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The former ‘Voice of The Park’ turned 72 last Saturday (September 17) and despite his heavy workload away from racing these days, Alby Gain is still very much involved in harness racing. His pride and joy – No Doctor Needed is aiming at his second New Zealand Cup on November 8. The 6-year-old Mach Three - Molly Darling gelding finished ninth when 11th favourite of 15 in the great race last year. “I probably won’t be there this time because I’m so busy at work, but I wouldn’t mind getting down there to watch him in the Kaikoura Cup if times allows,” Gain said. Gain shares in the ownership of No Doctor Needed with Scott Plant, the Plant family, and Steve Stockman. The winner of 12 of his 29 starts and nine placings ($175,240) was bred by Plant Racing Limited. His biggest wins to date have come via the 2014 Group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes at Gore and this year’s (March) Group Three Kumeu Founders Cup at Alexandra Park. Gain is also the sales manager of the Swiss Deli Small Goods Company in Auckland and because of that doubts he will make it to Addington again this year. “I’d love to be there but it’s such a busy time of year for us. I’ll be watching it very closely don’t you worry about that. He has still to qualify for the big race of course but Kaikoura suits my work schedule better. “I should be on track for his next start in the Spring Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday week,” Gain said. Gain had his last night calling at Alexandra Park on August 13, 2010. He was commentator there for 27 years and all-up called at New Zealand tracks for 35 years. He took over from another legendary commentator, the late Reg Clapp in 1983. Born in Palmerston North in 1944, Gain broke into race-calling part-time after doing trials in the early 1970s. A couple of years later he got his break. "Back then Rotorua used to have an Easter meeting that clashed with Ellerslie so I got asked to call at Rotorua while Hauby (Keith Haub), who had just taken over from Syd Tonks, did Ellerslie," Gain reminisced. More jobs came until Radio Pacific, who employed him, took over as the main racing broadcaster in 1981. "Radio Pacific covered racing all over New Zealand which meant I had to go everywhere. One year I commentated at about 250 meetings," Gain said. "A packing field' and ‘the twinkling of an eye' were two clichés that were synonymous with Gain’s calling. And even right up until his last race call Gain admitted he was nervous. No doubt those same nerves will surface again on November 8. No Doctor Needed is paying $81 to win the New Zealand Cup. So far this season he has finished with two thirds from as many starts for his Ardmore trainers, Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick. His next assignment is the $20,000 Spring Cup on Friday week for R80 and faster pacers. No Doctor Needed’s rating is 106 and he is currently assessed at C9.   Duane Ranger

Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. Which pretty much sums up the feature trot at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Realmein did the right thing by punters by justifying his favouritism for the 2200m standing start, breaking 2:50 and winning effortlessly after a confident Phil Butcher drive. The win was Realmein’s first since January last year, when he won in Australia when being campaigned by Tim Butt, with his last win for long-time trainer Matt Pemberton being November 2014, so almost two years ago. But what most punters who saw Realmein down Charlemagne on Friday night won’t know is that the closest he had gone to winning a race in the last 18 months was a half head second in this very same race on the same weekend last year.  And on that occasion he was beaten by his quinellamate from Friday in Charlemagne. Adding to the oddity, the pair trotted their last 800m and 400m on Friday in almost identical sectionals to last season. The greatest difference though is that Pemberton spent most of last season trying to get the best out of Realmein, now he knows he has him back. “He got injured in Australia that campaigned when he galloped and took a chunk out of his front leg,” says Pemberton. “That really set him back, first of all getting him right and then secondly he is not a horse who likes it when things go wrong so getting him back mentally was a challenge. “But he seems great now. He is happy, relaxed and his manners are good so it special to have him back.” So much so that Pemberton and his patient bunch of owners are planning a southern assault, which could start as soon as next Friday at Addington. “We are keen to give him his crack down there so we will head down this week and he will be stabled with Bruce Hutton. “The long term aim is the Dominion and we are not saying he can beat a horse like Monbet but if he races up to his best I think he can get money in those races. “And he seems good behind the mobile at the moment, he ran second in a mobile the start before this, so that gives us some other options.” Realmein had competition for the win of the night on Friday from comeback mare Start Dreaming, who was electrifying in the main pace. Beautifully handled by trainer Barry Purdon, she sat in the one-one for the last lap before blasting down the middle of the straight to win going away. It was impressive stuff from the daughter of American Ideal having her first start since a luckless fifth in the Ladyship Mile at Menangle on February 28. But as excellent as the win looked to the eye, it was the stopwatch which really cemented Start Dreaming as the real deal, with the 53.7 second official last 800m one of the fastest ever recorded in New Zealand and Start Dreaming came out of the one-one so must have clocked 53.5, all of that off the markers. Purdon has always had a huge opinion of Start Dreaming but while she will be given her chance against the better pacers in the Spring Cup, there are no plans to head to the New Zealand Cup meeting. She will instead be aimed at the best mares races, with the first big aim the Queen Of Hearts in mid December. Friday night’s meeting was a nightmare for the teams involved in the Kiwi Punters Challenge, the first of three to be held at Alexandra Park over the next month, with a relatively small total good enough to win after a series of $45, $29 and $35 winners in early races smashing punters.   Michael Guerin

The conditions may not appear to suit the best pacer at Alexandra Park tonight but looks can be deceiving. Because No Doctor Needed is still the one to beat in the handicap pace and the first horse needed by those chasing the $40,000 Pick6. The open class pacer is on the road to the New Zealand Cup but was surprisingly beaten into third by similar opponents to what he meets tonight at his last start. Why that could worry punters is that race was under mobile conditions and No Doctor Needed led, whereas tonight he faces a 35m handicap, so he is technically worse off. But countering that could be three factors --- his natural improvement since his comeback race, the small size of tonight’s field and that his key opponents tonight are all fresh up. “He will definitely be a better horse now tonight, he was only 85 per cent fit for that race so the racing will help,” says co-trainer Steve Telfer. “And I wasn’t disappointed with him that night, he ran home (800m) in 55 seconds.”
 While he is almost certain to settle last tonight his main rivals --- Ideal Belle, Start Dreaming and Little Rascal --- are all having their first starts back for the new term so are probably not ready to make their own luck over 2700m. So driver Scott Phelan may have the opportunity to love mid-race without too many traffic concerns. While No Doctor Needed is the only Cup contender on show tonight both Ideal Belle and Start Dreaming are proven group one mares and trainer Barry Purdon admits he can’t choose between them. “They are very different mares, Ideal Belle is a very good stayer while Start Dreaming is probably faster,” explains Purdon. “So a lot will come down to how the race is run and that isn’t really in our control. But they are both forward enough to be there because they trialled well behind Hughie Green last Saturday.” Purdon also opted for Laredo Torpedo (race eight) as one of his better chances tonight dropping back into a weaker maiden race so he is a Pick6 must. Tonight’s meeting hosts a punting novelty in the first of three Alexandra Park heats this season for the Addington Punter of the Year challenge. Punters who fancy their harness knowledge or a bit of fun can enter tonight’s on-course competition for $500, with a minimum $50 bet per race. The punter or team with the highest balance from their $500 at the end of the night keeps that money plus wins $2000, with the top three from each heat invited to the national final at Addington on Show Day (November 11), which has a $50,000 first prize. Alexandra Park will also host heats on September 30 and October 14, with more details available at the Addington and TAB websites. Michael Guerin

Group 3 Summer Cup winner of last season Hughie Green will resume in the Spring Cup at Alexandra Park on September 30. The big son of Art Major and Alta Serena will then line-up in The Holmes DG Pace on October 14 at the same venue. “That’s all we have got planned for him right now. After the Holmes DG then we will see where he’s at and plan his racing schedule from there. He isn’t nominated for the New Zealand Cup. I think the Auckland Cup at the end of the year is the long-term target,” Gareth Hughes said. Hughes and Jon Habraken are working the 11-strong Brian Hughes team at present, while the man nicknamed Bunty recovers from a hip replacement operation. Hughes’ son Gareth said his father was pleased with the way Hughie Green won his second Workout at Pukekohe last Saturday. “He had his first Workout the week before on the same track and finished fourth of four. He just went around to get him back in the groove that day. That was his first race since he spelled with a second behind No Doctor Needed in March. “He suffered a virus earlier in the year and Saturday’s win showed us that he is developing nicely towards his season debut at the end of the month,” Hughes said. The 5-year-old gelding and regular pilot Maurice McKendry stepped nicely in Saturday’s right-handed 2500m stand and were in front of their three opposition after 150 metres. McKendry then dictated the pace to beat Start Dreaming, Ideal Belle, and Robbie Burns by a length, two lengths and a length. 'Hughie' stopped the clock in 3:12.4 (mile rate 2:03.8) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 57 and 27 flat. “We are pleased with the way he has matured. Maurice never really asked much of him on Saturday. They got a soft lead and he won well. We just want to keep sharpening him up as we head towards his first run back on September 30. “He will trial again at Alexandra Park this Saturday (September 17) to sharpen him up,” said Hughes. Hughie Green, who is owned by John Green and was bred by his family, has won nine of his 20 starts and placed in four others for $162,199 in stakes. He won two of his seven starts last season and his biggest win to date came in the $30,000 Group 3 Summer Cup at Alexandra Park last December when beating Besotted, Tiger Tara and Have Faith In Me with a 1:58.2 mile rate. Thirteen months before that he was a hot favourite going into the Group 1 Sires Stakes 3YO Final, before galloping inward in the home straight. “Those days are well and truly behind him. He’s a big mature horse now with a few more brains. We are quite confident that he will have a good season,” Hughes said. Meanwhile, stablemate and multiple Group 1 winning mare, Alta Serena is still boxed and can walk gingerly in a small yard while she recovers from a leg injury. Duane Ranger

Todd Mitchell’s best start to a training season hasn’t come easy. Mitchell, who turns 45 on Wednesday (September 14), said he had come through one of the most testing times of his 16-year training career. “Towards the middle of last season a bad virus went through our whole stable. It crippled us for three or four months and cost our owners thousands in vet bills and antibiotics. “And it was a severe virus because it wouldn’t go away. It was so hard for the horses to shed it. They had mucus and crap forever dripping out of their noses. It was the worst time of my training career. It really slowed us right down,” said Mitchell who trains 26 horses – 18 standardbreds and eight thoroughbreds at his Tauwhare property. But after six North Island meetings in 2016-2017 the Waikato horseman has well and truly recovered from his set-back with five wins (from two meetings), one third, and $25,565 in stakes from just 17 starters. His UDR strike rate currently sits at 0.3137 – 0.0842 better than is lifetime UDR of 0.2295. “It’s a welcome relief and definitely my best start to any season I’ve encountered before. I was just joking to the staff the other day how we’ve almost beaten our season tally (10) of last year in just a couple of meetings. “Things have just fallen into place. The night we won three races at Cambridge the horses got the right trips and ran home well. I don’t care about winning but I do care if they are stopping in the straight,” Mitchell said. “That was heartening to see them sprint home like they did,” he added. That hatrick of wins came at Mitchell’s home track of Cambridge Raceway on August 18 via Master Of Escape, Raschker and Creamee. The latter trotter also won at Cambridge on September 8, as did Stunin Banner. Mitchell has driven three winners and his stable junior Andrew Drake, the other two. “It makes a difference when you have got a happy, healthy team. I’ve changed my feeds around and they all seem to be happy in their work. “Prime Power aside, there are no stars really, just a lot of nice horses who could win some money of they are placed right,” the man nicknamed ‘The Wizard’ said. He said said the 15-win pacer Stunin Banner was a perfect example of a horse who could win races proving he was put in the right races. “He’s a lovely horse and has still an entire but he’s a claimer who has to be placed right. Andrew won well with him from the second line last start. “We expect him to be handicapped in claiming races but at the same time we think he’s good enough to win if we line him up. he’s boxed at nights and spends his days in the paddocks. I don’t think that happened at Rogies (Graeme Rogerson). “I think a change like that to wide open spaces at the age of eight can do a horse like him the world of difference. I think the paddocks have given him a new lease of life after that awful virus,” said Mitchell. The four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman (Homin Hosed, Gracious Knight, Just An Excuse twice) hasn't got a drive in this year’s big race and doubts if Prime Power will be lining up in the Dominion during the NZ Cup Carnival. “When I heard Dexter was wanting to drive Locharburn in the Cup I text Cran (Dalgety) dropping a few hints. He text me back and told me to soak my hands in Palmolive. “As for Prime Power well I think we will see the real Prime Power this season. He was hitching in his gait last season and we gave him four months out in March. “He’s at Bryan Macy’s and has been jogging, He should be back in work by the end of month and then be ready to take on the best trotters at Alexandra Park over Christmas,” Mitchell said. “I’m sure his hitching is behind him. If it is watch out,” he added. Prime Power will go into his sixth season the winner of 15 of his 43 starts. he’s also placed 14 times and won $243,347. His quickest mile rate is 1:56.5 when he won his Harness Jewels 3yo Ruby at Ashburton in 2013. Mitchell was also hopeful a couple of his youngsters would also come to the party in 2016-2017. “Mac The Moneymaker is a nice 3-year-old Mach Three colt who has won one of his three starts. We tipped him out when he won at Alexandra Park in June and he’s six weeks away from the workouts. “I also like 4-year-old mare K C Spur (Pegasus Spur – Jazmin Alicia) and an American Ideal 3-year-old colt named The Coordinator. He’s out of Monaro, who also left Mach Three colt Walkinshaw (three wins),” Mitchell said. Then there’s Artsplace – Diamonds N Gold 3-year-old filly, Diamond Lace. “I train her for Breckon Farms and she goes real good. She’s a half sister to Glitzy Gal (by Bettor’s Delight), who won two races for me and Breckon Bloodstock before going on to win two more in Australia,” Mitchell said. Mitchell currently sits in fifth place in the national training premiership – six wins behind pace-setters, Greg & Nina Hope, and one behind the North Island’s leader – Ray Green (six wins). ‘The Wizard’s’ best season came in 2006-02007 when he trained 23 winners. Stakes-wise there was no better season than 2008-2009 when he cracked the $200,000 mark for the first time with $288,158 in purses. Mitchell is a member of the ‘1,000 Drivers Club’ having reined 1,058 winners and banked $11.2 million since 1988.   Duane Ranger

Alexandra Park’s (Auckland Trotting Club) largest and most luxury penthouse has just sold for $4.75m by Colliers International.  Auckland’s leading development includes five penthouses sitting above Alexandra Park’s significant urban village now under construction on Green Lane West. The large brownfields development has been dubbed Auckland’s fastest selling, with just one penthouse remaining for sale – all set to enjoy commanding views and superior interiors. The just-sold 489sqm penthouse includes a staggering 140 square metres of external balconies – the balconies alone almost add up to the equivalent size of an entire average New Zealand house! It also comes with three carparks. “It is truly exciting that a penthouse in Auckland’s central suburbs can command such a prestigious price. It completely reinforces our comprehensive quality offering and truly desirable location. What’s more, this latest sale takes our total residential sales since March last year to over $260m – a significant milestone for our development, says Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding. Located on the top level, Alexandra Park’s penthouses will come with some expansive views including the volcanic cones of Mt Hobson, Mt St John, Mt Eden, One Tree Hill, as well as the central city’s skyline, Rangitoto, Waitemata Harbour, and the Hauraki Gulf. As well as their dramatic views, the penthouses boast exemplary indoor-outdoor living. Their private outdoor ‘garden rooms’ have electronic louvre roof coverings complete come with rain activated sensors to ensure all year-round use. Inside, the living areas of the penthouses are sophisticated, spacious and will include beautiful Gaggenau kitchen appliances, a gas fireplace as well as double-glazed floor to ceiling glass. What’s more they have three bedrooms, multiple living areas, ample storage, and three metre ceilings. As well as their superior specifications and finish, Ms Dowding says the penthouses come with some unprecedented amenity. The village beneath will include a grocer, boutique retail and some soon to be announced cafes and restaurants. Not to mention Lido Cinema and historic Cornwall Park both just across the road. “Another point of difference for Alexandra Park is the fact that all apartments and penthouses come with freehold titles and of course our central Epsom location also puts you right in the double grammar zone. While there’s plenty of Auckland apartments in the zone, I can’t think of any other penthouses of this size and quality that are in the zone, let alone Epsom,” says Ms Dowding. Director of Residential Project Marketing at Colliers International, Jeff Davidson, says the purchasers were reluctant to be named but said key aspects in their decision-making included the penthouse’s sheer spaciousness, central location, views, the high spec fit-out, the urban village’s quality master-planned environment, the sense of community and proximity to family.  While RTA Studio is the lead architect, celebrated Vancouver urban design expert Joe Hruda is overseeing the outside transformation which will include plenty of world-class public spaces and promenades. N-Compass are the project managers. 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 A new destination is being born at Alexandra Park that will become the new heart for Epsom, Auckland. Alexandra Park’s urban village will boast a wonderful lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality precinct located in a park like setting with wide open public spaces and plazas, lined with cafes, restaurants and boutique retailers. Dominique Dowding  

For a man who knows the glory of group one victory, this was a different kind of satisfaction. Because trainer John Dickie knows not many trainers prepare four winners on a night at Alexandra Park. Dickie and son Josh, who is his training partner and stable driver, pulled off the rare feat on Friday night when Acceptance, Bronze Over, This Excuse Is Fine and I Am The Greatest all won. It was the first four-win night for either father or son and John says the fact it was at Alexandra Park made it all the more special. “I said to Josh afterwards, to do that at head office is really satisfying,” said Dickie. That is where we aim to race the most, with the high stakes and the bonuses and not many trainers away from really big barns get to train four winners on a night there. “Obviously it is a first for us and shows that what we are doing here at home works.” Team Dickie has been on a constant, steep improvement curve since they moved from Cambridge to the well-appointed Rosslands Farms three years ago and while John has had a wonderful group one record over the years with his trotters, they are now more consistent players on the biggest stage. “And that is the aim. We will still have horses racing at Cambridge and even down the line but predominantly we want to race here for the better stakes. “Take a little mare like Bronze Over, she has now won well over $50,000 in stakes and bonuses and she has only had 14 starts.” As good as their last three winner were, it was Acceptance’s easy win in race two which provided the most excitement. A giant, weakish three-year-old he went for a spell straight after the race, with Dickie believing a month off is his best chance of coming back a Derby horse in the second half of the season. “He has done a huge job considering he was never a two-year-old type,” he says of the brother to Can’t Refuse, Bettor Dream, Bettor Offer and Delightful Offer. “The Hoggards paid $75,000 for him at the sales because that mare just keeps leaving good horses. “So we are going to give him the chance to be a good horse by giving him a spell now.”
 The stable has just 23 horses in work so their strike rate is high and John admits they now know how to get the best out of their property. “As you know it is a lovely place and we have been here long enough now to know how fast to work this type of horse or that. “So we are more than happy with the way things are going.” Stable star Speeding Spur is back at Woodlands Stud for a few weeks but is earmarked for a return to training on October 1, with the Australian racing in the New Year still the target. The other highlights of Friday night’s programme included the 21st career success for the little trotter who could, One Over Da Moon. He worked his way to the front over 1700m and held out a game Realmein, with the winner now likely to head home to rejoin Paul Nairn. But it wasn’t all plain-sailing for open class favourites as No Doctor Needed was worried out of a win in the main pace. He worked his way to the front quickly but was kept honest by The Faithful, who stuck on gamely as Arden’s Choice finished over the top of the pair late in a 1:55.1 mile rate for the 1700m.   Michael Guerin

Early TAB fixed odds action for tonights harness racing at Alexandra Park   Race 1: A quiet win ‘book’ overall but the $3.00 favourite Neighlor holds 50% of early win money. Neighlor is holding three times more multi tickets than the next two who hold the same number of tickets Onedin Amethyst $3.50 and Accumulator $3.20. Happy Magic at $28 has attracted some interest.   Race 2: Not a lot of win money action early but they only want Acceptance the $2.30 favourite and Spring Campaign $3.20 in multi bets but the favourite does hold twice as money tickets on the second favourite.   Race 3: Gotta Go Dali Queen a debut runner from the Cooney and Hopkins stable is best backed and is now at $9.00 after opening at $12.50. Another debut runner from the Tony Herlihy stable has attracted some support and is now into $7.50 after opening at $9.00. Not much money on the $1.55 favourite Rariza but she is dominant in multi bets.   Race 4: The best backed runner is King Of The Roses $3.30 a new addition to the Tony Herlihy stable over Little Bro $9.00 - $8.00. The only two runners wanted in early multi betting is King Of The Roses and George $5.20 - $4.80.   Race 5: The $1.95 favourite Mr Euroman looks as though he is keeping punters off backing any other runner early on the win ‘book’ and he is racing away multi ticket wise over Bronze Over $5.20.   Race 6: The only runner they have backed early is the $1.50 - $1.45 favourite One Over Da Moon yet another Tonty Herlihy trained and driver runner. The way he is taking early multi action he is going to be overs at $1.45.   Race 7: The Faithful $4.80 is best backed early but the $1.75 fav No Doctor Needed holds six times as many multi tickets.   Race 8: This is the quietest early win market and the only early lead we can give based on multi bets is that the second favourite Blood And Whisky $3.30 could start the favourite post time, Acougarzsun is currently the $2.70 favourite. Race 9: Early money here is for M T Pockets $8.00 - $6.50 and This Excuse Is Fine $4.60. Awesome Dude the $2.40 favourite has yet to attract a win bet but leads multi bets over This Excuse Is Fine.   Race 10: The only runner they want in the last on the win ‘book’ is Helen Shapiro $11 – $10 but the $2.70 favourite I Am The Greatest clearly leads early multi bets.   Best backed multi bet runners in order: Race 6: One Over Da Moon $1.45 Race 3: Rariza $1.55 Race 7: No Doctor Needed $1.75 Race 2: Acceptance $2.30   Harnesslink Media

Alexandra Park is set for a busy spring with a number of race-night hospitality events already proving popular, helped by the Auckland Trotting Club’s increasing use of social media to market its harness racing events.  “For our Fundraising At The Park night, for example, we’re running a competition on Facebook giving away tickets which is definitely helping to spark enquiries. And when it’s cold and wet we push out our Tropical Race Nights where a trip to Vanuatu is up for grabs,” says Alexandra Park Sales & Marketing Manager Joel Reichardt. “Social media certainly gives us the ability to be flexible and interactive, as well as nicely supports our mainstream marketing campaigns.” His comments follow Alexandra Park being named a double finalist in the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2016 - Central. It is a finalist in both the ‘Excellence in Marketing’ category and for ‘Excellence in Customer Service Delivery’. First up this spring is Thai Night on Friday 16 September, with Alexandra Park promising the exotic tastes and sumptuous decor of Thailand without the 12-hour flight time. Enjoy an all-you-can-eat Thai Buffet, a fully themed room, a drink on arrival and of course all the excitement of live racing action. The Thai Night package is only $55 per person. Then on Friday 7 and 14 October Alexandra Park is hosting its Tropical Race Nights, with dining packages starting from just $60 per person and a trip for two to Vanuatu to be won thanks to Air Vanuatu and Mangoes Resort. For Fashion At The Park, also on Friday 14 October, enjoy the fabulous Spring / Summer collections of top New Zealand designers Hailwood, Carlson, Yvonne Bennetti, Trish Peng and Knuefermann. Wine and dine in glamourous style with a three course dining package for $99 per person, while watching head-turning fashion between races. Your Fundraising At The Park on Friday 28 October gives sports teams, schools, social clubs, charities and other groups a great opportunity to raise money for an upcoming event or trip. All they have to do is sell tickets for $50 each with $12.50 from every ticket sold going towards their fundraising goals. Alexandra Park will do the rest and provide the hospitality for a fun night at the races. Fresh from its packed Mid-winter Christmas nights, Alexandra Park is now selling tickets to its Christmas At The Races hospitality evenings set to take place on Fridays 11, 18, 25 November and 2, 9, 16 Decemberas well as Thursday 22 December. “Our dining packages are always exceptional with our delicious all-you-can-eat carveries and buffets. What’s more there’s plenty of atmosphere with some prime viewing spots on offer to watch some exciting harness racing under lights, and of course the live entertainment after the last race,” says Mr Reichardt.  For further information on the dining packages for Thai Night, Tropical Race Nights, Fashion At The Park 2016, Your Fundraising At The Park, or Christmas At The Races, visit this link. For all bookings please or call (09) 631-1165 or email dining@alexandrapark.co.nz www.alexandrapark.co.nz For further information contact: Alexandra Park Sales & Marketing Manager, Joel Reichardt (021) 786-034.

Sean Grayling couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season. The 20-year-old nailed his first driving double and achieved his most memorable win at Alexandra Park last Friday night. He now has two wins from nine drives this season and is well on the way to achieving his season target of 15. “Last season was my best with nine wins, but none of them were as rewarding as winning behind The Faithful last Friday. Zac (Butcher) and I cleared out and I managed to hold him out by a neck. There were more than five lengths back to the third horse. “Stablemate Arden’s Choice was the favourite and we got the run to hold him out. Zac is a real inspiration. He always gives me good advice and I like to listen to what he has got to say because he’s one of the best going around,” Grayling said. “In saying that we are both so competitive and love to beat each other at anything – table tennis, pool, squash and even touch rugby. You name it,” he added. Grayling and Butcher are employed by Barry and Katrina Purdon at Clevedon. After almost five years working for the Hall-of-Fame horseman, Grayling still pricks himself regularly to see if he still has his ‘job from heaven’. “I wouldn’t want to be working for anyone else. This is where I want to be. Every single day I learn something new with Barry. You can see why he’s one of the greatest. He gives so much attention to detail and is not afraid to pull me aside and give me advice. “I will never stop listening to him. On race-nights he usually comes up to me and talks to me about my drives. Dad (Tony) is my biggest supporter but sometimes he is kinder to me with advice simply because he’s my father. “Barry isn’t like that. He says it like it is and at the same time isn’t afraid to praise you when you do well,” said Grayling. The South Auckland junior also drove the Ray Darby trained Bro Fawkes S to win the first event last Friday. “I’ve been driving for just over three seasons now and that was my first double. I’m also very thankful to Ray for his continued support of me. Amanda Kiddie has also been very loyal to me. She has been huge. “In fact I want to thank all the trainers and owners who have the confidence to put me on their horses. I’m learning and improving all the time and have the best possible mentor to point me in the right direction,” the former Pukekohe High School student said. “My double came a month after the anniversary of my Mum’s passing four years ago. I still feel very close to her and she’s always on my mind. I know she is always with me and that gives me great satisfaction,” Grayling said. Grayling has a chance to further his season tally when he gets behind the Kiddie trained Brookby Prince (race 4) and the Purdon trained Aliante (race 7) at Alexandra Park this Friday night. “Aliante has won her last two starts and rates a good chance while Brookby Prince has drawn well and is having his second run back after a six-month spell. “I always drive to win. I’m a competitor and every time I get in the bike I only have sights on saluting the judge. “My target is 15 wins this season and of course I would love to qualify for the New Zealand and Australasia Champs. I only just missed out on the New Zealands last year so I’m determined to qualify this season,” said Grayling. “But one of my main targets is to win the Alexandra Park Junior Driving Premiership. I wasn’t happy with where I finished last season and really want to win it in 2016-2017,” he added. Grayling won five races at Alexandra Park last season and finished fifth behind Jack MacKinnon, Kyle Marshall, Andre Poutama, and Tony Cameron.   Duane Ranger

Sea Eyre is making a habit of beating home another trotter by his own sire when he wins. The harness racing gelding by The Pres has scored two victories to date, and on both occasions he's gotten to the post ahead of a year-older trotter who shares the same father.   The first time was at Addington on February 19 this year when Sea Eyre defeated I'm Not Eyre, then last Friday night at Alexandra Park he did it again - prevailing in a tight finish over Precious Moment to set up a $127 quinella!   It's fair to say that the pickings have been slim in between wins, but like a lot of trotters who are learning their craft, Sea Eyre had a few wee issues that needed ironing out and the decision to send him north has started to pay dividends.   Raced on lease by Palmerston-based horseman Ricky Allen, Sea Eyre joined the stable of Richard Brosnan a couple of months after clearing maidens and his new trainer speaks highly of the now 4-year-old gelding out of Viola Chiola.   "Ricky thought that a change of scenery might help," Brosnan said, explaining the temporary arrangement.   "And the horse's issues aren't anything major, just a lot of little things; it always takes time to get to know them and work out what suits."   The chinks in Sea Eyre's armour included a couple of steering issues and his tendency to "fire up" on raceday, but Brosnan's confident that he's slowly turning things around.   "He's actually really good-natured and is beautiful around home, plus on racenight he'll be as quiet as anything too - until you get him out onto the track, when he turns into a right handful.   "He'll be hard on the bit, and the trick is trying to get him to save that until later in the race; even when he's been wild at times though, some of his runs weren't that bad.   "We've changed a bit of gear and are hopefully getting him sorted now, because he did seem more relaxed on Friday."   It's too early to tell whether Sea Eyre will climb as high as the Open Class ranks, but the man who's currently putting the polish on this son of The Pres believes he can win more.   "He might not be a star but he's a nice, handy trotter - and I do think he's still twelve months away yet," Brosnan said.   "There's only a few around by The Pres up here, but they've done quite a good job.   "We've bred two ourselves, out of Baltic Sun. The first one was born with a badly offset hoof and never raced, which was a pity really because it was such a lovely natured horse.   "But I've broken in a 2-year-old full-sister and she's nice too; I've got no problems with them."       For more on The Pres click on this link.   Harnesslink Media

There are eleven races at Alexandra Park tonight and some big pools up for grabs. Harness racing in the Auckland region is on the up with larger than normal fields carded and fourteen horses having their first start at the races this evening. One of those first starters is Rariza (4m Courage Under Fire - Stunning), an unraced mare who qualified in the south for former trainer Chris McDowell. Rariza is obviously a quicker than average horse winning a maiden workout last Saturday pacing a blistering last 400m in 26.7. She is short on the fixed odds market currently at 1.65 another indication of the ability of the mare, Driven by Zac Butcher she will be very hard to beat in Race 4 this evening and possibly an anchor in the third leg of the first quaddie starting in Race 2. The last Quaddie of the night has a starting pool of  $40,000 and is worth a lazy dollar or two with a standout in the first leg. Quaddie - Races 8-11 inclusive guaranteed to $40,000 if struck  Leg 1 Ardens Choice looks a standout in this leg and is short on the TAB fixed odds market. She should go close to winning this and possibly the only logical anchor in the quaddie. Leg 2 This leg is a bit harder with several main chances. Snow Raker has gate speed and should lead here. Jay Abernethy thinks Snow Raker is his best drive of the night so needs to be included. Stunning Shadow, Emerson Margret and Turnbulls are all worth including on previous form. Leg 3 A very tricky leg of trotters here and no clear standout among them. A bigger spread is needed and include Jomo, I Got Rythm, Mr Natural, Majestic Gal, Opawa Speed and Blood and Whisky. Leg 4 Not the easiest of legs to finish the quaddie but Stars Delight has been racing well and is one of the better chances. Also needed are Luna De Miel, Booming Jet, Runcle and Kusima   Leg 1      6 Leg 2      3,4,10,12 Leg 3      1,2,5,7,8,10 Leg 4      1,2,3,6,9 $18.00 for 15%      Auckland Selections Race 1 Bro Fawkes S, I Am The Greatest,Tuhimata Lass,Grenado Race 2 Step Up, This Excuse Is Fine, Kilkeel Lady, He's Novak Race 3 Acceptance, Accumulator, Check In, Happy Magic Race 4 Rariza, Up All Nite, Lincolns Superstar, Shieldmaiden Race 5 Little Bro, Saint Michel, Inkyroe, Cool Son Race 6 Perfect Storm, Bevan's Cullen, Mr Euroman, Killer Queen Race 7 One Over Da Moon, Cool Cobber, Harrysul, Regal Petite Race 8 Arden's Choice, Bronze Over, Doubleodeano, The Faithful Race 9 Snow Raker, Stunning Shadow, Emerson Margaret, Turnbulls Race 10 Blood And Whisky, Jomo, I Got Rhythm, Mr Natural Race 11 Stars Delight, Runcle, Kusima, Booming Jet   Harnesslink Media  

As reported by the New Zealand Herald, a determined Zac Butcher could be the driver to follow at Alexandra Park tonight and beyond. The harness racing young gun says he is focused for the new season, something his results back up. Butcher goes into tonight's meeting second in the national premiership with five wins and two placings from just 14 drives and with some strong chances, headlined by Arden's Choice (R8). Butcher had a mediocre season by his very high standards last term but says he wants to be more consistent this season so his early success has been important. "I'm looking for a big season and Barry [Purdon, boss] has some nice horses here so I am looking forward to the months ahead," says Butcher. Arden's Choice looks the best of his book tonight at a meeting with surprisingly big numbers for an Alexandra Park winter fixture. "She has been racing really well and won well at the workouts last Saturday so she has to be a good chance," said Butcher. There is plenty of speed drawn inside the group one-placed mare but that could suit as the tempo should be solid, which brings her stamina into play. On a night with few odds-on favourites, the best horse of the show will need a new driver. Open-class trotter One Over Da Moon faces a 50m handicap in the main trot, with Brent Mangos sitting in for trainer Tony Herlihy, who is in Victoria preparing Temporale for Sunday's Breeders Crown. While it is never easy to overcome a 50m handicap at The Park, the small field and One Over Da Moon's ability to trot around 3:26 for the 2700m should see him make it back-to-back victories. Meanwhile, Herlihy and his fellow Kiwi trainers face a mixed bag at Melton's rich Breeders Crown meeting. The likes of Our Waikiki Beach (3-year-old male pace) and Wilma's Mate (3-year-old female trot) are red hot to win their finals but Partyon, Pacing Major, Custodian, Temporale, My MacKenzie and Our Regal Love faces serious opposition and difficult draws in their races. Partyon would usually he a standout favourite, being an unbeaten Mark Purdon-trained Harness Jewels winner but she has drawn the outside of the front line, from where only two horses have ever won a Breeders Crown Final. She also meets two high-class Victorian fillies in Miss Graceland and Petacular, so the Auckland-owned filly is going to need to do something special to win. "I think she will improve on her semifinal last week and I don't really have much option but to keep going forward from the draw," says Purdon. "But it won't be easy, those other two fillies are very good." Triple treat • Best bet: One Over Da Moon (Alex Park, R7): Field configuration should see him get a nice cart into race from huge handicap. • Place punt: Doubleodeano (Alex Park, R8): Hasn't had much go right lately, gets his chance to lead and be hard to catch. • Don't miss: Super Sunday, huge array of Kiwis lead by Our Waikiki Beach from 3.26pm (NZ time) on Sunday at Melton.   Michael Gerin

The Auckland Trotting Club has been named a double finalist in the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2016 - Central. It is a finalist in both the ‘Excellence in Customer Service Delivery’ category and for ‘Excellence in Marketing’. Alexandra Park chief executive Dominique Dowding says the fact that the harness racing club is a double finalist in this year’s Westpac business awards is a huge credit to the club’s board, management team, and staff. “We’re rolling out a bold strategic business plan to build a stronger financial future for the club and Auckland harness racing. Both marketing and customer service are key to achieving that. Getting into the finals is a huge endorsement of the many steps we are now taking to deliver on our collective vision,” says Mrs Dowding. Sales & Marketing manager Joel Reichardt says Alexandra Park is a multi-faceted business that’s marketing planning and activity and customer service drive is varied and complex – making the double finalist news even more satisfying. “We don’t just have one business and one brand to promote. We’ve got to simultaneously market our harness racing activity, our significant conference and functions business, and more recently our high-end residential and retail urban village now under construction on Green Lane West. Our customer service also has to deliver across our very broad business and customer base,” says Mr Reichardt.  Ms Dowding says for a membership-based sporting organisation to receive this business acknowledgement in a largely corporate arena shows just how comprehensively and successfully the club is commercially transforming. “Given all the choices out there today when it comes to sport, entertainment, venues and residential living we need to keep highly competitive through exemplary marketing and first-class customer service. This latest nod reinforces we’re making some really solid gains that others are now formally recognising,” she says. Alexandra Park congratulates all of the category finalists and looks forward to the gala dinner on 10 November for the Westpac Auckland Business Awards 2016 - Central. www.alexandrapark.co.nz For a full list of the Westpac Business Award finalists link here. For further information contact Dominique Dowding: (021) 377-303 or (09) 630-9700

As reported by the NZ Herald, Tony Herlihy admits his rivals may hold the fate of One Over Da Moon in their hooves when the standout trotter returns to harness racing at Alexandra Park tonight. And that means the champion horseman wouldn’t be surprised if the best horse at the meeting won by two lengths, or finished a gallant placegetter. “It he could do either and be equally good runs,” says Herlihy. One Over Da Moon returns to Auckland, where he dominated the trot scene last winter, for a three-race programme while usual trainer Paul Nairn is campaigning a team in Australia. So Herlihy hasn’t had much time to reacquaint himself with the speedy stallion, only having driven him a handful of times since he arrived. “He hasn’t had a trial and only arrived up last week so it is hard to get an exact line on him,” explains Herlihy. “He looks great, as you would expect coming from Paul’s place, and when I spoke to Paul on Sunday he said he was trotting great at home before he left him. “But winning any race at Alexandra Park off 45m fresh up is tough. “A lot will depend on how quick they go. If a mare like Sunset Peak steps and trots 3:30 off the front then we have to trot 3:27 to win and that would be hard without a lead-up race. “But if they go a bit slower and he has to trot 3:30 to win and gets a cart into it it becomes a bit easier. “So the tempo will play a big role.”
 Sunset Peak has been the surprise package of the northern winter for John and Butcher, going from unheralded maiden to looking open class material in a handful of starts. Ben Butcher takes the drive tonight so the mare can claim a concession and start on the front line, where she seems happiest and most likely to be able to reach her favoured pacemaking role. “Ben drove her at the workouts on Saturday and if she trots away she might take some catching,” enthused co-trainer John Butcher. For a small field the race is a winter gem, also boasting Cool Cobber, who was excellent in his comeback race last start and Harrysul, who is chasing a hat-trick for Dave and Clare McGowan. Harrysul only fell into win last start after trotting roughly by McGowan says the gelding has worked much better this week and he is confident even though he is not happy to be starting off the same handicap as One Over Da Moon. “I think he has been harshly handicapped but he is going great and the owners are coming up so he will start,” says McGowan. Earlier in the night the Pukekohe stable have exciting trotter Inkyroe in race four. Inkyroe lived up to her huge reputation by bolting in on debut and has a new driver tonight, with Andre Poutama replacing Todd MacFarlane for this race as the latter has his own horse George in the race. “Andre came and drove her on Wednesday and was smiling after,” said McGowan. “It is a big jump from maidens to one-win but I think she will handle it. Her manners early will be the key.”   Michael Guerin

Early harness racing fixed odds action tonight at Alexandra Park. Race 1 – All the early money is for the smart recent workout winner Spring Campaign $2.80 - $2.40 with the largest bets $1,111 and $480 at $2.80 and $789 at $2.60. Race 2 – Best backed early is Killer Queen $3.70 - $3.30 and she also easily leads multi bet numbers on the race. Race 3 – With two bets $700 at $3.50 now ($2.90) Mo Casino is the best backed followed by Stunning Shadow $6.50 - $6.00. Race 4 – George is the best backed and is into $8.50 following a bet of $1,125 at $11.50. The $3.20 favourite Inkyroe leads multi bets. Race 5 – A quiet market in the win ‘book’ but Aliante is huge in multi bets. Race 6 – Best backed is Sunset Peak at $5.00 with the $2.90 favourite Harrysul best backed in multi bets. Race 7 – Largest bets in this race are $1,000 at $4.80 Bronze Over and $1,000 at $4.00 Mr Euroman. Race 8 -  Not a lot of early money but best backed is the $2.90 shot Acougarsun. Race 9 – Another quiet market but best backed is Kellanda Babe at $4.80 Race 10 – This is the quietest race on the card but the only runner taking any decent multi tickets is the $2.70 favourite Chevrons Sweetheart.   In order best backed in multi bets as at noon raceday: Race 5 – Aliante Race 1 – Spring Campaign Race 2 – Killer Queen   Stephen Richardson 

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