By Tayler Strong
Oamaru reinsman Matthew Williamson drove a personal best five winners and Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight had their most successful day with four winners at the Waimate meeting at Oamaru on Sunday.
Williamson (26) had previously driven four winners on a programme. The Knight stable had twice previously had three wins.
Williamson set the ball rolling with Whatasista and followed up with Silver Dale, Fiery Ferret and Skylla at his first four drives. Silver Dale, Fiery Ferret and Skylla are trained by the Knights. The same combination won later with Seduce Me.
Skylla, a 3-year-old filly having her fourth start, is raced by Jude Knight, the breeder. Skylla is the first foal of Undue Risk, who won two races from the Knight stable when raced by Robin and Geraldine Wilson, of Rangiora. The Wilsons gifted Undue Risk to Mrs Knight when the half sister by Badlands Hanover to good winner Raglan had finished racing. The Wilsons were on hand to share the win on Sunday.
Silver Dale, who cleared maiden ranks, had previously posted 10 placings in 20 starts for the Corner Boys syndicate, the Hunter Boys syndicate and Shane Carroll, of Perth. Silver Dale is a 4-year-old gelding by Klondike Kid from Ginny Dale, an unraced half sister by Make A Deal to Erle Dale (1.49.1), Marshal Dale, Mister Dale and Cordon Hops (15 wins in New Zealand).
Whatasista, a half sister to Armbro Demon, cleared the ranks of maiden trotters at her sixth start. She is trained at Oamaru by Colin McLeod, who races her with Brian Minty. Ambro Demon won five of her 10 starts and the Armbro Invasion mare won over 3200m in 4.05.4 at Addington. She produced a colt by Majestic Son this season. Whatasista (by Sundon) is a sister to Sunny Demon, a winner and the only other registered foal of Hold Fast.
“I have played a lot of sport but there is nothing like this. What a feeling,” said Blair Wilmott after driving his first winner, Jackalack Sue in the race for amateur drivers. Wilmott began race driving 19 months ago and he was having his 24th drive.
Wilmott (39) is a key account manager who assists Balcairn trainer Robbie Holmes.
“I have to thank Robbie and Brent Weaver (trainer) a lot and trainer Mark Fuller for giving me the drive,” said Wilmott.
Acolyte led for most of the way to win the Nevele R Stud Waimate Cup. He was in front early then gave way to Culley Backy before regaining the lead at the 2600m in the 3000m event. He lasted by a head from Highland Reign, who came fast along the inner. Johnny Eyre ran on well for third. The favourite Motu Premier was a battling fourth from a 40m handicap after improving from the rear to fourth at the 800m.
“He likes the grass tracks,’’ said trainer-driver Hamish Hunter, who prepares Acolyte for breeder Graham Cooney, of Tauranga. Cooney was raised in Waimate. Hunter drove at Invercargill the previous day and transported Acolyte and Groomsman from Ryal Bush to Oamaru on raceday, a trip of some five hours. Groomsman won the final race on the card in the ownership of Graham and Jill Cooney, Graham’s brother, Brendan and Vin Nally.
The Waimate Trotting Club are confident of racing on their home track next season.
“A tower has been erected for the judge and commentator and an administration building is in place at Waimate,” said Gareth Murfitt, the secretary of the club. The course and facilities suffered damage in a storm and the WTC has raced at Oamaru for the past three years.
Murfitt said the Waimate Racing Club was planning to race at Waimate on June 11.
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