Luck of the Irish at Ascot Park

21:52, Feb 18 2013
Irish Wit
BACK ON TOP: Irish Wit (Courtney Barnes) wins the Invercargill Licensing Trust Handicap at Ascot Park yesterday.

Stewards reminded all jockeys to ensure good pace in races after the opening event was run at slow speed at Ascot Park yesterday.

Irish Wit won the Invercargill Licensing Trust Handicap in 2min 47.96sec for 2450m, which was slower than the 2:47.31 recorded for Saturday's 2600m Southland Times Invercargill Gold Cup.

Irish Wit finished a lack lustre ninth in the Cup. He came through the race OK and Ascot Park trainer Sally McKay decided to line him up in yesterday's benchmark rating 65.

Marlin Monroe
BREAK THROUGH: Chris Johnson aboard maiden winner Marlin Monroe at Ascot Park yesterday.

''I expected him to go well on Saturday, he really disappointed,'' McKay said.

Irish Wit, who suffered a hoof injury recently, returned to his own class yesterday.

The winner, The Groomsman, was the only horse not to wear head gear in the Stashh Fashion Uncovered Maiden.


Five of the nine starters wore blinkers, two had side winkers and another raced in pacifiers. One of the clerks of the course, Sophie Price, trains The Groomsman at Winton for her parents Dick and Jayne Hall, of Riverton.

The Halls bought The Groomsman at the South Island Sale in Christchurch in 2009.

Marlin Monroe's win in the McKnight and Brown Maiden convinced trainer Sabin Kirkland to nominate her for the $50,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Insurance Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies, at Wingatui on March 9.

It took the daughter of Coats Choice four starts to quit maidens for Kirkland, who shares the ownership with wife Clare and son Paddy, a professional rugby player in Hong Kong.

Marlin Monroe's dam, Ha Ha McGrath, won three races, including a $27,500 maiden to two-win fillies and mares' contest at Trentham in 2005.

Rikho also impressed with his win in the McCallums Drycleaning Maiden. Morrinsville dairy farmer Peter Doughty sent the Dubai Destination gelding to Ascot Park trainer Gay Robinson in May.

Doughty recently brought Robinson into the ownership, along with her daughter and son-in-law, Paula and Paul Middlemiss, of Hamilton, and John Dooley, of Wreys Bush.

Doughty-owned Piero won seven races from Robinson's stable, including the Winton Cup and Couplands Crystals 1600 (Ascot Park) in 2009.

Queens Habit, bred by Hawke's Bay's Isabell Roddick, of Rough Habit fame, scored an expected win in the Lusty's Showcase Jewellers Maiden.

The Bachelor Duke filly ran third and fifth in two other starts for Ascot Park trainer Lisa Vaughan.

The O'Dazzle, a sister to Dunedin Cup winner The Solitaire, was put down after finishing last in the McCallums Drycleaning Maiden. She was found to have broken a fetlock in a front leg and suffered a hairline fracture of a pastern in a back leg.

Geoff's Back injured a tendon sheath during the Stashh Fashion Uncovered Maiden. He was pulled up inside the 800m.

Favourite Marechal was sore in the back end after finishing eighth in the White Robe Lodge Handicap.

The Southland Times