John Morrison

Junior driver creates favourable impression

The new harness racing season gets underway tomorrow with the running of the Kurow meeting at Oamaru and it is the race meeting that sees the first appearance on raceday of the Mid Canterbury junior driver John Morrison. The seventeen year old is well known in harness racing circles in Canterbury as he has helped his father Chris Morrison of Morrisons Saddlery out at race meetings throughout Canterbury over a number of years. John has been around horses since he was a wee kid and has always had his heart set on being a driver. " I helped dad out with the horses when I was really young and from about the age of nine I started going up to Mike Heenan's on the weekend." "Mike has been great to work for and taught me a lot over the years." " I owe him a lot," John said when talking to Harnesslink this week. John has been driving at workouts and trials  around Mid Canterbury for several months and has created a favourable impression with senior drivers like Ricky May and Gerald O'Reilly who both spoke very positively about John when talking to Harnesslink this week. John has three drives on his first day as a driver, two of which are for his father Chris and it is one of these which has the local trackwatchers buzzing.  Dreamcoat is having his first start for Chris Morrison after previously having spells with both Kerry and Leo O'Reilly. " His work at home has been super" "We took him to the trials at Timaru last weekend and he went really well, winning in good time." " If he can bring that kind of form to the races tomorrow, he has to be a chance," John said. Regardless of the results tomorrow on his first day of driving, John Morrison is a name that we are going to hear a lot more about in the future. Harnesslink Media

Happy Birthday.jpg

" Happy Birthday"

Another birthday for our four legged harness racing friends who provide us with so much enjoyment and pleasure. In the next few weeks we will head into the breeding season and Harnesslink will have plenty of articles regarding the stallions available and their performance. We get a little bit of negative feedback from some of the studs who don't appreciate their pride and joy being put under the spotlight, especially the ones that advertise with us but that feedback is far outweighed by the positive response we receive from breeders in general. So "Happy Birthday"  to all the horses that provide so much pleasure to so many people. Harnesslink Media  

The God Botherer - In the birdcage after his win tonight

"Pup" Hulston has another handy trotter

Well known Canterbury breeder and owner Graham "Pup" Hulston has bred and raced a lot of smart racehorses over the years, some at group level. However Graham has never lost his passion for harness racing and a maiden trotting racing is still more than enough incentive to get him on track in the middle of winter. The horse in question tonight was The God Botherer who was having his eleventh lifetime start at Addington tonight. The son of Thanksgiving was away well from barrier three early for Chris McDowell   who had The God Botherer running along in front until 500 metres from home when Topnotch Titan swept to the lead for Craig Thornley. Chris didn't panic on The God Botherer though and once the passing lane became available he slowly but surely wore Topnotch Titan down. The margin at the line was only a neck but The God Botherer was going the best of anything on the line. The God Botherer trotted the 1950 metres from the mobile in the cool winter conditions in 2:31.3, a mile rate of 2:04.8 with closing sectionals of 61.1 and 29.9 Graham was all smiles in the birdcage post race. " Dave Senior brought the dam Lady Of The House from Maurice O'Leary when he had a despersal sale a few years ago." " A few of us came in and raced her with Dave and when she was finished racing we all stayed in and bred from her. " The God Botherer is her first foal and Neil (Munro) thinks he is another twelve months away from being at his best so we should have a bit of fun with him," Graham said. Graham has invested heavily in the harness racing industry over the years and deserves every bit of success that comes his way. Harnesslink Media

Trevor Casey - A shoe in for owner of the year

Dream season coming to an end

A dream season for one of the country's most prolific harness racing owners ended on Friday but there's no time for rest. Trevor Casey started Friday on 90 winners for the season. It hasn't been confirmed as an official record but common sense would suggest it will be. A shoe in for owner of the year at next weekend's Harness Racing New Zealand awards night, Casey has enjoyed major success with the likes of Stent, Sky Major, Waikiki Beach, Lazarus, My Arya and Missandei. Casey had three runners on the final day of the season but wasn't concerned if he couldn't pick up a win: "I didn't think I'd ever get this many and I doubt I'll get this many again. "There's only one way to go from here and that's down, I'm very realistic about that in this game." Casey is straight back into action on Sunday with Harness Jewels winner Missandei and My Arya in Group I races at Maryborough in Victoria. Missandei will contest the Group I Redwood Classic along with the other two standouts of the two-year-old trotters crop from the New Zealand season, High Gait and Conon Bridge. Casey won the race in 2013 with Daenerys Targaryen and also had My Arya in the field last year. "I'm very proud of that record, to have one in the race the last three years," Casey said. The Kiwis haven't had any luck with the barrier draws for the $50,000 mobile over 2190m. High Gait has drawn barrier six, Conon Bridge the inside of the second line and Missandei barrier 12. Casey is happy with where Missandei's at given she's after she has won a race and two trials since transferring to the Brent Lilley stable after the Jewels but still rates High Gait the one to beat from the front line. The Paul Nairn-trained Conon Bridge blew his chances in the Jewels with a break but did return to Ashburton to win a C1-C2 trot on July 19 before heading across the Tasman. Mark Purdon will drive High Gait, Anthony Butt takes the reins on Missandei and Bob Butt has crossed the Tasman to drive Conon Bridge. My Arya will have her second start back after a break in the Group I Victoria Trotters Derby. Casey said her last start second was better than it looked after a gear change to remove the over-check and pole did not work. My Arya has won eight of nine starts in Australia this season and Casey is expecting plenty of improvement as the Angus Hall filly prepares to win back to back Breeders Crowns. She will start from barrier four in the 2690m mobile but Casey said Speeding Spur will be tough to beat despite his second row draw. Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

Not guilty pleas have been entered for four men facing allegations of $30 million gaming fraud. The four are due back in Wellington District Court on October 8 for a review of the Serious Fraud Office charges against them. Name suppression was continued for one man but the other three are Paul Max, 58, of Nelson; former Harness Racing New Zealand chairman Patrick O'Brien, 80, of Blenheim; and his son Mike O'Brien. A total of 32 charges of obtaining benefits by deception were laid. Max, 58, faces 13 charges that together with Mike O'Brien he obtained venue licences by deception. The man whose name was suppressed  asked to be dealt with separately from the others. He had previously pleaded not guilty and not guilty pleas were entered for the others on Friday. The Serious Fraud Office laid charges in February after an investigation involving police and the Internal Affairs Department into gaming grants made by trusts since 2006. About 20 venues, including five pubs in Blenheim, five properties in Wellington, two in Hawke's Bay and one in Masterton, were investigated. Details of the charges include concealing from the secretary of Internal Affairs that ownership of companies had been transferred from Mike O'Brien to Paul Max, and concealing the influence Mike O'Brien had in the management of Bluegrass Trust to retain control of it. The charges related to gaming machines outside casinos, such as those found in pubs and clubs. The money from them can only be used for certain purposes. Reprinted with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

It is not unusual for leading harness racing trainer Phil Williamson to have multiple entries in trotting races but tonight at Addington, Phil has three two year olds entered in the maiden trot which is not something that happens that often. All three young trotters have shown ability at trials and workouts so to get a better line on the pecking order we spoke to Phil on how he rates his three runners. " Well there is not a lot between them to be honest." " They all go near enough without looking like being anything special." They are  all handy enough and it wouldn't surprise me if one of them won tonight. " You won't miss Blazing Under Fire as he has heaps of white on him." " He is qualified at both pacing and trotting but is a much nicer trotter so thats what we will race him as." " To be honest he would have to be the smallest horse racing in New Zealand." " Winners Shout is a nice horse who is bred to go all right on his dam's side but I think his sire might be holding him back a bit." " His manners are good and that will take you a fair way in maiden trot races." "Astral Ruler has had a run at the races so that is an advantage and he is probably the most reliable of them all." "Ricky May has the drive so he would have to be a real chance." " At home there is very little between them to be honest so I will be a lot wiser about them after tonight's race, Phil said. Phil Williamson is never short of a handy trotter and it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of his three two year olds take out the maiden trot tonight at Addington. Harnesslink Media

Champion New Zealand jockey James McDonald is not a name usually associated with harness racing but that will all change tonight at Alexandra Park when the Angus Hall debutante Angus Bolt steps onto the track for the first time. Offered at last years Australasian Classic yearling sale by Brent Mangos and long time stable patron Warren Oliver, Angus Bolt was retained by his vendors when he failed to make his reserve price. From the former smart two year old trotting filly Strapless, Angus Bolt was given a few runs at workouts earlier in the season for educational purposes and put aside. This time in he has impressed trackwatchers in the north with a string of impressive runs at trials and workouts and has won his last four in style. Brent has a good opinion of his young trotter. " He is a really nice sensible trotter and I think quite a bit of him." " We will give him a couple of runs now and then give him a brief letup" " I think after Christmas we will line him up against the better age group trotters and I think he will more than hold his own," Brent said. James McDonald entered into the horse's ownership a few months back. " James is good friends with my daughter Angela and mentioned to me a while ago that he would like a share in one. " I have always liked Angus Bolt so I sold him a piece of my half share and thats how he became involved," Brent said. With James McDonald one of the pin up jockeys of the thoroughbred racing scene worldwide , his involvement in Angus Bolt has the potential to generate a lot of positive publicity for the harness racing industry in New Zealand. Another horse Brent has high hopes for tonight is Vibhuti. " I have always had an opinion of this horse but he disappointed me at the end of his last campaign." " We gelded him two months ago and he has really turned the corner lately." "His work recently has been super and with a little bit of luck from the draw he is well up to winning tonight," Brent said.  Harnesslink Media

Harness racing breeders in Australasia saw the passing of the great racehorse and sire Sundon this year but his impact on breeding downunder continues to grow. With the end of the season in New Zealand in sight, we thought we would have a look at his stats this season and yet again he has been dominant on all fronts. With his win in the 2015 sires premiership for trotters, Sundon took his 15th consecutive title as the leading sire of trotters in New Zealand. During that period he also managed to win two New Zealand Siring premierships covering all starters This year Sundon will also take out his fifth consecutive New Zealand trotting broodmare premiership with a lead of over $2,000,000 on his nearest rival. Even more impressive this year was his feat of winning the overall broodmare sires premiership with a lead of over $300,000 on last years winner In The Pocket The record across the Tasman is no less impressive. If he wins the premiership this season and he is $60,000 in front at the moment, then it will be  Sundon's13th successive title in Australia. The broodmare title in Australia is also a non event with Sundon nearly $2,000,000 in front of his nearest competitor. Sundon is currently setting records for premiership wins that are unlikely to ever be challenged. He is without doubt the greatest trotting stallion to have stood in Australasia and he isn't finished yet. Harnesslink Media

Not a bad week overall as our selectors added some value with their picks. As I have been reminded all week, the "Boss" topped the tipsters last week, throwing out Squaw ($12:80) at Rangiora. Other tipsters to join him in the winners circle were Maurice McKendry, Geoff Small, Tony Herlihy and Matthew Williamson while we had another four placegetters as well. This week we have four meetings and we have selections for them all. Kumeu - Thursday night Mark Jones - Gives Zakspatrol from barrier one a big chance of winning race 3 Todd MacFarlane - Thought Vulcan was a big chance to go one better this week and win race 6   Auckland - Friday night Steve Richardson - Keen on the chances of Djokovic in race 3 Peter Scaife - Very bullish about the chances of the recently gelded Vibhuti in race 4 Tony Herlihy - Rates Vice Consul as well overdue and a big winning chance, also in race 4 Steven Reid - Thinks Unforgiving can make it four in a row in a very crowded race 4 John Dunn - Reckons Joey Maguire is ready to strike and again it is in race 4 Maurice McKendry - Predictably he thought The Orange Agent could win again in race 6 Todd Mitchell - Gives Risk a big push to win race 7 Scott Phelan - Thinks from the draw Rocknroll Princess could win race 8   Addington - Friday night John Curtin - Thought Astral Ruler looked hard to beat in race 1 Brendon McLellan - Reckons Wick can make it three in a row in race 2 Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Goshawk a chance to upset them at odds in race 3 Tim Williams - Gives Eilish Aimee a real show of taking out race 5 Jim Curtin - Thought Gunpowder was going great at the moment and could win race 6 Blair Orange - Thinks McClinchie will be very hard to beat in race 8 Bob Butt - Gives Easy Rider a huge chance of clearing maidens in race 10   Kurow - Sunday afternoon Gavin Smith - Gives Paris Princess a good chance of leaving maidens in race1 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Snow Raker can cement his good form lately with a wine in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Rates Sun's Invasion a chance to win again in race 6 Brad Williamson - Reckons Princess Arts from the nice draw will be very hard to beat in race 7 Ricky May - Gives course specialist Live The Dream a big chance of winning race 9   Harnesslink Media  

Redwood Day at Maryborough this Sunday is one of most keenly anticipated dates on the Australian harness racing calendar. Two trotting only meetings are being held on Friday and Sunday this week with the two Group 1 races on the Sunday being the highlights This year there is another strong contingent of Kiwi trotters involved but to say they have received the visitors draw is an understatement. There are three Kiwi trotters involved in the $50,500 Redwood Classic for two year olds but all of them have drawn in the carpark. The outstanding Muscles Yankee filly High Gait has drawn the best of the Kiwis at barrier 6 and she will probably move into barrier five if the emergency doesn't get a start. After her recent trial at Menangle where she broke 1:56 for the mile with ease, High Gait looks the one to beat post draw. The Paul Nairn trained Conon Bridge has copped the worst possible marble for a horse who can be a touch unruly, drawing one on the second line. Up till now the son of Raffaello Ambrosia has started from the unruly position in all his mobile starts and his draw on Sunday means the Nairn camp will be crossing their fingers through the first 100 metres. The third of the Kiwi runners in the two year old Redwood Classic is Missandei and the daughter of Angus Hall is right out in the carpark at five on the second line. Missandei won her only start since crossing the Tasman but the draw makes her task to beat High Gait again very difficult. The other Group 1 on Sunday is the $75,000 Victorian Derby and the outstanding New Zealand three year old Speeding Spur is another Kiwi to be handed a horror draw. Speeding Spur will start from six on the second line and will need all favours from out there to be a winning chance. Arya will start from barrier four so she instantly becomes a great each way chance while the top local Illawong Armstrong has also drawn the second line but his last win over Arya was outstanding and with any luck early he will be a big threat.. Harnesslink Media

On his recent trip to New Zealand and Australia, champion driver Tim Tetrick was asked on several occasions – who’s the fastest horse you’ve ever sat behind? Each time the answer was; He’s Watching. The horse he won the 2014 Meadowlands Pace with in 1:46.8 – equalling the world record for the fastest race mile ever. In outstanding news for the Australasian breeding industry, He’s Watching – the fastest horse in the world – will kick off his stud career at Alabar in New Zealand this season. Retired last week, after a season of frustrations that kept him from the racetrack, the four-year-old He’s Watching will shortly head into quarantine for the trip down under. He’s Watching will shuttle back to North America each year but, in a coup for our breeders, the first foals by the fastest horse in the world will be bred here. From the first moment he stepped on to a racetrack, He’s Watching has been one of North America’s glamour pacers. As a two-year-old, he went on an unbeaten eight for eight winning rampage. In doing so, he broke no less than five track records - at Batavia Downs, Buffalo, Tioga, Vernon Downs and Yonkers. His win at Yonkers was in 1:52.4 - a world record for a two-year-old on a half-mile track. He won by over six lengths. His win at Tioga was in 1:50 – a world record for a two-year-old on a five-eighths track. He again won by over six lengths. After the victory at Tioga, driver Jim Morrill jnr said “… he is just so fast it is unbelievable. I asked him to go in the stretch there tonight a little bit but he could have just as easily gone in 49 tonight, he is just so fast it’s amazing.” He’s Watching was voted 2013 USTA Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year. At the end of this incredible freshman season, a half share in He’s Watching was sold to the Muscara Racing Trust. The head of the Trust, ninety year old Joe Muscara had won the Meadowlands Pace with Mach Three in 2002. He wanted nothing more than to win it again in 2014. Sadly, Joe Muscara passed away on the Monday prior to the final of the 2014 Meadowlands Pace. That his latest superstar was named He’s Watching made an emotional week even more poignant. There was never any doubt that He’s Watching was up to the moment though, with a career defining performance to trounce a quality field in the rich final. He simply blew past the opposition in one of the most devastating displays of speed seen in our sport. He cruised home in 25.6 in the hands of Tim Tetrick to win by 2 ½ lengths in a sensational 1:46.8. This sublime victory matched the all-age world record, made him the fastest ever three-year-old at the Meadowlands and the youngest ever winner of the Meadowlands Pace. Being a 13 June foal, he had remarkably only turned three twenty-nine days earlier. After this victory, driver Tim Tetrick said “Unbelievable. He is a great horse and I was lucky to pick up the drive. He really exploded all the way to the wire.” What’s more, he told trainer David Menary that He’s Watching “had more left in the tank.” The Meadowlands Pace The secret to He’s Watching’s brilliance can possibly be found in his breeding. He has a freakish pedigree. His sire American Ideal is by a son of the champion mare Leah Almahurst and is out of a daughter another champion mare in Three Diamonds. These two outstanding mares are closely related having their third and second dam respectively as the great K Nora. Remarkably, the dam of He’s Watching carries the same cross. His own fourth dam is Leah Almahurst and the dam of his maternal grandsire is Three Diamonds. So four strains of a dominant mare in K Nora via sex-balanced duplications of two champion mares – a pedigree enthusiasts paradise. To round off a great pedigree he also has eight daughters of Tar Heel (six of them unique) in his sixth generation. He’s Watching retires to stud with $1,129,215 in earnings, five track records and two of his three world records still standing. Standing 15 hands and powerfully built, He’s Watching is best summed up by one of his owners as “strutting into the parade ring with a look that said - who wants to fight me today?” Very few could. He’s Watching will be available at NZ$6,000 (plus GST) in New Zealand and A$6,000 (incl GST) in Australia.

There have been hundreds of New Zealand bred mares exported to North America over the years but only a small percentage are ever bred from in the Northern Hemisphere. A few make their way back to New Zealand but a lot are given away as hacks One well performed New Zealand bred mare that is being bred from in North America is the Caprock mare Smooth Latin. Trained in New Zealand in the first instance by John Hay and then Ray Norton, Smooth Latin won four races here and just $25,000 before being exported to North America in early 2000. Smooth Latin did a big job on the track in North America, taking a mark of 1:52.1 and in the process took her overall stake earnings to $217,884. However it is in the broodmare barn that she has really excelled. Smooth Latin's first foal was by McArdle and named McApulco and he took a mark of 1:51.2 on his way to earning $365,942. Next up was Morguns Romeo 1:53 ($44,875) by Artiscape and the third foal was another McArdle colt in McAracas 1:51.4 ($170,579) The fourth foal from Smooth Latin was by Red River Hanover and is her only filly to date in Redy La Mar 1:56.1 ($44,192) while her fifth by Royal Mattjesty in Mattista was her only non winner to date. The sixth foal from Smooth Latin was the very smart Shadow Play colt in Shadios 1:49.4 ($82,860) who has issues from half way through his three year old campaign and never really fulfilled his potential. The seventh foal from Smooth Latin is the Jeremes Jet three year old Robert Hill 1:51. ($158,190) who last week took out a $105,000 division of the Ontario Sires Stakes and looks potentially the best of Smooth Latin's progeny to date. Smooth Latin was lucky enough to be bred from in North America but a lot of well bred, well performed New Zealand mares are being left on the shelf after they finish racing. The cost of the transport back to New Zealand is very expensive but maybe New Zealand breeders should be looking to bring home some of our better performed mares that are being wasted in North America. Harnesslink Media

One of New Zealands most promising harness racing reinsman Matthew Williamson has been on edge for several weeks now. Cemented onto 499 lifetime wins, the North Otago reinsman has run second after second in his quest to crack the 500 mark. The longer it took the more good humoured banter he has taken from his fellow reinsman and people within the industry. Speaking to him mid-week Matthew wasn't over confident that he could turn it around with this weeks book of drives. His best undoubtedly was Springbank Eden at Addington Raceway but Matthew felt that Springbank Eden's luck was about as good as his and that they would probably run second again. With a lap to go tonight that looked very likely as Springbank Eden was parked outside a tearaway leader in Lisa Marie P with Dexter Dunn in the bike. However passing the 800 metres mark Matthew was able to slip Springbank Eden down onto Lisa Marie P's back and from there Springbank Eden was always a big winning chance. These two drew away from the field on the corner and Springbank Eden took the whole length of the Addington straight to nail Lisa Marie P and help bring up Matty's 500th win as a reinsman. Matty was all smiles as he returned to scale and was quick to deflect all the accolades heading his way. " It is good to get the monkey off the back." "Half way up the straight I thought I was going to run second again but to his credit Springbank Eden has dug in and got the job done." " With natural improvement, he should be a nice drive in the next twelve months," Matty said. Since his first drive Matty has always looked someone headed to the top and he was quick to thank those who have helped him along the way. " Dad (Phil) has been a big help all the way through and it was great to crack the 500 wins on one he trained." "Geoff and Jude Knight have been super as well and without their support I wouldn't be where I am today so I can't thank them enough," Matty said. As someone who has regular contact with Matty in relation to his upcoming drives, I can attest to the fact that he is always open and honest and a pleasure to deal with which is not always the way with leading reinsman. The way Matty is driving and the success he is having it won't be that long before we are celebrating the 1000 win mark for this talented reinsman. Harnesslink Media

Maurice McKendry is recognised as one of the best reinsman to grace the harness racing industry in New Zealand. One of only two reinsman to crack the 3000 barrier in the history of the sport in New Zealand, Maurice is showing no signs of slowing down. After a short break recently, Maurice has come back in dynamic form and several of his recent wins are just textbook drives which have been great to watch. The most recent was the win of Sir Ritchie at Alexandra Park tonight. The son of Christian Cullen has been in great form since stepping onto the track but was let go a bit by punters due to the strength of the field. Maurice took hold of Sir Ritchie early from barrier two as several runners went to war with the first 600 metres whizzing by in under 41 seconds as Cyclone Kate worked her way to the front. Just as Cyclone Kate looked to back off the pace with 1100 metres to go, Maurice launched Sir Ritchie three wide and grabbed the front with 800 metres to go. From there try as they might Sir Ritchie and Maurice had their measure and they still had 3/4 of a length to spare at the finish.  The 2200 metres went by in a quick 2:40.8, a mile rate of 1:57.6 with closing sectionals of 58.7 and 28. and Sir Ritchie paid back his supporters with a $10:70 win dividend. Maurice is closing in on 3100 wins in the cart with stakes nearing the $26,500,000 mark and continues to display all the attributes that have made him the great reinsman that he still is. Harnesslink Media 

The middle of winter is not usually the place to launch a talented horse on his harness racing career but such is the case tonight with the debut run of the smart two year old Franco Cristiano in race one at Addington. This great looking son of Bettor's Delight was purchased out of last years New Zealand Premier sale for $92,500 after Robert Dunn saw the sales video of the colt from the Spreydon Lodge draft. " As soon as I saw the video, where he looked a quality horse, I went and inspected him and was really impressed and ended up buying him," Robert told Harnesslink today Not only is Franco Cristaino a good looker but he has the pedigree to go with it. Franco Cristiano is from a daughter of the outstanding broodmare Cherubic who left eight winners and all were black print winners and her daughters have bred on as well. It has not been all plain sailing since his purchase at the sales. " He was quite hard to get going actually." "Gavin (Burgess) who breaks all of mine in had a lot of problems getting him to pace and we had to pull his hopples right up to get him to function." "When he came back into the stable he was better, but he just didn't have any confidence so we took our time with him." "We qualified him and gave him another wee break and he has come back in  this time like the horse we always thought he could be." " He is not foolproof yet but he is getting there." " He is a horse that feels like he has a lot of bottom to him and he should develop into a really smart three and four year old," Robert said. With John in Auckland driving the northern team tonight at Alexandra Park, the plum drive on Franco Cristiano has fallen to stable reinsman Sam Ottley and going by his recent trial at Rangiora he should make his debut a winning one tonight at Addington. Harnesslink Media

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The new harness racing season gets underway tomorrow with the running of the Kurow meeting at Oamaru and it is the race meeting that sees the first appearance on raceday of the Mid Canterbury junior driver John Morrison. The seventeen year old is well known in harness racing circles in Canterbury as he has helped his father Chris Morrison of Morrisons Saddlery out at race meetings throughout Canterbury over a number of years. John has been around horses since he was a wee kid and has always had his heart set on being a driver. " I helped dad out with the horses when I was really young and from about the age of nine I started going up to Mike Heenan's on the weekend." "Mike has been great to work for and taught me a lot over the years." " I owe him a lot," John said when talking to Harnesslink this week. John has been driving at workouts and trials  around Mid Canterbury for several months and has created a favourable impression with senior drivers like Ricky May and Gerald O'Reilly who both spoke very positively about John when talking to Harnesslink this week. John has three drives on his first day as a driver, two of which are for his father Chris and it is one of these which has the local trackwatchers buzzing.  Dreamcoat is having his first start for Chris Morrison after previously having spells with both Kerry and Leo O'Reilly. " His work at home has been super" "We took him to the trials at Timaru last weekend and he went really well, winning in good time." " If he can bring that kind of form to the races tomorrow, he has to be a chance," John said. Regardless of the results tomorrow on his first day of driving, John Morrison is a name that we are going to hear a lot more about in the future. Harnesslink Media
Another birthday for our four legged harness racing friends who provide us with so much enjoyment and pleasure. In the next few weeks we will head into the breeding season and Harnesslink will have plenty of articles regarding the stallions available and their performance. We get a little bit of negative feedback from some of the studs who don't appreciate their pride and joy being put under the spotlight, especially the ones that advertise with us but that feedback is far outweighed by the positive response we receive from breeders in general. So "Happy Birthday"  to all the horses that provide so much pleasure to so many people. Harnesslink Media  
Well known Canterbury breeder and owner Graham "Pup" Hulston has bred and raced a lot of smart racehorses over the years, some at group level. However Graham has never lost his passion for harness racing and a maiden trotting racing is still more than enough incentive to get him on track in the middle of winter. The horse in question tonight was The God Botherer who was having his eleventh lifetime start at Addington tonight. The son of Thanksgiving was away well from barrier three early for Chris McDowell   who had The God Botherer running along in front until 500 metres from home when Topnotch Titan swept to the lead for Craig Thornley. Chris didn't panic on The God Botherer though and once the passing lane became available he slowly but surely wore Topnotch Titan down. The margin at the line was only a neck but The God Botherer was going the best of anything on the line. The God Botherer trotted the 1950 metres from the mobile in the cool winter conditions in 2:31.3, a mile rate of 2:04.8 with closing sectionals of 61.1 and 29.9 Graham was all smiles in the birdcage post race. " Dave Senior brought the dam Lady Of The House from Maurice O'Leary when he had a despersal sale a few years ago." " A few of us came in and raced her with Dave and when she was finished racing we all stayed in and bred from her. " The God Botherer is her first foal and Neil (Munro) thinks he is another twelve months away from being at his best so we should have a bit of fun with him," Graham said. Graham has invested heavily in the harness racing industry over the years and deserves every bit of success that comes his way. Harnesslink Media
A dream season for one of the country's most prolific harness racing owners ended on Friday but there's no time for rest. Trevor Casey started Friday on 90 winners for the season. It hasn't been confirmed as an official record but common sense would suggest it will be. A shoe in for owner of the year at next weekend's Harness Racing New Zealand awards night, Casey has enjoyed major success with the likes of Stent, Sky Major, Waikiki Beach, Lazarus, My Arya and Missandei. Casey had three runners on the final day of the season but wasn't concerned if he couldn't pick up a win: "I didn't think I'd ever get this many and I doubt I'll get this many again. "There's only one way to go from here and that's down, I'm very realistic about that in this game." Casey is straight back into action on Sunday with Harness Jewels winner Missandei and My Arya in Group I races at Maryborough in Victoria. Missandei will contest the Group I Redwood Classic along with the other two standouts of the two-year-old trotters crop from the New Zealand season, High Gait and Conon Bridge. Casey won the race in 2013 with Daenerys Targaryen and also had My Arya in the field last year. "I'm very proud of that record, to have one in the race the last three years," Casey said. The Kiwis haven't had any luck with the barrier draws for the $50,000 mobile over 2190m. High Gait has drawn barrier six, Conon Bridge the inside of the second line and Missandei barrier 12. Casey is happy with where Missandei's at given she's after she has won a race and two trials since transferring to the Brent Lilley stable after the Jewels but still rates High Gait the one to beat from the front line. The Paul Nairn-trained Conon Bridge blew his chances in the Jewels with a break but did return to Ashburton to win a C1-C2 trot on July 19 before heading across the Tasman. Mark Purdon will drive High Gait, Anthony Butt takes the reins on Missandei and Bob Butt has crossed the Tasman to drive Conon Bridge. My Arya will have her second start back after a break in the Group I Victoria Trotters Derby. Casey said her last start second was better than it looked after a gear change to remove the over-check and pole did not work. My Arya has won eight of nine starts in Australia this season and Casey is expecting plenty of improvement as the Angus Hall filly prepares to win back to back Breeders Crowns. She will start from barrier four in the 2690m mobile but Casey said Speeding Spur will be tough to beat despite his second row draw. Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here
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