Gordon McKenzie, the All-Black Uncle with the Midas touch

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By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of the New Zealand Standardbred Breeder’s Association)

The man who co-bred multiple Group One winner and this year’s $3.50 Interdominion Trotting Grand Final second favourite, Queen Elida, kicked another goal at Addington Raceway last Friday (November 3) – this time in an R61-80 Pace.

Actually, kicking goals runs in the McKenzie family. McKenzie and his two younger brothers, Grant and Brent played for Southland, while Brent’s son, Damian, is a utility back and goal-kicker in the 2023 All Blacks squad. The 28-year-old plays his Super rugby for the Chiefs and his Uncle said he enjoyed harness racing via sponsorship and ownership.

Gordon McKenzie’s latest success came via the Robert and Jenna Dunn trained Who’s Delight in race four – the Carl Forrester Memorial. Gavin Smith did the driving, while McKenzie did the breeding with well-known New Zealand race-caller and close friend – George Simon & his wife Mary Anne; Tony Barron; Tony Clark & his wife, Michelle.

Gordon McKenzie pictured with Colin Hair.

Who’s Delight, a 3-year-old Bettor’s Delight – Cullen Who (Christian Cullen) has now won six of his 22 starts, and placed in five others ($86,936) since making his debut fourth as a 2-year-old in August last year.

He is owned by A D Neumann, I M Neumann, B W Clarke, G R Evans, and J A Slack.

“Cullen Who (10-year-old  Christian Cullen – Who’s The Bird – Falcon Seelster) won five ($51,556) as a racehorse, and now she’s starting to prove herself as a broodmare,” 65-year-old McKenzie said.

Is she what!

Her first three foals, all by Bettor’s Delight have fetched $90,000, $130,000 and $100,000 at the last three National Standardbred Yearling Sales in Christchurch.

Successful Southland breeder, Gordon McKenzie.

“We sold Who’s Delight to Diamond Racing at the 2021 Sale for $130,000. He’s so far-fetched the mare’s top price. Sadly, she missed to Bettor’s Delight last year, so she won’t be represented in Christchurch in 2024.

“The dam (Cullen Who) has been very good to us. Who’s Delight is the second foal. Her first foal, Who’s Better (one win)  was sold to Nathan Williamson at the 2020 Sale for $90,000.

“She’s left four Bettor’s Delight foals now, including a weanling filly that was born on September 13. We will go back to him again, because the mare is very limited who she can breed to and Bettor’s Delight is proving to be a very nice cross,” McKenzie said.

He said Cullen Who had also left a yearling colt named Marketplace. He  was sold for $100,000 to Phil Kennard and is currently in work with Regan Todd at Yaldhurst.

McKenzie, who farms a dairy herd of almost 3,000 at his ‘Oraka Farms’ in Oteramika, with his three sons, said he bought into Cullen Who after she won on debut for Kevin Court and Matty Williamson at Forbury Park (March 2016).

“She won four more races for us (three at Alexandra Park and one at Addington) for our Syndicate (G J McKenzie, Mrs R H Dixon, G W Simon, Mrs M W Simon, T R Barron, A B Clark, Miss M M Scanlon), and then we retired her in June 2017 after she ran down the field at Blenheim,” McKenzie said.

“We then put her to Bettor’s Delight in late 2017 and in October 2018 Who’s Bettor was born. She’s since won a race for Nathan (Williamson),” he added.

McKenzie said he was looking forward to Queen Elida and Brent Lilley doing the business at this year’s Interdominions at Albion Park in December. He said he was also looking forward to seeing how the her full 3-year-old sister (by Love You), Queen Bea, would fare as a Mum.

Old Smiler’ – Gordon McKenzie’s All Black nephew, Damian McKenzie, who looks to have the 10 jersey all to himself next All Black season.

“We’ve seen what Queen Elida has done on the racetrack, so we decided not to race Queen Bea, so we had her served by Tactical Landing in November last year.

Her mother Queen Kenny (13-year-old Monarchy – Nice One Kenny – Sundon nine-win mare), just left a What The Hill colt, and has been served by Tactical Landing. Queen Kenny has also left a What The Hill yearling filly named Queen Kizen,” McKenzie said.

All Blacks vs Wallabies: Damian McKenzie praises NZ versatility before  Bledisloe showdown | Newshub
Former Southlander and now Waikato Chief, Damian McKenzie, who has played 40 tests for the All Blacks since 2016.

McKenzie is the oldest of three sons and also has three sons, Graeme, Blair, and Brad.

McKenzie’s father, Graeme, passed away four weeks ago.

“He was a racing enthusiast from the other code,” he said.

Footnote: So why does All Black goal-kicker, Damian McKenzie, give a little grin every time he’s about to line up a shot at goal? Uncle Gordon replied: “He likes to live in the moment. Relish it, take it all in, and enjoy it. It’s Damian’s form of motivation.”

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