Barry Purdon - Zac Butcher - Team up with first starter Heartofdixie

Spring has brought out the "Blue Bloods"

One of the best things about spring in New Zealand from a harness racings fan's point of view is the emergence of the next wave of  harness racing stars on to the race tracks. Some of the maiden fields during winter had little depth or class but now that spring has arrived the smart early season 3 year olds are coming out of the woodwork. On Thursday night at Alexandra Park (September 4th) race two on the program is a C0 pace for 3 year olds over 2200 meters and if blood counts for anything it should be one hell of a race. Happy To Go is a first starter for the Telfer/Garlick barn who has drawn well at barrier four and has performed well at trials and workouts. She is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare Time To Fly 1:54.2 ($154,680) Hartofdixie from the Barry Purdon barn is another first starter who has drawn nicely at barrier five and she has also impressed track watchers with her runs at trials and workouts. A daughter of American Ideal, Hart Of Dixie is the third foal from Splendid Deal whose first two foals were Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990) and Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) Courtney John from the Todd Mitchell barn is yet another first starter who has recently moved north from the Phil Burrows barn in Canterbury and will start from barrier two on the second line. She qualified in 2:00 neat back in February at Ashburton and has always looked above average. The McArdle filly is a half sister to the smart Seven Point One 1:56.1 from a daughter of the super broodmare Port Medley. The last of the first starters is Local Yokel for trainer/driver Tony Herlihy and he has also been performing well at trials and workouts and will start from three on the second line. A son of Elsu, Local Yokel is a half brother to the very smart duo of Presido 1:56 ($153,575) and Sound Of Thunder 1:57.4 ($134,841) The field is full of horses with good form with Christy Maguire from barrier two yet to finish out of the money in four starts while Percy Jones from barrier seven has also been placed in his three lifetime starts to date. Sirius Star from barrier eight has been placed in three of his last four starts while Culler Coded, Bettor Ace and Machulbeatchu have all looked above average in brief careers to date. It is a punters nightmare to predict but if we had to go for one it, we would probably lean towards Hart Of Dixie but without a lot of confidence. Who ever does come out on top will know they have really earned their first lifetime win. Harnesslink Media 

Pretty Awesome - Wayne Aylward's last winner

One of the industry's characters is gone

It is with some sadness that Harnesslink has learnt of the sudden death of the well known Waikato harness racing identity Wayne Aylward at the age of seventy . Involved at all levels of the industry, Wayne was a larger than life figure who was well liked and respected within the harness racing community. At  times he held various administrative posts including a spell on the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association and  he was also the vice president of the Morrinsville Trotting Club a few years ago. Wayne had a long and successful interest in breeding and racing standardbreds, especially trotters. He bred a lot of horses over the years and would always tell you that he sold the quick ones and kept the slow ones. Horses that he was involved in breeding included the brilliant Buster Hanover (25 wins) ($557,147)  Wee Annie ($101,100) and Cipollini ($45,983). Horses Wayne bred and raced included Specialiam ($36,003)  Auzzie Invasion ($31,288)  Pretty Snazzie ($23,886) and Pretty Awesome ($22,398). It was fitting that his last win as an owner earlier this year should be with a horse that he bred in Pretty Awesome. Wayne became infamous a few years back when involved in a heated dispute with Alan Pyers at the Morrinsville Training complex which made headlines nationally but it never dulled his love of the sport he followed all his adult life. Wayne will be sorely missed by all who knew him and our condolences go out to his family at this time. Harnesslink Media     

Meticulous (4) (Matt Anderson) shading Backup (1) (Tim Williams) on Monday

All Stars runners starting to emerge

The All Stars stable has been quiet lately on the Canterbury scene but several have been at workouts recently as they prepare for the new harness racing season Alta Ronaldo indicated he will be a force to be reckoned with as a three year old when the half-brother to Alta Christiano won well at the harness racing trials at Rangiora on Monday. (September 1st) It was an ideal run for him" driver Tim Williams said of Alta Ronaldo who ran on from the back during a last 800 meters of 58.8 and a 400 meters of 28.3, making his 400 meters better than 28 by Tim's watch. "He got a chance to run in the field and he came home real good" said Tim. Meticulous, who can be a little nervous after a series of race incidents was taken to the front  by driver Matt Anderson as a confidence boosting move while Backup with Tim Williams in the bike settled further back before working forward in the middle stages. The both did well with their heat being nearly four seconds faster than that of  Alta Ronaldo with the last 800 meters in 57 and the 400 meters in 27.2 "He is still just a little touchy but overall he was good," Matt said of Meticulous while Tim liked the way Backup came home quickly after sprinting in the middle stages. The next two horses that are due to trial from the the All Star barn are two of the big boys in Smolda and Hands Christian who are on the comeback trail from injury. They should be at the trials next week as they progress towards a New Zealand Cup start in November. Courtesy Of All Star Racing          

Terror To Love - With regular pilot Ricky May

The "Terror" is back

Champion pacer, Terror To Love, might have began his bid toward a historic fourth New Zealand Trotting Cup victory in the most inglorious of fashions today at Rangiora, but the camp behind the three-time Cup winner couldn’t have been happier. In his first public appearance since winning the Rangiora Classic near the end of April, Terror To Love was given a quiet time of it by his regular pilot, Ricky May, in the heat. The run was very similar to that of each of his resuming runs over the past two years – the familairity of it not being lost on his co-trainer Graham Court. “It’s exactly what we wanted, he did it nice and easy and within himself,’’ Court said. “We have done that with his first run each year and it has worked so we certainly weren’t keen on changing anything. “I was very happy with the performance and we can continue to step things up as we go along now – he’s been in work for a while so is pretty fit, but just needs the final trimming before we can get real serious with him.’’ Away safely from his 30 metre handicap, May and Terror To Love settled in second last position of the five horse field while Ballindooley and Vice Chairman escaped to a considerably lead early on in proceedings. The trailing trio eventually hauled the lead pair in with around 800 metres to run and May never pulled Terror To Love into the clear from there on and let him run to the line under a good hold on the back of the the heat-winning Ballindooley and Dexter Dunn. “I was really happy with his effort,’’ May said after the heat. “He felt really strong and paced and steered really nicely for him, he’s usually a bit lazy at trials and workouts.’’ Court confirmed he would head to Ashburton next week for another trial – and then potentially one more before resuming in the Avon City Ford Cup at the end of the month. Ballindooley, who led throughout the heat looked strong in the run to the line for Dexter Dunn while Vice Chairman, who trailed throughout was also solid in finishing second. Ballindooley is one of 11 runners nominated for this week’s Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington which carries an automatic entry into the Cup field. Others making the race their resumption in an effort to sneak into the top 15 spots are; Tiger Tara, Jivin Cullen, Pemberton Shard, Pass Them By, Pure Power and Jason Rulz, the latter of whom was a workout winner at Methven on the weekend. They will be joined by Lochaburn, Jimmy Johnstone, Four Starzzz Flash and Christen Me who all raced in the National Handicap two weeks ago – with Christen Me emerging victorious.  Courtesy Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand

The Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association have certainly got harness racing people talking with their innovative broodmare and mixed stock sale. Scheduled for next Thursday (September 11th), the sale concept is unlike anything seen in New Zealand before and has created a lot of interest from breeders and buyers if the feedback we are getting at Harnesslink is anything to go by. The timing of the sale has met with almost universal approval and with spring upon us and the breeding season commencing shortly it does seem an opportune time to sell/buy breeding stock. The other breeding stock sales up to now have been held in May where you have the prospect of a hard winter in front of you and that has tended to drag the sales down a touch, especially in the South Island. No stock will be on site next Thursday with all prospective buyers having done their due diligence prior to the sale. The aim of that measure is to keep the cost down to the vendors with transport a major cost for those vendors outside of Christchurch. There is a small entry fee of $125 but no commission is payable on any lots that are sold which makes this a very low cost sale for the vendors. The sale has attracted 72 entries in the broodmare section and 18 in the mixed stock section which is a good number for a first up sale of this type. As with any new venture there are things that are not quite up to the mark and the one drawing the most comment is the form of the online catalogue.  Notable Australian breeders such as Trevor Swan and Anne Anderson have expressed their frustration at not having a catalogue page to peruse and the amount of work that is required  to research the immediate family of each lot. What this sale has done is bring some new vendors to the market with maternal families that have been hard to acquire in the recent past. All in all we think the Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association should be applauded for trying to have a sale with a low cost structure at a time that suits everyone in the industry. If they can fix up the catalogue issue for future sales then the Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association may be on to a winner. For details on the sale click here. Harnesslink Media

A pleasing total of 74 nominations have been received by the Met for the Glenys & Philip  Kennard / Graphite Development Ltd Futurity Series that commences on 5 September at  Addington with total estimated stakes of $80,000. The well-patronised series caters for 3-year-old and older pacers assessed at C0 as at 1 July 2014.  A nominated horse must start at least twice in the period from 8 August to 31 October at a  Met meeting to be eligible for the Futurity Series Final on Show Day, 14 November. Field selection for the Final will be based on points earned in all totalisator races in New  Zealand from 1 August 2014 to 3 November 2014. In 2014 it is proposed to run up to five races in the Series on:  5 September - **Horses assessed at C0 to C1 2600m  17 October - **Horses assessed at C0 only 2600m   14 November - Futurity Series Final   28 November – **Horses who were not eligible to and did not contest the Final on 14  November  11 December – **Open to all Show Day Futurity Series horses excluding those  horses who finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Final on 14 November. **subject to programming. Full details can be viewed at www.addington.co.nz under Racing – Promotions and  Incentives. Alternatively, please phone Brian, Richard or Colin of Addington’s Racing  Department on 03 338-9094. Ged Mooar - Marketing & Commercial Manager. Addington Raceway.

The word has been out for ages amongst the harness racing community about the Changeover filly Whitershadeofpale due in no small part to a series of smart runs at trials and workouts. First up she qualified back in late March when she ran just third of five in a qualifying heat at Addington. The two that beat her that day however were Kate Perry 1:56.7 ($348,347) and Lightning Mach 2:00.1 who won two from four as a 2 year old. Then Whitershadeofpale won a trial recently at Ashburton by six lengths and the rumblings grew even louder. Therefore when she finally made her debut today in the Speights Mobile Pace over 2000 meters at the Timaru Harness Racing Clubs meeting, Whitershadeofpale was sent out a $1:20 favourite. Drawing barrier seven at the mobile, driver Terry Chmiel let her settle in the last couple early. Sent forward three wide by Terry with a lap to go, Whitershadeofpale ended up in the death outside Uaintseennothinyet with 1000 meters to go. Passing the 400 meters Terry asked her for an effort and she quickly had the race in safe keeping, scooting clear before holding on for a comfortable victory, Whitershadeofpale paced the 2000 meters from the mobile in 2:28.9 a mile rate of 1:59.7 with closing sectionals of 57.9 and 28.6 By the very promising Changeover, Whitershadeofpale is a real Nevele R product being a daughter of the Badlands Hanover mare Stella Franco. Whitershadeofpale is the fourth winner from the first five foals from Stella Franco with River Black 1:59.1 $132,549 the best of them to date. The grand dam Samantha Franco is a full sister to Smart Son 1:49.6 ($347,805) and a half sister to Vanderel 1:58.3 ($163,963) and Impish 1:54.9 The third dam is the former high class racemare Smarty Pants 1:58.6 who is closely related to the champion pacer Master Mood 1:56 ($806,925) Whitershadeofpale looks a filly with a lot of scope about her and it wouldn't surprise anybody if she was running around in the classics later in the season.  Harnesslink Media      

The powerful Clevedon combination of Barry Purdon and Zac Butcher won the major training and driving honours - while Purdon trained 3-year-olds also won two age-group titles at the 2014 A Rocknroll Dance North Island Harness Racing awards ceremony at Alexandra Park last night. More than 300 people flocked to the Tasman Room to watch the 21 awards handed out. Fifty nine-year-old Purdon won the Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year, while 23-year-old Butcher won the IRT North Island Driver of the Year. Their age group stars Sky Major and Ideal Belle won the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3yo Colt/Gelding and Filly of the Year awards respectively. Purdon trained Pembrook Benny, Sky Major, Maxim and Ideal Belle to Group One victories in 2013-2014. Butcher also drove the Ray Green trained Beaudiene Boaz in the Harness Jewels 2yo Emerald Final at Cambridge Raceway. Pembrook Benny won the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on November 15. Sky Major cleaned up the 3yo Emerald Jewels Final at Cambridge on May 31. Ideal Belle also won the New Zealand Oaks at Addington on May 16. Maxim nailed the Victoria Derby at Melton on February 8. Sky Major was second. The same two horses also produced the quinella in Group One Sires Stakes 2yo Final the season before. “You are only as good as the team around you. This is an honour. We had a very good season and I’m grateful to all my staff for that,” Purdon said. Purdon trained 39 winners from 199 starters last season and amassed $953,433 in stakes. Butcher saluted the judge 72 times from his 551 drives. He banked $1.23m in purses. “I drive to win and night’s like this are a real bonus. I’m very proud to have won this award because there are so many good drivers out there. “I am lucky to be part of a very strong stable. Barry is a legendary trainer,” Butcher said. In other highlights Maurice McKendry won the Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms NI Achievement Award, while Richard and Julija Brosnan won the night’s most prestigious (and final) award of the evening – the A Rocknroll Dance Alabar Nevele Stud NI Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing. Adore Me’s victories in the Group One $100,000 Queen Of Hearts Pace and the Group Three $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes assured her the Auckland Trotting Club’s Aged Pace Of the Year title. The Charlie Roberts co-owned and bred champ also won the Caduceus Club’s NI Filly/Mare of the Year. In fact Roberts himself collected two awards winning the Garrards Horse and Hound NI Owner of the Year, and the Hygain NI Breeder of the Year 2014 A ROCKNROLL DANCE NORTH ISLAND HARNESS RACING AWARDS - WINNERS Glen Elgin Farm North Island Groom of the Year - Amanda Kiddie Dunstan North Island Amateur Driver of the Year -John Kriechbaumer Magness Video Ltd / Vid-Com LtdNorth Island Licence to Train /Owner – Trainer of the Year - Andrew Grant Mitavite North Island Junior Driver of the Year - Sailesh Abernethy PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Beaudiene Boaz                       PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Filly of the Year - Linda Lovegrace Breckon Farms North Island 2 year old Trotter of the Year - Yagunnakissmeornot Breckon Farms North Island 3 year old Trotter of the Year - Mum’s Pride Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Sky Major Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Filly of the Year - Ideal Belle               Garrards Horse and Hound North Island Owner of the Year - Charles Roberts Caduceus Club North Island Filly / Mare of the year - Adore Me                                Hygain North Island Breeder of the Year - Charles Roberts IRT North Island Driver of the Year -  Zac Butcher Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year - Barry Purdon Equine Veterinary Services  North Island Broodmare of the Year - Scuse Me                North Island Stallion of the Year - Bettor’s Delight                                       Harness Racing New Zealand North Island Trotter of the Year - Irish Whisper                          Auckland Trotting Club North Island Aged Pacer of the Year - Adore Me                                Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms North Island Racing Achievement Award - Maurice McKendry A Rocknroll Dance/Alabar/Nevele R Stud North Island Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing - Richard and Julija Brosnan Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

Well known and respected trainer/driver Richard Brosnan caused a real stir recently when he went public with his concerns about the problems facing the harness racing industry and that he was seriously thinking of giving the game away. Tonight at Alexandra Park he let his horses do the talking and showed that he had lost none of those training skills honed by over forty years in the industry.  The six year old Dream Vacation gelding Torbjorn was off 20 meters in the C1/C3 2700 meters stand trot and came into the race with a last start third to his credit. With regular pilot Peter Ferguson in the bike, Torbjorn made his usual safe beginning and settled three back in the running line in the ten horse field and that's where he stayed until 400 meters from home where Peter Ferguson sent him forward three wide in search of the leaders. All the way up the straight Torbjorn kept making ground and grabbed the leader Sastre in the shadows of the post for a narrow but deserved victory. He trotted the 2700 meters from a stand in 3:30.7, with closing sectionals of 60.4 and 29.6. It was Torbjorn's fourth win in 30 starts along with 10 placings and took his stake earnings to $44,527 Torbjorn was bred and is raced by Bernie Lim who has been a long time stable client of Richard Brosnan's. Torbjorn is from Sun Lamp, a Sundon daughter of the Bonefish mare Kiwi Kipper who was imported to New Zealand by the late Sir Roy McKenzie. Sun Lamp is closely related to the outstanding age group trotter Royal Aspirations 1:56.5 ($282,999) and the top trotting mare Aspiring Lass (12 wins) ($107,065). Tonights win by Torbjorn proved once again that when it comes to training winners, Richard Brosnan has always been one of the best in the business and can still find his way to the winners circle. Harnesslink Media    

It is not that often that horses from the central districts of the north island are sent out the hot favourite at the northern harness racing capital of Alexandra Park. But then Te Kawau is not your normal central districts horse. Going into tonights race as the warmest of favourites was due in no small part to the outstanding runs he put up last season at three against Locharburn, Sky Major and company. With two runs back against Cyamach to help him to full fitness, Te Kawau looked very hard to beat and so it proved. Steadied from his second row draw by driver Zac Butcher in the 2200 meters mobile event, Zac sent him forward with 1400 to go and grabbed the lead off Royal Taz with 1100 meters to run. From there Te Kawau always held too many guns for the opposition and comfortably held them at bay in the home straight. Pricillas Girl continued her rich vein of form to grab second after starting from the outside of the second row while early leader Royal Taz was a nose away in third. Te Kawau paced the 2200 meters in 2:43.71 with closing sectionals of 57.3 and 27.3 It was his sixth win from just 14 starts along with five minor placings and stake earnings of $39,727 When you look at how Te Kawau is bred it is no wonder he is smart. By the champion sire Bettors Delight , the dam of Te Kawau is Haylin Express, a daughter of Christian Cullen who won $44,438 on the track and Te Kawau is her first foal. The grand dam by Holmes Hanover is a half sister to the brilliant Agua Caliente 1:55.3 ($413,027) and the ill fated Haylin Fella (7 wins) who died suddenly in Auckland after being sold for big money to Queensland interests. A big striking looking individual, Te Kawau looks to have come back better than ever and should grace the better four year old races later in the season. Harnesslink Media    

Harness racing recently saw the brilliant Monarchy gelding Sovereignty retired due to soundness problems and he has been joined in the retirement paddock today by another Monarchy gelding in Stylish Monarch who has also succumbed to soundness problems. Trained for all but one start in his career  by his Timaru trainer Murray Tapper, Stylish Monarch at his peak was as good as any trotter going around in New Zealand in the last ten years.  Between 2009 and 2011, Stylish Monarch was the horse they all had to beat in the big trotting races in New Zealand. Partnered with champion reinsman Ricky May through most of his career, Stylish Monarch claimed two New Zealand Trotting Championships (Group One) over the brilliant I Can Doosit and a stunning win in the Group Two Flying Mile at Cambridge over Sovereignty in 1:57.5. The biggest win for Stylish Monarch was undoubtedly his victory in the Group One $200,000 Dominion Handicap where he again defeated I Can Doosit in a stunning 4:02.9 for the 3200 meters from a stand. Plagued by soundness issues, Stylish Monarch was retired in August of 2013. However around May this year Murray Tapper took Stylish Monarch back to the stables because he was looking so well in the paddock. The plan was to use him as a training partner for the younger horses in the stable but Stylish Monarch was so impressive and sound that Tapper decided to try to get him back to the races. The first few trials were encouraging but after a less than stellar performance at his fourth trial, Stylish Monarch came up sore a few days later. So Stylish Monarch goes to the retirement paddock having faced the starter just 60 times for 17 wins and 21 placings for $500,620 in stakes. Harness racing today is dominated by the big stables in the main but Stylish Monarch and Murray Tapper proved once again that the little guy can still succeed at the top level. Harnesslink Media    

The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has today charged Jockey David Walker with two breaches of the Rules of Racing following his ride on “Watch Your Man” in Race 3 at Awapuni on Saturday 16th August. It is the RIU’s contention that Mr Walker placed bets on another horse “St Ransom” and deliberately rode his horse to ensure his bets were successful. Following an investigation the RIU has charged Mr Walker for breaching - Rule 801 (1) (m) – A person commits a Serious Racing Offence within the meaning of these Rules who commits a dishonest or fraudulent act connected with racing or betting associated with racing And Rule 707 (1) – A Rider may only bet on a race and/or sports event (including but not limited to a Race) in New Zealand or in any other jurisdiction, provided that where he is betting on a race and he is riding a horse in that race he may only bet on the horse he is riding. RIU General Manager Mike Godber says in view of the evidence collected to date and the seriousness of the charges, the RIU has recommended to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing that Mr Walker’s licence be suspended pending the hearing of the charges. “The allegations before Mr Walker are serious and threaten the very fabric of thoroughbred racing. “We therefore consider the continued participation of Mr Walker  in racing prior to the JCA hearing would pose an unacceptable risk to the image, interests and integrity of racing,” says Mr Godber. As this matter is subject to an investigation and full hearing no further comment will be provided from the RIU at this time. Courtesy Of Racing Integrity Unit

On Sunday December 14 the Akaroa Trotting Club will undertake an unprecedented promotion – the ‘Yaldhurst Hotel Million-Dollar Pick 9’. The club offers patrons the chance to win a million dollars if the winners of all nine races are selected. Upon course entry those over 18 will receive their free ticket. Club President, Laurie Goodson, is excited by what is in prospect. He explains. “We are a one-day club and a tenant club so we live and die by our racing activities. We want to maximise the opportunity we’ve been given in December, with the Christmas at the Races brand. We want this to be a spectacular day with big on-course numbers.”  Should the big prize be struck the winner will receive their million over twenty years -$50,000 per year. Another promotion on the day will be the ‘Yaldhurst Hotel Punters’ Competition’, a team’s event that will see the winners securing a trip for four people to Melbourne in April for the Victorian Punters’ Challenge to represent New Zealand. The prize covers airfares, rental car, accommodation and the competition entry.  The Akaroa Trotting Club has historically held its annual meeting in March or April. A change in the date’s structure for 2014/15 will allow Akaroa to compliment a booming pre-Christmas period for Canterbury race meetings encompassing the ‘Christmas at the Races’.  As well as the above highlights the typical kids’ activities that are part and parcel of a day out at the Mot trots will be available. Harnesslink Media

Just a little over five months ago, harness racing trainer  Alan Clark thought the racing career of his star trotter The Fiery Ginga had come to a premature end. A vet examination in Melbourne had revealed that Clark's pride and joy had badly fractured a sesamoid bone. Alan Clark reflected this week on how bad the fracture The Fiery Ginga sustained was. "The vet told me that the fracture was that bad that he hadn't been able to screw all the bone back together and that the best I could hope for was that it would mend naturally." "He was adamant that it was very unlikely that The Fiery Ginga would ever race again."  After returning to his home in Timaru, Alan boxed The Fiery Ginga for a month and then let him out into a small paddock for the next two months with the affected leg bandaged. "He started galloping around  at home like a yearling so I got him checked out and received the all clear to put him back into work" The Fiery Ginga has been in work for twelve weeks now and has shown no signs of any residual effects from his injury. He has now reached the point where Alan was about to go to the trials with him but with the Timaru race meeting being right on his back door step, Alan decided to accept with The Fiery Ginga for the C2 front Equine Veterinary Services Trot over 2600 meters at Timaru on Sunday. As you would expect for a trotter that has won 27 races and $401,174, The Fiery Ginga has been handicapped off 50 meters in a field full of seasoned and smart trotters such as Spell, Donaldson and Idle Conn. But Alan Clark is confident of a big run on The Fiery Ginga's return to the track. "His work has been first class and his heart rate and recovery are right where they should be." "They will know he's there, that's for sure." Safely through Sunday's run, The Fiery Ginga will be set for the Flying Mile at Ashburton on Labour weekend and then on to the trotters free for all on New Zealand Cup day. Alan Clarke is confident The Fiery Ginga is back to his best and is looking forward to Ashburton especially. "He loves Ashburton and has been placed in the flying mile there the last two years so I will be heading there with a fair degree of confidence." It says a lot for the determination of The Fiery Ginga and his trainer Alan Clark that five months after being told he would never race again, the duo are set for another successful season on the track. Harnesslink Media

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One of the best things about spring in New Zealand from a harness racings fan's point of view is the emergence of the next wave of  harness racing stars on to the race tracks. Some of the maiden fields during winter had little depth or class but now that spring has arrived the smart early season 3 year olds are coming out of the woodwork. On Thursday night at Alexandra Park (September 4th) race two on the program is a C0 pace for 3 year olds over 2200 meters and if blood counts for anything it should be one hell of a race. Happy To Go is a first starter for the Telfer/Garlick barn who has drawn well at barrier four and has performed well at trials and workouts. She is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare Time To Fly 1:54.2 ($154,680) Hartofdixie from the Barry Purdon barn is another first starter who has drawn nicely at barrier five and she has also impressed track watchers with her runs at trials and workouts. A daughter of American Ideal, Hart Of Dixie is the third foal from Splendid Deal whose first two foals were Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990) and Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) Courtney John from the Todd Mitchell barn is yet another first starter who has recently moved north from the Phil Burrows barn in Canterbury and will start from barrier two on the second line. She qualified in 2:00 neat back in February at Ashburton and has always looked above average. The McArdle filly is a half sister to the smart Seven Point One 1:56.1 from a daughter of the super broodmare Port Medley. The last of the first starters is Local Yokel for trainer/driver Tony Herlihy and he has also been performing well at trials and workouts and will start from three on the second line. A son of Elsu, Local Yokel is a half brother to the very smart duo of Presido 1:56 ($153,575) and Sound Of Thunder 1:57.4 ($134,841) The field is full of horses with good form with Christy Maguire from barrier two yet to finish out of the money in four starts while Percy Jones from barrier seven has also been placed in his three lifetime starts to date. Sirius Star from barrier eight has been placed in three of his last four starts while Culler Coded, Bettor Ace and Machulbeatchu have all looked above average in brief careers to date. It is a punters nightmare to predict but if we had to go for one it, we would probably lean towards Hart Of Dixie but without a lot of confidence. Who ever does come out on top will know they have really earned their first lifetime win. Harnesslink Media 
It is with some sadness that Harnesslink has learnt of the sudden death of the well known Waikato harness racing identity Wayne Aylward at the age of seventy . Involved at all levels of the industry, Wayne was a larger than life figure who was well liked and respected within the harness racing community. At  times he held various administrative posts including a spell on the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association and  he was also the vice president of the Morrinsville Trotting Club a few years ago. Wayne had a long and successful interest in breeding and racing standardbreds, especially trotters. He bred a lot of horses over the years and would always tell you that he sold the quick ones and kept the slow ones. Horses that he was involved in breeding included the brilliant Buster Hanover (25 wins) ($557,147)  Wee Annie ($101,100) and Cipollini ($45,983). Horses Wayne bred and raced included Specialiam ($36,003)  Auzzie Invasion ($31,288)  Pretty Snazzie ($23,886) and Pretty Awesome ($22,398). It was fitting that his last win as an owner earlier this year should be with a horse that he bred in Pretty Awesome. Wayne became infamous a few years back when involved in a heated dispute with Alan Pyers at the Morrinsville Training complex which made headlines nationally but it never dulled his love of the sport he followed all his adult life. Wayne will be sorely missed by all who knew him and our condolences go out to his family at this time. Harnesslink Media     
The All Stars stable has been quiet lately on the Canterbury scene but several have been at workouts recently as they prepare for the new harness racing season Alta Ronaldo indicated he will be a force to be reckoned with as a three year old when the half-brother to Alta Christiano won well at the harness racing trials at Rangiora on Monday. (September 1st) It was an ideal run for him" driver Tim Williams said of Alta Ronaldo who ran on from the back during a last 800 meters of 58.8 and a 400 meters of 28.3, making his 400 meters better than 28 by Tim's watch. "He got a chance to run in the field and he came home real good" said Tim. Meticulous, who can be a little nervous after a series of race incidents was taken to the front  by driver Matt Anderson as a confidence boosting move while Backup with Tim Williams in the bike settled further back before working forward in the middle stages. The both did well with their heat being nearly four seconds faster than that of  Alta Ronaldo with the last 800 meters in 57 and the 400 meters in 27.2 "He is still just a little touchy but overall he was good," Matt said of Meticulous while Tim liked the way Backup came home quickly after sprinting in the middle stages. The next two horses that are due to trial from the the All Star barn are two of the big boys in Smolda and Hands Christian who are on the comeback trail from injury. They should be at the trials next week as they progress towards a New Zealand Cup start in November. Courtesy Of All Star Racing          
Champion pacer, Terror To Love, might have began his bid toward a historic fourth New Zealand Trotting Cup victory in the most inglorious of fashions today at Rangiora, but the camp behind the three-time Cup winner couldn’t have been happier. In his first public appearance since winning the Rangiora Classic near the end of April, Terror To Love was given a quiet time of it by his regular pilot, Ricky May, in the heat. The run was very similar to that of each of his resuming runs over the past two years – the familairity of it not being lost on his co-trainer Graham Court. “It’s exactly what we wanted, he did it nice and easy and within himself,’’ Court said. “We have done that with his first run each year and it has worked so we certainly weren’t keen on changing anything. “I was very happy with the performance and we can continue to step things up as we go along now – he’s been in work for a while so is pretty fit, but just needs the final trimming before we can get real serious with him.’’ Away safely from his 30 metre handicap, May and Terror To Love settled in second last position of the five horse field while Ballindooley and Vice Chairman escaped to a considerably lead early on in proceedings. The trailing trio eventually hauled the lead pair in with around 800 metres to run and May never pulled Terror To Love into the clear from there on and let him run to the line under a good hold on the back of the the heat-winning Ballindooley and Dexter Dunn. “I was really happy with his effort,’’ May said after the heat. “He felt really strong and paced and steered really nicely for him, he’s usually a bit lazy at trials and workouts.’’ Court confirmed he would head to Ashburton next week for another trial – and then potentially one more before resuming in the Avon City Ford Cup at the end of the month. Ballindooley, who led throughout the heat looked strong in the run to the line for Dexter Dunn while Vice Chairman, who trailed throughout was also solid in finishing second. Ballindooley is one of 11 runners nominated for this week’s Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington which carries an automatic entry into the Cup field. Others making the race their resumption in an effort to sneak into the top 15 spots are; Tiger Tara, Jivin Cullen, Pemberton Shard, Pass Them By, Pure Power and Jason Rulz, the latter of whom was a workout winner at Methven on the weekend. They will be joined by Lochaburn, Jimmy Johnstone, Four Starzzz Flash and Christen Me who all raced in the National Handicap two weeks ago – with Christen Me emerging victorious.  Courtesy Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand
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