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Patrons on track will notice a brand new large Digital Display on course at our next race meeting, this Easter Saturday night, 4 April. The big LED screen measuring approximately nine metres x five metres, will be located immediately adjacent to the Winning Post in front of the Metropolitan Stand and will show live races from the track, pre-race totes and post-race dividends. Replacing the tote board in the inner track area, the Digital Screen will enhance the experience for on course patrons providing a modern structure incorporating leading edge technology. Easter Saturday night also sees champion pacer Terror To Love race for the last time in the Group One $100,000 Breckon Farms / All Stars Racing Stables Easter Cup, a race he won in 2013. The Terror will lead the field out for the Cup with a montage including his three great Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup wins showing on the large screen whilst he parades. There’ll be promotions on course including a double happy hour, Terror To Love caps, posters and a 1000 Easter Eggs given away and a life sized cut out figure of the champ hitched to a sulky for those keen to take part and have their photo taken.  The champ will be officially farewelled on the The Breeders New Zealand Oaks Night on Friday 15 May before he enters his new career as a stallion where he’ll stand at Pinelea Farm in Weedons,Canterbury. There’ll be a presentation made by The Met to his connections, on-course promotions and The Terror will parade for his fans. Let’s hope the champ bows out with a victory this Saturday night and adds another Group 1 to his impressive resume. Who can ever forget those three second Tuesdays in November made famous by one of our equine greats.  Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

If anyone thought that Stent was vulnerable in the $80,000 New Zealand Trotting Championship at last nights harness racing meeting at Addington, (we did) then it took just three minutes and fifteen seconds to well and truly put that idea to bed. Before the race had even got under way there was a major surprise when the well performed Kincaslough refused to score up twice and was late scratched as a result. Everyone thought driver Colin De Filippi from barrier three would head straight to the front with Stent and that was the first surprise as Colin stayed out of the early rush. Todd Mitchell and Prime Power flew the gate to lead from barrier seven with Stent settling into the one by one behind One Over Da Moon in the death. Mark Jones worked Master Lavros forward from the second line and grabbed the lead after 700 metres and set a quick tempo up front. Due to the tempo there were few mid race moves with the exception being Clover Don who worked forward to the death with 1200 metres to go. At the 500 metres mark Mark Jones tried to steal a break on the field and turned for home four lengths in front  but the challengers were emerging from the pack. First King Denny appeared and then Stent went straight past them all to grab a very game Masters Lavros in the shadows of the winning post for an emphatic victory. Sheemon who followed Stent everywhere switched to the inside in the straight and flew late for third just in front of King Denny who made a very promising debut in town hall company. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Alley Way, who flew late for sixth after being last on the final bend. Colin was a touch apprehensive turning for home. " I thought I may have left it too late to move because Master Lavros is a class trotter and is hard to reel in." " Having said that I have a lot of confidence in my fellow and I knew they would know we were there," Colin said. Owner Trevor Casey was one proud man post race " That was a huge performance." " I thought we were too far back on the turn so to get up and win was a great run," Trevor said. Master Lavros went his best race for the season and there is plenty of room for improvement. " I didn't even give him a trial before last week and I've left him really big this time in so there should be plenty of improvement in him." " His condition gave out the last bit but I couldn't be happier with how he is trotting." " We will head to the Rowe Cup now with a bit of confidence, " Mark said. The unlucky horse once again was the northerner Prime Power. Trainer Todd Mitchell was rueful about a shoeing change he had made. " I changed his shoes four starts ago and fitted him with a lighter shoe." " He was fine with them at Auckland but he struggled with them on the Addington surface." " I was jogging tonight on the corner which makes it even more disappointing." " I think back at Auckland he will be fine, but we may change the shoes back anyway," Todd said It was a special night for Trevor Casey at Addington as not only does he own Stent but he also shares in the ownership of the brilliant Welcome Stakes winner last night in Waikiki Beach. The cherry on top for Trevor was last nights win edged Stent over the $1,000,000 mark in lifetime earnings and the way he is going he could set new overall marks for stake earnings for a trotter in Australasia in the next couple of years. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing looks to have a budding superstar in the form of this years outstanding three year old, Have Faith In Me. This years Muscara Standardbreds New Zealand Derby at Addington in Christchurch was expected to be a two horse battle between Follow The Stars and Have Faith In Me and thats exactly how it turned out. Brilliant Strike led out from barrier one for Ricky May but handed up after 250 metres to Follow The Stars and Mark Purdon. The rest of the field were in single file with Have Faith In Me five back on the inner. With 1700 metres to run Itz Bettor To Win moved out into the running line and Have Faith In Me was straight onto his back in the one by one. With 1200 metres to go Tim Williams hooked the full brother to Adore Me out of the one by one and went up and sat parked on the wheel of Follow The Stars. The two went together all the way to the straight where Have Faith In Me just ran straight past Follow The Stars and strolled to what seemed an effortless victory by 1 3/4 lengths from a gallant Follow The Stars with another 1 3/4 lengths back to Brilliant Strike in third. The son of Bettor's Delight paced the 2600 metres from the mobile in chilly conditions in a very quick 3:09.2, a mile rate of 1:57 with closing sectionals of 55 and 27.4. That broke the New Zealand record held by Classiesistar by one tenth of a second and broke the race record held by Auckland Reactor by two tenths of a second. And believe it or not, when Have Faith In Me came back to the birdcage, the ear plugs were still in. Tim Williams was a happy man speaking to Harnesslink post race. " I came out and sat parked because I wanted to get handy before the speed really went on." " He actually got to the front really easily and won with a bit in hand."  " He knocked off when he got to the front tonight or else he would have won by a bit more, " Tim said. Tim thinks we haven't seen the best of Have Faith In Me yet. " He still a big kid really so there is plenty of upside with him yet," Tim said. Mark Purdon was more than happy with Follow The Stars. " He has gone super but the other horse just has his measure at the moment." " My horse has run time and stuck on great but it hasn't been good enough," Mark said. Ricky May was shaking his head post race with the run of Brilliant Strike. " My horse has gone super but just when I thought I was going to join in on the corner, the other two got away from me." " I couldn't ask anything more of my horse but it just shows you how good you have to be these days, " Ricky said. Trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, Have Faith In Me continues to go from strength to strength and looks a horse with a huge future. Harnesslink Media

The old adage in harness racing of their being no such thing as a certainty in racing was reinforced yet again tonight at Addington in Christchurch when Speeding Spur overcame the hot favourite Prince Fearless to win the New Zealand Trotting Derby. Prince Fearless from barrier three was all the rage with punters with Speeding Spur was allowed to drift to six to one after he drew barrier six. Habibti Ivy flew the gate from barrier seven and grabbed an early lead before handing up to Prince Fearless after 500 metres. No sooner had he reached the front, Prince Fearless was attacked by Speeding Spur and Josh Dickie and the two star three year olds went to war for the next 300 metres before Speeding Spur finally made the front. Josh kept up a steady tempo in front before upping the speed down the back straight the last time. As they turned for home Mark sprung out of the trail with Prince Fearless but try as he might he couldn't get up to Speeding Spur who went on for a decisive 1 1/4 length victory. Habibti Ivy fought on well on the inner for third in front of an unlucky Monbet who made up a huge amount of ground to run fourth. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Sky Commander who ran on well late for a close up fifth in his first outing at this level. Speeding Spur covered the 2600 metres from the mobile in a new New Zealand record for a three year old of 3:15.7, a mile rate of 2:01.1 with closing sectionals of 57.9 and 28.7 Trainer John Dickie was confident going into tonights race. " We learnt a lot from our defeat to Prince Fearless at Ashburton." " He is much better rolling along as he is such a good stayer. ' The plan tonight was to go forward and we never going to die wondering." "Once he got to the front, I didn't think they would beat him," John said.  Safely through tonight, Speeding Spur will now head home to Clevedon to prepare for a series of races at Alexandra Park. " The two big races are the Sires Stakes and the Northern Derby so there is plenty to look forward to," John said. Tonights win was one of the best performances this writer has ever seen from a three year old trotter and the son of Pegasus Spur looks to have a big future. Harnesslink Media

A common comment in the last twelve months amongst harness racing breeders down under was the disappointment with the performance of Somebeachsomewhere since he arrived on the scene. Now within the space of two months the leading North American sire is starting to really fire down under with first Menin Gate winning the Victorian Derby and now Waikiki Beach is creating an enormous impression in the two year old ranks in New Zealand. Brought out of the APG sale last year, Waikiki Beach lined up tonight at Addington Raceway, Christchurch in the $40,000 Group 2 New Zealand Welcome Stakes and the public sent him out a warm favourite. Motu Premier flew the gate early frrom barrier seven and grabbed an early lead from Waikiki Beach who settled into the trail. After 400 metres Chase The Dream started to work forward to the death but before he got there, Mark Purdon hooked Waikiki Beach out of the trail and took him to the lead. Chase The Dream sat on his wheel but applied little pressure and when Mark pressed the go button on the corner, Waikiki Beach shot clear for an easy victory. Motu Premier went his usual honest race for second while Chase The Dream fought on well for third. The unlucky runner was Arden's Choice who looked sure to run second until she had a gallop at the 150 metres mark. Waikiki Beach paced the 1950 metres in 2:25.7, a mile rate of 2:00.2 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 27.1. Mark Purdon was pretty confident once he found the front. " I was really impressed with him last week at the trials when I tried him in front." " Once I got there tonight he relaxed really well and I was pretty confident once I wasn't taken on." " He is off to the APG series in Australia and will be very competitive," Mark said. Tim Williams was happy with the run of Motu Premier. " I had to use him early but he got a really good run after that. " The tempo didn't suit him at all as he would prefer the speed on all the way," Tim said. Natalie Rasmussen thought Chase The Dream hadn't helped himself. " He went a bit rough on the last bend which cost him a lot of momentum." " But for that I think he would have run second." " Overall I'm happy with run," Natalie said. Matt Anderson was at a loss to explain why Arden's Choice broke with 150 metres to go. " She broke out of the gate the other night at Alexandra Park and tonight near the finish." " It was really disappointing as she was going to run second," Matt said.  Somebeachsomewhere is really stepping up to the plate now and the knockers are pretty quiet these days. Harnesslink Media  

One of the best fields on the the big night of harness racing at Addington tonight is the New Zealand Trotting Championship which has drawn together probably the best field for an open class trot all season. This is our runner by runner preview for the New Zealand Trotting Championship. 1) Valmagne - Starts: 60    Wins: 8    Secs: 10    Thirds: 8    Life: $78,468 Was in great form earlier in the season but has only had one run back from a break to get ready for this. Blew out on the grass at Oamaru where he started off 50 metres so there is a nagging doubt about whether he is ready for this. Draw is a big plus but lack of race fitness means we struggle to see him as a first four player. 2) Kincaslough - Starts: 29    Wins: 10   Secs: 3    Thirds: 3    Life: $121,336 Her last start at Auckland was her worst run this season and that came after she had jumped a shadow at her previous start at Alexandra Park. Just starting to worry that the big season she has had to date is starting to catch up with her. Does have gate speed so may get to the markers first and secure the trail behind Stent who will lead from barrier three. With that kind of run she becomes a trifecta and first four chance. 3) Stent -  Starts: 57    Wins: 26    Secs: 15    Thirds: 5    Life: $965,155 In the form of his life at the moment and looking to become a millionaire tonight. Will work to the lead and very hard to beat from there. Not unbeatable however as 2600 metres is not his best distance and he comes back to the chasing pack a bit the longer the race distance. Top pick but will be challenged by a couple here. 4) Sheemon - Starts: 52    Wins: 15   Secs: 17    Thirds: 9    Life: $413,828  Took a while to hit form in Australia but very unlucky in the Southern Star final where he was denied a run in the straight. Won't beat Stent out of the gate but will still look to go forward and get a run close to the pace and hope there is plenty of pressure up front which we think there will be. With Dexter in the bike he is a must have for all combination bets. 5) Alley Way - Starts: 39    Wins: 11    Secs: 9    Thirds: 3    Life: $85,161 Is right in the zone at the moment but this is his biggest test to date. Everything points to him being very competitive here and he is not out of this by any means. We don't think he can win the race tonight but with a run to suit he can be a trifecta and first four chance at good odds. 6) King Denny - Starts: 19    Wins: 9    Secs: 3    Thirds: 0    Life: $195,302 His last three wins have all been outstanding after being very slow away from the standing start on every occasion. The mobile start is a huge plus for him and he is right in this race due to that. He does not have the speed of Stent but he is a wonderful stayer and we think he will try to turn it into a staying test. The big danger to the favourite. 7) Prime Power -  Starts: 34    Wins: 14    Secs: 6    Thirds: 6    Life: $214,969  No luck last week at Addington so disregard that run when assessing his chances here. Previous run at Auckland was huge and has been going great guns all season prior to last week. Boring pole goes on this week which will correct last weeks problem and we think he is one of the big players here. Include in all combinations 8) One Over Da Moon - Starts: 30    Wins: 11    Secs: 3    Thirds: 2    Life: $175,505  Only had his first run for seven months last Friday and blew out the last bit as you would expect. Still went a mighty race but it is another big step up this week. Draw and lack of racing means we struggle to see him in four. 9) King Of Strathfield - Starts: 113    Wins: 21   Secs: 19    Thirds: 14    Life: $258,097 Since his move out to the beach with Robert Dunn he has started to turn his form around. He has always raced better away from the real elite trotters and that coupled with the draw means we can't see him in four. Not for us.                                                                          SECOND LINE 10) Vulcan - Starts: 96    Wins: 20    Secs: 12    Thirds: 8    Life: $1,004,369  When he first went out to the beach, he looked like his old self for four or five starts. Now he just looks like he is going through the motions to us. Draw means he could end up three or four back on the inner and we struggle to see how he could be a first four player from there. Not for us. 11) Master Lavros - Starts: 37    Wins: 15  Secs: 4    Thirds: 2    Life: $359,046 The enigma of the field for sure but there is no denying the talent. Broke last week from the stand but trotted the best we have seen him trot this season after his early gallop. At his best he would trouble all of them here and if he trots like he did last week, he is a player here. Include in all combinations. 12) Clover Don - Starts: 86    Wins: 23    Secs: 12    Thirds: 12    Life: $285,870 Forget last week form the stand but the problem he has here is he likes to lead in his races and that ain't happening here. Can over race in the field and that along with the draw makes this too hard in our opinion. Not for us. 13) Jaccka Justy - Starts: 54    Wins: 13   Secs: 3    Thirds: 4    Life: $232,163 Very talented on his day but you never really know which Jaccka Justy is going to turn up. After trialing brilliantly leading into last week, he went very average last Friday night. Just as likely to turn that form around here when you least expect it but from the draw and going by last weeks run we can't see him as a first four player. Not for us. 14) Springbank Sam - Starts: 60    Wins: 17   Secs: 8    Thirds: 7    Life: $282,913  Has been in good form most of the season but at a level away from the real elite trotters. At his peak he would have been a major player here but he just seems to have lost a length this season to us. Has the master Phil Williamson in the bike but the draw and the field mean we struggle to see him as a first four player. SELECTIONS Stent is the obvious choice here and the way he went in Australia shows he is right in the zone at the moment. However we still reckon that King Denny will give him plenty to think about tonight. The dangers to this pair for us are the class horses in the field in Sheemon, Prime Power and Master Lavros.  Throw in Kincaslough and Alley Way to bolster up those first fours. Harnesslink Media  

Another feature race on the big night of harness racing at Addington on Friday night is the New Zealand Trotting Derby and it has thankfully at least drawn a field with double figure runners. Here is our preview of the New Zealand Trotting Derby. 1) Starlight Starbright - Starts: 22    Wins: 2   Secs: 0    Thirds: 5    Life: $14,907 Has shown a lot of ability at times but not consistently and not at this level. Several outside him can really leave the gate and he could end up four or five deep from barrier one which negates any advantage the draw gave him. We can't see him in four. Not for us 2) Springbank Eden - Starts: 15    Wins: 2   Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $12,621 Another one plagued by inconsistency throughout his career but has been slowly getting better and has something to offer here. Can get off the gate good so we think he will look to lead and then trail the favourite Prince Fearless. Still have doubts he can run in four even from the trail but draw and mobile give him an outside chance of running in the first four. 3) Prince Fearless - Starts: 10    Wins: 3    Secs: 3    Thirds: 0    Life: $89,144 We think the extra distance this week in the Derby is what this horse has been crying out for. He is a dead set stayer and as he showed on Cup day the 2600 metres will hold no fears for him. Privately timed to run his last 2400 metres that day in 2:58.6 and still won without being driven out. Should lead and hard to see how they run him down from there. Top pick for us. 4) Wanna Play - Starts: 16    Wins: 2   Secs: 3    Thirds: 4    Life: $59,795 Has had a few issues since going to Auckland but went a lot more like her old self last week Very good stayer so 2600 metres will suit down to the ground. Really good run last week where she came from last at the 400 metres to run fifth after having absolutely no luck in the running. Trifecta and first four player with run to suit. 5) BD Love - Starts: 6    Wins: 3    Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $27,504 Talented son of Love You who is a dead set stayer like most of the Love You's so the 2600 metres is right up his alley. Can do work in his races and still keep going so can be put in the race when ever Ken Barron wants. A couple here may have the wood on him ability wise but won't be far away. First four player for us. 6) Speeding Spur - Starts: 12    Wins: 6    Secs: 2    Thirds: 2    Life: $61,946  Has been in great form all season with his only defeat in six starts coming in the Hambletonian at Ashburton to Prince Fearless. Smart win over 2700 metres last time at Alexandra Park so the distance is no worry for him. If he had drawn inside of Prince Fearless he would have had a great chance of rolling the favourite but being out at six makes it tough. Huge chance regardless so include in everything. 7) Habibti Ivy - Starts: 6    Wins: 3    Secs: 0    Thirds: 2    Life: $33,495  Easy win in the Trotting Oaks last week and extra distance here won't worry her at all. Ran on very strongly at the start before that to finish right with Prince Fearless and Monbet and is still on the improve so a live chance here. Appeals as a real out and out stayer so she is a must include for all combination takers. Include in everything. 8) Soney Beatt - Starts: 18    Wins: 2   Secs: 2    Thirds: 2    Life: $14,965 Not the worst in this field and he is one that will appreciate the extra distance. However the draw of barrier eight coupled with the quality of the field makes this mission impossible in our view. Not for us. 9) Fiery Mountain Girl - Scratched                                                                            SECOND LINE 10) Monbet - Starts: 11    Wins: 6    Secs: 1    Thirds: 1    Life: $86,807 This is one horse that needed a draw and one on the second line behind an average beginner is the last thing the Hopes would have been looking for. Outstanding talent who with any luck can still play a big part here. Driver Ricky May will be hoping that Prince Fearless and Speeding Spur go to war a long way out because if that happens then it will bring Monbet right into the contest late in the piece. Include in everything. 11) Sky Commander - Starts: 8    Wins: 2   Secs: 1    Thirds: 5    Life: $10,320 Nice horse in the making who has great manners and a big motor. A recent addition to the huge Merv and Meg Butterworth racing team, this race may have come to early for him in our view. Handled the gate really well at his only start behind it so could get a cosy run through behind Springbank Eden. A few here would look to have the wood on him at this stage but one to take notes on for the future. SELECTIONS From the draw it is hard to go past Prince Fearless. He has gate speed and should lead and from there he is very very hard to beat. Speeding Spur is going great  but is going to have lift even further to win here. Still a clear second pick from the draw. But for his bad draw Monbet would be vying for favouritism here and should he get a run to suit is still a major player. Throw in Wanna Play, BD Love and Habibti Ivy for trifectas and first fours. Harnesslink Media

One of the issues at the moment in harness racing in New Zealand is the size of the fields in some of our classic races. The Muscara Standardbreds New Zealand Derby at Addington on Friday night is a good example having only drawn eight runners which is a shame for the club and the sponsors. This is our runner by runner preview of this years Muscara Standardbreds New Zealand Derby. 1) Brilliant Strike - Starts: 13    Wins: 6    Secs: 2    Thirds: 3    Life: $57,167 Not suited at all last week when they sprinted home in 54.8 and 26.7  Needs the speed to be on all the way to be a chance of getting amongst it here as he lacks the really high speed of some of his competition. Great stayer so Ricky May will be hoping they go 3:09 and not 3:13. Trifecta and first four chance from the draw. 2) Follow The Stars - Starts: 18    Wins: 13   Secs: 4    Thirds: 0    Life: $598,844 Going great guns at the moment and nothing wrong with his last four runs even though he has run second every time. Drawn inside his nemesis Have Faith In Me this time and should lead and from there will be very hard to beat. Has a great all round game so able to adapt to whats happening during the race better than most. One of two winning chances and include in everything. 3) Smithy - Starts: 10    Wins: 3   Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $23,661 Has always looked a nice horse in the making and last couple of wins haven't surprised us in the least. Would prefer him over something shorter than this distance and this is a huge step up from what he has been facing. Hard to see him as a first four player here. 4) Itz Bettor To Win - Starts: 11    Wins: 6    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $85,475 Had been in great form leading into the Great Northern Derby and after getting a nice run in transit, he showed nothing when hooked out, stopping badly. That run was too bad to be true for a horse of his ability and he has been under a cloud since, missing the Flying Stakes last week. Impressed the stable with his work on Monday which is why he is in the field but lack of recent racing sees him as a trifecta and first four player only. 5) Have Faith In Me - Starts: 11    Wins: 6    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $365,381 Just continues to improve every time he steps on the track and is managing to stay one step ahead of his stablemate Follow The Stars. Should be even better for last weeks run in the Flying Stakes and like all top horses he just seems to be able to find a way to win at the moment. The only horse here who can beat Follow The Stars if he leads and hard to separate the two in our book. One of two winning chances and include in everything. 6) Art Union - Starts: 24    Wins: 12    Secs: 5    Thirds: 1    Life: $153,883 Had a real dig for the lead last week and missed and that was the end of his chances in the Flying Stakes. Has had a long and arduous season so far and it appears to have sapped his energy a wee bit and to us he is not going as good now as he was back in November. Even with Dexter in the bike, he is only an outside first four chance for us. 7) McArdle Star -  Starts: 4    Wins: 3    Secs: 0    Thirds: 1    Life: $16,955 Very patiently handled three year old who has looked well above average in short career to date. Wouldn't be here if the stable didn't think he was up to it but lack of experience may count against him in this field. Has run 3:13 for the 2600 metres after doing a power of work and did it easy so a definite first four player for us. 8) Hug The Wind - Starts: 14    Wins: 5   Secs: 6    Thirds: 2    Life: $237,457 Got involved in an early burn last week which caught up with him late in the race. That was his first run off the place for three weeks and he would have derived a lot of benefit from it. Just looks half a length down on his two more favoured stablemates but looks to have the wood on all the rest Third pick for us and hard to see him not running in three. SELECTIONS Everything says Follow The Stars will win from the draw and he will be very difficult to beat if as expected he goes straight to the front. However Have Faith In Me continues to step up and is still on the improve and we think he can once again get the better of Follow The Stars. There will nothing in it but these two look a couple of lengths better than the rest. Third looks just as clear cut for us with Hug The Wind a length behind the first two but a length in front of the rest. For first fours throw in Brilliant Strike, Itz Bettor To Win and McArdle Star Harnesslink Media  

With the top two harness racing mares in the country in Adore Me and Helena Jet having been retired recently, the title of New Zealand's best mare was up for grabs tonight at Addington in the $100,000 New Zealand Breeders Stakes. Venus Serena was the public elect from barrier three and she showed last night that at her best, there is no better mare in the country at present.. Driver John Dunn let the daughter of Mach Three work her way to the front after 250 metres and from there she controlled the tempo of the race. With a mile to go John started to up the tempo with Venus Serena and it was obvious a long way from home that most were struggling with the speed up front. The well supported New Years Jay worked around to the death at the 1000 metres mark and the race just hotted up even more. Down the back straight John turned the wick up again with a 27.9 quarter and most were struggling to make ground as they turned for home. The way the race had been run was set up for a swooper and Willow who had been last at the 600 metres flew home along the inner but Venus Serena was still a length to the good at the line. Pemberton Shard went her usual honest race running into third ahead of Here We Go Again who ran on well late for fourth. In the very windy conditions, Venus Serena paced the 2600 metres in 3:12, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with the last mile in a very quick 1:55.7 and closing sectionals of 57.3 and 29.4  John Dunn was happy to see Venus Serena back to something like her best. " That was such a gutsy run tonight and she felt more like her old self." " There is a really strong wind out there tonight and she ran into it twice so it was a top effort." " I eased off the speed early which I probably shouldn't have but once I let her roll she had them in trouble," John said. Trainer Geoff Dunn was a contented man post race. " She deserved that tonight as she hasn't really gone a bad race all season." "Bad draws have cost her a few times this season and that was the first time she had had a decent barrier." "Once she found the front, I knew she would be hard to beat." Geoff has deliberately given Venus Serena a lighter season. " Right through her two and three year old seasons, every race was a track or New Zealand record and that has to take a toll." "So we decided to give her an easier time at four in the hope that if we look after her now, we will be rewarded down the line," Geoff said. The only target left for the mare this season now is the Harness Jewels and last nights win has given her the bankroll to assure her a start in the May 30th feature. Harnesslink Media  

The Group 2 Flying Stakes at tonights harness racing meeting at Addington may have been short on numbers but every runner was a quality three year old. The All Star barn seem to have frightened a lot of smart three year olds into hiding if the five who lined up in the Flying Stakes tonight is any guide. Hug The Wind with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike flew the gate from barrier one but was immediately challenged by Art Union and Dexter Dunn. They flew the first 200 metres before Dexter eased Art Union into the trail with the other three runners in single file. With 1200 metres to go Tim Williams eased Have Faith In Me out into the death seat outside Hug The Wind and Follow The Stars and Mark Purdon immediately hopped onto his back in the one by one. The tempo increased down the back straight and as they passed the 400 metres mark they really sprinted. Hug The WInd led for home but was quickly grabbed by Have Faith In Me and he was immediately challenged by Follow The Stars who had the last shot at his stablemate but came up a half a head short. Hug The Wind held on for third in front of Brilliant Strike but they were over three lengths behind the first two. Have Faith In Me paced the 1950 metres in 2:21.4, a mile rate of 1:56.6 with the last 800 metre in a very quick 54.8 and the 400 metres in a sizzling 26.7 which considering the strong wind they ran into twice was a great effort. Tim Williams was all smiles post race. " He just continues to get better and better with every race" " I came out and sat parked because he is such a laid back horse I was confident he would relax out there and he did." " He can muster high speed really quickly when you ask him and that's what got him home tonight," Tim said. Mark Purdon was philosophical about Follow The Stars suffering another defeat. " He has gone huge but the other horse just keeps improving." " I am really pleased with how Follow The Stars is going but I think a couple have caught up to him at three." " He is still a big chance in the Derby the way he is going," Mark said. Natalie Rasmussen was pleased with the run of Hug The Wind. " That was his first run for three weeks and he will derive a lot of benefit from it." " He is probably a touch behind the other two but with the right run he could be right there in the Derby, "Natalie said. The way the All Stars barn runners went in the Flying Stakes it is hard to see the winner coming from outside their three runners tonight. Harnesslink Media 

In the sport of harness racing in New Zealand, Paul Nairn has a reputation second to none when it comes to producing age group trotters. Tonight at Addington in the New Zealand Trotting Oaks for three year old fillies, Paul showed once again why he is held in such high regard by his fellow trainers when he produced Habibti Ivy at just her sixth lifetime start to win the Group 2 event. Away well from barrier one for driver Blair Orange, Habibti Ivy handed up to the favourite Arya after 400 metres and got a lovely trip on her back until the corner where she burst up the passing lane and was way too smart winning by 2 + 3/4 lengths without having to be driven out. Sunny Ruby after a lovely run three back on the inner flew home late for second in front of a very game Fiery Mountain Girl who sat parked for the entire trip with Arya fading late for a disappointing fourth. Paul Nairn was confident of a big run from the daughter of Love You. " Her work has been super and I was confident she would go close." " The secret is not to over race them leading into the big races like this." " We may look at the Derby now and safely through that we will have to have a serious look at going to the three year old races at Auckland," Paul said. Driver Gavin Smith was rapt with the run of Sunny Ruby for second. " She is a lovely filly to drive and gives you a great feel." "Fred Fletcher is great with young trotters and she is beautifully mannered"  "I got a great run following Habibti Ivy and she finished it off really well," Gavin said. John Dunn was rapt with the run of Fiery Mountain Girl. " She has gone huge tonight." " To be parked every inch of the race and still fight on for third was a great run for an inexperienced filly like her." " I'm over the moon with the run," John said. Paul Nairn is never short of a smart age group trotter and in Habibti Ivy he has another topliner. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times with injury stopping a lot of horses fulfilling their potential. One horse that would fit that description to a tee is Boom Gate. The five year old son of Courage Under Fire was a super impressive winner on debut when he took out the Sapling Stakes as a two year old but it has been far from plain sailing ever since. Soundness issues have restricted his appearances to the point that tonight he was just having start number seventeen. Now with Robert Dunn on the beach, Boom Gate has impressed his new trainers and they were confident of a forward showing tonight at Addington. Away well from barrier nine for driver John Dunn, Boom Gate worked to the front after 400 metres and kept up a solid tempo in front. John Dunn let him run from the 800 metres and as they turned for home the only challenger was Nevertheless who had had the trail the whole way. Boom Gate sprinted away at the 200 metres mark and went to the line an easy winner by 1 3/4 lengths over Nevertheless with Livura running into third. Boom Gate cut out the 2600 metres in 3:14.2, a mile rate of 2:00.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 28.4. Driver John Dunn was full of praise for Boom Gate post race. " He did that fairly easily to be honest." "He has always been a smart horse but injury has blighted his career,"  John said. It hasn't all been plain sailing since he joined the Dunn camp either. " The first time we worked him up he went sore on us so we had to stop. " We gave him a couple of months out and started again and it has all gone smoothly this time."  " We will just take him day by day at the moment but that won't be his last win if he stays sound," John said. The Dunn barn deserves all the kudos they get for getting Boom Gate back to the track and hopefully he can fulfill his early promise. Harnesslink Media

With the big night of harness racing at Addington tonight we thought we would preview some of the group races. This preview is of the New Zealand Breeders Stakes 1) The Fascinator - Starts: 30    Wins: 6    Secs: 10    Thirds: 5    Life: $92,380 Honest performer who always gives her best. Can follow speed so likely to get a good run from barrier one behind the likely leader Venus Serena. Hard to see her winning the race but a must include for those taking trifectas and first fours. 2) Here We Go Again - Starts: 56    Wins: 9    Secs: 9    Thirds: 9    Life: $162,181 Has had her issues lately and has been out with Bob Butt on the beach for the past fortnight. Handy mare on her day and for once in one of these mares races she has a good marble. Hard to see her winning but if the beach has worked its magic, she is more than capable of running in the money. 3) Venus Serena - Starts: 26    Wins: 15()    Secs: 1    Thirds: 3    Life: $707,053 Outstanding three year old last season who has had to step out against the likes of Adore Me and Helena Jet at four and has battled a touch albeit from bad draws most of the time. With those two gone, she is the one they all have to beat now. Will work to the front and if she can get away with even one cheap quarter, she will be very hard to beat. Top pick for us 4) Better To Be Bad - Starts: 78    Wins: 10    Secs: 8    Thirds: 5    Life: $94,426 Well performed mare who has won ten races in her career to date. However in career worst form slump and the runs are getting worst if anything. Hard to make a case for her to run in four. Not for us 5) Pemberton Shard - Starts: 56    Wins: 11    Secs: 7    Thirds: 11    Life: $217,164 A tough hard wearing mare who will appreciate the 2600 metres more than most. Had no luck at Menangle and didn't disgrace herself. With Dexter in the bike and a handy draw she is a major player here. Must include for trifecta and first four takers. 6) New Years Jay - Starts: 11    Wins: 7   Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $38,511 The enigma of the field who on her best behaviour would win the race but can be a bit wayward every now and again. Has won seven from eleven which is a great record especially due to the four misses includes two disqualifications where she won but ran about in the running and was relegated. Trialed brilliantly at Gore last week so ready for this and the biggest danger to Venus Serena. Include in everything. 7) Delightful Dash - Scratched 8) Whyamibettor - Starts: 64    Wins: 5    Secs: 3    Thirds: 6    Life: $39,673 Honest mare who gives 100% every time she steps on to the track Massive rise in class here to what she has been racing and with the wide draw thrown in we struggle to see her as a first four chance. Not for us. 9) Sell A Bit - Starts: 30    Wins: 8    Secs: 5    Thirds: 6    Life: $53,390 Right at the top of her game at the moment and a real shame she has drawn out here. Huge win at Winton last Saturday coming from the outside of the second line to win in 1:54.1 Not out of it from out there as she can work in her races as she showed last week. Include in trifectas and first fours. 10) Maddison Hill - Starts: 89    Wins: 5    Secs: 11    Thirds: 11    Life: $45,426  Honest mare who has been in good touch in her last couple in her own grade. Massive rise in class here and hard to see her running in four especially from the draw. Not for us. 11) Eva Sophnally - Starts: 24    Wins: 4    Secs: 4    Thirds: 4    Life: $31,263 Ultra consistent mare but not against the class she will face tonight. Can follow speed so that is a plus but some here look to smart. Draw to get soft run from the second line but outside first four player at best for us. 12) Willow - Starts: 15    Wins: 6    Secs: 3    Thirds: 3    Life: $162,082 But for the draw she would be a big winning chance for us. Draw makes it difficult but she can really finish over the top of them if held up for one run. Trialed well at Methven last Saturday and has Natalie in the bike so another tick. Danger to the favoured pair if she gets a run to suit. Include in everything. 13) Royal Counsel - Starts: 23    Wins: 5    Secs: 6    Thirds: 3    Life: $73,062 Another mare that if she had drawn well, would have been a huge each way chance. An out and out stayer who will love the 2600 metres. Won the Southland Oaks last season over some of these and will be put in the race at some point. Throw in for trifectas and first fours. SELECTIONS From the draw Venus Serena is hard to ignore but is no past the post certainty. She hasn't looked at her best lately but this field is more to her liking. New Years Jay and Willow are the big dangers for us with both capable of rolling the favourite with a run to suit.  The Fascinator,Pemberton Shard, Sell A Bit and Royal Counsel for trifectas and first fours. Harnesslink Media

With the big night of harness racing coming up at Addington on Friday night we thought we would preview some of the group races. This preview is of the Superstars Championship for 4 + 5 year olds 1) Tiger Tara - Starts: 29    Wins: 11    Secs: 7    Thirds: 4    Life: $384,200 Looked a lot more like his old self last start after going through a flat patch after the Cup meeting. Liable to end up in the trail here and from there he is a chance to get some of it. Not sure he can win this but an include for trifecta and first four takers. 2) Ohoka Punter - Starts: 24    Wins: 14    Secs: 5    Thirds: 4    Life: $553,249  Outstanding run for third in Auckland Cup and from this draw he is the horse they have to beat. He has good gate speed so should grab the early lead and hard to see him beaten from there. Tony Herlihy in the bike just increases our confidence that he will win this. Top pick for us 3) Johny Rock - Scratched 4) Meticulous - Starts: 30    Wins: 9    Secs: 5    Thirds: 1    Life: $99,507 Has had a useful season to date with several good performances but this is a big step up in class. Has chased Isaiah home a few times and has not been able to beat him so don't like his chances here. Outside first four player at best. 5) Quick As A Trick - Scratched 6) Lewy Risk - Starts: 33    Wins: 7()    Secs: 5    Thirds: 2    Life: $59,695 Didn't run on in Auckland Cup, beaten 16 lengths after a soft trip back on the inner. His best form has been away from the better horses and several runners here seem to have the wood on him. Not for us. 7) Dalton Bromac - Starts: 13    Wins: 9    Secs: 2    Thirds: 1    Life: $79,267 Has burst on the scene this season and looks a superstar in the making. Big ask fresh up to take on seasoned horses like Ohoka Punter but no doubting the ability or class. Trialed nicely last weekend and a must have for all combination bets. Race fitness the only question mark. 8) Isaiah - Starts: 33    Wins: 13    Secs: 5    Thirds: 10    Life: $577,492 Has been in great touch all season and will make the step up here. Unlucky in the Chariots Of Fire when blocked for a run when he needed it at the top of the straight. Honest as they come and with Natalie Rasmussen in the bike he will lack nothing on the driving front. Must have for all combination bets. 9) Border Control - Starts: 40    Wins: 18    Secs: 12    Thirds: 5    Life: $511,165 Former star performer who has worked his way back to full race fitness with his recent runs after a long injury layoff. Top run in the Auckland Cup from barrier 12 and that run should have tightened him up even further. Out and out stayer who can do work in his races so small field a bonus for him. Must include for combination takers.   SELECTIONS From the draw and with the benefit of recent racing Ohoka Punter looks very hard to beat and is a clear first pick for us. Dalton Bromac is a serious challenger but his lack of recent racing is the question mark for us. Still capable of pushing the favourite. Isaiah and Border Control are both capable of getting amongst it but hard to see them beating Ohoka Punter or Dalton Bromac on seasons form to date. Throw in Tiger Tara for trifectas and first fours if you want a bit of cover. Harnesslink Media  

With the big night of harness racing at Addington tomorrow night we thought we would preview some of the group races. This preview is of the Flying Stakes 1) Hug The Wind - Starts: 13    Wins: 5    Secs: 6    Thirds: 1    Life: $234,042 Preformed really well in Australia and only went under to a super colt in Ideal For Real in the New South Wales Derby. Has real gate speed and with the addition of sliding blinds this week it would appear Natalie is going to use that gate speed from the ace. A real chance to lead all the way here. 2) Art Union - Starts: 23    Wins: 12    Secs: 5    Thirds: 1    Life: $152,663 Continues to go good races in what has been a very busy campaign. Just doesn't appear quite as sharp as he was around Cup time but still competitive. Dexter a big plus but two or three here look to have his measure. 3) Brilliant Strike - Starts: 12    Wins: 6    Secs: 2    Thirds: 3    Life: $55,460  Really came of age at Alexandra Park recently in the prelude and the final of the Great Northern Derby. Showed he wasn't out of his depth at this level with a great third in the prelude and made up a ton of ground in the Derby from an impossible position. Don't know if he has the speed to trouble these horses in a tactical race which this race looks like it might be. 4) Have Faith In Me - Starts: 10    Wins: 5   Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $338,552 Having a great season and it doesn't look like finishing yet. Has that all important high speed which gives his driver Tim Williams so many options. Draw no help in a small field but still hard to hold out. 5) Kept Under Wraps - Scratched 6) Follow The Stars - Starts: 17    Wins: 13    Secs: 3    Thirds: 0    Life: $592,015 Has been beaten a few times lately but has had no luck with the draws so hard to fault his performances. Was huge in the Derby prelude at Auckland where he won with a lot in reserve and has never finished further back than second in any of his races barring last season's Harness Jewels where he was wiped out. Has the all round game to suit however the race is run so still the horse they have to beat but is vulnerable in a tactical race such as this. SELECTIONS  With the Derby coming up we are just not sure if anyone of these five runners wants to have a gutbuster of a run this week. We think it could turn into a real tactical affair and for that reason we don't think the form book is that helpful. We think it is an All Star trifecta but we are leaning towards Hug The Wind over his two stablemates just because of the draw. Could easily go the way of Follow The Stars or Have Faith In Me but they are definitely the first three home here. Harnesslink Media

As we come up to the big night of harness racing at Addington on Friday we thought we would do an in- depth preview of some of the group races. First up is the New Zealand Trotting Oaks. 1) Natives Lasting Love -  Starts: 7    Wins: 0    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $1,562  -  (1st Emerg) A seven start maiden who has shown promise at times but has a mountain to climb here if she made it back into the field. Not for us. 2) Habibti Ivy -  Starts: 5    Wins: 2    Secs: 0    Thirds: 2    Life: $11,495 The full sister to the brilliant Habibti has inherited all the family ability and looms as a major winning chance from the draw. Showed high gate speed at her last start and was finishing over the top of Monbet and Prince Fearless late which is great form going into this. Winning chance from the draw and a must have in all combinations. 3) Alvira Hest - Starts: 3    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $4,073  Outstanding win last week at Addington, coming from last at the 600 metres to loop them wide out and win easily. Huge step up here and showed no gate speed last week which negates the good draw. Could sneak into the first four with the right trip. 4) Eilish Aimee - Scratched 5) One Yankee Hall - Starts: 8    Wins: 0    Secs: 2    Thirds: 2    Life: $2,980  Promising maiden who went off the rails a couple of times recently but seems back on track now. Well beaten by Alvira Hest last week which doesn't bode well for this assignment. Not for us. 6) Fiery Mountain Girl - Starts: 5    Wins: 2    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $15,143  Very promising filly who has won a couple of races in good style. Showed gate speed when winning at Addington prior to Xmas and has come on in leaps and bounds since then. Can't see her as the winner but a serious trifecta and first four player from the draw 7) Agnes Brown - Starts: 4    Wins: 1    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $7,153 Showed a fair bit of promise in her first two starts which were both from a stand which gave her time to balance up. Two mobiles since have seen her self destruct which is a major handicap in this race. Even with Dexter on board, we can't have her as a first four player. 8) Arya - Starts: 15    Wins: 10    Secs: 3    Thirds: 1    Life: $157,486  The half sister to Stent has been a star from day one and has only missed a placing once in 15 starts when she was disqualified from second in the Harness Jewels. Faultless manners are a big plus and she is race fit after a string of Australian wins recently. Comes into barrier six and has gate speed so will settle handy to the speed. The one to beat for us and a must have for all combinations. 9) Zsa Zara - Starts: 7    Wins: 0    Secs: 2    Thirds: 1    Life: $3,598 Nice filly in the making but this looks a bit rich at this stage of her career. Would need all favours to finish in the first half of the field and from barrier nine that is not going to happen. Not for us.                                                                      SECOND LINE 10) Sunny Ruby - Starts: 17    Wins: 2    Secs: 2    Thirds: 1    Life: $15,448 Smart front running filly who is the fastest filly off the gate in the country but all of that advantage is negated by the draw. Will be interesting to see how she goes with a sit because there is no doubting the ability. Still only an outside first four player for us. 11) Wanna Play - Starts: 15    Wins: 2    Secs: 3    Thirds: 4    Life: $58,795  Very talented filly who doesn't quite have the ringcraft of some here but has as much natural ability as any. Will really appreciate the mobile and the left hand way of going as she is better the Addington way round. Throw in the best driver going round at the moment in Natalie Rasmussen and Wanna Play is a serious winning chance and a must have for all combinations.  12) Yagunnakissmeornot - Starts: 13    Wins: 7    Secs: 2    Thirds: 4    Life: $52,820 Another high class filly who has won seven races and never missed a placing in thirteen starts. Does tend to run in on the corners left handed but trainer Sean McCaffrey confident it won't be an issue on the roomy Addington track. Really good coming off a sit recently and can get a big piece of this with a run to suit. A must have for all combinations. 13) Petite One - Starts: 7    Wins: 3    Secs: 2    Thirds: 0    Life: $28,871  Has looked very talented in her career to date, pushing Speeding Spur at Auckland and beating Al Bundy as well so no doubting the ability. Disregard last run as got taken out by breaker with a lap to go and was to far off them afterwards but did make up a lot of ground to run fifth in a field that included Monbet and Prince Fearless. Definite trifecta and first four player for us. 14) Jen Jaccka - Starts: 3    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $4,238 Promising filly who ran 3:04 for 2400 metres at her second lifetime start so the ability is there. Big step up here and our concern is the lack of ringcraft against a field of this quality. Combine that with the draw and we can't find a place for her. Not for us 15) Gael Ludlow - Starts: 14    Wins: 1    Secs: 1    Thirds: 0    Life: $6,564 Very good from a stand and also has a liking for grass tracks, neither of which she gets here. This looks out of reach at this stage of her career. Not for us. 16) Cyclone Jeter - Starts: 6    Wins: 1    Secs: 0    Thirds: 0    Life: $5,904 Has won a race but last couple of starts have been very disappointing. Throw in the draw and it looks hard to see her being a player here. Not for us. SELECTIONS  Arya who comes in to barrier six looks very hard to beat. She has an all round game and is race fit for this and will have the All Star finishing touches on her preparation this week. The main danger for us is Habibti Ivy who showed real gate speed at her last start and then finished the race off strongly against the two of the best colts in the country in Monbet and Prince Fearless. Blair Orange takes the drive and with the Paul Nairn polish on her she is a big chance of rolling the favourite. Yagunnakissmeornot is hindered here by the draw and had she drawn better would have been a huge winning chance. Can still get a big piece of it but will have to do more work than any of the other favoured runners. The same applies to Wanna Play who has drawn behind Alvira Hest who is not quick off the gate. Any luck in the running brings her right into calculations.  For trifectas and first four players add in Fiery Mountain Girl and Petite One

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