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By Jonny Turner    Alan Edge had his horses ready to win and Ken Barron wound back the clock when the pair combined for a winning double at Ashburton on Tuesday. Barron reminded racegoers why he earned the nickname ‘The King’ on his way to becoming one of New Zealand’s elite reinsmen with pinpoint winning drives behind the Edge-trained Edge Sheeran and Off The Edge. Edge Sheeran was followed across the line by Bolzano, who rounded out a nearly perfect day for his trainer with his third placing. “It was a great thrill to win two and get a third,” Edge said. A short-lived retirement from the sulky and having Blair Orange to drive his team has seen Barron take less than 60 drives in the past two seasons. A long association between trainer and driver led to Edge calling on Barron to drive his runners at Ashburton and show he had lost none of his 1000-race winning skill. “We work in together a bit,” Edge said. “He breaks a few in for me and if I have got horses I am worried about I send them up to Ken.” “He straightens them out and sends them back home.” Edge and Barron notched the first leg of their winning double when Edge Sheeran surprised punters by winning race 2 at $33 odds. Barron landed a nice spot in the running line for the five-year-old who thrived a hot 2-57.2 speed for 2400m. “He is a nice enough horse, he travels the speed,” Edge said. “He is not a sit and sprint horse, the faster they go the better he goes.” “2.57 is not a bad time for a maiden.” Off The Edge also surprised punters when winning race 10 at a $22 win price. Edge was a little disappointed after drove the horse to run second in an amateur driver’s race at Roxburgh in his last start. Gear changes after that race had an immediate effect on Tuesday. “I thought he should have won at Roxburgh.” “But with a couple of gear changes from Stevie Noble my stable foreman, he performed really well.” Edge has a decent opinion of Off The Edge and hopes the horse can continue his good form after being handled patiently following his first start in September of 2019. “Off The Edge has been underrated.” “He raced Italian Lad when he had his first start and he dragged him into the race when they went a track record at Oamaru.” “We have waited a bit of time for him, but we rate him.” “When Jonny Cox won on him at Forbury he was seven wide round the bend.” “He is a tough little bugger, he is only the size of a pit pony.” Barron split his wins with Edge’s pair with a victory behind Longview Lady in race 6. His winning treble was the reinsman’s first since driving Dreamlover, Whyamibettor and Captain Webber to victory at Timaru in February of 2013.

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Ashburton today with a ten race program starting at 1:57pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a great day of racing. Ashburton selections 12th January 2021 Best Bet:  R8 Skidaddle  Best Value:  R3 Styx Sweetie   Race 1 He's A Cassanova not far away from the placings last few starts. One of the leading chances in this field… Eilish Hall good at Westport the first day. Can win with a closer run to the leaders and mobile a big help…… Son Of Majestic mobile will help and he has some speed. No surprise to see him in the money at good odds…..Hurricane Hill good at trials and workouts and will start favourite here. Top selection Selections:  Hurricane Hill (8),   Eilish Hall (9),   He's A Cassanova (4)   Son Of Majestic (2)   Race 2 Daggy Lamb going well at workouts and reasonable form. Has to be a big chance here and top selection.……. It's A Laugh building a good formline and looks a good place hope again here. Include…… Aveross Spitfire throws in the odd good race and drawn well. Place chances look best but has claims…… Sportscam has been disappointing but not the worst in a weak field. One for longer odds Selections:  Daggy Lamb (8),  Sportscam (7),   It's A Laugh (9),   Aveross Spitfire (3)   Race 3 Styx Sweetie last run better than it looks on paper. Drawn to get a run through early and can win at good odds….. Dixie Flyer two good thirds a couple of starts ago and mile will suit. Has to be included here….. Seapris good third fresh up on grass and will be improved. Can run top three here….. Play It Now has been disappointing but getting fitter with a nice draw. One for longer odds Selections:   Styx Sweetie (11),   Dixie Flyer (6),   Seapris (4)    Play It Now  (2)   Race 4 Still Truckin quick beginner who will take some catching if he can land the front from the ace draw. Top selection here….. Classie Washington racing into form and has been good in stronger fields. Great winning chance at good odds….. All Together Now an early gallop cost him last start. Workouts have been ok and can place with manners….. Owes Me Dough looked full of running when qualifying in good time. Tote the guide but has winning claims Selections:   Still Truckin (1),   Classie Washington (7),   All Together Now (9)   Owes Me Dough (8)   Race 5 Sonoma Tyron mobile mile will suit. Looks a good chance if he can stay out of trouble early and opened over the odds….. Spy Da Moment in good form but tricky draw over the mile. Winning claims and will be running on late….. Orlando Magic drawn well and could be fighting out the finish if she can lead early. Risky early but needed..….. Awapuni good at workouts and drawn for a cosy run on the fence. Will need gaps but not the worst Selections:   Sonoma Tyron (11),   Spy Da Moment (14),   Awapuni (10)   Orlando Magic (2)   Race 6 Got You Covered conditions suit and drawn well. Good winning claims and should run top three.…. On The Buzzer best draw and plenty of ability. One for the leading chances and will give a good sight here…… Longview Lady has been racing better fields and she has a big finish when saved for one run at them. Good winning chance..… Southerly Change should be quick off the gate and will get a soft run. Winning claims Selections:  Got You Covered (3),   On The Buzzer (1),   Southerly Change (2),   Longview Lady (5)   Race 7 Just Michael building into some good form at workouts before failing on raceday. Has been freshened and could surprise. Chance at good odds…. Glenthorne back with original trainer and he has some speed. Would be no surprise to see him in the money here if back to his best….. Madame Frost has been fair the last couple but lobs up every now and then at good odds. Could upset in the right mood…. In Chevron We Trust getting better with racing and form is good. Has to be included but tricky draw Selections:   Just Michael (16),  In Chevron We Trust (15),   Glenthorne (7),  Madame Frost (5)   Race 8 Skidaddle good win last start and will be fitter. Loves the track and will be hard to beat if she runs a similar time….. Sudaman good last start and better drawn here. One of the leading chances and can run top three….. Jonique tricky draw but good last start. Should be close to the placings with luck in the running….. Majorca tricky draw but has beaten better fields. Looks to be running for place money only here Selections:   Skidaddle (4),   Sudaman (3),   Majorca (14)  Jonique (8)   Race 9 Girls Let Loose racing well and paying great money. Distance suits and will be hard to beat now she is back in form….. Willangus Lad racing well and good stayer who should appreciate the big track. Can run top three….. Arran Chief getting older but still has a bit of life in the old legs. Could make it interesting if he found the front early ….. Majestic Action good run last start and very speedy. Hard to beat here if close enough on the home turn Selections:  Girls Let Loose (12),   Willangus Lad (14),   Majestic Action (8)    Arran Chief (13)   Race 10 John James Preston drawn for a soft run on the fence but will need luck. Winning claims….. Dallas Grimes running on last start and should get a run forward early. One for longer odds here….. Not Over tricky draw but good win last start. One of the leading chances here and has trialled well on the track….. Chal Be in good form and drawn ok. Quick improver who can win Selections:   Dallas Grimes (6),   Chal Be (5),   Not Over (13)   John James Preston(10)   Harnesslink Media

By Jonny Turner    After notching career victory number 100 at Cromwell last week, Mark Hurrell will start work on his next century of wins at Ashburton on Tuesday. Hurrell reached 99 wins with Aveross Majesty before landing his first ton in the sulky just a few races later with Tad Lincoln. A flourish of his whip near the line showed just how much the milestone meant to the junior driver. “It was good,” Hurrell said. “It was good to get it done straight away after winning the 99th instead of waiting around for weeks on end to try and do it.” Win number 100 has come after Hurrell moved to Waikouaiti to work for trainer Amber Hoffman several months ago. The shift closer to his native Southland after a stint in Canterbury has proven to be a winning one. “It has been a good move for my career, I have come down here and Amber has given me most of the team to drive.” Hurrell and the Hoffman trained Jonique will be out to complete a hat-trick of wins in race 8 at Ashburton on Tuesday. Drawing barrier 8 will not make that assignment easy, but the reinsman still expects the five-year-old to go a big race. “She is going really well, she tries her wee heart out every week and I would say she is a good chance.” “I drove her quite hard last time, we will probably not look to drive her as hard, but she will be there or thereabouts.” The Hoffman stable also has Trinity Star in race 8, who is rated as highly as Jonique. “I would say they are both on par, Trinity Star has got a better draw (6) and I have got a bit of an average draw (8),” Hurrell said. Hurrell combines with longtime maiden Aveross Spitfire, who has his first start for the Hoffman stable in race 3. The way the horse has worked leading into the event suggests he may not be a maiden for much longer. “He is probably my best chance of the day,” Hurrell said. “His work has been really good and it is not a strong field and he has got a good draw (3).” “He is not the worst, he feels like he will win a race or two.” “So in that field, he should be a good chance.” Hurrell drives In Sequence in race 9, a highly competitive middle-grade trot. The six-year-old comes into the race after she peaked after starting what looked to be a winning run in her last start at Winton. “She just got a little bit rough up the straight, they sprinted a 28.6sec quarter (400m) and she probably had to go a little bit fast to catch the leaders.” “So, I had to sit up on her a wee bit.” “But she is pretty genuine and when she trots she is not a bad wee horse.” “It will just depend on how far back we are, we could be last at the 800m.” “But she is pretty versatile all the same, I wouldn’t be afraid to put her in the race.” Ultimate Sassenach disappointed in her last start at Motukarara after footing it with smart types in her prior runs. The five-year-old has been freshened in the hope she will bounce straight back to her good prior form in race 6. “She has been going good, but that last start she didn’t feel 100% so we have backed off her a wee bit,” Hurrell said. “It is her first standing start is the only problem we are going to have.” “But her form behind Ragazzo Mach and Freddiesam stacks up not too bad.” “So, if she can get back to that I’d say she is a place chance in that field.” Hurrell will reunite with To Ri Caitlin in race 10. The reinsman thought he was on a winner in the six-year-old’s last start before she broke at the 600m mark. “She was travelling super and the winner was only two in front of me and I thought I would have been able to run it down.” “She can just do that, she gallops for no reason, she has been there to win a couple of times in her career and she has galloped for no reason.” “If she goes as good as she did at Forbury two starts ago she would be a chance, but cross your finger she does everything right.” Hurrell also combines with Son Of Majestic in race 1, Owes Me Dough in race 4, Jaccka Jeorge in race 5 and Dalness Arizona in race 7 at Ashburton on Tuesday.

By Jonny Turner    A tenacious Tango Tara willed himself to victory in the Ashburton Cup on Wednesday for trainer-driver Jim Curtin. After making a searching run around the field to take the lead with a lap to go in the 3200m feature handicap, the five-year-old kicked back to win after being headed halfway down the long Ashburton straight by eventual third placegetters Franco Niven and Gavin Smith. “Gav definitely headed me, but my horse does try like hell,” Curtin said. “He is pretty laid back and he doesn’t overexert himself.” “But one thing about him is he does pick up when you ask him.” Most recently Curtin has not had the luxury of driving Tango Tango as aggressively as he did in Wednesday’s feature. In his first real campaign against genuine top liners heading into the New Zealand Cup Curtin was forced to tuck the horse away for one run. Racing against those stars and being driven that way meant Tango Tara was ready to step up when Curtin drove aggressively and would not be denied when challenging Steel The Show and John Dunn for the lead with a lap to go. “He has never really been used in a race,” Curtin said. “A couple of times early he went around and sat parked.” “But most times he has sat back and run home.” “But that was the first time in a while I had used him.” “He has been racing against good horses, so you have to drive him for a bit of luck.” After rallying bravely under Curtin’s urgings, Tango Tara scored by a half neck over Steel The Show, with a further half-length back to Franco Niven. The victory gave Curtin his first win in the Ashburton Cup since driving Wait A Moment to victory for Jeff Whittaker in 1988. Though it has been 22 years between wins in the feature event for Curtin, that is not because of a run of outs. “I haven’t driven in it that many times because when it used to be on Boxing Day I was always away on the [West] Coast.” “When I won with Wait A Moment I missed the first day and drove at Ashburton.” Curtin will seek more cup race success with Tango Tara in the Invercargill Cup late next month. “We were tempted to go to Omakau but the timing wasn’t going to be ideal.” “I think the Invercargill Cup will be the race for him.” “He will probably have another run at Addington before going down there.” By January 31 Tango Tara should strip a fitter horse as he thrived, and possibly did a little too well, after enjoying some time off after his 12th placing in Self Assured’s New Zealand Cup. “You wouldn’t believe how well he has done.” “We gave him 12 days off and he is as big as a bull.” “We thought he would improve from the run at Addington.” “We didn’t give him a trial before that, we just took him to Motukarara one day and worked him.” Curtin will be back on the West Coast Christmas circuit again this year when it kicks off on Saturday. The reinsman starts three of his own horses and has six outside drives.

Welcome to todays segment from our harness racing analyst who provides you with free expert tips and selections for harness meetings run in New Zealand. Harness racing hits Ashburton today with a ten race program starting at 12:26pm and we highlight some specials and value runners we think can give you a run for your money on a nice day of racing. Ashburton selections 23rd December 2020 Best Bet:   Excuse My French Best Value:   Georgie Zukov   Race 1 Excuse My French trial form is good and has the speed to win this fresh up. Top selection .…… Samanthas Moon coming in fresh and manners a bit iffy. Winning claims if she trots all the way.… Jesper Fast ok  draw and has trialled up ok. Would be a good chance and should race handy…… Jay Bee And Lou manners have been his downfall but if he brought his a-game he would be a player here at good odds. Selections:  Excuse My French (11),   Samanthas Moon (14),   Jesper Fast (4)   Jay Bee And Lou (5)   Race 2 Sudaman drawn to get a good run near the lead. Should go close to running top three.……. Kowhai Shadow has the ability and weaker field here. Can go close with manners and top driver on board…… Taurus good placings the last couple. Strike rate stable so should be hard to beat …… Ali X trainer driver combo hard to beat on the track and this one looked ok at trials. Winning claims here Selections:  Kowhai Shadow (17),  Taurus (10),   Ali X (11),   Sudaman (3)   Race 3 Tehoro Dazzle drawn to lead early and raceday form not bad. Should give a good sight in this field….. Rogie Falls good win last start and drawn well. Good chance with manners….. Kowhai Sundown has the ability to beat a field like this but keeps making mistakes. Needs to step but has winning claims….. Cody Banner has run some decent races in stronger fields and drawn ok. Place chances best. Selections:   Tehoro Dazzle (4),   Cody Banner (7),   Rogie Falls (1)    Kowhai Sundown (11)   Race 4 Skidaddle looks the early leader and will take a power of beating in front. Good winning claims ….. Angus likely to get a soft run on the fence. Hard to beat if handy turning for home….. Rollyourown racing ok and will be improved. Can run top three at good odds….. All Together Now driver choice is interesting. Can win with a cart into the race at the right time. Selections:   Skidaddle  (3),   All Together Now (14),   Rollyourown (15)  Angus (2)   Race 5 Global Flight disappointed last start but prior form good. Winning chance from the draw and big track suits ….. Prince Ranier racing into form and has been a bit unlucky. One of the leading chances in this field at good odds….. Sonoma Tyron couple of his runs have been good and drawn well. Manners a worry but winning claims here….. Puzzled ok last start and has won on the track. Paying overs Selections:   Global Flight (1),   Puzzled  (11),   Sonoma Tyron (6)   Prince Ranier (4)   Race 6 Woodlea Explorer conditions suit and form is pretty good. Good winning claims from the draw and likely leader here.…. Prospect Park good beginner coming in fresh. Good trial and nice winning chance…… Georgie Zukov has been a bit in or out with his form but look out if he can get to the front. Nice odds available..… Khaki Nui big track suits and normally ok from a stand. Could upset with a good run in transit Selections:  Georgie Zukov (14),   Woodlea Explorer (4),   Prospect Park (10),   Khaki Nui (11)   Race 7 Valley Star in good form and will be improved. Hard to beat if she stays handy and top selection.…. Zsa Zoe disappointing last start but goes ok on the track. Would be no surprise to see her in the money here at good odds ….. Midnight Assassin speedy when caught in the right mood and in ok form. Can go close here with a good run in transit…. Globe Trekker at his best he would threaten these but terrible draw. Place claims best Selections:   Valley Star (8),  Zsa Zoe (3),   Midnight Assassin (10),  Globe Trekker (13)   Race 8 Franco Niven disappointing last start but getting fitter and stand suits.  Good chance in this field….. Steel The Show good draw and has the speed to compete with these. J Dunn choice of drives gives a push for this one so needed ….. Tango Tara good staying type who gets in well here. He will be finishing on if the pace is on all the way. Needed.…. I'm Tough racing well and drawn to stay handy. Will be finishing on and can win if the pace is on all the way Selections:   Tango Tara (7),   Steel The Show (4),   Franco Niven (5),   I'm Tough (2)   Race 9 Cranbourne disappointed last start but prior form good. Winning chance and track suits ….. Somekindawonderful galloped last start but back to the mobile here. One of the leading chances in this field….. Peraki Seelster a couple of his runs have been good and should be improved for this. Place claims best….. Storm tidy win last start and should be fitter. Leading chance in the race Selections:   Storm (8),   Cranbourne (13),   Somekindawonderful (14)   Peraki Seelster (4)   Race 10 Dynamite trailing draw and will appreciate the big track. Should give a good sight in this field and can win.….. Booraa bobs up now and then and big track her go. Place chance at nice odds….. Stick Man has the ability to beat a field like this and drawn to lead. Top driver booked so include. ….. B K Swy coming back into form and well placed in this field. Needed. Selections:  Dynamite (2),   Stick Man (3),   B K Swy (8)    Booraa (13)   Harnesslink Media

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 Ashburton today with an eleven race program starting at 1:05pm 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 Ashburton.   Ashburton selections 12th November 2020 Best Bet : R5 Franco Josiah Best Value: R1 Prince Ranier   Race 1 Prince Ranier racing well without luck and a notable driver change today. Major player here with manners..… Royal Del racing well and form is getting better. Looks the logical favourite and will takes some stopping if he steps cleanly.…….. This Time Gamble running ok races without a lot of luck. Big track will suit and can surprise here at nice odds…… Random Jude locally trained runner who has a bit of ability but manners a concern. Could run top three if she brings her a-game Selections:  Prince Ranier (2),   Royal Del (13),   This Time Gamble (9),    Random Jude (7)   Race 2 Kerala Star pacer with trail form on the track who has been racing better fields. Likely to get a good run from the draw and can win.……. Deja Blue has good form, and the draw might be an assist with her gate speed today. Should be thereabouts at the finish …… Rosies Terror nice effort for third last start but draw not great. Running good trials on the track and can run top three with luck in the running …… Hey Tonight getting fitter with racing and slightly unlucky last start. Place claims best here…… Selections:  Kerala Star (4),   Deja Blue (6),   Rosies Terror (16),   Hey Tonight (13)   Race 3 Loyalist has been running good races against good fields. Looks a good bet in this….. Arminius good beginner who ran a good third on the track two starts ago. Draw hurts but he can place  ….. Vincent Van Gone slightly disappointing before being freshened but nice trial win. Can win and needed here…. Mongolian Marshal nice inside draw and getting fitter with racing. Winning claims here…. Selections:   Loyalist (2),  Vincent Van Gone (16),   Arminius (18),   Mongolian Marshal (3)   Race 4 Vesnina stable/driver combo hard to beat and this mare is out of form bus has a bit of the x-factor. Top selection in this race ….. Lancewood Louie drums are beating for this one and his trials have been good. Winning claims….. Major Wilson has the game to beat a field like this and he will go forward early. Can run top three…. Sportscam trial runs have been good but strikes a tough field and drawn badly….One for longer odds Selections:   Vesnina (2),   Lancewood Louie (7),   Sportscam (15),   Major Wilson (8)   Race 5 Franco Josiah conditions suit here and he is a major player in this field. Good winning claims and top selection.…. Tehoro Dazzle going ok and likely to go forward early. Should be thereabouts from the draw with luck in the running…… Blink N Bones tricky draw but conditions suit. Can place at longer odds.… Sally Lindenny good third last start and finishing speed to win if gaps open. Needed. Selections:  Franco Josiah (3),   Tehoro Dazzle (2),   Blink N Bones (11),   Sally Lindenny (6)   Race 6 What's Your Secret has been racing strong fields with merit. Should be a good winning chance in this lineup and drawn to trail. ……. Braeview Kelly has ability and the draw and should be handy early . Good winning claims …… Avana out of form but on her best day could win this. One for longer odds…… La Rosa good beginner who is the likely leader early. Hard to beat and likes the track Selections:   Braeview Kelly (2),   What's Your Secret (1),   Avana (7),   La Rosa (3)   Race 7 Tiebreaker has beaten better fields than this but tricky draw. Hard to beat in this field if he goes forward early….. Markham Eyre good draw and good win last start. Can win again with a similar trip  ….. Kiwi X Factor draw not great but he is tough. Winning claims if he can clear traffic….. Four Starzzz Shiraz drawn badly and not convinced he is at his best but pay to give another chance. Include Selections:   Tiebreaker (9),  Markham Eyre (6),   Starzzz Shiraz (7),  Kiwi X Factor (10)   Race 8 Go Davey likes to race near the lead and drawn for a run through at the start. Can upset with luck in the running….. She's Tough big run to win last start. The handicap might not stop her here…. Southerly Change big on ability but tricky draw. Winning claims with a cart into the race at the right time….. Gilligans Island terrible draw but top driver can weave some magic here. Winning claims Selections:   Go Davey (6),   She's Tough (11),   Southerly Change (9),   Gilligans Island (13)   Race 9 Chal Be racing well in top fields but drawn badly. Can win this at nice odds and top selection….. Rick Reilly races best near the lead and early tactics vital to his chances. Winning claims at nice odds with a soft run in front….. Terror Maria racing well and she could go forward early here. Winning claims in this field…. Good On Ya Kiwi drawn wide on the second row but nice effort last start. Place hopes best Selections:   Chal Be (12),   Good On Ya Kiwi (14),   Terror Maria (7),  Rick Reilly (2)   Race 10 Time In A Bottle tricky draw but racing ok and getting fitter with racing. One for longer odds….. Rachmaninov win last start very good and drawn to get a run through early. Can run top three …..Take After Me good second two starts ago and races best when handy. Needed…. Kahress has speed at both ends of her races and might land near the lead here. Can win. Selections:  Kahress (3),   Take After Me (6),   Time In A Bottle (10),   Rachmaninov (1)   Race 11 The Kaik out of form but racing in top fields Drawn wide but hard to beat with if he steps away safely and gets handy….. Dynamite races best near the lead and will be heading forward early. Very hard to beat if he can find the front …. Donegal Carrickfin under rated horse who never gives in and racing his way back into form. Chance at nice odds if he is handy turning for home…..Bird Of Paradise Out of form but races well on the track. Place hopes best at big odds Selections:   The Kaik (15),   Dynamite (7),   Donegal Carrickfin (6),   Bird Of Paradise (2)   Harnesslink Media

By Jonny Turner    Trainer Mark Jones goes into the first heat of the Sires Stakes Fillies Series at Ashburton on Thursday with two classy and evenly matched fillies in La Rosa and Braeview Kelly. La Rosa will step out for the first time start since her emphatic victory in the listed Harness Million Fillies Final at Addington last month in one mile (1609m) event. The three-year-old has not been sighted publicly since her breakout win, which means her fitness levels still have improvement to come. However, her trackwork suggests to Jones she is going to be highly competitive. “It was a last-minute decision to start her in this race, it wasn’t the plan.” “She had a break after her last run and she will definitely improve.” “But in saying that, her work this week has been pretty good.” “So, I am going in with a bit of confidence.” La Rosa has raced up on the pace in her last two wins and driver Samantha Ottley could press forward again from barrier 3 on Thursday. However, Jones knows she has a gate-flyer inside her in Braeview Kelly in barrier 2. “She is a great stayer, but in saying that but there is a bit of gate speed inside her.” “And if she sat three-fence or somewhere like that, I don’t think that would be the worse place for her.” “I don’t think she would get across Braeview Kelly, she looks like the leader.” The talented but sometimes wayward Braeview Kelly comes into Thursday’s race bolting in by five lengths in a slick 1-54.8 for 1700m in her last start at Forbury Park. With her race fitness and draw advantage, Jones expects the filly to give La Rosa and the rest of the field plenty of cheek. “I would probably lean towards Braeview Kelly over La Rosa, just with the fitness under her belt.” “But in saying that they are both by Bettor’s Delight and they are both pretty smart fillies.” “I wouldn’t want to split them, but if I had to go for one it would be Braeview Kelly.” Jones’ pair start outside All Stars filly What’s Your Secret (1), who has returned south after running fourth in her last start in the Sires Stake Fillies Championship at Alexandra Park. Her stablemate and fifth placegetter, Avana, starts on the outside of the front line in barrier 7. Jones also starts Mahia in race 2 at Ashburton on Thursday. “2400m suits, he gets in the right race and he can do a bit of work.” “So, he is a winning hope.” Captain Confetti will be out to go one better than his last start second for Jones in race 3 “He needs the right run, he is racing good, so with the right run he will be a chance.” Major Wilson also steps out for the Jones stable in race 4. “It is actually a good field, but he has worked good this week, so he is a definite upset place chance.”

By Jonny Turner    Majestic Man served up a big reminder of his status as a proven short course star when leaving his rivals in his wake in the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile on Monday. At a time when the country’s crop of star four-year-olds are dominating the conversation ahead of the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, the Phil Williamson trained six-year-old gave harness racing fans a quick refresher on his class when bolting in in the 1609m feature by a massive four and a half lengths. Majestic Man looked in the zone as soon as he arrived at Ashburton on Monday. And he had a look in his eye that even allowed his veteran trainer to get a little bit excited ahead of the Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile. “I was actually getting half excited because I was thinking he is going to go a real race today,” Phil Williamson said. “And if he can’t do it there will be no excuses.” “I went in thinking he is really good today, some days you get that feeling – that the horse is really well.” “He settled really well in his box, sometimes he can get a bit excited.” “He was pretty calm and his work was super during the week and I was looking forward to the race.” With Majestic Man clearly fit and in the zone, there will be no need for Williamson to step the trotter out again before the New Zealand Cup Carnival. “There is no chance he will go to Kaikoura and he won’t be going to the cup trials.” “We don’t need to be leaving home any more.” One of the stars among the country’s much talked about crop of four-year-olds is the reason why the hot seat behind Majestic Man is about to be up for grabs leading into his group 1 assignment in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All. Driver Brad Williamson confirmed his stable star Cracker Hill has progressed well following his game second to Bolt For Brilliance in last week’s Sires Stakes Championship at Alexandra Park and he is on track to line up in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All. Cracker Hill needs to move up just one place in the race’s rankings to gain a start in the New Zealand Cup Week feature. If he does Brad Williamson will drive Cracker Hill, leaving the seat behind arguably the country’s best short course trotter up for grabs. That will leave Phil Williamson searching for a driver for Majestic Man – a task he is hardly stressing over. “I think I have bred enough drivers that finding one won’t be a problem,” the trainer quipped. Matthew Williamson is first in for the sought after steer. The pair combined at Addington ten days ago when Majestic was beaten by Muscle Mountain when favourite after getting fired up by a false start Though hardly a poor performance, Majestic Man’s fifth saw him out of the top three placings for the first time in his last fourteen starts in New Zealand. Monday’s win provided relief for his camp, who could quickly move on from the surprise defeat and focus on the New Zealand Cup Carnival. “The false start last time wasn’t ideal, especially when you are drawn beside the one that is crashing into the gate,” Williamson said. “But, that is just racing and we used that as our excuse.” Heavyweight Hero headed the pack that chased in vain down the Ashburton straight on Monday. The Bob Butt trained seven-year-old ran on well from three back on the markers to finish second. One Apollo closed well from midfield to take third. The South Island continued to be an unhappy hunting ground for Temporale. The Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett trained eight-year-old missed a top three placing in his sixth attempt in Canterbury after receiving a good run in the trail throughout.

By Jonny Turner    Copy That went into beast mode to reel off stunning sectionals to win the Ashburton Flying Stakes in what a perfect dress rehearsal for the New Zealand Cup on Monday. The Ray Green trained four-year-old set the Ashburton track alight when unleashing a scorching 25.2sec last 400m to bolt in in the most important lead up to the country’s greatest race. After making a better beginning than his key rivals Self Assured and Spankem, Copy That was able to unleash that stunning final split and round out a 53.4sec last 800m after working to the lead early in the 2400m feature. “He was very good, he made a good beginning and once he got to the front it was going to be hard for the others to catch him,” Green said. The All Stars pairing’s New Zealand Cup stocks did not take a hit when they produced game efforts to fill the trifecta in a race Copy That made mathematically impossible for them to win. His brilliant victory was not the only way Copy That made his presence felt at Ashburton on Monday. The entire had plenty to say before and after the Ashburton Flying Stakes – letting out plenty of roars and squeals at any horses that got close to him. Though that might just sound like ‘coltish’ behaviour, it also gives an insight into what makes Copy That such a brilliant and determined racehorse. “He is never like this at home, he is usually pretty quiet,” Green said. “But when he gets here – or to any racetrack – he sees all these strange horses and everything going on and he just puffs himself right up.” Copy That shot back into New Zealand Cup favouritism just as quickly as he fired down the Ashburton straight. The northern sensation is now the $2.80 equal favourite for the great race alongside Ashburton Flying Stakes runner-up, Self Assured. Trainer-driver Mark Purdon was pleased with Self Assured’s effort to fight on for second after sitting parked throughout. The five-year-old stepped well in his third attempt from the unruly, which made him eligible to start from a regular barrier spot in the New Zealand Cup. Purdon said he would consider taking the five-year-old off the unruly, but it is most likely he will remain there for the 3200m feature. Spankem could not match Self Assured’s good beginning and made a rare blunder at the start before recovering quickly and finding a nice run in the one-one. The six-year-old then put in a sound effort to run third, which saw him hold down third favouritism for the New Zealand Cup at a $3.50 price. Thefixer and Ashley Locaz both produced encouraging runs given their recent circumstances when fourth and fifth, respectively, Thefixer was just a head behind Spankem in a much-improved effort following his fair last start fourth behind Classie Brigade at Addington. Ashley Locaz was another head away in fifth after touching down in Canterbury just days before Monday’s race following his recent Australian campaign. The first five horses home in the Ashburton Flying Stakes are all expected to make their final public appearances before the New Zealand Cup at the New Zealand Cup Trials.

By Jonny Turner    The clash harness racing fans have been waiting for will finally happen in the Ashburton Flying Stakes on Monday when Copy That takes on Self Assured and Spankem. Punters will get the most crucial line on their fancies for the New Zealand Cup with Copy That stepping out in the South Island first time this season to take on the All Stars pair after setting Alexandra Park alight in the spring. It will not just be a challenged for the northerner, as he is set to provide Self Assured and Spankem with their most serious tests of their campaigns in the race that is likely to decide which of the trio will start favourite in the New Zealand Cup. Trainer Mark Purdon knows exactly what kind of Copy That will throw at challenge Spankem and Self Assured. “He is a very good horse, Copy That, he is only young but he has been going great races and he is going to be hard to beat at Ashburton.” The Ashburton Flying Stakes has come about at precisely the right time for Spankem. The six-year-old produced a brilliant first-up run in the Canterbury Classic behind Self Assured turning the tables on him right on the line in the Methven Cup. His improvement from those two runs has the Miracle Mile ready to defend his Ashburton Flying Stakes crown. “He was really good first up and he improved from that run,” Purdon said. “It was a great effort at Methven, we were really happy with him.” “He would be getting towards 95% for Monday and then he should be spot on for the cup.” Self Assured made his second good beginning in the Methven Cup in second start since transferring to the unruly. The five-year-old was game in defeat, just being nosed out by his stablemate after being the only horse to make a midrace move. “He went a great race, he made that mid race move and he had it won everywhere but the post,” Purdon said. “I am really pleased with him going in to Ashburton.” All Stars pacer Ashley Locaz joins Copy That and fellow northerner Mach Shard in having his first start in a South Island lead up to the New Zealand Cup in Monday’s race. The six-year-old has returned to the All Stars stable after a brief Australian stint where he was sound, but not outstanding in five starts. Ashley Locaz was in the care of Matt ‘Poi’ Bowden at the All Stars’ Pukekohe base before flying back to Canterbury on Thursday. “He flew in on Thursday night, thankfully there weren’t any problems with his travel arrangements,” Purdon said. “Poi was quite happy with his work before he came down.” “I would expect him to go a nice race.” Ashley Locaz was rated at $17 win odds alongside his former stablemate, Thefixer, when the fixed odds market for the Ashburton Flying Stakes opened. Self Assured headed betting as the $2.30 favourite. Spankem was rated at a $2.60 win price, ahead Copy That, who was at $4.80.

It’s been 13 years since Themightyquinn produced a remarkable finish to win the Sires Stakes Silver at the Ashburton Raceway. Now it’s been confirmed the final heat for the three-year-old colts and geldings is back and will be held on Labour Day, October 26, the same day as the Ashburton Flying Stakes. Ashburton will also host the first heat of the Dunstan Horsefeeds Sires Stakes series for the fillies over a mile on Thursday November 12 and on May 1 2021 will host the Lone Star Sires Stakes Prelude 2 for the two-year-old trotters, also over a mile. In November 2007 Themightyquinn, then trained by Peter Bagrie and driven by Ricky May, extricated his way out of a seemingly impossible position three back on the fence and unleashed a sprint that would become his trademark. He won the race in 1:55.9, ahead of Passion N Glory and Goldie Blue. Themightyquinn won five races as a three-year-old but went on to cement his status as one of the all-time greats with 58 wins from 111 starts, amassing more than $5.5m in the process.   HRNZ

By Garrick Knight    It’s Christmas time and all Mitch Kerr wants in his stocking is an Ashburton Cup. The North Canterbury horseman, arguably the country’s most in-form trainer apart from Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, has the two favourites for today’s $20,000 feature. Smokin By has established himself as an open class pacer and was a dominant Addington winner last time out. In contrast, Matt Damon has come a long way in a short time, winning six of seven starts this season following a debut second back in July. “I’m really happy with both of them,” Kerr told HRNZ. “Smokin By has just got to step and, if he does, he’ll be right in it up to his eyeballs.” “Matt Damon is a really good horse going forward and, while it’s a big step up for him, he just keeps lifting. “The two miles will be right up his alley because he’s a lovely wee stayer in the making.” Driver Matt Anderson has been riding the wave of success with Kerr this year and finds himself third on the drivers’ premiership as a result. He’s been driving both horses all season but has opted to steer narrow race favourite, Matt Damon. “Matt chose to stick with him, which is why we gave Tim Williams a spin on Smokin By last week. “He’s always liked Matt Damon and the other thing is he wasn’t getting on with the other horse that well.” Bookies opened Matt Damon at $3.50 yesterday and he remained firm at that price this morning while Smokin By had drifted slightly from $3.50 out to $3.90. The early money came for Heisenberg, who is earning a reputation as a horse that runs close-up placings, though that didn’t punters off because they shifted him in from $8 to $6. Nandolo ($3.90) and Jazzy Star ($5.50) are the other two firmly in the market. One race earlier, Kerr’s fine mare Change Is Good will be looking to repeat her performance from Labour Weekend when she tackles a $12,000 mares’ mile. She caused an upset on the same track that day, running 1.56.1 with a tough effort against a similar field. Her form since has been first-class and Kerr is confident she can put her hoof in the till again. “Hopefully she can get in to the race from her wide draw because she loves toughing it out.” Rounding out the team is first starter Her Majesty, a Bettor’s Delight filly who hasn’t set the world on fire at the trials, but gets the tick from her trainer. “She’s a half sister to (Group 1 winner) Dizzy Miss Lizzy that is pretty talented, I think.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Shartin’s baby brother showed he has his share of his family’s ability when speeding to an impressive qualifying win at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. The Tintin In America pacer from Live Or Die mare Bagdarin, named Knockawarwon,  has big shoes to fill considering his sister already has her name etched in harness racing history as the world’s fastest ever mare.  The 3yr-old, bred and trained by Shartin’s breeder Grant Crabbe, has not only revealed he has the ability to make some kind of name for himself in the sport with his trial win.  He has shown he is doing even better than his star sister at the same stage of their careers. “He is a bigger horse, he is taller and he is faster,” Crabbe said.  “He has always been able to run a half [800m] around my track in a second to half a second faster than Shartin.” Shartin qualified in 3.05.1 for 2400m from behind the mobile, four years and four days prior to Knockawarwon qualifying in 3.03.7. Baby brother showed off his speed by dashing his last 400m in 26.2sec on Tuesday. The impressive display came in the horse’s first public appearance.  “First time in a race cart, first time in a race saddle and first time on a race track,” Crabbe said. “He is a very sensible horse, he relaxes, he is one of those ones you’re lucky to have around.” “He has got great manners and he is a stunningly gaited horse.” Knockawarwon will not be seen at the races in the coming weeks, with his breeder-trainer opting to take a patient approach with the promising pacer. “I am going to turn him out for six weeks, because he has only really just turned three -  being a late November foal.” “I thought he is such a nice horse and he has everything right, so if I give him a nice spell now for six weeks, or so, he will be right for racing around February or March.” Knockawarwon’s name was developed from what could be considered a phonetic or mangled spelling of Ngakawau – a region on the West Coast of the South Island. The 3yr-old is partly raced by Crabbe’s daughter, Kylie, and her partner, Michael Mumm. Kylie came in to the ownership of the horse after Crabbe injured his neck and could have been left unable to work Knockawarwon. Mumm’s friends and family, who are from the Ngakawau region, subsequently joined the horse’s ownership. The group had only had one serious offer, which totalled over six figures, before Tuesday’s trials. Crabbe said they declined that proposal and were likely to decline subsequent offers unless they were sizeable. “The guys on the coast said they want to race him - unless the money was reasonable - it is hard to get a nice horse.” “Despite all of the publicity he has had through Shartin, we have only had one phone call from people offering to buy him.” Crabbe has not yet broken in the next foal from Bagdarin, a yearling by A Rocknroll Dance named Done Rockn. The horse is to be gelded this week after displaying coltish tendencies. “He is a roaring, very mature type of horse.” “He is a stunning horse, he is probably the pick of the family on looks.” “He looks like he could go as a 2yr-old.” Bagdarin was served by Gold Ace last season and is due to give birth to a foal by the sire in the coming weeks. Crabbe also plans to put the mare back in foal to Gold Ace. Part of the inspiration for that decision is because he has a 2yr-old by the sire from another of his broodmare’s in Cassie’s Medley, which he rates very highly.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A trip to Southland is looming on the horizon for Thursday’s ultra-impressive debut winner Ashburton, Bundoran. The three-year-old Sir Lincoln gelding showed rare speed to surge up the passing lane and beat another handy type in Unico Veloce, justifying the faith his connections have in him. “On ability we were confident,” said co-trainer Amber Lethaby, who also did the driving. “He took a couple of cracks at qualifying because he just got a little bit over eager to do things. “But he’s got a lot better with every run he’s had and his ability has never been in question.” After stepping well from the mile-and-a-half standing start point, Lethaby opted to take a trail on Bundoran behind Unico Veloce. The latter got a fairly soft lead in front, but was touched up by Calypso Rock in the 500 metres approaching the home straight. It took the sting out of the leader and allowed Bundoran to accelerate past him with ease over the last furlong. “Even if that didn’t happen, I’m pretty sure I probably would have got the leader anyway because we think quite a bit of our fella.” Australian interest is there in the horse, and regular high-end buyer from Perth, Greg Bond, inspected the horse on Wednesday before flying home, but no deal has been reached as yet. “I couldn’t say for sure whether he’s staying here or being sold; we’ll have to wait and see. “We’ve had some interest but maybe the Sir Lincoln factor is putting a few of them off. “To us, we know he’s a nice horse and we’re not going to let him go for nothing.” So, Southland might be next, with Lethaby’s husband and training partner, Jason, mapping out a course for the horse. “It’s back to the drawing board now, pretty much, and seeing what we’re serious about. “I’m not too sure but I know Jason was keen on getting him down south and looking at some of the Southern Supremacy heats. “Time will tell whether that’s going to work out or not. “At the moment, we’re sticking him to stands so we’re going to have to put him in mobiles if that’s a real option.” Lethaby says they’ve never had a Sir Lincoln in the stable before, but purchased him on type for just $5,000 at last year’s Christchurch yearling sale. “He’s the only one we’ve got in the stable. “He’s isn’t tall, but is strong and really solid. There’s still plenty of improvement in him too. “My husband owns half of him with three other guys, just loyal owners that we’ve had with us for a long time. “And we’re all just absolutely stoked to have a good horse.” One race later, Canterbury media darling Cassie Fahey, home from Australia to cover Cup Week for Sky Racing, had cause to celebrate. Her family’s horse, Cheezel, won the junior drivers’ race at her first start for Woodend Beach horseman, Regan Todd. Fahey, along with sister Tess and dad, Brian, were there to celebrate what was the daughter of Betterthancheddar’s fourth win, the previous three coming under Brian’s tutelage. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Trainer-driver Jim Curtin will seek more New Zealand Cup week success with his small team at Ashburton on Thursday. The Templeton horseman closed out New Zealand Cup day when producing his lightly raced pacer Tango Tara to win its last race. Curtin looks a big chance of scoring a race to race double by winning the next event of the New Zealand Cup Carnival - the first event at Ashburton. He starts Zigzagzoo in a 2400m maiden trot, following the horse’s good first up run behind impressive Kaikoura winner, Madam Sass. “He did go really good up there, I was really pleased with him,” Curtin said. “I was a bit worried about how he would trot the bends, but he was pretty good.” Zigzagzoo’s Kaikoura effort came in his first start since he raced New Zealand’s best 2yr-old trotters, last season. The Majestic Son squaregaiter went sound races finishing in behind the placegetters in races won by Ultimate Stride and Muscle Mountain. His first up effort showed Zigzagzoo had returned stronger from his winter break. “I think he has come back a bit stronger - he is quite a big horse and I think he could be even better when he gets a bit older,” Curtin said. Zigzagzoo could head towards this season’s 3yr-old trotting features if his form warrants it. The trotter can help his cause in today’s race if he can hold out fellow 3yr-old, Vacation Hill. The Kevin Townley trained squaregaiter also comes in to Thursday’s race after a last start second placing. Bookmakers think Zigzagzoo can, rating him the early $3 favourite, ahead of Vacation Hill at $4.60. Curtin also starts Kayla Maguire in race 9 at the Ashburton meeting. She finished down the track in her first start for the second at Methven, recently. The 4yr-old may need another start to show her best after doing too well during her winter spell. “She is going to need a couple of runs because she has been carrying a bit of extra weight.” “She is in a bit of an awkward place in the handicaps at the moment, racing horses that have won a few races.” Race 9 features an exciting clash between emerging 3&4yr-olds. 3yr-olds Cloud Nine, A Delightful Act and Pink Flamingo Run each go in to the 2400m mobile event as last start winners. 4yr-olds Nirvana Beach and Portalerge come in to race 9 after running good second placing in their last starts. Nirvana Beach and A Delightful Act opened equal $3 favourites with bookmakers. Tango Tara’s neck win over the favourite Taxman has earned him some quiet time. Curtin will bypass Friday’s Show Day meeting at Addington and target the quieter surrounds of Geraldine, later this month. “I never intended to back him up on Show Day because he has had quite a few runs in a short time with going to the trials.” “We might look at the Geraldine meeting with him.” Tango Tara helped keep his family’s name in the spotlight after his close relation, Tiger Tara, missed his first New Zealand Cup carnival in six years. Tango Tara is by A Rocknroll Dance from a half sister to the dam of Tiger Tara, who is by his sire, Bettor’s Delight. Tango Tara shows some traits of Bettor’s Delight stock as a fair track worker, who steps his game up significantly on race day. Niggling injuries, which Curtin described as wear and tear problems, meant the 4yr-old was spelled in January after making a brilliant start to his career. Tango Tara is over those problems and Curtin is hopeful the horse can continue to fulfil his potential. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner  Rebel Kibbybones scored an emotional win for the Hay family when grinding out a tough win in the Cyril Hay Memorial Trot at Ashburton on Monday. Tears flowed when family members greeted John Hay in the birdcage after he owned, trained and drove the winner of the race named after his late father. “Its real special, the whole family are here -  the grandkids are here,” he said. “They are all roaring and there are tears and everything.” “It is a good one to win.” Rebel Kibbybones’ victory could not have been more fitting, as Hay wore his late father’s colours while producing a heady drive on the 9yr-old. The trainer-driver made sure he was not going to be unlucky in the race that meant so much to his family when angling out of the one-one at the 800m, before serving it up to the leader, Never Mind, on the turn. “The one I was following wasn’t going anywhere, so I had to get handy,” Hay said. “At that stage I thought I was a place chance, he kept grinding up the straight and got the win.” “He is an honest enough trotter, when he trots he usually gets a cheque and that is him.” Cyril Hay left an undeniable mark on the Mid Canterbury harness racing scene during his lifelong involvement in the industry before his passing in 2017. The Ashburton win was the scene of one of his best training wins – when Doctor Bailey won the Cheviot Cup. John was in the sulky that day and he looks back on the win fondly and credits his father for kick starting his career. “He started my career off with Doctor Bailey and gave me a good start.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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