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First wins and upsets at Addington

Woodend based trainer and advanced amateur driver Miranda Hallett had 3x the number of reasons to celebrate last night after she was successful behind Tufflittlerooster. Not only did Hallett train and drive the 5yo Live Or Die gelding she also lease’s him. Drawn nicely in barrier 3, Miranda quickly had her charge in front where she was able to rate her drive to absolute perfection. While amateur racing is widely known to be run at fast speeds, Tufflittlerooster was able to get away with cheap sectionals thanks to the unusual lack of attackers. Striding down the back in 29.5, Tufflittlerooster always looked to have plenty in the bag winning by a nose over Red River Lochee (John McDermott) with ½ neck back to Cimarron (Wayne Low) in 3rd. The overall time of 3:16.6 and mile rate of 2:01.6 further kicked home how well the winner was rated by Hallett and the fight shown by the well named Tufflittlerooster should see these two visit the winners circle again. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sunny Ruby and Sam Smolenski continue their path towards the Cambridge Jewels with a handy win in last night’s feature trot. Kept away from the Rowe Cup, Smolenski has kept his star mare ticking along down south. Known for her incredible high speed, Sunny Ruby looks the main danger to superstar trotter Monbet at the Jewels and is likely to start 2nd favourite. A comfortable winner by 1 ¼ lengths last night in a handy field, the 4yo Sundon mare cut out her last 800m in 58.2 with the last 400 in a slick 27.8. While from her 40m back mark she trotted the overall 2600m trip in 3.18. Le Lievre’s Gift finished runner up for trainer/driver Jim Curtin, with a further 5 ¾ lengths to Arran Chief in 3rd place for another trainer/driver Andrew Faulks. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ray Green caused one of the upsets of the night when his smart 2yo Art Major colt Vasari won heat 3 of the Garrards Sire Stakes Series no33. Driven aggressively by David Butcher from a wide barrier draw, Vasari found himself in front after 400m and Butcher was able to dictate as he does best. With Mark Purdon launching More The Better around the field to find the parked spot at the 1000m, these two talented colts went to war, cutting out the last quarter in 26.7. Butcher was at his absolute best, stealing a cheap 31.2 quarter between the 800 and 400 which ultimately set up his 26.7 quarter and the winning of the race, being able to hold More The Better out by a head. Mongolian Storm finished 3rd beaten 2 ¼ lengths with a further ¾ lengths back to the 4th placed Pacing Major. Paying $10.10 and $2.30 on the tote, Vasari got value punters off to a great start and with Golden Goddess causing the major upset of the night, punters who love to stay away from the short prized favourites would have been laughing to themselves. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Golden Goddess and Michelle Neilson provided the most unexpected upset when they won heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series by 3 lengths. While not a surprise to see an All Stars runner winning by such a large margin, it was the fact that the 3yo Art Major filly, owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth beat previously unbeaten and highly talented Dream About Me. Sent forward by Neilson, Golden Goddess was another allowed to dictate in front and with sectionals of 56 and 25.9, she was never in doubt. While beaten into 2nd and never looking likely, Dream About Me would have lost no admirers considering she was first up for 8 weeks and likely to improve off the back of a sharp 1950m event cut out in 2:22.4, with the last mile recorded in 1:57.4. The next up assignment for both fillies and Vic Oaks winner Piccadilly Princess is the Nevele R Fillies Series Final on the 14th May. These 3 smart fillies are set to clash 3 times over the following 5 weeks. There doesn’t appear to be much between the fillies with draws likely to dictate the result. Andrew Fitzgerald

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Big guns dominate at Alexandra Park

Everything went to plan for the four harness racing big guns tonight at the Auckland Trotting Club's meeting at Alexandra Park. Spanish Armada got things off to a flying start when she was successful in the $138,000.00 Group 1 Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship. Away nicely from barrier 6, co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen had the classy 2yo Bettor’s Delight in front and dictating after 300m. No one was keen to take the recent Caduceus Club Final winner on and she was allowed to stride along in front. While some punters who took the $1.30 around the favourite would have been nervous when the Mark Jones trained filly Delightful Memphis popped out of her 1-1 spot to issue a serious challenge, to wear the leader down to just a winner margin of a neck. The winner’s time for the 1700m trip was 2:02.3, Last mile in 1.55.7 – 800m 56.4 – 400m 27.7. The PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final set down for the 13th May will be the next clash of these two talented fillies. No doubt with a handy draw Delightful Memphis could turn the tables on the top seed Purdon/Rasmussen runner. Spanish Armada _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tonight’s Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby victory for Marcoola once again justified owner/driver Clint Ford’s decision to not sell his star 3yo colt. With an offer reportedly around the $250,000.00 mark, Ford was quick to make it clear that he wouldn’t be for sale. Since that offer Marcoola has won just over $120,000.00 in stakes, while adding the NZ Trotters Derby, Sire Stakes Trotting Championship and now the Northern Trotting Derby to his resume. A 3yo Colt by Champion sire Sundon out of the Ford Family’s handy race mare Arabess – Marcoola is the horse most people dream of breeding and owner themselves. A smart drive from Clint tonight got the chocolates as he once again showcased his class by demolishing a top class field. Allowed to settle early by Ford, Marcoola was then set around to find the top, this move left 2nd favourite High Gait in a world of trouble covered up four back the pegs. In a surprise move, High Gait’s driver Natalie Rasmussen was happy to stay tucked along the rail and was seen storming home for an unlucky 3rd. Marcoola went to the line, with plenty in the tank as Ford only flicked the reins at his charge in the home straight to score by 1 length in an overall time of 3:23.7, Mile rate of 2:01.4 – 800m in 58.2 – 400m in 29.6. The Harness Jewels looks his race to lose on the back of this 7 race winning streak. Marcoola _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Field Marshal was another short favourite to salute the judge, this time doing the sort after Taylor Mile/Messenger double. After a huge performance in last weeks Taylor Mile, Trainer Tim Butt was confident his top class Art Major 4yo would handle every part of the 2700m trip.  Given a lovely trip by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Field Marshal was dominate beating Australia visitor My Kiwi Mate by 1 ¼ Lengths in a sizzling 3:15.8. With tonight’s victory, Field Marshal climbs over the $250,000.00 mark in stakes earnings, with a healthy record of 14 wins from just the 25 starts. While Field Marshal in a clear leader on top of the Harness Jewels leader board, Australian My Kiwi Mate catapulted himself into 22nd spot, just $10,000.00 short of the 12th place Captain Doimio. With connections chasing a jewels spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see My Kiwi Mate line up at Alexandra Park over the next few weeks in order to qualify. The 4yo Jewels invite is likely to go to the Amanda Turnbull trained Tact Tate, who will make their decision in the coming days. Field Marshal _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Superstar trotter Monbet was absolutely sensational in the 2016 Rowe Cup, winning from an awkward, inside the back row draw. Trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet started one of the hottest favourites in history after arch rival Speeding Spur was stuck down by a suspensory injury that could see him sidelined for 10-12 months. Away nicely from the tapes, Monbet settled in before driver Ricky May sent the $1.11 favourite around to the lead with two laps to run. From there on after the 4yo Love You gelding never looks in danger. Owned by the Hopes and M J Molloy, they also turned down a reported offer of $600,000.00 a few weeks back. Since that offer Monbet has earn't a tidy $184,000.00. Co trainer Greg Hope confirmed last night that providing his charge recovers well they will look to take their place in the Cambridge Harness Jewels, where he will start one of the shortest jewels favourites ever. Waimate trotter Valmagne was the run of the race behind the winner. Co Trainer Josh Kennett was stoked with the performance of his stable star, “He has gone super, last week he broke just as he was getting into it” said Kennett. Monbet Andrew Fitzgerald

Dexter Dunn, harness racing

Dexter Dunn returning to drive in UK & Ireland

World champion harness racing driver Dexter Dunn has confirmed that he will be coming to drive in Wales, UK for the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland on August 2 at Tir Prince and to return to the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin, Ireland August 13 and 14. Dunn, the reigning World Champion driver from New Zealand, took Ireland by storm last year and now is setting his sights on the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland at Tir Prince. “When Derek Delaney contacted me about coming back this summer to Ireland and if I was interested in also including the Breeders Crown in Wales, Dunn said, “It fit in good with my racing calendar and there wasn’t much hesitation in saying yes!” David Wilson, chairman of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland that will take place at Tir Prince in Wales, August 2, was ecstatic when he heard the Dexter Dunn was coming. “This is the tenth anniversary of the BC and what fantastic news to have,” Wilson beamed, “Dexter Dunn showed everyone at Portmarnock last year of his great ability to drive a horse and I am sure his services on Breeders Crown Day will be much in demand from trainers and owners alike. “Having Dexter coming is fabulous,” Wilson added, “We have the inaugural All American Bred Filly Pace for two-year-olds this year, a bumper crop of horses eligible for the Breeders Crown and purses that could exceed £35,000, harness racing tour groups coming from around the world and now the news that Dexter Dunn will be driving on the program is just great.” “I had such a blast in Ireland last year,” Dunn said, “It was such a great experience and now I am going to enhance it by driving at Tir Prince on their Breeders Crown program. It will be awesome to get back over and catch up with all the nice people over there that treated me so well last year, and of course, to have a few beverages as well!” “We are both delighted and honoured to have a world class driver such as Dexter come to Tir Prince to drive,” said Eric Witherspoon, Racing Director at Tir Prince. “I had the pleasure of being at Portmarnock last year and like everyone else who was present I was in awe of his reinsmanship. We cannot wait to see him on the track. “On 2nd August Breeders Crown night,  it is one of the most eagerly anticipated nights of the year,” Witherspoon explained, “when the very best juveniles from Britain and Ireland compete for top prize money, the racing will be top class and Dexter’s attendance will be the cherry on the cake. We also have the Ephie Mather Memorial Trot which is a Free For All Trot For International Trotters.” Witherspoon noted that Dexter Dunn will also be in attendance on Tuesday 9th August at Tir Prince when the track hosts the 2 mile Free For All Pace that is being sponsored by John Howard. Track management hopes that the track record for 2 miles will be shattered on this night and with Dunn’s experience in long distance races makes him someone to not bet against him driving the record breaker. Dunn then returns to Dublin, Ireland for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend the 13th and 14th of August and race committee head, Derek Delaney, see’s Dunn’s return as a major boost to the weekend. “I have kept in contact with Dexter during the off-season,” Delaney said. “And he was keen to come back for the VDM and to drive at Tir Prince. So much so that he bought in as part of a syndicate on the two-year-old filly, Oakwood’s Dragoness. “Dexter, along with Cran Delgaty, Clive and Anne Dalton, Mick Harvey, Oakwood Stud, Lee Edwards, Dean Russell, Simon Elvin and Paul Johnson,” Delaney said, “are all in and this filly is eligible to the new American bred pace at Tir Prince. Wouldn’t that be great if Dexter could win that race with her?” It would seem that Dexter Dunn has his work cut out for him while on holiday this summer in the UK and Ireland. “It’s not work at all driving horses,” Dunn said, “I hope I have a drive in every race. I love it.” Will there be some traveling for Dunn this August? “Yeah, I’m looking to do a bit of tripping around while I am over,” Dunn said. “I haven’t planned what or where yet through. I had such a super time last year.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

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Pep talk sticks with Ford

If Marcoola becomes New Zealand's latest dual Trotting Derby winner tonight driver Clint Ford will have an unusual mentor to thank --- champion rugby coach Robbie Deans. After clearly outstaying the same rivals in the Sires' Stakes last Friday, Marcoola looks perfectly suited by tonight's 2700m mobile and may have gained enough respect to earn himself the lead. If he does that it would seem only High Gait, who was a brave fourth after galloping last Friday, should test him, especially if she trailed from the ace draw. But as so often happens with three-year-old trotters, Marcoola looks to be holding his peak form and it will take a very good horse to run him down. Which puts Ford in a group one hot seat, a place he is starting to feel more comfortable even against driving superstars like Herlihy, McKendry, May and Rasmussen. Ford does the driving of Marcoola in a family training set-up which sees his father Ken officially train the three-year-old, while sister Amanda Tomlinson also works horses from the same Canterbury property. "It is a real family affair but I do all the work with this horse," says Clint. "He trotted great last week but it almost wasn't until about half an hour after the win last week it sunk in what we are achieving. "When you are out there driving it is just like a maiden race, its the same type of stuff but its after you win a race like the Derby you realise it is quite a big deal."
 Ford says while driving in the big time initially took him out of his comfort zone, that was the same when he played rugby, in which he made it all the way to the verges of the Canterbury NPC squad. "Back then my coach at Canterbury Country was Robbie Deans and he always said if you want to get anywhere near the top, you have to be able to push through your comfort zone. "I have never forgotten that, it has always stuck with me. So when I started getting out here driving in these big races, I tried to enjoy in, even though I wasn't comfortable to start with. "And now I am a lot more relaxed." So too is Marcoola, who even after a hard run last Friday has thrived this week. As good as High Gait is, she is probably going to need the perfect trail and one passing lane shot to get past the southerner tonight. While Ford is still coming to grips with the big time, one of the most relaxed men in harness racing will dominate tonight's other group one trot. Ricky May should only have to keep superstar trotter Monbet out of trouble to win the $150,000 Rowe Cup, even though it is his first start over 3200m. The four-year-old has been sensational all season and with the three other best trotters in the country sidelined, tonight's race is his to lose. His draw of one on the second line is hardly ideal but it also allows May to drive conservatively before moving mid-race, not the worst scenario for a young horse against the hardened pros over the extreme distance. Of those rivals only Sheemon is a serious group one winner so looks the obvious threat in a race that suits him. Courtesy of Michael Guerin

Final weekend to enter Name “Pinky’s” Foal Contest

If the extra distance of tonight's $100,000 Messenger is the only major question hanging over the head of hot favourite Field Marshal, then trainer Tim Butt is a happy man. Because he says the extra lap of Alexandra Park than what his stable star covered on the way to a brilliant win in the Taylor Mile last Friday shouldn't put punters off. Field Marshal defied the usual Taylor Mile racing pattern by coming from third last at the 1200m mark to loop the field four wide and bolt in, suggesting he has a decent class edge on most he meets tonight. He has been on an impressive improvement curve this season, with a throat operation last year enabling him to show his rare true potential. But his only two defeats this season though have both been at 2600m mobile, when he was outstayed in consecutive starts at Oamakau and Addington in January, at least raising the question of his stamina rating. Butt says he doesn't expect that to undo Field Marshal tonight. "That was a lot earlier in his campaign and while he is a fast horse, he is also a very relaxed horses so I don't think distance will bother him," said Butt. "I know some people might worry because of his past throat problem but it was one of those ones where the operation to fix it either works or it doesn't, and in his case it has." Field Marshal has the gate speed to go forward and try and dominate a race that seems to lack many natural attackers but regardless of where he ends up, he is clearly the horse to beat. My Kiwi Mate should be better over the longer distance and wasn't suited by having to sit parked last Friday so he looks the each way value. Hug The Wind is drawn to be close to the action and warrants respect as does Bettor Spirits in a field where those who don't have to burn too hard early should profit. Earlier in the night it is impossible to go past Spanish Armada in the $150,000 Fillies Sires' Stakes. "She put a line in the sand last week to say she is the best of this crop and I think the draw suits her," says co-trainer Mark Purdon. But Purdon warns there will be little between three-year-old stablemates Dream About Me and Golden Goddess when they resume at Addington tonight. Courtesy of Michael Guerin

Auckland Deputy Mayor turned the first sod on Thursday 28 April to officially mark the second stage of construction for Alexandra Park’s significant urban village development. The occasion took place at Alexandra Park’s former car-park on Green Lane West. Australasian construction company Ganellen will build the development’s second stage which will include two integrated buildings with 128 one-to-three-bedroom apartments and 2,500sqm of ground-floor retail space. Building B1 comprises of nine levels above ground, while Building B2 has five. The second stage will include 248 carparks within a shared two-level basement. Chief executive of Alexandra Park, Dominique Dowding says: “This is another great milestone for Alexandra Park and is one of the largest brownfield developments currently happening in the city. Having Ganellen construct stage two reinforces our complete focus on quality. We’re determined to be leaders.” Ganellen project leader Michael Doig says: “We’re delighted to lend our experience and expertise to this first-class urban village development. This is our first major new build project in Auckland and is completely in line with the type of large residential projects that we have built our reputation upon in Sydney.” Residents start moving into stage one from mid next year. Apartment sales for both stages have been strong, with the on-site apartment display suite open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visitingwww.apliving.co.nz  

Superstar 3yo trotter Marcoola is looking to add the Group 1 Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby. Unbeaten in his pervious 6 starts including the NZ Derby, Marcoola was dominate winning basically untouched last week by ¾ Lengths. That was his first start right handed at “The Park”. Drawn well in barrier 2, Marcoola’s main danger appears to be handy Purdon/Rasmussen filly High Gait. The Muscles Yankee’s filly was huge last week after an early mistake cost her plenty of ground. She was seen storming home for co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen to finish 4th, only beaten 5L. An improved effort from Wilma’s Mate is expected, even after a early break last week, the Pegasus Spur filly looked to be coming into the race nicely before struggling to handle the last bend. Driver David Butt was unable to let his charge fully extend in the home straight. One of the races of the night, these trotters do battle at 8.14pm. Andrew Fitzgerald

A big night for leading Junior Driver Brad Williamson as he extended his lead in the premiership to 29 wins. Saluting the judge on 3 runners tonight, Brads winning treble started in race 5 with Winners Shout, a 3yo Great Success gelding owned by Brad and Grant Gray who is trained by Phil Williamson. $6.10 - $2.10 were the tote odds for Winners Shout. “He has plenty of ability and did it really nice tonight” said Brad. In the next race Williamson drove Elusive Flight, a recent addition to the Graeme Anderson team Williamson was filling in for stable junior driver Rory Mcllwrick who is currently suspended. Forced to drag back from a wide barrier draw, Brad was quick to put the 7 Elsu gelding into the race. Finding the front near the 1400m, Elusive Flight ran away with the junior driver’s event, winning by 4 ¼ lengths over Happy As Larry (Stevie Golding) and No More Change (Craig Ferguson) paying a handy $11.50 - $3.00 Elusive Flight was purchased off www.horsetrader.kiwi by Charlotte Purvis, A D Gow, S R Pulley and R Chalklin. The win brought up ownership win no 1 for Charlotte, who’s brother Matt Purvis is a leading junior driver based in Canterbury with Robert Dunn, while Charlotte’s partner is Oamaru based driver Matthew Williamson. “It’s very exciting to get my first ownership win, big thanks go to trainer Graeme Anderson for a great trainer performance and also Brad (Williamson) for a wonderful drive. Hopefully it won’t be our last visit to the winners circle!” said Charlotte. Caesar Rocks brought up the treble for Williamson paying a massive $56.10 - $11.50. “He went nice a few starts ago, but last start didn’t offer too much confidence, he didn’t have to do anything tonight and the luck went our way to get over top of them” said Brad The victory brought up win number 1 for Lionel Sinnamon for the 15/16 season and also Caesar Rocks 2nd career win. Williamson currently sits on 60 wins for the season, which places 6th on the drivers premiership and 1st on the Junior Drivers Premiership with Kyle Marshall back in 2nd on 31 wins and Craig Ferguson on 26 wins. Andrew Fitzgerald

A few weeks back we had out first “Horses to look out for” write up. A successful night, with 5/6 tips saluting the judge, with one tip paying a handy $10FF. This week we are joined by the country’s leading Junior Driver Brad Williamson, to go through his book of drives, as well as pointing out a few runners who might sneak under the radar.   Brad Williamson: Race 1 – (8) Pyramid Mustang – Trainer Phil Williamson – “Manners let him down last start, if he brings them tonight I think he will be hard to beat” - BEST DRIVE OF THE NIGHT Race 2 – (14) Diptee Bromac – Trainer Eion Latimer – “He went okay last start in a strong field, this looks easier, and he’s a nice place chance” Race 5 – (1) Winners Shout – Trainer Phil Williamson – “He’s a handy wee horse, but still has plenty to learn, the draw could be tricky, but he’s a each way chance if he does it all right” Race 6 – (9) Elusive Flight – Trainer Graeme Anderson- “A new addition to Graeme’s team, although it’s a tricky draw if we can get a good run, I wouldn’t be surprised if he won it” Race 7 – (10) Caesar Rocks – Lionel Sinnamon – “He was disappointing last time, he would have to improve to upset these from the wide barrier” Race 8 – (8) Dissolution – Trainers Cox/McGrannachan - “It’s a strong field and he’s looking for some luck from the wide draw, although a win wouldn’t’ surprise after his good effort last week” - VALUE BET OF THE NIGHT Race 9 – (2) The Persuader – Eion Latimer – “It’s a tough field and he’ll need the run, one to follow over the following weeks” Race 10 – (1) Verdun – Barry Gooch – “He drew well, but it’s a strong field and he’s looking for some luck”   Others to fly under the radar include; Race 4 – (9) Shakey Loch – Trainer Graeme Anderson – Driver Dexter Dunn – New Addition to Anderson team, Dunn jumps aboard, drawn wide, handy recent workout, Hard to roll. Race 7 – (3) Thisgirlisonfire – Trainer John Howe –  Driver Jonny Cox - A handy 3yo filly who was only run down late last start on the grass, has manners and is drawn to get a nice trip. Win bet

Canterbury trainer/driver Mark Jones is set to step in the boxing ring again. Jones will be in action this Friday against Guy McMenamin in the “Corporate Chaos” at the Hornby Workingmen’s Club. While in the ring, Delightful Memphis and Real Torque will represent Jones in both ends of NZ.  Delightful Memphis will start in the Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship while Real Torque will line up in a heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  Australian Campaign confirmed for Christen Me. As expected Trainer Cran Dalgety and connections have decided to set their eyes on the Len Smith Mile at Menangle (Sydney) on the 26th June. While the Brisbane Carnival is also on the radar depending on how he comes through his Sydney campaign. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ HRNZ NEWS Effective for the new racing season, commencing August 1st 2016; *Minimum programmed stakes for races will be increased from $5,000 to $6,000. *Clubs will be required to apply a stakes distribution model that guarantees a minimum of 2% of every programmed stake will be paid to all starters. *In addition, a Stakes Supplement Payment of $50 will be paid to all runners placed outside of the first four, in races with programmed stakes of less then $20,000. Andrew Fitzgerald

There is still plenty at stake for Monbet. The exceptional four-year-old trotting talent will start as a prohibitive harness racing favourite this Friday night in the Gr.1 $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the final leg of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. Following his scintillating victory in last week’s ANZAC Cup where he blew away Speeding Spur who was subsequently diagnosed with a season ending injury, Monbet can’t surpass his arch rival who gathered enough points to hold an unassailable lead heading into the final leg. Speeding Spur has 220 points while Monbet has 103 points prior to Friday’s feature. But there’s still plenty up for grabs for the Canterbury trained star. If Monbet proves successful in the Rowe Cup and then ventures to Cambridge in June for the Jewels and collects another Group One victory, he could easily claim the Trotter of the Year plus the overall Horse of the Year titles. The Love You gelding has already won five Group One races this season. On Friday night, Monbet will face twelve rivals in the grueling 3200m stand start feature including all bar Speeding Spur from last week’s ANZAC Cup. The Greg & Nina Hope trained performer is a stand start specialist but is foreign to the two mile distance range with 2700m being the longest he’s raced. Another intriguing factor to be considered this week for Monbet is his draw, the inside of the second-line. But if there is a scratching to his inside in the great race, Monbet will move from his inside second line draw to the outside of the front line, barrier nine, in direct contrast to what happens in mobile races. Most expect to him win regardless of where he starts from - front or second-line. And favourites have a great record in the race with the punters elect winning 7 of the last 9 editions, the exceptions being Stig in 2013 and I Can Doosit in 2011, the first of his two victories in the feature event. Champion reinsman Ricky May will once again handle Monbet and he is no stranger to success in the premier North Island trotting feature having won the race back in 1988 with Highwood. Key rivals this week include Sheemon, a runner-up in this event two years ago while the improving types of Blackguards Corner and Yagunnakissmeornot will also command respect. Realmein, Jag’s Invasion and Scarrymcleary all have upset chances on current form. Waterloo Sunset, Valmagne, Queen Kenny, Paramount Dream, Al Bundy and Quite A Moment will all require luck to claim the feature. The Canam Rowe Cup is race 8 on the program and scheduled to start at 9.13pm local time. Chris Barsby

Auckland Mayor Len Brown will turn the first sod tomorrow to officially mark the second stage of construction for Alexandra Park’s significant urban village development. The occasion will take place at Alexandra Park’s former car-park on Green Lane West at 4.30pm on Thursday, 28 April.  Attendees will include local dignitaries, leaders of Australasian construction company Ganellen, Auckland Trotting Club board members and staff, and representatives from Auckland Council, Campbell Brown Planning Limited, N-Compass, architects RTA Studio, and Colliers International. Ganellen will build the development’s second stage which will include two integrated buildings with 128 one-to-three-bedroom apartments and 2,500sqm of ground-floor retail space. Building B1 comprises of nine levels above ground, while Building B2 has five. The second stage will include 248 carparks within a shared two-level basement. Chief executive of Alexandra Park, Dominique Dowding says: “This is another great milestone for Alexandra Park and is one of the largest brownfield developments currently happening in the city. Having Ganellen construct stage two reinforces our complete focus on quality. We’re determined to be leaders.” Ganellen project leader Michael Doig says: “We’re delighted to lend our experience and expertise to this first-class urban village development. This is our first major new build project in Auckland and is completely in line with the type of large residential projects that we have built our reputation upon in Sydney.” Residents start moving into stage one from mid next year. Apartment sales for both stages have been strong, with the on-site apartment display suite open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visitingwww.apliving.co.nz

Just the 5 winners last week for the ring around, check back for updates as more selections come through. Nigel McGrath took 1st prize this week with his tip, Ears Burning who won the Kotare Downs 3yo Stakes on Sunday at Rangiora. A wonderful drive from N R McGrath himself saw Ears Burning salute at $4.30 $1.50 Others to select winners were, Steven Richardson, Ricky May, Gavin Smith and Bob Butt. This week’s selections are below and cover 6 meetings. Forbury Park – Thursday Night Mark Jones – sticks with Coringa Delight as his stables best chance this week, drawn well in barrier 2, she does look mighty hard to beat, Race 3.   Steven Richardson – Our bookie friend has gone for Shakey Loch, no doubt expecting some money for the new G Anderson runner, Race 4. Nathan Williamson – He’s travelling all around the country for drives at the moment, but Nathan goes for Statham as his best of the week, Race 9. Marlborough – Friday Afternoon Jay Abernethy – Thought Sunhaven Boss would go close in Race 2. Shaun Dayman - Back for one last chance, Shaun goes for Rock N Roll Delight, a possible quinella because she is also in Race 2. Alexandra Park – Friday Night Bob Butt – Thinks Le Reveur can double up and win again this week, Race 1. Joshua Dickie – Even from a tricky back row draw, Motown could win Race 2. John Curtin – Thought Miss Daisy could turn her form around in Race 4. Todd Mitchell – Goes with Glitzy Gal as his best of the week, Race 9. Addington – Friday Night Jonny Cox – Thought smart 2yo Custodian was his best chance of the week, Race 2. Gavin Smith - Says Sunny Ruby, who looks well placed off her 40m back mark, Race 4. Shane Walkinshaw – Went with New Years Jay as his best bet, with a good beginning is worthy of a each way bet, Race 9. Ashburton – Saturday Afternoon Andrew Fitzgerald – Goes for Nyree Franco, backed early by punters last week, this week appears easier and a big show to get the $$ back, Race 5. Matty Cross – Goes for Handsome Hero as his first ring around selection, also in Race 5. Ricky May - Thought Well Armed could handle the class rise and win again, Race 6. Brad Williamson – Sticks with handy 3yo Alderbeck as his best drive of the week, Race 9.   Andrew Fitzgerald

Angus Fogg is starting to lose his “bull at a gate” tendencies and is slowly developing into a nice racehorse. That’s the opinion of the 4-year-old gelding’s trainer Derek Balle after the son of Angus Hall and Sun Isa nailed his first win in 12 starts at Cambridge Raceway yesterday (Monday). Angus Fogg didn’t just win, he bolted in by 6-1/2 lengths. “He’s starting to put it all together. He’s been a real handful. He gets wound up real easy. I think it’s in his breed. He’s a big horse at 16 hands,” Balle said. Lincoln Farms (John Street) paid $42,000 for Angus Fogg at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka in 2013. He is a half-brother to Flying Isa (by Pegasus Spur) who won 17 races and almost half a million dollars in stakes. “We got him off Ray Green as a 3-year-old and we he came to us he was pretty wound up. He attacks everything at 100 miles an hour. “That’s why I think after a couple of more wins he would go well in Australia. I think the mobile races at Menangle would suit him down to the ground,” Balle said. David Butcher shot Angus Fogg to the lead after 300m in the $6,000 Anzac Day Remembrance Mobile for the maiden trotters. Angus Fogg then trotted beautifully for the remainder of the 2200m mobile stopping the clock in 2:49.9. They lead by three lengths on the turn and then turned it into a one-horse race at the finish. The winning mile rate was 2:04.2 with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 61.4 and 30.6. Angus Fogg was the $1.90 favourite in 10-horse field. He was bred by Cambridge librarian Kym Kearns. “If we can just take the hyper out of him I think he can turn into a serious trotter but he has some way to go yet. He’s gone pretty good after he’s broken a few times at Alexandra Park. “It’s a just a matter of maturity with him and trying to quieten him down a bit. I think the horse that ran second has a brighter future though,” Balle said. The Pukekohe trainer was referring to his Pegasus Spur colt, War Machine. Balle did the driving behind the 2-year-old. “I am hoping to him qualify for the Jewels. He’s a really nice young trotter with a bright future. That was just his second start and I’m hoping he can pick up a cheque or two to make the Jewels Final,” Balle said. It was Balle’s third quinella since April 15. At Alexandra Park that day he drove and trained Kenrick to beat stablemate Ideal World (James Stormont) in a C1 pace and then on April 22 at the same venue it was the same result. “I’ve had a good run of late and I’m hoping it continues,” said Balle who works a team of 18 at Franklin Park on Station Road in Pukekohe. Courtesy of HRNZ and Duane Ranger

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Woodend based trainer and advanced amateur driver Miranda Hallett had 3x the number of reasons to celebrate last night after she was successful behind Tufflittlerooster. Not only did Hallett train and drive the 5yo Live Or Die gelding she also lease’s him. Drawn nicely in barrier 3, Miranda quickly had her charge in front where she was able to rate her drive to absolute perfection. While amateur racing is widely known to be run at fast speeds, Tufflittlerooster was able to get away with cheap sectionals thanks to the unusual lack of attackers. Striding down the back in 29.5, Tufflittlerooster always looked to have plenty in the bag winning by a nose over Red River Lochee (John McDermott) with ½ neck back to Cimarron (Wayne Low) in 3rd. The overall time of 3:16.6 and mile rate of 2:01.6 further kicked home how well the winner was rated by Hallett and the fight shown by the well named Tufflittlerooster should see these two visit the winners circle again. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Sunny Ruby and Sam Smolenski continue their path towards the Cambridge Jewels with a handy win in last night’s feature trot. Kept away from the Rowe Cup, Smolenski has kept his star mare ticking along down south. Known for her incredible high speed, Sunny Ruby looks the main danger to superstar trotter Monbet at the Jewels and is likely to start 2nd favourite. A comfortable winner by 1 ¼ lengths last night in a handy field, the 4yo Sundon mare cut out her last 800m in 58.2 with the last 400 in a slick 27.8. While from her 40m back mark she trotted the overall 2600m trip in 3.18. Le Lievre’s Gift finished runner up for trainer/driver Jim Curtin, with a further 5 ¾ lengths to Arran Chief in 3rd place for another trainer/driver Andrew Faulks. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ray Green caused one of the upsets of the night when his smart 2yo Art Major colt Vasari won heat 3 of the Garrards Sire Stakes Series no33. Driven aggressively by David Butcher from a wide barrier draw, Vasari found himself in front after 400m and Butcher was able to dictate as he does best. With Mark Purdon launching More The Better around the field to find the parked spot at the 1000m, these two talented colts went to war, cutting out the last quarter in 26.7. Butcher was at his absolute best, stealing a cheap 31.2 quarter between the 800 and 400 which ultimately set up his 26.7 quarter and the winning of the race, being able to hold More The Better out by a head. Mongolian Storm finished 3rd beaten 2 ¼ lengths with a further ¾ lengths back to the 4th placed Pacing Major. Paying $10.10 and $2.30 on the tote, Vasari got value punters off to a great start and with Golden Goddess causing the major upset of the night, punters who love to stay away from the short prized favourites would have been laughing to themselves. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Golden Goddess and Michelle Neilson provided the most unexpected upset when they won heat 7 of the Nevele R Fillies Series by 3 lengths. While not a surprise to see an All Stars runner winning by such a large margin, it was the fact that the 3yo Art Major filly, owned by Merv and Meg Butterworth beat previously unbeaten and highly talented Dream About Me. Sent forward by Neilson, Golden Goddess was another allowed to dictate in front and with sectionals of 56 and 25.9, she was never in doubt. While beaten into 2nd and never looking likely, Dream About Me would have lost no admirers considering she was first up for 8 weeks and likely to improve off the back of a sharp 1950m event cut out in 2:22.4, with the last mile recorded in 1:57.4. The next up assignment for both fillies and Vic Oaks winner Piccadilly Princess is the Nevele R Fillies Series Final on the 14th May. These 3 smart fillies are set to clash 3 times over the following 5 weeks. There doesn’t appear to be much between the fillies with draws likely to dictate the result. Andrew Fitzgerald
Everything went to plan for the four harness racing big guns tonight at the Auckland Trotting Club's meeting at Alexandra Park. Spanish Armada got things off to a flying start when she was successful in the $138,000.00 Group 1 Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship. Away nicely from barrier 6, co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen had the classy 2yo Bettor’s Delight in front and dictating after 300m. No one was keen to take the recent Caduceus Club Final winner on and she was allowed to stride along in front. While some punters who took the $1.30 around the favourite would have been nervous when the Mark Jones trained filly Delightful Memphis popped out of her 1-1 spot to issue a serious challenge, to wear the leader down to just a winner margin of a neck. The winner’s time for the 1700m trip was 2:02.3, Last mile in 1.55.7 – 800m 56.4 – 400m 27.7. The PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final set down for the 13th May will be the next clash of these two talented fillies. No doubt with a handy draw Delightful Memphis could turn the tables on the top seed Purdon/Rasmussen runner. Spanish Armada _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tonight’s Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby victory for Marcoola once again justified owner/driver Clint Ford’s decision to not sell his star 3yo colt. With an offer reportedly around the $250,000.00 mark, Ford was quick to make it clear that he wouldn’t be for sale. Since that offer Marcoola has won just over $120,000.00 in stakes, while adding the NZ Trotters Derby, Sire Stakes Trotting Championship and now the Northern Trotting Derby to his resume. A 3yo Colt by Champion sire Sundon out of the Ford Family’s handy race mare Arabess – Marcoola is the horse most people dream of breeding and owner themselves. A smart drive from Clint tonight got the chocolates as he once again showcased his class by demolishing a top class field. Allowed to settle early by Ford, Marcoola was then set around to find the top, this move left 2nd favourite High Gait in a world of trouble covered up four back the pegs. In a surprise move, High Gait’s driver Natalie Rasmussen was happy to stay tucked along the rail and was seen storming home for an unlucky 3rd. Marcoola went to the line, with plenty in the tank as Ford only flicked the reins at his charge in the home straight to score by 1 length in an overall time of 3:23.7, Mile rate of 2:01.4 – 800m in 58.2 – 400m in 29.6. The Harness Jewels looks his race to lose on the back of this 7 race winning streak. Marcoola _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Field Marshal was another short favourite to salute the judge, this time doing the sort after Taylor Mile/Messenger double. After a huge performance in last weeks Taylor Mile, Trainer Tim Butt was confident his top class Art Major 4yo would handle every part of the 2700m trip.  Given a lovely trip by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Field Marshal was dominate beating Australia visitor My Kiwi Mate by 1 ¼ Lengths in a sizzling 3:15.8. With tonight’s victory, Field Marshal climbs over the $250,000.00 mark in stakes earnings, with a healthy record of 14 wins from just the 25 starts. While Field Marshal in a clear leader on top of the Harness Jewels leader board, Australian My Kiwi Mate catapulted himself into 22nd spot, just $10,000.00 short of the 12th place Captain Doimio. With connections chasing a jewels spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see My Kiwi Mate line up at Alexandra Park over the next few weeks in order to qualify. The 4yo Jewels invite is likely to go to the Amanda Turnbull trained Tact Tate, who will make their decision in the coming days. Field Marshal _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Superstar trotter Monbet was absolutely sensational in the 2016 Rowe Cup, winning from an awkward, inside the back row draw. Trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet started one of the hottest favourites in history after arch rival Speeding Spur was stuck down by a suspensory injury that could see him sidelined for 10-12 months. Away nicely from the tapes, Monbet settled in before driver Ricky May sent the $1.11 favourite around to the lead with two laps to run. From there on after the 4yo Love You gelding never looks in danger. Owned by the Hopes and M J Molloy, they also turned down a reported offer of $600,000.00 a few weeks back. Since that offer Monbet has earn't a tidy $184,000.00. Co trainer Greg Hope confirmed last night that providing his charge recovers well they will look to take their place in the Cambridge Harness Jewels, where he will start one of the shortest jewels favourites ever. Waimate trotter Valmagne was the run of the race behind the winner. Co Trainer Josh Kennett was stoked with the performance of his stable star, “He has gone super, last week he broke just as he was getting into it” said Kennett. Monbet Andrew Fitzgerald
World champion harness racing driver Dexter Dunn has confirmed that he will be coming to drive in Wales, UK for the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland on August 2 at Tir Prince and to return to the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend at Portmarnock Raceway in Dublin, Ireland August 13 and 14. Dunn, the reigning World Champion driver from New Zealand, took Ireland by storm last year and now is setting his sights on the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland at Tir Prince. “When Derek Delaney contacted me about coming back this summer to Ireland and if I was interested in also including the Breeders Crown in Wales, Dunn said, “It fit in good with my racing calendar and there wasn’t much hesitation in saying yes!” David Wilson, chairman of the Breeders Crown UK & Ireland that will take place at Tir Prince in Wales, August 2, was ecstatic when he heard the Dexter Dunn was coming. “This is the tenth anniversary of the BC and what fantastic news to have,” Wilson beamed, “Dexter Dunn showed everyone at Portmarnock last year of his great ability to drive a horse and I am sure his services on Breeders Crown Day will be much in demand from trainers and owners alike. “Having Dexter coming is fabulous,” Wilson added, “We have the inaugural All American Bred Filly Pace for two-year-olds this year, a bumper crop of horses eligible for the Breeders Crown and purses that could exceed £35,000, harness racing tour groups coming from around the world and now the news that Dexter Dunn will be driving on the program is just great.” “I had such a blast in Ireland last year,” Dunn said, “It was such a great experience and now I am going to enhance it by driving at Tir Prince on their Breeders Crown program. It will be awesome to get back over and catch up with all the nice people over there that treated me so well last year, and of course, to have a few beverages as well!” “We are both delighted and honoured to have a world class driver such as Dexter come to Tir Prince to drive,” said Eric Witherspoon, Racing Director at Tir Prince. “I had the pleasure of being at Portmarnock last year and like everyone else who was present I was in awe of his reinsmanship. We cannot wait to see him on the track. “On 2nd August Breeders Crown night,  it is one of the most eagerly anticipated nights of the year,” Witherspoon explained, “when the very best juveniles from Britain and Ireland compete for top prize money, the racing will be top class and Dexter’s attendance will be the cherry on the cake. We also have the Ephie Mather Memorial Trot which is a Free For All Trot For International Trotters.” Witherspoon noted that Dexter Dunn will also be in attendance on Tuesday 9th August at Tir Prince when the track hosts the 2 mile Free For All Pace that is being sponsored by John Howard. Track management hopes that the track record for 2 miles will be shattered on this night and with Dunn’s experience in long distance races makes him someone to not bet against him driving the record breaker. Dunn then returns to Dublin, Ireland for the Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend the 13th and 14th of August and race committee head, Derek Delaney, see’s Dunn’s return as a major boost to the weekend. “I have kept in contact with Dexter during the off-season,” Delaney said. “And he was keen to come back for the VDM and to drive at Tir Prince. So much so that he bought in as part of a syndicate on the two-year-old filly, Oakwood’s Dragoness. “Dexter, along with Cran Delgaty, Clive and Anne Dalton, Mick Harvey, Oakwood Stud, Lee Edwards, Dean Russell, Simon Elvin and Paul Johnson,” Delaney said, “are all in and this filly is eligible to the new American bred pace at Tir Prince. Wouldn’t that be great if Dexter could win that race with her?” It would seem that Dexter Dunn has his work cut out for him while on holiday this summer in the UK and Ireland. “It’s not work at all driving horses,” Dunn said, “I hope I have a drive in every race. I love it.” Will there be some traveling for Dunn this August? “Yeah, I’m looking to do a bit of tripping around while I am over,” Dunn said. “I haven’t planned what or where yet through. I had such a super time last year.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink
If Marcoola becomes New Zealand's latest dual Trotting Derby winner tonight driver Clint Ford will have an unusual mentor to thank --- champion rugby coach Robbie Deans. After clearly outstaying the same rivals in the Sires' Stakes last Friday, Marcoola looks perfectly suited by tonight's 2700m mobile and may have gained enough respect to earn himself the lead. If he does that it would seem only High Gait, who was a brave fourth after galloping last Friday, should test him, especially if she trailed from the ace draw. But as so often happens with three-year-old trotters, Marcoola looks to be holding his peak form and it will take a very good horse to run him down. Which puts Ford in a group one hot seat, a place he is starting to feel more comfortable even against driving superstars like Herlihy, McKendry, May and Rasmussen. Ford does the driving of Marcoola in a family training set-up which sees his father Ken officially train the three-year-old, while sister Amanda Tomlinson also works horses from the same Canterbury property. "It is a real family affair but I do all the work with this horse," says Clint. "He trotted great last week but it almost wasn't until about half an hour after the win last week it sunk in what we are achieving. "When you are out there driving it is just like a maiden race, its the same type of stuff but its after you win a race like the Derby you realise it is quite a big deal."
 Ford says while driving in the big time initially took him out of his comfort zone, that was the same when he played rugby, in which he made it all the way to the verges of the Canterbury NPC squad. "Back then my coach at Canterbury Country was Robbie Deans and he always said if you want to get anywhere near the top, you have to be able to push through your comfort zone. "I have never forgotten that, it has always stuck with me. So when I started getting out here driving in these big races, I tried to enjoy in, even though I wasn't comfortable to start with. "And now I am a lot more relaxed." So too is Marcoola, who even after a hard run last Friday has thrived this week. As good as High Gait is, she is probably going to need the perfect trail and one passing lane shot to get past the southerner tonight. While Ford is still coming to grips with the big time, one of the most relaxed men in harness racing will dominate tonight's other group one trot. Ricky May should only have to keep superstar trotter Monbet out of trouble to win the $150,000 Rowe Cup, even though it is his first start over 3200m. The four-year-old has been sensational all season and with the three other best trotters in the country sidelined, tonight's race is his to lose. His draw of one on the second line is hardly ideal but it also allows May to drive conservatively before moving mid-race, not the worst scenario for a young horse against the hardened pros over the extreme distance. Of those rivals only Sheemon is a serious group one winner so looks the obvious threat in a race that suits him. Courtesy of Michael Guerin
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