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Leading Victorian harness racing trainer Emma Stewart claimed consecutive New South Wales Derby victories thanks to Ideal For Real’s gutsy performance at Tabcorp Park Menangle just moments ago. Outstaying his rivals with master reinsman Gavin Lang in the sulky, Ideal For Real follows on from Major Secret’s success last season. Naturally thrilled with the performance, Stewart will give the son of American Ideal a short break before embarking on another feature race campaign. “To win this race two years in a row is a great thrill,” Stewart declared. “Major Secret went terrific last year and now Ideal For Real has put in a huge ran. “It was tight at the finish, but I knew he’d got there in time. “He will go home now for a short spell, then we will get him revved up again for some of the majors later in the season.” Matching strides with the leader, Hug The Wind, along the home straight, Ideal For Real grabbed the front in the last stride to score by a half-head, with Sporty Spook seven metres away third. In an amazing performance from both stables, Stewart and New Zealand trainer Mark Purdon has filled the quinella in the first three Group Ones of the day. Purdon captured the New South Wales Oaks with Fight For Glory and the Ladyship Mile with Adore Me, while Stewart finished second with Delight Me and Beauty Secret. “Yeah it is good to turn the tables on Mark and win one of the Group Ones,” Stewart said. PAUL COURTS

All week the harness racing pundits previewing the Great Northern Oaks had predicted that Classical Art from barrier one would lead and control the race with the favourite The Orange Agent unlikely to get the lead off her. No one obviously told Maurice McKendry on The Orange Agent because he did exactly what everyone said couldn't be done. Maurice worked her forward from barrier four and grabbed the lead from Classical Art inside the first 200 metres and that effectively was race over. Allowed to get away with a couple of easier mid race sections, Maurice applied the pressure from a fair way out and then blew them away with a last half in 55.1 and quarter in 27.4 to cruise home home by five lengths in a new New Zealand record of 3:18.8 for the 2700 metres mobile. When talking to Harnesslink during the week, Maurice said contrary to what a lot of people thought, The Orange Agent could really leave the gate and he thought he would go forward. The daughter of American Ideal has been a revelation this season with her win tonight her seventh from just nine starts with her only unplaced run coming in the Sires Stakes Final for fillies on New Years eve when pushed out four wide by Democrat Party with a lap to go. The inexperienced Start Dreaming provided a minor highlight of the race by running home well for second to give American Ideal the quinella with Supersonic Miss holding on for third after sitting parked for the last 1200 metres and Classical Art disappointing in running fourth after having the run of the race. Maurice was pretty philosophical about the win post race. " I got the lead pretty easily really and there was no real pressure so I was pretty confident during the running that she would be tough to beat." " When you run home in front in 55 it makes it pretty hard for those behind you." " She knocked off a bit the last 100 metres when she was out on her own but she won with a bit in hand". " I like winning those Group 1 races because the extra money keeps the bank manager happy," Maurice said with a bit of a chuckle. Maurice thought that The Orange Agent would now head south to Addington. " The plan at the moment is to head south now for the New Zealand Oaks and Nevele R Fillies Final in early May," Maurice said. With a combination of a filly as talented as The Orange Agent and a driver right at the top of his game like Maurice McKendry, then you need to look no further for the favourite for the remaining fillies classics this season. Harnesslink Media  

TORONTO, February 26 - A few weeks off didn't bother Nippy W Hanover as she was razor-sharp in winning the harness racing $41,200 Miss Vera Bars series final Thursday night at Woodbine. Originally set for two preliminary legs and a final, Mother Nature caused the second-leg of the Miss Vera Bars to be cancelled twice, forcing officials to scrap the second-leg and send the series directly to a final Thursday night. All nine three-year-old pacing fillies that competed in the first leg on February 5 returned for the final. Maplelea, the winner of leg one, took most of the support at the windows and was sent off as the 4/5 favourite. However, she would have to settle for second-best, as Nippy W Hanover got the job done in 1:57.1. Driven by Mario Baillargeon, Nippy W Hanover got away in second from her rail starting spot. Down the backstretch, Baillargeon opted to circle around to the lead and never looked back. After reaching the three-quarter pole in 1:28 with Maplelea first up at her wheel, Nippy W Hanover turned aside the favourite's challenge in the lane and paced home in :29.1 to win by 2 ½ lengths. Wake N Bake closed well to finish third, while Docs Hollywood took fourth. A daughter of American Ideal, Nippy W Hanover is trained by Blair Burgess for owners Karin Olsson Burgess and Mac Nichol. The sophomore pacing filly finished second in the first leg after winning her 2015 debut the week before. The series final victory improves Nippy W Hanover's career record to four wins from 12 starts and earnings exceeding $50,000. A $2 win ticket on Nippy W Hanover returned $6.90. Nippy W Hanover In order to be eligible to the Miss Vera Bars series, the three-year-old fillies had to be non-winners of three races or $40,000 lifetime as of October 31, 2014. Mark McKelvie

Lloyd Arnold and Stan Bergstein, two legendary figures in harness racing, have races named in their honor this weekend at Cal Expo. The Lloyd Arnold Pace is set for Saturday night and the Stan Bergstein Trot is the feature on Sunday. Lloyd Arnold was an owner and track operator of the highest caliber. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 83. Originally the owner of Arnold Cattle Co. in Iowa, Mr. Arnold raced hundreds of horses in Illinois and across the Midwest throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. During that era, Mr. Arnold raced horses like Warm Breeze, who earned more than $250,000 in two seasons of racing in the mid-1970s, and Dancing David, who earned more than $200,000 in the 1960s. Warm Breeze took Mr. Arnold to racings pinnacle for the first time when he set the all-age world record at over this track, then known as Golden Bear Raceway. His top horses in later years included the pacing mare Sanabelle Island, who earned $1.6 million lifetime and won 57 of 110 starts. Also of note was Bagel Beach Boy, who won the 2001 Messenger and Matron stakes. In August 2003, Mr. Arnold bought Chevie Duramax, who then went on to set world records for 2-year-old pacing geldings on both mile and half-mile tracks. The fastest 3-year-old pacer in North America in 2004 belonged to Mr. Arnold as Quik Pulse Mindale won in 1:48 at Balmoral. In addition to being a prominent standardbred owner, Mr. Arnold operated this track during those Golden Bear Raceway years and also bought Los Alamitos in the late 1980s, eventually selling the track to his partner, Ed Allred. Mr. Arnold was inducted into the California Harness Hall of Fame in April of 2008. He also enjoyed personal honors in 2001 when he was feted by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters at their annual awards dinner and received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers' Association. Chris Bardis said, Harness Racing was one of Lloyd's great passions. He accomplished so much for the sport not only in California, but nationwide. He was Mr. Harness Racing. He conducted race meetings at Cal Expo, Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields, Del Mar, Pomona, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. I know of no one else who has had a greater impact on the harness world. Sundays Stan Bergstein Trot is named for the legendary figure in harness racing who passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. Mr. Bergstein was a harness-racing titan who advocated for cooperation between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries to solve the sports' common problems. He stepped down in 2011 after 50 years as the executive vice president of Harness Tracks of America, the Standardbred industry's trade association. He was immediately appointed as the organization's first executive emeritus, and continued to advise the association and write guest columns for the Daily Racing Form until the weeks before his death. The only person to ever be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and its Communicators Hall of Fame, Mr. Bergstein worked in a wide variety of roles at racetracks, auction houses, announcer's booths, and racing publications, and he maintained extensive collections of harness-racing books and artwork. He was widely respected not only in the harness industry, but also in the Thoroughbred industry, and he served as a mentor to generations of young racing professionals through a close association with the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, located in Tucson, for the past 40 years. Mr. Bergstein was a forceful proponent of forging closer ties between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries, most notably in tackling medication abuse and problems with drug-testing. In dozens of commentaries, Bergstein maintained that the Standardbred industry's problems were, or would be those of the Thoroughbred industry, and that neglect of a problem in one sport would damage the other. Bergstein borrowed from the Thoroughbred industry early in his career, incorporating claiming races as a racing secretary while working at the Chicago tracks in the 1950's. At the time, the harness racing industry did not run claiming races, and they are now as commonplace in Standardbred racing as they are in Thoroughbred racing Bergstein also spearheaded the creation of Standardbred Investigative Services, a security agency modeled on the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. A native of Illinois, Bergstein attended harness races as a young man and received a journalism degree from Northwestern University. He was the former executive editor of Hoof Beats magazine, and the former vice president of publicity and public relations for the United States Trotting Association. Cal Expo trackman/program director Marty Bridges credits Stan Bergstein with bringing him into harness racing as a profession. After college and two years in the Army, I was employed by the small business association. At night, after work, I was a regular patron at Sportsmans Park and Maywood in Chicago. My supervisor, a former sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News, knew of my interest and called Stan to set up a meeting. Surprisingly, I was to meet him at Du Quoin on Hambletonian Day. Watching Stan call the races from a slightly elevated booth on the infield adjacent to the finish line was thrilling and between races we talked about racing, horses, drivers and trainers. His knowledge of the sport was amazing and I had never met anyone like him, and still havent. He introduced me to John Tinsley, the program director for all the Chicago tracks and John hired me on the spot. Its been a great ride, doing something I love. Gene Vallandingham first met Stan Bergstein in 1959 when he was working for the legendary Joe OBrien. Stan came to Joes farm every spring for the annual Camptown racing weekend, when all of Shafter would be there for a day of racing. Stan was the true voice of harness racing, he was liked by all and I miss him. Chris Schick said, "Stan was foremost a kind and compassionate person. He was a true visionary in the harness racing industry. In 1979 well before simulcasting, he so rightly stated the future of the industry was in how well we brought the product to the public. He was also very vocal of the industry for being reluctant to embrace change. Our industry lost a giant when he passed. Arnold Pace, Sire Stakes, Jackpot 6 spotlighted The $10,000 Lloyd Arnold Free-for-all Pace, a pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes and a $48,130 carryover in the Jackpot 6 are among the main attractions Saturday night at Cal Expo. A 14-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The Jackpot 6 is one of four wagers on the program that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. The others are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. Looking at the Arnold Pace, China King is fresh from a 22-1 upset in last weeks Open when he hung a narrow decision on heavily-favored Pancetta in a 1:52 1/5 mile He drew the outside post in the field of seven. A 7-year-old American Ideal gelding who carries the banner of Gary and Jen Sabot with Gene Vallandingham training and Steve Wiseman in the sulky, he went-to-coast to capture the January 17 Open at 19-1, then came back last time to score from a tracking position at another nice price. Taking him are Pointsman, who gives the Vallandingham barn two looks at the outcome; Rusty Skipp and J C Onthebeach for conditioner Ray Burt; Alligator Falls from the Sal Wenceslao shedrow; the Junior Wilkinson-trained A Real Miracle; and Love Live Laugh for trainer Denise Maier. Uringoodhands and Hi Hos Little Rev have dominated the sophomore pacing colts Sire Stakes to this point and get another chance to settle the score on Saturday, while Placer gets top billing in the stakes gathering for the 4-year-old trotters. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness                            

Brian Hughes has a habit of winning the Group One Northern Oaks every decade…..and his 10-year anniversary just happens to be at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park this Friday night.   The man they call Bunty bred, owned and trained Iman to win the 1995 edition of the Group One classic for 3-year-old fillies, and then in 2005 Hughes owned and trained Tosti Girl to her neck victory over Cruzee Lass. They were the first and fourth favourites respectively. This Friday Hughes will line up one of the best fillies he has ever co-owned, co-bred or trained in the Pascoes The Jewellers sponsored 2700m mobile feature – and naturally The Orange Agent will again be a hot favourite.   “She’s a classy mare all right. She has come through her last win very well. She’s eaten up everything and is rearing to go. She hasn't had a workout or trial since that race but Dad (Bunty) has been putting the work into her.   “From the draw she is going to be tough to beat,” said Gareth Hughes, son of Bunty, and a man who does a lot with his father’s team.   The Orange Agent has drawn perfectly at four this week and compared to her six draw last time out in the second $20,000 Nevele R Fillies heat.   That night she looked like she would have to settle for the runner-up prize after second favourite Democrat Party got away from her on the home turn.   “She’s got a bad habit of drifting wide simply because she goes too fast for her own good around the final bend. Once she got balanced up last start she came again to win. That was a very good performance.   “We are confident she will fly around the final corner untroubled this time,” Hughes said.   The 3-year-old daughter of American Ideal and Lady Fingers has now won seven of her 12 starts and just over $105,000 in purses.   She is yet to nail a Group One victory but did win the $80,000 Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park in December.   All seven of her wins have been at at northern headquarters, but she is yet to start over the 2700m.   “The distance won’t hurt her, especially from the draw. The Oaks has been one of Dad’s main targets with her for some time now. It’s a race that means a lot to him. He’s already won it twice,” Hughes junior said.   Another race that means a great deal to Hughes is the Great Northern Derby, which will be run on Friday week – Auckland Cup night.   The Hughes trained Hughie Green will line up one of the favourites in the sixth race on Friday – the $20,000 Derby Prelude.   With some of the best 3-year-olds missing this week a good performance will be required to make the final Derby field.   Follow The Stars, fresh from his placings in Australia, will be tough to beat but Hughes is confident Hughie Green will put in another bold showing.   “He did really well to beat Ohoka Punter last start and Dad says he’s progressed nicely since then. Both he and The Orange Agent have done everything he has asked of them.   "If I was going to single one out at this stage it would be ‘Agent’, simply because she has the better draw and the Derby Final isn’t for another nine days. Sure we will be trying to win it but the main goal is to make the final,” said Hughes.   In fact the Hughes team has five winning chances on Friday.   Gamma Lady won well here a month ago on debut and then was a nice workouts winner on Saturday. Hughes rated her right up there with The Orange Agent as one of his stable’s best winning chances in race four.   “She is flying at the moment for a young horse that has only had one run." "My Kiwi Mate can also win the last race, while Girls Are Better can also follow up her good trial form in ‘Gamma’s’ race,” said Hughes.   “She ran a nice second behind Gamma Lady in the same Workout at ‘The Park’ on Saturday,” he added. Duane Ranger - Courtesy of Steve Richardson (TAB)

Right from the very start of harness racing in Australasia, breeders have looked to North America for stallions and breeding stock to lift the local breed. The influence of those imported mare's has always been pronounced and continues to this day to produce some of our best  racehorses. Last season's outstanding two year old Follow The Stars 1:53.8 ($504,167) is a product of the imported daughter of Cam's Card Shark in Smyrna Duruisseau and this season has unearthed another potential star from an imported mare. The horse in question is Ideal for Real and his win in the heat of the New South Wales Derby on Saturday night was that of a horse headed to the top. A son of American Ideal, Ideal For Real is the first foal from the Real Desire mare Tamara Hall who was imported to Australia in 2010. Tamara Hall is a daughter of the talented No Nukes mare in Tabloid 1:53.3 ($321,604) who is a former Canadian two year old of the year Tamara Hall was purchased as a yearling but injured a tendon and never raced Her dam Tabloid has left eight winners, 6 in 1:53 with five of those winners earning over $100,000 The best of these winners were the very smart trio of B J's Whirlwind 1:49.1 ($ 954,463)  The Globe 1:50.3 ($772,462) and B J's Breeze 1:51.2 ($506,556) while a daughter in Cambloid 1:58.8 ($28,760) has left four $100,000 winners including That's Ideal 1:51.3 ($283,742) and Upfront Countryboy 1:51.1 ($208,667) Tabloid was one of fifteen winners from Next Chapter with those winners including the full sister to Tabloid in Positive Reaction 1:53.4 ($153,217)  Half sisters to Tabloid include: * Little Black Book 1:54 ($288,457) who is the dam of five $100,000 winners including Sioux Dawn 1:50.2 ($348,926) and Catch A Wish 1:52.2 ($260,829) *Saucy Britches 1:57.1 ($84,553) who is the dam of four $100,000 winners including Armbro Cayenne 1:51.3 ($523,432) and Swashbuckler 1:51.1 ($352,298) *Book Smart 1:57.3 ($27,654) who is the dam of Fourth Page 1:52.2 ($255,828) Tabloid is closely related to the former outstanding three year old in Hot Hitter 1:54 ($963,574). Tamara Hall has had three more foals since Ideal For Real including the two year old Rocknroll Hanover filly in Rockin Tammy, a yearling full brother to Rockin Tammy and a weanling full brother to Ideal For Real. It is a family that has consistently churned out high class racehorses and reading that pedigree it is not hard to see why Ideal For Real is the talented three year old he is. The importation of North American mares has been happening for over 100 years but has  really taken off in the last few years and with the continuing success of their offspring at the highest level in Australasia it is a trend that is likely to continue. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing pundits only wanted one horse tonight in the second heat of the New South Wales Derby at Menangle. Art Union was expected to be too strong from barrier four and punters would have been happy with themselves after 500 metres when driver Dexter Dunn let the son of Art Major slide to the lead without having to really use him. Sporty Spook after an early burn from barrier nine to grab the lead settled into a lovely trail on Art Union's back with Kilcullen working to the death and in the process giving Ideal For Real a lovely sit in the one by one. Dexter held the favourite back to the field until the corner where he set him alight but it was to no avail as Ideal For Real and Gavin Lang just burned him with raw speed as he went straight  past him half way down the Menangle straight and kept going to the line for a very impressive win. Art Union fought on gamely for second just in front of Sporty Spook while Kilcullen was much improved in holding on for fourth after doing the most work in the race. Trained by Emma Stewart the American Ideal colt  paced the 2400 metres in 2:54.7, a mile rate of 1:57.2 with closing sectionals of 55.8 and 26.4.  When Ideal For Real gets the kind of run he did tonight he can be lethal over the last 400 metres as he showed recently with a huge finish for second in his heat of the Victoria Derby. With Gavin Lang in the bike Ideal For Real will lack nothing in the driver department on Sunday week and looms as a major win chance if he can get the kind of run he did tonight. Harnesslink Media

LEBANON, OH. - Shine N Shimmer was stunning Friday night at Miami Valley Raceway, treating the quick five-eighths mile oval as if someone laid a red carpet around it-just for her. It was just the second local race for the seven-year-old daughter of American Ideal and produced the second gate-to-wire victory against the best open class mares competing in southern Ohio. Driver Chris Page took full advantage of drawing the inside post position by exploding off the wings and forcing all rivals to find a seat during a :27.2 opening panel. With no one pressuring on the outside in the scratch-shortened field, Page managed an unexpected respite during the second quarter when the timer flashed :57.4 at the halfway station. The pace quickened from that point home with All Terror (Kayne Kauffman) launching a first-over bid and Carlina Hanover (Tyler Smith) getting a snug pocket journey. When the 1:26 flashed at the three-quarters Page called on his winning mare and she responded with a :28.2 last quarter, despite 10 degree temperatures, to put the 1:54.2 triumph in the books. Shine N Shimmer is trained by Jim Ellison for the Dandy Farms and Howard Taylor. She now has 19 career victories and $321,742 in lifetime earnings. The feature race win was one of four on the night for Chris Page, whose other tallies came with Camphor Hanover (1:56.1), trotter Over And Out (1:58.1) and Rev Me Up (1:54.2). Racing resumes Saturday night with a powerful 14-race card offering $127,500 in purses. Gregg Keidel  

Yesterday we did a review of how all the harness racing sires fared at the two day sale at Christchurch this week. Now we turn our attention to Auckland and as expected the Australasian Classic was the success everybody thought it would be with a catalogue as strong as anything ever presented at Auckland. The one huge plus at this years sale was that the champion sire Bettors Delight ended up with with 35% of all horses sold at the sale. Between them Bettor's Delight, Art Major, Mach Three and American Ideal provided nearly two thirds of all the horses sold at Auckland which is such a help when it comes to averages overall. Bettors Delight Number Sold - 40 Overall average - $55,512 Colt average - $62,820 Filly average - $43,330 Just the backbone of the sale and his colt average for 25 sold of $62, 820 is outstanding for any standardbred sale worldwide let alone in New Zealand. Surprisingly for us his fillies averaged nearly $20,000 less than the colts which for a sire who is the best filly sire on the planet is a bit of a mystery to us. Art Major Number sold - 14 Overall average - $48,000 Colt average - $64,100 Filly average - $39,055 Compared to how he fared in Christchurch, Art Major had a stunning sale in Auckland. He has the highest colt average at $64,100 and his fillies brought money more in line with how they are performing on the track. The issue in New Zealand for Art Major has always been one of numbers in the sale due to him never breeding huge numbers of mares in this country. That changed this season when he served a book of 170 mares in New Zealand and therefore he should have a much bigger presence at the sales in the near future. Mach Three Numbers sold - 6 Overall average - $38,333 Colt average - $40,000 Filly average - $30,000 Those figures are a good indication of where Mach Three sits in the overall scheme of things.  Right up there with the big boys but commercially just a touch behind the other two sires above. Continues to have fluctuations in his numbers for sale due to foal numbers but does have bigger crops coming through so may have bigger representation in the future. American Ideal Numbers sold - 11 Overall average - $33,863 Colt average - $40,714 Filly average - $19,375 His numbers at Auckland were a lot better than they were at Christchurch but that was due entirely to one lot who made $150,000. We are still at a loss to explain the lack of demand for American Ideal fillies which have been his flag bearers in New Zealand. Hard to pinpoint what the problem is here with buyers overlooking his stock in favour of stock by sires he is matching on the track. It may just be the lag effect between racetrack performance and sale ring success but we will be watching closely next year for the uplift in prices his performance deserves. Somebeachsomewhere Numbers sold - 4 Overall average - $36,625 Colt average - $42,500 Filly average - $34,333 As in Christchurch the SBSW were great types and were keenly sought after. The only Somebeachsomewhere colt in this sale went to the All Stars barn who have had some success with stock from his very small New Zealand crops to date. His biggest New Zealand crop are now foals on the ground and with the success at this years sales you would anticipate a much bigger representation at next years round of sales. Christian Cullen Number sold - 5 Overall average - $28,900 Colt average - $36,500 Filly average - $22,500  A bit surprising to see Christian Cullen struggle as much as he did in Auckland. Still in the frame as a commercial stallion as he proved at the two days in Christchurch but apart from one lot he was not wanted at this sale. His fillies in particular were marked down which considering their success over the years was a minor surprise. Rocknroll Hanover Number sold - 7 Overall average - $32,714 Colt average - $36,500 Filly average - $30,000 We didn't include Rocknroll Hanover in our Christchurch review as we took the view that being deceased meant he had a limited future impact on New Zealand sales. But having sold seven at Auckland and having such healthy figures persuaded us that we should include him in the Auckland review. A lot of breeders have used him over their Artsplace mares and horses bred on this cross are highly sought after world wide as this cross has produced six of Rocknroll Hanover's eight millionaires. Muscles Yankee Number sold - 3 Overall average - $42,333 Colt average - $43,500 Filly average - $40,000  Muscles Yankee only had the three lots in the whole sale but they all made over $40,000 so their is a real demand still for his stock. The maternal families of all three lots were top class which may have helped the overall result. Majestic Son Numbers sold - 3 Overall average - $34,500 Colt average - $52.500 Filly average - $25,500 The small number in the sale is due to the fact that Majestic Son only has eight yearlings on the ground in New Zealand Should have a much bigger representation next year as he served 161 mares in 2014 on the back of his earlier small crops performing so well. Overview  This sale is the best promotional tool that harness racing has in New Zealand but it has the potential to be so much better in our opinion By natural attrition of smaller breeders in the North, the sale has few lots by sires who are not in the elite group as the above statistics show. We firmly believe that the Australasian Sale could reach far greater heights if the following changes were implemented. *Limit the sale to 125 lots * Make it a select sale * Have a set number of places set aside for southern breeders. The whole point of the changes is to turn the Australasian Sale into an elite sale that dominates the top end market in Australasia. The thoroughbred breeders do it very successfully with K1 at Karaka and while we will never reach those heights we can close the huge gap a wee bit. Breeders in the north who don't get accepted for the Australasian Classic have a ready made alternative these days with the all age sale in May which has gone from strength to strength in the last few years. Last year it hit a five figure average for the first time and the bench of buyers included most of the regulars on the New Zealand sales scene. We have a chance to position our industry in the best possible light with a smaller select sale at Auckland and it is something that we would hope would be considered by PGG Wrightson and The North Island Breeders Association.. Harnesslink Media

Most harness racing enthusiasts in New Zealand headed to the sales this week at both Auckland and Christchurch and a lot took home a yearling or two. With the dust just settling on the two days at the Premier Sale in Christchurch, we thought it a good time to assess the performance of our leading sires at that sale along with a few of the other sires who aspire to reach that level. All the numbers used are correct at the present time but may vary slightly as more of the passed in horses are sold post sale The elephant in the room in any review such as this is of course Bettor's Delight. He just completely dominated both days at Christchurch both in numbers sold and the average over the two days. Bettor's Delight  Number sold - 49 Overall average - $51,091 Colt average - $56,645 Filly average - $34,291 The surprising thing from those statistics is the big gap between his colts and his fillies. Bettor's Delight is renowned for leaving great fillies so to us the gap was surprising. Apart from that what can you say. A great sire who continues to dominate the sales and nothing happened in the two days at Christchurch to suggest that any change to the status quo is coming anytime soon. The next most successful sire with big numbers was the stallion that Bettor's Delight dethroned from the top spot in the yearling sales averages in Christian Cullen. His numbers held up well considering all the challengers he is facing on the siring front. Christian Cullen Numbers sold - 18 Overall average - $37,611 Colt average - $40,133 Filly average - $25,000 Considering where his service fee presently sits, Christian Cullen represents great value on yesterdays results and that is not something we were able to say just a few years ago. Every year the pundits predict his demise as a sire of significance but every year the buyers continue to put their hand up for the Christian Cullens and for big money to boot. Another elite sire who had a good sale was Mach Three. Mach Three Numbers sold - 20 Overall average - $30,700 Colt average - $32,062 Filly average - $29,791 This was one sire who had little difference in the average between his fillies and his colts. The top price of $71,000 was the same for both his best filly and colt and most of the leading trainers brought one or two by him. Has been doing a great job over the last few years but is probably overdue another high class colt in the next twelve months or else the so called experts will be suggesting his best days are behind him. American Ideal Numbers sold - 22 Overall average - $15,681 Colt average - $19,166 Filly average - $11,500  Considering the great last twelve months that his stock have had on the racetracks of Australasia, it was a real surprise to us and no doubt to vendors as well that he struggled as much as he did. Even more confusing was the lack of interest in his fillies when they have been his flag bearers in New Zealand over the last twelve months. Sometimes there is a lag in racetrack performance being converted into sales success and to us that is the most logical explanation here. Courage Under Fire Numbers sold - 8 Overall average - $32,375 Colt average - $34,857 Filly average - $16,000 Just continues to fly under the radar of most of the breeders in New Zealand but not the buyers thats for sure. Only sold one filly so that average is misleading but his colts were highly sought after throughout the two days. Has shown repeatedly that he can compete with any sire in the sales ring but his number of mares served in New Zealand continue to decline. He only served nineteen mares in 2014 so some vendors who have a foal by him may be in for a good return at next years sales. Art Major Numbers sold - 14 Overall average - $29,600 Colt average - $28,833 Filly average - $30,187  Considering the run that Art Major is having on both sides of the Tasman, the lack of big money for most of his yearlings took us by surprise. He did have one six figure filly but his second best yearling price wise only made $45,000. Didn't appear to us to be anything amiss with the yearlings in question and the only answer we could come up with was they weren't Bettor's Delights. Amazing result really when you look at the super season his three year olds are having in New Zealand Somebeachsomewhere Numbers sold - 5 Overall average - $48,000 Colt average - $55,000 Filly average - $20,000 First crop of any size in New Zealand and these yearlings were conceived via fresh semen. Without exception they were good looking types and were keenly sought after. Going by the type of yearling produced by Somebeachsomewhere at this years sales,  we could be about to see why the North Americans hold the son of Mach Three in such high esteem. Rock N Roll Heaven Numbers sold - 4 Overall average - $30,250 Colt average - $40,000 Filly average - $20,500 They all were nice types but what surprised us was his only filly made just $20,500. The fillies have been the ones flying the flag for Rock N Roll Heaven in North America and in Australasia so the emphasis on the colts was a surprise. Look very much like clones of their grand sire Rock N Roll Hanover which is a good thing in our book though attitude did seem an issue at times with a couple of them. Sportswriter Numbers sold - 5 Overall average - $26,300 Colt average - $27,625 Filly average - $21,000 The whole five of them were lovely types and we thought they under sold when you looked at the pedigrees and the individuals at the sale. All of them made at least $20,000 but only one kicked on from that to make $46,000. There are question marks over whether he can leave that elite level colt or filly but you couldn't fault the yearlings in Christchurch and we were a touch disappointed with the prices they made. Changeover Numbers sold - 10 Overall average - $11,550 Colt average - $12,333 Filly average - $10,375 Not the kind of sale he would have been looking for. He had his moments but his lack of classic winning horses from his first crop is starting to hurt him. All he needs is one or two top liners to appear and his stock will double in value over night. His overall numbers are great and everything else is on track but he does need those couple of stars and sooner rather than later. Love You Numbers sold - 4 Overall average - $28,875 Colt average - $28,875 A great result for a trotting sire to have four average over $28,000. They were keenly sought after when ever a Love You entered the ring. The only issue now is he only served 13 mares in 2014 and was unavailable this season so there will few of them at the sales in the next year or two. Muscle Mass Numbers sold - 13 Overall average - $16,923 Colt average - $16,625 Filly average - $17,400 A great return to New Zealand for the son of Muscles Yankee and he had a big sale considering his numbers and the fact some of the maternal families were ok but not sensational. A sire who is really on the up in North America but the only downside is this is his only crop in New Zealand to go through the sales and at this stage it will be his last as he hasn't shuttled for the last two years. Overview All the sires we have reviewed would in the main be satisfied with what they achieved at this years Premier sale in Christchurch. Some probably hoped to do a bit better and some probably did a bit better than they thought they would but the numbers for the sires we have covered are commendable. Some sires at this years Christchurch sales that we haven't reviewed here didn't help the overall sale on any level and you would have to question the value of continuing to present stock by them at what is meant to be a "Premier" sale. Harnesslink Media

From the late 1960s through to the late 1980s, the Gibbons family from Auckland had a great run in the harness racing classics in New Zealand. Their success was built around the Medoro mare Paulina who along with her daughters and grand daughters left the Gibbons family a host of winners. As was common in those days the family was dual gaited with trotting stars such as Paula, Paulette and Game Paul and pacing stars such as Paul Gentry, Paul Command and Hurricane Paul all being descendants of Paulina. From the early 1990s the family went a bit quiet with a string of really nice horses but none of the champions of years gone by. In the last ten years the family has had a bit of a resurgence with first Cincinnati Kid 1:55 ($499, 455) then Superbowlcheerleader T1:59.8 ($139,782) and now this season outstanding three year old filly The Orange Agent 1:56.1 ($93,522) bringing the family back into the limelight. This years sales has one colt closely related to a couple of these smart horses. His name is Vettel and he is Lot 125 at this years Australasian Classic yearling sale. Vettel is the first foal from Talks To Angels,  a Bettors Delight half sister to Cincinnati Kid 1:55 ($499,455) and to Lady Fingers, the dam of The Orange Agent 1:56.1 ($93,522). Being by American Ideal makes Vettlel a three quarter brother in blood to The Orange Agent.   Another half sister to Talks To Angels in Lady Luck Smiles is the dam of the recent debutante winner About To Rock who is held in high regard by his trainer Brent Mangos. The one thing that always characterized this maternal family through its golden patch was a real toughness in how they raced and both Cincinnati Kid and The Orange Agent have also displayed that same ability to rough it in races. Vettel looks well poised to continue the resurgence of this elite maternal family. Harnesslink Media  

Anyone who has studied breeding was confident about one thing when it came to Holmes Hanover and that was that he would do a great job in the brood mare barn. His fillies were tough hard wearing types who if anything lacked an ounce of high end speed but were wide open on the breeding front to all the Direct Scooter blood prevalent in New Zealand and Western Hanover and his sons. The clincher for a lot of people was the dam of Holmes Hanover in Hazel Hanover was the best Tar Heel race mare of her time.  Hazel Hanover did just as good a job at stud as she did on the track so confidence was high that Holmes Hanover would equal or better what he did as a sire in the brood mare ranks. And that confidence was not misplaced as Holmes Hanover has already passed what he earned as a sire with his brood mare earnings recently topping the $26,000,000 mark.  As you would expect there are a lot of progeny in this years sales from Holmes Hanover mares and by a lot of speed sires that we think would suit Holmes Hanover mares. One of the lots that we think looks well matched is Lot 113 at the Australasian Classic sale at Auckland. Named Thunderbolt Kid, he is a son of noted speed sire American Ideal from the Holmes Hanover mare, Spirit Of Spring. She is already the dam of three winners including the very talented Umoja 1:51.1 ($264,620) The grand dam is the Lordship mare Spirit Of Venus who left the smart racehorse Nketia 1:52.4 ($394,035) and Ciccio Star 1:58.4 ($102,499) as well as the dams of a string of big earners such as Jinni's Fantasy 1:51.4 ($457,586)  Fake Spirit 1:59.8 ($184,368)  Waltzing With Cullen 1:51.7 ($152,131) and Zenthura 1:56.5 ($117,705) to mention just a few. Spirit Of Venus ia also a half sister to Burgundy Lass, the dam of the dual New Zealand Cup winner IL Vicolo 1:56.7 ($1,580,948) while a half sister to IL Vicolo in Sparkling Burgundy is the dam of the millionaire pace Gotta Go Cullen 1:55.5 ($1,173,343). This is the other side of the Black Watch family that Sandy Yarndley had so much success with and Thunderbolt Kid looks just the type to add to that legacy. Harnesslink Media  

LEBANON, OH. - Igotafeelinfran, the lone Buckeye-bred mare in the field, used a perfect pocket trip coupled with cooperative weather and the fastest harness racing surface in awhile to win the $15,500 Open Mares Pace at Miami Valley Raceway on Friday night in 1:52.4. It was just the second 2015 start for the reigning Ohio Sire Stakes older distaff champion, so driver Dan Noble was content to allow longshot All Terror (Kayne Kauffman) to cut the remaining fractions after pushing her to a speedy :27.3 opening panel. Following middle splits of :57 and 1:25 the leading pair separated themselves from the rest and staged an epic stretch duel with the winner nosing out the pacesetter following a :27.4 closing quarter. Stucklikeglue (Greg Grismore) closed well to grab the show spot after a second-over journey. The five-year-old daughter of Feelin Friskie now has 18 wins on her impressive resume in addition to 22 other place and show finishes from just 51 lifetime races. Jerry Zosel and Kathy Ratcliff bred Igotafeelinfran and have since added Kimberly Dailey, wife of trainer Jim Dailey, as a partner on the career winner of $381,746. A race earlier, in the $11,000 top conditioned pace for mares, Betterluvnexttime (Josh Sutton) tied the 1:52.1 track record for older female pacers, established during Miami Valley's inaugural season in 2014 by Holiday Shopper. The seven-year-old American Ideal mare, owned by Daniel Mitchell and trained by Virgil Morgan Jr., just edged Carlina Hanover (Kayne Kauffman) with Multiple Sources (Greg Grismore) garnering the show dough. Betterluvnexttime is closing in on a half million dollars in lifetime earnings, the result of 39 victories from just 95 career starts. Gregg Keidel  

On a sunny, yet frigid day, as the temperature got warmer, Bruce Aldrich Jr. got hotter as he reined 4 winners this afternoon at Monticello Raceway. On the 10 race harness racing card, Bruce’s winning afternoon started in the 5th race as he scored a wire to wire win from the rail with the roan Sinful Vito in 2:02:3, who found the drop in class much more to his liking. In the 6th race, he took the overland route from the 8 hole with American Tower to win in 2:02:3 for trainer Paul Weinrich, overlooked by the betting public, going off at 24-1, the 4 year old American Ideal gelding returned $50.00 for win.  Also in this race, Jim Marohn Jr, driving Silverhill Delights went down at the wire when he hooked wheels with Kyle Dibenedetto driving HD’s Dream Boy, Jim Marohn Jr. did not suffer any injuries, HD’S Dream Boy suffered a minor gash on his knee.  Kyle and his mount were unscathed. In the 8th race, he scored with the Hot Summer Knight, who raced like the caulk that he was, to score another easy wire to wire victory, winning by 8 lengths with for his second consecutive win of the young year in 2:04:2 for Owners Todd and Lynette Butler of Middletown NY, returning $2.30 for win. Bruce’s last win of the afternoon came in race 9 as he drove All Native for the first time for trainer Tim Miller Jr., who hails from Guilford, NY. All Native who is always competitive from an inside post, played catch me if you can as he led from start to finish. Monticello Raceway’s new Pick 5 wager is rapidly gaining momentum and popularity already in its first week of being offered. Monticello Raceway is also racing on Friday card this week, with a 12:25 Post Time. By Shawn F. Wiles

One horse name that keeps popping up at harness racing meetings in New Zealand is that of "Shard" and it continues to enjoy a lot of success both here and over the Tasman. Associated with the Smiths of Invercargill, the "Shard " prefix has adorned a lot of talented horses over the years . This year Debbie Smith is preparing seven yearlings for the sales but only four of them are Shard Farm progeny and carry the "Shard" name. After watching the videos we took an instant liking to Lot 455 who is named Jamieson Shard. A son of American Ideal, Jamieson Shard is the sixth foal from the former smart racemare Sly Shard 2:00.3 ($23,732) who has really made her mark in the broodmare barn. To date the daughter of Panorama has left the champion juvenile Smiling Shard 1:53.7 ($1,178,793) who is now standing at stud in Australia and the top racemare Pemberton Shard 1:55.2 ($212,997) who took out the New Zealand Premier Mares Championship last week at Addington. Another one from Sly Shard to really take our eye at the trials recently is the Changeover two year old Linton Shard. A workout winner over the talented Ice Crusher in his first run, Linton Shard made ground stylishly against two of the All Stars juggernaut in Chase The Dream and Waikiki Beach in his second outing. Purchased for $40,000 at last years sale by Cran Dalgety on behalf of stable clients, Linton Shard looks to have inherited all the family ability. With Sly Shard also being a half sister to the former champion pacer Sly Flyin 1:53.6 ($911,689) Jamieson Shard has plenty going for him on the pedigree page. Throw in the individual we watched on the video and this colt will drag in the bidders on sales day. Harnesslink Media  

The VHRSC Victoria Derby Final is shaping as a harness racing classic after the three heats on Saturday night. Follow The Stars is not unbeatable. Who would have thought? He was $1.10 to win his heat on Saturday night but had to settle for second to Art Union (beaten 1.8m). Art Union (by Art Major out of The Sparks A Flyin) rated 1:58.4 (last half 55.2) in winning the third heat, driver Dexter Dunn taking the colt to the lead in the run and staving off all comers late. Follow The Stars tried valiantly but couldn't catch the winner. Spare Me Days was third and Mister Brazil fourth. Aztec Bromac (by American Ideal out of Agnes Patron) won the first Derby heat for the night in a rate of 1:57.2 (last half 56.7), narrowly holding off fast-finishing Ideal For Real. Kerry Ann Turner trained and drove the winner, while the runner-up was from the in-form Emma Stewart camp with Gavin Lang in the cart. One Hell Of A Ride finished well for third, while Mach Doro was fourth but was an eye-catching run after working three-wide in the run. The winner of Derby heat two, Menin Gate, has to be a serious player in the final after an impressive run on Saturday night. The Larry Eastman trained gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere / Dreams Of Heaven rated 1:57.7 (last half 55.8) and motored to the line in the straight. Chris Alford drove the winner. Consistent Justbritell was second, Rule Of Thumb third and Artistic Flite fourth. 1st heat 2nd heat 3rd heat by Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria  

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