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The Butt brothers Tim and Anthony announced today that their imported superstar trotter Peak had been retired and would now take up full time stud duties. Peak was the flagship for an attempt by the Butt brothers to strengthen the trotting breed down under. The trotting breed in Australasia has always been the poor cousin in the harness racing industry in the Southern Hemisphere. Pacing has always been in the ascendancy and with access to the best sires in the world for the last fifteen plus years has closed the gap with North America. Trotting broodmare owners have not been as well served over the same period but in the last two or three years attempts have been made on several fronts to change that. One of those attempts was the importation of three well bred and performed European trotters by the well respected Butt brothers. Having witnessed first hand on their travels to Europe the ability and gait of European sired trotters, the Butt brothers imported the three entires and syndicated them to stable clients with a view to racing them first and then standing them at stud if they proved themselves in local conditions. As most people realize, it was a very brave decision to try to bring three stallions half way around the world and attempt to get them to adjust to the different racing style in New Zealand and the different training methods. The first of the three stallions to set foot on a New Zealand track was the son of the French super sire Ganymede in Peak. Although not 100% ready,Peak made his New Zealand debut in the Group 3 trotters Flying Mile at Ashburton in October 2013 and what a debut it was. Parked early, Peak worked to the front after 400 metres for Anthony Butt but was attacked from a long way out by The Fiery Ginga which should have made him a sitting duck in the straight. The whole way up the long Ashburton straight Peak lead and come post time he was still in front after cutting out the mile in 1:57.6. It was a wonderful introduction to New Zealand racing and held the promise of better things to come. Second up was the $80,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting FFA on Cup Day in 2013. Parked for the first 800 metres, Anthony took Peak to the front with 1200 metres to go and in a replay of Ashburton was immediately attacked again by The Fiery Ginga. Clear as they turned for home, Peak was challenged by a wall of trotters with 100 metres to go and when seemingly beaten got off the canvas to come back and grab the win. Peak's winning time was 2:26.4, a mile rate of 1:57.7 over the 2000 metres which was just outside the New Zealand record held by I Can Doosit It was a stunning performance and one that cemented him as one of the favourites for the $250,000 Group 1 Dominion Handicap three days later. Away well, Peak was shuffled back in the running line before joining the three wide chain at the 800 metres mark. Sent four wide by Anthony at the 500 metres mark, Peak looked poised to challenge as he ranged up to the leaders with 200 to go but then uncharacteristically broke and lost all chance. Sore the next morning, Peak has fought soundness issues ever since. Given a long break, Peak was readied for the 2014 New Zealand Cup meeting but when the pressure went on the soundness problems returned. Already available to New Zealand trotting breeders as Peak combined training with stud work, Peak has already served over twenty mares this season and with the announcement today of his retirement from the track that number should swell by a lot more before the end of the breeding season. The Butt brothers have had several champion trotters through their barn over the years with the likes of Lyell Creek 1:52.4 $2,961,137 and Take A Moment 1:56.7 $1,164,356 to name just two but their is no mistaking how highly they rated Peak. Anthony was effusive in his praise of the son of Ganymede. “The most clean gaited trotter I have ever driven. He is the perfect trotter with speed, gait , heart and manners. When you ask him to go he goes, and keeps going” he said. Tim was no less impressed by the abilities of Peak. “He is such a beautiful horse with a massive heart and superb attitude. He has an unbelievable gait, far superior to any other trotter I have trained. His will to win was his biggest asset,"  he said. Standing for a fee of $2500 +GST, Peak should get his chance to make it as a sire. The two other trotters brought in from Europe with Peak have been a mixed bag to date. Kvintet Avenger had one start in New Zealand before joining the Brent Lilley stable in Victoria where he has looked a trotter on the rise. In seven starts for Lilley, Kvintet Avenger has had five wins and two placings for $41,388 in stakes and looks headed for the best grades.  The other import was Sir Lexington who has won one race from six appearances to date but has had a decent spell and bigger things are expected of him when he resumes shortly. All things considered the Butt brothers should take a lot of heart out of the fact they were able to transport a horse like Peak half way around the world and turn him out a winner at the highest level. Harnesslink Media      

Addington is thrilled to report some extraordinary results for their turnovers and attendances during  Cup Week. Combined turnover for 2014 Cup Week totalled a staggering $10,351,691 showing a huge increase  on the 2013 figures of $1,782,932 or 20.8%. Cup Day continues to head domestic racing events by some margin with combined turnover figures  coming in at over $6.88 million an increase of over 20% on last year, whilst Show Day combined  figures for 2014 were $3.47 million an increase of nearly 22% on 2013.  An astounding $1.919 million was waged on the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup. Whist the wagering was hot on and off course; attendances were also up across both premier days  racing with nearly 28,000 attending.  Chairman at The Met Barry Dent commented “that the Club could not have wished for a better Cup Week. "Whilst the weather played its part I think we can also attribute some other key factors to the  success." "Champion pacer Terror To Love gunning for his fourth Cup and a place in history certainly  spiced up the lead in and we also received a significant increase in mainstream media coverage with  the announcement of our VIP Shane Warne." "The amount of media mentions and stories triggered by these was far greater than previous years and certainly put the event and the Cup Day brand into the limelight." "Also, the dedicated Trackside TV coverage on Cup Day was a positive.” “Having a complete and continual cell phone coverage right throughout the day also impacted  positively on Cup Day with no hick-ups this year. "The large crowd seemed to arrive early on course and stayed for most of the day which meant more spend through the tote particularly via smartphone.” “On Show Day we hosted the inaugural Kiwi Punters Championship (KPC) and this event contributed  nearly $300,000 on course; a super result. " "The winner took home $50,000 and this is a concept that we’ll look to undertake again next year.” “It is wonderful that the combined turnover for the week is the second highest recorded in the last 20  years and is a great result for the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club and the NZ harness racing industry.” Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

Harness racing is one of those sports where luck plays a big part at times. Sometimes when things are going bad nothing positive happens where as when your luck is in, the world is your oyster. No one knows that better at the moment than well known owner Trevor Casey who has been riding a wave of success in the last few years. One of his many stars at the moment is the talented Majestic Son filly, Hot Pants. A $30,000 purchase at the Australasian Classic Yearling sale in Auckland in 2012, Trevor races Hot Pants in partnership with co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen and right from the start Hot Pants has shown promise. Although she didn't win as a 2 year old, Hot Pants ran second in the $82,000 Sales Trot to stablemate Dieu De L'Amour ($58,839) and fourth to another of Trevor's youngsters in Daenerys Targaryen ($106,923) in the 2 year old Trotters Championship. Hot Pants looked to have come back bigger and better at three when she won her maiden race by 10 lengths just prior to the New Zealand Trotting Oaks. But thats where things started to go wrong and Trevor didn't see it coming. "Mark was very confident of a big run in the Oaks and although she ran third, she was beaten 10 lengths and was very disappointing," Trevor told Harnesslink this week. A few days later Trevor got the call all owners dread. "Mark rang to say that Hot Pants had bled badly after the Oaks and the vet advice was that she was finished as a racehorse and should be retired,"  he said. Trevor put Hot Pants in the broodmare paddock but was toying with the idea of selling her. " I have plenty of well related and performed broodmares as it is and didn't fancy another one, he said. Trevor watched Hot Pants tearing around the broodmare paddock and wondered to himself if there was anything that might help Hot Pants get over her bleeding episode. It was at this point Trevor contacted well respected Victorian vet Alastair Maclean who is a good friend for advice. " Alastair sent me some powder to treat her with which over time seemed to pick her up and I became keen to try her again" he said. The next hurdle for Trevor was convincing Mark Purdon to try her again. "Mark was reluctant initially but came round after a couple of conversations," he said. So four months after being retired, Hot Pants returned to the All Stars training establishment at Rolleston to try to resurrect her racing career. No one involved really knew how it was going to turn out let alone Trevor. So there was some understandable nervousness in the camp when Hot Pants lined up for her first start back at the end of September at Addington. A nice fifth in the hands of part owner Natalie Rasmussen was as good as could be expected in the circumstances and it was decided to press on The first up start had qualified Hot Pants for the $24,505 final of the Alabar Super Series and with a peach of a drive from Mark Purdon she got home over Indiana Jones and Commander Paris. Next up was a junior drivers race but Trevor wasn't sure if it was the right move. "Mark was keen to put up stable driver Matt Anderson" "He had great confidence he would get the job done and as usual his judgment was spot on," he said. From there Trevor was keen to start on Cup Day but Mark had sorted out a 1950 metres mobile on Show Day and it was there Hot Pants lined up. Wide for 500 metres before finding the death seat, Hot Pant was left parked as Sunny Ruby set a scorching pace in front. Able to slot down onto the running line at the 700 metres mark when a horse broke, Mark angled her off the inner on the corner and burst through the middle late in the piece to claim a great win. Hot Pant's time of 2:25, a mile rate of 1:59.6 was a new New Zealand record for a mare 4 year old or older. Trevor was suitably impressed with Hot Pant's performance. "She has always had speed but now she has developed a staying game as well."  "To set a New Zealand record after doing so much work was a great effort,"he said Just as important was how she came through the race. "She has come through the race really well and all going well we are planning to head to Auckland now," Trevor said. It should be of little surprise that Hot Pants is going as well as she is when you look at her bloodlines. By boom trotting sire Majestic Son, Hot Pants is the first foal from the lightly raced but talented mare Dutch Annie (4 wins) ($35,719)  The second foal is last years talented 2 year old filly Yagunnakissmeornot ($26,180) who won four times in her debut season and finished fourth in the Harness Jewels. The grand-dam of Hot Pants is the brilliant racemare Miss Whiplash 1:58.6 ($151,765) who left last years 2 year old trotting filly of the year in Wanna Play 1:58.9 ($52,171)  who is also raced by Trevor. Wanna Play is also by Majestic Son making her a 3/4 sister to Hot Pants. One thing you can guarantee now is that when Hot Pant's racing career comes to an end for the second time, Trevor will manage to find a spot for her in his broodmare band. There is a fine line between success and failure in harness racing and the story of the successful return of Hot Pants to the track shows how fine that line can be at times. Harnesslink Media  

Top squaregaiter Master Lavros will be sent to Matamata for further extensive tests after mixing his gait in the Dominion Handicap at Addington on Friday. Last year’s Dominion winner and the reigning Trotter of the Year hasn’t been 100 percent this spring. Despite the efforts of trainer Mark Jones to turn him round for Show day, the huge Sundon gelding gave further evidence of a hidden issue troubling him. “We’ll send him to Matamata and get them to run the dye through him,” Mark said. “We’re getting nothing the way we’re going so we’ll find out exactly what it is and let mother nature take its course ,” he said. The Overport trainer is prepared to give Master Lavros as much time as he needs to regain full health. Master Lavros, only six and young for a trotter, is the veteran of only 36 starts for 15 wins and earnings of $358,646. He stepped well from the inside of the back row on Friday, settling third, but broke when moving up in the open with 2450m left. He was out of contention thereafter, finishing 11th to runaway winner Jaccka Justy, for Westwood Beach (south Dunedin) co-trainer and driver Jonny Cox. The winner backed up was  backing up from a fast late finish for fifth in Tuesday’s NZ Trotting Free-For-All. Settling five back on the outer after beginning off the unruly, Jaccka Justy improved with three-wide cover behind Doctor Hook from the 700m to the turn and unleashed an undeniable run turning for home. Jonny Cox, who trains with partner Amber Hoffman, couldn’t hide his delight, saluting as he crossed the line, the winner clocking a strong 4:05.2 for the 3200m. The successful strike-rate trainer emulated a great family tradition with squaregaiters. Jonny was just nine when former family hero David Moss won the first of his two back-to-back Dominion Handicaps at Addington in 1993. Jonny’s father John Cox prepared the giant-sized Gekoj gelding David Moss at Winton for the first 15 of 31 wins. David Moss went on to win just over $490,000 in stakes. Due to southern commitments, John Cox sent David Moss to Canterbury trainer Robert Cameron for both Dominion wins, and for feature north racing to former Papakura trainer Clive Herbert. Jonny’s late grand-father, Harry Cox, a successful Winton trainer, prepared and drove Poupette for an upset win in the 1965 Interdominion Trotting Grand Final at Forbury Park. This was Jonny and Amber’s first Group One training success in the $255,000 feature, securing the $137,500 winning bankroll for owner, Charlie and Ailsa Small. Last season, they gained a Group Three win with the same horse in the Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup. Jaccka Justy has now raced 49 times for 13 wins and five placings for $224,718 in stakes. The Westwood Beach trainers and Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones have built up a good rapport during their training careers. They have been able to utilise each others facilities when their respective horses travel around the South Island for racing opportunities. Courtesy Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here  

If you listened to all the harness racing pundits leading into todays $200,000 New Zealand FFA, you would have thought that Christen Me had lost his mojo. Not that you would hear such comments from Cran Dalgety or Dexter Dunn who are the central support crew behind the outstanding gelding.   After missing away badly in Tuesday's New Zealand Cup and then staging a huge recovery to finish fifth, the son of Christian Cullen was set today to show his supporters the magic was still there.   Drawing inside his main rivals at barrier four, Dexter let him find his feet early as Seel In Print and A Bit Of A legend went to war.   Sent forward after 600 metres by Dexter, Christen Me reached the front with a lap to go and was joined first by Franco Nelson and then Adore Me as Dexter kept the throttle to the floor.   Down the back in 27.5, Dexter said go at the quarter pole and put a length on Adore Me as they straightened up for home.   The battle went the length of the straight but at the finish Christen Me was still 3/4 length to the good of Adore Me with Franco Nelson finishing on for third, just in front of Terror To Love who was late clearing a pocket.   Christen Me paced the 1950 metres in a blistering 2:18.4, a mile rate of 1:54.2 with closing sectionals of 54.9 and 27.4.   Dexter was confident a long way from home that Christen Me would be hard to beat.   " After they burned early and I was able to get the front, I knew he would be hard to beat."   "At the quarter Adore Me was still going great but so was I and when I asked him he put a length on her."   "I knew it would be a hard battle in the straight but I knew he was up for it," he said.   Dexter has never lost the faith in his champion despite the critics.   " He has got so much ability and his work at home has been super .   "When we broke at the start on Tuesday we were all disappointed but you can't change that now so you have to put it aside and move on," Dexter said.   Dexter was hopeful the win would bring forth a invitation to the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle in a fortnight.   " He ran second in it last year and I think he is going better this campaign and would be a real chance he said.   Christen Me silenced the doubters today in real style and one can only hope he is on track at Menangle in a fortnight.   Footnote - Christen Me was the fourth horse to receive an  invite to the Miracle Mile 30 minutes after his win today and he is a confirmed starter.     Harnesslink Media

The big question on most harness racing enthusiasts minds today prior to the C4-C5 pace over 2600 metres was could Dalton Bromac make the step up to do battle with the likes of Isaiah and Te Kawau. Well that was answered well and truly by a display that confirmed what we all thought. Dalton Bromac is a star on the rise.   Away well from barrier five for driver Ricky May, Dalton Bromac was allowed to work his way to the front after 400 metres and set a moderate pace into the strong wind.   Joined in front by Isaiah with a lap to go, Dalton Bromac started to really up the tempo with 800 metres to go when Te Kawau ranged up three wide.   Running down the back in 27.3, Ricky asked for more at 300 metres mark and the response was immediate as he shot away for an easy win with Ricky hardly moving in the cart.   He went 3:12.5 for the distance a mile rate of 1-59.1 Last 800m: 54.8 Last 400m: 27.2.   Te Kawau stuck on gamely for second with Isaiah fighting on for third but both were dealt to by Dalton Bromac.   A $60,000 purchase out of the Butcher barn at Cambridge, Dalton Bromac is raced in partnership by his trainer Brendon Hill and Noel Bowden.   Brendon was confident that Dalton Bromac would measure up.   "He is real up and comer."   "He came through Tuesday super and a couple of gear adjustments helped today," he said.   Long term Brendon thinks he will be doing a bit of travelling if Dalton Bromac keeps on in his present form.   "We will set him for all the 4 year old classics and I am sure he will measure up," Brendon said.       Harnesslink Media

This years Dominion Handicap looked one of the most open for years and harness racings holy grail for trotters turned out to be as open as it looked. Clover Don bounced out and grabbed an early lead from Sheemon and Master Lavros but after just 700 metres Master Lavros went into a break and extinguished any chance he had.   Clover Don kept up a quick tempo and was unchallenged in the lead with Sheemon on his back and Rare Opportunity sitting in the death seat.   Going past the 600 metres mark, Stent in the hands of Colin Defilippi ranged up outside Clover Don to dispute the lead and as they turned for home he went to the lead.   Sheemon after being held up by Clover Don got clear but while that was happening Jonny Cox was storming down the centre of the track with outsider Jaccka Justy  and put a break on the field that he held to the line.   Sheemon finished on and was just as clearly second from a good finisher in Kincaslough with Jags Invasion running into fourth.   Jaccka Justy ran the 3200 metres in 4:05.2, a mile rate of 2:3.2 with closing sectionals of 58.8 and 29.6.   Trained at Westwood Beach south of Dunedin by Jonny Cox and Amber Hoffman, Jaccka Justy was clocking up his 12th win today and took his earnings to a healthy $224,718.    Jonny Cox gave a huge whip salute as he hit the line and was elated with the run of Jaccka Justy.   " All credit to the horse who went super."   I got a lovely run and a nice drag into the race and Jaccka did the rest he said.   Well known owner Charlie Smaill was all but speechless at the presentation.   " I don't know what to say really but this is one of the greatest moments in my life," he said.   A son of Continental Man, Jaccka Justy was bred by his owners and traces back to Super Brenda,a Super Bowl mare imported by National Bloodstock in the 1980s.       Harnesslink Media  

Every now and again in harness racing you witness something that just shouldn't be possible. Like today at Addington where the brilliant 2 year old filly from last year Supersonic Miss made her season debut against a strong field of intermediate grade pacers who all had runs under their belt and got up and beat them.   Away well from barrier one,  driver Mark Purdon settled the daughter of Mach Three in the trail early before ending up three deep on the inner when the smart No Doctor Needed with John Dunn in the bike took the lead.   With No Doctor Needed keeping up a steady clip in front meant the gaps opened near the 500 metres and Mark angled Supersonic Miss onto the back of stable mate Fight For Glory.    Waiting until late in the run home, Mark angled into the clear and grabbed Fight For Glory in the last 50 metres for an outstanding win.   Supersonic Miss covered the 1950 metres from the mobile in a very quick 2:20.7, a mile rate of 1;56 with closing sectionals of 55.8 and 28.1.   From the former smart Australian racemare in Bella Joy 1:55.8 ($109,849) Supersonic Miss has looked special from her first start at Addington and her connections have made the late entry payment for this years Fillies Sires Stakes Series which should send a few shivers up a few of her opponents.   Mark Purdon was all smiles on returning to the birdcage.   "I got a lovely run when i got clear and she finished it off like I thought she would."   "It didn't surprise me when she picked up Fight For Glory as she is a high class filly,"he said.    Owned in partnership by big spending Australian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth along with several other Australians, Supersonic Miss looks in for a huge season.       Hanesslink Media

Harness racing can be a great leveler at times and the $32,400 Futurity Final for C0-C5 horses at Addington today was another great example that races are run on the track and not in the bar. New Years Jay was a warm favourite on the back of some super performances over the last few months and Dana Duke was another to attract solid support after a string of smart runs in quality fields.   Juliette Bromac led early from barrier one and set up a hectic pace in front.   The first surprise came when Dana Duke broke after 400 metres and settled 10 lengths behind the bunch.   The three wide train led by Parramatta and Terry Chmiel took off with 1400 metres to run and grabbed the lead off Juliette Bromac.   Billies A Star driven by Gavin Smith followed up Parramatta and landed in the death seat before getting cover behind New Years Jay with 800 metres to run.   Passing the 600 metres New Years Jay went into a wild gallop after hanging in and striking the wheel of Parramatta and that put paid to her chances.   As they turned for home Parramatta lead but was quickly claimed by Billies A Star who shot clear for a 2 1/4 length win.   Juliette Bromac got up the passing lane for a game second in front of a fast finishing Lovemetwotimes.   The time for the 2600 metres from the mobile was a brilliant 3:10.6, a mile rate of 1:57.9 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 28.9.   Trained by Phil Burrows at Fernside, Billies A Star is by American Ideal from a In The Pocket daughter of a full sister to the brilliant Starship 1:54.5 ($341,780).   Gavin Smith was full of praise for the trainer post race.   " Phil always has his horses ready to run"   " When he tells you they are ready, it gives you a lot of confidence,"he said.   A bit of a rogue early on, Billies A Star is getting better with each race and Gavin was sure where the credit lay.   "Phil has taken his time with this horse and is getting the rewards now," he said.   At his present rate of improvement it wouldn't be a surprise to see Billies A Star in some of the 4 year old classics later in the season.   Billies A Star Harnesslink media

Harness racing at its best is back on show at Addington today as the second big day of Cup week gets underway. Today is a public holiday in Canterbury and the crowds flock to Addington to soak up one of the best days of the harness racing season.   As on Cup day, the first race is for the C4-OC  squaregaiters which includes most of the trotters just below the elite level.   The race turned into a triumph for young South Canterbury trainer Josh Kennett as his charge Valmagne upset at odds 21/1.   Away well for driver Colin Defilippi, Valmagne settled in the trail early before ending up three back on the inner when The Fiery Ginga went to the front at the 1800 metres mark.   The Fiery Ginga was hotly challenged by King Of Strathfield with 600 metres to go which enabled Colin to get Valmagne off the inner and ready to pounce which he did at the 200 metres mark and raced away for an emphatic win by 2 3/4 lengths.    Valmagne trotted the 2600 metres in 3:18.5, a mile rate of 2:02.8 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 29.1   Colin was quick to credit Josh for the performance by Valmagne.   "Josh always turns them out ready to run."   " His horses never let you down."   " Valmagne is a really honest horse and always gives you 100%," he said.   Todays win was the seventh for the son of Sundon and along with 13 placings it took his earnings over the $50,000 mark.   Josh Kennett is a young trainer who is quickly earning himself a reputation as trainer on the up.   Valmagne Harnesslink media

Over the last decade, the New Zealand Free For All on Show Day has lost some of its lustre as the distance was fiddled with and some of the best didn't front up after racing on harness racings big day on the Tuesday. This year however, the distance is back to 1950 metres and has drawn all the major Cup players from Tuesday bar For A Reason and promises to be an epic encounter. Adore Me has come through her New Zealand Cup run in great fashion and even though she has drawn barrier six after the scratchings she is a great chance to make it a double for the week. Mark Purdon is happy with where Adore Me is after Tuesday.  "She seems fine." "She had Wednesday off and a light workout today"  "The draw is not so good because they will probably go hard the whole way but we didn't think the Cup draw was that good and look what happened" he said. Terror To Love has drawn on the inside of Adore Me at barrier five after the scratchings and driver Ricky May is expecting a big run. " Terror has come through Tuesday really well and I expect him to go a big race." "He will cope with the quick backup better than most," he said. Drawn at four after the scratchings is the unlucky horse from Tuesday in Christen Me who after missing away was timed to run his last 2400 metres in an unbelievable 2:50.5 with his last mile in 1:53.3. Blocked for a run half way up the straight in the Cup, Dexter is sure to go forward and try to make up for the bad luck on Tuesday. Franco Nelson has drawn barrier seven after the scratchings and his driver John Dunn was philosophical about drawing outside the three big guns. "He has come through Tuesday's race really well but the draw means I am going to have to drive him with more of a sit." "I hope to hook on to Adore Me's back early and if they go to war up front, he should be powering over them at the finish," he said. As good as those four are the potential winners don't stop there with Seel N Print from barrier one a player while Messini, Gold Ace and Pembrook Benny are all more than capable of finishing in the money. For us it came down to the draw and Christen Me gets the nod from Adore Me, Terror To Love and Franco Nelson. Throw in Messini and Seel N Print for first four players. Harnesslink Media 

Promising squaregaiter Eyre I Come is likely to try for a Cup week double on Show Day. Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones says he plans to race him again on Friday providing the 4YO Majestic Son gelding eats up over the next two days. Eyre I Come got favourite punters away to a flyer in the opener on NZ Cup day, Tuesday, November 11. The $2.80 favourite stepped slowly but safely in the C2 and faster $20,400 Garrards Horse & Hound Handicap Trot over 3200m. Eyre I Come, a close relative of recent top Victorian-trained squargaiters Sundon’s Gift and Let Me Thru, was sent to the front at the mid-way point. He ran out the extreme trip strongly for driver Blair Orange, striding clear by three lengths over Queen Kenny, who tracked him over the final 1600m. The winner trotted the journey in a useful 4:07.8, keeping the pace strong over his last 800m in 59.2s and final 400m in 30s, suggesting he could be a future Dominion Handicap contender. “I was rapt with his effort,” Mark said. “The Harness Jewels (Ashburton, May 30) is the long-term aim with him.” “I’m thinking of going to Geraldine with him (November 29) then spelling him.” Mark says the $25,000 Four & Five-Year-Old Trotting Championship at Addington on March 20 will be his first aim after a let-up. Eyre I Come, raced by Grant Hatton of Christchurch, with Merv and Meg Butterworth, of Melbourne, is now unbeaten in both 4YO starts. From just nine starts, he’s now the winner of three for $27,004. Eyre I Come is bred to develop further being a grandson of former top NZ trot mare Landora’s Pride, who numbered 34 wins including the 1988 Dominion Handicap and 1987 Rowe Cup. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here  

Adore Me paying up for the New Zealand Free For All on  Friday is the clue to her immediate racing programme. It means the Miracle Mile is taken off the agenda and the champion mare will race domestically through the summer. Mark Purdon has set a domestic program for his star mare for the next few months. "There are two top races for her at Auckland in the Northern Breeders Stakes on December 5th and the Queen of Hearts on December 19th and another $100,000 mares race at Addington in January so those will suit her" Mark said. Adore Me came thru the Cup in excellent order considering the time of the race  although Mark indicated that stories of a hugely torrid race wide on the track might have been overstated. "In some ways Pemberton Shard not being able to carry me to the straight was a good thing" Mark said. "While we had to go wide there for a bit up until then we had had quite a soft run. "The other horses which had made runs (Terror To Love, Franco Nelson etc) had made their runs from further back in the field which would have taken more out of them. "When we were coming to the corner I was confident she was at least going to run it right out the way she was going. "Fortunately it turned out that way," he said.  Mark said that all those accepted for Addington on Friday will run and everything which raced Tuesday had come through their races in good order.  Courtesy Of All Stars Stables - Check site here

They won the Cup- But they thought they had run second! Mary and Paul Kenny are two of the most enthusiastic owners you will find in harness racing. It is not unusual for them to fly down from Auckland to watch "Ruby" run a trial. But at their greatest moment in harness racing, Adore Me winning the New Zealand Cup, they thought they had run second. "We were on quite an angle" Mary said. "When they got to the line we thought we were second. "I thought, well that's quite good for a mare in a race like this. "It took some time before we realised we had won" she said. Paul has been a major player in thoroughbred racing for many years and has had Sydney Cup contenders among others. But he was in no doubt about what it meant yesterday. "This would take a lot of equalling" The Kenny's were not alone. Mark confessed he wasn't entirely sure Adore Me had won either. "My view of John Dunn's horse (Franco Nelson) was obscured by the horse between us. "So I wasn't really sure and probably would have accepted had we been beaten" Arden Rooney didn't quite make it on the day but when you look at the time he ran it was a terrific performance. Hands Christian did not turn out to be a fairytale but as far as Natalie is concerned he won the most important tribute from a horseman of all - to his character and heart. "It wasn't good. "I felt he propped soon after the start and that was where his leg  felt the strain. "But he never wanted to give up. "He ran his heart out. "When you look at where he finished it was a great effort. " He is just such a amazing horse" Courtesy Of All Stars Racing Stable - Check site here

It was a gem of a moment. Away from the crowd, out of sight of most on course. But it was the most memorable scene of a day where just about every superlative had been used.  Natalie Rasmussen gave Mark Purdon a big hug and whispered in his ear: "Well done darling, I'm so proud of you, so happy for you.'' And then, hand in hand, the couple stood there reflecting on what they'd just achieved. For it wasn't just the New Zealand Trotting Cup they'd won. The partners had just completed what would have to rate as the most dominant display ever seen on a racecourse anywhere in the world. Adore Me's win was their sixth of the day - they'd won all but one of the races they'd contested, and run second in the other. Backup, Rare Opportunity and Messini were entrees to the prestigeous Sires Stakes Final when Have Faith In Me led home a stable trifecta, then Vice Consul, Adore Me and one race later Prince Fearless made it seven wins. And four of those winners were in New Zealand record time.  The blue colours with the silver stars seemed to be everywhere, and in every finish. It was a feat which wasn't going unnoticed by the man in the hat, helping gear up their next runner. It was brother Barry Purdon, lending a hand in what was a massive operation for the stable with 20 runners on the day. He'd been through this in the early 90s, when he had a large stable, he said, and knew how much hard work it was. "Mark's a champion trainer and his success is due in part because he's so hands-on," he said. "But you're still only as good as the people behind you and he has that with his staff and owners. And he's instilled that much confidence in them that they keep coming back. "I'd like to have 10 great horses in my team too but you have to go through the numbers to do that and I doubt I could get the right people to help these days. "We used to have horses racing at Addington, Sydney and Melbourne at any one time and if you haven't got the right people helping you just can't send them away. "It's a very stressful lifestyle. You have to plan every day and that's what this stable is good at, they know exactly where they're heading.'' It's in the planning that Rasmussen has really helped the All Stars team since she and Purdon joined together two years ago. But she could praise only her own team last night when the gear bags were being packed up. "I'm so proud of the horses. And we have an amazing team of owners and staff. We'd have the best group of track drivers we've ever had. "But achieveing this sort of thing takes a lot of work. It's all day. every day on Sundays, but it all comes down to days like today and they give you a kick along and keep you going a bit longer.'' Purdon admits, however, that only this last week he and Natalie had been questioning their lifestyle. "Natalie has done a big team all her life in Brisbane, like me, and she knows how demanding it is,'' Purdon said. "We were asking ourselves the other day just how much longer we wanted to be doing this. "I'm up at 4am every day doing the work lists, feed up is at 5.30am and we start work at 6.30am. "We've got 12 staff but it's still a big job with 55 horses in the stable.'' The crowd of more than 20,000 who cheered their runners home race after race will be hoping it doesn't end any time soon. Courtesy Of Barry Lichter

It has been 18 years since Mark Purdon won the most prized race on the New Zealand harness racing calendar and you could see what the New Zealand Cup meant to the brilliant horseman when Adore Me got up in the last stride to grab this years race. He had a smile a mile wide on returning to scale and it was still there ten minutes later. Away well from her second line draw, Mark let her settle back in the running line before sending her forward in the three wide train behind outsider Pemberton Shard. Before then Ricky May on Terror To Love had got a lovely drag up from back in the field and grabbed the lead with a lap to go from the early leader Franco Nelson. Aussie raider For A Reason worked forward from the rear and made the death seat outside Terror To Love with 1000 metres to go. When Pemberton Shard started to tire from the 600 metres, Mark sent Adore Me four wide down the back straight before being three wide on the turn. As they straightened for home Terror To Love was soon under pressure both inside and outside with Franco Nelson grabbing the lead half way up the lane and then he was nabbed right on the line by Adore Me. For A Reason battled on valiantly for a close third with Terror To Love holding on for fourth. Adore Me paced the 3200 metres from a stand in a brilliant 3:54.6, a mile rate of 1:57.9 with closing sectionals of 55.8 and 27.5 which was well inside the previous New Zealand record of 3:56.4 set by Changeover. Mark Purdon was effusive in his praise of the mare as he brought her back to the birdcage. "She is just a champion mare and showed everyone today how good she is. "I knew I had to get handy as the big dangers were up on the pace," he said. When told the time for the race he was a touch surprised. " It didn't feel like she was going that quick but it just shows what a great mare she is," he said. John Dunn and Franco Nelson did everything but win the Cup and John was thrilled with the run. " I got away well and got the lead easily enough and then got a lovely run behind Terror To Love. "Half way up the lane I thought I was on the winner but the mare got me in the last few strides, "I was thrilled with the run and so proud of my horse," he said. Luke McCarthy and For A Reason went enormous and Luke was thrilled with the run. " He kicked a stay just before the start and was slow away but went huge after that. "When they go that quick, to finish that close was a huge effort and I am so proud of my horse. "We will have to come back next year and try again," he said. Ricky May was happy enough with the run of Terror To Love. "He got round fairly easily so I pressed on to the front to give him every chance. "However he was hitting the stays after he got to the front and raced a bit keen after that which cost him a length. "I am really proud of his performance and don't think we could have done any more," he said With Scuse Me already having left the winner of the Sires Stakes Final for 3 year olds earlier in the day with Have Faith In Me,  with the win of Adore Me the outstanding broodmare has already got her hands firmly on this years broodmare excellence award. Adore Me was one of seven winners on the day for the all conquering All Stars barn and we have just about run out of superlatives for the blue and silver stars team. Harnesslink Media    

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