Invercargill harness trainer Murray Brown's ability to deliver year in and year out has been rewarded by his setting a fresh Southland training record of 32 wins this season.
The Findlay Road conditioner has also chalked up 23 seconds and as many thirds for stakes of $137,494. All told, his stable representatives started 188 times.
With six weeks of the season remaining, he is nine wins clear of Hamish Hunter whose runners have started 194 times for 23 wins, 27 seconds and 14 thirds for stakes of $230,088. Brown is positioned 11th equal on the national premiership and Hunter is 23rd.
Wayne Adams, who trains near Brown on Findlay Road, has enjoyed a fine season with his string racing 123 times for 20 wins, 18 seconds and 14 thirds for stakes of $123,963.
Roxburgh trainers Jude and Geoff Knight, with 31 wins, have also been to the fore. Their team has raced 228 times for 31 wins, 25 seconds and 19 thirds for $233,756.
Their pacing power has played a mayor role in helping Matthew Williamson gain a remarkable tally of 76 wins for a relative newcomer, placing him third behind Dexter Dunn and Zac Butcher on the national junior premiership and 11th on the overall list.
Williamson has to date had 589 drives this season, also gaining 62 seconds and 44 thirds for stakes of $555,187. From whatever angle his achievements are viewed, he has made a cracking start to his career in the true family tradition.
Murray Brown, who trains 15 horses in the winter and between 20 and 25 in the summer, has virtually shut up shop for the season but is likely to campaign a couple of 3-year-olds in last start winner Beaudiene Brilliance and Franco Caliph at Forbury Park fixtures catering for those of their age.
Brown's tally of 32 wins was compiled by 19 individual winners. Hokuri Handrail, with four wins, was his biggest winner. Bettor Yarn, Cherokee Charlie, Tahlia Jaccka and Lake View each won three and Compton Street and Jaccka Tom both won two. Twelve others gained a single win to round off the total to this stage of the season.
Brown is acknowledged as a master of exploiting the handicapping system that provides generous concessions for young horses and those driven by juniors.
Accomplished driver Andrew Armour is a valued staff member, as are Barry Crofts and his daughter Hayley. Kirstin Barclay was employed earlier in the season before moving on to Tom Kilkelly.
Barclay's place was then taken with almost perfect timing by Hayley Crofts who had been with Cran Dalgety for two years.
''It was good to get her back because she already knew the ropes here,'' Brown said.
Brown said some stable clients bought at the national yearling sales every year while others replenished stock every second year.
''The five we bought this year have been educated and seem to run along good.''
Brown is unlikely to prepare horses for the Kurow fixture in August. Instead he has already set about jogging up a few stable runners for the Gore and Invercargill meetings in August.
Setting a record without Beaudiene Bad Babe in the stable focuses further attention on Brown's ability.
The only trainer to win a Jewels with the mare, he said her retirement was considered in her best interests after tying up problems and a niggling ailment in a hind leg, probably the legacy of an old injury.
''The massage people kept her going for a couple of years,'' he said. ''She was considered too valuable to take any further risks with.''
- The Southland Times