YEAR: 2009


Nathan Williamson says Springbank Richard feels like his old self again this season. Well, to be more precise, - his 'young' self.

Williamson set Springbank Richard alight nearing the home turn in last Friday night's $25,000 Anthony Shearer-Bestwood/Pink Batts Ordeal Trotting Cup at Addington, and the pair rushed on by Speculate who had led from the get-go. The latter had pinged along at a near record pace in front, and to her credit Speculate came back at Springbank Richard to be only half a length away at the line. But this was to be another sought-after trotting title that went the way of 'Team Williamson'.

And 21-year-old Nathan was understandably beaming about Springbank Richard's performance; not only because the gelding won, but more importantly how he felt in doing it. "He's like his old self again," Williamson said. "Her felt like it last week to, even though he was a bit fresh that night." That was the night Springbank Richard clipped a wheel with 1500 metres to run, breaking and losing all chance in his first start of the season. Stipendiary stewards slapped Williamson with a $350 fine for careless driving, but the young man took it on the chin because he knew there were more positives to be taken from the bigger picture.

"He was actually touching a wheel that night, and over-racing. In his action her throws his back leg out a long way anyway, and because he has grown a bit it just meant we needed to make his cart slightly longer. He sweated up quite badly, but the trip up here and everything did him the world of good."

Williamson believes Springbank Richard "needed" the year of hard racing in the top grade that he had last season, plus he needed time to grow. "As a three and 4-year-old, he was better than the ones he was racing up against. And he used to be about a $1.10 favourite most starts, so it was a case of 'go to the front and don't get unlucky'. But now they are all as good as each other, so he has to race in the field. I'm pretty excited about him this year actually."

Despite agreeing with his son that there was "a lot to be said for having a season of hard racing", Williamson's father Phil considers that they "made a mistake" with the son of Sundon last season - not having him ready enough, early enough. He's more forward at the same stage this time in," Phil said. "And that was the plan, because they brought the Dominion forward; he had a much shorter spell, only five weeks. From here we might look at the Banks Peninsula Cup with him, because it is a race we have never won before - if he's good enough we'll be in it; if he's not, we won't. One Over Kenny's got to come down yet, and there's a lot of other good horses out there ... take Speculate for example, she went fantastic tonight. She's shown that she's a very special horse."

FOOTNOTE: Had she managed to hold out Springbank Richard in the Ordeal Cup, Speculate would have set a NZ Record. The official time of 3:14.8 that she recorded in finishing second would have sliced three-tenths of a second off the existing mares mark over 2600 mobile - which, ironically, is held by Springbank Richard's former stablemate, Jasmyn's Gift, who set it when winning the 2005 Ordeal Cup. Springbank Richard went close to the geldings' and entires' mark himself, his 3:14.7 being just half a second slower than Romper Stomper's record set in the NZ Trotting Free-For-All on Show Day, 2007.

Credit: John Robinson writing in HRWeekly 23 Sep 09


YEAR: 2009

The Fat Controller (inner) beating Speculate

The Fat Controller had his turn in charge when he carried the day in a tight finish to the $25,000 Dakin Group of Companies Canterbury Park Trotting Cup last Friday night.

The minor surprise of the race was the second placing of the hot favourite Speculate, but with only a nose between them there was as much honour in defeat as there was in victory. Justin Smith took Speculate from midfield at the 1500m to give The Fat Controller cover at the 1200m. This was a run made to order for The Fat Controller, who has a 200 metre sprint to match the best of them. Along the passing lane, he made quick progress to draw level and then gain a slight edge. He needed every bit of it, for Speculate rallied strongly and almost took the lead back.

The Fat Controller has won nine of his 38 starts and a tick over $100,000 for breeders Martine and Phillip Iggo, and Phillip has the modest opinion that he is one of the good trotters but not one of the best. This season, there is very little between the good and the best, and The Fat Controller doesn't need to roll his sleeves up much further to be considered more favourably. His big chance is coming.

He will race in the Trotter's Trust Mile next at Ashburton on Labour Day where Iggo is expecting something fast. "To be honest, this is the race I've had in mind for him for the last twelve months. It's a race really worth having a crack at, and with his speed he could run a very quick mile. I am talking better than 1:57, probably closer to 1:56 if it all went his way. He can run a very quick quarter, and he was suited by how it went for him tonight."

While Iggo has major races at the NZ Cup Meeting in mind for The Fat Controller after that, he is baffled by the new programming of the feature trots at the meeting. "What they have done in bringing the Dominion forward, to race just three days after the free-for-all, is unreasonable. I don't think they have considered the horses at all, even if they are all in the same boat. It might work for other horses, racing from a mobile and then a 3200m stand. I don't think it will suit my horse, but it is a lot of money so I suppose we will be there."

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HR Weekly 14 Oct 2009


YEAR: 2009


Justin Smith read the draw and knew it would be tough. A second-line draw in the $100,000 New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All was not what he wanted for Speculate.

But Speculate is nothing if not tough, and she was convincing in the face of fast finishes from Real Deal Yankee and Running On Time. It is fair to say it was not a vintage field, with Stig, One Over Kenny and Ray on the sideline, and Springfield Richard avoiding the perils of a hard race with the endurance of the 3200m Dominion following so close.

Smith would pefer more than three days between the contests too, but the prize on Tuesday was big enough to be there. Smith trains Speculate with his mother Lynn, who said the mare is particularly fond of her pony mate, Flicka. "She can be a bit of a bad eater, and won't eat unless Flick is there."

The club presentation to Lynn and her husband Gerry was appropriately made by Met committeeman Bruce Hutton, whose family has been connected with the family of Lynn's father Bill Doyle for as long as they can remember. "I know Bruce used to babysit Justin, and at one time or another all of the six Hutton boys would have worked for Bill."

The progress Speculate has made in less tha six months, from a one-win trotter in June to possible favourite for the Dominion, is one they say has been beyond their wildest dreams. Keen breeders, the Smiths have welcomed their first foal of the season, a colt by Lookslikeatrooper from the Chiola Hanover mare, I'm Returning. The breeding is not one that will be repeated. Lookslikeatrooper is Speculate's massive son by CR Commando who was gelded after serving just the one mare, and who will soon embark on a racing career of his own.

Credit: Mike Grainger writing in HRWeekly 12Nov09


YEAR: 2007

Gerry & LynnSmith with the Ordeal Cup
The quite relentless Some Direction show at Addington continued on it's merry way last week when the 10-year-old mare dominated the $20,000 Ordeal Trotting Cup.

In what was her 138th race and the commencement of her eighth season of racing, Some Direction stepped it out like a 2-year-old to win the time honoured and attractive trophy at her fourth attempt - she was sixth in 2004 and third for the last two years. It was the daughter of Sundon's 24th win, while with 18 seconds and 17 thirds and numerous other cheques she has now won $274,000 with no signs of slowing down.
Some Direction is now only two races away from being a centurion at Addington, where she has now recorded 15 wins and become seemingly an almost permanent fixture in recent years. Her first six wins came at Ashburton (two), Washdyke (two), Oamaru and Forbury Park, but 15 have come at headquarters.

Some Direction will next attempt to further her quite extraordinary Addington record in the $30,000 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup in about a month, a race she won last year by coming off 10 metres to down Rowe Cup winner Inspire. The Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup also beckons, although Lynn Smitt is not sure whether she likes grass tracks as much as Addington. "She has never really excelled on grass, but she hasn't raced much on them either," said Smith. One has to in fact go back almost five years to November, 2002, for the last time Some Direction raced on a grass track, when an unlucky fourth at Orari when assessed as a four-win horse, while the only other time she has raced on the grass was when second and beaten a nose at Motukarara the previous February.

Whether Some Direction tackles that Cup or not will be a sidelight though to her main mission of NZ Cup Week and the Dominion on the final night, where she was a close fifth last year. Three years ago on NZ Cup Day she recorded perhaps her best performance when she downed Whatsundermykilt and the open class trotters in the Christchurch Casino Trot, sitting parked but winning in what is still a national record of 3:17.8 for 2600m from a stand and at odds of 76-to-one.

Smith, who races Some Direction with husband Gerry and son Justin and trains her with the latter in what is very much a family affair, downplayed her latest performance by pointing out that she was "lucky striking a field with a few of the stars missing", but she deserves every reward she gets just for perseverance and consistency. Her main rivals in stablemates Lord Burghley and Rhythm Of The Night are already sick of the sight of Some Direction, and they had pretty much conceded the Ordeal Cup to her before the race began last week. It was left to a spirited bid by Sundon entire Diedre Don to make a race of it, but his task of sitting outside the mare after circling the field a lap out was a forlorn one. Some Direction had been given an easy lead from the 2000m and Justin Smith merely had to turn the wick up over the last 800m in 58.6.

After Some Direction's form had got a little indifferent towards the end of her last campaign and some thoughts had turned to a possible retirement this year, such considerations have well and truly been put on the back burner for now. "Her form did drop away a bit and we weren't too sure what was going on, outside of having a bit of a cold for a while. We had expected her to go very well in her last race last season, but when Justin pulled her out there was nothing there. So we turned her out for a month and a bit earlier than usual, and wondered whether we might be pulling the stumps on her racing career this year."

Some Direction responded to that notion by winning two trials as easily as her raceday resumption. Smith is unsure what has given Some Direction such a degree of longevity, but notes the French sire of her dam as a likely source of toughness. Gekoj was probably the best of the four French trotting sires imported by Oddvar Andersen back in the early 80s, and was propably unlucky to be lost after just four seasons at stud. He sired about 100 foals and 19 winners outside of the great David Moss along with Look (9 wins) included good sorts in Cocokoj (5 NZ wins), Diamond Trail (7 NZ wins), Drott Moss (13 NZ wins, $111,685), French Warrior (4 NZ wins, US1:57.3) and Koy's Game (5 NZ wins). His mares have also poduced several fine performers, most notably Stig outside of Look's Now Another Look and Some Direction, while Take A Moment was from a mare by another French sire in Jet d'Emeraude.

Gekoj certainly had an impressive pedigree of French siring greats and Look has now produced eight winners from her first eight foals, after Speculate won at Ashburton by downing Desert Victory. That sister to Some Direction and the third of four foals bred by the Smiths from Look - Lynn takes turns with her sisters Helen Pope and Denise Nyhan - produced a CR Commando colt two years ago and was then brought back into work. "She goes pretty good actually, but we've just had another problem with her and I'm not too sure where her future lies at the moment."

Having had a good experience with Gekoj, Smith is looking favourably upon new French sire Love You should it come to that (breeding) with either Some Direction or Speculate this season. Then there is just the small matter of Some Direction's grandam being Someday, a good trotting mare by Light Brigade from Passive (U Scott) who also produced the splendid About Now (25 wins).

Smith also notes that while Some Direction has done a lot of racing, she has not done much travelling due to being a "picky eater" when away and she has hardly been stressed much either. "The focus has always been about just keeping her happy - she seems to be a lot happier in the float than in the paddock anyway."

Credit: Frank Marrion writing in HRWeekly 19Sep07

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