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Handy 3yo pacer Ideal World will be looking to “go one better” tonight after a string of 2nd placings for trainer Derek Balle. In his last 6 starts, the American Ideal colt has finished 2nd in 5th of those, while the other run was a handy 8th in the Northern Derby behind Lazarus. Owner A J McIntosh won’t be too bothered though, with those five 2nd placings coming at Alexandra Park at Auckland Trotting Club meetings, Ideal World has picked up a staggering $17,053.00. While he has only won the one race,  the first foal out of handy race mare World Of Dreams has earned just over $31,000.00 from just the 14 starts which has produced 1 win 6 seconds and a 3rd, while he has also ran 3 fourths. Interesting enough the only two times he has finished outside of the first 4 have been the Northern Derby (8th) and the Yearling Sales Final (6th). Ideal World is rated a $2.00 (Fixed Odds) favourite in a small but talented field which includes the Paul Court trained Cable Beach who will be improved from his fresh up run last week, while Cambridge trainer Mike Berger has his nice 3yo Max Phactor engaged from a wide draw. Ideal World's last start 2nd. Earlier on in the night Josh and John Dickie will line up Change The Rulz. Up from Canterbury, the 4yo Changeover mare was a recent workout winner and although drawn wide is a mare with plenty of ability. Last start she was only 2 lengths behind Rocker Band in a quick time and even from the outside drawn does look tough to roll. Change The Rulz last start 4th. Andrew Fitzgerald

Philip Butcher’s driving skills may be at a career high but that will be tested by a couple of tricky handicaps in the biggest races at Alexandra Park tonight. Butcher has already surpassed his best ever season, having reined 48 winners, six clear of his previous best with nearly three months of the season to go. His strike rate has never been better, he is well on the way to eclipsing his best stakes haul and he sits eighth on the national premiership, second only to brother David among North Island drivers. But he faces two awkward assignments in the main pace and trot tonight, one he thinks he can overcome, one he is not so sure about. Butcher partners Realmein in the trot and although he faces a 30m backmark he comes out of last Friday’s Rowe Cup, having finished second to the greatly improved Blackguard’s Corner the start before. Butcher says the ace draw didn’t aid Realmein last Friday but he feels like a horse ready to win. “He is backing trotting at something like his best and this is a big drop for him,” said the Waikato horseman. “He is good enough to overcome that handicap in this field and I think he has a good chance.”
 Realmein is aided by the small field and the spread in the handicaps, which means he should be on the back of the bunch with two laps to go so tonight is his best chance of winning in a long time. Butcher partners Lusty Mac in the main pace, her first standing start, and one that comes on the back of two mysterious failures. She was an awesome winner on Auckland Cup night, March 11, but performed well below her best twice in the last fortnight, leaving Butcher scratching his head. “She is way better than that and we can’t work out why she failed like that,” he said. “This is a good chance for her to bounce back because even though it is her first stand start I reckon she will handle it. “But it is hard to be confident after how she has gone her last two.”
 Lusty Mac also comes up against one of the surprise packages of the northern season, Brydon Delight, who has gone from maiden to intermediate grade talent in just a few starts. The unheralded seven-year-old handled his first standing start well enough last Friday, albeit with no racing luck after, to suggest he is one of the better bets tonight. Tonight’s shortened programme means the $40,000 Pick6 starts on race three and Blazing Under Fire (race four) only needs to race up to his win last Friday to win again. The three-year-old has remained in the north to contest the Jewels and should only be better for his first couple of races right-handed. Meanwhile, three-year-old pacing Jewels favourite Chase The Dream contests a hot race at Kilmore tonight as he gets ready to return home from the WA Derby, with stablemate Waikiki Beach off to Newcastle tomorrow night. By Michael Guerin

Auckland Trotting Club president Bruce Carter has announced from 1 August a new incentive scheme will be introduced for the 2016/17 harness racing season. The announcement signals a new era and follows the board of the Auckland Trotting Club agreeing in February to a comprehensive programme to revitalise and reinvigorate harness racing in the north – a key pillar of Alexandra Park’s long-term strategic business plan. This ground breaking scheme rewards owners of all horses racing at Alexandra Park with a minimum of $250 for each starter. Trainers of these horses will receive a payment of $150. “The Auckland Trotting Club takes its responsibility of supporting the industry as a whole extremely seriously and as such we need to look after our owners and trainers. They are critical to harness racing’s future,” says Mr Carter. He says the scheme will be monitored with the view that if it is supported by the industry, the ATC board will potentially grow the incentives for owners and trainers for the 2017/18 season, and look to improve stakes in 2018/19. “We’re keen to take a leadership role in turning the industry around and this move is seen as one of the major initiatives to help achieve that,” says Mr Carter. The Auckland Trotting Club board has a range of positive initiatives it will roll out over the next three years, all aimed at securing a brighter future for harness racing in the northern part of New Zealand. As well as incentivising and growing the returns for owners and trainers, the Auckland Trotting Club also has a renewed focus on growing horse numbers, industry funding, betting, and audiences. www.alexandrapark.co.nz  

It was his race to lose. This was the scenario facing brilliant Canterbury trotter Monbet tonight (Friday) at Alexandra Park, Auckland as he faced the harness racing starter in the Gr.1 $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup, the final leg of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series. Following his breathtaking victory last week in the ANZAC Cup and the sad season ending injury to his arch rival Speeding Spur, punters installed the Greg and Nina Hope trained gelding as an unbackable favourite in the North Island’s biggest trotting feature. And he didn’t disappoint. Starting from the inside of the second-line in the 3200m stand start feature, champion reinsman Ricky May wasted little time soon after a safe beginning to put the big striding Love You gelding into a forward position. Taking off at the 2000m mark, Monbet whistled around the field before taking control with 1700m left to run. Thereafter, it was a procession. The lead time was covered in 2:07.5. May allowed Monbet to stride boldly in front while rivals jostled for positions as they battled for second prize. Monbet covered the final mile in sectionals of 31.6, 29.8, 28.4 and 29 seconds. In the home straight, Monbet raced away and scored a dominant victory with a winning margin of 3 ½ lengths over Valmagne while a further 2 ½ lengths back to Queen Kenny in third. The race time was 4:06.3 with a mile rate of 2:03.8. It was his sixth Group One triumph this season. Monbet also becomes the first four-year-old to win the feature since Special Pride who scored back in 1980. The victory provided May with his second victory in the Rowe Cup after scoring aboard with Highwood back in 1988 while it was a first for the Hope’s. While recording back to back victories in APG Trotting Masters events during the past week, Speeding Spur will claim the title after amassing 220points throughout the season while Monbet will finish as the runner-up with 203 points. But with the Gr.1 $NZ100,000 Ruby on Jewels day at Cambridge on June 4 at his mercy, it may be enough to secure both National Horse and Trotter of the Year awards. A fitting result for a magical season if successful. Only time will tell. Chris Barsby

Everything went to plan for the four harness racing big guns tonight at the Auckland Trotting Club's meeting at Alexandra Park. Spanish Armada got things off to a flying start when she was successful in the $138,000.00 Group 1 Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship. Away nicely from barrier 6, co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen had the classy 2yo Bettor’s Delight in front and dictating after 300m. No one was keen to take the recent Caduceus Club Final winner on and she was allowed to stride along in front. While some punters who took the $1.30 around the favourite would have been nervous when the Mark Jones trained filly Delightful Memphis popped out of her 1-1 spot to issue a serious challenge, to wear the leader down to just a winner margin of a neck. The winner’s time for the 1700m trip was 2:02.3, Last mile in 1.55.7 – 800m 56.4 – 400m 27.7. The PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final set down for the 13th May will be the next clash of these two talented fillies. No doubt with a handy draw Delightful Memphis could turn the tables on the top seed Purdon/Rasmussen runner. Spanish Armada _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tonight’s Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby victory for Marcoola once again justified owner/driver Clint Ford’s decision to not sell his star 3yo colt. With an offer reportedly around the $250,000.00 mark, Ford was quick to make it clear that he wouldn’t be for sale. Since that offer Marcoola has won just over $120,000.00 in stakes, while adding the NZ Trotters Derby, Sire Stakes Trotting Championship and now the Northern Trotting Derby to his resume. A 3yo Colt by Champion sire Sundon out of the Ford Family’s handy race mare Arabess – Marcoola is the horse most people dream of breeding and owner themselves. A smart drive from Clint tonight got the chocolates as he once again showcased his class by demolishing a top class field. Allowed to settle early by Ford, Marcoola was then set around to find the top, this move left 2nd favourite High Gait in a world of trouble covered up four back the pegs. In a surprise move, High Gait’s driver Natalie Rasmussen was happy to stay tucked along the rail and was seen storming home for an unlucky 3rd. Marcoola went to the line, with plenty in the tank as Ford only flicked the reins at his charge in the home straight to score by 1 length in an overall time of 3:23.7, Mile rate of 2:01.4 – 800m in 58.2 – 400m in 29.6. The Harness Jewels looks his race to lose on the back of this 7 race winning streak. Marcoola _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Field Marshal was another short favourite to salute the judge, this time doing the sort after Taylor Mile/Messenger double. After a huge performance in last weeks Taylor Mile, Trainer Tim Butt was confident his top class Art Major 4yo would handle every part of the 2700m trip.  Given a lovely trip by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Field Marshal was dominate beating Australia visitor My Kiwi Mate by 1 ¼ Lengths in a sizzling 3:15.8. With tonight’s victory, Field Marshal climbs over the $250,000.00 mark in stakes earnings, with a healthy record of 14 wins from just the 25 starts. While Field Marshal in a clear leader on top of the Harness Jewels leader board, Australian My Kiwi Mate catapulted himself into 22nd spot, just $10,000.00 short of the 12th place Captain Doimio. With connections chasing a jewels spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see My Kiwi Mate line up at Alexandra Park over the next few weeks in order to qualify. The 4yo Jewels invite is likely to go to the Amanda Turnbull trained Tact Tate, who will make their decision in the coming days. Field Marshal _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Superstar trotter Monbet was absolutely sensational in the 2016 Rowe Cup, winning from an awkward, inside the back row draw. Trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet started one of the hottest favourites in history after arch rival Speeding Spur was stuck down by a suspensory injury that could see him sidelined for 10-12 months. Away nicely from the tapes, Monbet settled in before driver Ricky May sent the $1.11 favourite around to the lead with two laps to run. From there on after the 4yo Love You gelding never looks in danger. Owned by the Hopes and M J Molloy, they also turned down a reported offer of $600,000.00 a few weeks back. Since that offer Monbet has earn't a tidy $184,000.00. Co trainer Greg Hope confirmed last night that providing his charge recovers well they will look to take their place in the Cambridge Harness Jewels, where he will start one of the shortest jewels favourites ever. Waimate trotter Valmagne was the run of the race behind the winner. Co Trainer Josh Kennett was stoked with the performance of his stable star, “He has gone super, last week he broke just as he was getting into it” said Kennett. Monbet Andrew Fitzgerald

Auckland Deputy Mayor turned the first sod on Thursday 28 April to officially mark the second stage of construction for Alexandra Park’s significant urban village development. The occasion took place at Alexandra Park’s former car-park on Green Lane West. Australasian construction company Ganellen will build the development’s second stage which will include two integrated buildings with 128 one-to-three-bedroom apartments and 2,500sqm of ground-floor retail space. Building B1 comprises of nine levels above ground, while Building B2 has five. The second stage will include 248 carparks within a shared two-level basement. Chief executive of Alexandra Park, Dominique Dowding says: “This is another great milestone for Alexandra Park and is one of the largest brownfield developments currently happening in the city. Having Ganellen construct stage two reinforces our complete focus on quality. We’re determined to be leaders.” Ganellen project leader Michael Doig says: “We’re delighted to lend our experience and expertise to this first-class urban village development. This is our first major new build project in Auckland and is completely in line with the type of large residential projects that we have built our reputation upon in Sydney.” Residents start moving into stage one from mid next year. Apartment sales for both stages have been strong, with the on-site apartment display suite open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visitingwww.apliving.co.nz  

There is still plenty at stake for Monbet. The exceptional four-year-old trotting talent will start as a prohibitive harness racing favourite this Friday night in the Gr.1 $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the final leg of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. Following his scintillating victory in last week’s ANZAC Cup where he blew away Speeding Spur who was subsequently diagnosed with a season ending injury, Monbet can’t surpass his arch rival who gathered enough points to hold an unassailable lead heading into the final leg. Speeding Spur has 220 points while Monbet has 103 points prior to Friday’s feature. But there’s still plenty up for grabs for the Canterbury trained star. If Monbet proves successful in the Rowe Cup and then ventures to Cambridge in June for the Jewels and collects another Group One victory, he could easily claim the Trotter of the Year plus the overall Horse of the Year titles. The Love You gelding has already won five Group One races this season. On Friday night, Monbet will face twelve rivals in the grueling 3200m stand start feature including all bar Speeding Spur from last week’s ANZAC Cup. The Greg & Nina Hope trained performer is a stand start specialist but is foreign to the two mile distance range with 2700m being the longest he’s raced. Another intriguing factor to be considered this week for Monbet is his draw, the inside of the second-line. But if there is a scratching to his inside in the great race, Monbet will move from his inside second line draw to the outside of the front line, barrier nine, in direct contrast to what happens in mobile races. Most expect to him win regardless of where he starts from - front or second-line. And favourites have a great record in the race with the punters elect winning 7 of the last 9 editions, the exceptions being Stig in 2013 and I Can Doosit in 2011, the first of his two victories in the feature event. Champion reinsman Ricky May will once again handle Monbet and he is no stranger to success in the premier North Island trotting feature having won the race back in 1988 with Highwood. Key rivals this week include Sheemon, a runner-up in this event two years ago while the improving types of Blackguards Corner and Yagunnakissmeornot will also command respect. Realmein, Jag’s Invasion and Scarrymcleary all have upset chances on current form. Waterloo Sunset, Valmagne, Queen Kenny, Paramount Dream, Al Bundy and Quite A Moment will all require luck to claim the feature. The Canam Rowe Cup is race 8 on the program and scheduled to start at 9.13pm local time. Chris Barsby

Auckland Mayor Len Brown will turn the first sod tomorrow to officially mark the second stage of construction for Alexandra Park’s significant urban village development. The occasion will take place at Alexandra Park’s former car-park on Green Lane West at 4.30pm on Thursday, 28 April.  Attendees will include local dignitaries, leaders of Australasian construction company Ganellen, Auckland Trotting Club board members and staff, and representatives from Auckland Council, Campbell Brown Planning Limited, N-Compass, architects RTA Studio, and Colliers International. Ganellen will build the development’s second stage which will include two integrated buildings with 128 one-to-three-bedroom apartments and 2,500sqm of ground-floor retail space. Building B1 comprises of nine levels above ground, while Building B2 has five. The second stage will include 248 carparks within a shared two-level basement. Chief executive of Alexandra Park, Dominique Dowding says: “This is another great milestone for Alexandra Park and is one of the largest brownfield developments currently happening in the city. Having Ganellen construct stage two reinforces our complete focus on quality. We’re determined to be leaders.” Ganellen project leader Michael Doig says: “We’re delighted to lend our experience and expertise to this first-class urban village development. This is our first major new build project in Auckland and is completely in line with the type of large residential projects that we have built our reputation upon in Sydney.” Residents start moving into stage one from mid next year. Apartment sales for both stages have been strong, with the on-site apartment display suite open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visitingwww.apliving.co.nz

Turning the first sod to mark construction for the second stage of Alexandra Park’s significant urban village development on Green Lane West will take place at 4.30pm on Thursday, 28 April. Attendees will include local dignitaries, leaders of construction company Ganellen, project partners, and Auckland Trotting Club board members and staff. Ganellen - tasked with building the development’s second stage – is an established and successful design and construction contractor. Operating in both Australia and New Zealand, Ganellen has specialist expertise in commercial, retail, multi-storey residential developments, hotels, and government buildings. In recent years the company has been heavily involved in the Christchurch rebuild. “This is another great milestone for Alexandra Park and a great day for Auckland. We’re delighted to have Ganellen on board to construct our stage two buildings. Ganellen has a growing reputation in this country and it’s great to secure them for such a significant development here in Auckland,” says Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding. Co-founder and CEO of Ganellen, Sydney-based Peter Maneas will be in attendance as will Kiwi Michael Doig who is Ganellen’s New Zealand Director and the company’s project leader for stage two of the Alexandra Park development. Ganellen project leader Michael Doig says: “This is a landmark project and a really exciting one for Ganellen as we continue to expand our New Zealand business and commitment. We’re delighted to lend our experience and expertise to this first-class urban village development at Auckland’s iconic Alexandra Park. “Ganellen has been conserving heritage buildings as well as constructing new A-grade commercial buildings and retirement complexes in Christchurch for a few years now. However this is our first major new build project in Auckland and is much more in line with the type of large residential projects that we have built our reputation upon in Sydney. It’s a key project for our company and the outcome will be outstanding. These will be high spec apartments, showcasing the best in design, workmanship, construction and building materials,” says Mr Doig. Alexandra Park’s second stage will include two integrated buildings with 128 one-to-three-bedroom apartments and 2,500sqm of ground-floor retail space. Building B1 comprises of nine levels above ground, while Building B2 has five. The second stage will include 248 carparks within a shared two-level basement. First up of course are the earthworks which will see 36,000 cubic metres of soil and basalt rock excavated. “Having Ganellen delivering stage two reinforces our complete focus on quality. We can’t wait to see the dramatic transformation of what was just a big outside car-park. This is one of the largest brownfield developments currently happening in the city and we’re determined to be leaders,” says Ms Dowding. “With our Green Lane West building site moving ahead in leaps and bounds, interest from purchasers is at an all-time high and our display suite is flat-out selling the remaining apartments. By the middle of next year our first residents and commercial tenants will be moving into stage one. It’s all go,” she says. Attendees joining Ganellen and ATC at Thursday’s sod-turning will include representatives from Auckland Council, Campbell Brown Planning Limited, N-Compass, RTA Studio, and Colliers International. Canam Construction Limited is building stage one of the urban village, with the design of both stages led by award-winning Auckland architects, RTA Studio. The on-site apartment display suite is open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visiting www.apliving.co.nz For further information contact: CEO of Alexandra Park Dominique Dowding: (021) 377-303 or NZ Director of Ganellen, Michael Doig on (021) 458-661

The bright yellow jewels colour came to the fore at Alexandra Park tonight, with 4 winners from 5. Worn by Habibi Inta, Marcoola, Spanish Armada, Field Marshal and Monbet the colours represent the current jewels leader for each category. Habibi Inta, racing the older horses for the first time, missed away early but was seen storming home for a handy 6th. Legendary trotting trainer Paul Nairn obviously brought her north for a learning curve, and with that run under her belt she is sure to improve. While Habibi Inta couldn’t salute the judge it was the wins of the remaining 4 Jewels leaders that left many speechless. First up was future top line trotter Marcoola, a recent winner of the NZ Trotting Derby at Addington earlier this month Punters sent the son of Sundon out a $3.70 second favourite for co owner and driver Clint Ford. His win in tonight's Lone Star Riccarton Sire Stakes Trotting Champs, a $55,000 Group 2 race for 3yo trotters over 2200m was sensational. After the early sensation of fancied runners, Wilma’s Mate and High Gait both galloping within the first 200m of the race, Ford, who had taken hold of his charge after the start, soon found himself outside the leader Conon Bridge. While content to sit parked, Clint let the jewels favourite roll down the back, cutting the back straight quarter out in 28.5. With Conon Bridge under pressure at the 400m, Marcoola kicked clear on the turn and while the McCaffrey/Paynter trained Lemond put up an impressive performance to close the winning margin to ¾ of a length, Ford looked to have plenty left in the tank. It’s a welcome boost for co owner and trainer Ken Ford, who is recovering from multiple broken ribs after being injured in a training accident last week. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Jean Feiss has another talented horse in smart 2yo Filly Spanish Armada. Trained by the powerful Purdon/Rasmussen stable, Spanish Armada has put together a handy record. A winner of 4 from just the 5 starts including the Group2 Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic back in early March, the Bettor’s Delight filly again showcased her talent with a NZ Record performance to win tonight’s Caduceus Club Classic, a $113,000 Group 1 event for 2yo Fillies. The time of 2-41.9 for the 2200m shaved 0.8 seconds of the previous record held by God Forbid and Megaera, who both ran 2-42.7. Tucked away 3 back the fence early after starting from the inside of second row, Spanish Armada looked in a world of trouble when she was then pushed 4 back with the lead changing hands. But with the speed going on upfront, the gaps started to open and driver Natalie Rasmussen was able to push out and grab the back of the well supported Delightful Memphis who was launching a brave effort out 3 and 4 wide after being caught 3 wide for the first 600m of the race. 5 wide on the turn and giving the leaders 5 lengths,  Spanish Armada produced a lethal sprint to win comfortably , with 5 ½ lengths the margin to Smiley Sophie in 2nd with another 1 ¾ lengths to Renske B in 3rd. Andrew Fitzgerald

The Auckland Trotting Club has been named the supreme category winner for ‘Excellence In Strategy & Planning’ in the Westpac Auckland Best Of The Best Business Awards 2015. Late last year the Auckland Trotting Club won the category for the Auckland Central region. However now the club has been recognised as the absolute best business in that category across Greater Auckland – beating the regional winners from Auckland North, South, and West.  “We’re just blown away. It was great winning the category for Auckland Central in November, but now to be named the best in strategy and planning across the entire region is a huge tribute to the team at Alexandra Park who continue to work so hard and remain so focused,” says Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding. The award reflects the Auckland Trotting Club’s huge success in rolling out a bold strategic business plan which secures a stronger financial future for the club and harness racing in Auckland. A key part of that is Alexandra Park’s ambitious urban village development, now under construction on Green Lane West. Ms Dowding says as a membership-based sporting club being formally recognised in a largely corporate arena is acknowledgement of just how comprehensively the club is commercially transforming. “Winning is a huge endorsement of our vision, innovation and the culture and future we collectively believe in. In today’s climate of sport and entertainment we need to keep relevant and sustainable. The economic transformation and diversification of Alexandra Park’s business is critical to that. “Congratulations to all the regional category winners and the Best Of The Best winners. Thanks to the Auckland Chamber Of Commerce and the Westpac Business Awards sponsors. It has been a great journey for us.” Ms Dowding says Alexandra Park’s high-end urban village vision is now a reality with apartment sales strong, a new grocery concept for Auckland confirmed, and leading hospitality operators and retailers soon to be announced. Alexandra’s on-site apartment display is open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling the Colliers team on 0800-275-484 or visiting www.apliving.co.nz www.alexandrapark.co.nz

In the coming months Alexandra Park will be unveiling some big hospitality names who are set to be a key part of Auckland’s newest urban village - now under construction and due to open from the middle of next year. Alexandra Park CEO Dominique Dowding says securing the best retail operators and the right hospitality mix remains is at the forefront of their lease negotiations for the 19 commercial sites that will sit below high-end freehold apartments. “Excitement is building and we’ll soon be in a position to announce the personalities and well respected hospitality entities that are committing to our world-class urban village vision,” she says. Late last year Alexandra Park and FreshChoice announced to truly a unique grocery concept to open in the Green Lane West development next year when the first residents start moving in. Describing it as “delicatessen, café, and fresh foods market fusion,” Ms Dowding says securing a quality grocer has helped spark interest from other prospective commercial tenants. “What is really appealing to food and beverage is the fact that we’re creating our own high street, with plenty of opportunity of alfresco dining in and around attractive promenades and public spaces. “Our commitment to world-class urban design, a quality ambience, and the certainty of a bustling and attractive environment has been critical to getting some of the best hospitality operators to the table. And I’m pleased to say good news is imminent.”  Ms Dowding says Alexandra Park is determined to create a new heart for Epsom. “We’ve had considerable interest and we’re now in the fortunate position of being able to work with the best operators and those who can offer consumers something different. “Alexandra Park is set to completely transform. We are committed to delivering an absolutely stunning food and beverage destination for café and restaurant lovers alike,” says Ms Dowding. Increasing speculation about which hospitality operators are coming to Alexandra Park is also sparking extra interest in apartment sales. The apartment display suite is open from 12pm to 4pm daily or by appointment by calling 0800-275-484 or visiting www.apliving.co.nz Here is the latest two-minute CGI video of Alexandra Park’s urban village For further information contact Dominique Dowding: (021) 377-303 or (09) 630-9700.

It has not been that often in the last few years that you would see the harness racing maestro Roy Purdon at Alexandra Park. Age and wear and tear affects the best of us and the 89 year old has preferred the comfort of his armchair at home as he has followed his sons Mark and Barry winning races from one end of the country to the other. In the last few weeks however, Roy has been sighted at  Alexandra Park more than once and it is all down to the generosity of his son Mark. Mark outlaid $62,500 at the 2015 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale for a Bettor's Delight colt named More The Better and promptly gifted a half share in the striking looking colt to his father Roy. Roy decided to bring his longtime friend David Levine into the ownership and the partnership of three has not looked back from that day. Last night More The Better went into the $100,000 Young Guns Final at Alexandra Park a close second favourite behind his stablemate Pacing Major and once again the two star two year olds fought out the finish. Mark sent More The Better forward from barrier four to grab an early lead from Pacing Major and that really was the winning of the race. Allowed to dictate terms in front, Mark got away with a couple of soft quarters during the race including a 29 effort between the 800 metres and the 400 metres before brushing home in a sizzling 26.8 for the last quarter. Pacing Major made up a wee bit of ground in the last 400 metres on the stablemate but not enough to trouble More The Better in front who still had half a length to spare at the finish with the Paul Court trained Mongolian Hero a further 6 3/4 lengths in third. More The Better paced the 1700 metres in 2:04.4, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 55.8 and 26.8 The win last night took More The Better's two year old record to 3 wins and 3 seconds from 6 starts for stakes totaling $83,385 with a best time to date of 1:53.6 Come the photo after the win last night and there was no sign of Roy. "Dad and Neil Pilcher are guests of the Club tonight on the top floor." " I think to get down here for the photo they would have had to make a start before the the last race" Mark quipped. But that wouldn't have worried Roy in the least who unbelievably was posting his first Group 1 winner as an owner and his longtime friend David Levine, who has been able to share in that thrill with him which has made it all that more special. The next time More The Better is seen on a racetrack will be in the South Island and it wouldn't be a surprise to see his excited part owners on track to watch him. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing three year old Lazarus has looked the benchmark amongst his age group in New Zealand all season and the Woodlands Northern Derby last night at Alexandra Park was no different with Lazarus showing once again that he is in a class of his own. Fresh up since his Victoria Derby win on January 30 and coming back from a very minor injury scare, Lazarus was simply a class above the field as his winning margin of 4 1/2 lengths would suggest. After drawing perfectly at barrier two, all the pundits thought driver Mark Purdon would grab an early lead with the star colt but Mark restrained him early. " "There was a lot of speed early and I had the option to hold my ground until things settled down," Mark said. Working to the front after 700 metres, Lazarus was never in any trouble from then on. Even though he had Chase The Dream hard on his back on the final turn, Lazarus simply ran away and hid by 4 1/2 lengths from stablemate Chase The Dream with another 2 1/4 lengths back to Walkinshaw in third, just ahead of a very game Buster Bailey who looped the field from last and stuck on very gamely for fourth. Such was his dominance, Purdon was able to let Lazarus cruise to the line under his own steam. Lazarus paced the 2700 metres in 3:17.1, a mile rate of 1:57.4 with quick closing sectionals of 55.3 and 27.6 which was just one tenth of a second outside of the race and New Zealand record set by Sushi Sushi in the 2011 Northern Derby "He could have broken the record if I knew we were that close."  "He's a class act, just a really professional race horse," Mark said. Last nights victory was the seventh this season from seven starts for the son of Bettor's Delight and Mark Purdon has only got a handful more planned for his star colt this season. " He will take in the New Zealand Derby at Addington and then the Harness Jewels at Cambridge and that might be enough for this season," Mark said. Lazarus has already won $767,000 in his short career to date and if he wins his remaining two big targets this season he will be very close to becoming a millionaire as a three year old. Harnesslink Media  

Pukekohe harness racing trainer Ray Green is in two minds this afternoon on weather to start his team tonight at Alexandra Park after further blood tests came back today showing that several members of his team are still showing signs of the Herpes virus which has affected his race team for several weeks now. Zach Maguire was scratched earlier today after his latest blood report came back. Normally it wouldn't be such a big call to pull the whole team out but with Alta Intrigue and Vasari in the $100,000 Young Guns Final tonight it has made Ray's decision a lot harder. " I am really between a rock and a hardplace with what I do next." " I am not 100% happy with either of them but it is not every day that you get to start in a $100,000 race and be a big chance in it as well." " I am just waiting for the latest bloods to come back for both of the two year olds before I make a final decision, but it has really put a damper on the whole night for everybody involved here." " Nights like tonight are what everybody in the industry aims for from myself to the drivers and owners and to have two runners who if fully fit would have been live chances but for the virus is hard to accept at this late stage," Ray told Harnesslink this afternoon. Both of the two year olds have been treated extensively for several weeks leading into this week and the blood picture was one of continuing improvement and the feeling that they would be fine come this Friday night. Ray lined Vasari up last Friday night in the last heat of the Young Gun Series and gave Alta Intrigue a run at the workouts on Saturday. " I had to give them both a run with the final looming but neither came through it 100% blood wise." " They wouldn't have been able to race this week without that run last weekend but it hasn't helped their recovery from the Herpes Virus giving them that run so I just couldn't win either way." " If they do start tonight, I don't think either can be at  their best." " They will both go big races because they are that talented but you can't hope to win races like that when you are not 100% healthy," Ray said. Ray has been very bullish when talking to Harnesslink about how talented Alta Intrigue and Vasari are right from early in the season and to have this issue hanging over his team on the big day must be very hard to deal with, even for a trainer of Ray's experience. Harnesslink Media

The first of the big features for this years crop of harness racing two year olds is the $100,000 Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Although it has only drawn a field of eight, it has brought together some outstanding talent and promises to be one of the highlights of the night. Up until the last heat last Friday night, there looked to be four or five horses in contention to win the final depending on the draws and the run they received. However the two All Stars runners last Friday night in Pacing Major and More The Better lit up Alexandra Park with an outstanding display of speed and power and in the process lay down a marker for this week. The time of 2:00 set by More The Better for the 1700 metres equates to a mile rate of 1:53.6 and took 2.5 seconds off the old national record held by the champion two year old Fly Lijke An Eagle. The All Stars duo did more work than any other horse in the race yet were out on their own by 8 lengths at the finish. On that performance alone it is hard to see how the two All Star runners don't dominate this weeks final. So which one will come out on top? At the moment the score between the pair is two each from their four meetings. The All Stars barn is adamant that there is nothing between them on ability so the draw here does become critical. Pacing Major from barrier one has all the options here and it is hard to see how More The Better can work harder during the run and still wear down Pacing Major. Mark Purdon is renowned for getting everything out of his youngsters so you can't say that More The Better can't win but just that he is less likely to win than Pacing Major. The Paul Court trained Mongolian Hero looks the big improver from last week. That was his first run for a month and he would derive immense benefit from it. Handily drawn at barrier two means he will follow Pacing Major everywhere and he appears the third best here by a fair margin. The enigma of the field is the Ray Green trained Alta Intrigue. A nasty virus has gone through the Pukekohe training establishment of Lincoln Farms and Ray's team has suffered more than most. Alta Intrigue looked the best of the North Islanders earlier in the season but there has to be a big question mark hanging over him after he caught the virus. At his best Alta Intrigue would be up there with Mongolian Hero but it is hard to know at this point where he sits health wise. So Pacing Major to beat his stablemate More The Better by a narrow margin to win the final with Mongolian Hero finishing third in front of Alta Intrigue Harnesslink Media

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