Ross Cleland - Ownership

Today we continue our series on horse ownership – how did it all start? And what are your favourite memories?

We’ve already heard from Trevor Casey, Elizabeth McCormick, Pauline Pattullo and Pip Gerard. Today it’s Ross “Trendy” Cleland’s turn.

Back home from his OE at 21 Ross Cleland wanted to get into the racing game. Nearly 40 years on Cleland and his best mate Paul Matheson are still breeding the “Trendy” line of horses, and they are not finished yet.

“I’m not sure where Trendy came from, certainly not me, an old girlfriend I think, ” said Cleland.

Cleland was not from a racing family as such though freely admits he caught the bug after going to the Gores races as a child with his parents. In 1983 he was given a mare to breed to Sapling. At the time the stallion was standing at John and Colin Bayne’s Hokonui stud at Otama in Eastern Southland.

Sapling was a class act, winning 22 races from 81 starts in an era that featured some of the sport’s greats including Bonnie’s Chance, Hands Down, Lord Module and Delightful Lady. The former four-year-old pacer of the year won the 1979 Auckland Cup and was second in the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominion final.

The result of the Sapling – Sport’s Edition merger was the first of the trendies, Trendy Miss. She won three from 55, and after finishing her racing in 1990 produced Alof Afella ( 6 wins – 27 starts in Australia) and three-race winner Trendy’s Cracker.

“Trendy's Cracker won at Westport in a track record,” he said. Driven by Jo Herbert and trained by Brendon McLellan her winning time was 2:33.1 for the 2000 metres.

But she had suspensory issues which curtailed her racing career. As a breeding proposition she was served by Christian Cullen.

“In those days his fee was just $5000,” said Cleland. For some of his stud career Christian Cullen stood at a fee of up to $25,000.

Trendy’s Rocket was foaled in 2004. She had just the one win 35 starts, in Gore in March 2009 while her progeny Trendy’s Bad Girl (Badlands Hanover – Trendy’s Rocket) won her one and only race (43 starts) for driver Blair Orange at Rangiora on January 2018.

Trendy’s Rocket also produced Santanna’s Rocket who won six from 39 before continuing his winning ways in Australia. Cleland was also a part owner of the trotter Night Allowance who won 16 from 56 including the Interdominion final in 1993.

“It was the only trotter I had – the rest were pacers!”

Cleland, who’s the president of the Gore Harness Racing Club, has had a good run of success.

“There have been 14 individual winners, and 57 wins altogether.”

Now Trendy’s Bad Girl is in foal to Vincent, the superstar pacer who won 16 from 19 ($610,066).

If that progeny wins a race it’ll be the fifth generation of “Trendy” horses to do so. It’s a trend Cleland and Matheson hope will never go out of fashion.


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