Big crowd and high turnover at Christmas races

IN CONTROL: Ya Dreamin Jonesy (Toni Direen) races away with the $25,000 Coupland's Bakeries Crystals at Ascot Park today.
IN CONTROL: Ya Dreamin Jonesy (Toni Direen) races away with the $25,000 Coupland's Bakeries Crystals at Ascot Park today.

Racegoers wagered $219,612 on course at today's Southland Racing Club's Christmas meeting at Ascot Park.

Nine races were held compared to 10 at last year's fixture, which generated $209,845.

Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew said he was ''over the moon'' with the large crowd and turnover.

The New Zealand Racing Board officially counted 7150 people coming through the racecourse gates.

Christchurch trainer Michael Pitman experienced mixed fortune on and off the track. He had to late scratch Golden Globe in the Southern Bolts and Fasteners Ltd Handicap after the gelding cut a leg this morning. The injury happened at Pitman's summer base at Waikouaiti when Golden Globe was being loaded on to Pitman's horse transporter for the trip to Invercargill.

The horseman received news this morning that his newly-married son Matt and daughter-in-law Brittany had their honeymoon in Fiji disrupted by a tornado warning.

''They had to transfer from one island to another,'' Pitman said.

His two winners today were ridden by Chris Johnson. El Chico lumped 59kg to win the $25,000 Transit Homes Ltd Handicap, while Berenice came up trumps in the Vinyl Bar 3-Year-Old Handicap.

Today's firm track suited Ya Dreamin Jonesy, who scored a front-running success in the $25,000 Coupland's Bakeries Crystals Handicap.

Nineteen-year-old apprentice Toni Direen was riding Ya Dreamin Jonesy for the first time. Orari trainer Graham Dobbs told Direen to lead with the Pins gelding.

''He rolled along in front and didn't stop, just kept kicking,'' Direen said.

She has five rides at Wingatui on Monday.

Christchurch's KC Walters was taken to Southland Hospital following his fall from Split Decision in race one, the Speights and More FM Handicap.

He suffered concussion, which results in jockeys being stood down from riding for three weeks.

Ascot Park stables produced four winners on the programme _ The Gordonian (Jesco Hydraulics Handicap), Sucre (Sheet Metalcraft Ltd Handicap), Volonte (Invercargill Licensing Trust Handicap) and Petty Lane (Stadium Southland Game On Handicap).

Petty Lane's six and a-quarter-length win was the biggest winning margin today.

The Southland Times