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At first glance Thefixer doesn’t look like a New Zealand Trotting Cup champion.  The horse who comes out on top in our greatest harness racing usually looks the part. Big, sleek, imposing or at least with an imposing record. The Cup is the race of heroes, equine Hercules like Christian Cullen, Terror To Love and Lazarus or at the very least age group stars who have stamped themselves with class from their early days. There is no shortage of those in today’s $800,000 Cup at Addington — Dream About Me, Jack’s Legend, Tiger Tara and even Locharburn are Derby or Jewels winners who were always going to get invited to the big dances later in life. Cruz Bromac, A G’s White Socks, Star Galleria and Eamon Maguire and also serious group race winners with the speed or stamina of future Cup winners. Not Thefixer. He isn’t imposing, pacing with his head slightly down, his neck stretched. His bank balance is the fifth poorest in the Cup. The richest race he has ever won was only $40,000 and even that was a consolation Sales race for horses who had never won a group one. He is, largely, unspectacular. The winner of just nine races. But that might change today at Addington because there is more to Thefixer than first meets the eye. He has been the find of the harness racing season who was hiding in plain sight. While he has never been the big noise, dig deeper into his mere 15-start career and you find some prized scalps. In his third ever start he beat subsequent Auckland Cup winner Vincent. At his latest outing 11 days ago he beat another Auckland Cup winner in Dream About Me. In between he has unassumingly downed most of his key rivals today, many on numerous occasions. The only major rival he has yet to beat is Aussie hard man Tiger Tara. Today he gets the perfect chance to change that. Thefixer has the ace draw and the manners to use it. If he steps well he can work and then relax, handing up to the right rival, maybe even a stablemate. If that happens — and standing starts can be lotteries — then he is the horse to beat. The days of slow New Zealand Cup are gone and today’s 3200m will probably be paced between 3:53 and 3:57. Will that bother Thefixer, who has never raced over the ultimate distance? “He will love it. He is one horse I am certain will handle a hard run 3200m,” says champion co-trainer Mark Purdon. Purdon usually gets a Sunday morning feel for his Cup runners, when one of them puts their hoof up and says “hey boss, I’m flying.” Thefixer is this year’s Sunday morning special. “He has really come on since his last start win and is exactly where he needs to be. You could see that in Sunday’s work. “It is hard to choose between him and Dream About Me as our best chance because they are both really well. But we couldn’t be happier with Thefixer.” If Dream About Me can lead as her draw and manners suggest then Thefixer will need to be a proper horse to run her down but if he can hold his markers advantage he looks ever so slightly the better bet. The danger, and most important horse in the race, is Tiger Tara and whether he launches a mid-race lead attack that softens the leaders up. But even then, Thefixer tucked away on the marker looks a beneficiary. Both Tiger Tara and Dream About Me have the been-there, done-that record of serious horses so deserve respect and consideration. They fit the mould. The New Zealand Cup winner mould. And Cruz Bromac, Jack’s Legend and even the battling Star Galleria have that most beautiful of racing gifts, sheer speed, that suggests they could dazzle today. Thefixer doesn’t fit the Cup winner mould. And he almost certainly won’t dazzle us. He might just go out and win the New Zealand Cup.   Guerin's Cup picks • Thefixer • Dream About Me • Tiger Tara   Cup Day • What: New Zealand Trotting Cup day. • Where: Addington, Christchurch. • When: First race 12.05pm today. • Who: The elite harness horses in $800,000 NZ Cup, $170,000 Sires' Stakes Final and $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All. • Watch: Trackside TV has live coverage from 11am.   Michael Guerin

Robert Dunn feels like he has already won going into harness racing’s biggest day of the year. Because taking 17 horses to New Zealand Cup day at Addington on Tuesday, five of them for the $800,000 holy grail itself, is beyond what Dunn could have realistically hoped for at the start of the season.  “Back when we nominated our ones for the Cup I knew we would get two in, all going well, and would have been thrilled to sneak another one in,” admits the inter-island trainer.  “But to get five into a New Zealand Cup is special. I know there have been a few horses pull out but we can’t control that. “All we can do is train our horses and get them ready and hope they are fit and healthy.  “So to achieve that, and you have seen how many horses who didn’t get there, I feel very satisfied for our owners.  “And I like the fact the owners aren’t scared to get out there and take on the All Stars and those bigger name horses. That is why you race horses, to have them in the best races.” Dunn and his son John have serious winning chances in several of the support races tomorrow with horses like Sundees Son (race three) and Henry Hubert (race four). “They are both flying and Sundees Son’s manners have really improved,” says Dunn.  “So I think he can really test Winterfell in his race while Henry Hubert had no right to win at Kaikoura last start because he didn’t handle the track  “He meets a good field but I’d be keen to see him in front and if they are good enough to beat him so be it.”  That is Dunn’s attitude to his two well-drawn runners in the $170,000 Sires’ Stakes Final, the first major three-year-old race of the season.  Stars Tonight (1) and Heisenberg (2) have the barriers to attempt to lead and trail early and Dunn says John driving will not be intimidated by the Purdon-Rasmussen stars who so often dominate the Sires’ Stakes.  “Heisenberg is a natural front runner so if we lead he will stay there and run them along, we won’t be handing up,” he offers.  But for all their chances in the support races, including Woodstone in the $100,000 NZ Free-For-All Trot, Cup Day is about the Cup and Dunn says Aussie raider Tiger Tara holds the key to the race. “Him drawing the second line has made the race,” offers Dunn.  “If he (Tiger Tara) had drawn to go forward and lead early then I think that would have been the end of the competitive part, the horses around him would have run one, two, three and four and all of his us back in the field would have had no chance.  “But with him drawn the second line I have no doubts he has to launch and try and get the lead. I don’t know if he will or not but it should ensure there is some real speed in the middle section of that race.”  Dunn says that gives his best chance, Alta Orlando, some hope of coming into the race over the last lap and running past those who have expended too much energy making him at least a place chance.  “He is the best chance of our five, while Captain Dolmio has improved in his work and so has Letspendanitetogetha.  “So we have two trucks full of fit horses to take to Cup day and we can’t ask for more than that.”   Michael Guerin

If Barry Purdon is right and logic plays its part Jack’s Legend could be the best each way bet in Tuesday’s New Zealand Trotting Cup. The one-time Jewels winner goes into the great race rated a $16 chance on the TAB, even though he ran second in it last season to Lazarus, beating home Tiger Tara and plenty of other stars. Taking Lazarus out of the equation and Jack’s Legend could be the defending NZ Cup champ and training legend Purdon says he is probably better for Tuesday than he was this time last year. “He is peaking at the right time and I would say he is at least as good as this time last year,” says Purdon. Jack’s Legend suggested as much when he stormed into third in the Cup trial on Wednesday, his last 400m faster than when he won the same event last year.   He was clearly outpointed by Chicago Bull at Alexandra Park last start but then again, so would most of his opponents on Tuesday been had they started in the same race.  After a false start to the season when he missed away in his first race, Jack’s Legend has been two big seconds and now looms as the dark horse in Tuesday’s Cup.  Purdon realises his job is all but done and now it is up to driver Zac Butcher to deliver the next piece of the puzzle.  “He is best when driven with a sit and one run at them, like he was last year,” admits Purdon “And that is not easy to do. You want to be following the right horse and Zac did that beautifully last season.”  Jack’s Legend actually made a flyer from his 10m handicap last start at Alexandra Park but Purdon cautions against he and Butcher rolling the dice and trying to cross the favourites drawn inside them in a surprise move on Tuesday.  “Sure that could happen if he begins really well and that would be great but I don’t think you can go out there with that as your Plan A, to make a quick beginning. “The most important thing is to get away safely and get a spot and the a cart into the race. “I think that is his best chance and then if all that happens then I hope there is a good speed to bring is into it.”
 After opening too short post-draw at $3.80 Tiger Tara has started his expected drift and was out to $4 this afternoon as the stablemates Dream About Me and Thefixer start to jockey for favouritism at $4.40 each with Cruz Bromac the biggest mover into $6.50 on the back of his Cup trial win. Michael Guerin

Tiger Tara's incredible run to the New Zealand Trotting Cup hit some serious turbulence yesterday that has seen the Aussie star almost double in price for next week's great race. Tiger Tara has already placed in two New Zealand Cups and an amazing series of events this year seemed to be conspiring to help him finally get to the promised land. The sale of nemesis Lazarus to the US came after budding champion Vincent was retired because of injury then a succession of pacing's big names were sidelined one by one — Lennytheshark, My Field Marshal, Jilliby Kung Fu and then finally and most brutally last week Chicago Bull. That left a rock hard fit Tiger Tara looking every inch the Cup winner, especially after a huge win in the Victoria Cup last month. Until yesterday. Because the NSW iron horse drew the second line for the 3200m Cup at Addington next Tuesday, a draw made significantly worse by the fact the four Purdon-Rasmussen representatives most favoured behind Tiger Tara in the pre-draw market all drew well on the front line. And it got worse for trainer Kevin Pizzuto. Tiger Tara follows out Cruz Bromac at the start, a horse Pizzuto used to train and one of the worst standing starters on the front line. "I didn't want the second line and I definitely didn't want to be following out Cruz Bromac, that is for sure," said Pizzuto. "That is not good at all and it will now be up to Todd (McCarthy, driver) to get some sort of run with him. "I am happy with the horse, I think he is bigger and stronger than last season but we didn't need that." Bookmakers agreed, with even the Australian TAB doubling Tiger Tara's price from $3.50 to $7, with three Purdon-Rasmussen trained runners now more favoured. Dream About Me (barrier five) and Thefixer (barrier one) look set to battle for favouritism, while Cruz Bromac has tightened after securing barrier two, although it may not help him all that much. Tiger Tara wasn't the only one-time favourite for a group one on Tuesday to cop a second line draw, with unbeaten three-year-old Ultimate Sniper to start from two on the second line in the $170,000 Sires' Stakes Final. But while he only has 1980m to make up that disadvantage he still looks better off than Tiger Tara as he follows out a quick beginner and his last start victory suggested he has lengths on most of his opponents. He still may have to sit parked for the last 1000m to win but will be odds-on to do so. Northern trotters Speeding Spur (barrier three) and Lemond (one) were the big winners in the draw for the $100,000 NZ Trotting Free-For-All, which disappointingly is being bypassed by many of the trotting stars as they don't want to be flattened before the $300,000 Dominion three days later. The field for the $800,000 Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup at 5.12pm next Tuesday is: 1: Thefixer 2: Cruz Bromac 3: Eamon Maguire 4: Star Galleria 5: Dream About Me 6: A G's White Socks 7: Billy Badger 8: Jack's Legend 9: Captain Dolmio 10: Forgotten Highway 11: Locharburn 12: James Dream (em1) 13: Tiger Tara 14: Lestspendanitetogetha 15: Queen Bee Bardon (em3) 16: Zadaka 17: Alta Orlando 18: Baileys Knight (em2)   Michael Guerin

TAB News Thu 08 Nov- $25k Guaranteed at Forbury Park Night Harness Fri 09 Nov - $40k Guaranteed at Cambridge Night Harness Tue 13 Nov - $50k Guaranteed at Addington Day Harness   Forbury Park – Thursday 8 November A six race card starting at 5.55pm.    Rangiora - Friday 9 November An 11 race card starting at 2.47pm.   Cambridge - Friday 9 November  A ten race card starting at 5.41pm.    New Zealand Cup Week Golf Tournament – Sunday 11 November Once again the New Zealand Cup Week Golf tournament will be held on Sunday 11 November at the Waimari Beach Golf Club. In its 12th year, this tournament is a hugely popular Cup Week tradition and one you will not want to miss. Organised by Laurie Goodson, this year the tournament will raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand and also funds to support Jacob Dunn’s journey to Melbourne to represents New Zealand in the Mini  Trot Interdominion Championship this December. The tournament will be best three of four stablefords. Entry is just $60 per player and includes on course food and refreshments and also a top quality prize table. Limited spaces remain and everyone is welcome. To enter please contact Laurie on 021 713 340 or email thegoodsons53@gmail.com   Addington Raceway and Events Centre - Tuesday 13 November  There’s nothing quite like Cup Week at Addington and the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day on Tuesday 13 and the Show Day Races on Friday 16 November are days not to be missed! Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day Tuesday 13 November 2018 A spectacle of racing will entertain the crowds, elegant glasses of bubbles will clink, and fabulous spring race day fashion will be seen – welcome to the 115th running of the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup at Addington. Gates Opening Times Members – 9.30am Public – 10.30am Hospitality – 11.00am, with refreshments commencing at 11.30am. Race Times The first race is at 12.05 pm, with the feature event - the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup will be run at 5.12 pm with the last race at 6.25 pm.  Good luck everyone! Entertainment On the stylish and highly sought-after Lindauer Lawn Rooftop, the headline entertainment is New Zealand’s popular band Sons Of Zion who will be living it up with their explosive sets as members seamlessly switch from vocals, to guitar, to drums and then back again. Sons Of Zion are the opening act to the sold out Six60 concert at Western Springs in February 2019 and have amassed an impressive 22 million streams on Spotify, more than 15 million views on YouTube and 100,000-plus followers on social media.  Be in quick to secure your Lindauer Lawn tickets ($70 per person) as only limited tickets remain. New Zealand based DJ/Production duo Sweet Mix Kids will get the party going in the Public Village. Sweet Mix Kids have played at some of the world’s coolest parties, clubs and festivals – Coachella, Wanderlust, Rhythm & Vines and toured supporting the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran. They have also just played at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. General Admission/Public Village tickets are $32 per person online. On the day at the entrance gates they will be $40 per person. This year gates open at the later time of 10.30am and AWOP (Another Way Of Paying) will be an easy cashless, option for Lindauer Lawn guests to take care of food and beverage purchases and placing their bets. Fashion & Body Art Competitions While the crème de la crème of the harness racing world is putting their best hoof forward on the track, the fashionistas get their chance to shine during the glamorous Westfield Riccarton Style Stakes Fashion and The Hits Body Art competitions.  With over $20,000 worth of prizes up for grabs from Westfield Riccarton, Pascoes, Seiko, Peninsular Beachfront Resort Mooloolaba and Air New Zealand the competition will be fierce.  Courtesy of Air New Zealand, the Westfield Riccarton Best Dressed Lady winner will be winging her way to Hawaii, while a suave Westfield Riccarton Best Dressed Man will win flights to Brisbane. Entry to the competition is free, however, you need to purchase a General Admission ticket. Show Day Races Friday 16 November 2018 Show Day at Addington is truly a great day out for everyone and a fantastic way to celebrate Canterbury’s Anniversary Day. Bring the kids and sit back and relax and enjoy a wonderful day of racing, along with Christchurch based band Sky Machineentertaining guests on the Lindauer Lawn. There will be a new free children’s entertainment zone with numerous activities and there are No Public Holiday Surcharges! This year we will once again opening the gates at 10.30am and supporting the Maia Health Foundation.  We kindly ask for a gold coin donation upon entry with all proceeds going to support their amazing cause. Race Times The first race is at 12.15pm, with the feature events – Group One Races Used to Me @ Haras des Trotteurs Dominion Trot and Woodlands NZ Free For All and will be run at 4.55pm and 6.04pm respectively with the last race at 6.34 pm.  Good luck everyone! Spectators If you are looking for somewhere to base yourself for the day, then Spectators is an ideal spot.  Located on the ground floor of the Metropolitan Stand, Spectators opens directly out onto the Lindauer Lawn. Included in the price ($25 per person, children under 14 are free) is a race guide and access to casual seating in Spectators, food & beverages, TAB facilities and trackside TV’s. Good luck to everyone in the Kiwi Punters Championship Grand Final and the one and only Kidz Kartz Final!  Whichever option you decide on either day, there is something for everyone at Addington. To purchase your tickets, please visit addington.co.nz The Team at Addington look forward to hosting you. Safe travels everyone and we look forward to welcoming you all next week.   Alexandra Park News Christmas At The Races popular as ever Alexandra Park’s eight Christmas At The Races hospitality evenings set down for November and December are selling fast but there’s still time. “Our three November evenings are probably where we’ve got the best availability. However individuals, businesses and organisations need to book now to avoid disappointment,” says Roxanne Visser, Sales & Events Coordinator at Alexandra Park. The 2018 Christmas At The Races evenings will take place on Fridays 16, 23 and 30 November and 7, 14, and 21 December as well as Saturday 8 and 15 December. The incredibly popular nights are promoted as the perfect work Christmas party with a gourmet buffet, stunning décor, and great entertainment including a visit from Santa himself!. Holly packages remain available from $70 per person, as do the delightful Mistletoe packages at $115 with the option of track-view dining outside on the Epsom Balconies. Also, still available are the premium Pohutukawa packages in the Tasman Room from $140 which include a premium drinks package. However, Pohutukawa packages in Alexandra Park’s level five Top of the Park venue, priced from $165, are now limited but with some availability still on 16 November and 21 December. Ms Visser says regardless of the hospitality package, everyone gets to enjoy a sumptuous all-you-can-eat Christmas-style buffet. She says Alexandra Park’s exclusive President’s Suite can also be hired for private parties, with availability remaining on both 16 and 30 November as well as 21 December. Alexandra Park is renowned for delivering delicious dining packages and exciting harness racing under lights. Then after the last race, everyone gets together at The Alex Bar & Eatery to enjoy live entertainment. For further information on Christmas At The Races or to reserve your table please call (09) 631-1165, email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz or visit www.alexandrapark.co.nz. ATC 2019 Syndicate: Over the last two decades, the Auckland Trotting Club has formed 17 syndicates, each comprising either 40 or 50 shares and racing between 2 and 4 horses. To date, all 17 syndicates have proved, or are proving, very successful: At this year’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale or the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale, the Auckland Trotting Club 2019 Syndicate’s yearlings were selected by the top trainers Robert Dunn, Brent Mangos and Logan Hollis / Shane Robertson: Name: Alta Redeemer Trainer: Robert Dunn Name: Christianshavtime Trainer: Logan Hollis / Shane Robertson Name: Bet West Trainer: Brent Mangos When you join an ATC Syndicate, not only do you get to enjoy the thrill of owning and racing harness racehorses, but you can also be very involved in Harness Racing generally, initially at Alexandra Park and the wider Auckland/Waikato area and then quite possibly venturing further afield in New Zealand and Australia, as some previous ATC Syndicates have. There are many advantages involved with being part of one of the Auckland Trotting Club Syndicates. These include; the comparatively low costs, the opportunity to share in the ownership of well bred horses trained by some of the best trainers in New Zealand, making new friendships with like-minded people, having total involvement in the Harness Racing industry and having the opportunity to participate in social events and possibly travel throughout the year. Every month, syndicate members receive a detailed newsletter documenting each horse’s progress, member news, and other information. Regular updates are placed on a phone-in message service, which can be accessed at anytime from anywhere in New Zealand free of charge. We have already had syndicate members from a wide geographical location around New Zealand, from Kaeo and Kaitaia in the North, to Dunedin and Invercargill in the South, as well as from the USA, Canada, England, Japan, Australia (Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia) and even Iceland. Each year of establishing a new Syndicate, the Auckland Trotting Club has implemented their hugely successful formula of buying three richly bred yearlings at the Yearling Sales, with these horses being selected by and trained by some of New Zealand’s leading trainers. For further information please contact or go to www.alexandrapark.co.nz/racing/syndicates: Andrew Jamieson – ATC Syndication Manager Mob: + 64 21 253 8765 Email:  ajamieson175@gmail.com If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via email on dining@alexandrapark.co.nz or give us a call on 09 631 1165   Southern Harness News  A TON OF FEED TO BE WON Thanks to McMillan Equine Feeds, there is a ton of feed to be won during the 2018/2019 Southern Harness Racing season. At every Sunday race meeting during the season the trainer of every race winner will win a free bag of McMillan Equine Feeds. At the conclusion of the Wyndham Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday 18 November all trainers who have won a race on a Sunday up until that time will get one entry into a draw for 20 bags of McMillan Equine Feeds. The competition then starts afresh with the trainer of each Sunday race winner for the remainder of the season getting one entry into a new draw for 20 bags of McMillan Equine Feeds to be held after the Invercargill Harness Racing Club meeting on Sunday 3 March. That is one ton of McMillan Equine Feeds up for grabs! Southern Harness Racing thanks McMillan Equine Feeds for their generous support. QUALIFYING DATES: Sunday 21 October Tuapeka HRC – Forbury Park, Dunedin Sunday 28 October Invercargill HRC – Invercargill Sunday 4 November Riverton TC – Invercargill Sunday 11 November Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 18 November Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 16 December Winton HRC - Winton Sunday 6 January Wyndham HRC - Cromwell Sunday 3 February Wyndham HRC - Wyndham Sunday 17 February Winton HRC - Winton Sunday 3 March Invercargill HRC - Invercargill    HRNZ Marketing

Just this afternoon the Cup has seen the defection of Ultimate Machete, alongside recent withdrawals from Northview Hustler, No Doctor Needed and Alleluia. This has seen Locharburn, Sheriff and Billy Badger make it into the top 15 in the final set of Cup rankings. In the Dominion, Woodstone's impressive win last week has seen him force his way into the field at number 12 on the rankings. The Almighty Johnson's withdrawal see's Le Lievre's Gift sit currently on the coveted 15th spot. Sunny Ruby and Hey Yo will look to make a play for a start in the Dominion via the New Zealand Trotting FFA on Cup Day. The fields for next Tuesday's New Zealand Trotting Cup card will be released on Wednesday afternoon. View the full ranking list here! Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Ultimate Machete has to be Mr Perfect to leave Addington tonight as a deserved favourite for the New Zealand Trotting Cup. The long-time favourite has been unplaced in all three races this season and yet punters have stuck firm with him, especially after Aussie star Chicago Bull was withdrawn with injury this week. Memories of his previous Cup week heroics, winning the Sires’ Stakes at three and crushing Tiger Tara in the free-for-all last season, as well as the fact he is trained by Purdon-Rasmussen have seen Ultimate Machete still lead the market even though he has galloped away in two of his three starts this term. But now the time for excuses are over. With just 11 days until the New Zealand Cup fitness can no longer be a concern and he will never get a better chance to step away safely than off the 30m mark tonight, with plenty of room and horses to follow out and keep his mind on the job. A safe beginning from Ultimate Machete should enable him to work forward and bully most of his rivals tonight and win. Anything less, and Tiger Tara deserves to be Cup favourite. Trainer Mark Purdon is cautiously optimistic the composition of tonight’s race suits his stocky five-year-old. “Usually following them out like that they get their chance to step away and at home he can actually be brilliant away but you have to get him on the right foot,” says Purdon. “So I’d like to see that this week because he goes back to a full front line in the Cup where his manners will need to be perfect.”Purdon and partner Natalie Rasmussen hold the aces in the feature and he says Dream About Me is every bit as good achance as Ultimate Machete while Thefixer is over a recent setback and worked pleasingly on Wednesday morning so along with the likes of Alta Orlando mean Ultimate Machete will have to earn that Cup favouritism tonight. Tonight’s meeting sees some important pre-Cup meeting clashes, with the next heat of the Sires’ Stakes and class three-year-olds Ultimate Sniper (Ultimate Machete’s little brother) versus Major Trojan in a lower grade race.   Michael Guerin

It is time for New Zealand’s strongest stable to get serious again. So expect a sea of blue winning colours at Addington tonight and Ashburton on Monday as champion trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen start their countdown to Cup week. While the stable has already won Cup lead-ups with Thefixer, Dream About Me and Cruz Bromac they haven’t unleashed many of their lower grade and age group stars so far this season. But that changes this weekend. Tonight’s Addington meeting sees the return of high-class three-year-olds Jesse Duke and War Dan Delight in the Sires’ Stakes heat while plenty more serious age group performers return at Ashburton on Monday. Jesse Duke was arguably the most talented juvenile pacer in the country last season but had a few tricks and Purdon warns he could be vulnerable tonight. “We know how good he is but he has only had one trial before this so will improve and does have a wide draw,” says Purdon. “So maybe War Dan Delight is a better chance this week.” With the stable aiming to have five New Zealand Cup contenders in a few weeks they are still sorting out their pecking order and therefore who will eventually drive them all. But Purdon says Dream About Me has emerged as their best winning hope at this stage. “She has been really good winning her last two and is very sound at the moment so I would rate her just ahead of Cruz Bromac and Ultimate Machete. “But I wasn’t disappointed by Ultimate Machete at Methven and I think he will keep improving so Ashburton will tell us a lot.” Michael Guerin

Greg Hope had two open class reasons to smile yesterday. And that could mean the long wait for champion trotter Monbet to return to the track is almost over. Hope not only trains Monbet but New Zealand Cup contender A G’s White Socks and both are coming off setbacks of wildly different lengths. Monbet hasn’t raced for 23 months after an array of leg issues while A G’s White Socks was dragged off the track just minutes before Sunday’s Methven Cup after soft tissue damage believed to have been suffered in a raceday slip. But the news is good for both. Monbet made one of his first public appearances since winning the Dominion at the Cup carnival two years ago when Hope snuck him on to the Rangiora track for a workout yesterday. There was nothing official about it, with Monbet working solo over 2600m but it was as good as a trial and a massive step in the right direction. He trotted 3:24 for 2600m, his last 800m in 60 seconds and final 400m in 28 and most importantly pulled up sound. It was nice work and showed he is ready for a trial next week and then the races at Addington on November 2,” said Hope.  “After that, all going well, we will aim him at the Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day (November 13).”  Hope and his wife Nina pulled Monbet out of the Dominion, New Zealand’s richest trotting race on November 17, because they believe they couldn’t get enough competitive miles into his legs in time for the gutbusting 3200m.  “And we want to do the right thing by the horse. He has won it before and it is a long season so we didn’t want to rush him.”  A G’s White Socks is improving steadily after his weird setback on Sunday and has accepted for Monday’s Flying Stakes at Ashburton and looks 90 per cent likely to start.  “What happened last Sunday was very strange. I actually worked him the morning of the race and he was great then we put him away for a while before taking him to the races.  “During that break I think he must have slipped and hurt himself a little bit. There was no sign of it at the races until he started to warm up and we had to pull him off the track.  “But I am confident we are over that now and can still get the racing into him he needs for the New Zealand Cup.” Monday’s 2400m stand looks the most important New Zealand Cup lead-up of the season so far with many of the big namesheadlined by Dream About Me (barrier 1), Eamon Maguire (2), Ultimate Machete (7) and Star Galleria (8), with A G’s White Socks to start from barrier nine if he makes the race.  In the Flying Mile for the trotters Harriet Of Mot (barrier 2, but likely to start to one) and Great Things Happen (likely barrier 2) have got the best of the draws in what is traditionally New Zealand’s fastest open class trotting mile. Michael Guerin

It’s a been a big week for the Rankings. Some stellar performances have either solidified spots in the respective Group 1 features or pushed those outside the field ever-closer to gaining a start. Tiger Tara’s Victoria Cup win last Saturday saw him go as high as he can on the Rankings, supplanting Chicago Bull as the highest non-auto entry in the Cup at number six. Cruz Bromac’s stunning Methven Cup win pushes him into the top ten and all-but assures him a Cup start. Within the Dominion Rankings, wins to Tornado Valley and Lemond locked down their places in the field. They now sit sixth and seventh respectively. Woodstone’s impressive resuming win at Addington last Thursday has elevated him to the cusp of the final field at number 17, from 25. On Monday the Ashburton Flying Stakes and Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile will have a big impact on the final make-up of both fields. In the Trotters Mile horses ranked 14th to 19th are competing, along with several higher ranked trotters. This could be a recipe for change within the Dominion Rankings. The racing is heating as we build to the greatest week in New Zealand harness racing. View the full rankings list here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

In the Cup rankings Dream About Me, Forgotten Highway and Alta Orlando have booked their Cup berths, by placing one, two and three in last week’s Canterbury Classic. Let’s Elope, Tiger Thompson, Bettermatch, Classie Brigade and Don Domingo have all been withdrawn from the Cup.  In the Dominion rankings Harriet Of Mot has burst in from outside the field to confirm her Dominion start with a win in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup. Alderbeck gave her chances of gaining a start a big boost with a strong third she now moves to 14th. This week we have had 15 horses withdrawn from the Dominion. The most notable of those is Monbet, who has lost a race against time to be fit for the trot, however connections are still hopeful of having the star trotter on hand during Cup Week. Another notable withdrawal is Habibi Inta the  4YO Ruby winner from this year’s Harness Jewels.   View the full rankings list here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

The Used To Me @ Haras des Trotteurs Dominion saw many movements in the past week. The major ones being Destiny Jones who jumps to 9th on the back of her Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup win, which goes very close to assuring a Dominion start. Jen Jaccka’s third elevated here from 30th to 22nd. There have been three withdrawals in the past week in the Dominion; those being Une Belle Allure and My Tribeca who have both been recently retired and also Lavros Jack. Those defections will leave a very healthy 49 trotters hunting for the 15 spots in the field on Show Day. The Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup rankings have had a minor shake up also. Alleluia is now a confirmed nomination and as a result he comes into the rankings at number 15. Northview Hustler’s Spring Cup win earned him a sizeable bump to 18th. Star Galleria and Let’s Elope who filled second and fourth in the Spring Cup both improved a spot.   See the full rankings here!   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc  

Natalie Rasmussen, the leading female driver in stakes won for the last five years is now free to drive at trials and on raceday. In a statement on the All Stars Website, Mark Purdon has said the RIU has reversed the decision on Natalie. "We were just getting on the plane home from Auckland when we got the news the RIU has reversed its decision and Natalie is free to drive at trials and raceday. "We were surprised it took this long but at least is happened and we can get on with it," he said. Rasmussen who has had an amazingly high UDR for the last several years is unbeaten with her drives so far this season, winning with her only two drives,both on Thefixer when he won his first two starts back this season. Rasmussen will drive the All Stars trained Eamon Maguire in the $50,000 Inkwise Canterbury Classic at Addington on Friday night after Thefixer was pulled out of the race with a minor foot problem.   Harnesslink Media and Courtesy of All Stars Website

The long wait for New Zealand's best trotter is almost at an end. But punters should be wary of backing comeback champ Monbet to win the $300,000 Dominion even though he will make his first public appearance in 22 months next week. The one-time Horse of The Year will finally make it back to the trials next Wednesday after having not raced, or even been to the workouts, since winning the Dominion at Addington in 2016. Monbet has struggled with leg problems since and had stem cell surgery which has resulted in a so far, so good prognosis. "He had his latest scan last Saturday and the vets said he was good to go to the next stage," said Ben Hope, whose parents Greg and Nina train Monbet. Monbet may head to the Flying Mile at Ashburton, a race he won fresh up two years ago, on October 22 before the Cup carnival. But while he is the $3.90 for the Dominion on November 16, Hope says Monbet is no certainty to start in New Zealand's richest trot even if he remains sound. "It could be a case where he goes to the Mile at Ashburton and the Free-For-All on Cup day but the Dominion is unsure at this stage," explains Hope. Even more unlikely is the Inter Dominion in Victoria. "That isn't something he is being aimed for at this stage and he is more likely, all going well, to head to Auckland with Enghien to campaign up there." Enghien will miss the Cup carnival as he has only started fast work and is being given plenty of time to find his feet as a five-year-old. The Hope stable, of which junior driver Ben is basically a third partner in the family training business, have been pleased with the two outings this season of New Zealand Cup contender AG's White Socks. He was caught late by Dream About Me after leading in the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru last Sunday and while they believe he is probably a better horse following, they wanted to stay in front last Sunday to earn some respect. The road to the New Zealand Cup gets busier over the next week, with favourite Ultimate Machete having his third trial this campaign at Rangiora yesterday while Harness Jewels winners Eamon Maguire returned for his first. Both pleased trainer Mark Purdon enough although Ultimate Machete did miss getting away properly, not as badly as he did in his first trial two weeks ago, but enough to make punters nervous as he is the favourite for the Cup. Star Galleria headlines the next Cup lead-up race at Alexandra Park tomorrow night.   Michael Guerin

This week’s rankings have again seen mainly minor changes. The Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup ranking changes surround Dream About Me, following her narrow win in the Hannon Memorial on Sunday. She moved to fifth.  A G’s White Socks and Captain Dolmio both improve a spot for their respective placings in the race. The other changes are at the bottom of the rankings. Bettermatch hopped James Dean following a slick lower-grade win last Tuesday at Menangle. Zadaka’s superior performance in the Hannon saw him swap places with Don Domingo. While Bailey’s Knight, who claimed an overdue win at Addington last Thursday has moved a place off the bottom of the rankings. Potentially the biggest shake up in the ‘Cup’ rankings will come if the connections of Queensland pacer Alleluia confirm their late payment by 3.00pm this afternoon. The winner of 33 races is poised to sit on the fringe of a Cup start following several recent local wins and a third in the Group 1 Blacks A Fake FFA in July. Within the Used To Me @ Haras des Trotteurs Dominion realm Kyvalley Blur racked up win 28 at Melton on Saturday and moved into seventh. Alderbeck’s strong third off 40 metres at Oamaru saw her nudged ahead of Harriet Of Mot to 17th. In the same race Hey Yo was solid in second place. Her placing moved her two spots closer to a Dominion start at 21st. The winner of the main trot at Oamaru, Muscle’s Galore, made another leap in the rankings, this time to 34th. Mr Good And Evil almost avenged his mistake when leading in his previous Auckland start with a second to Heard The Whisper. With that he improved his ranking to 45th.     For the full list of rankings click here!   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

After his talented horse Tiger Thompson has been sold overseas from his stable, harness racing trainer Brad Mowbray will be looking for a replacement pacer to go through to the top grades.  Kingmaker might be that horse and he is a leading chance in the third leg of pick six at the New Zealand Metropoliton meeting tonight at Addington. The son of Mach Three has won his first two races in succession with the last win in 1-58.7 mile rate with a quick last half in better than 57 seconds.  Driver Matthew Williamson will have plenty of options on Kingmaker from gate two and he looks a good chance to make it a hat trick of wins tonight. Kingmaker is currently a $2.70 Fixed Odds win favourite with the New Zealand TAB. Tonight the pick six is on Races 4-9 inclusive guaranteed to $25,000 if struck.   Leg 1     Race 4 [7:10pm] A big finisher from last week Bettor Getta Lover has drawn badly again in tonights race but has the class to overcome the draw. Chatty Man from the in form Paul Court stable has run two good seconds at his previous two starts and is also a great winning chance. Pocket Call was well supported last start and was a good winner at recent trials and is another worth including in the first leg. A R Rose has also been ok at recent workouts.   Leg 2     Race 5 [7:40pm] There look to be several winning chances in the second leg of pick six.  Rogie Falls is the top chance and TAB favourite who draws the ace in the mobile 1950m race. He is needed along with Kapai who had good support at his first race day start. The mobile will suit Kapai and also Midnight Memories who was good running home late last start. Zeddie Marit is a bit of an unknown but the TAB bookies have kept him safe and he did win his qualifying trial and is also needed.   Leg 3     Race 6 [8:10pm] Kingmaker has won his first two races and does look to have a bit of a motor but this is a decent step up so no good thing. De Lancome should get a good run from the ace draw and could swoop late if the pace is on. Spare a thought for Nurburgring who was unlucky last start and draws ok in barrier three. Franco Texas has the gate speed and could lead but has not been finishing off his races like he can but is needed. Sails also ran home well last start and if she got a cart into the race before the turn could upset them.   Leg 4     Race 7 [8:39pm] A tricky leg of pick six here with a stand start affair over the 2000m stand. Prestonpans gets his chance from the ace if he can begin quickly and keep handy.  You really need as many horses as the budget allows in this leg but we favour Huey lewis, Hit The Sky, Flamboyant and Hercules Morse as the best of the rest in this race.   Leg 5     Race 8 [9:09pm] An even field of rated 40 to 50 trotters from the mobile. Tehoro Tease is probably the pick of them and she could lead again with Robbie Holmes in the sulky. Amabede needs to be driven with a sit but is dangerous with one run at them and Lady Beatrix Bourbon will appreciate the mobile and has drawn ok in Barrier three.   Leg 6     Race 9 [9:34pm]  The final leg is an even go and there are many chances. One Direction has been racing well and has drawn to race handy and he looks the pick of them. Others needed are Motoring Major who is racing ok and Just Dance who has been disappointing but can lob up when in the right mood.   Suggested Pick Six   ($30.00 for 10%) Leg 1     3,11,12 Leg 2     1,12 Leg 3     1,2,3,4,10 Leg 4     1,4,7,10,13 Leg 5     3,5 Leg 6     3,8   Harnesslink Media

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