Wins of pair make four trainers happy

Trading places led to Robbie Royale and April Rose winning at the last Southland harness racing meeting of the season on Saturday.

The pair sped to comfortable wins in chilly conditions at Ascot Park to make four trainers happy.

Robbie Royale is raced by South Otago trainer Brian Norman, but is trained by Southland trainer Brett Gray.

April Rose is raced by Canterbury trainer Gavin Smith from Nathan Williamson's Southland barn.

Norman, who owns with Shane Forgie, sent Robbie Royale to Gray so he could be trained among a big team of horses.

That move has paid off with the 5yr-old transforming himself from one-time rogue to consistent squaregaiter.

"I quite like the horse. Brian sent him to me so he could get used to having more horses around him," Gray said.

Gray said Robbie Royale's standing-start manners were the key to the turnaround in his fortunes.

"He has always had the ability; it's just been a matter of getting his brain in gear.

"He was slow away all the time, but now he has been stepping away pretty good."

Saturday's victory was Robbie Royale's fourth since moving to Gray's stable in December.

"It is great the horse is going so well for Brian. He is top man and he has been good to me," Gray said.

Norman and Gray had thought of giving him a spell after his win on Saturday, but quickly decided against that.

"We had thought of giving him a spell, but as Brian said when a trotter is in form you keep going and he is dead right," Gray said.

"So, he will be at a few of the Forbury meetings that are coming up."

Norman tasted success as a trainer and driver in Hengroen won Saturday's first race.

The win was the first for the reinsman, who generally uses top drivers to steer his horses, in three seasons.

Pouring rain and plummeting temperatures were not enough to stop April Rose from speeding away from her rivals for a maiden win. The 5yr-old justified her favouritism when scoring by almost three lengths.

Take A Bet maintained her unbeaten record in Southland and scored a hat-trick of wins in Saturday's graduation final.

Driver Tim Williams controlled the race in front on the Geoff Dunn-trained filly and victory looked assured from early on.


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