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This winter in harness racing in New Zealand has been like no other in living memory. The winter racing scene is usually left to the lesser performed horses to strut their stuff and it is not often that a potential top liner appears at this time of year. However this season we have seen several debutantes win in a manner that suggested a big future. Both Connoisseur and Rycroft created a huge impression when winning on debut and were quickly snapped up by Australian buyers. This Friday at Alexandra Park in the Hydroflow Mobile Pace we have another horse making his debut who looks to have a big future. Trained at Pukekohe by Brent Mangos, Vibhuti has been burning up the trial tracks in recent weeks and looks to have talent to burn. Last Saturday at Alexandra Park at the Auckland Trotting Club workouts, Vibhuti gave a display not often seen by unraced maidens. Not only did he distance his opponents by 6 lengths, but he paced the 2200 meters in 2:45.9, a mile rate of 2:01.3 with the last 800 meters in a quick 57.5 and the last 400 meters in a sizzling 26.7 That would win most maiden 2200 meters races at Alexandra Park and even from the second row on Friday night, Vibhuti looks very hard to hold out. The 3 year old son of American Ideal is bred to be good. A half-brother to Mr Chin 1:51.2 ($410,837) and Light Hearted 1:56.6 ($138,452) Vibhuti is closely  related to the former star age group pacer in New Zealand in Butlers First 1:57.4 ($380,883). The family was introduced to New Zealand by David Phillips in his National Bloodstock days when he imported the Keystone Ore mare Lady's First. Hambletonian Limited, the breeder of Vibhuti is the most recent arm of the David Phillips breeding operation. Raced by Hambletonian Limited in partnership with Tony Shaw, Vibhuti is the name for the sacred ash used in Religious worship in Hinduism. Judging by his recent workout performance, Vibhuti doesn't look like he will need any divine intervention to find his way to the winners circle on Friday night.. Harnesslink media

The West Melton trainer Gavin Mills has had a lot of success in harness racing over the years with progeny from the Vance Hanover mare, Fair Play. Of course the one Gavin will always remember  the most is the one that he sold to the present starter in Canterbury, Pete Lamb. Named Play On, the son of Bellam won an Interdominion Final for Pete Lamb at Alexandra Park in 2005 on his way to earning a very healthy $290,966. Even after Play On, Gavin has never been tempted to cover Fair Play with fashionable sires but it hasn't stopped the mare from producing four other winners including Another Player ($62,008), Will Play ($52,758) and Lighting Play ($41,052). The most recent winner from the mare is the Thanksgiving gelding, Thanksforplaying who won his second race for the season and third overall when he was successful in the Moore Architecture Handicap Trot at Ashburton today Sunday the 20th of July. Away well for a change, driver Chris McDowell settled him in the trail after 300 meters and from there Thanksforplaying got shuffled back to the point where he ended up five back on the inner at the 800 meter mark. Still five deep as the field turned for home, Chris McDowell angled him out to the centre of the track and he came with a storming late run to win going away from a handy field of lower grade trotters. Thansforplaying trotted the 2400 meters from a stand in a smart 3:07.1, a mile rate of 2:05.4 with the last half off the front in 60.3 and the quarter in 29.7. Even though he ran a couple of nice thirds at Nelson and Malborough recently, Thanksforplaying was completely let go by punters, paying $59.10 for the win. Thanksforplaying is his own worst enemy most of the time but as today showed, when he trots all the way he is very hard to hold out.   Thanksforplaying Harnesslink media

Harness racing can be a cruel game at times with some horses forever seeming to have bad luck. The Bucket List would have to be near the front of that queue in the last twelve months with a run of bad luck you wouldn't wish on anybody. After The Bucket List had won four of his first seven starts, he was thrown in the deep end against the best of his age group at three. While he performed really well, it was a steep learning curve for the Christian Cullen entire and seem to shake his confidence for a while. A nice run for second behind Pass Them By 1:53.6 ($175,081), beaten a ½ neck in a 1:57.3 mile rate over 2200 meters convinced trainer Geoff Small to send The Bucket List to Ashburton for the 3 year old Harness Jewels. Although never a winning chance in a race run in 1:50.6, The Bucket List went super to run 1:52.1, beating home two very smart horses in Franco Nelson 1:53.1 ($425,446) and Elios 1:55 ($213,676) in the process. Reappearing at Alexandra Park in January 2014, The Bucket List looked ready to fulfill his early potential with a brilliant win, coming from last at the 500 meter mark to beat a field containing Ideal Belle 1:52.2 (pl) ($176,409)  Maxim 1:56.6 $396,913) and Sky Major 1:52 ($411,002). He paced the 2200 meters in a brilliant 2:39.4, a mile rate of 1:56.6 with closing sectionals of 56.7 and 28.3 and looked set for a huge season. But from that point on, The Bucket List has hit one brick wall after another. Renowned for having a lethal sprint if saved for one run, the Bucket List has had a succession of runs where he was late getting clear, blocked for a run or pushed back at the wrong time. The luck had to change eventually and last night at Alexandra Park, The Bucket List got the kind of run he has been seeking for a while now. Leading early in the 2700 meters stand, driver Philip Butcher took a trail after 400 meters and soon after was three back on the inner as the smart 3 year old Regulus went to the front. Thats where he stayed until they turned for home where he angled for a run up the passing lane and burst through late to win going away by two lengths. He paced the 2700 from a stand in 3:27.8, a mile rate of 2:03.8 with smart closing sectionals of 56.7 and 27.6. It was his sixth lifetime win coupled with twelve placings which has seen him bank $76,945 in stakes to date. Now that his luck has turned, it wouldn't surprise anyone if The Bucket List strung a few wins together in the next few weeks. Harnesslink media  

This seasons crop of two year olds by Art Major has produced some really smart individuals from his smallish crop of  just 85 foals and Piece Of My Heart looked to further embellish that record  with a stylish win in the Marlin Transport Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace over 2200 meters at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park tonight Friday the 18th of July. With harness racing in winter being a touch lower key than normal, quality horses at this time of year in New Zealand can be hard to find. But anyone who saw the  Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick trained Piece Of My Heart win tonight would have seen a filly with a big future. Settling second last from her second line draw, driver Scott Phelan sent her forward three wide with 1200 meters to go and she found the front at the 900 meters mark. From there she turned the race into a procession, shooting clear on the corner before easing down in the last 100 meters for a comfortable two length victory. Tonights win was her first in four starts and she has also finished second once for stakes totaling $6954. She paced the 2200 meters in 2:46, a mile rate of 2:01.4 with closing sectionals of 59.6 and 28.6. Piece Of My Heart was passed in at last year's Australasian Classic Sale for $17,000. She is now raced on lease by Miss T M McMullen, L R Campbell, D L Campbell, L J Goldsmith and R S Toman from her breeders Chris and Tina Barlow. Piece Of My Heart is the fifth winner of the Holmes Hanover mare Highfields Diamond. This is the Anna Pavlova branch of the famous Coo Doo family which has provided the Grice brothers of Mid-Canterbury with so many stakes and classic winners over the last forty years. This is a breed that has produced numerous high class fillies over the years and in Piece Of My Heart it looks to have found another one. Piece Of My Heart  Harnesslink media

The Courage Under Fire three year old Rip Roaring has threatened to win a race several times this season. Rip Roaring was originally trained by “Coaster” Howe in Canterbury for whom he ran seven placings which was followed by a placing in his one start out of the Cox and Hoffman barn in Otago before joining the barn of Peter Scaife in the North Island. A third in his first start in the North at Cambridge last week continued his run of placings which was finally broken in the Malcolm Wrigley Insurance Services Pace at Alexandra Park this evening. Sent forward out of the gate from barrier four by driver Zac Butcher, Rip Roaring took a trail after 300 meters behind Monterey Jack driven by Josh Dickie. There Rip Roaring sat until the 200 meters when he took advantage of the passing lane to swoop late for a well-deserved win. The breakthrough win came at start twenty but he has also been placed nine times on his way to earning $13,096 in stakes to date. He paced the 2200 meters in 2:47.3, a mile rate of 2:02.4 with closing sectionals of 58.2 and 28. Bred in Canterbury by Studholme Bloodstock Limited, Rip Roaring is raced by Bill “Gouty” Davis, Colin Tennant and Selwyn pig farmer Ray Seebeck. The trio are well known around Canterbury harness racing tracks as the owners of the former smart Canterbury trotter Beat The Monarch 1:58.7 ($107,325) who did a great job for his owners over several seasons before his sale to Australia. Ray Seebeck is still getting over the win of Gotta Grunter, who he races with long time fellow pig farmer Pete Molloy, who cleared maidens at the recent Timaru meeting. The owners of Rip Roaring are three of the nicer people involved in this industry and Rip Roaring's win tonight is just reward for all the investment they have made in harness racing. Harnesslink media

Top New Zealand filly Ideal Belle has been scratched from her two-horse Australasian Breeders’ Crown heat at Alexandra Park tomorrow night and has been ruled out of the rich series by trainer Barry Purdon. The New Zealand Oaks winning filly, who would have been one of the favourites for the Group One 3YO fillies division, has suffered a leg injury after being caught in a fence at Purdon’s Clevedon property. The tall American Ideal filly, who showed she was right on song for the series with a smart workout last week, will now head to the spelling paddock. Her scratching means that the Geoff Small trained Zeta Bromac will get a walkover ABC heat win, as will Ideal Belle’s stablemate Sky Major who is still well on track for the 3YO colts and geldings division of the series. In other Breeders Crown news, the Tim Butt trained Field Marshal is set to arrive in Melbourne on August 6 in preparation for the ABC after qualifying in a one horse heat at Cambridge last week, while Katy Perry, who was defeated in her Cambridge heat by Joanne’s A Delight, is already in Australia and will compete in the Tatlow Stakes (Group Two) at Melton on Saturday before heading to a Breeders' Crown Repechage. Katy Perry is just one a strong contingent of Kiwi trained or owned horses that are seat to do battle in feature races across the Tasman this weekend. Others include Messini, Kept Under Wraps, Iceobar, Bettor Rock On, My Arya, Primz Luck, One Over Da Moon, Our Twentyten, and Daenerys Targaryen. However the two highlights of the weekend may come from champion Australian pacers Im Themightyquinn and Smoken Up. ‘Trigger’ (Smoken Up) is set to have his last start in New South Wales at Menangle on Saturday and his trainer-driver Lance Justice is expecting a big performance, while ‘Quinny’, who will be reunited with Gary Hall Jnr, will battle it out with Mach Beauty, Suave Stuey Lombo, and Avonnova for Group One glory in the Blake’s A Fake at Albion Park on Saturday. After much talk about drivers leading into the race, Lauren Panella has decided to stick with Mach Beauty, while Bart Cockburn, who has been sacked from Avonnova after his interesting drive in the Sunshine Sprint, will take the reins behind Suave Stuey Lombo. Replacing Cockburn in the sulky behind Queensland star Avonnova is Shane Graham, who was victorious in his only drive on the gelding. By Mitchell Robertson  

Last week was a quiet one for the ring-around with just the two winners. However, T.A.B Bookmaker Steve Richardson did find us some value in the form of $8 and $2.50. Let’s see what good oil the boys have found for us this week. Forbury – Thursday Matthew Williamson:  Has opted for Monnay, who is the class horse of the field but and looks a chance despite his huge seventy metre handicap – race six. Nathan Williamson:  Rates the chances of Onedin Mach, who should have benefited off his fresh-up fourth. He looks the one to beat in race seven on the card. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of Homeforabubbly, who looks well placed in the ninth race on the card. Alexandra Park – Friday Simon Lawson: Has selected Westwind Flyer as his best bet of the week – race one. Scott Phelan: Believes Pieces Of My Heart can go one better in the third race on the card. Josh Dickie: Has opted for Katieellen Castleton, who would only need to do things right to win the fourth race. Addington – Friday Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Has selected Hikoi, who got too far back last start before finishing strongly for fourth. Steps up to 2600m this week which should suit – race two. David Butt: Rates the chances of Stingray, who returned to form last week with a nice win. He meets the same sort of field this week and looks a good each-way chance again - race five. Ricky May: Has opted for the impressive Dalton Bromac. He looks the one they all have to beat in the same event – race five. Craig Thornley: Has opted for Playaway, who was a fast finishing second last start. She looks a good each-way chance in the sixth race. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Spell – race eight. Ashburton – Sunday Mark Jones: Expects smart filly Goodness Gracious Me to prove very hard to beat in the sixth race. Ken Barron: Has opted for Change Time, who returns to mobile racing and has landed the plumb draw. She has produced big runs in her last two outings after missing the kick from standing starts and looks a good chance on Sunday – race eight. John Dunn: Thinks stable newcomer Wesley Silcox, who trialled up nicely on Monday, can keep his unbeaten record intact – race eight.

Young Boyanup harness racing trainer-driver  Justin Prentice is a keen student of breeding and he has high hopes that his judgment in purchasing Major Reality at the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales will be vindicated by driving the filly to victory in the $125,000 Premier Suzuki Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Major Reality ran a superb trial for the group 1 Golden Slipper for two-year-olds when she set the pace and sped over the final 400m in 27.4sec. to score an effortless win in the $35,000 Gold Bracelet last Friday night. Her prospects of winning the Slipper soared when she drew the prized No. 1 barrier and the 26-year-old Prentice will be aiming for another all-the-way success this week. Prentice studied the 2013 yearling catalogue and was determined to buy the Art Major filly, originally named Just Like Mum. "She is by a strong stallion and her dam Reality Check was a smart performer as a two-year-old," Prentice said. "So I just picked her out on breeding. Dad (trainer-reinsman Kim Prentice) was over at the sales and he checked out the filly and gave her the okay. "I told Dad that I was prepared to go to $50,000 for her and was stoked when I was able to get her for $31,000." Justin Prentice bought the filly on behalf of stable client John Wulff, who had been a co-owner of Carim Courage and Im Hey Jude. Wulff then sold shares in Major Reality to a few mates and the filly has already proved her worth, earning $37,200 from three wins from her first four starts Major Reality is following the footsteps of Reality Check, who won three races as a two-year-old and one as a three-year-old before being retired after 24 starts with earnings of $139,495. She was successful at Alexandra Park at her second start, in March 2006, and then won a $40,000 feature event for fillies at Cambridge the following month before winning a 1700m $125,000 classic at Alexandra Park at her sixth start. She then finished third in a group 1 classic. Major Reality won with such ease last week that she is likely to be a warm favourite for the Slipper. But favourites have a terrible record in recent runnings of the classic. Only one favourite has been successful in the past 14 years. That was Western Cullen, who started at evens and charged home from sixth in the middle stages to easily beat Major Catastrophe and Gracias Para Nada in 2011. And fillies have won only eight times in the 46-year history of the Slipper. They have been Sordice (1968), Omista (1971), Via Vista (1980), Mazzini Magic (1988), Whitbys Miss Penny (1990), Whitbys Merit (1993), Spirit of Navajo (2005) and Arma Xpress (2012). Kim Prentice purchased The Odd Lover for prominent owner Rob Watson at the 2013 New Zealand yearling sales and the Art Major colt looms as one of the chief rivals for Major Reality after he drew favourably at barrier two on the front line in the 2130m event. Prentice, who trains the colt at Hopeland, has a high opinion of him and would dearly love him to make amends for his bad luck when 2/1 on favourite in the group 1 $100,000 Pearl Classic last month when a tyre of his sulky was punctured early in the event and then the tube became entangled in the wheel, causing him to drop back from the breeze position to finish at the rear. At his next appearance, over 2130m at Gloucester Park last Friday night, The Odd Lover started from the back line and raced three wide early before moving to the breeze and finishing second to the pacemaker Isaiah Artois. From barrier two this week, The Odd Lover meets Isaiah on better terms. The David Thompson-trained Isaiah Artois will start from the No. 4 barrier and although he possesses sparkling gate speed he is most unlikely to be able to wrest the early lead from Major Reality. The query runner is Beaudiene Boaz, who will be making his first appearance in Australia for leading trainer Gary Hall sen. after winning at three of his seven starts in New Zealand. He stormed home to gain a last-stride victory in the group 1 $150,000, Emerald at Cambridge on May 31 before being sold to a group of Hall's clients, headed by Beth Richardson. Beaudiene Boaz was a smart trial winner at Byford on Sunday morning and he will have a legion of followers. Isaiah Artois has won at five of his eight starts and cannot be underestimated. Consistent filly Sea Me Smile has drawn perfectly on the inside of the back line and Chris Lewis should have her on the back of the pacemaking Major Reality all the way. Mister Ardee, to be driven by Kim Young for owner-trainer Gary Elson, is capable of a bold showing from barrier two on the back line, while Straittothehilton, one of five fillies in the race, has place prospects from the No. 3 barrier. Beaudiene Boaz is the best, says Hall "Without sounding too arrogant I've got no doubt that he's the best horse in the race, but he will have his work cut out from barrier six," said champion reinsman Gary Hall jun. when assessing the prospects of New Zealand newcomer Beaudiene Boaz in the $125,000 Premier Suzuki Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night. "His trial at Byford on Sunday was super, but a two-year-old having his first look at the track will need to do everything that we think he's capable of to be able to beat Justin Prentice's filly Major Reality." Hall said that the barrier draw had tilted the odds in favour of Major Reality, who is sure to make the most of the coveted No. 1 position by setting the pace in the 2130m group 1 classic. "The draw really evens things up," Hall said. "I think Beaudiene Boaz is capable of beating Major Reality, but he will have to prove every bit as good as we think he is. He's got a bit of everything. He's definitely very quick and he seems to be quite strong. "However, there appears to be no chink in Major Reality's armour. She is such a good gaited horse who seems to do everything right. She has got good gate speed and it's not likely that she will have to be rushed out to hold the lead. She'll hold it easy; nothing can really trouble her early and she'll get a soft lead, and that will make her hard to beat. "We know that she can run a quarter in 27 and a bit, so we will have to try to take it (the sting) out of her early. However, doing that will probably set it up for something back in the field. I haven't determined my tactics, but obviously getting to the breeze is the way to go. You can't win by going back (early)." Beaudiene Boaz is trained by Gary Hall sen., who is in Brisbane campaigning with superstar Im Themightyquinn. Hall will be attempting to emulate the performance of Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri, who won the 2011 Golden Slipper with Western Cullen at his Australian debut. Hall jun. drove Beaudiene Boaz in a 2150m trial on Sunday morning when the Badlands Hanover colt sat behind the pacemaker, three-year-old stablemate Crusader Banner before sprinting home strongly to beat that pacer by a length at a 1.58.6 rate after sprinting over the final two 400m sections in 28.3sec. and 28.1sec. Beaudiene Boaz has won at three of his seven starts in New Zealand for trainer Ray Green. He was sold to clients of the Hall stable after he had given a superb performance to win the $150,000 Emerald for two-year=-old colts and geldings at Cambridge on May 31. An outsider at 38/1 and driven by Zac Butcher, Beaudiene Boaz was seventh on the pegs at the bell and still in sixth place 400m from home before he charged home, out four wide, to snatch a last-stride victory by a head over Bettor Spirits, covering the metric mile (1609m) in 1.54, track record for two-year-olds. The 400m sections whizzed by in 27.4sec., 29sec., 28.6sec. and 28.9sec. Two starts earlier Beaudiene Boaz dashed over the final quarter in 28.2sec. and rated 2.1.8 in winning over 2200m at Alexandra Park. Hall sen. has won the Slipper only once, when he trained and drove Love of Glory to victory over Possibly and Almagest in 1989. Hall jun. has yet to taste victory in a Golden Slipper. Four years ago he set the pace with 6/4 on favourite Go West U Terror, who finished second to Ohokas Bondy. Then he drove Gracias Para Nada (22/1) into third place behind Western Cullen in 2011,Northview Punter (10/9 on) when he finished a half-head second to Arma Xpress in 2012 and the 6/4 on favourite Crusader Banner when he set the pace before fading to ninth behind Class of Tara last year. Leda McNally set for unusual hat-trick Classy mare Leda McNally has won races on the Golden Slipper program on the past two years and she has excellent prospects of completing an unusual hat-trick at by outpacing her rivals in the Premier Suzuki Genuine Parts Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Pinjarra by Chris King, Leda McNally has been unplaced at her past five starts and has a losing sequence of seven. But she looks ideally suited, and well handicapped, off 20m in the 2503m event for M4 and better class pacers. The five-year-old Leda McNally has won at 19 of her 57 starts and has an M10 assessment. This will be only her second appearance in a standing-start event. She gave an outstanding performance at her only run in a stand, when she began off 50m, was tenth at the bell and stormed home, five wide, on a heavy, rain-soaked track to finish third behind Selkie and Salliwood in the Race For Roses over 2503m at Gloucester Park on May 9 this year. She was a 5/1 chance when Chris Voak took her to an early lead and she went on to win by two lengths from Blissfull Cullen in a 2100m mobile on Golden Slipper night in July 2012. Voak again was in the sulky when Leda McNally, favourite at 11/4, sustained a powerful burst to win easily from Slick Bird over 2130m 12 months later. Voak handled Leda McNally when she was untroubled to win a four-horse trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning. After a moderate early pace Leda McNally sprinted over the final 800m in 56sec. and defeated Countess Krista by a length at a 1.59.5 rate. A small field of seven should help Leda McNally's cause on Friday night when she is likely to meet stiff opposition from the four runners trained by Gary Hall sen. They are Bettor Reason, My Hard Copy, Our Arlington and Some Kinda Tactics. The Tony Svilicich-trained Shardons Rocket is a tough, consistent campaigner who should again fight out the finish. Hall marching to 200 winners Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. has 13 runners at Friday night's meeting at Gloucester Park and he looks set to take a giant step towards his ambition of becoming the first West Australian to train 200 winners in a season in WA. He and his younger son Gary, the State's premier reinsman, should give punters a flying start to the meeting by winning the opening event, the Suzuki Way Of Life Pathway Pace with the brilliant three-year-old Soho Lennon. Soho Lennon, a winner at six of his 20 starts, gave a tremendous performance last Friday night when he produced a powerful finishing burst to be a nose second to classy stablemate VC Manoeuvre over 1730m at a 1.55.3 rate. Soho Lennon, who beat VC Manoeuvre at his previous outing, was driven at his latest two starts by the trainer's elder son Clint. "I'm looking forward to getting back behind him," said Hall jun., who drove the gelding to easy wins at Pinjarra and Gloucester Park in June. "Starting from No. 12 (the outside of the back line) is not easy for a three-year-old taking on older horses," he said. "But he races like an older horse and I really like him. "I know that VC Manoeuvre beat him last week, but I reckon Soho Lennon is not far behind Elegant Christian and Machtu. "Senior is not far from 200 winners for the season --- and that's his aim. He gave us a rev up the other week when he reckoned we were running out of time. So it was nice to have five winners last Friday night and to keep him off our back for a week." Hall sen. is the State's leading trainer with 190 winners and 189 placegetters from 717 starters. by Ken Casellas  

Harness Jewels winner Beaudine Boaz is set to make his Australian debut in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Saturday. And if his recent Byford trial where he mile rated 1:58.6 on his way to an impressive win is anything to go by he will take all sorts of beating. The Badlands Hanover colt dashed his last half in 56.4 in his trial and impressed driver Gary Hall Jnr, who bypassed the opportunity to drive Im Themightyquinn in Queensland in order to handle the 2YO Emerald winner in his main hit-out before Saturday’s prestigious two-year-old event.  Beaudiene Boaz, who is a half-brother to top mare Beaudiene Bad Babe, is just one of a few expensive purchases made by clients of the Gary Hall Snr stable in recent months.  Other classy New Zealand juveniles they have snapped up included high priced fillies Nuala and Giuliana Rancic. Meanwhile, impressive debut juvenile winner Connoisseur, who was purchased out off the barn of John and Joshua Dickie by clients of  Greg Bond for a large six-figure sum, will miss the Golden Slipper, with his new connections opting to spell him before bringing him back for early three-year-old racing. Rycroft, an Elsu two-year-old who was also very impressive when winning his debut for Tony Herlihy at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago, is also in Perth after being secured for big money. He has joined the stable of Mike Reed, who has enjoyed tremendious success with former kiwi filly Libertybelle Midfrew this season. Rycroft, like Connoisseur, will now be spelled and will therefore miss this weekend’s two-year-old feature. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness racing trainers' Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick have never had a horse line up in a Breeders Crown Final before, but they won’t be too perturbed if Cyamach doesn’t make the trip across the Tasman next month. “It all depends how he comes through his next race at Alexandra Park on July 25, but after Friday’s race we couldn’t be happier with him,’’ Telfer said. “We will make a decision on the Breeders Crown then. “If we do decide to go he will race over there (Victoria) on August 17 and 24.’’ Cyamach was an impressive winner of last Friday’s fifth event at Alexandra Park – the $14,999 Prudentia Law Mobile for the C2 to C5 pacers. Scott Phelan rushed the recent Winter Cup winner to the lead from barrier five soon after the start of Friday’s 2200m mobile. From there they dictated all the pace to easily win in wet conditions by 2-1/4 lengths in 2:44 even. Central Districts visitor Te Kawau (Todd Mitchell) was an impressive first-up second after sitting outside of Cyamach for the last lap. Cyamach paced a creditable 1:59.9 mile rate in the wet and windy conditions. He sped his last 800m and 400m in 56.6 and 27 seconds. It was his ninth win in 36 starts. His bank balance stands at $154,926. Someone knew Cyamach would win. NZ harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson said he received a $5,000 win bet on Friday afternoon on Cyamach at $2.60. That was his also closing price. Telfer is really starting to warm to the exploits of talented 4-year-old. “He’s going really well at the moment. He’s really started to strengthen up and mature lately. He’s a nice horse who has always had speed. But now that he’s strengthened up he’s turned the corner again. “He’s the best we have got.’’ The former Australian, who came to New Zealand from rural New South Wales in 1995, said he was really enjoying his work at present. “We have a nice team, great staff, and a very nice place to work. “Chris is great to work with and Scotty (Phelan) is doing a brilliant job in the sulky,” the 43-year-old horseman said. “I can’t forget my sister Amanda (Tidswell) too. It’s a team effort,” he added. While a Breeders Crown trip would be a real highlight, Telfer said the desire to remain in NZ and focus on some our big races was huge. “It would be nice to win a Breeders Crown but to be honest I’d prefer to win a big Group One race here. “If Cyamach does go then he’s going to have to step up to the next level. Even though there will be some nice 4-year-olds missing good ones like Lennytheshark and Chilli Palmer will be there. “He will either go to Australia or be spelled after his next race,” Telfer said. He said he was quite happy to target the Group One 4&5-year-old races like the Taylor Mile and NZ Messenger with Cyamach next season. Looking to the future Telfer said to watch out for a Grinfromeartoear-Spicey colt named Ashton K. “He’s a rising 3-year-old who has been up for a while now. He trialled real nice as a 2-year-old and we have all got a lot of time for him.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)    

Waikato trainer and administrator Rob Lawson will go into partnership with his son Simon on August 1. Lawson senior will train out of Newstead in the Waikato while Simon will train a team at Pukekohe. “We intend on having a boutique stable of perhaps eight or nine horses, but they will all race in my name. “We could register them in both names but we felt it might jeopardise Simon’s chances of getting more drives,’’ Lawson snr said. “He’s already driving for top trainers like Ray Green, Steven Reid, and Geoff Small when he can. He’s a naturally talented driver who can send them, and save them, when he has to.’’ He said he would head up to Pukekohe regularly to see how Simon is getting on. He believed his son had what it took to be a good trainer. “I’m biased but I know he’s a top driver and I also know he’s been around horses all of his life - so he certainly knows what training is all about. As well as working for me he’s also worked for Peter Simpson, Steven Reid and Geoff Small. He’s learnt a lot from a lot of people.’’ The Lawsons’ will swap their team around from time to time racing at both Cambridge Raceway and Alexandra Park. “We will also be looking to entice South Island owners and trainers to send their horses north to us. I’m vice president at Cambridge but I realise the stakes in Auckland are too good to ignore, so it makes sense to race there. “Even second-placed money at Alexandra Park is nice. Having two stables reinforces our commitment to the industry. I am also going to be the trainers and drivers rep on the harness racing executive – so as you can see the industry means a lot to me and my family.’’ The Nathan Williamson trained The Wonkey Donkey was a recent South Island addition to Lawson’s stable. While in the north the 4-year-old Thanksgiving gelding recorded two seconds and two thirds. Lawson has trained 41 winners from 362 starters since 1991 and he’s also placed 67 times for $248,278 in stakes. His best year was last season when he trained eight winners. This year Lawson has won four times from 12 attempts. Son, Simon on the other hand has had a season in the sulky he will never forget. He won his first group One race behind the Green trained Besotted at Alexandra Park on May 2. That was one of 24 winners for him so far this season – 23 fewer than his best season in 2010. All up Lawson has won 166 of his 1,516 drives. He’s also placed on 322 occasions for $1.3 million in purses. Not a bad effort considering he only started driving in 2009. The Lawsons’ currently have Ton Tine going around at the moment. That son 4-year-old son of Monarchy has won three of his 23 starts “We’ve also got an exciting young rising 2-year-old named Van Mara. We bought him at the yearling sales and he is quite talented. We have a lot of time for him.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

In the spring of 2013,one of the most talked about horses in the North Island was the Andrew and Lyn Nea trained gelding Beyond The Silence. The son of Courage Under Fire had won five of his first nine starts along with a couple of placings and had impressed many seasoned observers with his high speed and stamina. On the strength of those performances the decision was made by his connections to trek south for the PGG Wrightson $50,000 sales race at Kaikoura and from there to Cup week at Addington. A near enough sixth at Kaikoura was followed by a poor ninth on Cup Day and Beyond The Silence returned to the North Island to rest and lick his wounds. A series of workouts had Beyond The Silence well primed for his new campaign when he stepped out at Alexandra Park in Auckland tonight. Sent straight to the front from barrier three by Lyn Neal, he cruised along in front for a lap before handing up to the favourite, Russley Haste with 1200 meters to go and from there it was just a matter of zooming up the passing lane for an impressive win over the stablemate Who Dares Wins who also used the passing lane to great effect. The time for the 2200 meters in the very windy conditions was only 2:46.3, a mile rate of 2:01.6 but they scooted home from the 800 in 56.6 and the 400 in 27.2. From a Camtastic half sister to the former smart Fred Fletcher trained pacers Roymark ($122,461) and Precious Romance ($62,015), Beyond The Silence belongs to the family of the imported No Nukes mare Romantic 11. Raced by the Neals with the estate of Lyn's father Frank Bebbington, Beyond The Silence looks to have a big future in front of him judging by tonights performance. Harnesslink Media

Last week was a bit quieter for the ring-around with just Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, Ken Barron, David Butt, and Tony Herlihy tipping out winners. Hopefully we can top that performance this week Cambridge - Thursday Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Present Arms - race three. Josh Dickie: Rates juvenile Monterey Jack as good each-way prospect in the sixth race on the card. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Thinks Cyamach, who was an impressive last start winner, can repeat the dose in the fifth race on the card. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Ace Moment in the fourth event. Addington - Friday Craig Thornley: Thinks capabale type Al's Courage will measure up well in what is a very strong line-up - race seven. Samantha Ottley: Would love to win the Darren DeFilippi Memorial and thinks she can with Jayceekay - race seven. Ricky May: Has opted for Dalton Bromac who was super impressive when winning his South Island debut. - race eight. Anthony Butt:  Rates Gotta Go Artelect as a good each-way chance in the same event. Blair Orange: Has opted for Franco Tevez, who finished third last start, in the ninth event at Addington. Oamaru - Sunday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for Monnay, who has been herculean when overcoming back handicaps to win his last two starts. He will attempt to do that again in race five. Mark Jones and Jonny Cox: Both think smart filly Goodness Gracious Me, who was super at the recent Motukarara workouts, will prove very hard to beat in the seventh race. Nathan Williamson: Has selected capable three-year-old Onedin Mach, who races well when in a fresh state. He will take all sorts of beating in the ninth race.        

A change of plans will see smart freshman colt Art Union bypass a heat of the Australasian Breeders Crown where he would have had to clash with superstar juvenile Follow The Stars at Addington on Friday. The Art Major two-year-old will instead compete in race five, a c2-3 mobile pace, leaving Follow The Stars as the only contestant in his heat and therefore an automatic qualifier for the semi-final. “We’ve decided against the Breeders Crown so he will just make the most of his opportunities this month and try and get another couple of penalty free wins on the board,” said trainer Cran Dalgety. Dalgety will then spell Art Union at the end of the month before preparing the talented son of super broodmare Sparks A Flyin for the rich Sires Stakes Series. But, while Art Union is now sure to miss the ABC, It is all systems go for smart filly Katy Perry, who has recovered well from her Jewels day injury. “Her knee has healed up really well and she is set to go at Cambridge on Thursday,” said Dalgety. Dalgety went up to Auckland to drive the Bettor’s Delight filly at the workouts on Saturday and was pleased with how she performed. She has drawn one in her three horse non-tote ABC heat with Joanne’s A Delight and Cyclone Kate outside her. “I think she will benefit with the run but she is ready to fire,” he enthused. Dalgety also has Regulus in the North Island and he is set compete in the fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday, where he looks a very good chance from his handy barrier draw (2). “He too has trialled up really well but it is his first run for seven weeks, so whatever he does on Friday I think he will better for it,” said Dalgety. Regulus will campaign in the north over the next few weeks to make the most of the great stakes on offer at Alexandra Park. Meanwhile, in a cunning move, Tim and Anthony Butt will bring Field Marshal north for a walkover win in the 2yo colts and gelding ABC heat at Cambridge tomorrow night in order to escape at clash with Follow The Stars  at Addington. In other news from the Dalgety barn, talented four-win three-year-old A Boy Named Rosie has been sold by the Beintoowin Syndicate to clients of Gary Hall’s Perth stable. “It’s a shame to see him go but they’re paying nice money and that makes the decision easier to make,” said Dalgety. By Mitchell Robertson

A "SPECIAL" general meeting of Franklin Trotting Club members will today decide whether to merge with the Auckland Trotting Club, a move that president Don Smith believes might signal the start of a nationwide strategy to reverse a harness racing industry in decline. In a letter to Franklin’s 219 members, Smith says the club is under immense financial pressure following the winding up of the northern harness operation involving Auckland, Kumeu and Manukau. ‘‘Your committee has done and continues to do everything in its power to keep FTC operating but at this stage we cannot generate sufficient cash flow to reinvest in the plant and equipment or to maintain the property to the desired standard.’’ Smith told the  Star-Times while the club had been running for 65 years, it could no longer go on ‘‘treading water’’ with harness racing being in rapid decline in the northern region. ‘‘You can’t throw your chest out like you used to and say, oh we’ll be fine,’’ said Smith, who admitted his committee had mixed feelings over the way ahead. ‘‘We’re handling things reasonably well but we’ve got to look ahead to the next 20 years.’’ Smith said most members accepted something had to be done, which was why they gave the committee mandate to explore the merits of amalgamating with the ATC at last year’s annual general meeting. Now, after 14 months of doing their homework,  it was just a question of whether members were convinced today by a presentation which would be put by ATC president Kerry Hoggard and CEO Dominique Dowding. Under the ATC grand plan, Auckland would take over all the assets and liabilities of Franklin. The club owns land with a Government valuation of $4.54 million and owes $390,000. In return, Auckland has pledged to put up $4 million to upgrade and further develop Pukekohe into a top class training centre, to be called Franklin Park. ‘‘We have a magnificent training facility here, the equal of anywhere  in Australasia, but we can’t hide in the corner. ‘‘We’ve got to attract young trainers into the area. We need to be able to say here’s a lovely training facility, here are the high stakes at Auckland, come and be part of it. We have more chance of attracting them  if we do something.’’  Smith said the ATC had given an undertaking that Franklin’s assets would be used only for harness-related benefits now and in the future. Franklin members would automatically become members of the ATC and retain existing privileges. Smith said members would be sure to quiz the ATC on just when it will be investing in the Pukekohe property and where its $4 million would be coming from. ‘‘The members will decide but this is a crucial meeting for the future of harness racing in the north,’’ said Smith, who believes parochialism could no longer work. ‘‘I think there will be a lot of other clubs nationwide who will have to look at joining hand in hand to make a go of things. This is possibly just the start of it. ‘‘We have to get stakes up to a level that is acceptable for owners, so racing a horse is viable.’’ Auckland’s proposal to turn Pukekohe into a major training centre will hopefully have major benefit for the industry, says Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell. ‘‘We think the proposal is great,’’ Rennell said. ‘‘Anything that will help address the fall in horse numbers has got to be good.’’ Rennell said young trainers, in particular, faced unrealistic costs to set up, with land prices soaring, especially if they didn’t have family connections. ‘‘Over time I think we’ll see more demand for centralised training facilities. There’s no doubt there’ll be a need for it in Canterbury and Southland.’’ Meanwhile, the Kumeu Trotting Club, which repelled the ATC’s attempt to take over and sell its North Auckland track, is battling on, despite being told by Auckland that it can no longer race at Alexandra Park. President Scott Gibbons said Kumeu members were adamant they did not want to see harness racing excised from the area and, while it was still investigating venues, it was likely all three of its meetings would be held on the grass at Avondale. Auckland had effectively shot itself in the foot, and would lose two Friday nights of income from food and drink, he said. The Thames Harness Racing Club, which also rejected Auckland’s bid to take over its property assets, does not yet know what will happen to its three Alexandra Park dates next season. Club president Derek Player said the ATC was happy for Thames to keep its low-key Sunday date but its two Friday night fixtures might be in danger. Update At this afternoon's meeting of the members of the Franklin Trotting Club, approval for the proposed merger between the two Clubs.was passed. By Barry Lichter Reprinted with permission of The Sunday Star Times.

The win last night of Sunnys Little Whiz at Alexandra Park would have brought back a lot of happy memories for her harness racing trainer, Ken Sefonte. She is the first foal from the former Queen of Alexandra Park in Our Sunny Whiz who Sefonte trained to win 19 races and $348,781 in an outstanding race career. Having her fourth lifetime start last night, the daughter of Monarchy was slow early, settling five back on the inner before working forward and securing the run in the one out and one back position. Peeling three wide at the 400 meters, she reeled in the leader The Early Wicket with ease and she went to the line a comfortable winner with driver Brent Mangos just tapping the dust sheet to keep her mind on the job. She trotted the 2200 meters from a stand in 2:56.2 with closing sectionals of 60.9 and 30.4. The maternal pedigree of Sunnys Little Whiz is very strong, coming from one of the strongest trotting families in the New Zealand stud book. Not only did her dam win 19 races but her grand-dam Hanover Whiz (9 wins) also reached open class in New Zealand as did the third dam First Prize (9 wins). Outstanding trotters such as Vulcan 1:55.9 ($983,319) Genius (24 wins) ($214,523)  Dream Machine 1:57.6 ($159,453) and Thaneson (9 wins) ($102,357) are all found within the first three dams of Sunnys Little Whiz pedigree. The next foal from Our Sunny Whiz is a two year old colt by champion American trotting sire Angus Hall and she also has a weanling filly by another champion American sire in Muscles Yankee so she is being given every chance at stud. While she may never reach the heights of her dam, Sunnys Little Whiz has shown enough to suggest a few more wins are in store for this beautifully bred filly. Sunnys Little Whiz Harnesslink media

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