Winton winner already under offer
By Garrick Knight
Just as quickly as Kiwis harness racing fans fell in love with Southland pacer Wildwest, they might have to let him go.
The sizeable three-year-old, an impressive debut winner at Winton on Saturday, is already under offer to Australian interests.
“The vetting is all we are waiting on; everything else is in place,” confirmed his trainer Lauren Pearson on Tuesday.
The son of Raging Bull led and won by over 12 lengths in the hands of Pearson’s partner, Brent Barclay, and justified the huge opinion many scouts had of the horse.
The expected barrage of phone calls didn’t really eventuate, because most of the key players already had their hat in the ring.
“There weren’t too many calls straight after the win, but there were quite a few people already looking at him before the race,” said Pearson.
Invercargill owner Kevin Strong, who has been slowly dispersing his fast bloodstock portfolio over the past year, agreed to sell once the offers hit six figures.
“Kevin is a former fisherman and, while his health is alright, it’s not great and he’s getting up there in age.
“So, they’ve been going through them, selling the odd one, leasing a few and culling others.”
Pearson says the usual story prevailed in this instance – the money on offer was too good to refuse when weighed against the horse’s earning capacity here.
“We’re quite lucky in that the money is not too bad down here in Southland, but still, when the good offers come in, owners have got to sell.”
Strong has been a client with Pearson and Barclay for a number of years and they in fact trained Wildwest’s mother, Bay Jet, for him.
She won a workout in 2013 but never qualified after getting injured.
“She was a really nice filly with a lot of high speed but unfortunately she broke down.”
Wildwest is her first foal while the next, a Panspacificflight two-year-old, was leased out last year and is in the Waikato with Jason and Megan Teaz.
Gore trainer Bruce Wallace has an American Ideal yearling filly out of her while she is now back in foal for Strong to local frozen semen option Net Ten EOM.
Pearson says they had to wait on Wildwest sue to his size, but he has continued to improve and show them more and more.
“Ian Jamieson broke him in and then did another prep with him in a set of shoes.
“We got him as a two-year-old but he was always big and we kept biffing him out.
“This season he qualified before Christmas (October, actually) but the weight fell off him so we figured he should go in the paddock for a good old break.
“He went to Diane Cournane’s, and they do really well there and since he’s come back, he’s just kept on improving.
“Being fairly big we had to wait on him, but we were happy to.”
Wildwest was just Pearson’s 20th starter this season, though her seventh winner, giving her a UDR second only to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen among stable’s with at least that many starters.
Her other winners were Super Fast Pat, Rise Above This (since sold to Australian interests), Honour And Glory and The Bull Pen, who is now in Auckland with Ray Green.
“We don’t want to train too many; we’d rather pre-train them for other stables.
“But we’ve still had a really good season with the ones we have raced.”
On losing Wildwest, Pearson says it is disappointing, but not unexpected.
“We will be sorry to see him go, but when the money is up, you’ve got to take it.”
Pearson was uncertain of the exact likely landing point for Wildwest, but said she believed the buyers were Australian, not New Zealanders.