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Finally the ugly ducklings of the harness racing world are starting to see some love. For decades stakes for trotters have lagged embarrassingly far behind the money the best pacers race for but slowly the gap is closing, with increases to some of the biggest trotting races in the country this week. The most telling improvement is in the stake for the three trotting Jewels, which all increase from $100,000 to $125,000 for next season, putting them only $25,000 behind the pacing Jewels. While the trotters' Jewels races are still open sex, whereas each pacing age group has separate Jewels for either sex, the stakes gap between the two gaits is now small compared with other group one races.   In the past decade in particular races like the Inter Dominion, NZ Cup and Miracle Mile have been enormously higher than their trotting equivalents, with trotting fans even more infuriated when the Inter Dominion trotting series was dropped altogether for no good reason. But Addington have added further respectability to the trotting ranks with the Dominion to be run at Addington in November rising from $260,000 to $300,000 for this year, making it the richest trot in New Zealand. That continues the recent improvements in trotting only stakes, with the NZ Trot Champs going from $80,000 to $100,000, as will the Northern Trotting Derby next term while the $100,000 Anzac Cup at Alexandra Park is still a relatively new race. The A$300,000 Great Southern Star at Melton has raised the bar across the Tasman, where the Breeders Crown has also seen the trotting divisions split into males and females. "We think the trotters deserve a boost in stakes for the Jewels," says HRNZ boss Edward Rennell. "We would love to raise the pacers too and hope in the future we will." While the elite trotters like Monbet and Speeding Spur - both returning next season from injury - will have some big-money targets, the lot of the lower grade trotters has also never been better. With Alexandra Park moving to $12,000 minimum stakes next season and Addington to $10,000, trotters who race at the two premier tracks will go their entire careers without having to race for less than five figures Which makes them some of the best value horseflesh in New Zealand as trotting-bred yearlings average around $20,000 at the sales, with only a handful each year fetching more than $50,000. The closing of the gap will please enthusiasts of the squaregaiter, whose love of the gait is only matched by the near zealot-like devotion of galloping's jumps racing fraternity. For decades our elite trotters have won hearts in no small part because of their durability and how often punters are able to see them. Horses like Lyell Creek, Take A Moment, I Can Doosit, Pride Of Petite and more lately Monbet have been world class, the latter in particular boosting the French blood through his sire Love You needed to bring the New Zealand breed into the 21st century. Trotting stakes still have some way to go, with three-year-old Enghien winning nine of 10 races this season and almost every one that matters at the top end but still only bagging a respectable $234,041. That tally could go well past $300,000 should he win the Victoria Trot Derby and Breeders Crown next month, when he will still be a three-year-old until September (long story, don't ask). That at least compares favourably to the $481,055 Spanish Armada won as New Zealand's highest stake earning three-year-old pacer this season, with Vincent the highest earner male three-year-old pacer with $418,316, much of that in Australia. But the real boost for the trotting gait has come at the lowest end of the scale, where they have been a godsend for Alexandra Park, who often card full field maiden and one-win trots while the track is struggling for turnover-driving numbers. "The trotters have been huge for us and not long ago we had a meeting where we had almost as many trotters racing as pacers," said ATC racing boss Regan Cotter. "And those numbers should only keep getting better with the new minimum stakes." Trot's top-up • Stakes for trotters have always lagged behind pacers. • But some of NZ's biggest trotting races, the Jewels and the Dominion, are set to increase. • Once the poor relations of harness racing, trotters have been instrumental in securing decent field sizes at Alexandra Park. Michael Guerin

Punters who back trotters from Dr Luk Chin’s Cambridge stable know they are always a chance swinging for home. So it comes as no surprise that the Hamilton anesthetist, pain management specialist, and medical managing director said he would be again attempting to hunt the front when his two trotters - Tereskova and Djokovic - line up in the third and eighth events at Alexandra Park tonight. Djokovic looks the early pace-maker from barrier one in the $14,999 Italian Night Mobile for the R75 to R97 trotters, while Chin said Tereskova can get to the front in the $13,500 Waste Management Handicap for the R50 to R75 trotters - providing she can avoid traffic. "I always like to put my horses in the race, and I pride myself on the fact that they usually step away okay from the stand. Tereskova has been stepping well and putting herself in the race off front marks. This is the first time in a while that she will start from back in the field (20m). “She will have to thread her way through traffic, and that is a bit concerning because she’s never had to do that before. But if she can get clear air then yes I will be looking for the lead,” Dr Chin said. “She’s done much better than I thought she would this season. I thought she had reached her mark six months ago but she’s really gone on with it since then, placing quite a bit,” the 74-year-old owner/breeder/trainer/driver added. Djokovic won’t have to do much to better his namesake’s performance at Wimbledon this week (retired - quarter finals), and Chin thinks he should be able to hold the lead from the ace. “He hasn’t won a race this season but placed five times, and that could be the case again tonight. He has been racing against some of the best trotters going around, but it’s a small field which will suit Yagunnakissmeornot. She has an amazing turn of foot and I think she will be too good for this field – especially with just five in it,” he said. Tereskova and Djokovic, who have won eight and 10 races respectively, are rated R69 and R75. Dr Chin had the following to say about the two six-year-old trotters (which he will drive): Race 3: (12) Tereskova 20m - "She has always been such a good beginner and like I said before traffic is my biggest concern here. She is capable of winning with a sit but she is a free-rolling mare and is a better chance in front. She bowls along quite nicely when she’s in front. She has been racing consistently well lately and I’d rate her an each-way chance in this race. She is the better winning prospect of my two.” Race 8: Djokovic (1) – "He can set some nice quarters out in front and he’s not too bad out of the mobile gate, so I think he can hold the rail. The one draw over the 1700m will suit him nicely, but Yagunnakissmeornot has big acceleration. She won’t have to be pushed too hard early knowing there are only five in it. I think my fella is running for place money.” Duane Ranger

Trainer Ray Green and driver David Butcher have different views over how clear cut tonight’s feature pace at Alexandra Park will be. Butcher says while he chose Vasari over last-start Winter Cup winner Northview Hustler, he isn’t sure he has made the right choice. Yet Green is adamant he has. “I think Vasari is clearly the better horse and definitely our better chance,” says Green, who is still on track for his best season ever. “He had his issues with Vasari but has always been a good horse, and now we have gelded him he is right back into it. “This might be his first standing start, but he has handled the ones I have given him at home well, and he is too good a pacer not to step safely. “Northview Hustler is a real little pro, typical of the Bettor's Delights, but I don’t think he is as good as Vasari.” Butcher, who will win the North Island Driver’s Premiership again, needs a bit more convincing. “The difference is I am sure Northview Hustler (who will be driven by Andre Poutama) will step up because he did for me last start in the Winter Cup. “Whereas Vasari I am not sure about, because I haven’t seen him do it. “So while I am driving Vasari I could have just as easily gone the other way.” The pair highlight a potentially good night for Green, whose high class juvenile King Of Swing takes on older horses in race six.“We think a lot of him and he is still very much a chance to go to the Breeders Crown in Victoria next month,” says Green. “He is very big and raw but he has a good motor, so we will see how he goes in his heat next week.” As sharp as King Of Swing has looked, Butcher warns punters tonight poses a tricky test for the juvenile. “He might be too good for them but against the older horses it is hard to make your own luck, so he is no good thing.” Green also has impressive workout winner Alta Shangri La in race one while Butcher takes his stable star Sunset Peak to the 1700m mobile trot to finish tonight’s eight race programme. “She is racing well but the way Yagunnakissmeornot won last week I can’t see us beating her,” says Butcher. Addington also race tonight, with two legs of the national junior driver’s champs, the remaining two legs to be held at tomorrow’s Forbury Park day meeting, which was transferred from last night because of the weather.   Michael Guerin

Richard Brosnan’s love of horses and his relentless appetite for hard work paid dividends at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The 69-year-old Hall-of-Famer had six starters to the races for two firsts and a second. He drove Gintaras to win the seventh event and then two races later Todd Mitchell steered Red Castleton to victory. Stablemates Grenado (Dylan Ferguson) ran second, Stow (Brosnan) fifth, and Ginger Bertha (Jay Abernethy) sixth in that ninth race. The Brosnan trained quinella was $21. In a career spanning five decades Brosnan has now racked up his 811th ($5.7m) and 625th ($4.4m) driving and training successes. “It’s always rewarding to win any race, but two on a night is very satisfying. I still enjoy training after all these years. If I didn’t enjoy being with the horses I wouldn’t be doing it. “I get a lot of satisfaction fixing horses problems and then watching them perform well on the race-course. I love the challenge of trying to work them out. It takes time but then again I don’t play golf like a lot of the others. “I pride myself on that fact that 90 per cent of my horses always step. It takes a lot of one-on-one attention but the time and patience eventually pays off. On nights like this it makes it all worth while,” the Ardmore trainer/driver said. It’s been more than 15 years since Brosnan last trained two trotters to win at a single meeting. The last time was at Alexandra Park on April 5, 2002 when Champagnat and Pompallier were victorious. He also nailed the training and driving hatrick that night with pacer Heez Ruthless. Brosnan has trained a pacer and a trotter to win on a single night on several occasions. The last time he achieved that was at Alexandra Park on May 31, 2013 when Peter Ferguson drove pacer Leica Rose to win a Maiden Pace and then two races later he steered Kip Keino to win a C1/2 Trot. Brosnan also repeated the dose at the same venue on June 26, 2009, when he trained and drove pacer Baltic warrior and trotter, Sunny's Bar to win. Brosnan half expected Gintaras to go close on Friday but was somewhat surprised by Red Castleton’s first win in two career starts. “Gintaras has been going some nice races lately even though he did break in sympathy when another horse galloped and I thought he was knocking on the door. “Red Castleton goes pretty good but I’m not sure he will go that far because he has a few issues. He tries hard and that’s all I can ask of my team. Win or lose my aim is to bring the best out of them,” Brosnan said. Brosnan has learnt more than a few things about the intricacies of harness racing over the years both as horseman and administrator. His career highlights came when he trained and drove Bonnie's Chance to Armalight by seven lengths in the 1982 New Zealand Cup; and his 'drive-of-the-70s' when he weaved No Response through the field to nail the 1979 Interdominion Trotters Final at Addington. "I've been lucky. There have been a lot more horsemen than me who never got lucky and never got the four horses have been lucky enough to stumble on. "A lot of trainers never get a No Response, Bonnie’s Chance, 2005 Dominion Handicap Pompallier, and Baltic Eagle, whom we sold. I know what it's like to lose and that makes me realise just how lucky i have been over the years," Brosnan said. "My two winners on Friday are no stars but they have overcome issues and won. I have worked them out and their own little idiosyncrasies they bring - and to me that is very satisfying and rewarding," said Brosnan who is the Auckland Trotting Owners Chairman. Brosnan works a team of 18 at his South Auckland stable. His wife Lithuanian-born wife Julija was delighted that his hard work resulted in a happy Friday night for the family. Their son Son Emmett drove the Geoff Webster trained Rift Valley into third in the Group One $80,000 Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series at Melton's Tabcorp Park. “I’m just so happy for them both. It is so great Richard get some reward for all his hard work. He's been at the workouts this morning and has only had three-and-a-half hours sleep. “I think he's like one of those everlasting batteries they advertise on TV” she joked.. Brosnan only needs $293 to equal year’s driving stake earnings of $63,227. His five winners in the sulky are his best since 2008-2009 when he won 10 races and $117,360. Brosnan’s $117,035 in training earnings (seven wins) this season are the best since 2008/2009 when Brosnan won 10 races and $119,530. For the record Gintaras is a Lithuanian male (masculine) name. Duane Ranger

The last 16 months of Vasari’s career has hardly panned out as his connections could have liked. And it really hasn’t panned out the way Vasari would have liked it. But when the highly-talented three-year-old bolted to an effortless win at Alexandra Park on Friday night he finally looked like the horse he promised to be as a late juvenile. The long-striding son of Art Major may have been harshly judged for much of this season, with perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to him being his win in a Sires’ Stakes heat at Addington last year. That night he lead and beat juvenile of the year More The Better, just a month after thrashing his opponents in a SIres’ Stakes heat at Cambridge by six lengths in a 1:55 mile rate. After that level of performances anything but group one glory was going to seem like a waste of Vasari’s talent but luck deserted him in the best races as a juvenile and then an old problem kicked in this term. Trainer Ray Green told driver David Butcher that by the time colts get to midway through their three-year-old season they either adapt to being a boy around girls or they can’t handle it. “One night at Alexandra Park he didn’t try and when I came back in Ray summed it up nicely. He said ‘he has turned into a werewolf,” laughs Butcher. So Vasari was gelded and now his mind is back on racing he looks more like his old self. “He has always had the ability and the good thing about him is he relaxes so well. “He felt great out there tonight and that is a very handy ability to have, the ability to park out and relax then kick hard  “So who knows how far he can go now, after all, he is still only a three-year-old.” The win was Vasari’s fifth and he should have little problem adding more in coming weeks and then the question will be whether Lincoln Farms want to keep him here in New Zealand or send him to somewhere like Menangle, where he would look suited. But with the stake rises coming at Alexandra Park, maybe the days of handy mid-grade horses heading off shore will become less common, with a Vasari well capable of winning good money at home if the better-end races get off the ground. His win extended Butcher’s huge lead in the North Island drivers premiership on a night when his son Zac landed two and brother Phil reined Pakipaki to an impressive win in a good fillies and mares race. With Alta Intrigue second to Vasari it provided Ray Green with the quinella and took him to 28 wins for the season, still with a shot at his personal best of 31 set in 2012. Already Green has bettered last season, is almost level on stakes won that term and has a better strike rate so has done another huge job to sit fifth of the northern trainers on the premiership. Michael Guerin  

Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 3:55pm Race 1 - The big mover here is Dance Time $5.80 - $3.80 with the largest bet $1,700 at $5.80. The $1.65 favourite Linc's Bute is huge in multi betting.   Race 2 - Bourbon Street $5.50 leads multi betting over Makers Mark $4.20 and Jamm Kiss $4.40. My Cash $10.00 has taken some early win money.   Race 3 - Lynbar Rose $8.50 is best backed in win betting over Banner Of Art $5.00. Gotta Moment $4.00 leads multi betting over Banner Of Art.   Race 4 - Double Twist $13.00 - $10.00 leads win betting over Pleasurable $3.10 with that runner leading multi betting.   Race 5 - CK Spur $4.20 just leads multi betting over Yagunnakissmeornot $3.50 but the former easily leads win betting over Sunset Peak $7.00.   Race 6 - Vasari $2.10 just leads multi betting over Alta Intrigue $2.20.   Race 7 - Arathusa Spur $3.30 is best backed in multi betting over The Crown Jewels $5.00. Taking the early win money is Precious Moment $7.20.   Race 8 - Kaitlyn $1.90 is the only runner wanted here in win and multi betting.   Race 9 - Grenado $13.00 leads win betting over Acougarzsun $12.50 with the $2.60 favourite Angus Burga a clear leader in multi betting.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

Alexandra Park’s Sales & Marketing Manager, Joel Reichardt, says while the Park is steeped in harness racing history, it also boasts a proud historic connection to a critical Lions encounter over a century ago. Alexandra Park says its role in providing accommodation and hospitality for rugby fans this weekend might just be a good omen for the All Blacks as they take on The British & Irish Lions for the all-important third Test decider at Eden Park. Mr Reichardt has dusted off the history books which show the All Blacks beating the touring Anglo-Welsh Lions by 29-0 when they played at Alexandra Park, known then as Potters Paddock, on 25 July 1908. Twelve thousand people reportedly attended the Alexandra Park Test match which marked the last of the New Zealand tour. What’s more, it was the third Test and series decider after the Lions drew 3-3 with the All Blacks in Wellington the month before. “The fact that we’ve been given an official role this weekend as a pop-up campervan site builds on Alexandra Park’s long connections to rugby. “Let’s not forget the Auckland Blues’ training headquarters is based here and of course they were victorious against the Lions at Eden Park on 7 June. So, we’re all hoping the Alexandra Park rugby association bodes well for another positive result this Saturday.” Mr Reichardt says they’re receiving more campervan bookings for this weekend than they did for the first Test. Fans are paying $100 per self-contained campervan per night for two people, with an extra $15 for each additional guest. Facilities available to campers at Alexandra Park’s non-powered sites include plenty of toilets and showers, dumping facilities, charging stations, on-site security, a pop-up information centre and 24/7 telephone helpline. Plenty of atmosphere is also guaranteed with access to the newly-upgraded Alex Bar & Eatery, specific food and beverage deals, and of course free entry to Alexandra Park’s iconic Friday night trots. “I suspect after hearing about Alexandra Park’s legendary role in such a critical Test match over a century ago, Lions fans will probably be keener to stay with us to see if some of our magic can rub off on them,” says Joel Reichardt. For more information on the 1908 British Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia click here For further information on the campervan sites, or bookings, contact Danielle Upton (booking co-ordinator) on (027) 808-2362 or danielle.upton@alexandrapark.nz or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/rugby-tour-campervan-parking www.alexandrapark.co.nz For further information contact: Joel Reichardt: (021) 786-034

  Todd Macfarlane has gone past the $200,000 mark in earnings for the eighth time this season – and expect that amount to increase even further at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday). The Pukekohe horseman has also earned $100,000 every year since 1997-98 and this season he has been driving as good as he ever has been. “I’ve been getting the odd outside drive which is great. It’s also nice to drive for Brian Hughes when Tony (Herlihy) and Maurice (McKendry) aren’t available. “I’ve been happy with my season. I just want to keep winning and keep putting those smiles on owners’ faces. I’ve got a couple of nice each-way chances on Friday,” said Macfarlane, who is also the chairman of North Island Trainers and Drivers Association. Macfarlane has driven 16 winners this season ($212,017) – one more than last year and $37,397 more in stakes. He has four drives on Friday and here’s what he had to say about the quartet: Race 1: The Brian Hughes trained Gooddealehemily (1) – "She's a two-year-old American Ideal filly who had been trialling well going into her first race (June 30). She got stage fright that night and galloped early. She’s normally good off the gate so if she can secure a nice trip then I think she is a nice each-way chance. She feels like a nice type and was second favourite on debut.” Race 2: The Dave & Clare McGowan trained Stunning Shadow (9) – “He’s going to need a lot of luck from out there. He can be competitive if the breaks go his way, but he will be relying on luck. I’ve won one or two races behind him. First four.” Race 3: The Ival Brownlee trained Banner Of Art (4) – “I think he can go pretty close to winning tonight because he went really well last week. He showed a lot of gate speed from the ace and if he can repeat that again then I think the race is his for the taking. I’m as confident as I can be, but it’s racing, so each-way.” Race 8: The Brian Hughes trained Kaitlyn (4) - “It’s a toss-up between her and Ival’s horse as to which one is my best drive of the night. This filly is having her second run back from a spell and even though she went well for second last week she needed the run. She will be a lot better for that on Friday night. You have to remember she had been racing against the best three-year-old girls like Partyon before she spelled. She is a better than the average pacer who seldom goes bad grace. She also has good gait speed. Each-way.” Duane Ranger

Angus Burga won by seven lengths at the Pukekohe Workouts last Saturday but Ken Sefonte still thinks he’s a bit of a meat head – a hamburger even. The rising six-year-old will return from a four month spell in the last race at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Trainer Sefonte said Angus Burga had matured physically but was still a gold coin or two short upstairs. “He’s taken such a long time to get to where he is. I’ve had to bring him in and out of work every couple of months. Perhaps he’s starting to finally click on about what this racing game is all about, but I wouldn’t be getting too carried away with that workout win. “There were only three in it and they didn’t run much time, but I was pleased with his sectionals,” Sefonte said. Angus Burga and Peter Ferguson trotted Saturday’s 2500m standing start workout right handed in 3:35.7 (mile rate 2:18.8) and home in 60.1 and 28.7. Angus Burga has the bloodlines to be an absolute trotting star. He is the second of five foals, and first colt, out of the 2008 Rowe Cup winner, Our Sunny Whizz. The now 15-year-old Sundon - Hanover Whiz mare won 19 of her 45 starts ($348,781) for trainer, Sefonte. Her only other major victory came in the Group Three City of Sails Free-For-All, also in 2008, but she did place in several others including a second behind One Over Kenny in the 2007 Rowe Cup. Sefonte, who has half a dozen in work, had 13 starters to the races this season and Angus Burga has provided him with a second and third at Alexandra Park on February 10 and 24 respectively. Angus Burga has 24 days to break Sefonte’s duck for the season. “He’s good enough to win one this month but I think he will make a better six-year-old. He’s only had eight starts, so he’s still got a lot of improving to do yet. He just needs to sort his head out,” the Kumeu horseman said. “His mother was such a lovely natured mare, but you can certainly tell he is an Angus Hall. He’s got a few tricks and isn’t the easiest horse to train,” he added. Sefonte said he would not be lining his trotter up in mobile starts. “I’ll chase the stands everywhere. I’m not a mobile fan with this horse. If he does win a standing start he will then only have mobiles to call on, it’s not right,” Sefonte said. Angus Burga will start from the unruly four gate in Friday's Italian Night at the Races Handicap for the maiden R43 to R49 trotters. Angus Burga is assessed at R46. Trottech has him as their first pick. “I’ve got a lovely Majestic Son rising two-year-old out of Our Sunny Whiz that I'm quite excited about. The family and owners have been very good to me over the years," Sefonte said. The breeders are Sheryl Lean (Waimauku), Robert Armour Southey (Waimauku), Keith Southey (Waimauku), and Robert Morton Southey (Snells Beach). The bay is owned by Lean and Robert Morton Southey. “They have been advertising the Angus Burger on TV all week. I hope that is a good luck omen,” Sefonte said. Duane Ranger

The man who has trained 14 Group One winners, could find himself nominated for the New Zealand Trotting Hall Of Fame, following this Friday’s meeting at Alexandra Park. The Clevedon horseman has currently trained 499 winners, and only needs one more to qualify for the ‘Hall of Fame’s’ criteria of 500 training wins or 1,000 driving successes. Dickie and his son John only have two trotters nominated for this Friday’s Auckland Trotting Club’s meeting – C K Spur in race five and Arethusa Spur in race seven. “They are both each way chances without labeling them. Both by Pegasus Spur and that stallion has been very good to me over the years, so it would be appropriate if one of them did win. If either of them does get up it will be a feat I’ll be proud of, especially because the 500th will be with Josh. He’s a good kid and good listener. I really enjoy working with my son. I think most fathers would. We go alright together,” 56-year-old Dickie said. Dickie said it would be special if either horse won because both sets of owners had been long-time supporters of Dickie. "Basil Blackwell owns Arethusa Spur with me, and he has been an owner of mine since day one. He has been a long-time committee member (30-plus years) of the Cambridge Club and it would be great to win the 500th for him. "Kevin Foley and Karen De Jongh-Kennedy have also been loyal supporters so if either horse won on Friday I'd be rapt for the owners," Clevedon-based Dickie said. "Without owners we are nothing," he added. Dickie trained 364 winners ($2.7m) solo from 1984 to 2013 including four Group One winners in New Zealand and four in Australia. In 2013-2014 he joined forces with his son, Joshua, and together they have trained another 144 winners ($1.6m). They have jointly trained three Group One winners in New Zealand and three in Australia. His total career wins would be more like 520 if you counted his Australian victories as well, but it’s been a long road since he nailed his first winner when Meadow Man (Sean McCaffrey) dead-heated with the Ian Hilliard trained and driven Guy Adios at Hawera on May 29, 1984. “I remember that day very clearly. I bought Meadow Man for a couple of thousand dollars with Sean and he proved to be an okay horse.” Dickie had to wait eight months for his next victory. That was when he trained and drove Classic Dee to a three-length victory at New Plymouth on January 11, 1985. The Dickies also have a grand chance of winning the Alexandra Park training premiership if one or both can win on Friday. They currently have 24 winners at "The Park' this season - two less than the pace-setting Hall of Famer, Barry Purdon. All up the Dickies have trained 36 winners ($410,054) in 2016-2017 - eight less than their personal best recorded in 2014-2015. Dickies 14 Group One wins have been New Zealand 2011: Paramount Geegee in the Northern Trotting Derby; the New Zealand Trotting Derby; the Ruby 3YO Trot; and Flying Isa in the Ruby 2YO Trot. With Josh in NZ: 2017: Paramount King in this year's 2YO Ruby Trot. 2015: Speeding Spur in the New Zealand Trotting Derby; and the Northern Derby. Australia: 2016: Speeding Spur (with Josh) won the Great Southern Star. 2015: Speeding Spur (with Josh) won the Victoria Trotters Derby and the 3YO Breeders Crown title. 2014: Flying Isa won the 2YO Breeders Crown Final and the Australian Trotters Final. 2010 & 2011: Paramount Geegee won the 2YO and 3YO Breeders Crown. Duane Ranger

It was an ok week last week for the harness racing ringaround with a few winners selected along with a number of placings as well. Ricky May had the best dividend last week when Unico Legend won at Addington on Friday night and paid a healthy $9.20 to win on the tote. More winter racing awaits this week for the ringaround and it possibly going to be a wet one at Alexandra Park on Friday night with rain forcast.  This week there is also a Forbury meeting on Thursday with Alexandra Park and Addington Friday. Rangiora is on Sunday.   Forbury on Thursday Night Andrew Suddaby - Is opting for Jetenara as his best drive this week in Race 2 Stephen Richardson(TAB) - thinks Lindali is a good winning chance aslo in Race 2 Sheree Tomlinson - Sheree says Triple VC is her best chance at Forbury in Race 4 Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week is Lausanne Lass also in Race 4 Rory Mcllwrick - Rory is going for Och Aye The Noo as his best drive at Forbury in Race 5 Geoff Knight - Geoff is picking Okains Bay as his best chance this week in Race 7   Alexandra Park on Friday night Todd MacFarlane - Todd thinks Banner Of Art would be his best chance this week in Race 3 Tony Herlihy - says that Gotta Moment would be his best chance this week also in Race 3 John Curtin - John thinks Red Castleton is a good winning chance at Alexandra Park in Race 9   Addington on Friday night Matthew Williamson - Matthew thinks his best drive this week would be Donsmedad in Race 1 John Morrison - John is picking Black Art as his best drive this week in Race 2 Gavin Smith - Gavin says his best chance this week is He's Like The Wind at Addington in Race 5 Albion Park(Australia) on Saturday Night Mark Jones - Mark likes the chances of Bettorthanspecial at Albion Park in Race 5    Rangiora on Sunday Blair Orange - Blair is going for Tall Poppy as his best drive this week in Race 3 Racechat - Lance thinks Bronx Village is a good winning chance also in Race 3 Harnesslink reporter - thinks Go Davey would be a winning chance at Rangiora in Race 8     Harnesslink Media      

It's taken just under five years but Glenbrook horseman Gary Noakes finally got his karma at Alexandra Park last Friday night. The president of Franklin Kidz Kartz has helped introduce and then develop kids in harness racing for several years now, but Friday was “Noakes’s’ night. Some of those children and families he’s taken time out for were on course to watch Noakes train and drive Izinthezone to her second career victory in the first event - the $8,000 Smith & Partners Maiden Up to R44 Trot. The 36-year's last driving success came 1,778 days ago when he steered Patienceofasaint to win at the same venue on August 17, 2012. He's now reined home nine career winners since 2001 - and boy did he enjoy Friday's easy three-and-three quarter length victory. "I've seen Adam White give the odd good salute down south and the adrenalin was pumping so I thought I might do the same. To be fair I got wrapped up in the emotion. "It was a relief more than anything. It's been a long time between drinks and going into the race I thought she could win because the field wasn't that strong and she had recently been making up a lot of ground in her races," Noakes said. "I'm still buzzing because my wife Michelle (co-owner), our children (Holly & Hannah) and other family members were there too. Michelle can't always make it because of commitments back home," he added. Izinthezone also provided Noakes with his first training success since June 28, 2013 and third since taking out his licence in 2011. That was when Speak Up and Roydon Downey won a junior driver's race at 'The Park' on June 28 2013. His other training success came via that Patienceofasaint 2012 win. Up until five years ago Noakes was a dual-coded conditioner who also trained greyhounds, but gave that away to concentrate more on his family and his job as a farm manager at Karaka. “I enjoyed the dogs and trained a few winners but they are very time consuming, whereas we train our horses at home on our own track and when it’s too wet we take them over to Pukekohe “Izinthezone doesn’t take much work. She will just keep racing at ‘The Park’ throughout the winter,” Noakes said. Noakes and his wife lease Izinthezone off her breeder, Elizabeth Steele from Cust. They negotiated through Steele’s relative and trainer, Kyle Cameron. “I’d like to think Gary will keep her when the lease runs out and perhaps breed from her,” Steele said. ‘Noaksey’ said Izinthezone would be going nowhere if his niece Caitlin has her way. “The mare has a few tricks but Caitlin absolutely loves her and gets on very well with her. I think we will probably end up keeping her as a riding hack rather than a broodmare,” said Noakes. Izinthezone is a six-year-old Brylin Boyz - Psychedelic mare who has now won two of her 49 starts and placed in four others for $17,847. Noakes has had her since October. Noakes is no stranger to media attention. In August 2012 he created New Zealand racing history when Patienceofasaint won for him at Alexandra Park, and then two days later he trained Bear Cub to win the sixth race at the Manukau Greyhound Racetrack. He trained about 25 winners in the dog code. Noakes started out in harness racing with Frank Cooney at Taupaki. The former Rosmini College student got his trials licence in 2000 and over the years has worked for top horseman like Mark Purdon, Todd Macfarlane, Tremain Thorby, James Stormont and Steven Reid. Noakes, who is also a tidy Glenbrook cricketer and Pink Floyd fan, left the industry a couple of times, to work in the auto trade in Auckland. But now he's happily based in Franklin. Duane Ranger  

We have loads of upcoming events this season at Alexandra Park, from Mid Winter Christmas to Thai Night! With delicious food and drink - and of course live harness racing action - there's sure to be something for everyone! Christmas at the Races is one of our most popular nights of the year. If you’re looking for a fantastic and easy to organise Christmas Party, with delicious food, stunning decor and entertainment, then look no further! We have three Christmas at the Races packages available in 2017; the Pohutukawa Package, the Mistletoe Package and the Holly Package. Read on for more information on inclusions, and see our CATR Packages brochure below for pricing, dates and rooms. All CATR Packages Include: • A drink on arrival • A sumptuous Christmas-style buffet • Premium full beverage package (optional) • Spot prizes and a visit from Santa • TAB facilities in the room • Complimentary Race Book • Live entertainment in The Alex Bar & Eatery after the races Parking: We recommend that you park in our rear car park, entering from Campbell Crescent. Further Information: • All Christmas at the Races rooms and bars will open at 5.30pm. • If you arrive early, we recommend you relax with a drink in The Alex Bar & Eatery until your room is ready for you. • Racing will begin between 5.30 – 6.30 (Note, this generally accurate but is subject to variation week by week) • Buffets will open at 6:30pm, closing at 9.30pm. • Beverage Packages and bars will close at the beginning of the final race, which will be between 10.00 – 10.30pm. • Live entertainment will begin in The Alex Bar & Eatery at the end of the night’s racing, and will continue until midnight. Dress Standard- Smart Casual A high standard is required – collared shirt only for the men (ties are not essential), smart jeans are acceptable, however no trainers or caps. Please ensure that all members of your group are informed of the dress standard as we reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone not dressed appropriately. For any further information, you can view our Christmas at the Races brochure (below), or do not hesitate to contact us for any queries. Dining with clients or colleagues? Upgrade to our corporate experience package! Click here for more information.     AUGUST ITALIAN NIGHT Friday 11th August 2017 Ciao! Come and join us in the Top of the Park for a night of Italian flavour. We will have a bella Italian themed all-you-can-eat buffet, plus the best seats in the house to enjoy the harness racing action outside – a night of delicious pasta and other Italian goodies will be a perfect pick me up in one of the coldest months of the year, and a great excuse to catch up with friends and family. Book Now!     SEPTEMBER FASHION AT THE PARK Friday 15 September 2017 An evening of designer fashion, gourmet food and harness racing in support of The Cancer Society NZ. Wine and dine at Fashion at the Park, and while you take in the latest collections from some of NZ’s leading designers, including Andrea Moore, Moontide and Danielle Power-Silk, the harness racing action kicks off out on the track, and dinner is served. Alexandra Park is proud to support The Cancer Society with this year’s spring fashion event, with $20 of every ticket sale donated. Arrive to a complimentary glass of bubbles, then take your seat to enjoy a gourmet three course meal, and a night of fashion with shows from some of NZ’s leading designers. Take home a deluxe goodie bag, show guide and race book all included in the package! Fashion at the Park is a glamorous and fun night out – gather your friends and colleagues together and reserve your table today, and support a great cause while you enjoy! Packages, Pricing & More THAI NIGHT Friday 22 September 2017 Experience the exotic taste of Thailand at Alexandra Park. Our ever popular Thai night is back for 2017! The Tasman Room will be beautifully decorated in Thai style, and we will have a stunning selection of Thai dishes on our all-you-can-eat buffet, plus live harness racing action out on the track. Thai Night is always a hit, and sells out fast – book in now to avoid disappointment! Packages, Pricing & More   OCTOBER TROPICAL NIGHTS Fridays 13 & 27 October 2017 Aloha! Dreaming of pineapples, pigs and Pina Coladas? Come along to Alexandra Park’s ever popular Tropical Nights held over two race weeks this October for a delicious night of all things tropical. We will have a spectacular all-you-can-eat buffet and the best views in the house from the Top of the Park. Packages also include free parking and racebooks, plus your chance to win some amazing prizes – more to come on this so stay tuned! Check out Tropical Nights     MORE NEWS Alexandra Park offers some fantastic packages for corporate hosting and entertainment. Bring your guests along to one of our Friday night Race Nights and together you can take a behind the scenes tour, own a race, dine on a delicious buffet (in a private room if you wish!) and even experience the thrill of harness racing first hand by taking a Dual Sulky for a spin. Your guests will be suitably impressed, and you will all be in for an unforgettable night at the races. Check out our brochure below for more information on our 3 Corporate Experience packages, and get in touch to book today. More Information   THE BLUES HQ @ THE ALEX PLUS THE RETURN OF QUIZ NIGHT! The Alex Bar & Eatery is now an OFFICIAL Blues HQ! Head down to The Alex when the boys in blue are playing for some great food and drink specials and live coverage, plus spot prizes. For home games, we will have a free bus available travelling return from Alexandra Park to the game. Also, our ever popular Quiz Night will be returning on Wednesday 19th July - entry is FREE, there are great prizes AND it's steak night on the buffet. What's your excuse?! See you at The Alex! Check Out The Alex Christmas at the Races is one of our most popular nights of the year. If you’re looking for a fantastic and easy to organise Christmas Party, with delicious food, stunning decor and entertainment, then look no further! We have three Christmas at the Races packages available in 2017; the Pohutukawa Package, the Mistletoe Package and the Holly Package. Click the button below for more information on inclusions, and see our CATR Packages brochure below for pricing, dates and rooms. Packages, Pricing and More

Auckland's harness racing home Alexandra Park will again be a popular choice for Lions fans as an official pop-up campervan site for the third All Blacks vs The British & Irish Lions Test at Eden Park on 8 July. “The fans who stayed with us for the first Test match had a great time, so we’re expecting a lot of repeat visitors plus many others who have heard about Alexandra Park’s hospitality and all we’re offering,” says Joel Reichardt, Alexandra Park’s Sales & Marketing Manager. “The Lions fans have been all round lovely guests and a lot of fun. They’re grateful for our staff help, pleased with our set up, and respectful to other Park users. We will be welcoming them back with open arms this weekend,” says Mr Reichardt. What’s more, he says fans are happy to pay $100 per self-contained campervan per night for two people, with an extra $15 for each additional guest. “Fans staying with us get a lot for their money. Facilities available to campers at our non-powered sites include plenty of toilets and showers, dumping facilities, charging stations, on-site security, a pop-up information centre and 24/7 telephone helpline, not to mention access to our own licenced premises, specific food and beverage deals, and of course free entry to our Friday night trots.” He says Alexandra Park’s newly upgraded onsite sports bar, the Alex Bar & Eatery, will again be hive of activity and atmosphere this weekend - before, during, and after the Test match. “We’ve proved to be a hit as a pop-up campervan site - helped by our central location, good public transport links and our short distance from Eden Park and Auckland’s CBD where the largest Fanzone is located at Queens Wharf. “We are delighted to again work with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to help the city cope with the influx of fans and ensure they have a great visit to Auckland.” Mr Reichardt says on the evening before the third Test, they’re expecting both Lions and All Black supporters at their Friday night trotting meeting under lights. On the Friday night 100 sites for campervans will be made available at Alexandra Park, while on the Saturday match night 200 sites will be available. For further information on the campervan sites, or bookings, contact Danielle Upton (booking co-ordinator) or (09) 631-1165 or danielle.upton@alexandrapark.nz or visit https://www.alexandrapark.co.nz/rugby-tour-campervan-parking www.alexandrapark.co.nz For further information contact: Joel Reichardt: (021) 786-034

As a child Josh Whittaker had a fascination with horse teeth. Fast forward more than a decade and Whittaker’s unusual little passion has indirectly led to his first drive at Alexandra Park tonight. “I remember when Bill Beck the dentist used to come to Dad’s (Jeff) stable I used to collect the teeth he had pulled out. I guess the fascination grew from there. I was pretty young,” Whittaker said. Then when Whittaker left Lincoln High School a couple of years ago he was accepted into the Equine School of Dentistry in Melbourne. “Mum and Dad wanted me to do something other than being a horseman so I applied for the course. Apparently it’s real hard to get in so when I was accepted I was rapt and I decided to give it my best and make a career of it,” Whittaker said. To cut a long story short the 19-year-old is now a fully qualified equine dentist – a trade so sought after the young fella will be spending his next couple of weeks carrying dentistry work for at least 150 horses in the north. “I think it’s a very important job and horses need proper teeth care to perform and be happy. Between the age of two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half a horse loses 24 baby teeth. “A horse can have up to 44 teeth and it is important that they are healthy and the bit fits comfortably and doesn’t cut into the jaw or teeth. Horses should be done every eight weeks to three months; show jumpers every six months; and hacks and broodmares every year,” Whittaker said. “In Australia they are have their horses done every eight weeks. That’s quite amazing really,” he added. While travelling north Whittaker thought he would approach his friend Dave McGowan to see if there were any drives at tonight’s meeting. “I’ve always wanted to have a race-day drive at Alexandra Park. I got keen a few years back when I had workouts drive there for Dave and Clare. “Dave put me on to Mark Burley and thanks to him I have a drive on Friday. I can’t wait. Then when I take the colours off it will be virtually straight back to work again,” Whittaker said. Whittaker will drive the Burley trained This Excuse Is Fine in the fourth event - the $8,000 Rutherford Rede Junior Drivers Mobile for the up to R56 rated pacers. Whittaker's only race-day win to date came behind his father Jeff’s Mach Three trained mare, Party Rage, at Rangiora on September 17 2015. The bay was the $32.30 eighth favourite and got up by a nose. Whittaker has only had six drives this season for a third placing behind the Sam Smolenski trained Don Pierre at Oamaru on June 18. All up his career record stands at 23 drives for one win and one placing. “My career has halted my driving because I was away studying for almost two years. It’s something I always want to do. “I’ll always remember that first win though. It was pretty special because Dad also co-owned and bred her,” Whittaker said. He said he didn’t know much about This Excuse Is Fine but was heartened by his second at Cambridge Raceway a fortnight ago. “I’m not sure how the horse will go but I’ll certainly be trying to win. It’s a shame the races clash with Addington because I was down to drive the Same Smolenski trained Don Pierre on the same night down there. "I've driven him a few times and he's got good form and will probably start one of the favourites," Whittaker said. Whittaker’s father Jeff, who trains at Springston, said he was proud of his son. “It’s something he has always wanted to do and we get to see him mornings because he helps us out here as well. We wanted Josh to have a career to fall back on and he’s always loved harness racing so in some ways he’s killed two birds with one stone. “He has done well, especially being accepted for that course in Melbourne. Since then he hasn’t looked back. He’s got plenty of work on and I’m so pleased for him,” Whittaker (Jeff) said. Duane Ranger

Alexandra Park harness racing fixed odds movers as at 12:00pm Race 1 - Ginger Bertha $4.00 is best backed in multi betting while the $2.50 favourite Playful Pride leads win betting.    Race 2 - The only two runners wanted here are Ohoka Maximus $14.00 - $12.00 & Royal Lincoln $4.20.   Race 3 - The best backed runner on the card early has been Kaitlyn $2.60 - $2.20 with the largest bets $2,000 at $2.60 & $1,500 at $2.40 she is also racing away in multi betting.   Race 4 -  A quiet win market early with the best backed runner the $2.60 favourite Richard Le Fort.    Race 5 - Pleasurable $5.50 leads win betting over Lambros $16.00.    Race 6 - Crown Jewels took an early bet of $1,000 at $7.80.   Race 7 - Hug The Wind $2.70 easily leads multi betting.   Race 8 - Early money has come for Commander Paris $9.50 - $8.50.   Race 9 - It's all one way traffic in win & multi bettting on the opening 2nd favourite Thunder Mac $2.60 - $2.90.   Race 10 - Vasari $2.10 leads multi betting easily with some early win money coming for Big Mach $6.80.     Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB  

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