Doug Courtman breeds his first filly winner

By Duane Ranger

Otorohanga dairy farmer, Doug Courtman, has bred his first female winner and fifth since his introduction into standardbred breeding nine years ago.

Both Courtman and his trainer/driver, Matthew White, only lined up Mhai Surfer Girl (f Downbytheseaside – Mhairi) at Cambridge Raceway last Thursday (December 27) to see where she was at in her only 2-year-old start.

“That was not the result we were expecting after Mhai Surfer Girl won her qualifying trial on the same track in a sedate time on December 1.

“Then she finished third and sixth at the workouts. It’s fair to say this win was a pleasant surprise,” Courtman said.

Mhai Surfer Girl at Cambridge
C/- Matthew White Racing Stables Facebook

Mhai Surfer Girl, a now 3-year-old Downbytheseaside – Mhairi – Presidential Ball nailed her debut win by three-quarters-of-a length from barrier nine – and paid a whopping $39.80 as the 10th favourite in the fourth event – the Happy New Year From Woodlands Stud Maiden Pace.

“I’ve only ever bred one other winner, and that was the second foal I bred out of Mhairi – a 2015 Highview Tommy gelding named Carse O Fern Tom. He won four races and was a fun horse to go and watch.

“I loved watching Highview Tommy go around when he was racing. He was a lovely black, so I went back to him again, two years after Carse O Fern Tom. Mhai Tommie was the result.

“My brother Neal and I raced her, but she was only average. I Think Scott Iremonger has her down south now. That filly was my introduction into standardbred breeding,” Courtman said.

“I bought Mhairi via a Sandy Yarndley Dispersal Sale when she was in foal to Stunin Cullen in 2014. The resulting foal was Carse O Fern Cully (eight placings from 53 starts). The mare is still being cared for at Sandy’s former property at Ohaupo.

“Breckon Farms do a good job. I like to breed from the mare every two years,” Courtman said.

Although a busy dairy farmer, Courtman, said that he really loved horses, and enjoyed breeding and owning them.

“However, there is a sad story. The mare left 10 foals (five to Sandy and five to us), but her last filly – a 2021 daughter of Downbytheseaside, had to be put down due to a severe foot disease.

“Woodlands Stud were very nice to me and offered me a deal to go back to the same sire again, so I’m pleased to say Mhairi has returned a positive to Downbytheseaside,” Gutsell said.

He believed Mhai Surfer Girl could develop into the best horse that he has bred.

“She’s just arrived back from Matt’s and will be in my paddock for three or four weeks before we think about her next campaign.

“She perked up the week before her win, so that is a satisfying sign. She’s got a nice size about her, but still has a lot of developing to do. Even though ‘Tom’ won four, I still think this girl is a bit sharper than him. She has a lot of get up and go.

“She will be my broodmare one day, and like this mare I will only breed from her every two years. I think it is important that they can be a Mum,” Courtman said.

He said his family on both sides, had been interested in racing for many years.

“Dad (Wally) had horses and was president at Cambridge during its formative years. He oversaw a lot of the refurbishment and changes at the Club.

“As for today I can’t thank Matt and Bridget enough. They do a wonderful job with my horses. Having an understanding and competent trainer and driver makes the world of difference,” Courtman said.

Mhairi, who never raced, descends from the Yarndley Marysia (1995 In The Pocket one-win mare) – Aberfeldy (unraced 1978 Mark Lobell mare) – Black Watch (1966 Scottish Command 14-win mare) line.

“That family has produced a lot of winners and the foals have fetched some nice prices over the years. Sandy certainly knew what he was doing,” Courtman said.