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An exclamation point was put at the end of freak show pacer U May Cullect’s first season of racing when he was crowned Southland Harness Racing Horse Of The Year in Invercargill on Sunday night.
The title gave trainers Kirstin Barclay and Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis another highlight to celebrate after their breakout first season in partnership.
Barclay and Ellis were crowned Southland’s leading trainers moments before U May Cullect beat out Harness Jewels placegetter, Robyns Playboy, and fellow listed race winner, Get Lucky, to score the Southland awards’ biggest prize.
U May Cullect burst on to the New Zealand harness racing scene with jaw-dropping performance produced a seven-win unbeaten streak that culminated in the pacer winning the listed Uncut Gems at Addington in June.
The pacer had a brief spell after that victory and is being prepared for a tilt at the New Zealand Cup.
U May Cullect’s seven victories helped his trainers to a tally of 38 wins, last season.
That total came at an excellent strike rate, and with 71 placings, from their 258 starts.
Nathan Williamson was crowned Southland’s leading driver with his 54 wins.
Ellie Barron took out the award for the province’s leading junior driver with 17 victories.
Barron was also awarded an Award of Excellence for her accomplishments during the season, which included her contribution to the national team teal campaign.
The Achievement Of The Year Award was won out by Gore trainer Ross Wilson.
Wilson enjoyed his best winning season, with 15 victories.
He also topped 100 career wins, last term, and produced Robyns Playboy for a group 1 placing at the Harness Jewels in June
There were two winners for award recognising significant contributions to the Southland harness racing industry.
One was awarded to long serving administrator and breeder-owner Brendan Fahy.
Another was awarded to the Kidz Kartz Southland organisation for fostering youth participation in the sport.