Nathan Williamson is all smiles as he returns with Swiss Miss after an upset win in the Southland Trotting Oaks.
Gavin Smith is a very open and honest character and will call a spade a spade if that’s what the situation dictates.
And he made a very frank admission following the upset win by Swiss Miss in last Saturday’s $20,000 Haras des Trotteurs Southland Trotting Oaks, where she was the rank outsider in a six-horse field and paid $41 in downing the favourites Majestic Chevron and Cheerful.
“I didn’t educate her that well from the start and now I’m trying to do that while we’re coming into the most important time of her career,” said Smith.
“The plan at the start of the season was to get her sold and you do that by winning trials by wide margins.
“You don’t get them sold when they’re running fifths and sixths at the trials because you’re just trying to educate them.”
Swiss Miss went straight into a qualifying trial without a workout back in August and won by 14 lengths in 3.29.3, home in 59 and 10 seconds under time.
That would have made a suitable impression, but it made an even bigger one on co-owner and long time stable client Cameron Mackie, who decided he’d rather keep and race the daughter of Majestic Son.
Mackie and Smith were partners in Swiss Miss so Mackie found a couple of Australian mates in Barry Cooper and Jamie Cockshutt to buy Smith’s half share.
“That worked out well as I got my share sold and still got to keep her and train her.”
They had bought Swiss Miss as a foal at foot with her dam back in foal to Majestic Son for $1100 at the Mixed Sale in Christchurch when the late George Timperley’s stock was being dispersed.
Swiss Miss was quite the bargain then but Smith thinks her two-year-old sister might be even better.
“I thought she was going to be my best two-year-old this year, but she’s strained a tendon so I’ve put her aside rather than risk her.”
Swiss Miss would also push Kings Landing to a nose in a Rangiora trial and win her debut at Addington in late September, where she beat four-time winner Bacardi And Coke by three-and-a-half lengths a month after qualifying.
A week later Swiss Miss started favourite in stronger company at Addington, but she threw a shoe early and broke before getting into trouble on the home turn when a horse in front of her galloped in tight quarters.
“She still got home good that night, but I was ready to tip her out and get ready for the Group races anyway.
“But she got crook on the way back and that put us behind schedule by a few weeks.
“She wasn’t trotting quite right when she resumed, but I was quite bullish about her chances at Addington the week before (for the Sires Stakes Classique).
“She looked just fair there, but it didn’t help being held up on the turn and having to take the passing lane.
“Her concentration can switch on and off at times and that’s something else I’ve been working on.
“The Southland Oaks just proved what I thought she could do and Nathan (driver Williamson) said it was easier than it looked.
“She still wanted to lay in a bit and trotted rough at times, but he said if he’d opened her up earlier, the margin would have been more decisive.
“She looks a lot trimmer for the trip away so she can have this week off after racing four weeks in a row.”
“I’m pretty keen to support Haras des Trotteurs (and Pat Driscoll) and all of these new races for fillies they’ve introduced and sponsored.”
The G2 $50,000 Storer Motors New Zealand Trotting Oaks is next week and Swiss Miss will now be one of the favourites along with Cheerful and Majestic Chevron, who both did a little extra work when collared by her at Ascot Park.
Beyond that Smith hasn’t thought too far ahead although he is likely to head to Auckland for the Sires Stakes and Northern Trotting Oaks, which are a fortnight apart from late April.
“I’m pretty keen to support Haras des Trotteurs (and Pat Driscoll) and all of these new races for fillies they’ve introduced and sponsored.
“Outside of having the NZ Trotting Oaks, it would have been a pretty daunting prospect having to face (former stablemate) Enhance Your Calm and Oscar Bonavena.”
Swiss Miss is not that far removed from being pacing-bred although her third dam in the Bachelor Hanover mare Mandy Seth, who won four races as a pacer, produced a run of trotters including Nato (7 NZ wins), despite being bred to pacing sires.
Later she was bred to trotting sires and produced Flaming (9 NZ wins) and Manlam (5 NZ wins), while her last foal was the Motu Mister Smooth filly Motu Avril.
She qualified as a pacer but was bred to trotting sires by Timperley and her first foal was Motu Miss Anna (6 NZ & 3 Aus wins, $84,000), a daughter of Armbro Invasion who won a race at Moonee Valley before returning to New Zealand.
Seven of her eight foals have been fillies including Motu Great Sensation (5 NZ wins), although five of her first six foals amounted to very little.
Swiss Miss and her sister Scrappylittlenobody are her last two foals and that is likely to remain the case.
“We tried getting her in foal to Love You and then with fresh semen to Peak last season, but when she missed we gave her away as a riding hack.”
It looks like Smith and Mackie have a couple of very nice daughters to go on with, however.