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By Jonny Turner    Trainer Robert Dunn hopes Classie Brigade begins so quickly he sees a flash of red, white and black silks in what is set to be a crucial beginning to today’s New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington. The eight-year-old veteran will carry his trainer’s diamond emblazoned colours when he seeks redemption in the 3200m feature following an agonisingly unlucky third placing in last year’s event. To win, Classie Brigade will need to become the first horse since Flashing Red in 2007 to carry the number 18 saddlecloth to victory. After being stuck with the draw no other camp would have wanted, fans and pundits quickly started writing off the pacer’s chances of redemption. But there is one crucial factor they may be forgetting. If the New Zealand Cup’s three emergencies come out as expected, Classie Brigade and driver John Dunn will line up on the second row behind Robyns Playboy and Craig Ferguson. And there are few better spots to be for the five horses forced to start off the second line to be in, given the lightning beginnings the Southland pacer has been making recently. “If Robyns Playboy begins quickly Classie Brigade might be able to get through pretty quickly himself,” Robert Dunn said “And he might end up settling a lot handier than a lot of people think.” With barrier draws and the standing start ability of their rivals out of their hands, the Dunn camp have been concentrating on what is within their control with Classie Brigade. After producing a New Zealand record and an excellent Kaikoura Cup win in his last two starts, they could not be happier with their horse’s condition. Combine that with Classie Brigade’s record over 3200m and it explains why the Dunn camp is not losing faith in their horse ahead of today’s race. “We are very happy with him going into the race,” Dunn said “His record is over 3200m is phenomenal, he ran 3.53 when he won the Invercargill Cup.” “Which on a track like that is exceptional.” “And he ran 3.56 in last year’s cup and he was strong to the line after being held up at the top of the straight.” Dunn has a three-strong attack on this year’s New Zealand Cup with Heisenberg and Henry Hubert starting alongside Classie Brigade. Henry Hubert was less than two lengths behind Cruz Bromac in sixth placing in last year’s race for driver Gavin Smith. Though his form does not show it, the six-year-old, who is set to start from barrier 7 on the front line, comes into this year’s race after enjoying a much better preparation.   “He had a very interrupted preparation last year, he missed races and we didn’t think we were even going to make the cup.” “And he went a great race and was less than two lengths from the winner.” “This year he has had a much better preparation and we are expecting him to go a good race.” Heisenberg will step up to race in his first New Zealand Cup for Dunn when he lines up from barrier 2 for driver Ricky May That starting spot should give the five-year-old every chance to get into his favoured position close to the pace. “He has had one start over two miles (3200m) and he won it,” Dunn said  “He will go a good race, he definitely won’t get in the way.” Dunn has a massive team of 28 horses nominated for New Zealand Cup Day. Singling out just one horse as his best chance was impossible for the Woodend Beach trainer, who has high hopes across the 13-race Addington card. “We have a few good chances, Steel The Show should go a great race.” “Mighty Looee is going really well and Ned Kelly could be a sneaky chance in the maiden race.” “Bryan Boru should be a good chance in his race and one horse that has been going well but hasn’t had a lot of luck is Tyron’s Bit Of Lemon.”

Who better to talk to about the New Zealand Cup than Ricky May? He’s won it seven times, that’s more than anyone else - with his last victory being Terror To Love’s third in 2013. Today he’s driving  $61 outsider Heisenberg,  one of three runners for Robert Dunn. And we caught up with May for a brief chat – well it’s 60 seconds to be precise.   HRNZ

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 Addington today with a thirteen race program starting at 11:55am and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a massive 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 Addington.   Addington selections (CUP DAY) 10th November 2020   Race 1 Globe Trekker slightly out of form but strikes a winnable race for him here. Top selection in this field and paying nice money.…… Overzealous nice draw and she has run some cheeky races against good fields in her last half a dozen starts. Major player here..… Madeleine Stowe out of form but on her best day would compete well here. Can upset with a soft run in transit at massive odds…….. Zsa Zoe running ok races without a lot of luck. Could surprise here at nice odds…… Humble Ladd Southern horse do well at the meeting and he is in good form. Needed Selections:  Globe Trekker (1),   Overzealous (3),   Zsa Zoe (4),    Madeleine Stowe (5)   Race 2 Bad Hombre pacer with form who should be running top three here from the draw. Likely to get a good run and can win.……. Sudaman has ability, and the draw might be an assist on the front line today. One for longer odds …… Surfers Delight money has been on the last couple but draw not great. Stable runs hot over cup week and he can upset at longer odds …… Castelo De Vide getting fitter with racing and has been racing better fields. Winning claims…… Ned Kelly Tricky draw to contend with but should get a cosy run on the fence here. Not the worst at decent odds Selections:  Bad Hombre (1),   Surfers Delight (12),   Ned Kelly (10),   Castelo De Vide (11)   Race 3 Sundons Flyer has been running good races from handicaps and won this race in 2018 at big odds. Could surprise if the pace is on all the way….. Andoverlov good stayer who is nearing peak form at the right time. Top selection and hard to beat  ….. Get Lucky slightly disappointing last start but is getting fitter with racing. Southern horses do well here and can run in the top three…. Andy Hall nice inside draw if he can bring his manners. Winning claims here…. B D Yasothon  drawn well and big on ability. Good winning claims with manners Selections:   Andoverlov (15),  Sundons Flyer (14),   Andy Hall (3),   Get Lucky (13)   Race 4 Amazing Dream stable/driver combo hard to beat at premier meetings and this mare has the x-factor. Top selection even from the wide draw ….. Need You Now likes to race near the lead and could be hard to catch if she found the front early. Winning claims….. Stylish Memphis has the game to beat a field like this and she will go forward early. Can run top three…. Pearl Harbour biggest test to date but drawn to get every chance in the running. Place hopes best…. Sugar Loaf not convinced she is at her best but has a lot of speed. One for longer odds Selections:   Amazing Dream (9),   Need You Now (5),   Stylish Memphis (6),   Sugar Loaf (3)   Race 5 Pembrook Playboy conditions suit here and he is a major player in this field. Good winning claims and top selection.…. Burnham Boy going ok in strong fields. Should be thereabouts from the draw with luck in the running…… Vintage Cheddar tricky draw but 2600m mobile will suit. Can place at longer odds.… Jazzy Star drawn for a cozy run on the fence and finishing speed to win if gaps open. Include at longer odds….. Fabrizio out of form but big on ability. Chances increase if he can lead early. Selections:  Pembrook Playboy (6),   Burnham Boy (3),   Jazzy Star (10),   Vintage Cheddar (8)   Race 6 Above N Beyond has been racing strong fields with merit. Should be a good winning chance in this lineup and could blast to the lead early. ……. Bundoran has ability and the draw and should be handy early . Good winning claims …… Buckskin out of form but on his best day could win this. One for longer odds…… Anamajor good beginner who is the likely leader early. Place chances best here….Mighty Looee in good form but drawn out the back here. Place hopes best from the draw Selections:   Above N Beyond (7),   Bundoran (1),   Anamajor (4),   Buckskin (5)   Race 7 Cracker Hill  has been running good races with fast closing sectionals. Hard to beat in this field….. Majestic Man good draw and very classy. Should lead and be running top three here  ….. Tough Monarch draw not great but is tough. Can go forward and inject some speed into the race. Winning claims…. Muscle Mountain nice draw and has been racing huge. Winning claims here and one of the leading chances…. Ultimate Stride drawn badly and not convinced he is at his best but pay to give another chance. Include Selections:   Cracker Hill  (12),  Majestic Man (2),   Muscle Mountain (5),  Tough Monarch (9)   Race 8 It's All About Faith drawn to lead and get in front of his arch rival Krug. Good winning chance….. Krug  likes to race near the lead and drawn for a run through at the start. Should run topo three….. Aladdin bit disappointing last start. Has ability and could place with luck in the running and from the good draw…. American Dealer racing ok but tricky draw. Winning claims with a cart into the race at the right time….. Shan Noble terrible draw and only running for place money here Selections:   It's All About Faith (1),   Krug  (11),   American Dealer (12),   Aladdin (2)   Race 9 Bad To The Bone racing well in top fields but drawn wide. Can win and top selection….. Rocknroll Rod races best near the lead and early tactics vital to his chances. Winning claims at nice odds with a trail all the way….. Tyron's Bit Of Lemon racing well and he could go forward early here. Place chances best in this field…. Dance Time racing his way back into form but bad draw. Chance at nice odds if he is handy early and shorter distance suits…. Steel The Show drawn wide on the second row and hard to see him winning. Place hopes best Selections:   Bad To The Bone (6),   Dance Time (9),   Rocknroll Rod (4),   Tyron's Bit Of Lemon (2)   Race 10 Alterior Motif unbeaten and untapped talent who should press forward early. Can win with a soft lead here…… Cranbourne tricky draw but racing ok and getting fitter with racing. One for longer odds….. Laver win last start very good and drawn to get a run through early. Can run top three if he can clear traffic….. A Taste Of Honey good second last start and races best when handy. Needed…. Cheezel has speed at both ends of her races and might land the trail behind the favourite. Can upset at good odds. Selections:  Alterior Motif (6),   Cranbourne (8),   Cheezel (2),   Laver (11)   Race 11 Self Assured racing well in top fields but drawn wide and manners a concern. Hard to beat with if he steps away safely ….. Spankem races best near the lead and will be heading forward early. Very hard to beat if he can find the front….. Copy That racing well and would be hard to beat if he could get in front of the All Stars horses. Chances depend on whether he can clear the fence early…. Tango Tara under rated horse who never gives in and racing his way back into form but bad draw. Chance at nice odds if he is handy turning for home…. Mach Shard quick beginner who should get a cosy run on the pegs. Place hopes best Selections:   Spankem (15),   Self Assured (11),   Copy That (1),   Tango Tara (13)   Race 12 Royal Pride big run to win after breaking last start and drawn ok. Can win at good odds…… Grand Princess tricky draw but racing ok and getting fitter with racing. Winning claims here….. I Dream Of Jeannie win here two starts ago was very good and beginning much better now. Can run top three if she can get handy early….. Idle Stuartia consistent trotter who races best when handy. Good place claims in this field…. She's Allthe Craze good beginner who races well on the track. Can upset at good odds but place chances best Selections:  Royal Pride (1),   Idle Stuartia (7),   Grand Princess (8),   I Dream Of Jeannie (16)   Race 13 Gliding Away tricky draw but he will go forward early. One of the major players in this field at good odds ….. Five Star General terrible draw but in good form and the rise in grade no problem. Can run top three….. B K Swy racing well and would be hard to beat with a run in front or in the trail which is likely from the draw. Needed…. Skippys Delight under rated horse who is racing his way back into form but bad draw. Chance at nice odds if he is handy turning for home…. Riveered quick beginner who is from a strike rate stable. Good winning claims. Selections:   Gliding Away (9),   Riveered (2),   B K Swy (1),   Five Star General (13)   Harnesslink Media

A number of the best harness racing horses from the deep south are in Christchurch for the New Zealand Cup day meeting tomorrow. Horses like Cracker Hill, Robyns Playboy, Vintage Cheddar, Majestic Man and Humble Ladd - so how do the southern stables rate their chances? To find out Bruce Stewart from Southern Harness has spoken to some of the key drivers and trainers. 

By Jonny Turner    Victorian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth will take winning form into the New Zealand Cup after enjoying success at Ascot Park on Sunday with Prince Envy. The couple, who race the favourite for the country’s biggest race, will be hoping Copy That can produce something similar to the impressive seven and three-quarter length win their Brett Gray trained trotter dished out in race 3. Though the Butterworths’ two horses look to have very little in common, they both appealed to the keen eye of their Australian owners. The Butterworths purchased Prince Envy out of Canterbury as an unraced five-year-old, who had had plenty of workouts without taking the final step to make the races. “Merv rang me up and said I have got a bit of a project horse, but don’t worry he has got ability,” Gray said. While Butterworth was vindicated in his opinion of the horse with his huge victory, it has been a testing road to the winner’s circle for Gray. Prince Envy galloped and out of his first two starts before his polished victory on Sunday. “The horse has been doing my head in, to be honest.” “Just because he has been getting it wrong at the start.” “We know he has got the ability there, so it has been a bit frustrating.” “Hopefully now he can go on with it a little bit.” Gray produced the quinella in race 3 with Peregrine running second to Prince Envy. After getting the winner’s manners in check, Gray will now have to work on Peregrine. The three-year-old galloped at the 500m before staging an impressive recovery to take second. The Butterworths’ good eye for a horse has also led to them having the favourite for the New Zealand Cup. They purchased Copy That after towards the end of his two-year-old season and could get the ultimate reward for their judgment in Tuesday’s 3200m feature. The four-year-old was previously raced by Deborah Green, the wife of Copy That’s trainer, Ray Green. The pacer will be the veteran Pukekohe trainer’s first New Zealand Cup runner. Gray will be among those cheering for Copy That when the tapes fly on Tuesday afternoon. “I would love for Merv and Meg to win it.” “They have been great for Southland [harness racing] and have been very good to me.” “They always have three in work with me and they were two of the people that helped get me started.” Gray tasted more success of his own later on yesterday’s Ascot Park card when Memphis Tennessee took out race 9. The five-year-old dropped in class after running into Robyns Playboy and Pembrook Playboy in his last two starts and it showed when he cleared out to win by three lengths for driver John Morrison.

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Cambridge conditioners Andrew and Lyn Neal have taken a few horses south to compete over New Zealand Cup week over the years, including Group One winner, Flight South and Group Two winner Where Eagles Dare, and this year they are particularly excited about the prospects of talented pacer Alterior Motif. The four-year-old son of Sportswriter is undefeated in his two starts to date and his trainers are looking forward to testing him on the sport’s biggest day when he lines-up in the Avon City Ford Mobile Pace (1980m) on Cup Day. Alterior Motif won comfortably at Cambridge Raceway on debut by 6-1/4 lengths and then made it back-to-back wins at the Waikato track last month when winning by a head, and his trainers believe Addington will be a good testing ground for their charge. “He has only had the two starts and he has won reasonably easy both starts,” Andrew Neal said. “We will just see how far he goes before he meets the mountain. He has a lot of ability.” Neal said the trip south was a logical one as Alterior Motif refuses to race left-handed. “The horse went down on Wednesday morning and he is down at Jim and Sandy Curtin’s. He has settled in well,” Neal said. “We had him at Cambridge because we couldn’t get him going the Auckland way around, otherwise he would have been racing at Auckland for better money. “We are not sure where to place him after this, but with Addington there and two $25,000 races, and going left-handed, it made sense to have a look at it. “It can help us make up our mind of what we might do afterwards as well.” Neal is pleased with Alterior Motif leading into Tuesday after his hit-out at the Cambridge workouts last week. “We are very happy with his progress heading into the race,” he said. “He trialled last Saturday. David Butcher drove him and he is going to drive him on Tuesday and Friday.” Neal said he has fielded a lot of calls from interested parties about purchasing the horse and he said Alterior Motif would be ideally suited to a track like Menangle. “The Sportswriters seem to go better in America and Australia than they do in New Zealand, but I guess a lot of them get sold off early on,” Neal said. “There is someone ringing every week about him, but no one has followed through with anything as yet. “He likes to roll so a track like Menangle will suit him.” Meanwhile, the Neals have been pleased with the way 11-win trotter Credit Master has returned from his freshen-up. The talented but erratic trotter was slated to target Cup week spoils a couple of months ago, however, behavioural issues put paid to those plans. He instead went for a freshen-up and has returned in fine form, winning two of his three starts this preparation and finished runner-up at Alexandra Park last start. The son of Muscle Mass is now being set to target feature Northern trotting races in the coming months. “He is finally maturing,” Neal said. “He will ease his way into December racing and then there are some races for him at Cambridge as well.”

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    The Butcher clan will head to Addington Raceway on Tuesday with potentially three family members vying to take out the Gr.1 IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup (3200m). David Butcher has already tasted victory in the great race, winning the 2008 edition behind Changeover, while son Zachary Butcher finished runner-up to Lazarus in 2017 with Jack’s Legend. Benjamin Butcher will try and replicate his father and brother’s success in the race when he competes in The Cup for the first time on Tuesday. He will take the reins behind the Steve and Amanda Telfer-trained Check In and he said he is looking forward to realising a childhood dream of driving in the New Zealand Trotting Cup. “It’s awesome to even have a drive in the race,” he said. “It is always a race you want to win. Hopefully we can get a bit of luck. There are a few horses in there that are probably a bit better but if everything goes right we won’t be too far away.” Butcher was pleased to see Check In return to form when runner-up in the Gr.2 Kaikoura Cup (2400m) last week after a series of unplaced runs at Alexandra Park. “Check In had been racing for a while and the freshen-up might have helped him,” Butcher said. “He had a good trip and went well at Kaikoura. He has always been one of those horses that have suited when they have gone hard and he has had a good trip. He can keep coming at the end and that’s what we will be looking to get on Tuesday.” Butcher is particularly looking forward to competing against his family in the big race, with father David set to drive stablemate Triple Eight, while brother Zachary will need a bit of luck to gain a start, with his charge On The Cards the second emergency for the race. “It adds a bit more competitiveness to it,” Butcher said. “We will all be looking at beating each other home. If we can’t win it, it will be down to who beat who home. “It always makes it a bit more fun and it will be a big crowd there on Tuesday, so it will be great fun.” Butcher will have another shot at Group One glory when he contests the Gr.1 Woodlands Stud Sires’ Stakes Final (1980m) with B D Joe. The gelding took out Heat 2 of the series at Cambridge Raceway last start, beating home Group One winner American Dealer, and Butcher is optimistic with his charge’s chances in a quality field on Tuesday. “He is a nice horse,” Butcher said. “There are a few horses in there that are pretty close to each other and we have got a good draw (4) and hopefully we will be able to use it. “I think that he is a good chance, he would be one of my better chances of the day.” Butcher will have two further drives on Tuesday, behind Dance Time in the Hornby Liquor Central Mobile Pace (1980m), and Down The Hatch in the Avon City Ford Mobile Pace (1980m). “Dance Time has been racing well up in Auckland,” Butcher said. “It is always tough in those smaller fields up in Auckland when there are not a lot of moves and you only sprint home. “He is a bit better with a bit more speed on, but he has got a bit of a drop back in class so it could be a bit easier for him (on Tuesday). He is going really well, so it will be just what happens on the day. “Down The Hatch has been racing really well this whole prep. It will be a step up in grade on Cup Day, but with the right run I can’t see why she wouldn’t go a good race.”

Champion trainer Mark Purdon finds himself in an unusual position heading into tomorrow’s $540,000 IRT New Zealand Cup at Addington. And he says it is the right one. Purdon, along with training partner Natalie Rasmussen, has trained five of the last six New Zealand Cup winners and even the year they got beaten it was by Arden Rooney, a horse they used to train. Even more clockwork than them having the Cup winner is having the Cup favourite, with superstars like Lazarus getting as short at $1.40 when he won his second Cup in 2017. Yet tomorrow the All Stars stable will have to make do with having the second and third favourites in Self Assured and Spankem and Purdon says they both deserve to be behind northerner Copy That in the market. “I don’t think is one of those years we can go into the race confident, definitely not as confident as some other years,” says Purdon, who will drive Self Assured. “We have three winning chances (Ashley Locaz is the other) but none of them are any better than Copy That. “He is racing as well as our horses so he deserves to be favourite.” Copy That and Self Assured have the likely advantage of being drawn the front line in tomorrow’s 3200m standing start whereas Spankem starts off the second line. That and Self Assured’s best performances this season, which have been stunning, make him the stable’s best chance but his Achilles heal has been on display for all to see. Self Assured has missed away at the start more often than he has begun safely this campaign and Purdon admits he has run out of ideas. “We have exhausted everything we know to get him going away,” says the Hall of Famer. “So now it is up to him. I rate him 50-50 to step away okay and if he does I think he can lead and win. “But if he doesn’t then I think he will lose his winning chance.” The irony of the Self Assured puzzle for punters tomorrow is his richest career win came when he stepped brilliantly and led throughout in the Auckland Cup last December. If punters knew Self Assured was going to pack those manners in his gear bag you could feel confident he is in a fair fight with Copy That. But if he misses away not only does that cost him ground but also gives Copy That a shot at a less-contested lead as most of the others on the front line would more than likely concede him that role. Which is why on Cup Eve, Copy That is the TAB’s tightening $2.80 favourite and Self Assured has drifted to $3 First published in the New Zealand Herald.   by Michael Guerin

There is 1 day to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. Z = Zenola Zenola farm was the Auckland-based stables of high profile trainer Geoff Small who won the New Zealand Cup for the first and only time with Changeover in 2008. The five-year-old beat Baileys Dream in a then record 3:56.4. Small also prepared Elsu, widely regarded as one of the best horses never to win a New Zealand Cup. Twice New Zealand harness horse of the year, he won 11 group ones and made a clean sweep of the three heats and the final of the 2005 Interdominion series. But despite all that Elsu could not win a New Zealand Cup. He twice finished second to grand stayer Just An Excuse, going down narrowly each time (2003 and 2004).

Branxholme trainer Nathan Williamson is in for a big week. Pembrook Playboy and Andy Hall are his two starters for Cup Day in Christchurch on Tuesday, and Dark Horse, Franco Santino and Longueval will start on Show Day. Giant trotter Andy Hall will run in the Hydroflow Handicap Trot a 3200 metre race, on Cup Day. “He hit the line well in his first start and did much the same at Ashburton.  He’s been going well and I think the two miles won’t worry him. He’s drawn handy and he doesn’t possess a lot of early speed but hopefully he ends up handy.  I think he’s a top five chance.” Pembrook Playboy represents the stable in the Group Three Junior Free For All and comes into the race with excellent form line, including a last start second to Burnham Boy in the Southern Supremacy Stakes. “I thought it was one of his career best runs in the Supremacy. He was just beaten by a better horse on the day. He’s trained on well and I can’t see why he can’t run another good race. He seems happy in himself so we’ll go up there with a wee bit of confidence.” On Show Day quality mare Dark Horse is down to start in the Group One $270,000 Majestic Son Dominion Handicap. The eight year old mare has been domiciled in Oamaru for the last month based at Williamson’s father Phil’s property. “She trialled on Wednesday (Oamaru) and she went okay.” Chinese Whisper will be missing from the carnival having  been turned out for a short spell. “I wasn’t happy with his run at Tuapeka and subsequently he hasn’t trained on so he’s in the spelling paddock. It’s just a couple of wee niggly things so we’re just backing off and reassessing things. He won’t have long off and we’ll look at Christmas racing. There’s no point in going up there if you’re 90%.” Consistent entire Franco Santino will represent the stable in the Free For All on Show Day. “We’re racing him on Friday rather than the Tuesday. On Friday it’s 1980 metres. He seems to be more of a speed horse and we’ve left the 2600 metre race on Tuesday for Pembrook (Playboy). He seemed to have come though his last race well and he’s in good form.” Four year old Longueval will start in the highly competitive South of the Waitaki also run on Show Day. “He’s a nice wee horse and he’s going to get a good draw so he’s going to get a run along the markers not doing too much. He’s a good follower of speed. He’ll be competitive but there’s one or two smarty’s that might be a bit good for him. If he can run a competitive race he could be attractive to buyers at Cup Week as the owners are looking to sell him on.” Nathan also drives Majestic Man, one of the favourites in the New Zealand Trotting Free For All. He won this race driving Jasmyn’s Gift in 2006.   by Bruce Stewart

It’s been one hell of a year. Who would have thought that in 2020 we’d be faced with a global pandemic, a global health crisis? An environment in which government “lockdowns” were both initiated and generally accepted. How about a cessation of all racing activity for months on end? Who could have seen that this time last year? Nostradamus could have taken a stab in the dark maybe.   Unbelievable really but it’s the way things have transpired. New Zealand has, at the moment, come through things alright, we totted around increasing infection numbers for a increasingly nervous time, then totted back out after a period of hibernation, then we got racing back but without anybody there to see it, then we got connections allowed back on track to see their horse along with a few other jokers around, now, fingers crossed, we’re back for good on full noise. The significance of NZ Cup week takes on even greater importance given the current situation. The Canterbury Agricultural Show, which sees throngs of people go out of their way to see prize bulls and consume large quantities of teeth rotting candyfloss, was canned long ago leaving racing, across all three codes, the main attraction and focus of what is generally accepted as Canterbury’s week to shine.   That being the reality on Tuesday crowds will once again swamp into Addington Raceway to take in this years edition of the New Zealand Trotting Cup. It’s no wonder the New Zealand Cup race day has sold-out, with everything going on and limited chances to spread ones social-butterfly wings there was always going to be a big response to a party. Tuesday will see the fillies will don their fascinating fascinators and the colts their best cheap suits. A large number of the crowd will most probably not see the withers of a horse all day but they’ll love it anyway because they get to meet their new best friend or catch up with their best old friend. Those that do see a horse will immediately fancy themselves the best selector in history and promptly lose their money on the thing that breaks up and takes no part. The features of the racing card will be hotly contested among the leading trainers in the country. The Cup field itself, while void of any international presence (although a number of race entries have Australian campaigns in their past racing histories) is full of story-lines and potential talking points. There’s a surprising amount of horses that could conceivably win the biggest pacing race in the country on Tuesday and that’s a change from the initial thoughts of many only a matter of weeks ago. The Sires Stakes final is always a barn burner. The betting markets helped by American Dealer and his defeat of Krug recently at Ashburton. The trotting feature of the day the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All is a puzzle in itself given a number of leading chances may or may not opt for a Dominion Handicap (to be run on Friday) only stance during the week. Could the Aussie raider Tough Monarch do the back-to-back dance this year? For the out-and-out harness racing fan it doesn’t get much better For a lot of industry participants in New Zealand this is their day of days, for a lot of trainers it can be a career defining accomplishment to turn up on Cup Day and either have a runner or, all going well, a winning turn. I do hope they enjoy it. I also hope that they appreciate their part in providing an escape from all that’s been going on in 2020. A small but important contribution to everything being all good once again… And then, just like that, it’ll all be over for another year… and onto 2021…and another crisis that’s yet to show itself no doubt…   Ben McMillan 

There are 3 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. X = X factor There are many X factor horses that haven’t won the New Zealand Cup. Young Quinn was third twice in 1973 and 1974, Delightful Lady was second in 1980’s epic duel with Hands Down, and Master Musician was second twice to Bee Bee Cee and Chokin. Then there’s the hard luck story that is Tiger Tara. The winner of 37 races including seven Group Ones raced in five New Zealand Cups, finishing second twice behind Thefixer (2018) and Lazarus (2016) and also third in 2017 (Lazarus). Initially the horse was trained by Geoff Dunn before heading to Kevin Pizzuto. He earned just shy of $2.5m   HRNZ

BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003 AND IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing BETWEEN RACING INTEGRITY UNIT (RIU) Informant AND MR DENIS O’CONNELL Horseman Respondent Information: A13219 Judicial Committee: Prof G Hall, Chairman Appearing: Mr S Renault, Stipendiary Steward, for the Informant The Respondent in person, with the assistance of Mr G Anderson, Licensed Trainer Date of hearing/oral decision: 25 October 2020 Date of written decision: 2 November 2020 WRITTEN DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE [1] An Information was filed by Stipendiary Steward, Mr Renault, against Driver, Mr D O’Connell, alleging a breach of r 868(2) in that Mr O’Connell as the driver of PETE’S DASH in Race 10, IRT. #1 AIRFREIGHT COMPANY FOR STANDARDBREDS MOBILE PACE at the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club meeting held at Addington Raceway on 6 September 2020 failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure PETE’S DASH was given full opportunity to win or obtain the best possible placing by failing to attempt to obtain cover and allow his runner respite when the opportunities to do so were presented but instead elected to hold the parked position. [2] PETE’S DASH is trained by Mr O’Connell and finished 6th of 11, beaten 8.9 lengths from the winner MINNELLI SMILE. [3] Rule 868(2) reads: “Every horseman shall take all reasonable and permissible measures at all times during the race to ensure that his horse is given full opportunity to win the race or to obtain the best possible position and/or finishing place.” [4] The Charge was heard as a Non Raceday hearing at the Forbury Park Trotting Club’s meeting at Dunedin on 25 October 2020. [5] Mr O’Connell indicated on the signed Information that he admitted the breach. At the hearing he requested that he be able to change his plea to one of “Not admitted”. After hearing from the parties, Mr O’Connell was permitted to change his plea. Informant’s case [6] With reference to the video, Mr Renault provided the following written summary of the race: 1) This race was run over 2600 metres. PETE’S DASH drew 2 on the front line. PETE’S DASH showed gate speed at the start and immediately challenged for the lead with MUSTANG GT which had drawn 1 and also PAUL’S VERDICT which had drawn 4. Mr O’Connell urged his runner forward with the reins and whip after 100 metres in an attempt to clear MUSTANG GT however once being unable to do so he ceases in that challenge shortly after. By this time PAUL’S VERDICT had been able to muster enough speed to cross both PETE’S DASH and MUSTANG GT and assume the lead. 2) Rounding the first bend PETE’S DASH hangs inwards and Mr O’Connell tries to shift into a position behind the leader PAUL’S VERDICT however is unable to again fully clear MUSTANG GT and is left to race in the parked position. 3) From this point around the 2100 metres PETE’S DASH races outside the leader PAUL’S VERDICT. 4) Near the 1600 metres TIGER MOTH improves three wide from towards the rear of the field and progresses forward in an attempt to gain the parked position. 5) Mr O’Connell looks to his outside passing the 1400 metres and observes TIGER MOTH improving three wide and immediately urges his horse to hold its position. TIGER MOTH’S driver continues to urge his horse on until shortly after the 1200 metres before being taken hold of. 6) During this period where Mr O’Connell urged his runner forward the pace of the race increased noticeably and the front four horses break away from the remainder of the field. 7) Passing the 1100 metres there is ample opportunity for Mr O’Connell to ease his runner to gain some respite which would enable him to shift inwards and take up the vacant trail behind PAUL’S VERDICT as MUSTANG GT had lost ground and was under pressure from its driver to maintain its position. This opportunity was available to Mr O’Connell until near the 900 metres. 8) Mr O’Connell chose not to restrain his runner which allowed the horse following PETE’S DASH in the 1x1 position MINNELLI SMILE to shift inwards and take the trail. 9) As the field turned into the back straight near the 800 metres Mr O’Connell again places his runner under significant pressure to challenge x and the pace of the race increases. 10) PETE’S DASH is under pressure on the final bend and is forced wider on the track by the trailing MINNELLI SMILE. 11) The concern for Stewards is that Mr O’Connell had options presented to him to enable his horse an opportunity to gain some respite.  12) Passing the 1400 metres he could have taken hold of his horse to obtain the 1x1 position by handing up to the improving TIGER MOTH. Mr O’Connell should have been aware that there was no other horse following TIGER MOTH at that stage of the race however he was intent on remaining parked and had to increase the speed of the race to hold that position. 13) Further on as the field raced towards the 1100 metres, Mr O’Connell had a period of 200 metres available to him to shift inwards and obtain the trail. This is a significant amount of time during which he elected not to offer his runner any respite. 14) From the 800 metres when Mr O’Connell should have been looking to take hold of his horse to allow his runner respite, he again placed the horse under significant pressure until near the 600 metres. 15) When questioned by Stewards immediately following the race, Mr O’Connell’s explanation was that he had been told by the horse’s previous trainer that it races best parked, so he had been intent on staying in that position regardless of what happened in the race. 16) Stewards reviewed previous wins of PETE’S DASH. On the first occasion at Invercargill, the horse settled back with cover, before improving around the field near the 1400 metres to race parked for the final lap. For the horse’s second win, the gelding raced over 2600 metres at Oamaru and was parked from the 2200 metres until the 1200 metres. From there the horse was able to gain cover from a horse improving 3 wide and raced in the 1x1 thereafter. 17) Mr O’Connell’s tactics were unreasonable in the circumstances which amounted to bad judgement and as such he failed to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure PETE’S DASH was given full opportunity to win or finish in the best possible finishing position. [7] Mr Renault summarised the Informant’s case orally. He said there was no issue with Mr O’Connell’s early drive. He had tried to get in but could not do so. [8] Mr Renault accepted that not all drivers challenged in the fashion that Mr O’Connell had been would hand up and drop back into the one out one back position. But Mr O’Connell had been sat parked for some 700 to 800 metres and should have done so. Instead, Mr O’Connell kept urging PETE’S DASH forward in order to hold his position and to prevent TIGER MOTH from crossing him. Mr Renault believed Mr O’Connell should have been aware that no other horse was coming around following TIGER MOTH. [9] The Stewards’ biggest concern related to Mr O’Connell’s failure to take the trail when that opportunity was presented to him for a period of time, and by so doing, to give some respite to PETE’S DASH. MUSTANG GT had dropped off the leader and Mr O’Connell could have taken hold of PETE’S DASH and eased into the trailing position behind the leader. He was racing outside the wheel of the leading horse, PAUL’S VERDICT (Mr Morrison), at the time and he could have taken the position that Ms Ottley (MINNELLI SMILE), who went on to win the race, had taken. It had been there for Mr O’Connell for some time, approximately 200 metres. Mr Renault said Mr O’Connell had simply been intent on sitting parked and Mr O’Connell should have at least looked to trail. [10] Mr Renault also stated that from the 800 to the 600 metres the Respondent was urging PETE’S DASH. Before the final bend the horse was under significant pressure and was tiring. Respondent’s case [11] Mr O’Connell commenced his defence by questioning why he would take his horse away from the parked position when it was racing “nice and relaxed”. He said if he had dropped into the trail, he would have lost momentum. He could not understand why he should have done this. If he had got behind PAUL’S VERDICT, it “might not have carried on with the job”. He had been behind this horse before and it did not take him to the passing lane. He said it had not taken the trailing horse into the lane on this occasion either. (Mr Renault disputed this, commenting that this was because Ms Ottley had elected to come out.) [12] Mr Anderson assisted the Respondent. He said that TIGER MOTH had a reputation as a rough going horse and he could understand why Mr O’Connell did not want to sit behind it. TIGER MOTH had dropped out, beaten 27 lengths. TIGER MOTH had done nothing in its next start. It was not the best horse to follow. He said Mr O’Connell was driving his own race and had decided to deny TIGER MOTH the one out position as he was not sure it was the right horse to hand up to. [13] Mr Anderson said it had been easier for Ms Ottley to take the trail than it would have been for the Respondent. Mr O’Connell would have had to pull right back when Ms Ottley was racing close behind him, and check his horse. That would have been difficult, and he disputed that there had been an opportunity to do so for over 200 metres. [14] Mr O’Connell stated that he believed if he had handed up to TIGER MOTH, he would have been questioned by the Stewards as to why he had done so. [15] Mr O’Connell said there had been rain shortly before the start of the race. He had grit on his glasses. He had tried to remove them but had been unable do so as PETE’S DASH had ducked in at that time. He said he was concentrating on driving the horse. He thought it was wise to stay out of trouble, so he had sat parked. [16] In response to a question from the Committee, Mr O’Connell said he was aware the trailing horse had dropped off and there was space to his inside, but he had decided he was better to sit parked. He reiterated his horse was relaxed and travelling well at that time. He did not want to lose momentum by easing PETE’S DASH. He also did not want to follow PAUL’S VERDICT as he believed that horse would weaken under pressure as it had done so previously. [17] Mr Renault responded that PAUL’S VERDICT was a noted leader and was 2/3 in the betting on the day. [18] Mr O’Connell stated he had had difficulty in releasing the ear plugs when he was trying to put pressure on PAUL’S VERDICT. He had only recently purchased PETE’S DASH and it was the first time he had driven the horse on raceday. It had only battled since that start. He had thought that the horse was better than he actually was and had also thought that the horse raced better when parked. He thought it had sat parked and just got collared in the last 50 metres when so doing. Mr Renault disputed this, stating the horse had had cover in that particular race and had often raced on the fence. [19] Mr O’Connell agreed with Mr Renault that his intention was to race parked or to trail. [20] He concluded his case by reiterating he was not prepared to take hold of his horse. He did not want to lose momentum. Decision as to breach [21] The Stewards are concerned that Mr O’Connell continued to race parked when having the opportunity to take cover and with his not taking the trail when the opportunity presented itself. On both occasions his horse would have obtained some respite. [22] Mr O’Connell raced parked from the first bend to into the home straight with a lap to run at which time Mr Curtin driving TIGER MOTH challenged him for the parked one out position. Mr O’Connell had the opportunity to allow Mr Curtin to progress past and to take the one out one back position. Instead of so doing and obtaining some respite for PETE’S DASH, he used the reins and urged the horse forward to prevent Mr Curtin from crossing over. Mr O’Connell said PETE’S DASH was racing nice and relaxed. At this point, however, it is evident that the horse has to be urged to withstand the move from TIGER MOTH. [23] Mr O’Connell has acknowledged that he knew the trailing horse had dropped off and that he was intent on keeping PETE’S DASH parked. His explanation is simply that he wanted to keep momentum and again that the horse was racing in a relaxed fashion. [24] It is evident there was a distance, conservatively some 150 plus metres, when Mr O’Connell had the opportunity to ease his horse, take hold, and drop into the trail. It is accepted that it was ultimately easier for Ms Ottley to take the trail, as Mr Anderson has stated, but the Respondent had previously had the opportunity to so do himself but had spurned this. The horse had raced parked for some time and, by so doing, he would have again given PETE’S DASH some respite. [25] The Committee has noted Mr O’Connell’s concern that PAUL’S VERDICT might stop. This is always a concern for a trailing horse but there was no evidence on this occasion that PAUL’S VERDICT might do this. In this regard, just after the 800 metres Mr O’Connell has taken time to activate the gear (pull the ear plugs) as he has had some difficulty, before urging PETE’S DASH to keep up with PAUL’S VERDICT. Almost immediately after Ms Ottley had taken the trailing position that had been available to him, Mr O’Connell has had to start working on PETE’S DASH and, not surprisingly, the horse has tired and dropped back. [26] Mr O’Connell, as he has acknowledged, had over assessed the ability of PETE’S DASH. It was his first drive behind the horse, and it was not as good a horse as he thought. [27] Mr O’Connell’s concern that TIGER MOTH is roughly gaited and the fact he believed PAUL’S VERDICT might tire before the passing lane and thus cart him back appear to be post facto justifications, as does the difficulty with his glasses, for his failure to take the two opportunities that were available to him to give PETE’S DASH some respite. [28] Mr O’Connell has acknowledged he was aware he could have looked to drop down and trail, but he chose not to. The Committee is satisfied that Mr O’Connell’s intention once he failed to get the trail after the start was to sit parked, come what may; ie he had had a fixed mindset to sit parked as believed the horse raced better in this fashion. As a consequence, the Committee finds that Mr O’Connell did not take all reasonable and permissible measures that were available to him to ensure PETE’S DASH was given full opportunity to win or obtain the best possible placing. [29] The breach of r 868(2) is thus proved. Penalty submissions [30] Mr Renault produced the Respondent’s record. It showed no breaches of this Rule. [31] Mr Renault described the breach as towards mid-range. There were two occasions on which Mr O’Connell could have made decisions that would have kept his drive within the Rules. [32] Mr Renault referred to the starting point in the Penalty Guide of 20 drives or a $1,000 fine and submitted a six month suspension and a $400 to $500 fine was the appropriate penalty. [33] Mr O’Connell responded that he did not want a fine. He would prefer to take a suspension, even one of the length submitted by Mr Renault. [34] When the Committee informed Mr O’Connell that a suspension that equated to a little less than the 20 drive starting point was likely to be imposed, he was adamant that he did not wish a fine to be part of the penalty. He stated his horses would continue to compete primarily at Invercargill and Addington and that Ms Young-Grant would be likely to drive them. Decision as to penalty [35] The breach is towards the lower end of the range. The track conditions on the day were not ideal and Mr O’Connell was driving PETE’S DASH for the first time. He, as previously described, had over assessed the ability of the horse. He had a fixed mindset to sit parked, as he believed the horse raced better in this fashion and did not take the reasonable and permissible measures that were available to him. [36] When regard is had to the seriousness of the breach and the Respondent’s degree of culpability, and factoring in the very good record, the appropriate penalty is a 16 drive suspension. [37] Mr O’Connell drives very infrequently. After reviewing the number of drives he had last season and has had since February this year, it is evident he has about 16 drives in a six-month period. [38] Mr O’Connell requested that the penalty to be deferred until after the upcoming Methven meeting and the Informant had no objection to this. [39] Mr O’Connell is thus suspended from the end of racing on 30 October up to and including 30 April. The penalty is calculated in accordance with the Penalty Guide and there is no need for a fine to also be imposed in addition to the suspension. Costs [40] The matter was heard before the first race on raceday. There is no award of costs in favour of the RIU or the JCA. Dated at Dunedin this 2nd day of November 2020. Geoff Hall, Chairman

Spankem has again shown he’ll be a contender next Tuesday. The runner-up in the New Zealand Cup last year has won tonight’s Cup trial at Addington for driver Natalie Rasmussen, on a 54.9 last half. It was an All Stars 1-2 with Self Assured sitting parked for much of the trial with 2018 New Zealand Cup champion Thefixer sticking on well for third. Northern hope Copy That was not hurried in the proceedings early for Blair Orange, who’s gunning for back to back New Zealand Cups after his win with Cruz Bromac last year. While Copy That wasn’t pressured in the run home trainer Ray Green was satisfied with the run and pleased he stepped well, especially as he’s drawn one in the big race on Tuesday. But not happy with his charge’s start was Self Assured’s driver Mark Purdon. He bobbled at the start losing some ground and that has Purdon with some concerns ahead of Tuesday.   HRNZ

By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    The highly-favoured Copy That has drawn one for next Tuesday’s  IRT New Zealand Cup.   While the Ray Green-trained pacer will start off the inside of the front row for the 3200 metre standing start feature, the All Stars pairing of Self Assured and Spankem have drawn 11 and 15 respectively.   Stablemate Ashlez Locaz, who's been recently racing in Australia,  has drawn outside Self Assured at 12.  Dual Kaikoura Cup winner Classie Brigade, who was third last year, has drawn 18, though will start from 15 after scratchings.  It’s a blow for the horse’s connections because he is a noted quick beginner from a stand.   2018 New Zealand Cup Champion Thefixer has drawn 3.  Copy That warmed up for the Cup with a win over Self Assured and Spankem in the Ashburton Flying Stakes.    As a result of overwhelming entries for the lower-grade rating races on Cup day, the Met club will run a 13th race at 6:45pm The full Cup day fields can be viewed here

There are 9 days to the New Zealand Cup From now to November 10 we will feature some of the great races, horses and personalities with a new letter for each day. R = Robin The 1984 New Zealand Cup belonged to R.D. (Robin) Butt and Camelot after a squirmish with 700 metres to go put an end to the chances of seven rivals. Camelot, the favourite, edged out pacemaker Dillon Dale and Hands Down to give the then 41 year old Butt his biggest moment in racing. Altogether he drove 387 winners (1961-2009). Robin Butt is the father of David, and grand-father of Bob and part of the wider Butt-Jones-Prendergast-Dalgety family. Robin’s nephew Anthony Butt won three New Zealand Cups with Flashing Red (2006 -2007) and Blossom Lady (1992).   HRNZ

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