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Monbet might be out for potentially the rest of the season, but Greg and Nina Hope will tonight unleash another up and coming trotting star when Enghien makes his three-year-old debut. Reigning Horse of the Year, Monbet, underwent an operation on Tuesday to have a bone chip removed from a knee – a procedure that curtailed plans of an Australian raid late in the summer and also leaves his Rowe Cup defence up in the air. Quite A Moment, who ran a bold second to her stablemate in the Dominion last month is the natural replacement at the top of the trotting pile you would think, but then again, there’s a fair bit of x-factor about Enghien. A stand out at two, things got a little too much for him late in the season as he threw a Harness Jewels victory away with a couple of gallops – but there was always the belief from the Hope team that what he was doing then he was doing on raw ability with time set to be his best friend. A decent spell to strengthen up and a solid build up toward tonight has been undertaken and a quiet run in behind Marcoola last week at the Methven workouts should see the well-bred trotter ready to rock and roll when he steps out late in the night tonight at Addington. “He’s good, progressing along nice,” Greg Hope said. “It’s always an interesting one when they come back from being a two-year-old to see just where they measure up. “But we have always had a lot of time for him and he’s maturing into quite a nice horse.” Drawn out wide tonight with Ricky May in the bike, the task won’t be easy – especially with Donegal Bettorgretch, a Jewels winner herself, out for redemption after some poor manners last time out. Another young star is set to return to the Addington track tonight with Nathan Purdon back in Canterbury. The son of champion trainer, Mark, has been on an extended working trip to Australia during which time he enjoyed Group One success with Ohoka Punter as well as making quite the name for himself among the Australian circles. Purdon is set to team up with West Melton trainer, Cran Dalgety in the coming months and will take the reins on Donegal Bettorgretch tonight. He will also drive Bettor To Be Tricky for Grant Payne in the final event of the night. Super Selector  - By Matt Markham Race 1: Mekong Princess, Louis Moss, Shona Mary, Zsa Ziva Race 2: Eja Patron, Nui Toc Tien, Handlebar Hank, Bettor Backim Race 3: Franco Tai, Billy Badger, Ranfurly Rulz, Runaway Star Race 4: No More Change, Glenferrie Classic, Vai Star, Wozniacki Race 5: Bailey’s Rock, Aymar, Fire One, Illegal Immigrant Race 6: Blade, Cmeerock, Stop Means Stop, Missinmemate Race 7: Enghien, Donegal Bettorgretch, Idle Monkey, All Lit Up Race 8: Hilarious Magic, Kitura, Titanium, Bettor To Be Tricky Best Bet: No More Change (Race 4) Value: Franco Tai (Race 3)

Whether or not  last season’s Horse of the Year, Monbet, makes it back onto the track this season is sitting in limbo. The Dominion Handicap winner of last month will undergo a minor operation on Tuesday to have a bone chip removed from a knee after it was discovered following his Group One double during Cup Week. Co-trainer Greg Hope, who trains with his wife Nina, said the bone chip was only a minor issue, but it was something he felt needed to be sorted out. “It’s nothing too serious, but it’s there and we are better off getting on top of it,” Hope said. “We had him x-rayed after Cup Week and it came up there. He’ll have it removed on Tuesday.” After the operation, Monbet will be required to be boxed for up to six weeks which leaves the rest of his season in doubt according to Hope. That means no Australia for the Great Southern Star and even races like the Rowe Cup, which he won last year, are also in doubt. “We obviously won’t be rushing him, there’s no need too. “We will give him the time he needs and then bring him up and see where we are at before making any decisions.” The loss of Monbet is another blow for the open class trotting ranks who continue to be depleted by injuries. Speeding Spur is still on the sidelines and the news from the Stent camp isn’t encouraging. His co-trainer, Colin DeFilippi confirmed last night that there had been another setback on the comeback trail. “His leg has blown up again, so I’m not really sure where we are at. “We won’t be doing anything for at least couple of weeks.” Master Lavros is on the right path to make it to Auckland which is encouraging but the ball is firmly in the court of Marcoola who will head to Methven on Sunday and then to Auckland. While it was a tough week for the Hopes, they did gain some small consolation when Everybody Knows continued his march towards open class with another strong victory last night at Addington. The diminutive trotter worked hard during the final lap of the race but was too good for his opposition, picking up his third win in his last five starts. HRNZ News

Addington harness racing fixed odds movers as at 4:30pm   Race 1 - Firenze $2.60 leads win betting over Beg Hall $4.20.     Race 2 - A huge move here is on Tuscany Miss $4.80 - $3.80 with the $1.60 favourite Bonnie Joan also having strong support.   Race 3 - The only runner wanted here is Lydia Ko $4.60 - $2.70.   Race 4 - Royal Jester $3.00 - $2.60 is easily the best backed on the win 'book' over the longshot It's A Deal $30 - $18.   Race 5 - Easily the best backed runner today in multi betting is Riccardo $1.12. In win betting he is the least backed runner holding just $4.00 at $1.12.   Race 6 - Fatima Siad $3.70 leads multi betting over Cmeerock $4.20.   Race 7 - Donegal Bettorgretch $1.75 - $1.65 leads win & multi betting easily.    Race 8 - Stroke Of Luck $4.40 leads win betting over American Tart $2.90.   In the Drivers Challenge Blair Orange $2.20 is the best backed  over John Dunn $1.90     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

There’s an air of confidence about the way Mark Jones is speaking of his exciting filly, Delightful Memphis, this season. And coming from a usually reserved and measured horseman such as Jones, that spells good signs for fans of the daughter of Bettor’s Delight with some hefty assignments in front of her in the next month. An impressive winner fresh up at Addington a month ago in a heat of the Sires’ Stakes Series, Delightful Memphis returns to Harness HQ again tonight for another heat - this time with just four other runners lining up against her. “Initially I didn’t think we would come back for another heat, but it’s worked out pretty well,” Jones said. “We knew we were going to draw the outside so that didn’t matter but it’s been made a lot easier by having a small field to go up against.” Jones is keeping the imposing filly’s racing spaced as much as he can as he tries to handle what could be a big season on the track and everything she’s done so far is keeping her boss impressed. “I’m really happy with her, she’s ticking along perfectly, I am definitely much happier this time around than what I was ahead of her first run.” The opposition tonight includes Spanish Armada who was, until the Jewels, the dominant filly of the crop. Partyon potentially moved ahead of her with her dominant performances, but she will provide a good yardstick for Jones when the clash horns tonight. “I think if we had picked up a few of the draws Spanish Armada had last season we might be the one with $300,000 in the bank, so I’m not concerned about her, but do respect her. “We can pick and choose our battle this week which is good. She showed she’s good coming off the speed but then last time she was just as good in front and ran away from them late.” Tonight’s meeting also sees the return of Eyre I Come from the Jones stable. The talented trotter, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career takes on a handy field first up. “He’s a day to day proposition, so we are just taking it one step at a time, but I’m happy with him. “He’s probably only 80 per cent in terms of fitness but there are some nice races coming up for him in the next few weeks.” Two other stable stars are getting close to stepping out as well. Master Lavros will most likely make an appearance in between heats at Sunday’s Mt Hutt workouts at Methven before trialling at Rangiora while Whittaker is also progressing nicely. “We are looking at a race on the 16th for Master Lavros then up to Auckland if everything goes well. “With no Monbet it makes sense to go up and have a crack.” Whittaker is also being aimed at an Auckland appearance but his major target is the Harness 5000 early next year.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Delightful Memphis, Spanish Armada, Smiley Sophie, Major Rocket Race 2: Don Pierre, Eja Patron, Loose Cannon, Bettor Backim Race 3: Riccardo, Pirate Bay, Burst Out Laughing, Unice Enchantress Race 4: Kingdom Come, Debaneyre, Ruthless Success, .BK Dawn Race 5: Mighty Flying Major, American Tart, Letspendanitetogetha, Bronze Over Race 6: Tiger Thompson, Mikey Maguire, On The Rantan, The Fixer Race 7: Lavros Jack, Shona Mary, Topnotch Titan, Spots Gold N Girl Race 8: Mongolian Storm, Freedom Fighter, Bailey’s Rock, Sparkling Delight Race 9: Maninthemirror, Smouldering Ashes, Royal Jester, Eastwood Suzy Race 10: Gee Up Neddy, Twelve Monkeys, Donegal Bettorgretch, Eyre I Come Race 11: Blade, Lloydin Magic, Missinmemate, Stop Means Stop Best Bet: Riccardo (Race 3) Value: Gee Up Neddy (Race 10)

Nominations for the 2017 Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Pacing Derby for 3YO Pacers to be held on Friday, 7 April 2017 are now open. Nominations for this Group 1 prestigious race will close on Wednesday 14 December 2016 at 3.00pm. The fixed odds markets will be available shortly afterwards.   Diamond Creek Farm New Zealand Pacing Derby - $200,000 – Group 1 on 7 April 2017 Initial nomination fee due Wednesday 14 December 2016 3.00pm (NZ time) $115.00 First late nomination fee due Wednesday 25 January 2017 3.00pm (NZ time) $1,150.00 First withdrawal fee due Wednesday 25 January 2017 3.00pm (NZ time) $230.00 Second withdrawal fee due Wednesday 1 March 2017 3.00pm (NZ time) $460.00 Final late nomination fee due Monday 3 April 2017 1.00pm (NZ time) $5,750.00 Starting fee $2,875.00 All fees are including GST.   All fees above are included in the total stakes pay out.   For full details on the breakdown of stakes, conditions and the nomination form please visit addington.co.nz/racing/promotions-incentives/.   Alternatively, please call Addington’s Racing Department on 03 338 9094.   Keryn McElroy

Monbet has just completed one of the great weeks in New Zealand trotting history and did it without being anywhere near his best. And if you think that assessment from owner and trainer Greg Hope may be just a little post-race drama, the Canterbury horseman is putting his money where his mouth is. Because the champion trotter, who smashed yet another national record winning the $260,000 Dominion at Addington on Friday  may not race again this summer, so concerned is Hope with some issues troubling the magnificent five-year-old. “I am putting him in the paddock and he will definitely miss the major races up north over Christmas,” said Hope. “We bought him up to win this race so he had all the big trots in the country next to his name in the space of a year. “But to be honest we have been nursing him through. He has some little issues which are bugging him and with a break I think they will settle down. “So we have been cautious with those. I don’t want to say too much but they are wear and tear issues with a leg so we want to give him a break now. “I think long-term he will be fine but we are willing to forgo the northern races and if he comes back at all this summer it might be for the Great Southern Star in Melbourne as a hit and run mission. “We are so proud of what he has done we aren’t going to take any chances with him.” Hope and his wife Nina have plenty to be proud of as Monbet tore almost two seconds off the national 3200m record holding out stablemate Quite A Moment in the great trot, courtesy of a patiently perfect Ricky May drive. He has won two group ones in three days, both in record time, without quite dominating as he did last season, suggesting something wasn’t quite right. But the reality is, with the other three big established stars in open class trotting sidelined, even a 90 per cent Monbet is too good for the remainder. The good news is Hope is confident the issues troubling his stable star will not threaten his career long-term, especially if he is looked after now. In almost any other Cup week Monbet would be the King but that title had already been bestowed on Lazarus in Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup and he wore the crown with brutal majesty in the Pacing Free-For-All yesterday. His rivals were in no mood for reputations as Christen Me burned to the lead early and driver Dexter Dunn kept up a pulsating speed, making Lazarus work for very centremetre of the 1950m. For a few seconds at the 400m mark when Christen Me stole a length break Lzarus looked in trouble but once he got balanced up in the straight he simply had too much strength for his $2.4million earning rival. It was a performance every bit as special as his New Zealand Cup win and in some ways more impressive because nothing went this way and it is hard to think of another New Zealand pacer this millennium who could have done with Lazarus did yesterday. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will now plot his summer path but the Auckland Cup is no certainty, with Australian riches beckoning in February and March. The pair’s double-double, both in group ones and both in national record time, made for one of the greatest Cup weeks Addington has ever hosted.   Michael Guerin

Lazarus has won the Woodlands New Zealand harness racing "Free For All" in dominating fashion. He had to be the best horse to win, sitting parked on a frantic pace, but his toughness got him home in the end. "He was just coasting the last bit. It was another scintillating performance" Mark said after Lazarus won in national record time (2.16.3) MR 1-52.4 his second record in a week on Friday. "He wasn't bothered by the Cup run so you had to be confident but he did it so easy in the finish" Now we have to decide what to do next. He has to have a break some time. We had the Auckland Cup in the plan but I will see how he comes through this before we make any final decision. If he does go there the rest of his racing will be in Australia, probably starting in Melbourne." Mark was confident enough not to spend petrol winning the lead from Christen Me when Dexter was clearly in no mood to give it up, taking hold of the odds on fave quickly. The ability of Lazarus to relax in such a situation is a key to his winning streak and has been such a notable part of the stock of Bettor's Delight. The national record is still a national record though it is not as notable as some. The Free for All was traditionally 2000m then tried at a mile for a few years before setting on 1950m at which distance it has only been run twice. But dual shareholders Phil and Glenys Kennard and Kevin and Carol Riseley would not have been upset that one of their horses took another -Ultimate Machete- out of the all comer record books. Natalie was enthusiastic about the run of Dream About Me even though she had to settle for 6th. "I was really happy with her. The draw was always a problem and when we ended up on the back of Locharburn and he couldn't carry us into the race she lost any chance she had. But she responded well. I thought it was a top run" Often asked to rate his champions and more often reluctant to do so, Mark has always had a soft spot for the sheer brilliance of Auckland Reactor but even that must be wilting in the face of these amazing efforts of Lazarus. Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Allstars Website    

Wow it was one of those days! Southland horses went to Addington on Show Day and cleaned up - winning four races. Sure one was always going to be in the South Of the Waitaki race for horses south of the Waitaki River which Bettor Ops duly won. And we knew Captain Dolmio had a very good chance at winning his race after his run on the first day. But who would have thought Golden Gate and long shot Luciano would add to the tally at long odds? The golden run started with the Kirk Larsen trained Bettor Ops winning the Macca Lodge South Of The Waitaki Mobile Pace. He was taken back from his barrier five draw when a strong pace was set up front. “Four of the horses inside of me had led at their last start and I thought there would be a fair bit of fireworks so I was hoping that they went hard early,” said Larsen. The leaders started to come back to the field in the last 500 metres as some began to feel the pinch. “Down the back I was trying to flush Clark out (Clark Barron driving Rakarolla). I thought he might have got going a bit earlier. When they did go that's when Flashing On broke and the others got away from us a bit. I thought s.... have we got enough time to pick them up?” Bettor Ops which is owned by father and son Sydneysiders Reg and David Turner ran down a game Rakarolla to win by a head. Rakarolla who was having his first start since February was as impressive as the winner. “He’s gone huge considering it’s his first run. I’m lucky to have had a couple of runs under my belt,” said Larsen on the run of the second horse. Bettor Ops was having his eighth start and after winning at Gore Larsen was keen to start him at Addington. “I thought he would be suited by the big track. He hasn’t had very many starts and he’s gone through the grades pretty quick so rather than win an $8,000 race at home we looked at getting a good stake like today. He picked up $15,900 for his win.  Larsen said Bettor Ops has really developed this season and is starting to grow up and race accordingly. “As a three year old he was a big awkward bugger and he’s taken a lot of making to get where he’s at. He’s starting to do things right and I noticed that this year he was starting to develop a bit of speed which he didn’t have earlier on.” The Turners weren’t on-course today but they are great fans of New Zealand bloodstock, winning lots of races with Atitagain. Reg was part of the Dominator syndicate which also owned Late Bid (1995 Australian Derby winner) and Seelster Sam, and they also had a share in Franco Nepia. “Basically they wanted to buy horses until they had one good enough to race and enjoy. I think they’ll be pretty happy to race him for a bit yet.” Larsen is not getting carried away, preferring to give the gelding more ring craft. “He’s a C3 horse now so it won't be easy. We’ll bring him home and freshen him up and look for a race for him. He’s only had eight starts. He stepped away from the stand at the workouts and he was pretty good. If we can play around with him and get him a bit more seasoned we may look at the Country Cups after Christmas.” In the next race Gore trainer John Ryan notched up a career highlight winning his first race as a trainer at Addington. His nine year old Earl mare Golden Gate broke a New Zealand mares record when she won the Peninsular Beachfront Resort ‘Mooloolaba' Handicap Trot. Golden Gate                                                                                         Photo by Bruce Stewart “She might be nine years old but she’s still learning the game,” he said. It wasn’t the mare's first trip to the mecca of New Zealand harness racing – she was on the track last month. “I came to Christchurch a month ago and she didn’t travel that well. In her race she went away and then galloped after about 150 metres. This time I brought another horse with her and this trip has been the making of her.” Golden Gate qualified as a five year old at Gore in August 2012 winning her first race at Winton in December 2013 as a six year old. In today's race she was driven inch perfect by leading junior reinsman Rory McIlwrick who had her in the one one and ready to pounce when the field turned into the home straight. She beat Hey Yo by three quarters of a length.  Her late start is due to being injured as a young horse. “She had a shaft go through her neck and she nearly died. She was tied up to the wall at the stable and another horse bolted off the track without the driver and went between her and the wall and the sulky shaft went into her neck. It took her ages to get over that and she was very claustraphobic after that.” The time of 3-16.4 is a new national record for mares over 2600 metres. The previous record of 3-16.7 was jointly held by Habibti (10/10/2104) and Kincaslough (03/10/2014). Although he’s not getting too far ahead of himself Ryan is considering a trip to Auckland at some stage. “She works better the opposite way around. I’ve been working her with pacers all the time and she was starting to hang so I started to work her on her own the other way round. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how she’s been handling it. I don’t think too much ahead as I haven’t had a decent enough horse but I may go up there sometime and test the water.” Ryan who is recently retired after a lifetime in the meat industry is no stranger to Addington, having driven horses there which were trained by his father William. One of those was Josephus who didn't win at Addington but ran fourth in the 1978 New Zealand Trotting Championship behind Nigel Craig, fifth in the 1978 Ordeal Cup and fifth in the 1979 Inter Dominion Trotting Championship Grand Final won by No Response. He also drove Lord Logan at Addington on a number of occasions. Back to the present, Golden Gate was initially nominated for The Dominion Handicap but Ryan decided to go for the easier option. “She has always gone good over two miles. She was third to Harriet Of Mot in a Group Three race. I probably could have started her in the Dominion and she wouldn't have disgraced herself but you’ve got to get the run like she did today.” He’s now trained the winners of 19 races, 9 of those having been with Golden Gate who is now an open class trotter. Following on from Golden Gate's success today was the Wyndham trained Luciano who's caused a blowout at this year’s Cup Week, winning the $32,000 Show Day Futurity Mobile Pace. He paid $91.10 to win and $16.80 for a place. Driven by Zac Butcher the Bettor’s Delight gelding settled at the tail of the field early on. He then got into the three wide train. At the top of the straight Butcher pulled him out and he came resolutely down the outside to nab the favourite by half a head. They ran the 2600 metre mobile in 3-11.0 a mile rate of 1-58.1. Trained by Brendon McLellan and owned by his wife Megan, he's the first foal out of the Pacific Rocket mare Lucy Legacy which won seven races. He has a liking for Addington where he's recorded four of his five wins.  Next Southland winner was Gore trained pacer Captain Dolmio. He was backing up from Cup Day when he ran second. In that great run he lead the field and set up Southland bred Mr Mojito to win in record breaking time. Captain Dolmio                                                                   photo by Bruce Stewart “We were a bit worried after the first day. He was a bit tired but he bounced back,”  said trainer Matt Brinsdon. Today Captain Dolmio began brilliantly from the 20 metre mark and was taken forward by driver John Dunn, settling fifth on the inside running line. With 2100 metres to go Dunn took him off the inside, progressed forward and was in front at the 1800. “It wasn’t the plan to go to the front. We were going to have a quiet run.” On straightening Dunn let him go and he won easily by two and a quarter lengths from Mighty Flying Major. “I’ve just been down to see him and he’s as good as gold,” Brinsdon said after the run. Raced by the Captain Dolmio Syndicate the Grinfromeartoear gelding was being considered for a campaign in Auckland but Brinsdon would love to win his hometown Cup. “We’ve just had a talk to Robert and John and we don’t think he might be as good that way around so he won’t race up there at Christmas. We’ll come home and aim for the Gore, Invercargill and Northern Southland Cups.”   Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing

When there’s hope, there’s a way. And then there’s Monbet. The champion trotter capped a memorable week when landing the Gr.1 $260,000 Haras Des Trotteurs Dominion Handicap at Addington today (Friday) defeating stablemate Quite A Moment and the Australian trained Kyvalley Blur in the 3200m stand-start harness racing feature. Backing up from Tuesday when successful in the Gr.1 NZ Trotting FFA, the reigning New Zealand Horse of the Year completely obliterated the race record in the process. Prepared by Greg and Nina Hope and partnered by Ricky May, the giant five-year-old rated 4:00.7 – smashing the previous mark of Stylish Monarch at 4:02.9 when successful back in 2010. Sent out at unbackable odds, Monbet stepped safely and was allowed plenty of time early to balance himself while the in-form Bordeaux and Alley Way battled for the early lead. Bordeaux soon took the lead from Alley Way. The lead time was covered in 2:03.7. With a solid tempo being set from Bordeaux, May sat patiently in the second-half of the field with the punter’s choice before edging to the outside nearing the 1400m marker. But the moves came in front of him with Harriet Of Mot the first to angle wider before Amaretto Sun went in front of both trotters. As the big field bunched as they entered the back straight, Monbet was positioned perfectly on the back of Harriet Of Mot gaining great cover. The first half of the last mile was covered in 29.5 and 29.4 seconds. With Bordeaux still rolling along in front, May soon allowed Monbet to stride and the Love You gelding quickly raced to the lead approaching the home turn. Soon after straightening, Monbet put the race beyond reach of his rivals and raced clear while Quite A Moment and Kyvalley Blur chased valiantly. With May kind to Monbet, he scored officially by 3/4L with a further 5L back to Kyvalley Blur. The winning mile rate was 2:01.0 while the final half covered in 29.6 and 28.4 seconds. The final mile was trotted in 1:56.9. Monbet has now won his last eight races on end with six of those coming at Gr.1 level, he has clearly established himself as the best trotter in the southern hemisphere. Last season, he won a total of 7 Gr.1 features; he already has two this season following his double this week. Monbet has now claimed all major trotting features in his homeland while he becomes the first trotter since I Can Doosit in 2012 to win both Gr.1 features during Cup week. “It’s a remarkable effort and it’s been a dream week, we’re so excited and a little relieved at the same time.” Greg Hope said. Monbet is raced by Greg and Nina Hope along with Morrie Molloy. With 23 victories from just 34 starts to date, Monbet has banked more than $770,000 in prizemoney. Beaten narrowly in the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters by North Island star Speeding Spur last season, Monbet sits firmly in the driver’s seat for the current term. The next leg of the APG Trotting Masters is the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotters Grand Prix at Melton on January 28. Chris Barsby

Addington (Show day) harness racing fixed odds movers  as at 11:45am Race 2 - Best backed is Frank The Tank $5.80 over Bettor Enforce $4.60 and Flashing On the big mover $16 - $7.50.   Race 3 - Le Reveur $5.40 easily the best backed over Hey Yo $11 - $10.   Race 4 - A huge go here in Rocknroll Legend $3.40 - $2.20 and he will be a shocking result for the 'book, well done to the punter's who got on at $3.40. Thisismylastflight $5.80 is the next best backed runner.   Race 5 - Mighty Flying Major $7.40 - $6.00 was a bad result on Cup Day and it's going to be the same result again judging by the early money.   Race 6 - Classie Brigade $2.30 - $2.00 is huge in multi betting and is also easily the best backed on the win 'book'.    Race 7 -All punter's want here is Donegal Bettorgretch $6.40 - $4.80 and Everybody Knows $3.50 - $2.80. Donegal bettorgretch is always a bad result for the 'book when she win's and today it's going to be again if she takes this race out.   Race 8 - Benicio $1.80 is huge in win and multi betting and if your thinking of having  decent win bet on him our advice is to take the $1.80 on offer now as he is looking at closing $1.60 on early money.   Race 9 - The quietest race win wise on the card with no doubt Monbet $1.35 keeping punter's from backing any runner to beat him. In multi betting Monbet is huge in multi betting with 871 tickets on him compared to just 20 on Bordeaux.   Race 10 - American tart is the best backed $3.60 - $3.40 with the next best Expressive Victor $17 - $12. American Tart leads multi betting over Better B Amazed $3.80.   Race 11- Lazarus $1.18 - $15 holds 75% of win money and obviously everyone's anchor in  multi betting. Dream About Me $6.50 is next best backed on the win 'book' but we will need plenty of money on her to balance the 'book'.   Race 12 - As expected only two punter's want here with jack's legend $2.40 leading the multi 'book' and Vincent $2.40 the win 'book'.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

It’s not so much a case of how to win today’s Group One New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington, but more how to beat Lazarus. Three days after his record breaking and emphatic victory in the New Zealand Trotting Cup the newfound King of harness racing in New Zealand will be back on the same hallowed turf he burnt up on Tuesday to try and grab another Cup Week Group One. Providing he has come through the 3.53.1 second two miles he unleashed earlier in the week, it’s hard to make a case against him. But racing can be a fickle game at times and the Free-For-All has a tradition of being an unkind beat to Cup winners. In the past 30 years only 9 horses have achieved the double, with Monkey King doing it twice in 2009 and 2010. Half of those come in a golden run in the early 90’s when Christopher Vance, Blossom Lady, Chokin, Bee Bee Cee and Il Vicolo picked up the double. Other to have done the double in the past three decades include; Just An Excuse (2004), Christian Cullen (1998) and Master Mood (1986). So the odds, you could say, are for once stacked against Lazarus’ favour. Gerard O’Reilly, who is charged with the drive on Tuesday’s Cup runner-up Tiger Tara has no intentions of taking it quiet from his barrier draw of one as he and the pacer look to become just the second horse in the past 40 years alongside Monkey King to win the Show Day pacing feature in consecutive years. “We’d be silly not to try and use the draw,” O’Reilly said. “I would think that the plan will be to come out and try and lead early and then assess the situation from there. “He does race a lot better when he’s up competing for the speed so we’ve got the chance to do it. “He went great on Tuesday, it was pretty satisfying consider things hadn’t really been going our way up until then.” With Lazarus as short as $1.18 to win today, there is value around almost the entire field outside of him. Tiger Tara is rated a $15 third favourite with Tuesday’s Junior-Free-For-All winner, Dream About Me the second elect at $6. Locharburn, who finished second behind Dream About Me on Tuesday and was at one stage the second favourite for the Cup, is a staggering $31 to win today - thanks largely to the fact he has drawn outside of Lazarus. “It’s going to be tough from out there,” trainer Kevin Chapman said. “But I don’t think we will be sitting back because Tuesday showed that if you are too far back in races like this you’ve got no hope at all. “He’s come through Tuesday well, he was probably about 95 per cent for that and will come on with the run under his belt.” John Dunn will take the drive on the big gelding with Dexter Dunn electing to stick with Christen Me. Dunn’s Cup drive, Franco Nelson, bordered a plane for Perth and the Inter Dominion Series early on Friday morning alongside Smolda, Piccadilly Princess and Mr Mojito from the All Stars barn. Matt Markham

Sheree Tomlinson offers up a wry smile when asked if she’s nervous ahead of today’s Dominion Handicap. For an 18-year-old who is about to embark on attempt to win one of harness racing’s most prestigious races, her reply is sweetly succinct and to the point. “Not yet, but I’m sure the nerves are coming,” she said. The Southland based horsewoman, who hails from the racing rich breeding ground of West Melton, will drive Amaretto Sun in today’s Group One feature at Addington Raceway - driving in the colours of her grandfather, Ken Ford. It’s a fairytale scenario, but unlike so many you see in racing leading into big races, there’s one big difference with Sheree and Amaretto Sun compared to others - they’re actually a serious chance of winning the race. We use the term serious chance, when in all reality Monbet’s presence in the race probably makes it redundant, but funny things happen in horse racing all the time and if something was to happen to the raging hot favourite, then the young lass and her impressive horse could be Johnny-on-the-spot to make the most of the opportunity. “Having Monbet there takes a bit of the pressure off I suppose, no one is expecting anything to beat him. “That’s probably helping me a bit, but once I get there and get the colours I reckon the butterflies will kick in then. “Mum (Amanda) is a nervous already, but she’s always a bit like that when I’m driving in any race, let alone a big one.” One of the big movers in the trotting ranks this season, Amaretto Sun was as short as single figure odds to win the Dominion at one point, now he shares second favouritism with Australian raider Kyvalley Blur at a quote of $13. Tomlinson has had the added bonus of being in Canterbury all week to take in the Cup Day action, which has also meant she’s been right on hand to work Amaretto Sun through all his final preparations. “He’s been ticking along really well, we worked him this morning (Thursday) and just gave him the opportunity to follow a few horses out from the start because that’s what we are going to have to do from the draw and he did it perfectly. “The draw isn’t ideal, but it is what it is so we will just have to make the most of it and hope the horse in front of us gets away cleanly.” Amaretto Sun’s final serious hit out came on Sunday when he snuck up to the Methven trials for a run and was an impressive 10 length winner - albeit against opposition which doesn’t even sit in the same universe as what he will face this afternoon. With the most stressful part of the preparation, winning 15 races so she could drive the horse in the Group One, Tomlinson plan is to enjoy the moment and hope for the best. “It’s really exciting, and to be driving a family horse in such a big race is a real honour.” And who knows, come the end of play this evening at Addington - the girl who just six months ago could probably only dream of driving in a race like the Dominion Handicap - might be front and centre on one of the biggest stages of Cup Week.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Beg Hall, Benchmark, Kingdom Come, Dark Ops Race 2: Bettor Enforce, Tact Rousey, Rakarolla, Dachy Race 3: Le Reveur, Waterloo Sunset, Hey Yo, Le Lievre’s Gift Race 4: Rocknroll Legend, Thisismylastflight, Michelangelo, Daylight Robbery Race 5: Mighty Flying Major, Captain Dolmio, Usain Colt, Stroke Of Luck Race 6: Classie Brigade, Chase The Dream, Brilliant Strike, Pulp Fiction Race 7: Everybody Knows, Lothario, Blazing Under Fire, Donegal Bettorgretch Race 8: Benicio, Gupta’s Cullen, The Fixer, Cullen Who Race 9: Monbet, Amaretto Sun, Harriet Of Mot, Kyvalley Blur Race 10: Expressive Victor, Better B Amazed, American Tart, Aliante Race 11: Lazarus, Tiger Tara, Dream About Me, Christen Me Race 12: Jack’s Legend, Vincent, Tachyon, Accumulator   Best Bet: Benicio (Race 8) Value: Expressive Victor (Race 10)

Greg Hope is confident he knows the answer to the only question surrounding Monbet in today’s $260,000 Dominion at Addington today. The champion trotter sets up a red-hot group one double with Lazarus in the New Zealand Free-For-All as the two glamour boys of harness racing look to extend their Cup week domination. While Lazarus’s jaw-dropper in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday was all anybody was talking about, Monbet racked up another national record when he overcame a second line draw to win the Free-For-All Trot just two hours earlier. In doing so he down Marcoola, who isn’t in today’s Dominion so it is hard to see how Monbet gets beaten unless Tuesday’s run exposed his sole Achilles Heal --- backing up from a hard run. The only time Monbet has been beaten in the last 12 months was in the Grand Prix in Melbourne when he looked badly out of sorts after two hard runs the previous two Saturdays. He has blazing speed and French-bred stamina but he is still quite a light horse who seems to take a lot out of himself when he races, with Tuesday’s national record win no walk in the park. But trainer Hope says the signs heading into today are perfect. “He pulled up perfectly sound after his win, which was the first thing,” says Hope. “And he has spent a couple of days on the lead rope jogging behind other horses and seems very happy. “There are no signs of him being tired or knocked around so I think we are going into this as good as we can be.” Hope is also happy with the wide draw on the front line and his greatest concern is the free-going Bordeaux may be determined to keep the front and therefore luck with could come into play. Because if Monbet is able to work forward and wrest the lead, the race should be over. Bordeaux has been a big improver this spring and could take some catching while newcomers who didn’t contest the Free-For-All on Tuesday who have some hope include the mares Sunny Ruby and Harriet Of Mot. But as they both showed at Kaikoura they are hardly foolproof and would need the favourite to have some bad luck to beat him. So the best place value for those not keen on Monbet’s skinny win odds might be Australian visitor Kyvalley Blur, a hardened old warrior who will keep trucking over the 3200m. Skinny odds are again the problem for punters in the Pacing Free-For-All because after his demolition job on Tuesday, Lazarus could start around $1.20. His draw is potentially tricky on paper as he has plenty of speedsters drawn around him but the respect he has earned this spring is likely to see him work to the front as not many drivers will want a relentless Lazarus sitting outside them, especially when the money for second is so good. So he should simply win again, but that doesn’t solve our problem of how to make money out of the race. Tiger Tara won this race last year and was a very brave second in the Cup so if he can hold up from the ace draw he could be the best place bet, although Field Marshall must be a chance of crossing him early. The latter was slightly disappointing when third to Dream About Me in the junior free-for-all on Tuesday but if he was to sit behind Lazarus, should the favourite lead, then he becomes the obvious quinella or place hope. Dream About Me has been so magnificent her entire career it is hard to believe she could be $7 or $8 today but it is hard to see a pathway to the winner’s circle for her, with her best chance being a war early and the chance to swoop late. Today she finds herself not only racing Lazarus for the first time but also her older half-brother Christen Me, an incredible rarity in pacing at this level.   Michael Guerin

Il Vicolo conquered it twice and Adore Me did it once, but Mark Purdon might have found one to usurp them both. You could even go as far as to say that what unfolded at Addington Raceway just after 5:20pm last night could be one of the greatest performances by a harness racing horse on this side of the world. Because what Lazarus did to win the New Zealand Trotting Cup of 2016 was quite simply stunning. Not only did it defy the basic theories of logic on so many levels. But it was done with such an ease - a scarcely believable feat considering that when the stopwatches ceased clicking, Lazarus had just run the fastest ever two miles in New Zealand, clocking one and a half seconds faster than any time ever recorded before. Oh, and did we mention he did it all in a 10 length winning margin with Purdon flourishing his whip in both euphoria and pure admiration from 100 metres short of the winning post? The New Zealand Trotting Cup has long been regarded as one of the hardest races in the world of harness racing to win and here’s Lazarus - a mere four-year-old who rocks up and does the majority of the work in the race at a breakneck speed - winning it like a $1.10 favourite should win their maiden on a cold Sunday afternoon in Oamaru. Staggering really isn’t it? Even Purdon, who isn’t one to get caught up in the hoopla of big victories allowed himself a few seconds to compose himself before answering the first of probably 1,000 questions he was asked in regards to the performance. “It’s a really emotional moment, just one of the greatest moments in harness racing for me,” he said. Stopping the clock at a time of 3:53.1, Lazarus etched his name into the annals of harness racing. And it’s going to take a long time to see something quite as special. “The time just outstands me, I just had a handful of horse around the corner. “I said come on boy, let’s get a break now and he put it beyond doubt within 50 metres.” Purdon wouldn’t commit to exactly where Lazarus currently sits on his list of stars throughout the decades he’s been training. When you’re competing against Il Vicolo, Auckland Reactor, Adore Me and Have Faith In Me there’s a bit to live up to, but Lazarus is doing it and doing it very well. His win gave a grand result to part-owners, Phil and Glenys Kennard and also Kevin Riseley after they won the Sires’ Stakes Final with Ultimate Machete while their other co-owner Trevor Casey is on this unstoppable train of success. While it all looked easy, there was pressure leading into the Cup and this season for Purdon and his training partner, Natalie Rasmussen thanks to a comment made months ago in relation to this horse. The night was April the 8th, New Zealand Derby Night at Addington Raceway. Purdon had just won another race, fittingly the Derby and en route back to the stables with Lazarus in front of him he beamed and talked of the potential of this raw, but brilliant son of Bettor’s Delight. The usual superlatives flowed - things like ‘he’s a nice wee horse’ and “he’s just got such a great will to win’ flowed freely from the master horseman. But it was a comment at the conclusion of the interview that struck the sweetest chord. “He’s that good I think he could win the Cup in November,” he said. How right you were Mr Purdon. How right you were…. Matt Markham

By his own admission, Ricky May knew just how close he came to blowing a Group One victory at Addington yesterday. For years the champion reinsman has been renowned for his ability to get the best out of a horse without knocking them around - it’s a driving style that has, in time, often won him so many big races but it’s also thrown a lot of criticism his way too. And had the might of Monbet not got him over the line first in yesterday’s Group One New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, after a stirling length of the straight battle with Marcoola, he knew as well as anyone what the reaction would have been like. “I completely underestimated it around the last bend,” May said. “He felt like he was travelling and when I angled him onto the back of Marcoola he took the bit and I thought he would just come off his back and run past him. “But he didn’t and that’s all to the credit of the other horse who just kept giving the whole way up the straight.” With the Dominion Handicap just over 72 hours away at the time, May was conscious of not asking for too much from Monbet and ensuring the horse didn’t expend too much energy ahead of the major assignment for Cup Week 2016. So when the opportunity to duck for a bit of cover arose, it was always going to be in the Methven horseman’s nature to take it. “We’ve got a pretty big race coming up in a couple of days and the last thing you want to be doing is going out there and giving him a real hard run that will leave him flat. “In saying that he doesn’t seem to be quite as sharp when he’s not in front, he took a fair bit to get around to parked when I moved around them.” At the end of the day, whether or not May did leave it a little late or not became a moot point when Monbet called on all his champion like qualities to draw level to, and then head Marcoola in the shadows of the post. He never actually looked fully likely to do that until inside the last 50 metres when May’s urgency levels went from moderate to through the roof in about one second flat. What is sure now though is that Friday’s Dominion looks ripe for the picking for Monbet and if he is successful, he will be able to lay claim to holding all the major trotting titles in New Zealand within a 12 month period. His charge on Friday is helped by the fact Marcoola won’t be there - but there is some fresh blood joining the fray in the form of on-song trotters; Bordeaux, Harriet Of Mot and Sunny Ruby along side many of those who were left to fight for the scraps yesterday. “I think he will tighten up again with that run,” May said. Monbet’s win yesterday was of course his second in the race after last year’s effort but also gave May his fourth win in the race following last year and then the winning efforts of Allegro Agitato and the grand old trotter Cedar Fella in 1997. May combined with Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet’s trainers later in the day for a Cup Day double when Everybody Knows produced a stunning performance after an early gallop in the C1 Trot. There will be no late payment for the Dominion made by the connections of Marcoola despite his valiant effort to lead up in a New Zealand record time and push the reigning Horse of the Year so close. He will follow a similar path to that which Monbet did last season so based on that, his next appearance could be on the grass track at Methven for the Green Mile early in December. Australian raider, Kyvalley Blur was an eye-catching third in the event and is now a contender for Friday’s Group One.   Matt Markham

Humbled and proud. That’s how Natalie Rasmussen described her history-making drive in today’s NRM Group One Sires Stakes Final at Addington Raceway this afternoon. The former Australian trainer/driver became the first woman to win the $170,000 feature behind the 3-year-old she co-trains with Mark Purdon – Ultimate Machete. “It’s an absolute honour to have achieved this. I didn’t realise. If it can attract more young girls and women to our great game then I’ll be happy. “I’m doing what I enjoy and today’s win was one of the highlights of my career,” Rasmussen said. Ultimate Machete not only beat his stablemate and favourite More The Better (Mark Purdon) by a length but he also smashed the New Zealand 1950m mobile record by 0.8 of a second set by have Faith In Me in the same race two years ago. He stopped the clock in 2:16.5 (mile rate 1:52.7) with final 800m and 400m bursts of 55.9 and 28.4. Ultimate Machete did a bit of work to go and sit parked and then from the 800m to the 600m put paid to the pace-making North islander, Star Galleria (Tony Herlihy MNZM). Then in the lane his characteristic toughness kicked in. “He’s a such a strong horse. And he really displayed his toughness today. He’s is showing glimpses of what Lazarus showed us in the race last year. “I’m not saying he’s a Lazarus but he is doing everything he should be at this stage of his career, and Lazarus went almost three seconds slower than him when he won last year,” Rasmussen said. “I love driving him. He’s a lovely powerful horse,” she added. Ultimate Machete is the fifth of seven foals out of the four-win Armbro Operative mare, Reality Check. He has now won three of his nine starts – all three at Addington Raceway. The bay colt is owned by Glenys Kennard, Phil Kennard, Gavin Douglas, Kevin Riseley, Phil Creighton, Margaret Creighton. It was a great day for Phil & Glenys Kennard and Kevin Riseley as they also have shares in the New Zealand Cup winner – Lazarus. He was bred by Katrina and Graeme  Walsh. Purdon and Rasmussen have now won the last three Sires Stakes Finals thanks to Lazarus and Have Faith In Me’s victories in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Duane Ranger

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