Wild Bill stable flagbearer after Ridley’s retirement
Wingatui owner-trainer Joanne Hillis is pinning her hopes on Wild Bill for the Riverton Easter meeting, with Ridley retired through injury.
Ridley, winner of five races and $74,000 in stakes for Hillis and partner, Barry Cottle, has been ruled out of further racing with a ligament injury. He ran fourth in the Riverton Cup 12 months ago. Agnus Brown, who has won them two races, is in the spelling paddock.
Wild Bill has been entered for the Riverton Cup on Saturday but he is 18th in order of entry for a 16-horse field in the $60,000 feature. The alternative is a rating 75 2147m for $18,500.
He is in form and well seasoned for either assignment. He won a rating 75 2000m on a dead track at Wyndham this month and followed up with a second over 2000m at Riccarton. He won the Tapanui Cup (2000m) at Gore in December.
The Viking Ruler gelding quit maiden ranks over 1500m on a heavy track at Riccarton in August. Wild Bill has been ultra-consistent with three wins and nine minor placings in 15 starts since he began racing 10 months ago.
The Riverton Easter meeting has good memories for Hillis as her late father, Bill Hillis trained eight Riverton Cup winners and trained and rode 10 winners of the Great Western Steeplechase when that race was run at the meeting. He trained at Riverton.
The Diamond One contesting the $200,000 group one New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Stakes (1600m) at Te Aroha on Saturday has revived memories for her Wingatui co-trainer, Hec Anderton.
The last time he raced a horse at Te Aroha was on December 8, 1979 when he won the feature, the $12,000 group three Thames Valley Stakes, a weight-for-age 1600m with Mellseur.
"I had never seen so many people at a race meeting and watched the race with [trainer] Joe Bromby. I got [journalist] Dennis Ryan to pick up the trophy afterwards," Anderton recalled.
Mellseur, ridden by Paul Hillis accounted for a star studded field including Arbre Chene, March Legend, Brutus and Braless. Arbre Chene won the Group I New Zealand Stakes and Railway Handicap the same season. March Legend won the 1977 Canterbury Gold Cup as a 3-year-old; Brutus the Group I Marlboro Mile at Trentham at 3 and Braless the NZ One Thousand Guineas.
Anderton has been in regular contact with co-trainer, Claire Anderton, who is based at the Hamilton stable of Graeme Rogerson with The Diamond One, last start winner of the Cuddle Stakes at Trentham on March 14.
"The mare has done well. She is being looked after like a queen with the best of accommodation," he said.
Hec and Claire have Hexie Hao and Anzac Star entered for the open 1200m at Riverton. Hexie Hao is unbeaten in four starts, all at Wingatui when trained by the late Steve Anderton. The Hussonet gelding was put aside in November with a leg injury.
Brian Anderton, the trainer of Breeders' Stakes rival Include, has had favourable reports on the mare since she arrived at Te Aroha on Thursday in the care of part-owner, Wayne Stewart. Stable apprentice and race rider Courtney Barnes made the trip north on Sunday. She has the ride on Sheez The Boss (race 1) at Matamata on Wednesday.
Anderton produced Perceptible to finish seventh in the 2002 Breeders' Stakes at Te Aroha after she won the White Robe Lodge Handicap at Wingatui at her previous start.
- The Southland Times