YEAR: 2011


Nevele R Stud said goodbye to one of its favourite sons when Falcon Seelster was put down on Friday.

A former great racehorse and then champion sire, Falcon Seelster was 30 and in failing health. Stud General Manager Peter O'Rourke said it was a matter of ending his discomfort. "We'd hoped that there was a chance he could brighten up with the warmer weather, but that wasn't happening. He couldn't get up three days in a row, and then he couldn't get down to rest. We didn't want to see him suffer," he said.

Falcon Seelster was bought by Bob McArdle and Wayne Francis from Castleton Farms in 1995. He was a superior performer on the track, capping his career with a world record 1.51 mile on Jug Day and earning more than $US1m. For the start of his stud career, Falcon Seelster was a shuttle stallion until his status as an EVA Shedder prevented him from returning for good until 2003.

"With Holmes Hanover gone, it's the end of an era," said O'Rourke.

As a sire, Falcon Seelster surpassed his ability on the track with a galaxy of great performers - 11 Australasian Group 1 winners Elsu, $2m; The Falcon Strike, $1.2m; Howard Bromac, Seelster Sam, All Hart, Franco Seguel, De Lovely, Franco Jonquill, Seel N Print, Coburg and New York Fashion. Six of those horses were Derby winners, and two - Elsu and The Falcon Strike - were Australasian Grand Circuit champions.

He has sired eight in 1.50, including Attorney General, 1.48.4, Allstar Blue Jean, 1.48.8, Franco Catapult, 1.49.4, and Ross The Boss, 1.50. He has sired 108 Australasian winners of more than $100,000, 720 Australasian bred winners, and 88 in 1.55 or better. Seven have won more than $1m including Nevele R Stud sire, McArdle ($2.4m).

All told, his stock has won more than $110m.

Falcon Seelster is making his mark as an exceptional broodmare sire, his daughters having left Bondy, Laurella, Fiery Falcon, Franco Emirate, Fly Like An Eagle, Millwood Meg, Ohoka Arizona, Veste, Mr Yankee, In The Force, Rona Lorraine, Im Mark Antony, Mach And Me and Lilac Stride - all Group 1 Winners - plus Franco Jamar and Pembrook Benny.

He has 32 yearlings, 61 mares due to foal, and his frozen semen is available.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 21 Sept 2011


YEAR: 2010


Tim Butt has the high ground as the preliminaries take place for the bigger hurdles ahead. He has won three major paces in the last month, starting with Stunin Cullen, continuing with Raglan, and then again after a classy repeat by Stunin Cullen in the Listed Avon City Ford New Brighton Cup at Addington last Friday night.

This was a sublime performance by Stunin Cullen, who has two priceless talents: brilliant acceleration, and a quick step off the mark. Driver Anthony Butt used both in the Cup, his manners gave him a flying start, and his speed to race off to an early lead and again clear them on the corner.

Monkey King, who was second at that stage after a slow start and a big run to sit parked at the 800m, was never a serious challenger in the straight and driver Ricky May knew it, choosing to drop in behind Stunin Cullen at the 300m. He was a strong second, holding off Raglan, who edged Bondy out of third.

Stunin Cullen is close enough to being the early favourite for the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup, though that might change when Monkey King makes the improvement that is coming. Whether Stinin Cullen has the stamina to complement his speed is a question that he will answer before too long. "I've said all along that he has more speed than any other horse I've driven, but he'll never be Flashing Red tough," said Anthony. "He's a lot more relaxed. I was reluctant to make mid-race moves with him before because of his breathing difficulties, but I wouldn't be now," he said.

Brother Tim knows that speed alone will not be enough to win at times, and says "there are other ways of winning races". This season, Stunin Cullen has achieved his two wins in front, but his second in between wins to Raglan, showed that he was even more lethal coming from off the pace. He says the horse will have an easy time for a week or two and probably have two more races before the NZ Cup.

The return of the stablemates Monkey King and Power Of Tara produced runs much as expected, Monkey King slow off and indicating a lack of match fitness near the end, and Power Of Tara pleasing although 10 lengths off the winner. Trainer Benny Hill was more than satisfied.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 22Sept 2010


YEAR: 2010


In The Pocket, the stallion bred by Brittany Farms in the USA who came to New Zealand in 1993 and revolutionised our harness racing breed has died. The outstanding son of Direct Scooter and Black Jade who won $1,537,473 on the race track in the US pacing 1.53.8 as a two-year-old, was put down at Wai Eyre Farm in North Canterbury and is buried there.

In The Pocket (23) leaves behind an outstanding number of top horses to carry on his legacy in New Zealand including siring sensations Christian Cullen, who set four New Zealand records and won 22 races including the the New Zealand Cup, and the pocket rocket, Courage Under Fire, who won 34 races including 6 Derbys.

But it doesn't stop there. In The Pocket is also the sire of many, many more standouts including Changeover, Winforu, Tribute, Bella's Boy, Light And Sound, London Legend, and London Pride, aswell as the speed queens Tupelo Rose and Under Cover Lover.

He is the sire of more than 600 winners in New Zealand and Australia with combined total earnings of more than $26,500,000. While in North America he has also been and an outstanding siring success with such standouts as Sanabelle Island (1.50.8 $1,660,526 57 US wins) and Crew Cut Zach (p4 1.51.4f $1,006,055, 53 US wins) sired by him.

Voted stallion of the Year in 1998/99 and 2003/2004 In The Pocket, stood at Woodlands Stud, near Clevedon in Auckland, for many years before being purchased by Ian Dobson in September 2005 to stand alongside his most famous son Christian Cullen at Wai Eyre.

The In The Pocket Syndicate was formed with Darryl Brown, of Wai Eyre Farm, and another prominent Canterbury owner, Noel Kennard, joining Dobson in the ownership of In The Pocket .

Brown said he had a small share in the stallion. It was a sad day for the stud to have to put In The Pocket down. The stallion was 23 and had left a very strong legacy of horses.

Noel Kennard said it was "incredible to be involved with such a fantastic individual."

"He has revolutionised our breed. If it wasn't for him we wouldn't have Christian Cullen, or Courage Under Fire, or any of Cullen's many outstanding sons. In The Pocket was a stunning individual," Kennard said.


Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 8Sep2010

In The Pocket may have passed away early last month, but his legacy is going to be inestimable.

The best sire New Zealand has seen in modern times since Smooth Fella and Vance Hanover, and only to be surpassed by the success of a son, In The Pocket will live long as a sire of commercially successful sires in Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire and now quite possibly Changeover. But his influence and contribution to the New Zealand breeding industry is going to extend well beyond that.

The first shuttle sire to step foot in this part of the world when he arrived in 1993, In The Pocket brought refinement, gait and speed to a broodmare population which in many ways was still old fashioned and often course insofar as types. New Zealand's broodmare population was brought up to speed so to speak by a class horse, but even more important was the outcross factor that In The Pocket brought to the table.

At the time when the pacing population around the world was becoming saturated with Hal Dale and Meadow Skipper blood, as a son of Direct Scooter and a Tar Heel mare, In The Pocket proved the perfect foil - he could be said to be the right horse in the right place at the right time for New Zealand. Now New Zealand has a significant proportion of broodmares by In The Pocket, Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire among others - a much higher percentage than anywhere else in the world anyway - and is brilliantly set up to take advantage of the next round or stage of leading sires or high-profile pacng prospects straight off the track.

The value of outcross blood in a broodmare population cannot be underestimated, so thanks to In The Pocket, New Zealand breeders both individually and collectively have a lot to thank him for. The best present example of this can be observed in Bettor's Delight, a sire with no less than 16 crosses to Hal Dale who was crying out for outcross blood in his mares, and sure enough he has crossed brilliantly with In The Pocket and Christian Cullen mares. It is the speed factor of the Direct Scooter and In The Pocket sire line which is proving so effective and complimentary to the toughness that a sire such as Bettor's Delight from the Cam Fella line can offer.

There was nothing fashionable about In The Pocket's pedigree when he hit the ground in February of 1987, but he was a top class juvenile who won over $1.5m by the end of his 3-year-old season, being second only in performance that year to Horse of the Year Beach Towel. Lou Guida was involved in his ownership then, before George Shaw bought him for stud duties in America. In The Pocket initially stood for two years at Walnut Hall in New York before moving to Winbak Farm in Maryland, a State which allowed him to shuttle, while later he also stood in Ohio.

Before settling into a more permanent home at Woodlands Stud and then at Wai-Eyre in his twilight years, In The Pocket also stood at Vance Lodge in Auckland, at Lantana Lodge and the Stallion Station at West Melton, while also doing a stint at Alabar in Victoria. We can therefore count nine individual farms he frequented during his stud career which spanned two decades, with eight of those years spent doing time in both hemispheres. In The Pocket didn't always get a lot of favours in his life, but it would be fair to say that he has been good - and he was always a lovely horse to be around - to all those who came into contact with him in some form or another.

While he didn't make it as a sire in America without the support of a big stud or syndication after being placed outside of the major breeding States, In The Pocket was an immediate success in New Zealand. Christian Cullen and Under Cover Lover came from his first crop, and they were quickly followed up by Courage Under Fire, Classy Filly and Tupelo Rose among others. Star youngsters such as Light And Sound, Bella's Boy, Lennon, Advance Attack and Tribute would follow before Changeover would prove a crowning glory. The success of Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire as racehorses and as sires is entirely another story.

In The Pocket's record presently shows about 660 New Zealand-bred winners from 1300-odd foals for a winner-to-foals percentage above 50, when 40 percent is an accepted success rate, while he has another 27 Australian-bred winners from the handful of foals he produced each year there. And his North American stats show 537 winners of over $50m, with 169 six-figure winners headed by the super mare Sanabelle Island ($1.6m). In New Zealand, he was a two-time winner of the Sires' Premiership and among the leading sires every year for the 12 consecutive seasons between his first crop racing as 2-year-olds and last season, when declining foal numbers saw him dip out of the Top 10 for the first time. As a broodmare sire he already has well over 200 New-Zealand-bred winners, headed by Bettor's Strike and Tintin In America

It was five years ago now that Ian Dobson along with Noel Kennard and Wai-Eyre studmaster Daryl Brown purchased In The Pocket for what was then a record price, and he settled into a peaceful semi-retirement in North Canterbury alongside his super sire son. There was always a question mark over In The Pocket's fertility, which was probably not all that surprising in his latter years after what he had been through as a shuttle horse, but his last crop will be five yearlings from a book of 29 mares. He has three fillies entered for next year's Sales, but no further foals after four mares came up empty last season.

Brown says the decision to put In The Pocket down a month ago was not a difficult one when he suffered "quite a bad bout of colic. We could have operated to save him, but he was already retired and had had a good innings."

Thus when most sires are looking forward to a new season at stud, In The Pocket has gone to the great breeding barn in the sky, safe in the knowledge that he will be remembered for a very, very long time.

Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in Harnesslink


YEAR: 2010


Grand racemare Kiwi Ingenuity has almost certainly finished her racing career. Trainer Robbie Holmes all but confirmed the retirement after she cut her off-side tendon sheath at the back of her fetlock joint near the finish of the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington on Tuesday.

The cut was "very deep" said Holmes. "It's been stitched and she will stay for a week at the Canterbury Equine Clinic," he said.

While Holmes has left the door ajar in case there is a longshot change in plan, part-owner Hamish Scott said the decision was "ninety-nine percent. She's done a wonderful job, and her career from here is really as a broodmare." Holmes said racing her again wasn't really a risk worth taking. She had a tenative booking to Art Major a year ago, so I'm pretty sure that's what will happen now."

Holmes was confident of running into a place in the Cup until she started going "slightly rough" halfway up the passing lane. "I thought I'd run a hole the way we were going. She paced the last bend very nicely, then went rough for no reason at all. She got organised, and then did it again." Holmes said she caused the injury with her second break.

Kiwi Ingenuity won 11 of her 27 starts, and with 8 placings earned $523,200. Her notable wins included the Southland Oaks, the Group 1 Wayne Francis Memorial New Zealand Oaks, the Pelorus Classic, the Group 2 Caduceus Premier Mares Classic, the Group 1 PGG Wrightson Breeders' Stakes, the 4YO Diamond at the Harness Jewels in 1:52.1 and the Group 1 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park after her fourth in the Miracle Mile behind Monkey King, Smoken Up and Karloo Mick.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 11Nov2010


YEAR: 2009


Nobody saw it coming, but the unthinkable happened last weekend when The Fiery Ginga got beaten. Twice. Rampant and infallible since February, the country's leading 2-year-old trotter is all of a sudden suggesting that perhaps there is a chink in his armour - turning his head to the side and galloping behind the gate. He did it shortly after the start of the NRM Sires' Stakes Trotters Championship at Addington on Saturday, and then repeated the misdemeanour 21 hours later in the slush at Timaru. For many though, The Fiery Ginga's performance to be beaten a nostril at Addington was one of the greatest they have ever seen; memorable not only for how much ground the baby trotter lost and later made up, but also for the mission he was asked to undertake.

In the end he came up an inch short of pulling off a miracle, but it would be remiss to take anything away from the combined deeds of trainer Phil Burrows and driver Jamie Keast who won the $60,000 Group 2 event from the outside of the second row with a maiden filly. Keast was at his brilliant best, keeping Coninental Auto balanced and out of the paths of three early breakers before settling her at the tail of the field on the outer. When The Fiery Ginga caught the pack at the 800m and took off a moment later, Keast set his filly alight and sizzled around the bunch three-wide, all the while being flanked by the favourite who was emptying his tank a cart-width wider.

By the time the home turn loomed Continental Auto seemed to have shaken off The Fiery Ginga, but it was only a temporary respite because the latter charged at her again down the straight, and Keast extracted one last ounce of energy from the Continentalman filly to get her there by a nose.

Back at the stables afterwards, Burrows savoured his first Group race victory as a trainer. "Gee she had to show a bit of nickel today," he said. "We'd actually been a bit worried about her in the last month or so, because she'd started a wee habit of breaking for no reason. But she's so well gaited, and because she very rarely gallops she just didn't know what to do and how to get back into a trot. It's just an experience thing," he said.

Part of the revised game plan for Continental Auto's assignment on Saturday included putting a hood on her for the first time, and taking her out onto the track for a bowl-around an hour before her event. Burrows was hoping it would take the edge off her and hence help her concentrate more, but if anything he says it made her "a little bit agitated" the second time round.

Bred by Mike Gourdie and Michael House, the Continentalman- Auto Bank filly was leased to Burrows initially but recently bought outright by Rangiora enthusiasts Ronnie and Maree Dawe. Burrows has trained from their property in Fernside since last September, and because it was built from scratch - "new track, new fences, stables, the lot" - he feels very thankful to be associated with the couple.

"Ronnie and Maree only got into the game in the last five years through knowing Wayne Ross," Burrows said. "They originally owned The Big Mach who was sold to Tim Butt and BG Three who went to Australia, and got the bug after that. Continental Auto was actually supposed to go through the Sales, but was really lean and tall at the time so Mike pulled her out. I broke her in after he leased her to me, and always liked the way she moved. She's out of a daughter of Indette, so there's a bit of blood there, and I thought with some feeding up she might turn out alright.

Credit: John Robinsin writing in HRWeekly 13May09


YEAR: 2009


There was a total of 45 hopefuls all wanting a spot in November's NZ Cup when nominations closed last Tuesday, and on Friday one of them had guaranteed himself a place in the $1 million thriller. His name is Bondy, and he booked his spot after producing a punishing finish to win the $25,000 Avon City Ford New Brighton Cup at Addington.

The lure of the listed event is not so much the $13,630 winner's cheque, it's the assurance that whoever takes it out will make the Cup field regardless. So once again it drew a classy line-up, but Bondy pretty much gave them all a start and a beating.

After settling back from his wide draw on the front line, the son of Live Or Die trucked around the field to sit parked and straight away got cover from Mr Feelgood starting the last lap. Within a furlong he was three-back on the outer, and despite the pace quickening appreciably down the back straight as you would expect, co-trainer/driver David Butt was able to leave his mounting run until the home turn when the horses fanned around the bend. Momentarily left flat-footed, the strapping pacer balanced on straightening and threw himself into the fight, powering home to get the nod in a nose/nose/half-length finish over Bettor's Strike, Nearea Franco and Mr Feelgood.

For starters it proved in no uncertain terms that Bondy is not just a 'one trick pony', a tag which some might have wanted to pin on him because he has won a lot of his races from the front; his other two appearances this season being no exception. And secondly, it really changed nothing in the overall picture of those jostling for NZ Cup positions - Bondy probably would have made the field anyway, because prior to winning on Friday night he had put together a formline of 11211 since June. So his win just made it that little bit harder for the other 44 horses fighting for the 14 remaining spots.

This year's nominations must have Addington officials licking their lips in anticipation ... equine superstar Auckland Reactor, reigning Inter-Dominion champion Mr Feelgood, defending Cup winner Changeover - not to mention a staggering six expressions of interest from across the Tasman, including three-time Inter-Dominion hero Blacks A Fake and other Australian topliners like Karloo Mick, Smoken Up, Be Good Johnny and Lombo Pocket Watch. If most of the Aussies make the trip it will be like an Inter-Dominion Grand Final; in fact, you have only got to look at the sort of horses who end up missing out to see how good the field really is. Bondy will be right there amongst the action on November 10, and a typically reserved David Butt says the 8-year-old is not without a chance. "He's going to be competitive with the right run," Butt said. "His manners will put him in the race for starters."

Bondy's had one go at the Cup before, two years ago, running sixth behind Flashing Red. "But that was when he'd only just gotten to Cup class after winning the Kaikoura Cup," Butt said, adding that the enforced layoff Bondy had to have between March last year and May this year after cracking a bone in his back foot could have been a blessing in a way. He has taken a long time to fill out into his big frame," he said.

The plan for Bondy from here on in is a busy one, as his trainers intend to line the gelding up in most of the lead-up races - starting with the Hannon Memorial this Sunday, and then the Ashburton Flying Stakes or Kaikoura Cup.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HR Weekly 23 Sept 2009


YEAR: 2009


Fiery Falcon lost his battle with colitis last week, and died on Thursday night.

Suffering from a condition that can be caused by stress and is also known as 'travel sickness' or 'scours', the result of which is chronic dehydration, Fiery Falcon showed amazing resolve against an affliction that normally claims it's victims within 24-48 hours. He lasted for 10 days.

Raced by the estate of Sir Roy McKenzie together with Colin and Rona McKay, Phil and Glenys Kennard and Michele House, Fiery Falcon returned to the latter's property for the last two days of his life. "Both jugular veins had collapsed at that stage, which meant he couldn't pump blood around his body," said Michael House. "We tubed him when he first came home and he actually started to look good, but then his head began to swell up with blood and we couldn't get a tube up his nose to fix it," added House, who was with Fiery Falcon when he died.

The 5-year-old son of Mach Three and Falcon's Guest raced 34 times for his group of owners and was a super-consistent performer, winning on 10 occasions and being placed a further 20 times. Amongst those were Group 1 victories in the 2yo Sires' Stakes Final and Woodlands Northern Derby at three, the 3yo Harness Emerald at Cambridge last year, and up until recently he held the NZ record for a 4yo and older pacer over 2600 metres from a stand (3:13.5).

"It was a real shame," House said. "I just wanted to see him make old bones, and I reckon he could've competed with most horses. But Michele gave him a nice burial here, so he's got a place to spend the rest of his days."

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 14 Oct 2009


YEAR: 2009


Last Thursday was a sad day for the Williams and Wong families when Master Mood (Rick), their champion pacer of 1980s, passed away.

Master Mood had spent his retirement years in the best of conditions and health at Tall Tree Stud and had reached the grand old age of 28. Unfortunately in recent months he had developed a sinus infection which proved to be very difficult to treat.

Master Mood was without peer during the 1985/86 and 86/87 seasons and was voted Harness Horse of the Year on two consecutive occasions. "A highlight of his career was winning the Miracle Mile in Sydney in 1986, beating Aussie champs Village Kid and Lightning Blue. That season he also won the NZ Cup and the Auckland Cup - not a bad effort for a horse who was only the size of a pony but had the heart of a lion," said trainer/driver and part-owner Kevin Williams.

Master Mood won the New Zealand Cup at Addington and Miracle Mile at Harold Park, Sydney, in 1986. His time of 1:56.1 in the Miracle Mile was a race record that stood for four years. He won the 1987 Auckland Cup and the 1986 NZ Free-For-All. Master Mood won nine races in a row as a 4-year-old in the 1985/86 season. his wins included the Wellington Cup, Forbury Park Four-Year-Old Championship and Lion Red Mile in Auckland.

Master Mood became the first sub-2.00 2-year-old pacer in Australia and New Zealand when he won the Final of the Sires' Stakes series at Washdyke in 1:59.5 in 1984. He won six races including the New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes, Timaru Nursery Stakes and Te Awamutu Juvenile Pace at two.

Master Mood raced 96 times for 27 wins and 21 placings, for stakes of $806,925. Master Mood gave a tremendous amount of pleasure, not only to his owners but his strapper at the time, Dave Anderson, and many family friends who followed him on his travels. Master Mood is buried on the front lawn at Tall Tree Stud.

Credit: HR Weekly 29Oct09


YEAR: 2008


Michelle Wallis's tears said it all.

As Sly Flyin hobbled off the track gingerly after the Nufarm Free-For-All last Friday, his trainer knew the grand old man of NZ pacing had run his last race. But she wasn't crying for opportunities lost, or for the fact old Sly was feeling his old legs. After all, Sly has spent a lifetime feeling his legs. Wallis's anguish was that such a great horse will almost certainly end his career at the back of a field at the start of Auckland racing's biggest week.

That is not the ideal way for a warrior like Sly Flyin to bow out. He should have been winning something great, breakng into the millionaire's club with wonderful things being said about him on TV and written about him in newspapers. Instead, this may have to do. "If he is finished I hate seeing him go out like this," said Wallis. "He was like my best mate."

Sly Flyin deserved better than he ever got. If there is a God of racing, he is a cruel one to put such a giant heart in a body supported by such troubled legs. It is so long ago now, six years to be exact that Sly Flyin should have won a Sires' Stakes and who knows how many Derbys. You can forget that he might have started favourite in a Miracle Mile but for breaking down a few days before. And that it took Elsu at his greatest to deny him an Inter-Dominion. Let alone those amazing Easter Cup efforts, or just how many times he must have paced 3200m in 4.00 but got little to show for it.

If he goes into retirement he does so as one of the greatest pacers of the modern era not to earn $1 million, falling just under $100,000 short. But he will go to the paddock with a special place in the hearts, and minds, of those who knew what he overcame. After all, this is a horse Tony Herlihy rated as one of the best pacers he ever drove. Think about that for a second.

But maybe, just maybe, this was the right way for Sly Flyin to end his career. Trying his heart out, against the best in the business, until something broke. Only this time, it looks like it can't be fixed. Goodbye old man. You have earned your rest.

Footnote: Sly Flyin raced every season from 2 to 9. The most starts he had in a season was 16, at 5. His best season was at 8 when he won $225,446.

For The Record: Starts: 82, wins: 29, placings: 18, stakes: $911,689.

Credit: Michael Guerin writing in HRWeekly 5Mar2008


YEAR: 2007

Former top pacer Iraklis has been put down.

Owner Kypros and Mary Kotzikas said the decision was based on veterinary advice after it appeared he had been suffering from an undiagnosed hearty problem.

Iralkis was a great racehorse, winning 22 of his 51 starts, and more than $1 million in stakes.

He won his first three for trainer Robert Cameron, and after that his successful drivers were the late Danny Campbell and Ricky May. He produced a towering performance to win the Free-For-All on Show Day as a 4-year-old in 1996, won the Miracle Mile, and just held out Smooth Dominion to win the 1997 NZ Cup.

At stud, he was not the giant he was on the racetrack. To date he has 251 foals, and 34 individual winners, the best of thembeing Irak Attack(6 wins), Posh Lavra(5), Phevos(4), and Rakalees(4). His first crop of 73 foals was his biggest, and he has two mares in foal this season.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 3Oct07

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