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Avana added another chapter to the massive legacy left by the late Tuapeka Lodge breeder Fr Dan Cummings when she won at Ascot Park in Invercargill yesterday.
The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained filly became yet another black-type performer for the Tuapeka Lodge Racing syndicate when she scored in a 1min 57.1sec mile rate in race 3.
Cummings, who died in March, had a keen eye for a talented standardbred. He helped select Avana, who was knocked down to Purdon and Rasmussen’s Rolleston All Stars Stable at last year’s national yearling sale for what now looks a bargain price of $16,000.
The 3yr-old is raced by the Tuapeka Lodge syndicate, which Cummings formed with his brother, Peter, and sister Julie Davies, in partnership with Braeden and Caroline Whitelock.
When the filly paced professionally yesterday throughout her debut for driver Tim Williams, it reflected yet again the superb breaking-in and horsemanship skills of the man who was known throughout New Zealand harness racing circles simply as ‘‘Fr Dan’’.
“It would be a pretty special win for the owners,” Williams said.
“Fr Dan and Braeden and Caroline were long-time friends and they decided to pick this filly out at the sales.
“And they didn’t pay that much for her, either.”
“Fr Dan did the early work with her and he actually gave her a workout before she came up to Mark and Natalie’s.”
Avana found herself back in the deep South as part of a four-horse team the All Stars barn sent to Ascot Park yesterday.
With two horses in each of two races, it was mission completed when Rock Legend followed up Avana’s win by prevailing in race 3.
“They came down here to split them up from some of our other horses and also because the trip away does them a lot of good,” Williams said.
“Some of them would have ended up in the race that we have eight horses in at Addington, so Mark decided to send these ones down here.”
The Cummings influence did not end with Avana.
When Tom Martin powered to an impressive victory in race 9 it credited the late Cummings and his brother and sister with a breeding victory.
The trio bred the towering Mach Three pacer from Life Sign mare Raindowne, and sold him to trainer Graham Court at the 2018 national yearling sales in Christchurch.
Trainer Brain Norman’s team has not lost any momentum having moved from South Otago to Eastern Southland.
Norman returned to the Gore area late last season, where he had trained for more than two decades, after an eight-year stint at Tahakopa.
Postgrad Success continued Norman’s good form since the shift when winning her debut in race 2 for driver Nathan Williamson.
The trainer is hopeful that scoring first up does not take the early momentum of out the 4yr-old’s career.
“Winning first up is tough for them because they just don’t have that ringcraft,” Norman said.
“But she has got a bit of ability and Nathan seems to think she will handle the next grade up.”
Windsor has been the flag-bearer for Norman since his move, winning twice and running fourth in three starts since racing resumed after lockdown.