Search Results
1 to 16 of 240
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

It’s time for talented filly Freedom Is to shine. The regally bred harness racing three-year-old filly has landed the coveted inside gate in Saturday night’s Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Oaks at Albion Park. And owner/trainer Phillip Thurston couldn’t be happier. “We needed a good draw and we got it; the filly is racing in excellent form and should acquit herself well but Nike Franco is obviously going to be very hard to beat.” Thurston said. Freedom Is heads into the Oaks feature brimming with confidence following her gritty performance when successful in the Seymour Rising Stars Championship Final at Albion Park in a career best time of 1;55.9. That victory proved to be her first on Queensland soil despite boasting several feature race placing’s. The Courage Under Fire – Alegria filly has always found herself as the bridesmaid and never the bride after placing’s in the Nursery Pace Finals as a two-year-old while placed again this season plus being placed in the Gold Coast Oaks. “This filly is consistent and she tries very hard but often we’ve found one a little better on the night but we get a perfect opportunity to make our own luck from this draw, I was thrilled with drawing the inside gate because she has very good gate speed. “Winning last week provides a perfect platform going into this race; this has been a target all season long and head into the race with confidence. It was great that she fought like she did last week because she was headed in the straight but kicked strongly and that’s important going into an Oaks feature. “This little filly tries very hard and she deserves a big race success so let’s just hope it’s our turn this weekend. She has trained on very well this week and continues to thrive here in the warmer sunshine plus Brad (Cowen – driver) is driving in very good form.” Future plans for Freedom Is remain unclear and a decision won’t be made until after the Queensland Oaks on whether she will chase the Australasian Breeders Crown series in Melbourne next month. Last season, Freedom Is qualified for the rich final and finished a career worst 8th behind Whereibylong. “I won’t make any firm plans until next week, the focus is clearly the Queensland Oaks and we’ll just get through that race first before locking down any plans. “We’ve got the option of starting her in a heat up here and we also have the Redcliffe Oaks as a target but the filly will decide which way we go. It’s been a long season already but it’s also been very rewarding.” And it could prove even more rewarding with a Queensland Oaks victory this weekend. by Chris Barsby Queensland Harness Racing

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

Queensland horseman Ian Gurney is finally living his dream. The likeable harness racing fanatic is still pinching himself with the success of his own stable star Avonnova who lines up in Saturday night’s Gr.2 $60,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park. Claimed late last year for a mere $20,000 from Sydney, Gurney has transformed the talented free-legged pacer into a ruthless killer on the racetrack. In 17 starts for Gurney, Avonnova has won 11 times while he has managed to win 8 of his last 9 starts with only Inter Dominion/Miracle Mile hero Beautide standing in between his winning sequence. Avonnova ran a fighting second behind Beautide in the Gr.1 $100,000 Len Smith Mile at TABCORP Park, Menangle back in April. Since returning from that Sydney trip, Avonnova has exploded to a higher level and rates as a legitimate threat against the likes of champion pacer Im Themightyquinn and the Shane Tritton speed freaks Mach Beauty and Suave Stuey Lombo. And Gurney is shaking his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe the run I’m having currently, I bought this horse with my good mate Paul (Montgomery) just to have some fun and never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Im Themightyquinn, Beautide and the like. It’s just amazing and it’s so exciting.” Gurney said. Avonnova, who had stints with the likes of respected trainers Steve Turnbull and Kerryann Turner before being claimed has thrived on the warmer Queensland sunshine and the one on one attention afforded by Gurney which has paved the way for his rise to stardom. The Art Major seven-year-old gelding has quickly established himself as the biggest/strongest and fastest open class horse in the state and will test his mettle against a strong interstate invasion during the month of July at Albion Park leaving Gurney excited by the challenge. “I don’t do anything fancy with Nova but obviously he enjoys the warmer weather and the special attention he gets from my wife Ange and her daughters who really spoil him between races. There is no secret to my success; I think I just got lucky. “He’s been great and he came at the right time for me, he’s the reason you get up early in the morning and do what we do with the horses. I’ve got a lot of people to thank for all the help and support I’ve received along the way. “Win, lose or draw on Saturday night, it doesn’t really matter because I’m just thrilled to be in a great Queensland race. But I think he will run another great race, he flew last week and Bart (Cockburn – driver) didn’t even pull the earplugs and I’m sure we would’ve smashed the record if we let him go but we were mindful of this race this weekend.” Gurney and his family have poured millions into the racing industries over a long period of time through ownership and sponsorship. The Gurney Group of Companies operates their successful earthmoving business and enjoy relaxing by racing and punting on their racehorses. In the past year, Gurney has convinced his brothers and uncles to invest more into harness racing as opposed to thoroughbred racing and the results have been astonishing through the deeds of exciting rookie pacers Smooth Showgirl and Birdy Mach. “I got them all together and we bought quite a few yearlings from the sales last year and the early results are very pleasing; Smooth Showgirl is already a Group One winner while Birdy Mach is rated by Luke McCarthy as one of the most gifted horses he’s been involved in. “Naturally we’re all very excited and very much looking forward to next month when they head to Victoria to contest the rich Australasian Breeders Crown series. “I’m just hoping the party will start this month here with Nova and we can continue to party in Melbourne. Harness Racing is more than a passion of mine; I love the sport and enjoy the thrill of winning.” With so much to look forward to this year, it’s great to see Gurney turning his dreams into reality. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Two of the most impressive trialists seen at Alexandra Park during the winter months are set to make their much awaited debuts on Friday night. So if you don’t like backing first starters, I suggest you turn the page now. The first of them is Al Bundy, who is likely to start a warm favourite in the second event on the card, the maiden trot. Trained by Andrew Grant at Pukekohe, the four-year son of Great Success has been sublime in all three of his public appearances and while I generally don’t like to tip out maiden trotters. This fella, touch wood, hasn’t looked like putting a foot wrong in any of them. In his first public appearance he won a sedate workout by two lenghts, before coming back the next week and winning a workout by 15 lenghts. He then obliterated his opponents in his qualifying trial by some 22 lenghts and trotted four seconds under the required time. A half-brother to the well-performed Double Bundy, who has won 14 races and trotted a mile in 1-54.6 at Menangle, Al Bundy, looks to have inherited  all of his brother’s ability. Already dubbed an up and coming trotting star by one North Island scribe, Al Bundy looks set to make a winning debut on Friday. As does Crocket’s Cullen, the other star trialist set to debut on Friday. “He is a nice two-year-old who I think has the potential to develop into a top-liner,” said his trainer Brent Mangos. Crocket’s Cullen, who is full-brother to Band On The Run, was victorious in his first three public appearances back in February and early March.  He was then spelled before returning to the workouts on the 14th of June. “He was coming into strongly and then galloped in that workout, but it actually wasn’t his fault as he was hitting the wheels,” explained Mangos. Mangos then resolved that issue before taking him back to the trials the week later where he was once again very impressive, winning by three lenghts in a 2:02 mile rate. The strong son of Christian Cullen has drawn the pole in the eighth race on Friday and baring bad luck, and plenty of it, he should be winning. “I’ll just see how he feels behind the gate, but he doesn’t have to hold up to win,” said Mangos. “It’s a small field so even if he gets crossed from the gate I should be able to get him back out and around them,” he added. “Either way I expect him to be very hard to beat.” Crocket’s Cullen is Australasian Breeders Crown eligible but Mangos thinks the rich series comes just a few months to soon for the exciting colt. “We will know more after Friday but he is still pretty green and I think he lacks the ring-craft to go to Australia for a series like the Breeders Crown,” said Mangos. “He may compete in the heat at Cambridge next week but I don’t think we will take him over to Australia for the Final. He is going to be a much better horse next season,” he enthused. Meanwhile, reformed rogue trotting mares Sunchita and Idle Bones look set to battle out the feature trot with in form gelding Sunshield. All three of the trotters look set for open class. However, a few months ago I wouldn’t have given any of them a chance of making it to the elite level. Idle Bones was victorious in her debut at Ashburton before bad manners led to a sixteen race losing streak, while Sunchita had, up until a few weeks ago, thrown away more races than she had won. But a few weeks is a long time in harness racing and a few changes to Sunchita’s gear and shoeing and opportunities for Idle Bones to race from behind a mobile have led to both mares winning their past three starts. Sunshield has also won his past three starts, but on Friday only one of the three will retain their picket-line fence form line. Which one will it be you ask? My money is on Idle Bones. She, like Sunchita, was fantastic in her North Island debut and has the advantage  of the mobile, which will probably suit her more than it will Sunchita, who is generally a fast beginner from a stand. She has also come up with the ace alley and should be able to lead and roll along in front, like she did at Addington two starts back when winning by 15 lengths in a two-minute mile rate. If she can replicate that performance, she should win again. Idle Bones is one of two horses South Island trainer Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis has racing on Friday. The other is Ellmer Hanover, who drops back from racing in last week’s Winter Cup to a much more suitable C2-5 mobile pace. He wouldn’t be without a chance and is worth specking at odds in an interesting race with sees smart two-year-old Mighty Flying Major and Southland Oaks winner Royal Counsel clash with country cup type pacers such as Ellmer Hanover, Who Dares Wins, and Chief Thundercloud, who caught my eye when flying home for fourth in the Winter Cup and is my top pick in the race. That race is the first leg of the Quaddie and I suggest that you go wide and take Zeta Bromac, Mighty Flying Major, Royal Counsel, and Ellmer Hanover as I am confident that you can get away with anchoring Crocket’s Cullen in the second leg. It may also pay to go wide in the third leg before thinning things down again in the last. By Mitchell Robertson

Smart freshman colt Art Union smashed the 2YO colts & geldings pacing mark for the 2600 metre mobile by more than three seconds when downing his older C2 rivals at Rangiora on Sunday. After enjoying a nice run in the trail behind capable pacer Boom Gate, the Art Major colt finished strongly along the sprint lane in the hands of regular driver Dexter Dunn to win by a neck in a very smart time of 3-15.9, which obliterated the previous record of 3-19.4 which was set by Nicky Hanover in 2004. His last half was recorded in a slick 55.6. Art Union, who is a son of the smart mare and good producer, Sparks A Flyin, was bred and is owned by long-time Kentuckiana Lodge clients, Jim and Susan Wakefield. He is the fifth foal from Sparks A Flyin and her fifth impressive winner. Her first four foals, all of which have earned in excess of at least $80,000, are Diomedes, Empyrean, Bettor’s Fire, and Safedra. He has now won four of his eight starts and placed on a further three occasions for stakes of $55,000. Trainer Cran Dalgety will now give Art Union a couple of easy days before setting him for a heat of the Australasian Breeders Crown at Addington in a fortnight (July 17). Art Union will hopefully be half of a two-pronged Cran Dalgety attack on the rich ABC Series. “Katy Perry’s recovered well from her fall on Jewels day. Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis have been looking after her for us and doing a great job with her in the salt water,” said Dalgety on his Kentuckiana Lodge website “I’m going up to drive her in work next Saturday. If I’m happy with her, she’ll line up in the Breeders Crown fillies heat at Cambridge on the following Thursday (July 10),” he added. Meanwhile, superstar reinsman Dexter Dunn was victorious in a further four races at Rangiora on Sunday, including the “London Legend” Rangiora Winter Cup aboard Fifth Edition. The much-improved gelding, who has now won three Winter Cups in a row, is likely to be kept going for a $12,000 free-for-all at Addington, before heading to the paddock for a breather. “A race like the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day could be a good race for him in the new season,” said Dalgety. By Mitchell Robertson  

If Australia was looking for a juvenile that could have a show of matching superstar Kiwi freshman Follow The Stars in the upcoming Australasian Breeders Crown - they may have well found him. And his name is Birdy Mach. The Belinda McCarthy trained Mach Three two-year-old made his much awaited debut at Menangle today and lived up to the hype and more. In fact, his winning time of 1-53.8 may very well be the quickest debut made ever made by a juvenile Downunder. Birdy Mach was sent straight to the front by driver Luke McCarthy in an opening quarter of 27.2. He was then allowed an easy second quarter, before producing a 55.7 last half to dash away for an emphatic 10.9 metre win. Bob Gage finished in second, while Kiwi export Kilcullen, who was a clear second favourite, galloped in the score-up and was never in the contest. Birdy Mach, who is a close relation to the former Chariots Of Fire winner Villagem, is owned by the Gurney family, who are currently enjoying a great run with top Queenslander Free-for-aller Avonnova. He is named after long-time McCarthy employee Daryl ‘Birdy’ Crapper. By Mitchell Robertson Birdy Mach  

Lex and Heather Williams now have two Homfield trophies sitting side-by-side in their living room. One of them was won by One Over Kenny in 2005 and the other by her son One Over Da Moon at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday night. “It’s pretty cool that he managed to win the same race his mother did,” said co-owner and breeder, Lex Williams, who travelled over to Australia to watch him race on Friday. “It definitely was a huge thrill,” he added. One Over Da Moon is being trained by Chris Lang during his Australian Campaign. Lang also did the driving on the three-year-old Majestic Son colt on Friday. “He is on a round trip and will return to Paul Nairn after the Australasian Breeders Crown,” advised Williams. One Over Da Moon was given a nice run in the one-one by Chris Lang, before coming three-wide around the final bend and powering away to win by 2.4 metres over Guiltless and Daenerys Targaryen , who also found the line well. Favourite Twentyten faded to finish last after racing parked outside the leader. “Chris Lang said he may be small but he doesn’t feel it when you are sitting behind him,” said Williams. Although Williams and wife Heather were at Tabcorp Park Melton on Friday to soak up the atmosphere, he was extremely disappointed that the race wasn’t televised back in New Zealand. “There were three horses with Kiwi connections in the race, so I think it is absolutely disgraceful that the race wasn’t shown live,” he concluded. By Mitchell Robertson

The rivalary between the leading trotting sires Love You and Majestic Son in age group harness racing in New Zealand has been intense all season. With the three year olds, it was close between the two until the classics came around and Majestic Son asserted himself and cleared out for huge win on the stakes won list with Love You fading to third late in the season. With the two year olds, it has been back and forth between the two sires all season. Both sires have produced quality individuals who at various points of the season have looked to have the wood on their opponents. Love You had 20 two year olds eligible to race this season and those to excell included Monbet ($66,145) ,Yugunnakissmeornot ($26,180), and BD Love ($18,459). Majestic Son had 22 two year olds eligible to race this season and those to excell included Prince Fearless ($57,956)  Wanna Play ($45,771) and Cyclone Emily ($6,461) So as of today Love You with $112,365 in stakes won has a small lead of just $1841 over Majestic Son whose stock have won $110,524. The only races left for the babies this season are the heats of the Australasian Breeders Crown and it is here that Majestic Son appears certain to win the two year old sires crown. All of his stakes winners are eligible whereas none of the Love You's are paid up. The Majestic Son filly Wanna Play is the only runner in a $5,000 heat at Addington tonight while there are two more heats in Auckland next week. So Majestic Son will notch up a notable siring achievement with both age group crowns in New Zealand. On balance there doesn't seem to be a lot between the two sires except in the matter of the service fees they charge. It is becoming harder and harder to justify a service fee of $10,000 for Love You when Majestic Son only stands for $5,000. Harnesslink media

Kialla pacer Gangster Boy will be chasing Group 3 success in the Empire Stallions Vicbred Championship Final on Friday night at Melton’s Tabcorp Park. The five-year-old Modern Art gelding, whose mother is Gangster Girl, overcame the outside back-row draw at $33 to score in the second heat of the series last Friday night, knocking favourite punters out of the park. Trainer David Farrar praised the drive of concession reinsman Mark Pitt, whose pre-race plan was to find the back of Manuka Man. “We had a bit of a plan. Mark had done the form and decided Manuka Man was the horse to follow and he was able to get on to his back,” Farrar said. “Mark works for a good mate of mine, Wayne Potter, who does a really good job educating these young drivers. “Mark has driven for me for a little while now. He actually drove a double for me at Cobram the other day (May 19), which was his first double. And Friday night was his first metropolitan drive … it’s a bit like an AFL player kicking a goal with his first kick, so that was a good achievement.” Farrar said he had always deliberately supported young drivers because “they are the future of our sport”. And he says five junior drivers have actually scored their first winning double with his horses over the years – Rosalind Fox, Nathan Jack, Thomas Gilligan, Riley Fortin and now Pitt. Gangster Boy has had an ultra-consistent season, winning three races and being placed a further 11 times in 19 starts. “We swim him a lot. That’s where he gets his fitness and strength from,” Farrar said. “He’ll do his best this Friday night. Hopefully we can get a bit of luck with the draw.” Meanwhile, Farrar’s six-year-old Mach Three gelding Attackamach has successfully returned from injury after two stem cell operations and a 12-month rehabilitation stint in Dederang. “He’s pretty special,” Farrar said. “If he stays sound I’m confident he’ll win a city race.” Attackamach, whose mother was by the great Kiwi pacer Iraklis, resumed from over two years off with back-to-back seconds at Swan Hill and Bendigo before a 7.9m win last start at Cobram in a mile rate of 1:58.3. “He can reel off a quick sectional. He’s a really nice horse,” Farrar said. Attackamach has had nine wins and four seconds from 15 starts and finished sixth as a two-year-old in the Australasian Breeders Crown Final. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

An Australian trained horse is yet to win a Harness Jewels final and that won’t change on Saturday. Padrisimo, who was the only Australian to take up his invitation, was scratched from the 2YO Emerald this afternoon after he disappointed in his trial yesterday and appeared clearly off colour today. The result is a disappointing one for not only Andy and Kate Gath, but also Harness Racing New Zealand, who this year tried to ‘Internationalize’ the Harness Jewels for the first time. Andy Gath took to Twitter soon after he scratched his star Bettor’s Delight colt. “Very disappointed that I had to scratch Padrisimo from the jewels.  Clearly wasn't at his best yesterday at the trials & is off colour today. Padrisimo will now have an easy time before being set for the Australasian Breeders Crown. By Mitchell Robertson

Top young harness racing reinsman Zac Butcher nailed his second New Zealand Oaks victory in the space of three years when guiding Ideal Belle to an emphatic victory in the Group One feature at Addington tonight. The Barry Purdon trained filly, who was a luckless second behind Venus Serena in the Nevele R Fillies Final, made up for last week’s mishap by downing Raksdeal and Te Amo Bromac in the $125,000 time honoured event. Driven perfectly by Butcher, the American Ideal filly led early, before taking a trail behind runner-up Raksdeal. Ideal Belle and Butcher then pushed out into the clear on the home bend and raced away for an effortless 2 & ½ length victory. “The draw and race panned out perfectly and she won easily in the end,” enthused Butcher. “It definitely made up for last week where she was a luckless second after being checked at the 350 metre mark,” he added. Butcher said that there were a couple of times when he was slightly disappointed with Ideal Belle early in the season, but added that she was really starting to hit her straps now. "She has really strenghten up of late and has finally grown into her huge frame," he explained. "She was just as tall at two as she is now but she has filled out a lot lately," he added. Butcher is now hopeful that Ideal Belle will recieve a good barrier draw in the 3YO Diamond section of the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on May 31st. "If she draws one to five I think she has a cracking chance," he enthused. Ideal Belle is also eligable for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown Series and is likely to head across the Tasman provided she is still in good form after the Harness Jewels. Meanwhile, superstar filly Venus Serena was slightly dissapointing by her extremely high standards, finishing in fifth after working hard mid-race. By Mitchell Robertson  

Gifted young horseman Anton Golino is in a happy place right now. Golino prepares outstanding rookie colt Artistic Flite, favourite for Saturday night’s Gr.1 $100,000 Seymour Nursery Pace two-years-old colts and geldings Final at Albion Park. Boasting unbelievable international experience, Golino has plied his talents to his colt with wonderful success with the promise of plenty more to come this season. Already successful in the Gr.1 $100,000 Bathurst Gold Crown in March while a runner-up to freakish talent Follow The Stars in the $322,000 Australian Pacing Gold Final at TABCORP Park, Melton earlier this month, the Artistic Fella youngster is yet to miss the board in nine career starts to date. With big credentials comes big pressure but Golino is unperturbed with all the attention. “All the credit belongs with this colt because he’s making my job easy, he’s such a professional with a terrific attitude and will to win. My job lately is just to keep him happy and healthy.” Golino said. The Nursery Pace series followed on quickly from the Australian Pacing Gold series but Golino and owner Theo Papadopoulos always had the Brisbane trip as a lock. “Theo was keen to attack this series and the colt took no harm from his trip to Melbourne so we decided to come north and take our shot, I’m glad we made the trip. “We were only home for three nights before we were on the road again heading to Brisbane but I honestly believe he’s thrived on his recent trip. When we shipped north he settled in great and hasn’t missed a feed. “I think he’s doing really well in the warmer climate up here compared to what he faced in Melbourne, I know I’m I am.” Artistic Flite qualified for Saturday night’s final with a decisive victory in his heat on Monday where strolled to a comfortable victory while he ripped a final half of 56.8 seconds. His heat time was 2;00.9 which was slower than fellow heat winner Mista Natural who recorded a time of 1;59.2. “I was happy with his heat effort on Monday and he’s come through it really well, Johnny (McCarthy – driver) actually said he felt better than ever and was very relaxed which is great considering the racing he’s encountered lately. “The barrier draw is no luxury but I’m sure Johnny will have a plan of attack, he knows my colt really well and he knows how to navigate his way around Albion Park pretty good too. “I’m not selling the likes of Waves Of Fire, Admiral Bronski and Mista Natural short, all are from very good stables and all have excellent drivers. I thought Pete’s (Greig – Mista Natural) horse raced really well and I’m happy to see him with a very talented type, he’s a great horseman and great guy to match.” Following the Nursery Pace, Golino and his prized colt will return to Sydney for the Breeders Challenge before heading to Melbourne at season’s end for the Australasian Breeders Crown. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

If prominent American owner/breeders Gordon Banks and Mark Hanover could win one aged Group One race in New Zealand it would be a Harness Jewels Final. The Florida-based cousins are the only owners in the world to have won Breeders Crown finals in both North America and Australia, but have yet to win a Harness Jewels crown. “That would be a dream come true,’’ Banks told HRNZ from his Miami base. “The only reason we own horses is to win the big races. “Sure the New Zealand Cup and an Inter Dominion Final would be nice but we don’t usually race aged pacers so a Jewels title would cap it off nicely. Banks and Hanover could get their wish on May 31 when the Jewels leader they own - Joanne’s A Delight lines up in the $150,000 2YO Fillies Diamond Pace at Cambridge Raceway. Both men stayed up until 3.30am last Friday to watch Joanne’s A Delight win their first New Zealand Group One race. The Nigel McGrath trained daughter of Bettor’s Delight won the $150,000 Magness Benrow Sires Stakes Championship. “I couldn’t get to sleep after watching the race, I must have watched the replay five times and she won every time. “Then when I tried to get to sleep I kept seeing the race in my head. “It was a great night despite the lack of sleep,” Banks said. His cousin agreed saying it was one of the recent highlights in their ‘Down Under’ racing careers. “We have won two New Zealand Messengers and Tupelo Rose won almost every aged Group race down there, but this was a real highlight,’’ Hanover said. “Nigel has got her in fantastic condition for the big races this month. “It was also a great drive from Anthony Butt, to win the Jewels Final would be a dream come true.’’ The cousins have won numerous Group One races in both hemispheres. They won the North American and Australasian Breeders Crown Finals with Molly Can Do It (2002) and Passions Promise (2010). Alert Fulla and Tupelo Rose also won the 1990 and 2001 New Zealand Messenger Championships at Alexandra Park. “The year Molly Can Do It won the Breeders Crown, Tupelo Rose also ran third in the race. “She is the best ‘Down Under’ horse we have owned,” Hanover said. Banks and Hanover said there was a possibility that they could fly to Cambridge to watch their filly line up a favourite in the Yarndley sponsored Group One Final. “It would be great to get down there again and see her race in the flesh, but it all depends on our commitments up here. “I was in New Zealand and Australia for 10 weeks this year as a guest at the Inter Dominion final. “I did some sight-seeing and also went to the Sales in both countries. “If we can’t make it we will certainly be glued to the TV. “She’s a real darling and I think we are going to have a lot of fun with her,” Banks said. “I’d love to come as well but it depends on our commitments up here, It’s a long way to Tipperary,” Hanover added. The cousins fell in love with harness racing in New Zealand three decades ago and then became even more hooked when they brought Presidential Ball. They bought his first two foals – Lets Thank Heaven and Its Forever Now, which both went on to win Group One races. “We fell in love with harness racing in New Zealand a long time ago and still love it. That’s why we keep attending your sales there and in Australia,’’ Banks said. “To be frank racing in North America is boring. “Mobile mile races day in and day out is all you get, It’s very monotonous and the only time you get a crowd up here is for the big races. “The rest of the time the tracks are empty, you guys put on a great show down there and we are proud to be a part of it. The pair have about half a dozen horses, all youngsters, with McGrath at Weedons. They bought two Bettor’s Delights at this year’s yearling Sale and two last year. Their stock includes 2yo fillies - Cyclone Charlie (Rock N Roll Hanover – Eyre To The Throne); Baileys Gold (Bettor’s Delight – Baileys Pearl); and 2yo colt Listentothemusic (Bettor’s Delight – Shoshana Hall). By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Impressive Timaru winner Field Marshal may now set his sights on the rich Australasian Breeders Crown Series. “He has missed the chance to qualify for the Sires Stakes and Harness Jewels, so if he is still going well by the time the  ABC heat at Addington in July roles around we will have a crack,” said driver Anthony Butt. “But if we aren’t completely happy with him he will head to the paddock. He has grown a lot lately and you would think he would be better next season,” he added. Field Marshal led the whole way from his ace barrier draw to win comprehensively by three quarters of a length over Nevertheless. His last half was recorded in a tidy 56.1. “He actually jogged it,” said Butt. “He was just goofing around and waiting for them, but every time a horse came near him he kicked again,” he added. Field Marshal was installed as $1.50 favourite despite his disappointing debut in the Welcome Stakes. “He was crook in the Welcome Stakes but his trial form had been absolutely super,” explained Butt. “He beat It Bettor To Win at the trials on Tuesday and came his last quarter in 25.7,” he added. Field Marshal, who is owned by Syd Brown and Mrs S Brown, is a handsome son of Art Major and superstar mare Foreal. “Syd is a very good owner, so it is great to have another nice horse for him,” enthused Butt. Meanwhile, reinswoman Amber Lethaby enjoyed success in the Invited Lady Drivers races, finishing second with Classiegent and winning aboard the Terry and Glenys Chmiel trained Franco Revel, who downed Smoken Roman, who was driven by Glenys Chmiel. By Mitchell Robertson

The run of bad luck continues for Darrel Graham. But, there is an upside. The latest disappointment is the third in a short period of time that has rocked the Fernvale stables of the astute horsemen but he’s hopeful the tide will now turn. Giant mare Montana Marie has run her final race after succumbing to a slight tendon strain in her nearside front leg forcing owner Dean Shannon to make the obvious call. The Art Major – Just Del mare has been retired for stud duties. “It’s always been in the back of my mind something like this could happen because of her size, she’s a monster and unfortunately it has occurred which is really disappointing. It’s only a very slight strain but we were never going to take any chances with her, so it was an easy decision to make in the end.” Graham said. This latest news quickly follows on from exciting three-year-old Mafuta Vautin and feature race winning rookie Major Montana also succumbing to season ending injuries in the past couple of weeks. But Graham is philosophical about the run of outs he’s encountered recently. “This is the business we’re in and there’s always a possibility that plans won’t come to fruition. At the end of the day, we’re dealing with livestock and things can’t be guaranteed unfortunately. I haven’t had a horse succumb to a tendon injury in ten years and all of a sudden I’ve had three. “I never had to battle with injuries like this when I was racing the likes of Lanercost, Courageous Annie or Rollon Bigred. It’s disappointing but we keep the show on the road and keep moving forward.” Montana Marie went unraced as a two-year-old but rose to prominence last season when the well-related filly strung together a record 12 straight victories including her triumph in the Gr.2 $75,000 Nursery Pace Final at Albion Park. Her winning streak was ended by Kiwi filly (Our) Splendour in the $30,000 Gold Coast Oaks at Parklands which was followed by a rare mistake in the Gr.1 Queensland Oaks when fifth behind Itz Nosurprisesthere. “Del was a filly I always had plenty of time for because she displayed talent from the very beginning, we gave her plenty of time to mature and develop and she repaid us in spades as a three-year-old. “The winning streak was the obvious highlight during her career on the track and it came together very quickly, she was in the zone and loving her racing during that period and she just kept winning. “Dean is building a select group of broodmares including Courageous Annie and now Del can join her at his Sunshine Coast property. Del is a half-sister to former iron horse I Am Sam so she can go and make babies now.” Montana Marie retires as the winner of 18 races from 27 starts while amassing more than $120,000 in prizemoney. Her final start was in the final of the Gr.1 $175,000 Australasian Breeders Crown Final when 8th behind star filly Frith at TABCORP Park, Melton last August. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Champion harness racing trainer Mark Purdon is far too good of a horseman to even consider risking superstar mare Adore Me. That is why the queen of New Zealand harness racing will bypass next Friday’s $100,000 New Zealand Messenger and will instead be freshened for the Harness Jewels. “She has run three New Zealand records in a row and I just feel it might be taking a bit of a toll on her so we will now freshen her for the Jewels,” said Mark Purdon. “The Jewels have always been her main aim for the season and the stake is bigger than that of the Messenger, so it isn’t worth risking her by giving her another gut-buster,” he added. However, the All Stars team will have a more than handy replacement in the race in the form of Border Control, who currently sits 23rd in the 4YO Emerald rankings and needs a top three finish to even gain the opportunity to defend his Jewels crown. Meanwhile, freakish two-year-old colt Follow The Stars is set to return to New Zealand early this week, while his stablemate Kept Under Wraps will continue to campaign in Australia with Luke McCarthy until after the Australasian Breeders Crown. By Mitchell Robertson

1 to 16 of 240
1 2 3 4 5 Next »