Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 2371
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk  South Auckland horseman Tony Herlihy had a good night at the office at Alexandra Park on Friday night, recording a driving treble and training double. The night was headlined for Herlihy by regally-bred filly Platinum who was able to topple $1.30 favourite Sky Delight to take out the Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes 2YOF (H1) Mobile Pace (1700m). The daughter of multiple Group One winner De Lovely stalked her more fancied opponent the entire trip and was able to utilise the passing lane to win by 1-3/4 lengths. “She went really well, got a lovely trip and finished it off really well,” Herlihy said. “I thought she was a good chance of being right there, but I thought Barry’s (Purdon, trainer) one might have been a little bit smart for us. But she has improved a bit, so that was good.” Platinum finished fifth in the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Stakes (1700m) at Alexandra Park a fortnight prior and Herlihy was pleased to see an improved performance from the promising juvenile. "She was a fraction disappointing there and perhaps didn’t quite back-up from the week before, being a big filly at this stage,” he said. “The two weeks in-between runs seemed to suit her tonight.” Herlihy is now looking forward to a busy couple of months with Platinum, which he hopes will culminate with a tilt at the Jewels at Cambridge Raceway in May. “She has got a bit of racing coming up heading towards the Jewels,” he said. “There’s a sales series race coming up as well, so there is a bit there for her.” While Barry Purdon tasted defeat at the hands of Herlihy in the race, earlier in the card the pair united to take out the Jacobsen Headstones Mobile Pace (2200m) with On The Cards. After being stuck three-wide early in the piece from their wide draw, Herlihy elected to press forward with his charge and take control of the race. The son of Bettor’s Delight didn’t relinquish his lead and was able to hold out a game Double Rocket to win by 1-1/4 lengths, with the Purdon-trained Wainui Creek a further head away in third. “I have driven him a couple of times before and he has always raced well. He is a good, honest horse,” Herlihy said. “He got to the front nicely and it worked out well.”  LL Cool J completed a training double and driving treble for Herlihy when he won the “Ahh Gimme That Schweppes” Mobile Pace (2200m).  “He is a nice, honest big fella, and he got around good,” Herlihy said.  “The draw (8) made it a little bit awkward, but when I got around to the front without doing too much, it certainly made it a lot easier for him. He stuck to his guns really well.”  – Joshua Smith, Harness News Desk

By Josh Smith - Harness News Desk    Last start Group One winner Wainui Creek will take her next step towards another elite-level target when she lines-up in the Jacobsen Headstones Mobile Pace (2200m) at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The four-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight was victorious in the Gr.1 NZ Standardbred Breeders’ Stakes (2600m) at Addington last month and trainer Barry Purdon has been pleased with her work since then. “It was a great win last start by Wainui Creek,” he said. “She got a great run, tried hard, and managed to get there. “She has just had the one trial since she came back. I think she probably should have gone a bit better (third), but her work was good on Wednesday morning, so that’s all you can go on.” All going well after Friday night, Wainui Creek will likely be set for a couple of Group One targets on her home track before the the Jewels in May. “Hopefully we will head towards the Taylor Mile (Gr.1, 1609m) and just make a decision after that whether the Messenger (Gr.1, 2700m) is on the cards,” Purdon said. “We are ticking over for the Jewels really.” Wainui Creek will be joined in her Friday assignment by stablemate On The Cards who also takes some great form into the race, with two Group placings in his last two starts. “On The Cards also worked well on Wednesday morning and I think they both come in pretty well off in that race,” Purdon said. “On The Cards has done well. He always gives his best, he is one of those horses. He should go well on Friday.” Purdon will also line-up Sunny Glenis and Jemma on Friday night, but he is particularly excited about Sky Delight, the half-sister to multiple Group One winner Sky Major, in the Magness Benrow Sires’ Stakes 2YOF (H1) Mobile Pace (1700m). The two-year-old filly has finished runner-up in both of her starts to date, including the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Classic (1700m) at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago. “Sky Delight is a really nice filly and she is going to be competitive in the big races,” Purdon said. “She has worked well and we gave her a bit of a run on Saturday morning and she was really good. I am really looking forward to her lining up, she has got a nice draw (1). “She will probably head to the Sires’ Stakes and then the Sales Series for the fillies and then onto the Jewels. She will have plenty coming up, that’s for sure.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

We understand that the global COVID-19 situation is raising unprecedented concerns for some events and conferences.  Our Management team is awaiting the Government announcement expected for the 17th March before our policy will be finalised around COVID-19 event disruption along with our broader ability to host events. As a sports events venue and function centre with the capability to host events from 10 to 10,000 guests clarity around the size and scope of activities permitted is integral to our business response. The current operating environment is unlike anything experienced before in New Zealand. As such, we are working to implement an operational and commercial framework around these new, interim measures as well as remaining agile to a fast-moving and constantly changing situation. This fluidity is possibly the most significant challenge in formalising policy and procedures. We are optimistic about partnering with our clients to achieve the best outcomes for each of our businesses in these challenging times. In doing so for those concerned about holding their event, we would urge consideration to deferment as opposed to cancellation and will be keen to explore ways in making this a preferred option for our clients. Advice from Ministry of Health for public events and mass gatherings If you are an event organiser, you should focus on: 1. Reminding your staff and guests not to attend if they are feeling unwell 2. Reminding your staff and guests not to attend if they have been to any country except those listed in Category 2 (excluding airport transit) in the past 14 days 3. Briefing your event staff on how to practice good hygiene and making it easy for staff and attendees to practice good hygiene.  Alexandra Park are committed to this for the benefit of both our staff and guests.  For more information, please visit Ministry of Health

By Joshua Smith    Former training partners Simon McMullan and Steven Reid are set to reunite at Alexandra Park on Friday night. McMullan will line-up Group One performer Princess Jessie in the Colleen Edmonds – Happy 88th Birthday Mobile Pace (1609m) and the West Melton trainer has convinced his former boss to get back in the cart. Reid will don the same green and white silks of Woodlands Stud he wore to victory behind Shes No Lady in the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Classic (1700m) last week. With regular driver Jonny Cox back in Canterbury, McMullan was only too happy to hand the reins to Reid. “That other filly went very well last week,” McMullan said. “With the two fillies raced by the same group of owners I didn’t see any reason why they wouldn’t be happy for Steven to fill the seat while Jonny (Cox) is down here.” McMullan was pleased with Princess Jessie’s last-start placing in the Gr.1 Northern Oaks (1700m) at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago and he believes she will be a strong contender on Friday. “We are really happy with her, she didn’t get around the last bend that well in the Northern Oaks, but we have changed around a little bit of gear and worked on her with that and she is definitely steering a bit better now, so she should go a good race,” he said. “I thought it was a tough run, she looked like she was only going to run about fifth at the top of the straight and then she kicked back to run third. She is a gutsy filly and it was a top run.” The three-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight has a strong record at a mile, having won two of her three starts at the distance. However, her wide draw of six does pose a slight concern for McMullan. “Back to a mile this week, she has won twice over the distance, so fingers-crossed she can do it again,” he said. “But those mile races can be a bit tricky when you are a drawn wide. If she doesn’t get the right trip and it is a sprint home, that won’t suit her. She needs to be on the pace.” Princess Jessie could be set to stay north for one more run before returning south to tackle the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2600m). “We will see how she goes on Friday,” McMullan said. “If she goes as well as we are hoping she will there is a fillies and mares race that I have got lined-up before she comes back down south for the Oaks. “If she doesn’t steer that well I will just bring her home.” While already Group One-placed as a three-year-old, McMullan believes she is only just starting to fulfil her potential. “I really do think she is going to be a nice mare next season,” he said. “She is starting to do what I always thought she could. Her two wins prior to the Northern Oaks were very impressive.” McMullan is currently working four horses from his West Melton barn and he said Woodlands Stud have been a big part of kicking off his solo training career. “I had trained a couple of horses for them in partnership with Steven, prior to coming down south,” he said.  “I was trying to kick-off as a young trainer. I had success looking after Victors Delight for Paul and Mary Kenny, so I asked them along with Andrew Grierson if I could train a horse for them and they have given me a go, which was great.” McMullan is enjoying Princess Jessie’s recent success and he is hoping that will help in opening up more opportunities for his growing stable.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Joshua Smith    Steven Reid made a rare appearance in the sulky on Friday night and he made it count, steering home Shes No Lady to victory in the Gr.2 Delightful Lady Classic (1700m) at Alexandra Park. The South Auckland horseman hadn’t saluted the judge since 2018 and while he was delighted to break his driving drought he was more excited about getting the win for Woodlands Stud. The stud farm bred the filly and races her under their Woodlands Partnership Syndicate, which consists of a number of high profile athletes, including former All Black captain Kieran Read. “I have trained for Woodlands a little bit in the past, but I have never driven a winner for them,” Reid said. “I know fillies are a big thing for them, so to train and drive a Group Two winner for them was a really good moment. “It cements the relationship hopefully. They have stuck by me and I returned the favour tonight.” While pleased with the win, Reid said his presence out on track was only a matter of circumstance, having become a bit disillusioned with her starting manners. “She ran a really good second first-up,” he said. “Zac Butcher drove her in her next start and she didn’t school up behind the gate, she galloped out. He hopped off and I let Todd Mitchell drive her last week and she pretty much did the same thing again. “Kelly Blakemore said to me after the race last week that I should drive her. I had a bit of a theory to getting her away, so I spoke with Andrew Grierson (Woodlands Stud principal) and we decided I should drive her.” Reid put his theory into practice and it paid off, with the daughter of Sweet Lou beginning well from gate two. “My whole focus before the race was about getting her to pace and be with the field as the gate left,” he said. “I just went up and put her straight onto the gate before we started moving and that really seemed to help her. “I wasn’t thinking she was going to be a realistic chance of winning, but when I got out into the running line over by the 800m she was travelling really well. “She is extremely genuine and she is a good stayer. I knew they had burnt a bit of gas early and when she started to come into it at the 400m I thought she could definitely run a place. “Then they came back to her in the last wee bit and she just kept going.” Although buoyed by his success on Friday night, Reid is not overly keen to make a regular return to the sulky. “I ran into Andrew Grierson as I was leaving and he said to me that I have got to stay driving her now,” Reid said. “We are targeting the Jewels with her and I don’t really know that I want to be driving in the Jewels. “I don’t really want to get into the driving side, I think my days of that are really done. “I don’t mind driving the odd nice one or something like tonight.” Meanwhile, Star Galleria will head to the spelling paddock after his unplaced run in the Gr.2 City Of Auckland Mobile Pace (2200m). “I was very disappointed with his run,” Reid said. “He trialled amazingly two weeks ago but something happened between that trial and last week and he went awful. “We did a blood on him and his blood was not 100 percent, but we treated him. “That performance on Friday night is not even close to how good he is, so he is going to go to the paddock and have six to eight weeks off. “We are going to be coming back at a time where there may not be a lot of opportunities for him up here, so we will just have to assess what we do. “I will talk to the owners about it in the next couple of days and make a call.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Joshua Smith    Promising juvenile Krug continued his impressive run of form on Friday night when taking out the Gr.1 Breckon Farms Young Guns Cardigan Bay Stakes (1700m) at Alexandra Park on Friday night. It was the first victory at elite-level for the son of Bettor’s Delight and took his tally to three wins and a placing from just the four starts. Nathan Purdon, who trains Krug in partnership with Cran Dalgety, was confident of a good showing from the colt after his last start victory in the Gr.3 Sapling Stakes (1609m) at Ashburton last month. “He’s right up there with some of those top two-year-olds, so I thought he would go a good race,” he said. “The way he trained during the week, he was as good as we could have him on the day.” Punters shared the same confidence, backing Krug into $1.50 favouritism and he did not disappoint. Driver Blair Orange took advantage of Krug’s gate speed, taking an early lead before handing up to the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained It’s All About Faith. Krug was given a perfect trip in the trail and was too classy for his opposition in the straight, running away to a 2-1/4 length victory over It’s All About Faith, with Platinum Stride a further 1-1/4 lengths back in third. “He is very versatile and very fast,” Purdon said. “In saying that, he can do the work too, he is a pretty classy two-year-old. “He came out of the gate strong. He is beautifully gaited, so that always helps. “He just took a sit behind Dad’s one. Blair said he never got too keen, he travelled well all the way, he just didn’t want to go down to the lane. It’s just more an inexperienced thing than anything.” Purdon is in his first year training in partnership with Cran Dalgety and despite already achieving Group One success as a trainer, Purdon said getting the win on Friday night with the $155,000 NZB Standardbred Yearling Sale purchase was an indescribable feeling. “It’s a feeling you can’t explain, it’s something that money can’t buy really,” Purdon said. “To work with a horse all the time, and to prep it up from a young horse to where it is now, is a great thrill.” “The season is ticking away pretty well, it’s the second Group One for the season. I certainly didn’t go into the season thinking that would happen.” Purdon is now looking forward to giving Krug a quick freshen-up before a possible tilt at the Gr.2 Welcome Stakes (1980m) at Addington Raceway next month. “We will get him home and let him tell us if he wants to keep going,” Purdon said. “We thought we may give him a bit of a break but if he seems well when we get home he may go to the Welcome Stakes. “But at this stage he will go to the paddock for a few weeks anyway.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The filly who entered the elitist of harness racing’s clubs last night is going to be for sale. Because that is how Jean Feiss, the owner of last night’s stunning Woodlands Derby winner Amazing Dream, operates. Last week’s Oaks winner added the $200,000 Derby at Alexandra Park last night, cruising past the high profile boys in national record time after she sat off the searing early speed. While the tempo suited her she was still too strong up the straight to Copy That and a very brave One Change, who was forced to sit parked after being beaten for early speed. Amazing Dream is the first filly to win the Northern Derby since Ripper’s Delight in 1975 and very few ever achieve it in harness racing because, unlike in thoroughbred racing, the fillies race off level marks and with no advantage against the boys. The winner of 11 of her 18 career starts Amazing Dream has developed into a potential all-time great filly and still has the Nevele R Final, NZ Oaks and Jewels to go to put the exclamation mark on her three-year-old season. But while she may race on, she will eventually be sold as Victorian-based owner Feiss doesn’t breed from her horses, having already sold outstanding fillies like Spanish Armada and Elle Mac. She prefers to buy at the yearling sales, where she has an outstanding strike rate, and race but leaves the breeding to others so the phone is sure to run hot for the right to own a filly who has already won over $600,000. Amazing Dream was driven by co-trainer Mark Purdon and earlier in the night his son Nathan, who trains in partnership with Cran Dalgety, trained his first Group One winner in NZ when Krug bolted away with the $100,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns Final.   Michael Guerin

By Frank Marrion courtesy of the HarnessXpress There were no surprises when Anton Golino trained a Group 1 double for Yabby Dam Farms at Melton last Saturday night. The Pat Driscoll-driven operation has been dominating the Victorian trotting features for a while now. But in what was a massive weekend all around, and somewhat outside the square, Driscoll also won the G3 Northern Trotting Stakes with Pretty Majestic in near record time the night before at Alexandra Park, and pacing mare Soundslikeart wrapped things up with her third win in recent months late in the day at Addington on Sunday. The latter was quite brilliant in picking up the pace making favourite Woman In Gold after being badly held up three fence on the home turn. It was a return to winning form after a double at Mot and Nelson back in the New Year, and while she had been placed a few times since, she had mostly been beating herself. “If you think she is unpredictable at the moment, you should see her without Regumate,” said Driscoll. A four-year-old daughter of Art Major and the New Zealand mare Sounds Alive, Soundslikeart won a couple of races as a two-year-old at Bathurst in June, 2018, but she became a notorious bad actor when Australia banned the use of Regumate for race horses. She came to New Zealand late last year and has won $21,000 since, with the prospect of much more in store. Pretty Majestic came over at the same time and she has been nothing short of a revelation, except to Driscoll and Golino. “She won the Victoria Trotting Oaks and was one of the top three-year-old trotters going around two years ago, but then a shoeing mishap in an early trial pretty much wrecked her entire four-year-old season. “We wound up sending her to Robert (Dunn) in Auckland because there wasn’t much here for trotting mares unless you are in FFA class and she is even better going right handed.” Driscoll is always looking to off load horses where possible from the extensive Ballarat operation due to having great difficulty keeping good staff. “You could say we’re always trying to reduce the number of horses in training rather than trying to increase the number of people employed here. “As such we’ve leased a lot of horses out which have been doing very well just lately. “Anton is not afraid to race a two-year-old if it’s got the natural ability, but mostly he’s about developing potential over time.” Former Robert Dunn employee Jack MacKinnon has been helping out Golino for about a year along with Sweden’s Marica Erikson. Since a very unlucky first up seventh at Alexandra Park at Christmas, when hopelessly blocked for a run in the straight, Pretty Majestic has raced six times for four wins and two seconds for stakes worth over $60,000. She was beaten a neck by Tickle Me Pink second up on New Year’s Eve and by a head by Kenny’s Dream in late January. She has pretty much been going from strength to strength and was unbeaten in three starts in February. After beating Kenny’s Dream at Alexandra Park when they both came off 50m, Pretty Majestic showed she is not that bad going left handed either when also quite brilliant in coming from last on the home turn to win the Waikato Breeders Stakes from 50m at Cambridge. When she handsomely won again last Friday night, Pretty Majestic was just .2 of a second outside of Pride Of Petite’s national 2700m record for mares set 23 years ago. Driscoll is unsure what the future holds for Pretty Majestic now that she has reached a 93 rating, but clearly she is up to a crack at the Anzac and Rowe Cups in May. “My focus is the breeding side of the game. When it comes to the racing side, I just let the trainers do their own thing and I haven’t even spoken to the Dunns since those mares went over.” Pretty Majestic is a five-year-old daughter of Majestic Son and belongs to the Maori tribe and Driscoll will let her dictate when she is ready to be a broodmare. “I think I’ll wind up leaving a few horses over there and have a boutique breeding set up, although I don’t know where yet.” At one time Driscoll had most of his broodmares and racehorses in New Zealand and was looking at setting up a large showplace farm like the one he has near Ballarat. But the red tape around overseas investment in farms in New Zealand precluded that and he was a big loss to the harness racing industry here, although still heavily involved in sponsorship and setting up new races for trotting fillies, and offering the French stallions along with newcomer Volstead. Driscoll’s influence on Melton’s big night of Group racing, unbelievably held in competition with Menangle, was even more than it appeared on the face of it. Orlando Storm was only just beaten in the G3 Breed for Speed Silver Series Final for trotting mares and the favourite Imsettogo was going to win that until clipping a wheel when angling into the passing lane. Norquay, beaten a lip in the G1 Breed For Speed Gold Series Final for trotting mares after a tough early run, was bred by Driscoll and is raced on a lease by Chris Svanosio. So too is Saturday’s Melton winner Just Believe, part of an extraordinary first crop of four-year-olds by Orlando Vici in Australia (10 winners from 11 foals including NSW Trotting Derby winner Xebec), and Travel Bug, the winner of Sunday’s Robert Coutts Memorial at Boort. The latter is a four-year-old Dream Vacation gelding and the first foal from Tricia Powell (Sundon-Ella Powell). These are examples of Driscoll’s desire to reduce the numbers in training under Golino and his small team. And just to round things up, the last two races at Melton were won by Love You’s son Il Pirata, taking his stakes past $152,000 with his 12th win and fifth in Victoria, and Queen Of Love, a mare by Repeat Love. Driscoll’s big Group I wins however came from the three-year-old Quaker Jet filly Im Ready Jet in the Need For Speed Princess Final and Dance Craze in the Grand Prix, where the Muscle Hill-La Coocaracha mare downed Tornado Valley and Temporale. Im Ready Jet won the G1 Breeders Crown 2yo filly trot final at Melton in August and on this occasion, she outclassed them by 24m in a track record 1.55.6 mile rate for the 1720m. This was faster than Elite Stride in the equivalent colts final and bettered the three-year-old trotting track record of 1.56.6 set by Blitzthemcalder in the same series seven years ago. Recent New Zealand export Simone De Beauvoir (Love You) won the race for second over the winner’s stablemate Imamaorijet (Quaker Jet-Sumthingaboutmaori). Imsettogo (by Used To Me) and Im Ready Jet are the first foals from the New Zealand mare Im Ready Set (8 NZ wins), a fast but head strong Monarchy mare from the Diedre family who won races at Menangle (1.56.6) and Melton before going haywire. Glen Craven, Golino’s stable driver along with Jason Lee, had an armchair drive with Im Ready Jet but drove a superb tactical race to get Dance Craze home over Tornado Valley. This was her third Group 1 success having won a Breeders Crown at three and last year’s Great Southern Star. Dance Craze has now won 21 of her 37 races and $478,000, having also been third at the Jewels in one race here. Rowe Cup winner La Coocaracha was bred to a variety of stallions including Christian Cullen and didn’t produce much before Driscoll acquired her. But her first three foals for him have been Reina Danzante (G1 Vicbred, G1 Breeders Crown 3yo), Dance Craze and La Grange (G2 NSWSS 2yo & 3yo trot finals). Clearly Driscoll does know a bit about his breeding. – by Frank Marrion Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Driver David Butcher likes all the numbers about Copy That heading into tonight’s $200,000 Woodlands Northern Derby at Alexandra Park. Except the one next to his name in the race book. Butcher likes the fact Copy That has beaten his main rival One Change the last three times they have met. He loves that Copy That has twice paced a super fast 2:37.4 for 2200m in doing so, breaking 2:40 on the other occasion. And Butcher is really enjoying that with each win Copy That gets better. “The good horses do. When they win they get used to winning and they get more confident,” says Butcher. But what Butcher is not sure about, what makes one of the country’s most astute drivers describe tonight’s classic as “too hard to predict” is Copy That’s barrier draw of four, which is made a lot worse by One Change drawing one. The pair dominate the market, with no disrespect to last week’s Oaks winner Amazing Dream. She can pace similar times to the boys but from barrier seven being as good as them won’t be good enough. She will need to be better and there is no proof she is. Copy That and One Change have a funny rivalry. On paper Copy That beats him in the races that matter less but One Change has been all but unbeatable in everything else, winning two Sires’ Stakes, two Sales Series and the Jewels. Copy That wasn’t in most of those and when he did finish second to One Change in the Sires’ Stakes at Addington in November his was the better run. So while you may go broke betting against All Stars-trained runners, or even One Change for that matter, in Group One races, you can make a very good case Copy That is more talented. “I don’t think there is a lot in it and not many horses go 2:37 for 2200m like he does,” says Butcher of Copy That. “I know he can win but I am worried about One Change getting the better run. In Derbys, and at most premier meetings, you need to be on the markers because the horses are so good you can’t come wide. “So much is going to depend on the start. Who gets pressure, who doesn’t and where they all end up. “There probably isn’t a lot between 5 or 6 of them who can all pace 3:16 (for tonight’s 2700m) so the run will be crucial. “I know this horse can win but he can’t overcome a hard run and win.” It wouldn’t surprise to see punters gravitate toward One Change because of the Purdon-Rasmussen factor, they have seen him win so many times on the biggest stage and barrier one is a very powerful comfort blanket. Even when beaten by Copy That he has usually hit the line well and if he leads early and Natalie Rasmussen can control who she hands up to, or even stays in front, he becomes the horse to beat. In a tactical battle too close to call, the Derby could be won at the start. Butcher has more reason for confidence with Triple Eight in the $50,000 City Of Auckland F-F-A because he knows he doesn’t need luck to win. The Auckland Cup placegetter came from last last Friday to beat most of his rivals tonight and unless he has bad luck he looks one of the bets of the night.   by Michael Guerin

Mark Purdon may have lost before he has won heading into tomorrow night’s $200,000 Woodlands Derby at Alexandra Park. Purdon is back from Sydney for a few days, where he will return to partner Alta Orlando in the Miracle Mile on Saturday night, but heads to Alexandra Park tomorrow night. He and partner Natalie Rasmussen have four starters in the Derby but two at the head of the market, perennial Group One winner One Change and Oaks winner Amazing Dream. And the couple devised a unique way of deciding who would drive who: they drew names out of a pot in the tea room this week. The winner, at least according to the market, was Rasmussen who will partner One Change, leaving Purdon on the superstar filly. As much as the stable love Amazing Dream, after she drew barrier seven she is rated clearly their second best chance at around $6 with the TAB but likely to be longer on the tote. “The draws are a huge thing for him and not so much for her,” admits Purdon. “From barrier one Nat has options with One Change, whereas I will probably have to find some luck somewhere or at least be conservative early. “So he is the clear best chance for us, although as everybody knows Copy That will be hard to beat.” The stable find themselves in the unusual position of not having the favourite in the Breckon Farms Young Guns Final, with It’s All About Faith only second favourite to Krug, again because of barrier draws. “Krug is a really good young horse and from barrier three he is going to be hard to catch. “I am sure our big fella will have improved by his second last week but it is so hard to come wide and win juvenile races at this level.” Purdon was happy with both Oscar Bonavena and Winterfell after their trial at Ashburton on Tuesday and the pair will trial again before racing at Addington in two weeks. Looking to Menangle he is happy to be reunited with Alta Orlando this weekend and expects Our Princess Tiffany to be hard to beat in her mares race where once again she clashes with Belle Of Montana. But one horse who won’t be heading to Menangle is Smooth Deal, who was first emergency for the NSW Derby but is already back home in Canterbury. “We didn’t go well enough in his prelude last week so we have brought him home and he will race at Addington next week and be set for the Derby here at Addington.”   Michael Guerin

New Zealand’s most powerful harness stable looks set for near certain compensation at Alexandra Park tonight for a horror start to racing’s giant weekend. The Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen stable have red hot favourite Amazing Dream in tonight’s $125,000 Pascoes The Jewellers Oaks, the first group one of Auckland racing’s massive week.  The superstar filly would have been favourite for tonight’s 2700m mobile from any barrier draw but from gate three she is $1.12 to win and probably lead for most of the trip in doing so.  That win would put a smile back on her trainer’s faces after a huge double blow yesterday when they lost two major Miracle Mile contenders from that Sydney carnival in the space of an hour.  Self Assured was ruled out of next week’s A$1 million sprint after developing a hoof abscess but at least they are still hopeful of getting him to Alexandra Park for the Taylor Mile and Messenger in late April.  But the news for Chase Auckland is almost certainly worse after he pulled up abruptly in track work at Menangle yesterday and is suspected of having a pelvis injury which could rule him out for the rest of the season and maybe longer. “It has been a shocking morning,” admitted Purdon.  They still have horses like Stylish Memphis (NSW Oaks) and Our Princess Tiffany (Ladyship Mile) in A$200,000 group ones tomorrow night but their open class blows continued a horror season for their elite pacers like Ultimate Sniper, Spankem, Turn It Up and Thefixer.  Tonight though Amazing Dream looks one of several odds-on chances punters can build a multi bet around, with both Passion And Power (R8, No.2) and It’s All About Faith (Race 10, No.5) likely to win their juvenile events while Dina Bolt (R9, No.4) should win his lead-up to next week’s Northern Derby.  But two of the other major races tonight have a potential match-race feel to them with the clashes of Copy That and One Change in the Derby prelude the most intriguing.  One Change has a champion’s record in the best races, having won the Sires’  Stakes and the Sales Series twice as well as the Jewels which would make any punter wonder how he is $2.70 compared with $1.70 for Copy That tonight.  But Copy That has beaten him fair and square the last two times they have met, both times by getting in front of him.  He is drawn to do that again tonight but both favourites have stable mates in the race who would probably prefer to hand up one of their own it could become a real game of cat and mouse. The Founders Cup sees a resurgent Star Galleria against Triple Eight over 2200m with the latter again having the draw edge but Star Galleria the better gate speed.  If Star Galleria could cross to the lead he would be the clear top pick but with On The Cards, who was quick enough to cross to the front in the Inter Dominion Final in December, drawn inside him it may not be a case of the favourite simply getting his own way. Any early pressure would appear to aid Triple Eight, who is back from a luckless Hunter Cup campaign in Melbourne but before that finished third in the Auckland Cup.   Michael Guerin

Outstanding trotting mare Tickle Me Pink is set to miss the next month but trainer Tony Herlihy is confident of having her back to her peak before long. Tickle Me Pink raced well below her best in the mares trotting feature at Cambridge last week and as a consequence is missing from the Sims Pacific Metals Northern Trotting Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday night.  “She didn’t show her best last week and initially I didn’t know why,” said Herlihy.  “But we had her looked over by the vet and she has an issue with her back. “I don’t think it is serious but we will ease up on her and have that worked on and the hopefully she can come back before too long.” How quickly last season’s Jewels winner can get back to full health and the races will determine whether she gets the chance to defend her title at Cambridge on May 30.  Having already won a race at Alexandra Park this season Tickle Me Pink is well up the Jewels leader board, her $17,350 just outside the $18,175 (Baxter) of the top 12.  But that last figure is likely to grow to at least $25,000 for the cut off point by mid May so she will need at least a placing or two, or another win, to be assured of a start in the Jewels.  That is exactly what she did last season, with her late autumn form flurry getting Tickle Me Pink to the big day before she led all the way to beat Tricky Ric at Addington.  Tickle Me Pink’s untimely defeat last week has also provided last Friday’s mares trot winner Pretty Majestic with a prime opportunity to escalate her claims for the trotting mare of the year title in coming weeks.  Pretty Majestic not only won last week but is $1.90 favourite for Friday night’s group three feature and if she wins that and adds to her record of three wins from five starts since joining the Robert Dunn stable from Australia it is going to take a good mare’s performance in probably one of the open class races to beat her in the trotting mare of the year race.  Alexandra Park’s Oaks meeting on Friday has plenty of other odds on favourites with Amazing Dream $1.12 for the classic, Dina Bolt odds on later in the programme as he prepares for next week’s Derby and two-year-olds It’s All About Faith and Passion And Power also well into the red.  The opening night of Derby week at The Park also plays host to a $100,000 Pick6.   Michael Guerin

By Garrick Knight    If you asked most pundits with half an idea which horse they thought epitomised the term ‘tradesman’ in the north, many would surely say Check In. You never get anything flashy, there’s no brilliance about him and he’s not that pretty. But he turns up every other week, from the stand, or the mobile, from a mile to 2700 metres, at Auckland and Cambridge, or even the South Island, and he gives it his all. He’s raced every month of this season and never disgraced himself, but his win in the $25,000 feature at Alexandra Park on Friday night was his first of the term. But that’s not to say he’d been disappointing – on the contrary he had earned over $35,000 this season before the win and had even managed a last-start Group 2 second in the Cambridge Flying Mile. And the best part? His now 10 wins, 22 placings and nearly $180,000 in earnings were never expected. “He’s been a real surprise package,” says his trainer, Steve Telfer. “He was just ok at two, better at three and better again at four. “It’s just been a case of him continuing to improve and stepping up as time has gone on.” Check In lacks any real high speed, but he follows it just so well, and that’s part of the reason he has continued to earn – the better class of races are run at higher speeds and that plays in to his hands. “He doesn’t look that flash, but he continues to front up in these races. “He lacks a bit of real dash but if they go hard he’s always going to be in it. “At the end of last season, he ran 2.38 one night.” Telfer is building a large stable in Ardmore, with more than 70 horses on the books and a swag of yearlings to be added to that again next week, so it’s easy to think an unremarkable horse like Check In could get lost in the shuffle. Not true. “Actually, he is Triple Eight’s best mate. “It means he gets to come in to the barn every night – having friends in high places helps,” Telfer joked. Telfer says Check In has a bit of personality to him, as well. “A bit of a grump; he’ll bite you if you give him the chance, but nothing too aggressive. “He wouldn’t have lasted this long with us if he had a bad attitude.” So how do you keep a six-year-old homebred veteran of 71 starts fresh in mind and body? “We don’t actually have to very his work too much. “He doesn’t hopple a hell of a lot, most of his work is cantering and he seems to thrive on that.” The inevitable question of selling a horse like home overseas has come up in the past, but “probably not for two years”. “The phone used to ring quite a bit, but not for a long time.” Check In is raced by Stonewall Stud’s Steve Stockman and Jill Stockman, long-time stable client Scott Plant and Brian Cameron. Plant and Stonewall bred the son of Mach Three out of their Group 1-winning Sands A Flyin mare, Time To Fly, making him a half-brother to stablemate Dance Time. Andre Poutama did the driving and Telfer was quick to pay tribute to the Pukekohe horseman for another heady drive. “Andre has been driving him for the past few months and doing a great job with it. “It was a top drive tonight; he rated him perfectly in front.” Telfer’s good friend Robert Dunn also had a great night out at ‘the Park’, preparing three winners, including the ultra-impressive two-year-old filly, Passion And Power. She streeted her fellow juveniles by six lengths in the hands of Peter Ferguson, who also won earlier in the night with the Dunn-trained Resonate. Ferguson’s son, Dylan, completed the Dunn treble behind Pretty Majestic. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    The country’s top three-year-old colt returns at Alexandra Park tonight on a path towards next month’s Northern Derby. And it’s an unconventional starting point for Copy That, too – a standing start event against the older horses. The reason? Quite simple. He is too highly assessed and there is a dire horse shortage in Auckland. Trainer Ray Green is frustrated but understanding. “I’ve had that conversation with them but I can understand their problem, that being the gross shortage of horses in the north. “Really, we have no other option; it’s a necessary evil.” He’s ineligible for next week’s Waikato Guineas due to his high rating – a race he would have been a very short-priced favourite in. Instead, Green will start him this week, then in the Derby prelude in two weeks’ time before the $200,000 feature on March 6. Green gave Copy That some standing start practise at the trials last week and it went well. “We stood him up once and he did well; I think he’ll be very good from the stand because he’s quite a rapid-going little horse.” The horse is thriving according to Green and he is in a good place heading towards a plethora of feature races over the next six months. “He’s very good and I’m very happy with him. “He’s in a good place right now. “It was good to get him a wee break over Christmas but he was glad to be back; he likes being in work and enjoys the routine.” Green is noted for taking his horses to the races fit and ready to win every time and this week is no different. But don’t expect driver David Butcher to launch him if he’s slow away. “This is just a lead-up race to our main mission. “He’ll win it if the opportunity presents itself, but we aren’t going to send him on a ‘search and destroy’ mission.” Bookies have faith – they opened Copy That a prohibitive $1.55 favourite yesterday afternoon. Green also has four horses in the $15,000 two-year-old race to close out the night. Of them, Franco Nandor opened second elect with bookies last night after a brave debut second a week ago, where he was nosed out right on the line. “He sort of exceeded my expectations a little bit first-up. “He’s certainly lifted his game. All four of them are nice horses, actually. “Vanquish Stride’s first start was very good considering he did everything wrong against a better class of horse and still finished with them. “The three colts will all be pointing towards the Young Guns Final in a few weeks’ time.” Monday will see Green, stable owner John Street, and client Emilio Rosati start their three-day yearling shopping spree at Karaka and Christchurch. Most of the hard work has been done, but he’s hopeful of avoiding one thorn in his side. “We’ve eliminated a bunch in the last few weeks, but haven’t looked closely at the ones still on our list. “It’s the same old story – work to the budget and see what they’re going for. “And if Jean Feiss is bidding on one that makes it difficult. “We were the under-bidders on Jesse Duke and Self Assured. She’s tough to beat, especially when she hones in on one she likes. “She’s a great judge.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    It’s only a month away, but Pam Turner is daring to dream of the Northern Derby with her promising sophomore pacer, Texas Tiger. The three-year-old son of American Ideal has his second run up on a new campaign at Alexandra Park tonight and will likely start favourite. “He’s very good at the moment and I’m very happy with him.” Pukekohe-based Turner told HRNZ. “We had a bit of trouble getting him to go right-handed last season so he’s been gelded and had a break and we started again.” Steve Telfer was training Texas Tiger but recommended Turner bring the horse home and train him herself. “Steve did a good job with him, but he was getting a little bit wayward and Steve thought the one-on-one focus of a smaller stable would help him. “The other option was to send him to Australia to race, but we didn’t really want to do that.” Turner and husband Lindsay have quietly pencilled in the $200,000 Northern Derby on March 7 as a target, but understand the horse needs to stick his hand up before then. “That’s what we are hoping for. “We’ll have to see how he goes this week. He has a lot of high speed and I wouldn’t mind putting him in the Prelude in a few weeks to see how he goes.” It was a fine run for second when resuming on January 24, especially since the race didn’t really pan out in his favour. From an outside draw he had to go back to last and then couldn’t get a suitable drag in to the finish. He came solo four-wide on the bend and hit the line well, but leader Dina Brown had slipped the cutter by that stage. “It was a good effort, I thought,” said Turner. “We were never going to hustle him out of the gate just to get his confidence up that way around. “But he went super after that. If he’d got carted in to it he would have been ok, but it didn’t happen.” Turner says they’ve just paid Texas Tiger up for the Breeders Crown and the Harness Jewels at Cambridge is firmly in her plans, too. While she doesn’t train it, Turner could well have two horses start favourite on the night when her classy mare Tiger Swift drops back in grade. She’s a Group 1 performer that has just not had the rub of the green for Cambridge trainer Ross Paynter and connections are confident she can return to winning form this week. “To be fair, her races haven’t really been run to suit. “She’s been getting back in the field and they’re coming home in 26, which means she’s no show. “She’s a far better follower of speed and this week, back in grade, with a good draw, we think she’ll go a lot better.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    Blueblood trotting mare Daisy Hill cracked maidens in impressive fashion at Alexandra Park on Friday night, but still has a long way to go. That’s the belief of her driver and co-trainer, Josh Dickie, after the Muscle Hill half-sister to Stent cleared out to win by four lengths. “I’ve always liked her and she’s got a bit about her, but has just been a bit mentally weak,” said Dickie. “A couple of times she has galloped when she felt like she was going to win. “Really, she’s been letting herself down.” And while she’s finally put it all together in impressive fashion, Dickie reckons it will take plenty of racing and miles in her legs before she’s ready for the better company. “She’s the type of mare that’s not going to come out in her next few starts and keep doing this, I don’t think. “I really think we are a year away from seeing the best of her. “I believe with horses like her you’ve got to keep going around, putting the miles in to them. “She works perfectly at home, but she’s got to learn to keep her head in the game on race night.” Daisy Hill is the sixth foal of racing age out of broodmare gem Belle Galleon, who has a 100 percent winners-to-foals record thanks to Stent, Belles Son, Arya, Izmok and Lone Star Lad. She’s owned by Cantabrians Kevin Chapman and Trevor Casey, who have bred her about-turn for the last eight years. Daisy Hill was bred, and is co-owned by Chapman, who has been a regular collaborator with Dickie and his father, John, for a many years. “Kevin always has a nice horse around him and he’s been brilliant to us; we’ve had a bit of luck with the horses he’s sent north. “He did warn us that this one wouldn’t be easy as he’d had a bit of trouble with her, and he was right.” Tony Herlihy was the star of the show at Alexandra Park, training three of the eight winners on the night. Classy trotting mare Kenny’s Dream got her season back on track thanks to a heady drive from stable foreman, Tony Cameron. “It was a good effort after starting from a handicap,” said Herlihy. “There are a couple of nice mares’ races coming up for her.” Dina Brown was the easiest winner on the night, clearing out to win comfortably after leading throughout. “She’s just kept improving and is better than what I probably thought she was going to be. “It’s a great breed and she’s definitely got more wins in store.” And while the betting plunge came for stablemate Delightful Catherine, it as the Herlihy-trained Cowgirls N Lace that won the night’s opening event, a maiden. “She’s a good, honest filly from a nice family.” On The Cards put some disappointing recent performances behind him with a confidence-boosting win in the night’s feature pace, an early mistake the difference-maker for race favourite Double Rocket, who ran second. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

1 to 16 of 2371
1 2 3 4 5 Next »