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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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