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In his debut run, Jaccka Cooper provided a change of luck for owners Charlie and Alisa Smaill. The Smaills have had a string of placings recently with horses they own and yesterday’s win was welcomed by the couple who were on course to see the win. Jaccka Cooper is out of Art Major mare Comeon Jaccka which won a race for Ascot Park trainer Wayne Adams. “She had a bit of speed but didn’t carry on with it,” Charlie said. Comeon Jaccka is out of Comeon Franco which the Smaills purchased at a Wayne Francis sale in the mid 2000s. Comeon Jaccka was by Holmes Hanover out of Cherubic. Jaccka Cooper has taken a bit of time to organise but appears to be getting the hang of the racing game. “He looked quite nice as a three year old and I sent him down to Brett’s but his head didn’t grow with his body. He got upset with grit so we brought him home and turned him out.” In yesterday’s maiden race Jaccka Copper lead and had to withstand constant pressure throughout the run but he had enough resolve to hang on to win by a neck from Sentry which came up the passing lane. The A Rocknroll Dance gelding has been to the fore at trials and workouts. “He’s had four preparation runs and he’s won the lot.” Smaill who’s held a trainers licence off and on over the years, still like to be hands on at his Riversdale property. “Usually I do about a month with them before they go to Brett’s. I have a lady who’s worked for me for years. We get them up and running and reasonably fit.” Smaill mainly breeds trotters these days and particularly likes Janine Jaccka’s three year old colt Jaccka John. “I quite like him. I also have a Father Patrick that’s a brother to Jasmine Jaccka. He’s a bit headstrong but I quite like him too.” Meanwhile Paul Andrews trained his first winner when Tad Lincoln won his maiden race at Ascot Park. The six year old Sir Lincoln gelding out of Lady Writer was bred by John Earl and Tom Kilkelly. Earl trained him initially, then Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis had him for a number of starts. He also had a short stint for Adrian Wohlers before Andrews took him on in June of this year. He’s had fifteen starts for Andrews and at times has looked as though he could win another race. Andrews has held a license since 1993 and prior to this win has taken horses to the races 147 times. From gate four driver Mark Hurrell pushed Tad Lincoln forward but was left parked for the first lap before Marika gave him cover. At the 300 Hurrell pulled the gelding out and he came down the middle of the track to win by two lengths from Man I’m Good. Tad Lincoln was at odds of 28 to 1.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    A trip to the deep south several months ago led to junior driver Max Hill winning his first race with Watch Me Now at Ascot Park on Wednesday. The son of Canterbury trainer Brendon Hill rated the Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis trained mare perfectly in front to help her beat a smart field in her first start since February. Hill has established himself as a junior driver and gone on to notch his first win after what was meant to be a routine trip to Southland. “I left school was fifteen and started working for Dad and I worked for Mark Jones for a while when they were training together.” “I took a couple of horses down south one time and I never went home.” “I love it down here working for Tank and Kirstin.” Watch Me Now led throughout with Hill deciding not to hand the lead to rival Maximus Prost in the early stages. When the attackers came at to put pressure on the pair before the home turn the four-year-old found plenty under Hill’s urgings. “When the other horses came at her she really got going.” “That is her really – she lifted when they came up to her.” Hill praised his employers for trusting him to drive such a smart mare, who took her record to four wins from six starts on Wednesday. “I am getting looked after really well down here.” “It’s really good of Tank and Kirstin to let me drive that horse, she is a really smart mare.” Hill credits Ricky May for giving him early guidance with the finer points of race driving. The junior driver had 11 drives before landing his first win with Watch Me Now. Since starting out Hill has had plenty of support and encouragement from the Southland driving ranks. “Ricky is like family to us, so I talk to him a lot.” “Kirstin helps a lot and I talk to Nathan [Williamson] and Brent [Barclay].” “Matty Williamson is another really good one that you can talk to about stuff.” “All of the drivers down here are really good.” Like any young reinsman, Hill is eager to rack up more wins. He has driven almost exclusively for the Barclay-Ellis stable during his short career and hopes to build on that. “It would be good to get some outside drives and get a few wins.” The Barclay and Ellis team enjoyed a good day out despite the cold and wet conditions at Ascot Park on Wednesday. The trainers produced the quinella in race 1 when Ride In A Concorde beat Her Majesty. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The road to the winner’s circle has been a long and challenging one for trainer Paul Andrews, but he finally made it when Tad Lincoln won on Wednesday. It was cold, wet and windy at Ascot Park, but that could not dampen Andrews’ mood after his six-year-old made light work of the testing conditions to run away from his rivals for driver Mark Hurrell. Andrews was first licenced in 1993, but health battles and other circumstances have lead to him lining horses up sporadically since then. At the time, the trainer was introduced to hands on work with harness horses through his brother-in-law Ben Ward, who has since become the starter at Southland meetings. “Ben was mucking around with some himself and I just had a bit of spare time and got involved,” Andrews said. “But then I got quite sick and I wasn’t able to do anything with them for a few years - for about five years or so I stepped out of it.” “I had heart attacks and skin complaints – I couldn’t be out in the sun – trying to get horses going doesn’t work so well.” When Tad Lincoln cleared out from his opposition by two lengths in race 3 Andrews ticked off his long held ambition a training a winner. “It is good to be able to tick it off.” Andrews has had previous success in the harness racing industry outside of training. The Tiwai Aluminium Smelter worker bred, prepared and sold Lord Kennington, who went on to win seven races and run second to Holmes DG in the Waikato Flying Mile in 2002. Andrews also bred and sold Kiwi Kennington, who won three races from Murray Faul’s Ascot Park stable. Andrews went outside his own breed to acquired Tad Lincoln, who he got from friend and fellow trainer Adrian Wohlers. “I got him off Adrian, he thought he still had a bit left in him, so I gave him a go.” “He has been going reasonably honest races.” Andrews added sliding blinds to Tad Lincoln’s gear ahead of yesterday’s race and got instant success when the pacer scored his second career win. “He has been going OK and when he has got a gap he sometimes wasn’t wanting to go there.” “Something wasn’t right and the sliding blinds seem to have woken him up.” Tad Lincoln scored his first career win almost 21 months before yesterday’s victory when winning for trainers Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis in January of 2019. Mark Hurrell drove the first leg of a winning double and helped produce a stable quinella in race 2. Hurrell drove the Craig Laurenson trained Sage Trouble to beat out her stablemate Miss Bamboocha. Sage Trouble ran a good second when she and Jaguar Bay cleared out from the rest of the field in their last starts at Winton last week. “She has done a good job this mare, she is pretty competitive in this grade,” Laurenson said. “She can run around 2.52 [for 2200m] but when they better ones go 2.50 it is harder for her.” “But she is improving.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Junior driver Mark Hurrell’s chances in the squaregaiting events at Ascot Park on Wednesday look hot to trot. The Waikouaiti reinsman will drive last start runners-up Count Eyre and Sage Trouble, who bring excellent formlines to their assignments. There is hardly any better form in New Zealand’s lower trotting grades at the moment than running second to rising star Bitamuscle. If Count Eyre can repeat his last start effort of getting within two and a half lengths of the promising Paul Nairn trained colt he should be very hard to beat in race 6. “I thought if he could step and run along a wee bit, on his form he should be pretty hard to beat,” Hurrell said. “I haven’t driven him before, so stepping him is going to be the biggest thing.” “But I would say if I could step him away he will be a great chance.” Count Eyre will have a 10m advantage over his main rival, Rydgemont Milly when he starts from the front row in Wednesday’s 2200m event. Rydgemont Milly comes in to the race after overcoming a 10m handicap to beat a similar field at Ascot Park two weeks ago. Hurrell will drive Sage Trouble following her excellent second behind Jaguar Bay at Winton last week. The first two finished more than seven lengths in front of the third placed South Park, who starts alongside Sage Trouble in race 3. Hurrell is hopeful with a quicker getaway this week, Sage Trouble can go one better. “It was quite a good run last week, I thought.” “She didn’t have much luck early in the race and the first two streeted the rest.” “I would say if we could step and keep handy and stay in front of the main ones she would be tough to beat.” Sage Trouble starts from the 30m mark in race 3, with only two horses in front of her on the front line. Hurrell also drives Bettathanraza in race 4 following her last start fourth behind Wattlebank Lass at Ascot Park two weeks ago. “It wasn’t a bad effort last time, but she is pretty green and still has a bit to learn.” “She is a place chance in that race.” Tad Lincoln looks a outside hope for Hurrell in race 3 as does Sagwitch in race 8. If he is on his game, the latter has the ability feature in what is set to be a hotly contested 2200m event. Race 8 sees an exciting clash between up and comers Watch Me Now and Maximus Prost and established middle grade horses Burnham Boy and Nota Bene Denario. Maximus Prost and Nota Bene Denario both come in to the event after producing excellent last start wins on the track. Burnham Boy brings a last start fifth in a good field at Addington to the race after running third behind Robyns Playboy in track record time in his previous run. Watch Me Now will start for the first time on Wednesday since putting together back to back wins at Wyndham in February. The 4yr-old, who ran a 1.53.5 mile (1609m) in the first of those victories, has had three post-lockdown workouts to prepare for her return to racing. She won the first before running third behind Bridesdale Robyn in her next. Watch Me Now was second behind Pearl Harbour in her latest public appearance at the Winton workouts two weeks ago. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The thrill of winning his first race hit junior driver Tom Nally head on after the judge called in I’m Watching You at the head of the field at Ascot Park on Thursday. Nally had to endure a nervous wait after his Hamish Hunter trained drive charged late to put himself in a photo finish to race 7. The junior driver admitted when his charge was declared the winner by a nose margin over Matrika and Kirstin Barclay he felt nothing but pure excitement. “When I heard we had won it I was shaking, to be honest,” Nally said. “It was a huge thrill.” Nally built up his interest in harness racing educating young horses with his grandfather, breeder and owner, Vin Nally. “We used to break in horses and take them around to Hamish’s place.” “One day Hamish offered me a job and it has sort of gone from there.” Nally had a solid grounding driving at trials and workouts before starting his career at the start of the new season. “Hamish brought me along quietly, I had two years at the trials and workouts just building up.” Nally now has his sights on a career in harness racing, concentrating firstly on establishing himself as a reinsman. The junior driver admits he is hooked on working with horses and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. “I bloody love it.” Nally’s grounding has clearly paid off with his first win coming in just his fifth drive. He was cool and calm under pressure when I’m Watching You was full of running at the 400m and his first winning drive looked in jeopardy. Nally gave the four-year-old a cosy run three back on the markers before angling him off the inner in the final lap. When another runner started stopping quickly in front on him, Nally was left with a big handful of horse, but nowhere to go. Some expert ducking and diving a senior driver would be proud of got I’m Watching You in to the clear in the straight where the horse charged late to win. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

“There’s no such thing as a certainty but he was quite close to it,” Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gary said after quality three year old The High Ruler won on debut at Ascot Park today. The Bettor’s Delight gelding was sent out as favourite, paying  $1.60 in the McCallum’s Group Ltd Mobile Pace and was taken straight to the lead by stable driver Brent Barclay. Although he knocked off at the end he won by a length and a quarter from Lynryd Skynryd which sat outside of him for most of the trip. “He was a wee bit goofy in front today but he did the job. He’s one of those horses that gets you out of bed in the morning.” The High Ruler was broken in by Kirk and Tristan Larsen. “He’s done everything perfect. Not real flash. It wasn’t until we took him off the place that we thought ………… we’ve got something here.” The High Ruler is owned by long time stable client Ross Ludermann who’s currently recovering from surgery. “It’s been great for Ross. Ross and Bev have been great for us. They’ve had a few horses in our stable and it’s great to see him having a nice one. Hopefully that’ll cheer him up a bit.” The High Ruler has impressed at trials and workouts and Gray expected a big showing today. “He’s a typical Bettor’s Delight. But he’s got very high speed particularly off the back of a horse.” And there’s been buyer interest in the three year old. “He’s a keeper so Brent and I are lucky that we get to play with a nice one.” Gray said he normally turns horses out after they qualify but he felt that taking the horse to the races would act as a good tonic for Ludermann. So now with the win under his belt, a nice spring paddock awaits. “He’s going out to ‘horse heaven’ at Diane Cournane’s even though I haven’t told her yet. He’ll have two to three weeks off then we’ll get him back racing round Christmas.” And Gray thinks The High Ruler can progress through the grades. “He’s just a lovely relaxed horse. If I manage him well I think I can.” The Ludermanns gave Gray the dam of The High Ruler (The Highlight) and he has a yearling colt out of her by He’s Watching. She’s due to foal to Fear The Dragon. “I need to go to something a bit better now (laughter). If I go back to Bettor’s (Bettor’s Delight) I just need to find the $25,000.” Ludermann as a junior driver drove his father’s horse Radiation to win at the Vincent Jockey Club meeting in January 1967. He held a trainers licence for sixteen years between 1988 and 2004 and geared up seven winners with his first being Careful Guest at Forbury Park in March 1988. Careful Guest is The High Ruler’s fourth dam.   Bruce Stewart

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Ascot Park today with a nine race program starting at 1:13pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. The content and data on this video is provided for informational purposes only Check below the video for our selections for all of the races today for Invercargill. Invercargill  Thursday 3rd  September 2020   Race 1 The Peaky Blinder big run for third last start and similar field here. Top selection.…… Cuddly Trouble  faded slightly from a good run last start. Quick beginner who could surprise at decent odds.… Miss Jessica has been running better races than they look on paper. She will have to do some work to win but needed in exotics at big odds... Jannah Jaccka running some decent races and comes up with a front row draw. Can upset with a good run in transit Selections:  The Peaky Blinder  (11),   Cuddly Trouble  (9),   Miss Jessica (8),    Jannah Jaccka (6)   Race 2 Mighty George running on well last start and drawn to go forward early. Top selection here……. Swift Robyn   showed up for a strong placing here last week and fence run is ok. Can win if she can clear traffic…… Frank The Tank tricky draw but has ability and likely to work to the lead at some stage. Winning claims with no other midrace attacks……                 Tad Lincoln has a bit of ability and perfect draw. Can run top three with a soft trip in transit. Selections:  Mighty George (5),   Swift Robyn  (9),   Frank The Tank (6),   Tad Lincoln (1)   Race 3 My Mate Ben in good form and stuck well last start for second. Can run top three with luck in the running here.….. Franco Huntington racing well in stronger fields and this race suits. Place chances best ….. Robyns Shadow from a strike rate stable and has the draw to go forward early. Major player if he can lead off the gate…. Hilarious Prince  only fair fresh up in a stronger field but better suited here. Top three player Selections:  My Mate Ben (6),   Franco Huntington (4),   Robyns Shadow (3),  Hilarious Prince  (7)   Race 4 The High Ruler big win at trials and reputation to match. Starts hot favourite and should go close….. Sweet Chilli good run last start and possible early leader. Will be a place hope at long odds with a good run on the markers….. Justace his Addington run had merit. Can run top three…. Racing Minister serial place getter but tricky draw. One for longer odds. Selections:   The High Ruler (3),   Sweet Chilli (1),   Justace (5),    Racing Minister (7)   Race 5 Wattlebank Lass racing well in strong fields. Likely to run first or second here …… Endless Dreams  ok in  a strong Addington field fresh up and this is a drop back. Can win … Betancourt cosy run on the fence will happen from the good draw. No surprise to see her in the money here….. Her Majesty  could get a good run on the markers here. Top four chance here Selections:  Wattlebank Lass (5),   Endless Dreams  (4),   Her Majesty  (9),   Betancourt (1)   Race 6 Get Lucky class horse of the field who will be fitter now. Should be winning….. Spotlight The Valley will enjoy the conditions of the race. One for longer odds…… Rydgemont Milly getting fitter and form is good. Can trouble the favourite… Whatwillbeewillbee can gallop early but a big chance over the sprint trip if he brings his manners. Selections:  Get Lucky (9),   Rydgemont Milly (7),   Spotlight The Valley (3),    Whatwillbeewillbee (8)   Race 7 Bunter's Dream has been freshened and has ability. Goodenough to overcome the bad draw.……. I'm Watching You good draw here but will need all favours to win. One for longer odds who can place.… Fireforefiddle racing ok and up to taking this out with a good run in transit. Include….. Franco June getting fitter but tricky draw. Outside chance of running in top four here Selections:  Bunter's Dream (8),   I'm Watching You (1),   Fireforefiddle (12),  Franco June (11)   Race 8 Ideal Glacier  big run to win two starts ago and drawn to lead early. Can finish over the top of them here……. Tulsa Jaccka  he will be fitter for his last start effort but tricky draw. Good winning claims if he goes forward early.… Laterintheday  tidy finish last start in a strong field. Should get a good run and can place….. Art Courage taking a while to come back into form but has ability. Place chance from fence draw at massive odds Selections:  Ideal Glacier  (2),   Tulsa Jaccka  (7),   Laterintheday  (1),  Art Courage (9)   Race 9 Bridesdale Robyn big on ability and good trial win. Goes ok fresh and can win……. Born To Boogie draw not great but loves the mobile and track. Good chance of running in top three..… Nota Bene Denario another with good stats at course and distance. Can finish into the placings again….. Tom Martin going ok and drops out of Addington racing. Good winning claims. Selections:  Bridesdale Robyn (5),   Born To Boogie (8),   Nota Bene Denario (6)    Tom Martin (4)   Harnesslink Media

By Jonny Turner    A big last start effort showed Tom Martin is ready to produce a repeat of his last impressive outing at Ascot Park when he returns there on Thursday. The southern bred 4yr-old powered to an effortless victory on his last trip south from Graham Court’s Canterbury stable early last month. A wide draw and a tough trip parked outside the leader in his last start at Addington stopped Tom Martin from making it two in a row. But his brave effort, just tiring in the last 150m of a quickly run affair, shows the pacer just needs a little bit of luck to bounce straight back to winning form. “I was really pleased with his run at Addington, he was just a victim of circumstance,” Court said. Sheree Tomlinson, who now works for the Court stable, drives Tom Martin again on Thursday in the hope that she can secure a penalty-free junior driver’s win for the 4yr-old. “He has won four and he has only had fourteen starts, so if I don’t look after him he will be up in the grades too far.” “So, hopefully he can get a win with the junior driver’s concession.” “He should be hard to beat – he has trained on well since his last run, so I am expecting a good run.” Tom Martin will not have things all his own way when he takes on a handy line up in race 9. Trainer Alister Black starts Lawrence, following his good fourth behind Robyns Playboy, alongside impressive last-start winner Wecandream. Talented mares Bridesdale Robyn and Born To Boogie add to depth to an intriguing race. The Court trained Endless Dreams comes south for race 5 after running a creditable fifth behind Aladdin when debuting in a strong maiden field at Addington. Her trainer has a decent opinion of the 3yr-old and expects her to improve on that showing on Thursday. “She is a very nice filly,” Court said.  “She has had a good few trials, she trialled pretty good as a 2yr-old and then we had the lockdown.” “She had got a bit of talent and I think she will be pretty hard to beat.” Endless Dreams clashes with arguably one of the horses most unlucky not to have won a maiden race in Wattlebank Lass. The Peter Hunter trained 4yr-old has produced excellent form in her recent starts when having to face off with smart maiden winners Dont Lie To Me, Sweet Lizzie and Avana. Magic Sign will be in a similar position to the Southlander when he debuts for the Court stable in race 4. The Terror To Love 3yr-old takes a smart qualifier in The High Ruler in what looks to be a smart maiden field. Magic Sign should give the Southerner plenty to think about going by his own trial efforts. “He trialled good at Rangiora the other day,” Court said. “He is only a novice at this stages of things, but I expect him to go a good race.” Magic Sign ran second behind Hattie, who went on to run second at Addington on Sunday, in his Rangiora trial. Court is hoping the 3yr-old can help continue the good momentum his three time New Zealand Cup winning stallion Terror To Love. “He is showing he can do the job, he is leaving some nice horses and they not out of great mares.” Magic Sign’s main rival is clearly The High Ruler. The Brett Gray trained 3yr-old unleashed scorching 55.5sec (800m) and 27.6 (400m) closing splits when qualifying at Winton last month. The High Ruler, who is unbeaten in four public appearances, returned to the same track a fortnight later to win a workout in the latest outing ahead of his debut. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

“I’m lost for words,” an emotional trainer driver Nathan Williamson said after Dark Horse won at Ascot Park today. It was unreal.” It truly was one of the great comeback stories. “She’s had two suspensory (injuries). Ross Jones (father in-law) was walking her every day. We did the rehab one hundred percent right the way through.” It was the eight year old mare’s tenth win. She last won at Tuapeka in October 2017 – twenty two months ago, and had last raced in March finishing second to Pres The Belle in the Group Three Southern Lights at the Northern Southland meeting. “You always worry first up – no workouts no trials. She’s just unreal.” Today in the Brendan Franks Farrier Handicap Trot Dark Horse stayed at the back of the field for most of the journey. Inside the last 500 metres she started to get a cart into the race on the back of In Sequence but that horse broke rounding the last bend. “I was jogging at the 400, I got checked really badly and it probably cost me about four lengths. She just picked up after that and just did it easy really.” Dark Horse came down the middle of the track to win easily by a length and a quarter from Rydgemont Milly. “Look at her go. Dark Horse – she has gone wooshca giving them wind burn off the fifty (metres), wow,” called commentator Justin Evans. Williamson was seen to give a little satisfying fist pump as the mare came down to the line. Today’s win was testimony to the outstanding skills of her trainer. To have her relatively match fit for a season debut off fifty metres and win with her ear plugs still in was exceptional. “It’s a bit emotional really. She’s the best horse I’ve ever had and as good as anything I’ve ever driven and I’ve been lucky to have driven some good ones. I was just so gutted when she broke down and then had another injury. I thought she was never going to come back. I followed the vets’ advice. Brendon Bell initially, then Guy Alexander who’s a part owner. Brendon recommended that I send her to Guy for some extra treatment.” I personally remember interviewing Nathan’s father Phil three years ago and asking him if he had another Dominion Handicap horse in the stable and he said “No but my son has.” The win capped off three great months when trotters trained by the Williamson family, Phil, Brad and Nathan were the stars of lockdown racing in the south. We’ve been lucky to see Cracker Hill, Ultimate Stride, Chinese Whisper and now Dark Horse win in the province. Meanwhile star Southland pacer Robyns Playboy proved how potent he is as a frontrunner when he beat up ten rivals in the main pace of the day. After beginning well driver Craig Ferguson took the Shadow Play gelding to the top and there he stayed running a new track and Southland record of 3-19.8 for the 2700 metre stand with his last 800 metres cut out in 56.7. The previous record, recorded in 2015 of 3-20.1, was held by Isaiah. The New Zealand record of 3-17.2 is held by Triple Eight. Harness fans in the south are starting to get excited with the pending return of U May Cullect and Pembrook Playboy and the possibility of all three squaring off against each other.   Bruce Stewart

“He came down here as a maiden with good form and carried that right through even though he’s jumped up the grades,” said driver Brad Williamson after Wecandream won his third race in Southland at Ascot Park today. Bred locally by Mark and Debbie Smith the Art Major gelding was trained initially by Brent White in Ashburton before Branxholme trainer Alister Black took over. He’s been in the south for three months and has been one of the most consistent pacers during lockdown. From a wide draw Williamson took the five year old forward to challenge early pacemaker Miss Mucho with the two going head to head for the first two hundred metres. “My horse got quite keen and was feeling so well so I decided to let him run and Brent (Brent Barclay driving Miss Mucho) was quite happy to trail me at that point.” Wecandream held on to beat My Mate Ben by a length. “I never pulled his pull down blinds but I pulled his plugs at the top of the straight and he did what he had to in the last couple of hundred metres.” Pre-race trainer Alister Black was fairly bullish about his charge’s chances and Williamson saw that first hand. “He was kicking out a bit before the race when we were getting the cart on. He’s certainly thriving on racing down here.” Wecandream is owned by the Palmers Syndicate. “He’s getting up in the grades now so it’s going to be tough but he’s definitely getting better. Today’s the best he’s ever gone.” The Lauren Pearson trained Maximus Prost won his second race in three starts when he took out the last race on the card. Perfectly positioned in the one one driver Brent Barclay let him run inside the last two hundred and he came powerfully down the middle of the track to beat pacemaker Who’s Smokin by a length and a quarter.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    Waikouaiti trainer Amber Hoffman heads to Ascot Park on Thursday with a big team packed full of winning chances. Hoffman travels south with an eight horse team that bring excellent to the five races they compete in. Shards Fury is one them and he looks Hoffman’s best chance of the day. The 5yr-old resumed from a break of more than 18 months away from racing with good third at Addington and hard fought runner-up effort at Oamaru on Kurow Cup day. The comeback pacer looks a big chance of rewarding his owner’s patience and improving on his recent placing despite drawing the second row in race 6. “His work this week has been really, really good,” Hoffman said. “He has gone two great races and I am expecting him to be hard to beat.” Shard’s Fury clashes with Big Bay, who broke in his debut at Winton last week. “He worked OK this week, we have made gear adjustments, he is not the worst but is still very green.” Jonique has produced three good placings in her three career starts and looks a big chance of doing it again for Hoffman from barrier 7 in race 2. “If she gets a nice drag in to it from the wide draw she can definitely run in the top three again,” the trainer said. To Ri Caitlin has produced consistent form since joining Hoffman’s barn and looks to take on an easier field in race 4 than the one she ran second in in her last start at Addington. “Her last two races have gone really well when she has been on the fence, from that draw it will be interesting because she has gone bad from wide draws in the past.” “But she has worked really well this week, so I am hoping she can do better.” Though they must take on a New Zealand record holder, Brightest Moment and Ultimate Sassenach look two strong eachway chances for Hoffman in race 10. Ultimate Sassenach, who starts from barrier 7, has produced two good fourth placings this time in and was unlucky when held up late in the last of them. “She has drawn bad, it would ideal to get a nice run in to it and be handy in the running line,” Hoffman said. “She is a capable mare and she is not far away from a win.” Brightest Moment, who has barrier 2, impressed when winning at Ascot Park over a month ago when dashing around the field in the middle stages. “She has had a few niggly, wee annoying things go wrong since her last start, that is why she hasn’t lined up since she won.” “I am thinking she might be better on the bigger track at Winton now she is out of maidens.” Hoffman’s pair take on Ariella, who broke the 2200m national record for 2yr-old fillies in her last start in group 3 company at Ascot Park in March. The Waikouaiti trainer will start two sound eachway chances in race 9, Thursday’s feature handicap trot. In Sequence has the advantage of starting off the front line in her second effort for her new trainer after winning first up in Hoffman’s colours a fortnight ago. Though today’s race looks much harder, Hoffman expects another strong effort. “I really like this wee mare, she a nice wee trotter.” “Over 2700m she wouldn’t want to be leading or doing too much work or anything, but with the right run she should go a nice race.” Kiwi Crusher was second behind In Sequence in her last start win. The 7yr-old gets the small advantage of meeting her stablemate 5m better off than in their last clash when she starts from the 15m mark today. “She is a very honest mare and she has done a great job, she just needs a bit of a run in to it and she will be finishing over the top.” “2700m will definitely suit her.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner     Dunedin teacher Mike Love fulfilled his longheld ambition of training a winner when Tres Chic scored at Ascot Park on Thursday. Love took just 13 days to complete the feat after joining Westwood beach horseman Graeme Anderson in a training partnership on August 1. The relieving teacher at various Dunedin schools has previously helped Anderson prepare plenty of winners in an unofficial capacity. A change in circumstances led to Love becoming a licensed trainer and joining forces with Anderson. “Things are a bit different for Graeme now with a new born baby, so we had a chat about me taking on a bit more at the stable,” Love said. “I am still teaching – like yesterday I had class in the morning and came back to the beach and worked the horses in the afternoon.” “It works out pretty well with the tides, too.” When asked whether the children he teaches or the horses he trains are more unruly Love said it was about even. “They are about equal, some kids need a bit more rein and some need to be reined in, it is the same with the horses’” he quipped. Love’s interest in horses stems from his father, Neil, who has had success as an owner. His brother, Damien is also a trainer, and has also tasted success. Love has won races as a driver – professionally with Highview Anwell in 2015 and as an amateur reinsman with Rah De Rah in January of this year. “It is a big thrill to get the first training win.” “I have always been keen on racing and I always thought that I would get in to training one day when the time was right.” Driver Matthew Williamson took no chances with Tres Chic, pressing forward from a wide draw to find the lead early. The victory rewarded the patience of owner Stu Gillan, who races the pacer with Anderson, after the 5yr-old’s career had to be put on hold as a 2yr-old. “Graeme quite liked her as a 2yr-old, but she had a foot problem and basically lost all of one of her hooves,” Love said. “So, even though she is a 5yr-old it’s like she has just turned 4 with what she missed.” Love may not have to wait long until he notches win number two. He and Anderson start Spirit Of St Louis in the Kurow Cup and American Lightning in a minor event at Oamaru on Sunday. Anderson’s former training partner, Amber Hoffman, also tasted success at Ascot Park yesterday. Hoffman, who combined with Anderson for 99 wins over four seasons, bagged the quinella in yesterday’s feature trot. In Sequence beat out Kiwi Crusher to win in her first start from her new trainer’s Waikouaiti stable. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

After disappointing at his last start, Gore trained Robyns Playboy was back on his game at Ascot Park today. Driver Craig Ferguson took the five year old straight to the front and he peeled off a last 800 metres in 55.1 to win by eight and three quarter lengths. “He just loved it in front and Craig said that he just wanted to go at the 800 and he didn’t even pull the plugs at the end. It’s the first time he’s won being hot favourite,” said Ross Wilson who trains the gelding in partnership with son Chris. The win cements the gelding’s place in the first race of the New Zealand Cup build up – the Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on the 20th of September.  But despite the easy win today Wilson is under no illusion as to how difficult it will be to win the early season feature. “It’s a different story when you get up amongst those Purdon horses. We went up to the Hannon last year thinking we were going alright and they ran home in 53 and we got beaten by ten lengths. But last year he wasn’t 100% health wise and this year he is and that’s going to make a big difference I think.” Wilson says Robyns Playboy will be given an easy time over the next few weeks and he says he’ll probably have one more start before the Hannon. “He’s a very athletic horse who doesn’t take a lot of work. He’s only had two hopple runs since he last raced. He’s a great winded horse and that’s good because you can be easy on him and you don’t have to knock him around the same to get there.”   Bruce Stewart

It’s very likely Ascot Park winner The Red Robber has run his last race for Gore trainer Tony Stratford. “That will probably be it for him now. He’ll probably be retired. We’ll go home and sleep on the win. He’s done a good job but he is limited and I can’t see him going round and round for the hell of it. He’s honest, he tries and I wish I had a barn full of horses like that,” Stratford said. Driver Blair Orange took the seven year old straight to the top and he hung on tenaciously to beat Ripsnorter by a neck. Stratford says the Cleland Racing Syndicate which shares in the ownership of The Red Robber has a new recruit in the barn ready to replace the gelding. Beauty Barry is a four year old who’s had one start for Gavin Smith and has been moved south. “He’s quite nice and I quite like him. We’ll look at lining him up at Winton.” The Red Robber was made favourite in today’s race after running an unlucky sixth last week. “He went really well last week and we were pretty confident with him drawing one today.”   The Panspacificflight gelding has now won three races and finished either second or third ten times. Stratford has a good bunch of three year olds in the barn that have performed well over the winter. “Sweet Lizzie will line up next week, Braeview Kelly is a couple of weeks away from kicking off again and Major Punter is still out. We’ll certainly head up the road with Braeview Kelly as she’s paid up for the Sires Stakes and the Sales Series.” Stratford said Altimeter and Ideal Draw have been  sold recently. “They left this morning for Aussie. It’s a shame to lose those types of horses but it makes way for some young stuff.” Meanwhile In Sequence trained by Amber Hoffman and driven by stable driver Mark Hurrell beat stablemate Kiwi Crusher by a head. It was the six year old mare’s first start for the Hoffman barn having previously been trained by Ken Barron. Fleetmaster a recent recruit to the Clark Barron stable, also won in the hands of Samantha Ottley. The Changeover gelding was previously trained by Mark Jones who brought the horse south and left him with Barron.   Bruce Stewart

By Jonny Turner    Would the real Robyns Playboy please stand up? That is the question trainers Ross and Chris Wilson will be ask their 5yr-old when he steps out in the feature pace at Ascot Park on Thursday. The Shadow Play pacer labelled ‘the beast from the east’ by some of his fans was scintillating first up after lockdown, before running fifth of six behind See Ya Write among a classy line up a week later. Though the result was not too inspiring, Robyns Playboy’s closing sectionals were. And if he is able to repeat them in race 7 he would be awfully hard to catch. “We timed his last mile in 1.54, home in 55sec [800m] and 26sec [400m], but he just didn’t seem as sharp as he was first up,” Chris Wilson said. “He missed away, which added to his handicap, too.” “He went sideways when the tapes went, which is not like him and it didn’t help.” The Wilson stable were rapt with Robyns Playboy’s work leading in to his resuming run, but have not been quite so enthused by his training this week. “I think he will go alright, he hasn’t quite been zipping up the straight in work this week like he was before his first run,” Wilson said. “But, he has only had two fast runs since his last start – we gave him a week off.” “There is nothing wrong with him, so he should go a good race.” Robyns Playboy blasted to the lead in his last win from the same barrier 8 draw he starts from on Thursday. Though this time there is the possibility driver Craig Ferguson could use different tactics. “We don’t quite know what to do and what the instructions for Craig will be,” Wilson said. Rocknroll King looks the hardest horse for Robyns Playboy to hold out. The Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis trained 5yr-old beat his main rival home in their last clash with See Ya Write, before he went on to run a strong second behind Tom Martin at Ascot Park last week. Another of the Wilson stable’s Shadow Play pacers looks a strong winning chance from barrier 2 in race 8. Robyns Shadow was a late scratching shortly before start time when set to make his latest outing at Ascot Park last month. The 4yr-old has recovered from the stone bruise that sidelined him and he has worked well since. “He has been working with Robyns Playboy this week and they haven’t been able to get past Shadow, so that is a good sign,” Wilson said. Annie Fitz has also worked well leading in to race 5 and it’s hoped she can get the run she likes from barrier 1. “She is just full of beans.” “Her work has been super – she only gallops, she doesn’t do pacework – and she has had a really good attitude the last couple of weeks.” “Drawn one, we can choose who we hand up to and hopefully she can have the trail all the way.” Von Art looks a solid chance for the Wilsons in race 3 despite not having the same kind of good recent form her stablemates do. If the 4yr-old can find clear air from barrier 1 on the second row, she could feature in the finish in a largely out of form line up. “It is not a bad draw, I think she could be three back on the pegs.” “She is definitely a chance, she is more of a grinder than a sprinter, so she will need to be pretty close to them turning for home.”

Welcome to the Harness Analyst series where we take a look at New Zealand's harness racing with free previews,tips and reviews of trials and the previous weeks racing. Harness racing hits Ascot Park again today with an eight race program starting at 12:40pm and in this video we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a good day of racing. The content and data on this video is provided for informational purposes only Check below the video for our selections for all of the races today for Invercargill.   Invercargill  Friday 12th August 2020   Race 1 The Artful Dodger one paced but has ability. Needs to bring his manners and hope for a hot pace and he will be right in it…… Robo Trouble has been running on in tough fields and getting fitter with racing. Can win……. It's Summertime  has been a bit disappointing but last couple were better. Capable on his day. Place chances best….. Maranatha Atlas stable and driver always worth a dollar and this fella can trot but manners a query. Include Selections:  The Artful Dodger (9),   Robo Trouble (5),   Maranatha Atlas (3),    It's Summertime  (10)   Race 2 The Red Robber battled on last start but is better than that and big swing in draws. Good winning claims……. Mighty George another going ok with a much better draw to work with. Include here…… Shot In The Dark has been racing ok and only needs a slight improvement to go close to winning this race. Tricky draw though…… Man I'm Good last two runs have been ok and drawn to follow the possible leader. Can win with a cosy run on the fence. Selections:  The Red Robber (9),   Mighty George (5),   Shot In The Dark (3),   Man I'm Good (10)   Race 3 Miss Auckland looked good running two seconds her last couple. Has gate speed and should go close to winning this. Top selection here…… Greenback Boogie was finding the line ok last start and top driver on board. Has winning claims.…. Von Art might get a sweet trip on the fence. Not the worst here and can place …… Art Profile likely to trail the favourite here and can run in the money again here. Selections   Miss Auckland (9),   Art Profile 5),  Greenback Boogie (3),  Von Art (10)   Race 4 Tres Chic big run from well back last start in a strong field. Top selection here….. Lynryd Skynryd tidy run for second in a stronger field two starts ago. Top three player for sure….. Mary Robyn good fourth at first start from a bad draw. Much better here and can win…. Don't Quote Me not the worst last start behind a couple of All Stars runners. Top three player here at longer odds. Selections:  Tres Chic (9),   Lynryd Skynryd (5),   Mary Robyn (3),    Don't Quote Me (10)   Race 5 My Georgie Boy has raced well in similar fields before but hard to catch. Don’t mind him today….. Toby O'Gara has a bit of ability and good second last start. Will start favourite and can win… Ohoka Bandit thereabouts his last couple. Getting fitter and top three player here….. Rakabeach could land a cosy trip on the fence. Top three claims if she can clear traffic. Selections:  Toby O'Gara (9),   My Georgie Boy (5),   Rakabeach (3),   Ohoka Bandit (10)   Race 6 Tweedledee disappointed last start but this field is weaker. Should be hard to beat here if back to his best…… Spotlight The Valley has been racing well and getting fitter. Manners are great and over the odds here ….. Davey Mac ok last start and will improve off that run. Will lead if he steps and hard to beat….. Kiwi Crusher not far away last start and this no harder. Another with claims in what is an even field. Selections:  Tweedledee (9),  Spotlight The Valley (5),   Kiwi Crusher (3),    Davey Mac (10)   Race 7 Robyns Playboy back to the mobile and this distance should suit. Likely to head forward and will be hard to beat if he can find the front early ….. Born To Boogie  getting fitter with racing and distance stats ok. Top three player with luck in the running.…… Rocknroll King in good from and should be running in the money here. Winning hopes here if he can get handy early…… My Mate Ben running good races only need a good trip in transit to be a place chance here. Selections:  Robyns Playboy (9),   Born To Boogie  (5),   Rocknroll King (3),    My Mate Ben (10)   Race 8 Ideal Glacier good draw and top win last start. This is harder but look for her to swoop late……. Superstar Legend has been a bit unlucky in her races but dangerous with a run close to the pace. Chance again at big odds.… Lite Percussion has gate speed and drawn well here. Can outsprint them with a soft run in front….. Dangerous have to respect the driver but tricky draw. Tote the guide but can win. Selections:  Lite Percussion (9),   Ideal Glacier (5),   Superstar Legend (3),    Dangerous (10)     Harnesslink Media

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