Day At The Track
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The first Jewels held at Addington has overcome the worst weather in the meeting’s history to boast near record turnover. And the numbers have left bedraggled harness racing administrators beaming. Saturday’s nine group-one meeting looked in danger of being postponed just hours before the first race as Canterbury was lashed by extreme weather and a giant puddle formed inside the track threatening to encroach on the racing surface at the 1000m mark. But with the drains working overtime and the recently re-surfaced track overseen by John Denton, the meeting not only went ahead but provided fair racing. And while the weather impacted the walk-up crowd, the betting figures have been surprisingly positive considering the conditions and the large number of odds-on favourites, which can often be off-putting for punters from the two other codes. The combined on and off-course domestic turnover was $2,547,222, of which $974,816 was fixed odds. That is already the third highest amount ever invested domestically on a Harness Jewels meeting and with the Australian turnover expected to come in around $750,000 the meeting should have Australasia-wide turnover close to $3.5million, without counting money bet with corporate bookmakers. That will mean the meeting has the second highest Australasian turnover in the Jewels’s 13-year history with the only higher one coming when the Queensland Oaks meeting at Eagle Farm and several other Australian fixtures were abandoned in 2016, creating record figures for the Cambridge-run Jewels that season. “We couldn’t be happier,” says HRNZ’s Darrin Williams. “Sure the weather was brutal but the betting figures make up for that. “I really feel for Addington because they put their heart and soul into the day and did a super job and the weather was against them. “But they already had a good crowd and the only under-utilised area they had was the marquee on top of the stables which would have been great but for the weather, which nobody could control. “So the results are very pleasing, especially the way the track responded. That is a real credit to John Denton and his staff.” Had Saturday’s meeting being held at Ashburton, who did a great job with their first six running of the Jewels, the weather would have had a far more dire impact. Next year’s Jewels return to Cambridge in the annual inter-island rotation with the Waikato track to host a two-day meeting, racing the Friday night before the Jewels on the Saturday.   Michael Guerin

Belle Of Montana and Tickle Me Pink’s rivals may have finally caught a break.  Because two of the great stories of the harness racing season may have ended simply because the two fillies are so good.  The northern pair won their finals at the Harness Jewels on a rain-soaked Addington on Saturday to cap their amazing seasons.  Belle Of Montana started the term as a maiden and may have finished it a four-time group one winner in two countries, her passing lane sprint to nail Princess Tiffany also guaranteeing her the Filly of the Year title. It came courtesy of a Zac Butcher drive equal parts brave and brilliant and with the highly-valuable filly being owned in Australia it must be very tempting to head there for races like the Queensland Oaks and Breeders Crown.  But champion trainer Barry Purdon is leaning toward sending Belle Of Montana to the spelling paddock instead.  “I think she could be a really good open class mare in the future so I’d be just as happy to give her a break,” said Purdon. “Her owner, Dean Shannon, is great to train for and never puts any pressure on so we will decide in the next few days.  “But if she has a good break now she has plenty of options in the good mares races next season.”Tickle Me Pink’s comeback story is one of the best of the racing season after she got deadly sick during a Victorian campaign last winter, only to come back nine months later and win four major races in six weeks.  She would be a red hot favourite for the fillies division of the Breeders Crown in August and a huge chance in the Victoria Derby but trainer-driver Tony Herlihy is keen to think longer term.  “She has achieved a lot in a very short time since she has come back, far more than we could have dreamed,” said Herlihy.  “But I think she can get even better. She is still quite leggy and a bit frail physically so she has some strengthening to do.  “So I’d be keen to miss Australia and give her a good break because in time she could be a really good open class mare.”  Herlihy was one of the stars of Jewels day, having caused a huge upset winning the two-year-old trot with Bolt For Brilliance, the pair giving him his first group one training double in a day.  Add in the third of Dina Brown behind Belle Of Montana and Herlihy rivalled the All Stars for trainer of the day honours, with the fact they trained five group one winners almost feeling normal these days.  While Belle Of Montana’s slushy slingshot job was hard to beat the equine performance of the day had to be Sundees Son, who smashed some open class rivals in the four-year-old trot.  He is about as unimposing as a top horse can be but inside his modest frame lies a huge motor and he now looks certain to win trotter of the year. Even more remarkably for a horse who used to gallop punters to the poor house, he has to be favourite for the Dominion and Inter Dominion.  One Change, Turn It Up, Sweet On Me, Elle Mac and Jesse Duke were all simply too good after racing on the speed, which ended up being crucial on a day where no winner came from further back than fourth with a lap to go.  But that wasn’t the track’s fault. As after torrential rain right up to the first race, the track raced incredibly well, justifying track manager John Denton’s decision to resurface it just a week earlier. Michael Guerin

 This is the story the bookies don't want to read. Because the odds setters know there will be an avalanche of money for the All Stars runners at the Harness Jewels tomorrow and the bad news is champion trainer Mark Purdon couldn't be happier with his team. The All Stars have eight of the nine favourites for tomorrow's $1,275,000 mega meeting at Addington and as always they will be at the centre of the multi bets which are so popular on Jewels day. With the Jewels the Grand Finals of the harness racing season the pecking order is well and truly established, hence the six pacing races tomorrow all having odds-on favourites.  So punters look for more juicy returns via the multis. By comparison, the trotting races have just one odds-on chance in Enhance Your Calm and the 2 and 4-year-old trots look more open. But after a few setbacks late last week, when Oscar Bonavena just missed a Jewels start and then several of the All Stars horses reacted badly to a worming paste, Purdon couldn't be happier going into tomorrow. "The worming paste was just a reaction thing and not a big deal and the horses are all well over that," said Purdon. "The ones who raced last Friday (Turn It Up, Ashley Locaz, Elle Mac and Funatthebeach) weren't treated with it while we took a lot of the other Jewels runners into Addington on Wednesday for their final fast work. "I couldn't fault any of them. It is getting late in the season and some horses get tired but I couldn't be happier with where the team is at." Purdon thinks Elle Mac (mares) and Turn It Up (boys) will win their 4-year-old pacing races but he is not as confident with Winterfell and King's Landing in the trot.  "Winterfell is back to his best but the way Sundees Son won the two big races in Auckland if he behaves himself he might be too good for us, especially from the draws." The 2-year-old pacing races also look to the All Stars to dominate with One Change and Sweet On Me deserved favourites. "The way the draws have worked out I think One Change will lead and that will make it really hard on [stablemate] Flying Even Bettor while Sweet On Me's work on Wednesday was very good. She feels very strong and if anything tries to park her out I think she will crush them." But while the stable has $2.40 favourite Tailored Elegance in the juvenile trot Purdon warns she faces a big task. "She is very professional and a lovely filly but there are some nice horses in there and a horse like Ultimate Stride might even be more talented than her just at the moment," says Purdon. The 3-year-old races are the most interesting tactical battles for the All Stars, with none of their three favourites guaranteed the lead. Princess Tiffany looks to be in a two-horse race with arch rival Belle Of Montana and Purdon is positively beaming about his filly. "She is spot on, in a really good place but we know Belle Of Montana is a very good filly too." Enhance Your Calm has occasionally shown signs of growing pains and mental fragility this autumn but has been in the zone this week, boosting confidence he can overcome a second line draw, which may not be a disadvantage as the front line looks super fast. The best version of him would win. And Purdon saves some of his highest post-workout praise for Jesse Duke, who is the only group one winner in the 3-year-old male pace. "He worked very well on Wednesday so he is in the right place. I wouldn't be surprised if Heisenberg held the lead but if he does then I'd be keen to stay parked," he says. "That could make it a tricky race but I am confident he [Jesse Duke] is in the right form to try that."   Michael Guerin

Zac Butcher isn’t giving away his driving tactics in what shapes as the cat-and-mouse clash of the Harness Jewels on Saturday.  But his driving history may be the biggest clue.  Butcher pilots exceptional filly Belle Of Montana in the $150,000 three-year-old Diamond and as the winner of three group ones in the last six months she would usually be red hot after drawing the ace. But she is only second elect after being clearly outpointed by another special filly in Princess Tiffany in the New Zealand Oaks two weeks ago.  Belle Of Montana though has a 3-1 winning record over Princess Tiffany and with the ace draw Butcher would be justified in staying in front, even though Belle Of Montana has never led throughout before.  If he chooses that role then he has the inside advantage and Princess Tiffany would have to sit parked or at least cover more ground after starting from barrier five.  Butcher is staying quiet about his early preference.  “Often you can’t tell until you get out there and things can change very quickly,” he offers.  “So I will drive her how she feels. I have a lot of respect for Princess Tiffany but we have beaten her three times.”  Butcher says training legend Barry Purdon never gives him driving instructions so he is not going in with a pre-determined plan.  “Barry just says good luck and see you when you get back,” smiles Butcher. Their career best performances would suggest Belle Of Montana might have more sheer speed than Princess Tiffany but the later looks a more brutal stayer. And when it comes to Butcher and speed freak pacers, history suggests he has the ice in his veins to hand up and launch a late pin-point attack.  That is exactly what he did to win Jewels races with Lancewood Lizzie (Ashburton, 2015) and an even more brilliant drive on Jacks Legend (Ashburton, 2017), both times leading then giving that advantage away before waiting until deep into the straight to divebomb the leader.  And you don’t even have to go that far back to find Butcher handing up on a red hot favourite and waiting till late to assert his superiority, he did it three starts ago with Belle Of Montana.  That was in the Victoria Oaks when he led as a $1.40 chance but shocked lead-at-all-cost Aussie punters by gifting that lead to second favourite Kualoa with just 1200m to run.  Even with the short Melton straight Belle Of Montana outsprinted the leader so the smart money would be on Belle Of Montana taking a trail on Princess Tiffany on Saturday should the latter’s driver Natalie Rasmussen get serious inside the first 800m. So who would win a drag race down the Addington straight? The answer: probably the one closest to their absolute peak on the day in a race that appears to lack much other pressure and could see a wicked last 400m.  As well as having handy place chances on Saturday in the well drawn On The Cards (race seven) and Kratos (race five), Butcher will also have his first Jewels runner as a trainer.  He has only just branched out into training, albeit very much part time, and looks to have found a talented first flagbearer in two-year-old Zeuss Bromac.  He was a huge second in a maiden race on debut and snuck into the Jewels but has copped a second row draw.  “I think he is a good horse in the making but obviously this is a huge challenge from that draw,” he adds.  “Still, we think enough of him to be thinking about the Breeders Crown after this.”   Michael Guerin

Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy is willing to swap one of the greatest milestones in New Zealand racing history for a Harness Jewels win this weekend. But he admits he might struggle to get either. Herlihy took his record total of domestic driving wins to 3497 when Gambit won at Alexandra Park on Friday night, meaning he is a good night at the office away from becoming the first driver or jockey in this country to 3500 wins. While 3500 is hardly a number that roles off the tongue, every winner Herlihy drives is a new record as Maurice McKendry, who sits next to Herlihy in the Alexandra Park drivers room almost every week, is the only other horseperson to partner over 3000 winners here. Ricky May is the next reinsman honing in on the number, with 2913 domestic wins in his career and with Dexter Dunn driving so successfully in North America, it could be a long time before anybody in either code threatens Herlihy's numbers. David Walsh holds the record for a jockey with 2451 victories. But Herlihy could end the weekend still stuck on 3497 as he won't drive at Alexandra Park this Friday night because he will be in Christchurch preparing stable reps Tickle Me Pink and Bolt For Brilliance for the Jewels on Saturday. Bolt For Brilliance is already in Canterbury and won well enough at the Addington trials on Saturday to suggest he is not the worst chance in the juvenile trot but Tickle Me Pink is the second favourite for the 3-year-old trot and has been one of the comeback stories of the season. Her week has not gone to plan though, as she was one of 11 horses whose flight from Auckland to Christchurch has been delayed by fog in Canterbury, but with the weather there changing, all the horses are expected to make it to Jewels day. Herlihy warns if the worst happened and the flight can't make it, Tickle Me Pink wouldn't be risked travelling down by road. "It is too late for that, so we are sticking with the plane to get her down, but it sounds like they will get them here," Herlihy said last night. While Tickle Me Pink has won three Alexandra Park races in impressive fashion since returning from a nine-month break, Herlihy doubts she can beat the best version of Enhance Your Calm should he turn up on Saturday. "He is a bit of beast and unless he galloped and lost quite a bit of ground, he might be too good for all of us," says Herlihy. "But our filly has a touch of class and is racing really well. I am very proud of what she has achieved in basically a month of racing after coming back from such a long break." As for the hitherto unreached 3500 wins, Herlihy didn't even know he was that close until informed on Friday night and knows milestones are impossible to plan. "The last time I knew one was coming up was the 3000-win one and the family came to the races a couple of weeks in a row to be there for it and I didn't drive any winners," he laughs. "So it will happen when it happens, but it will still be a nice number to get to." Now 60, Herlihy is still driving as well as ever but not as often. He rarely drives in New Zealand outside of Alexandra Park, Addington and the better Cambridge meetings, often handing the latter opportunities to stable No2 Tony Cameron. And considering it has taken him over eight years to get from 3000 to the brink of 3500, he isn't even entertaining making it to 4000 domestic career wins, which could mean driving until he was 70. "I don't think I'll be doing that, although I am a very young 60," he says with his customary giggle.   Michael Guerin

Welcome to one of the strangest days of the harness racing season.   Most race days have a familiar pattern to them for those close to the horses. They work first, then go to the race and work more, hoping the Racing gods smile on them. Raceday is when, hopefully, when all the work pays off.  Tonight at Alexandra Park and Addington that will still be the case, the desire for winning omnipresent. But unlike any other race day of the year what happens on the track tonight might not impact some quite as much as what is revealed on their computers and phone screens just after noon.  Because that is when the draws come out for Jewels days at Addington tomorrow week.  They are the draws that matter more than for any other meeting. These are, after all, group one sprint races with not only big stakes but enormous breeding repercussions.  So just after noon today some dreams will feel a step closer to becoming reality, other will feel like they have ended.  Then trainers, drivers, owners, punters and bookies can start an eight-day game guessing game before the first ever Addington jewels.  Barry Purdon is one trainer who knows his best Jewels chance Belle Of Montana could be odds-on or $4 next Saturday depending what number the computer spits out today.  He wasn’t at all disappointed with her third to Princess Tiffany in the NZ Oaks last week but if one draws handy and the other the second line this Jewels might be as good as decided.  “They are both very good fillies but if one of them gets a long way in front of the other the one, it is going to be tough to peg back,” muses Purdon. Purdon also has two four-year-old boys heading to the Jewels and they clash in the last at Alexandra Park tonight.  While Benson Boys is enormously improved and not finished winning yet, stablemate On The Cards looks one of the bets of the night. “I don’t give the guys driving instructions but On The Cards seems to like rolling along so I can see him going forward and maybe leading,” says Purdon.  Fifth to Spankem in both the Taylor Mile and Messenger, if he leads tonight he should go to the Jewels a last-start winner.  At Addington some even more high-profile four-year-olds take centre stage as the main race becomes a $13,000 Jewels trial.  The two favourites for the four-year-old emerald in Turn It Up and Ashley Locaz have drawn wide in the 1980m event and the latter will be fitter. So tactics will be crucial but with next week’s race worth almost 12 times as much, don’t expect too many drivers trying to be heroes.  That race also features Elle Mac, one of the hottest favourites of Jewels day for the four-year-old Diamond   Michael Guerin

 Sundees Son will be asked to add a new weapon to his growing arsenal this week and it is one that could ultimately win him the Harness Jewels. The last-start Rowe Cup winner has been the surprise package of the trotting season, his late-season group one double giving him a shot at the Trotter of the Year title. He could almost put that battle to bed if he wins the 4-year-old Ruby at Addington on Saturday week and a crucial step will be the official Jewels trials on the same track this Saturday. While Sundees Son was stunning coming from well back to win both the Anzac and Rowe Cups he can't afford to be giving the likes of Winterfell, Majestic Man and King's Landing a big start over the 1980m mobile. So Sundees Son is, draw permitting, going to be asked to use his gate speed at Saturday's trials.  "We would like him to be able to run the gate this week to give us the option to do that if he draws well at the Jewels," says trainer Robert Dunn. "If he can develop that, and he hasn't had many good draws in mobile races to try in the past, then it is another string to his bow which could be really helpful." Harness Racing New Zealand has had plenty of Jewels withdrawals this week, mainly from horses who weren't likely to make the final 12 or younger horses who have hit the wall. Hardly any major players near the head of the markets have come out. But while some horses are showing signs of wear and tear this deep into the season, Dunn says his four-year-olds Sundees Son and Henry Hubert (pacer) are in great shape. "They both had scintigraphy at Matamata after the Rowe Cup carnival and we are really happy with the results."  Dunn and son John have 11 qualified for the Jewels and expect all to be there. "The one we had a setback with last week was Spellbound, who had a really high white blood cell count after she raced at Addington," he explains. "Her heart rate was 120 bpm 20 minutes after the race and even higher 10 minutes later. "So the blood tests showed what we thought they might but she has been treated and we will look after her to get her blood right and get her back on track for the Jewels." While the Jewels trials will impact the markets of far greater importance will be the draws, set to released at noon on Friday. And in a surprise move the two hottest Jewels favourites, Turn It Up (4-year-old male pace) and Elle Mac (4-year-old mares pace) will clash in a free-for-all at Addington on Friday night. Both were expected to trial this week but will instead race against a former Jewels winner in Ashley Locaz just hours after the draws are released. Meanwhile, the chances of their stablemate Oscar Bonavena making the field for the three-year-old trot are diminishing as he still sits 14th with the trainers of those above him indicating they will start, meaning he is unlikely to even make the ballot.   Michael Guerin

Early season perception clashes with late-season reality in the two group ones at Addington tonight.  The trick for punters is to work out which one matters more.  At different stages of the season it would have seemed farcical there could be a better two-year-old male pacer than Smooth Deal or a superior three-year-old filly to Princess Tiffany in the country.  But the score cards between that pair and their new division leaders in One Change and Belle Of Montana suggest the latter two might be the best of their crops.  But that pendulum could swing back the other way just as easily at tonight’s huge premier meeting.  One Change is unbeaten in three starts but has drawn (barrier four) outside Smooth Deal (two) in their $170,000 final over 1980m mobile.  When Smooth Deal was thrashing his opponents over the summer tonight’s draw would have suggested he would lead and win and plenty of punters would have been piling into a $1.20 divvy to boost their multis.  But cracks in his armour started to appear when he broke for no reason in two races and even worse he led easily and was grabbed on the line by One Change in the Sales Series Pace two weeks ago so will instead start around $2 tonight.  He was found to be affected by a virus soon after that last-start defeat but champion trainer Mark Purdon admits Smooth Deal is no longer than stable’s clear-cut juvenile star.  “We really don’t know which one is the better of them now,” says Purdon.  “So either of them could win this week and while we expect Smooth Deal to be better than last start, One Change might be too because he worked very, very well here on Tuesday.”  While there is plenty of talent in the juvenile crop it is hard to imagine one of the pair not winning whereas the $150,000 New Zealand Oaks might have a little more scope for an upset.  Belle Of Montana was mega impressive coming from well back to beat an almost identical field in the Nevele R Final last Friday and has the draw (five) to go forward and gain a huge tactical advantage over Princess Tiffany, who starts on the second line.  As stunning as Princess Tiffany has been at times, Belle Of Montana’s record this season is clearly better (3-0 head to head) so she has to be the favourite tonight.  “From that barrier I think she can come out a bit early and go forward but I will leave that up to Zac (Butcher),” says master trainer Barry Purdon.  That suggests Belle Of Montana could be seen in a different role tonight as all her major wins have come after sit-sprint tactics, even taking a trail 1200m out when a red hot favourite in the Victoria Oaks two starts ago.  She looks stronger mentally and physically than she was at the start of her debut season so should be ready to change tact and and easy lead would make the Oaks hers to lose. Still, Princess Tiffany has too much x-factor to dismiss while the likes of Northern Oaks winner Best Western and even Belle Of Montana’s stablemate Havtime have shown enough to suggest that are at least place value with their advantageous draws. Meanwhile, at Alexandra Park tonight comeback filly Tickle Me Pink should continue on her winning way even off the second line in the Northern Trotting Oaks.   Michael Guerin

Belle Of Montana has been gifted the perfect opportunity to make the Filly of the Year a one-horse race.  Because if she win the $150,000 NZ Oaks at Addington on Friday night the title is certain to be hers and the barrier draws have put her in the box seat to do just that.  The flying Clevedon filly made it three group ones for her debut season when coming from the second line to win the Nevele R Final at Addington last Friday but it was a third victory of a different kind that might be just as important in the FOTY voting.  For the third time in as many meetings Belle Of Montana beat arch rival Princess Tiffany, who was only third and appeared to race at least a couple of lengths below her best.  Princess Tiffany had started favourite and her trainer Mark Purdon suspects the NSW Oaks winner may have suffering from tying up problems last Friday, although a blood test indicated she was not overly affected by a virus which has troubled much of his team.  Excuses aside, Belle Of Montana now has a 3-0 lead in the head-to-head battle with Princess Tiffany so the latter would need to win both the Oaks this Friday and the Jewels on June 1 to have much chance of turning voters back her way in what is one of the more valuable titles handed out at the annual harness racing awards.  The problem for Princess Tiffany is she has drawn the second line again whereas Belle Of Montana is drawn to start from barrier five and one of the likely early leaders is her own stablemate Havtime.  That and the respect Belle Of Montana has earned with her string of group one wins suggest she will have a healthy lead over Princess Tiffany in the first lap of Friday’s 2600m classic. And there is the possibility, backed up by the stats, that Belle Of Montana may simply be the better filly.  The market for the Oaks will open today but the pair share Jewels favouritism at $2 each, which may not change greatly until after the draws on Friday week.  That market split is almost mirrored by the two-year-old male pacers, where One Change is $2 and Smooth Deal $2.20 for the Jewels and they also go head to head this Friday night.  They have both drawn well on the front line so neither should have an excuse in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes and after winning the Sales Series if One Change can down his stablemate again he also take a big lead in their category for the HOTY.  The Sires’s Stakes Trot for the juveniles, the three-year-old Sales Series Trot and an open class trot add some squaregaiting strength to the second-last premier meeting of the season.   Michael Guerin

All Cashed Up has been confirmed as the most recent Australian horse to be invited to compete in the IRT Harness Jewels at Addington Raceway on Saturday 1 June.   Following the announcement last week that Majestic Player will represent Anton Golino and Yabby Dam Farms in the 4yo Ruby, stablemate All Cashed Up will line up in the 3yo Ruby in the Green Harness Jewels colours also.   All Cashed Up is a son of Ready Kash and has won four of 13 career starts.   He was a brave third in Saturday night’s NSW Trotting Derby despite being attacked for the first half of the race when in front. He went down fighting and was not far off the winner despite working overtime early on in the race.   “He’s a tough bugger,” said Golino. “He’s a typical son of Ready Kash he has a little bit of a crazy streak to him but I think that’s what makes him good.”   Golino reported the horse has pulled up well and has come through Saturday night’s race in good order. (Full information can be found in the interview attached)   All Cashed Up is owned by Pat Driscoll of Yabby Dams Racing, which is an exclusive trotting focused farm, following European training styles and focusing on the best trotting bloodlines worldwide.   This is reflected in the breeding of All Cashed Up, being by Ready Kash out of a Kadabra mare.       Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Pacing great Lazarus is going to stand at stud in New South Wales in one of the most radical deals in the history of harness racing. But while he will be based in Australia for his Southern Hemisphere breeding career, New Zealand breeders will still have the cheapest access in the world to the recently-retired pacing hero. Lazarus was the dominant pacer in Australasia until sold to United States thoroughbred breeding giant Taylor Made Stallions last year and he went on to become the second best free-for-all pacer in North America during a short campaign there. He is serving a full book (140 mares) in the United States at US$10,000 and after negotiations with several leading Down Under stud farms he will stand at Yerribee Stud in Wagga, New South Wales. But that isn't the radical part of the Lazarus deal as his Southern Hemisphere breeding rights haven't been purchased by a stud or individual but by Club Menangle, who run the Menangle harness racing track. The deal sees Club Menangle buy Lazarus's Australasian breeding rights for life which would see them keep profits until their initial investment is paid back and then any service fees after that will be split with Taylor Made. The move will stun harness racing insiders, who often shy away from thinking outside the square, but looks smart business on two fronts. Not only should Lazarus be popular at stud and looks certain to end up making Club Menangle money but his presence in NSW will give them a glamour stallion prospect at a time when state bosses there are trying to reinvigorate the local breeding industry. That will also boost the depth of all NSW racing series and Club Menangle are certain to give the champion Lazarus huge exposure. He will stand there at an initial fee of A$10,000 plus GST but be available to New Zealand breeders at the slightly cheaper fee of $10,000 plus GST. Just as importantly, Lazarus will be paid up for the New Zealand Sires' Stakes stallion eligibility scheme so his New Zealand foals will have the same local opportunities as foals sired by stallions based in New Zealand. Club Menangle chief executive Bruce Christison says he was thrilled to get the deal signed. "The Club sees this as both an investment for ourselves but also in the breeding industry in NSW," said Christison. "And we believe the breeding incentives already put in place by HRNSW combined with the Lazarus name will ensure this is an outstanding success." Lazarus is expected to arrive in Australia in August.   Michael Guerin

Following last week’s announcement of the first two Australian invites for the IRT Harness Jewels (Lulu Le Mans and Major Occasion), Harness Racing New Zealand and Addington Raceway are thrilled to now confirm our three latest Australian competitors.   Pete’s Big Jim (3yo Emerald), Falcon Stride (4yo Emerald) and Majestic Player (4yo Ruby) will represent their homeland in this year’s edition of the Jewels.   Shane and Lauren Tritton will bring back Pete’s Big Jim, who was a gallant second beaten just a neck by Another Master- piece last year, and talented four-year-old gelding Falcon Stride across the Tasman for a Jewels endeavor.   Peter Kohlsdorf is the owner of Pete’s Big Jim, and was ecstatic to be able to return to New Zealand with his pride and joy.   “It’s hardly sunk in to be honest,” said Kohlsdorf. “I’ve been thinking about it since last year when we were just beaten a neck by Another Masterpiece. So we set a programme to come back with the horse to the Jewels again, if it was at all possible.”   Pete’s Big Jim has not had the best of luck this year, struggling with setbacks and lameness but Kohlsdorf and Tritton report the horse is on the way back up.   Falcon Stride is a horse that Shane Tritton has a high opinion of and has won 6 of his 14 career starts. He has previously won over a mile in 1.51.7.   “He’s a horse that I’ve said several times, if he was in a Miracle Mile and they went 1.48, I’ve got no doubt he’d be good enough to be there, ” said Tritton.   “I’m really excited about him. I know it’s a strong division don’t get me wrong, and he’s a horse that a lot of people won’t know a lot about. But he’ll turn some heads at the top of the straight if he can be close enough.”   Anton Golino will also return to the Harness Jewels when he presents four-year-old trotter Majestic Player in the Ruby.   Golino campaigned with Dance Craze at Cambridge in 2018. She was third despite being desperately unlucky in the running and has since gone on to win the Great Southern Star and Saturday night’s La Coocaracha.   The Yabby Dams Farm owned Majestic Player extended his career record to 13 wins from 25 starts when winning at Menangle untouched on Saturday night. This season alone he has won 7 of his ten attempts.   Pat Discoll of Yabby Dams Farm is elated to returning to New Zealand with Jewels contender for Australia. But he did explain to HRNZ that the horse has not been without his challenges.   “We are very honoured and privileged to get the invite and providing the horse has pulled up ok after Saturday night we will definitely be there,” said Driscoll.   “He’s a bit of a stable star.”   “The horse has actually come from nowhere,” explained Driscoll. “As a young horse and a two-year-old he was short in stature and gangly and everyone loved him because even though he tried, he couldn’t trot.”   “Each year he’s just got better and better and from the horse’s point of view it’s a wonderful story. A horse that had a wonderful will to win but just couldn’t trot, and each year has just improved. He just seems to be getting better every start.”   Yabby Dams Racing is an exclusive trotting focused farm, following European training styles and focusing on the best trotting bloodlines worldwide. In an interview (link below) Driscoll describes his passion for the square gait breed and how that has led to the establishment of Yabby Dam Racing.   New Zealand Racing Board Harness Bookmaker Richard Wilson has released the opening prices on the New Zealand TAB for the latest Australian invites for the IRT Harness Jewels; Pete’s Big Jim $26; Falcon Stride $12 and Majestic Player $8. All IRT Harness Jewels future markets are now open on www.tab.co.nz   To hear an interview with Shane Tritton, Peter Kohlsdorf and Pat Driscoll please follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/wat ch?v=vC2kelvv66M&feature=youtu.be   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc          

TAB News March/April NZ Bonus Quaddies Every Friday, Saturday & Sunday in March & April there will be a Bonus Quaddie on a NZ meeting. Thoroughbreds: $25k Bonus Late Quaddie every Saturday Harness: $5k Bonus Early Quaddie every Sunday - Rangiora Harness: $5k BONUS Early Quaddie on Races 2, 3, 4 & 5 Greyhounds: $5k Bonus Late Quaddie every Friday evening Pick6 this Week Thu 11 Apr $25k Guaranteed at Palmerston North Night Harness - Jackpot of $2,802.99. Fri 12 April $25k Guaranteed at Alexandra Park Night Harness   Addington Raceway – Friday Day Meeting 12 April Hello Everyone, IRT HARNESS JEWELS  - Remember to book your perfect spot! We are delighted to host the IRT Harness Jewels at Addington. Please see below details of all the festivities.   Welcome Pre Function Dinner – Thursday 30 May 6.00pm Silks & Satin Lounge, Level 2 Metropolitan Stand Hosted by Greg O’Connor and Michael Guerin, this special evening will celebrate the history of this wonderful event.  Included in the festivities will be the IRT Harness Jewels commentators Tony Lee, Mark McNamara and Aaron White who through their commentaries, will highlight this special race series.  As part of this night HRNZ will present the IRT Harness Jewels colours to the leading set of connections in each category. Evening includes; Three course plated dinner Cash bar facilities available $70 per person $650 for a table of 10 To book or for more information please contact Joanne McMaster on 339 7908 or joanne.mcmaster@addington.co.nz   IRT in association with TAB Harness Jewels Golf Day – Friday 31 May This is a Four Ball Best Ball Stableford event to be held at the Templeton Golf Club.  The day will start with a pre-game BBQ from 10.30am with teams teeing off from 11.30am.  There will be a prize giving post game. Individual $50 per player Sponsorship $250+GST per hold including a team of 4 To book or for more information please contact Greg O’Connor at greg.o’connor@tab.co.nz   IRT Harness Jewels – Hospitality Packages – Saturday 1 June Ruby Lounge Located on level 3 of the Metropolitan Stand, enjoy panoramic views over the track in a lounge setting with casual seating.   Ideal for groups of friends wanting the best views, in a more relaxed atmosphere where you can mix and mingle with other racing enthusiasts. (No allocated seating) Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to the Ruby Lounge · Complimentary drink on arrival · Stand-up grazing stations with an array of antipasto and seafood platters, fresh salads, carvery meats, fresh breads, hot vegetables, and a dessert selection · A cash bar offering a selection of premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages (beverage tabs can be arranged on the day) · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $195 per person   Silks & Satin Lounge Soak up the atmosphere and excitement in one of our largest lounges on course. Located on level 2 of the Metropolitan Stand with uninterrupted views of the winning post, this is undoubtedly one of the most sought-after positions for those wanting the complete hospitality experience. Allocated seating is at shared tables of 10 people. Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to the Silks & Satin Lounge · Three course buffet lunch, including cold meats, seafood and salads, hot dishes, carvery, and mouth-watering desserts · All beverages included – premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Live entertainment · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $295 per person   Spectators Punters Lounge This is the perfect place for racing enthusiasts wanting a relaxed and casual place to mix and mingle. Enjoy the comfort of lounge facilities with access to the front of the Lindauer Lawn to watch all the trackside action. Spectators also offers a large screen, bar leaners and casual seating. (No allocated seating) Package Includes: · Course admission, racebooks and access to Spectators Punters Lounge · Continuous spit roast grazing stations including fresh vegetables, seasonal salads, pork, Canterbury lamb and sweet treats · A cash bar offering a selection of premium wines, NZ premium and standard beers, house spirits and non-alcoholic beverages (beverage tabs can be arranged on the day) · Barista coffee and tea available throughout the day · Private TAB facilities and Trackside TV’s · Racing Master of Ceremonies $125 per person        For hospitality bookings or for more information please contact Joanne McMaster on 339 7908 or joanne.mcmaster@addington.co.nz All details and booking forms are also on our website – addington.co.nz. We are looking forward to hosting an outstanding day of our sport on Saturday 1 June.  Have a great week. From the Addington Team   Alexandra Park – Friday 12 April Friday 12 April 2019 – Mile Night Friday 12 April will see all races at Alexandra Park on the night run over the distance of a Mile. In the past this style of racing at Alexandra Park has resulted in some exciting racing and unexpected winners and now with the minimum stake of $15k on offer for all races there is bound to be some fireworks.   Friday 26 April 2019 – American Night Howdy Partner! Saddle up for Alexandra Park’s American Night on Friday 26th April from 5.30pm. Enjoy some harness racing action, all-you-can-eat southern style cuisine and a chance to wet your whistle. Cowboy hats and boots encouraged! Can you stay at the top of the mechanical bull leaderboard and take out the top prize? It’s gunna be a hoot. Ya'll get your group together and join in the fun. What are you waiting for? Secure your table today! Go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz The night is supported by the Caduceus Club along with their loyal group of sponsors who support the running of the Woodlands Stud Caduceus Club Fillies Classic for 2 YO fillies as well as 6 other races on the card including the John Devlin Memorial Trot. Also run on the night we have the Taylor Mile for 4 YO pacers, the final of Haras des Trotteurs Sires Stakes for 3YO Trotters and the HR Fisken & Sons ANZAC Cup for the highest rated trotters. With this being the first night of the Premier racing in the Autumn at Alexandra Park all these horses will be able to compete for Group 1 glory again the following week if they happen to met with bad luck in the run.   Friday 3 May 2019 – 2019 Reharvest Rowe Cup Friday May 3rd Harness Racing at its best - 3 Group 1 races as well as the Magness Benrow Sires Stakes 2 YO Fillies Championship will be run during the evening at Alexandra Park. The other feature races through the night will be the Dawson Harford NZ Messenger Championship for 4 YO pacers, Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby for 3YO Trotters and the 2019 Reharvest Rowe Cup for the best trotters in the country racing for a stake of $150,000.00. Top of the Park will open on this night for all your dining requirements and should you like more information or would like to make a booking go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz   Winton – Saturday 13 April BIG DAY OF RACING AT WINTON Feature races include the final of the Southern Belle Speed Series run over 1609 metres for a stake of $20,000. The series, supported by Regent Car Court, Fast Track Insurance, VetSouth Equine and the Southern Standardbred Breeders Association, is an important one for the southern harness racing industry. Other features include the Aldebaran Park Super Gold Chip Final Trot over 2400m for $20,000 and the Winton Businesses Cup also over 2400 metres for a stake of $14,999. On course patrons can also be in to win with two lucky losing ticket draws courtesy of Gypsy Kitchen Nightcaps after Race 6 on the day.  Racing is scheduled to start at 11.40am and admission to the course is free!   Rangiora Harness Racing Club – 14 April Rangiora Harness Racing Club will be holding its Rangiora Classic Race Day on Sunday 14th. The feature event will be the Airpark Canterbury Rangiora Classic, a Group Three Free For All carrying a stake of $30,000. This race has attracted some of the country’s best pacers in past years and the Club is hoping for a top field again this year. A second feature race on the programme is the Kotare Downs Rangiora Three Year Old Stakes for a stake of $13,000. This race provides an opportunity for, to date lesser performed horses to win a significant feature race before the end of their three year old season. This race has gone from strength to strength in recent years and the Club is looking forward to another exciting event this year. The winners of both races will receive silver trophies and dress rugs. The fillies and mares race for 3yo & older race horses on the card for this meeting will see the winner receive a free service to Terror to Love kindly donated by Harcourt Lodge.   HRNZ Marketing

It is a harness racing truth that you don’t second guess people in harness racing with the names of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. If you were a doubter you would not have been after Friday night at Addington. They produced an incredible training feat to win the 3200m Easter Cup with Turn It Up. Probably Mark can take the credit for concluding after his recent Rangiora trial that he could win a race of that calibre first up in two months. Even in the new age of open class racing where stars rise and fall much faster than they used to it was an extraordinary feat to win his second 3200m G1 at just his 11th start. Mark never lacked confidence in the move after Rangiora. “He hasn’t raced for a while but he is a very athletic type and while he wasn’t racing he was doing conditioning work up north before coming down to us so I don’t think it is beyond him” Admittedly, after Mark used him early to take the lead and then trailed, Turn It Up was stretched to hold out A G White Sox but in a 3.58 and change in a charge through the slush it was still a great effort. But, to be fair the New Zealand Cup winner, Thefixer, lost no caste in defeat. He renewed memories of the (good?) old days of handicap racing. Starting from behind the front line means at some stage you have to go around the field. Turn It Up got rid of that early to reach the lead but Spankem and Thefixer weren’t going to manage that . Thefixer moved around and sat parked then Spankem took over that role so Thefixer would have run about the same time as the winner, Not to forget Elle Mac went a great race too under the radar perhaps. The Turn It Up is a fairy story in most respects likely to be a pointer to the 2019 New Zealand Cup. Mark selected him in Australia largely for his treasued friend Neil Pilcher and the ghost of that special man, with the trademark sly grin, surely hovered over Addington on Friday. It was typical of Mark and Natalie they had handed a share in the horse to Neil’s brother Lee Neil also shared ownership in ONE CHANGE who won the Welcome Stakes, now owned by All Stars Stables with Trevor Casey and Mike Woodlock who had missed the youngsters surprise first up win two weeks ago because of a prior engagement in Nelson. Trevor and All Stars have raced a number of horses together and Mike, a retired St Andrews College teacher who has always been a harness fan and helps out at All Stars. “I think he has gone up in the ratings” Trevor Casey said of One Change. “Tonight reminds me of Neil and I's first win in this race with Zakariah. Nobody really expected him to win and he paid a good price ($25)” Neil Pilcher then won three Welcome Stakes in succession, two of them with Trevor Casey, and the other with Ann and Jim Gibbs who raced Turn It Up with Pilch before his untimely death. Happy owners and supporters acclaim One Change after All Stars 13th win in the Welcome Stakes and 7th on end Happy owners and supporters acclaim One Change after All Stars 13th win in the Welcome Stakes and 7th on end.(All Stars photo) About the only criticism the connections of One Change could make was the narrowness of his winning margins which tend not to help blood pressure levels. But even that begs to compare with the “Major Mark” Syndicate, who won the Welcome Stakes away back in 2010 and since then a raft of top performers including Derby winners, Fly Like An Eagle and Border Control, Derby runner -up Ulltimate Machete and Heaven Rocks plus a number of feature winners.   Courtesy of All Stars Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/  

The most important factor Spankem has on his side going into tonight’s $100,000 Easter Cup is the one thing you can’t see.  The 3200m race looms as a thriller with the winners of the New Zealand and Auckland Cups in Thefixer and Turn It Up as well as last-start Miracle Mile winner Spankem with a super-strong support cast on Addington’s most dazzling night of the season.  Many of the indicators punters might use for making their decision are there in plain sight — the standing start and 3200m records, video performances from races and trials, the handicaps and draws while we can all rate the big three and their rivals on how we personally feel about them.  But the one thing you can’t see but you can ask is who is the horse in the zone right now?. Because when the competition is this tough and even, the horse who is closest to their peak is often the one who can run through the pain barrier to win.  That horse might be Spankem.  While co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen says all five of their starters in the Cup are ready to go, she believes Spankem is the one in that zone.  “Obviously any one of our top three could win without surprising us and it might simply come down to luck in the running,” says Rasmussen. “But Spankem seems perfect, really where he needs to be. He was spot on when he won the Miracle Mile and he hasn’t lost any of that.  “He couldn’t be better so if I had to opt for one it would probably be him.”  That doesn’t guarantee any success as Spankem still faces a 20m handicap and the chance of bad luck that brings and new driver Tim Williams will need to join the battle at the right time. For example if he follows Thefixer around the field and has to sit parked giving the latter the one-one maybe he probably can’t win. Reverse that scenario and Spankem becomes the one to beat out of the pair.  The horse punters might struggle to work out the exact fitness of is Turn It Up, who might be the best pacer in the country.  The Auckland Cup winner hasn’t raced for three months but wouldn’t be here unless his champion trainers thought he could win.  But very, very few horses in the modern history of New Zealand harness racing have won group one 3200m without a lead-up race. Turn It Up might be that good but his odds aren’t really tempting enough to find out.  While the Easter Cup could come down to any combination of those variables tonight’s two Derbys both look far more straight forward. If both Ultimate Sniper ($200,000 Pacing Derby) and Enhance You Calm ($100,000 Trotting Derby) behave themselves and race up to their potential they should both him.  The NZ Trot Champs is a battle of the established in Speeding Spur and Marcoola against the four-year-olds but Marcoola is still top trotting dog until somebody wrestles that title off him.   Michael Guerin

A masterly piece of big race judgement from Mark Purdon ensured Cheerful gave Braeden and Caroline Whitelock their second win of the night in the NZ Trotting Oaks. The Whitelocks, best known for their pacing breeding skills bought Cheerful as a yearling. She is from Superbowlcheerleader that Mark trained later in her career and won features from the stable. But everything went wrong for Cheerful in the running and only the skills of Mark got her home by a tight margin in a huge finish. Cheerful worked across from a wide draw but taking the front from a hard pulling rival took some of her resources and there was no immediate letup. Then Swiss Miss swept past her and went some lengths clear with 500m to go which suggested the little filly might struggle to fill a place. “I watched it go because I had already done quite a lot with my filly during the race and it wasn’t practical to fight off another one” Mark said, Instead he cuddled her resources and worked back into contention as Swiss Miss faded and then outfinished a game Overzealous who had enjoyed a saloon passage courtesy of Jim Curtin. It was a top performance but not enough to persuade Mark to take on the males in the Trotting Derby. “No I don’t think she is quite ready for that. We will stick to the filly races in the meantime   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com/

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