Day At The Track

American Dealer (NZ) (American Ideal) reigned supreme as NZB Standardbred graduates dominated the first Group One of the new harness racing season at Alexandra Park on Friday night.  The Ray Green trained pacer showed himself to be a complete racehorse when taking out the $128,000 Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final (1700m) for driver David Butcher in an exciting finish. American Dealer showed brilliant gait speed early in the race and just as much dash at the finish to hold out the favourite and fellow NZB Standardbred National Yearling Sale graduate, Krug (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), in an exciting finish to the $140,000 feature. Green was full of praise for his colt following American Dealer’s maiden Group One win. “I am very proud of him,” Green told HRNZ. “He is a real little racehorse and he has a big season ahead of him.” After finding the front early, American Dealer set a solid pace to set up his slick winning time of 2-00.9 and mile rate of 1-54.4. American Dealer became the fourth individual Group One winner from NZB Standardbred’s National Yearling Sale, following a highly interrupted first season on the track for its graduates. The American Ideal (USA) colt from Bettor’s Delight (USA) mare, Maddison’s Delight was a bargain $23,000 purchase by Lincoln Farms Bloodstock at Christchurch in 2019. The classy customer was offered as a member of the White Stables of Winton draft and was sold on account of Auckland breeder-owner and trainer Lew Driver. With his win on Friday night, American Dealer became the latest in a lengthy list of Group One performers bred by leviathan breeder, the late Charles Roberts. The victory also saw driver David Butcher win his first Group One race in New Zealand since 2011. Krug launched a brave finish after enduring a tough run outside the leader early in the race and got within a head of the winner at the finish. With NZB Standardbred graduates making up the entire field for the Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final, 2019 National Yearling Sale purchases were always going to fill the trifecta. At the finish, It’s All About Faith (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) took third after making a searching run around the field from his wide second row draw. B D Joe (NZ) (Roll With Joe) ran into fourth placing after trailing American Dealer throughout. American Dealer has the chance to bank another big race purse just seven days after achieving Group One glory. The classy colt will take on an almost identical field in the $200,000 Listed Harness Million Two Year Old Colts And Geldings at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Aladdin (NZ) (Sweet Lou) will be out to make up for his unlucky run for fifth in the Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final. The All Stars stable colt, who was forced to race at the rear from his wide front row draw, flashed home in an eye-catching effort.   NZB Standardbred

NZ Cup champion Cruz Bromac could launch his campaign to defend the title as soon as next Saturday. Managing owner Danny Zavitsanos said the veteran would either resume in a 2240m Melton free-for-all on Saturday or wait for the $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) at the same track a week later. “This week is a chance. Dean (Braun, trainer) is weighing-up his options,” Zavitsanos said. Strangely, waiting for the richer Smoken Up Sprint could be an easier option if, as it now seems very likely, next week’s race will bring together Victoria’s two best pacers, Ride High and Lochinvar Art, for the first time. Cruz Bromac hasn’t raced since finishing fifth to then stablemate Self Assured in the Group 1 Auckland Cup on New Year’s Eve. Soon after he was sidelined from a planned Sydney raid because of a fetlock injury and eventually made his way back to Braun’s stable. The nine-year-old (in NZ terms) has won two recent trials, the first at Terang on September 5 and the latest just last Tuesday at Kilmore. Cruz Bromac was asked to a bit more at Kilmore, beating open-class pacer Star Of Memphis by four metres in a 1min59.3sec mile rate for 2180m and finishing-off in 56.4 and 27.7sec. Just as he did last year, Cruz Bromac will tackle the Group 1 Victoria Cup on October 10 with a view to then heading back to the All Stars’ barn in Christchurch to prepare for the NZ Cup.   By Adam Hamilton

By Jonny Turner    Missing a plane to North America continued to pay dividends for Classie Brigade as he continued his brilliant run in to the New Zealand Cup by winning yesterday’s Hannon Memorial. The Robert Dunn trained pacer made it back to back wins in New Zealand Cup lead up races by powering away from placegetters Robyns Playboy and Tango Tara to win the group 3 Oamaru feature. While question marks hang over the campaigns of several of the leading contenders for the New Zealand’s biggest harness race, Classie Brigade sits alongside North Island hope Copy That as one of the most in form horses amongst the contenders for the 3200m event. Classie Brigade has landed in that prime position just weeks after he should have been touching down in North America. Owner Grant Eynon, with his father, Colin Eynon, and long-time friend Mark McKinnon, signed off on selling last year’s New Zealand Cup third placegetter subject to a vet report. Thankfully for the trio of owners, their 8yr-old never got the necessary tick needed to step on the flight he was booked on to. “We have actually sold this horse three times, but we have still got him,” owner Grant Eynon said. “He never quite gets there, but now I am very pleased we haven’t.” “It was during lockdown – he was meant to be going to the [United] States.” Classie Brigade produced one of his customary safe beginnings in yesterday’s feature as U May Cullect, drawn to his inside, went away in a wild gallop. Though he did not shoot straight to the lead as he has in nearly all of his races this season, Classie Brigade took the front off eventual runner-up Robyns Playboy shortly after the start. The 2020 edition of the Hannon Memorial was effectively over at that point as driver John Dunn controlled the event, before Classie Brigade unleashed a scintillating 54sec last 800m to win. The kind of trouble-free run their horse enjoyed yesterday is exactly what the 8yr-old’s owners are hoping he gets in the New Zealand Cup, following Classie Brigade’s effort to flash in to third after being held up in the home straight in Cruz Bromac’s win in last year’s edition. “He had to come around them with a horse stopping in front of them – he hasn’t had a lot of luck – but he has won his share,” Grant Eynon said. Yesterday’s win was Classie Brigade’s seventh group 2 or group 3 race victory. A group 1 win is just about all that is missing from the four-time group 1 placegetter’s resume. A New Zealand Cup win be a perfect way to bring it up, according to the horse’s owners. “It would be great if he could top it off and win the cup, that would be fantastic,” Eynon said. “He has gone close, but he kept on running in to that horse called Lazarus.” “If he keeps his standing start manners and keeps rattling home fast last quarters [400m] he will be a hard horse to beat.” Robyns Playboy boosted his New Zealand Cup hopes with his strong second placing, two lengths behind Classie Brigade. Tango Tara was solid in third, ahead of A G’s White Socks, who was forced to sit parked for the final lap of yesterday’s feature. Though U May Cullect ran last of seven runners and made a poor beginning, the popular pacer looked to have improved from the very slow start he made to his season at Winton last week. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

ONLY a late change of plans will thwart the first clash of superstar Aussie pacers Ride High and Lochinvar Art at Melton next Saturday night. Ride High’s trainer Clayton Tonkin confirmed his pacing sensation would chase his 17th win from just 18 starts in the $30,000 Minuteman Free-For-All (2240m), while Lochinvar Art’s trainer-driver David Moran said it was “very likely” his charge would be there as well. Lochinvar Art lost no admirers when a monstrous second in scorching times at Bendigo on Saturday night. The Chariots Of Fire winner smashed the clock from a horror draw and after doing all the work when a mighty second to Hurricane Harley in track record time. He was timed to run his last mile of the 2150m race in a mind-blowing 1min50.9sec, some of it three and even four-wide. “His run was massive under the circumstances,” Moran said. “And, as I said going into it, he needed the run. He’ll take a lot out of it. “I’ll give him the day to make sure he’s come through it well, which he seems to have, and make a final decision tomorrow (Monday), but I will most likely back-up next week. “He thrives on racing every week and he needs the hard racing to be right at his top for the (Victoria) Cup.” Confirmation Ride High will run this week means he will almost certainly bypass the $50,000 Group 2 Smoken Up Sprint (1720m) at Melton on October 3 and continue his routine of racing every second-week by going straight to the $300,000 Group 1 Victoria Cup (2240m) on October 10. In other Victoria Cup news, it’s growing increasingly likely Sydney sensation Cash N Flow will stretch-out from his beloved sprint racing to the 2240m of the Cup. Cash N Flow won a staggering 12th successive Menangle mile race last night (Saturday) and broke the magical 1min50sec mark for a record eighth time. “We’ll chat with the owners and make the final call, but we’re not worried about him going out to 2240m, especially the form he’s in at the moment,” driver Luke McCarthy said. McCarthy and Craig Cross are sending Australasian 2300m record-holder Zennart down to race against Ride High and Lochinvar Art. And McCarthy said three of their stars – Balraj, Alta Orlando and Cash N Flow – were definite to go straight into the Victoria Cup without racing again. Bling It On is also a Victoria Cup definite, but he will race against King Of Swing at Menangle next Saturday night. And what about King Of Swing for the Victoria Cup? “No update from last week. It really depends on the restrictions. He’ll be ready to go if I can get in/out (of Melbourne) easily. We probably won’t decide until the last-minute,” McCarthy said.   By Adam Hamilton

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    The Thames harness racing community may be small, but they were going off on Sunday after The Last Gamble’s win in the White Star Stables Mobile Trot (2200m) at Cambridge Raceway. The Dale Moore-trained and driven mare is one of only three horses trained at the Thames Raceway and Moore was delighted to get another win representing the Coromandel township. “I have got her and a young unqualified trotter called Mont Blanc who is just about ready to go to the workouts,” he said. “Rachel Holmes is training one there, so there are only three horses trained out of Thames. “We are a small but friendly community.” The Last Gamble had been filling the minor placings this preparation and Moore believed the mobile start would be a major influence in Sunday’s result. “She has been knocking around, she’s just got a bit of a chink in her armour when it comes to those standing starts and she has lost so much ground in those races by not going away and yet she has still been weighing in. “The chance to run in a mobile was great, we have just been waiting for one of them.” Moore pushed the go button off the mobile, asking his charge to push forward early from her outside draw. While he attained the lead off race favourite Splitting Image, Dale soon handed up to Littlebitoflove to sit in the trail. The pair improved off the markers turning for home and ran away to a three-quarter length victory over Splitting Image, with a further 1-1/4 lengths back to Peannie in third. “I figured she would be tough enough if I had to use her a bit early. That was the plan to get her up there,” Moore said. “I knew that horse of Dylan’s (Ferguson, driver), Splitting Image, would be the one I would have to get around and when I got around her I thought I have got this cut and dried. “But then Jay (Abernethy, trainer-driver) comes and challenges and I had a little bit of a run with him, but he had the stick out and I thought I would ease and take a bit of a gamble and stay in behind him. “Luckily I was able to follow through and got the gap and ran up the straight. It all worked out perfectly. “We are just thrilled today.” Moore said he enjoys heading to Cambridge Raceway with his small team, but he hasn’t ruled out a trip to Alexandra Park for some mobile starts. “Coming to Cambridge is so easy, there is no traffic, and you can work on 1 hour 20 minutes to get here,” he said. “It is a lot more relaxed than heading to Auckland, although I have been waiting for Auckland to run some more mile mobiles.”

While punters might have struggled to believe American Dealer beat both Krug and It’s All About Faith in the first group one of the season at Alexandra Park last night, the really unbelievable story of the race was the driver. Because quite incredibly American Dealer’s win in the $140,000 Sires’ Stakes Final was David Butcher’s first group one driving success in New Zealand in nine years. Let that sink in. Butcher, one of the greats of the sulky, a member of the elite 2000 win club and on anybody’s list for being in top five reinspeople in the country, hadn’t won a group one here since Cowgirls N Indians in the Harness Jewels in June 2011. He had won one in the meantime in Australia, reigning King Of Swing to win a Breeders Crown in 2017 for American Dealer’s trainer Ray Green, who deserves most of the credit for Friday’s win. But to think Butcher hasn’t been in the group one winners circle in this country in almost a decade is truly remarkable. Butcher didn’t actually know that exact stat when reflecting after the race, but he knew it had been a while. “I reckon the last time I was driving group one winners back here was when Geoffrey (Small, trainer) was flying,” said Butcher. “So it is nice to get this one and behind a horse who tries so hard. He is a really good little professional,” says Butcher. That fact it had been so long between drinks for Butcher shows just how hard winning group ones is in New Zealand these days, with a reduced number of dominant stables, while Butcher has also had to battle back from a couple of serious injuries. “The body is good now, I am just getting old,” he laughs. His courage under fire early helped win the 1700m event as many would have been tempted to hand the lead to hot favourite Krug, especially when It’s All About Faith came charging mid race and the pressure really went on. But Butcher suits driving for Green because the Lincolns Farms team are never scared to be aggressive and roll the dice and this time it worked. Recently sold to US owners Marc Hanover and Gordon Banks, American Dealer has just kept improving and after this week’s Harness Millions will chase a unique Sires’ Stakes double inside two months by contesting the three-year-old series against basically the same horses. “I am very proud of him,” says Green. “He is a real little racehorse and he has a big season ahead of him.” While the draw may have won American Dealer the race his improvement curve and courage still suggest he is a Derby horse but whether he ever makes it to Australia this season will be interesting with Covid restrictions making hit and run missions on the Derbys there so much less palatable. While disappointed at being beaten driver Blair Orange was proud of Krug, who had to work hard enough early and then came three wide that he probably lost a winning advantage but he still had his chance to beat the leader. Its All About Faith was brave from the second line and can win the Millions with a draw to lead while the big improver in the race was B D Joe, who showed good gate speed to trail and stuck on well for fourth. Later in the night Bolt For Brilliance sent out out a reminder to southern stars Cracker Hill and Ultimate Stride that he will take a power of beating in next month’s delayed three-year-old trots at Alexandra Park. He recovered from getting into a horror spot with a lap to go to win the main trot with a 56.4 second last 800m three and four wide on the track, setting up some stunning age group races for the trotters next month. And Brent Mangos pulled off the training performance of the night in The Box Seat Returns Pace when South Coast Arden led throughout to beat Auckland Cup placegetter Triple Eight in the winner’s first start since March. He looks a bigger and stronger horse than last campaign and an open class horse in the making.   Michael Guerin

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Oamaru again today with a ten race program starting at 12:26pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. The content and data on this video is provided for informational purposes only Check below the video for our selections for all of the races today for Oamaru Oamaru  Saturday 20th  September 2020   Race 1 Mossdale Mac has been impressive at Addington racing and looks to have good winning claims in this field. Top selection.…… Art Collector tidy third three starts ago at Addington and forgive last start grass run. Can win if the favourite makes a mistake and paying good money.… Simply Shaz nice run last start in a strong field. Hard to beat here…….. Rockngoodtime stuck on ok last start and stable/driver combo have a good record. Include Selections:  Mossdale Mac (4),   Art Collector (7),   Simply Shaz (5),    Rockngoodtime (8)   Race 2 Sheza Mighty Monarch  manners not good but has been ok at trials. Good winning claims here if she trots all the way……. Pastrana has ability and likely to go forward early. Good place chance at nice odds in this field…… American Viking has been disappointing on raceday after a gallop in every race. Good winning claims here with no mistakes…… Ilsas Son has ability and coming in fresh. Could surprise in what is a tricky field Selections:  American Viking (6),   Pastrana (4),   Ilsas Son (11),   Sheza Mighty Monarch  (10)   Race 3 Manon The Run good second behind a nice horse here at the trials recently. Will go forward early and good winning chance at a juicy $19.00….. Loyalist been racing well at trials and forgive Methven run. Has to be a good chance here if he can clear the fence….. Hayden Bromac drawn well and has been running good races especially the last at Addington. Winning claims…. Von Art gets a tidy draw which should suit here. Form has been good and she is a winning chance. Selections:   Manon The Run (4),   Loyalist (10),   Hayden Bromac (1),   Von Art (3)   Race 4 Kerala Star top efforts at Addington from tricky draws and looks ready to go this week. Top winning chance….. Hot N Gold could get a cosy trip on the markers and has been finishing ok. Include at longer odds.. Booraa racing well against strong fields and should be hard to beat. Good draw a plus…. Surfers Delight Tidy at recent trials and stable have a good record with first starters. Will start favourite and can win Selections:   Kerala Star (1),   Surfers Delight (4),   Hot N Gold (12),   Booraa (3)   Race 5 Glenthorne draws in front of his toughest opposition. Will go forward in this field from the front row draw and can stick on for a placing…… Pro Surfer coming back after a long layoff. Watch the tote but has winning claims… Jenabella getting better with racing and has been unlucky. Can trouble the favourites if close enough on the home turn… Mighty Reactor tricky draw and will need luck. From a strike rate stable and can upset although place chances best. Selections:  Glenthorne (8),   Jenabella (5),   Mighty Reactor (10),   Pro Surfer (11)   Race 6 Jaguar Bay in top form and getting fitter. No reason he won’t be in the top three again here. Top selection….. Ali Lindenny getting better with racing and likely leader early. Can run top three…… Tehoro Dazzle ok at Addington and stronger now. Might head forward early and could stick on for a place at decent odds.… My Moment's Now ran some good races last campaign and could surprise with manners. Needed Selections:  Jaguar Bay (11),   Ali Lindenny (4),   My Moment's Now (7),   Tehoro Dazzle (9)   Race 7 Mighty Looee good form last campaign in Auckland and is getting fitter. Looks a top prospect in this field and will be hard to beat.……. Makasar Boy going ok and gets an ok draw. Could surprise at good money.… Stavros The Terror has been going well in these junior driver events. Can win with a good run in transit ….. Bonny's Gem getting fitter and has run some good races recently. Stable respect but place chances look best. Selections:  Mighty Looee (6),   Stavros The Terror (5),  Makasar Boy (11),  Bonny's Gem (1)   Race 8 Get Lucky tidy run to place last start and getting fitter. Looks the one to beat here……. Sundons Flyer going well and track stats are good. Usually a good beginner and has winning claims here..… Superfast Lad good beginner and getting fitter and a top three finish looks on the cards if she goes forward early. Include….. Humble Ladd he won well last start but tough handicap to overcome. Could provide an upset if he trots away quickly from the stand. Selections:  Get Lucky (6),   Sundons Flyer (7),   Superfast Lad (2)    Humble Ladd (9)   Race 9 Classie Brigade huge run to win last start and draw suits. Can win again if he leads……. Tango Tara gets the front row ace draw and going well but a jump up in class. Can upset if they go hard all the way..… Robyns Playboy is in top form and has a huge motor. Could be a serious fight for the lead here and he can win if he can get to the front….. A G's White Socks forgive last start failure and he strikes a winnable race here. Include as classy when right Selections:  Classie Brigade (6),   Tango Tara (1),   A G's White Socks (9)    Robyns Playboy (2)   Race 10 Yossi in good form at workouts and small field helps. Should be very hard to roll here and top selection……. Miss Impression hardly ever out of the placings and this should be no different with a top four finish on the cards...… Gilligans Island conditions of the race suit and he has the top driver booked. Include in combinations….. Essence Of Easton great draw and forgive last start grass run. Should get a cosy run and he is a top four player in this field. Selections:  Yossi (9),   Gilligans Island (8),   Miss Impression (7)    Essence Of Easton (1)   Harnesslink Media

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Cambridge again today with a ten race program starting at 11:48am and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Cambridge  Sunday 20th  September 2020 Race 1 Quarterback  has been impressive here and looks to have good winning claims in this field. Top selection.…… Allonblack tidy third two starts ago and likely early leader. Can win if the favourite makes any mistakes and paying good money.… Highview Justice nice run last start in a similar field. Can place again here at big odds…….. Sunset Red tricky draw but stable/driver combo have a good record. Include Selections:  Quarterback  (12),   Allonblack (4),   Highview Justice (5),    Sunset Red (9)   Race 2 Demolition Man good second here last start. Good winning claims if he trots all the way……. Lexi T has ability and likely to go forward early. Top selection and he should be running first or second with manners…… Tarukenga has been disappointing on raceday but getting fitter. Place claims here with no mistakes…… Alana has ability and driver change here. Could surprise in what is a tricky field Selections:  Lexi T (4),   Demolition Man (5),   Tarukenga (6),   Alana (2)   Race 3 New Frontier Will go forward early and strikes a weaker field. Could stick on for a placing at good odds….. Carrera Lucia been racing ok off tricky draws and comes up with the ace draw. Has to be a good chance here with a run in the trail….. Patagonian Princess drawn for a fence run and has been running ok races . Place chance at huge odds…. Ideal Sports Girl tricky draw but in a winnable race. Could surprise at nice odds Selections:   Carrera Lucia (1),   New Frontier (2),   Ideal Sports Girl (6),   Patagonian Princess (11)   Race 4 The Last Gamble  has been running home late in his races and needs to get moving sooner. Chance if driver more aggressive….. Splitting Image could get a cosy trip from the draw and has been finishing ok. Good winning claims….. Griffins Hall mobile will suit and he has some ability. Good draw a plus…. Magnafique  manners have been letting him down but mobile helps. Can win if she brings her a-game Selections:   Splitting Image (4),   Griffins Hall (3),   Magnafique  (12),   The Last Gamble  (8)   Race 5 Jungle Gem change of stable and coming in fresh. Has ability and a good chance at longer odds…… Veneto disappointing last start but drawn well. Can atone at nice odds… Jimmy Richter forgive last start effort. Can trouble the favourites if close enough on the home turn… Chalberg tricky draw and will need luck. Good win last start and can upset although place chances best. Selections:  Jungle Gem (4),   Jimmy Richter (10),   Veneto (1),   Chalberg (13)   Race 6 Lady Be Good in top form and getting fitter. No reason she won’t be in the top three again here. Top selection from the mobile….. Expensive Crumpet getting better with racing and likely leader early. Can run top three…… Lukyanova only fair at last start but stronger now and mobile and draw suits.  Place hopes at nice money.… Kimkar Dash ran some good races last campaign and drops out of stronger races. Should be hard to beat Selections:  Lady Be Good (3),   Kimkar Dash (14),   Expensive Crumpet (4),   Lukyanova (9)   Race 7 High Point good wins prior to last start failure. Back to the mobile will help and can win at good odds.……. Ace Strike going ok and gets an ok draw. Could surprise at good money but place chances look best.… About Turn has been going well in similar races. Can win with a good run in transit ….. American Me getting fitter and has run some good races recently. Should be thereabouts in this field Selections:  American Me (11),   About Turn 12),  Ace Strike (5),  High Point (7)   Race 8 Pull The Other Leg tidy run to win last start and getting fitter. Looks the one to beat here……. Dun It Bad going well and track stats are good. Big swing in draws but has place claims here …..Romanee good beginner and drawn to lead. A top three finish looks on the cards if he goes forward early. Include….. Pott Luck he has good form here and should get an ok run from the draw. Needed Selections:  Pull The Other Leg (11),   Romanee (3),   Dun It Bad (14)    Pott Luck (10)   Race 9 Down The Hatch huge run to win last start and draw suits. Can win again from the ace draw……. Bodrum Boy likely to get a good run from the draw. Can upset if they go hard all the way..… Tommy Tukaa has been plagued by bad draws. Has claims if he goes forward early….. Hugo George drops out of strong Auckland fields and he strikes a winnable race here. Include Selections:  Down The Hatch (1),   Tommy Tukaa (4),   Bodrum Boy (9)    Hugo George (2)   Race 10 Jack Irish galloped last start but drawn to lead. Should be very hard to roll here and top selection……. New York Minute hardly ever out of the placings and this should be no different with a top four finish on the cards...… The Banker has to overcome a tricky draw but big on ability. Include in combinations….. Fleeting Major got going too late last start but has a decent motor. Could place at nice odds if put in the race early. Selections:  Jack Irish (2),   The Banker (15),   Fleeting Major (13)    New York Minute (10)   Harnesslink Media

Dual Group 1 winner Ultimate Stride was crowned Otago Horse Of The Year for the 2019-20 at Waikouaiti on Friday night. The Phil Williamson trained trotter’s wins in the group 1 wins in the Redwood Classis and Breeders Crown in Melbourne last August helped him clinch the title over a star studded field. Ultimate Stride faced stiff competition just to win Otago 3yr-old Trotting Colt Or Gelding Of The Year when going head to head with Hambletonian Classic winner and fellow racetrack star Cracker Hill. The category victory saw Ultimate Stride eligible for the Horse Of The Year title alongside Interdominon Trotting Final runner-up Majestic Man (Otago 5yo+ trotting colt or gelding) and rising star Spirit Of St Louis (3yo pacing colt or gelding). Almost everybody connected with Ultimate Stride took an award home from Friday night’s celebration. The blueblood trotter’s trainer Phil Williamson won Otago Trainer Of The Year and his driver Matthew Williamson won Otago Driver Of The Year. Ultimate Stride’s breeders Lex and Heather Williams won Otago Breeders Of The Year. Their broodmare, One Over Kenny, who is Ultimate Stride’s dam, won Broodmare Of The Year.   Full Results: 2yo pacing male American Lightning   2yo trotting male Love N The Port   3yo pacing filly Nikasa   3yo pacing male Spirit Of St Louis   3yo trotting filly Miss Crazed   3yo trotting male Ultimate Stride   4yo pacing mare Countess Of Arden   4yo pacing male Deus Ex   4yo trotting mare Liberty Stride   4yo trotting male Only One Way   5yo+ trotting mare Theodosia   5yo+ trotting male Majestic Man   5yo+ pacing mare Sheeza Sport    5yo+ pacing male Whata Razzle Dazzle   Best Otago Owned Horse Ultimate Sniper   Horse Of The Year Ultimate Stride   Trainer Phil Williamson   Strike-Rate Trainer Graeme Anderson   Driver Matthew Williamson   Junior Driver Kerryn Tomlinson   Breeder Lex and Heather Williams   Broodmare One Over Kenny   HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    A G’s White Socks will be out to buck a growing trend when he steps out in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on Sunday. Mystery sounds several of the top contenders for the New Zealand Cup and it hit fever pitch this week when stablemates Self Assured and Spankem were withdrawn from the 2600m standing start. Though trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have reported both horses’ setbacks - relating to hoof soreness - are not major issues, their scratchings have added mystery to an already tricky New Zealand Cup puzzle. Self Assured and Spankem join Belle Of Montana, Mach Shard, U May Cullect and Nandolo, who have question marks next to the status of their New Zealand Cup campaigns. Each of the latter quartet have made the waters surrounding New Zealand’s biggest race murkier by disappointing in their most recent lead up races. The withdrawal this week of Another Masterpiece and Princess Tiffany has further complicated the New Zealand Cup puzzle. A massive question mark has hung over A G’s White Socks campaign since he suffered an atrial fibrillation and was pulled up in his first start for the season in last month’s Maurice Holmes Vase. Trainers Greg and Nina Hope then scratched then 7yr-old from the New Brighton Cup two weeks later. The reason for that was not because the horse hit yet another obstacle on what is proving to a bumpy road to the New Zealand Cup and they hope their pacer can get his campaign back on a better footing at Oamaru tomorrow. “After his heart problem he had some treatment and it had a 14-day withholding period, so he had to be scratched out of the New Brighton Cup,” stable representative Ben Hope said. “He was working good enough going in to that race and we thought he would have been a pretty good chance.” A G’s White Socks has been left as one of two proven big race performers left in the Hannon Memorial, alongside Classie Brigade, following the scratchings of Self Assured and Spankem. Classie Brigade’s brilliant standing start manners and excellent recent form, including his last start win in the New Brighton Cup, have seen him installed the hot $2 favourite for the feature. While A G’s White Socks can match the Robert Dunn trained pacer on class, taking his rival on effectively in a fresh state, after his first up run turned in to a non-event, sets him a big task. Though the Hope camp could not be any happier with A G’s White Socks’ fitness levels given the horse’s recent circumstances. “He didn’t miss much work – maybe four or five days – after his fibrillation and we have been quite happy with his work since then,” Ben Hope said. “Obviously there are a lot of nice horses in there, but it does look like a two horse race.” “Classie Brigade is going to be hard to beat because he steps so well.” “It is not going to be easy for A G’s White Socks, but he should still be in the top three you would think.” A G’s White Socks will combine with driver Ricky May in Otago for the first time since May’s recovery from a heart problem that saw him fall from the horse’s sulky in the Central Otago Cup in January after he became unconscious. The current New Zealand Cup climate offers up and coming horses and excellent chance to boost their hopes of being a factor on the second Tuesday in November in the Hannon Memorial. Robyns Playboy, who has started the season in excellent form and broke the Ascot Park track record in his last start, looks a serious contender. Highly popular pacer U May Cullect also gets the chance to bolster his New Zealand Cup claims after disappointing when clearly lacking race fitness first up at Winton last week.  

Miami owner Gordon Banks rated American Dealer’s upset Sires’ Stakes Final win over white hot favourite Krug as one off his most thrilling wins in nearly 40 years of racing horses. But, unbelieveably, Banks missed seeing the last 100 metres of the thrilling duel when his excited partner in the horse Marc Hanover rang. Banks’ mobile phone was in delay and Hanover, watching 6km away on his laptop already knew the result, unable to contain himself over winning a Group I feature in the middle of the night. “I knew it was going to be close but I had to answer the call as I knew it would be Marc. I could still hear the commentary in the background and Marc was very excited so I thought he must have won.” It was 3.40am Miami time and Banks says the Alexandra Park race played out like comedy central as he got more and more excited throughout the race but was unable to shout out with his 98-year-old mother sleeping only two rooms away. But when he saw American Dealer full of running turning for home, his muffled urgings became ever louder.   Read the full story click here   by Barry Lichter Courtesy of Lincoln Farms

The latest gavelhouse.com Standardbred auction is online now with eight Lots entered including youngstock, racehorses including the Sydney-based Smokin By and the recently retired winner of three Rave Nation.  Bidding is set to close, starting with Lot 1, from 7pm on Wednesday 23 September. Following are some bidding tips to help you navigate the process. Lot 1 will close from 7pm. If a bid is placed in the final 30 seconds, another 30 seconds is added onto the auction and to all subsequent Lots. This will keep happening until there are no further bids placed. If you are are outbid, you must type in the next bid amount, the site does not automatically update the bid amount for you. There is no benefit in letting auctions run down to the last second before bidding as the auction will just keep auto-extending until no further bids are placed. This practice increases your chances of missing out on horse.  gavelhouse.com cannot identify loss of online connection, a slow internet connection or browser issues at the user’s end. Even a slight loss of internet connection that may not be noticeable can interrupt the user’s browser in following the sale in real-time therefore setting up an auto-bid is the best way to ensure your bids are placed. Google Chrome or Safari are the recommended internet browsers. gavelhouse.com staff are able assist in actively supporting both buyers and vendors during the sale, if you need a hand with registration or bidding, we are available on phone +64 9 296 4436 or email   info@gavelhouse.com during our online auction to help. VIEW FULL CATALOGUE Featured Lots Lot 2 WOODY PAIGE  A half-brother to two winners including the very smart WA pacer Parmesan - the winner of 12 races in the 2019/20 season. His dam is a half-sister to Delight Brigade ($156,312) and Trigirl Brigade ($143,711) – the dam of Open Class star Classie Brigade (Kaikoura Cup, 3rd NZ Cup). This colt has a pronounced roman nose and was entered to be sold with the farm's other weanlings in the May Sale but was withdrawn to see how he developed. He is reported to havedone very well and his nose has been scoped all clear.  Sire: Sportswriter Dam: Tristar Brigade Seller: Alabar NZ Location: Waiau Pa VIEW ONLINE Lot 3 CARRERA BELLE  A mare who qualified on 08 September 2020 at Ashburton in 3.07 from a stand - last half in 57.2, quarter in 26.8. She is reported to be clean gaited with perfect manners, completely sound and would be a lot of fun for someone placing her through the grades from zero rating in Australia. She is bred on a successful cross being by Bettor's Delight from a Christian Cullen race winning mare who is a half sister to seven in black type including Ideal Belle and Five Card Draw. Sire: Bettor's Delight Dam: Belle Arising Seller: Carrera Location: Dunsandel VIEW ONLINE Lot 5 SMOKIN BY  Currently located in Sydney, Australia at Cobbitty Equine Farm. A quality open class horse, Smokin By has raced at the highest level in New Zealand and has since gone to Australia. Unfortunately, he got quite sick in his last preparation and the owners decided to give him a good break to get over it. They have since made a decision to sell as they're not interested in racing a horse in Australia where they can't see him in person.  Sire: Mach Three Dam: Flo Jo Seller: OffnRacing Location: Sydney VIEW ONLINE Lot 8 RAVE NATION  A recently retired winner of three by Muscle Mass, Rave Nation is  out of the Jewels winner Merckx whose first five to the races are all winners. The first colt from Merckx is doing a good job in Australia and the second colt recently qualified from the All Stars barn. She is reported to be in great order. Sire: Muscle Mass Dam: Merckx Seller: Steeno Location: Cambridge VIEW ONLINE   gavelhouse.com

Nathan Purdon has some bad news for his Dad. But that same news that should make favourite punters feels far more comfortable heading into the first group one of the New Zealand season at Alexandra Park tonight. Nathan co-trains red hot favourite Krug in the $140,000 Sires’ Stakes Final, which is actually the two-year-old final carried over from last season when it was postponed in May because of lockdown. Krug’s grip in the race has only improved since as he has gone from strength to strength and has drawn the front line in tonight’s 1700m sprint in which he meets a remarkable seven horses trained by Nathan’s father Mark. While champion trainer Mark has the numbers on his side, Nathan has the firepower to fight them off and says Krug is the best he has been all campaign, daunting for his rivals considering he is unbeaten in four starts since returning. The most telling of those wins came at Addington two starts ago when Krug crossed a recalcitrant It’s All About Faith, the best of the Purdon-Rasmussen youngsters, at the start and easily held him out to win a heat of this series. As good as that was, Nathan says his stable star is better now. Much better. “I wasn’t that confident that night because he had had some issues,” he admits. “And even when he won up here (Alex Park) last start he wasn’t screwed down because he had travelled up that week and was still settling in. “But he is right at his peak now. He has settled in and that has allowed me to train him how I want and his work on Wednesday was very good.” Krug has such high gate speed he is expected to lead from barrier six but the biggest concern may be how hard those inside him fight for the treasured spot on his back, with a hot early tempo potentially leaving them vulnerable to It’s All About Faith, who is by far the best of the All Star’s seven reps. But it would take something special and a new career high from It’s All About Faith to beat Krug unless things get really silly at the front end of the field. American Dealer looks the value place option as he has the gate speed and respect to potentially secure an early lead he would most likely gift to Krug while Nevada has been solid with no luck in his last three starts and appeals as the one most likely to add value to the trifecta. While Krug has been push button for Nathan Purdon, stablemate Fabrizio has been anything but yet the young trainer thinks a trick he learned watching the gallops on television recently might help. Fabrizio burned punters by refusing to go away last start and has a penchant for rearing when not in the mood so Purdon has placed a shadow roll above the four-year-old’s eyes, rather than where they are usually placed further down the nose. “I saw a galloper with it like that on TV recently and they explained it was to stop him rearing up because it can’t see what is above it,” he explains. “We have fitted one to his bridle and he hasn’t reared up since so I am hoping that helps him behave this week.” The best version of Fabrizio can beat former Auckland Cup placegetters Triple Eight and Star Galleria as the latter pair face 35m handicaps in the open pace, their backmarks meaning mid-race moves to drag them into the race will be crucial.   By Michael Guerin

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    A start on New Zealand’s biggest day in harness racing now beckons Need You Now after her impressive win in the Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association Mobile Pace (1980m) at Addington Raceway on Thursday night. The Robert Dunn-trained mare began well from her wide barrier and was pushed forward by driver Tim Williams to wrestle the early lead off Sweet Mary. The daughter of Bettor’s Delight ultimately proved too classy for her rivals, controlling the pace throughout and running away to a comfortable 2-3/4 length victory over Sweet Mary, with Enchantee a further three lengths back in third. “She just keeps on getting better with time,” Dunn said. “She is learning to relax more and she has always had gate speed. With her getting stronger Tim was able to use that speed she has from that wide draw and once she got to the front she settled nicely. “Once she found the front I think everyone else was running for place money. Once you have got a horse as good as her that finds the front early and is able to dictate from there it makes it very hard for anyone else in the race. “She looked to be travelling beautifully all the way. You had to be confident a long way from home.” It was the seventh career win for the four-year-old mare who is now on a path towards the Gr.1 Nevele R Fillies Series Final at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup day in November. “She has got the Nevele R Fillies on Cup Day, that is the main goal. She will then come up north and get ready for the Queen Of Hearts in December.” Earlier on the card Aimee’s First Meddle kicked-off her career in perfect style when winning on debut in the IRT. Your Horse. Our Passion. Mobile Pace (1980m). Dunn was delighted with the win, particularly because of the historical connection with the filly. “It was a good run tonight,” he said. “It was a tough run and she did a bit of work and got attacked quite hard down the back in that wind and stuck on well. I am really pleased with her. “It’s a great home breed that the Sparks (breeder-owners) have got down in Ashburton. We just retired Hayden’s Meddle who was a good winner for them and a tough old campaigner. “There have been a lot of winners from the family over the years. Warwick’s late father and Una’s husband, they started breeding from a mare I gave them quite a few years ago. They have bred a lot of winners from her.” Dunn’s winning streak was not over for the night, with the dual-Island trainer recording a treble when Got You Covered took out the Woodlands Stud Mobile Pace (1980m). “He deserves that win because he has been racing really honestly,” Dunn said. “He got the perfect run tonight, he led then took a trail and came through. He is a nice, honest horse.”

NZB Standardbred graduate Krug (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) will be out to claim his second title belt for the week when he starts as the hot favourite in the Group One Garrard’s Sires Stakes Final (1700m) at Alexandra Park on Friday 18 October.  The Nathan Purdon and Chrissie Dalgety trained star will attempt to continue his brilliant form by winning the $140,000 feature just days after being crowned New Zealand 2YO Pacing Colt Or Gelding Of The Year. Krug goes in to the event after producing a powerful victory in the last heat of the Sires Stakes Series at Alexandra Park earlier this month. Purdon has reported that his star pacer has thrived since that tough effort. “He has come through the run pretty good and he has trimmed up with it,” the trainer said. “He is generally pretty round, but he looks pretty screwed down now. “It is fair to say he is in the best shape he has been.” Krug faces stiff competition, as Friday night’s classy field of confirmed starters are all graduates of NZB Standardbred’s 2019 National Yearling Sale. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen start a powerful line up of seven runners, including Krug’s arch-nemesis It’s All About Faith (NZ) (Captaintreacherous). It's All About Faith has prepared for his Group One assignment by impressively beating a field of older horses after Krug got the better of him in their last meeting. Stag Party (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) is set to be another key player from the Purdon-Rasmussen camp after securing the ace draw in barrier 1. The All Stars trainers also start Nevada (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight), Aladdin (NZ) (Sweet Lou), Rock Legend (NZ) (Roll With Joe), Delightful Dude (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) and Bettor Call Me (NZ) (Bettor’s Delight) in Friday night’s feature. American Dealer (NZ) (American Ideal), Captain Nemo (NZ) (Captain Treacherous), and Hot And Treacherous (NZ) (Captaintreacherous) each look serious contenders after their good runs behind Krug in the final heat of the series. American Dealer and Hot And Treacherous have clinched crucial front row draws alongside Steve and Amanda Telfer’s stablemates B D Joe (NZ) (Roll With Joe) and Alta Wise Guy (NZ) (Mach Three),   NZB Standardbred

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Pukekohe trainers Steven Reid and Simon McMullen had a virus hit a couple of their runners recently, but they have since recuperated and will resume at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Open-class pacer Star Galleria was one of the team who contracted the bug after his pleasing second-up third-placing behind quality pacer Copy That last month. “I was so happy with his third-placing,” Reid said. “He didn’t go bad in his very first start, but he ran last. They got home in 54 off the front, so it wasn’t terrible. He just didn’t pace that well. “When he ran third he paced so much better and I think he hit the line really well. I was really happy with the run. “I came off that thinking we are definitely on the go forward plan for the Cup, but then we ran into that little hiccup a couple of weeks ago where he had a bit of a temperature and we had to scratch him, but he has recovered from it fine.” The son of Art Major will start from the back mark of 35m and Reid believes he will be much better for his run on Friday. “He is going to improve with the run and the 35m behind is probably going to be a bit of a mountain for him to climb,” he said. “From a betting point of view he will probably be better following come Spring Cup time a week later.” Reid is still planning on campaigning Star Galleria in the south this spring, but he said the Gr.1 New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m) may not be their major target. “He is now seven-years-old and he has had a few niggly issues over the last two or three years,” Reid said. “We don’t have to go to the Cup, we may just go to the Junior Free-For-All and then the Free-For-All on the Friday.” Reid also encountered similar issues with Mr Fantastic after his first-up win last month. “I was really happy with him (when winning first-up), but once again it has been three weeks between races. He also had a bug, which is why he was scratched last start.” Reid believes his charge will be competitive from his ace draw in the Auckland Co-op Taxis 300-3000 Mobile Pace (2200m), but said he will also improve with the run. “He has come through it well and trialled very impressively last Friday, so he is on target,” Reid said. “He has got Harness Millions next week, so I think he will be better for the run. I am expecting him to go very close to winning, but I think he will strip a better horse on the 25th.” Stablemate Commander Cathy will complete Reid’s racing team on Friday night and he is expecting a good showing from the filly in the Pascoes The Jewellers F&M Mobile Pace (2200m). “Commander Cathy has been unlucky,” Reid said. “I have been happy with all three runs, but she can’t get a draw and once again we have drawn the second line (10), so luck is going to play a factor. “But if she has luck I would be very disappointed if she didn’t finish in the top three.”