Ownership Profile - Murray Little

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When Invercargill lawyer Murray Little got roped into jogging horses for his brother and nephew in the early 80’s he was blissfully unaware of the ownership rollercoaster he was about to endeavor on.

Now a successful breeder and owner, Little would go from jogging horses around a paddock after work to help out his family, to owning 18 horses, including a Yearling Sales Series Final winning 2yo filly in Havtime, nearly 30 years later.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Little, who is also Vice President of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club and a board member of Southern Harness.

“The first horse I owned was a foal given to me by boss George Cruickshank which was related to Sapling, but that did not come to anything,” explained Little. “I then bought a filly from Sam Ballantyne and did breed from her but that was a failed venture also.”

Despite the frustration Little persevered. Although his first win as an owner in 2008 wasn’t quite what he expected.

“My first win was with US Marshal at Wyndham, but I was in Auckland and was not present at the races,” Little said. “But the horse was a promoted winner from second so it didn’t really feel like a real win, if you know what I mean.”

Little then had success when in a syndicate with a horse named Gerber. But his biggest thrill as an owner was still to come.

He purchased Donthavtime, (a daughter of Mach Three and Time To Say Goodbye who hailed from the family of Southern Supremacy winner Lookahead) and she won seven races for Little and trainer Wayne Adams.

“I have bred three foals out of Donthavtime. I sold a Bettor’s Delight colt out of her (Bettorhavtime) for $50,000 and it has won six races and had eleven placings in Australia. I also have a three-year-old filly (Musthavtime) that is qualified out of her and will start shortly and will have an A Rocknroll Dance foal also.”

One piece of bad luck came when a mare named Solitaire, who had been trained by Wayne Adams in Southland, caught the eye of Little despite bad luck.

Solitaire bowed a tendon and broke down after showing promise and Little came to an arrangement with her owner Jill Smolenski to be able to get a foal out of her.

Little took the first foal, Dream Angel, and as fate would have it her full sister One Dream was the second foal.

“It was a low point when Dream Angel could not pace. But she has left a few winners including Mach’s Back for me so she has given me a lot of enjoyment.”

And another unique ownership highlight came for Little in March of this year at Wyndham.

“I had Betterthanbrie and Mach’s Back both win on the same day,” explained Little. “I bred them both too and have had them since they were weaned which made it pretty special.”

Little’s horses are based at Oreti Beach and he has Kirstin Barclay and Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis utilizing his facilities there.

“I have learned a bit from them and it is great. I can ask them if I have any issues with my weanlings or yearlings and Kirstin takes my sales horses in late December to get the final icing put on them for the sales,” said Little.

It’s the daily interactions that has Little hooked on harness racing.

“The best thing for me about being an owner is being able to see them and feed them every day. I’m a hands on owner and follow the horses progress closely.”

 “Of course it has its lows but you have to ride it out, no pun intended.”

Little finds pleasure in being able to share the journey also.

“I race five horses with my nephew Malcolm and we have had a fair bit of success with those horses. We will have some fun breeding from all these fillies in the future.”

Included in those horses are Havtime, the 2018 New Zealand Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final winner at Alexandra Park,  Shezacullengirl, five wins, and Excellent, a recent winner at the Riverton meeting.

“I definitely recommend getting involved in ownership, no matter how large or small the share is. When the horse races it’s your horse no matter how big your share is,” said Little.

“It’s just great to get a win after all the time and effort you put in.”

For more information on how you can get involved in ownership, please contact Jess Smith at Harness Racing New Zealand – [email protected]

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