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Didjamaken Bolt scored one of the great Addington Raceway comebacks when he outclassed his rivals in a 1.54 mile parked out on Show Day. In only his second start in two years for Merv and Meg Butterworth, Didjamakem Bolt had made a lapse at the start when resuming at Ashburton and also made a mistake at the trials. "I didn't want to be parked out ideally but I was aware he had made those mistakes and so I wanted to keep him balanced and with room." "After that even tho parked I thought he would be hard to beat" Mark Purdon said after the stable's 7th win at the carnival. "We will keep him down here over the holidays racing in events like the Ashburton Cup and those sort of races." "We have no long term plans for him just see how it comes" Hardly surprising. Didjamakem Bolt went amiss after a hugely impressive win in 2.18.6 for the 1950m, his fourth successive win. At that stage many, not excluding Mark, were thinking in terms of the New Zealand Cup this year. Alas his wind operation and leg injury was followed by more problems and he had had a slow buildup before resuming at Ashburton. Fortunately this prep has been almost incident free. "If ever a horse deserved this it is him" said Meg reflecting the patience the owners have shown with DJ because his great potential could not go unexplored. "A bigger thrill than winning the NZ Cup with Arden Rooney" Merv added. DJ is by the same sire as Smoken Up and looks as though he might have a similar durability all going well. Certainly his ability is right out of the ordinary-which is why Merv and Meg were not afraid to outlay big money for him at an early stage of his career. David McCarthy All Stars Racing Stables  -  Check site here

While Art Critic had little luck going into Fridays big race for the fillies and mares at Addington Raceway, there was a real confidence in the camp when she came up with the ace draw for the 1950m. She was able to leave the gate on terms with the field, but John Dunn made an early call to hand up the lead to second favourite Lovetodream. With 1400m to go, Dexter Dunn came with a searching run with Lightning Mach to take the lead, but there was no panic from John who realised with the hot pace the gaps would come. In what was a race defining move, he was able to push off the rail at the 850m, shunting breeze horse Tintinara wider and allowing Art Critic to apply pressure to the leader. As they turned for home she quickly surged to the front and under John's urgings, she went to the line strongly to win by a length in 2.20.7 for the 1950m, a mile rate of 1.56, home in 800m 56.5 and 400m 29.1. Owned by Studholme Bloodstock and the McDonald Racing Syndicate Limited, Art Critic has always looked a mare headed for better things. However, in her first three starts this campaign she was bereft of any real luck. That was until yesterday when having made her own luck she was able to head home a very good field, with New Years Jay rattling home from the back for second and Happy Heidi putting in one of her late runs for third. Yesterday's win was the 4th from 19 starts for the lighly raced Art Major mare. She appeals as a horse that will only get better with age and it will be no surprise to see her tackling the top mares races at some point. Robert Dunn Racing Stables   -   Check site here

After their six winners on New Zealand Cup Day, a lot of pundits were predicting that the all conquering All Star barn could have an even bigger day on Show Day yesterday. Prince Fearless was the most impressive of the Cup Day winners from the All Star barn, bolting in by over 13 lengths in very quick time and he was a very short priced favourite in the first race yesterday. However as all racegoers know there are no certainties in racing and that's how it played out. Waterloo Sunset and Bob Butt made a flyer from the 10 metre mark and were in front after 200 metres. Bob kept the huge son of Sundon up to the mark in front until Prince Fearless and Mark Purdon looped the field with 800 metres to go and assumed control. Just when everybody thought Prince Fearless would cruise clear for an easy win in the straight, Waterloo Sunset and Bob flew up the passing lane and went straight on past Prince Fearless for an emphatic victory.  Bob thought he was a chance to roll the favourite. " Waterloo Sunset had been going super prior to Tuesday's run having run second to Stent the start before." " He wasn't a happy horse Tuesday, missing away and not trotting any good at all." " Paul (Nairn) thought a splint was troubling him and treated it after Tuesday" " Today he trotted the best he has ever trotted and I was confident a fair way out I would be tough to beat," Bob said. Trainer Paul Nairn was just happy to have his huge trotting star back on track. " He is such a big horse that he has a few niggles off and on so I am happy to have him back on track after Tuesday's effort." "We will look at the big trot at Geraldine at the end of the month with him next but Auckland in December is on the radar as well," Paul said. Waterloo Sunset has always looked a top trotter in the making and it is a credit to Paul Nairn that his patience is now starting to pay off. Harnesslink Media

Mid Canterbury drivers Ricky May and Gerard O'Reilly have been good friends for as long as either can remember but all that was put aside yesterday in the New Zealand Free For All when they fought out the finish of the $250,000 Group1 event at Addington Raceway. In a titanic home straight duel that went right to the wire, Tiger Tara with Gerard in the bike just got the call over Mossdale Conner and Ricky May. Tiger Tara and Mossdale Conner are not two of the glamour horses on the New Zealand harness racing scene, they had both been going super all season in the elite grade. Ricky lead yesterday with Mossdale Conner and was not in the mood to hand up while Gerard and Tiger Tara slotted into a lovely trail behind Arden Rooney in the one out,one back position. Turning in these two locked horns but it took Tiger Tara the length of the straight to get his nose in front of a game Mossdale Conner. Gerard was unsure if he had got up on returning to the winners circle " I knew it was really close but was unsure if we had made it." " We got a lovely run behind Arden Rooney but you never quite know you are travelling with Tiger Tara during a race as he is such a relaxed horse." " With his manners he is a lovely horse to drive and he is always up for a fight like we had today." "He just never stops trying," Gerard said. Ricky May was fuming after the race, claiming that a flat tyre he received on the last bend had almost certainly cost him the win. " Greg (Hope) had put the sliding blinds on today and we just flew the barrier and the instructions were to not hand up." "Zac was on my back with Sky Major turning into the home straight but he has tried to get through on my inside before the passing lane and has punctured my tyre." "There was never enough room and I am positive it cost Mossdale Conner the win." "I am gutted for Greg and Nina and the owners because he should have won the race," Ricky said. An enquiry was opened into the incident but was adjourned due to the fact Zac Butcher had already left the course to fly back to Auckland for drives he had at Alexandra Park last night. None of that controversy should take the gloss of a great win by Tiger Tara. Geoff Dunn, Gerard O"Reilly and Tiger Tara are a great combination and yesterday's win at the elite level will not be the last. Harnesslink Media

Leading up to the Dominion Handicap at Addington Raceway yesterday, most people thought Stent would continue his domination of the trotting scene in New Zealand. Stent had been in great form leading up to the Dominion Handicap yesterday but the one thing that raised the odd doubt in people's minds was the distance of yesterdays race- 3200 metres. If Stent looked to have one chink in his armour, it was his less than great record at the extreme distance. Stent had won the Rowe Cup at the distance but only after sitting on Master Lavros's back the whole journey and even then he just beat him by a nose. Master Lavros was an opponent again yesterday and while Stent isn't at his best at 3200 metres, Master Lavros has always excelled at the distance.  Master Lavros was away quickly for Mark Jones and grabbed the lead after 400 metres and kept up a steady tempo in the lead. Stent and Colin De Filippi after an early bobble had settled three back in the running line before looping the field to land outside Master Lavros's wheel at the 800 metres. Just when it looked like a match race between the two champions was on the cards, Master Lavros strode away for an emphatic victory with Mark Jones giving a great victory salute as he went over the finishing line. Alley Way and Matthew Williamson got home well for second in front of Sheemon who trailed the whole way while Stent only battled into fifth.  Mark Jones was very animated on his return to the winners circle "This is all down to Regan's hard work," Jones said of his Woodend Beach foreman Regan Todd. "There's a lot of satisfaction winning today after what we have been through with horse there is nothing better than getting back to the top of the pile" Jones said. "When you're in that position we were last season, you start to have doubts and you start to think you are lucky to have won what you have in the past." "I was starting to get to the point myself that Master Lavros might not win the Dominion again if he didn't win it this year as there are so many good young trotters coming through," Mark said. Jones was keen to get to the front early in the Dominion because he wanted to take bad luck out of play. "I just wanted to give him every chance and not have any excuses." "He goes good in front and we have come so far with this horse I wanted to give him every chance," Mark said. Regan Todd was just pleased it was over. "Its been a really long week leading up to today."  " A few people had doubts after Kaikoura but we always knew he needed that run," Todd said. The Rowe Cup is the main aim for Master Lavros for the rest of the season although a trip to Australia beforehand is still on the cards. Harnesslink Media

The All Star barn have had a great Cup Day the last couple of years and after Tuesday's six wins most pundits thought they would win as many if not more yesterday at Addington Raceway. One All Star runner expected to be hard to beat was Superfecta in the $32,000 Show Day Futurity. However Scott Phelan on Ashton K was determined that if he was going to be beaten, it wouldn't be through lack of trying. Scott and Ashton K flew out of the barrier from post seven and after balancing up Scott sent him to the front after 600 metres. Not long after Articulight and Mark Jones had a look for the front but Scott was having none of it and kicked up again. Going past the 600 metres he was joined by Superfecta but Scott kept him at bay and they turned for home together. Just when it looked like Superfecta would prevail, he went into a gallop and lost all chance leaving Ashton K clear for a hard earned victory. Scott was all smiles post race. “ It is good when a longterm plan comes off as it has here.” “ After a couple of burns during the race it was a good effort to stick on like he did.” “ I thought Superfecta may have had us at the top of the straight but my fella had fought back when Superfecta galloped,” Scott said. The 2600 metres was cut out in a very quick 3:10.8 so there was no place for the faint hearted in yesterdays final. Scott was unsure of where Ashton K would race next. “ He is much better the left handed way of going which is why we have brought him south so often but with the Auckland Cup meeting on our doorstep, we may have to give him his chance at Alexandra Park,” Scott said. Wherever he goes, Ashton K has shown he has what it takes to be competitive. Harnesslink Media   

The  victory of Master Lavros turned back the clock. The giant gelding led throughout to claim his second Gr.1 $255,000 Hellers Dominion at Addington in Christchurch defeating Alley Way and Sheemon in the 3200m stand start harness racing feature. Master Lavros scored in this event two years ago. The winning drive from Mark Jones, a former world driving champion, was inch perfect as he dictated terms nicely in front while race favourite Stent sat midfield in the moving line after a tardy beginning. Jones was able to quicken and slacken the speed which made it awfully hard for his rivals to find their groove. It was a perfect reminder that Jones is a truly gifted reinsman, one of the very best in Australasia. And while Jones is listed officially as the trainer, the man that pours his heart and soul into the gifted trotter is Regan Todd. Operating two stables, Jones is based at Burnham while Todd operates the Woodend Beach stables, of which Master Lavros is based and trained. Since winning this event back in 2013, connections have been left frustrated and perplexed as the gelding struggled to regain that dominating form that catapulted him to early stardom. The expectation and pressure created cracks and last season proved disappointing with only two victories from 11 starts, many breaks were made in running. But the seven-year-old has returned in solid form this season and the reason is simple, he’s sound and trotting perfectly. Master Lavros rated 4:05.9 which equates to a milerate of 2:03.6 while he covered his final 800m in a slick 57.6 seconds. The time was slightly slower than what he recorded two years ago. Master Lavros is now a dual Dominion champion while he has also collected the North Island’s major trotting event, the Rowe Cup. His earnings have now surpassed $500,000. The Sundon – Lavra Noblesse gelding is raced by his breeder, Kypros Kotzikas. Race favourite Stent finished fifth and had his chance after his early miscue, the Dominion proving to be his ‘bogey’ race. The next leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters will be staged on February 6, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton. by Chris Barsby

Leading into todays harness racing meeting at Addington, Ryal Bush trainer Nathan Williamson had some sleepless nights worrying about Statham and how he would perform on his first trip to Addington Raceway. Surprisingly beaten first up for the season at Rangiora last Thursday, Nathan immediately had a blood taken and the news was all bad. Not only was he tying up but he had an issue with stress. The Vet's prognosis was Statham could start today but only if he had a very quiet week with no hoppled work. Nathan was worried about what the vet told him. “He said he was stressed and I put that down to it being his first time away from home on his own.” “The tying up I can deal with easily but having to back off his training regime put me under stress as well,” Nathan said. Being a big gross type of horse, Statham needs plenty of work to keep him up to the mark and Nathan was unsure how he would go today off the back of such a soft week. Nathan didn't need to worry as Statham gave a sublime performance to reinforce his reputation as one of the most promising pacers in Southland. Three wide for the first 600 metres, Statham took the lead with 2000 metres to go and proceeded to run them off their feet. Come the finish Statham still had 1 ½ lengths to spare. What gave the performance more merit was Statham cut out the 2600 metres in 3:12.5, a mile rate of 1:59.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 28.1. Nathan was a relieved man speaking to Harnesslink after the race. “ I thought he would be terribly short but his class got him through.” “He blew the house down after the race so it was a super effort to win like he did.” “ He would have only been 80% today so it was a great effort,” Nathan said. Statham is only lightly raced todate but he has shown enough already to suggest he has a very big future. Harnesslink Media  

It's a breeders lifetime dream and the Stiven family of Tapanui in West Otago achieved that dream on Tuesday afternoon at Addington Raceway when Arden Rooney lead all the way to win the 2015 New Zealand Cup.   Bred by the late Noreen Stiven, the family was immensly proud of their little warrior today after his gutsy win in the Group One feature.    Although the Stivens don't own the six year old gelding they had a bit to do with his upbringing.   The story began in 2007 when Tosca Hanover was bought at the Christchurch Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale for $8,500 by Noreen. The mare had been empty for three years but the Stivens liked her on pedigree being by Walton Hanover out of the much revered Black Watch family.   As a racehorse Tosca Hanover qualified at Addington in 2002, then owned by Gavin Cook and trained by Dean Taylor. She never made it to the race track.    Cook bred Ashman from her before he sold her at the sale.   The Stivens sent her to Bettor's Delight and the resulting foal was named Arden Torres (after Spanish footballer Fernando Torres). He was offered at the 2010 Sale of the Stars and was bought by Mark Purdon for $70,000. He was then raced by Charlton Enterprises - (Pat Kubula - Gore), C.R. Knowler and Mark Purdon; winning just once from his eleven starts before he was exported to Australia where he had moderate success.   Arden Rooney, named after footballer Wayne Rooney, was the mare's next foal and he was sent to the sales in 2011. However he didn't receive a bid and was bought back by the Stivens.   He was then send to the All Stars barn with co-trainer Grant Payne taking a half share with breeder Noreen Stiven. "Mum wasn't that well at the time and Grant qualified her and made sure he told her how good he thought the horse was. He won his first start just after mum died," said John Stiven who was on-course today with wife Judy.   Arden Rooney then went on to qualify for the 2012 Sires Stakes Final and a half share in the horse was bought by Australians Merv and Meg Butterworth just before that race. After running second to Franco Nelson in the final, the Butterworths bought the remaining half share. He continued to race out of the Purdon/Payne barn before the Butterworths sent him to Australia to be trained by Kerryn Manning.   After a slow start his Australian form has been stunning. From twelve starts he has won eight races - seven in a row. His wins there include the Group One Hunter Cup, Group Two Mildura Cup and Group Three Swan Hill Pacing Cup.   With a New Zealand Cup tilt on his racing radar this season Manning and Arden Rooney returned to New Zealand in late October and in his first start back in the country he narrowly won the Kaikoura Cup earlier this month.    In today's cup he stepped well and was taken to the front by Manning. Running his last 800 metres in 55 seconds he held on to win by a head from Smolda. The overall time for the 3200 metres was 3-57.4.   In winning this years cup - the 112th running, Manning became the first woman driver to win our biggest harness race. The win mirrors Michelle Payne's win in this years Melbourne Cup on Prince of Penzance. She was the first female rider to claim the great thoroughbred race.    After seeing Arden Rooney in the flesh today prior to the cup John Stiven had good reason to be confident.    "His skin today just looked like silk. He looked great going out onto the track and he raced accordingly."    Today's win also makes the son of Bettor's Delight a millionaire. He has now won $1,089,519.   The last Southern Bred winner of the New Zealand Cup was Bee Bee Cee in 1994 - 21 years ago.    As breeders the Stivens have got close to breeding the winner of the New Zealand Cup before, when Bettor's Strike ran second to Monkey King in 2009.   The cup win caps off a stunning few days for the Stivens. Another one of their mares Winter Rose was awarded the NZSBA/PGG Broodmare Excellence Award at the New Zealand Standardbred Breeder Association's Awards Night.   'It's been unbelievably special."   She joins the likes of Vain Franco (2014) dam of Under Cover Lover (21 wins) and Scuse Me (2013) the mother of Adore Me (26 wins).   Despite not being involved in racing Arden Rooney anymore the Stivens haven't been left empty handed. They continue to race the progeny of Tosca Hanover. Her Somebeachsomewhere mare Maritime Arden won three races last season for Mark Jones while her next foal a two year old filly by Well Said (Articulate Arden) is having a break after being in work at the Purdon/Rasmussen barn. "She due to foal to Panspacificflight in three weeks and she's been booked to Bettor's Delight."    Another victory for Southern Bred, Southern Reared.   Bruce Stewart Reproduced with permission of Southland Harness Racing   -   Check site here  

Turning down a Group I start is not easy but Trevor Casey his hoping his sacrifice will pay off.  Bookmakers have Stent as short as $1.80 to win the $250,000 Group I Dominion Trot at Addington Raceway on Friday. Nine of the Dominion field went around in the Group I NZ free-for-all trot on Tuesday but Stent was left at home. Stent has 30 victories and multiple Group wins but a Dominion victory would rank up there with the best for Casey, who races the 7-year-old son of Dream Vacation. "It's like the New Zealand Cup for the trotters," Casey said. The champion trotter was third two years ago behind Master Lavros and ran home for a disappointing sixth last year but was later found to be struggling from asthma-like symptoms. Co-trainer Colin DeFilippi is happy with how Stent has progressed since his last start at Kaikoura and says he is in perfect fettle to try to win his first Dominion at his third attempt. But Casey is not getting carried away despite Stent's heavy favouritism. "They don't come easy, they never do, even though we are in a favourable position you've still got to go out there and do it." Casey is sure Stent wold have backed up but said he wanted to do the best thing by his horse and give him the best chance in the Dominion. "We went to Kaikoura because we were a run short but he ran a national record time so we thought it would be best to go in fresh rather than race on Tuesday." Stent went under Sheemon's national record of 3-00.6 set at Kaikoura 12 months earlier by 0.4 sec. Mark Jones is predicting Master Lavros, second favourite at $6, will be improved on his fourth in Kaikoura. "He needed that run up there, he hadn't raced for three weeks," he said. Habibti was good when finishing third behind Monbet and Alley Way on Tuesday in the NZ free-for-all after sitting parked for the first half of the 1950m. "I was happy with her but I thought she probably should have run second," co-trainer David Butt said. "She just died in the last 60 or 70m so we have to just have to hope she improves with that run but it's hard to know." Butt, who trains in partnership with wife Catherine, said the former derby winner has bounced through the run. Habibti has not raced over two miles but his trainers are picking the distance will not be an issue. "I don' think it will worry her, she's always been a good little stayer,"  Butt said. Butt is hopeful rather than confident that Habibti can defeat the likes of Stent, Master Lavros, Sheemon and Alley Way. Last year's runner up, Sheemon, was disqualified on Tuesday but his run was much improved on recent outings and at his best will be a wining chance. Swedish trotter Daryl Boko broke rounding the final bend on his New Zealand debut and further improvement is expected on Friday. Greg and Nina Hope might not have their boom 4-year-old Monbet in the field but do have two runners in Quite A Moment and $81 outsider Harrysul. Quite A Moment is at $16 but has to be a strong place chance on her form since returning home from Australia. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ    -    Check site here

The second of the big pacing races for the open class horses in Cup week is the Woodlands New Zealand Free For All over 1950 metres at Addington Raceway tomorrow. Cup winners have a great record in this race but the wide draw has lengthened Arden Rooney's price tomorrow. Here is our runner by runner preview of the Woodlands New Zealand Free For All. 1) Sky Major  -  Starts: 44    Wins: 15    Secs: 7    Thirds: 7    Life: $762,775 Looked primed to run the race of his life in the New Zealand Cup but disappointed at the 3200 metres even though a flat tyre wouldn't have helped. This distance is much more to his liking and with the ace draw Zac will have options. Plenty of speed from the runners outside him who will apply plenty of early pressure so not sure he will keep the lead. Should get a run to suit his sit /sprint style and big winning chance here. 2) Mossdale Conner  -  Starts: 50    Wins: 11    Secs: 11    Thirds: 7    Life: $271,412 Good third in the New Zealand Cup after getting the run of the race. Ricky May felt he wasn't 100% on Cup Day and so the run has plenty of merit. Has huge gate speed and from this draw will definitely try to lead early and as he showed in the Taylor Mile last season he can be hard to run down over the shorter distances. Can threaten the favourites with a run to suit. 3) Bit Of A Legend  -  Starts: 62    Wins: 20    Secs: 15    Thirds: 4    Life: $805,101 Finally got back to a mobile in the Junior FFA on Cup day and showed he was still a player at this level. Loves this distance and loves Addington Raceway so not to be discounted here. Hard to see him winning this but legitimate first four contender 4) Tiger Tara - Starts: 40    Wins: 12    Secs: 10    Thirds: 6    Life: $466,456 Strangely quiet run from him in the Cup where he sat in for a long way which is not really his normal racing style and ran home well late. We think he will blast the gate here after Tuesday's effort and head forward to the front.  Can do plenty of work in his races so hard to see anybody fighting with him except maybe Mossdale Conner. Can win and a definite include in all combo bets. 5) No Doctor Needed  - SCRATCHED 6) Choise Achiever  -  Starts: 45    Wins: 13    Secs: 4    Thirds: 3    Life: $617,505 Pacer on the comeback trail who disappointed in the New Zealand Cup. Just doesn't look to have regained that sparkle he use to have before his injury. Hard to make a case for him here. Not for us. 7) Corzin Terror  -  Starts: 73    Wins: 19    Secs: 13    Thirds: 6    Life: $409,948 Soft trip on the inner in the New Zealand Cup but did get held up a bit by Choise Achiever. Ran home okay after that without being anything special to finish eighth. Has real gate speed but so do several inside him and hard to see him being a serious player from the draw. Not for us. 8) Arden Rooney  -  Starts: 49    Wins: 21    Secs: 8    Thirds: 7    Life: $1,089,519 Past  New Zealand Cup winners have a great record in this race and there is nothing here to suggest Arden Rooney can't do the same. Draw is testing but he is rock hard and can do plenty of work in his races. Definite winning chance even from the draw and a must include for all combo takers  9) Smolda  -  Starts: 43    Wins: 22    Secs: 9    Thirds: 4    Life: $903,447 Massive run in the Cup but this draw hasn't helped him at all is his quest to go one better than Tuesday. Has a great all round game so if Mark Purdon can work a bit of his magic, Smolda is more than capable of rolling over the top of these. Came through the Cup in good shape by all reports so a big winning chance and a must include for all combo takers.                                                                  SECOND LINE 10) Messini  -  Starts: 48    Wins: 19    Secs: 11    Thirds: 5    Life: $468,670 No luck in the Cup on Tuesday where he was parked out for the first 2000 metres and over raced at times as well. Pushed back and came again well for fifth. Drawn on Sky Major's back so he should get a good run handy on the inner which is when he goes his best races. Hard to see him winning but a definite first four player from the draw. 11) Lewy Risk  -  Starts: 46    Wins: 8    Secs: 8    Thirds: 4    Life: $86,178 Hasn't shown enough this season to be considered a threat here. Hard to make a case for him in a field of this depth. Not for us. 12) Franco Nelson  -  Starts: 41    Wins: 14    Secs: 8    Thirds: 8    Life: $573,790 Valiant fourth in the New Zealand Cup on limited preparation but sat three back on the inner the whole way and didn't  cover an extra inch. Should have improved with the run on Tuesday but draw means he is going to have to cover plenty of ground to be a major player here. Outside first four player from the draw for us. 13) Ohoka Punter  -   Starts: 33    Wins: 17    Secs: 6    Thirds: 7    Life: $642,826 Received a beautiful run on Tuesday in the Cup before being shuffled back a couple of places but didn't  run on as well as he should have after such a soft run. Is better than that but the draw here is a horror one which doesn't help his cause. Needs them to go mad up front from draw which is more than possible so not completely out of this. One A G Herlihy helps bigtime so while it is hard to see him winning the race, he is a definite first four chance for us. SELECTIONS Regardless of the draw, we think Smolda is the class horse of the field and more than capable of winning this even though he is drawn out in the carpark. Looks to be plenty of speed drawn close in which should make for a very true run race which should help Smolda. With the record Cup winners have in this race, you can't ignore Arden Rooney in the form he is in while Sky Major should get a soft run from barrier one which turns him into a major player here. After those two it is a bit of a lottery although Tiger Tara, Mossdale Conner and Ohoka Punter are the three we like for trifectas and first fours Harnesslink Media

As we have done in the past, Harnesslink will do a runner by runner preview of the big race for the trotters, the Dominion Handicap. This years field is very strong with both Stent and Master Lavros in top nick at the moment and they are joined by several runners who with a run to suit can challenge the two favourites. Here is our runner by runner preview of the Dominion Handicap. 1) Springbank Sam  -  Starts: 69    Wins: 17    Secs: 8    Thirds: 8    Life: $291,718 Struggling to get back to his best and has shown little this time in. Does have good course and great distance stats at Addington but hard to see him playing a part here even with Phil Williamson in the camp. Not for us. 2) Valmagne - Starts: 84    Wins: 9    Secs: 13    Thirds: 12    Life: $101,254 Under rated trotter who has been placed in Group 1 races before. Last five starts have all had merit, especially his good fifth on Tuesday from a bad draw against most of those he faces here. Hard to see him winning this but a bolter for first fours at big odds 3) Quite A Moment  -  Starts: 77    Wins: 13    Secs: 18    Thirds: 18    Life: $245,415 Huge improver since reuniting with the Greg and Nina Hope barn.  Has run some great races this time in, mixing it with both Stent and Master Lavros. Her last run at Kaikoura was her best as it dispelled the myth that she was only a sit/sprint type when she ran a great third after doing a power of work. Ricky May is driving in great touch at the moment  which adds to her appeal. Looms as a danger to the two favourites and include in everything. 4) Sheemon - Starts: 61    Wins: 18    Secs: 17    Thirds: 10    Life: $494,926 Outstanding trotter who since Motukarara has had his share of issues and has raced well below his best up until his last run. His run in the FFA on Cup Day was super after he broke early from the mobile yet still flew late for a close up fourth before being disqualified. Much better from a stand and looks a possible early leader here and a definite danger to everybody if the real Sheemon turns up. Include in everything. 5) Alley Way  -  Starts: 49    Wins: 11    Secs: 12    Thirds: 4    Life: $118,805 Has taken a while this season to hit his straps but smart run on Tuesday to run second in the FFA shows he is peaking nicely at the right time. Was placed in last season's Rowe Cup behind Stent and Master Lavros so has the form on the board here to be a threat. May not be up to winning this but a must include for all combo takers. 6) Uncas  -  Starts: 70    Wins: 10    Secs: 8    Thirds: 6    Life: $107,552 The form line looks pretty uninspiring but it is his manners that are the issue. He is either being very slow away or breaking and at this level that can be terminal. Not for us. 7) Stent  -  Starts: 64    Wins: 30    Secs: 18    Thirds: 5    Life: $1,137,933 Champion trotter who will be favourite for this and deservedly so after another string of top runs this season. Distance brings him back to the field a wee bit but has the allround game to take this out. Won't want to get too far off the free going Master Lavros but Colin De Filippi rarely puts a foot wrong in the bike so it shouldn't be an issue The one to beat. 8) Harrysul  -  Starts: 21    Wins: 6    Secs: 0    Thirds: 2    Life: $39,969 Young trotter who has shown plenty at times but not that often at this level. Being pacing bred he does have a lot of speed but is not quite the finished product yet. In twelve months time we think he will be a contender but this has come a bit to soon for him. Not for us. 9) Master Lavros  -  Starts: 45    Wins: 18    Secs: 7    Thirds: 3    Life: $444,602 Forget his  Kaikoura run as he has always struggled there with the bends. His Addington record is fantastic and the 3200 metres is perfect for him. Doesn't have the tactical speed of Stent but can make his own luck and super tough. Draw is another plus and sets Master Lavros up as a big winning chance Include in everything. 10) Daryl Boko - Starts: 29    Wins: 9    Secs: 4    Thirds: 3    Life: $135,568 Swedish import who has taken some time to find his feet in New Zealand. Workout win at Ashburton in 3:05 for the 2400 metres was smart run and showed he wasn't far from his best. Showed real speed when looping field in his first New Zealand start on Cup Day before breaking. Distance and standing start suit Hard to see him winning at this stage but he does looks a first four player to us.                                                                 SECOND LINE 11) Jag's Invasion  -  Starts: 34    Wins: 9    Secs: 5    Thirds: 1    Life: $82,413 Has only three starts back after nearly a year out. Went nicely in his first start back but has under performed in his last two Much better from a stand than he is from a mobile so some chance of turning it around. Needs everything to go his way to be a first four player. 12) Habibti  -  Starts: 39    Wins: 15    Secs: 7    Thirds: 7    Life: $316,713 Champion mare who has built nicely for this in her four starts this season after nearly a year off. Likes to sit in and have one run at them and can be lethal if she gets that kind of run. Stand and distance won't worry and outstanding driver in the bike. Must include for all combo takers. 13) Prime Power  -  Starts: 38    Wins: 15    Secs: 6    Thirds: 6    Life: $227,052 Outstanding age group trotter who has had a few niggles in the last twelve months that have hampered his progress. No doubting the ability and looks to have come up a treat this time in. Trainer very happy with him and great from a stand which is a bonus. Another must include for combinations. 14) Kincaslough  -   Starts: 36    Wins: 10    Secs: 3    Thirds: 3    Life: $128,286 Very smart mare but not racing up to her own high standards at the moment. Third in this race last year but two or three lengths short of that form at the moment. The field is very strong this year and she needed to be right on her game to be a chance here. Rough first four chance at best.  15) One Over Da Moon  -  Starts: 46    Wins: 18    Secs: 3    Thirds: 4    Life: $261,785 Been in great form up north over the winter and carried that form down south with a great win at Ashburton on Labour Day. Didn't go that well at the Cup trials that followed Labour Day and followed that up with a below par run on Tuesday in the FFA where he finished fourth after having every possible chance. Dyed in the wool stayer so will appreciate the 3200 metres but may not be 100% just at present. Couple that with the draw and he is only a rough first four chance at best. SELECTIONS Stent is our first pick but only by the hair on his lip from Master Lavros. It wouldn't surprise us if the order was the other way round. To round out trifectas and first fours, we like Quite A Moment, Sheemon, Alley Way, Habibti and Prime Power. Harnesslink Media

Twelve months ago, he was eating the dust of his stablemate Adore Me. Today, Arden Rooney claimed the country’s greatest prize in winning the Gr.1 $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington, Christchurch. Now prepared by leading Australian horseperson Kerryn Manning, Arden Rooney led throughout to defeat a game Smolda and Mossdale Conner in the 3200m stand start feature in a time of 3:57.4. And the triumph now elevates her into rare air because a female reinsperson has never driven a Cup winner prior to today. “This is my greatest achievement in the sport and I’m so thrilled to win this race, it’s a race that everyone involved in the sport appreciates and to win is just unbelieveable. I’ve got to make special mention of my husband Grant (Campbell) for all of his work with this horse and to Merv and Meg (Butterworth – owners) for showing the faith in me to train this horse.” A jubilant Manning stated. The transformation over the last twelve months has been extraordinary, leaving the all-conquering All Stars stables of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen and switching to Manning's Great Western stables in country Victoria has proven to be an absolute masterstroke. Under the care of Manning, Arden Rooney has added the Hunter, Geelong, Mildura, Terang and Swan Hill Cups before winning the greatest staying contest staged in the southern hemisphere today. And plenty more beckons for the six-year-old Bettor's Delight – Tosca Hanover gelding. The victory provided Manning with her 41st Group One winner while adding to her tally of more than 3500 lifetime winners to date. Following a brilliant beginning, the stand start specialist dictated terms in front while his rivals jostled for early positions. And while rival drivers were plotting and planning their moves to bring about the undoing of the Australian visitor, Manning continued to march to the beat of the drum of Arden Rooney. With a moderate speed being set in front, many of her rivals became fierce and agitated. At the top of the straight, Arden Rooney and Smolda edged clear of their rivals and staged a great stretch duel but the Australian trained star was superior on the line lasting by a head margin while another 4 lengths back to Mossdale Conner, Franco Nelson and Messini. “I was really confident once we landed in front and then we copped no pressure which suited me just nicely, I knew he was fit enough and I was happy to have them chasing me over the final mile. “Merv always promised me a good horse and he’s delivered with Rooney, it’s just unbelievable what he achieved in the timeframe he’s been with me. Both Merv and Meg really deserve a horse like this because they put so much in through ownership and sponsorship, and Mark (Purdon) was the first to congratulate me after the race which was really great.” The next obvious major target for Arden Rooney is another shot at defending his Hunter Crown crown next February. The victory of Arden Rooney provided champion sire Bettors Delight with back to back victories in the New Zealand following the success of Adore Me last year. by Chris Barsby

Australia’s first lady of harness racing has done it again. Kerryn Manning today became the first woman driver to win a New Zealand Trotting Cup with an allthe-way victory aboard reigning Hunter Cup champion Arden Rooney in the Group 1 feature. Manning drove the perfect race aboard the Merv Butterworth-owned star at Addington in front of an enormous crowd, the Great Western pacer outgunning the might of Mark Purdon’s stable – who had won nearly everything else on the day – and the best Australasia had to throw at her over the two mile journey. Arden Rooney stepped perfectly from behind the tapes to find the lead early and was never troubled in the run, holding off the race favourite Smolda in second and Mossdale Connor in third at the finish. Manning, last year’s HRV Gordon Rothacker Medal recipient, was the first person ever to win 300 races in a single season in Australia or NZ and the first woman to drive a winner in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. She has driven 3529 winners and today’s was her 41st Group 1 victory.  Harness Racing Victoria

Before the Sires Stakes Final for harness racing three year olds at Addington today, the jury was out on who was the better of the two All Stars runners, Lazarus and Chase The Dream. Both had great records heading into today's race and many thought the the one that got the better run would prevail.   Chase The Dream worked to the front after 700 metres and was quickly joined by Lazarus 100 metres later.   These two great three year olds upped the tempo at the 400 metres and as they turned for home they had drawn clear of the field.   At that point Chase The Dream and Natalie Rasmussen shot clear by two lengths but they couldn't completely shake Lazarus.   Mark Purdon steadied Lazarus for a few strides and then asked him for his supreme effort.   Slowly but surely he wore Chase The Dream down and grabbed him just short of the post for a stunning victory with the rest of the field five lengths away.   When the overall time and sectionals were announced, the enormity of the win by Lazarus was revealed.   The 1950 metres was covered in 2:19..2, a mile rate of 1:54.8 with closing sectionals of 55.2 and 26.8.    It was a truly breathtaking prformance.   The connections of Lazarus have been involved in plenty of top horses but even they were blown away by the run.   "They just can't do that after the run he had."   "To run the last 400 metres in under 27 was unreal," Phil Kennard said.   Another part  owner Trevor Casey was just shaking his head.   "They are not meant to be able to go like that after getting a run like that'   "I am super happy because I have brought a half-sister to Lazarus and she has just had a filly by Bettor's Delight so it is a great day," Trevor said.   The run by Lazarus today was stunning and he looks the early favourite for the Derbies later in the season.     Harnesslink Media

One of the givens about racing at the elite level in harness racing is you need ring-craft to go with your ability. On Cup day at Addington today, Have Faith In Me blew that right out the window with a display more in keeping with a horse having his first start.   Away well for driver Tim Williams, Have Faith In Me went to the front with 1600 metres to go but then started at various stages to race most ungenerously.   Appearing to all but break at the 400 metres mark, Tim got the Bettor's Delight brother to champion mare Adore Me balanced again and he went clear for a comfortable 1 3/4 length win.   Tim Williams was a bit non plussed by the performance.   " He tried to jump a shadow in his preliminary and did it again with 400 metres to go."   "It was a difficult drive at times and I don't really know why."   "Maybe it was because he was in front because he hasn't raced there much in his career."   "He was really full of himself today but he really shouldn't do that," Tim said.   After taking all that in, you then find that Have Faith In Me has run the 2600 metres in a super quick 3:07.6 with closing sectionals of 55.5 and 28.   The run just epitomises the huge potential of Have Faith In Me and he looks a potential champion in the making.     Harnesslink Media

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