Day At The Track
A Gs Whitesocks,Harness racing

Not be that simple, says May

The man with the perfect draws to dominate the two glamour races at Alexandra Park tonight says it may not be that simple. Because Ricky May says while he can win both the Taylor Mile and Anzac Cup, it may not be a comfortable watch for punters. May has barrier one with A G's White Socks in the Taylor Mile and as the winner of the Easter Cup two starts ago he looks good enough to be master of his own destiny, which is exactly what he didn't do at Addington last start. "I stuffed up the drive last start, I gave Mark [Purdon, driving More The Better] the lead too easy and we had no chance after that," admits May. "So we have the ace this time and I think I have to be aggressive from the inside but the question is how aggressive because there is plenty of speed next to us. "I can see them going really hard and some of us are going to have to make decisions around the first bend." Translated into non-racing speak that means: we want to lead or trail the right horse but we don't want to go crazy trying to do so. That pretty much sums up the likes of key rivals Star Galleria, Let It Ride and Raukapuka Ruler, the drivers of all will want to get to the markers but not spend too much energy doing so because that could set the race up for More The Better. As good as his group one winning rivals are, Star Galleria has been brilliant this season and has the raw speed to give driver Tony Herlihy options so he deserves favouritism and if he can run to the front it will take a special performance to get past him. Let It Ride has had the right preparation of speed racing and was good enough at the workouts last Saturday to win while More The Better could be sitting just off the speed after a sizzling open sectional and swoop in what shapes as a great race. Enghien showed with his luckless last-start second at Addington he is now strong enough to beat the older trotters but if you are expecting a lead-and-win performance from barrier two you might be disappointed. For all his stamina he is still a quirky trotter who doesn't like being bustled and May suggests he will have to be patient early before making his move later. "He is at his best right-handed and I am sure he can win but he has been funny this season so I don't see us racing to the lead or anything like that." Enghien can undoubtedly win but with the possibility Lemond, Bordeaux and even Temporale could surge forward to get in front of him punters might be understandably reluctant to take his $2.50 opening price. Lemond appeals as the value in the race as he bounced right back to his best over 1700m last week and showed good gate speed. A repeat of that could see him press forward and even lead tonight from where he would take enormous running down. Earlier in the night the scratching of Luby Lou after she got tangled in a fence has opened up the Sires' Stakes Trot, with Renezmae and Winterfell the greatest beneficiaries while it is hard to make a case to bet on, or against, Princess Tiffany at $1.30 in the Caduceus Club Classic for the juvenile pacing fillies. Michael Guerin

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Bets of the week ringaround April 19th 2018

Quite a busy weekend of harness racing coming up with the highlight being the Group racing at Alexandra Park on Friday night. There are five meetings this week starting with Forbury Park racing tonight. Addington and Auckland race on Friday night and the weekend harness racing heads to Invercargill on Saturday and Rangiora on Sunday.  Last week the biggest winning dividend in the ringaround selections went to Jay Abernethy when his best chance for the week Four Starzzz Legend won at Manawatu on Thursday night and paid $3.60 and $1.80 on the tote.  Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often.   Forbury on Thursday night Brad Williamson - Brad says his best chance this week would be Abbey May at Forbury in Race 1 Stephen Richardson (Odds Analyst) - Stephen thinks the Chmiel trained Laytons Lass can win Race 6 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is going for Changesaw as his best drive this week in Race 7   Auckland on Friday night Tony Herlihy - Tony is opting for Gold Orchid as his best chance this week at Alexandra Park in Race 2 John Curtin - John thinks Let It Ride can win his first start back in NZ this week in Race 7   Addington on Friday night Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks his best drive could be Dizzy Miss Lizzy at Addington in Race 5 John Morrison - John is going for Light Year Franco as his best drive this week in Race 8 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks Machs Gain should go close to winning at Addington in Race 9   Invercargill on Saturday Shane Walkinshaw - Shane is going for Somethings Burning as his best drive this week in Race 1 Geoff Knight - Geoff says that Jacks N Jazz would be his best chance at Ascot Park in Race 2 Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week is Feel The Money at Ascot Park in Race 7 Brent Barclay - Brent thinks his best drive is Rockaball on Saturday at Invercargill in Race 10   Rangiora on Sunday Gavin Smith - Gavin says On The Mantlepiece would be his best chance this week in Race 1 Racechat - Lance thinks that koromiko Eyre is a good chance of winning at Rangiora in Race 2 Blair Orange - Blair thinks his best drive this week would be Arnold at Rangiora in Race 8     Harnesslink Media  

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Australasia's best compete Friday

This Friday evening will see the 2018 edition of the Lizzie of Rosslands Kidz Kartz Rising Stars Drivers Series wrap up at Alexandra Park. Fittingly held alongside the triple header Group One meeting at Alexandra Park, the Lizzie of Rosslands challenge will find the winner of the 2018 Kidz Kartz Driver of the Year, showcasing the tremendous growth and contribution Kidz Kartz is making to harness racing nationwide. The annual series sees 12 drivers from New Zealand and Australia compete over six races at Cambridge and Alexandra Park. The competitors and their clubs are: Isabella Cassar age 15 (Newcastle Maitland, Australia), Jake Bigeni age 14 (Penrith Nepean, Australia), Zev Meredith age 15 (Franklin), Lillian Bouzaid age 17 (Taranaki), Kendra Rogers age 12 (Waikato), Sophie Woodhouse age 15 (Otago), Natasha Kyle age 16 (Southland), Sam Thornley age 16 (Canterbury), Navana McLachlan age 14 (Kumeu), Nathan Darby age 14 (Franklin), Katelyn Veacock age 13 (Kumeu) and Jordyn Bublitz age 14 (Waikato). The first round of heats were held at Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday night, with ponies provided of similar abilities from the Northern Kidz Kartz clubs. The results of the first heats were: Race 1 – 1st Zev Meredith; 2nd Nathan Darby; 3rd Sam Thornley Race 2 – 1st Sam Thornley; 2nd Jake Bigeni; 3rd Jordyn Bublitz Three further heats will be held at Alexandra Park, and presentations to the winner will be made afterwards. This year will be the final time the series will be known as the “Lizzie Of Rosslands Series” with the new name next year to be the “Kerry and Helen Hoggard Memorial Rising Stars Drivers Series”. The Hoggard family have been supporters of the series and Kidz Kartz from the very start and Marilyn Hoggard feels now would be a good time to change the series name to remember the contribution that her late husband Kerry and daughter Helen made. Kerry was one of the most widely respected and enthusiastic supporters of harness racing in New Zealand and raced stock under the Rosslands Stud banner with Marilyn and Helen. He was also heavily involved with HRNZ Board. Helen loved harness racing and was a keen student of the stud book. She was very involved in the selection of yearlings which included former Jewels winner, Lizzie Maguire. Helen was a big supporter of Kidz Kartz and generously purchased a pony for Franklin Kidz Kartz in Cossack, who is still racing today with the club. Kidz Kartz would also like to thank their other generous sponsors during the series: Dunstan Feeds, Breckon Farms, Kendayla Park, Chaff Chaps, Woodlands Stud, Taranaki Kidz Kartz, Tui Ribbons, PhotoForce Photography – with further thanks to Alexandra Park and the Alexandra Park starting crew, Cambridge Raceway and their starting crew, Aaron White and Magness Video ltd. Good luck to all competitors, and well done to our Kidz Kartz clubs nationwide for the hard work and dedication given to supporting our next generation of industry participants. For more information please visit the Lizzie Of Rosslands Kidz Kartz Rising Stars 2018 page on Facebook.   HRNZ Marketing  

Gordon Banks at last year's Lexington Sale

Harness Racing; Daunting challenge!

In flight now back to the States, I have the opportunity to share additional observations and thoughts about the Down Under racing scene stemming from my month long Harness Racing related travels throughout New Zealand and Australia. While this has probably been about my fifteenth Down Under trip in the last eighteen years, the pace of Industry change is staggering and the challenges confronting the Down Under racing scene daunting. Both the general malaise felt by most North American industry participants, and the general negativity of crucial North American Industry trends, are evident Down Under. While the symptoms may differ, the underlying problem of relevancy in a new competitive environment seems to be afflicting the Industry worldwide. Lack of parimutuel handle, long a North American Harness Racing problem outside of the Meadowlands and Woodbine/Mohawk, is increasingly a problem. Down Under Corporate bookmaking companies like Betfair have taken huge amounts out of parimutuel pools, and fixed odds betting is now the pre-eminent vehicle for most significant wagers. This impacts both the Industry's bottom line and the ability of tracks to offer viable on site wagering. The Down Under structure of racing is totally different from ours, with Governmental, regulatory, and track management following a completely different model, but the siphoning off of betting dollars to these Corporates is threatening Down Under racing as off shore and on line betting is diverting North American wagering dollars from Industry and Governmental coffers. In this regard, New Zealand's new Minister in charge of racing has recently announced the hiring of a prominent Aussie Thoroughbred breeder and administrator to assess New Zealand's business model with an eye toward aligning all functional aspects to better regulate, coordinate, and optimize New Zealand's three breed racing industry. This is a much needed outreach, and all reports indicate that the individual chosen has a proven track record on point, but I think that an opportunity to really reassess NZ's industry structure looking at all global alternatives is being missed. The Aussie structure is very similar to that of NZ, and optimization might well require a fresh look at all alternatives. I am also concerned by the lack of a Harness Racing advocate in the mix, as Thoroughbred interests have a long history of structuring everything to suit their interests, often to the detriment of Harness Racing  interests. Just look at the fact that SKY/TAB still block international simulcasting of Down Under Harness Racing into the North American market while blithely saturating North America with Thoroughbred product! Hopefully, the speed with which one person can propose necessary changes will outweigh the dangers of Thoroughbred parochialism and lack of a comprehensive, globally focused analysis. Both in Australia and New Zealand, the Harness Racing industry is suffering from the effects caused by their lack of control of their own product. That is potentially a fatal flaw that, thankfully, we have not yet let happen in North America! The tracks have had all their simulcast/streaming rights assigned by contract to Sky/Tab. To be fair, the complicated Down Under racing income model has some compensating pluses - such as participation in income streams generated by other breeds and from sports betting - but they have become a supplier of racing product to a behometh that values only quantity of product supplied for wagering. As a result, race quality, programming quality, and international marketing opportunities suffer significantly. I spent a few evenings watching races on SKY and I could not believe how boring, annoying, and frightening the experience was! There was basically no race commentary, no interesting interviews or discussions, no soul at all..just wall to wall racing with dog, harness, and thoroughbred races immediately back to back. There is no concern to promoting racing, only to creating gambling addicts, which should be alarming to all! In the old days, many of the Down Under tracks, like many of ours' in North America still do, had really interesting programming of their races. That is totally gone now! A very interesting development is in play in NZ, where it appears the sale of PGG auction operations to NZ Bloodstock is in the works. There is a perceptive article on this subject on Harnesslink, suggesting that the harness industry, itself, should take over direct ownership and control of industry auctions as a means of keeping within the industry the approximately NZ$800,000 to a million dollars of net profit that these sales would generate to a lean, well run operator. The article suggests, and I agree, that these monies could provide a significant cash infusion to an industry in dire need of just that. In the short term, with good management and creativity, there is no reason that Alexandra Park and Addington could not take over operation of these sales to be held on site at their tracks. In North America, Hanover shoe farm's' brilliant strategic move in running the world famous Harrisburg yearling sale has been a major economic boon accelerating their ability for growth and investment. Both in Australia and New Zealand the industry would probably be wise to go in house with auctions! A few thoughts on various points....the best Down Under horses are now AT LEAST as good as North America's best! Absolutely no question about that! And they achieve this without the kind of veterinary support that we have....creating a truly international pacing championship race would make real sense now! It would need a huge purse ($)1 million, travel and quarantine solutions, big publicity, and be at the right time of the year (probably October/November). And it would probably be best raced every two years, alternating between hemispheres. Not easy, but this is the type of event that could be thoroughbred-like in its' popularity and global marketability. North American tracks should take a page from their Down Under cousins by having a special "birdcage" or room, where the track hosts (and toasts) winning owners after each race. They also supply a flash drive of the race, champagne, great conversation, and small, but nice, gifts! A gesture to owners worth it's weight in gold! Victorian racing is hamstrung by its' economic pressures resulting from years of poor management. They carry $28 million in debt and lost about $1.5 million last year. As a result, they hired a turn around specialist from outside the industry, and David Martin is delivering! Racing Victoria is slightly profitable this year. Amazing, as without corrective action, losses this year would've been in excess of $3 million! Sadly, because of racing's strange business model in Australia, this turn around was accomplished thru creation of more races at the expense of smaller fields and less interesting racing. Good for the short term bottom line, bad for racing long term, a fact realized by Mr. Martin. But to get to tomorrow, today has to be survived, and Mr. Martin has travelled throughout Victoria trying to explain the current state of affairs and the reasons behind Victorian racing strategy. This effort is admirable, and I sense that he is building a lot of good will even from those who don't like the remedy he is pushing. We need far more of our Industry leaders Down Under and in North America to follow suit. Racetrack owners and top management need to get out of the Board Room and communicate/interact with all elements of the Industry. There is no other way for our industry's administrators to understand the emotions and problems at play, and to hear the breadth of opinions they need to encounter to chart the right course. Too many of our leaders hide in ivory towers, oblivious to the thoughts, perceptions, and concerns - as well as opportunities - that are apparent to just about everyone else in the industry! What our industry needs everywhere is PASSION! It transforms, it motivates, and it is contagious! And racing's doldrums have eviscerated passion. Our leaders would sometimes be better served to make passionate mistakes than impassionate, reasoned decisions. Ours' must be an industry of passion, it is the only model enabling survival! On this front, I was extremely impressed with the Directors of Alexandra Park, Menangle, and Penrith. They are present most, if not all, nights when the tracks race. They are well dressed, pay attention to detail, are welcoming and observant. They are lifetime lovers of the game and they care! It was their real passion for the sport and their job that impressed me, their hospitality was a mere by product of that. Throughout this trip I met an incredible array of trainers, owners, drivers, grooms, agents, administrators,and racing officials....it was one of my most pleasant and enlightening trips! I could continue with quite a few additional observations, but perhaps on reflection I will at a later date. And, oh yes, I spent a lot of time with the almost twenty pacers and trotters that I have Down Under (with my cousin, Marc), and with our three trainers Down Under...and loved (almost) every minute of it! Gordon Banks

The words of a champion horseman are one of the few ghosts haunting trainer Steven Reid as he prepares Star Galleria for tomorrow night's $100,000 Taylor Mile. The speed freak pacer is the $2.60 opening favourite for the group one sprint, one of four group races as Alexandra Park kicks off its last major carnival of the season tomorrow night. Star Galleria has developed from a speedster lacking strength last season into one of the best pacers in the country behind Lazarus with a series of high-class victories over the summer, downing the likes of Heaven Rocks and Jack's Legend with ease. While he hasn't raced since his effortless win in the City of Auckland Free-For-All a month ago, the four-year-old thrilled Reid winning his Pukekohe workout last Saturday in a fast time on a soaked track. "He felt great and I have no doubt he is better than he was a month or two ago," says Reid. "He has got stronger again and I couldn't be happier with him. "The Puke track is fast at the moment but he still paced 3:2 for his 2400m on a wet track, his last 800m in 55 seconds so he is ready." The only concern Reid had after last Saturday's spectacular workout win was the words of champion driver Maurice McKendry, who drove runner-up Let It Ride. "Maurice sat on our back and never pulled out and after the workout he told me his horse was jogging," says Reid. "So maybe he has come over here in really good form, I suppose we will find out on Friday." Let It Ride is a member of Tim Butt's Menangle stable and was a close second to eventual Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu in the Chariots of Fire in February. He looked very impressive during last Saturday's workout and his gate speed and sprint prowess are honed by his Sydney racing diet so with barrier two he has emerged as a real danger in the race. A G's White Socks has the ace draw and More The Better is drawn on Let It Ride's back, suggesting all four favourites should be handy, almost always the key to Taylor Mile success. Trotting young gun Enghien has opened favourite against the older horses in the $100,000 Anzac Cup, with the aid of barrier two and the fact his connections believe he is more comfortable around Alexandra Park. But the favourite for one of tomorrow night's other group races Luby Lou goes into the $60,000 Sires' Stakes Trotters Champs with no experience right-handed, which may be why bookies are giving an appealing $2 for the superstar filly, keeping Renezmae safe at $5.80 after her impressive northern debut last Friday. The race looks one of the deeper three-year-old trot features at Alexandra Park in recent years as the breed continues to develop at the two and three-year-old levels through better breeding and more racing opportunities. That is also being reflected in the high number of two-year-old trotters racing this season compared with five years ago, the resurgence suggesting HRNZ's recent boosts of stakes for the three trotting races at the Jewels to $125,000 was the right decision. Michael Guerin

The field is entering the home stretch. And it’s still hard to pinpoint the winner. The race to be crowned 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Master is anyone’s guess with just two legs remaining. The focus swings to Alexandra Park, Auckland with the running of this week’s $100,000 H R Fisken & Sons Anzac Cup followed by the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup next week. Both events carry Gr.1 status Winners of Trotting Masters features thus far this season include Amaretto Sun (Dominion), Sparkling Success (Great Southern Star) and Tornado Valley (Grand Prix). None of the above mentioned will contest the Auckland classics which leaves the door slightly ajar for a late dive-bombing closer to claim the title. A scenario that unfolded last season with Habibti Ivy snatching the crown following the Auckland features. As it stands, Sparkling Success leads the race with 160 points but is that enough to secure the title? Can local star Temporale (currently with 60 points) produce the goods over the next week to claim a dramatic victory? The dual Gr.1 winner boasts an excellent record at the track with 8 wins and 7 minor placings from 17 starts. Suddenly, Temporale is thrust into the limelight in more ways than one. The Anzac Cup was introduced to the Grand Circuit calendar back in 2012 when champion performer I Can Doosit prevailed for trainer/driver Mark Purdon. Winners since include Stent, Superbowlcheerleader, Sheemon, Monbet and Habibti Ivy. There is a common thread that links the six previous winners; they were all prepared in the South Island. Can Temporale become the first North Island trained winner of the Anzac Cup? Will master horseman Tony Herlihy weave some magic in front of his local fans? Also representing the north are quality performers Speeding Spur (gate 13), Lemond (gate 4), Yagunnakissmeornot (gate 11), Realmein (gate 10) and Charlemagne (gate 6). Speeding Spur, prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, is a six times Gr.1 winner including his latest effort at Addington in the Fred Shaw Memorial New Zealand Trotting Championship on April 6. His record at his home track is exemplary with 8 wins and 8 minor placings from 16 starts. Again, the south is well represented with boom four-year-old Enghien (gate 2) looking to maintain his unbeaten record at the clockwise track. Prepared by Greg and Nina Hope, the Woodend Beach couple is chasing their second triumph after scoring with Monbet two years ago. The dual Gr.1 winner will again be handled by Ricky May. Quality performers Bordeaux (gate 7) and Harriet Of Mot (gate 12) will gain strong support while Destiny Jones (gate 9) is looking for some luck from its tricky draw. Phil Williamson and Paul Nairn, both highly skilled horsemen, are represented by Monty Python (gate 1) and Alderbeck (gate 3) while One Over Da Moon (gate 5) must be respected. The first three placed runners are guaranteed a start in the 2018 Rowe Cup next week. The Anzac Cup is a 2200m mobile start event while the Rowe Cup will be staged under standing start conditions and run over 3200m. Chris Barsby

Prompted by recent rumors concerning NZ Bloodstock's likely purchase of PGG Wrightson's harness racing auction business, and in light of our diminishing equine population (breeding down another 250 mares this year, rapidly approaching only 2,000 mares bred annually) and general lack of enticing prize money at offer, it is time for our Industry to take over ownership of its yearling and related auctions! Even in this depressed environment, yearling/weanling/broodmare Auction Sales exceed $11 million dollars annually, generating in excess of $1.1 million of gross income to PGG Wrightson. Think of how wonderful it would be if that money were made available to lift both overnight and stake purses! Why utilize an outside Auction house to do - and make money from - what we can do just as well ourselves? With a little creative use of existing facilities both Alexandra Park and Addington could hold the sales at their racetracks! Obviously, temporary stalls would need to be rented, some overheads incurred, vendor payouts and cataloging to be managed, and auctioneers to be rented for the sales - but it is hard to imagine that the financial windfall to harness racing would be far from $1 million annually! Additionally, if the sales were well handled, food and drink income for the sales days would be substantial! It would also tie in well with special race nights created to take advantage of the crowds that would already be on track for the sales! While PGG and NZ Bloodstock would have us believe that their expertise is vital, there is really very little to that bravado! The sales are self drawing, our industry can handle the operation, personnel overheads need not be high (there is certainly no need to inspect yearlings as foal numbers no longer require culling for the sales), and - while Karaka is a lovely venue - it is an unnecessary extravagance considering how nicely the $1million dollars at hand would benefit our racing product! Given Alexandra Park's bright economic future, they, alone, if necessary, could put on these sales. And combined with support from major Breeders/stud farms/consigned like Woodlands, Breckon, and Alabar, they could create an innovative new series and stakes benefiting 2 and 3 year olds! In this time of general doom and gloom in harness racing, this proactive approach would provide a breath of fresh air, utilize common sense, and give the Industry we love some forward momentum!!! Come on Alexandra Park and Addington, come on NZ Breeders, and let's MAKE this happen. Let's take our own horse by the reins! Harnesslink Media

Finally the Harness Jewels may be set for some serious Australian interest. Former Kiwi trotter Custodian, now trained in Victoria, has been issued the first Australian invite to the $1,275,000 mega meeting at Cambridge on June 2, which means he will return to the venue where he won the two-year-old division two years ago. Custodian, who stayed in Australia after winning the Breeders Crown that season, missed the back end of last season when his connections were keen to defend their title. But they have jumped at the opportunity to come back for the four-year-old trot division and take on hot favourite Enghien. And it looks likely they could have some company, with at least five high-profile Australian-trained horses in the running for invites. Since Harness Racing New Zealand started inviting one Australian runner for each division a few years ago they have had plenty of disappointments, with withdrawals for a variety of reasons seeing most Jewels meetings run with only one or two Australians and some with none. Getting Australian horses to the series is seen as pivotal in increasing awareness and popularity in Australia, leading to increased turnover. Last season two Aussies made it to Ashburton and both ran second so no visitor has won a Jewels race yet. Custodian will need to be good to change that if Enghien turns up in his best form. But HRNZ are confident they have and will continue to secure some other big names. "We have had a lot of interest, more than any other year," says HRNZ's Darrin Williams. "The Custodian team are thrilled to be coming back because Nathan Jack [trainer] loved it last time he brought a horse. "And I think having it at Cambridge helps this year as it is easier to fly in to Auckland, stay a few days and fly out again. "But we have some really high profile horses we are speaking to the connections of." The biggest of those is Miracle Mile runner-up Jilliby Kung Fu, who is a real chance to take on Star Galleria in the four-year-old Emerald. Last season's champion Australian two-year-old trotter Wobelee is also rated a serious hope as is Ladyship Mile winner Carla's Pixel. And two of Australia's best three-year-old pacing fillies Shez All Rock and Soho Burning Love are believed to be competing for that invite, with the New Zealand Oaks next month possibly the deciding race. The New Zealand TAB has yet to open markets on the Jewels even though the main Australian TAB has had them open for the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Cambridge race on their newly resurfaced track tonight just a week after 320 tonnes of new surface was put on it in preparation for the Jewels. They host a rare Wednesday meeting the next two weeks with tonight's feature actually being a non-tote, with some of the north's best juvenile pacers in a five-horse Sires' Stakes heat. By: Michael Guerin Courtesy of The New Zealand Herald

Harness Racing New Zealand and Cambridge Raceway are thrilled to announce that Nathan Jack’s Custodian has been officially invited to represent Australia in the Harness Jewels. A former Harness Jewels winner, Custodian has been the recipient of the very first Australian invite for the 2018 Harness Jewels which will be held at Cambridge Raceway on Saturday 2 June. As a two-year-old Custodian was successful in 2016 for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, with Mark Purdon in the sulky for then owners Stuart Valentine and Roddy Butt (who was the initial trainer of the horse). Custodian then went on to win the 2YO Breeders Crown Final at Melton in August of 2016 for Purdon. Since then the son of Muscle Mass has joined Nathan Jack’s team and was successful for him as a threeyear-old in the New South Wales Trotters Derby. Nathan Jack spoke to Harness Racing New Zealand following the invitation was issued and was thrilled with the news. “His manners have progressed a lot better and he has matured a lot and he’s grown into a big strong individual. I think he has taken the next step,” said Jack. “It has been the main aim all the way through (to get the Jewels) and all going well we’ll be there and give it our best shot.” Jack has been at the Jewels before with Just Cala and Glenferrie Bronte at Ashburton in 2015 and despite not being successful on that occasion, the trip did have its benefits. “We had a ball there and we learned a lot about what sort of horse we need. We were really well looked after and treated like royalty and that’s half the reason we are so keen to come back again.” To hear the full interview with Nathan Jack please visit www.hrnz.co.nz   

Harness racing trainer Gareth Dixon has been fined $6500 for producing a horse to race when not free of a prohibited substance. The horse in question was Gimmegold who won a race at Alexandra Park on the 16th December 2017. During the night he won, Gimmegold underwent a random Post Race urine swab and on the 9th January 2018 the Official Racing Analyst reported in writing that the samples from “Gimmegold” had tested positive to Cobalt. The horse returned a Cobalt level of 293 ug/L (micrograms per litre). Cobalt at a concentration above 100 micrograms per litre in urine is a Prohibited Substance within the meaning of the Rules and its presence in a race day sample is, prima facie, a breach of the Rules. The horse Gimmegold has since been disqualified from winning the race on 16th December 2017. Full details below:   BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003 IN THE MATTER of the Rules of Harness Racing BETWEEN THE RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU) Informant AND Mr GR Dixon Licenced Public Harness Trainer Respondent Information No: A8465 Date of hearing: 8 April 2018 Venue: Counties Racecourse Appearing: Mr O Westerlund- Investigator, Racing Integrity Unit Mr G Dixon – Licenced Harness Trainer Mr R Lawson – Lay Advocate representing Mr Dixon Judicial Committee: Mr A Dooley, Chairman - Mr A Smith, Committee Member Charge The Informant Mr O Westerlund, Racing Investigator alleged that on Saturday the 16th December 2017, Gareth Ryan DIXON was the licenced Trainer of the Standardbred Harness Racehorse “Gimmegold” which was presented for and raced in Race 8, the New Year’s Eve Auckland Cup Twilight Races Mobile Pace 2200m, at a race meeting conducted by the Auckland Trotting Club at Auckland, when the said Standardbred was found to be presented to race with a Prohibited Substance in its system, namely Cobalt, being an offence under the provisions of Rules 1004(1A) and 1004(3) and punishable pursuant to Rule 1004(7) and (8) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. The relevant Rules are as follows: Rule 1004(1A) A horse shall be presented for a race free of prohibited substances. Rule 1004(3) When a horse is presented to race in contravention of sub rule (1A) or (2) the trainer of the horse commits a breach of these Rules Rule 1008 In the absence of any express provision to the contrary in any proceeding for a breach of these Rules: (a) it shall not be necessary for the informant to prove that the defendant or any person intended to commit that or any breach of the Rule; and (b) any breach of a Rule shall be considered as an offence of strict liability. Penalty Provisions Rule 1004(7) Every person who commits a breach of sub-rule (2) or (3) shall be liable to: (a) a fine not exceeding $20,000; and/or (b) be disqualified or suspended from holding or obtaining a licence for any specific period not exceeding 5 years. Rule 1004(8) Any horse connected with a breach of sub-rule (1), (2) or (3) shall be disqualified from any race entered and/or liable to a period of disqualification not exceeding five years Mr Dixon acknowledged that he understood the Rules and he confirmed that he admitted the breach. Mr R Lawson, Lay Advocate, represented Mr Dixon at the hearing. Mr Dixon acknowledged that all the relevant documents from the RIU had been disclosed to him. Mr Dixon confirmed that the Summary of Facts were not disputed. Mr Westerlund produced a letter from Mr M Godber, General Manager for the Racing Integrity Unit, authorising the filing of the Information pursuant to Rule 1108(2). Agreed Summary of Facts by the Informant The respondent Gareth Ryan DIXON is a licensed Public Trainer and Trials Driver under the Rules of New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. On Saturday the 16th December 2017 “Gimmegold” was correctly entered and presented to race by Mr DIXON in Race 8: 9.15pm – New Year’s Eve Auckland Cup Twilight Races Mobile Pace 2200m at the Auckland Trotting Club meeting at Alexandra Park, Auckland. “Gimmegold” is a 6 year-old bay gelding (Changeover – Charbella Gold) owned by Mr AM Roberts and Mrs CD Roberts and is trained by the Respondent, Mr DIXON. “Gimmegold” finished first of the nine horse field and won a stake of $7758. “Gimmegold” underwent a random Post Race urine swab. Mr DIXON does not contest the swabbing process. All swab samples from the meeting were couriered to the New Zealand Racing Laboratory and were analysed for the presence of substances prohibited under the Rules of New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. On the 9th January 2018 the Official Racing Analyst reported in writing that the samples from “Gimmegold” had tested positive to Cobalt. The horse returned a Cobalt level of 293 ug/L (micrograms per litre). Cobalt at a concentration above 100 micrograms per litre in urine is a Prohibited Substance within the meaning of the Rules and its presence in a race day sample is, prima facie, a breach of the Rules. Cobalt is an essential trace element required for life through the actions of Vitamin B12 of which Cobalt makes up about 5% of its weight. Cobalt is absorbed from the gut either as elemental or incorporated in Vitamin B12. Mr Dixon was spoken to on Monday the 15th January 2018 at his Stable in Pukekohe. He could offer no explanation for the positive test result on the horse. In the Stable Block several items were located which contain Cobalt. Located ‘Blud-Boost-Equine Athlete’ a 1kg packet that was already opened - a supplement containing B12. When the ‘Blud-Boost’ was tested it was found to contain Cobalt at the level of 1.4 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). Also located ‘Ironcyclen’ 1 litre container. The label indicates that this product is an iron supplement with copper and cobalt for horses and dogs. Mr Dixon admitted giving the horse 10-15mls the day before it raced. When the ‘Ironcyclen was tested it was found to contain Cobalt at the level of 5.2 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). Also located was a 100 ml bottle of ‘Hemoplex’. The label indicates a supplement source of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for horses, cattle, dogs and cats, for use during periods of stress and convalescence. Mr Dixon admitted giving the horse 10mls two days before the horse raced. When the ‘Hemoplex was tested’ it was found to contain Cobalt at the level of 81 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). A Certificate of analysis provided by the Assure Quality laboratory confirmed there were no anomalies in any of the products tested. Mr DIXON has been involved in the Harness Racing Industry for 35 years. He holds a Public Trainer and Trials Driver Licence and trains eight race horses. He has been training for 15 years. He is aged 45 years and has not previously appeared. An order is sought for the horse “Gimmegold” to be disqualified from the race and the stakes money to be repaid. In response to a question from the Committee, Mr Westerlund said that the RIU analysis of TAB betting records revealed that there was nothing out of the ordinary associated with the betting patterns on GIMMEGOLD. Submissions by the Respondent Mr Lawson made the following points: 1) The Positive Test result of the swab was notified to the RIU on the 9th Of January 2018. 2) Gimmegold (the horse concerned) raced again on January 13th (4 days later) 3) Mr Dixon was not notified until January 15th. 4) Gimmegold was swabbed on January 13th after finishing in sixth position. Mr Dixon felt this extremely unusual at the time. (although obviously on the following Monday he found out why) 5) Gimmegold was tested for Cobalt and returned a reading of 11 for the January 13th run. 6) Gimmegold was given the exact same proprietary items as his race winning (and positive swab for December 16th.) 7) Mr Dixon is at a complete and utter loss as to explain why the horse tested high on December 16th. 8) Cobalt is a natural substance and horses will have natural levels and each may also excrete excess Cobalt differently. 9) Many Horse feeds including hay have Cobalt in them and so do water supplies. 10) Trainers are not in a position to test their own horses for Cobalt levels so at any time are totally unaware of the levels in their horses. 11) Despite the proprietary items having low levels of Cobalt in them – on one occasion the horse tests high and then on the next occasion it tests low. 12) Cobalt in racehorses is a very inexact science. 13) There is no definitive scientific evidence that proves it is detrimental to a horse’s welfare and there is also no scientific evidence to prove that it improves equine performance. 14) However it is conceded that – it does not have to have either of the above to be determined that it is at a certain level – a prohibited substance. 15) The point we are making here is that despite a large amount of publicity surrounding Cobalt there is very little if any definitive evidence of how and why a horse can test high for it. 16) Mr Dixon has been and is extremely concerned and upset that he has received this positive result. He prides himself on his integrity and this is an unfortunate chapter in his training career. 17) Mr Dixon has compensated the owner of this horse for loss in winning stakes due to this positive test. 18) In an effort to keep costs to an absolute minimum the “B” sample was not requested to be tested. 19) It is accepted that the horse will be disqualified from the race in question. 20) Mr Dixon now takes extreme care and is fastidious in trying to ensure his horses are not exposed to potential Cobalt that could cause a high reading. Mr Dixon provided the Committee with two written character references and advised that he was also a commercial breeder and seller. He said that his reputation is everything and he wouldn’t knowingly put himself in this position. He added that his Trainers percentage for winning the race was $700. Decision As Mr Dixon admitted the breach the Committee found the charged proved. Submissions on Penalty by Informant 1. INTRODUCTION: 1.1 The respondent Gareth Ryan DIXON is a licensed Public Trainer and Trials Driver under the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing. 1.2 He has been involved in the racing industry for 35 years and a trainer for 15 years. 1.3 Mr DIXON is 45 years of age. 1.4 It is submitted that a fine of $8000 is sought. 2. OFFENDING: 2.1 Mr DIXON has admitted the breach of the Rules in relation to the standard bred race horse “Gimmegold”. 2.2 “Gimmegold” raced at the Auckland Trotting Club meeting held at Alexandra Park on Saturday the 16th December 2017. 2.3 The details of Mr DIXON’s offending are contained in the Summary of Facts which is agreed. 2.4 The prohibited substance concerned is Cobalt. Noted: That the level for Cobalt under New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing was reduced on the 1st August 2017 from 200 ug/L to 100 ug/L (micrograms per litre). 3. PENALTY PROVISIONS: 3.1 The penalties which may be imposed are fully detailed in the Charge Rule Penalty Provisions document. 4. SENTENCING PRINCIPLES: 4.1 The four principles of sentencing can be summarised briefly: - Penalties are designed to punish the offender for his/her wrong doing. They are not meant to be retributive in the sense the punishment is disproportionate to the offence but the offender must be met with a punishment. - In a racing context it is extremely important that a penalty has the effect of deterring others from committing similar offences. - A penalty should also reflect the disapproval of the JCA for the type of offending in question. - The need to rehabilitate the offender should be taken into account. 4.2 The first three principals have relevance in this case. 5. PRECEDENTS: 5.1 In support of this penalty I will refer to four previous decisions by the J.C.A which may be of some assistance. 5.1.1 RIU v BROSNAN (13.02.18) – 3 x Cobalt positives. Total fine imposed of $19,200. 5.1.2 RIU v DALGETY (16.05.2017) – 5x Cobalt positives. Total fine imposed of $32,000. 5.1.3 R.I.U v BAMBRY (4.12.17) - 1 x Cobalt positive. A fine imposed of $11,000. 5.1.4 RIU v O’SULLIVAN & SCOTT (22.03.2016) – 3x Cobalt positives. Total fine imposed of $50,000. 6. MITIGATING FACTORS: 6.1 That he has admitted the breach at the first opportunity. 6.2 That he has been fully co-operative throughout the process. 6.3 That he has had no previous charges before the Committee. 7. AGGRAVATING FEATURES: 7.1 No aggravating features. 8. CONCLUSION: 8.1 The RIU believe that the breach can be dealt with by way of a monetary penalty. To that end the RIU seek a fine of $8000. 8.2 Under Rule 1004(8) 8.2.1 “Gimmegold” is required to be disqualified from the respective race on the 16th December 2017 8.2.2 Any stake money paid out is required to be repaid. 8.3 The RIU are seeking no costs. Submissions of Penalty by Respondent Mr Lawson made the following points: 1. The JCA Penalty Guide shows a Starting Point as an $8000 fine for a Breach of The Prohibited Substance Rules. This is for a first offence and a single positive. 2. We are dealing with a first offence and a single positive in this case. 3. From the Starting Point we must add or detract based on the aggravating or mitigating circumstances of the case. 4. In this case we agree that there are no aggravating features. 5. There are a number of mitigating circumstances – they are as follows:- - The Guilty Plea and admission at first opportunity - Mr Dixon has been fully co-operative throughout the enquiry - Mr Dixon has no previous charges before the committee and in fact has an exemplary record. - The References as to the excellent character of Mr Dixon - His dismay at this charge and the effect on his reputation. 6. Mr Dixon is a family man with a new baby and two other young dependents. 7. He is able to pay a fine although would appreciate a modest one. In Summary given all of the above we submit that a fine based on the starting point of $8000 with a 20-25% discount for the mitigating factors would be appropriate. This would be in line with principles on previous cases (in particular the R Brosnan case) The RIU are generously not seeking any costs – that is appreciated and as the case is being heard on a raceday it would also be appreciated if there were no JCA costs – in line with a number of other similar cases heard on raceday. Reasons for Penalty The Committee have carefully considered all the evidence and submissions presented. The JCA Penalty Guidelines have a starting point of $8,000 fine for a first offence of presenting a horse to race with a prohibited substance in its system. That figure was adopted in this case. The Committee was conversant with the four precedent decisions referred to by the RIU. The Committee notes that the level of Cobalt detected (293 ug/L) in GIMMEGOLD’s system was in the mid-range compared to other cases involving this Prohibited Substance. There has been much publicity and discussion about Cobalt in both the Harness Racing Code and the Thoroughbred Code in New Zealand in recent years. This should have put all Licenced Holders on notice. The purpose of Rule 1004 is to maintain the integrity of Harness Racing and to impose an obligation on all Trainers to ensure horses are presented to race free of Prohibited Substances. It is a long established principle of racing that there is a high obligation on the part of Licence Holders who transport a horse to a race meeting to ensure compliance with the Rules. It is therefore paramount that racing is conducted on a level playing field. There were no aggravating factors that warranted an uplift in penalty. The mitigating factors for which we afforded Mr Dixon a reduction in penalty were: • Mr Dixon’s admission of the breach. • Mr Dixon was fully cooperative with the RIU during their investigations. • Mr Dixon has an unblemished record under this Rule after 15 years of training approximately 2,200 Standardbred horses. We had regard for the two written character references where both referees had known Mr Dixon for many years and both emphasised his honesty and integrity. After having regard for the particular circumstances of this case we consider that a fair and reasonable reduction from the starting point was $1,500. After taking into account all of the above factors the Committee considered that an appropriate penalty was a $6,500 fine. Penalty Accordingly, Mr Dixon was fined the sum of $6,500. Disqualification of the Horse Pursuant to Rule 1004(8) the Committee orders the disqualification of GIMMEGOLD from, the New Year’s Eve Auckland Cup Twilight Races Mobile Pace 2200 metres. Disqualification effective from Monday, 16 April 2018. The amended placings are: 1st No.1 IDEAL LASS 2nd No. 3 WILL TAKE CHARGE 3rd No. 9 LYNTON CREEK 4th No. 2 STAND SURE The Committee was informed that the stake money for this race has not been paid out. Therefore the Committee authorised the payment of stakes in accordance with the amended placings. Costs The RIU has sought no costs. As this charge was heard on a raceday, there was no order for JCA costs. Dated this 10th day of April 2018 Adrian Dooley Chair   Harnesslink media

Interest is mounting ahead of Alexandra Park’s inaugural hot dog eating competition set to take place on Friday 20 April as part of its American Night. The person to beat will be renowned New Zealand competitive eater Nela Zisser who can devour 36 Crème Eggs in quick succession, 45 cheese burgers in under an hour, and a 10,000 calorie English breakfast in one sitting. “Nela Zisser has confirmed she is attending and partaking in our hot dog eating competition. At 25, she is already internationally known and is certainly the one to beat. It’s going to be quite a spectacle,” says Joel Reichardt, Sales & Marketing Manager at Alexandra Park. The hot dog eating competition is offering some great cash prizes for both the professional and amateur leagues. Mr Reichardt says it is a fitting event for American Night as similar competitions are hugely popular in the US with the current champion putting away 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes! To reserve a spot in Alexandra Park’s 10-minute hotdog races, people need to purchase a fully refundable $20 entry fee via its website which includes all the event information: https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/hot-dog-eating-contest/ American Night will also be attended by leading Donald Trump impersonator, Alex Sparrow who has been ranked as one of the world’s top 10 Donald Trump impersonators. As well as hot dogs and ‘Donald Trump’, the evening promises to be star-spangled night of delicious American-style food, exciting harness racing action, and classic cars. American Night hospitality packages for the all-you-can-eat US-inspired buffet range from $60 to $125 per person. Promoted as a night in the Hamptons at Top of the Park and a stroll through New Orleans in the Tasman Room, the best of the US will be served up in both venues. This year the Tasman Room will also undergo an amazing streetscape transformation into a New Orleans-inspired Bourbon Street, complete with a selection of food stalls and a funky Jazz band. To secure tickets phone (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz, or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/?date=20-04-2018 General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on the night. Other internationally-themed cuisine race nights at Alexandra Park include Mexican Night on 4 May and French Night on 25 May. Nela Zisser’s YouTube page can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO9-JxPuNA4UhhlGVwY_VdQ www.alexandrapark.co.nz

Interest is mounting ahead of Alexandra Park’s inaugural hot dog eating competition set to take place on Friday 20 April as part of its American Night. The person to beat will be renowned New Zealand competitive eater Nela Zisser who can devour 36 Crème Eggs in quick succession, 45 cheese burgers in under an hour, and a 10,000 calorie English breakfast in one sitting. “Nela Zisser has confirmed she is attending and partaking in our hot dog eating competition. At 25, she is already internationally known and is certainly the one to beat. It’s going to be quite a spectacle,” says Joel Reichardt, Sales & Marketing Manager at Alexandra Park. The hot dog eating competition is offering some great cash prizes for both the professional and amateur leagues. Mr Reichardt says it is a fitting event for American Night as similar competitions are hugely popular in the US with the current champion putting away 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes! To reserve a spot in Alexandra Park’s 10-minute hotdog races, people need to purchase a fully refundable $20 entry fee via its website which includes all the event information: https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/hot-dog-eating-contest/ American Night will also be attended by leading Donald Trump impersonator, Alex Sparrow who has been ranked as one of the world’s top 10 Donald Trump impersonators. As well as hot dogs and ‘Donald Trump’, the evening promises to be star-spangled night of delicious American-style food, exciting harness racing action, and classic cars. American Night hospitality packages for the all-you-can-eat US-inspired buffet range from $60 to $125 per person. Promoted as a night in the Hamptons at Top of the Park and a stroll through New Orleans in the Tasman Room, the best of the US will be served up in both venues. This year the Tasman Room will also undergo an amazing streetscape transformation into a New Orleans-inspired Bourbon Street, complete with a selection of food stalls and a funky Jazz band. To secure tickets phone (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz, or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/whats-on/?date=20-04-2018 General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on the night. Other internationally-themed cuisine race nights at Alexandra Park include Mexican Night on 4 May and French Night on 25 May. Nela Zisser’s YouTube page can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO9-JxPuNA4UhhlGVwY_VdQ   Cameron Brewer www.alexandrapark.co.nz

If you’ve always wanted to get involved in harness racing ownership then here is your opportunity! Even if you’ve owned horses before, or always thought about it and felt it was out of reach, we can help you find the right fit for you. There are currently horses available around New Zealand, ranging from yearlings to older horses on lease terms, and in most cases options can be adjusted to suit you. Some trainers have even opted to apply an affordable set monthly fee so you know what the cost will be each month. One syndicate is currently being formed for female members, who will have the opportunity to race two horses with Seven Sharp co-host and Radio Hauraki announcer, Jeremy Wells. Trainers with horses available for new owners are also encouraged to make contact to register your details, so we can offer potential owners all available options. If you are interested in finding out more information with no obligation please email Jess Smith at Harness Racing New Zealand – jess@hrnz.co.nz Current owners are also encouraged to ensure their contact details are recorded with HRNZ to ensure they receive regular email and text communications from racing clubs. Information can be sent to admin@hrnz.co.nz    HRNZ Marketing

Alta Shelby looks to be getting back to the form he showed early in his three year old season when he comprehensively dealt to a field of R51 - R53s at Winton on Saturday. The Mach Three colt lead all the way and won easily by four and a half lengths running the 2400 metre mobile in a smart 2-56.0.  "He's just starting to come back into form which is pretty pleasing. I thought he would go really close today. We changed a bit of gear on him. He's a bit of a head shaker so I put a chinguard on him and it's made all the difference. He's starting to live up to his potential and what he showed early on," said trainer Mitch Kerr who's considering a start in the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in a fortnight. The Winton Business's Cup was won by the Ken and Tony Barron trained Royal Bengal. The four year was originally trained in Southland by Robin Swain before heading to Canterbury. Owned by Baynes Racing Limited which is Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, he carries the colours made famous by Kenny's father the late Colin Baynes. The same colours were worn when Kamahl driven by Colin Baynes won this race in 1983. The winning margin today was a length and a quarter with Star Commander running second. Royal Bengal adding the Winton Cup to the Gore Cup he also won - Photo Bruce Stewart. The race was marred by the second favourite Aloka breaking at the 450 metre mark. He was pulled out of the race by driver Blair Orange and found to have fractured his left hind cannon bone. Unfortunately for all his connections he had to be euthanaised. Winton Cup winners last 10years Year Winner Age Sire Driver Trainer Distance Time 2008 Biella Star 4g Mattuity DJ Dunn RD Holmes 2400m 3-01.0 2009 Bettor's Strike 4g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 2400m 2-58.8 2010 Lionels Meddle 4g Live Or Die JR Dunn RJ Dunn 3200m 4-04.6 2011 Van Washington Man 6g Washington VC RT May BA Waldron 3200m 4-06.5 2012 Texican 3g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 3200m 4-05.5 2013 Jimmy Johnstone 4g P-Forty Seven JC Hay JC Hay 3200m 4-04.9 2014 Belkmyster 4g Mach Three DJ Dunn G Anderson 3200 metres 4-06.0 2015 That's Hunting Pink 5m Christian Cullen Terry Chmiel Dean Taylor 3200 metres 4-02.5 2015 Costa Del Magnifico 4h Mach Three Nathan Williamson Brent Shirley 3200 metres 3-59.8 2016 Democrat Party 4m American Ideal Nathan Williamson Katrina and John Price 2400 metre stand 3-01.2 2017 Delightful Memphis 3f Bettors Delight Blair Orange Mark Jones  2400 metre stand 2-55.5 2018 Royal Bengal 4g Bettors Delight Dexter Dunn Ken and Tony Barron 2400 metre stand 2-57.1   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing

Mighty Conqueror continued on his winning way when he won his second start at Winton today with the win impressing his regular pilot Shane Walkinshaw.  "He's got a bit going for him. He can roll along all day and he's got a bit of speed as well," he said. In the Winton Mitre 10 Nuggets Final the three year old was taken to the top by Walkinshaw.   "I've never asked him to go off the gate so it was a new thing for me and him but he did get off it real easy."  From that point horse and driver dictated all the terms, and the American Ideal gelding which is owned by his co-trainer Mark Shirley and good friend Malcolm Dewe won impressively by a length and three quarters from a brave Betterthanbrie.  Mighty Conqueror and Shane Walkinshaw winning at Winton - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He was travelling good all the way and did it all under his own steam." The win impressed his driver who's reined a few good three year olds in his fourteen seasons of driving.  "He's definitely up there. He's got the ability but he just needs to get the ringcraft. He just goes out there and  mucks around a bit. He's one of those racehorses that will relax for you and when you ask him to run he'll run." Walkinshaw doesn't work in the harness racing industry anymore, now working for On Gas during the week and driving at the races at the weekend.  "I'm loving the change with the work during the week and the horses at the weekend. It's great to be back and driving a nice horse like that." The win certainly highlights the success of the Nuggets Series and the bearing it now has on the Southern Supremacy Stakes Leaderboard. Eight of the nine Nuggets Finals including the Super Nuggets Final at the Northern Southland meeting have been won by three year olds; The Bus, Franco Santino, Nota Bene Denario, Ardtoo, Henry Hubert, Convair Hustler, Kilowatt Kid and now Mighty Conqueror. The $12,000 stake money offered in this races has certainly helped these horses up the leaderboard of the Supremacy, and two wins from only two starts in normal races doesn't guarantee you a start in the Group Two feature anymore. Nuggets appears to be the new pathway to the Supremacy. They have been like heats for the three year old colts and geldings.  Trainers Mark Shirley and his wife Debbie still have to decided whether Mighty Conqueror will line up in the Supremacy. 2017/2018 Nugget Final winners Meeting Horse Age/Sire Driver Trainer Track  Distance Time Northern Southland The Bus 3 c -Art Major Sam Ottley Mark Jones Ascot Park  2200m  2-43.4 Riverton  Franco Santino 3 g Christian Cullen Nathan Williamson Nathan Williamson Ascot Park  2200m  2-46.8 Invercargill Nota Bene Denario 3 c - Well Said Brent Barclay Terry and Glenise Chmiel Ascot Park  2200m  2-44.6 Winton Ardtoo 3 g - Auckland Reactor Craig Ferguson Russell Ferguson  Central Southland  2400m 2-59.1 Northern Southland Zealand Star 4 g - Washington VC Brent Barclay Brett Gray Ascot Park  2200m  2-43.6 Wyndham Henry Hubert 3 c - Bettor's Delight John Dunn Robert Dunn Young Quinn  2400m 2-58.8 Invercargill (Grass) Convair Hustler 3 g - Mach Three Dexter Dunn Brett Gray Ascot Park  2050m 2-37.6 Northern Southland Kilowatt Kid 3 g - American Ideal Blair Orange Alister Black Ascot Park  2200m  2-44.6 Winton Mighty Conqueror 3 g - American Ideal Shane Walkinshaw Mark and Debbie Shirley Central Southland  2400m 2-55.6   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing   Mighty Conqueror winning the final  

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The man with the perfect draws to dominate the two glamour races at Alexandra Park tonight says it may not be that simple. Because Ricky May says while he can win both the Taylor Mile and Anzac Cup, it may not be a comfortable watch for punters. May has barrier one with A G's White Socks in the Taylor Mile and as the winner of the Easter Cup two starts ago he looks good enough to be master of his own destiny, which is exactly what he didn't do at Addington last start. "I stuffed up the drive last start, I gave Mark [Purdon, driving More The Better] the lead too easy and we had no chance after that," admits May. "So we have the ace this time and I think I have to be aggressive from the inside but the question is how aggressive because there is plenty of speed next to us. "I can see them going really hard and some of us are going to have to make decisions around the first bend." Translated into non-racing speak that means: we want to lead or trail the right horse but we don't want to go crazy trying to do so. That pretty much sums up the likes of key rivals Star Galleria, Let It Ride and Raukapuka Ruler, the drivers of all will want to get to the markers but not spend too much energy doing so because that could set the race up for More The Better. As good as his group one winning rivals are, Star Galleria has been brilliant this season and has the raw speed to give driver Tony Herlihy options so he deserves favouritism and if he can run to the front it will take a special performance to get past him. Let It Ride has had the right preparation of speed racing and was good enough at the workouts last Saturday to win while More The Better could be sitting just off the speed after a sizzling open sectional and swoop in what shapes as a great race. Enghien showed with his luckless last-start second at Addington he is now strong enough to beat the older trotters but if you are expecting a lead-and-win performance from barrier two you might be disappointed. For all his stamina he is still a quirky trotter who doesn't like being bustled and May suggests he will have to be patient early before making his move later. "He is at his best right-handed and I am sure he can win but he has been funny this season so I don't see us racing to the lead or anything like that." Enghien can undoubtedly win but with the possibility Lemond, Bordeaux and even Temporale could surge forward to get in front of him punters might be understandably reluctant to take his $2.50 opening price. Lemond appeals as the value in the race as he bounced right back to his best over 1700m last week and showed good gate speed. A repeat of that could see him press forward and even lead tonight from where he would take enormous running down. Earlier in the night the scratching of Luby Lou after she got tangled in a fence has opened up the Sires' Stakes Trot, with Renezmae and Winterfell the greatest beneficiaries while it is hard to make a case to bet on, or against, Princess Tiffany at $1.30 in the Caduceus Club Classic for the juvenile pacing fillies. Michael Guerin
Quite a busy weekend of harness racing coming up with the highlight being the Group racing at Alexandra Park on Friday night. There are five meetings this week starting with Forbury Park racing tonight. Addington and Auckland race on Friday night and the weekend harness racing heads to Invercargill on Saturday and Rangiora on Sunday.  Last week the biggest winning dividend in the ringaround selections went to Jay Abernethy when his best chance for the week Four Starzzz Legend won at Manawatu on Thursday night and paid $3.60 and $1.80 on the tote.  Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often.   Forbury on Thursday night Brad Williamson - Brad says his best chance this week would be Abbey May at Forbury in Race 1 Stephen Richardson (Odds Analyst) - Stephen thinks the Chmiel trained Laytons Lass can win Race 6 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is going for Changesaw as his best drive this week in Race 7   Auckland on Friday night Tony Herlihy - Tony is opting for Gold Orchid as his best chance this week at Alexandra Park in Race 2 John Curtin - John thinks Let It Ride can win his first start back in NZ this week in Race 7   Addington on Friday night Terry Chmiel - Terry thinks his best drive could be Dizzy Miss Lizzy at Addington in Race 5 John Morrison - John is going for Light Year Franco as his best drive this week in Race 8 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks Machs Gain should go close to winning at Addington in Race 9   Invercargill on Saturday Shane Walkinshaw - Shane is going for Somethings Burning as his best drive this week in Race 1 Geoff Knight - Geoff says that Jacks N Jazz would be his best chance at Ascot Park in Race 2 Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week is Feel The Money at Ascot Park in Race 7 Brent Barclay - Brent thinks his best drive is Rockaball on Saturday at Invercargill in Race 10   Rangiora on Sunday Gavin Smith - Gavin says On The Mantlepiece would be his best chance this week in Race 1 Racechat - Lance thinks that koromiko Eyre is a good chance of winning at Rangiora in Race 2 Blair Orange - Blair thinks his best drive this week would be Arnold at Rangiora in Race 8     Harnesslink Media  
This Friday evening will see the 2018 edition of the Lizzie of Rosslands Kidz Kartz Rising Stars Drivers Series wrap up at Alexandra Park. Fittingly held alongside the triple header Group One meeting at Alexandra Park, the Lizzie of Rosslands challenge will find the winner of the 2018 Kidz Kartz Driver of the Year, showcasing the tremendous growth and contribution Kidz Kartz is making to harness racing nationwide. The annual series sees 12 drivers from New Zealand and Australia compete over six races at Cambridge and Alexandra Park. The competitors and their clubs are: Isabella Cassar age 15 (Newcastle Maitland, Australia), Jake Bigeni age 14 (Penrith Nepean, Australia), Zev Meredith age 15 (Franklin), Lillian Bouzaid age 17 (Taranaki), Kendra Rogers age 12 (Waikato), Sophie Woodhouse age 15 (Otago), Natasha Kyle age 16 (Southland), Sam Thornley age 16 (Canterbury), Navana McLachlan age 14 (Kumeu), Nathan Darby age 14 (Franklin), Katelyn Veacock age 13 (Kumeu) and Jordyn Bublitz age 14 (Waikato). The first round of heats were held at Cambridge Raceway on Wednesday night, with ponies provided of similar abilities from the Northern Kidz Kartz clubs. The results of the first heats were: Race 1 – 1st Zev Meredith; 2nd Nathan Darby; 3rd Sam Thornley Race 2 – 1st Sam Thornley; 2nd Jake Bigeni; 3rd Jordyn Bublitz Three further heats will be held at Alexandra Park, and presentations to the winner will be made afterwards. This year will be the final time the series will be known as the “Lizzie Of Rosslands Series” with the new name next year to be the “Kerry and Helen Hoggard Memorial Rising Stars Drivers Series”. The Hoggard family have been supporters of the series and Kidz Kartz from the very start and Marilyn Hoggard feels now would be a good time to change the series name to remember the contribution that her late husband Kerry and daughter Helen made. Kerry was one of the most widely respected and enthusiastic supporters of harness racing in New Zealand and raced stock under the Rosslands Stud banner with Marilyn and Helen. He was also heavily involved with HRNZ Board. Helen loved harness racing and was a keen student of the stud book. She was very involved in the selection of yearlings which included former Jewels winner, Lizzie Maguire. Helen was a big supporter of Kidz Kartz and generously purchased a pony for Franklin Kidz Kartz in Cossack, who is still racing today with the club. Kidz Kartz would also like to thank their other generous sponsors during the series: Dunstan Feeds, Breckon Farms, Kendayla Park, Chaff Chaps, Woodlands Stud, Taranaki Kidz Kartz, Tui Ribbons, PhotoForce Photography – with further thanks to Alexandra Park and the Alexandra Park starting crew, Cambridge Raceway and their starting crew, Aaron White and Magness Video ltd. Good luck to all competitors, and well done to our Kidz Kartz clubs nationwide for the hard work and dedication given to supporting our next generation of industry participants. For more information please visit the Lizzie Of Rosslands Kidz Kartz Rising Stars 2018 page on Facebook.   HRNZ Marketing  
In flight now back to the States, I have the opportunity to share additional observations and thoughts about the Down Under racing scene stemming from my month long Harness Racing related travels throughout New Zealand and Australia. While this has probably been about my fifteenth Down Under trip in the last eighteen years, the pace of Industry change is staggering and the challenges confronting the Down Under racing scene daunting. Both the general malaise felt by most North American industry participants, and the general negativity of crucial North American Industry trends, are evident Down Under. While the symptoms may differ, the underlying problem of relevancy in a new competitive environment seems to be afflicting the Industry worldwide. Lack of parimutuel handle, long a North American Harness Racing problem outside of the Meadowlands and Woodbine/Mohawk, is increasingly a problem. Down Under Corporate bookmaking companies like Betfair have taken huge amounts out of parimutuel pools, and fixed odds betting is now the pre-eminent vehicle for most significant wagers. This impacts both the Industry's bottom line and the ability of tracks to offer viable on site wagering. The Down Under structure of racing is totally different from ours, with Governmental, regulatory, and track management following a completely different model, but the siphoning off of betting dollars to these Corporates is threatening Down Under racing as off shore and on line betting is diverting North American wagering dollars from Industry and Governmental coffers. In this regard, New Zealand's new Minister in charge of racing has recently announced the hiring of a prominent Aussie Thoroughbred breeder and administrator to assess New Zealand's business model with an eye toward aligning all functional aspects to better regulate, coordinate, and optimize New Zealand's three breed racing industry. This is a much needed outreach, and all reports indicate that the individual chosen has a proven track record on point, but I think that an opportunity to really reassess NZ's industry structure looking at all global alternatives is being missed. The Aussie structure is very similar to that of NZ, and optimization might well require a fresh look at all alternatives. I am also concerned by the lack of a Harness Racing advocate in the mix, as Thoroughbred interests have a long history of structuring everything to suit their interests, often to the detriment of Harness Racing  interests. Just look at the fact that SKY/TAB still block international simulcasting of Down Under Harness Racing into the North American market while blithely saturating North America with Thoroughbred product! Hopefully, the speed with which one person can propose necessary changes will outweigh the dangers of Thoroughbred parochialism and lack of a comprehensive, globally focused analysis. Both in Australia and New Zealand, the Harness Racing industry is suffering from the effects caused by their lack of control of their own product. That is potentially a fatal flaw that, thankfully, we have not yet let happen in North America! The tracks have had all their simulcast/streaming rights assigned by contract to Sky/Tab. To be fair, the complicated Down Under racing income model has some compensating pluses - such as participation in income streams generated by other breeds and from sports betting - but they have become a supplier of racing product to a behometh that values only quantity of product supplied for wagering. As a result, race quality, programming quality, and international marketing opportunities suffer significantly. I spent a few evenings watching races on SKY and I could not believe how boring, annoying, and frightening the experience was! There was basically no race commentary, no interesting interviews or discussions, no soul at all..just wall to wall racing with dog, harness, and thoroughbred races immediately back to back. There is no concern to promoting racing, only to creating gambling addicts, which should be alarming to all! In the old days, many of the Down Under tracks, like many of ours' in North America still do, had really interesting programming of their races. That is totally gone now! A very interesting development is in play in NZ, where it appears the sale of PGG auction operations to NZ Bloodstock is in the works. There is a perceptive article on this subject on Harnesslink, suggesting that the harness industry, itself, should take over direct ownership and control of industry auctions as a means of keeping within the industry the approximately NZ$800,000 to a million dollars of net profit that these sales would generate to a lean, well run operator. The article suggests, and I agree, that these monies could provide a significant cash infusion to an industry in dire need of just that. In the short term, with good management and creativity, there is no reason that Alexandra Park and Addington could not take over operation of these sales to be held on site at their tracks. In North America, Hanover shoe farm's' brilliant strategic move in running the world famous Harrisburg yearling sale has been a major economic boon accelerating their ability for growth and investment. Both in Australia and New Zealand the industry would probably be wise to go in house with auctions! A few thoughts on various points....the best Down Under horses are now AT LEAST as good as North America's best! Absolutely no question about that! And they achieve this without the kind of veterinary support that we have....creating a truly international pacing championship race would make real sense now! It would need a huge purse ($)1 million, travel and quarantine solutions, big publicity, and be at the right time of the year (probably October/November). And it would probably be best raced every two years, alternating between hemispheres. Not easy, but this is the type of event that could be thoroughbred-like in its' popularity and global marketability. North American tracks should take a page from their Down Under cousins by having a special "birdcage" or room, where the track hosts (and toasts) winning owners after each race. They also supply a flash drive of the race, champagne, great conversation, and small, but nice, gifts! A gesture to owners worth it's weight in gold! Victorian racing is hamstrung by its' economic pressures resulting from years of poor management. They carry $28 million in debt and lost about $1.5 million last year. As a result, they hired a turn around specialist from outside the industry, and David Martin is delivering! Racing Victoria is slightly profitable this year. Amazing, as without corrective action, losses this year would've been in excess of $3 million! Sadly, because of racing's strange business model in Australia, this turn around was accomplished thru creation of more races at the expense of smaller fields and less interesting racing. Good for the short term bottom line, bad for racing long term, a fact realized by Mr. Martin. But to get to tomorrow, today has to be survived, and Mr. Martin has travelled throughout Victoria trying to explain the current state of affairs and the reasons behind Victorian racing strategy. This effort is admirable, and I sense that he is building a lot of good will even from those who don't like the remedy he is pushing. We need far more of our Industry leaders Down Under and in North America to follow suit. Racetrack owners and top management need to get out of the Board Room and communicate/interact with all elements of the Industry. There is no other way for our industry's administrators to understand the emotions and problems at play, and to hear the breadth of opinions they need to encounter to chart the right course. Too many of our leaders hide in ivory towers, oblivious to the thoughts, perceptions, and concerns - as well as opportunities - that are apparent to just about everyone else in the industry! What our industry needs everywhere is PASSION! It transforms, it motivates, and it is contagious! And racing's doldrums have eviscerated passion. Our leaders would sometimes be better served to make passionate mistakes than impassionate, reasoned decisions. Ours' must be an industry of passion, it is the only model enabling survival! On this front, I was extremely impressed with the Directors of Alexandra Park, Menangle, and Penrith. They are present most, if not all, nights when the tracks race. They are well dressed, pay attention to detail, are welcoming and observant. They are lifetime lovers of the game and they care! It was their real passion for the sport and their job that impressed me, their hospitality was a mere by product of that. Throughout this trip I met an incredible array of trainers, owners, drivers, grooms, agents, administrators,and racing officials....it was one of my most pleasant and enlightening trips! I could continue with quite a few additional observations, but perhaps on reflection I will at a later date. And, oh yes, I spent a lot of time with the almost twenty pacers and trotters that I have Down Under (with my cousin, Marc), and with our three trainers Down Under...and loved (almost) every minute of it! Gordon Banks
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