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By Garrick Knight Glamour mare Belle Of Montana makes a welcome resumption at Alexandra Park on Friday. Last season’s Filly of the Year has had two workouts in preparation for the race and trainer Barry Purdon says both he and driver Zachary Butcher have been satisfied with proceedings. “Really happy,” he told HRNZ. “I think she may be a little bit vulnerable this week from a wide draw against some good ones, but she is there to win.” After enjoying a good, and well-earned, winter spell, it took some extra work to get the daughter of Bettor’s Delight back in to race trim. “She’s been pretty big in condition and isn’t quite there yet but is looking a picture.” Belle Of Montana strikes a strong field over the mobile mile which includes the likes of Star Galleria, The Devils Own and her own stablemates, Havtime and On The Cards, who are both also resuming from spells. Purdon believes On The Cards is the fittest of his trio and despite drawing the outside alley, probably presents as the best of his hopes in the race. “He’s won both his trials and has gone good in doing so. “He’s pretty forward for this week and it’s just the draw that will hurt his chances.” Belle Of Montana is being set for next month’s Group 1 Queen of Hearts, where she will likely go head to head with her nemesis from last season, Princess Tiffany. “After that, we’ll probably look across to Australia for the Ladyship Mile if she’s going good enough at the time.” Purdon has gotten off to a rampant start this season, training 19 winners and 18 place-getters from just 60 starters and he is six clear of the next best northerner on the trainers’ premiership. Accordingly, he has a very strong team in tonight and could easily go home with another three or four winners. Asked for an indication on perhaps his strongest chance on the night, he looked towards maiden pacer Bettor Listen, who is having just his second start after an encouraging second on debut. “He’s a nice horse and shouldn’t be a maiden for much longer; I expect him to go a good race.” “Little Miss Perfect is fresh-up and might just need the run in what is quite a good field. “We have Some Do in the same race and she’s a really nice filly, just not ideally drawn.” Purdon is in Christchurch this week, firstly for Mach Shard’s New Zealand Cup tilt on Tuesday and now Wainui Creek’s $40,000 Mares Classic tilt today. Mach Shard isn’t backing up after a disappointing run, where we dropped away from a perfect striking position on the point of the turn. “We haven’t had the bloods back yet but he’s feeling a little bit down on himself. “I think he’s just jarred up. “It’s just one of those things you can’t do much about.” The Racing Integrity Unit’s head harness steward, Nick Ydgren, said he was yet to be advised of any other horses having felt the effects of the track from Tuesday’s racing. “We haven’t heard anything, good or bad, about the state of the track.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight An eye-catching run seven days prior gave an indication of what was to come from Accelere at Alexandra Park on Friday night. On the back of an aggressive drive from usual pilot Todd Mitchell, the Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson-trained gelding thumped his opponents with a jarring 2.40.2 (1.57.1 MR) run. Punters sent him out second favourite after an impressive finish in stronger company the week prior, despite only finishing sixth. “We were pretty confident heading in to tonight,” said Hollis. “His last three starts have been good, he’s just either had bad draws or bad luck.” They thought enough of him to tackle the Sires Stakes series this time last year and then the Northern Derby back in March, suffice to say his connections have turned down numerous decent offers to date. “He was just big and weak so we gave him a good two-month spell.” Mitchell went forward and set a strong tempo, not giving anything else a look in, though Magilligan Point mounted a strong late challenge to push him close to the line. “We don’t ever really tell Todd how to drive him. “Basically, it was just ‘pop him out of the gate and see how he feels.” Obviously, he was feeling pretty good. There are no major plans for the son of Auckland Reactor, though he will be “raced sparingly” according to his trainers. “We’ll just race him here and there and look after him. “It’s nice to be able to win a race as a rating 50 that carries a stake of $15,000. “It wasn’t the richest race on the night but it’s still good money.” Accelere continues the good record of his dam, Exposay who has now left four decent horses, including the former Hollis & Robertson pacer El Jacko, now a star in Perth. “He’s won 22 races. She’s also left Pakipaki, who did a good job for us, and VC Manoevure (13 wins). Emilio Rosati purchased the current two-year-old out of the mare – a filly by Somebeachsomewhere – and it’s in training next door to Hollis and Robertson’s at Lincoln Farms with Ray Green. The stable couldn’t quite pull off a double with their promising three-year-old maiden, Christianshavtime, who managed only fourth. They make up two thirds of the current race team, one which has been eroded in recent months by the sales of the likes of Big Mach, Katamach, Destined For Heaven, Three Kisses and The Notorious One. “We’ve sold six horses this year, which has really depleted our barn. “So, it’s pretty quiet at the moment but the yearlings are about to come in later this month to get ready for the sales. “We are preparing 14 this year, which will keep us very busy.” Elsewhere on the night, John and Josh Dickie, Arna Donnelly and Barry Purdon all recorded training doubles while Inter Dominion prospects, Temporale and Massive Metro, got their preparations back on track with good placings off long marks in the night’s feature trot. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett have had a rather interesting boarder at their Waiuku property recently. Group 1-winning trotter Temporale has been utilising their beach training services as connections look to get his career back on track. His usual trainer and part-owner, Tony Herlihy, made the decision earlier in the month. “He’s been out here for about three weeks,” said Wallis. “There was nothing seriously wrong with him; Tony just felt the old fella would benefit from something different.” The son of Monarchy had an inauspicious finish to his racing last season, dropping out to be beaten 28 lengths in April’s Anzac Cup and then galloping in the Rowe Cup a week later. After a good spell, Temporale resumes at Alexandra Park tonight in Herlihy’s name, but will be on the track up the Southern Motorway alongside Wallis and Hackett’s own open class trotter, Massive Metro. “They trialed together at Pukekohe last Saturday and did it nicely. I know Tony was very pleased with Temporale.” While it would make sense to work two Group 1-winning trotters together, Wallis says they aren’t specifically training partners. “They have done some work together but they do a bit of work on their own as well. “Temporale really seems to be enjoying life out on the beach. He’s a lovely horse who has been working nicely.” It’s not the first time Herlihy has sent his stable star to Wallis and Hackett – he famously did it with injury-plagued pacer Sly Flyin in 2007 and again with Bettor Dream in 2015. Wallis doesn’t know how long they’ll have Temporale – whether it is through until the Inter Dominions later this month or in to next year. “It’s entirely up to Tony and he hasn’t given us any indication at this stage.” Both Temporale and Massive Metro face an almost insurmountable 50-metre handicap over the shorter 2200-metre trip this week and Wallis is none-too-pleased. “We are happy with both horses but I can’t see them winning off 50 metres. “But we need to get the racing in to them if we are going to target the Inter Dominions. You can’t go in to it too fresh. “There’s a race for them in two weeks but it’s a mobile mile, which is ridiculous. I bet the pacers don’t have to contest a mile two weeks before the series. “We’ve nominated Massive Metro for a two-mile race at Cambridge on Tuesday but there are only five horses so I doubt that race will get off the ground. “It’s a shame because that race would have been perfect for him.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The latest Rankings for the IRT Inter Dominion are now available from here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

By Jonny Turner       Leading trainer Barry Purdon’s team enjoyed a perfect hit out before their raid on the New Zealand Cup carnival when scoring four wins at Alexandra Park on Friday night. New Zealand Cup bound pacer Mach Shard completed a nearly perfect preparation of his own in his final lead up race before the New Zealand Cup to round out the Clevedon trainer’s quartet. Mach Shard will head south to compete in the New Zealand Cup trial after improving on two excellent second placings behind Triple Eight to win Friday night’s feature handicap pace over The Devils Own and his stablemate Ball Of Art. “He has had a pretty uninterrupted preparation going in to the cup,” Purdon said. “But, he has been lucky, too, because Zac has had him in the right spot each time.” Bookies have clearly not been impressed with Mach Shard’s spring campaign as they have left the 5yr-old at juicy $41 odds to win on the second Tuesday in November. The Mach Three pacer will be accompanied on his trip south by Wainui Creek, who won her first race since November of last year on Friday night. Getting caught in the parked position after a quick first 400m was not enough to stop the 4yr-old from holding out Sole Ambition in a Purdon stable quinella. Wainui Creek was strong to the line, which thrilled her trainer after she blew out late in her first up run two weeks ago. “I was really pleased with her, I thought the first start she had she just came to the end of it,” Purdon said. “But, to do what she did of Friday night was a good effort.” “She will go down South and start in the mares races on the second day of the cup meeting.” Wainui Creek is eligible for the $40,000 Sires Stakes Southern Mares Classic on Show Day. Major Jellis, who remains unbeaten after winning on Friday night, was eligible for 3yr-old Sires Stakes Series for colts and geldings had Purdon chosen to take the pacer in that direction. However, the trainer decided against having a crack at the series and he will not make a trip south. “We could have had a go at the Sires Stakes heat on Friday night, but he just isn’t ready for that yet.” “He is a bit precocious at this stage.” Friday night’s Sires Stakes heat was won by Line Out, who held out his stablemate Copy That and the Purdon trained Bad To The Bone. Bad To The Bone ran in to third after copping a big check half way down the straight when Ideal Agent ducked in in front of him. That third placing should be enough to secure the 3yr-old a spot in the series final on New Zealand Cup day. Copy That and Line Up were already well up the leaderboard before their quinella last night As were Flying Even Bettor and One Change, who ran first and third in the heat of the series at Addington on Friday night. That should leave plenty of space for Bad To The Bone and Addington runner-up Down To The Bone to make the $170,000 final. Purdon’s bag of four wins at Friday night’ meeting also included Flying Finn, who scored a penalty free win for stable junior driver Nathan Delany.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

A rare set of results have put the pressure on talented three-year-old Bad To The Bone at Alexandra Park tonight. And that could force driver Zachary Butcher’s hand from his second line draw in the $22,000 Sires’ Stakes heat. Bad To The Bone was one of the better juveniles in the country last season and trainer Barry Purdon, who looks set for a huge night tonight, wants him in the Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington on November 12. But Bad To The Bone’s problems are two-fold. Firstly he has drawn the second line in a sharp field tonight and his second issue is the results of the Sires’ Stakes heats so far. There have been three heats each with three different placegetters, which means nine horses are already in the final. That means Bad To The Bone is one of 10-15 horses still competing for the remaining spots. That is rare because often Sires’s Stakes heats are dominated by the same horses and the double ups means fourth or even fifth has been good enough to guarantee you a spot in the rich final in the past. That could be the case at both Addington and Alexandra Park tonight and therefore create some flexibility to get Bad To The Bone into the race but Purdon would rather take the guess work out of play. “Having different horses all getting points so far hasn’t helped us so I’d love him to run top three this week to seal his spot,” says Purdon. “He is good enough and well enough but the draw makes it tricky.” Bad To The Bone has drawn one on the second line in a race either favourite Line Up, or his stablemate Copy That, would be expected to lead. So if Butcher chooses to stick to the markers he gets the luxury of the short way home but will need a strong tempo and luck with gaps to run top three. A less risky option could be sliding straight away from the inside, which he can do as the only horse drawn on the second line, to try and punch through behind favourite Line Up at the start and get handy in the running line. From there he might even threaten the favourites but a lot will depend on whether both Line Up (likely early leader) and Copy That (drawn wide) settle in front of him, with that Ray Green-trained pair extremely hard to beat if they end up lead and trail. Purdon is confident Mach Shard (race eight) is at his peak for tonight and on the right path for the New Zealand Cup. “He has gone two good races behind Triple Eight lately and his standing start manners have been good,” says Purdon. “I think he might be even better this week and he has to be hard to beat.” Purdon is also expecting a more prominent run from Wainui Creek (race seven) after she was luckless on her debut for the stable last start. “She was a real victim of circumstances but she had a better draw this week and the chance to be handier.” Purdon realises Sunny Glennis (race one) faces a decent step up in grade tonight while Flying Finn (race two) faces a potentially tricky barrier draw in one of tonight’s mile races. Major Jellis (race four) was impressive winning on debut but jumps up a long way in grade while Purdon favours Bettor Listen over Be My Rock of his two in race five but predominantly because of the draw.   by Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight When old mate Phil Williamson came calling with a horse, Tony Herlihy wasn’t going to say no. But he admits neither man foresaw what a brilliant move it would be to have Kenny’s Dream shift from Oamaru to Auckland earlier this year. The blueblood trotting mare went on a tear at Auckland through winter, recording four wins and two seconds from six starts for over $56,000 in stakes. “Me and the owner (Williamson) were very happy,” Herlihy told HRNZ with a chuckle. “Phil felt she had always been happier the Auckland way round so that’s why she came north. “And once she kept winning, he said, why send her home? So, she stayed up here to spell, too.” She resumes for the season at Alexandra Park tonight in a $25,000 mobile mile and has come up with the ace draw in a tidy field. A trial behind the arm with the pacers at Pukekohe last week told Herlihy everything he needed to know heading in to this week. “I gave her a bit of a blowout and was very happy; she found the line well. “The mile will suit her this week, but if Credit Master goes like he did last time, he will take a lot of beating. “He jogged it in 1.57 so I’d say she’d be flat beating him if he repeated that performance.” But that’s not to say Herlihy doesn’t have ample time for the daughter of Dream Vacation. On the contrary, he has nominated her for the time-honoured Inter Dominon series at Alexandra Park in December. “I think she’s good enough to take on that class with a bit more racing and improvement. “We can go in the heats at least and see where we stand. Ultimately, we’ll make a decision closer to the time.” Herlihy and Williamson know a thing or two about good trotters, especially from that family. Between them they trained Kenny’s Dream’s auntie, One Over Kenny, to win 32 races and more than a million dollars. Perhaps Kenny’s Dream won’t match our greatest ever female trotter, but she’s got a heck of a lot of earning potential ahead of her. It’s another mile night this week and Herlihy takes a big team of nine to the track. Of his big team, Herlihy couldn’t single out a clear best chance, but believes the entire team are capable of running in the money. “To be fair, they’re probably all each-way chances that just need a bit of luck in the running. “I think if you went a dollar each way on most of them, you’d come out ok.” Artemis is an interesting first starter, though has drawn the outside of the barrier in her maiden race. She hails from a prolific family and is owned by former internationals Ant Strachan and Kyle Mills, as well as former trainer Gareth Dixon. “Whatever she does, the experience will do her good. “She’s showing a bit of promise and has just kept improving, it’s just going to be tough from the outside draw over a mile. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

DUAL Inter Dominion winner Jimmy Rattray is warming to the thought of being part of this year’s Auckland series. But it will be another couple of weeks before he makes the final call. The possibility of taking a couple of his former Tasmanian stars across to Auckland gained momentum when stable newcomer Harjeet won a Menangle trial yesterday (Monday). Stable star Ignatius returns to the trials at Menangle next Monday. “Both seem well, but I want to get a trial or two into them then make the decision on Auckland,” Rattray said. Harjeet, now six, raced 31 times for 17 wins and nine placings in Tasmania for Rattray’s brother, Todd, before being sent to NSW a couple of months back. His record is quite similar back in Tasmania to the mighty Beautide, who went to another level after being moved to Sydney where he won two Inter Dominion titles. “The family has always had a big opinion of this horse and he’s come-up well. It was good to get that trial into him,” Rattray said. Harjeet won the mile trial by 4.5m in 1min53.8sec and closed in splits of 55.3 and 27.4sec. “Ignatius is ready to trial as well, but I’ll wait until next week for him,” Rattray said. The Auckland Inter Dominion flavour stretched to yesterday’s (Monday) Bathurst trials where three contenders, Steve Turnbull’s Atomic Red and Courtsinsession as well as Amanda Turnbull’s Ellmers Image, clashed in the opening trial. It was another local, Misterfreeze, who won the 1730m trial in blazing 1min53.4sec mile rate by whisker over Ellmers Image with Courtsinession another head away third. Atomic Red was beaten just 4.7m in fourth spot. The mile rate was just one-second outside Mista Lombo’s track record. Steve Turnbull’s pair, Courtsinsession (gate 10) and Atomic Red (11), both returns from spells in the free-for-all at Menangle on Sunday.   By Adam Hamilton

HALF of Bathurst is headed to the Auckland Inter Dominion. Well that’s a slight exaggeration, but the country NSW town best known for its annual car race will certainly be punching above its weight at Alexandra Park with a probable five representatives in the series starting on November 29. Steve Turnbull, already an Inter Dominion winner with Smooth Satin, has three of his stable stars booked on a flight to NZ next month. “Conviction, Atomic Red and Courtsinsession are all on that flight at this stage,” Turnbull said. “Maybe they are a step below the very best ones, but I’m really happy with them all and they deserve a crack at it.” Turnbull’s daughter, Amanda, is adding to the family raid with her classy pacer Ellmers Image making the trip across as well. But it could be a non-Turnbull who represents Bathurst’s best hope in the series through Chris and Anthony Frisby’s Our Uncle Sam, runner-up to Tiger Tara in last year’s Melbourne Inter Dominion final. Our Uncle Sam returned from a spell at Bathurst last night (Wednesday) and won’t race again before crossing the Tasman to chase the NZ Cup ahead of the Inter Dominion. But Ellmers Image, Conviction, Atomic Red and Courtsinsession will only target Auckland. “Conviction won well in quick time first-up at Eugowra and runs at Menangle Saturday night, while Atomic Red and Courtsinsession have come up really well,” Steve Turnbull said from Bathurst trots last night. “Atomic Red would be the best of ours, but he has this condition where he’s been continually growing bone chips and needing them removed. About five months ago we were told he’d stabilised, so we’ve brought him back and he seems great through the trials.” Amanda Turnbull said Ellmers Image would trial Monday. “He won the consolation in last year’s Melbourne series and I think it was the making of him, he won some nice races really well afterwards,” she said. “After this trial, I’ll find a race for him then get him ready for the trip across,” she said. by Adam Hamilton

By Garrick Knight The addition of a key piece of gear helped James Stormont train his 200th winner, with Sunny Petite at Alexandra Park on Friday night. “She was really good early on and I’ve always had a bit of time for her,” he told HRNZ. “But she would panic and gallop here at Auckland so I’ve really had to try and educate her as I go. “I put the half-hopples on her and they have helped big time.” Sunny Petite had been unplaced in all five runs at Alexandra Park to this point, but had been racing well at Cambridge. Stormont says there is an element of frustration in the fact that trainers have been unable to give their horses workouts at Alexandra Park for the past couple of years, owing to the building development. “It would be nice if we could trial here and I’m hopeful that once the buildings are finished that will be the case again, because it’s so important, especially for the trotters.” Sunny Petite, by Majestic Son, is a granddaughter of one of New Zealand’s greatest ever trotting mares, Pride Of Petite. It’s a family made famous by semi-retired Takanini horseman Snow Weaver, who still breeds from two descendants of the great mare and horses with Stormont, as well as Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis. Stormont will now carefully place Sunny Petite so as not to overexpose her to established and more experienced horses. “It can be cruel to trotters just out of maidens, this handicapping system.” Stormont has driven 1236 winners since kicking off his career in 1982, but he only took up training in 1995. Mr Kiwi floors punters Punters may have been shocked by the upset win of Mr Kiwi in the R60-68 pace, but his co-trainer John Dickie wasn’t. “I couldn’t believe he paid $43. “His trial last Saturday was super; he hit the line hard for third behind Wainui Creek.” It was probably the draw that put punters off – the inside of the second row with hot favourite Wainui Creek and her stablemate, Henry Hu on the front line. But some canny early driving from Dickie’s son, and training partner, Josh, negated that. A power of early speed from noted gate-runners Nanelle Franco and Court On The Edge spread the field out early and that allowed him to extract Mr Kiwi from an early four-markers sit to then challenge for the lead. From there he set a solid clip before whipping home in 55.9 to defy a fast-finishing Henry Hu with Wainui Creek in third. “They’ve gone 2.40 but no one really looked at him, which was quite surprising,” said John. It was the first northern win for Mr Kiwi, who arrived in Auckland from Brett Gray’s Ryal Bush stable at the start of the year with four wins in the bank. Dickie and stable client Steve Waters, a local property developer, joined the former’s longtime supporter, Southland’s Ben Calder, in the ownership. Mr Kiwi’s first Auckland campaign didn’t yield a win from six starts, but the Dickies weren’t panicking. “We didn’t have any issues with him; he was just very tired by the end of it because he’d had a long season.” He’ll go up in grade now and likely have to contend with the better class of horse on display, but for now there isn’t any major concern in the camp. “He’s a good stand start horse so that won’t be a problem.”

By Garrick Knight The most interesting runner at Alexandra Park tonight is without a doubt Millwood Maizie. Anyone watching Trackside last Saturday night might have done a double take when they scanned the fields earlier this week because she raced – and won – at Menangle. “She only flew in to Auckland on Tuesday morning,” said Jamie Gameson, her part owner and new trainer. Gameson is also her old trainer and, while she lines up in his name tonight, he won’t have actually laid a finger on her before the race. “Todd MacFarlane is looking after her; he got up at 4.30 to meet the truck and worked her yesterday for me. “He was pretty happy and said she worked well.” There is a method to Gameson’s madness in starting her over 2700 metres from a stand less than four days after landing from Sydney - bearing in mind she has never had a standing start in 107 career outings. “I want to bring her back up to Auckland at Christmas time for the Queen of Hearts so I thought I would chuck her in and let her have a look at the track. “It’s a big ask but she has been racing horses just as good as any of those ones recently.” He’s right – two starts ago she ran fourth behind millionaire pacer Bling It On in 1.50.2. “And Luke (McCarthy, driver) said she would have run second if she didn’t get held up in the straight.” McCarthy and Craig Cross, who train in Sydney, were the last leg of Millwood Maizie’s three-and-a-half year, three-state tour of duty across the ditch. She had won one race – at Reefton – for Gameson when the decision was made to send her to Victoria as a three-year-old. “It started with a chance meeting of her other owner, John Gould, and Nathan Jack at the Ashburton Harness Jewels the year before (2015). “John was sitting at a table with Nathan at a function the night before and they just got chatting, as John does. “He said he might be interested in sending Nathan a horse one day and six months later we decided to do it with her. “Initially she went to Nathan and Amanda Turnball but then Nathan got in a bit of strife so we sent her up to Brisbane and a good mate of ours in Daren Garrard. “He did an amazing job with her and, even though she had a lot of starts, she ran a truck load of placings.” Once the decision was made to bring her home and serve the full sister to Ohoka Punter, a stopover in Sydney become appealing. “We had to go to Sydney to fly home so we thought we’d go to Luke’s for a few starts. “The first start she drew one and got up in 1.51.4, which was a new lifetime winning mark for her.” After this week’s run, the plan is to target the restricted mares’ race at Addington on Show Day before a return to Auckland for the Queen of Hearts and then the two Addington mares’ features in the late summer, which will be her swansong. A nomination is held for the Inter Dominions, but that clashes with the Queen of Hearts and is most unlikely. “We are going to serve her in November so we can take in those two races at Addington early next year. “Initially we held a booking to Captaintreacherous but at the last minute they said they don’t take them if they’re still racing – they want them to have a 40-day stand down before being served. “So, we’ve gone with Downbytheseaside instead. “I got talking to David Miller when he was driven down here a few years ago and asked him what horse he drives that he would recommend as a future stallion and, without hesitation, he said Downbytheseaside. “At the time he was driving Always B Miki too, so I thought that was a big endorsement.” Bookies have Millwood Maizie at $19 tonight, well adrift of race favourite Mach Shard ($3) and Triple Eight ($3.80).

One of the brightest additions to the northern harness ranks should make a winning debut from her new home at Alexandra Park tonight. And if Wainui Creek does just that it sets up a potentially dominant night for trainer Barry Purdon, who has winning hopes in half the 10-race card. Purdon has taken over the training of Wainui Creek, who ironically his filly Belle Of Montana denied group one glory by the barest of margins in the Sires’ Stakes Championship last New Years Eve. Wainui Creek looked to have that trophy in her cabinet at the 100m mark until Belle Of Montana flew to grab her right on the line, form subsequently franked by the latter winning Filly of the Year. Waunui Creek’s season spluttered on after that for trainer Richard Aubrey but has retained her natural speed into this campaign judging by two recent workouts wins and her disappointed second half of last season does provide the bonus of meaning she returns in an easier grade tonight. So much so anything but a comeback win would be a surprise as she aims at races like the Queen Of Hearts in the summer. Purdon also has a strong hand in tonight’s feature the Holmes D G, named after his great pacer of last decade, with Mach Shard looking the big improver from the Spring Cup last start. He was just grabbed in that race by Triple Eight but meets him much better in the handicaps tonight and if he begins as well as he did last start he could gain valuable field position over his fellow 20m markers. With only two rivals on the front line he can go one better tonight in a race robbed of Star Galleria, who has suffered an injury that may keep him out of the New Zealand Cup and threatens his Inter Dominion campaign. Purdon has one of last season’s best juveniles Bad To The Bone returning in race four where he faces the outside of the second line draw over 2200m. He looks the class act of the race but with his major rivals Mighty Looee (three) and his own stablemate Sole Ambition (ace) drawn well Bad To The Bone is going to need to race right up to his best and have no bad luck to make a winning return. The stable rounds out their night with Sunny Glennis an each way hope in race eight and Be My Rock and Thumbs Up both looking better than maiden grade in race nine. Away from Alexandra Park the weekend harness results could have implications for both the New Zealand Cup and Inter Dominions, which return to Alexandra Park on November 29. Last season’s New Zealand Cup winner Thefixer makes his slightly delayed return to the track in the Methven Cup on Sunday where the small field and grass surface should suit him as he fights to overcome ongoing hoof issues. But before then the Victoria Cup at Melton tomorrow night could go a long way to deciding what Australian horses target the New Zealand carnivals. Trainers like Grant Dixon from Queensland have indicated a win from Colt Thirty One, who has drawn the ace in the Victoria Cup, that a win would enormously increase the likelihood of an Inter Dominion campaign. Others out of the Melton group one who could turn up in New Zealand include San Carlo (likely for both Addington and Alexandra Park), Bling It On (Interdoms) and Buster Brady (New Zealand Cup).   by Michael Guerin

The first harness racing rankings for the IRT Inter Dominion 2019 are now available from here   Courtney Clarke Communications and Marketing Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

The Aussie harness invasion could be larger than expected this spring but it will be without both their team captains. Pleasing numbers of Australian-trained horses were nominated for the Inter Dominions which start at Alexandra Park on November 29 when they closed yesterday, although defending champions Tiger Tara (pacing) and Tornado Valley (trotting) were not among them. But that still left 24 Australians among the 54 pacing entries for the Inter Dominion while the trotting series has been brought to life with 66 entries, of which only nine are from across the Tasman. As well as not defending his Inter title, Tiger Tara will also miss the New Zealand Cup, the race he was such a heroic second in last season. His trainer Kevin Pizzuto believes the veteran pacer has struggled since a below par Blacks A Fake performance in July and he will now not only miss the New Zealand features but the Victoria Cup on Saturday week. While he is well into the veteran stage Tiger Tara’s relentless racing style always adds pressure and therefore drama to the elite races so his loss will be felt. Also missing from the Aussie glamour ranks will be Chicago Bull, who is spelling after failing to return to his best after his horror stable fall last year while leading Victorian trainer Emma Stewart has not nominated any horses for the series, although she has rarely targeted New Zealand races. But the likes of Thursday’s Kilmore Cup winner San Carlo, Queensland star Colt Thirty One and a brilliant comeback winner on Saturday night in Bling It On will provide plenty of quality in the Aussie pacing team for the Inters. With 54 entries the series could afford to lose 20 and still have three heats per night for three rounds but the enormous numbers nominated for the trotting series, with so many being locals and therefore more likely to actually want to start, does leave the ATC with options. They could, in a radical departure from the norm in the historic series, look at running three trotting heats per round if the pacing nominations fell away enough that there were only two heats. “That is in the conditions and a real option for us,” says ATC racing manager Regan Cotter. “Obviously we want to have as close to full field as possible, which is 12 for the Interdoms. “After the first acceptance payments on October 25 we should have more idea who is serious about the series and ideally we would like to run three pacing heats for the three rounds. “I think that would be the case if we had, say, 30 horses so 10 per heat. “But if we got below that number we could have just the two pacing heats and then hold three trotting heats because I am confident we will have way more than 36 trotters whose connections want to start in the series.” It is not in the conditions to be able to run three heats for both gaits. While Tiger Tara is out of both the Inters and the New Zealand Cup, the chances of defending Cup hero Thefixer making it to the NZ Cup reduced ever so slightly yesterday. He is still having hoof issues and will miss Friday’s Canterbury Classic and trial next week but would need to be racing by Ashburton on October 28 at the latest it would seem if he is to make it to Addington at his peak.   Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight An inspired plan delivered immediate on-track results when Triple Eight took out the $30,000 Franklin Long Roofing Spring Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Always regarded as a brilliant talent with impressive speed, the big son of American Ideal just had a couple of flaws that he needed to overcome if connections wanted to tackle the best races going forward. “He’s always had a roughness in his gait and, while it will never be perfect, we felt that part of it was because he just wasn’t strong enough,” trainer Steve Telfer told HRNZ post-race. “So, after he ran third in the Uncut Gems at Addington back in June, rather than spell him, we gave him six weeks on the water walker instead. “The result is he came back much bigger and stronger.” It took a canny David Butcher drive to get the win after the horse was four back on the markers with a lap to go. Butcher is the master of the legal push-out shortly after the winning post with a lap to go and he once again pulled it off at the expense of outsider Red Reactor, who was then forced to race three-wide the last lap. Butcher let Triple Eight down over the final two furlongs and he nailed a very brave Mach Shard, who sat parked throughout, in the shadows of the post. So, are we about to see the horse scale the heights of the open class ranks and become a serious threat to the All Stars army? Telfer isn’t getting carried away yet, but he does have ambitious plans. “We’ve mapped out a plan for him and that will include the Inter Dominions, Auckland Cup and then a trip to Aussie in the new year. “I don’t think I’ll be tempted to late nominate for the New Zealand Cup – you just can’t do it all. “To prepare for a big race like that, then return to Auckland for three races in a week, then possibly a final and the Auckland Cup, it’s just too much. “We’ll keep him at home and prepare for a big summer up here – that’s the best option for us.” After only one “soft” trial in the lead up, Telfer expects firm improvement heading forward, with the Holmes D G in a fortnight’s time the next logical aim. “He looked to be getting tired 100 out so I expect he will get a lot of benefit out of it.” Last night’s win was also the first start for a bunch of new Australian owners that purchased a quarter share in Triple Eight over the winter. The group, headed by Victorian commercial breeder Shannon Nixon, now race Triple Eight with his breed, Scott Plant, and Jill and Steve Stockman’s Stonewall Stud. While only finishing sixth, Star Galleria put up a superb performance off his 20-metre handicap to get as close as he did. Trainer/driver Steven Reid was ecstatic post-race. “I’m rapt with that; when they slowed to a 32 quarter that took us out of it, otherwise we might have been a chance of winning. “He’ll come back here in two weeks, over the 2700, a lot fitter horse, and be very hard to beat.” Reid also reported that a scope earlier in the work had cleared the horse of any recurrence of a throat issue that required minor surgery in November of last year. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight It may have said he ran last, but a quiet workout at Cambridge last Saturday told Andrew Neal everything he needed to know ahead of Credit Master’s resumption at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Local spies clocked him home in 56 seconds under a stranglehold and, sure enough, that translated to race night success when he upset hot favourite Lemond six days later in the night’s $23,000 feature trot. “Yeah, it was nice,” said Neal. “And I knew he would improve from it because he needed the run.” Credit Master blasted off the gate to lead and never looked like being headed, the clock stopped in 1.56.9. “I thought he would lead because he’s always shown us good speed. “As it turns out I didn’t really have a choice; he just bolted.” Neal and training partner/wife, Lyn, nominated Credit Master for the Inter Dominions yesterday, believing he is finally in the right head space to deliver on his potential. “We only did it because it’s here and it will help the numbers. “We have no big expectations with him and he will need to continue to improve but tonight was a great start.” The ability has never been in question with the now six-year-old son of Muscles Mass, it’s been his capacity to deal with life that has caused the Neals frustration. “He has mental health issues,” said Neal, seemingly only half-joking. “He worries about everything, especially on race night. “At home he is usually quiet as a lamb, but he gets himself so worried coming to the races. “That’s why we brought his little mate along to for the trip tonight – it helps keep him happy and in a good space.” By coincidence, the little chestnut stablemate, an unqualified three-year-old trotter, has some interesting breeding. “He’s a half-brother to Lemond.” The Neals, who have had a fairly quiet time of it on the racing front over the last 12 months, are about to roll out a plethora of three-year-olds, including four high-quality pacers. “We’ve already had Ideal Agent and Louie The Horse win as two-year-olds last season and they are both back at the workouts stage. “There are two more coming up that are just as good, we think.”   Marshall repays Casey’s faith Having one of the country’s leading owners send you horses is the dream for any young trainer trying to make it in the game. So, when Kyle Marshall produced a quinella at Alexandra Park last night for Canterbury owner Trevor Casey, it’s fair to see he was proud as punch. Casey, who raced champions Lazarus and Stent among many others, sent Cambridge-based Marshall Bettor Sensation and Pembrook Charlie after their previous trainers moved them on. The pair ran one-two in a $15,000 R40-55 mile, Bettor Sensation smoking through a gap late to peg back his smaller stablemate. “I was really happy to get the quinella for Trevor,” said Marshall, who drove Pembrook Charlie. “I got to know him when I was in Australia working for Brent Lilley and Trevor had horses in the stable. “I drove a few of his horses over there and he always said he would send me a horse to train one day. “To have the support of someone like him means a lot to me. “It’s just a shame we didn’t have two sets of the ‘Lone Star’ colours for the photo.” Bettor Sensation has always shown ability, he’s just struggled with getting himself organized early in his races, meaning he’s always had to be driven cold. “We are still working him out and making a few gear changes as we go. “He’s never been able to get going early but he led at the workouts a few weeks ago and there are still a couple of things I think we can do to further improve him.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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