Have Faith In Me gave a performance for the ages with a stunning win in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire

Have Faith In Me destroys rivals in Chariots Of Fire

Once in a generation a harness racing racehorse comes along that redefines the breed with displays of power and speed that lifts the overall standard to the next level. Last night at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Have Faith In Me gave a performance for the ages with a stunning win in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire and in doing so the lightly raced four year old lay down the gauntlet to the established grand circuit stars ahead of the $750,000 Miracle Mile on February 28th. Plenty of the form analysts questioned weather Have Faith In Me from the outside gate of 10 could give all his rivals a start and beat them last night in Australia's premier four year old race. The former New Zealand mare Arms Of An Angel was the main pick of those analysts to puncture the Have Faith In Me bubble. Before the race had barely started, the whole complexion of the race had changed. Arms Of An Angel had blown the score up and was eight to ten lengths behind the bunch early in the race. Meanwhile Natalie Rasmussen had sent Have Faith In Me forward on a mission as the soon as the gate hit the starting point and was three wide with cover handy to the pace after the first 400 metres was cut out in a quick 26.6. Following Cruz Bromac around, Have Faith In Me found the death seat outside him at the 800 metres in 55.1 after a 28.5 second quarter. Natalie applied more pressure down the back straight and the third quarter whizzed by in 27 seconds and it was apparent at that point that Have Faith In Me had his rivals in serious trouble. When Natalie gave him a little bit of rein at the top of the straight, Have Faith In Me absolutely bolted away and went down to the line under double wraps for a victory that will live in the memory for a long time. Cutting the last 400 metres out in a slick 26.9, Have Faith In Me stopped the timer in a brilliant 1:48.8, the first four year old to break 1:50 in Australasia. Lord Zin Zan after trailing most of the way ran into second 10 metres away while the early breaker Arms Of An Angel made ground late from last to run third, another four metres behind Lord Zin Zan. Co -trainer Mark Purdon is never one to hype up one of his many stars to the media but his praise for the son of Bettor's Delight was  instant and left nobody in any doubt of how the champion trainer sees his latest star when he stated that Have Faith In Me was as good a horse as he has ever handled. Speaking to Sky commentator Adam Hamilton post race, Mark Purdon said the scary thing was that Natalie reckoned Have Faith In Me had a few gears left yet at the finish. The only disappointing aspect to the ground breaking win by the New Zealand trained and owned champion was the response of the local media. They became fixated on the performance of Arms Of An Angel to run third and the following line was repeated again and again over the next 60 minutes. " While not wanting to take anything away from the performance of Have Faith In Me, the run of Arms Of An Angel was unbelievable." So while stating they didn't want to take anything away from the brilliant performance of Have Faith In Me, they then proceeded to do exactly that again and again and again. The performance of Have Faith In Me in absolutely destroying a quality Chariots Of Fire field in 1:48.8 should have seen all the kudos and spotlight focussed on him post race. The fact Have Faith In Me had to fight for the spotlight with a mare who ran third was disappointing to say the least. Harnesslink Media

Guilty Of The Crime - A full sister in blood to the champion youngster Sky Major 1:51.5 ($772,844)

Does trotting blood enhance pacing pedigrees?

One thing that you will find in a lot in some of the older New Zealand maternal families is a crossover between pacing and trotting stallions in some generations. Quite a lot of the successful stallions were just as liable to leave a trotter as a pacer if the maternal pedigree had left either in the past. It was seen as a positive by breeders and gave you a second bite at the cherry if the planned  pacing career didn't work out. The second dam of the champion Christian Cullen in Pleasant Evening is a great example as she is a half sister to one of the all time great Australian trotters in True Roman ($532,732) Several stallions that were imported in the 1970s and 1980s into New Zealand  were dual gaited. One of those was Crockett, a son of Diller Hanover who left 86 winners in New Zealand, sixty two of them trotters and twenty four of them pacers. The best of the trotters was the champion racemare in Thriller Dee (24 wins) while the best of the pacers was Bronze Trail (18 wins)  Today you will still find Crockett turning up in a lot of maternal pedigrees in New Zealand and probably the one that is most well known is that of Eagles Three. Eagles Three won five races and left four winners at stud but it is one of her lightly raced daughters in Skyhigh Eagle that really lifted the family. Skyhigh Eagle left seven winners including Eagles Together 1:52 ($375,900), Regal Eagle 1:54.4 ($129,378), Galactic Eagle 1:54.6 ($127,815) and the smart In The Pocket mare Sky Beauty 1:58.4 ($58,666) who has produced the three time Harness Jewels winner in Sky Major 1:51.5 ($772,844). The family is represented in this years Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd by Lot 21, Guilty Of The Crime. She is a daughter of Art Major from a three win full sister to Sky Beauty in Eagles In My Pocket which makes Guilty Of The Crime a full sister in blood to Sky Major. As the photos and video shows, she is  typical of the progeny of Art Major and with so many classy relatives up close, Guilty Of The Crime is sure to attract plenty of attention on sale day. The value of having dual gaited stallions appear in maternal pedigrees at yearling sales has been debated since their introduction but the results would suggest that they have greatly enhanced pedigrees overall. Harnesslink Media  

Aile Rouge and Robbie Holmes in the winners circle at Addington

Aile Rouge upsets smart field in Summer Cup

North Canterbury harness racing trainer Robbie Holmes went into last nights Summer Cup for trotters at Addington Raceway with Aile Rouge with one aim and that was to get a line on where he fitted in amongst the best trotters in Canterbury at the moment. Robbie thought if he could finish in the first five with Aile Rouge in such a strong field at just his second start back from a spell he would be a happy man. Two minutes and twenty four seconds later he was saluting the judge as he came back to the winners circle and still getting over the shock of winning the $27,000 race. Away well from barrier two, Robbie quickly settled Aile Rouge into the trail behind Sunny Ruby and then he was posted three back on the inner when Monty Python went to the front at the 1400 metres mark. Bottled up three back on the inner as they turned for home, Aile Rouge got a lovely gap on the outside of Sunny Ruby and flew the last bit to win by half a length going away. Aile Rouge trotted the 1950 metres in a smart 2:24.3, a mile rate of 1:59 with closing sectionals of 58 and 29.1 Robbie was thrilled with the performance. " We only started Aile Rouge in this race and not in race 3 to let Clean Break who was on the ballot in race 3 get into the other Alabar Final for trotters as we thought he was a real chance in that race." "The aim with Aile Rouge in the Summer Cup was just to get a line on where he stood in the pecking order amongst the good trotters and we were hoping for a first five result at best. " He has really sprinted when the gap opened up and was going away at the finish," Robbie said. The son of Love You had been a star during winter racing at Addington but this was a big step up in class to what he had been racing. Robbie thought a couple of things were in his favour tonight. " He is really quick off the mobile and the distance was right up his alley." " The 2600 metres is a bit far for him most of the time but he loves those 1950 races and his record shows that. " I am thrilled for Jenny (owner) as she has had horses with me since I started training and she deserves a good horse," Robbie said. Aile Rouge Harnesslink Media  

Tangos Delight and Gavin Smith in the winners circle at Addington last night

Stellar season for Gavin Smith just got better

Twelve months ago leading harness racing trainer/driver Gavin Smith was seriously thinking about giving the training side of the industry away. His team was constantly having problems and not performing on raceday and Gavin was at his wits end trying to get on top of the issues. Fast forward twelve months and Gavin's team is flying and he is on track to have his best season in the bike since he started as a junior driver. " The move to Ohoka has been great and from day one there the team has been on the improve." " I have plenty of young ones coming through as well so things are looking really good for the future," Gavin told Harnesslink last night. In the course of that conversation, the chances of Gavin's trainee Tangos Delight in the $40,000 Premier Mares Championship at Addington Raceway came up and Gavin was surprisingly bullish about her chances. " There is no The Orange Agent or Fight For Glory involved and I think with the right run she can get a bit of it," was Gavin's view pre race. Away well from barrier four, Gavin quickly slotted Tangos Delight into the trail behind Lightning Mach and Dexter Dunn and put the mare to sleep. Mid race attacks by Democrat Party and Rocker Band split the field up from the 800 metres and passing the 500 metres mark Gavin was able to move off the inner and onto the back of Democrat Party. Democrat Party mastered Rocker Band 150 metres out but at that point Gavin angled Tangos Delight into the clear and she quickly swooped on by for a decisive win. It was an inch perfect drive by Gavin which got the reward it deserved. The daughter of Bettor's Delight paced the 1950 metres in a very quick 2:20, a mile rate of 1:55.5 with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 28.9 and last nights win took her lifetime earnings over the $73,000 mark. " Since Cup day this mare has been going super every start." " In her last five starts she should have won a couple of them but she has had no luck at all and the driver stuffed it up a couple of times as well." " She can follow speed all day and she is lethal with one run at them like that," Gavin said. Gavin is just thankful that he still has the mare in his barn. " The plan with Ronnie (owner) earlier in the season was to try to win a race with her before having her served but she has been racing that well we had a change of plans." " The way she is going I don't think she is finished yet," That was the biggest stakes race ($40,000) that I have trained the winner of so that was a big thrill as well," Gavin said. The Gavin Smith barn has been firing on all cylinders all season as the UDR of 3237 shows and it there are no signs of it slowing down at this stage. Harnesslink Media    

When it comes to people being passionate about harness racing, Canterbury owner John Mooney would be up there with the best. John wears his heart on his sleeve for all to see and in the countdown to last nights $150,000 PGG Sales Final at Addington Raceway he was struggling to control his emotions. Not only did John have a runner in the race but he had a serious winning chance in the well performed filly Luisanabelle Midfrew and he was nervous to the point of distraction. From the time John took her home from the yearling sales at Christchurch, the daughter of American Ideal had faced one hurdle after another in her racing career. " I had just sold Libertybelle Midfrew to Perth and she was going through the sales ring when Matty Williamson texted me to say what a great looking filly she was." "On the spur of the moment I decided to keep her." " When Nigel McGrath sat behind her for the first time, the first thing he said to me when he hopped out of the cart was that keeping her was the best decision I had made in a long time," John Mooney explained when speaking to Harnesslink last night. Second to Arden's Choice on debut and then subsequently second to Dream About Me in the $138,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes Final at Alexandra Park, Luisanabelle Midfrew was expected to be a big player on Harness Jewels day at Ashburton but failed to flatter at any point,finishing twelfth. "She was really sick at Ashburton and she was very lucky to survive, "She had an attack of small intestine colitis and it was touch and go for a while." " Just when it seemed she was on the mend,she had a relapse and all but died for a second time," John said. Trainer Nigel McGrath knew he faced major hurdles getting Luisanabelle Midfrew back to best form but nursed her through her first few runs back on the track. " The whole aim of this campaign was the Sales Race and I didn't want to put her under any serious pressure leading into that race. " She may have looked disappointing to people at times but we were working to a plan to have her spot on for one race. " I stepped up her workload in the last three weeks and her work leading into last nights race had been super," Nigel said. Away well last night for regular driver Matty Williamson from barrier two, Luisanabelle Midfrew led for the first 700 metres before handing up to the well supported front runner Killer Queen. From there she looked to travelling as good as anyone and when the passing lane appeared, Luisanabelle Midfrew was through in a flash and quickly put the race beyond doubt, coasting down to the line an easy winner. " Nigel had her spot on tonight, she felt the best she ever has." " The plan was to lead early and then hopefully hand up to Killer Queen who would get us to the passing lane and and the plan worked a treat." "I couldn't believe how easily she was travelling off the back straight." " She knocked off a bit when she went clear but she had plenty left in the tank at the finish." Matty said. Nigel McGrath was full of praise for his trainee. " She has been through so much but she is a very smart filly and it showed tonight." " Going forward we just have to look after her and not knock her about too much." " Something like the Southland Oaks is probably better for her at this stage of her comeback than taking on the very best," Nigel said. John Mooney post race was like a man who had just won Lotto, with the excitement of the win written all over his face. It was great to see that harness racing can still excite such passion. Harnesslink Media  

Terry and Glenys Chmiel have always held Nek Time in high regard since they purchased her privately for stable clients as an early two year old. The daughter of Gotta Go Collect has always looked well above average and her fourth in the Harness Jewels at two was just reward for a filly that never had much luck at times last season. Prior to tonights race at Addington Raceway, she hadn't been further back than fourth in seventh starts at three but had disappointed co -trainer Glenys Chmiel at Marlborough recently. " Even though she went near enough,I thought on her work she would win at least one of the days." "It was only when we got home that we found that she had a bad lung infection so her runs under the circumstances were super." " Her work at home since she has been treated has been really good so I thought she would be hard to beat tonight," Glenys said.  With Terry committed to stablemate Franco Tai, who better to warm the seat  that Dexter Dunn, the countries leading driver.  In the first score up, Nek Time went into a wild gallop and caused a false start but Dexter had no hesitation in staying in his original barrier of three in the second attempt at a start. " The gallop in the score up on the first attempt was my fault as she was a bit fresh and I put her on the gate way to early." " I was confident she would be fine on the second attempt if I didn't rush her on to the gate," Dexter told Harnesslink post race. Sent straight to the front by Dexter at the restart, Nek Time took a trail behind stablemate Franco Tai after 200 metres but was out again 200 metres later to reclaim the lead. Going past the 800 metres mark, Dreamy Damien and Colin De Filippi went up and looked Nek Time in the eye and they sizzled down the back straight in 26.9. Going past the 400 metres Nek Time had shook off Dreamy Damien but the challengers were coming wider out. Half way up the straight RR Sand Dollar stuck its neck in front but Nek Time refused to lie down and lifted inside the last 100 metres to fight back and claim an outstanding victory. Not only was the manner of the win top class but the times she ran were just superb. Nek Time covered the 1950 metres in 2:19.2, a mile rate of 1:54.8 with a brilliant last 800 metres of 54.5 and 400 metres of 27.6. Glenys was all smiles as she ungeared the filly. " This filly has very high speed but she is also as tough as they come." " She doesn't know how to give in and I knew she would fight back, " Glenys said. Terry wasn't sure if she had  got up from where he was on Franco Tai. " I couldn't tell from where I was but I know how tough she is." " You can get up to her but getting past her is another matter,"  Terry said. The Chmiels were especially happy to have taken out the $40,000 PGG listed event. " That is the biggest stakes race we have won as trainers so its a real thrill, "Terry said. The manner of the victory tonight suggests Nek Time is a live chance in some of the bigger fillies races later in the season. Harnesslink Media.  

Anyone assessing this years crop of three year old colts and geldings would place Lazarus at the top of the pile with Chase The Dream his greatest challenger but as the season has gone on Classie Brigade has slowly but surely started to close the gap on the All Stars pair. His run tonight in the $23,500 Alabar Super Series Final at Addington Raceway was just further confirmation of the improvement he has made since his third placing in the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final on Cup Day. Driver Ricky May settled him three back in the running line early before shooting around to sit parked with a round to go as Blair Orange and Buster Brady looped the field to lead. Classie Brigade sat on Buster Brady's wheel until 200 metres from home where he easily worked clear and went on for a comfortable 1 1/4 length victory from a game Buster Brady and Bite The Bullet who closed late up the passing lane. Classie Brigade cut the 1950 metres out in a sizzling 2:20.4, a mile rate of 1:55.8 with closing sectionals of 57.2 and 29.1 in the warm windy conditions. Ricky May was full of praise for the son of Bettor's Delight. " He just keeps on getting better this horse ever time I drive him." " I didn't mind sitting in the death with him tonight as he concentrates better there than he does when he is in front". " He still can knock off a bit when left in front early but he is getting better all the time in that respect." " I think he is the next best three year old after the All Stars pair and I think he has closed the gap since Cup time." " He does go good the Auckland way round so I think he is a chance of getting some of it at Derby time the way he is going," Ricky said. Ricky May is never one to get too bullish about a horse's chances so his comments would suggest that Classie Brigade will be a major player in the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby on March 11th. Harnesslink Media  

The fields for most of the juvenile races held this season so far have in the main been very light on numbers with as little as five or six competitors in most events. The New Zealand Sires Stakes heat for two year old fillies at Timaru Raceway on Sunday has drawn eight which is pleasing and there is a lot of depth to the field. The All Stars barn has two of the eight runners and their trial and workout performances would suggest that they are the fillies to beat. Renske B has looked the slightly more forward of the two fillies at the trials and is slightly better drawn at barrier three so looks the likely favourite on paper. A daughter of Mach Three from a half sister to Changeover 1:53.4 ($2,321,677), Renske B was a $30,000 yearling at last years Australasian Classic Yearling Sale and has won her only two starts at trials and workouts. Partyon has had two trials and workouts as well, finishing a close second to Renske B on both occasions. She has drawn handily at four and would appear the main danger to her stablemate. A daughter of Bettor's Delight from the Beach Towel mare Beach Parade, Partyon is raced by Woodlands Stud. Cran Dalgety has two runners involved and they have both shaped nicely at trials and workouts leading into Sunday. Millwood Daisy has drawn poorly at barrier seven but won nicely at the workouts on Wednesday, home her last 800 metres in a handy 57.9. A daughter of Art Major from the former outstanding Mach Three two and three year old filly in Millwood Meg 1:53.6 ($336,796), Millwood Daisy cost $100,000 at last years New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch. The other Dalgety runner is Major Rocket who has drawn beautifully at barrier two. She has shown gate speed at the trials so looks the early leader and with Dexter in the bike becomes a first four player. Major Rocket is also by Art Major from a three quarter sister to Christian Cullen so she lacks nothing in the breeding department but only made $18,000 at last years New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale. Cran Dalgety gave both his fillies a pass mark heading into Sunday. " They are both on the same programme and coming along nicely. They qualified last week at Addington and we took them to Rangiora for quiet runs on Wednesday.It is a bit hard to weigh up the form as they are all having their first start. The Mark Purdon pair will be the two to beat but mine will go nice," Cran said. Maczaffair from the Greg Payne barn has been super impressive at the trials to date.  She won by daylight at Ashburton first up in 1:58.3 before franking that trial by beating the All Stars pair of  Spanish Armada and Casino Belle at Rangiora last week in a 2:01.8mr over the 2000 metres The All Star pair are both in the Young Guns heat at Auckland tonight so how they go there that should give us a good guide to her chances on Sunday. She is a daughter of Mach Three and a half sister to the smart State Of Affairs 1:57.4 ($123,990) and cost Greg $11,000 at the 2104 Auckland All Age Sale. Seaswift Joy has had the misfortune to draw barrier eight as her trial form leading into Sunday has been excellent. An easy winner at the Addington trials by over three lengths in a 2:01 mr for the 2000 metres just ten days ago, the daughter of Bettor's Delight has her work cut out from her wide draw but can't be discounted entirely. Selections Renske B from the draw looks very hard to beat here with the main danger being the stablemate Partyon.  On trial form and forgetting the draws for a second, Maczaffair and Seaswift Joy have both looked well above average and appeal to us as major trifecta and first four players. Harnesslink Media

If there is one harness racing three year old in New Zealand that deserves the tag of being consistently unlucky, Shandale would have a big head start over his competition. Right from the start of his racing career at two, the big upstanding son of Art Major has been plagued by shocking draws whenever the big money has been in play. Shandale has proved several times that he is more than competitive at the highest level but he just can't get a decent draw in the big races for love or money. In his first big race at two,Shandale drew barrier three and finished a fine second to Lazarus in the $195,000 PGG Sales Race. From then on the draws just went from bad to worse. * 2 year old Sires Stakes Final - Drew barrier 7 and finished 4th * 2 year old Harness Jewels - Drew barrier 14 and finished 9th * 3 year old Sire Stakes Final  - Drew barrier 15 and finished 11th * 3 year old PGG Sales Race  - Drew barrier 15 and finished  4th In between these races,Shandale drew barrier two in the $45,000 Alabar Classic at Alexandra Park and finished a fine second to Lazarus once again. Trainer driver Maurice McKendry couldn't be happier with his charge as he has prepared him for the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby. " He has come up really well this time in and I couldn't be happier with him at this stage." " He will trial next week and then hopefully race the week after as a lead into the Derby," Maurice told Harnesslink today. Maurice is well aware of the challenge presented by Lazarus and his stablemates. " Lazarus has proven himself repeatedly at this level but my fella has beaten all the others at some stage so we can get amongst it if we could just draw a decent marble for once." " I can't remember having a horse that has drawn so poorly so often in the big races," Maurice said. Shandale is one of those horses that flies under the radar most of the time but he has pocketed $94,051 in stakes to date and has twice run second to Lazarus in stakes races when he has copped a good draw. Shandale is certainly overdue a decent marble in a big race and it would be nice if he could draw well just for once in the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby. Harnesslink Media

With the yearling sales just ten days away now, all the vendors at this years sales have long ago finalized all their advertising and promotion of their stock. The photos and videos are up and all the vendors can hope for is that the prospective buyers are as taken with their yearlings as they are. One way that the odd vendor can get a lift in the last ten days or so before a sale is if close relatives to their offerings make a bit of a splash on the racing scene. Last weekend the very successful broodmare Juverna had stock winning races all over Australasia which can only bode well for the sale prospects of her Majestic Son filly on the first day of this years New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch. Selling as Lot 250, The Best Moment Yet had three siblings salute the judge on both sides of the Tasman in the space of 24 hours. First up was Quite A Moment who was ultra impressive winning a $20,000 trot at Melton where she easily accounted for the very smart Maori Time and One Over Da Moon. The daughter of Quite Easy simply bolted in and it was a run that really impressed driver Ricky May. " She won that so easily the other night I think she would be more than competitive against the best trotters going around and I think Greg is considering that option," Ricky told Harnesslink earlier in the week. It was her 14th career victory and took her earnings over the $258,000 mark. Two hours later at Albion Park, Duke Of The Moment kept the momentum going when he took out the trotters handicap. The son of Monarchy was recording his 18th career victory which took his lifetime earnings to just shy of $158,000. Come Sunday in New Zealand and the icing on the cake for Juverna was the performance of her Love You daughter Moment Of Love, who brained them by eight and a half lengths at the Wairarapa meeting at the Manawatu Raceway. Grant Beckett, the vendor of The Best Moment Yet at this years sales is still shaking his head over the three progeny winning last weekend. " With the sales just around the corner, to have three winners from the mare in just one weekend was a huge thrill. " The best advertising you can ever get is the progeny winning races and to have three do it together is a great achievement." " I already thought that The Best Moment Yet would sell well because I think she is best yearling on type that Juverna has produced so the three winners is really a bonus," Grant told Harnesslink earlier today.  Grant has a second yearling from the family that he is selling on the second day of the New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch as Lot 432 A daughter of Lucky Chucky 1:50.8 ($2,099,973) who sired a Hambletonian Oaks elimination winner from his first crop, the filly is named Luck Of The Moment and is from a Sundon daughter of Juverna. " She has just been a bit behind the other filly all the way through but has closed the gap just lately and has a lot of the family traits of Juverna so I have a bit of time for her," was Grant's opinion of her when talking to us today. Juverna has since produced a colt by Peak but it has already been sold. " Tim Butt was very keen to buy him so he has changed hands already and I put her back in foal to Peak." "Sunny Moment didn't have a foal this year but she is safely in foal to Andover Hall now," Grant said.  Juverna is from as good a trotting family results wise over the last twenty years as there is in the New Zealand stud book. The three winners last weekend is just a timely reminder to yearling buyers of how good this family is. Harnesslink Media

Another week where our tipsters were never far away from the action but didn't really get the rub of the green on a lot of occasions. Eight selected winners over the long weekend but our Auckland selectors couldn't find one between them which dragged the overall numbers down. Tipsters to select winners included Craig Ferguson, Peter Scaife, Kyle Marshall, Brendon McLellan, Jim Curtin, Bob Butt, John Dunn and Brad Williamson and we also collected nine placings which adds up to seventeen selections in the money. This week we have have five meetings, two in the north and three in the south and the Addington meeting has drawn great fields which should result result in very competitive racing. Cambridge - Thursday night Todd MacFarlane - Gives A Chance To Dream from the ace a great each each way chance in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Thinks Warhorse will be too good for them, also in race 1  Kyle Marshall - Very keen on the chances of Overstayer in race 2 Steve Richardson - (TAB) Thought The Scruff over a sprint trip could win race 3 Todd Mitchell - Rates The Tracker a great each way bet at odds in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Peter Scaife - Thought the Perfect Storm could go one better this week and win race 1 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Lemond highly and thinks he will win race 3 Steven Reid - Bullish about the chances of My Kiwi Lady in race 4 Maurice McKendry - Also keen on the chances of My Kiwi Lady in race 4 Scott Phelan - Very bullish about the chances of the The Lone Ranger in race 6 John Curtin - Also very bullish about the chances of On The Town in race 8   Addington - Friday night Ricky May - Very bullish about the chances of Classie Brigade in race 1 Terry Chmiel - Gives Nek Time with Dexter up a big push in race 4 Tim Williams - Thought Omar Sharif was a good each way chance,also in race 4 Bob Butt - Likes Waterloo Sunset to upset them at good odds in race 6 Gavin Smith - Thinks Scarlett Banner can get amongst the money at good odds in race 7   Timaru - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes Boomer Bailey on his home track to win race 4 Gerard OReilly - Thinks Bute Courage is overdue and can win race 5  Mark Jones - Thought Franco Harrington on the dropback would be very hard to beat,also in race 5 Blair Orange - Rates Corroboree a big winning chance in race 6   Invercargill - Sunday afternoon Craig Ferguson - Thinks Courcelles from the Mark Jones barn can win race 2   Clark Barron - Reckons Dancing Dixie can be a player here at good odds in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks Fcee from the draw will be very hard to beat,also in race 4 Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Perfectly Ideal could make it two from two in race 5 Nathan Williamson - Gives Bernie Winkle a good push to win race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Leigh Major even from the draw will be very hard to beat in race 9 Harnesslink Media

A new study has identified 17 discrete expressions in horses (three more than chimpanzees) which may give researchers insight into their emotional states A horse doesn’t have to pull a long face, it has one already. But it can and does look down its nose at you. It can be insistent, if not a nag. Horses are expressive, but those who want to decipher their expressions have a few hurdles yet to jump. But the chase is on. Scientists at the University of Sussex have compiled a directory of facial expression in one of humanity’s oldest four-legged friends. Their Equine Facial Action Coding System (EquiFACS for short) has identified 17 discrete facial movements in horses that may indicate mood or intention or just bafflement. This is at least three more than the facial expressions identified in chimpanzees. Dogs can get a message across with 16 different expressions. And human faces have 27 different ways of speaking silently, with the lips and eyes and the occasional wrinkled nose. “Horses are predominantly visual animals, with eyesight that’s better than domestic cats and dogs, yet their use of facial expression has been largely overlooked. What surprised us was the rich repertoire of complex facial movements in horses, and how many of them are similar to humans,” said Jennifer Watham, a doctoral researcher and one of the lead authors. “Despite the differences in face structure between horses and humans, we were able to identify some similar expressions in relation to movements of lips and eyes. What we’ll now be looking at is how these expressions relate to emotional states.” She and her colleagues report in PLOS One that they dissected a horse’s head (it came from Pennsylvania andthe horse had been put down for clinical reasons) to identify, sketch and photograph all the elements of facial musculature. The researchers then recorded 15 hours of natural behaviour in 86 horses, aged from four weeks to 27 years taking in both male and female and a range of breeds . The search for variety embraced rescued horses, riding schools and farms. And then the team charted all possible twitches of their horse-faced subjects.  Wild horses roamed across Europe, Asia and North America during the Ice Ages, between 2.5 million and 12,000 years ago. They were hunted for food, but then were first domesticated around 5,000 years ago. By the mid-20th century, the species Equus ferus had become extinct in the wild. The horse changed human society – it delivered mounted cavalry, the notion of chivalry, and the original measure of horsepower for economic development. It became a draught animal, a farm worker, a military steed, a sporting hunter and the foundation of one of the world’s oldest and biggest gambling industries. But the research by the Sussex scientists, with collaborators from the University of Portsmouth and Duquesne University in Pennsylvania, turns history on its head. It is the commencement of a long cool look at how humanity might have changed the horse, and how the look in a colt’s eye, or a frisky glance from a filly, or a Clydesdale’s curling lip – could answer complex questions about the social, cognitive and physical characteristics of biology on the hoof. The Sussex study – a catalogue of eye, lip, nostril, chin and other movements - is just a beginning. It could tell the riders a lot more about how their runners view the human race. “Horses and humans can both raise the skin above their eyes, which seems to happen in negative emotional states,” said Watham. “Another example is the retraction of lip corners, which seems to be part of a submissive gesture in horses. Our paper has only identified the movements horses can make – the challenge now is to document what contexts these occur in, and then we will be able to make more informed comparisons.” Horses are social animals: most of their behaviour must have evolved to help keep family groups together during seasonal migration in search of changing food sources, and to warn of possible predator attack. But the range of possible expression remained a surprise. “It was previously thought that, in terms of other species, the further away an animal was from humans, the more rudimentary their use of facial expressions would be,” said Karen McComb, professor of animal behaviour at Sussex, and the other lead author. “Through the development of EquiFACS, however, it’s apparent that horses, with their complex and fluid social systems, also have an extensive range of facial movements and share many of these with humans and other animals. This contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that social factors have had a significant influence on the evolution of facial expression.” Reproduced with the permission of The Guardian  -  Check site here

The hoary old chestnut of why a lot of our top racemares have not gone on to be as dominant in the broodmare barn as they were on the track is a question often raised with us by breeders and it is one in our view that needs to be looked at from an historical prospective to get a better understanding of where we are today with regards to the performance of our top racemares in the broodmare barn. As recently as 25 to 30 years ago, the average yearling sale buyer would cast a weary eye on the progeny of a lot of our top racemares as their record once they became broodmares was less than flattering in the main. The rationale at the time was that the consistent hard racing at distances further than a mile at the top level took its toll on the mares long term health which subsequently affected their breeding output. When you look back at the racing careers of some of our champion mares from the 1980s and 1990s such as Hilarious Guest (73 starts) and Bonnies Chance (75 starts) who have both been poor in the broodmare barn, you would quickly reconize that they raced a lot more often than our top mares do today. The oustanding racemare from the early 2000s in Elect To Live (35 starts) only raced half as many times and has done a fine job in the broodmare barn with Gotta Go Cullect and Gotta Go Harmony both very smart juveniles. Another top racemare from that era was Nearea Franco (35 starts) who has already produced the brilliant three year old filly,Nike Franco 1:52.6 while Chiola's Lass only faced the starter 17 times when winning ten races on the track and has gone on to be a sensation as a broodmare producing standouts such as Allegro Agitato ($529,980) and Skyvalley ($322,676) So todays top racemares would seem on the whole to have a much better record in the broodmare barn than their contempories from the 1980s and 1990s. As a result of researching this article one other very interesting trend soon became apparent. That was the success of racemares who had been better than average on the track but not topliners. Mares in the main who had won anywhere from three to eight races who were well bred were doing an outstanding job in the broodmare barn. Looking at this years catalogues at both sales, their are a multitude of yearlings from such mares who are beautifully bred and were pretty handy on the track as well. A good example is Lot 122 at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd. Named Purest Silk, she is a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover from the very smart racemare Veste 1:57.1 ($106,024) who won three of her eleven lifetime starts including the Caduceus Club Classic at two. Veste is a half sister to both Callenberg and Conversion who have both won their last two starts in the manner of horses going places in a hurry. The second dam Coburg 1:56.8 ($201,312) is a half sister to seven winners including the champion Stunin Cullen 1:54.1 ($1,493,716) while the third dam is the 2010-2011 broodmare of the year in Vicario. A smart race winning mare with a great pedigree,Veste looks typical of the mares that are becoming our top producing mares at the moment. The filly being offered for sale is a lovely strong bodied individual and ticks all the boxes for us. So getting back to the question we asked at the start of this article. In our view our top racemares are doing a far better job in the broodmare barn in 2016 than was the case as little as twenty five years ago and we think one of the main reasons for that change is the reduced amount of races that they now compete in.  Harnesslink Media  

One of the things you notice these days when looking at harness racing in New Zealand is no matter what area of the country you are viewing, you are liable to be watching a Merv and Meg Butterworth owned horse racing at some stage of the day. From Alexandra Park in Auckland all the way down to Ascot Park in Invercargill, the Butterworth empire will have a representative at most meetings these days. Their investment and involvement in the harness racing  industry in New Zealand is huge and shows no signs of slowing down or tapering off. With the Butterworths buying so many high class fillies and mares, I suppose it was only a matter of time before they came full circle and started to offer progeny from some of those quality mares they have raced at the yearling sales. This year at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd, the Butterworths will offer Lot 74 for sale. Named Quick As Fire, he is a colt by the champion sire Bettor's Delight from the very smart Courage Under Fire mare in Queen Of Fire 1:57.1 ($176,809) She won 17 races in Australia and ran second in an Australasian Breeders Crown Final to the champion mare Make Mine Cullen 1:53 ($874,178) and was only beaten half a head in the Australian Oaks so she was a high class racemare. There are plenty of smart $100,000 winners close up in the pedigree but most would be unknown to New Zealand buyers however one horse who wouldn't be is the champion pacer Safari 1:55.7 ($535,446) who has been given a chance as a sire in Australia and is doing a passable job to date. When you look at the photos and the video of Quick As Fire, you can see there is a bit of Courage Under Fire in this colt which is a big plus in our book. The exciting thing down the line for yearling sales buyers is that potentially some of the outstanding racemares and fillies that the Butterworths own will having progeny in the sales in years to come. Golden Goddess cost Merv and Meg $101,000 at the APG yearling sales due to an outstanding pedigree. Now that she has shown she has the ability to go with the breeding, her residual value when she is retired to stud will be huge. If progeny from racemares like Golden Goddess find their way into the New Zealand Yearling Sales in years to come, it will be just another boost that Merv and Meg Butterworth have given the New Zealand harness racing industry. Harnesslink Media  

For decades Auckland’s Alexandra Park has held its ‘Friday Night Trots’ under lights, hosting over 48 race meetings and 480 races a year. Now the Auckland Trotting Club is on a renewed push to get more Aucklanders along to enjoy harness racing in the central suburb of Epsom - a feature since 1890. “Many of our first-time guests are blown away by the total entertainment offering. I think they expect a carton of chips and a can of beer. However we take them to the likes of our ‘Top of the Park’ function room, glassed in looking right down on our beautifully lit track and they absolutely love it,” says Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding. “Anyone can get really close to the action and another important thing to us is we cater for everyone. Whether you’re wanting a lovely buffet meal upstairs or just a more causal racing experience down on the rail outside, it all makes for a really unique experience.” Ms Dowding says the trots have been a Friday night institution in Auckland since the 1950s, with the club well aware the heyday has been, but is equally determined to ensure future generations can also enjoy them. Key to the continuation of harness racing in central Auckland is the Auckland Trotting Club’s long-term business plan which is all about getting a greater financial return off its valuable land holdings on the corner of Green Lane West and Manukau Road. Two examples include a whole new mixed-use residential urban village being built in part of the club’s former carpark and the just constructed training base for The Blues Super 15 rugby team at Alexandra Park.  “Our strategy is all about building a sustainable business model. That is the only way we can grow harness racing for our industry and our members. As well as preserving Alexandra Park, we’re actually leading the rebuild of the sport in the northern region by trying to reduce the costs and attract young breeders, trainers and drivers.” In 2014 Alexandra Park merged with the Franklin Trotting Club which has led to a rapid increase in the number of horses now using the Pukekohe training facilities. Last month the club employed a new Sales & Marketing Manager, Joel Reichardt, who was previously a senior brand manager at Frucor Beverages. Ms Dowding says part of his brief is to work on lifting harness racing’s image which she describes as not overly glamorous, attract new commercial partners, and remind potential sponsors of the huge racing television audience the sport attracts. She says another challenge is to get more corporates to attend on Friday nights by promoting horse syndication, where shares can be taken in a horse. Offices could then effectively race each other all in the name of team building.  “We remain completely realistic about our ability to attract a whole new audience, and at the same time we’re acutely aware not to alienate our existing attendees who remain our bread and butter. We need to keep changing but in a membership-based organisation we also need to take everyone with us.” Annual membership of Auckland Trotting Club can start from just $124 and offers members considerable benefits.  “We appreciate all the entertainment choices out there these days, but I suppose we’re really wanting people to once again consider the Friday Night Trots as an option like their parents or grandparents may have.” “Going out can cost families or couples so much but we try to make Friday nights as accessible as possible with free parking, a free race book on arrival and free entertainment. What we do know is when new people come, they return. Experiencing the thrill of racing at an intimate venue like Alexandra Park is a really fun night out,” says Ms Dowding. Forty races alone will be run in February over four race meetings – one every Friday night. Then next month The Winger Group presents an exciting Oaks & Derby Festival from 4 – 11 March showcasing fashion, a calendar of events, premier racing, with an array of hospitality packages available. For further information visit: www.alexandrapark.co.nz  

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Once in a generation a harness racing racehorse comes along that redefines the breed with displays of power and speed that lifts the overall standard to the next level. Last night at Tabcorp Park Menangle, Have Faith In Me gave a performance for the ages with a stunning win in the $200,000 Chariots Of Fire and in doing so the lightly raced four year old lay down the gauntlet to the established grand circuit stars ahead of the $750,000 Miracle Mile on February 28th. Plenty of the form analysts questioned weather Have Faith In Me from the outside gate of 10 could give all his rivals a start and beat them last night in Australia's premier four year old race. The former New Zealand mare Arms Of An Angel was the main pick of those analysts to puncture the Have Faith In Me bubble. Before the race had barely started, the whole complexion of the race had changed. Arms Of An Angel had blown the score up and was eight to ten lengths behind the bunch early in the race. Meanwhile Natalie Rasmussen had sent Have Faith In Me forward on a mission as the soon as the gate hit the starting point and was three wide with cover handy to the pace after the first 400 metres was cut out in a quick 26.6. Following Cruz Bromac around, Have Faith In Me found the death seat outside him at the 800 metres in 55.1 after a 28.5 second quarter. Natalie applied more pressure down the back straight and the third quarter whizzed by in 27 seconds and it was apparent at that point that Have Faith In Me had his rivals in serious trouble. When Natalie gave him a little bit of rein at the top of the straight, Have Faith In Me absolutely bolted away and went down to the line under double wraps for a victory that will live in the memory for a long time. Cutting the last 400 metres out in a slick 26.9, Have Faith In Me stopped the timer in a brilliant 1:48.8, the first four year old to break 1:50 in Australasia. Lord Zin Zan after trailing most of the way ran into second 10 metres away while the early breaker Arms Of An Angel made ground late from last to run third, another four metres behind Lord Zin Zan. Co -trainer Mark Purdon is never one to hype up one of his many stars to the media but his praise for the son of Bettor's Delight was  instant and left nobody in any doubt of how the champion trainer sees his latest star when he stated that Have Faith In Me was as good a horse as he has ever handled. Speaking to Sky commentator Adam Hamilton post race, Mark Purdon said the scary thing was that Natalie reckoned Have Faith In Me had a few gears left yet at the finish. The only disappointing aspect to the ground breaking win by the New Zealand trained and owned champion was the response of the local media. They became fixated on the performance of Arms Of An Angel to run third and the following line was repeated again and again over the next 60 minutes. " While not wanting to take anything away from the performance of Have Faith In Me, the run of Arms Of An Angel was unbelievable." So while stating they didn't want to take anything away from the brilliant performance of Have Faith In Me, they then proceeded to do exactly that again and again and again. The performance of Have Faith In Me in absolutely destroying a quality Chariots Of Fire field in 1:48.8 should have seen all the kudos and spotlight focussed on him post race. The fact Have Faith In Me had to fight for the spotlight with a mare who ran third was disappointing to say the least. Harnesslink Media
One thing that you will find in a lot in some of the older New Zealand maternal families is a crossover between pacing and trotting stallions in some generations. Quite a lot of the successful stallions were just as liable to leave a trotter as a pacer if the maternal pedigree had left either in the past. It was seen as a positive by breeders and gave you a second bite at the cherry if the planned  pacing career didn't work out. The second dam of the champion Christian Cullen in Pleasant Evening is a great example as she is a half sister to one of the all time great Australian trotters in True Roman ($532,732) Several stallions that were imported in the 1970s and 1980s into New Zealand  were dual gaited. One of those was Crockett, a son of Diller Hanover who left 86 winners in New Zealand, sixty two of them trotters and twenty four of them pacers. The best of the trotters was the champion racemare in Thriller Dee (24 wins) while the best of the pacers was Bronze Trail (18 wins)  Today you will still find Crockett turning up in a lot of maternal pedigrees in New Zealand and probably the one that is most well known is that of Eagles Three. Eagles Three won five races and left four winners at stud but it is one of her lightly raced daughters in Skyhigh Eagle that really lifted the family. Skyhigh Eagle left seven winners including Eagles Together 1:52 ($375,900), Regal Eagle 1:54.4 ($129,378), Galactic Eagle 1:54.6 ($127,815) and the smart In The Pocket mare Sky Beauty 1:58.4 ($58,666) who has produced the three time Harness Jewels winner in Sky Major 1:51.5 ($772,844). The family is represented in this years Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka on February 22nd by Lot 21, Guilty Of The Crime. She is a daughter of Art Major from a three win full sister to Sky Beauty in Eagles In My Pocket which makes Guilty Of The Crime a full sister in blood to Sky Major. As the photos and video shows, she is  typical of the progeny of Art Major and with so many classy relatives up close, Guilty Of The Crime is sure to attract plenty of attention on sale day. The value of having dual gaited stallions appear in maternal pedigrees at yearling sales has been debated since their introduction but the results would suggest that they have greatly enhanced pedigrees overall. Harnesslink Media  
North Canterbury harness racing trainer Robbie Holmes went into last nights Summer Cup for trotters at Addington Raceway with Aile Rouge with one aim and that was to get a line on where he fitted in amongst the best trotters in Canterbury at the moment. Robbie thought if he could finish in the first five with Aile Rouge in such a strong field at just his second start back from a spell he would be a happy man. Two minutes and twenty four seconds later he was saluting the judge as he came back to the winners circle and still getting over the shock of winning the $27,000 race. Away well from barrier two, Robbie quickly settled Aile Rouge into the trail behind Sunny Ruby and then he was posted three back on the inner when Monty Python went to the front at the 1400 metres mark. Bottled up three back on the inner as they turned for home, Aile Rouge got a lovely gap on the outside of Sunny Ruby and flew the last bit to win by half a length going away. Aile Rouge trotted the 1950 metres in a smart 2:24.3, a mile rate of 1:59 with closing sectionals of 58 and 29.1 Robbie was thrilled with the performance. " We only started Aile Rouge in this race and not in race 3 to let Clean Break who was on the ballot in race 3 get into the other Alabar Final for trotters as we thought he was a real chance in that race." "The aim with Aile Rouge in the Summer Cup was just to get a line on where he stood in the pecking order amongst the good trotters and we were hoping for a first five result at best. " He has really sprinted when the gap opened up and was going away at the finish," Robbie said. The son of Love You had been a star during winter racing at Addington but this was a big step up in class to what he had been racing. Robbie thought a couple of things were in his favour tonight. " He is really quick off the mobile and the distance was right up his alley." " The 2600 metres is a bit far for him most of the time but he loves those 1950 races and his record shows that. " I am thrilled for Jenny (owner) as she has had horses with me since I started training and she deserves a good horse," Robbie said. Aile Rouge Harnesslink Media  
Twelve months ago leading harness racing trainer/driver Gavin Smith was seriously thinking about giving the training side of the industry away. His team was constantly having problems and not performing on raceday and Gavin was at his wits end trying to get on top of the issues. Fast forward twelve months and Gavin's team is flying and he is on track to have his best season in the bike since he started as a junior driver. " The move to Ohoka has been great and from day one there the team has been on the improve." " I have plenty of young ones coming through as well so things are looking really good for the future," Gavin told Harnesslink last night. In the course of that conversation, the chances of Gavin's trainee Tangos Delight in the $40,000 Premier Mares Championship at Addington Raceway came up and Gavin was surprisingly bullish about her chances. " There is no The Orange Agent or Fight For Glory involved and I think with the right run she can get a bit of it," was Gavin's view pre race. Away well from barrier four, Gavin quickly slotted Tangos Delight into the trail behind Lightning Mach and Dexter Dunn and put the mare to sleep. Mid race attacks by Democrat Party and Rocker Band split the field up from the 800 metres and passing the 500 metres mark Gavin was able to move off the inner and onto the back of Democrat Party. Democrat Party mastered Rocker Band 150 metres out but at that point Gavin angled Tangos Delight into the clear and she quickly swooped on by for a decisive win. It was an inch perfect drive by Gavin which got the reward it deserved. The daughter of Bettor's Delight paced the 1950 metres in a very quick 2:20, a mile rate of 1:55.5 with closing sectionals of 56.3 and 28.9 and last nights win took her lifetime earnings over the $73,000 mark. " Since Cup day this mare has been going super every start." " In her last five starts she should have won a couple of them but she has had no luck at all and the driver stuffed it up a couple of times as well." " She can follow speed all day and she is lethal with one run at them like that," Gavin said. Gavin is just thankful that he still has the mare in his barn. " The plan with Ronnie (owner) earlier in the season was to try to win a race with her before having her served but she has been racing that well we had a change of plans." " The way she is going I don't think she is finished yet," That was the biggest stakes race ($40,000) that I have trained the winner of so that was a big thrill as well," Gavin said. The Gavin Smith barn has been firing on all cylinders all season as the UDR of 3237 shows and it there are no signs of it slowing down at this stage. Harnesslink Media    
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