A double at Ruakaka on Saturday has kept the momentum going for Byerley Park trainers Shaun and Emma Clotworthy after experiencing their best result in the past season. The couple saddled up 20 winners from their stable last term, four more than 2017-18, and with about six weeks of the current season completed they already have four wins on the board.
Tipping Point was the first of their Ruakaka winners and the other victory came from Orakei Overlord, who began his career with Pukekohe trainer Patsy Riley and has returned from a successful innings in Australia, where he recorded four wins and five placings for Ballarat trainer Patrick Payne. “He’s reversed the trend by coming back here,” Shaun Clotworthy said. “He had a knee injury in Australia and his owner, Len Phillips, who is a neighbour, decided to bring him back and he gave him to us. “He beat a tidy Rating 82 field on Saturday and did it the hard way. He needs to settle a bit and when he does he could go really well. He’ll probably step up to a mile (1600m) next start.”
Like Orakei Overlord, Tipping Point is a newcomer to the Clotworthy stable after originally being trained by her part-owner Adrian Bull and his son, Harry. The Road To Rock six-year-old mare had recorded a win and five placings before joining the Clotworthy stable. Tipping Point’s addition to the stable, along with a couple of other horses owned by the Bull family, has followed on from Harry Bull joining the Clotworthy team. “Harry came north for a career change and was working as a builder for a while then started coming out and riding work for us,” Clotworthy said. “That’s when he decided he wanted to get back into it so he started working for us. “It’s great to have him in the team. He’s a trainer in his own right and a big help to Emma and I. Emma has had a lot of equestrian experience over the years and she brings a new dimension to the training, too. It’s all working out well.”
There was a setback at Ruakaka for the team when the capable William Wallace (racing in Adrian and Robyn Bull’s colours) bled in Orakei Overlord’s race and now faces a mandatory stand down period. But getting a win from Tipping Point helped soften the disappointment. “Tipping Point came up to be a jumper, but she’s taken a while to get the hang of things, ” Clotworthy said. “She might have a hurdle start on the last jumps day at Te Aroha, though we might change our minds now that she has won again on the flat.”
A third Bull-owned member of the Clotworthy team is the promising Galway Bro, who is raced by the estate of the late Jim Bull OBE and holds a nomination for the Group 3 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup (3200m) at Riccarton on November 16. The son of Handsome Ransom won the first of his three starts when trained by Chris Rauhihi and first stepped out publicly for the Clotworthy stable when second at the recent Te Teko trials. “He trialled well at Te Teko and will run over 1300m at Taupo on Friday,” Clotworthy said. “He’s a natural staying type and is still in the New Zealand Cup, but he will have to show plenty between times to get there.”
The Clotworthy team also includes Annie Okay, who has won twice from nine starts and was stakes-placed when third in last October’s Group 3 Soliloquy Stakes (1400m) at Ellerslie. “She failed dismally at New Plymouth last start and maybe she didn’t like going left-handed,” Clotworthy said. “She has had a break and looks to be coming up well. She’ll trial at Ruakaka (Tuesday).”
The Clotworthys have increased their team to 25 to 30 horses, including a few being broken-in, and are pleased to have some nice two-year-olds in the squad. Shaun gets his break away from racing in his role as co-coach for the Papakura Premier rugby side. “It’s my fourth year coaching and I love it,” said the former halfback, whose rugby-playing days included stints of a year apiece placing in South Africa and England and 20 games for Counties. “My son, Harrison, (17) is playing halfback for the first 15 side and I like to get along and watch when I can. My daughter Tatum (15), is also into her sports and represented New Zealand in Tae Kwon Do. “I love racing, but having the coaching job is a bit of a release from it and a chance to think about something else.”
Having so much tied up in horse racing, Clotworthy is disappointed in the lack of changes to improve the industry in New Zealand. “It’s so frustrating,” he said. “Maybe one day I’ll get into the politics and understand the other side a bit more, but the way I see it something has to be done and done soon. The stake money has got to be improved. “It’s a good industry and we’re working hard but getting nowhere. It’s been let run down and run down for so long. “Both my son and daughter are keen on racing with our set-up being a family operation and I want them to be involved in years to come if they want, but unless something drastic happens soon they mightn’t get the opportunity. “It’s making it tougher and tougher to attract new owners and unless there is a massive improvement it will only get worse.”