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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

By the time the PGG Sales Series final for two year old fillies was due to be run at tonights harness racing meeting at Addington, the driving rain had well and truly set in and had made conditions atrocious. The hot favourite was the Mach Three filly Northern Velocity who drew nicely at barrier five while her main opposition  Luisanabelle Midfrew drew two further out at seven. The two favourites both came off the gate at speed but due to her better barrier Northern Velocity found the front first and driver Mark Purdon was in no mood to hand up in the slushy conditions. Luisanabelle Midfrew and Matthew Williamson ended up parked in the driving rain with Kashana and Ricky May in the trail. There was no moves mid race and as they turned for home  Northern Velocity went clear and still held a 3/4 length advantage at the finish from Kashana and Killer Queen and David Butcher who had been three back on the inner. Luisanabelle finished a big fourth after sitting out parked the whole way. Northern Velocity paced the 1950 metres in 2:28.2, a mile rate of 2:02.2 with closing sectionals of 59.7 and 28. Mark Purdon was a relieved man post race.  " I didn't know how she would handle those track conditions but I knew the place to be was in front. " The conditions are really bad out there so I'm just happy to have got the job done," Mark said. Mark thought time would be Northern Velocity's best friend. " I think she will develop into a lovely three year old and if it wasn't for the Harness Jewels, she would be headed for the spelling paddock," Mark said. While probably not up with a couple of her stablemates, Northern Velocity still shapes as a player on Harness Jewels day. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times as John Dunn well knows. The stable star two year old Code Black has been short on luck the whole season and having to start in the Sires Stakes consolation tonight at Addington (May 15th) instead of the big dance later in the night just about summed up the son of Bettors Delight's season. Code Black was a top third in the Young Guns final in early March but needed a break after that series which meant he only got one shot at a sires stakes heat in which he was very unlucky not to finish a lot closer than sixth. So even though he is more than capable of holding his own against the very best going around, tonight Code Black started in the $17,000 Sires Stakes consolation. Drawing barrier eight tonight meant John took Code Black off the gate and he settled last in the running line. Approaching the 1400 metres mark John sent Code Black forward and he worked to the death seat outside the leader Ice Crusher with 1000 metres to go. John applied some more pressure as they turned for home and Code Black burst clear before having to withstand a late challenge from the hot favourite Cash N Flow and Mark Purdon but he still had half a length to spare when the winning post came up. Sparkling Delight and Gerard O'Reilly battled on well for third. Code Black paced the 1950 metres in 2:25.6 with closing sectionals of 59.1 and 27.9 which was good going in the slushy conditions. John Dunn was happy the horse had showed everyone what he was capable of. " He went huge in the Sales race last week running on from well back on a 26.6 quarter. " If we had had some luck in our Sires Stakes heat he would have been in the final and not the consolation." "I am really glad for the owners who buy one every year at the sales so they deserve a good result like this." John is resigned to losing Code Black as he is under offer and will be vetted tomorrow. " The money is good but not as much as you would think but it is so hard to win those big age group races so the sale makes sense," John said. Code Black was one of the few two year olds around this season who was capable of mixing with the All Stars runners so his sale won't help age group racing in Canterbury. Harnesslink Media    

With the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final for two year olds being run at the harness racing meeting at Addington tonight, we here at Harnesslink thought we would do an in depth preview of the biggest race on the two year old calendar in New Zealand. New Zealand Sires Stakes Final 1) First Class Arden - Starts: 3    Wins: 0   Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $2,170 Has shown up at trials and workouts but his raceday performances to date have been below par. This is not the race to try to turn that form around even from the ace barrier. Not for us. 2) Mach Time - Starts: 6    Wins: 3  Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $16,425 Smart little two year old who has landed the perfect draw. Not up to beating two or three here but will lead early and should get a cosy trip on the back of the favourite Lazarus there after. Definite trifecta and first four player for us from the draw. 3) Lazarus - Starts: 6    Wins: 5    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $178,050 Has looked a star in the making from the first time he stepped on to a track. Only beaten once in six starts and he was lacking a run on that occasion. Comes in here off the back of a dominant win last week and he is much better drawn this week. The horse to beat and a must include in all bets. 4) Max Phactor - Starts: 9    Wins: 1   Secs: 1    Thirds: 3    Life: $18,601 Has run some nice races this season but against grade opposition in the main. Battled in last weeks Sales Final and this field is tougher again. Draw is a help but we still struggle to see him in four. Not for us 5) Salty Robyn - Starts: 6    Wins: 4   Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $54,967 Very smart two year old who went a slasher first up in New Zealand when not 100% due to a long and exhausting trip from Australia just before that race. Will strip a lot sharper this time and and you won't be left wondering as he will be put in the race. Draw makes it harder but is a genuine winning chance and a must include in all bets. 6) Sparkling Delight - Scratched 7) Shandale - Starts: 5    Wins: 1    Secs: 2    Thirds: 2    Life: $43,595 Huge run last week to sit three wide from the 900 metres and still grab second off a 55.6 last half. Maurice McKendry told us post race last week that Shandale was still very green and he thought there would be a lot of improvement in him off last weeks run. Definite threat to Lazarus but may need a bit of luck from barrier six to actually win the race Include in everything. 8) Classie Brigade - Starts: 4    Wins: 0    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $10,074 Worst possible draw for this horse who needs a soft run against these to have a chance of running in four. From out here he is on mission impossible in our view and we can't see him running in four. Not for us                                                     SECOND LINE 9) Wannabet - Starts: 2    Wins: 0  Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $3,280 Really smart run at his last start where he was pushed back to near last but got home in 56.6 three and four wide to run fourth. Again he has drawn to follow out a horse who is going to get crossed early and at best he will be four deep on the rails which makes it very hard. However great driver in the bike in Blair Orange and he is our smokey for trifecta and first four players 10) Chigago Bull - Starts: 5    Wins: 2    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $9,805 Has won a couple of races this season and looked smart doing it but the company was nothing like he is facing here. Not a horse that can make its own luck and from this draw we find it hard to see him as a first four player. Not for us 11) Harry Hoo - Starts: 5    Wins: 0   Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $5,436 A nice two year old who deserves his place here but the draw and the class of the field make this way too hard. Did run second to Lazarus in a heat but that was off a cosy run on his back and in a small field. Not for us 12) Motu Premier - Starts: 6    Wins: 1  Secs: 2    Thirds: 3    Life: $46,153  Lovely two year old who has mixed it with the best all season and yet to finish out of the money in six starts. Not a really high speed horse so needs a solid tempo the whole way to be a major player but liable to get that here with Salty Robyn involved. Must include for trifecta and first four players. 13) Chase The Dream - Starts: 7    Wins: 5    Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $118,826 Has had an outstanding two year old season and the only horse to have beaten Lazarus so far. Last weeks run was his first time out of the money but he had no luck getting room early in the run home resulting in a bit of argy bargy with Classie Brigade and when you are running sub 27 quarters that has an effect. Still found the line and even from this draw is a major player. Can do work and still keep going so if there is a war up front then this is the horse to run over them late. Include in everything 14) Code Black - Scratched 15) Three Ways - Starts: 5    Wins: 0    Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $9,629  The draw is the killer here for this horse. Went a couple of slashers recently but those runs were from good draws and from out here he is really tested. Lost ground from the corner last week after not doing any work so hard to see him playing a part here. Not for us   SELECTIONS From the draw Lazarus is the clear top pick but with Salty Robyn sure to keep at him throughout the race, he may be vulnerable to a late swooper. Chase The Dream and Shandale are the two that we like to make it hard for the favourite along with Salty Robyn. Motu Premier, Mach Time and Wannabet for trifecta and first four players   Harnesslink Media 

We are at that point of the harness racing season where all the cream in the two year old ranks rises to the surface. That is especially so with the two year old trotters who line up on Friday night in the $60,000 Lone Star Riccarton Sires Stakes Championship at Addington. The northern raider Gershwin has shown plenty of ability in his short career and the beautifully bred colt looms as a major chance in Friday nights feature. A son of the champion North American sire Muscles Yankee, Gershwin is the second live foal of the former outstanding racemare Allegro Agitato (22 wins) ($529,854) and looks to have inherited a lot of the family ability. Trainer Sean McCaffrey has a high opinion of his two year old colt. " He is just such a natural trotter." " We raced him in aluminums all round and he doesn't need or appreciate any weight." " Once he is underway a kid could drive him," Sean told Harnesslink this week. Gershwin has met the hot favourite High Gait twice and Sean took a lot of confidence out of their last meeting. " My fella did a lot more work in the race and she only got us by a nose up the passing lane." " Gershwin has really improved since then as well and we have a big advantage at the barrier so I give him a big chance," Sean said. Gershwin is not the only two year old trotter that Sean has sent south with the stablemate Royal Willie also on the trip. " The owners missed a payment for the the Sire Stakes series which is why he is not there this week but he is third on the Harness Jewels rankings and will be at Ashburton." " His last start win at Alexandra Park where he sat parked against the maidens showed us he has a fair bit of bottom to him and they will know he is there on Jewels day,"Sean said. A son of the leading sire Majestic Son from the former smart racemare Miss Whiplash (13 wins) ($151,765) Royal Willie has always impressed Sean. " I have always liked him and there is nothing between him and Gershwin ability wise." " It is hard enough to get one nice two year old trotter most years but this year I have been lucky enough to strike two," Sean said. Seam McCaffrey is no stranger to winning age group trotting classics at Addington and in Gershwin he looks to have a royal chance of adding to the trophy cabinet on Friday night. Harnesslink Media

NSW harness racing reinsman Robbie Morris had very little luck during the Australasian Young Drivers Championship (AYDC) in New Zealand over the weekend. The popular reinsman finished ninth overall after driving in six of the seven heats during the Championship with his best result a fourth at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Throughout the Championship the average odds of horses driven by Morris was 20 to 1, however the 23 year old still left New Zealand on a winning note driving $81 chance Sioux Nation to victory in the final race, a non AYDC event, at Timaru on Sunday afternoon. "It may have not been part of the Australasian Young Drivers Championship but it was still a great feeling to drive a winner in New Zealand," Morris said. "I really enjoyed the experience, it was a great opportunity for me to represent New South Wales and I would like to thank HRNSW for the opportunity." Morris had never driven in New Zealand previously and had his first experience driving on a right handed track when he competed at Alexandra Park. "It was fantastic that the drivers were given the opportunity to drive at both of the big tracks in New Zealand, I have watched so many races from Addington and Alexandra Park, it was a thrill to get the chance to drive on both of them." Having driven 72 winners in NSW with more than three months still remaining in the current season, Morris will return to Australia and aim towards his season goal of 100 winners. "I've driven 100 winners each season for the past three years and that is a goal I will be aiming at between now and the end of the season. "I will be back driving at Menangle on Tuesday afternoon but it was good to see the team back home in Australia get a winner on Saturday night with Stormont Czar winning with Rickie Alchin driving." - HRNSW Media

In harness racing you can be on top of the world one minute and in the depths of despair the next when you are dealing with 500 kg horses. That's how the owners of The Manipulator must feel tonight after their very promising three year old son of Panspacificflight broke down while racing at Addington Raceway today (May 9th). A warm favourite for the $23,505 Alabar Super Series final for C1-C3 pacers,The Manipulator went away well initially but then galloped after 100 metres when checked and settled well behind the field. The Manipulator made up a lot of ground during the race and would have finished a lot closer than ninth if he hadn't been badly held up in the home straight. Nothing was noticeably wrong with the horse as he was ungeared and washed but as he cooled down The Manipulator was favouring his offside front leg. The Addington Raceway vet Corin Murfitt was quickly on the scene and after a thorough examination was convinced that The Manipulator had either fractured a cannon bone or a suspensory. The Manipulator will be x-rayed tomorrow and then a course of action decided after the diagnosis has been made. Natalie Rasmussen was philosophical about the injury. " It is just one of those things when you are racing horses but it is still not nice when it happens." " You just hope that it is not as bad as it looks and that the horse can make a complete recovery," Natalie said. We here at Harnesslink echo those sentiments and wish The Manipulator a speedy recovery. Harnesslink Media  

Every now and again a horse comes along in harness racing that has everybody reaching for the superlatives and shaking their heads in disbelief at what they have just witnessed. Today at Addington (May 9th) we were privalidged to witness one of the best performances ever produced by a three year old filly in New Zealand when The Orange Agent demolished her rivals in the $150,000 Nevele R Fillies Final. Sent straight to the front by driver Maurice McKendry from barrier two, the American Ideal filly put the foot down from the start and once they settled down after 250 metres there was no mid race moves as the speed was on. Second favourite Fight For Glory with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike ended up in the death seat from barrier six and sat on The Orange Agent's wheel with Democrat Party and Zac Butcher getting the dream run in the one by one. Going past the 400 metres Maurice applied some pressure and The Orange Agent immediately shot clear and but for knocking off when well clear would have won by a lot more than the official margin of 1 3/4 lengths. Fight For Glory went super to finish second after sitting parked the whole journey and she was clear of Democrat Party who just held third from a fast finishing Supersonic Miss. The Orange Agent broke the New Zealand record for the 1950 metres of  2:18.2, a mile rate of 1:54 with closing sectionals of 55.1 and 27.1. The previous record of 2.19.1 was held by Venus Serena. The Orange Agent is trained by Brian Hughes of Ardmore and is owned by her breeders Mrs P C Green, J P Green, Mrs M E Green and P C Bult. Harnesslink Media

The first big race on today's premier harness racing meeting at Addington was the $65,000 PGG Wrightson Open Trot for the 2 year olds and the small but select field was further testament to how far our two year old trotters have come in recent years. Conon Bridge from the Paul Nairn barn was a warm favourite in front of Wilma's Mate from the David and Catherine Butt barn. He's Like The Wind with Gavin Smith in the bike flew the gate from barrier five to lead and was followed through from the unruly mark by Conon Bridge with Bob Butt in the bike who pressed on to the front. Bob kept up a steady tempo in front until the 600 metres mark where he was joined in front by Wilma's mate and David Butt and the two favourites drew clear of the field. Passing the 450 metres mark,Wilma's Mate went off stride leaving Conon Bridge ten lengths clear as they turned for home and although Gunners Coin and Dexter Dunn and He's Like The Wind closed late, Conon Bidge always looked to have the race in safe keeping. Conon Bridge trotted the 1950 metres in 2:27.9, a mile rate of 2:02 with the last 800 metres in 59.8. Conon Bridge is a son of the deceased stallion Raffaello Ambrosio. Paul Nairn purchased the colt from last years New Zealand Premier sale on behalf of stable clients for the princely sum of $7,000. Bob Butt was confident once he found the front. " With a race like this one you have to take luck out of play" " I knew He's Like The Wind would fly the gate so I followed him through and found the front." "When he got left in front by that much I knew he would knock off but he still had plenty to offer," Bob said.  With one eye on the Harness Jewels, Paul Nairn has yet to make his mind up about weather he will take Conon Bridge off the unruly. " I will have a talk to Bob about it before we make any decisions but with the Jewels so close it may not pay to change too much." " He can get keen in his work at home so putting him on the gate may just light him up and we don't want to do that,"Paul said. Currently fifth on the Harness Jewels leaderboard, Conon Bridge now looms as the horse they have to beat at Ashburton on May 30th. Harnesslink Media

This years Lone Star Riccarton Australasian Young Drivers Championship got under way at last nights harness racing meeting at Cambridge and the defending champion Andre Poutama immediately showed that he wasn't going to give up the title without a real fight. This years series is being run over seven races at four race meetings across New Zealand and last night saw the first two of those seven races run. First blood went to the defending champion Andre Poutama from New Zealand who settled Sapphire Castleton in the trail behind the pacemaking Tereskova driven by Tom Buchanan from Western Australia and then used the passing lane to good effect to nail Tereskova right on the line. Silver Stream off 50 metres with Dylan Ford from Tasmania in the bike ran on well to grab third in front of Madam Simone and Jake Webster from South Australia. The second heat saw New Zealand's South Island representative Robbie Close grab the early lead with Balius with the hot favourite Forever An Angel and Josh Aiken sitting in the death seat after Robbie wouldn't hand up the front with Balius. Passing the 800 metres Forever An Angel went into a wild gallop and caused a bit of carnage back in the field which left Balius clear in the lead. The only danger was Elusive Edgar with Dylan Ford in the bike in the trail and try as they might, they couldn't run down Balius.  Mach Cullen and Andre Poutama flew home late for third after copping a interrupted run with Stars Star and Jake Webster running on into fourth. Robbie Close can count himself a little bit fortunate to win the race as he copped a $250 fine  from stewards for squeezing Elusive Edgar up when crossing to the lead early. After the first two heats the points table sits like this. Andre Poutama     26  Robbie Close        21 Dylan Ford           21 Tom Buchanan     18 Jake Webster       14 Robbie Morris        9 Michele Neilson     7 Josh Aiken            6 Trent Moffat           6 Ben Butcher           4 The series continues tonight at Alexandra Park before shifting to Addington tomorrow and Timaru on Sunday Harnesslink Media  

The big day of harness racing at Addington tomorrow includes as usual a big team of runners from the all conquering All Stars barn.   As he does most weeks, David McCarthy has done a runner by runner preview of their chances and with the kind permission of the All Stars Racing Stables, we reproduce that preview here.   RACE 1   Petite One  (2) 10M   Form:  Ran on well for third at Rangiora trotting solidly,.   Comment: (Mark) "I am happy with the way she has been trotting since Rangiora and she went well enough there. Worked well Sunday and Tuesday and we have taken the half hopples off. I think she will be hard to beat:"   RACE 8   Classical Art (7)   Form: Another game run in the final heat and has a shot at this.   Comment: (Mark)   "Not a great draw for her but she has the speed to go forward and she can be hard to roll in a fight as we saw in the final heat. These fillies are a headache to tip out because there is so little between them and it is the run of the race which gives the result. Awkward draw but can be in the finish"   Fight For Glory (6)   Form: Just seems to step up to every challenge and last win most impressive.   Comment: (Mark)   "Well on paper at least she is our No 1 for this and on the track too. It was six weeks between races last time but she still won it. I don't think there is an option to go back from the draw in a race so short but that will depend on what happens early. The Orange Agent looks hard to beat from where she is drawn. Fight For Glory is well named and has the speed and I am certainly not counting her out"   Linda Lovegrace (15)   Form: Fought on well in final heat but draw could be a problem,   Comment: (Mark)   "Not so many options for her from this draw. I was impressed watching her run in the last heat at her last start. She really did well in the run home. She can be a little unpredictable and I would say a place hope from there all the same. "   Supersonic Miss (11)   Form: Outstanding run in final heat, unlucky and value here.   Comment: (Mark)   "Jim (Curtin) thought she was a bit stiff in the heat and she certainly had things go wrong for her at the wrong time of the race. That was her first start in six weeks and she always improves with racing. The draw is not the best but you never know how it might turn out. She is a value bet each way on her last run"   RACE 9   The Manipulator (2)   Form: Special beaten really at Rangiora and tough to roll.   Comment: (Mark) "A big run at Rangiora and he has continued working well. I think he is probably our best chance of the day. He has not had a standing start. We gave them both a bit of practice (Tuesday) and they were ok and I don't think he is the sort of horse who  will be worried by it"   Lightfingered (5)   Form: Wiped out of the race at Rangiora so forget that.   Comment: (Mark) "Just didn't get a go at Rangiora (the first time he has missed a first three placing) so you can forget that. He has worked good too this week and has had some standing start practice and has done ok at it. He is also having his first stand. Not much between them but I just favour The Manipulator here."   RACE 10   Cash N Flow (11)   Form: Won debut in impressive fashion which was a maiden but looks able to step up.   Comment: (Mark) "Tim made the decision to opt for Motu Premier because he has another big one coming up next week but after Cash n Flow worked on Tuesday he wondered whether he had made the right choice. Jim Curtin will handle him for us. I think all four are smart horses and there is not too much between them. This one will probably be one of our better value bets if he can have some luck from the draw"   Motu Premier (2)   Form: Won well in easier grade last start but has measured up to this sort of company right through.   Comment: (Mark) "He is a nice horse and will win a big race and he has the draw to get a good trip here. He has the speed to hold up to get the right run. He is the sort of horse which hasn't disappointed us at all but he is a bit slower coming to it than a couple of the others. But he has run the times and he will be a chance and at quite good odds I would think"   Lazarus (6)   Form: Been lacking race opportunities but makes the most of them and front line draw a plus.   Comment: (Mark) "He hung a little, or more than a little, at the Methven workouts Tim told me. He has had a tendency to do that on left handed tracks. We have changed some of his gear and I think he will be fine here. I favour him over Chase the Dream in this race because of the draw. The other youngster will need some luck from where he starts but we should be able to make more of our own whatever happens. Change the draws and you would change your thinking. He seems well and he is well above average"   Chase The Dream (9)   Form: Hard to fault it from any angle but the draw will be a challenge.   Comment: (Mark) "On ability he still rates the best of ours in this race and it is only the draw which is the challenge for Natalie. But top horses can overcome most things and he has that good combo of having speed and being tough with it. So when I say I favour Lazarus there is not much in it at all."   RACE12   Kept Under Wraps (5)   Form: Fought on at Rangiora but needed that run and has ability.   Comment: (Mark) "Tim was a bit disappointed with him at Rangiora. He is a funny horse. Put too much gear on him and he gets worked up. Take it off and he just relaxes too much. We have put the blinkers on this week. I favour Hug the Wind but as I say this horse is not easy to read"   Hug The Wind (9)   Form:  Runner up in NSW Derby but draw the query.   Comment: (Mark) "He is the class horse. We have put the blinkers on him too instead of the sliders just to sharpen him up. He disappointed in the Derby but he had some hard races leading up to that and I think he will be hard here even from that draw"   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stable - Check site here        

This seasons Australasian Young Drivers Championship gets under way at tonights harness racing meeting at Cambridge Raceway in New Zealand with six drivers from Australia and four from New Zealand involved in the series. Ten of the best rising talents of the driving ranks across two countries will square off in a seven race series across four race meetings after which a winner will be crowned.   Things kick off at Cambridge tonight with two heats before the group head to Alexandra Park tomorrow night for two more heats.   They then shift down New Zealand to the South Island and Addington Raceway where they will have one heat on one of the bigger days of racing on the New Zealand calendar before the competition winds up with two heats at Timaru on Sunday.   Representing New South Wales this season is Robbie Morris and he is thrilled to have been given the opportunity.   "Ever since I have been involved in harness racing I've always dreamed of representing my state"   "It's a real privilege to do so"    " My dad drove in the series a long time ago so I'm rapt to be following in his footsteps."   " These series come down to the luck of the draw a bit with what horse you draw in the ballot but I will be giving it my best shot."   "I haven't been to New Zealand before so I am looking forward to it,"   " Kerry Ann (Turner) and I have watched a lot of racing from New Zealand on Sky so it will good to have a look around," Robbie said.   Robbie Morris has already racked up 72 winners this season in New South Wales and looms as one of the favourites to take out the overall title in New Zealand.   Harnesslink Media

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