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Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins only have one horse nominated for tonight's meeting at Alexandra Park - and Gotta Go Dali Queen can win. "She's got a heap of gate speed but we won't be asking Maurie (McKendry) to bust her gut. We just want to get her around safely and then head to the Jewels," said Hopkins. The 25-year-old Taupaki horseman will have his first Jewels starter as a co-trainer and owner. He has a half-share in Gotta Go Dali Queen with her Northland breeder, Sue Martin. "It's a bit of an honour to own and train one good enough to qualify for the Jewels. We will be trying to win on Friday but the Jewels is where it's at. After her Jewels run she will be tipped out and then we will do it all again when she comes back from a spell," Hopkins said. "The 2018 Jewels at Cambridge will be her priority next season," he added. Cooney and Hopkins have had one Jewels starter. That was last year when Eclipse Me finished 12th in the 3-year-old Diamond for pacing fillies at Cambridge Raceway. Gotta Go Dali Queen will line up in this year's 3-year-old Diamond with McKendry in the bike. She is ranked eighth and netted $39,139 in stakes in 2016-2017 - $273,315 less than top qualifier, Spanish Armada. Hopkins said he approached Martin a couple of years ago just as she was shifting further north. He said he made a deal with her on a couple of horses – one of which was Gotta Go Dali Queen. “She’s a lovely filly and Maurie has done a splendid job with her since day one. he’s really looked after her. She’s got the draw to go close tonight – and we certainly want to win, but there will be no gut-buster for her with Ashburton next week her main and final mission for the season,” Hopkins said. Gotta Go Dali Queen is the second of four foals out of the Christian Cullen - Elect To Live, Martin trained four-win mare, Gotta Go Harmony. That now 10-year-old mare won the Harness Jewels Group One 2-year-old Diamond Pace back in 2009. Gotta Go Dali Queen has won four of her 11 starts and placed in three others. She started her career with a debut win at Alexandra Park on September 2 (over tonight's 2200m mobile) in 2:43.1. The talented bay, who won very well (from gate eight) over the mobile mile at ‘The Park’ on May 12, has won all four of her races at northern headquarters, and has nailed three wins and placed twice in five starts over tonight's 1700m mobile. The $14,999 Pakauranga Hunt Landowners Mobile for the R76 to R97 pacers will be no easy assignment for Gotta Go Dali Queen. She is an R77 ranked pacer taking on horses who are rated in their 80s and 90s. Bet Out Of El (Andre Poutama), Alta Intrigue (Zac Butcher), Jo's Dream (Todd Mitchell), and Lusty Mac (Philip Butcher) all look the toughest for Gotta Go Dali Queen to get past. In fact the Mike Berger trained Lusty Mac is the highest ranked pacer in the nine-horse field. Her 97 rating is eight points higher than the Amanda Kiddie trained Jo's Dream. By Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand

Alexandra Park’s mid-winter Christmas parties are back and are more popular than ever. The evenings will be held over four consecutive Friday harness racing  nights on 23 and 30 June and 7 and 14 July.  “This year’s mid-winter Christmas parties are selling really well helped by plenty of traditional and online marketing but also last year’s success. What’s more people are now able to organise their tickets through our new website,” says Alexandra Park Sales & Marketing Manager Joel Reichardt. “We’re hearing from groups of friends, colleagues, and families all just looking for a fun night out this winter with great food and first-class entertainment.” Mr Reichardt says overall Alexandra Park’s race night hospitality events are growing in popularity and are proving key to attracting new audiences to the Friday night trots. Alexandra Park has mid-winter Christmas packages starting from just $65 per person, with the parties set to be hosted in the Top of the Park, Tasman, and Rutherford rooms. “The dining packages are exceptional value. As well as our delicious all-you-can-eat carveries and buffets, the racing under lights is always a spectacle. We’ve got some prime inside viewing spots overlooking the track and there’s always plenty of atmosphere.”  Mr Reichardt says the function rooms will be beautifully themed and there’ll be live entertainment afterwards. “We’ll be through the shortest day by then. For others, the reason to celebrate might be the end of the financial year or the start of the new one. Whatever the reason, our June and July parties are increasingly talked about and attended.” For further information or to purchase mid-winter Christmas tickets visit or telephone race night reservations on (09) 630-5660. Alexandra Park’s internationally-themed cuisine race nights continue with French Night on 26 May and Spanish Tapas Night on 9 June. General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on Friday night. Joel Reichardt: (021) 786-034

James Stormont trained and driven trotters have won at the last two Alexandra Park meetings, but the Pukekohe horseman fears his wins may dry up if he keeps losing his race-team to Australia. The Stormont trained and driven Shady Sadie notched up her third win of the season and first at Alexandra Park in last night’s feature trot – the $14,999 Primor Produce Handicap for the R62 to R98 squaregaiters. “It’s good to be back winning again, but of my 10 horses in work I’ve only got three racehorses. The others have either been sold to Australia and now that this mare has won I think I might lose her to Australia too. “The new handicapping system makes it tough. It seems horses reach their mark and then owners are left with nowhere to go but sell and race them in Australia,” Stormont said. Seven nights earlier Stormont trained and drove I’m Just Awesome to win an Up To R56 Trot by two-and-three quarter length victory at the same venue. That triumph came an hour after he steered the Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins trained Solid Gold to win a 2-year-old pace. “I’m having a nice wee run of form of late and you never get sick of that winning feeling, but in racing it’s those lean times that hurt the most. “I own I’m Just Awesome and I’m now left with the decision with ‘where to now?’. I know the owners of Shady Sadie and Loud An Proud have the Australia option in the back of their minds,” Stormont said. “I’ve got a few young ones coming through but one them recently got injured. I’ve just got to enjoy every win while I can. Who knows what the future holds,” he added. Shady Sadie was fractious at the start and tried to crash through the starting wire the first time, but when wheeled around a second time, Stormont timed the start perfectly to lead (from gate three) after 100m. Stormont then dictated all the pace in front to win the 2200m stand in 2:49.3 (mile rate 2:0.8). They came home in 58.6 and 29.6.  The 4-year-old Majestic Son - Dutch Annie mare had three quarters of a length and one and a quarter lengths to spare over Djokovic (Dr Luk Chin) and KD Hall (Jack MacKinnon). Shady Sadie was the $25.20 eighth favourite (of 12), unlike last Friday when she was the favourite and finished 78 lengths last. "She stepped away nicely this time and that was the difference. She had a couple of months off in January and has come back a lot stronger this campaign. "In fact it was her strength that got her home tonight. She bowled along quite easily in front tonight. If she doesn't go to Australia I'll race her throughout the winter," Stormont said. Even though Shady Sadie has now qualified sixth ($21,967) for the $100,000 McMillan feeds 4yo Ruby Trot Final at Ashburton on June 3 she won't be heading south. "It's financially not worth it. We would be racing for place money, at best, against some nice ones like Marcoola, Lemond, and Dark Horse. "The ideal plan would be to win a couple more with her over the winter - and she can do that because she's coming to it nicely now," Stormont said.  Up until last night’s assignment Shady Sadie had raced seven times at Alexandra Park for no wins and no placings. “She’s a nice trotter and will get better. I just wish she had more stablemates to knock around with back home,” Stormont said. Shady Sadie is owned by Allister Scott, Peter Fausett, Aaron Hill, and Peter O'Connor. The brown mare was bred by Tony and Anne Parker. The brown mare has now won has now won four of her 21 starts and placed in four other races ($28,924) since making her winning debut at Cambridge Raceway on Janurary 1 last year. Shady Sadie has also provided Stormont with half of his training wins (6) in 2016-2017. He’s also saluted the judge 14 times in the sulky. Meanwhile, a return to mobile racing worked the oracle for the Brent Mangos trained and Kyle Marshall driven Maxim in the feature pace – the $14,999 Powell Transport Mobile for the R81 to R109 ranked pacers. The 6-year-old Bettor's Delight - Splendid Dreams gelding started from the outside of the front line (8) but Marshall still managed to work him into the one-one after 150m metres. That move was the winning of the race. Maxim was too strong in the lane stopping the clock in 2:03.1. His mile rate for the 1700m mobile was 1:56.5. he came home in 57.2 and 27.5. Maxim has now won nine of his 29 starts - seven from behind the mobile arm and three at Alexandra Park. He has amassed just under $440,000 in career stakes. The bay gelding is owned by Katrina Purdon, Trevor Casey, John Lohman, Terry Henderson, The Clear View Racing Number Four Syndicate, and The Anzac Racing Syndicate. He was bred by Charles Roberts. Duane Ranger  

Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 3:30pm   Race 1 - Lynton Creek $7.50 leads win betting over Cherokee Warrior $9.00.    Race  2 - Gotta Go Dali Queen leads multi betting easily.   Race 3 - Bonnie Highlander $6.80 leads win betting over Roi Des Gitans $4.50.   Race 4 - Rocknroll Lincoln $4.20 leads win betting with Maheer Mister $2.90 leading multi betting.   Race 5 - Mo Casino $4.50 - $3.90 easily leads win betting over Lockyer $12.   Race 6 - Eye Lash $3.00 easily leads win & multi betting.   Race 7 - Robbie Burns $3.90 leads win betting and Maxim leads multi betting over Bet Out Of Ell $4.50.   Race 8 - Realmein $4.00 - $3.70 leads win betting with Gentleman Sir $4.20 leading multi betting over Djokovic $13 - $11.   Race 9 - Mass Destruction $3.70 leads multi betting over Billy At Salsa $2.60.     Race 10 - A Lister $1.40 is the best thing on the night judging by early multi betting.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)  

Andre Poutama is just three victories away from achieving his goal of 30 wins in his first season as an open horseman. The 25-year-old Ray Green employee has seven nice drives at Alexandra Park on Friday night, and even though there are no stand-outs he believes he has a couple of nice winning prospects. The Franklin reinsman believed the Arna Donnelly trained Bet Out Of El, in the seventh race, was his best winning chance of the night. “I think Arna is trying to qualify him for the Jewels Final. He’s got no Lazarus to contend with tonight,” Poutama said. Here’s what Poutama had to say about his book of drives: Race 2: The Eddy Clarke trained Whitecliff Chapel (7) – "She has been a bit disappointing after her spell and is slowly coming back to form. This field isn’t so strong and she did run home well two starts back. She can run in four.” Race 3: The Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S (9, 10m) – "He just needs the right run dropping back in this class. I think he found the 2700m a bit long last start and I think the 2200 will suit him. He’s a hope because he does everything right.” Race 4: The Ray Green trained Rocknroll Lincoln (6) - “He’s a 3-year-old colt who has suffered from poor draws lately. He was brave in front last time when he got attacked down the back. That took a wee bit out of him. If he can stay out of it early and then attack late I think he can be right in this. Each-way.” Race 5: The Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Rhythm N Blues (9) - "Another 3-year-old who was game last start after leading them and setting up a good time. He didn’t really get a breather that night. It depends what they do up front this time, but he loves racing and is not out of this.” Race 6: The Ray Green trained She's Ideal (4) - “Lightly raced mare who still has a lot to learn. She doesn't possess any real speed yet and she's not up there with the top 4-year-old mares going around but she does have a bit of talent and is drawn okay. She's the sort of pacer who is going to get better and better with racing. Race 7: The Arna Donnelly trained Bet Out Of El (4) - “He sat parked and did all the work in the New Zealand Messenger last start and this is a big drop in class. there’s no Lazarus to contend with this time. He’s on the verge of a Jewels (17th & $2,690 short) start and I think Arna wants to take him to Ashburton. I think he is one of the better chances in the race and probably my best drive of the night.” Race 9: The Jason and Megan Teaz trained Mortician (1) - “Three-year-old trotting gelding that went real well at Manawatu last week when favourite. He ran second behind The Hulk that night and is a capable trotter on the verge of claiming his second career win. This field doesn’t seem as strong as what he’s been racing. He can win but it depends on what Mortician shows up.”   Duane Ranger

Jack MacKinnon’s most significant driving win also came in his own training silks at Alexandra Park last night. The 21-year-old former Mount Albert Grammar student trained and drove the lightly tried Kissmeimloaded to win the inaugural $25,000 Haras des Trotteurs North Island Oaks for 3-year-old pacing fillies. “This is the biggest win of my career – both training and driving. I just want to thank Dad and Ray for having faith me. The horse has had her fair share of troubles and I was left with this race to target. “I just want to thank the Auckland Trotting Club and the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association for getting the race off the ground. We need more trotting races for fillies and this will now put her in good stead when she hits the broodmares’ paddock one day,” MacKinnon said. Kissmeimloaded is owned by Jamie MacKinnon of Olympic Swiss Watches Limited and Ray Thomson. The Majestic Son – Dutch Annie brown filly provided MacKinnon with his first training success of the season and 13th in the sulky. “It doesn’t get any better than this winning an Oaks race behind the only horse you train. She used to be trained by Barry (Purdon) at Clevedon, but he told Dad the horse would be more suited to one-on-one training. “So I got a ready-made trotter trained by a champion. All I had to do was put the polish on. I think most of the credit should go to Barry and his team,” MacKinnon said. MacKinnon took over the training duties last September after Kissmeimloaded won a workout for Purdon. Last night's win came in just her second start. Kissmeimloaded finished fifth on debut at Cambridge Raceway on ANZAC Day when a warm favourite. Last night she was the $23.70 fifth favourite of five, beating $1.30 hot pot Chevron Express (Dexter Dunn) by a head. "I served it up to the favourite down the back straight the last time because I knew my filly could stay a bit. I was delighted that she out-toughed the South Island horse in the straight. "That was a real gusty performance because Chevron Express is no mug. She has won five races. My filly can only get better now," MacKinnon said. Meanwhile the CEO of the NZSBA, Brad Reid, said it was very satisfying to get the North Island Oaks off the ground, despite the small numbers. "It was disappointing to see only six nominate but we had to start somewhere and can only improve upon this. Having spoken with a few horseman and Regan (Cotter) at the ATC most agree a date change and some programming tweaks can be made." "A number of trainers said they would have travelled from the south if there was a lead up race to the Oaks, giving connections of fillies two bites at the cherry up north so to speak. Being programmed so close to the Derby may have robbed that race of a runner or two also," Reid said. The CEO believed an alternative appeared to be programming the Northern Trotting Oaks around the Great Northern Derby (March 10th) which this year was run three weeks before the New Zealand Trotting Oaks (March 31) at Addington. The NZ Trotting Derby is run a week later at Addington (April 7).  "The fillies deserve the opportunity to compete against their own sex more regularly and I understand HRNZ, the Sires Stakes Board and clubs are looking at how they can accommodate them.  "However it's up to the owners and trainers to support them when and as they do. Last night was a great example of their being no certainties in racing with many feeling they were outclassed by Chevrons Express. What an amazing training effort from a young guy like Jack!" Reid said. "Thanks must also go to Dave Sanders and his team at Haras des Trotteurs for making it happen," he added. Reid then made people aware that there were 14 Group races and $1.5 million up for grabs in 3-year-old pacing events each year. "With the 3-year-old trotting fillies there are two races collectively worth $65,000 in stakes, and yet they cost the same to train. Unfair?" Reid questioned. MacKinnon agreed saying he would now trek to Christchurch with Kissmeimloaded. “The North island Oaks is a great start but more needs to be done for young trotters. Trotting is more popular these days. Last night for example five of the 10 races carded by the Auckland Trotting Club were trotting events. “I think we have now virtually qualified for the Jewels Final (10th) so I might give her a run in the (Listed PGG Wrightson) New Zealand Yearling Sales Final On May 19 as a lead-up,” MacKinnon said. Kissmeimloaded trotted the 2200m mobile in 2:47.8 (mile rate 2:02.7) and came home in 60.1 and 29.1. Bonnie Highlander and Maurice McKendry were four-and-a-half lengths back in third. Kissmeimloaded was bred by Tony and Anne Parker. MacKinnon had a good night at the office last night. He also drove his boss's (Robert Dunn) pacer, Robbie Burns, to win the feature pace - the $13,999 Culley's Handicap for the R68 to R111 pacers. "It was a night to remember all right. 'Robbie'went real well too. That was his ninth win. "You have hot and cold nights in racing and last night was a hot one and one I won't forget in a hurry," MacKinnon said. "I'm just thankful to everyone for giving me the chance to get out there and do what I love," he added.   Duane Ranger

Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 3:55pm Race 1 - The Black Prince $2.30 is best backed in win betting but the $1.60 favourite Culpeka is going 4 to 1 in multi tickets.    Race 2 - Dreamy Knights $9.50 - $7.00 leads win betting with Three Kisses $1.80 easily leading multi betting.   Race 3 - Rave Nation $21 - $12 leads win betting over Our Petite Lady $12.   Race 4 - Rocknroll Lincoln $7.80 - $5.00 easily leads in betting over Loud An Proud $22 - $12.   Race 5 - Dauntless $8.20 leads win betting over Gintaras $15.   Race 6 - Luis Alberto $18 - $14 leads win betting over Pleasurable $8.50 - $6.00.   Race 7 - Alpha Rock $7.80 - $6.50 is best backed early over Robbie Burns $13 - $9.00.    Race 8 - Yagunnakissmeornot $2.60 easily leads win & multi betting.   Race 9 - Easily the best backed runner on the card in multi betting tonight is Chevron Express $1.35.   Race 10 - Lovely Bundy $5.00 - $3.80 is the big win mover here but has only 10% of the number of multi tickets that King Of Rock $4.20 holds.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Brent Mangos is set to be the star of the show at Alexandra Park tonight but his best chance may surprise you. The Pukekohe horseman lines up the class horse on the night -- former Victoria Derby winner Maxim --- as well as talented juvenile Culpeka, who uses tonight’s meeting as a lead-up to over $500,000 worth of races in the next month. Yet while Mangos thinks that pair can both win, he rates Vampiro potentially his top chance of the night even from a tricky draw in race four. “He had no luck last week when I thought he could win on a premier night,” says Mangos. “He was following the favourite and got pushed back at the wrong time and never got clear. “I definitely rate him a premier grade horse in this grade and if he has any luck I think he can win.” Mangos should start the night with a victory as Culpeka has looked very sharp in his three starts and heads to Addington next week for the rich Sales Series Pace. He was second to Alta Maestro in a super fast time last start and while off colour for a few days after, a private workout at Pukekohe on Tuesday convinced Mangos he is ready to win. “It is only a small field and The Black Prince should probably be the main danger.” Maxim’s recent form includes a third in the Easter Cup and a luckless fourth to Cash N Flow in a race he simply couldn’t win last Friday. “Once we went back at the start from the bad draw we had no luck but he actually went really well,” said Mangos. “But that is the problem again this week. He is off a 35 handicap which is hard at Alexandra Park because the tempo of the race might dictate our chances. “If he steps as quickly as he did in the Easter Cup and gets past a few early then he can win but if he gets back and they got 3:22 (for 2700m) off the front he might have no hope. “I wouldn’t say he can’t win but to be honest he could win or finish third with exactly the same level of performance, it all depends how hard they go.” Maxim will be conceding that full 35 handicap to three Cran Dalgety-trained runners on the front line and Dalgety looks set to win the first ever Northern Trotting Oaks (race nine) with Chevron Express. She only just beat key rival tonight Regal Love in the NZ Oaks on March 31 but was clearly superior to her in the Sires’ Stakes last start so should make it an Oaks double tonight, especially with Dexter Dunn making the trip north to drive her in favour of driving at Addington. There will be plenty of northern interest at Addington, where Mach Shard takes on Spankem and The Devils Own in a strong juvenile race while wonderful mare The Orange Agent is red hot win her return to Australia at Melton in Victoria tomorrow night.   Michael Guerin

Cran Dalgety has two horses nominated for his home-town meeting Addington Raceway tonight but insisted Dexter Dunn drive at Alexandra Park instead. “I had to twist his arm and tell him about the prestige of a North Island Oaks race. If Chevron Express can win that tonight it will put her in good stead when it comes to her broodmare career. “I also had to calm the owner down and put him in a head-lock and tell him this is the race we wanted to win. We could have lined her up in last month’s Northern Trotting Derby and finished a creditable fifth, but no this is has been the race I wanted to win with her for a long time now,” Dalgety said. “I have wrapped her in cotton wool for this one. This is her New Zealand Cup,” he added. Chevron Express will start a hot favourite in tonight’s $25,000 Haras des Trotteurs North Island Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. She is rated R82 – 18 points more than the next highest assessed trotter in the 2200m mobile event – the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Regal Love. “She should win but we all know in racing there are no such thing as certainties. I’ve been in Auckland for two weeks and have left the horse with Nathan Purdon. He’s doing a splendid job. I’ll be back in Auckland on Thursday,” Dalgety said. Chevron Express beat Regal Love by half a head from an awkward second row draw in the Group Two $40,000 New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on March 31. That victory came almost two months after he and Dunn nailed the Group Three $25,000 Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton. Only six starters will greet starter Frank Phelan tonight. Chevron Express has drawn six. The 3-year-old Muscle Mass - Kathy Galleon filly has only had one start at Alexandra Park. That was when she finished a creditable third against the boys from gate 10 in the Group Two Sires Stakes 3yo Trotters Champs on April 21. “I think Dexter will amble forward with her at the start and then he will assess it from there. She should win but you can never tell with juvenile trotters. “You have to drive them like their reins are made of cotton, whereas a pacer you can throw rocks and stones at them all day and they will generally remain in their gait,” said Dalgety. “It’s an Oaks race and carries a lot of prestige. I want it,” he added. Chevron Express has been staying at Derek Balle's Pukekohe stable. Her only start over the 2200m mobile came last start when finishing a three-and-three-quarter length third behind the favourites Enghien and President Roydon. Chevron Express was the third favourite in that Group Two $60,000 Sires Stakes 3yo Trotting Championship. Toughest for her to beat tonight will be the Purdon and Rasmussen trained Regal Love, who has drawn five. The Love You filly was fifth favourite last week and finished an 11-length eighth. Tim Williams did the driving that night. Josh Dickie takes over the reins this time. But it’s hard to see any horse getting past Chevron Express. What beats her wins and for that reason she looks a trebles and quaddies anchor in the penultimate race of the evening. Chevron Express has raced 16 times for five wins, five placings and has banked $61,162 in stakes. She is owned by Small car World Limited.   Duane Ranger

The town’s rugby league team isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but Newcastle sure does know how to produce promising young harness racing drivers. Evidence of that came at Alexandra Park last Friday night when Newcastle 15-year-old Andrew Bourke claimed the eighth edition of the Lizzie Of Rosslands Rising Stars Kidz Kart Drivers Series. Twelve Kidz Kartz drivers (eight girls) took part in the six-race series at Cambridge Raceway and Alexandra Park. Bourke, was one of two Australians in the line-up. Gemma Howard-Coney, who finished fifth, was also representing New South Wales. Both Islands here were also represented. Bourke won the Series easily with 70 points. Tayla Collins (Taranaki) and Kaleb Bublitz (Cambridge) both finished with 57 points but Collins won the runner-up prize on a count-back. Bourke was rapt with his win. “I’ve competed in the New South Wales Champs, the Mini Miracle Mile and the Interdominions back home but this is the best I have ever done. “It’s different driving over here, but I loved it. I’m glad I won because this will be my last year with the mini trotters,” Bourke said. Three races were staged at Cambridge Raceway last Tuesday and then another three at Alexandra Park on Friday. The drivers sat behind ponies that were allocated to them. The champion pony – Ruff Rufus was trained by long-time Kidz Kartz stalwart, Murray Goldsworthy from the Kumeu Club. Bourke is in Year 10 at Maitland Grossmann High School and said he would like to be a vet when he left school and also drive in his spare time. “I really enjoyed driving over here. Alexandra Park was very different to back home. That’s the first time I’ve driven that way around. “It was a memorable trip and I would like to thank all the organisers and hosts for what they did for us. I really appreciated it and had a great time in New Zealand,” Bourke said. Series spokeswoman Gayleen MacKinnon termed the two-night event as a success and paid a special tribute to the series sponsors: The Hoggard family, Drill Force, Dunstan Horse feeds, Wallfield Farm, Tony Shaw Transport, Brogden Horse transport, Lincoln Farms, and Photo Force Photography. The final points were: Andrew Bourke (NSW) 70, Tayla Collins (Taranaki) 57, Kaleb Bublitz (Cambridge) 57, Jordyn Bublitz (Cambridge) 52, Anna Howard-Coney (NSW) 51; Brittany Edwards (Franklin) 46, Navana McLachlan (Kumeu) 42, Temika Apuwai Bishop (Otago) 39, Harrison Darby (Franklin) 39, Tyrone Neil (Canterbury) 35, Amber Mitchell (Franklin) 33, Kate Coppins (Waikato) 31. Past winners of the Lizzie Of Rosslands Rising Stars Drivers Series have been: 2015: Kerryn Tomlinson (Canterbury); Kerryn Tomlinson (Canterbury); 2014: Linda Pringle (Kumeu); 2013: Sheridan Rapley (Kumeu); 2012: Dylan Ferguson (Waikato); 2011: Dylan Ferguson (Waikato); 2010: Shane Chalklen (Franklin).   Duane Ranger

Sometimes you just can't beat experience. Harness racing driver Tony Herlihy, 58, showed all of his in driving Temporale to an upset win in the Group I $150,000 Rowe Cup Trot at Alexandra Park in Auckland on Friday night. Herlihy joined the great Peter Wolfenden at the top of the Rowe Cup (3200m) honours board with his fifth winning drive in harness racing's big northern trot - and he did it with an inch-perfect run. As the field fanned out in the home straight, Herlihy stayed cool on the marker pegs and when favourite Habibti Ivy moved out just enough, he and Temporale pounced, going to the line easily, to beat Habibti Ivy, drvien by Blair Orange, by a long neck. Bordeaux, who raced outside the leader, battled gamely for third. "Blair's mare moved out in the straight and gave us just enough room to get through without touching a marker peg," a smiling Herlihy told Trackside. READ MORE: Too easy for Lazarus in the Taylor Mile Temporale has been one of the rising trotters in the north and didn't deserve to be at a $35 price after a stout fourth in the Anzac Cup a week earlier. The four-year-old was a big horse, who was continuing to develop, Herlihy, the horse's trainer, said. Herlihy's wife Suzanne is one of the owners of the horse. His previous wins in the cup were behind Gee du Jour (1991), Diamond Field (1994) and One Over Kenny (2007 and 2009). Temporale It was a case of deja vu in the main pacing race, with Lazarus leading home the same All Stars trifecta as the Taylor Mile a week earlier. From his inside barrier, Lazarus scorched to an early lead and was untroubled to win, even though Waikiki Beach got as close as a neck on the line. Golden Goddess boxed on well for third. It was Lazarus 12th Group I win, and his 27th from 32 starts overall. He will now go for a spell before returning for the spring. Lazarus His win was the second Group I victory of the night for the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen combination, after the classy Elle Mac claimed the 2YO Sires Stakes Championship, while Enghien was far too good in the night's other Group I the Northern Trotting Derby for three-year-old trotters.  Both horses won Group I races the week before. Elle Mac Enghien Reprinted with permission of Stuff

Sometimes once you break the drought its keep raining. And that was the case on two fronts when Temporale caused one of the biggest upsets of the harness racing season in the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Group one trotting winners at 34-1 are rare in New Zealand but a fast start and perfect run on the markers saw the four-year-old outsprint favourites Habibti Ivy and Bordeaux in the north’s richest trot. And that is where the broken drought comes in. Until last season no four-year-old in over 30 years had won the Rowe Cup - Monbet did it in 2016 and now Temporale has made it two in a row. More remarkably, until The Orange Agent won the Breeders Stakes at Addington a few weeks ago New Zealand’s greatest ever reinsman Tony Herlihy had been undergoing his own personal drought, with no group one driving wins in over three years. Now he has two in April and also trains Temporale, with his wife Suzanne also sharing in the ownership. Herlihy thought Friday night’s race may have been a year too soon for Temporale but his drive helped enormously and the son of Monarchy looks like being a factor in open class trotting for years to come. His win also started a stunning double for one of Temporale’s owners Kevin Riseley, who also shares in the ownership of Lazarus, who 30 minutes later ended his season with an effortless win the Messenger Pace. He led and outsprinted stablemate Waikiki Beach in a 54 second last 800m, with Riseley watching from Australia as his four-year-olds completed the group one dream double. Earlier in the night Elle Mac in the Sires’ Stakes Fillies Final and Enghien in the Northern Trotting Derby ended any arguments over who is the best of their respective crops when they bolted in. Enghien added gate speed to his arsenal and led all the way while Elle Mac overcome a second line draw over 1700m to remain unbeaten.   Michael Guerin    

Harness racing fixed odds early movers for Alexandra Park today as at 4:00pm Race 1 - The favourite Alta Maestro $1.08 has taken a $5,013 bet at $1.08.   Race 2 - Easily best backed early is Stars Align $5.00 - $3.90 and in multi betting he is joint leading with Star Galleria $3.00.   Race 3 - Quevert $5.20 - $4.50 easily leads win & multi betting. Il Pirata $7.00 has attracted some support early.   Race 4 - Largest early win bet is $2,000 at $9.20 Step Up & she is now into $7.00 & Break Dance $7.00 - $5.50 is well backed also. Juice Brogden $3.50 leads multi betting over Break Dance.    Race 5 -  Enghien has taken a $5,714 bet at $1.35 and is the best backed runner on the card in multi betting.   Race 6 -  Shenandoah $4.40 leads win betting over A Lister $5.00 & Elle Mac $2.50 with that runner easily leading multi betting.   Race 7 -  Maxim $4.00 is best backed on the win book.    Race 8 -  Habibti Ivy $4.00 is best backed with a $3,000 bet at $4.20 and easily leads muli betting.    Race 9 -  Even at $1.02 Lazarus is heavily backed in multi betting.   Race 10 - Gentleman Sir $2.30 leads multi betting over Majestic Ali $8.80.   Race 11 - Vampiro $14 - $11 is best backed over Kate Black $21.       Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)  

This is it; the harness racing title is up for grabs. The final leg of the 2016/17 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series takes place on Friday night with the running of the Gr.1 $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland. It’s the premier trotting event in the North Island, staged over the marathon distance of 3200m and staged from the standing start featuring a wide array of talent. A field of 14 with 3 emergencies has been drawn to contest the major event. And the honour roll features some of the who’s who of trotting, recent winners include Monbet, Stent, Master Lavros, Stig, I Can Doosit (x 2), Sundons Gift, One Over Kenny (x 2), La Coocaracha, Take A Moment and Lyell Creek (x 3) among others. First staged back in 1918, Whisht proved triumphant while other past champions include Waikaha, Neil Volo, Great Admiral, Aerial Scott, Battle Cry, Pohutukawa, Single Cash, Sir Castleton, Idle Scott, Wagon Apollo and Merinai among many others. Another great name will join that illustrious list. And another Trotting Master will be crowned. The APG Trotting Masters is staged from November through until April and takes in five events spread across the southern hemisphere. The major races include the Dominion, Great Southern Star, Grand Prix, ANZAC and Rowe Cups. Total stake money is $880,000 for the five features. Points are awarded during the Circuit, 100 points for a win, 60 points for second, 40 points for third, and so on, to last placing. The horse with the greatest number of points is crowned Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters Champion. And as it stands, Sydney trotter On Thunder Road leads the point scoring with 101 points while Monbet, Glenferrie Typhoon and Habibti Ivy all have 100 points. On Thunder Road won the Grand Prix while finishing near the rear in the Great Southern Star, Monbet (Dominion), Glenferrie Typhoon (Great Southern Star) and Habibti Ivy (ANZAC Cup) earned their points through their solid victories. So, can On Thunder Road hang on and claim the title? Or will he be usurped in the final event of the season? 11 of the 14 runners can snatch victory while another runner can at least share the title. Those in the mix include Habibti Ivy (100), Quite A Moment (63), Lemond (60), Daryl Boko (49), Eyre I Come (40), Bordeaux (25), Temporale (20), Gee Up Neddy (10), Prime Power (4), Great Things Happen (3) and High Gait (2) while Wilmas Mate (1) can equal On Thunder Road. Only Realmein and One Over Da Moon can’t claim the title. Only Daryl Boko has contested each and every leg of the series this season. The last Australian trained Trotting Masters champion was Sundons Gift back in 2010/11 for Chris Lang while A Touch Of Flair (2007 – joint winner) and La Coocaracha (2002) have also proved successful. The domination of the Kiwi’s in the Trotting Masters is obvious with the likes of Speeding Spur (2016), Stent (2014/15), Vulcan (2013), I Can Doosit (2012), One Over Kenny (2007 & 2009), Mountbatten (2008), Allegro Agitato (2006), Take A Moment (2003/04) and Lyell Creek (2000/01 & 2005) all being crowned since the turn of the century. Previous winners as either a trainer or a driver competing in this year’s edition include Greg & Nina Hope, Ricky May, Mark Jones, Paul Nairn, David Butt, Tony Herlihy, Mark Purdon, Maurice McKendry and Tim Butt. McKendry will partner emerging talent Lemond and is aiming for his 5th victory in the race following previous wins with Mairo Sultan, Directorship, David Moss and Our Sunny Whiz. The Rowe Cup will be a special race and for a number of reasons but who will get their hands on the trophy? Suddenly, it all comes down to one race. Chris Barsby

“Enghien felt even stronger the right-handed way around than what he did back home”. That was one sentence the connections of this week’s Northern 3yo Trotting Derby hopefuls didn’t want to hear following the Love You gelding’s ninth win from 13 starts at Alexandra Park last Friday. “He’s never felt so strong. He seems to be getting tougher with each run no matter where he lines up. The Alexandra Park-way-around didn’t faze him at all. “If anything he trotted better than he ever has. If there were any slight queries it only came after the false start. He felt a bit keen and was fired up briefly, but once the race was under way he relaxed nicely,” said driver Ricky May. “He’ll be better for that run too. He’s got so much stamina and this week’s 2700m should suit him even more. It’s hard to see him being beaten this Friday if that first-up run is anything to go by,” the Methven reinsman added. If the Greg and Nina Hope trained gelding does win this Friday’s $80,000 Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby, it will be Enghien’s second Group One victory after nailing the New Zealand 3yo Trotting Derby at Addington Raceway on April 7. The stunning Canterbury squaregaiter is also the New Zealand 1950m mobile 3yo record holder as well - making May’s post-race comments even more potent. In February Enghien set the new time of 2:22.2 in the Sires Stakes Prelude at Addington. But on Friday Enghien was having his first look at Alexandra Park in the Group Two $60,000 Lone Star Riccarton Sires stakes 3yo Trotters Championship - and he come within 0.1 of a second of Royal Aspiration's May 2013 New Zealand 2200m mobile record for 3yo trotters. May settled the bay back from his second row draw and then they were three-wide with cover at the bell, and then in the one-one-down the back straight. The $2 favourite then cruised away in the home straight to win by half a length from the fast-finishing second favourite, President Roydon (Mark Purdon). Third favourite Chevron Express (Dexter Dunn) was three-and-a-quarter lengths back in third. Enghien stopped the clock in 2:43.1 (mile rate 1:59.2) and came home in 59.2 and 28.9. May knows what it’s like to win the Northern Trotting Derby behind a hot favourite. His only win in the race came in 2009 behind the Allan and Lee Georgeson trained $1.30 favourite Ima Gold Digger. “It’s a race all drivers and especially trainers of young trotters love to win, and I say I’m proud to have my name on the trophy. “This horse is going better than when Monbet was three. In saying that Monbet didn’t race or win anything big in his 3-year-old season. At the same time of their careers Enghien would be stronger,” may said. “He’s certainly no Monbet yet and has some way to get there but he just feels like a good strong horse who could be like Monbet when he is five,” he added. Monbet never won a Group race when he was three, but he and May were beaten a length by Speeding Spur and Josh Dickie in the 2015 edition of the Northern Trotting Derby. “He’s a future Dominion and Rowe Cup horse all right. Greg and Nina have a great team of trotters to call on. They are a credit to their training regime,” May said. May will drive Enghien’s stablemate and the December 31 National Trot winner, Quite A Moment in Friday’s Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup. Enghien has now had nine wins since making his debut 13 starts ago at Washdyke with a win. He has also placed once and banked $161,779 in stakes. He is owned by the Hopes and Richard Dellaca, and was bred by Heather Middleton and the estate of Carl Middleton; and Millburn Farm Ltd.   Duane Ranger  

Even from the master this was something special. Because while Canterbury trainer Paul Nairn has had more lucrative victories than Habibti Ivy’s fighting effort in the $100,000 Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park tonight, few have been more satisfying. The former high class three-year-old was the forgotten horse of New Zealand trotting just two months ago, after issues kept her away from the track for over 18 months. But not only has she returned unbeaten in five starts, she is now a group one winner after just 14 starts, with the promise of so much more to come. “That was pretty special, to win a group one at her first real attempt at open class,” said the quietly spoken Nairn. “I knew she was good but I thought she might be a little bit below her best tonight so that was brave. And she has had those problems in the past so it is special to see her reach her potential.” Nairn has made a career out of the unusual, his old school and sometimes radical methods consistently turning out open class trotters from remarkably small numbers. Habibti Ivy is the latest and with her gate speed and the beautiful long stride so common in the stock of her champion sire Love You, she is ready to make up for lost time. Love You’s triumph for the night was complete as he also sired Anzac Cup runner-up Lemond and three-year-old Sires’ Stakes winner Enghien. The trotters went a long way to upstaging champion pacer Lazarus, who had little more than a jog in the park to beat stablemates Waikiki Beach and Golden Goddess in the Taylor Mile. He worked to the front quickly and scooted his last 800m in 54.5 seconds to win his penultimate race for the season, the last coming in next Friday's Messenger Pace. And earlier his juvenile filly stablemate Elle Mac suggested she is the most advanced of her crop coming from near last to smash her opponents in the $110,000 Caduceus Club Classic.   Michael Guerin    

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