Valmagne wins at Oamaru

SUCCESSFUL: Josh Kennett and Valmagne
SUCCESSFUL: Josh Kennett and Valmagne

Valmagne is proving an iron horse after his fourth win at his 38th start in nine months of racing.

Valmagne, who won at Oamaru on Sunday, has amassed $33,194 in stakes for Waimate trainer, Josh Kennett, who races the 6-year-old Sundon-Rock On Abby gelding with his father, Craig and Steve McGirr, of Waimate. He has also gathered 17 minor placings.

Alexy is the only standardbred to have more starts in New Zealand this season. Alexy was racing for the 41st time since August, 2013 when unplaced on Sunday. The Bruce Negus-trained Alexy has collected eight third placings and four fourths for $7048 in stakes during the season.

Josh Kennett, 21, has made an immediate impression as a trainer. He won with the first horse he trained, Here's Shifty, at Forbury Park in May last year. He also won with Montecrengle last season. He has added two wins with Here's Shifty and another with Cullen's Finest this season.

Samantha Ottley drove Valmagne to win for the second time at Oamaru. Craig has driven the gelding in his other wins at Forbury Park and Waikouaiti. Valmagne began racing late in October and he quit maiden ranks at his Forbury Park at his seventh start.

Craig Kennett also has a licence to train. He had success with the trotters, Bootleg Sailor, Havana Franco and Rising Sun in the 1990s.

''He [Valmagne] took a long time to get trotting right. He would strike himself behind,'' Josh Kennett said.

He said the use of a new type of spreader between the hind legs of Valmagne had been a turning point in his preparation.

''It seemed to give him confidence. He has never raced with it but we used it leading up to his first race.''

Valmagne qualified at Oamaru in November, 2012 at his first public appearance.

''We always knew he was better than average as he had no bottom to him. He would go on with his work despite making mistakes,'' Kennett said.

He was an $8500 purchase by Craig at the 2009 premier yearling sale when offered by Jencol Management Ltd, of Oamaru. Valmagne is the first foal of Rock On Abby (Caprock-Abby Wood), who won four races as a trotter. Rock On Abby is a half sister to Caprock to Billy Wood, who won six races in New Zealand, four in New South Wales and 10 in the United States. Gee Abby (seven wins) and Ranawood (five) are others out of Abby Wood.

The family produced a host of trotting winners for Doug McCormick, of Ashburton. It traces to Silver Wood, a Casanova mare who won her first race at Oamaru on grass in May, 1953.

The Southland Times