Cleland Murdoch’s Northview breed produces another quality winner 

By Duane Ranger 


The younger half-brother, and nephew, to two of the best pacers Invercargill lawyer, Cleland Murdoch, has bred – Northview Hustler and Northview Punter – won for the first time at the Wyndham Harness Racing Club’s meeting last Thursday (October 12).  

Southland Breeder, Cleland Murdoch

The Murdoch-bred, and Craig Ferguson trained/driven, Rustenburg, justified his $1.50 favouritism, when winning the eighth event – The Lazarus Maiden, by one-and-a-quarter lengths – with a slick 1:56.9-mile rate. 

The 3-year-old Captaintreacherous colt was having his third start for owners, B J Makgill, R L Herbert, L Dixon. He also finished second and sixth at Winton and Auckland previously. 

Murdoch explained that Rustenburg was the fifth of six foals out of the unraced 14-year-old Real Desire – Watch Your Step mare, Northview Desire. 

Her first foal, Northview Hustler (1.51.5 – 2013 Bettor’s Delight gelding), 12 races ($174,387) here, including the Spring Cup for Ray Green, then won 11 more in Australia ($383,835) but I think he’s coming to the end of it. He’s rising 10 now and has done a great job,” Murdoch said. 

But Murdoch believed Northview Desire’s younger brother, the 2009 Bettor’s Delight gelding, Highview Punter (1:51.1), was the best pacer he had bred. 

Watch Your Step, 1991 On The Road Again – Over Exposure (USA) – Meadow Skipper, left nine foals between 1997 and 2010 – the last two being the unraced Northview Desire and Northview Punter – the 2009 Bettor’s Delight gelding. 

“Both Northview Desire and Northview Punter are out of an American-bred mare Watch Your Step, who is closely related to Beach Towel.  ‘Punter’ was sold at the yearlings’ sales. He won a race here before his owners sold him to Perth. Murdoch said. 

“He was later sold to the USA where he won some more races and all up during his racing career, he won approximately $750,000.00” Cleland added. 

All Up Northview Punter won 35 of his 234 starts and placed in 61 others ‘Down Under’ for $552,003 in stakes. His Group One placings included the Western Australian and Freemantle Pacing Cup – both in 2015, and the 2012 Golden Slipper Stakes. 

Auckland horseman John Stormont negotiated with Murray Brown for a syndicate that was formed to purchase Watch Your Step. The syndicate bred horses of which two were sold at the yearling sales. When the syndicate decided that they did not wish to continue, Murdoch took the mare over and bred two foals, being Northview Desire and Northview Punter.  

Northview Desire was tried as a racing proposition but Cleland’s trainer, Murray Brown indicated that her future was in the broodmare paddock rather than on the racing circuit. 

Murdoch said he started breeding from Northview Desire in the 2013 season and on November 7 that year, Northview Hustler was born.  

“The mare then left three pretty average foals since him (Northview Hustler) and Rustenburg is definitely the best since. He’s a big horse who is well liked by his trainer. In fact, Craig said he now has a lot of potential. 

“I’m pleased for the owners. We sold Rustenburg at the 2021 Christchurch Yearling Sale for $22,000 to Kyle Marshall, and he’s since ended up with Craig since Kyle went to Australia.  

Craig does a splendid job with all of his horses, including this one – and so does Regan Todd. He trains Treacherous Gall (3-year-old Captaintreacherous – Galleons Pleasure – Bettor’s Delight brown mare). I co-own her with her breeder, Dave Kennedy. She’s won seven of her 14 starts and almost $100,000.

Treacherous Gall

Northview Desire had left one foal since Rustenburg, and was due to Captain Crunch in November. Then Murdoch said she would be served by Sweet Lou. 

“We’ve got a rising Captain Crunch yearling who will go to the Sales next year. The Stud book also says we have an Always B Miki 2-year-old filly, but that is not true. That horse does not exist,” Murdoch said. 

Born in Invercargill and educated at James Hargest High School, 70-year-old Murdoch graduated from Otago University as a lawyer in the mid-1970s. He said he had loved horses all of his life. 

“Dad used to work on the tote and I loved coming to the races with him from an early age. I was actually into gallopers when I was younger, but it just became obvious that it was not possible to access the top bloodlines if you are interested in breeding and I quickly decided that having standardbreds was the way to go.  

I was lucky enough to link up with Murray Brown from an early stage and even now he still trains for me and we co-own horses together.  

“In fact, the first horse I bred from was a horse named Cheeky Lass (1967 three-win Dick Adios – Paye – Dillon Hall brown mare). My first foal from her was a Transport Chip mare, Trans Lass. That was 1984,” Murdoch said. 

Since then, Murdoch has also held several administration roles over the years. Very much a “club man” he had been at the helm of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club for five years; the Sires Stakes Board for two years; and was a Chairman of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association. 

“I’m still on both Boards. I love harness racing very much, and breeding and the future means a lot to me. I’ve always been a seller, but at my age it’s now nice to keep a good one racing. 

“The great thing about Northview Desire is that she is still only 14. So, there’s still plenty of time to keep the family going,” he said. 

And speaking of family, Murdoch has been married to Alva for 42 years and they have three children and five grandchildren.