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By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    It was a case of mission accomplished for Plutonium Lady on Friday night when winning the Listed Magness Benrow NZSS Northern Mares Classic (2200m). She will head home to trainer Mark Jones’ Burnham property undefeated in her northern raid, after winning the Listed Charles Roberts NISBA Stakes (2200m) last week. While victorious on Friday night, Plutonium Lady didn’t have everything in her favour. The daughter of Bettor’s Delight was trapped three-wide after being caught in a speed duel from her wide barrier early on and driver Maurice McKendry elected to press forward with his charge to sit parked. Plutonium Lady found the back of leader Need You Now, courtesy of a tiring Adieu Flirt, in the closing stages and was able to take advantage of the passing lane and wear down Need You Now to win by 1-1/4 lengths. “She went good and Maurice drove her well,” Jones said. “They (Need You Now and Plutonium Lady) were the two class horses (of the field), and she (Plutonium Lady) had to do a bit of work and had to sit parked, so probably the better horse won on the night. “It was a good one to get and it’s mission accomplished up there.” Jones said Plutonium Lady took plenty of confidence from her win last week. “She seems pretty confident at the moment. Jeremy Young does a good job with her up there, so it has worked out well.” While the broodmare paddock is beckoning the regally-bred mare next season, she still has a number of stakes targets ahead of her this campaign. “There is a speed series down south in a couple of weeks, so she will go down for that, then get ready for the Jewels and then probably go in-foal next season,” Jones said. Later that the night Jones was disappointed when talented filly La Rosa broke in the early stages of the Gr.1 2021 Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks (2700m), costing her all chance in the northern Classic. “She picked a bad night to do it,” Jones said. “She has had a history of doing that and she picked two bad nights to do it on. “You have just got to turn the page and move on. It’s frustrating, but you can’t do much about it. “She will come home and get ready for the Nevele R and the Oaks down here.” Meanwhile, the Tony Herlihy-trained Mr Kaplan ran away to a comfortable victory in the Gr.2 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Delightful Lady Classic (1700m). The Betterthancheddar filly was given a perfect trip in the trail by driver Joshua Dickie, who was able to navigate his way around the tiring Tick Tock Go with 400m to go. She hit the lead rounding the final bend and made light work of her opposition in the home straight, beating Dance Till Dawn by 3-1/2 lengths, with Chevrons Bypass a further neck back in third.

No trainer will start more horses in more feature events at the premier night of harness racing at Alexandra Park on Friday than Robert Dunn. One of the biggest winning chances among Dunn’s bumper team comes in the Listed Northern Mares Classic with Need You Now. The trainer has been rapt with the four-year-old since her desperately unlucky third after receiving a chequered run up the straight behind race rival Plutonium Lady in last week’s Charles Roberts Stakes. “She has trained on really well, she is bright as a button,” Dunn said. “She had had three or four really hard runs behind Amazing Dream and Johnny [Dunn] was trying to look after her a little bit last week and things just went pear-shaped.” “It looked like she still could have won but it was just one of those things.” Dunn also starts both Woodstone and One Majic Kenny in the Group 3 Greenlane Cup. Woodstone looks a strong place chance following his fresh-up third to Bolt For Brilliance, who again looks hard to beat. “I was rapt with his run last week, he hadn’t had a trial or a workout or anything since Cup Week,” Dunn said. “He loves Auckland and always settles in really well up here and he looks a treat.” “Bolt For Brilliance will be hard to beat but he should be a good eachway chance.” One Majic Kenny got things wrong behind Bolt For Brilliance last week, but Dunn is hopeful the trotter can turn that around on Friday night. “He has been really unlucky, he missed away badly last time, but I can’t fault the way he is trotting.” “If he trots he can take advantage of being off the front line and he will go a good race.” Dunn starts Dance Til Dawn in the Group 2 Delightful Lady Classic for two-year-old fillies. The filly has trained on well since her debut second behind the favourite Artisan and the trainer is expecting another good performance. “She is a very handy type and she has trained on well.” “I have been happy with her.” “She has a lot of upside to her, right from the time Ross Houghton broke her in she has been a lovely filly.” “If she can get a nice run she will be right in it.” Dunn will also start Matt Damon in the Group 2 City Of Auckland Free-For-All. He expects another honest performance from the pacer, but he is wary of what impact Copy That will have on the race. “Matt Damon needs the speed on, he is a lovely horse and he has only had a handful of starts really,” Dunn said. “He is still learning his trade as far as open class goes.” “But he needs them to go hard and with Copy That in there it’s unlikely anything else will take him on too much.” “That won’t help us but he should still go another honest race.” The Dunn stable also has I’m Your Huckleberry in the Group One Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes. The trainer is expecting more from the two-year-old after he disappointed in his debut behind Montana D J in a heat of the series. “I was disappointed with his first run, but that race has really brought him on.” “I am expecting him to go much better.” Dunn also starts yet another horse in a feature event with Off N Gone in the Group One Northern Oaks The filly stuck on gamely after working hard in her last start behind race favourite Bettor Twist in the Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes. Having had that right-handed run should be a big help in Friday night’s feature. “She ran in on the bends, last week, so we have worked on her steering this week,” Dunn said. “She probably did enough work when she was getting around them, they ran quite a fast quarter when she moved.” “So it wasn’t a bad run and I am expecting her to be better this week.” Dunn also starts Mighty Looee on Friday night’s undercard, in race 2. View the full Alexandra Park fields click here!   by Jonny Turner

With the Northern Oaks and the Northern Derby headlining a bumper night of racing at Alexandra Park we asked the trainers of the horses in the two feature Group Ones about their chances. Where a trainer was unavailable for comment we have used Trottech.  Race 5 – 2021 PASCOES THE JEWELLERS NORTHERN OAKS (GROUP 1) 1. Enjoy Me - She needed the run last week, will be better for this week and has a good draw to start from. (Telfer & Telfer) 2. Bettor Twist - Pulled up from her run last Friday night in great order. Bettor Twist has drawn a great alley for once. (H Cullen) 3. Darling Me - She has been racing well, finished off her race strongly last week and the extra distance shouldn't be a problem. (Telfer & Telfer) 4. Ruby Mach - very honest filly that will need a good trip against some of these fillies. (Telfer & Telfer) 5. Off N Gone – Didn’t go bad last week after making a mid-race move. She hung a little having her first look at The Park. Expect improvement. Will need luck but shouldn’t be too far away at the finish. (R Dunn) 6. The Honey Queen - Too tough from the draw last week but didn't disgrace herself. Place hope best. (Trottech) 7. Santa Maria - Continues to race well with 4th placing here last week. Stretched from marble. (Trottech) 8. La Rosa - draw has been cruel to us but she is racing good and 2700 should not be a concern but can't see us or anyone beating Bettor Twist from the draw (M Jones) 9. Shezadeal – She has worked super since her last run. Draw will suit her down to the ground. Can't see why with the right trip she can’t be in the first four in what is a strong field. (Hollis & Robertson) 10. Shes No Lady - Drawn to get a soft trip hopefully she's improved with last week’s run (Reid & McMullan)   Race 7 – 2020 WOODLANDS STUD NORTHERN DERBY (GROUP 1) 1. Raven Banner - Has done a good job in the grade races big step up for him but we think he's earnt his chance to start in this race! Good draw we think he's a decent place chance at least. (Purdon & Phelan) 2. Alta Sensation – Has earned his spot against the big boys here. Great draw in #2 to work with and can hum the gate. He is in a great zone at home and is improving everyday. Keep an eye on him. (Dalgety & Dalgety) 3. Luke John – rapt with his last run, timed at 54.8 three wide. His work since has been super. First four chance. (Hollis & Robertson) 4. Hot And Treacherous - Sound enough behind Krug last week but had every chance. Minors appear best. (Trottech) 5. Krug – Loved being driven aggressively last week and he will eat the 2700m for breakfast. Have the fire brigade on standby. (Dalgety & Dalgety) 6. Aladdin - good field, tricky draw, he’s very well hoping for a good position in the run. (Blanchard & Blanchard) 7. American Dealer – come through his run really well as he always does. Disappointing about the draw but sure he’ll give a good sight. 8. It’s All About Faith - Pulled up from his run last Friday night in great order. It's All About Faith has not had luck with the draw this week but couldn't be happier with him going into the derby, will just need a bit of luck from the gate. (H Cullen) 9. B D Joe - He's very well, has been training strongly and trialling well. He's fresh up but he runs his best races that way. (Telfer & Telfer) 10. Outlaw Man - With a economical run I'd like to think he we will see him running on well. (A Donnelly)   Harness Racing New Zealand

Travel restrictions have handed the drive on the hot favourite for Friday's $125,000 Pascoes Northern Oaks to her former trainer. Mark Purdon will partner Bettor Twist in the group one, one of the highlights of Alexandra Park's massive premier meeting that is being affected by Auckland's Level 3 lockdown. The meeting, which contains seven group or listed races, will be run as a workplace without the public or even owners allowed. It also means several horse people who intended being there will not be allowed to travel because they haven't been granted exemptions but some others either had historic exemptions which were still valid or have been allowed to travel because they will be more involved in looking after certain horses and therefore their welfare. Four Waikato-based drivers have exemptions and are listed to drive while Canterbury horseman Purdon also has an exemption and will be at Alexandra Park. That means Purdon, who is taking a sabbatical from fulltime training but still drives, has picked up the Bettor Twist drive, with her regular driver Tim Williams not coming north. The filly will be a dominant favourite for the Oaks after a stunning win in the Peter Breckon Memorial last start Friday when she was forced to sit parked, with most punters expecting her to lead from barrier two on Friday. Other Canterbury drivers who would have been at the meeting, like John Dunn and Mark Jones, have yet to find out whether they will be able to travel to Auckland. Bettor Twist could be as short as $1.40 to win the Oaks from her draw, just 26 hours before her older half-brother King Of Swing is those same odds to defend his Miracle Mile crown at Menangle. As short as that pair are for group one glory many punters will feel the same about Krug in the $200,000 Woodlands Northern Derby after her drew barrier five with the other favourites American Dealer (7), It's All About Faith (8) and B D Joe (9) drawn worse. Purdon will also drive It's All About Faith, taking over from Williams. The open class pace will see Copy That red hot after barrier five and looking certain to lead the $47,000 City Of Auckland Free-For-All while Bolt For Brilliance will also be hot in the $28,500 Greenlane Cup even off his 20m handicap. Heat winner Classy Operator has crucially drawn inside the latest heat winner Montana D J in the $95,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns Final while early favourite Artisan faces a tricky draw from three on the second line in the Delightful Lady Fillies Final. View the full Alexandra Park fields click here!   Courtesy of New Zealand Herald

In terms of providing plenty of high class harness racing, March is certainly a month that packs a decent punch. Here we look at the plethora of feature racing that’s to take place during the month. All-class cards don’t get much better than what will be served up on the 5th of the month at Alexandra Park. Despite Covid restrictions the meeting is due to go ahead as planned with a number of features being decided. Both the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby (won by Amazing Dream last year) and Pascoes the Jewellers Northern Oaks will take place. These Group 1 races are joined by the Breckon Bloodstock Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes to make up the treble of Group 1 races on the night. The Young Guns Final almost always showcases a future star of the track. Last year Krug proved too slick while recent winners of the race include horses like Cyclone Prince, Chase The Dream and the Barry Purdon driven Mach Shard who showed a clean pair of hooves to down Spankem, Alta Maestro and Ashley Locaz along with other notables in the final of 2017.   The support card includes Group 2 features in the Auckland Co-op Taxis City Auckland FFA and the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Delightful Lady Classic. The night will also showcase the Magness Benrow Northern Mares Classic at Listed level and the Group 3 Majestic Horsefloats Greenlane Cup,  Woodstone being the winner of that race last year. The Downbytheseaside Leonard Memorial Stakes backs up quickly on the back of all of that Alexandra Park quality by running on the 7th of March at the Cheviot meeting at Addington. Generally a competitive affair last year Town Echo captured the trophy from the Tony Stratford trained Sweet Lizzie. Booraa, an animal enjoying a hot run of form at the moment, finished 6th out of the seven horse field.    The great racing continues on the 13th of the month as Northern Southland plays host to a trio of Group 3 races. The big money races here being the Caduceus Club / Nevele R Fillies Classic, the Yaldhurst Hotel Northern Southland Cup (a race that the Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert has owned over the last two years) and the Bmac Sheetmetal Southern Lights Trot. All of these features are to carry a stake of $30’000 From there it’s a return to Addington on the 26th with a card that’ll be punctuated by both Group 2 and Group 3 races. The Vero Flying Stakes (last won by the brilliant Copy That) and Storer Motors NZ Trotting Oaks will take place at Group 2 level aside the Lamb & Hayward Trotting Champs and the Teltrac Communications Free-For-All at Group 3 level. All together it looks a little like March madness!   Ben McMillan

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Emma Frost was beaten by the barest of margins in the Gr.3 Waikato Trotting Breeders’ Stakes (2700m) at Cambridge Raceway earlier this month, but she wasn’t to be outdone at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett-trained mare got her revenge when taking out the Auckland equivalent, the Gr.3 Sims Pacific Metals Northern Trotting Stakes (2700m). The daughter of Monkey Bones sat midfield for the majority of the race and looked flat when turning for home, however, she was able to call on her reserves and secure a 1-3/4 length victory. Her trainers were pleased with the win, particularly the way she finished off the race. “I thought she was flat a long way out, but Andrew (Drake, driver) said once he pulled the hood she just really rallied,” Wallis said. “Josh (Dickie) had them running up front (with The Big Bird) and she was pretty flat, but I think everything was flat and she just rallied the best. “She deserved it after her runner-up effort at Cambridge (Waikato Breeders).” Wallis said she was pleased with the five-year-old mare ahead of her Group Three assignment. “She went fresh into the one at Cambridge, so we thought we would keep her fresh for this one, and it paid off,” she said. Stablemate Rain Mist And Muscle ran home boldly to secure a quinella for the barn, and Wallis highlighted her 20m as the deciding factor. “They have gone pretty quick off the front and she was off 20m,” she said. “Her overall time will be better than Emma Frost’s, but she was just chasing the whole way and it didn’t pan out. “She has still gone super. She has gone every bit as good as Emma.” While pleased with the result, Wallis said she is unsure of Rain Mist and Muscle’s future. “Emma Frost will just keep racing in the grades around here,” she said. “It gets tough for Rain Mist and Muscle now because where she is rated she is up in the top echelon up here and she is probably not quite good enough to race against Bolt For Brilliance. I am not sure what we do with her.” Meanwhile, former World Driving Champion Mark Jones made a rare appearance in the sulky when reining home Plutonium Lady in the Listed Charles Roberts (NISBA) Stakes (2200m). Later on the card, Copy That continued his winning ways at northern headquarters, taking out the Gr.3 Lincoln Farms ‘The Founders Cup’ FFA (2200m) by 1-3/4 lengths over Christianshavtime, with a further 1-3/4 lengths back to Spirit Of St Louis in third.

Exciting harness racing pacer Copy That proved he was back to his scintillating best by taking out the (Gr3) Lincoln Farms 'The Founders Cup' at Alexandra Park this evening. Blasting to the early lead, Copy That never looked in any danger of defeat crusing to the line to win by more than a length and still under a powerful grip from driver Maurice McKendry. "He has come back really great," McKendry said after the race. "Since his break I think he has improved a bit. "He did it really easy tonight so all going well for the future," he said. Trained by master trainer Ray Green, Copy That (American Ideal - Lively Nights) paced the mobile 2200m in 2:40.7, with a closing 800m in 55.6 and 400m in 26.4. Christianshavtime stuck on well for second and ex-southerner Spirit Of St Louis battled on for third. Earlier in the night Bettor's Delight filly Bettor Twist again showed her staying qualities by poking her nose out at the right time to down a good field in the (Gr2) Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes. After sitting parked for the last lap Bettor Twist (Bettor's Delight - Twist And Twirl) got the better of the leader La Rosa right on the line in the mobile 2200m event. Bettor Twist paced the mobile 2200m in 2-40.9 with a closing 800m in 55.8 and 400m in 27.4.  The Mark Jones trained La Rosa stuck on well after leading and Darling Me rattled home late for third. Full Alexandra Park results click here!   Harnesslink Media

The heavyweights of the yearling sales ring move their battle to Alexandra Park tonight and the victories could be just as shared. The major stables of Robert Dunn, Steve Telfer, Cran Dalgety and Ray Green were among the biggest spenders at the yearling sales spread over the last 12 days, while young trainer Hayden Cullen will get plenty of new firepower through buyers formerly with Mark Purdon. And those same five stables provide many of the winning chances in the richest races as Alexandra Park’s Derby meeting kicks off early than usual, with a strong night tonight and then a boomer hosting six major races next week. Tonight’s highlight races have an even feel to them with the exception of the Lincoln Farms Founders Mobile which really should fall to Copy That, trained by Lincoln Farms trainer Green. Copy That may not have raced since beating Self Assured in the Flying Mile at Cambridge early last month but the way he sprinted past most of his rivals tonight in a workout at Pukekohe last week suggests he is fit and ready to win. Aiding him in the fact maybe his key rival Christianshavtime doesn’t have the natural gates speed to stay in front of him and if Copy That reaches the lead he will win, suggesting his $1.50 opening quote was multi gold. But before him things are more complicated in the feature races starting with race two, the lead-up to next week’s Woodlands Northern Derby. Krug may still be the best horse in this crop but not by much and It’s All About Faith is drawn inside him and trainer Cullen expects him to lead and be hard to beat. “He has improved with his last start win and if he leads it is going to be hard for them to get past him,” says Cullen. But It’s All About Faith can be hard to trust and American Dealer and the greatly-improved Hot And Treacherous add depth to a race that could be decided by the tempo of the first 600m. Cullen has also has outstanding filly Bettor Twist in the Peter Breckon Memorial, victory in which would mean the world to her main owners Ken and Karen Breckon, with Peter being Ken’s late brother. Bettor Twist is a brutal filly who loves a fight and will probably win next Friday’s Oaks but Cullen concedes she will need to go back at the start tonight and possibly come sit parked at the bell, not an easy way to win any group two. “She is really well and forward enough to win because she has had two workouts but it is not an easy race,” says Cullen. That is for sure as any one of Enjoy Me, La Rosa, Darling Me or brilliant last start winner Off N Gone could easily break 2:40 for the 2200m and make Bettor Twist work very hard. John Dunn, who along with his father Robert took home around 16 yearlings from the sales, expects Off N Gone to handle her first start right-handed. “She should because she has really improved a lot but it is a good field and I can see them going hard,” says Dunn. Telfer has a huge hand in the race and Enjoy Me has been the other big improver in this crop, winning the Sires’ Stakes on New Years Eve downing Bettor Twist. She missed a planned start since with a minor injury but impressed at the workouts last week and may still be improving. Dunn is more confident with Need You Now in the Charles Roberts Stakes (race four) with the high class mare caught parked last start in a national record group one but dropping a long way in grade tonight. View the full Auckland fields click here!   by Michael Guerin

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Alexandra Park  today with a nine race program starting at 6.15pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good night of racing.   Alexandra Park selections 26th February 2021 Best Bet:  R8 Copy That Best Value:  R6 Kimkar Dash   Race 1 Bro Fawkes S Majestic Harry Still Eyre Special Way   Race 2 It's All About Faith American Dealer Krug  Hot And Treacherous   Race 3 Last Tango In Heaven Fortunia Happy Place Alta Sensation   Race 4 Need You Now Mimi E Coco Smokinhotcheddar Plutonium Lady   Race 5 Bettor Twist The Honey Queen Enjoy Me Darling Me   Race 6 Kimkar Dash Emma Frost Rain Mist And Muscle She Reigns   Race 7 Superbass J Bee Outlaw Man Tartan Robyn   Race 8 Copy That Spirit Of St Louis Christianshavtime Matt Damon   Race 9 Bettor Listen Alta Wiseguy Ideal Prince Commander Cathy   Harnesslink Media

The Cambridge club may have been one of the big winner from a race run at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Because after Bolt For Brilliance returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in four months on Friday night trainer-driver Tony Herlihy confirmed he will extend his campaign all the way to the Jewels in June. And that sets up a potential superstar young trotters clash on the Cambridge day between Bolt For Brilliance, Cracker Hill, Ultimate Stride, Muscle Mountain and Midnight Dash. The big four of that quartet are all, at this stage, being set for the Jewels after the mega day had to be postponed for a year last season because of Covid. Now it could have a trotting race to rival anything the pacers can produce that day. Bolt For Brilliance was a bit too sharp for Cracker Hill in their October clashes at Alexandra Park but the latter’s trainer Brad Williamson is adamant he will be better left-handed so the potential clash of the young trotters could set the tone for many of next season’s battles. Bolt For Brilliance was backed as unbeatable even off a 45m handicap in the main trot on Friday and unlike his last-start defeat he was able to latch on to the body of the field far easier. He worked around to pressure the leader at the 600m and won well from a brave Temporale with the overall time about 5 seconds shy of what the winner is capable of. “He was better for that fresh up run and he can go to the races at the Derby meeting now,” said Herlihy. After that he has a huge end to the season with the Anzac and Rowe Cups before the Jewels. Bolt For Brilliance provided Herlihy with a rare training treble in running races on Friday, having prepared Mailman and Cowboys N Bandits to win the previous two pacing races. Later in the night the two-year-old capped their preparations for their Young Gun Finals on March 5 and that saw a double to the Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan stable. Artisan suggested she is the best and most professional of the fillies when she won their heat and she goes into the final with two wins and a brave second so only a poor draw will stop her starting favourite. “She is a lovely filly and is sister to Major Trojan who won the WA Derby so a group win in a few weeks would be great for her,” said Purdon. In the boys heat Montana D signalled his arrival on the juvenile boys scene with a huge late run to catch a very gallant leader in Classy Operator. Montana D J, a son of Captaintreacherous and former superstar filly One Dream, cost $170,000 at the sales last year for Queensland owner Dean Shannon and even after two starts he looks worth every cent and more. Full Auckland results click here!   by Michael Guerin

You may not get paid more for winning races by a bigger margin but co-trainer Peter Blanchard still hopes Aladdin thrashes his opposition at Alexandra Park tonight. Because the better the talented three-year-old races is in coming weeks the more likely he will stay in his new trainer’s care. Blanchard and his son Vaughan only took over the training of Aladdin after he won the Sales Series Pace at Alexandra Park on New Years Eve, one of the last feature-race wins for the All Stars. Blanchard had negotiated the sale of Aladdin to South Australian-based owners and while they now appear to have gotten a bargain they agreed to leave him in this country to contest the Woodlands Derby on March 5. But Blanchard would, understandably, like to see him stay longer and any winning form would help. “He is primarily still here for the Derby and then his South Australian owners would like him to go there for their Derby,” explains Blanchard. “But that isn’t worth a lot of money so if he is racing well here I’d love to see him stay longer, maybe even through until the Jewels (Cambridge in June). “With the way the Australian season has changed now and plenty of their big three-year-old races not being till later in the year I think he could stay here till the Jewels and still get plenty of good racing there.”If Aladdin is going to be any chance in a race like the Derby he would need to be winning tonight, especially with the aid of the ace draw. He showed good gate speed to trail and fight hard for fourth in a far stronger field last Friday and Blanchard says expects a far better showing tonight. “He needed the run last week and his work since has been good,” he says. “He has the gate speed to lead and then Peter (Ferguson) can make decisions but he is versatile. “He led to win three starts ago but trailed to win the Sales Series.” Aladdin also has a major advantage in the draws over key rivals Luke John, who is also Derby-bound, and the much-improved Jack Ryan. While Aladdin can win from on the speed tonight the main trot tonight should fall to 45m marker Bolt For Brilliance even though he was beaten in a similar field last start. Bolt For Brilliance cost punters plenty when he was run off his hooves over 2200m last start but the extra 500m tonight will help, not just because he will have longer to catch up but the tempo will be more sedate. “He got a bit lost last start because they were so far behind the field and he didn’t really know how to chase them early but he still went great,” says trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. With only two rivals off the front line, both of them unruly, the 45m handicap shouldn’t be enough to stop Bolt For Brilliance tonight. The other highlights tonight are two more heats of the Young Gun series, one each for the boys and girls, which have had great numerical support this season.   by Michael Guerin

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits the Auckland today with a nine race program starting at 6:04pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. Auckland selections 19th February 2021 Best Bet:  R5 Bolt For Brilliance  Best Value:  R4 Art Nouveau   Race 1 Kayla Maguire Lynton Creek The Blue Beat Edamfast   Race 2 The Big Bird Monkey Selfie Anditover Kristofferson   Race 3 Mailman Shezadeal Captain Nemo Smokinhotcheddar   Race 4 Art Nouveau Bettor Listen Montana Storm Themightyserina   Race 5 Bolt For Brilliance Woodstone Invictus Call Me Trouble   Race 6 American Beauty Dance Till Dawn Mitsi Gaynor Artisan   Race 7 Aladdin Luke John Tartan Robyn Raven Banner   Race 8 Montana D J Mr Ibiza Classy Operator Casino Action   Race 9 Who's Queen Cepheus Ruby Ridge Play Footsie   Harnesslink Media

By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk     In Tracy Cadwallader’s words she now has “horses coming out my ears”. That’s because the only harness racing trainer in Hawkes Bay has had an influx of horses to her stable. “It’s hard to say no and I love the training side of it.” And it’s bringing results. On Tuesday (Feb 16) she got the first placing of her training career when Easy Does It got up for third in race 3 at Palmerston North. It was her first podium finish in 20 starts, dating back to the late 1990s. Back then she only had a few starters before changing tack and riding a lot of trackwork for a number of North Island thoroughbred trainers. She also took time out to have a family – she has a six-year-old. Wednesday’s placegetter Easy Does It is owned by Merv Martin. Cadwallader and Martin have a lot of horses in partnership – “I train them and own half of most of them”, she says. Eleven-race maiden Sipowicz (also owned by Martin) had a start for the stable at Manawatu as well, finishing fifth. All up Cadwallader has seven horses in work, and two being broken in. There are also 10 broodmares on site, with Martin selling two yearlings at last weekend’s Karaka Sales - Halfasleep (Lot 26) went for $5000 and Lot 41 Busload Of Faith for $25,000. “It never ends,” she says, “I have horses coming out my ears.” Some of the barn’s newcomers are well-known, including one of her more recent acquisitions, Madame Connoistre. She now leases the six-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare with Martin, after she won three from 19 with Joshua Dickie. They also lease Waingaro Ideal (one win – 6 starts) after the son of American Ideal had previous stints with Doug Gale and Nicky Chilcott. Others in her care include the unraced trio of five-year-old Highview Tommy mare Amoreena, Blaze Maguire (3 B c Bettor’s Delight – Saccha Maguire), and Indisposed (2 B g A Rocknroll Dance – Mystic Potion). The only trainer in Hawkes Bay, Cadwallader is well known for going the distance for her horses. She’s no stranger to doing the four hour round trip to the Palmerston North track as the 1000 metre track on her property isn’t suited to doing fast work. "Everyone at Palmerston North has been so supportive, I can't thank them enough, Dan Lynch, John and Stephen Doody and everyone else have gone out of their way for us." Home is a 30 hectare (75 acres) farm an hour’s drive from Hastings at the base of the Ruahine Ranges. “A lot of horses love the rolling countryside – they do a lot better.” In case you were wondering Cadwallader is “Welsh” – and yes it can be a pain having such a distinctive surname – “it drives me nuts sometimes”. With more and more horses heading to the races it may well be a name you’ll get to hear a lot more of in the weeks and months to come.

A total of 30 of the country’s best three-year-olds have been nominated for Auckland’s Group One double-header next month. The early nominations have just been released for both the $200,000 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby and the $125,000 Pascoes the Jewellers Northern Oaks. Both will be held at Alexandra Park on March 5. Last season Amazing Dream won the Oaks on February 28, only to win the Derby a week later. In doing so she was the first filly to take it out since Ripper’s Delight in 1975. This year both races will be held on a night when there will be a third Group One race, the Breckon Farms Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes, the Group 2 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic as well as other group and listed features. The Derby nominations are (in alphabetical order) : Aladdin Alta Sensation American Dealer BD Joe CaptainNemo Corravally Star Hot And Treacherous It’s All About Faith Krug Luke John Outlaw Man Pace N Pride Raven Banner Zarias The Oaks Nominations : Bettor Twist Bizzie Lou Braeview Lady Cloudy Bay Commander Cathy Darling Me Enjoy Me La Rosa Off N Gone Ruby Mach Santa Maria She’s No Lady Shezadeal Show Me Heaven   HRNZ

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Brian and Gareth Hughes left Alexandra Park on Friday night happy men after they took out a third of the card with a couple of exciting three-year-olds. The Honey Queen kicked off the night in style for the South Auckland conditioners when making light work of her opposition in the Hydroflow Mobile Pace (1609m), running away to a comfortable seven length victory. Driver Joshua Dickie launched the filly off the gate to take an early lead, where he was able to dictate the terms of the race which allowed his charge to sprint away to an effortless win. It was the second win on-end for the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven after she recorded her maiden victory at the Auckland track a week prior. Her connections were pleased with the win and they are now eyeing some loftier targets with their filly in the next month, including the Gr.2 Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Stakes (2200m) and Gr.1 Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks (2700m). “It was a really nice win tonight,” Gareth Hughes said. “Coming back from late December racing those good three-year-old fillies, it is a decent drop back. “You have still got to go out and do it and she has done that twice now in her last two starts, she has been pretty impressive. “She got chucked in the deep end in her first couple of starts back this time in. She went straight into a Sires’ Stakes heat and then the Group One fillies classic and then the Sires’ Stakes Final. She went nice races in all of them without getting a lot of luck.” Later on the card Hot And Treacherous created an upset when downing short-priced favourite Krug to win the NZB Standardbred Karaka Yearling Sales 14 Feb Mobile Pace (1609m). The Captaintreacherous gelding drew handy in barrier one and driver Maurice McKendry was able to utilise his gate speed and hold his position to take an early lead. He was kept up to the mark by Matt Damon on his outside, but he was able to show his mental fortitude when holding out his challenger and a fast-finishing Krug to win by a half-head. Hot And Treacherous had won two of his last three starts at Cambridge Raceway and Hughes said he appreciated his ace draw on Friday. “He has been racing in pretty good form of late and to go back to the Park and pick one up is pretty nice with what is coming up for him,” Hughes said. “In a fortnight there is the Derby Prelude and then the following week there is the Derby. “Going into these races coming up you just hope you are going to get a bit of luck and hopefully he can be thereabouts.” For full Alexandra Park results click here!

By Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk    Stakes-winning three-year-old Aladdin will be carrying new colours at Alexandra Park on Friday night in the NZB Standardbred Karaka Yearling Sales 14 Feb Mobile Pace (1609m). The Sweet Lou gelding had previously raced in the blue and silver All Stars silks, but he has recently transferred to the Pukekohe barn of Peter and Vaughan Blanchard after his sale to the Cormack family, who race under their AB & T Cormack Racing Pty Ltd banner. Peter Blanchard had negotiated his sale just days before the Listed NZB Standardbred Harness Million 1 3YO C & G Mobile Pace (2200m), and he began his association with his new owners in perfect fashion, taking out the rich feature at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. “That was a great training performance by Mark (Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen) and a great drive by Tim Williams in that race,” Vaughan Blanchard said. “The owners, who bought him, live in Australia and they were lucky enough to own him for that race. The sale went through 10 days before New Year’s Eve. “That (win) was a bit of a surprise, but he had pretty good lead-up form. He got a good run that night and everything panned out well for him. “It will be a hard feat to keep him up to that standard, but the way he is working and trialling, he is pretty good at the moment.” Blanchard said he and his father have trained and sold a few to the Australian-based Cormack family over the years. “We have always had the odd one for them,” he said. “They owned Al Bundy and we won nine or 10 with him. “Another mare we sold to them, Rockon Bye, won 20 for them over there (in Australia). “Predominantly they have their horses in Australia and that is where Aladdin will end up, but they thought why not have a crack at some three-year-old races and then go over. “He will definitely head towards the Great Northern Derby and then we will assess how he shapes up and whether he travels to Addington for the New Zealand Derby, and the Jewels (at Cambridge Raceway).” While looking ahead to three-year-old feature races, Aladdin will have his first start for the Blanchard stable on Friday and his new trainers are expecting a solid first-up performance after his trial win at his new home track late last month. “After the New Year’s Eve run we gave him three weeks off and he hasn’t put a foot wrong since we have had him,” Blanchard said. “He has settled in really well. He is a very easy horse to have around the place. “It is a very strong field on Friday. He trialled two weeks ago and we wanted to race him last week at Cambridge, but that race didn’t get off the ground. “But it’s a mile on Friday and it’s a perfect run for him first up after having a wee break.”

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