Smolda out for season: It has been reported HRNZ that class four-year-old Smolda will 'ride the pine' for the remainder of the season. The Purdon stable citing wear and tear on the gun horse's joints. The NZ Cup now appears the next focus for him. He'll add a lot of intrigue and quality to the Open ranks next season.
- Auckland Cup Night: What a great night Auckland Cup night last week was. The Derby had to be one of the best in aeons. It had the drama, action and a bit of suspense in the home straight as those three top three-year-olds sorted themselves out. We might have to go back to 1990 to find a Derby that had similar ingredients. Then there was a fall, a race full of potential top-liners, a great horse won (Christopher Vance), there was a big finish and a relegation.
- Coming soon - HRNZ Dream Team: HRNZ is close to launching a new online competition that will hopefully be the first of many. The Dream Team competition is essentially an online incarnation of the Super Stable with a few twists and links to the Harness Jewels. The competition will commence on the 28th of March and run through until the end of Harness Jewels weekend. More info will be released in coming days…
n other high-class Purdon news; Highview Tommy is leaving the stable and heading to the beach to be cared for by Greg and Nina Hope. The old warhorse may well be revitalised somewhat by a change in scenery and a chance to have an easier time on his weary legs. In a stellar career to date Highview Tommy has banked $998,000 in stakes so one would expect him to join the elite millionaires' club very soon.
he Cup too had magical ingredients, the main ingredient being the brilliant Themightyquinn. Many of the promotions staged on-course worked well too. The Big Screen and the contents of it is a new innovation via the club and Magness Benrow. The club is very focussed on delivering more for the on-course patron and what was seen last Friday night was the start of a process.
- Themightyquinn Review: They say the mark of a champion is being able to win more races than he/she loses. With his win in the Auckland Cup last Friday Themightyquinn's win/loss record now stands at 97 starts / 48 wins. That's a great stat when you consider he left NZ as a three-year-old following his Harness Jewels third with a record of 27 starts for six wins. He's banked well over $5 million NZ in his career to date and there's promise of more too with a potential NZ Cup bid on the horizon? As an eight-year-old he certainly looks to have at least one more good year in him so there is potential for all sorts of records to be broken.
- Brendon McCullum & Cyclone Prince: You can tell the way he captains and bats that our Black Caps skipper doesn't mind a punt or calculated gamble. Away from his chosen sport McCullum got himself a share of promising two-year-old Cyclone Prince and last Friday night that investment paid in spades when Cyclone Prince won the Cardigan Bay Young Guns Final. Brendon in fact only bought into the horse in December. As fate would have it, well known sports identities Kyle Mills, his brother Heath and Ant Stachan all sold out of the horse. The aforementioned trio do however own Cyclone Prince's dam, Eyre To The Throne and have some nice stock from her.
- Australian Trotting Grand Prix Friday night: At Melton this Friday night much Kiwi interest will centre on the biggest harness race across our great continent for the week. The Group 1 Grand Prix is the final lead-in to the Great Southern Star next week and it features four Kiwis and some expats. The Fiery Ginga has drawn one, Sovereignty is all set to follow him everywhere from one the second line. Last week's easy winner Vulcan will possie up in barrier five, while Stig will run from the second line. Connections are expecting a change in form from Stig this week. He was dreadful by his standard last week, hanging and not trotting like he can. A change in shoeing has seen dramatic improvement. He worked up with Vulcan the other day and pleased his trainer Paul Nairn. Here's hoping the Aussies get to see what he's made of. He'd be a big chance to win the Great Southern Star should he make the starting line for the heats.
t's also worth noting the bounce back of Gareth Dixon and his personal triumph to win a Group 1. Re-establishing himself after losing the bulk of his team late last year Dixon has a grand horse in Cyclone Prince to get back up the trainers' table. Having enjoyed his best season in 2008 with 51 wins Dixon is on the way back as of now. To date this season he's trained 13 winners from just 85 starters - a solid strike rate but just not with the numbers of the past.
- Banks Peninsula Trotting Club to recognise seniority: On Sunday 14th April, at their Motukarara race meeting, the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club will host many local seniors of harness racing. Club president, Paul Davies, commented that it was an opportunity to say thank you to those many people who had made a significant contribution to harness racing in the region over the years. The race day, themed "Thanks for the Memories", will be the Club's last meeting this season. In addition, Davies was also pleased to announce, that as a result of the HRNZ additional distribution to clubs for stakes, the Club would be further increasing their stakes for this meeting.
- Milestone Watch: Ken Barron now on 998 NZ Driving wins. Ken looks to have some solid drives across the weekend with nice books at both Addington on Friday and Akaroa on Sunday.