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A couple of harness racing trainers who were happier than most to hear of Adore Me's attack on the Victoria and Hunter Cups were Greg and Nina Hope. It has been quite frustrating for the Woodend based couple to repeatedly line their star mare Helena Jet up against Adore Me over the last 12 months and know deep down that Adore Me had the wood on them. Helena Jet's last three runs against Adore Me have resulted in a second in the $150,000 Harness Jewels at Cambridge, a second in the $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes at Alexandra Park and a second in the $100,000 Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park so to not have to face Adore Me in the $40,000 Garrards Premier Championship at the end of the month brought a smile to co-trainer Greg Hope's face when he spoke to Harnesslink today. "Adore Me is just a champion and arguably the best horse in the country so for her to be in Australia gives us a real chance." "Helena Jet has been going great races lately but Adore Me is a champion," Greg said. Sent south to contest the Oaks and Nevele R final as a three year old by her northern owners, Helena Jet failed to impress Greg when he first worked her. " She works like an average maiden at home and even now her work is not that flash." "I wasn't that confident when I first took her to the races at Addington." "Ricky May (driver) told me afterwards that she warmed up poorly as well but soon as she turned to get on the gate in the score up she was all business." "She went 1:54.9 that night and I knew then that she was everything her owners said she was," Greg said. Greg is confident that the daughter of Jeremes Jet is ready to step up in the the absence of Adore Me. "She is a ferocious competitor when she gets out on the track." "She can get really keen so we use a colt bit on her to make her a bit easier to control," Greg said. While several other runners such as Lancewood Lizzie and Venus Serena will have their admirers, the performances of Helena Jet behind Adore Me over the last few months means she is the one they all have to beat on January 30th at Addington. Harnesslink Media

If you thought New Year’s Jay was no hope of winning turning for home at Addington last night, don’t worry, you’re not alone - Jonny Cox was thinking exactly the same thing. Stone mother-less upon straightening in with a wall of horses in front of them, Cox and New Year’s Jay’s chances looked forlorn, but somehow they found clear air and the speed the seven-year-old mare showed to run past a tidy field of pacing mares was incredible. “We had no hope on the bend,’’ Cox said. “But when I pulled the plugs and asked her to run, she literally took off. “It was scary how quickly she grabbed the bit and ran past them.’’ The performance left a fair few heads shaking but while initially surprised in the manner in which she did it, Cox wasn’t surprised that she did and it’s forced him and his training partner, Amber Hoffman, into pushing their star pacer into the deep end. That means taking on the best mares going round in the Premiers Mares’ Championship at Addington on January 30, well almost all of the best mares in the country. The race will be missing champion mare Adore Me, and while her omission is a shame for the race itself – it does leave a very even field of talented mares to tackle the Group One feature with Venus Serena, Helena Jet, Here We Go Again and Pemberton Shard as well as others. “With Adore Me not there is seems the perfect time to give her a shot at taking on the best. “We will get a good line on where we are at then. “She’s going to draw well with the preferential barrier draw system and the speed she showed tonight will help without doubt.’’ Following the Premier Mares’ Championship, New Year’s Jay will now be eligible to compete in the Prodigal Seelster Summer of Speed Final at Ashburton on February 7. “We have a few options up our sleeve which is great. “The final of that series looks right up her alley.’’ Incredibly the win of New Year’s Jay was the first for Cox and Hoffman since the start of December and it took their tally for the season to 12. Matt Markham - Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Harness racing enthusiasts in Australasia who have been around a wee while will have no trouble remembering the champion racemare Pride Of Petite. The pint size mare by Royal Prestige was a major player in all the big trotting races during the mid 1990s and by the time of her retirement had won 35 races in Australasia from Dominion Handicaps to Inter - Dominion Finals and even qualified for the Elitloop final in Sweden. Herself a daughter of a champion racemare in Petite Evander who won 48 races in New Zealand and North America, Pride Of Petite has done a fine job at stud without being able to leave one as good as herself. The best of her progeny was undoubtedly Petite Sunset who ran second in the Trotting Oaks and earned $115,070 on the track. Purchased by well known and successful breeders Lex and Heather Williams from Waimate in South Canterbury, Petite Sunset first produced a Monarchy filly which as Petite Royal has already won a race from the Robbie Holmes barn. It was while foaling her second foal to Angus Hall that Petite Sunset died and Heather  Williams thought they might lose the foal as well. "We lost the mare and we thought we would lose her"  "She was bottle reared and we called her Lucky-lucky to be alive" Heather said. Retained by the Williams, the aptly named Petite One was placed with the powerful Purdon/ Rasmussen barn and she didn't take long to display a touch of class. Debuting at Addington in July last year as a late 2 year old, Petite One did plenty of work but was still too strong for her maiden rivals. Put aside straight afterwards, Petite One reappeared at Auckland in early December and in four starts at Alexandra Park during last month she has clocked up two wins and two placings and looked better with every run. Her latest run on New Years Eve was evidence that this is a filly of real class. Racing over 2700 metres for the first time, Petite One was a touch slow early and settled three back on the inner early before angling into the one out one back position with 1600 metres to go. There she stayed until the 500 metres mark where driver Mark Purdon sent her after the pacemaking Al Bundy and she grabbed him late in the race for an impressive win. Petite One trotted the 2700 metres in 3:29.5 from a stand which was a new New Zealand record for a 3 year old trotting filly. Just as impressive were her closing sectionals of 58.4 and 27.9 Mark Purdon was more than pleased by the performance of the daughter of  Angus Hall.. "She will go home now. She has done a wonderful job up here" Mark said. While it is early in her career to be making comparisons with her illustrious close relation Pride Of Petite, Petite One is very similar in many respects and her progress will be closely followed by many enthusiasts who remember her grand - dam. Harnesslink Media  

Canterbury harness racing trainer Steve Dolan has been going through a bit of a quiet patch lately by his own high standards but a couple of recent acquisitions to the stable look capable of turning that around. The Badlands Hanover gelding Cimarron had his first start for the stable yesterday at Motukarara and didn't disappoint with a nice run for a close up second to the smart Big Texas and it was a run that suggested that he won't be a maiden for long. Steve brought the horse for a syndicate of a dozen people as a low cost entry into harness racing for the group. " He was a cheapie I brought for a syndicate of new owners to let them experience the thrill of racing a horse." "He is no star but he will pick up a race or two and hopefully convert a few of the new owners into long term owners," Steve told Harnesslink today. Cimarron is from the Astreos mare Samantha B who is a half sister to the smart Blackjacky ($54,104) while the grand dam Rare Vintage is a half sister to the former outstanding pacer Impressionist 1:57.9 ($427,005)  The other recent purchase for stable clients was the 4 year old Man Around Town gelding Nui Toc Tien who after an unlucky third at Addington first up for the stable had won his next start with a fair degree of authority at Rangiora last week. That win qualified Nui Toc Tien for the $12,000 Wakefield and Williams Grass Track Championship final at Motukarara yesterday but he had the misfortune to draw the outside of the second row for the mobile 2000 metres race. Driver Dexter Dunn sent him forward early and he worked to the front at the 1200 metres mark. Although hotly challenged early in the run home, Nui Toc Tien really dug deep  when Dexter asked him and he went strongly to the line for another authorative victory. Purchased off breeder/trainer Neil Ure after a smart run for second at Ashburton during Cup Week, Steve thinks that Nui Toc Tien has a bright future. " He was recommended to one of my owners Mark Wooton by Mitchell Kerr as a horse with a future." "We purchased him off Neil Ure and he had done a great job with him and it was a pleasure to buy such a well educated and conditioned horse." "He is a lovely type with both a great gait and speed and has a super attitude as well" "Dexter really likes him and said his win yesterday was a lot easier than it looked," Steve said. Steve has decided a short break of three weeks is in order now and then he will map out a programme for Nui Toc Tien. "I think he has a big future and could go a wee way," Steve said. Although you wouldn't call Nui Toc Tien a "blue blood" being by Man Around Town from a Falcon's Icon mare, his maternal family is littered with outstanding horses. Champion racemares in Arania and Hurrania are close up in his maternal line and his dam Nui Thi Vai is closely related to such smart types as Smooth Trickster 1:54.3 ($156,874), Pulse 1:50 ($196,551) and Glenroydon 1:51.3 ($119,791) to mention just a few. Steve Dolan has developed a reputation as an astute trainer with an eye for a promising horse and his two recent purchases have only further built on that reputation. Harnesslink Media   

The ever decreasing numbers of harness racing  mares being bred makes it essential that we get the best use of those horses we do have racing and there can be little doubt that the drop back system is helping in that regard. Available to all horses 4 years + older who have not won in their last ten starts, the drop back provision has meant a new lease of life for a lot of horses and kept a lot of horses racing when otherwise they would have been retired or sold. One of the latest examples to take advantage of the system is Friday nights winner at Addington Raceway in Dixie Commando.  A six win mare, Dixie Commando last raced before Friday night in May against the likes of Kincaslough, Jaccka Justy and Dr Hook and she finished a tidy fourth on that occasion. With the drop back to a nine rating Dixie Commando sneaked into the C2-C4 trot over 1950 metres and co - trainer and driver James Geddes thought she would be hard to beat. " It was a big drop back in class to what she had been racing and even though she drew barrier nine I thought she would be very hard to beat." " She has always gone good fresh in the past so she had a lot in her favour on Friday night," James told Harnesslink yesterday. James has always had a lot of time for the daughter of CR Commando. " She is such a beautifully gaited mare and lovely to do anything with." "High speed is her other biggest attribute so the mobile sprints suit her," James said. Badly injured as a 5 year old, Dixie Commando had a pastern screwed together but the injury has had no long term affects on the mare. " She doesn't do much at home at all to be honest" "She is quite an athletic type and we just keep her ticking over," James said. On Friday night James and Dixie Commando made a flyer from barrier 9 and were able to slip into the trail behind the tearaway early leader The Bog. With The Bog setting a quick tempo in front, James never had to leave the trail until 150 metres from the finish and quickly claimed The Bog for a comfortable victory with the best of the rest being Astrapi who was 2 3/4 lengths away in third. Dixie Commando trotted the 1950 metres in 2:25.7, a mile rate of 2:00.2 It was Dixie Commando's 7th career victory and along with 22 placings she has now earned $76,139. James said serious consideration was given to sending Dixie Commando to the breeding barn earlier in the season. " We did give it serious consideration but with the drop back system in play we thought their might be a win or two in her yet," James said. When Dixie Commando does retire to the breeding barn, she has plenty to recommend her for that role. Dixie Commando is a daughter of the Sundon mare Galleons Tribute who is a half sister to the outstanding broodmare Rob The Nest who has left such standouts as Galleons Assassin 1:55.4 ($327,286) and King Of Strathfield 1:56.8 ($253,950) amongst a plethora of talented trotters. The way Dixie Commando won on Friday night however means that may not happen any time soon. Harnesslink Media  

Three hundred Catholics converged on Addington Metropolitan Raceway in Christchurch in November for an evening of harness racing celebrities, dining, and the inaugural John Paul II Centre for Life, “Parish Priest Punter of the Year”. Sponsored races such as the J. Butler & Co & Mairehau Catholic Parish Pace, and John Paul II Centre for Life Handicap Trot, created an evangelistic atmosphere for the meeting. The evening brought parishioners together, and raised awareness of and funds for the John Paul II Centre for Life. Fairy money of $100 a race was allocated for each priest’s betting. As competition intensified, Fr Paulo Filoali-i hurried down the stairs, past the birdcage, and onto the track. He was seen racing down the course in the mobile barrier starter truck, no doubt to gain a closer assessment of racing form, tinged with a taste for speed. This same ploy was used by Fr Anthony Prendergast, from St Theresa’s parish, Riccarton. Race six saw Fr Bill Middleton’s horse, Donaldson, cheered on with great fervour. Faces pushed up to the glass window of the Silks Lounge. All eyes were on Donaldson as the horses raced for the finish line. Well, almost all. It is said Fr Dan Doyle, parish priest of Ferrymead-Lyttelton, had his fairy money on Dr Hook, who won by a nose. Fr Doyle’s smile grew with every race and by race 10 the evidence was clear. He became the first John Paul II Centre for Life “Parish Priest Punter of the Year”, receiving the trophy, a beautiful bronze harness horse in a glass case. The initiator of the evening, diocese programme director Phil Gourdie, has had more than 40 winners in harness racing. MC Jack O’Donnell spent 30 years as race commentator in the Wairarapa, Nelson-Marlborough area and on the West Coast. He was president of the Greymouth Jockey Club and the New Zealand Racing Conference. He raced gallopers and harness horses. Bishop Barry Jones spoke of the centre’s work as being close to his heart, supporting the Gospel of Life so powerfully preached by St John Paul II, who knew the culture of death threatens society in many ways. The centre, which is available to the whole community, he said, puts time, effort and resources into honouring the dignity of persons when they are under threat. Bishop Jones, who is patron of the centre, established a trust in 2011. In one year the centre fielded 1217 phone calls, 75 pregnancy consultations and 59 after hours calls. It distributed 95 packets of nappies, 11 high chairs, 12 bassinets, 25 cots and 14 prams. One hundred and fifty five donations of baby clothes were given out, and 127 layettes. The centre facilitated the Catholic family camp, with a theme of raising kids Catholic, giving them roots and wings. by Jenny McPhee Reprinted with permission of the NZ Catholic

Nominations closed on Wednesday 17 December with the Met for the running of the 2015 Muscara Standardbreds New Zealand Derby at Addington on Friday 27 March.   At the time of closing, 44 three year old pacers had been nominated for the prestigious event, that this year carries a total stake of $200,000, an increase of $25,000 from 2014.   Nominations included 12 from leading Canterbury trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen.    Addington’s Racing Manager Brian Rabbitt was happy with the number of nominations. “It is very pleasing to receive such a high level of nominations for this time honoured event. Our three year old crop this year is of extremely high quality and we’ll be looking forward to hopefully carding a full field on 27 March.”   Any horse not nominated, may upon making the first late entry fee of $1,000 plus GST per horse become eligible. This fee is due no later than 3pm NZ time on Wednesday 14 January.   A fixed odds book on the nominations will be released by the TAB at noon on Monday 22 December..   Nominations   1 Art Union 2 Better Scoot 3 Bettor Spirits 4 Bracken Ridge 5 Brilliant Strike 6 Chachingchaching 7 Change Stride 8 Classical Art 9 Costa Del Magnifico 10 Cullect The Gold 11 Downunder Stride 12 Duke Of Albany 13 Express Stride 14 Field Marshal 15 Fight For Glory 16 Follow The Stars 17 Have Faith In Me 18 Highview Freddy 19 Hughie Green 20 Hug The Wind 21 Itz Bettor To Win 22 Jay Dub 23 Jonny B Good 24 Kept Under Wraps 25 Kiwi Legend 26 Linda Lovegrace 27 Major Stare 28 Major Stride 29 McArdle Star 30 Mighty Flying Major 31 My Kiwi Mate 32 Nero Star 33 Prince Of Pops 34 Pulp Fiction 35 Rakarolla 36 Robbie Burns 37 Say My Name 38 Sluggem 39 Smithy 40 Strike The Gold 41 Supersonic Miss 42 The Lion's Roar 43 Titan Banner 44 Zin Zan   Ged Mooar

19 December. This is a totally new concept for the harness racing industry. Harness 5000 is a race limited to the progeny of sire’s who stood at an advertised fee of $5,000 or less (see guideline list below of eligible Pacing Sires). Eligibility is for those 3YO pacers who were nominated for the NZ Sires’ Stakes #31 as foals or the NZ Yearling Sales Series #23. Where any horse was not nominated, if their sire was nominated for Sires’ Stakes a late entry fee of $1,000 plus GST may be payable. If the sire wasn’t nominated either the late entry fee is $2,000 plus GST. Artificial insemination and transport of chilled semen allow our leading Sires to serve large books of mares. While this is great for them commercially it makes it harder for others to break into that domain. This race is about an opportunity for the progeny of those other stallions. We are greatly indebted to The Met, HRNZ and the NZ Sires’ Stakes Board for seeing the need and jointly funding this new initiative. Stallions (Sires’ Stakes eligible) Artiscape                           Major In Art Attorney General             Ohoka Arizona Auckland Reactor           Pacific Fella Badlands Hanover          Panpacificflight Changeover                     P Forty Seven Charles Bronson             Pay Me Christian Christian Fire                    Red River Hanover Elsu                                    Righteous Hanover Extreme Three                  Riverboat King Flashing Red                    Royal Mattjesty Four Starzzz Shark          Safari Gotta Go Cullect               Sands A Flyin Gotta Go Cullen               Santanna Blue Chip Holmes Hanover             Shadow Play Julius Caesar                   Stonebridge Regal Justa Tiger Klondike Kid Washington VC Live Or Die Bruce Barlass                              Ged Mooar PGG Wrightson                            Addington

The summer campaign for one of pacing’s most exciting horses is over while another has suffered an untimely setback. Three-year-old speed machine Hughie Green will miss this Friday’s Alabar Classic at Alexandra Park after a dramatic month that saw him perform well below his best last start. That was at Alexandra Park 11 days ago, a few weeks after his expensive and almost disastrous loss run in the Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington, where he shied and ducked to the inside of the track in the home straight. Trainer Brian Hughes says he can’t work out Hughie Green, who has the fastest official last 800m ever at Alexandra Park, failed so badly at his next start. “There is something not right with him so he is having two weeks off and his next big aim will be the Derby here in March,” said Hughes. That still leaves his stable with a knockout three-year-old, the filly The Orange Agent, who faces her biggest test against some outstanding opposition in the $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial on Friday. Another star pacer who won’t be at Alexandra Park this Friday is New Zealand Cup runner-up Franco Nelson. He was a shock failure as a $1.10 favourite last start and is been affected by shin problems. “He won’t be ready for this week and the focus is now getting him back to his best for the Four and Five-Year-Old race at Cambridge on Christmas Eve,” said Dunn. But Friday’s meeting does see Adore Me back to defend her title in the $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts while Stent and Sheemon travel north for the $40,000 Lyell Creek Trot. There will nothing quite so fancy at Alexandra Park’s daytime meeting today but Friday night form will be the key pointer to follow. Makarewa Jake and Moment Of Truth bring that to race two, with the former running on well in a good race last Friday to finish just head of the latter. Liberty Styx (race four) was a good Friday winner two starts ago and raced in a far stronger field last start so being on a Alexandra Park bonus today she makes logical appeal. The Barry Purdon-trained pair of The Faithful (race six) and Aliante (race eight) have both been racing in a far stronger maiden series and fall back into races they can win today. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

The old saying in harness racing that form is temporary and class is permanent was never better displayed when Vulcan turned his career around with an outstanding win at Addington last night. The 8 year old son of Earl has been a big player at the elite level in the not to distant past but has been struggling during the last twelve months  to recapture that sort of form. This is a trotter who has racked up 10 Group 1 wins on both sides of the Tasman with 5 Group 1 wins in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand his victories include the coveted Dominion Handicap, two Harness Jewels victories as well as successes in the New Zealand Trotting Championship and New Zealand Trotting Free For All. In Australia his biggest wins were in the inaugural Great Southern Star (Heat + Final), The Knight Pistol Trot, V L Dullard Trotting Cup and the Australian Trotting Grand Prix. It is an outstanding record however you look at it and judging by last nights win he is not finished yet. With his form dropping away this season,the decision was made after the Dominion Handicap this year to lease a share of the horse to Roddy Butt. Vulcan was transferred to the beach training complex of David and Catherine Butt with Roddy doing most of the day to day work with the horse since his transfer.  In his three runs from his new quarters Vulcan was ok at Geraldine before running a much better race to run 4th at Methven last Sunday to Royal Aspirations in the trotters Green Mile. Last night driver Bob Butt who was wearing Roddy's colours had Vulcan away well from his 35 metres handicap and he settled seventh in the running early. Working up on the inner, Vulcan was four back as Vacanza set a hectic pace in front. Going past the 800 metres Vulcan was shuffled back to last and then hooked on to the three wide line on Valmagne's back. Going past the 500 metres mark Bob pushed the go button and Vulcan looped the field and shot clear as they turned for home. At the line Vulcan was still 3 1/2 lengths to the good of Royal Aspirations in a display that was more like the Vulcan of old. Vulcan trotted the 2600 metres from a stand in 3:15.4, a mile rate of 2:00.9 and only 6/10ths of a second outside of the New Zealand record for the trip held by Royal Aspirations. It was Vulcan's 19th career win and along with 19 placings took his earning to $994,969 and cracking the million is now on the radar. "It would be great to crack the million with him as he deserves it after what he has achieved," Bob Butt told Harnesslink this morning. "That is the immediate aim and we will just keep him to races like the one last night to give him every chance to crack the million," Bob said. Judging by the manner of his last to first burst last night it won't be too long until Vulcan cracks the million dollar mark. Never a horse that has received the accolades his performances have deserved, Vulcan deserves every bit of praise that he will receive when he cracks the million mark in the next few weeks. Harnesslink Media  

Addington is pleased to announce that two of the main races on a premier night’s racing on Friday 30 January have new sponsors. The Group 3 Summer Cup and Group 3 Summer Trotting Free-For-All, both with stakes for $25,000, will be named the United Steel Metalcraft Roofing Summer Cup and Teltrac Communications Ltd Summer Trotting Free-For-All respectively. United Steel and Metalcraft Roofing are both long-time supporters and sponsors at adington and operate under the United Industries Group of Companies that was formed in 1991. Drawing on the expertise of some of the steel industry’s most experienced people; the United Steel team prides itself on making the specification and use of steel as simple and economical as possible. Metalcraft Roofing is New Zealand’s largest and privately owned building products roll former and installer, with an extensive range of long run roofing profiles, metal tiles and rainwater systems solutions. Teltrac Communications, with branches in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin, has also been a sponsor at Addington for many years. The company started in 1991 in Christchurch with just 14 staff and now has over 70 skilled staff across the five cities. Teltrac Communications Limited has a diverse range of telecommunications products with specialised divisions focusing on distinct telecommunications products sets. Further information about United Steel and Metalcraft Roofing can be found at www.unitedindustries.co.nz To find out more about Teltrac Communications visit www.teltrac.co.nz Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington 

Frank Phelan must have chuckled to himself when asked if he could afford to pay a fine. Phelan was on the mat at Cambridge about to lose his amateur driving licence for six months after failing to give his horse Cougar Bromac every chance to win in October. But the judicial committee chairman who slugged him with a $500 fine as well needn't have bothered checking if the battling Papakura trainer had any money. For the past three weeks Phelan has been pinching himself about a Christchurch Cup week coup which saw him net $93,000 from a handful of $10 multis. Phelan did what few others have managed in the history of TAB betting, and strung together a winning sequence of 10 horses on one ticket. Nine of the 10 ran on Show Day at Addington, and Phelan took four of them to win and another five to run a place. And when they all came in, he had all night and half the next day to wonder whether this was the collect he'd dreamed about. When he went to the Auckland trots that night he couldn't help but let on that he was up for $80,000 if one galloper, My Chino, could run a place at Riccarton. Phelan says he chose the horse because it ran an unlucky second the previous week, but perhaps subconsiously he was drawn to it because of the similarity in names to his daughter Chyna. It all looked academic anyway when My Chino dropped out to last in the running, leaving Phelan resigned to losing, until Chris Johnson lived up to his magic man tag and brought the mare home with an electric burst for third. The result saw Phelan collect $73,000 from his main ticket - $7000 less than he'd anticipated because of deductions made after scratchings. But he also picked up another $15,000 from a $10 ticket which bore the same horses but needed only eight of the 10 to come in for him to collect, and another $5000 from two smaller saving tickets. Phelan admits he could hardly wait to check the total of his TAB account on his computer. "I kept telling my mates the big one was coming soon - I'd just missed one or two big collects before, so I'm glad to finally get one," Phelan said. "It was pretty tense there for a while waiting for Saturday but I knew I had a reasonably big collect coming anyway with the ticket of any eight out of the 10." Phelan said his hopes of landing the lot rose with each race on Show Day after he got Juliette Bromac (place), Hot Pants (win), Supersonic Miss (place), All Star Man (place) and Clover Mac (place) home. "The ones later in the day were better chances - Dalton Bromac (win), Helene Jet (win), Adore Me (place) and Classical Art (win). "But it didn't look like Classical Art was going to get up and I thought I was gone until it came again on the inside." Phelan, who supplements his income working on foal watch at Alabar Stud from 9pm to 6am, and would normally have been asleep during the day instead of betting on the Addington trots, said scores of people have been asking him how he did it. But while he has offered his advice, and has had a few more multi collects since, he's not getting big- headed. "I 'spose I'm even now after all the years I've been betting. "But it's going to be a good Christmas - I've already given Chyna $10,000 to buy a new car." Courtesy of Barry Lichter - Sunday Star Times

Harness racing can be very cruel at times especially when everything is going well. That was the feeling in the All Stars barn this week when their top 3 year old Alta Orlando sustained an injury which has brought  a sudden halt to the career of this budding star. Mark Purdon was typically philosophical when talking about Alta Orlando this week " Its a suspensory problem in a back leg." "Its a shame as he was as fit as he could be and ready to race but that's racing," Mark said. Alta Orlando was at the top of his game from the time he stepped onto a racetrack as a 2 year old with his five starts as a juvenile bringing three wins a placing for $141,749 in stakes. His best win as a 2 year old was in the $195,000 Sales Series Final in a 1:56.2 mile rate for the 1950 metres. The 3 year old final of the same series that is held at Auckland at the end of this month was the next major race on Alta Orlando's schedule before his injury. The son of Courage Under Fire was a $35,000 purchase out of the 2013 Australasian Classic sale and is owned by longtime All Star client Neil Pilcher along with Hall Of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jim Gibbs and his wife Ann. Never an easy horse to drive, Alta Orlando has raced off the unruly in all the big races. That usually meant Alta Orlando doing a lot of work in his races as in this years Sires Stakes final where he was three wide for a long way but still ran third in a 1:53.7 mile rate for the 1950 metres. Regarded by many as the 3 year old from the All Star barn with the most ability, Alta Orlando had been the subject of overseas interest just before his injury which makes it all a bit harder for the connections to take. " There was a lot of overseas interest in Alta Orlando in the last few weeks and then this happened," Mark said. Everyone in the harness racing industry knows how fickle things can be at times but that knowledge doesn't makes situations like Alta Orlando's injury any easier to handle.   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing has been dominated in the south this season by the outstanding efforts of the All Stars team and tonight at Addington was no different. Heat three of this years Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies series for 3 year fillies looked like a three horse affair with the All Star Team duo of Supersonic Miss and Classical Art joined by the talented Delightful Lana from the Cran Dalgety barn. In slushy track conditions, Delightful Lana and Classical Art came out together and dueled for 300 metres before Natalie Rasmussen slotted Classical Art into the trail behind Delightful Lana who as usual had Dexter Dunn in the bike. Mark Purdon had settled Supersonic Miss back on the inner but hooked her out and sent her forward with 1200 metres to go and she worked to Delightful Lana's wheel with 700 metres to run.  As they swung for home Delightful Lana held a narrow advantage but was quickly claimed by Classical Art up the passing lane and by Supersonic Miss on her outer and these two settled down to battle it out. Even allowing for the run she had most pundits would have still expected Supersonic Miss to assert her superiority but it wasn't to be as Classical Art ran away from her better credentialed stablemate for an emphatic victory by 2 1/2 lengths with Delightful Lana a further 1 3/4 lengths in third. It was the fourth win in a row for the strongly built daughter of Mach Three and maintained her unbeaten record since her debut just over a month ago. Classical Art paced the 1950 metres in slushy conditions in 2:24.6, a mile rate of 1:59.3 with smart sectionals of 56 and 27.5 considering the state of the track. It should be little wonder that Classical Art is as talented as she is as the daughter of Mach Three is from the 1:57.6 Artsplace mare Art Lover who is a daughter of none other than the brilliant racemare Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,923). Purchased for $31,000 from the Australasian Classic Yearling sale in 2013, Classical Art's progress has been far from plain sailing for her trainers. Mark Purdon was quite reflective after the race tonight  on his unbeaten filly. " She was close to being sacked not to long ago to be honest." " She is quite a hard filly to work with and is not that good a track worker at home." "When it comes to raceday however she is a completely different filly." "To win that race tonight in the manner she did at just her fourth lifetime start was some effort," Mark said Mark wasn't disappointed with the run of the brilliant Supersonic Miss to run second. " The track didn't suit her 100% and she had a tough run but it was still a smart effort under the circumstances but she ran into a better one on the night," he said. Both fillies will now head to Auckland with the $75,000 Ladyship Stakes and $150,000 Alabar Sires Stakes final firmly on the radar. While Supersonic Miss would have started the season as the top ranked filly in the All Stars stable, one gets the feeling from listening to Mark Purdon tonight that she is being  quickly overtaken by Classical Art. Harnesslink Media    

Harness racing tonight at Addington Raceway was run in cold and showery conditions and a lot of horses just struggled to cope with the slushy track conditions. One who did cope was the talented 4 year old mare in Sans Le Sou who showed real courage to win her maiden in a style that suggested that it won't be her last success. Punters sent her out favourite in the 2600 metres event after a couple of smart seconds at her previous two starts. The daughter of Mach Three settled six back in the running line for trainer/driver Ricky Alfield as Ancient Moonlight set up a solid pace in front. Ricky didn't move until 1300 metres from home where he sent Sans Le Sou forward three wide without cover. Unable to get in to the one out line, Sans Le Sou sat out three wide for the rest of the trip and as they turned for home  and just when you half expected Sans Le Sou to stop, she kicked clear for an impressive victory. Sans Le Sou paced the 2600 metres in 3:19.8, a mile rate of 2:03.6 with closing sectionals of 59 and 29.3 which taking into account the ground she covered and the track conditions was a great way to clear maidens. Sans Le Sou which is French for "Penniless" is a daughter of the race winning Live Or Die mare Arma Xcellent and traces closely to the outstanding maternal family established by Armiss. It is a family that is noted for leaving high quality fillies and mares and in Sans Le Sou it appears to have another one to add to the list. Harnesslink Media    

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      

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