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Dublin, Ireland – New Zealand’s top harness racing driver, Dexter Dunn, is having a championship season that perhaps books can be written about. Not only has Dunn emerged as one of the top young drivers in the sport, having soundly beaten the best drivers from around the globe in capturing the 2015 World Driving Championship this winter, now he is becoming an international globetrotter. Thanks to the success of fellow New Zealander Anthony Butt, Dexter Dunn is now on a whirlwind semi-working tour of the British Isles and Europe, thanks also to his success as a harness racing driver. Dunn, 25, born and raised in Christchurch, NZ, just arrived in Dublin, Ireland late Tuesday night. Prior he spent three days in both Spain and Belgium. He will be in Dublin for a week and driving at Portmarnock Raceway Saturday and Sunday in the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial Weekend. “If you told me I would be traveling throughout Europe a year ago I would not have believed you.” Dunn said. “This is all so great.” Dunn had spoken with fellow horseman Anthony Butt about Anthony’s trip to Ireland last year for the Ladbrokes Vincent Delaney Memorial and Butt told him what a great adventure it was. Then Dunn wins the World Driving Championship, then Butt moves his operation from New Zealand to Australia and is in such demand as a driver he cannot miss the big races in Australia and cannot make a return trip to Ireland. “The next time I see Anthony,” Dunn said, “He tells me how he cannot make it back to Ireland this coming August and that he would ask race promoted Derek Delaney if I could come over. I said I would be keen to go and within a week or so I am in contact with Derek and here I am, traveling throughout Europe. What a thrill this is.” “When I first heard back from Anthony Butt that he could not make it make here to Dublin for my brother race I was disappointed.” Said Derek Delaney. “Then Anthony suggested that Dexter Dunn and trainer Cran Dalgety might be interested in coming and they agreed to attend, it all turned around to be great. Now I have the top driver and trainer from New Zealand coming for the race weekend. Plus having George Brennan and John McDermott coming from the USA is really going to make the Vincent Delaney Memorial race weekend something special.” Dunn is already listed to drive a few horses both Saturday and Sunday at Portmarnock and more may be on the way. “It will be great to compete here,” Dunn said, “Anthony told me what good men and women these Irish, Welsh, Scottish and British drivers are and I look forward to meeting them.” But it is not all work and no play for Dexter Dunn. “I never have been to Europe before,” Dunn explained, “so I told myself I better make it a grand trip and I have. After my week in Dublin I will head to London for a few days, then over to Paris and then I have booked myself on a small cruise vacation for just 40 people in Croatia. I saw it online, contacted the people and they said they had one opening left on one of the cruises, so I took it. “So far it has been a great holiday,” Dunn added, “I had friends and family to see and visit in Spain and Belgium, but when I go to London, Paris and then Croatia, I’m on my own.” Being able to mix business with pleasure is always a good thing as this reporter can most certainly attest to! By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com 

The $60,000 Southern Cross Finals for harness racing three year olds were held at Port Pirie last night and both the Colts/geldings and fillies divisions fell to warm favourites. Three year old colts/geldings Final Hez The One was a dominant favourite here even though he was poorly drawn at one on the second line. The well supported Blurred Lines with Mark Billinger in the bike grabbed the early lead from barrier five from another well supported runner in Officianado who settled into the trail. Danni Hill had Hez The One off the inside not long after the start but the son of Jeremes Jet settled a fair way back in the running line. Billinger was able to get away with a couple of cheap quarters in front which forced Danni to bring Hez The One forward three wide with just over a lap to go. The speed really went on from the 800 metres with the quarter down the back in 27.2 and Blurred Lines was the first to surrender passing the 500 metres mark. Danni shot Hez The One clear and he comfortably held them off for an impressive win. Officianado just as comfortably held second with Hit Maka battling on well for third. Hez The One paced the 2050 metres in 2:35.2, a mile rate of 2:01.9 with closing sectionals of 57.6 and 30.4. It was the 14th win from just 23 starts for the Rebecca East trained colt and took his earnings over the $120,000 mark Three year old fillies final On paper this looked a bit like an Emma Stewart benefit and that is exactly how it turned out. Even though she drew one second line, Lovelist was a pronounced favourite while Starburst Girl the stablemate was the second favourite. The one filly that could have possibly upset the Emma Stewart pair in Whats Emma Got, blew any winning chance she had when she galloped early when being rushed off the gate. Mark Billinger worked Lovelist off the inside early in the race and grabbed the lead after 500 metres. Starburst Girl in the hands of Anthony Butt worked hard for the first 600 metres from her wide second line draw before finding the death seat outside Lovelist.  Mark Billinger was in no real hurry in front, before upping the tempo passing the 800 metres mark. At that point Danni Hill sent Whats Emma Got forward but she was posted three wide when the speed went on and was having trouble hanging on to the Stewart pair passing the 400 metres. Lovelist opened up a handy break turning in and although Starburst Girl kept coming she never looked a serious winning threat. Whats Emma Got showed real tenacity to keep going and hold third after such a hard run.  Lovelist paced the 2050 metres in 2:33.1, a mile rate of 2:00.2 with smart closing sectionals of 56.5 and 28. It was the 13th win from just 24 starts for the daughter of Always A Virgin and took her earnings over the $130,000 mark. It was a night to remember for Mark Billinger who drove the winners of three of the four $60,000 finals on offer. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing reinsman Anthony Butt has experienced great successes in New Zealand and Australia but on Saturday night, he added a new notch to his success belt. Butt took off the annual Port Pirie Elders Insurance Drivers Invitation series. In the five race series Butt tallied 46 points to score a seven point win over hometown darling Kate Gath. “It was a great night,” Butt said. “It was the first time I had been to Port Pirie, it is a good country track. “It was good to get away with the fellow guys and girls, swap a few yarns and mix socially, it is not something we are able to do normally. “To come away with a winning double and to win the series was the icing on the cake,” Butt said. The final tally was Anthony Butt 46; Kate Gath 39; Michael Bellman 34; Wayne Hill 33; Ryan Hryhorec 27; Lance Justice 21; Brad Sims 18; Lisa Miles, Scott Ewen, Mark Billinger 16; Leah Harvey 15. Butt was at his brilliant best to land the initial heat. Driving the well backed Its Me Telowie ($7.50), Butt was three back on the fence in the run but weaved his way between runners in the home straight to grab a head win from Westfiftyfour driven by Michael Bellman ($11.70) with Maarek ($7.80), Brad Sims, just over two metres away third. Ryan Hyrhorec drove his own horse Abitgoingonhere ($1.90) to an easy 12.4 metre from Kenneth The Menace ($21.70), Kate Gath, with Melegend ($10.50), Anthony Butt 3.4 metres away third. Butt brought up a winning double with an all the way win on Rockets Gem ($3.30 fav) in the third heat scoring by 3.7 metres from Stashedbytheriver ($8.30) driven by Michael Bellman with Kate Gath on Sky Tower ($3.50) 7.2 metres away third. Gath, who celebrated a birthday a day earlier, landed Pretty In Red ($2.30 fav) an all the way winner by 12 metres  in the fourth heat from Chivaleer ($56.80) driven by Wayne Hill with Anthony Butt on Accessable ($16.50) 5.5 metres away third. Wayne Hill drove the $1.20 favourite Jet To Paris to an all the way win in the fifth and final heat but had a late challenge from Lance Justice on Ima Mighty Star ( $19.20) which got to within 1.3 metres with Mark Billinger on Arfer ($10.60) nine metres away third. Port Pirie club manager Neville Thomson said it had been another successful Elders Insurance Drivers Invitation. “We thank all the drivers for giving their time to be part of the series,” Thomson said. “A good crowd attended and there were some great races.” by Graham Fischer

Port Pirie 2015 Elders Invitation Drivers Series Saturday night 20th June is one of the feature harness racing meetings in South Australia where five of the best drivers from Victoria challenge six drivers from South Australia. The series is run over four races on the night with the driver with the most points winning the title. This series has been going now for forty years and has brought together a good line up of drivers as you can see by their profiles. Ex Port Pirie driver Kate Gath is making a return, while local driver Brad Sims will be aiming to again win the series as he did in 2006 Victorians Lance Justice: Driven 2865 winners, started his career here in SA and was great supporter of Northern harness racing when he was here. Has had lots of success over the years here and in Victoria with many good horses with the best being Sokyola and Smokem up. Always loves coming back here, won this series back in the ninety’s, won the trainers and drivers premiership here in 2000 the year the new track was opened, loves talking with the locals. Anthony Butt: Formerly from New Zealand where he drove 1609 winners and now situated in Victoria where he has driven another 694 winners while coming to and fro. This is Anthony’s first time at Port Pirie and he would really like to increase on his winning tally. Will be a good draw card having someone very approachable from NZ come here Michael Bellman: Has driven 952 winners in his career, participated in this series in 2011 where he was runner up to Lisa Miles. Is currently having a great year, being fifth on the Victorian State driver’s premiership having driven ninety winners. Is prepared to travel all over the state, having had over 1000 drives in Victoria this season, and we welcome him back Kate Gath: Has driven 942 winners so far in her career, Born and raised here in Port Pirie where she won the Port Pirie Drivers Premiership in 2004. Currently having a very good season, driving 83 winners so far and sits sixth on the Victorian State Drivers Premiership. Has been a regular competitor in this series over the last ten years where she tied in first place in 2013. Family and friends are sure to cheer on Kate help increase the crowd. Lisa Miles: Has driven 498 winners in her career always puts her hand up to come here for the series where she has had good success winning in 2011where she came at a days notice and 2013. Does really well training her small team of horses but is a great who competitor and would really love win her third series going back to back. SA Drivers Ryan Hryhorec: Has currently driven 1380 winners, is a regular here at Port Pirie having won the Drivers Premiership in 2008, 2011, 2014 and currently well in front this season in the drivers premiership. Tied in first in this series in 2012 and 2013 and has driven 130 winners in SA and Victoria this coming season. Tough competitor and is sure to account himself well Mark Billinger: One of the state’s top drivers has had 1014 career driving wins has had 62 wins this season and is currently fourth on the states leading driving premiership table. Always gives his horses a great run and has a good strike rate in the sulky. Wayne Hill: He is another regular driver here at Port Pirie has had 768 career wins, is currently fifth on the state driving premiership having driven 52 winners for the season. Wayne has come through the junior ranks and is a good competitor who has been in the series before and will account himself well. Leah Harvey: Has had 666 career wins, now getting towards the veteran stage having won this series in 2002 and 2010. Was the leading driver here at Port Pirie in 2001 and 2012 so she well and truly knows her way around the track here. She has represented the region well over the years on and off the track and it would not surprise if Leah won her third series. Scott Ewen: Has driven has  660 winners throughout his career and has been a regular here at nearly every meeting over the past five years, winning the Port Pirie driving premiership in 2013. Is currently having a good season having driven 45 winners, has competed in the series for the last three years without much luck but this could be his year. Brad Sims: Has driven 86 winners in his career, was the leading young driver in 2005 here at Port Pirie and had good success in winning this Drivers Series in 2006. Has also driven many placing throughout his career, has taken a trainers licence out this season and has had success with that. With limited opportunity he has always given his drives every chance. Good luck to all the drivers competing and also to David Harding who would have been here if it was not for nasty fall that he had at Globe Derby on 8th June. by Neville Thomson, Port Pirie Harness Racing Club Related Links Fields for Port Pirie, Saturday 20 June 2015 Form guide for Port Pirie, Saturday 20 June 2015

It didn’t take long to realise harness racing trainer Brent Lilley might be in for a good night at Tabcorp Park Melton. But not many could have predicted just how well the script would play out for the Bolinda horseman, who walked away from tonight's Trotters Oaks meeting with five wins – including the two feature races. It all began with five-year-old Live Or Die/Trustee Mota gelding Crusader Acey, who showed his last-start win at Shepparton was no fluke with victory in the DNR Logistics Pace over 1720m to open the program. From barrier seven reinsman Anthony Butt produced a carbon copy of his steer aboard Hollywood Sign last month when it won the Rising Stars Final, driving Crusader Acey across the field early to find the pegs before handing up to the favourite, Macho Comacho. Crusader Acey out-sprinted Macho Comacho late along the sprint lane to win by a neck in a mile rate of 1:54.1. Lilley notched a winning double in the fourth race with five-year-old Monarchy/Sun Mist mare Rosemma. The foolproof trotter dashed to the lead early from barrier five for Rodney Petroff, while stablemate and race favourite Kyvalley Pink blew its chances by galloping away. Rosemma rated 2:00.7 to hold off a fast-finishing Mister Independent by 1.1m in the Garrards Horse and Hount Trot. Lilley and Butt then snared Race 7, the TAB.com.au Pace ,with impressive gelding Lets Elope (by Real Desire out of Alta Vista), finding the lead from barrier two before staving off all comers at the finish. Lets Elope carved out splits of 30.4secs, 29.8secs, 28.5secs and 27.6secs, clocking a 1:56.4 mile rate. Punters backed Lilley and Butt in to do it again in Race 8, the night’s feature, the $60,505 Group 1 Noel Simpson Memorial Trotters Oaks. Favourite backers were grinning 2mins and 47secs after the mobile arms folded back, My Arya leading from start to finish to register a 3m win over Amarula with Little Miss Zigzag flashing home for third. The Angus Hall filly held out an early challenge from Fiery Mountain Girl to lead before getting away with a 61.3secs first half at the head of affairs. She upped the tempo down the back the last time and took the zing out of any chasers with a 28secs third quarter. Sprinting home in 29.8secs, My Arya never looked like being headed and has now won 10 of her 11 Australian starts. Her winning mile rate for tonight’s 2240m trip was 2:00.4. Lilley and Butt capped the night in Race 9 by taking out the Pryde’s Easifeed Tatlow Stakes for two-year-old trotters with Kyvalley Tinman. The son of Majestic Son/Kyvalley Kitty sat on the speed in the run before out-staying his rivals, quickly getting the better of early leader Calder Knight turning for home before seeing off a late charge by impressive filly Princess Phoenix for a 1.3m win in 2:04.2 for the 2240m journey. While Lilley made the headlines with five winners, Butt’s performance should be undersold, finishing with a metropolitan quartet of his own. In other results, Aldebaran Macha easily took out the Good Form Pace over 2240m for David and Josh Aiken, the son of Mach Three/Aldebaran Bromac too good for runner-up Hez The Wild Card in 1:56.2. Anton Golino and Todd McCarthy took out the Group 2 Bacardi Lindy Mares Trot with rising star Arboe, who held off Vics Cheval at the finish by 3.2m. Arboe, by Love You out of Lough Neagh, has now won five of six starts and has genuine star power. Arboe rated 1:59.0 over the 2240m, Claudys Princess finishing third beaten 13.2m by the winner. Bringing up a double for Todd McCarthy was Glenferrie Hood, a pacer making a name for himself in Victoria with two straight wins here. The son of Christian Cullen/Niftey Franco found the lead from gate seven early and ran along to record a mile rate of 1:53.7, defeating Sapphire Swayze by 3.6m with Im Barney Rubble third. Shes A Runa notched her 16th win at start No.27 by taking out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship Final for trainer Amanda Turnbull and driver Nathan Jack. The Jeremes Jet/Runacullen mare, a four-year-old, was 7.3m too strong for Gollahman, while in-form Ithappenstobeametro stuck on gamely for third. The winner’s mile rate was 1:55.5. Trainer Dean Braun looks to have another star on his hands in the form of Wardwell, who won tonight’s Pegasus Club 3YO Pace Final over 2240m. The gelding by Mach Three out of Ohappy Daze won by 7.4m over Starwyn Jasper with Brighty Valentine third in a rate of 1:59.0. Wardwell has now won three from three and bigger races look on his agenda moving forward. David Miles and his talented four-year-old Smokey Quartz capped the night with a gutsy success over Masterofthurles, that pair racing well clear of third placegetter Thunder Fee in the last race, the 2Construct Pace Final over 1720m. Smokey Quartz and Masterofthurles were involved in a speed war early, the latter eventually holding up and Smokey Quartz dropping to the leader’s back. From there Smokey Quartz eventually got out, rounded up the early pace setter and went on to score by 2.8m in a rate of 1:56.4. Smokey Quartz is a son of the great Courage Under Fire out of Pareen. View replays of all tonight's races and get full results by Cody Winnell

Whirily School and Showgun Thomas have taken out the Empire Stallions Vicbred Platinum Home Grown Classic two-year-old Finals at the harness arcing meeting at Tabcorp Park Melton last night.   Whirily School won the fillies’ final for trainer Emma Stewart and driver Greg Sugars as an odds-on favourite at $1.50, while Chris Alford combined with trainer Heath Redwood to take out the colts and geldings’ final with Showgun Thomas at $12 after race favourite Hellbewright galloped early and lost all chance.   Whirily School, by Courage Under Fire out of Mayhappen, found the front early from the 1720-metre start and controlled the race, jogging through a 32.7secs second quarter after an opening stanza of 29.9secs for a 62.2secs first half.   Greg Sugars had his rivals stacked up off the back after a third split of 30.7secs before the impressive young pacer extended and left his rivals paddling, dashing home in 27.4secs for a 3.3m win in a mile rate of 2:00.2.   New Romantics finished second after trailing the leader throughout from the pole, while Courageous Call moved to the breeze early and battled on for third just ahead of Swiftly Tothebeach.   Showgun Thomas, by Bettors Delight out of Forest Charm, won a roughhouse affair in the two-year-old boys’ division, Alford driving the polemarker through along the sprint lane from the leader’s back spot in the home stretch to edge out Pop The Cork (Anthony Butt) and Four Starzzz Forsa (John Justice) in a thriller.   The second horse had to survive a protest post-race from the third and fifth (That’s How Weroll) placegetters.   Showgun Thomas rated 1:57.0.   Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

Brent Lilley, who dominated Saturday night's Great Southern Star harness racing program at Melton, enjoyed another big night tonight with a winning double at Bray Raceway, Ballarat. The Bolinda trainer won Races 1 and 5, combining with gun driver Anthony Butt for the pair. Flying McPocket rated 1:58.6 over 2200 metres in the Flying Horse Bistro Pace, the four-year-old McArdle / Fleets Pocket mare scoring by 2.5m over Wingofwaves at juicy odds of $11.90. Polemarker Jilliby Diablo and Greg Sugars had sufficient gate speed to hold out an early challenge from Mister McKinnon (gate five) and Michael Sullivan, the latter able to jag on to the leader’s back for the box-seat trip. Flying McPocket settled third-last in the running line as they negotiated the first 600m in 43.5. The $1.30 favourite, Our Petite Soeur, was in the breeze from virtually the get-go for Gavin Lang from gate three. Opening quarters of 30.9 and 30.4 made for a 61.3 first half, the leaders getting their chance. A 28.3 third quarter was clocked as the favourite made its move, moving up to eyeball the leader at the home turn. But when Lang asked the punter’s fancy for her maximum effort she failed to offer much resistance, Flying McPocket sprouting wings out wide. Flying McPocket showed a tremendous burst to win (last half-mile 57.2), with Wingofwaves also finding the line strongly down the outside in second place. Mister McKinnon ran third with Jilliby Diablo fourth and Our Pete Soeur fifth. The second leg of Lilley’s double came in the fifth race, Sazzasophie saluting in the Heinz and Partners 3YO Pace over 2200m in 2:01.7. The filly by Art Major from I Izz Sassy came out of gate two and was able to angle on to the back of early leader Bella Sainz (the $3.10 favourite) for a slipstream after about 100m. With Zac Phillips in the cart Bella Sainz paced the first half in 64.2, Michelle Wight aboard the death-seating Ithappensinvegas content to let her runner amble along without putting too much pressure on the pacemaker to the 500m, before trying to take closer order when Siliqua (David Murphy) made his advance three-wide-no-cover. Upping the ante through a 29.6 third quarter, Bella Sainz tried to skip clear at the top of the stretch but wasn’t able to, the inside run appearing for Sazzasophie as Ithappensinvegas worked to a narrow lead, the Lilley filly too strong in the last 50m for a 2.2m win. Ithappensinvegas showed character to dead-heat for second from the breeze at big odds, with Ears No Trouble (John Caldow) the other runner-up. Ross Creek trainer Stephen Clarke won Race 2, the T J Coutts Electrical Trotters Handicap with five-year-old Bacardi Lindy / Downsouth Rose gelding William John in a rate of 2:03.4 for the 2200m stand-start trip. Emma Stewart combined with Amanda Turnbull for victory with Starburst Girl in the R U Advertising Pace, the Art Major / Celebrity Ball filly rating 1:54.8 for the 1710m journey to beat Lucky VC by 1.9m. Debutant Time Keepa Lombo produced a peach of a debut for trainer/driver David Miles to salute in the Newington Physiotherapy 2YO Vicbred Pace, the colt by Lombo Pocket Watch out of Lady Muluka Lombo overcoming a couple of checks in running for a half-neck win over Undercover Don in 1:58.9 from the ace draw over 1710m. Zac Phillips drove Uroc Mman to a 1.7m victory as $2.80 favourite in the National Tiles Pace over 2200m, the five-year-old by Mach Three out of Executive Lady rating 1:59.4 from barrier nine. David Lewis-trained American Ideal / Atomic Fusion entire The Fat Man showed again that he’s got top-class potential with a 5.1m win over Dentona in the MDS Accounting Pace over 2200m. John Caldow drove The Fat Man to victory in a rate of 1:57.7, leading from start to finish after coming out of the two-gate. The other highly rated horse in the field, Clark Griswold, came in fourth for reinsman Matthew Craven after working to the breeze in the middle stages from the second line. And Chris Svanosio trained-and-driven four-year-old Majestic Son / Steffi Jay trotter Majestic Ess Jay won the Cantebury International Trot to close the program in a rate of 2:04.7. >> Check out all the Ballarat results and video replays by Cody Winnell

Harness racings big day on Sunday at Menangle features several great clashes and we thought we would preview them all this week with a runner by runner assessment First up is the Ladyship Mile. 1) Frith - Starts 40 -  Wins 30 - Seconds 6 -Thirds 2  -  Stakes $819,572 Frith is surprisingly only having her third lifetime start over a mile, all of which have been at Menangle with her best time to date being 1:53 We are not convinced the one draw suits her that much as say two or three as there is plenty of gate speed outside Frith and she may end up getting crossed at the start. She is a great stayer but hasn't had a run for a month so question marks remain about her race fitness but her class will take her a long way. One of Adore Me's two biggest  threats. 2) Pas Ultimate Delight - Starts - 41 - Wins 12 - Seconds 4 - Thirds 6  -  Stakes $134,411 Has continued to improve since coming to Australia but this still looks a bit rich at this stage.  Does have a best time of 1:52.3 and from her draw of two we think Lauren will make a serious play for the front early but we are of the opinion Pas Ultimate Delight is better driven with a sit and we give her an outside first  four chance if she is driven like that. 3) Dynamite Denn Nee - Starts 90 - Wins 17 - Seconds 15 - Thirds 12 - Stakes $181,628  (2nd Emrg) Has been in good touch lately including a second to Frith two starts back so probably unlucky to be on the ballot but is unlikely to get a start. Rough first four player if she did. 4) Beauty Secret - Starts 54 - Wins 24 - Seconds - 9 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $ 393,451 Will come into barrier three if there are no scratchings and from there she is a real danger to the two favourites.  Has real gate speed if Gavin Lang wants to use it and can also run a big half if held up as she showed in the Robin Dundee on Miracle Mile night where she brushed home in 54 flat in front. Has the all round game to trouble the two favourites and with Gavin in the bike you just know he will give her the run that she needs. 5) Major Foxy Styx - Starts - 24 - Wins 11 - Seconds 4 - Thirds - 1  -  Stakes $197,830  Has built up a great record in Perth and stamped that form with a win in the Ladyship Cup at Melton on Hunter Cup night beating amongst others Beauty Secret.  However  she did get a dream run that night and even with the mercurial Luke McCarthy in the bike we can't see her winning the race on Sunday with the three favourites having a class edge but she is still a definite first four player for us. 6) Tact Hayleys Delight - Starts 72 - Wins 11 - Seconds 15 - Thirds - 6  -  Stakes $160,016 In career best form at the moment but from the draw we think she has a hard job to get some of this. We think she will have to go back from the draw and try to have one run at them late in the race but we can't see her rolling over the top of  the favourites and for us she is an outside place chance at best. 7) Laterron - Starts 82 - Wins 16 - Seconds 16 - Thirds 11  -  Stakes $173,515 - ( 1st Emer ) Produced a great run when a handy fourth to Adore Me in the Brian Hancock Cup on Saturday night and her connections must feel slightly aggrieved to be on the ballot.  Laterron has beaten Elusive Chick home the last three times they have met and that combined with the run in the Brian Hancock Cup should have seen her make the field. Great place chance if she gains re-entry into the field. 8) Courageousnquick - Starts 42 - Wins 16 - Seconds 6 - Thirds 4  -  Stakes $204,352 Quality mare who has just had two runs back from a spell but the draw has negated her biggest asset which is her blinding gate speed. We still think that Anthony Butt will press the go button early and if she happened to get the front she would present all kind of problems for Frith. Definite place chance if "Ants" can work his magic early 9) Rathmore Lady - Starts 76 - Wins 17 - Seconds 19 - Thirds 8  -  Stakes $147,976  On her day a very handy mare but is inconsistent and can throw the toys out of the cot every now and again. On her best behaviour she would be a rough first four chance but the draw and the quality of the field leads us to think she has a mountain to climb.  Not for us. 10) Pemberton Shard - Starts 55 - Wins 11 - Seconds 7 - Thirds 11  -  Stakes $212 997 If there is a smokey in this years race then Pemberton Shard is it for us. A mile is maybe a touch short of her best but she is a super tough mare who needs the speed on and that's exactly what she will get on Sunday. Has struggled to cope with Adore Me in New Zealand but then again who hasn't  and has gone some great races in behind her in mares races. Dexter Dunn in the bike is a big plus and she is a big first four player for us. 11) Elusive Chick - Starts 57 - Wins 13 - Seconds 11 - Thirds 11  -  Stakes $389,147 A high quality mare who was in good form earlier in the season but whose form has tapered off badly with her only placing in her last six starts a win in a five horse field just before Xmas. Throw in the draw for a mare who likes to race on the speed and we struggle to see her running in four. Not for us. 12) Adore Me - Starts 34 - Wins 25 - Seconds 4 - Thirds 2  -  Stakes $1,503,429  A great racemare who has the same visitors draw as she had last year when she was beaten. The field this year is stronger in our opinion but Adore Me has gone to another level this season as well. This year the All Stars team have arrived earlier and given her a run leading into the race which is all a positive in our book. The change of driver took us by surprise a bit but Natalie has been in unbelievable form this season in New Zealand and the change is a plus not a minus in our view. Clear first pick for us even from the draw. Selections Adore Me is a clear first pick for us In the end we couldn't separate Frith and Beauty Secret for second even if logic said Frith Others to throw into multiples include Courageousnquick, Pemberton Shard, Major Foxy Styx and if you are going a bit wider Tact Hayleys Delight. Harnesslink Media

American trotter Real Babe will make her Australian harness racing debut at Shepparton on Saturday night. Prepared by Jayne Davies, Real Babe will contest the Group Three George Gath, which has attracted a stellar field. The mare has had two trials ahead of her Down Under debut, finishing second at her most recent hit-out at Tabcorp Park Melton on Monday. To be driven by Anthony Butt, who has partnered the daughter of Donato Hanover at both trials, Real Babe’s task has been made tough by drawing gate seven – the outside of the front row. Real Babe is here for the Great Southern Star on March 7, one of two international invitees for the series. Star local Spidergirl will resume after a five-month break for trainer David Aiken. Last season’s dominant squaregaiter, with victories in the Vicbred and Breeders’ Crown Finals, Spidergirl will begin from the inside of the second row. With quick beginner Flying Isa drawn the pole, Spidergirl is likely to enjoy the perfect trip along the pegs. In a terrific coup for the Victorian industry, all trot races at Shepparton will be broadcast live into France for wagering purposes. Harness Racing Victoria will receive a product fee for beaming the action into the world's biggest trotting market. HRV Media

Promising filly All Under Control lived up to her name in last Saturday night’s Empire Stallions Home Grown Classic at Tabcorp Park Melton. Despite going into the Group One as a maiden, and one of the outsiders as $40.90, All Under Control was never in danger of being beaten. Impressed with the trotter’s performance, trainer Brent Lilley will aim All Under Control towards features such as the Victoria Oaks and Vicbred Super Series. “She’s still got to improve a fair bit, but she goes along well,” Lilley said. “I will wait until her next start or two to see if this was a one off or if she can keep producing those kinds of runs. “There is a bit to like about her on this run, especially the way she responded when Anthony (Butt, driver) showed her the whip. “He gave her one crack up the straight to keep her mind on the job and she found a bit like good horses so.” After travelling midfield from the outside of the front row, All Under Control completed a metre-and-a-half win from Casa Fundada, with Zaire Diva a half-head away third. “I went into the race thinking she was a rough chance, but she really put in,” Lilley said. “On that run, and with a bit of improvement as she gains experience, I’ll have a look at races like the Oaks and Sires’ Stake.” Covering the last half in 60.6 seconds, the daughter of Majestic Son rated 2:02 for the 1720 metres. PAUL COURTS

He is already one of the most successful reinsman in Victoria’s major harness racing events, so why not become a local? That’s the logic behind New Zealand driver Anthony Butt’s decision to relocate to the state. Despite his status as a Kiwi, Butt boasts a record seven A G Hunter Cups, having scored with Blossom Lady in 1994 and ’95, Mister D G 2004, Mr Feelgood ’09, Stunin Cullen ’11, Choise Achiever ’12 and Mah Sish in ’13. Mister D G is a son of Blossom Lady. Butt has also won the Ballarat Cup (Stunin Cullen 2011 and Mah Sish’13), Australian Grand Prix (Take A Moment 2002), Australasian Trotting Championship (Lyell Creek 2000 and ’01), Bill Collins Mile (Lyell Creek ’01, Take A Moment 2002 and ’03) V L Dullard Cup (Lyell Creek 2000 and ’01), Great Southern Star (Vulcan 2013) and the Moonee Valley Inter Dominion (Lyell Creek 2000) Making the move across the Tasman to be stable driver to another former Kiwi – trainer Brent Lilley – Butt will be based on Melton. “It’s been in the pipeline for a while now, but the time is right,” Butt explained. “The clincher was being able to drive for Brent. “Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some other drives as well. The important thing when making a move like this though is to have a good base. “Everywhere you go is a different racing style. In New Zealand they race very different in the North Island compared to the South Island and in Australia they race differently in all the states. But I’ve always been able to adapt pretty well. “It’ll take me three or four weeks to get my head around the form of the lesser races. It’s easier to know the form from the bigger races because you’ve watched those closely.” Butt hasn’t wasted time finding making way to the winners’ circle, registering a feature double at Gunbower yesterday. Driving for Lilley, Butt captured the Trotters’ Cup with Kvintet Avenger and the Pacing Cup with Lets Elope. The latter has Butt eyeing another A G Hunter Cup victory in February. “Lets Elope looks as though the Hunter Cup might suit him,” Butt said. “He’s an up-and-comer and he’s good from the stand, so it ticks a couple of boxes.” PAUL COURTS

Harness racing competitors always tend to go better when their confidence is up, which of course, makes perfect sense. And Brent Lilley has his Bolinda team firing on all cylinders right now! Lilley took home all the silverware from Gunbower yesterday, snatching the Bill Poxon Memorial Gunbower Trotters Cup with in-form Kvintet Avenger and the Gunbower Pacing Cup with talented gelding Lets Elope. Speaking of talented ex-Kiwis, Lilley is based in Australia after moving across the Tasman, while winning reinsman Anthony can also lay claim to the title as news came through last night he would be basing himself full-time in Victoria. “He’s going to work mornings for me and he’ll do most of my stable driving,” Lilley said. “Rodney Petroff has been very good though and has done a great job for me, so we’ll still be looking after Rodney as well and Anthony is aware of that.” Butt will live in Melton with his move is yet another windfall for Victoria following last week’s announcement trainer Nicole Molander is moving from New South Wales, while James Rattray will be spend the summer in the state. A seven-year-old by Love You out of Nobes Hanover, Kvintet Avenger was simply too good in the Cup with a record-breaking performance. Successful at six of his eight Australian starts, the stallion rated 2:02.9 for the 2630-metre trip. “Anthony said he actually won quite easily and he was never worried in the run,” Lilley said. Kvintet Avenger will eventually have to tackle the might of Keystone Del, My High Expectations, but Lilley will avoid the topliners for as long as he can. “I’d rather dodge the top ones as best I can for the moment, but of course he’ll eventually have to take them on,” Lilley declared. Lilley stated the Australian Trotting Championship during the Sumer of Glory carnival would be a realistic target on the way to hopefully securing a berth in the Great Southern Star next March. Kvintet Avenger Lets Elope also broke the track record with a power display of pacing. Shrugging off a 20-metre handicap, Lets Elope rated 1:57.9 to register an easy victory in the 2630-metres feature. “He had a great run. Anthony drove him a treat,” Lilley said. “We’re really looking forward to the summer with this horse. “We’ll probably now go to some metro races. He’s an M1. He wasn’t far from them in New Zealand, so it’d be no surprise to me for him to be a Hunter Cup horse.” Lets Elope HRV Media

The Butt brothers Tim and Anthony announced today that their imported superstar trotter Peak had been retired and would now take up full time stud duties. Peak was the flagship for an attempt by the Butt brothers to strengthen the trotting breed down under. The trotting breed in Australasia has always been the poor cousin in the harness racing industry in the Southern Hemisphere. Pacing has always been in the ascendancy and with access to the best sires in the world for the last fifteen plus years has closed the gap with North America. Trotting broodmare owners have not been as well served over the same period but in the last two or three years attempts have been made on several fronts to change that. One of those attempts was the importation of three well bred and performed European trotters by the well respected Butt brothers. Having witnessed first hand on their travels to Europe the ability and gait of European sired trotters, the Butt brothers imported the three entires and syndicated them to stable clients with a view to racing them first and then standing them at stud if they proved themselves in local conditions. As most people realize, it was a very brave decision to try to bring three stallions half way around the world and attempt to get them to adjust to the different racing style in New Zealand and the different training methods. The first of the three stallions to set foot on a New Zealand track was the son of the French super sire Ganymede in Peak. Although not 100% ready,Peak made his New Zealand debut in the Group 3 trotters Flying Mile at Ashburton in October 2013 and what a debut it was. Parked early, Peak worked to the front after 400 metres for Anthony Butt but was attacked from a long way out by The Fiery Ginga which should have made him a sitting duck in the straight. The whole way up the long Ashburton straight Peak lead and come post time he was still in front after cutting out the mile in 1:57.6. It was a wonderful introduction to New Zealand racing and held the promise of better things to come. Second up was the $80,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting FFA on Cup Day in 2013. Parked for the first 800 metres, Anthony took Peak to the front with 1200 metres to go and in a replay of Ashburton was immediately attacked again by The Fiery Ginga. Clear as they turned for home, Peak was challenged by a wall of trotters with 100 metres to go and when seemingly beaten got off the canvas to come back and grab the win. Peak's winning time was 2:26.4, a mile rate of 1:57.7 over the 2000 metres which was just outside the New Zealand record held by I Can Doosit It was a stunning performance and one that cemented him as one of the favourites for the $250,000 Group 1 Dominion Handicap three days later. Away well, Peak was shuffled back in the running line before joining the three wide chain at the 800 metres mark. Sent four wide by Anthony at the 500 metres mark, Peak looked poised to challenge as he ranged up to the leaders with 200 to go but then uncharacteristically broke and lost all chance. Sore the next morning, Peak has fought soundness issues ever since. Given a long break, Peak was readied for the 2014 New Zealand Cup meeting but when the pressure went on the soundness problems returned. Already available to New Zealand trotting breeders as Peak combined training with stud work, Peak has already served over twenty mares this season and with the announcement today of his retirement from the track that number should swell by a lot more before the end of the breeding season. The Butt brothers have had several champion trotters through their barn over the years with the likes of Lyell Creek 1:52.4 $2,961,137 and Take A Moment 1:56.7 $1,164,356 to name just two but their is no mistaking how highly they rated Peak. Anthony was effusive in his praise of the son of Ganymede. “The most clean gaited trotter I have ever driven. He is the perfect trotter with speed, gait , heart and manners. When you ask him to go he goes, and keeps going” he said. Tim was no less impressed by the abilities of Peak. “He is such a beautiful horse with a massive heart and superb attitude. He has an unbelievable gait, far superior to any other trotter I have trained. His will to win was his biggest asset,"  he said. Standing for a fee of $2500 +GST, Peak should get his chance to make it as a sire. The two other trotters brought in from Europe with Peak have been a mixed bag to date. Kvintet Avenger had one start in New Zealand before joining the Brent Lilley stable in Victoria where he has looked a trotter on the rise. In seven starts for Lilley, Kvintet Avenger has had five wins and two placings for $41,388 in stakes and looks headed for the best grades.  The other import was Sir Lexington who has won one race from six appearances to date but has had a decent spell and bigger things are expected of him when he resumes shortly. All things considered the Butt brothers should take a lot of heart out of the fact they were able to transport a horse like Peak half way around the world and turn him out a winner at the highest level. Harnesslink Media      

The North Island has won the fifth annual ‘Island Of Origin’ series at Alexandra Park. The Peter Ferguson captained team of six beat the South Island by 25 points to 11 tonight (Friday August 29th). Points were awarded on a 3-2-1 basis for first, second, and third. Ferguson was rapt with the victory. “We didn’t come here to run second. It’s a great concept and I’m rapt to have won it. We all did our bit. 3-2 sounds very nice,” Fergie said. South Island captain Ricky May, who replaced the suspended Anthony Butt as skipper, enjoyed the night. “It’s a great concept especially with owners getting penalty free wins. We were going pretty good early on and then we faded a bit," May said. The North Island paid $1.80 for their third victory. “I really enjoyed it and am always proud to represent the South Island,” he added. Zac Butcher won the Individual title and paid $4.60 on the New Zealand TAB. He amassed eight points thanks to two wins and a second. Blair Orange (six points) finished second with two wins, while Tony Herlihy (MNZM) was third with five points from two seconds and a third. ‘The Postman’ aka Orange delivered in the first heat with a win behind the Andrew and Lyn Neal trained Lucky Fortune. Butcher then won the second heat behind the Stephen Doody trained Te Kawau, while Ferguson led the way with a third heat victory behind the Richard Brosnan trained Torbjorn. The fourth heat went to Orange and the Roni Lauren trained I Got Rhythm before Butcher won the fifth heat behind the Stewart Ashworth trained Machinegun Kelly. The last heat was won by Todd Mitchell and the Peter Scaife trained Rip Roaring. The teams were: North Island: Peter Ferguson (c), Tony Herlihy (MNZM), Todd Mitchell, Philip Butcher, Zac Butcher, and Scott Phelan. South Island: Ricky May (c), Gerard O’Reilly, Dexter Dunn, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, and Mark Jones. The Island Of Origin winners: 2014: North Island. 2013: North Island. 2012: South Island. 2011: South Island. 2010: North Island. Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand

Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety has joined Patumahoe’s Geoff Small as NZ’s most successful trainers of Group One Breeders Crown Final winners after Katy Perry’s hard fought success in last Sunday’s $A297,000 Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Australasian Breeders Crown 2YO Fillies Final at Tabcorp Park, Melton. Both have achieved five Breeders Crown Final successes in the specialised two-four age group categories, just one ahead of NZ’s premier trainer Mark Purdon. Cran Dalgety’s growing list of ABC Grand Final winners is: Sparks A Flyin (2001 3YO fillies), Smiling Shard (2009 2YO colts/geldings), Bit Of A Legend (2012-13 3YO colts/geldings) and Katy Perry (2014 2YO fillies). Former world champion driver Mark Jones partnered Sparks A Flyin. Current NZ champion Dexter Dunn has driven the stable runners since 2009. The Kentuckiana Lodge mentor is challenging as NZ’s most successful trainer at the Breeders Crown, taking into account his additional three Grand Final seconds _ Smiling Shard (2010 3YO colts/geldings), Onlyforyou (2012 2YO fillies) and Bit Of A Legend (2014 4YO entires/geldings). Northern-based, but Canterbury-raised Geoff Small, set the early pace among the Kiwis. Small’s ABC Pacing Grand Final winners are: Pullover Brown (2003 3YO Fillies), Changeover (2007 3YO Colts/geldings), Tintin In America (2009 3YO Colts/geldings), De Lovely (2010 3YO Fillies) and Cowgirls N Indians (2011 2YO Fillies). He also has a Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA (open class race) to his credit, with All Tiger in 2009. Recuperating Cambridge driver David Butcher has partnered all but one of Small’s ABC winners. Templeton driver Anthony Butt partnered Pullover Brown for her ABC win after also driving her to win the NZ Oaks that season.  Anthony Butt, a close second driving Joanne’s A Delight in last Sunday’s 2YO Fillies Final, also won the 1998 ABC 3YO Fillies Final driving Under Cover Lover, Mark Purdon, who gained early ABC Final training successes with Galleons Assassin (2005 2YO trot) and Fly Like An Eagle (2012 3YO colts/geldings), doubled his quota when (My) Ayra (2YO fillies trot) and Follow The Stars (2YO colts/geldings) delivered last Sunday. His additional driving win with (Our) Twentyten (who he formerly trained) in the 3YO trot final on Sunday, makes him jointly NZ’s top driver in the 2-4YO age group catergories, with David Butcher, who besides the Small-trained winners, also reined Miami H to win the 2010 3YO trot final for trainers Derek Balle and Owen Gillies. Victorian trotting training master Chris Lang is the most successful Breeders Crown trainer with seven wins. His successes, all in ABC trot finals, are: Kyvalley Road (2002-03 2 & 3YO trot), Right Interest (2006 3YO trot), Skyvalley (2008-09 3 & 4YO trot) and Let Me Thru (2009-10 3 & 4YO trot). Lang has also added three Group Two Australasian Breeders Crown Graduate FFA wins, a race for open class trotters, with former champ, Sundons Gift (2007-08 & 2010). Lang’s brother, champion Victorian reinsman Gavin, although winless at the Breeders Crown this year, remains the most successful driver in Breeders Crown Finals, with 10 successes. Courtsey Of Cran Dalgety Racing

Harness racing often throws up great contests when the Kiwis and Australians meet in battle but the Breeders Crown semis at Ballarat tonight were very one sided with the Kiwis in complete control. In the first semi final, Linda Lovegrace was sent straight to the front by Mark Purdon from barrier four and dictated a solid tempo from the start.  Niki No No worked early from barrier five to get up outside Linda Lovegrace but then proceeded to badly over race with a 29 quarter outside the leader as Greg Sugars fought to get her to settle. Given more reign as they turned for home Linda Lovegrace shot away but then had to withstand a huge finish from the other Kiwi in the race in Cyclone Kate but had enough in reserve to hold on by a length. Linda Lovegrace paced the 2200 meters in 2:41.5, a mile rate of 1:58.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 27.7 Cyclone Kate was sent forward three wide from the 600 meters and to get as close as she did was a big effort and she is a filly that has really improved in the last few weeks. Lettucesomewhere lobbed the trail from barrier one and battled on for third while Niki No No stuck on bravely for fourth after pulling her head off most of the way. The first two looked a class above the competition and both will approach the final with some confidence. Linda Lovegrace In the second semi final Big Lucy and Mark Purdon grabbed an early lead from barrier three before handing up to Kate Perry and Dexter Dunn from barrier four. There was a lot of early moves from the back in this heat and when the dust settled, Joannes A Delight with Anthony Butt in the bike was in the death seat outside Kate Perry with Soho Tokyo on her back. Dexter and Kate Perry snuck a quiet quarter down the back and then brushed home in 27.1 to hold out a game Joannes A Delight by half a neck with Big Lucy finishing third after being unable to clear the pocket. Soho  Tokyo was unable to get clear until late in the race and finished fourth and the same applies to Bamako Mali who finished fifth. Kate Perry paced the 2200 meters in 2:41, a mile rate of 1:57.8 with closing sectionals of 56.5 and 27.1. Joannes A Delight was game in defeat after doing a truck load of work while Big Lucy was going double with no where to go in the straight. The first three home were all Kiwis and after the two semis, the  Kiwis would appear to have a stranglehold on the 2 year old fillies division. Kate Perry Harnesslink Media 

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