Southern star kicks off big weekend for southern scribe

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk

He calls himself "the King of Content" and Jonny Turner is hopeful his King's Birthday weekend is going to get off to an early and successful start at Addington tonight.

As an Invercargill-based racing journalist his stock and trade is writing about all things related to harness racing and producing content for his social media channels, especially from his home patch south of the Waitaki.

But the proud Southlander also literally puts his money where his mouth is.

His latest "project" is Southside Of Heaven, who starts in race 4, the Woodlands Stud Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace at Addington tonight (6.22pm), after impressively winning both her starts so far down south, at Winton and Invercargill

"She certainly looks like a good stayer," says Turner, "and we've been a bit surprised, she was solid at the trials but not like she's been at the races."

Turner bred the mare along with his good mate Paul Hailes, and they share in the ownership with Caine McIntyre. Caine's father (and fellow Macca Lodge proprietor) Brent McIntyre trains the mare. Turner himself worked at Jaccka Lodge, the forerunner to Macca Lodge, before deciding to get into journalism.

“Brent and Caine have done a wonderful job with this mare and they deserve all the credit,” says Turner.

Tonight she's a rated a $9 chance on the fixed odds.

"We expect her to be competitive at Addington - but we don't expect her to just win but she'll be running on."

Southside of Heaven is by Rock N Roll Heaven out of Debnita Rose. Bred by Hailes, she won four races.

"She was actually named after our mothers, Deborah (Turner) and Anita (Hailes)," says Turner.

Southside Of Heaven is her first foal. She's since had a second, a Betting Line colt called Ace of Spades, but subsequent attempts to get her in foal haven't been successful.

Debnita Rose's dam Glenburn Rose has been a great producer. She was bred by Hailes' father Eddie and among her other race winning progeny have been Chesterton (16 wins), Glenburn Jewel (5 wins) and Norham Fella (4 wins)

While self-deprecating about his own involvement - "Paul and Caine are the real breeding buffs" - Turner is no novice when it comes to breeding standardbreds.

Among his first, and most successful was Hi Gun in the early 2000s. He won 10 from 71.

"He didn't win anything spectacular but we had a lot of fun with him."

In more recent times he's been part of the ownership group of Group winning-mare Manhattan (both pictured above). Now based in Australia, she's won 12 races including one this year at Menangle.

Turner's own involvement in harness racing goes way back. His father bred horses too "and I got keen on them from there".

It's estimated he's owned or co-owned around 30 horses over the years, with over 50 wins in total.

Including Southside Of Heaven Turner has shares in no fewer than six horses over the long weekend.

The Peter and Vaughan Blanchard-trained pairing of Watch Your Back and Majestic Ruby will line up at Cambridge on Friday night, followed by Joyride (Cran and Chrissie Dalgety) at Ashburton on Sunday and the Matty Williamson pairing of Lime In A Bottle and Terra Sancta at Invercargill on Monday.

"Between the whole lot of them I'm hoping I can get something."

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