of .5541. That puts him at the top of all trainers, with the closest big stable being Mark and Nathan Purdon with 50 wins from 164 starts and a UDR of .4675. Among Ferguson's good winners this year have been Smokin Bandar, Nutcracker, Da Vinci and Netherton Franco.
Confederate flying the flag
The highest earning horse in North America just keeps winning. Trained by ex-pat Kiwi Brett Pelling Confederate won his ninth race in 10 starts at the famous Red Mile in Kentucky over the weekend. The Sweet Lou three-year-old's winning time was 1:47.6. His earnings in 2023 now stand at $1.14m. He has a career record of 14 wins from 17 starts. Meanwhile another ex pat Kiwi Dexter Dunn (172 wins) is now the sixth highest earning driver in North America with $7.6m in stakes, with Yannick Gingras leading the way at $10.7m.
Morrisons hand over the reins
After operating his saddlery business in Ashburton for over four decades, Chris Morrison is retiring. Known as the go-to man for anything harness related he has also spent years providing super service to trainers with his harness truck at the races. The business started in Tinwald being moving to its current location at the Ashburton racecourse. The new owners are Geoffery & Helen-Ann Skertin. And this week could be a big one for son John Morrison as well. He's currently on 299 driving wins.
Domestic harness racing turnovers over the past week
Gore Thursday 28 September – Turnover $617k – Gross Betting Margin 19.2%
Cambridge Thursday 28 September – Turnover $636k – GBM 8.9%
Addington Friday 29 September – Turnover $1,281k – GBM 21.5%
Timaru Sunday 01 October – Turnover $1,112k – GBM 24.3%