Harness - News

Debutantes to the fore at Ascot Park

  • Sun, 08 Apr 2018
  • Mac Henry
Humble Ladd and Phil Williamson after a debut win at Ascot Park. Photo: Wild Range Photography.

Humble Ladd and Phil Williamson after a debut win at Ascot Park. Photo: Wild Range Photography.

Nine debut runners were spread across just two races at Invercargill on Saturday but they ultimately providing the winner of both.

Humble Ladd was the successful first-starter of the trot for non-winners, making his trainer Phil Williamson glad the Gold Chip option is available for the three-year-old.

The Oamaru trainer loves winning races but has found it’s not always the most desirable result for a trotter at the races for the first time.

With Humble Ladd's rating set to go to 56 points, the Majestic Sun gelding might face the equivalent of skipping a grade now and end up in a race against open class trotters.

At Forbury Park on Thursday he'd have been rated above the vastly-experienced Holdon Toyaspurs, who had a 53 rating when recording the eighth win of his career and third in his past five starts.

“The system makes it very difficult for a maiden trotter winning its first start,” said Williamson.

For that reason, the introduction of the series of $12,000 Gold Chip finals provides some comfort.

The next one is due on Diamonds Day, Sunday 29 April at Ascot Park, and only unforeseen circumstances will keep Humble Ladd away.

Williamson also drove the son of Here Comes Pat, enjoying his third winning drive from just 30 attempts this season.

His first, in September, was also aboard a debut runner, Davey Mac, who hasn't managed better than fourth in nine subsequent starts and is currently spelling.

“I don't drive many now but Humble Ladd was a bit of a project for me,” Williamson said.

“I drove him when he qualified last Sunday and decided to stay on while he was still learning.

Humble Ladd was bred and is raced by Jim Hunter of Dunedin and Denis Stumbles of Ranfurly, long-time supporters of Williamson.

His dam, Here Comes Pat, was also trained for the pair by Williamson, won second time to the races in 2010 and eight times in total in four seasons of racing.

She was one of five winners from her dam Go Pat. Humble Ladd is her first foal. Hunter and Stumbles also bred and race Alderbeck, another grand-daughter of Go Pat.

She ran second to Enghien in the 4 & 5YO Trotting Championship at Addington on Easter Saturday.

Mighty Conqueror, winner on debut of a non winner's mobile 2200 is bred and raced by Invercargill Club president Mark Shirley and friend Malcolm Dewe, and trained by Shirley and his wife, Debbie.

The three-year-old is out of Ballroom Babe, who was offered to Shirley and Dewe by Mike O'Brien.

Shirley said he was attracted to the mare by a double up of U Scott back in her pedigree, something his late father Gil often spoke of, and that she was from the family of the likes of Luxury Liner.

Mighty Conqueror was broken-in and given his first small preparation by Robbie Holmes before joining the Shirley team.

“He was ready for racing at Christmas but was kicked on the shin and had to be turned out,” Shirley said.

“It probably helped though, because he needed time and strengthened up while out.

‘If he eats up and comes through the race well, there is a Nuggets final at Winton next week he could race in.”

Young Conqueror, the winner of five and fourth in last year's Southern Supremacy Stakes, is a year-older half-brother to Mighty Conqueror.

Developed by the Shirleys and sold before racing, Young Conqueror finished fourth in the R60 and faster pace on Saturday.