FLASHBACK: Rickey Allen trains a horse at Waimarama Beach with ex-Magpie son Ben

Ex-Magpie, racing buff still living the dream

Ricky Allen has traded one island (North) for another (South) in New Zealand but not at the expense of losing his penchant for living in paradise. The former Hawke's Bay Magpie midfielder and harness racing enthusiast lives with wife Brenda at a property overlooking a 6km stretch of Katiki Beach along State Highway 1, sandwiched between Palmerston and Hampden, south of Oamaru. "That's my life. I'm living my dream in paradise," says the 62-year-old harness racing owner-trainer of his 14-hectare coastal property "where the southern highway meets the surf". Allen, a second five-eighth or centre who also represented Canterbury, is indebted to his wife, a nurse at Oamaru Hospital, for supporting him in pursuing his dream life in a breathtaking part of New Zealand. He likens the area to the highway stretch skirting Kaikoura, teeming with wildlife and where dolphins frolic in full view of travellers. "Brenda's missing the boys tremendously," says Allen of their four sons. Former Magpie Ben, 31, who is Taradale RSA manager, was an adroit rugby player who made the Crusaders' wider squad and also held the New Zealand age-group U18 secondary schools' triple-jump record as well as the NZ Open U18 110m hurdles record fleetingly. James, 30, is a police sergeant in Christchurch and was an elite road cyclist, while Sebastian, 21, is an apprentice diesel mechanic in Waimarama "who could have been a sportsperson but 'tractor' was his first word", although he excelled in high jump at high school. Sam, 18, is studying carpentry at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Taradale and "is one of the best skateboarders in New Zealand". Ricky Allen built his career on the hospitality industry in the Bay as manager at Taradale RSA and Angus Inn in Hastings, among other hotels, and hopes son Ben is keeping the family flame alive. He was behind staging trotting at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds in Hastings, with the late Cr Ivan Wilson, who was tied up with the Kiwi Surf Lifesaving Club, also instrumental. "Amateurs were thriving [in running the spectacular] and then the professionals took over so it died in the end, after taking off. "The racing people [gallops] didn't want to know us so when we went to the showgrounds they said to us to come on over," recalls Allen, mindful the showground pavilion's proximity to the action drew hordes of fans to harness meetings, which survived for more than a decade. In fact, his preference to train harness horses at his beach property stems from his time grooming horses at Waimarama Beach with former owner/training partner Robert MacDonald. "I'm always looking for an edge. The rugby training is part of the programme the horses have been served up and it's working." Born and bred in Christchurch, Allen's first visit to the Bay was in 1970 at age 18 after he befriended MacDonald at Canterbury University. "I went to the Bay and worked at the [now defunct] Tomoana freezing works during the holidays," he says, adding MacDonald is the godfather of all his children. The nephew of ex-All Black captain/coach Sir Fred "the Needle" Allen, of Oamaru, recalls training horses for the late Kel Tremain, who bought into syndicates with Tony Small, Sir Russell Pettigrew and Sir Fred. "It's in the blood a wee bit. Somewhere along the way I had a passion for the [Trotting] Cup Week in Canterbury," says Allen. He reveals his father, the late Alexander Arthur Allen, often "had a flutter" so took his mother, the late Joan Diane Florence (nee Shellock), and the children to the races in Christchurch amid a picnic-like atmosphere. Allen lists Rua Kenana as one of his top horses, trained at Waimarama Beach. It was champion 4-year-old trotter in 1989 after 11 wins, including Addington, as well as other group races. Allen's recent accomplished horse was Zachary Smith, who won three of his last four races before being offloaded to a Perth buyer. Starlight Starbright is coming along just fine in his stable as a 3-year-old who has three victories but has a way to go to emulate the feats of rival and an older Speedy Spur. Allen has plans for the rising star late next month at the Harness Jewel in Ashburton. He played for Canterbury in 1975 but two years later yearned for the Bay climate and friends. Allen, who met and married Bay-born Brenda (nee Singer) in the Bay, went to ply his trade in Italy in the off-season before returning to Christchurch to play for Canterbury A. The Bay beckoned again so he made the decision to finish his National Provincial Rugby (NPC) career with the Magpies. He retired after the Magpies v British Lions clash at McLean Park on July 7, 1983, scoring a four-point try before hobbling off. "I ruptured my cruciate ligament in the knee and never returned to rugby," he says. He couldn't get his preferred centre position with the Cantabrians but did with the Magpies. "We were leading when I left the field," he says of a 25-19 loss but hastens to add the Magpies versus Lions 13-11 loss in 1977 was "a great game". "We could have won it and should have won it if the kicker [Murray Tocker] hadn't had an off-day. "Murray, who was from Wellington, couldn't take a trick that day to land one." Allen's father, he understands, returned from the war and preferred not to play beyond club rugger for Sunnyside Hospital, where he was a psychopaedic nurse. In fact his father had a penchant for picking players who wanted to work at the Christchurch hospital in what Allen believes were the first signs of professionalism in New Zealand rugby. "I heard somewhere he [his father] was the better of the two boys [compared with The Needle] but then you always hear things like that - you know, the better horse in the stable who didn't get to race." Sir Fred, who died on April 28, 2012, of leukaemia in Auckland, played six tests as a pivot and led the ABs to all 14 match victories as mentor in 1966-69 to become the most successful ABs coach. Allen says Sir Fred's wife, Norma, who died in September 2009, was a model and the couple had settled in Auckland to run a women's garment business. "He used to come down [to Christchurch] every six to 12 months between winter and summer with his wife to visit clients and often came to see us, too," he says, revealing his uncle sometimes gave him tips "but it was never anything scathing". "He helped open up a few opportunities," says Allen of Sir Fred who got his nickname because of his ability to "needle players in the team". "He knew how to wind people up to motivate them." Allen doesn't harbour any regrets about not playing for the All Blacks but points out in those days there was little difference between a club player and an All Black. Not likely to become an AB, he decided it was time to retire to make way for young blood. "I would have liked 100 first-class games but I managed to get 80 or 90." Not too flashy at school, Allen gravitated to rugby. "I would get all dressed up in my gear and go to bed in them on Friday night before Saturday's game," he says with a laugh. "I didn't wear the boots, of course, but they were pretty shiny so I could have had I wanted to." - Hawkes Bay Today By Anendra Singh Reprinted with permission of Hawkes Bay Today

Chase The Dream - Having his shoe removed after the race last Thursday night.

Chase The Dream sore on cooling down

Chase The Dream was the centre of attention among fans and followers after his gritty win in the Sires Stakes heat at  the harness racing meeting at Addington last Thursday night but he was getting a lot more attention from the stable an hour after the race.   Chase The Dream was slightly tender on a foot after cooling out and that was a cause for major concern with so many big races coming up but Natalie was soon confident she had the answer.   "There's something annoying him in the foot."   "A nail coming through or a bruise coming out."   "There's no sign of any trouble in the muscle or joint department he is quite free there."   "But I want to deal with it straight away."   "He is a great little horse to work with so we will get straight on to it " Natalie said.   So the winning glamour was quickly forgotten by our leading horsewoman with staff help.   She took The near front shoe off and bathed the foot before Chase the Dream was headed home for further treatment.   Before then Chase The Dream had done it right in the Sires Stakes sitting outside Aussie Salty Robyn and having a length to spare over him to give him his fifth win in six starts in 2.23 the last 400m in  28.   "There wasn't too much to worry about going into the race because Waikiki Beach had done so well in Australia after beating us in the Welcome and he ran up to that."   "He is a good horse in that he has speed but is also tough so sitting out there when they are not going too fast quite suits him."   "He's a grouse little guy really" Natalie said.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

Neil Pilcher - First owner to have won three Australian Pacing Gold 2year old finals

The All Stars perspective of yesterday at Menangle

The skills of Mark and Natalie and the success of regular owners, Phil and Glenys Kennard , Neil Pilcher and Australian Marcus Kirkwood were underlined after Natalie's memorable drive to win her 30th Harness Racing Group One in the Len Smith Mile.   Finally after a long  history of frustration which bordered on resignation Smolda reminded Australians of his great class.   It was only in November that his career was in limbo.   His Cup preparation was in disarray and since the beginning of 2014 he had raced only five times.   This was after Mark was the man who insisted that Smolda had the full time off senior veterinary adviser Dr Bill Bishop had recommended. No short cuts.   Reassessing the situation with the horse who won eight of his 12 starts at three including a sensational Harness Jewels victory (1 52.1) and the NSW Derby and when Mark was rating him among the best horses he had trained, it was back to the drawing board.   Promising, then a little disappointing at the Auckland Cup carnival his only win since January 2014 came at Addington in March in a field he had to beat.   But Mark and Natalie sensed that all the racing was helping him after a long time off and with no opportunities here it was off to Australia where he is now unbeaten in two starts on the campaign which is likely to last longer yet.   And a cherry ripe Smolda is suddenly looming in 2015 NZ Cup contention.   But then all his life Smolda has been surprising people.   He was not in keen demand as a yearling shares being advertised on the All Stars site which brought Marcus Kirkwood into a ride he has enjoyed to the full.   Phil and Glenys of course are rarely out of the All Stars headlines and Pilch-well he has always loved his Courage Under Fire's.                                                                      Waikiki Beach   Neil Pilcher became the most successful APG two year old final winning owner in history when Our Waikiki Beach which he races with Trevor Casey and Cheryl Rasmussen won at Menangle on Sunday.   He ran his last 400m in 25.9 and 1.54.3 overall after a superb rating from Natalie who was posting her second APG final win.   Mark has figured in the training of all three of Pilch's wins which began with Mr Nickel in 2011 when the longshot came out best after Fly Like An Eagle got a horrible run.   Last year Follow the Stars was the winner with Pilch again in the partnership.   Waikiki Beach was knocked down to Neil, selected by Mark, for $A50,000 at least year's Melbourne sale and  it is hardly a matter of regret.   He is still unbeaten having won the Welcome Stakes at Addington after winning the Kindergarten Stakes and has won  his heat, semi and Final of the APG series.   OUR AUSTRALIAN RECORD THIS SEASON   13 WINS   Fight For Glory -2 wins - NSW Oaks Prelude. NSW Oaks   Follow The Stars- 3  wins - Caduceus Club   Adore Me - 2 wins - Ladyship Mile G1   Hug the Wind 1 win - NSW Derby Prelude   Waikiki Beach 3 wins - APG heat, semi-final, final   Smolda  2 wins - Penrith Cup-Len Smith Mile   EIGHT  GROUP WINNERS   FOUR GROUP ONES !   OVER $500,000 IN STAKES   Courtesy All Stars Racing Stables    

Trevor Casey - Has had a season as an owner that he will never forget

Casey having one hell of a season

Harness racing most frequent high-flyer Trevor Casey set off for Sydney on Saturday brimming with confidence that Waikiki Beach can cap a memorable weekend by winning the A$322,000 APG Final at Menangle.   The champagne glasses had barely been put down after Friday night’s terrific wins at Alexandra Park by Stent in the $150,000 Rowe Cup and Sky Major in the $100,000 Messenger than Casey was getting a boarding call for his 11th flight to Australia this season to watch his burgeoning team of horses race.   And if Casey is right, and Waikiki Beach uses his great gate speed from the ace and leads all the way in the rich two-year-old final on Sunday afternoon it would put the seal on what is surely the most prolific winning season enjoyed by any Kiwi owner.   Casey, 54, struggles to recall every winner he’s cheered home but his best guess is that 17 horses, which he either owns outright or has shares in, have won 59 races since last August - 24 of them at home and 35 in Australia.   Some of them, like Stent, have been in his now familiar black and white colours sporting the Lone Star logo of the Riccarton restaurant he owns, the profits from which have seen his equine empire treble in the last nine years.   Others, like the Barry Purdon-trained Sky Major, he races with a big group, but are providing him with thrills of the like he’s never previously experienced.   But with 30 horses on the go at the moment, at varying stages of their preparations, he says he needs to be winning like he is to pay for all the training bills.   Then there’s the cost of looking after his seven well bred trotting broodmares and their seven weanlings which are now conveniently all together  on his Prebbleton property and on another 8ha over the road which he bought from Nevele R Stud to house them all.   ‘‘Someone comes in to help feed and handle them but I’d see them daily,’’ says Casey who is sure all the handling helps them make a good early start as racehorses.   ‘‘I’ve always had quite a few horses - but I’ve now been able to upgrade the quality rather than the quantity. And if they’re not good enough to race at two or three, where the big money is, I usually try to sell or lease them.’’   Casey is also culling three broodmares, Una Bromac, Shesachristian and Pita Pocket, who will go under the hammer at next month’s PGG Wrightson mixed sale in Christchurch- ‘‘you soon learn how quickly your numbers multiply.’’   Casey says he’s lucky Stent - the horse he named after having triple stenting of his aortic vessels five years ago - has won him $637,216 this season and $1,108,788 in all  ‘‘paying for all the others.’’ The Rowe Cup win, which Casey says trumps all Stent’s previous achievements, fulfilled his own lifelong ambition and that of trainer Colin de Filippi.   ‘‘Winning the Great Southern Star was impressive but this is the best win I’ve ever had. He’s a super, super trotter, just something else.’’   In his victory speech Casey took great pleasure in pointing out to the knockers who claimed Stent couldn’t stay that he had just won the country’s premier staying race in 4:03.5, only 0.6s outside Stylish Monarch’s New Zealand record.   Stent’s season earnings of $637,216 have now passed those of the retired champ I Can Doosit ($621,764) and leave him second only to trotting’s all time ‘‘Freak’’ Lyell Creek who banked $658,325 in 2000-2001, when unbeaten in 14 starts, before campaignng in the northern hemisphere.   Casey beams when he is reminded Stent is now a shoe-in to be named trotter of the year on both sides of the Tasman.   ‘‘It’s still only a hobby, but it’s become a large hobby,’’ says Casey who has recently sold his other horsepower hobby, a  Harley Davidson motorcycle, because he no longer has time to ride it.   ‘‘ I really enjoy my racing and it occupies all my time now. I’m sponsoring quite a few races, and the Australasian junior drivers’ champs coming up, and I love to watch my horses go round.’’   Casey’s Facebook followers always know when he’s on the move, his postings from Melbourne and Sydney alerting his friends to his latest conquests.   Horses have always pressed Casey’s buttons, right from his days as a teenager when he started helping out at Tommy Knowles’ Kumeu stables in the early 1970s.   Where his passion for racing came from he’s not sure given none of his three brothers or two sisters liked horses - ‘‘but there were always horses around us in Kumeu.’’   Casey even took out a training licence for a few years in his early 20s,  training a winner, the dual gaited Speculate, to win a $1500 trot at Kumeu in 1985.   But when Casey became friends with local trainer Jim Cole he no longer needed a licence and from then on he left the training up to the professionals.   These days champion trainer Mark Purdon is his main man, but Casey also has a few with de Filippi, Tony Herlihy, Bruce Negus and one with Amber Hoffman.   It was on a trip to Melbourne in 2014 that Casey, his mate Neil Pilcher, Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen bought Waikiki Beach.   Having just sold a baby by Somebeachsomewhere named Assassinator to Perth, they were looking to replace him with another by the same sire.   A colt out of Cyclone Betty fitted the bill and they got him for $50,000.   It didn’t take Purdon long to discover he had a beautiful gait but when he wasn’t quite ready for the Young Guns series in Auckland earlier this year, and ‘‘started to get a bit colty’’ Purdon gelded him and turned him out.   Waikiki Beach came back to a winning debut in February and is now four from four and a raging favourite to win today after a super impressive semi-final win in 1:56.1.   ‘‘He has gate speed and I thought if he drew one to five there was a very good chance of his leading. But now, from one, he should lead easily,’’ Casey said.   Casey is hoping Waikiki Beach can win the rich final, just like Mr Nickel did for his partner Neil Pilcher three years ago, and go on to take the  Breeders’ Challenge and Breeders’ Crown.   They would be thrills that would rate right up with Pocaro’s Jewels win, Escapee’s two derbies, Mah Sish’s Hunter Cup or Arya’s Breeders Crown.   But if it all goes bad, like the night Pocaro had the 2009 Northern Trotting Derby all sewn up but galloped 50 metres out, Casey will just shrug and move on.   If he’s learned anything over the years it’s that you have to be a good loser. ‘‘You have a lot more losses than wins. I’m never over-confident. So long as they race well, and pull up good, you have to be happy.’’    Trevor Casey has lost count of the number of wins he’s enjoyed this season but we’ve done the maths for him. 17 horses, that he either owns outright or has shares in, have won 59 races   NEW ZEALAND    24   Stent      8 Lazarus  4 Hot Pants 3 Waikiki Beach 2 Messini   1 Sluggem   1 Ygritte       1 Bonechip    1 Madam Simone 1 Eilish Aimee 1 Sky Major   1     AUSTRALIA    35   Hand Of The King 6 Arya     6 Stent     5 Sky Major 4 Daenerys Targaryen 4 Sun Of Anarchy 4 Messini 2 Waikiki Beach 2 Saratoga 1 Crusader Acey 1   Courtesy of Barry Lichter

The rumours had been circulating for a while in harness racing circles in New Zealand that the champion racehorse and sire Sundon was struggling with health issues. Today Keith Gibson, the managing director of Roydon Lodge confirmed those rumours. "Unfortunately yesterday we had to euthanize Sundon." (recorded as Sondon in the USTA’s stud book). "We were no longer able to adequately manage the pain he suffered from the effects of arthritis and laminitis," Keith said. Imported from North America as a weanling, the son of Arndon was a star performer on the racetrack but it is the siring barn that he made his biggest impact as he revolutionized the trotting breed in Australasia. It is hard to do justice to the impact Sundon has had on the trotting scene in Australasia but a few of the following facts may give you an insight. In New Zealand where there are at best only three trotting races per meeting, Sundon has sired the winners of $26,514,146 to date and it is still rising. Sundon also currently leads the overall New Zealand broodmare charts by over $250,000 from In The Pocket which is a fantastic achievement for a trotting sire. His broodmare earnings in New Zealand alone already stand at $13,061,329 and he hasn't just been the dominant sire in his adopted country. Sundon has also sired the winners of over $15,000,000 in Australia (Nz+Au bred) and $9,475,184 in North America and his total earnings worldwide are in excess of $50,000,000. Sundon is one of those once in a lifetime horses whose influence on the trotting breed in Australasia will continue for generations to come. We here at Harnesslink offer our condolences to Keith Gibson, Michael House and all of the Roydon Lodge staff on the loss of such a magnificent horse. Harnesslink Media

On paper tonights $145,000 Rowe Cup for elite class trotters at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park looked a one horse race with Stent in outstanding form and a clear favourite. Plenty of pundits were concerned about it being his first standing start for nearly five months and the 3200 metres was another query that was also regularly mentioned in the lead up to the race. As it turned out Stent trotted away brilliantly for Colin De Filippi from the stand to grab an early lead over Alley Way and Matthew Williamson. Mark Jones was away well with the defending champ Master Lavros and worked forward and took over the lead from Stent after 700 metres. There was no loitering in front as Mark Jones looked to take a bit of the speed out those in pursuit of Master Lavros and he kept the tempo up the whole way. Applying even more pressure as they went past the 400 metres mark, it was clear as they turned for home that Master Lavros only had one serious challenger and that was Stent who waited for the passing lane to lodge his challenge. These two knuckled down to fight it out and Stent got in the deciding stride to claim his first of the big 3200 metres cups To Master Lavros's credit it took Stent every inch of the straight at Alexander Park to get his head in front right on the line. Alley Way was 2 3/4 lengths back in third which was a great effort first up in the big time and there was a further four lengths back to One Over Da Moon in fourth. Stent trotted the 3200 metres from a stand in a very quick 4:03.6, a mile rate of 2:02.4 with closing setionals of 57.9 and 28. The time was a new race record, taking one point six seconds off the old record held by I Can Doosit. Colin De Filippi was very emotional on returning to scale, fighting back the tears. " My father won this race forty years ago and it really means so much to me to win this race." " It is a race I have wanted to win for a long time so its very special." " I can't say enough about what a great owner Trevor Casey has been to train for." " Even when things weren't going that well early in Stent's career, Trevor never even once questioned what I was doing" " He deserves all the success he is having," Colin said.  It has been a stellar season for the son of Dream Vacation with tonights win his 13th from just 18 starts this season with earnings of $637,216. Harnesslink Media

A lot of harness racing pundits (us included) had doubts about the ability of Sky Major to bounce back from an horrendous overland trip in the Taylor Mile last week and come from the outside of the second line to beat the great field assembled for the $100,000 New Zealand Messenger. But as horses with that touch of real class can do, Sky Major produced probably his best run at Alexandra Park to run  over the top of them late and snatch the win right on the line. As expected hot favourite Ohoka Punter with Tony Herlihy in the bike easily led from barrier one from Tiger Tara and Mossdale Conner  challenging for the lead with Beyond The Silence in the trail. Mossdale Conner settled in the parked out position while Tiger Tara and Gerard O'Reilly snuck into three back on the inner. Sky Major with Zac Butcher in the bike had settled back in the running line but when horses made their moves three wide, he progressed to be three back in the running line. The field pretty much stayed in that order until 1100 metres from home when Australian visitor Messini went round three wide but couldn't get into the parked position and was left out there for the rest of the race. As they turned for home Ohoka Punter looked all over the winner, but first Tiger Tara burst along the passing lane to claim him and he was quickly joined out wide by a flying Sky Major who had got a lovely drag into the race on the corner. At the finishing line there was only a nose in it but Sky Major had got there by half a head and in the process confirmed himself as a starter in this years Harness Jewels. Tiger Tara was very game in second having been involved in the early burn while Ohoka Punter was slightly disappointing in running third after getting his own rules in front. Sky Major paced the 2700 metres in 3:15.6, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 27.8. The time was a new race record, taking two tenths of a second off the old race record held by Tintin In America Zac Butcher was thrilled to have won another race for his boss Barry Purdon.   " Barry is just a master at setting horses for these Group 1 races." " This horse was all out last week but he has got him here tonight in great order." " The horse has gone super but it wasn't until the last 50 metres that I thought we may get up." " I am absolutely thrilled," Zac said.   With that win under his belt, Sky Major will now head to the Harness Jewels where he is a major chance to become the first horse to win three Harness Jewels crowns. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing royalty is the only way to describe the Scuse Me family these days as it continues to dominate a lot of the Group races in New Zealand. The latest star to hit the headlines is the unbeaten two year old filly by Bettor's Delight, Dream About Me who was a warm favourite for the $138,000 two year old Sires Stakes Final for fillies at Alexandra Park tonight. Dream About Me missed a race last week with a hoof abscess but punters hadn't forgotten her dominant win in the Young Guns Final. As expected Luisanabelle Midfrew flew the gate to lead early before handing up to Dream About Me with 1100 metres to go. The speed had been pretty torrid early but there was no let up in the tempo as second elect Arden's Choice was posted three wide in the open. With 600 metres to go Mark Purdon took Arden's Choice to the death seat but Dream About Me still seemed to be cruising as they went past the 400 metres mark. As they turned for home Dream About Me kicked clear and seemed to pretty much stroll to the line with Tim Williams hardly moving in the bike. At the line she was 1 3/4 lengths in front of  Luisanabelle Midfrew who used the passing lane to good effect to run second with a gap back to a game Arden's Choice in third. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Sophisticated Lady who came from last at the 400 metres mark to run fourth. Dream About Me paced the 1700 metres in 2:01.4, a mile rate of 1:54.9 with closing sectionals of 56.2 and 27.6. The time was a new New Zealand record, taking a tenth of a second off the time set by the champion filly Bettor Cover Lover. Tim Williams was very confident heading into the race. " She is a high class filly and she is just getting better every time she goes to the races." " I missed the early speed duel and got the lead quite easily and she was always travelling after that." " She knocked off half way up the straight and I never pulled the ear plugs so she had plenty left,"Tim said. Tonight's victory was the latest big win in a huge season for the young reinsman but he was quick to deflect any praise from himself to the stable. "Driving horses of this quality makes my job really easy and most of the credit has to go to the team at All Stars," Tim said. Charlie Roberts bred the half sister to Christen Me and races her with his family and he must pinch himself daily at how the ride justs keeps on going with the Scuse Me breed at the moment. Harnesslink Media  

The first of the Group 1 races at tonights big harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park was the $80,000 Northern Trotting Derby which looked a two horse race on paper and for once that's how it played out. Habibti Ivy and Blair Orange led early as expected before handing up to the warm favourite, Speeding Spur with co-trainer Joshua Dickie in the bike. The main danger to Speeding Spur in Monbet with Ricky May in the bike settled into the one by one early on the back of the smart Prince Fearless and that was the running order up front for the first lap. With just over a lap to go Arya and Mark Purdon worked around to the death seat, forcing Monbet back a further place to three back in the running line. Speeding Spur really upped the ante down the back and the first horse to feel the pinch was Prince Fearless who started to struggle to hold Arya's back which forced Monbet and Ricky May to come out three wide. Speeding Spur really upped the ante on the corner and straightened four lengths clear with Monbet and Arya still finishing on. Late in the piece Monbet took a lot of ground off Speeding Spur but the son of Pegasus Spur was never in any danger of being beaten. Arya never gave up and stuck on well for third in front of Prince Fearless who kept whacking away to finish fourth. Speeding Spur trotted the 2700 metres in 3:25.4, a mile rate of 2:02.4 with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 27.7  Joshua Dickie was in awe of the performance of Speeding Spur. " I knew he would better than last week but he just felt super tonight" " His work during during the week had been great and we were pretty confident tonight." "Dad has done a great job of having him peak for the Derbies and a lot of the credit must go to him," Joshua said. Trainer John Dickie was all smiles post race. " We had him a bit short last week but this week he was right on the mark. "I was really confident going into the race and he didn't let us down," John said. The plans for Speeding Spur for the rest of the season are already set. " He will go to the $75,000 sales race at Addington on May 15th and then to the Harness Jewels two weeks later, " John said. Monbet put in another huge run for second, making up a lot of ground on the leader off a 56.3 last 800 metres while the run of Arya was much more in keeping with her ability. Harnesslink Media  

With the four Group 1 races at tonight's harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, we here at Harnesslink decided to do a runner by runner preview of all the Group races. This is our preview of this years Rowe Cup 1) Springbank Sam  -  Starts: 63    Wins: 17   Secs: 8    Thirds: 8    Life: $287,036  Back to a stand this week which he is much more comfortable with. Placed second in this two years ago and has a great record over 3200 metres. Has been in good touch in his last few starts and we like him as a first four chance. 2) Alley Way  -  Starts: 42    Wins: 11    Secs: 10    Thirds: 3    Life: $90,124 Up and comer who had no chance from the draw last week. Can really fly the standing start and looks the early leader and from there will hand up to one of the favourites which makes him a legitimate trifecta and first four player. Driver very confident he can be in it so don't discard. 3) Stent  -  Starts: 59    Wins: 27    Secs: 16    Thirds: 5    Life: $1,027,413 The best trotter in Australasia who deserves to be favourite here but there are several little question marks in this race. This will be his first standing start for nearly five months so that is a worry and of course this race is over 3200 metres which is the distance at which he is most vulnerable. Class and a great driver in Colin De Filippi will get him a long way but no past the post certainty. Include in everything. 4) King Denny  -  Starts: 21    Wins: 9     Secs: 3    Thirds: 0    Life: $202,499  Has really come of age on this campaign and his run last week after being used early was huge. The distance is right up his alley but the issue here is his poor standing start manners. He has yet to go away with the field this time in although he has got better in this respect and is not losing as much ground as he was. Needs to go away with them to be a winning chance so we only have him in as a trifecta and first four player. 5) Mum's Pride  -  Starts: 11    Wins: 8    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $95,901 The find of the season in the trotting ranks but this is his biggest test to date by far. Has great standing start manners which is a big plus here but with only 11 starts lifetime one does worry about the ringcraft a bit. James Stormont is not afraid to be aggressive as a driver but we still think this horse is twelve months away from reaching his peak. Trifecta and first four chance for us. 6) Master Lavros  -  Starts: 39    Wins: 15   Secs: 5    Thirds: 3    Life: $379,154 Last years winner of this race who has been in the wilderness since that win. Trotting the best that we have seen him in his whole career in this campaign and looks to be enjoying his racing again. Can be a bit hit or miss from a stand but we think in his present frame of mind he is a big player here. Loves the 3200 metres and likes Alexandra Park. Include in everything.  7) Sheemon  -  Starts: 54    Wins: 16    Secs: 17    Thirds: 10    Life: $473,792 Right at the top of his game at the moment and loves Alexandra Park. Has beaten Stent at their last two meetings at Alexandra Park in Group 1 races and a game second in this race last year as a four year old. A much better horse as a five year old and with Dexter in the bike he will be given every chance to go one better this year. Include in everything. 8) Flying Isa  -  Starts: 55    Wins: 17     Secs: 5    Thirds: 4    Life: $479,192 Back from a successful stint in Australia but up against it here. Better from a mobile than a stand and we would prefer at a distance a bit shorter than 3200 metres. We find it hard to see him as a threat to the favoured trio. Outside first four player at best for us. 9) Dr Hook  -  Starts: 87    Wins: 17    Secs: 13    Thirds: 11    Life: $434,613 An outstanding trotter who is in the twilight of his career. Will appreciate the move back to a stand but it is still hard to see him being a major player here. Not for us 10) One Over Da Moon  -  Starts: 33    Wins: 11     Secs: 3    Thirds: 2    Life: $179,956  Really nice trotter who is taking on the best trotters around this campaign. Has gone a couple of good races this time in but has several question marks beside his name tonight. We have doubts that 3200 metres really suits him and at his last standing start he broke badly and took no serious part. Not for us. 11) Kincaslough  -  Starts: 30    Wins: 10     Secs: 3    Thirds: 3    Life: $122,986  Has had a very long season to date being around since September and signs of that present in her last few runs. Very capable mare and back to a stand which she much prefers. Did go her best race for some time last week, running on well late but a few here look sharper to us. Outside first four chance at best. SELECTIONS How can you go past Stent in his present form. He does have a few question marks beside his name this week but he is not a millionaire by chance. The two main dangers for us are Master Lavros and Sheemon who quinelled the race last year. Both look to be right in the zone at the moment and just need the rub of the green to threaten Stent. Behind these three are a group who are trifecta and first four players if things go their way in the running. We would  include King Denny, Mums Pride, Alley Way and Springbank Sam in combinations with the three above. Harnesslink Media

The last $20,000 heat of the Nevele R Fillies series at the harness racing meeting at Addington last night saw the reappearance of Fight For Glory for the first time since her outstanding win in the New South Wales Oaks at Menangle on March 1st. Not only did she give away race fitness to her opponents but she drew the outside of the gate at barrier nine in the 1950 metres mobile. When the mobile left Classical Art and Tim Williams came out quickly and grabbed an early lead with Fight For Glory and Natalie Rasmussen settling last from her wide draw. Passing the 1400 metres mark On The Town and Dexter Dunn worked around the field three wide and Fight For Glory followed her around and found the death seat outside Classical Art with 1000 metres to go.  That was still the order as they turned for home but half way up the Addington straight, Fight For Glory went clear for an emphatic victory by a length over a game Classical Art. Linda Lovegrace stormed home late on the inner to be close up in third after being held up on the corner while Supersonic Miss finished on into fourth to give the All Star barn the first four home. Fight For Glory paced the 1950 metres in the chilly conditions in 2:22.4, a mile rate of 1:57.4 with closing sectionals of 57.1 and 27.6. She was privately timed to run her last mile in a swift 1:56.8 while working three wide and sitting parked. Natalie Rasmussen was pleased with the run. " She's gone great really for a first up effort" " She is such a wee fatty and will improve a lot with that run under her belt." " In the early stages she got a bit keen but was fine after that," Natalie said. Tim Williams was really happy with the run of Classical Art. " She got a bit keen coming off the gate but relaxed when she found the front. " She is getting better that way all the time and I was really pleased how she fought on in the straight," Tim said. Ricky May was lamenting the lack of clear air early in the run home. " I got held up as we turned for home and its definitely cost her second. " Once she got clear she has really found the line and I think she has gone super," Ricky said. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Supersonic Miss to finish fourth. She was privately timed to run her last 800 metres in 56 out three and four wide and still finished on well. The Nevele R Fillies final is shaping up to be one of the races of the season with the All Star four to be joined by The Orange Agent and Democrat Party from the north which should make for an exciting final. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing pundits saw it as a good old fashioned Trans Tasman battle tonight at Addington in the New Zealand Sires Stakes heat when the Aussie raider Salty Robyn took on one of the best Kiwi two year old pacers in Chase The Dream. Lauren Panella left the gate early from barrier three and slowly worked her way to the front with Salty Robyn with Three Ways and Dexter Dunn taking the trail. Chase The Dream with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike worked her way to the death seat after 400 metres and was content to sit there on Salty Robyn's wheel.  A three wide train came around but Natalie kicked up and kept them out there and held the death seat. Down the back straight Lauren upped the tempo with Salty Robyn but couldn't shake Chase The Dream and they turned for home together. The two favourites settled down to fight it out but Chase The Dream sprinted past Salty Robyn at the 100 metres mark and went to the line a length clear of Salty Robyn who was well clear of Three Ways in third. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Wannabet who came from near last at the 800 metres mark to run fourth. Chase The Dream paced the 1950 metres in cool chilly conditions in 2:23.3, a mile rate of 1:58.2 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28. Natalie was thrilled with the run of the colt by Bettors Delight. " He was actually a bit fresh tonight and that caused him to over race a bit early." " After that he settled well and really found when I asked him." " He has just got such a wonderful attitude and that run will really improve him. " Mark and I think a lot of him and think that he has a big future," Natalie said. Shane Tritton, the trainer of Salty Robyn was proud of the son of Art Official after the trip over didn't go to plan. " We faced delays on the trip from Sydney to New Zealand." " We left home at one o'clock on Monday afternoon and didn't get to Mark Jones' until eight o'clock on Tuesday morning. " He has been a bit quiet since his arrival and Lauren said he wasn't himself in the preliminary." " Now that he has qualified, we have time to get him spot on so they will know we are there come the final," Shane said. Shane has had another problem since his flight to New Zealand with his property near Newcastle in New South Wales badly hit by the storm there. " There is no power or water on at the property but all the horses and staff are safe so that is the important thing." "With a bit of luck we should be able to race the team this weekend," Shane said. Race patrons in New Zealand don't get to see Australian raiders very often and the presence of Salty Robyn tonight at Addington created a fair bit of interest for a low key Thursday night meeting.  Harnesslink Media  

With the four Group 1 races at the Auckland Trotting Club's harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park tomorrow night, we thought it only proper that we here at Harnesslink did an in-depth preview of all the Group 1 races. Here is our preview of the New Zealand Sires Stakes final for two year old fillies. 1) Sophisticated Lady  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 0    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $8,253 Huge run first up to run second to Northern Velocity but didn't handle the very wet track at Invercargill at her second start and it seems to have flattened her a touch. Sat parked in the Caduceus Club Final last week and didn't give it away so not the worst here by any means. From the draw we think she is a trifecta and first four chance. 2) Nek Time  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 1   Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $9,927 This filly has always shown a bit of promise but greenness in her earlier starts has cost her. Last start win against the maidens was full of merit but it is a big step up here. The distance of 1700 metres is more her go but still only an outside first four player for us 3) Killer Queen  -   Starts: 6    Wins: 1     Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $17,335 This filly started out with a huge private reputation but to date has not really lived up to it. She did seem a lot more comfortable left handed when winning her last start at Cambridge. Back to Auckland we struggle to see her beating a few here. Outside first four player at best for us. 4) Luisanabelle Midfrew  -  Starts: 2    Wins: 0   Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $8,613 Outstanding run first up against Arden's Choice and Northern Velocity in which she split the two All Stars runners at Addington over 1950 metres after leading. Led again at Auckland at her second start but didn't cop the 2200 metres as well as people thought she would. Back to 1700 metres here and she looks the likely leader from barrier three so a definite trifecta and first four player for us. 5) Dream About Me  -  Starts: 3    Wins: 3    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $67,400  This unbeaten half sister to Christen Me looks to have inherited all the family ability if her first three starts are anything to go by. Her last win in the Young Guns Final was just outstanding and in that kind of form it is hard to see her beaten here. Slight query in that she missed last week's race with a hoof abscess but stable very confident she will be spot on. The one to beat. 6) Sem's Delight  -  Starts: 5    Wins: 1()    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $18,282 Nice filly who won her second start at Addington with a touch of class. However that win did look to take the edge off her a wee bit and her next couple of runs were disappointing. Her last start at Auckland was a lot better with her running on from well back for fifth and just over a length from third. Outside first four player for us. 7) Arden's Choice  -  Starts: 6    Wins: 2     Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $95,156 Brilliant win last week and the big danger to Dream About Me. Had some ringcraft issues in some of her earlier races but since Mark hopped into the bike she is two form two and looks top class. Has a lot of bottom to her so you can use her in a race so draw not as bad as it seems. Clear second pick for us. 8) Chevrons Champion  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 1     Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $7,920 Smart filly who beat the older horses first up at Addington before getting involved in a big battle for the lead at Invercargill and finishing fourth after a very hard run. Her last run at Addington against a top field was good without being outstanding after a cosy run throughout. Draw here makes it really difficult but Dexter on board makes her an outside first four player.                                                                     SECOND LINE 9) Poppy Maguire  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 2   Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $30,423 Filly that has tended to fly under the radar at times. Not up to Arden's Choice or Dream About Me but capable of beating the rest with a run to suit. Not sure if the draw is a help or a hindrance but on her record to date she is a trifecta and first four player for us. 10) Gamma Lady  -  Starts: 4    Wins: 1    Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $30,670 The best of the northern fillies this season with a great run for second in the Young Guns Final. Her next trial after that was terrible as was her next race start where she raced yards below her previous form. Her only outing since then was at the workouts last weekend where she ran second to the very talented Shandale and looked a lot more like her old self. If the real Gamma Lady turns up tomorrow night then she is a major trifecta and first four player. 11) Northern Velocity  -  Starts: 5    Wins: 2     Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $50,124 Lovely big filly who is probably not as sharp as some of her stablemates when sprinting but will keep running on when some of the others are stopping. From this draw she needs the speed to be on from the start to be a chance of rolling Dream About Me and Ardens Choice and we are not convinced that is going to happen here. Still a clear third pick for us on what she has shown to date.   SELECTIONS The top pick for us is without doubt Dream About Me who is all class. Just as clearly second pick for us is Arden's Choice who has come on in leaps and bounds lately And keeping the first three in the All Stars barn sees us with Northern Velocity as a clear third pick after her big wins at Addington and Invercargill. To make up those first fours we would throw in Sophisticated Lady, Luisanabelle Midfrew, Poppy Maguire and Gamma Lady. Harnesslink Media

Our harness racing tipsters are not having the best run in the world at the moment but what winners we are being tipped are well worth having. Last week we had five winners selected and the best by a margin was that of Maurice Mckendry who selected Mossdale Conner at $20 to one in the Taylor Mile. Others to select winners were Geoff Small, Tony Herlihy, Clark Barron and Brendon McLellan while we had another three placings as well. This week there are four meetings in the country and we have selections for them all.   Addington - Thursday night John Dunn - Reckons K C Monet is working great and can win race 4 Scott Phelan - Thought Mach Time was a great place bet in the Sires Stakes heat, race 5 Jim Curtin - Drives the top filly Supersonic Miss and thinks she can win race 6 Terry Chmiel - Even from unruly 4, thought Saint Michel would be a great each way chance in race 7 Brad Williamson - Based on her work lately, he thinks Jelly Bean will be hard to beat, also in race 7    Auckland - Friday night Maurice McKendry - Was impressed by I Got Rhythm last week and thinks she can win race 1 Bob Butt - Was very bullish around the chances of Waterloo Sunset in race 3 Blair Orange - Gave Eyre I Come a big chance of returning to the winners circle, also in race 3 Steve Richardson - After just missing out last week, thinks Monbet can go one better in race 5 Steven Reid - Said to forget last weeks run and that Shedontloveme can win race 7 Ricky May - Very bullish about the chances of Dalton Bromac in race 8 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Tiger Tara from the draw could get amongst it, also in race 8 Matthew Williamson - Quietly confident that Alley Way can upset the big guns in race 9 Tony Herlihy - Reckons The Fascinator was unlucky last week and can win race 10   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Tim Williams - Very bullish around the chances of Lovetodream in race 1 Robbie Holmes - Thought As Kiwi As was due a change of luck and could win race 6 John Curtin - Thinks the northern raider Vibhuti might upset them from barrier one in race 7   Gore - Monday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Speechless above average and thinks he will win race 4 Brendon McLellan - Gives Starskys Dream a big chance of winning race 8 Clark Barron - In hot form at the moment and thinks Bonnie's Khaleesi can win race 10

On the big night of harness racing at Alexandra Park tomorrow night we have four Group 1 races and we are going to do previews of them all. This is our preview of the New Zealand Messenger Championship. 1) Ohoka Punter  -  Starts: 27    Wins: 15    Secs: 5    Thirds: 5    Life: $590,033 Huge run from well back to finish third in 1:51.7 mile rate for 1700 metres last week. This weeks distance of 2700 metres is more to his liking but we would rather he hadn't drawn barrier one. We think he will hand up to Border Control who is not known to hand up to anybody so he should get the perfect run in the trail. The horse to beat but no past the post certainty. 2) Tiger Tara  -  Starts: 33    Wins: 11      Secs: 7    Thirds: 6    Life: $397,974 Smart run from a bad draw in the Taylor Mile and much better off in that regard this week. Died in the wool stayer who loves the speed on all the way and liable to get that this week. Has gate speed so may have a dig for the lead but drawn to get a good run regardless. Must include for all trifecta and first four takers. 3) Border Control  -   44    Wins: 18    Secs: 15    Thirds: 5    Life: $549,986 Another huge run last week after he was wide early and then parked out the rest of the journey in a 1:51.7 mile rate. Has taken a while to come back to his best after a long injury break but right in the zone now and this distance is right up his alley. We think he will try to lead and he is such a noted front runner that we don't think any driver here will try to hold him out. Will give a great sight and a major player from this draw. 4) No Doctor Needed  -  Scratched 5) Dalton Bromac  -  Starts: 16    Wins: 10      Secs: 3    Thirds: 1    Life: $98,728 Great run from barrier eight last week where he was wide for the first 600 metres in a race run in New Zealand record time. Ricky May felt he blew out with 100 metres to go last week and Benny Hill has admitted he made an error and the horse was less than 100% going into the race. You know that won't be the case this week and with the scratching of No Doctor Needed, Dalton Bromac comes into barrier four which makes him a major player in this. Include in everything. 6) Mossdale Conner  -  Starts: 43    Wins: 11     Secs: 11    Thirds: 4    Life: $208,161 Brilliant performance last week to destroy the New Zealand record for 1700 metres over all of these horses he faces here. Good record at the 2700 metres distance so don't discount just because of the draw as has high gate speed and can go forward from here. Great trifecta and first four chance. 7) Te Kawau  -  Starts: 28    Wins: 10   Secs: 7    Thirds: 6    Life: $96,224 Newcomer to the meeting who has a great overall record but just seems off his best in his last few starts to us. Good record on the track and over the distance but the draw is a killer for him as we think he will have to go back early which makes it very hard to get amongst it. Not for us 8) Messini  -  Starts: 37    Wins: 15    Secs: 9    Thirds: 2    Life: $296,884 Very disappointing last week from barrier one but he did have an excuse. Hit a knee and broke on the final turn last week which cost him any chance at his first start right handed. Am sure that Brent Lilley will have worked on that this week and Dexter is still on board. One to throw in to build up those first fours                                                                             SECOND LINE 9) Beyond The Silence  -  Starts: 24    Wins: 8    Secs: 7    Thirds: 2    Life: $89,985 Even though he didn't get much luck in the running last week, he didn't run on that well in the straight in our opinion. Liable to end up in the trail or three back on the back on the inner at worst but we still find it hard to see him as a major player here. Not for us. 10) Ideal Success  -  Starts: 25    Wins: 9     Secs: 2    Thirds: 2    Life: $58,180 Has been on a golden run on the Country Cups circuit but this is a completely different ballgame here. The distance won't worry him but the depth and the quality of the opposition will. Deserves his place here but in saying that we don't think he is a first four player. Not for us. 11) Isaiah  -  Starts: 36    Wins: 13     Secs: 5    Thirds: 11    Life: $582,992 Worked hard early last week and still ran on well over the last 200 metres after he got shuffled back a bit. Can do plenty of work in his races and stick on and this distance is much more to his liking than last week's mile. Draw makes it hard for him but definite trifecta and first four player for us. Don't overlook. 12) Sky Major  -  Starts: 37    Wins: 13     Secs: 7    Thirds: 5    Life: $614,869  No chance last week after he was posted three wide in the open for the last 1000 metres in a race run in record time. This is not his favourite distance and we would much prefer him the left handed way of going where he has had most of his big race wins. Class will take him a long way but we think he is a trifecta and first four chance in this field from this draw. SELECTIONS Five year olds have an obvious advantage in these mixed races and our selections reflect that. Ohoka Punter is the obvious one to beat from the draw but we see two main dangers to him winning One is the super stayer Border Control who is in great form and the other is Dalton Bromac who will be the big improver out of last weeks race. For trifecta and first four players include Tiger Tara, Mossdale Conner, Isaiah and Sky Major Harnesslink Media                                                                        

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Ricky Allen has traded one island (North) for another (South) in New Zealand but not at the expense of losing his penchant for living in paradise. The former Hawke's Bay Magpie midfielder and harness racing enthusiast lives with wife Brenda at a property overlooking a 6km stretch of Katiki Beach along State Highway 1, sandwiched between Palmerston and Hampden, south of Oamaru. "That's my life. I'm living my dream in paradise," says the 62-year-old harness racing owner-trainer of his 14-hectare coastal property "where the southern highway meets the surf". Allen, a second five-eighth or centre who also represented Canterbury, is indebted to his wife, a nurse at Oamaru Hospital, for supporting him in pursuing his dream life in a breathtaking part of New Zealand. He likens the area to the highway stretch skirting Kaikoura, teeming with wildlife and where dolphins frolic in full view of travellers. "Brenda's missing the boys tremendously," says Allen of their four sons. Former Magpie Ben, 31, who is Taradale RSA manager, was an adroit rugby player who made the Crusaders' wider squad and also held the New Zealand age-group U18 secondary schools' triple-jump record as well as the NZ Open U18 110m hurdles record fleetingly. James, 30, is a police sergeant in Christchurch and was an elite road cyclist, while Sebastian, 21, is an apprentice diesel mechanic in Waimarama "who could have been a sportsperson but 'tractor' was his first word", although he excelled in high jump at high school. Sam, 18, is studying carpentry at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Taradale and "is one of the best skateboarders in New Zealand". Ricky Allen built his career on the hospitality industry in the Bay as manager at Taradale RSA and Angus Inn in Hastings, among other hotels, and hopes son Ben is keeping the family flame alive. He was behind staging trotting at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds in Hastings, with the late Cr Ivan Wilson, who was tied up with the Kiwi Surf Lifesaving Club, also instrumental. "Amateurs were thriving [in running the spectacular] and then the professionals took over so it died in the end, after taking off. "The racing people [gallops] didn't want to know us so when we went to the showgrounds they said to us to come on over," recalls Allen, mindful the showground pavilion's proximity to the action drew hordes of fans to harness meetings, which survived for more than a decade. In fact, his preference to train harness horses at his beach property stems from his time grooming horses at Waimarama Beach with former owner/training partner Robert MacDonald. "I'm always looking for an edge. The rugby training is part of the programme the horses have been served up and it's working." Born and bred in Christchurch, Allen's first visit to the Bay was in 1970 at age 18 after he befriended MacDonald at Canterbury University. "I went to the Bay and worked at the [now defunct] Tomoana freezing works during the holidays," he says, adding MacDonald is the godfather of all his children. The nephew of ex-All Black captain/coach Sir Fred "the Needle" Allen, of Oamaru, recalls training horses for the late Kel Tremain, who bought into syndicates with Tony Small, Sir Russell Pettigrew and Sir Fred. "It's in the blood a wee bit. Somewhere along the way I had a passion for the [Trotting] Cup Week in Canterbury," says Allen. He reveals his father, the late Alexander Arthur Allen, often "had a flutter" so took his mother, the late Joan Diane Florence (nee Shellock), and the children to the races in Christchurch amid a picnic-like atmosphere. Allen lists Rua Kenana as one of his top horses, trained at Waimarama Beach. It was champion 4-year-old trotter in 1989 after 11 wins, including Addington, as well as other group races. Allen's recent accomplished horse was Zachary Smith, who won three of his last four races before being offloaded to a Perth buyer. Starlight Starbright is coming along just fine in his stable as a 3-year-old who has three victories but has a way to go to emulate the feats of rival and an older Speedy Spur. Allen has plans for the rising star late next month at the Harness Jewel in Ashburton. He played for Canterbury in 1975 but two years later yearned for the Bay climate and friends. Allen, who met and married Bay-born Brenda (nee Singer) in the Bay, went to ply his trade in Italy in the off-season before returning to Christchurch to play for Canterbury A. The Bay beckoned again so he made the decision to finish his National Provincial Rugby (NPC) career with the Magpies. He retired after the Magpies v British Lions clash at McLean Park on July 7, 1983, scoring a four-point try before hobbling off. "I ruptured my cruciate ligament in the knee and never returned to rugby," he says. He couldn't get his preferred centre position with the Cantabrians but did with the Magpies. "We were leading when I left the field," he says of a 25-19 loss but hastens to add the Magpies versus Lions 13-11 loss in 1977 was "a great game". "We could have won it and should have won it if the kicker [Murray Tocker] hadn't had an off-day. "Murray, who was from Wellington, couldn't take a trick that day to land one." Allen's father, he understands, returned from the war and preferred not to play beyond club rugger for Sunnyside Hospital, where he was a psychopaedic nurse. In fact his father had a penchant for picking players who wanted to work at the Christchurch hospital in what Allen believes were the first signs of professionalism in New Zealand rugby. "I heard somewhere he [his father] was the better of the two boys [compared with The Needle] but then you always hear things like that - you know, the better horse in the stable who didn't get to race." Sir Fred, who died on April 28, 2012, of leukaemia in Auckland, played six tests as a pivot and led the ABs to all 14 match victories as mentor in 1966-69 to become the most successful ABs coach. Allen says Sir Fred's wife, Norma, who died in September 2009, was a model and the couple had settled in Auckland to run a women's garment business. "He used to come down [to Christchurch] every six to 12 months between winter and summer with his wife to visit clients and often came to see us, too," he says, revealing his uncle sometimes gave him tips "but it was never anything scathing". "He helped open up a few opportunities," says Allen of Sir Fred who got his nickname because of his ability to "needle players in the team". "He knew how to wind people up to motivate them." Allen doesn't harbour any regrets about not playing for the All Blacks but points out in those days there was little difference between a club player and an All Black. Not likely to become an AB, he decided it was time to retire to make way for young blood. "I would have liked 100 first-class games but I managed to get 80 or 90." Not too flashy at school, Allen gravitated to rugby. "I would get all dressed up in my gear and go to bed in them on Friday night before Saturday's game," he says with a laugh. "I didn't wear the boots, of course, but they were pretty shiny so I could have had I wanted to." - Hawkes Bay Today By Anendra Singh Reprinted with permission of Hawkes Bay Today
Chase The Dream was the centre of attention among fans and followers after his gritty win in the Sires Stakes heat at  the harness racing meeting at Addington last Thursday night but he was getting a lot more attention from the stable an hour after the race.   Chase The Dream was slightly tender on a foot after cooling out and that was a cause for major concern with so many big races coming up but Natalie was soon confident she had the answer.   "There's something annoying him in the foot."   "A nail coming through or a bruise coming out."   "There's no sign of any trouble in the muscle or joint department he is quite free there."   "But I want to deal with it straight away."   "He is a great little horse to work with so we will get straight on to it " Natalie said.   So the winning glamour was quickly forgotten by our leading horsewoman with staff help.   She took The near front shoe off and bathed the foot before Chase the Dream was headed home for further treatment.   Before then Chase The Dream had done it right in the Sires Stakes sitting outside Aussie Salty Robyn and having a length to spare over him to give him his fifth win in six starts in 2.23 the last 400m in  28.   "There wasn't too much to worry about going into the race because Waikiki Beach had done so well in Australia after beating us in the Welcome and he ran up to that."   "He is a good horse in that he has speed but is also tough so sitting out there when they are not going too fast quite suits him."   "He's a grouse little guy really" Natalie said.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables
The skills of Mark and Natalie and the success of regular owners, Phil and Glenys Kennard , Neil Pilcher and Australian Marcus Kirkwood were underlined after Natalie's memorable drive to win her 30th Harness Racing Group One in the Len Smith Mile.   Finally after a long  history of frustration which bordered on resignation Smolda reminded Australians of his great class.   It was only in November that his career was in limbo.   His Cup preparation was in disarray and since the beginning of 2014 he had raced only five times.   This was after Mark was the man who insisted that Smolda had the full time off senior veterinary adviser Dr Bill Bishop had recommended. No short cuts.   Reassessing the situation with the horse who won eight of his 12 starts at three including a sensational Harness Jewels victory (1 52.1) and the NSW Derby and when Mark was rating him among the best horses he had trained, it was back to the drawing board.   Promising, then a little disappointing at the Auckland Cup carnival his only win since January 2014 came at Addington in March in a field he had to beat.   But Mark and Natalie sensed that all the racing was helping him after a long time off and with no opportunities here it was off to Australia where he is now unbeaten in two starts on the campaign which is likely to last longer yet.   And a cherry ripe Smolda is suddenly looming in 2015 NZ Cup contention.   But then all his life Smolda has been surprising people.   He was not in keen demand as a yearling shares being advertised on the All Stars site which brought Marcus Kirkwood into a ride he has enjoyed to the full.   Phil and Glenys of course are rarely out of the All Stars headlines and Pilch-well he has always loved his Courage Under Fire's.                                                                      Waikiki Beach   Neil Pilcher became the most successful APG two year old final winning owner in history when Our Waikiki Beach which he races with Trevor Casey and Cheryl Rasmussen won at Menangle on Sunday.   He ran his last 400m in 25.9 and 1.54.3 overall after a superb rating from Natalie who was posting her second APG final win.   Mark has figured in the training of all three of Pilch's wins which began with Mr Nickel in 2011 when the longshot came out best after Fly Like An Eagle got a horrible run.   Last year Follow the Stars was the winner with Pilch again in the partnership.   Waikiki Beach was knocked down to Neil, selected by Mark, for $A50,000 at least year's Melbourne sale and  it is hardly a matter of regret.   He is still unbeaten having won the Welcome Stakes at Addington after winning the Kindergarten Stakes and has won  his heat, semi and Final of the APG series.   OUR AUSTRALIAN RECORD THIS SEASON   13 WINS   Fight For Glory -2 wins - NSW Oaks Prelude. NSW Oaks   Follow The Stars- 3  wins - Caduceus Club   Adore Me - 2 wins - Ladyship Mile G1   Hug the Wind 1 win - NSW Derby Prelude   Waikiki Beach 3 wins - APG heat, semi-final, final   Smolda  2 wins - Penrith Cup-Len Smith Mile   EIGHT  GROUP WINNERS   FOUR GROUP ONES !   OVER $500,000 IN STAKES   Courtesy All Stars Racing Stables    
Harness racing most frequent high-flyer Trevor Casey set off for Sydney on Saturday brimming with confidence that Waikiki Beach can cap a memorable weekend by winning the A$322,000 APG Final at Menangle.   The champagne glasses had barely been put down after Friday night’s terrific wins at Alexandra Park by Stent in the $150,000 Rowe Cup and Sky Major in the $100,000 Messenger than Casey was getting a boarding call for his 11th flight to Australia this season to watch his burgeoning team of horses race.   And if Casey is right, and Waikiki Beach uses his great gate speed from the ace and leads all the way in the rich two-year-old final on Sunday afternoon it would put the seal on what is surely the most prolific winning season enjoyed by any Kiwi owner.   Casey, 54, struggles to recall every winner he’s cheered home but his best guess is that 17 horses, which he either owns outright or has shares in, have won 59 races since last August - 24 of them at home and 35 in Australia.   Some of them, like Stent, have been in his now familiar black and white colours sporting the Lone Star logo of the Riccarton restaurant he owns, the profits from which have seen his equine empire treble in the last nine years.   Others, like the Barry Purdon-trained Sky Major, he races with a big group, but are providing him with thrills of the like he’s never previously experienced.   But with 30 horses on the go at the moment, at varying stages of their preparations, he says he needs to be winning like he is to pay for all the training bills.   Then there’s the cost of looking after his seven well bred trotting broodmares and their seven weanlings which are now conveniently all together  on his Prebbleton property and on another 8ha over the road which he bought from Nevele R Stud to house them all.   ‘‘Someone comes in to help feed and handle them but I’d see them daily,’’ says Casey who is sure all the handling helps them make a good early start as racehorses.   ‘‘I’ve always had quite a few horses - but I’ve now been able to upgrade the quality rather than the quantity. And if they’re not good enough to race at two or three, where the big money is, I usually try to sell or lease them.’’   Casey is also culling three broodmares, Una Bromac, Shesachristian and Pita Pocket, who will go under the hammer at next month’s PGG Wrightson mixed sale in Christchurch- ‘‘you soon learn how quickly your numbers multiply.’’   Casey says he’s lucky Stent - the horse he named after having triple stenting of his aortic vessels five years ago - has won him $637,216 this season and $1,108,788 in all  ‘‘paying for all the others.’’ The Rowe Cup win, which Casey says trumps all Stent’s previous achievements, fulfilled his own lifelong ambition and that of trainer Colin de Filippi.   ‘‘Winning the Great Southern Star was impressive but this is the best win I’ve ever had. He’s a super, super trotter, just something else.’’   In his victory speech Casey took great pleasure in pointing out to the knockers who claimed Stent couldn’t stay that he had just won the country’s premier staying race in 4:03.5, only 0.6s outside Stylish Monarch’s New Zealand record.   Stent’s season earnings of $637,216 have now passed those of the retired champ I Can Doosit ($621,764) and leave him second only to trotting’s all time ‘‘Freak’’ Lyell Creek who banked $658,325 in 2000-2001, when unbeaten in 14 starts, before campaignng in the northern hemisphere.   Casey beams when he is reminded Stent is now a shoe-in to be named trotter of the year on both sides of the Tasman.   ‘‘It’s still only a hobby, but it’s become a large hobby,’’ says Casey who has recently sold his other horsepower hobby, a  Harley Davidson motorcycle, because he no longer has time to ride it.   ‘‘ I really enjoy my racing and it occupies all my time now. I’m sponsoring quite a few races, and the Australasian junior drivers’ champs coming up, and I love to watch my horses go round.’’   Casey’s Facebook followers always know when he’s on the move, his postings from Melbourne and Sydney alerting his friends to his latest conquests.   Horses have always pressed Casey’s buttons, right from his days as a teenager when he started helping out at Tommy Knowles’ Kumeu stables in the early 1970s.   Where his passion for racing came from he’s not sure given none of his three brothers or two sisters liked horses - ‘‘but there were always horses around us in Kumeu.’’   Casey even took out a training licence for a few years in his early 20s,  training a winner, the dual gaited Speculate, to win a $1500 trot at Kumeu in 1985.   But when Casey became friends with local trainer Jim Cole he no longer needed a licence and from then on he left the training up to the professionals.   These days champion trainer Mark Purdon is his main man, but Casey also has a few with de Filippi, Tony Herlihy, Bruce Negus and one with Amber Hoffman.   It was on a trip to Melbourne in 2014 that Casey, his mate Neil Pilcher, Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen bought Waikiki Beach.   Having just sold a baby by Somebeachsomewhere named Assassinator to Perth, they were looking to replace him with another by the same sire.   A colt out of Cyclone Betty fitted the bill and they got him for $50,000.   It didn’t take Purdon long to discover he had a beautiful gait but when he wasn’t quite ready for the Young Guns series in Auckland earlier this year, and ‘‘started to get a bit colty’’ Purdon gelded him and turned him out.   Waikiki Beach came back to a winning debut in February and is now four from four and a raging favourite to win today after a super impressive semi-final win in 1:56.1.   ‘‘He has gate speed and I thought if he drew one to five there was a very good chance of his leading. But now, from one, he should lead easily,’’ Casey said.   Casey is hoping Waikiki Beach can win the rich final, just like Mr Nickel did for his partner Neil Pilcher three years ago, and go on to take the  Breeders’ Challenge and Breeders’ Crown.   They would be thrills that would rate right up with Pocaro’s Jewels win, Escapee’s two derbies, Mah Sish’s Hunter Cup or Arya’s Breeders Crown.   But if it all goes bad, like the night Pocaro had the 2009 Northern Trotting Derby all sewn up but galloped 50 metres out, Casey will just shrug and move on.   If he’s learned anything over the years it’s that you have to be a good loser. ‘‘You have a lot more losses than wins. I’m never over-confident. So long as they race well, and pull up good, you have to be happy.’’    Trevor Casey has lost count of the number of wins he’s enjoyed this season but we’ve done the maths for him. 17 horses, that he either owns outright or has shares in, have won 59 races   NEW ZEALAND    24   Stent      8 Lazarus  4 Hot Pants 3 Waikiki Beach 2 Messini   1 Sluggem   1 Ygritte       1 Bonechip    1 Madam Simone 1 Eilish Aimee 1 Sky Major   1     AUSTRALIA    35   Hand Of The King 6 Arya     6 Stent     5 Sky Major 4 Daenerys Targaryen 4 Sun Of Anarchy 4 Messini 2 Waikiki Beach 2 Saratoga 1 Crusader Acey 1   Courtesy of Barry Lichter
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