Chase The Dream - Chasing three in a row on Friday night

All Stars runners dominate Young Guns Final

This seasons harness racing two year olds have been competing in heats of the Young Guns series since before Xmas and the best of both the colts and fillies run in their respective finals on Friday night.. We plan to preview them both and first up is the colts and geldings final. $100,000 Young Guns Colts and Geldings Final 1) Lazarus - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Two starts for two wins late last year stamped this colt as a very smart juvenile. In both of his races Lazarus drew badly but on both occasions he overcame the draw to win in style. After a short break he can be expected to come back even better and looms as one of the two leading chances, especially from the draw. 2) El Jacko - Gelding by Elsu   -   Trainers - Logan Hollis * Shane Robertson Two starts in his debut season for two sixths. Hasn't disgraced himself in either race but hasn't threatened the placegetters either Hard to make a case for him as a first four player. 3) Code Black - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Robert Dunn One of the more experienced horses in the final with his four starts yielding one win and two fourths. Has beaten most of the field at various times this season outside of the two favourites. Definite trifecta and first four player but hard to see him beating the All Stars pair. 4) Max Phactor - Colt by Art Major   -   Trainer - Mike Berger Beat the older horses on debut at Cambridge in the first of his four starts this season. Has been competitive but not compelling in his three races since. Does have good gate speed but hard to see him finding the front with Lazarus drawn inside of him. Has yet to beat Walkinshaw in three attempts so hard to see him beating the favoured pair here. First four player only for us. 5) Chase The Dream - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Stunning debut win at Ashburton in the Sapling Stakes in 1:54.8 was followed by an equally impressive win last week at Alexandra Park where after being last early, he looped the field midrace and then ran away and hid in the straight in a 1:57.3 mile rate. Has shown real gate speed at trials in Canterbury so can go forward from better draw this week. One of the two leading chances for us. 6) Walkinshaw - Colt by Mach Three   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy Started the season with a tidy run for fifth first up and has got better with every run since. Nice win two starts back and smart second to Chase The Dream last week after leading from barrier seven. Just appears a touch behind the All Stars pair but looks the best of the rest to us. Tony Herlihy in the bike is a big plus for us. 7) Mach Time - Gelding by Mach Three   -   Trainers - Steve Telfer * Chris Garlick Very inexperienced horse who was having his debut run last week when he ran fourth to Chase The Dream. Held in very high regard by his trainers but draw and lack of raceday experience are big negatives for us. Can run first four with a run to suit.  8) Dark Energy - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy His two runs to date have resulted in a fourth and a fifth and both times from favourable inside draws. His draw of eight and the strength of the field makes it very hard to see him as a player here. Not for us Selections The All Stars duo look to have a class edge over this field and the big decision is which one of the two do we favour. Most pundits are leaning towards Lazarus from the draw, but we have gone with the stablemate Chase The Dream. His two runs to date have been outstanding and last weeks look at Alexandra Park will have helped him bigtime. Lazarus has all the ringcraft of a natural two year old and could just as easily beat Chase The Dream but either way there will not be much in it. Walkinshaw is a clear third for us on the back of his last couple of runs andTony Herlihy in the bike. For first fours we like Code Black, Max Phactor and Mach Time. Harnesslink Media 

Dexter Dunn

Dexter Dunn, our World Champion

New Zealand has it’s very own World Champion. Dexter Dunn took out the title of 2015 World Driving Champion on Sunday after competing in 20 heats against nine of the best harness racing drivers from all over the world. After having an unassailable lead heading into the final race, Dunn finished off the Championships in style when he won the heat and added to his already impressive statistics. From the 20 heats held in New South Wales over the last week, Dunn won five, had six seconds and three thirds. He won with a record 200 points, an amount that has never been reached in a World Driving Championship before. Dunn, who is 25, follows fellow Kiwi horseman; Kevin Holmes, Robert Cameron, Maurice McKendry, Tony Herlihy and Mark Jones as a winner of the series since it was first competed for in 1970. “It is only just sinking in because this is the sort of thing you don’t expect to happen so early in your career,” Dunn said. Dunn returned home last night (Monday) and will now settle back into the swing of things here in New Zealand as he looks to wind up what will be his eighth consecutive national drivers’ premiership. With 125 New Zealand wins next to his name, Dunn has a 60 win buffer on his nearest rival, Blair Orange. The full results of the 2015 World Driving Championships are as follows: 1. Dexter Dunn (NZL) 200 2. Tony Le Beller (FRA) 146 3. Tim Tetrick (USA) 142 4. Mika Forss (FIN) 139 5. Jody Jamieson (CAN) 132 6. Knud Mönster (DEN) 122 7. Chris Alford (AUS) 119 8. Pierre Vercruysse (FRA) 119 9. Guillermo Adrover (ESP) 101 10. Vidar Hop (NOR) 100

Changeover - Great overall numbers but needs a couple of flagbearers in the classics

Changeover needs a star

Harness racing breeders in New Zealand have been quick in the last fifteen years to give our locally bred champions a real chance in the breeding shed with the likes of Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire fueling that to a degree. One of the more recent stallions to be given his chance is the In The Pocket entire, Changeover. With Christen Cullen and Courage Under Fire also being sons of In The Pocket and with Changeover being the biggest stake winner of the three by some margin, breeders have given him every chance to establish himself against most of the leading sires in the world today who either shuttle to New Zealand or have frozen semen available to breeders. His first crop are currently three year olds in New Zealand and number 151 foals. The statistics around that crop make good reading half way through their three year old season as the graph below shows. Foals - 151,   Qualifiers - 81,  % Qualifiers to foals  - 53.6,  Winners - 25,  % Winners to foals - 16.5 A lot of the eighty one three year olds that have qualified have been placed already and that winners percentage will go up a lot in the next six months. So on the surface Changeover appears to be well on his way to becoming a successful sire but in our view he has one box that he has yet to tick. And that is the box of weather he can leave that elite level horse that can win an Oaks or a Derby. The Great Northern Oaks didn't have a Changeover in the field last week and this week there are no Changeover's in the Great Northern Derby. Head over the Tasman last weekend and it is the same story with Changeover having no runners in either the New South Wales Oaks or New South Wales Derby. He does have several runners in both countries who are not far away from that level but are struggling to make the step up. One Over and Prince Of Pops are both smart three year olds but just a notch below the best ones in New Zealand while Nuala is going great in Perth but the overall standard in the west is not what it is in the eastern seaboard of Australia or New Zealand. The second crop of Changeover numbers 99 live foals that are two year olds this season and he has already left a winner and several qualifiers. One of those qualifiers Linton Shard has looked to us like the horse that might make the breakthrough at classic level for Changeover. He has trialed super in Canterbury from the Cran Dalgety barn locking horns with most of the All Stars runners and has more than held his own. A big overgrown type, the half brother to Smiling Shard and Pemberton Shard looks just the type to develop into a classic winning three year old next season. If Changeover can produce a couple like him in the next twelve months then he will be well on the way to carving out a niche for himself in the fiercely competitive New Zealand sires market. Harnesslink Media 

Bettor's Delight - Two of his progeny in Beautide and Adore Me stole the limelight at Menangle

Kiwi breds dominate Menangle's big day

Harness racing followers on both sides of the Tasman are never slow to claim the superiority of their racehorses when stock bred in their country have a big day on the Australasian harness racing scene. So it is no surprise today that Kiwi breeders and enthusiasts are feeling very smug after the huge day at Menangle yesterday by racehorses with the prefix NZ beside their name. Their were seven Group 1 races yesterday and Kiwi breds won four with Australian breds winning two and the Europeans one. And all that success on Australia's biggest harness racing day and in their  own backyard makes it all the more memorable for the Kiwis. There were a couple of constants throughout the day and that was the dominance of Bettor's Delight and Art Major in the Group 1 pacing races. Of the six pacing Group1 races that pair won four with the tally being two a piece. Fight For Glory in the New South Wales Oaks and Sky Major in the Chariots Of Fire did Art Major proud while Adore Me and Beautide made sure Bettor's Delight hogged the limelight as well. Both sires had multiple runners in most of the Group 1 races and Bettor's Delight ended up with five placed runners and Art Major two placed runners to reinforce their dominance. A lot of comment has been made in recent years from leading Australian breeders about how they were getting on top of their Kiwi counterparts. They put this down to the ever increasing number of well bred Kiwi mares who now call Australia home and that they saw a time in the not to distant future where the Australian bred horse would dominate racing in Australia. New Zealand breeders from the start of this industry in New Zealand have sold racemares and broodmares to Australia and will continue to do so in the future. It has never affected the ability of the New Zealand breeder to churn our those top horses year in year out. With Bettor's Delight serving 301 mares in New Zealand this year and Art Major over 170 there will be no shortage of horses by these two dominant sires in New Zealand in the next few years. Throw in the likes of Mach Three (130) and newcomers such as A Rocknroll Dance (161) and next year the recently announced Sweet Lou and there is a real confidence amongst New Zealand breeders that the glory days are far from coming to an end. Harnesslink Media

The Cheviot Harness Racing Club comes to town once a year when they run their annual meeting at Addington Raceway. The highlight is always the Group3 Leonard Memorial for two year old fillies and this year was no exception with eleven fillies lining up in the time honoured classic. Gina Grace led early from barrier eight through a first 400 metres of 27.2 before handing up to Emeli Maguire who then handed up to her stablemate Northern Velocity with a lap to run. Northern Velocity looked to be doing it comfortably off the back straight before being joined out wider by another stablemate in Sophisticated Lady at the 500 metres mark. Driver Matt Anderson let the brakes off on the corner and Northern Velocity shot away for an easy victory over a game Sophisticated Lady and Gina Grace who did really well for third after getting held up badly at the 400 metres mark by a tiring Emeli Maguire. Northern Velocity covered the 2000 metres in 2:28.6, a mile rate of 1:59.5 with closing sectionals of 60.6 and 30 The big daughter of Mach Three had disgraced herself on debut when breaking for no reason at the quarter pole but never looked like putting a foot wrong today. A $72,500 purchase out of last years Premier Sale at Christchurch, Northern Velocity is a half sister to the outstanding Pembrook Benny 1:53.6 ($907,890) Northern Velocity had impressed at trials and workouts in Canterbury prior to her debut run and she must have made an impression on Mark Purdon as well as he bought her full sister at this years Premier Sale in Christchurch for $60,000. The runner up is another daughter of Mach Three in Sophisticated Lady who is also a sales graduette having being purchased out of last years Australasian Classic for $70,000. She is from a Christian Cullen half sister to the very smart Gentle Western 1:55 who won his first three starts from the All Star barn before being hurt in the big smash at last years Southern Supremacy Final. The third place getter Linda Grace is a full sister to last seasons outstanding two year old filly in Linda Lovegrace 1:57.7 ($168,524) so all three placegetters have plenty to recommend them on the breeding front. Harnesslink Media   

Most harness racing pundits previewing this afternoons New South Wales Derby saw it as a two horse war with Hug The Wind from barrier one preferred over Ideal For Real who had landed the dreaded barrier of nine. The early races had the All Star barn runners on fire with Fight For Glory and Adore Me both being brilliant winners and punters thought the streak would continue in the Derby making Hug The Wind a clear favourite. Sporty Spook flew the gate as he can and grabbed the early lead while Natalie Rasmussen let Hug The Wind find his feet early before sending him forward to the lead. Gavin Lang on Ideal For Real settled second last in the running line early while the other well supported runner in Art Union with Dexter Dunn in the bike was parked outside the leader. With just over a lap to go Gavin Lang sent Ideal For Real around the field and he landed in the death seat outside Hug The Wind with 1100 metres to go. Natalie held the leader back to the field in the quarter down the back in 28.1 before going for broke as they turned for home. Gavin Lang never panicked and slowly but surely got to Hug The Wind with Ideal For Real nailing him by half a head in the last stride. What made the victory even meritorious was the last quarter was cut out in a blistering 25.8 Sporty Spooky fought on for third just in front of Art Union. The Emma Stewart trained colt is an all American bred being by American Ideal from the imported Real Desire mare in Tamara Hall. Noted previously for his high speed off a sit, Ideal For Real showed today that he has developed an all round game as the season has progressed. Harnesslink Media

The holy grail of harness racing in Australasia has always been the Inter Dominion series until some brightspark changed the format three years ago and shifted the date. What we have been left with since then is a series that is a shadow of what it use to be and due to its timing it is devoid of most of the major players on the Grand Circuit in Australasia. The outstanding Beautide is back to defend his title against a field severely weakened by withdrawals or no shows. Still Beautide can only beat what is placed in front of him and barring accidents that is exactly what he will do tomorrow afternoon. So here is our runner by runner preview of the Inter-Dominion Grand Final. 1) Lennytheshark - Starts 33 - Wins 16 - Seconds 10 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $468,,550 A genuine Grand Circuit horse who has come back at five in great touch. From the draw he can make his own luck but hard to see how going to war with Beautide will help his winning chances. Second looks his for the taking from the draw but not if he gets sucked into a arm wrestle with Beautide. The likely winner if anything goes wrong with the hot favourite so include in all bets. 2) Blazin N Cullen - Starts - 55 - Wins 15 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 7  -  Stakes $199,672 Surprisingly given a wildcard even though he only ran fourth in the weakest heat in the series. Did run second in the Gold Coast Cup and fourth in the Queensland Pacing Championship but both fields only had two genuine Grand Circuit horses involved in For A Reason and Avonnova so hard to give those results any weight in our view. Too many here going better so not for us 3) Flaming Flutter - Starts - 47 - Wins 16 - Seconds 10 - Thirds 8  -  Stakes $267, 395 In our view Flaming Flutter is in career best form and has run some great races this campaign. Has been racing regularly since August but he seems to be thriving on the long campaign. Really good sixth in the Hunter Cup followed by second in his heat to Lennytheshark shows us that Flaming Flutter from his handy draw is ready to run the race of his life tomorrow. A definite trifecta and first four player for us. 4) Ultimate Art - Starts 44 - Wins 19 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $305,753 Won the supplementary heat which was the weakest heat in our view and only after getting every possible advantage during the running. He is very honest but too many here have the class edge in our view. Not for us 5) Beautide -  Starts 71 - Wins 43 - Seconds 11 - Thirds 6  -  Stakes $1,562, 212 Just a class above this field. When right he only has two challengers on the Grand Circuit in Christen Me and Adore Me and with neither of them here this is his for the taking. Had a few issues leading into the Victoria Cup but heat win showed he was back to his best when he absolutely bolted in. Barring accidents Beautide just wins. 6) I'm Corzin Terror - Starts 66 - Wins 18 - Seconds 11 - Thirds 6  -  Stakes $329,982 Ran tough third in the Melton heat but  still hasn't convinced us that he is a player here That was the first show of form for a few runs after a poor tenth in the Victoria Cup and an ok seventh in the Hunter Cup. Gavin Lang is a notable help in the bike but still only an outside first four chance for us. 7) Monifieth - Starts 59 - Wins 17 - Seconds 8 - Thirds 7  -  Stakes $249,363 Ran a good third to Beautide in his heat but was a fair way from the first two. Very competitive at the level just below the Grand Circuit but a few here would seem to have his measure in our view. Even though he is as honest as they come, we struggle to see him being a player in the final. Not for us. 8) Majestic Mach - Starts 49 - Wins 32 - Seconds 6 - Thirds 5  -  Stakes $731, 354 Former outstanding two and three year old who has found the transition to the Grand Circuit a lot harder. Did go really well in his heat in Brisbane but we are convinced the reason for that was the manner in which he was driven. For once he was driven with a sit and as a result he rounded the race off really well. This track suits that style of racing but not convinced that is how he will be driven. Driven cold Majestic Mach is an outside trifecta and first four player 9) Terror To Love - Starts 73 - Wins 31 - Seconds 16 - Thirds 6  -  Stakes $2,353,353 The enigma of the field in every sense. If the real Terror To Love fronted tomorrow then Beautide would have some serious competition. But he has a terrible record at Menangle for a horse of his ability and to make matters worse he appears to be several lengths off his best at the moment. A career worst run in the Hunter Cup followed by a battling third in his heat against horses he would normally beat easily tells us that he will struggle tomorrow. Not for us. 10) David Hercules - Starts 99 - Wins 37 - Seconds 17 - Thirds 15  -  Stakes $1,189,419 Old warhorse from the west who has had a new lease of life this season now I'm Themightyquinn is not around in Perth. Sound sixth in the Victoria Cup in his only start in the east this season although he did race three back on the inner the whole trip. Draw makes it really tough for him but has more ability than quite a few here. Track will suit but needs to be driven cold in our opinion to come into play for trifecta and first four players at big odds. 11) For A Reason - Starts 50 - Wins 27 - Seconds 9 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $1,046,240 One of only two horses in this field that we think could possibly trouble Beautide if the favourite was to strike big trouble during the running. He is a proven Grand Circuit performer and followed an unlucky seventh in the Victoria Cup with a good second to Beautide in his heat. Was clear of the rest of the chasing pack that night and from one on the second line he should get a very economical run on Lennytheshark's back. Goes his best races with one run at them and drawn to get just that run. Major player for quinella, trifecta and first four takers. 12) Easy On The Eye - Starts 58 - Wins 17 - Seconds 11 - Thirds 10  -  Stakes $433,250 Only run of any note for us in this campaign was his good run for third in the Hunter Cup over 3280 metres so distance shouldn't be a worry you would think. However did get a beautiful run that night three pegs and draw here makes his task a huge one In New Zealand he had a reputation as a sprinter and was favoured over trips a lot shorter  than tomorrows. Run over in his heat over 2400 metres and that confirmed to us that he will struggle to be a major player here. Not for us. 13) Avonnova - Starts 121 - Wins 41 - Seconds 23 - Thirds 12  -  Stakes $588,569 Very under rated horse who has hardly put a foot wrong all season except when Shane Graham  had a brain fart in the Miracle Mile and went crazy early. Second line draw means he can stay out of the early speed duels for once and that gives him a place chance in our view. Tough as teak and track and distance will suit down to the ground. Trifecta and first four player for us. 14) Teo Enteo - Starts 62 - Wins 18 - Seconds 14 - Thirds 7  -  Stakes $217,827 Has had just a passable season at best and just battled into fourth in his heat. Stronger field and poor draw makes this mission impossible for him. Best we can see him finishing is midfield so not for us. 15) Franco Ledger (1st Emerg) - Starts 74 - Wins 22 - Seconds 11 - Thirds 6  -  Stakes $546,553 A combination of events led to him not getting one of the wildcard entries and it was nothing to do with the racing performances of Franco Ledger. It is a real shame because the track is perfect for his style of racing and he would have been a big trifecta and first four player in our opinion. If he somehow makes it into the race through a late scratching, then you need to include him in all your multis. 16) Wartime Sweetheart - Starts 135 - Wins 21 - Seconds 17 - Thirds 14  -  Stakes $268,376 Really hard to see her being competitive even if she did make it back into the field. Operates well at the level beneath the Grand Circuit but this is a bit rich for her. Not for us. SELECTIONS  Barring accidents Beautide appears to have a mortgage on the race. He made a real statement in his heat and looks yards better than the rest. Second is a toss up between Lennytheshark and For A Reason and we couldn't separate them. After that it gets real interesting and for trifectas and first fours we would include Flaming Flutter, David Hercules and Avonnova. For those wanting a wider coverage add in Im Corzin Terror and Majestic Mach. Harnesslink Media

All week the harness racing pundits previewing the Great Northern Oaks had predicted that Classical Art from barrier one would lead and control the race with the favourite The Orange Agent unlikely to get the lead off her. No one obviously told Maurice McKendry on The Orange Agent because he did exactly what everyone said couldn't be done. Maurice worked her forward from barrier four and grabbed the lead from Classical Art inside the first 200 metres and that effectively was race over. Allowed to get away with a couple of easier mid race sections, Maurice applied the pressure from a fair way out and then blew them away with a last half in 55.1 and quarter in 27.4 to cruise home home by five lengths in a new New Zealand record of 3:18.8 for the 2700 metres mobile. When talking to Harnesslink during the week, Maurice said contrary to what a lot of people thought, The Orange Agent could really leave the gate and he thought he would go forward. The daughter of American Ideal has been a revelation this season with her win tonight her seventh from just nine starts with her only unplaced run coming in the Sires Stakes Final for fillies on New Years eve when pushed out four wide by Democrat Party with a lap to go. The inexperienced Start Dreaming provided a minor highlight of the race by running home well for second to give American Ideal the quinella with Supersonic Miss holding on for third after sitting parked for the last 1200 metres and Classical Art disappointing in running fourth after having the run of the race. Maurice was pretty philosophical about the win post race. " I got the lead pretty easily really and there was no real pressure so I was pretty confident during the running that she would be tough to beat." " When you run home in front in 55 it makes it pretty hard for those behind you." " She knocked off a bit the last 100 metres when she was out on her own but she won with a bit in hand". " I like winning those Group 1 races because the extra money keeps the bank manager happy," Maurice said with a bit of a chuckle. Maurice thought that The Orange Agent would now head south to Addington. " The plan at the moment is to head south now for the New Zealand Oaks and Nevele R Fillies Final in early May," Maurice said. With a combination of a filly as talented as The Orange Agent and a driver right at the top of his game like Maurice McKendry, then you need to look no further for the favourite for the remaining fillies classics this season. Harnesslink Media  

The final heat for the two year old fillies in harness racing's Young Gun Series was held tonight at Alexandra Park  and it was no surprise when the two fillies from the All Star barn fought out a close finish with the resulted evenly shared. Dream About Me and Arden's Choice ran the quinella in the $25,000 Sires Stakes heat at Timaru when they were both on debut and they did it again tonight with Dream About Me again grabbing the win although the margin over  Arden's Choice was only a nose this time. The race turned into a bit of a melee early when both the well supported Nek Time and Goodlookingbabe galloped when disputing the lead after 300 metres which resulted in quite a few of the runners being checked. When the dust settled Gamma Lady and Josh Dickie were left in front with Dream About Me with Tim Williams in the bike parked on her wheel. Natalie Rasmussen set Arden's Choice alight at the 900 metres mark and she quickly made it to the death seat giving Dream About Me a lovely sit in the one by one. Those three went clear at the 400 metres and as they turned for home Ardens Choice worked to the front but was immediately challenged by Dream About Me who had cut the corner and snuck up the passing lane to save ground. There was nothing between them all the way up the straight but at the line Dream About Me was a nose to the good of Arden's Choice with a further 2 3/4 lengths back to Gamma Lady in third. The 1700 metres was cut out in 2:05, a mile rate of 1:58.3 with closing sectionals of 57.4 and 27.6 The runs of the first two were both full of merit and which ever one draws better in the $80,000 Final of the Young Guns next week probably deserves favouritism. Dream About Me did get her head around several times during the running and will benefit next week after her first run right handed. Dream About Me is an out and out "blue blood' being a  Bettor's Delight half sister to the champion Christen Me. Her dam of course is a half sister to Adore Me so it just doesn't get any better than that. Driver Tim Williams was happy enough with the run of Dream About Me. " She is still very green and has a lot to learn." " It was her first run right handed and she should benefit immensely from the experience." " Taking the passing lane helped her round the last bend and I was just lucky it worked out," Tim said. The All Stars pair look a class above the fillies to have raced in the series to date and appear the logical quinella in next weeks final. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing two year olds are only a week away from the first of this seasons Group 1 races with the the finals of the Young Guns series and Chase The Dream sent all the other two year olds involved in the colts section a clear message that he is the horse to beat next week with an emphatic victory at Alexandra Park tonight. Stable mate Lazarus has looked very professional in two earlier wins in the Young Guns series late last year but Chase The Dream was every bit as impressive tonight at Alexandra Park. Driver Natalie Rasmussen dropped him off the gate from barrier eight and Chase The Dream ended up last and fifteen lengths off the lead after 400 metres. Natalie then gave him his head and in the next 600 metres he went from last to first as he swept to the lead over last start winner Walkinshaw. Held back to the field down the back straight, Chase The Dream shot away at the point of the turn and gave nothing else a look in as he cruised home by 2 3/4 lengths. What made the run even more impressive was the 1700 metres was cut out in a quick 2:04.1, a mile rate of 1:57.3 with closing sectionals of 59 and 28.3 Chase The Dream won his debut run left handed when taking out the Sapling Stakes at Ashburton in 1:54.9 but Natalie was confident of his chances tonight right handed. " He actually goes better this way round at home," Natalie told Trackside prior to the race. A son of champion sire Bettor's Delight, Chase The Dream is from a Christian Cullen daughter of the former star two and three year old Western Dream 1:56.3 ($327,137) and was brought out of last years Premier Sale at Christchurch by long time All Star client, Jean Feiss of Melbourne for $52,500. Natalie was suitably impressed. " He is a very versatile little horse." " I think he is as quick as he is strong so you have options with him" " He felt really great out there tonight." " He is pretty green so it was good to give him a really good look at the track this week," Natalie said. The manner of Chase The Dream's victory tonight will have shaken the confidence of all of his opponents including Lazarus leading into next weeks $100,000  Young Guns Final. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing breeders are not a very patient lot at the best of times as most stallion owners will know from experience. Any new stallion is expected to preform miracles with their first crop and if they don't they are quickly written off and discarded by most breeders. In today's world of shuttle stallions where the best sires in the world are available to New Zealand breeders, there is no where for a promising sire to hide any more. To make an impact you have to face the Bettor's Delights and Art Majors of the world front on. The biggest problem that most of the newer stallions face is getting access to quality mares. It doesn't happen in most instances so the playing field is always heavily tilted in favour of the established sires. Therefore when the progeny of  a new sire do show up on the track and compete with the big boys, one has to take note. One of the newer sires we think is doing a good job off limited numbers is the son of The Panderosa in Panspacificflight 1:50.6 ($442,953). Available via frozen semen through Brent and Sheree McIntyre's stud, Macca Lodge, Panspacificflight looked a topliner in the making before injury curtailed his career. His maternal family is as good as it gets with his dam You Can Fly also producing Thereandpanlines 1:49.4 ($944,349). You Can Fly is also a half sister to the top sire Real Artist who has left the winners of over $78,000,00 to date including six millionaires and 24 in 1:50 and she is also a half sister to the dam of leading sire Art Major so it is a sire laden pedigree. His North American statistics are encouraging with him finishing sixteenth last year on the North American two year old sires list just behind Mach Three and ahead of McArdle and Jeremes Jet. He is just about to crack ten million in North American earnings so he does look a stallion on the up. In New Zealand his oldest crop are three year olds and number just 23 live foals. Of those twenty three, eighteen have qualified with five having won to date which is a great start The best of these is probably Little Rascal who was impressive winning from the Robert Dunn barn recently at Alexandra Park. Panspacificflight has 33 two year olds this season and again he has some promising performers. As of today seven have qualified and two have shown up on raceday to good effect. Arden's Choice looks a high class filly after a top second on debut at Timaru in a $25,000 Sires Stakes heat run just a touch outside the New Zealand record for the distance. She lines up again tonight at Auckland in a fillies heat of the Young Guns series and is a leading contender. Arden's Legacy ran third in last weekends $25,000 Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham and looks a very promising colt. Another colt to have made an impression this season was First Class Arden who qualified in 1:58.5 recently at Ashburton. All in all it is a very good start for a sire who hasn't had a lot of "blue blood" mares and has struggled for numbers as well. He is showing all the signs of being a successful sire and in our view deserves a bigger shot at really making it as a sire than breeders are currently giving him. Harnesslink Media

On paper, it looked like the Robert Dunn team number of chances at last nights harness racing meeting at Addington and so it proved. Overall there were three winning performances - Sheer Classs, Nikola and Maximum Power, while there were placings also with Little Lion Man (2nd to Nikola) and K C Monet. Sheer Class started the night on a positive note with a win in the amateurs for Ray Reekie. A bad draw and and a tough run wide for the last lap proved no problem for the 5yr old Live Or Die mare, that was registering win three of her career. The toughness she showed is a positive pointer to her prospects in the coming weeks.  Sheer Class registering the third win of her career driven by Ray Reekie  It was a stable quinella in the 5th of the night as the less favoured Nikola held a game The Lion Man. Nikola has been the subject of frustration for some time and the confidence levels were hardly very high. However, the even pace that was set throughout suited him on the night and after charging to the lead at the 200m he held out stablemate The Lion Man by a length in 3.20.7 for the 2600m stand. This win was no doubt very satisfying for his very loyal and patient band of owners. Nikola toughs it out for win 3 from 29 starts. Of the three winners for the night, it was the third of these Maximum Power that could not have been more impressive. In what was a pretty smart field for the junior drivers, he did a power of work over the last lap before surging to the lead at the 200m. In a driving finish, driver Matt Purvis got the best out of the the big Bettor's Delight gelding, coming home in impressive sections of 800m 56.7 and 400m 28.1. He certainly is a horse on the rise and with the toughness that he exhibited last night is sure to kick on to better company. Of note for driver Matt was that the win is the 15th of his career and he now has earned the right to drive on premier night programmes, a testament to the progress he has made as a driver this season. Its two from two for impressive winner Maximum Power Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing Stables  

David McCarthy does a great job at the All Stars Racing Stables with his previews of all of their runners each weekend and this week is no exception with his preview for the big weekend of harness racing ahead. With the kind permission of the All Stars team we have reprinted the preview below. Auckland - Friday night Race 2 Chase The Dream (8) Natalie Form: Impressive late run to win the Sapling Stakes on debut. Ability not in question. Comment: "First time that way round but he has high speed and he is also pretty tough. The sort of hors e you can use a bit and he will still kick on. Doing well up there too" Race 3 Wanna Play (3) Natalie Form: Broke last week after good racing in south Comment:  "One I am not too confident about. Standing starts are not really her thing and she is not quite as good right-handed. On ability she would win it but I have reservations" Race 4 Arden's Choice (6) Natalie    Form:  Strong second to stablemate at Timaru mile rate1.57 plus and home in fast time. Comment:  "There's not much between our fillies and I don't know a lot about some of the others. outside the two favoured ones. I will go with Dream About Me in spite of the draw but my drive Arden's Choice is up there with her and the run of the race will decide  the best of our pair. They haven't had a lot of practice raceday but should be ready.  Dream About Me (11) Tim Form: Won debut at Timaru. Hard form to fault. Comment: see above Race 6 Change Stride (10) Brent Mangos Form: Consistent form over the summer and again last week. Draw no help. Comment: Yes working ok up there and will go a good race but maybe just a little below our other two at this level. Kept Under Wraps (6) Natalie Form: Eye catching trial and then eye catching first upper last week. Danger here. Comment: "The boys up north are very pleased with him and he will improve a lot with that last run after one trial. He will improve again with this but is competitive.  Follow The Stars (13) Tim Form: Brave in Victoria Derby beaten by the draw. Not a good one here either. Comment: "Doing really well up there and I expect him to win even from that draw with any luck at all" Race 8 Classical Art (1) Natalie Form: Progressed nicely from quiet trial to bold run last week. Poised. Comment: "Nothing will beat her out of the gate but the decisions are not easy after that. If I don't go out of the gate she could end up pulling three back on the fence and that is no way to go about it. Its a question whether I hand up to one of the top ones and risk her tugging in the trail or just try and win it from the front which is  hard to do but she is capable of doing it. The tactics will be interesting but I expect her to lead early at least. Linda Lovegrace (5) Ricky May Form: Missed a race last week but flashed home strongly at Ashburton previously. Comment: "I am not too worried about her missing that race last week. She hasn't missed any work. Also she always seems to go really well when she is freshened. Her best races have sometimes been like that. So she is a contender though not my top one. Supersonic Miss (10) Tim Form: Showed her class as false odds last week. Super on best day. Comment:  "I think she is the best chance of the three actually. From that draw she will be out of the early rush and will have options after that. She thrives on racing and should only  have improved with that race.  She gets top billing. Race 9 Border Control (2) Tim Form: Did some work to lead last week from a handicap and beaten by passing lane. Ran fastest time. Still on up.   Comment: "Another good run from a handicap last week and he can still get better. Each way chance and a good one. Smolda (5) Natalie Form:  Outstanding first up last week from a long handicap and should only be improved Comment: "I think he can win. That is based on his first up run last week  which was great and his work this week has them really happy up north. He has stepped up they feel so he should be competitive in this field. " Menangle - Sunday Afternoon Race 3  Fight For Glory (11) Natalie  Form:  Easy winner of her heat and one of the hardest to beat here. Comment: "She doesn't need bad luck but she doesn't need good luck if you get what I mean. Even from that draw  if she gets a reasonable run she should be very hard to beat. Her heat run was most impressive. She is at the top of her game and I think unless I do something stupid or somebody else does she is the one to beat. Race 4 Adore Me ( 12) Natalie Form: Went 1.51 last week but has a woeful draw. Comment: " Mark was happy to just do the training for the day as I am driving the others and if anything comes up he has the time to deal with it. It is all good news on the training front from Sydney. I don't know about that draw, whether to go straight out of the gate or wait a few seconds and see what happens. There is a bit of speed on the front line so it will be interesting. I notice that while Ruby did it hardly any horses win at Menangle  when parked so we will have to see.  She is the best horse in  the race so unless I stuff it up she should still be the horse to beat. We would decide on an Auckland Cup run after seeing how hard a race she has " Race 5 Hug The Wind (1) Natalie Form: Devastating heat win makes him favourite. Draw might be tricky. Comment: "As I said I would actually have preferred a gate one or two out. You need gatespeed from one and fortunately he has it  What unfolds from there is not so easy to predict.  You run the risk of getting trapped if you hand up to the wrong horses. He is really well and probably the one to beat" Race 6 Isaiah (5) Natalie  Form: Outstanding leadup over a mile last week and improved with that Comment: Well he has stepped up all season really but this will be his biggest test. Sky Major in particular looked very impressive last week and Bling It On is highly rated so from 5 I will just have to see what develops. It was a great leadup last week and he will improve with that so I am very hopeful he can pull it off" Cheviot - Sunday Afternoon Race9 Sophisticated Lady (3) Jim Curtin Emeli Maguire (4) Ricky May Northern Velocity (10) Matt Comment : "Northern Velocity would be the pick of them but she has that woeful draw which will not help.She hopped out of her gear last week but it was just that she lost concentration. She is still a bit  dumb when it comes to racing. The other two are sort of in the same boat. Emeli Maguire might have a break after this. We will see how she goes. She is a lanky filly and has some growing to do. Sophisticated Lady had a run just good enough to qualify at the trials with a race coming up. She might also need a little break after this we will see. Northern Velocity wouldn't want to be giving the other two too much ground turning for home but if all goes well she will be the best of them" Courtesy of All Star Racing Stables - Check Site here                                                                                                                                                                             

Brian Hughes has a habit of winning the Group One Northern Oaks every decade…..and his 10-year anniversary just happens to be at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park this Friday night.   The man they call Bunty bred, owned and trained Iman to win the 1995 edition of the Group One classic for 3-year-old fillies, and then in 2005 Hughes owned and trained Tosti Girl to her neck victory over Cruzee Lass. They were the first and fourth favourites respectively. This Friday Hughes will line up one of the best fillies he has ever co-owned, co-bred or trained in the Pascoes The Jewellers sponsored 2700m mobile feature – and naturally The Orange Agent will again be a hot favourite.   “She’s a classy mare all right. She has come through her last win very well. She’s eaten up everything and is rearing to go. She hasn't had a workout or trial since that race but Dad (Bunty) has been putting the work into her.   “From the draw she is going to be tough to beat,” said Gareth Hughes, son of Bunty, and a man who does a lot with his father’s team.   The Orange Agent has drawn perfectly at four this week and compared to her six draw last time out in the second $20,000 Nevele R Fillies heat.   That night she looked like she would have to settle for the runner-up prize after second favourite Democrat Party got away from her on the home turn.   “She’s got a bad habit of drifting wide simply because she goes too fast for her own good around the final bend. Once she got balanced up last start she came again to win. That was a very good performance.   “We are confident she will fly around the final corner untroubled this time,” Hughes said.   The 3-year-old daughter of American Ideal and Lady Fingers has now won seven of her 12 starts and just over $105,000 in purses.   She is yet to nail a Group One victory but did win the $80,000 Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park in December.   All seven of her wins have been at at northern headquarters, but she is yet to start over the 2700m.   “The distance won’t hurt her, especially from the draw. The Oaks has been one of Dad’s main targets with her for some time now. It’s a race that means a lot to him. He’s already won it twice,” Hughes junior said.   Another race that means a great deal to Hughes is the Great Northern Derby, which will be run on Friday week – Auckland Cup night.   The Hughes trained Hughie Green will line up one of the favourites in the sixth race on Friday – the $20,000 Derby Prelude.   With some of the best 3-year-olds missing this week a good performance will be required to make the final Derby field.   Follow The Stars, fresh from his placings in Australia, will be tough to beat but Hughes is confident Hughie Green will put in another bold showing.   “He did really well to beat Ohoka Punter last start and Dad says he’s progressed nicely since then. Both he and The Orange Agent have done everything he has asked of them.   "If I was going to single one out at this stage it would be ‘Agent’, simply because she has the better draw and the Derby Final isn’t for another nine days. Sure we will be trying to win it but the main goal is to make the final,” said Hughes.   In fact the Hughes team has five winning chances on Friday.   Gamma Lady won well here a month ago on debut and then was a nice workouts winner on Saturday. Hughes rated her right up there with The Orange Agent as one of his stable’s best winning chances in race four.   “She is flying at the moment for a young horse that has only had one run." "My Kiwi Mate can also win the last race, while Girls Are Better can also follow up her good trial form in ‘Gamma’s’ race,” said Hughes.   “She ran a nice second behind Gamma Lady in the same Workout at ‘The Park’ on Saturday,” he added. Duane Ranger - Courtesy of Steve Richardson (TAB)

From choosing thirteen winners one week and being on top of the world, our tipsters went straight to the other end of the spectrum last week with just three winners. Maurice McKendry, Jim Curtin and Ricky May saved the blushes a bit and we did manage to pick up nine placings over the weekend so we weren't that far away. This week there is only four meetings and we have selections for them all. Rangiora - Thursday night Gerard O'Reilly  - Gives Franco Tariq a good chance of leaving maidens by winning race 2 Jim Curtin - Thought Party Rage was a big chance to leave maidens, also in race 2 Terry Chmiel - Rates Go Collect a big chance of going back to back in winning race 5   Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Thought Bonechip was getting close to another win and it could come in race 1 Todd Mitchell - Thinks Prime Power even from 40 metres will be hard to hold out, also in race 1 Scott Phelan - Gives Mach Time  a real chance of making a winning debut in race 2 Blair Orange - Quite bullish about the chances of Barry in race 3 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Idle Bones could turn her form around and win race 5 John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of Kincaslough winning, also in race 5 Zac Butcher - Thinks Lancewood Lizzie will be very hard to beat in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Orange Agent the one to beat from her handy draw in race 8 Tim Williams - Gives Supersonic Miss a huge chance of winning two in a row, also in race 8   Winton - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Likes the chances of Zen Warrior overcoming barrier 14 and winning race 3 Clark Barron - Thought Canterbury visitor Crackabella would be very hard to beat in race 7 Matthew Williamson - Gives Al Raza a real chance of upsetting Pulp Fiction in race 9 Shane Walkinshaw - Reckons Give Me The Night is still on the improve and will win race 11 Brendon McLellan - Even from wide second line draw thought Leigh Major could win, also in race 11    Cheviot - Sunday afternoon Bob Butt - Rates The Deserter as very hard to hold out in race 3 Brad Williamson - Gave Father Christmas a big chance of taking out race 4 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Clover Don is nearing peak form and can win race 8 John Curtin(Harnesslink) Reckons Northern Velocity can bounce back from last week and win race 9 Ricky May - Thought that Cullen Keefe had been unlucky lately and would win race 11   Harnesslink Media

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This seasons harness racing two year olds have been competing in heats of the Young Guns series since before Xmas and the best of both the colts and fillies run in their respective finals on Friday night.. We plan to preview them both and first up is the colts and geldings final. $100,000 Young Guns Colts and Geldings Final 1) Lazarus - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Two starts for two wins late last year stamped this colt as a very smart juvenile. In both of his races Lazarus drew badly but on both occasions he overcame the draw to win in style. After a short break he can be expected to come back even better and looms as one of the two leading chances, especially from the draw. 2) El Jacko - Gelding by Elsu   -   Trainers - Logan Hollis * Shane Robertson Two starts in his debut season for two sixths. Hasn't disgraced himself in either race but hasn't threatened the placegetters either Hard to make a case for him as a first four player. 3) Code Black - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Robert Dunn One of the more experienced horses in the final with his four starts yielding one win and two fourths. Has beaten most of the field at various times this season outside of the two favourites. Definite trifecta and first four player but hard to see him beating the All Stars pair. 4) Max Phactor - Colt by Art Major   -   Trainer - Mike Berger Beat the older horses on debut at Cambridge in the first of his four starts this season. Has been competitive but not compelling in his three races since. Does have good gate speed but hard to see him finding the front with Lazarus drawn inside of him. Has yet to beat Walkinshaw in three attempts so hard to see him beating the favoured pair here. First four player only for us. 5) Chase The Dream - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainers - Mark Purdon * Natalie Rasmussen Stunning debut win at Ashburton in the Sapling Stakes in 1:54.8 was followed by an equally impressive win last week at Alexandra Park where after being last early, he looped the field midrace and then ran away and hid in the straight in a 1:57.3 mile rate. Has shown real gate speed at trials in Canterbury so can go forward from better draw this week. One of the two leading chances for us. 6) Walkinshaw - Colt by Mach Three   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy Started the season with a tidy run for fifth first up and has got better with every run since. Nice win two starts back and smart second to Chase The Dream last week after leading from barrier seven. Just appears a touch behind the All Stars pair but looks the best of the rest to us. Tony Herlihy in the bike is a big plus for us. 7) Mach Time - Gelding by Mach Three   -   Trainers - Steve Telfer * Chris Garlick Very inexperienced horse who was having his debut run last week when he ran fourth to Chase The Dream. Held in very high regard by his trainers but draw and lack of raceday experience are big negatives for us. Can run first four with a run to suit.  8) Dark Energy - Colt by Bettors Delight   -   Trainer - Tony Herlihy His two runs to date have resulted in a fourth and a fifth and both times from favourable inside draws. His draw of eight and the strength of the field makes it very hard to see him as a player here. Not for us Selections The All Stars duo look to have a class edge over this field and the big decision is which one of the two do we favour. Most pundits are leaning towards Lazarus from the draw, but we have gone with the stablemate Chase The Dream. His two runs to date have been outstanding and last weeks look at Alexandra Park will have helped him bigtime. Lazarus has all the ringcraft of a natural two year old and could just as easily beat Chase The Dream but either way there will not be much in it. Walkinshaw is a clear third for us on the back of his last couple of runs andTony Herlihy in the bike. For first fours we like Code Black, Max Phactor and Mach Time. Harnesslink Media 
New Zealand has it’s very own World Champion. Dexter Dunn took out the title of 2015 World Driving Champion on Sunday after competing in 20 heats against nine of the best harness racing drivers from all over the world. After having an unassailable lead heading into the final race, Dunn finished off the Championships in style when he won the heat and added to his already impressive statistics. From the 20 heats held in New South Wales over the last week, Dunn won five, had six seconds and three thirds. He won with a record 200 points, an amount that has never been reached in a World Driving Championship before. Dunn, who is 25, follows fellow Kiwi horseman; Kevin Holmes, Robert Cameron, Maurice McKendry, Tony Herlihy and Mark Jones as a winner of the series since it was first competed for in 1970. “It is only just sinking in because this is the sort of thing you don’t expect to happen so early in your career,” Dunn said. Dunn returned home last night (Monday) and will now settle back into the swing of things here in New Zealand as he looks to wind up what will be his eighth consecutive national drivers’ premiership. With 125 New Zealand wins next to his name, Dunn has a 60 win buffer on his nearest rival, Blair Orange. The full results of the 2015 World Driving Championships are as follows: 1. Dexter Dunn (NZL) 200 2. Tony Le Beller (FRA) 146 3. Tim Tetrick (USA) 142 4. Mika Forss (FIN) 139 5. Jody Jamieson (CAN) 132 6. Knud Mönster (DEN) 122 7. Chris Alford (AUS) 119 8. Pierre Vercruysse (FRA) 119 9. Guillermo Adrover (ESP) 101 10. Vidar Hop (NOR) 100
Harness racing breeders in New Zealand have been quick in the last fifteen years to give our locally bred champions a real chance in the breeding shed with the likes of Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire fueling that to a degree. One of the more recent stallions to be given his chance is the In The Pocket entire, Changeover. With Christen Cullen and Courage Under Fire also being sons of In The Pocket and with Changeover being the biggest stake winner of the three by some margin, breeders have given him every chance to establish himself against most of the leading sires in the world today who either shuttle to New Zealand or have frozen semen available to breeders. His first crop are currently three year olds in New Zealand and number 151 foals. The statistics around that crop make good reading half way through their three year old season as the graph below shows. Foals - 151,   Qualifiers - 81,  % Qualifiers to foals  - 53.6,  Winners - 25,  % Winners to foals - 16.5 A lot of the eighty one three year olds that have qualified have been placed already and that winners percentage will go up a lot in the next six months. So on the surface Changeover appears to be well on his way to becoming a successful sire but in our view he has one box that he has yet to tick. And that is the box of weather he can leave that elite level horse that can win an Oaks or a Derby. The Great Northern Oaks didn't have a Changeover in the field last week and this week there are no Changeover's in the Great Northern Derby. Head over the Tasman last weekend and it is the same story with Changeover having no runners in either the New South Wales Oaks or New South Wales Derby. He does have several runners in both countries who are not far away from that level but are struggling to make the step up. One Over and Prince Of Pops are both smart three year olds but just a notch below the best ones in New Zealand while Nuala is going great in Perth but the overall standard in the west is not what it is in the eastern seaboard of Australia or New Zealand. The second crop of Changeover numbers 99 live foals that are two year olds this season and he has already left a winner and several qualifiers. One of those qualifiers Linton Shard has looked to us like the horse that might make the breakthrough at classic level for Changeover. He has trialed super in Canterbury from the Cran Dalgety barn locking horns with most of the All Stars runners and has more than held his own. A big overgrown type, the half brother to Smiling Shard and Pemberton Shard looks just the type to develop into a classic winning three year old next season. If Changeover can produce a couple like him in the next twelve months then he will be well on the way to carving out a niche for himself in the fiercely competitive New Zealand sires market. Harnesslink Media 
Harness racing followers on both sides of the Tasman are never slow to claim the superiority of their racehorses when stock bred in their country have a big day on the Australasian harness racing scene. So it is no surprise today that Kiwi breeders and enthusiasts are feeling very smug after the huge day at Menangle yesterday by racehorses with the prefix NZ beside their name. Their were seven Group 1 races yesterday and Kiwi breds won four with Australian breds winning two and the Europeans one. And all that success on Australia's biggest harness racing day and in their  own backyard makes it all the more memorable for the Kiwis. There were a couple of constants throughout the day and that was the dominance of Bettor's Delight and Art Major in the Group 1 pacing races. Of the six pacing Group1 races that pair won four with the tally being two a piece. Fight For Glory in the New South Wales Oaks and Sky Major in the Chariots Of Fire did Art Major proud while Adore Me and Beautide made sure Bettor's Delight hogged the limelight as well. Both sires had multiple runners in most of the Group 1 races and Bettor's Delight ended up with five placed runners and Art Major two placed runners to reinforce their dominance. A lot of comment has been made in recent years from leading Australian breeders about how they were getting on top of their Kiwi counterparts. They put this down to the ever increasing number of well bred Kiwi mares who now call Australia home and that they saw a time in the not to distant future where the Australian bred horse would dominate racing in Australia. New Zealand breeders from the start of this industry in New Zealand have sold racemares and broodmares to Australia and will continue to do so in the future. It has never affected the ability of the New Zealand breeder to churn our those top horses year in year out. With Bettor's Delight serving 301 mares in New Zealand this year and Art Major over 170 there will be no shortage of horses by these two dominant sires in New Zealand in the next few years. Throw in the likes of Mach Three (130) and newcomers such as A Rocknroll Dance (161) and next year the recently announced Sweet Lou and there is a real confidence amongst New Zealand breeders that the glory days are far from coming to an end. Harnesslink Media
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