Ukraine makes history at Winton
By Jonny Turner
Ukraine made history when producing sizzling speed to win his debut at Winton yesterday.
The pacer became the first two-year-old winner in New Zealand for 2024, the first Australasian winner for his sire Captain Crunch, and the first winner under Harness Racing New Zealand’s new two-year-old bonus scheme with his excellent victory for Bob Butt.
Though Ukraine didn’t have to produce a flash overall time to win, he showed an outstanding turn of foot to come from off the pace on a 26sec last 400m split to win.
That final sectional indicates the pacer has plenty of upside, and trainer-driver Bob Butt’s immediate plans for the horse suggest exactly that, too.
“We have got to make up our mind now whether we go to the Young Guns or come back down south for the Kindergarten (Stakes),” Butt said.
“We will just see, he does go good the Auckland way around, too.”
Butt has always had a good opinion of Ukraine and thinks the horse’s great turn of foot will be a big asset going forward.
“He's a lovely colt and he's got that speed in him, so hopefully that will take him a long way.”
Ukraine is raced by Canterbury owner-breeder Don Bates.
The horse was bred by Norwegian Wood Breeding Limited, which Bates owns with Stephen and Alana Hammar.
Ukraine banked an extra $12,000 in stakes as yesterday’s race is the first eligible under a two-year-old scheme from Harness Racing New Zealand/Entain.
Two-year-olds winning their first race in New Zealand now deliver their owners a bonus of $8000 with $4000 going to the winning breeders.
“It is great for Don, he has been a great supporter of mine,” Butt said.
“He owns him and bred him, so he cops the whole lot.”
Speed was the key ingredient in both yesterday’s Southern Supremacy Stakes heat, as well as Winton’s Southern Oaks heat.
Built For Glory was last of the pack at the 400m in his Southern Supremacy Stakes bid before he swept past his rivals to score stylishly.
As impressive as the pacer was, driver Tim Williams thinks the horse will only get better by the time the Southern Supremacy Stakes Final arrives.
“He has taken a bit of making, I said to some of the owners he is going to take racing to learn his craft.”
“But he has got the makings there, he has got a good will to win and he is a nice horse to drive.”
Ruby Roe also sped home from off the pace to win yesterday’s Southern Oaks heat.
The three-year-old came widest around the home turn and let down powerfully to nail a game runner-up in All You Need Is Me, right on the line.
Yesterday’s Wairio Cup was taken out by Tact McLeod for trainer Trevor Proctor.
Though the pacer was slowly away, driver Blair Orange landed him a perfect run in the one-one before he angled out to win well.