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By Garrick Knight It’s been a dream start in horse ownership for the group of lads behind Lets Hustle, one of the more improved horses in Canterbury at present. Training on Woodend Beach with Regan Todd has worked the oracle with the son of Bettor’s Delight, who has won three races and over $18,000 since a new syndicate was formed to lease part of him back in August. “For a lot of them it’s their first horse, so they think it’s pretty easy this game,” Todd told HRNZ. “They’ve had bloody good time with him and he’s been a bit of a surprise package, really.” Their ‘equine ATM’ has a chance of an even bigger pay day when he contests the last race at Addington tonight – he’s a chance of taking home a $10,000 bonus. Addington’s new Met Mega Series promotion has seen all horses earn points for good performances at the track between August 16 and this week’s final meeting. The winning owners get $10,000 while there are also prizes of $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 for those that run second through fifth. Heading in to tonight, Lets Hustle is third, just seven points off leader Scorcha, who was ineligible for any race tonight and thus won’t be earning any points. A second place would cause a tie and earn the connections of both horses $7,000, while a win would bring home the max payout for the Lets Hustle syndicate. While he strikes a hard field, Lets Hustle has drawn one on the second line over the sprint trip and Todd sees that as playing to the horse’s strengths. “He’s best when following so we just need thing to open up for him and he’ll boom home. “The horse in front of us (Givemewhatineed) has got the ability, it just depends if he behaves himself. He has galloped out before so we’ll need a bit of luck there.” One thing’s for sure, the big group of owners will be there at Addington enjoying the hospitality and having a wager. In that regard, the new series has been an excellent move by Addington officials. “They love it, they absolutely love it. “And because of this series I have raced the horse at Addington more than I ever would. “He’s a horse that you’d probably take to Timaru and Oamaru, but he’s thrived on the racing at Addington. “Now we’re in a position where the top two horses have raced themselves out of it and we have a chance of getting a big bonus.” Lets Hustle was sent to Todd on a hope and a prayer by good friend Mark Jones after winning one of 32 starts, but placing 12 times. “He sort-of showed up here one day and I thought it might be a good one for the lads. “He was meant to be sold to Aussie but the money never arrived so the breeder, Steve O’Brien, bought Mark out and sent him to us on the beach. “Two boys that work for me took shares and then another syndicate of mates joined in as well. “They’ve got the bug because they’ve bred one this year as well; by Buy Kiwi Made.” Todd cites Lets Hustle the best of his four chances on the night, but says he is optimistic that a few of the others can place as well. “That Alexander Guy let us down at Methven but it’s not a very good field this week. “Koromiko Eyre is in the same race. He’s having one start for us before heading south to his new owner, Matt Saunders. “He would get the Met Multipler Bonus ($7,000) if he won. “And little Renezmae is going around in a winnable race but has drawn the outside. “She’s been in the pool for a week with a stone bruise but otherwise I’m really happy with her.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Ultimate Sniper kicked his New Zealand Cup campaign in to gear and went some way towards justifying his short odds for the great race when winning at Addington on Friday night. The 4yr-old unleashed a fast 55.8sec last 800m, on a sticky Addington track that had many horses struggling to break 60sec, to win the meetings open class handicap. The only flaw in his nearly perfect performance came at the start when Ultimate Sniper produced his second consecutive gallop away from behind the tapes. The pacer was quickly back in to a pace and he settled for driver Natalie Rasmussen in midfield, before the reinswoman took him to the front with a lap to go. Ultimate Sniper resisted a short challenge for the lead from Classie Brigade before Rasmussen cranked the speed up from the 800m. Ultimate Sniper dug deep in the straight to hold off Self Assured by half a head in a thrilling finish. The runner-up should lose no admirers in his first defeat after giving away a big race fitness advantage to his rivals. Spankem ran in to third, just half a length away, in a sound effort from his 30m back mark. Another Masterpiece trailed his stablemates in to fill an All Stars first four. All of the seven horses in the race produced solid efforts including Nandolo, who was trucking in the straight without any room to move in until it was too late. Ultimate Sniper held second favouritism for the New Zealand Cup at $5, with his stablemate Thefixer, after the market for the 3200m feature was updated following his win. Spankem now sits at $2.20, after earlier getting in to $2 odds. The All Stars also produced the first four in heat three of the Sires Stakes Series when last season’s leading 2yr-old male pacer, One Change, began his 3yr-old term on a perfect note. Rasmussen has the $1.30 favourite in front throughout and the colt went on for a comfortable win by a length and a half over Flying Even Bettor. Italian lad caught the eye with a big finish from the rear of the field to take third, ahead of Pur Dan. The All Stars’ night of perfection continued when star trotter Oscar Bonavena embarrassed his inferior opposition with a massive nine and a half length victory. The Dominion favourite confirmed his title as Australasia’s most exciting trotter when leading throughout and not giving anything else a chance. The rest of the field were in a race of their own, which was won by Woodstone, who produced his best run of the spring in the 1980m free-for-all. Oscar Bonavena was rated at $1.95 odds for the Dominion following his win. The All Stars stable completed their incredible night out by producing Taxman and Aqua Sancta to quinella a minor event.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Ultimate Sniper, classy and determined as usual, finally broke through for his first win in open company, denying stablemate Self Assured of a winning debut at that level in an exciting finish and stepping up his assault on the big prizes coming up. He didn’t get it easy, missing the start again and settling well back. A big run in the middle stages to wrest the lead from Self Assured was the winning of the race even though it gave his rival the cover in the running. Ultimate Sniper dug in hard in the straight and just prevailed but did it in style. The standing start still needs some work in that field. “The problem I think is that when he races he has a fairly low head carriage but at the start he is getting his head up at the wrong time and making a mistake. We have to work on getting the right compromise for that” Natalie said “But he went very good. He is on target at this stage” Mark was not disappointed with Spankem saying pre-race the 20m start he was giving the winner would make things a little harder for him. “He got a pretty good run and the handicap was the difference in the end but he got home well. I was happy with that run Blair Orange was more than happy with Self Assured. His main concern is that he may not get to drive him again for a while. Ï don’t think I will get on him again but we will see what develops. I was really impressed. He messed up the start a bit but the way he came back to his gear so quickly in his first stand was really encouraging. It was a terrific run really when you consider he was coming out of age group racing and running against horses like those while doing it” Blair liked the run of Pur Dan in the Sires Stakes heat too. “He got a nice trip but he didn’t give any ground and it was a good effort.”" Tim was also very positive about Another Masterpiece. “He’s in for a good season on that run It was his first race for a long while and he went real good. He won’t be long showing what he can do”   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables

The only real Achilles heal of New Zealand’s most powerful stable could prove to be the sore point for punters at Addington tonight. Because if there has been any one weakness for the all-conquering Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen stable in the last decade it has occasionally been standing start manners, more particularly the standing start manners of their age group stars when stepping up to intermediate or open class racing. And that could be just as big a concern for Self Assured when he makes the leap into the big time tonight as trying to actually beat New Zealand Cup favourite Spankem. Self Assured was the winter stunner of the pacing season on both sides of the Tasman, going from a maiden in late May to an unbeaten winner of six including the Queensland Derby two months later. During that winning streak he looked so special he is the second favourite for the Inter Dominions which start at Alexandra Park on November but as good as he might be tonight’s 2600m standing start is one hell of an introduction to racing older horses. Not only does he face Spankem (30m) but Ultimate Sniper (10m), Another Masterpiece (fr) and proven open class performers like A G’s White Socks and Classie Brigade (20m) and Henry Hurbert (10m). So Self Assured is going to need to beat most of the top of the New Zealand Cup market at only his seventh start but at his first standing start, and that is the part that really worries Purdon. “I think he can run with these horses, especially with the handicap start,” he explains. “He is a very fast horse who only missed so much racing last season after a track accident otherwise he would have been right up with the best three-year-olds. “So while Spankem is the best of ours and deserves to be favourite any time they are all off the same mark, he would struggle to give Self Assured the 30m head start.” But he may not have to. Because Purdon admits he is worried about the first five strides for Self Assured and how the composition of the field will play against him if he does miss away. “If he gallops, and he can be a bit nervy when the tapes goes at home, then the other horses rushing up behind you can make it hard to get them pacing again. “So I think he will be okay but he might be slow away and that could mean losing that handicap advantage.” If Self Assured does struggle with his first standing start he will join stable greats but occasional standing start strugglers like Auckland Reactor, Adore Me and even the greatest of them all in Lazarus, who cost himself his first open class race by bobbling away. All of which suggests the $2 put up by the TAB bookies for Self Assured is way too short and that punters should pay more attention to history than hype. While Spankem is the best horse here the 30m handicap will make his job tough but in the small field it could also mean he is only midfield on the outer starting the last lap so he is still the one to beat. Oscar Bonavena should continue on his winning way in the open trot after a mammoth performance last start in a stronger field while the stable strongly favour One Change in the Sires’ Stakes heat after he drew the ace. FRIDAY FANCIES Best bet: One Change (Addington, R4, No.1): Should lead or trail and be too good as stable still rate him their best three-year-old. Mobile aid: Havehorsewilltravel (Cambridge, R6, No.9): Raced in far better field last Friday and looks perfectly placed tonight.  Manners the key: Matua Tana (Addington, R9, No.17): Huge motor and if he behaves even the big field and 25m handicap won’t stop him.   By Michael Guerin

By Jonny Turner The spotlight will shift from New Zealand Cup favourite Spankem to arguably New Zealand’s most exciting pacer when Self Assured returns to racing at Addington on Friday night. The unbeaten sensational will have his first spring start for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen following a stunning Australian winter campaign where he announced himself as the next big name in Australasian harness racing. Stunning bursts of speed and downing hardened open class opposition, while having less than half a dozen starts to his name, should leave punters with no doubts about Self Assured’s class heading in to his resumption against in a 2600m handicap. The only lingering doubts his backers, who have taken the horse’s $2 odds, should fall in to two categories. The first and most crucial factor Self Assured must overcome is giving away a race fitness advantage to a classy line up of rivals. The Bettor’s Delight star has had just one trial to be prepared for his resumption. “Ideally, it would have been nice to have another trial,” Purdon said. “He is probably 85-90% right going in to this race.” “But with the way the handicaps have fallen it is an advantage to him.” Secondly, the 4-year-old must negotiate his first standing start. Given the tractability Self Assured showed to powerfully extract himself from some tight quarters in his Australian campaign, it would appear the horse has the race sense to negotiate his front mark. “He did have a standing start at the trials and Nat got him away safely there, but it will be different on Friday night,” Purdon said. “If he can just take those first few steps away in a pace he will be right.” Self Assured’s return has created a curious scenario where the powerful All Stars stable will step out arguably their most extraordinary horse not only without Purdon or Rasmussen in the sulky, but with them driving rival horses. Purdon will continue to oversee New Zealand Cup favourite’s preparation by driving Spankem (30m). Rasmussen will pair with spring head-scratcher, Ultimate Sniper (10m), who will be looking to bounce back from an ordinary last start performance. Stable reinsman Tim Williams will continue his association with Another Masterpiece (front), leaving Blair Orange to step in to the sulky behind Self Assured. Like his star stablemate, Spankem is also facing a new scenario in Friday night’s 2600m event. The 5yr-old has dominated his New Zealand Cup bound rivals by beginning quickly and settling handy to the pace to win the Hannon Memorial and Canterbury Classic in his last two starts. The Miracle Mile winner is almost certain to settle much further off the speed when starting from the 30m handicap on Friday. “It is only a small field, but he is not going to be far off them when the horses settle in two lines,” Purdon said. “Starting off that handicap won’t do him any harm because he is still on the way up and it will obviously be a harder race than he has had in the last couple of starts." The powerful All Stars quartet of runners in the race take on just three outside opponents. Robert Dunn’s New Zealand Cup hopefuls Classie Brigade (20m) and Henry Hubert (10m) will line up in the event alongside outsider Nandolo (front). The All Stars have an even bigger team contesting Friday night’s Sires Stakes Series heat at Addington. Last season’s leading male 2yr-old pacer One Change heads a five strong attack Purdon and Rasmussen have on the race. One Change looked ready to resume in a strong workout win at Rangiora recently. The 3yr-old upped his game after producing two quiet trial runs to beat race rival and stablemate Italian Lad by three-quarters of a length. “We're very happy with him, he's needed those trials to get himself to fitness and his last workout was very good,” Purdon said. “So, I’m picking him to go well.” Italian Lad will have his second race start on Friday night after turning heads with a brilliant track record breaking debut at Oamaru last month. The 3yr-old was scratched from an earlier heat of the Sires Stakes Series due to a minor complaint, but looked over that when chasing One Change home at the workouts. The All Stars stable also start Flying Even Bettor, Pur Dan and Virgil in the 1980m event. Purdon and Rasmussen start a total of 16 horses at the Addington meeting including their star trotter Oscar Bonavena. The 4yr-old looks set to reaffirm his Dominion favouritism in a 1980m free-for-all. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner More questions were raised than answered when Spankem solidified his New Zealand Cup favouritism by winning the Canterbury Classic. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained pacer used his blistering speed to beat the Robert Dunn pairing of Henry Hubert and Classy Brigade in the group 2 Canterbury Classic. Spankem enjoyed a beautiful run in the trail throughout, thanks to some canny driving early in the race from Purdon, which effectively sealed the 5yr-old’s win a long way from home. Henry Hubert showed he was in for a big spring when running a strong second in his first start this term. The 5yr-old was one of just three runners in the event that gave away a race fitness edge to their rivals. Fourth placed Ashley Locaz, who was sound in fourth, was also one of those. Clouds hang over a number of the big names being aimed at New Zealand Cup glory following Friday night’s race. All Stars pacers Chase Auckland and Ultimate Sniper both botched the start of the race and failed to flatter afterwards. After catching the field, the pair made three wides runs on to the pace with a lap to go, before Chase Auckland faded at the 500m. Ultimate Sniper then battled in to fifth placing in the home straight. A G’s White Socks showed much improved barrier manners to pace off the mark for the first time this campaign in Friday night’s race. That was as good as it got for the Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer, who battled in to sixth after making a three wide bid before the home turn. New Zealand Cup aspirant Nandolo also produced a shocker in the event. The John Howe trained outsider galloped early after a hopple shortener problem, before racing fiercely throughout. It was a case of two out of three ain’t bad for the stars in Friday night’s Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. The winner, Oscar Bonavena, and runner-up, Marcoola, produced brilliant efforts when fighting out a close finish to the group 2 feature. Oscar Bonavena’s star rose again when he staged a huge recovery to win the race after failing to step away from barrier 1. The All Stars trotter settled five lengths off the back of the field, before catching the field and producing a sweeping finish to win. Marcoola was excellent in his first start for the season, going down by just a head. The shock performance of the race came from Sundees Son, who galloped when under pressure in the straight. The Robert Dunn barn enjoyed much better fortunes in the first South Island heat of the Sires Stakes Series. Above N Beyond sprinted quickly off a strong speed to win by two lengths over Skippys Delight. Aqua Sancta held third after sitting parked throughout.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Wins on and off the track mean New Zealand Cup favourite Spankem's perfect spring preparation is set to continue at Addington tonight. The Miracle Mile winner will start a short-priced favourite alongside three of his All Stars stablemates in the group 2 Canterbury Classic. Away from the track, Spankem's path to New Zealand Cup victory got a lot easier this week after his main rival, Tiger Tara, was withdrawn from the race. The horse's fortunes got even better when he secured a perfect barrier 3 draw in tonight's standing start. Spankem's good fortunes continued on the track when he worked well at Purdon and Rasmussen's stable this week, as he has done all spring. Purdon confirmed the 5yr-old has improved his fitness levels since his emphatic Hannon Memorial win. And in terrible news for his opponents, there is still plenty more to come. "He is still doing very, very well and is working well, but I think a couple more runs will help him." Returning 5yr-old Ashley Locaz will be given a tough introduction to open class racing when clashing with Spankem and his fellow stablemates Chase Auckland and Ultimate Sniper. Purdon is expecting the horse to measure up in the open class ranks when at full fitness. "He has got to put his hand up and prove it, but I think the way he feels in his work coming back - he feels nice and strong and he feels like he will take the step into open company. "He has come back good, he has had a couple of trials in moderate company." "Whatever he does on Friday he will improve on." Chase Auckland looks the main danger to Spankem following his excellent Hannon Memorial run. The 5yr-old, who has already made a successful transition to open class in just two starts, powered home for fourth after galloping with a lap to go. Chase Auckland was rated a $7.50 third-favourite behind Spankem ($1.35) and Ultimate Sniper ($6). Ultimate Sniper has been sound, but not spectacular, in two new season runs. The horse has looked in need of racing to return to the electric form he showed last season, which Purdon confirmed. "He was off the scene for the longest time of our runners, and being a stallion he is carrying a bit more condition." "The first two runs have done him the world of good." A G's White Socks was rated the hardest horse for the All Stars pacer to beat when he opened at $15. The 6yr-old galloped away from the standing start for the third consecutive time in last month's Hannon Memorial. Though the Greg and Nina Hope-trained pacer is clearly up to pushing the favourites, he will not be able to do so if he botches the start again tonight. In the Canterbury Classic, New Zealand Cup aspirant Henry Hubert starts for the first time this season. The Robert Dunn-trained 5yr-old has had three prep runs to be readied for his resumption. Henry Hubert ran in a soft trial and workout before looking good when winning a subsequent trial at Rangiora last week. Dunn has a two-pronged attack on the Canterbury Classic, with Classie Brigade also entered. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Clint Ford is preparing to fight youth with youth in tonight's $30,000 Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington. And that means giving up the hot seat behind enigmatic trotter Marcoola. Last season's Dominion winner resumes in tonight's 2600m standing start but finds himself having been replaced as our best trotter by Sundees Son and maybe even Oscar Bonavena. Both have been sensational and near faultless in their two starts this season, with Oscar Bonavena the favourite tonight as he gets a 20m start over Marcoola and Sundees Son. That would suggest if he can lead and get his own way, he should trot the last 800m in a time that would make him incredibly hard to get past. But as good as Sundees Son is and Oscar Bonavena may be, the best version of Marcoola as just as potent, with his Dominion win last season a thing of raw power rarely seen in our best trotting races in the last decade. He was driven that day by part-owner Clint Ford, who unofficially shares the training with his family under father Ken Ford's name. But Clint says it is time to give the reins on Marcoola to his niece Sheree Tomlinson so she will drive the muscular stallion tonight. "Sheree is a good driver, better than me, so the time was right for her to take over," he says. "I haven't driven in a race for about six months and am not out there enough to do the horse justice. So I'm happy for Sheree to jump on." The swap isn't just Ford keeping it in the family as Tomlinson is a genuine talent who steered Amaretto Sun to a massive upset win in the Dominion two years ago but due to a change of employment she is not getting the quality of drives she deserves at the moment. Even with a bright young star in the sulky Marcoola is up against it tonight, giving away a big edge in race fitness to both the favourites. The make up of the field, with only four on the front line, suggests if Oscar Bonavena behaves he will lead easily and it is hard to imagine too many attackers. He did bobble away at Oamaru last start but quickly came down trotting, always a good sign for a young trotter as it shows they would rather trot than not. If Oscar Bonavena does lead then driver John Dunn's tactics on Sundees Son will be crucial. The five-year-old is explosive and our trotting top dog but as good as he is he will need to do something special to sit parked outside Oscar Bonavena and beat him. While the open class trot has plenty of moving parts, the $50,000 Canterbury Classic for the pacers might come down to one simple factor. Because if Spankem steps away well enough to lead, or even on par with the field, he should win. The newly crowned Horse of the Year has looked even stronger this season and paced a 53.3 last 800m to win untouched when he led and beat most of those he meets tonight in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru 12 days ago. In front he is almost unbeatable and it is hard to imagine many of his rivals would try to park him tonight so unless he misses away, and his manners have been solid so far this season, he should win.   Michael Guerin

Addington in association with co-sponsor Airpark Canterbury are excited to announce all individual owners will receive an owners pass to thank and acknowledge them for their ongoing support.   The Airpark Canterbury & Addington Owners Pass will provide all registered owners a complimentary drink (one house beer, house wine or soft drink) redeemable from any public bar open on course at all NZMTC Race Meetings apart from Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day.   This pass will also enable owners to access the IRT Stables.   “It is really important for Addington to thank our customers on an ongoing basis. Our owners are vital to our industry and it is one thing I wanted to introduce this year as a sign of Addington’s appreciation. It’s fantastic that Airpark Canterbury, one of our long term and loyal sponsors have partnered with us to thank our owners” says Chief Executive Officer, Brian Thompson.   Thompson continued to say “It is really easy to obtain an Airpark Canterbury & Addington Owners Pass. Owners just need to start a horse at a NZMTC race meeting from 4th October 2019. The passes will be available to collect at our race day administration desk on the ground floor foyer of the Metropolitan Stand. After collecting their owners pass, a complimentary drink is available to all owners, irrespective of whether their horse is racing or not.”   Graeme Harris, Managing Director of Airpark Canterbury is delighted to be co-sponsoring the owners pass.   “I thought this was a great idea of Addington’s. Being an owner myself, I saw the value straight away and wanted to support Addington with this. I also wanted to thank our owners as they are extremely supportive of me and my team by parking their cars at Airpark Canterbury.”   It is important to note the owners pass can be used at all NZMTC race meetings, including the Show Day Races, however, due to the complex nature of the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day, this pass is unable to be used on this day.   For full terms and conditions about the new Airpark Canterbury & Addington Owners Pass, please visit:   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Jonny Turner  Marcoola will take his first race day step towards defending his title Dominion title with a new face in the sulky behind him. Leading junior driver Sheree Tomlinson will steer the 7yr-old in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington on Friday night. Marcoola’s part-owner and regular driver, Clint Ford, has stepped aside to give his niece the opportunity to drive the trotter, this week. What happens in future races leading up to the Dominion has not been decided and it could hinge on the form of the horse’s stablemate and fellow Dominion winner, Amaretto Sun. “Nothing is set in stone at the moment,” Tomlinson said. “Amaretto Sun is not racing this week, so, we will just have to see how Friday night pans out and see what Clint’s plans are and go from there.” Marcoola has made two public appearances ahead of his resumption. The Ken Ford trained trotter won a sedate workout at Ashburton, before returning to the same track, last week, to run second behind race rival, Didjabringthebeers, in a faster trial.  Both efforts have pleased the Ford camp. “Clint’s been happy enough with both of the workouts and trials,” Tomlinson said.  “They really run that last half quick at Ashburton, last week, and he did throw a shoe halfway up the straight.” “Its different on race day, fitness wise, but he looks good and he’s feeling well, too.” Marcoola faces a tough test, returning against race hardened trotting stars Oscar Bonavena and Sundees Sun. Tomlinson is hopeful her charge can go a good race, despite giving away that fitness edge. “It is a very nice field and there are some horses in there that have had a few races under their belt.” “He is quite a naturally fit horse and he has gone quite a few good races fresh.” “On his A-game he can go a very nice race.” Trotting fans get the clash they have been waiting for when Oscar Bonvena and Sundees Son go head to head for the first time in Friday night’s feature. Oscar Bonvena must step from his barrier 1 draw to take down his main rival. That would usually be a tricky task for a horse that has bounded away from his past two standing starts. But, because there are just two horses on the front line, the rising star should not have few excuses for making mistakes. And his driver Mark Purdon is confident he can step away cleanly. “He is a lot more mature this time around and I would be surprised if he botched it.” “He has probably bounded away in both starts, but he has caught the trot very quickly.” Sundees Sun, who has been brilliant in his two starts for the season, has a standing start challenge of his own in Friday night’s race. The Robert Dunn trained trotter will start away from the unruly for the first time of his career in the event. Sundees Son and Marcoola will both give Oscar Bonavena a head start from the 20m mark.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Stevie Golding scored his first win as a trainer in sensational style when Stunin Magic bolted in by more than six lengths at Addington on Friday night. Golding’s fiancé, Samantha Ottley, let the Stunin Cullen pacer loose at the 500m and the mare ran her rivals off their feet to score an empathic victory in just her third start. Golding admitted Stunin Magic’s impressive performance came as slight surprise to him.  “It was a massive thrill.” “She went good at the trials two weeks ago, so I didn’t think she would be too far away” “But, I wasn’t expecting her to win like that.” “Hopefully she can keep it going.” Stunin Magic has allowed Golding to keep his hand in harness racing while he works full time as a real estate agent. The 4yr-old is the only horse the former premiership winning junior driver has in work. “I only do it for a hobby and she is the only one I have in work.” “It is just a good to have one at the races so I can come along and have a beer and catch up with everyone.” Though Golding has made a flying start to his training career by producing a win and two seconds from just four starts, he does not plan on expanding his team, with real estate being his main focus.   Stunin Magic produced Golding’s two second placings when producing two runner-up performances in her first two starts, late last season. The mare then underwent surgery to remove bone chips, before Golding brought her back up to race fitness. Stunin Magic is raced by her breeder Terry McDonald along with Golding’s brother, Matt, and Soph Herbert. Another milestone was notched at Addington on Friday night when trainers Jason and Amber Lethaby scored their first quinella. Amber produced a well judged front running drive to help Justamollyarcher hold out Globe Trekker and Jonny Cox. The couple’s training effort was just also well judged as the neither horse had been sighted at the races recently. Justamollyarcher was having her first start since running a creditable sixth behind Ruthless Kayla in the Uncut Gems Trotters Classic at Addington in June. Globe Trekker was also having his first start since June, when he clashed with exciting trotter Oscar Bonavena at Ashburton. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner  A sensational line up of 3yr-olds will provide a mouth-watering entre for punters at Addington on Friday night ahead of the beginning of the Sires Stakes Series. Sires Stakes eligible pacers Skippy’s Delight, Tyron's Bit Of Lemon, Somekindawonderful and Above N Beyond will battle with fellow 3yr-olds Willison and Im A Gigolo and older pacers Letterkenny Boy, Lets Hustle and Givemewhatineed in a brilliant rating 52-59 event over 1980m. Skippy’s Delight will warm up for next week’s first South Island Sires Stakes Series heat when he starts from barrier 2 in the line up of emerging stars. Though next week’s race is his main aim, trainer Brendon Hill is hopeful Skippy’s Delight can run a big race. “I'd like to think he'd be top three or go really the race.” “He has got a good draw and he has got gate speed.” “He can be up handy on the speed.” Skippy’s Delight scored back-to-back wins after running in to major traffic problems and going to the line under a hold by driver Ricky May, behind One Change at the Harness Jewels. The Art Major pacer led in both of his wins and is likely to be on the speed again, on Friday. However, Hill is hopeful the horse will get the opportunity to show off more of his skill set soon. “He's won his last two in front and Ricky and I hope he will be better in behind.” “We haven't been to do that and I don't know if we'll get a chance to do that on Friday night.” “But, let's hope is another dimension to them that we haven't used.” Skippy’s Delight has tuned up for his return to racing with two Rangiora trials. The 3yr-old was off the pace in a leader dominated heat in his first attempt. Skippy’s Delight then impressed when sweeping around the field to beat a quality line up including race rival, Above N Beyond, and group 1 performer, Flying Even Bettor. Bookmakers rated Im A Gigolo the hardest horse to beat when making 3yr-old the $2.60 favourite on market opening. The Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon trained pacer won his debut by more than nine lengths before scoring a comfortable length victory against a field of largely race hardened older horses in his second start. Trainer Robert Dunn has a powerful hand in the race with debutante winners Tyron's Bit Of Lemon, Somekindawonderful and former smart 2yr-old, Above N Beyond. Above N Beyond stormed home wide on the track to reel off a smart last 400m when running in to second in Skippy’s Delight’s trial win. Tyron's Bit Of Lemon and Somekindawonderful will both step up sharply in grade after clearly maidens nicely in their first starts to the races. The Mark Jones trained Willison adds more depth to Friday night’s race. The 3yr-old fought on for second behind Kiwis Are Flying in his first start for six weeks at Addington last week. All Stars pacer Letterkenny Boy heads the older brigade taking on the race’s smart 3yr-olds. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained pacer finished ahead of Skippy’s Delight at the trials before going on to win another heat, last week. The 10 race Addington card is stacked with smart 3yr-olds. Arden's Reality , Pur Dan, and Gilligans Island go head to head in race 1. On A Roll, Diamond Party and A Delightful act clash in race 3. Smart All Stars pacer Aqua Sancta will battle older horses in race 10. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Team Bagrie will complete a perfect week if Belmont Major is able to salute at Ascot Park on Saturday. Father and son trainers Peter and Tom Bagrie had their best night at the races when they produced the winners of the first three races at Addington on Thursday. Tom started their winning run when The Governor took out race 1 and Eye Of The Tiger won race 2. Peter kept up the Bagries’ good form when producing The General to win race 3.  “It was our best night at the races by far, it all came together and the stars aligned,” Tom said. Tom helped reward his former school mate, Hoani Matenga, for his patience when Eye Of The Tiger scored her maiden victory. The Bay Of Plenty Steamers rugby player and former bassist for the band Six60 bought in to the mare when she was a yearling. And he has had to wait until she was 5yrs-old to see her in the winner’s circle. “He came down to the races one night, it must have been four years ago now, and he ended up buying a share in her after the sales,” Bagrie said. “It is his first ever horse and he has been patient and he was rapt to get the job done.” Eye Of The Tiger has been limited to just three career starts because of weakness. “She has just been a bit weak in behind,” Bagrie said. “She's always had a lot of speed.” “They always say trotters need a few miles and a bit of time.” “She was a cheapie we got from the sales and because we have got a farm it was pretty easy to leave her in a paddock for a long period of time just to let her mature.” Patience was also rewarded when The Governor won his first race since January of 2017 when he scored in amateur drivers company for Sheldon Murtha. The pacer broke a pedal bone after winning twice and placing three times in five starts as a 3yr-old. The Governor had initially raced consistently after his return, but he had not shown much enthusiasm for racing, recently. So, Bagrie started mixing his work up. “His drivers would comment and say sort of felt alright, but they asked him for something he didn't have much more,” the trainer said. “He just keep plugging on.” “We've just done a few things differently with this training and he seems to be enjoying it.” “He’s been a bit of a heat scratcher, really, because he has a lot of ability.” “We thought a lot of them until he broke down as a three year old.” More patience was rewarded when The General completed the Bagrie hat-trick at Addington. Peter waited until the half brother to Bettor Heart was a 4yr-old to step him at the races and the trainer was instantly rewarded when The General scored in a 2600m maiden event. Progressive 3yr-old Belmont Major could complete a perfect week for Team Bagrie if he can win for Tom at Ascot Park. The pacer should be very hard to beat if he is able to step away in his first standing start attempt in the rating 40-55 event. “The stand is a bit of a question mark, I suppose, but he has been good at the trials and he seems good at home,” Tom said.     “I am expecting him to go pretty good.”

By Jonny Turner Trainers Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon hope to continue the brilliant start they have made to the new season at Addington on Thursday night. Their new training partnership has gotten off to a flying start in its first six weeks by producing 11 winners from just 30 starters. And they hope to keep that up that good form. “As you know you have to keep it going, we don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” Dalgety said. “So, we will try to keep the momentum going.” Four of Dalgety and Purdon’s 11 victories, so far this term, have come from Arden Roanoke. Dalgety said the trainers are reaping the rewards after the former high priced yearling finally grew in to his frame. “When you pay a lot of money for them you want to get to the races as quick as you can.” “But, he simply wasn’t ready and he was quite immature for a few seasons.” Arden Roanoke beat Hayden’s Meddle, Smarter VC and Pay Me Visa when getting up late to nail Kruizr on the line in a similar event at Addington, last week. The five pacers will square off again on Thursday night. Arden Roanoke could be an even harder horse to beat when he returns to the track, this week, Dalgety said. “He has really improved since his last run.” Almost all of the eight runners in 1980m event look to have legitimate winning hopes. Smart 3yr-olds Global Domination and Dadndave return to make their 4yr-olds in the race. Storm Prince drops massively in class after starting in Classie Brigade’s Maurice Holmes Vase. The Dalgety and Purdon stable are looking forward to Bettathanfast resuming from a short winter spell on Thursday night. Dalgety said the 4yr-old should also return to Addington better than before. “We do like him – he has really improved.” “He was big and ugly, he was a bit like a big thoroughbred, he just lacked a bit of middle in him, last campaign.” Bettathanfast showed he was looking good when he held out Koenigsegg, who looks also looks a strong winning chance on Thursday night, to win a trial at Rangiora, last week. “I think he will be a really good under grade free-for-all horse and country cups horse and I reckon he will perform really good [on Thursday] night,” Dalgety said. Maiden 3yr-old Invaluable looks another strong chance for the Dalgety-Purdon stable at Addington. He went down fighting to Tyron's Bit Of Lemon after working hard in his last start at Winton. “I would like to think he wouldn’t be a maiden for too much longer,” Dalgety said. Woman In Gold will also attempt to break her maiden at Addington. The 3yr-old faded in to fourth after doing plenty of work in her last start at Winton. “She did work hard early, she worked for about the first 700m.” “I thought it wasn’t a bad run, because she did fight hard up the straight.” Pocket Watch steps sharply up in grade after clearing maiden ranks at Forbury in his last start. Dalgety is hopeful the 3yr-old’s good manners can help put him in a striking position. “He has got to jump up three classes, rather than one.” “But his forte is he is very quick from a stand and I am excited to draw the front line with him.” “So, he will put himself in a good position for the first part of the race.” Dalgety and Purdon will have one other starter this week with Donegal Mary Francis heading to Invercargill on Saturday. The 5yr-old looks a strong winning chance for new stable employee, junior driver Sarah O’Reilly.  Reprinted with permission of Harness Racing New Zealand

By Jonny Turner Chase Auckland announced himself as a New Zealand Cup contender when sprinting to victory in the New Brighton Cup at Addington on Friday night.   The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained 5yr-old put a frustrating past season behind him when scoring a front running victory in the group 3 feature. After being dogged by a muscle injury and a run of frustrating luck on the track last term, Chase Auckland could not have started his new season in more contrasting fashion. The Auckland Reactor gelding began brilliantly in his first standing start attempt, before taking the lead early for driver Tim Williams. Williams set a sedate tempo, that effectively won Chase Auckland the race with a lap to run. The 5yr-old gave his rivals little chance of making ground when sprinting his last 800m in 54.4sec and final 400m in 26.2sec to win. Spankem ran even faster sectional times when coming three wide on the home bend to run second.  The 5yr-old’s effort was good enough to see him maintain New Zealand Cup favouritism at $4.20 odds. Ultimate Sniper and A G’s Whitesocks trailed the quinella makers home. Hail Christian disappointed when running fifth. Classie Brigade took no part in the race when galloping badly at the start. Chase Auckland The road to the Dominion heated up when Sundees Son and Oscar Bonavena trotted to sizzling wins at Addington on Friday night. Sundees Son scorched away from his rivals when winning the group 3 Ordeal Trotting Cup by almost five lengths. The win was the Robert Dunn trained 5yr-old’s fifth consecutive victory and confirmed his Dominion favouritism. Driver John Dunn settled Sundees Son off a strong speed set up by Habibi Inta. Once Dunn asked his charge for a three wide bid at the 700m, the trotter charged around the field to score comprehensively. Destiny Jones ran home well out of the pack to grab second ahead of Habibi Inta, who held third. Sundees Son Earlier, Oscar Bonavena started his Dominion campaign in brilliant style when rattling off sizzling final sectionals to win. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained 4yr-old ran his last 800m in 56.4sec and final 400m in 27.5sec to win in intermediate company. The Purdon-Rasmussen stable forwent a tilt at the rich Australasian Breeders Crown with the trotter and that looks to have paid off with the way the horse returned from a short winter spell on Friday night. Oscar Bonavena Oscar Bonavena moved in to a $2.70 win price for the Dominion, following last night’s racing. Sundees Sun heads the market at $2.30.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Hail Christian’s arrogance may force a change of tactics that could greatly impact the first serious open class pace of the season at Addington tonight. Some of the big boys of the elite pacing scene return, headlined by Miracle Mile and Horse of the Year in waiting Spankem, who is joined by stablemates Chase Auckland and Ultimate Sniper. They will meet a trio of proper horses who clashed two weeks ago in Classie Brigade, A G’s White Socks and Hail Christian in tonight’s $30,000 Avon City Ford Cup, a 2600m standing start. With their fitness edge the latter trios best chances of beating the Purdon-Rasmussen favourites would seem to be to stay in front of them, with the small field suggesting half the race being run in single file and a quick last 800m. Under those circumstances almost any horse is beatable if trapped back in the field and while Spankem might be the best pacer in the country, especially with stablemate Turn It Up sidelined, he has been at his most potent when able to lead.  So surely Hail Christian, who stepped and led last time before being run down late, would want to stay in front of the returning stars? Well, maybe not. “To be honest I was a little disappointed when he led and was run down two weeks ago,” says trainer Paul Court. “I actually think he waited for the other horses and maybe he just isn’t as good in front. “He is quite an arrogant horse and knows he is good so when he gets a break on them he can pull up and wait. “So while nothing is definite, I think he is better with a trail.” But Court realises if he and fellow trainers keep handing up to the All Stars big names they will hardly ever beat them so he would like to see one of his last-start rivals in Classie Brigade or A G’s White Socks take the fight to them. “Somebody has to do it or they will just beat us all the time but I honestly don’t think it is the best way for my horse to be driven.” If Classie Brigade or A G’s White Socks are able to lead and run a fast last 800m then Spankem is beatable. But with potentially one less rival for the lead, the Miracle Mile winner deserves favouritism tonight. Tactics may be less important in the $30,000 Ordeal Trot because Sundees Son has been magnificent in his last four starts, three last season and his fresh-up win at Addington off a 25 handicap last Friday. He returns to a mobile tonight so is back on level marks and if his manners hold, and they have been fine at both the races and trials for quite some time now, he should win. Further north, Alexandra Park hosts another of its all-mile meetings, which have provided a great boost to usual Friday night turnovers because of the competitive racing and lack of red hot favourites. The feature brings together three last-start winners in The Moonshadow, Blazen River and Solid Gold and punters might lean toward The Moonshadow over stablemate Blazen River because trainer Tony Herlihy will drive him. “But to be honest there isn’t much between them and Tony (Cameron) has driven Blazen River to win before so he might even be our better hope,” explained Herlihy. But Solid Gold is a natural speedster so even drawn outside the other pair may be the one to beat.   Michael Guerin

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