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Well known Canterbury breeder and owner Graham "Pup" Hulston has bred and raced a lot of smart racehorses over the years, some at group level. However Graham has never lost his passion for harness racing and a maiden trotting racing is still more than enough incentive to get him on track in the middle of winter. The horse in question tonight was The God Botherer who was having his eleventh lifetime start at Addington tonight. The son of Thanksgiving was away well from barrier three early for Chris McDowell   who had The God Botherer running along in front until 500 metres from home when Topnotch Titan swept to the lead for Craig Thornley. Chris didn't panic on The God Botherer though and once the passing lane became available he slowly but surely wore Topnotch Titan down. The margin at the line was only a neck but The God Botherer was going the best of anything on the line. The God Botherer trotted the 1950 metres from the mobile in the cool winter conditions in 2:31.3, a mile rate of 2:04.8 with closing sectionals of 61.1 and 29.9 Graham was all smiles in the birdcage post race. " Dave Senior brought the dam Lady Of The House from Maurice O'Leary when he had a despersal sale a few years ago." " A few of us came in and raced her with Dave and when she was finished racing we all stayed in and bred from her. " The God Botherer is her first foal and Neil (Munro) thinks he is another twelve months away from being at his best so we should have a bit of fun with him," Graham said. Graham has invested heavily in the harness racing industry over the years and deserves every bit of success that comes his way. Harnesslink Media

It is not unusual for leading harness racing trainer Phil Williamson to have multiple entries in trotting races but tonight at Addington, Phil has three two year olds entered in the maiden trot which is not something that happens that often. All three young trotters have shown ability at trials and workouts so to get a better line on the pecking order we spoke to Phil on how he rates his three runners. " Well there is not a lot between them to be honest." " They all go near enough without looking like being anything special." They are  all handy enough and it wouldn't surprise me if one of them won tonight. " You won't miss Blazing Under Fire as he has heaps of white on him." " He is qualified at both pacing and trotting but is a much nicer trotter so thats what we will race him as." " To be honest he would have to be the smallest horse racing in New Zealand." " Winners Shout is a nice horse who is bred to go all right on his dam's side but I think his sire might be holding him back a bit." " His manners are good and that will take you a fair way in maiden trot races." "Astral Ruler has had a run at the races so that is an advantage and he is probably the most reliable of them all." "Ricky May has the drive so he would have to be a real chance." " At home there is very little between them to be honest so I will be a lot wiser about them after tonight's race, Phil said. Phil Williamson is never short of a handy trotter and it wouldn't be a surprise to see one of his three two year olds take out the maiden trot tonight at Addington. Harnesslink Media

Not a bad week overall as our selectors added some value with their picks. As I have been reminded all week, the "Boss" topped the tipsters last week, throwing out Squaw ($12:80) at Rangiora. Other tipsters to join him in the winners circle were Maurice McKendry, Geoff Small, Tony Herlihy and Matthew Williamson while we had another four placegetters as well. This week we have four meetings and we have selections for them all. Kumeu - Thursday night Mark Jones - Gives Zakspatrol from barrier one a big chance of winning race 3 Todd MacFarlane - Thought Vulcan was a big chance to go one better this week and win race 6   Auckland - Friday night Steve Richardson - Keen on the chances of Djokovic in race 3 Peter Scaife - Very bullish about the chances of the recently gelded Vibhuti in race 4 Tony Herlihy - Rates Vice Consul as well overdue and a big winning chance, also in race 4 Steven Reid - Thinks Unforgiving can make it four in a row in a very crowded race 4 John Dunn - Reckons Joey Maguire is ready to strike and again it is in race 4 Maurice McKendry - Predictably he thought The Orange Agent could win again in race 6 Todd Mitchell - Gives Risk a big push to win race 7 Scott Phelan - Thinks from the draw Rocknroll Princess could win race 8   Addington - Friday night John Curtin - Thought Astral Ruler looked hard to beat in race 1 Brendon McLellan - Reckons Wick can make it three in a row in race 2 Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Goshawk a chance to upset them at odds in race 3 Tim Williams - Gives Eilish Aimee a real show of taking out race 5 Jim Curtin - Thought Gunpowder was going great at the moment and could win race 6 Blair Orange - Thinks McClinchie will be very hard to beat in race 8 Bob Butt - Gives Easy Rider a huge chance of clearing maidens in race 10   Kurow - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Thinks Snow Raker can cement his good form lately with a wine in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Rates Sun's Invasion a chance to win again in race 6 Brad Williamson - Reckons Princess Arts from the nice draw will be very hard to beat in race 7 Ricky May - Gives course specialist Live The Dream a big chance of winning race 9  

One of New Zealands most promising harness racing reinsman Matthew Williamson has been on edge for several weeks now. Cemented onto 499 lifetime wins, the North Otago reinsman has run second after second in his quest to crack the 500 mark. The longer it took the more good humoured banter he has taken from his fellow reinsman and people within the industry. Speaking to him mid-week Matthew wasn't over confident that he could turn it around with this weeks book of drives. His best undoubtedly was Springbank Eden at Addington Raceway but Matthew felt that Springbank Eden's luck was about as good as his and that they would probably run second again. With a lap to go tonight that looked very likely as Springbank Eden was parked outside a tearaway leader in Lisa Marie P with Dexter Dunn in the bike. However passing the 800 metres mark Matthew was able to slip Springbank Eden down onto Lisa Marie P's back and from there Springbank Eden was always a big winning chance. These two drew away from the field on the corner and Springbank Eden took the whole length of the Addington straight to nail Lisa Marie P and help bring up Matty's 500th win as a reinsman. Matty was all smiles as he returned to scale and was quick to deflect all the accolades heading his way. " It is good to get the monkey off the back." "Half way up the straight I thought I was going to run second again but to his credit Springbank Eden has dug in and got the job done." " With natural improvement, he should be a nice drive in the next twelve months," Matty said. Since his first drive Matty has always looked someone headed to the top and he was quick to thank those who have helped him along the way. " Dad (Phil) has been a big help all the way through and it was great to crack the 500 wins on one he trained." "Geoff and Jude Knight have been super as well and without their support I wouldn't be where I am today so I can't thank them enough," Matty said. As someone who has regular contact with Matty in relation to his upcoming drives, I can attest to the fact that he is always open and honest and a pleasure to deal with which is not always the way with leading reinsman. The way Matty is driving and the success he is having it won't be that long before we are celebrating the 1000 win mark for this talented reinsman. Harnesslink Media

The middle of winter is not usually the place to launch a talented horse on his harness racing career but such is the case tonight with the debut run of the smart two year old Franco Cristiano in race one at Addington. This great looking son of Bettor's Delight was purchased out of last years New Zealand Premier sale for $92,500 after Robert Dunn saw the sales video of the colt from the Spreydon Lodge draft. " As soon as I saw the video, where he looked a quality horse, I went and inspected him and was really impressed and ended up buying him," Robert told Harnesslink today Not only is Franco Cristaino a good looker but he has the pedigree to go with it. Franco Cristiano is from a daughter of the outstanding broodmare Cherubic who left eight winners and all were black print winners and her daughters have bred on as well. It has not been all plain sailing since his purchase at the sales. " He was quite hard to get going actually." "Gavin (Burgess) who breaks all of mine in had a lot of problems getting him to pace and we had to pull his hopples right up to get him to function." "When he came back into the stable he was better, but he just didn't have any confidence so we took our time with him." "We qualified him and gave him another wee break and he has come back in  this time like the horse we always thought he could be." " He is not foolproof yet but he is getting there." " He is a horse that feels like he has a lot of bottom to him and he should develop into a really smart three and four year old," Robert said. With John in Auckland driving the northern team tonight at Alexandra Park, the plum drive on Franco Cristiano has fallen to stable reinsman Sam Ottley and going by his recent trial at Rangiora he should make his debut a winning one tonight at Addington. Harnesslink Media

It’s just under four months to New Zealand’s most prestigious harness racing racing carnival with Cup Week in Christchurch, with the highlight being Cup Day at Addington on Tuesday 10 November and the running of the celebrated Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup. Addington is pleased to announce that this spring the Cup will be run for $750,000 and the Woodlands New Zealand Free For All on Show Day, Friday 13 November for $250,000 which represents a total of $1 million in stakes on offer. This equates to a combined increase of $100,000 on 2014 levels. New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club Chairman Mr Barry Dent commented “Given the increases in stakes for both the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup and the Woodlands New Zealand Free For All, I am sure the club will attract and the public will get to see the very best Australasian standardbreds racing during Cup Week. November can’t come soon enough.” The initial nomination fee of $375 plus GST for the Group One $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup is due on Wednesday 12 August at 3pm NZ time. There is no early nomination fee for the Woodlands New Zealand Free For All. For full details including breakdowns of stakes on the Cup and Free For All please visit www.addington.co.nz. Alternatively please contact Brian, Richard or Colin at Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094. Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

Harness racing reinsman Robbie Close is now just one final hurdle away from his own near-perfect season. And you could bet your final dollar that the talented young horseman will be doing everything possible to overcome it. Close added the McMillians New Zealand Junior Driver Championships to his impressive season haul last night meaning he is both the New Zealand and Australasian Young Drivers Champion in the same season. But that wasn’t all. In winning the final of the three heats of last night’s competition on Pammy’s Boy, Close not only secured himself the championship, but brought up his 100th career driving win in the process. And he was pretty chuffed about both. “It’s a pretty awesome feeling to win my 100th race, but to do in these circumstances just makes it even better,’’ he said. But while the titles and accolades are all great, Close knows he’s got one more major assignment to tick off the list before the season ends and that’s getting his name at the top of the junior drivers premiership – a spot currently held by Stevie Golding. After Closes’ victory last night the margin is three with Golding picking up a winning double. “It’s going to be tough to peg Stevie back, but things are going pretty good so I’ll be giving it my best.’’ Heading into last night’s competition Close wasn’t all that confident of his chances. He picked up a vital third in the opening event of the night on The Persuader before sitting out the middle leg due to not being allocated a drive due to low numbers. In Pammy’s Boy, Close knew he had a horse capable and took luck out of the equation by sending the Murray Edmonds trained trotter straight to the front and dominating from there on. “It’s really nice to be able to achieve all this on one of Murray’s horses. “Murray really supported me early on in my career and gave me a lot of drives so it’s fitting.’’ Brad Williamson made the play early in last night’s competition by winning the opening heat on board the Greg and Nina Hope trained Western Art after a well thought out and perfectly executed drive. He beat home defending champion Michelle Neilson who pulled out all stops on Nui Toc Tien but just came up short in what was an all-South Island dominant with the first six placings going to the six Mainland representatives. The result was almost perfectly reversed in the second of the three heats with Tony Cameron producing a peach of a drive on Fair Dinkum Bromac to get the Mark Jones trained pacer home past the post first. He beat Michael Blakemore (Best Defence) and Jack MacKinnon (Scanreco Bay) with Neilson’s fifth placing on Alexy shutting out a North Island clean sweep. The result left the competition up in the air heading into the final race but Close produced a cagey drive to get the chocolates on Pammy’s Boy – narrowly beating home Kyle Marshall (Blue Don) and MacKinnon (Visualise). Close finished with 34 points, well clear of Neilson and MacKinnon who tied on 27 points. Neilson got the nod for second placing overall on the basis of finishing second in the opening heat. The other major prize of the night – the North v. South challenge was claimed by the South Island side who won with 147 points to the North’s 137. Matt Markham

It is not often you will find a budding star in a maiden trot in the middle of winter at a harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway. Tonight however was the exception with the beautifully bred Matatoki showing he was a horse with a big future when the two year son of Revenue S got up to win his first start after making a mistake early in the 1950 metres event. Trained and driven by Bob Butt, Matatoki had only been off the place three times prior to tonight and his lack of experience looked like it might cost him early when he had a gallop after 100 metres but he settled quickly and tacked on to the back of the bunch after 300 metres. Given a nice trip up to the leaders, Matatoki grabbed the lead half way up the straight and just managed to see off the well supported Cuddly Jess. Matatoki trotted the 1950 metres in the cold winterly conditions in 2:29.9, a mile rate of 2:03.6 with closing sectionals of 62.5 and 29.1. Bob Butt was suitably impressed with the first up run. " He doesn't know much yet but he wants to be there and that makes such a difference." " He went away good but got a bit rattled when a couple came through underneath him really quickly." "To his credit he came down trotting pretty quick and to get up and win was a great effort," Bob said. Matatoki is bred to be above average being from a Chiola Hanover half sister to the dam of Lyell Creek 1:52.4 ($2,961,137) and the latest Australian sensation, Arboe 1:55.5 who looks very special. Revenue S has been very sparingly used in New Zealand with just 14 foals two year old or older with five winners to date headed by Dead Cat Bounce 1:59.8 ($48,615) However his stint in America showed what he is capable of with earnings there of $19,401,627 headed by the champion trotter Market Share 1:50.2 ($3,684,417) who has a Hambletonian win on his card. Revenue's S average per starter in America of $115,486 is up there with the very best trotting sires in America. Matatoki would seem to inherited all the positive attributes of his maternal family and would appear to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media  

Leading harness racing trainers Greg and Nina Hope have never had the rub of the green all season with their stylish three year trotter Monbet. A series of niggles and bad draws has seen the son of Love You play the bridesmaid a few times this season in the Group 1 features. Tonight at Addington in cold and damp conditions, Monbet just sent a wee reminder of how really talented he is. Facing some very talented mid grade trotters, Monbet stepped cleanly from barrier one and then handed up to the free going front runner Waterloo Sunset after 200 metres. Driver Ricky May angled Monbet off Waterloo Sunset's back at the 200 metres and he flew by and away for an emphatic five length victory Monbet trotted the 2600 metres in the winter conditions in 3:23.7 with smart closing sectionals of 57.4 and 27.8. Greg Hope was philosophical about the bad luck that had plagued Monbet's three year old season. " We have deliberately looked after him all season and he has never been bottomed out in any of his races.' "It would have been nice to have got a good draw in just one of the big ones but he has only gone under by a neck and a nose in two of the group races so he has never disappointed me." "Tonight's win was penalty free which is why he was here and he can go out for a month or so now." "He won't be out too long as we want to have him up and running in the lead up to Cup week," Greg said. Driver Ricky May leaves you in no doubt about how he rates Monbet. " He is such a beautifully gaited trotter with high speed and is just a lovely horse to drive. " He showed tonight that when he gets a decent run he can really finish it off," Ricky said. Greg only has one grizzle and it is about the problems surrounding the availability of the frozen semen of leading sire, Love You. " I hope it becomes available again as he has done such a great job in New Zealand from small crops." " I will be one of the first in line if he becomes available," Greg said. Harnesslink Media  

Tonight's harness racing meeting at Addington was winter racing, Canterbury style. In other words, rain and a strong cold southerly were present most of the evening which had its effect on a lot of runners. One who seemed to relish the conditions was the three year old son of Love You in Great Things Happen who won like a really nice horse after doing plenty of work. Settling back from his second line draw for trainer/driver Gavin Smith, Great Things Happen was five back in the running line when hot favourite Harriet Of Mot galloped with a lap to go when challenging for the lead. Once back trotting John Dunn sent Harriet Of Mot forward again and reached the lead with 700 metres to go. Gavin followed the daughter of Monarchy forward and sat on her wheel from the 700 metres mark. These two knuckled down to it from the 400 metres mark and half way up the straight Great Things Happen grabbed the lead and ran away for a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths victory from a very game Harriet of Mot with Everybody Knows finishing on well late for third. Great Things Happen trotted the 1950 metres in the cold slushy conditions in 2:30.2, a mile rate of 2:03.9 with closing sectionals of 60.3 and 29. Gavin Smith knew he had just got a bit lucky with Harriot Of Mot breaking. " If she hadn't broken I don't think we would have beaten her. " In saying that Great Things Happen is a very nice horse in his own right and has a big future," Gavin said.  Passed in at the 2013 New Zealand Premier yearling sale for $27,500, Great Things Happen is a son of Love You from the former smart imported daughter of S J's Photo in Calamity Gal who won seven races and $92,255 in New Zealand. Offered a half share to train him by his vendor Ted Edwards after he failed to make his reserve, Gavin accepted immediately but not for the reason you would expect. " My daughter Hayley was born the morning of the sales and when I got offered a share in a horse called Great Things Happen the same day, I just had to take it." " I didn't like him when I broke him in and was starting to have some doubts." " However the next time in he was a different horse and hasn't looked back since." " He is very immature and after tonight he is going out for a big spell. " Once he strengthens up and matures I think he will go right to the top level. " He has really high speed and I have a big opinion of him," Gavin said. As progeny of Love You get better with age, Great Things Happen would look to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media  

Since the inception of the Met Multiplier in the 2012/13 harness racing season a total of 67 pacers or trotters have won the bonus equating to a total pay-out of over half a million dollars.   26 have won the bonus this season. Each bonus is $7,500 with $5,000 going to the owners and $2,500 to the trainer.   Leading the way with eight bonuses is prominent trainer Robert Dunn with his winners taking home an additional $60,000 on top of stakes won.   His last runner to earn the bonus was the five year old mare She’s Got It who put her foot in the till on 22 May.   Bruce Hutton with five comes in next followed by Mark Jones and Murray Edmonds with three bonuses each.   There are plenty of trainers who have managed to win two Met Multipliers including Mike Austin, John Bromley, Jim Curtin, Kevin Townley, Phil Burrows, Brad Mowbray and John McDermott.   The scheme is designed to encourage trainers to support the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) with a lucrative incentive for the connections.   To earn a Met Multiplier a horse has to start at a NZMTC meeting a minimum of 15 times over a 12 month rolling period and be placed 1st or dead heat for 1st in one of those qualifying starts.   So that means that your horse has 12 months to have the 15 starts and gain one win from when it first starts at a NZMTC meeting. E.g. A horse that has its first start at Addington on 1 June 2015 must have a minimum of 15 starts at NZMTC meetings and be placed first in one of those starts by 31 May 2016.   Horses that have had more than 15 starts and are yet to win can still qualify as long as they win a race within their 12 month period and at the same time satisfy the 15-start criteria within that time period.   Full details and conditions of The Met Multiplier Reward can be found under the Racing - Promotions and Incentives section at addington.co.nz or contact Brian, Richard or Colin at the Addington Racing Department on (03) 338 9094.   Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

The Christian Cullen FFA at tonights harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway may not have had a big field numbers wise but with the Harness Jewels just eight days away, several of the name runners were having their final blowout before the big day. Dalton Bromac was a warm favourite in front of Sky Major and Tiger Tara while Messini was let go at ten to one in the 1950 metres mobile. Dalton Bromac and Ricky May came out firing from barrier four but were hotly challenged and headed by Tiger Tara and Gerard O'Reilly who took up the lead with 1600 metres to go. Tiger Tara was really running in front and was joined in front at the 1000 metres by Messini and Mark Purdon. The speed was upped again passing the 800 metres and the two smart four year olds sizzled down the back straight and and carried the battle around the corner and up the home straight. About 50 metres from home Messini mastered Tiger Tara and held a half neck margin at the finish. Sky Major made ground stylishly from well off the pace for third, 1 3/4 lengths away with six lengths away to a very disappointing Dalton Bromac. The 1950 metres was paced in a very quick 2:19.2 in the cool and brisk conditions, a mile rate of 1:54.8 with closing sectionals of 54.8 and 27.4 Mark Purdon was pleased to have the son of Art Major back in the winners circle. " I am really pleased that he is back to his best. " He didn't handle the Auckland way round so you can disregard those runs" " The draw (14) in the Jewels makes it very hard but at least he is back to his best," Mark said. Geoff Dunn was thrilled with the run of Tiger Tara. "He showed real gate speed and fought on great so I couldn't be happier. "He is right where I want him heading into next week and he is right on target,"Geoff said. Barry Purdon was also very happy with Sky Major. " They have run home in 54.8 and he has made up a lot of ground." " He blew out at the 100 metres but that will top him off nicely for the Jewels," Barry said. Dalton Bromac was very disappointing by his own high standards and it soon became apparent why. Post race it was discovered that Dalton Bromac had bled and he has been stood down for thirty days as a result. Benny Hill was very philosophical after the race. "At least we still have a horse." "We will take him home and give him a break and get him ready for next season," Benny said. Messini sent out a very clear message tonight that he is right in the zone at the moment and not completely out of it on Jewels day even from barrier 14. Harnesslink Media  

At last weeks harness racing meetings, our selectors went okay with the exception of the Addington meeting where after the heavy rain, a lot of the races became a bit of a lottery. There were several selections that were well supported but really struggled in the slushy conditions so we have decided to put a line under last week and move on. For the record our selectors picked four winners via Tony Herlihy, John Dunn, Brad Williamson and Jim Curtin while another seven were first three finishers. This week we only have four meetings and we are a bit light at Auckland where a lot of our regulars are not engaged. Forbury Park - Thursday night John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Blade even from barrier 14 can win race 3  Matthew Williamson - Gives Sage from barrier one a real chance of winning race 5 Nathan Williamson - Thought Sheeza Shark was overdue and could win race 10   Auckland - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Rates Lady J a big chance of clearing maidens in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Likes The Almighty Johnson to go back to back in race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Reckons Paramount Dream can bounce back, also in race 4 Scott Phelan - Thought Happy To Go could leave maidens in race 8   Addington - Friday night Ricky May - Thinks Dalton Bromac will lead and be awfully hard to beat in race 3 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Tiger Tara can get a piece of the action, also in race 3 Terry Chimel - Expects improvement with driver change on Little Tess in race 7 Blair Orange - Gives Expresso Martini a good chance of winning race 8 Jim Curtin - Rates Lucky Fortune a big chance of winning race 9 Bob Butt - Waterloo Sunset is my best drive of the week in race 9 Tim Williams - Only drive on the night and will be trying hard in race 10 Sam Ottley - Opting for stable runner Secret Lotion in race 10.   Winton - Sunday afternoon Brad Williamson - Thinks River Patrol can go back to back in race 3 Clark Barron - Thought Mass Invasion could go one better this week and win race 4 Brendon McLellan - Forget Leigh Major's last run, she can win race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Winton and will get the money in race 10 Harnesslink Media

There were three group races at the harness racing meeting at Addington last night and Natalie Rasmussen won the lot. None of her three drives had drawn well but that didn't stop Natalie putting on a masterclass of driving in the atrocious conditions. High Gait, Fight For Glory and Chase The Dream all looked to be in trouble when the draws came out with none of them able to be involved early from their second line draws. But Natalie got all three home with different tactics for the three of them and showed once again what an outstanding driver she is. Natalie's impact on the harness racing scene in New Zealand since her arrival from Australia has been nothing short of phenomenal and her driving statistics are unmatched in this country. Last season Natalie drove 43 winners from just 94 drives along with 28 placings for a UDR of .5922  This season to date Natalie has driven 48 winners from just 124 drives along with 37 placings for a UDR of .5260 No one else in the country bar her training partner Mark Purdon has cracked a UDR of .4000 and no one else has cracked the .5000 mark It is not just the statistics that make Natalie such a great driver. Horses run for her, she gets horses to relax and she is a great judge of pace. Last night was just further confirmation if any was needed of just how talented Natalie is in the sulky. Harnesslink Media

Last nights New Zealand Oaks was meant to be a one horse affair with last weeks Nevele R Fillies winner The Orange Agent expected to dominate once again. However her wide draw this week had some pundits saying she was vulnerable and when the heavy rain and strong winds set in, no one really knew what to expect. Fight For Glory, who had pushed The Orange Agent last week had also drawn poorly at one on the second line so luck was going to play a part. As the gate left, Maurice McKendry took The Orange Agent  back from her wide draw while Natalie Rasmussen on Fight For Glory managed to get off the inside after 200 metres and into the running line. Shortly afterwards Natalie circled the field with Fight For Glory and grabbed the lead with just over a mile to run. Natalie then decided to make it a catch me if you can race and kept up a hot tempo in front. Passing the 500 metres, Natalie launched Fight For Glory and she put four lengths on the opposition as they turned for home. Although getting tired the last 100 metres Fight For Glory was still a length in front at the finishing line. Democrat Party and Zac Butcher finished on for second just a half head in front of a very unlucky Linda Lovegrace who came from well back for third. A close up fourth was The Orange Agent who didn't seem all that happy in the conditions. Natalie was mobbed by the connections in the winners circle post race and was full of praise for the Art Major filly. " As soon as I got off the inside, I decided to get on the pace because she is so hard to run down." " She is such a genuine filly and I thought they would have trouble getting past her." " She is just such a pleasure to drive and even though they got a bit close in the last little bit, I knew she would see it out," Natalie said. Blair Orange on Linda Lovegrace was rapt with her run. "We could have got off at the 1200 metres mark into the running line but I decided to stay on the inner." "She got held up a wee bit but has really found the line when clear." "It was a super run," Blair said. Maurice McKendry thought while The Orange Agent had run a creditable fourth, she wasn't entirely happy in the conditions. " She didn't feel as sharp tonight and all I can put it down to is the track conditions," Maurice said. Last nights win by Fight For Glory has breathed a bit of life back into the Harness Jewels race for the three year old fillies with The Orange Agent not as dominant as previously thought. Harnesslink Media

All the pundits (us included) thought that High Gait had a mountain to climb in the Lone Star Riccarton $60,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes Final for two year old trotters at last nights harness racing meeting at Addington. The unbeaten daughter of Muscles Yankee had drawn the inside of the second row behind Dark Ops, a hundred to one shot while her major opposition Gershwin had drawn perfectly at barrier two on the front line. All that changed as they reached the starting point when Dark Ops galloped in the slushy conditions as did Gershwin with High Gait and Natalie Rasmussen managing to duck both of them somehow. However as a result High Gait settled last of the pack as Arannalea and Mark Jones set a steady tempo in front. Still last at the 500 metres. Natalie sent High Gait around them four and five wide as they turned in and then just picked the leaders up like she had just joined in, It was a brilliant performance in the conditions and confirmed High Gait as New Zealand's leading two year old trotter this season. High Gait's stablemate Missandei held second after a big sweeping run for Mark Purdon with the pacemaking Arannalea holding on for third. High Gait trotted the 1950 metres in the atrocious conditions in 2:32.5 with closing sectionals of 62 and 29.3 Natalie was full of admiration for the daughter of Muscles Yankee. " She has gone absolutely super to come from that far back" " I don't know how we missed the early carnage, it felt as if I was going sideways." " She is such a determined wee thing, you have to admire her," Natalie said If there were any doubts about the top dog status amongst the two year old trotters this season, that was well and truly settled last night. Harnesslink Media

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