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HRNZ’s drop-back system doing wonders for last start Taranaki winner

By Duane Ranger

Gutsy old Jeremys Gambit pacer, Our Southern Man is evidence that Harness Racing New Zealand’s drop-back system is working and is breathing life into pacers and trotters that could otherwise have been retired.

“He’s a horse who gives his all and even though he’s 10 that’s the sort of horse I like to have in my stable. It’s the ones that don’t try you want to get rid of,” said Our Southern Man’s trainer Jay Abernethy.

The Papakura horseman said Our Southern Man had gone from a C4 pacer to a C1 and had had managed to get back to his original grading due to the drop back scheme.

“It’s not only extended his racing career but it has also meant he’s been able to be competitive in his races. Now that he’s back to his original grade we have to be a bit careful where we place him.

“He’s likely start next at either Alexandra Park on the 11th (April) or Hawera (April 19). He goes better the Alexandra Park way around but I’ll just wait and see if there’s a race for him,” Abernethy said.

Our Southern Man had injury problems early in his career, but showed promise early on for Southland trainer Clark Barron. In fact in his first three starts in March and April 2007 he finished first, second, and third before injury struck.

Tendon problems saw him side-lined for more than two years and when he returned to racing for Gavin Smith he finished second at Addington in July 2009.

Smith, who also bred him with his father Perron, raced him right up until June 2011 before transferring him to Abernethy.

Our Southern man has now had 67 starts for seven wins, six seconds, and 10 thirds. His stake earnings currently sit at $25,739.

Three of his triumphs have been with Abernethy – all this season, including a last start win at Taranaki on Tuesday (April 1).

The bay gelding (and Abernethy) won the $5,000 Stella Artois C2-C4 Pace by 1-3/4 lengths, stopping the clock in 2:10.6. His mile rate for the 1750m mobile was two minutes even and he paced his last 800m in 58.4.

“He’s usually the type of horse who has to be saved for one run, but in saying that he’s shown a bit of dash in his last couple of starts,” Abernethy said.

“I really like him because he tries his heart out and that’s all you can ask for when training horses. I never have to carry a whip because it makes no difference – he always gives his best,” he stressed.

He said he saw no reason why the ‘old boy’ couldn’t carry on racing as an 11-year-old next season.

“He’d make an ideal claimer and for that reason someone else will probably end up with him during his last racing days. I hope that doesn’t happen though,” Abernethy said.
He said Our Southern Man did all of his work on the water treader.

“He loves the water and the only time we put the cart on him is race-day. Because of his age I’ll keep it that way because I want to look after him,” Abernethy said.

Our Southern man is owned by Smith’s parents Perron and Heather.