Christen Me is as good as his trainer Cran Dalgety can have him going into his first assignment in almost four months – the $25,000 Avon City Ford Cup at Addington Raceway on Friday (September 27). Dalgety is going for his fourth win in the Group 3 Free-For-All, also known as the New Brighton Cup. He believes Christen Me is as good as ever and can finish in the first three – at least. If victorious it will be his seventh win in a row and 17th from 22nd all up. “My fella is as good as I can get him after a couple of public runs. If he had one race under his belt I’d say he’d be very hard to beat, so whatever happens on Friday he will be primed for the Canterbury Classic in a fortnight,” Dalgety said. “Last year’s winner of this race, Terror To Love is always tough to beat and Franco Ledger went big at Oamaru last start. I think they will provide Christen Me with his toughest competition,” he added. Christen Me has drawn five (of nine) in Friday’s 2600m stand, three outside New Zealand Cup champ, Terror To Love. The 5-year-old Christian Cullen gelding had two workouts on September 14 and 17 at Rangiora and Ashburton respectively, where he was just given a run both times. At Ashburton he won a three-horse 2600m stand from 30m in 3:21.7 (mile rate: 2:04.8). He sprinted his last 800m and 400m in 55.3 and 28.1. Then three days later he finished a nose, nose, three quarters of a length, and neck fifth (of five) behind Pass Them By, Fly Like An Eagle, and Jimmy Johnstone and Terror To Love. Dalgety said the last start Jewels winner had developed into an even more refined athlete this time in. “He has bigger hind quarters. He’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but has a very athletic body. He puts his food away and never seems to be full. “He has a controlled diet of course but his food intake is high and to be honest I don’t know where it all goes. He’s all muscle,” his West Melton trainer said. Christen Me will have three races before the New Zealand Cup on November 12. “The Canterbury Classic (October 11) and the Ashburton Flying Stakes (October 28) and the will be all that he needs,” Dalgety said. If successful on Friday Christen Me’s stake earnings will rest at $500,000 – not bad for a horse who won his first race just 15 months ago. For the record Dalgety has won Friday’s race three times with Desperate Comment (1994 and 1995), and Scorching (2004). If Christen Me does win it will also be Dexter Dunn’s first triumph in the time-honoured event, which goes back to Beckleigh’s win in 1950. Previous New Brighton Cup winners (with drivers and times) have been: 2012: Terror To Love (Ricky May) 3:17.1; 2011: Auckland Reactor (Mark Purdon) 3:15.9; 2010: Stunin Cullen (Anthony Butt) 3:13.9; 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:13.5; 2008: Zenad (David Butcher) 3:14.4; 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:11.7; 2006: Tribute (David Earnshaw) 3:13.1; 2005: Harnetts Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:14.4; 2004: Scorching (Mark Jones) 3:15.9; 2003: Cool Hand Luke (Anthony Butt) 3:12.6; 2002: Cool Hand Luke (Mark Purdon) 3:12.0; 2001: Makati Galahad (John Hay) 3:15.3; 2000: The Tough Nut (Ricky May) 3:14.7. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Mah Sish is primed for his best year according to the 7-year-old gelding’s trainer Tim Butt – and even without racing for five months he’s still the one to beat in the Group Three $25,000 PGG Wrightson Hannon Memorial for six-plus-win Free-For-All pacers at Oamaru on Sunday (September 15). Mah Sish is the $2.40 favourite. Four Starzzz Flash is paying $4, Franco Ledger $4.20, and Mach Banner $7.50. “He will derive a lot of benefit out of Sunday’s run and it this stage of his preparation I couldn’t have him any better. I think he’s set for a big season. “Personally I think he has got the ability to be a top Grand Circuit horse again. Sunday’s Hannon is the perfect launch for him. He will then race in fortnightly intervals leading into the (New Zealand) Cup,” Butt said. Butt said his family had had a close association with the Oamaru Harness Racing Club’s Hannon Memorial over the years. “We grew up with it. It is a time honoured race really. There have been some nice horses win the Hannon Memorial. Anthony has won it a couple of times with Blossom Lady, then there were other nice horses like Roydon Glen and Derby who have won it. “It is the perfect lead-in race for us,” Butt said. Brother Anthony is going for his sixth win in the Hannon. He’s saluted previously with Blossom Lady in 1990 and 1993, Mister D G 2004, The Flyin Doctor 2006, and Cullen’s Creek in 2010. Mah Sish hasn’t raced since finishing seventh in the Miracle Mile in Sydney on April 28. This year’s Hunter Cup champion goes into the Hannon with two trials wins at Addington and Rangiora on September 2 and August 26 respectively. At Addington he beat four three-plus-win opponents from his 40m back-mark in 3:20.4 (mile rate: 2:04). Last 800m: 56.8. Last 400m: 28.3.Terror To Love was fourth. At Rangiora Mah Sish dealt to his six one-win rivals in 3:14 (mile rate: 2:00.3). Last 800m: 58. Last 400m: 29.2. Both were the same distance as Sunday’s race – 2600m standing start events. Stablemate Choise Achiever could also figure in the finish on Sunday. “He’s going well but it’s going to be harder for him to get into the Cup field. Mah Sish is definitely our best chance,” Butt said. Mah Sish, who finished runner-up to Im Themightyquinn's in this year’s Inter Dominion grand final has won 14 of his 38 starts, placed 12 times and won $892,250 The son of Mach Three - Dancing On Winds was bred by K. J. Taylor, and is owned by P. J. Hailes, T. G. Casey, G. A. Ayers, Mrs L. N. Ayers, Mrs M. McKay, and J. W. Hall. He finished fourth in last year’s New Zealand Cup. The first Hannon Memorial in 1938 was won by the Bill Johnstone trained and Maurice McTigue driven King’s Play. He won the (mile-and-a-quarter) 2000m event in 2:44.8. Pacer, driver, and winning time of North Otago’s premier pacing event (since 2000): 2012: Franco Ledger (Hamish Hunter) 3:15.7. 2011: Monkey King (Ricky May) 3:15.7. 2010: Cullen’s Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:13.4. 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:18.1. 2008: Ohoka Rebel (David Butt) 3:19.3. 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:26.4. 2006: The Flyin Doctor (Anthony Butt) 3:14.5. 2005: Bob’s Blue Boy (Craig Thornley) 3:22.8. 2004: Mister D G (Anthony Butt) 3:19.7; 2003: Jack Cade (Mark Purdon) 3:17.4. 2002: Panky’s Pacer (Ricky May) 3:18.1. 2001: Kym’s Girl (Colin de Filippi) 3:18.8. 2000: Chloe Hanover (Jo Herbert) 3:17.6. By Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand
The harness racing careers of the Brendon Hill trained duo Baileys Dream and Harley Earl remains in limbo after both have suffered different injury problems according to a report on Harness Racing TV.
North Canterbury harness racing trainer Brendon Hill's greatest fears with Baileys Dream have come true, with the open-class pacer to miss most of this season at best. Scans of Baileys Dream's problem leg have revealed damage which means the giant pacer is definitely out for the summer and could even miss the rest of the season.
Baileys Dream is injured and could miss the New Zealand Cup. Kaiapoi harness racing trainer Brendon Hill said a scan this Friday (September 10) will reveal the extent of the veteran pacer's leg injury.
The North Island's leading harness racing training partnership is set to split, but not before giving punters plenty more to think about this winter. The Graeme Rogerson-Steven Reid partnership, which has trained 85 winners this season and sits second on the national premiership, will finish at the end of the season.
Talented Harness racing trainer Brendan Hill finished off preparations on a Northern campaign for Baileys Dream with a solid final hitout at Rangiora Workouts on Saturday. Driven by Ricky May the intimidating son of Dream Away was allowed to range up outside the leader travelling down the back.
Friday's $500,000 Auckland Trotting Cup has emerged relatively unscathed from Sunday's brutal Interdominion Pacing Final, with favourite Monkey King now a certain starter. The Interdominion runnerup had been under a slight cloud after Sunday's record run at Menangle left him with a cough, but Canterbury harness racing trainer Brendon Hill says a veterinary examination has cleared Monkey King to take his place on Friday at Alexandra Park.
The New Zealand TAB's harness racing bookie, Steve Richardson (pictured), was at Alexandra Park last Friday night (March 5) to get all the inside information on this week's $500,000 Woodlands Northern Derby. He has released his odds for this week's Group One Final.
Monkey King's magical harness racing season looks set to end on a high after the super pacer drew perfectly for Friday's $500,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup. The multi-millionaire will start from barrier three and was last night quoted as a $2.20 chance by the TAB, although he could start even shorter on the night.
Canterbury harness racing driver Anthony Butt says one of his greatest foes could become his secret weapon as he defends his Inter Dominion title with Mr Feelgood on Sunday (March 7). Last year's winners on the Gold Coast heads into the $1million Watpac Final at Tabcorp Park, Menangle, facing another potentially horror draw at barrier nine.
Having your Interdominion favourite draw outside his two biggest rivals would hardly seem ideal. However, Canterbury harness racing trainer Brendon Hill now believes it could be the best thing to happen to Monkey King heading into Sunday's A$1 million final at Menangle, outside Sydney.
Triple harness racing millionaire Blacks A Fake might have copped the best draw at the $1 million Inter Dominion barrier Draw function in Sydney last night (Monday) but New Zealand Cup winner Monkey King is still a warm favourite on the New Zealand TAB to win the great race.
Three-times Inter Dominion champion Blacks A Fake has drawn the best of the favoured runners in 'Harness Racing Australasia's' $1 million Inter Dominion Grand Final at Menangle Raceway next Sunday (March 7). The Natalie Rasmussen trained 9-year-old has drawn perfectly at three for the 2300m mobile.
The pressure of trying to get I Am Sam into a second-straight Watpac Inter Dominion Final hasn't told on Alan Tubbs. The Bacchus Marsh trainer has been able to laugh off some good-natured ribbing from his New South Wales hosts - the Fitzpatricks - as he prepares for tomorrow night's (Saturday) second round of heats at Newcastle.
The withdrawal of one of the outsiders in the Watpac ID10 series could prove a huge boost to Baileys Dream's chances in the series. And it could also be a key pointer for harness racing punters betting on the best heat of the night at Newcastle on Saturday.