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Bets of the week ringaround - 23rd October 2014

Last week we got a good old fashioned kick up the butt with just three of our tipsters selecting a winner and only six overall were in the money. Blair Orange, Terry Chmiel and Nathan Williamson furthered their good record as selectors whilst there were plenty of hard luck stories from others all over the country. They start with a clean slate this week and have come up with plenty of value for readers with plenty of runners whose form is not the best but who our selectors give a real chance to. Manawatu - Thursday night Scott Phelan - Even though he has drawn the second row thinks Art Magic should win race 3   Auckland - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Thought Elliesjet even from barrier 12 would be hard to beat in race1 Steven Reid - Very bullish about Unforgiving from barrier one in race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes The Orange Agent to upset Unforgiving in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Boizel even off 40 metres can win race 5 Tony Herlihy - Rates Downunder Stride from barrier one as hard to beat in race 6 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Le Lua Invasion a good chance against the fillies and mares in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green will atone for last week and win race 8 Zac Butcher - Likes Saffron Castleton to turn her form around in race 9   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Rates Quaint Glen a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 Tim Williams - Confident that Adore Me's little brother Have Faith In Me can win race 6 John Dunn - Feedback from stable suggests Light The Fuse will win race 7 if driver at his best Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox just needs a change of luck to win race 8 Sam Ottley - Quite keen on Bird Of Paradise to turn her form around in race 10     Manawatu - Sunday afternoon Todd Macfarlane - Rates Hudy Haxwell a royal show on the second day at Manawatu Peter Scaife - Gives Johnny Vegas a big chance on the second day at Manawatu   Tuapeka - Sunday afternoon Dexter Dunn - Reckons Margarita can make it four wins from her last five in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way can go one better than last week and win race 7 Nathan Williamson - Likes stablerunner Onedin Mach to make it four in a row in race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought Drover's Eyre would be tough to roll in race 11   Ashburton - Monday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Confident that Never Fear can turn her form around in race 1 Jim Curtin - Thinks Star Of Dionysis is overdue and can win race 2 Ricky May - Keen on Brilliant Strike who has a decent draw for once to win race 4 Terry Chmiel -Thought That Guy Finn even in that super hot field can win race 6   Harnesslink Media

Bandana - Looks close to his best for season debut

Bandana looking to make up for lost time

Bandana is due to make his return to harness racing tomorrow night at Alexandra Park as he looks to get his once promising career back on track. Bandana, who is a full brother to the former smart racemare Hannah 1:54.3 ($52,,829) is closely related to the former outstanding juvenile Tuapeka Knight 1:58.1 ($198,305)   The son of Badlands Hanover looked a star in the making in his first three starts as a 2 year old, winning his first two starts by daylight and then being narrowly beaten at his third start. The subject of a sizeable offer at that point which ultimately fell through, Bandana also picked up a nasty virus at the same time and was briefly spelled. When he returned to racing, Bandana performed several notches below his best and was tipped out again for a longer spell. Brought back again, Bandana still wasn't right and was tipped out yet again by trainer/ owner Roni Lauren. Having a few little issues that needed sorting out, Roni has entrusted Bandana to local trainer Sean McCaffrey this time in, who had driven the gelding in most of his early runs. Last Saturday at the Cambridge workouts, Bandana in the hands of Sean gave his rivals including the talented Percy Jones a pacing lesson as he cut the 2200 metres out in 2:44.7, a mile rate of 2:00.4 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 29.2 as he coasted home by 10 lengths. Sean is still not convinced that Bandana is back to his best. " He did that real easy and was waiting for them up the straight but he has to do it on raceday yet and that will the big test of where he is at " he told Harnesslink this week.  "He has a few little kinks to be ironed out yet but there is no doubting the ability is there" he said. As luck would have it, Bandana has landed a smart maiden field to make his debut for the season with Downunderstide, Love Ina Chevy and Percy Jones all looking destined for better things. To compound that, Bandana who is to be driven by champion reinsman Maurice McKendry, has drawn barrier eight and Sean knows it will be tough from out there. "He doesn't have a lot of gate speed so we will be going back at the start and look to have one last shot at them. We just have to hope there is some genuine pace up front otherwise we are up against it a bit, " he said. However tomorrow night pans out, Bandana has shown enough in his short career to date to suggest there are plenty more wins in store yet. Harnesslink Media  

Harness Racing

Shuttle Stallions - Where is the $$ going? Insider Access

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great harness racing newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: NZ: Shuttle Stallions –  Where is the $$ going? Breeding operations in the southern hemisphere are locked into the use of shuttle stallions if they want to stay relevant in a hugely competitive market. They either buy a chunk of a stallion, purchase the Southern breeding rights or get a fee for service provided to the stallion owners. But where is the actual money going? NZ: Stakes money: How to calculate it - As an industry that covers different hemispheres and numerous countries, you would think that the powers that be would come up with a system regarding stakes money won that is uniformly accepted worldwide. Embryo transplants are just wrong! - Embryo transplants in race horses, just like cloning or any other unnatural forms of reproduction in horse racing, is just plain wrong. Get your friends to enter “Win The Wheels Contest” - How would you like to win a set of $1,400US custom race bike wheels from Forward Motion Technologies, perhaps a full set of RazorHorse shoes, maybe a five gallon bucket of Lifeline Horse Supplement or a $100 Amazon gift card? AU: Thin skinned stewards -  Following an exclusive article on Harnesslink earlier this month, Victorian horseman Lance Justice is the subject of stewards' inquiry. Angered by the suspensions he received at Melton on September 29, Justice questioned the lack of definition between light and heavy interference stating: "The stewards are too heavy handed. There is no defining difference between light, medium or heavy interference, and as such, it’s just bang...this is the sentence. Its mandatory sentencing gone mad." AU: Novelty or offensive? - In a world of political correctness, would be it okay to conduct a race limited to third generation Australians? How about a race for men only? Stallion Review – ALWAYS A VIRGIN - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Always A Virgin, p,3,1:48.4 ($1,135,559). Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

Smolda - In a battle against time to be ready for the New Zealand Cup

Smolda running out of time

The New Zealand Cup hopes of outstanding pacer Smolda hang in the balance after he was pulled out of the main lead-up race. The former Harness Jewels and Derby winner will miss Monday’s Flying Stakes at Ashburton, far and way the best and most important race on the road to the Cup. And that leaves the one-time $6 third favourite for the Cup with few genuine racing opportunities before the Addington classic on November. Smolda started his season was a moderate fourth to Terror To Love last month but was even more disappointing in Sunday’s Methven Cup, in which he lead and faded to fourth again. But this time he wasn’t up against Cup favourites Terror To Love and Christen Me and even more importantly he again looked uncomfortable in his gait, even on the huge grass track. Trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen had blood test taken from Smolda which failed to shed any light on his lack lustre form so they have chosen to pull him out of the Flying Stakes. With the tight, flat Kaikoura curcuit on November 3 unlikely to suit him, Smolda faces going into the New Zealand Cup with only another minor Addington race or the Cup trial to bring him back to his peak. He has drifted out to $13 with the TAB and it would not surprise to see him bypass the great race, even though he is officially still being aimed in that direction. His absence detracts little from the Flying Stakes in which Terror To Love (9) and Christen (8) will again start from the widest draws, with Hands Christian and Adore Me alongside them, with Franco Nelson, Bit Of A Legend, Franco Ledger and Pembrook Benny adding huge depth to the field. Which made it even more surprising the TAB opened Terror To Love the $2 favourite for Monday and Christen Me at $3. Monday’s meeting also sees most of New Zealand’s best trotters clash in the Flying Mile, with one of the big winners in the draws being northerner Irish Whisper, who has drawn one.  Courtesy Of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

Woodlands Stud NZ Ltd is continuing its support of the Manawatu Harness Club (MHRC) by sponsoring the Bettor’s Delight Mile Series (fillies & mares) again throughout the 2014/15 season. The purpose of the series is to give owners the opportunity to obtain a sub-two minute mile rating for their filly or mare, thereby improving their breeding pedigree and encouraging them to breed in the future. There are five races in the series with the winning owners of each race receiving a voucher for 30% discount on either a Bettor’s Delight or American Ideal Service Fee plus a dress rug. The Stake for the first race is $8,500 and the club will endeavour to increase this further if the series is well supported by owners and trainers. The dates for this season are: Thursday October 23 Thursday November 27 Thursday February 19 Thursday March 26 Friday May 15 The fields are limited to 11 starters, with six on the front row and five on the second row behind the mobile gate on a preferential draw.  Last season’s races for the C1- C2 fillies and mares (3YO & older) over the 1609 metres resulted in sub two minute ratings by Chillysjustastrutter (1.57.6) on March 13 and Shestherealdeal (1.58.2) on May 16.  A further 12 horses crossed the line in under two minutes between the two races. Courtesy Of Woodlands Stud

Harnesslink is proud to release Stallion Sphere, a Facebook and mobile web app containing all 23 of our exclusive Stallion reviews. We hope this will become an invaluable resource to breeders and harness fans around the world, so please check it out and share with your friends using the website's inbuilt share on Facebook functionality. Reviews will be regularly updated and all statistics are current as of the date listed at the top of each review. Stats are from official sources in North America (TrackIT), Australia & New Zealand. We'll update Stallion Sphere with new reviews every 2 weeks, but make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter “Insider Access” to get the stallion reviews two weeks early. To use the Stallion Sphere simply click and drag your mouse (or finger for touch devices) around the sphere to move it around, use your mouse wheel (or pinch on mobile) to zoom. Then click on a Stallion to read the review. For the best experience use a good modern browser like Google Chrome. If you are using Internet Explorer - depending on your version – you will either see a flat grid or nothing at all. You will also need to be logged into your Facebook account to view it, although mobile devices & tablets can access it without a Facebook account. Click here to visit Stallion Sphere www.stallionsphere.com (Once you click the above link - you will need to "like" Harnesslink on Facebook to view.)

Napoleon Bar gave Italy two horses in the top five of the UET Masters Series with a superb win in the €110,000 Gran Premio Freccia d’Europa at Naples’ Ippodromo Agnano. Napoleon Bar looks like he is ready to emerge from the shadow of the number one ranked horse in Europe, Mack Grace Sm (8h CC’s Chuckie), whose status is purely on the back of his almost unbeatable form in Italy, which he has been unable to reproduce any time he has crossed the border. Not so Napoleon Bar, who is one of a handful sons of Varenne (Pasica’Lest being the other most successful) who make a good living commuting between his place of birth and France, where he has raced with good success, unlike his more famous rival. He has really come into his own this year winning his first prestigious group II the Prix de Washington in June, following on from a win in the Group III Prix de New York in France, while this is his second Italian Group I win of the year, and his third in total. He has won 917,365 euros. Previously Napoleon Bar had been second in the Italian classic Gran Premio del Lotteria (to Mack Grace Sm) and was also runner up in his year’s European 5YO championships and been placed at group II level in France. After a speed duel off the gate driver Enrico Bellei backed off into the trail behind Mack Grace Sm who was driven as usual by Roberto Andreghetti. Mack Grace Sm set a punishing pace but when Napoleon Bar swung wide on the final bend couldn’t find any extra. Napoleon Bar powered away to win by three lengths as Mack Grace Sm wilted allowing veteran mare Linda di Casei (9m Uronometro) to get by for second. Napoleon Bar recorded a kilometer rare of 1’10”7 (1.53.4MR) for the 1600m journey. The prestigious Winter Meeting in France is but a week away, with the traditional opener, the Group II international monte Prix Reynolds, a UET Masters Series race, scheduled for next Wednesday, October 29. A few of the French heavyweights such as Tiego d’Etang (7h Chaillot) and Texas Charm (7h Cygnus d'Odyssee) and recent Criterium des 5 Ans winner Vabellino were in action this weekend at Caen in the €80,000 Prix de la Ville de Caen, a Group III international over the marathon 4400m distance and which attracted a high quality field of 17 runners. Tiego d’Etang carried a lot of money in the Prix d’Amerique, and has actually twice finished second in the Prix de Paris, the longest of the French Triple Crown, at 4150m, while Texas Charm was the early favourite for the PDA but withdrew through injury . But it was obviously a little early in both their preparations, as the pair did not figure off the 50m handicap, they were alotted. However Taormina d’Em (7m Cedre du Vivier) who was fourth in this year’s Prix de Paris (earning a coveted black type “classique” status) who in the hands of Tony Le Beller finished the strongest to defeat the favourite Vabellino (5h Ouragan de Celland), who showed his upset win in the 5YO classique was no fluke. Soleil de Fosse showed his trainer Thierry Duvaldestin enough in finishing a solid third to suggest a second start in the Prix d’Amerique might be on the cards for the 8YO son of Jag de Bellouet. Meanwhile news filtering out of Sweden is that trainer Stefan Hultman has last season’s Prix d'Amerique winner Maharajah about to resume in earnest his defence of the jewel in the French triple crown, which is held on the last weekend of January. Maharajah hasn’t raced since that epic win over Up And Quick at Vincennes in January, and has been busy covering mares at the famous Menhammar Stud in Sweden, but has been in full training for a couple of weeks now. “He is getting better and better and is still happy in training even if he is getting older”, trainer Stefan Hultman told the ATG website this week. “The goal is to travel to Paris and try to win the Prix d'Amerique one more time. We haven’t set the schedule yet, but we will not go there if we don’t think that we can win.” Maharajah (Viking Kronos), now nine years old has won 31 out of just 58 starts so far, in a career which has been beset by fetlock problems. Despite this, and judiciously managed by the massive Travkompianet syndication company, he has earned almost SEK 23.5 million (A$3.7million) which ranks him seventh place among the top earning Swedish trotters of all time. The horse he defeated last year, Up And Quick, who then went on to win the aforementioned Prix de Paris, has recently arrived at the French national training centre Grosbois in preparation for his tilt at the greatest prize in trotting, and is said to be in superb condition. Trainer Franck Leblanc said the horse will reappear in the first of the 4 “B” races the Prix de Bretagne on November 15, which carry an automatic entry into the Prix d’Amerique. View Here Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

Thirteen-win pacer Lets Elope has ended his New Zealand career on a triumphant note. The winner of $324,978 is scheduled to leave for Australia either Wednesday (October 22) or next week. Co-owner/trainer Frank Cooney said he was left with no option but to send the 6-year-old Real desire gelding abroad. He said he made the decision well before Friday’s win in the $14,000 Smart Choice Mobile for the C3-C9 pacers at Alexandra Park. “There’s just nothing for him up here now until possibly Christmas and the New Year. He’s not quite good enough to compete against the (NZ) Cup horses and he would be handicapped out of it if he stayed up here. “Australia was the obvious option because he will be a M1 pacer there,” Cooney said. Let’s Elope was quoted at $151 to win the New Zealand Cup. He will now head to Victoria and race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park in the Brent Lilley colours. “He may come back one day because he’s owned here in New Zealand but to be honest I think he will win more over there and that’s where he will stay,” said Cooney, whose wife Anne co-owns Lets Elope with Peter Haslam and Warren Outrim. Haslam pointed out that lets Elope had never been beaten once he got to the front in his races. That trend continued in Friday’s 2200m mobile. Brilliant anticipation from driver Tony Herlihy (MNZM) saw Lets Elope sprint hard to the lead when hot favourite Hughie Green broke wildly at the 600m. The 3-year-old galloped for 200m yet still managed to finish a huge third – half a length and 7-3/4 lengths behind Lets Elope and Norvic Nightowl. Imajollywally was later promoted to third. Lets Elope stopped the clock in 2:41.8 (mile rate: 1:58.3) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 56.1 and 26.6. Co-trainer Tate Hopkins said it was very difficult for any horse to make up ground from the back when the good horses were coming home in 56 and 26. “That’s why he’s not going to the (NZ) Cup Carnival. It’s just too hard for a horse like him to make up ground on the top horses when they are going that fast. “And they are likely to go faster in the Junior and Senior Free-For-All down south. Those were the two races he probably would have started in,” Hopkins said. “It’s sad to see him go but Frank has made the best decision for both the horse and owners,” he added. Cooney said Lets Elope was the equal best horse he had trained – alongside eight-win ($101,050) mid-1980s pacer, Kurahaupo Eden. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand  

The harness racing trials at Ashburton today saw the All Stars team produce several smart performers from last season, complimented by the odd new face. First up from the barn was the smart qualifier from last week in Classical Art who won her maiden 2400 metre trial from the stand in the manner of a filly going places. Sent straight to the front by driver Mark Purdon, the 3 year old filly by Mach Three dominated throughout and comfortably held out Comacho in 3:04.7 with closing sectionals of 57.8 and 27.2 The All Stars barn lined up four runners in the C1-C2 stand over 2400 metres and ran the first four with all of their runners looking forward to resume. Last season's smart 2 year old filly Fight For Glory looks to have come back in great order after she dealt to a big field with plenty of quality, bursting out of the pack half way up the long Ashburton straight to win easily. Vice Consul was just as comfortably second with Someardensomewhere running home stylishly from last at the 600 metres for third. Last season's very smart 2 year old Itz Bettor To Win battled the last bit to finish fourth after doing plenty of work and he should benefit big time from the run. In the next heat for maiden trotters over 2400 metres from a stand, last seasons 2 year old runner up in the Jewels, Prince Fearless showed he had come back in great fettle with a faultless display to romp in untouched. Sent straight to the front by Mark Purdon, he cut out the 2400 metres in a swift 3:08.2 with closing sectionals of 57.9 and 28.2. He looks in for a big season judging by todays run. The last two All Stars runners were in the C3 and faster pace over 2400 metres from a stand and for once they didn't win the heat. Helena Jet with Dexter Dunn in the bike looped the field at the 1200 metres mark and then brushed home in 55.7 and 26.5 to comfortably hold out Isaiah with Dalton Bromac and Willow close up. All four runners went super with Dalton Bromac being privately timed to run home in 54.5 a minor highlight of this heat. Star Qualifier - Louie Finn Sent straight to the front by trainer /driver Mark Jones, this son of Grinfromeartoear looked to have plenty in reserve as he qualified 7 seconds under the required  time after brushing home in 57.2 and 27.8. Other trialists of note Beyond Belief - 3 year old filly by Shadow Play who showed plenty of potential winning her heat Mighty Flying Mac - Dexter still had a lap full of horse even after a last quarter in 26 That Guy Finn - Made up a lot of ground in fastly run heat   Harnesslink Media  

Progeny of former 2001 Australasian Breeders Crown 3YO filly champ Sparks A Flyin (1:52, US) won within hours on both sides of the Tasman on Friday night October 17, 2014. Smart colt Art Union took another stepping stone towards the $170,000 NRM Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington on November 11 at Addington, while older half-brother Bettors Fire returned to winning form at Gloucester Park, Perth. The Cran Dalgety-trained Art Union justified his hot $1.40 favouritism in the C3-6 pace at Addington, but he didn’t dominate from the outset as many anticipated. Driver Dexter Dunn, from barrier three with the Art Major colt, elected not to race second favourite Mighty Major (ace) for the early lead, settling him into a perfect one-one trail. When a move from the back came a lap out, Dexter was on the move, letting Art Union stride past Mighty Major at the 900m. The favourite kept up another strong run to hold Mighty Major by a length in a 1:57 rate for the 1950m, quickening over his last 800m in 56.1s and final 400m in 26.8s. Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield’s home-bred stretched his record to seven wins from 12 starts for $83,403, and remains unbeaten in three 3YO appearances. Bettors Fire justified his $1.70 favouritism in the $17,500 Demon Adios Discretionary Handicap in Perth. The Cran Dalgety-trained Art Union justified his hot $1.40 favouritism in the C3-6 pace at Addington, but he didn’t dominate from the outset as many anticipated. Driver Dexter Dunn, from barrier three with the Art Major colt, elected not to race second favourite Mighty Major (ace) for the early lead, settling him into a perfect one-one trail. When a move from the back came a lap out, Dexter was on the move, letting Art Union stride past Mighty Major at the 900m. The favourite kept up another strong run to hold Mighty Major by a length in a 1:57 rate for the 1950m, quickening over his last 800m in 56.1s and final 400m in 26.8s. Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield’s home-bred stretched his record to seven wins from 12 starts for $83,403, and remains unbeaten in three 3YO appearances. Bettors Fire justified his $1.70 favouritism in the $17,500 Demon Adios Discretionary Handicap in Perth. Despite start off the 30m line in a Class D pace, Bettors Fire played the iron horse, moving up parked outside fellow ex-Kiwi Bartowski over the final lap for trainer-driver Kyle Harper. The 6YO Bettors Delight gelding was too strong from the home turn, holding out fellow NZ-breds, To Transcend and False Promise, in a 2:04 rate over the 2503m. He scored by 2.4 metres, the leaders running their last 800m in 56.6s and final 400m in 28.3. Bettors Fire, who lowered his best mile rate to 1:53.8 in Perth last term, lifted his career earnings past the $A244,000 mark with his 19th win from 45 starts. Safedra (1:56.3 mile rate, 1700m), a successful half-sister to Art Union and Bettors Fire, has returned to New Zealand after an Australian stint in recent months, where she added a further two wins to her tally. The 5YO daughter of Mach Three is to commence a breeding career this term. Safedra’s best racetrack efforts have been a second to Adore Me in the 2013 Group One New Zealand Oaks, and winner of the Group Two $40,000 Southland Oaks Final. She is the winner of eight and has been 13 times placed in 35 starts for $135,577. Safedra rated 1:56.3 in a 1700m heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series at Forbury, while she has rated 1:59.8 over 2600m to win at Addington, and 1:58.7 to win over 2400m at Ashburton. Sparks A Flyin’s first five foals have all been well above average. Earlier foals from the Sands A Flyin-Belle Glade mare were Diomedes (1:57.5, Aust), the winner of 12 in Australasia, and Empyrean (1:56.2), the winner of 10 and $121,302. Bungalow Bill, the first of two Cran Dalgety-trained winners at Addington on October 17, delivered narrowly but well to beat favourite Matty Groves by half a head in the Murney Family Trust & Mid Canty Catholic Parish Mobile Maiden Pace. Driver Dexter Dunn settled him handy on the outer, then was denied the front by Ask Me Mach when having a dash for the lead a lap out. Bungalow Bill, a 3YO Bettor’s Delight gelding and the first foal from four-win 1:58.6 mare Strawberry Fields (Presidential Ball-Penny Lane), lengthened out when asked inside the final 100m to stick his head out in a three-way finish, rating 1:58 (1950m). The leaders ran their last 800m in 59s and final 400m in 27.5s. Bungalow Bill is raced by Chrissie Dalgety with Small Car World principal Graham Beirne. Chrissie gained her second win of the weekend when Margarita led over the last 900m as a $1.40 favourite to win her C1-2 fillies & mares mile at Winton in 1:57.1. Margarita, a 3YO Bettor’s Delight-Holloway filly, was the sixth consecutive winning drive on the Wairio card on a wonderful day for catch driver Tim Williams. Tim was unable to make it seven in a row in the final race with Kentuckiana Lodge debutante Tenacious Bromac, but they did well to hold third after being pressured strongly mid-race for the front by favourite Lookofalegend in a 1:56.7 mile. Courtesy Cran Dalgety Racing Stables - Check site here  

In just his 3rd start for the stable, big American Ideal 4yr old Superintendent showed that he was progressing the right way with a narrow victory over a fast closing Franco Harrison. After missing away early on, he was allowed time to find his feet before being sent to the lead by John from the 1200m. Allowed to dictate things from there, he was forced to fight hard in the straight to just repulse a late challenge. Sold to Australia as a younger horse, he failed to realise his true ability from limited opportunities. As a last hope he was brought back to New Zealand and assigned to the tutelage of Robert and John, who quickly liked what they saw. A big rolling type, Superintendent appears well placed to add to this tally over the coming months.    In other races for the day, it was Graduate Under Fire that looked a next upper after being narrowly beaten after being denied a run in the straight. In a driving finish, Graduate Under Fire and Return To Sender were both narrowly held out by a game Tuxedo Max. Both will have plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks. Meanwhile in the day's feature the Methven Cup, Pure Power closed the curtain on what has been a very successful career, running an honest race before heading to the retirement paddock. The race was won by a much improved Franco Ledger, over last year's winner Jimmy Johnstone. Courtesy of Robert Dunn Racing     Check site here  

When Tim Williams headed to the harness racing meeting at Wairio today with a confirmed book of seven drives even he wouldn't have thought he would drive six winners and run third with his other runner. But thats how it played out today as Tim gave a display of reinsmanship as good as it gets. We caught up with Tim after the last race and he gave us a quick rundown of the winners he drove today. Race 1 - Dark Dana A bit of a surprise actually. He has always had a bit of bottom to him but has had a few gait issues but he was good today and the big track was a help.   Race 2 - Oneover A lovely horse who lead easily and then trailed the horse I was worried about. He grabbed the lead up the passing lane very easily in the straight and won a lot more comfortably than it looked. He knocked off once he found the front and had plenty left in the tank.   Race 3 - Ode To Success He has got lovely manners and thats what won it for him. He got a lovely run and quite a few had a gallop so he did it fairly easily in the end.   Race 6 - Rockahula Arden She went super last week so I thought she would be tough. From barrier one I was always going to lead and she won like I thought she would. She did it very easily in the end.   Race 7 - Fly Like An Eagle He was here at Wairio for his confidence. On paper he looked a class above them and thats how it worked out. He did it very easily and he has come through the run great so hes on track for better things.   Race 8 - Margarita I spoke to Dexter during the week and he gave me a big wrap about her. He said she was good enough to make her own luck and thats how it worked out. Once I worked to the front I was very confident and she didn't disappoint.   As of this point of the season, Tim has had 18 drives for 10 wins and 6 placings.  In the future whenever Tim looks back on his driving career, todays effort in driving six winners from just seven drives will surely rate right up there as a career highlight. Harnesslink Media

One thing you never do in the harness racing game is dismiss the chances of a quality horse. As we all know, form is temporary and class is permanent. Franco Ledger reinforced that today when he sprung a minor surprise in the 3000 metres Methven Cup when he downed Jimmy Johnstone and hot favourite Smolda. Having just his third run this campaign, Franco Ledger was away quickly from his 30 metres handicap and settled five back on the inner in Indian file in the early stages. Eased out into the running line and onto the back of Lewy Risk after 800 metres by driver Colin De Filippi, Franco Ledger received a lovely run as first Jimmy Johnstone and then Smolda took up the pacemaking role. Eased out three wide on the point of the home straight, Franco Ledger quickly grabbed the leader Smolda and then fought off a determined finish on the inner from Jimmy Johnstone for a deserved victory. Bit Of A Legend produced one of the highlights of the race finishing a neck away in 4th after being badly checked at the start and settling ten lengths last. Franco Ledger paced the 3000 metres in a new track record of 3:51.8, a mile rate of 2:4.3 with closing sectionals of 58.9 and 29.2 It was the 20th career victory for the 7 year old son of Falcon Seelster and took his earnings to $408,962. Colin De Filippi was confident a long way out. "I was pretty confident going down the back that I would be hard to beat. "He has needed those first two runs and I knew he would be competitive today" he said  "Actually I had to come out a bit earlier than I wanted too but it worked out well. "He came to the end of it about 50 metres out but the other two had as well," he said In his previous two New Zealand Cup campaigns, Franco Ledger was up and running early but this year he has been a lot later to emerge into the spring races. Going by the result today, the change of program may see Franco Ledger make his third appearance in the New Zealand Cup his best. Harnesslink Media   

An old saying in harness racing is you never know where your next smart horse may come from. Last nights outstanding winner at Alexandra Park in Blinding Light fits that description to a tee. A son of the Christian Cullen sire Charles Brosnan, Blinding Light is owned by well known northern horseman and now transport operator, Les Purdon. Les was down at Graham Courts property in Canterbury when he was taken by the cut of several of the progeny of Charles Brosnan. "Graham had quite a few there and I was really taken by their type and appearance. "I thought they were as nice a bunch of yearlings as I had seen," Les told Harnesslink this morning. Fast forward a few months and Graham had sent one of the yearlings north to Les in appreciation for his help over a few transport matters. Already broken in when he arrived, Les liked him from the start. "He is a great looking horse, a real Christian Cullen type "Just  a nice horse to do anything with" he said. Placed with Steven Reid, Blinding Light just kept getting better the more they worked him. Qualifying in February, the then 2 year old Blinding Light lined up against the older horses in his debut in March at Cambridge and absolutely brained them. A smart third at his second start, Blinding Light went poorly at his next start due in the main to a bout of colic and was spelled straight after. Brought back up slowly, Blinding Light was working the house down at Reids but as he was getting ready for his season debut this week they were blindsided a touch when he was placed in the C1/C2 pace even though he was still a maiden. In the end it mattered little as Blinding Light give them all a start and a beating. Allowed to settle last from barrier five by driver Simon Lawson, Blinding Light was still last as they went past the 400 metres mark. Angled wider on the track as they turned for home, Blinding Light breezed on bye in the blink of an eye for an emphatic victory. He paced the 2200 metres in 2:44.4, a mile rate of 2:00.2 with closing sectionals off the front of 56.9 and 28.6 Blinding Light was privately timed to run his last 800 metres in 55.6 and 400 metres in 27.5 and seemed to do it with a bit in reserve. Les has taking a fair bit of ribbing from friends and associates about racing a Charles Brosnan but as he knows Blinding Light doesn't know what he is by. "Blinding Light doesn't  know who his sire is and he is from a half sister to Dream Out Loud 1:48.4 ($316,246) and the grand dam is a half to Defoe 1:53 ($262,895) so the family is strong. "The way Blinding Light goes I wouldn't mind another couple of Charles Bronsan's" he said. Blinding Light is yet another example of judging a horse on his performance and not what he is by. Harnesslink Media    

Harness racing legend Peter Jones and his son Mark Jones have had a week they would rather forget after falling foul of the TCO2 levels in separate hearings before the JCA this week. Peter's case revolved around an elevated TCO2 reading of 37.3 returned by J C Skipper who he trains with his wife Leonne at Lavros Lodge. The race in question was at Addington on August 22nd in which J C Skipper finished second when driven by Mark Jones. It is obvious from reading the hearing transcript that there is no suggestion that Peter and Leonne administered alkalizing agents to J C Skipper before the Addington race but the TCO2 level set at the time of 35 means that they are guilty of presenting a horse with a level in excess of 35. Peter when training on his own account had over 4000 starters with no integrity issues over all that time and since training in partnership with his wife Leonne had another 550 starters and this inquiry with J C Skipper is the first and only time they have ever been before the JCA. However as the rule stands of absolute liability, they were found guilty and were fined $2500 Mark's case revolves around the testing of Remiss at Forbury Park on the 5th of June 2014. Sent south by Mark who remained at his base in Canterbury, Remiss returned a TCO2 level of 36.2 in pre race testing and Mark was charged in accordance with the absolute liability provision. Again there was no suggestion from the counsel for the prosecution that any alkalizing agents had been administered by Mark or any of his staff. The TCO2 level of 35 has a threshold variance of 1 which means that Remiss was 0.2 over the limit which triggers a prosecution. Mark argued that the time of the testing which was two hours before Remiss was due to race meant it was highly likely that at the time of racing, Remiss was under the TCO2 level of 36 which triggers a prosecution. Two other occasions when Remiss was tested on raceday saw Remiss return levels of 35.6 at Forbury on June 27th and 34.6 at Addington on July 4th. Mark has two weeks to make submissions on penalty although he is still considering an appeal at this time. While everyone in the industry wants a level playing field and supports the Racing Integrity Unit's efforts in providing the same, it does appear that innocent people are being caught by the regulations through no fault or acts of their own. View P + L Jones decision here                                       View M Jones Article here Harnesslink Media

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Last week we got a good old fashioned kick up the butt with just three of our tipsters selecting a winner and only six overall were in the money. Blair Orange, Terry Chmiel and Nathan Williamson furthered their good record as selectors whilst there were plenty of hard luck stories from others all over the country. They start with a clean slate this week and have come up with plenty of value for readers with plenty of runners whose form is not the best but who our selectors give a real chance to. Manawatu - Thursday night Scott Phelan - Even though he has drawn the second row thinks Art Magic should win race 3   Auckland - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Thought Elliesjet even from barrier 12 would be hard to beat in race1 Steven Reid - Very bullish about Unforgiving from barrier one in race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes The Orange Agent to upset Unforgiving in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Boizel even off 40 metres can win race 5 Tony Herlihy - Rates Downunder Stride from barrier one as hard to beat in race 6 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Le Lua Invasion a good chance against the fillies and mares in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green will atone for last week and win race 8 Zac Butcher - Likes Saffron Castleton to turn her form around in race 9   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Rates Quaint Glen a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 Tim Williams - Confident that Adore Me's little brother Have Faith In Me can win race 6 John Dunn - Feedback from stable suggests Light The Fuse will win race 7 if driver at his best Brad Williamson - Thinks The Silver Fox just needs a change of luck to win race 8 Sam Ottley - Quite keen on Bird Of Paradise to turn her form around in race 10     Manawatu - Sunday afternoon Todd Macfarlane - Rates Hudy Haxwell a royal show on the second day at Manawatu Peter Scaife - Gives Johnny Vegas a big chance on the second day at Manawatu   Tuapeka - Sunday afternoon Dexter Dunn - Reckons Margarita can make it four wins from her last five in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way can go one better than last week and win race 7 Nathan Williamson - Likes stablerunner Onedin Mach to make it four in a row in race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought Drover's Eyre would be tough to roll in race 11   Ashburton - Monday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Confident that Never Fear can turn her form around in race 1 Jim Curtin - Thinks Star Of Dionysis is overdue and can win race 2 Ricky May - Keen on Brilliant Strike who has a decent draw for once to win race 4 Terry Chmiel -Thought That Guy Finn even in that super hot field can win race 6   Harnesslink Media
Bandana is due to make his return to harness racing tomorrow night at Alexandra Park as he looks to get his once promising career back on track. Bandana, who is a full brother to the former smart racemare Hannah 1:54.3 ($52,,829) is closely related to the former outstanding juvenile Tuapeka Knight 1:58.1 ($198,305)   The son of Badlands Hanover looked a star in the making in his first three starts as a 2 year old, winning his first two starts by daylight and then being narrowly beaten at his third start. The subject of a sizeable offer at that point which ultimately fell through, Bandana also picked up a nasty virus at the same time and was briefly spelled. When he returned to racing, Bandana performed several notches below his best and was tipped out again for a longer spell. Brought back again, Bandana still wasn't right and was tipped out yet again by trainer/ owner Roni Lauren. Having a few little issues that needed sorting out, Roni has entrusted Bandana to local trainer Sean McCaffrey this time in, who had driven the gelding in most of his early runs. Last Saturday at the Cambridge workouts, Bandana in the hands of Sean gave his rivals including the talented Percy Jones a pacing lesson as he cut the 2200 metres out in 2:44.7, a mile rate of 2:00.4 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 29.2 as he coasted home by 10 lengths. Sean is still not convinced that Bandana is back to his best. " He did that real easy and was waiting for them up the straight but he has to do it on raceday yet and that will the big test of where he is at " he told Harnesslink this week.  "He has a few little kinks to be ironed out yet but there is no doubting the ability is there" he said. As luck would have it, Bandana has landed a smart maiden field to make his debut for the season with Downunderstide, Love Ina Chevy and Percy Jones all looking destined for better things. To compound that, Bandana who is to be driven by champion reinsman Maurice McKendry, has drawn barrier eight and Sean knows it will be tough from out there. "He doesn't have a lot of gate speed so we will be going back at the start and look to have one last shot at them. We just have to hope there is some genuine pace up front otherwise we are up against it a bit, " he said. However tomorrow night pans out, Bandana has shown enough in his short career to date to suggest there are plenty more wins in store yet. Harnesslink Media  
In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great harness racing newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This week’s Insider Access newsletter contains the following feature stories: NZ: Shuttle Stallions –  Where is the $$ going? Breeding operations in the southern hemisphere are locked into the use of shuttle stallions if they want to stay relevant in a hugely competitive market. They either buy a chunk of a stallion, purchase the Southern breeding rights or get a fee for service provided to the stallion owners. But where is the actual money going? NZ: Stakes money: How to calculate it - As an industry that covers different hemispheres and numerous countries, you would think that the powers that be would come up with a system regarding stakes money won that is uniformly accepted worldwide. Embryo transplants are just wrong! - Embryo transplants in race horses, just like cloning or any other unnatural forms of reproduction in horse racing, is just plain wrong. Get your friends to enter “Win The Wheels Contest” - How would you like to win a set of $1,400US custom race bike wheels from Forward Motion Technologies, perhaps a full set of RazorHorse shoes, maybe a five gallon bucket of Lifeline Horse Supplement or a $100 Amazon gift card? AU: Thin skinned stewards -  Following an exclusive article on Harnesslink earlier this month, Victorian horseman Lance Justice is the subject of stewards' inquiry. Angered by the suspensions he received at Melton on September 29, Justice questioned the lack of definition between light and heavy interference stating: "The stewards are too heavy handed. There is no defining difference between light, medium or heavy interference, and as such, it’s just bang...this is the sentence. Its mandatory sentencing gone mad." AU: Novelty or offensive? - In a world of political correctness, would be it okay to conduct a race limited to third generation Australians? How about a race for men only? Stallion Review – ALWAYS A VIRGIN - Continuing on with our stallion review series today we have produced an in depth review for the excellent racehorse and stallion Always A Virgin, p,3,1:48.4 ($1,135,559). Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).
The New Zealand Cup hopes of outstanding pacer Smolda hang in the balance after he was pulled out of the main lead-up race. The former Harness Jewels and Derby winner will miss Monday’s Flying Stakes at Ashburton, far and way the best and most important race on the road to the Cup. And that leaves the one-time $6 third favourite for the Cup with few genuine racing opportunities before the Addington classic on November. Smolda started his season was a moderate fourth to Terror To Love last month but was even more disappointing in Sunday’s Methven Cup, in which he lead and faded to fourth again. But this time he wasn’t up against Cup favourites Terror To Love and Christen Me and even more importantly he again looked uncomfortable in his gait, even on the huge grass track. Trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen had blood test taken from Smolda which failed to shed any light on his lack lustre form so they have chosen to pull him out of the Flying Stakes. With the tight, flat Kaikoura curcuit on November 3 unlikely to suit him, Smolda faces going into the New Zealand Cup with only another minor Addington race or the Cup trial to bring him back to his peak. He has drifted out to $13 with the TAB and it would not surprise to see him bypass the great race, even though he is officially still being aimed in that direction. His absence detracts little from the Flying Stakes in which Terror To Love (9) and Christen (8) will again start from the widest draws, with Hands Christian and Adore Me alongside them, with Franco Nelson, Bit Of A Legend, Franco Ledger and Pembrook Benny adding huge depth to the field. Which made it even more surprising the TAB opened Terror To Love the $2 favourite for Monday and Christen Me at $3. Monday’s meeting also sees most of New Zealand’s best trotters clash in the Flying Mile, with one of the big winners in the draws being northerner Irish Whisper, who has drawn one.  Courtesy Of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand
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