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Bandana is due to make his return to harness racing tomorrow night at Alexandra Park as he looks to get his once promising career back on track. Bandana, who is a full brother to the former smart racemare Hannah 1:54.3 ($52,,829) is closely related to the former outstanding juvenile Tuapeka Knight 1:58.1 ($198,305)   The son of Badlands Hanover looked a star in the making in his first three starts as a 2 year old, winning his first two starts by daylight and then being narrowly beaten at his third start. The subject of a sizeable offer at that point which ultimately fell through, Bandana also picked up a nasty virus at the same time and was briefly spelled. When he returned to racing, Bandana performed several notches below his best and was tipped out again for a longer spell. Brought back again, Bandana still wasn't right and was tipped out yet again by trainer/ owner Roni Lauren. Having a few little issues that needed sorting out, Roni has entrusted Bandana to local trainer Sean McCaffrey this time in, who had driven the gelding in most of his early runs. Last Saturday at the Cambridge workouts, Bandana in the hands of Sean gave his rivals including the talented Percy Jones a pacing lesson as he cut the 2200 metres out in 2:44.7, a mile rate of 2:00.4 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 29.2 as he coasted home by 10 lengths. Sean is still not convinced that Bandana is back to his best. " He did that real easy and was waiting for them up the straight but he has to do it on raceday yet and that will the big test of where he is at " he told Harnesslink this week.  "He has a few little kinks to be ironed out yet but there is no doubting the ability is there" he said. As luck would have it, Bandana has landed a smart maiden field to make his debut for the season with Downunderstide, Love Ina Chevy and Percy Jones all looking destined for better things. To compound that, Bandana who is to be driven by champion reinsman Maurice McKendry, has drawn barrier eight and Sean knows it will be tough from out there. "He doesn't have a lot of gate speed so we will be going back at the start and look to have one last shot at them. We just have to hope there is some genuine pace up front otherwise we are up against it a bit, " he said. However tomorrow night pans out, Bandana has shown enough in his short career to date to suggest there are plenty more wins in store yet. Harnesslink Media  

Thirteen-win pacer Lets Elope has ended his New Zealand career on a triumphant note. The winner of $324,978 is scheduled to leave for Australia either Wednesday (October 22) or next week. Co-owner/trainer Frank Cooney said he was left with no option but to send the 6-year-old Real desire gelding abroad. He said he made the decision well before Friday’s win in the $14,000 Smart Choice Mobile for the C3-C9 pacers at Alexandra Park. “There’s just nothing for him up here now until possibly Christmas and the New Year. He’s not quite good enough to compete against the (NZ) Cup horses and he would be handicapped out of it if he stayed up here. “Australia was the obvious option because he will be a M1 pacer there,” Cooney said. Let’s Elope was quoted at $151 to win the New Zealand Cup. He will now head to Victoria and race at Melton’s Tabcorp Park in the Brent Lilley colours. “He may come back one day because he’s owned here in New Zealand but to be honest I think he will win more over there and that’s where he will stay,” said Cooney, whose wife Anne co-owns Lets Elope with Peter Haslam and Warren Outrim. Haslam pointed out that lets Elope had never been beaten once he got to the front in his races. That trend continued in Friday’s 2200m mobile. Brilliant anticipation from driver Tony Herlihy (MNZM) saw Lets Elope sprint hard to the lead when hot favourite Hughie Green broke wildly at the 600m. The 3-year-old galloped for 200m yet still managed to finish a huge third – half a length and 7-3/4 lengths behind Lets Elope and Norvic Nightowl. Imajollywally was later promoted to third. Lets Elope stopped the clock in 2:41.8 (mile rate: 1:58.3) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 56.1 and 26.6. Co-trainer Tate Hopkins said it was very difficult for any horse to make up ground from the back when the good horses were coming home in 56 and 26. “That’s why he’s not going to the (NZ) Cup Carnival. It’s just too hard for a horse like him to make up ground on the top horses when they are going that fast. “And they are likely to go faster in the Junior and Senior Free-For-All down south. Those were the two races he probably would have started in,” Hopkins said. “It’s sad to see him go but Frank has made the best decision for both the horse and owners,” he added. Cooney said Lets Elope was the equal best horse he had trained – alongside eight-win ($101,050) mid-1980s pacer, Kurahaupo Eden. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand  

The outstanding son of Monarchy, Prime Power is due back at the workouts this weekend as he prepares for a season debut at Alexandra Park later in October or early November. The winner of eleven of twenty five starts to date, Prime Power has looked a real star in the making at times but after a brilliant start to his four year old season last year, his form fell away. Even though he ran a close third in the Harness Jewels at Cambridge in late May, Prime Power appeared to be short of his best. Trainer/driver Todd Mitchell is contented with his stable star as he prepares to take Prime Power to the workouts this weekend. " I am much happier with him than I was towards the end of his last campaign. He wasn't happy in himself and it showed on the track. A decent break and he has come back a much happier horse and much more like his old self" he said After the disappointing end to the last campaign, a decent break was what was needed but that meant that Prime Power was never going to be ready in time for Cup week at Addington. Todd thought he would have been cutting it really fine to have Prime Power ready for the Dominion Handicap.  " I could have tried to rush his preparation to get him ready but with such a big season in front of him  it made more sense to skip Cup week and set him for the Xmas carnival at Alexandra Park. He looks and feels a lot stronger this time in and his work leading into this week's workout has been super and I think he could be in for a big year" he said. A winner of the 3 year Harness Jewels in 1:56.5, Prime Power has the gate speed and manners to be a major player where ever he lines up this season on both sides of the Tasman. Harnesslink Media

Beyond The Silence completed the Spring Cup – Holmes D G harness racing double at Alexandra Park tonight. The Andrew and Lyn Neal trained gelding shot along the markers to hold out the fast finishing favourite Pembrook Benny by a length. Driver Lyn Neal said the son of Courage Under Fire was back to his best after finishing second behind Rockn Ruby in a lower class event at Cambridge September 25. “He just felt better tonight. He sprinted hard at the finish. It’s nice to win a race against the good horses again,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence, who started off the front in the $20,000 Air Vanuatu Holmes D G Pace, trailed the front-running Norvic Nightowl throughout the 2700m stranding start event. Then when the gaps opened in the straight Beyond The Silence burst through to win in 3:23.74. Pembrook Benny and Easy On The Eye filled the minors, while Delight Brigade, Norvic Nightowl, and Lets Elope ran fourth, fifth, and six in the six-horse field. His winning mile rate was 2:01.4 and he sprinted his last 800m and 400m sectionals. On September 20 he won the Spring Cup (2200m stand) in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6). Neal said she wasn’t tempted to head south for the New Zealand Cup Carnival with the 5-year-old.  “No not this year. Perhaps in 13 months but for now he’s staying put. There are plenty of races for him up here over the Summer. The Franklin Cup is one target,” Neal said. Beyond The Silence has now won eight of his 16 starts and placed in four others. It was his fifth win on the track and first over the distance. The Neals share in the ownership of Beyond The Silence with the estate of Neal’s late father Frank Bebbington. He was bred by D.M. Brown. Courtesy of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Art Official, the biggest stake winning son of Art Major had his first winner in New Zealand last night when Grumpy Possum was successful at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park. A 3 year old filly from the Christian Cullen mare Panforte, Grumpy Possum broke through for her maiden win at just her third start and for the third time in her brief career she drew barrier eight. Trainer Brian Hughes was in a  jovial mood when asked about her run of bad draws. "I don't think someone upstairs likes us the way she keeps drawing eight" he said when talking to Harnesslink this morning. Brian has liked Grumpy Possum from early on in the piece but has taken his time with the leggy filly. "She qualified as a 2 year old but she was a tall gangly filly so we turned her out to give her time to fill out into her frame. "She showed plenty of speed at two but just needed to strengthen up" he said. Pushed out of the gate from barrier eight by driver Tony Herlihy, Grumpy Possum worked forward three wide early before finding the lead after 600 metres. Tony then immediately handed up to the second favourite Bettor Ace and Grumpy Possum got a lovely drag until they turned for home where she took the passing lane and scooted away for an easy win with Tony sitting quietly in the bike. Grumpy Possum paced the 2200 metres in 2:49.9 with closing sectionals of 59.1 and 29.1 Brian is not making any big plans as yet for the Art Official filly and will take it a race at a time at present. "She is a lovely pacer and a pleasure to do anything with. "She is just getting bettor with racing and I quite like her" he said Grumpy Possum is from the first New Zealand crop of the son of Art Major in Art Official. Art Official never won a race at two but from an early 3 year old he started to make his name and his stock in New Zealand look like doing the same. Eleven qualified at two last season but were put aside without racing in much the same way as Grumpy Possum and have started to show up at trials and workouts this season. The progress of the Art Officials will be watched with interest by breeders in New Zealand as Art Major is fully booked at $11,000 and Art Official, who is his best son only stands at $3,000. Harnesslink Media    

Young harness racing trainer Abbey Holdaway notched her second career win at Alexandra Park last night and but for a stroke of luck she may have been lost to the industry. After stints with Geoff Small and Dale Cameron, Holdaway was actually looking for employment in the administration sector when Todd Mitchell offered her part-time work. “I used to manage the Royal Oak Tab for a couple of years but always loved working with horses. "I didn’t think I could earn an income in the harness racing industry again until Todd offered me work." And then when Gene Robb left Mitchell’s early last year, Holdaway was offered full-time employment working alongside the four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman. She helps Mitchell work his team of about 13 in Tauwhare Holdaway was born in Auckland and educated at Pukekohe High School. “I wasn’t born into a harness racing family but soon learnt all about it when I was working for Geoff and then Dale. “Todd has also taught me heaps and I'm grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to train. "I am really enjoying it, I have no desire to drive – I’ll leave that to the professionals. Last night Abbey lined up the 5 year old Monarchy gelding Jogo Bonito for the first time in the CO trot over 2200 meters at Alexandra Park. Previously in the barn of part owner Steven Reid, Jogo Bonito had shown any amount of promise at his previous 12 starts, racking up four placings but never really delivering on his potential. Away safely for Abbey's boss and partner Todd Mitchell, Jogo Bonito settled fifth early before Todd slotted him into the one out one back position with 1400 meters to go. There was no changes from there until approaching the home turn where Todd peeled Jogo Bonito three wide and dashed away for a very impressive 5 3/4 length victory. Jogo Bonito trotted the 2200 meters from a stand in 2:54.1 with closing sectionals of 61.3 and 30. The way Jogo Bonito won tonight would suggest that Abbey Holdaway might not have to wait long for career win number three as a trainer. Harnesslink Media   

Andrew and Lyn Neal won their second Spring Cup at Alexandra Park last night with a pacer they rate equal in ability to their 2000 Auckland Cup winner, Flight South. They won their first Spring Cup in 2010 when Trigirl Brigade won the 2200m standing start event. This time $13.10 fourth favourite Beyond The Silence proved too strong for Norvic Nightowl and Pembrook Benny in the $25,000 Hydroflow sponsored handicap pace. “He’s only had 14 starts and now this is his seventh win. I have always had a considerable amount of time for him. He’s a quality pacer who has come back well this season. “I just wish Dad was here to watch him race,” said driver Lynn Neal, who co-trains the 5-year-old gelding with her husband Andrew at Cambridge. Dad is former Mid Canterbury conditioner, Frank Bebbington, who passed away in August 2012. “Dad bought him and Andrew and I share the ownership in him with Dad’s estate.  I’d like to race him at Addington one day but this year is a bit too soon. “He needs more racing for that but even at this early stage of his career I rate him right up there with Flight South - and she is one of the best horses we have trained,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence sat in the trail for most of the way behind Te Kawau and Todd Mitchell. Then in the straight he powered along the passing lane to win by a neck and 1-1/2 lengths. He paced the 2200m strand in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6) with final 800m and 400m sprint s of 56.7 and 27 even. It was his fourth win in seven starts at Alexandra Park. It was a gutsy performance to win third run back after Beyond The Silence missed most of his 4-year-old season with a fractured cannon bone he suffered in a C2 pace at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup Day last year. “It’s been a slow road back but we have always believed in him and tonight he delivered against some of the North Island’s best. “We thought he would go well tonight and he didn’t let us down,” Neal said. The 5-year-old Courage Under Fire gelding won first up after an eight month spell at Alexandra Park on July 11 and then followed that up a third behind Sky Major and Cyamach a fortnight later. He has now won seven of his 14 starts and placed in three others for $59,615. The race didn't pass without some sensation. Averil's Quest was late scratched within minutes of the start of the race after she was found to be lame in the right foreleg. Pembrook Benny earned a tick mark for his fresh up performance - the New Zealand Free-For-All winner made up plenty of ground in his first public outing for the season. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8    Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well   Alexandra Park - Friday Night  Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9   Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5   Harnesslink Media  

The trotting side of harness racing has been a bit light on numbers at the top level in the North Island for the last couple of years but the current season promises to be the best for a few years.  Boizel is back for another year and the rising star Prime Power should be ready to tackle the big bangers this season. And then we come to one of the enigmas of trotting in New Zealand in Irish Whisper who on his best day looks as good as anything going round. Trained by the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy, Irish Whisper has been nursed through his career to this point due to immaturity. " I've had to look after him up to now because he has needed time to strengthen up but he looks a picture this time in and I am really looking forward to the new season with him"said Herlihy "I took him to Australia last year when he wasn't really ready for it but I knew the trip would make him and by the look of him this time in it has." It really is time for Irish Whisper to stand up and I think he will "said Herlihy. Irish Whisper only had six starts in New Zealand last season but managed to win three of them including two narrow wins over the brilliant Stent 1:54.8 ($471,572). The seven year old gelding by Sundon is due to resume on Friday night at Alexandra Park in the C3-OC handicap trot off 40 meters behind and Herlihy is confident of a big run. "I know it's hard off 40 meters but his runs at the workouts have been really good leading into Friday night. If he was to get a nice drag into the race, then I thing he could just about win first up" said Herlihy There has never been any doubt about how good Irish Whisper is with only his immaturity letting him down in the past. This season due to the patience that Tony Herlihy has shown, Irish Whisper may finally fulfill his potential. Harnesslink Media

It’s been a tough week in Ashburton, but a victory by Franco Nadal at Alexandra Park on Thursday night might have provided a small flickering of light on an otherwise dark week for the Mid Canterbury town. The close knit area was rocked on Monday morning when a man entered the WINZ building and opened fire on staff members, killing Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland and seriously injuring Lindy Curtis. The tragedy has had a direct impact on almost everyone in the Ashburton area, but for the Ashvegas Five O No.1 Syndicate the emotion has run deep. The syndicate, which is made up of a wide variety of people from Ashburton who have a passion for harness racing, includes Don Campbell - the partner of Peggy Noble who had her life taken on Monday morning. Campbell is a passionate member of the syndicate and has always enjoyed watching the horses the syndicate have had at the races and friends confirmed last night that Noble too enjoyed the thrills and spills that horse racing can often offer owners. Franco Nadal pulled out all the stops to hold off the challenge of the talented Leanne’s Boy to win – underlining trainer Ben Waldron’s decision to send him to the North Island to campaign over the past six weeks. Handled astutely by Todd McFarlane, Franco Nadal had a nose to spare from Leanne’s Boy at the finishing post, registering the seventh win of his 48 start career. An In The Pocket trotter, Franco Nadal was purchased by the syndicate on the recommendation of Waldron, from Spreydon Lodge. The group have also race, and had success with Locharnza Franco who was purchased in a similar fashion to Franco Nadal. Courtesy Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand    

 Amanda Kiddie may never have trained a winner but she is going for a double at Alexandra Park on Thursday night. And her last win came there just five nights earlier. Confused? Read on. Kiddie has just started training and so far had only had a handful of start with old trotter Brookby Prince, who has been battling away as he always does. But just because she hasn’t trained a winner yet doesn’t mean Kiddie hasn’t been a winner herself this week because she took out the Groom of the Year award at the North Island Awards dinner at Alexandra Park last Saturday night. And just in the nick of time, because now she has a trainers licence she won’t be eligible for that category next season. “This award has been 10 years in the making,” she said on Saturday after what as a popular announcement. Kiddie’s last boss was Tony Grayling, who has retired from training to work at Woodlands Stud, which is how she inherited both Brookby Prince but more importantly Ideal Flybye, who makes her debut from the new stable at Alexandra Park tonight. The mare showed real talent last season and is way better than her class two assessment. Kiddie admits she is a hard mare to train but punters would be smart to keep an eye on her in the months ahead. Ideal Flybye does meet a tough field tonight, with the five-year-old up against the likes of The Wild Card and Electric Chapel, both of who will make it most of the way to open class. The Wild Card looks the value bet in the race as he was third to Cyamach and Te Kawau last start and six of his seven wins have come in Alexandra Park mobiles. He has the services of Tony Herlihy who will also partner the favourite for the feature trot in Leanne’s Boy. He has emerged a real up and comer over the winter and his win last Friday was effortless against similar opposition. Leanne’s Boy does however go back 10m for that and the run of the third-placed Sunshield last Friday was eyecatching after an early gallop so if he trots throughout he could give the favourite plenty to chase. Leanne’s Boy is just one favourite backing up from last Friday, with Lucky Fortune (race 10) and I Got Rhythm (race four) trotters who can win again as the remain in the same grade after penalty free wins in invited driver’s races. Courtesy Harness Racing New Zealand

Harness racing can be tough business at times as luck plays a part of any horses career. One horse who has never had a lot of luck during his 22 starts to date is the Live Or Die gelding, Elliot Daniel. Bred by well known Auckland breeder and owner Bernie Lim and raced by him from the stable of Richard Brosnan, Elliot Daniel has always looked the kind of racehorse that had two or three wins in him but just never got the rub of the green when he needed it on raceday. Rising seven and with just three placings from 22 starts, Elliot Daniel was put on the market recently as the patience of his camp had run out. Enter Steven Reid who was looking for a horse at the time and like a lot of people thought that Elliot Daniel had a couple of wins in him. With a horse now seven, Steven Reid thought the change of enviroment may work the trick with Elliot Daniel and judging by last Saturday's win at the Auckland workouts he may be right. Elliot Daniel ran out a narrow but impressive winner of his six horse heat with the last 800 meters in 58.4 and 400 meters in 27.6. By Live or Die, Elliot Daniel is from the handy Sands A Flyin mare Sequita who won twice and was placed nine times in a brief twenty start career on the track. Sequita is a half sister to Kaiapoi Lil 1:52.6 and is closely related to the former star juvenile in Australia My Handsome Fella 1:59 ($79,573) Tomorrow night at Alexandra Park, Elliot Daniel starts from barrier six in the 4 year old and older 2200 meters mobile with Simon Lawson in the bike and looks a realistic winning chance. All Elliot Daniel really needs is the rub of the green to finally make it to the winners circle. Harnesslink Media

One of the best things about spring in New Zealand from a harness racings fan's point of view is the emergence of the next wave of  harness racing stars on to the race tracks. Some of the maiden fields during winter had little depth or class but now that spring has arrived the smart early season 3 year olds are coming out of the woodwork. On Thursday night at Alexandra Park (September 4th) race two on the program is a C0 pace for 3 year olds over 2200 meters and if blood counts for anything it should be one hell of a race. Happy To Go is a first starter for the Telfer/Garlick barn who has drawn well at barrier four and has performed well at trials and workouts. She is by Bettors Delight and is the first foal from the former outstanding racemare Time To Fly 1:54.2 ($154,680) Hartofdixie from the Barry Purdon barn is another first starter who has drawn nicely at barrier five and she has also impressed track watchers with her runs at trials and workouts. A daughter of American Ideal, Hart Of Dixie is the third foal from Splendid Deal whose first two foals were Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990) and Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) Courtney John from the Todd Mitchell barn is yet another first starter who has recently moved north from the Phil Burrows barn in Canterbury and will start from barrier two on the second line. She qualified in 2:00 neat back in February at Ashburton and has always looked above average. The McArdle filly is a half sister to the smart Seven Point One 1:56.1 from a daughter of the super broodmare Port Medley. The last of the first starters is Local Yokel for trainer/driver Tony Herlihy and he has also been performing well at trials and workouts and will start from three on the second line. A son of Elsu, Local Yokel is a half brother to the very smart duo of Presido 1:56 ($153,575) and Sound Of Thunder 1:57.4 ($134,841) The field is full of horses with good form with Christy Maguire from barrier two yet to finish out of the money in four starts while Percy Jones from barrier seven has also been placed in his three lifetime starts to date. Sirius Star from barrier eight has been placed in three of his last four starts while Culler Coded, Bettor Ace and Machulbeatchu have all looked above average in brief careers to date. It is a punters nightmare to predict but if we had to go for one it, we would probably lean towards Hart Of Dixie but without a lot of confidence. Who ever does come out on top will know they have really earned their first lifetime win. Harnesslink Media 

The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

Well known and respected trainer/driver Richard Brosnan caused a real stir recently when he went public with his concerns about the problems facing the harness racing industry and that he was seriously thinking of giving the game away. Tonight at Alexandra Park he let his horses do the talking and showed that he had lost none of those training skills honed by over forty years in the industry.  The six year old Dream Vacation gelding Torbjorn was off 20 meters in the C1/C3 2700 meters stand trot and came into the race with a last start third to his credit. With regular pilot Peter Ferguson in the bike, Torbjorn made his usual safe beginning and settled three back in the running line in the ten horse field and that's where he stayed until 400 meters from home where Peter Ferguson sent him forward three wide in search of the leaders. All the way up the straight Torbjorn kept making ground and grabbed the leader Sastre in the shadows of the post for a narrow but deserved victory. He trotted the 2700 meters from a stand in 3:30.7, with closing sectionals of 60.4 and 29.6. It was Torbjorn's fourth win in 30 starts along with 10 placings and took his stake earnings to $44,527 Torbjorn was bred and is raced by Bernie Lim who has been a long time stable client of Richard Brosnan's. Torbjorn is from Sun Lamp, a Sundon daughter of the Bonefish mare Kiwi Kipper who was imported to New Zealand by the late Sir Roy McKenzie. Sun Lamp is closely related to the outstanding age group trotter Royal Aspirations 1:56.5 ($282,999) and the top trotting mare Aspiring Lass (12 wins) ($107,065). Tonights win by Torbjorn proved once again that when it comes to training winners, Richard Brosnan has always been one of the best in the business and can still find his way to the winners circle. Harnesslink Media    

It is not that often that horses from the central districts of the north island are sent out the hot favourite at the northern harness racing capital of Alexandra Park. But then Te Kawau is not your normal central districts horse. Going into tonights race as the warmest of favourites was due in no small part to the outstanding runs he put up last season at three against Locharburn, Sky Major and company. With two runs back against Cyamach to help him to full fitness, Te Kawau looked very hard to beat and so it proved. Steadied from his second row draw by driver Zac Butcher in the 2200 meters mobile event, Zac sent him forward with 1400 to go and grabbed the lead off Royal Taz with 1100 meters to run. From there Te Kawau always held too many guns for the opposition and comfortably held them at bay in the home straight. Pricillas Girl continued her rich vein of form to grab second after starting from the outside of the second row while early leader Royal Taz was a nose away in third. Te Kawau paced the 2200 meters in 2:43.71 with closing sectionals of 57.3 and 27.3 It was his sixth win from just 14 starts along with five minor placings and stake earnings of $39,727 When you look at how Te Kawau is bred it is no wonder he is smart. By the champion sire Bettors Delight , the dam of Te Kawau is Haylin Express, a daughter of Christian Cullen who won $44,438 on the track and Te Kawau is her first foal. The grand dam by Holmes Hanover is a half sister to the brilliant Agua Caliente 1:55.3 ($413,027) and the ill fated Haylin Fella (7 wins) who died suddenly in Auckland after being sold for big money to Queensland interests. A big striking looking individual, Te Kawau looks to have come back better than ever and should grace the better four year old races later in the season. Harnesslink Media    

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