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Somebeachsomewhere filly Pearl Harbour has been sent to North Island trainer Barry Purdon and will be aimed at the Young Guns Fillies Series for two year old fillies at Alexandra Park. Trained by Katrina and John Price, Pearl Harbour qualified at Winton on Friday. She’ll likely follow a similar racing plan to what Democrat Party followed four years ago. She was also owned by the Prices.   Democrat Party qualified at Ascot Park, was sent North where she won a qualifying heat of the Series, going on to win the Group Two Final in 2014. “She’s (Pearl Harbour) probably more advanced than Democrat Party was when we sent her up there to Barry’s. She’s a lovely filly. Everything she does at home and on the track seems to be with ease,” said Katrina. The second heat of the Young Guns Fillies Series will be run at Alexandra Park at the end of this month. Pearl Harbour qualifying at Winton                      - Photo Bruce Stewart   Katrina says the main reason behind the move is the current rating system. “If you’re going to race as a two year old, unless you’re racing in those really rich races, you might as well not. You’re better to come back as a three year old and do the Ladyship (Series). If you win a race as a two year old it’s just too hard to come back with the ratings the way they are. We had to make the decision. She was either going to go into the paddock or we were going to race her. If she raced she was better doing it in the North Island.” The Prices experienced the tough part of the rating system last season when Repartee which had won as a two year old, came back and found the going pretty tough as a three year old. “It killed her last year. It was only at the end (of her three year old season) that she got properly into her correct grade. A lot of damage had been done. When she came back as a three year old filly the times she had to run and the horses she had to race were just too hard.” As Katrina rightly points out there has only been one two year old trial this season and there don’t appear to be many juveniles around at the moment. “We’re just missing out. At this stage (of the season) in other years there have been lots of two year olds. People are just not taking them out so we’re losing out on that whole age group of horses.” Meanwhile Rockabilly Blues which won her first two races for the Prices has pulled up well after her brave fifth in the Equine Stakes yesterday. “She’s tearing round here like a mad thing. I thinks she’ll be better for the run. It’s hard with the ratings system. It was preferential barrier draw. She was five wide on the first bend and five wide on the second. All she’s beaten up until now have been maiden fillies and mares. She’ll learn a lot from it and will be better for it. Her main target now is the Southern Belle and she’ll be far better off as the draw is done on winning stakes not ratings.”     Bruce Stewart

If Barry Purdon is right and logic plays its part Jack’s Legend could be the best each way bet in Tuesday’s New Zealand Trotting Cup. The one-time Jewels winner goes into the great race rated a $16 chance on the TAB, even though he ran second in it last season to Lazarus, beating home Tiger Tara and plenty of other stars. Taking Lazarus out of the equation and Jack’s Legend could be the defending NZ Cup champ and training legend Purdon says he is probably better for Tuesday than he was this time last year. “He is peaking at the right time and I would say he is at least as good as this time last year,” says Purdon. Jack’s Legend suggested as much when he stormed into third in the Cup trial on Wednesday, his last 400m faster than when he won the same event last year.   He was clearly outpointed by Chicago Bull at Alexandra Park last start but then again, so would most of his opponents on Tuesday been had they started in the same race.  After a false start to the season when he missed away in his first race, Jack’s Legend has been two big seconds and now looms as the dark horse in Tuesday’s Cup.  Purdon realises his job is all but done and now it is up to driver Zac Butcher to deliver the next piece of the puzzle.  “He is best when driven with a sit and one run at them, like he was last year,” admits Purdon “And that is not easy to do. You want to be following the right horse and Zac did that beautifully last season.”  Jack’s Legend actually made a flyer from his 10m handicap last start at Alexandra Park but Purdon cautions against he and Butcher rolling the dice and trying to cross the favourites drawn inside them in a surprise move on Tuesday.  “Sure that could happen if he begins really well and that would be great but I don’t think you can go out there with that as your Plan A, to make a quick beginning. “The most important thing is to get away safely and get a spot and the a cart into the race. “I think that is his best chance and then if all that happens then I hope there is a good speed to bring is into it.”
 After opening too short post-draw at $3.80 Tiger Tara has started his expected drift and was out to $4 this afternoon as the stablemates Dream About Me and Thefixer start to jockey for favouritism at $4.40 each with Cruz Bromac the biggest mover into $6.50 on the back of his Cup trial win. Michael Guerin

Barry Purdon’s best horse may not be his best chance of the four he lines up against a rampant Star Galleria in the $20,000 Spring Cup at Alexandra Park tonight. Trainer Purdon has three of his team making their seasonal debuts including last season’s New Zealand Cup runner-up Jack’s Legend, whose hasn’t raced since March. While Jack’s Legend is the best horse in Purdon’s barn, his stablemate Mach Shard has the enormous benefit of two recent starts under his belt and that fitness edge sees Purdon opt for him as his top hope of upsetting hot favoutite Star Galleria. Star Galleria smashed his own national 2200m stand record with his win last start and will be expected to repeat with anything like similar racing luck tonight. But Mach Shard got close enough to him last start after galloping early that if he can step safely and take advantage of his 20m head start he could prove at least slightly problematic for the favourite. “He was pretty good last start considering the overall time and the fact he missed away, which actually surprised me,” says Purdon. “So even though Jack’s Legend is a more proven horse at the top level Mach Shard might have a little edge on him this week.”  Jack’s Legend is a real deal open class player this season but Purdon’s horses tend to improve with a run under their belt and that will almost certainly be the case tonight.  “I wouldn’t be shocked if he won because we all know he is a very good horse but it is hard for them fresh up against horses like Star Galleria.” Purdon also has stunning debut winner Dream Major in tonight but he meets some hardened rivals in race eight, which looks a great early season form race.  “He is a pretty good horse but he will have some other smart young horses around him and potentially following him so it is a big step up.”  Also returning tonight is National Trot winner Temporale, up against his arch rivals Lemond and Speeding Spur in a rare Alexandra Park mobile mile open grade trot.  Trainer Tony Herlihy is adamant the now six-year-old is bigger and stronger than last season, when a late growth spurt may have seen him weaken off and dip in form.  “He has been working well but we all know how hard it can be fresh up for them, especially when the other two have had a start this time in,” says Herlihy. lot may come down to the start because if Lemond, who has the best draw of the big three, can get across and lead it is hard to imagine he will be attacked. After trotting a very fast time fresh up off a 50m handicap last Friday he might be the best bet of the favourited trio tonight.  Tonight’s mainly mile meeting also features an even bigger rarity, a standing start mile for the lower grade trotters which will see a new national record as there is not one listed at the moment. Michael Guerin

John and Judy Stiven got a lot of satisfaction when Countess Of Arden won in their racing colours at Ascot Park today. The Net Ten EOM filly which was bred by the Tapanui couple had a tough introduction to racing last season, fronting up as a two year old to the unbeaten Princess Tiffany. At that point she was trained by Barry Purdon. After three starts in the north she was bought home to West Otago and sent to the spelling paddock. When she went back into work it was with Oamaru trainer Brad Williamson. In today’s race from the inside of the second row, she had to be eased round Last Hurrah who was slow to start in front of her. Once the field settled Countess of Arden was second last. As the speed dropped off with just over a round to run Williamson sent the filly forward and with a lap to run she was in front and held on to win by a neck from the trailing horse Gomeo Denario. It was noticeable that Countess Of Arden was switching off and on as she went down to the line so you’d expect once she fully learns the racing game she’ll improve. Countess of Arden is out of Young Tegan and her pedigree goes back to a host of good fillies including Eden’s Joy which won six races for Henry Skinner and Young Eden which won the 1987 New Zealand Oaks. “The depth of Southland in this family is unbelievable. We took a foal out of her before this one - a filly by Panspacificflight. She was a cracker but unfortunately she got a virus and died before it was weaned. I’d only borrowed the mare at that stage and I rang Russell (owner Russell Hollows) to tell him about the dead foal and he asked me if I wanted to buy the mare. We ended up doing that and it was the first year Net Ten EOM came out so we put her to him and this is the result,” said John Stiven. Young Tegan is now part of the extensive band of broodmares at Arden Lodge. “Last year we sold A Rocknroll Dance colt out of her which Colin MacPherson bought. This year she’s got a Sweet Lou colt and is in foal to Always B Miki.” The Stivens are now the biggest Southland vendors of yearlings at the National Sales and they have five colts and six fillies on their books for next February sales. John is particularly excited about an Art Major colt out of Venus Serena. “He’s sensational.” He says others that are looking good are an Art Major colt out of Tricky Woman and a Captaintreacherous colt out of Southwind Arden. Interesting times ahead, at the track and at the Sales.      Bruce Stewart

Concession driver Mikayla Lewis has helped former group one winner Mach Shard sneak into the perfect comeback race at Alexandra Park tonight. Now she just has to help him overcome a tricky draw in his first start for nearly a year. Mach Shard was a top juvenile who missed most of last season as he kept growing and weakened off. But he has lost none of his raw ability judging by a pair of recent workout wins and Barry Purdon says the now four-year-old is as ready to win as any of his stable can be without a lead-up race, with the master trainer never one to screw his horses right down at the trials. "I am really happy with where he is at and with Mikayla claiming he gets into an ideal race," says Purdon. "The draw won't be easy to overcome but Mikayla has driven five winners from not a lot of drives and works here so has driven him in his work. "So I think he will go very close, although it is never easy fresh up with horses in this grade." If Lewis can get any sort of tow into the race, Mach Shard might be too sharp but with race fit opponents who are ready to pace 2:40-2:42 for the 2200m mobile, these races are always tricky so taking short odds is not advised. But short odds are all that will be on offer for stablemate Dream Major when he makes his debut in race four. He has looked very talented at recent workouts and Purdon rates him a genuine Sires' Stakes contender in a few weeks. With in-form Zachary Butcher in the sulky he should win his debut. "I like him and he got off the gate well enough at the workouts last weekend to suggest he can use his draw." Meanwhile, Purdon is happy with last season's New Zealand Cup runner-up Jacks Legend as he prepares to return to the workouts in two weeks and as one of the best-performed survivors from last season's group one pacing classics he could be in for a lucrative five-year-old season.   Michael Guerin  

After 13 months in the harness racing wilderness Classie Brigade is back where he left off --- trying to beat Buster Brady. The forgotten horse of the open class scene returns at Alexandra Park tonight after over a year on the sidelines with mystery lameness. “He has had every test known to man and we still don’t know what was wrong with him,” admits trainer Nigel McGrath. “But the main thing is he is fine now and ready to race. “He has had a long slow build up, done a heap of swimming and had three workouts. “Obviously nothing gets them as fit as racing and the small field could be tricky but he is ready to go well. But the tactics and tempo of the race could decide things.” Classic Brigade is in tonight’s last race at Alexandra Park to prepare for a $40,000 Uncut Gems race next week, a kind of Jewels consolation race which is a very juicy carrot on the relatively bare winter landscape. Tonight he finds himself against a familiar foe. When Classic Brigade last raced 13 months ago he ran fourth to Buster Brady in the Winter Cup, the start before he just beat him home. And the pair look set to dominate again tonight. Buster Brady is now trained by Barry Purdon and has an obvious fitness edge tonight and with the race only having four starters, whichever of the two favourites is able to dictate to the other will probably win. But while that fitness edge means there probably shouldn’t be much between the pair in the market, on sheer class Classie Brigade is the better horse. A race earlier former Jewels winner One Over Da Moon faces an interesting challenge in the main trot, having to overcome a 40m handicap over 2200m, something very few horses have accomplished at Alexandra Park.   Michael Guerin

On The Cards is racing for more than just a winning stake at Alexandra Park tonight. Because an impressive performance tonight will see the three-year-old book himself a trip to Christchurch for a New Zealand Derby which becomes far more attractive after losing it’s biggest star. After Chase Auckland’s Northern Derby win two weeks ago he looked set to run the table in the three-year-old features but a slight injury last week has put him out of the Derby with the rest of his season in doubt. With several other key defections at the highest level of the classic crop, all of a sudden horses who may not have been in the NZ Derby winner conversation a few months ago now have a huge carrot dangling in front of them in a few weeks. Many of them meet in the Flying Stakes at Addington tonight, the scratching of Sheriff has left Pat’s Delight as the best and maybe only chance to halt the All Stars juggernaut, led tonight by Sicario (wide draw) and Anthem (good comeback winner last week). But On The Cards could join that Derby party via a winning performance in race seven at Alexandra Park tonight.  He was luckless in both the Northern Derby and its prelude but looks a top class three-year-old and when horses of his calibre drop back from Derbys to the type of race he is in tonight they usually win. “He has to be hard to beat,” admits trainer Barry Purdon.  “I thought he was very good in the Derby after working and he has worked on well since.” That should make him the Alexandra Park multi anchor for the night. Purdon also holds a huge two-horse hand in race nine but says Opoutama rates higher than Raptor’s Flight at the moment.  “Not that I am disappointed with him at all because he was fourth behind Star Galleria last start but the mare (Opoutama) has been racing so well and very consistently,” says Purdon. The Alexandra Park meeting has its share of age group stars smattered throughout the programme but the Addington meeting will take centre stage, with the Flying Stakes all the more interesting with the three-year-old ranks looking more open now, albeit sadly for the connections of Chase Auckland.  The draw for the NZ Trotting Oaks has not been kind to very classy northern filly Girls On Film, who will start from the outside of the front line with two very smart rivals in Renezmae (one) and Luby Lou (five) drawn to get far better runs, with the latter may having more scope.  And the first race on a programme that starts unusually early sees Jessie Duke back after his jaw-dropping group one win at Alexandra Park last start, ensuring he will be everybody’s anchor to add a few percentage points to their multi bets. Michael Guerin

Just because the Dickie stable has one of the more powerful hands at tonight's Alexandra Park meeting doesn't mean stable driver Josh Dickie is in for a big night. Because the young gun driver says there are some question marks over three of his key drives, not so much their talent but their readiness. Josh and father John take seven horses to the tote races tonight (and two to a non-tote) and they have dual acceptors in three of those. But while Josh gets his pick of the drives he admits they may not be the best winning chances, starting with Somethingaboutmary in the Nevele R Fillies heat (race three). "She can definitely win but is no better chance than our other one, New York Rain," says Dickie. "A lot will depend on the run they get over 1700m because it could end up being a tricky race for them both. If New York Rain can get handy she might be hard to beat." With plenty of speed drawn inside the pair, either could win but equally they could both get beaten and go good races. Dickie is on the likely favourite Sertorius in race four and the big horse looks headed to open class but his stablemate C K Spur is rated at least as good a chance tonight. "It is 2200m and Sertorius can be a bit slow away, which would be a real disadvantage in this grade with some experienced older trotters drawn behind him. "I think Sertorius is an open class horse in the making but if he is slow and C K Spur pings the tapes then he could beat him. So it is a tricky one." The same applies in race six where Sex On Fire is having only her second start after beating older horses as a juvenile by eight lengths. "She obviously has the ability but she has taken a while to come up this time and our other filly (Star Of Olesya) is race fit and also won easily last start. "So while there will be plenty of people keen on Sex On Fire, if you add in a handy filly like Aoraki it is another race I could easily get beaten in. "So I'm hoping to have a good night but if I went away with two wins or none I wouldn't be totally surprised," Dickie mused. Another man set to star tonight is Steve Telfer, who sits third on the national trainers premiership and has two huge hopes in American Brave (race seven) and Parker (race five) with a pretty strong support cast too. Barry Purdon looks the dominant trainer in the two-year-old race, with Star Of Montana and Supreme Dominator both looking youngsters with good seasons ahead of them. Michael Guerin

It is out of the frying pan into the fire for headstrong pacing star Heaven Rocks this week. The dual Jewels winner makes his Australian debut in the Ballarat Cup on Saturday night, taking on his Auckland Cup conqueror Vincent and local Victorian hero Lennytheshark. With a campaign aimed at the Hunter Cup (February 3) and the Miracle Mile (February 24) his connections have decided Heaven Rocks has to be taken off the unruly from mobile starts so he can at least have a shot at being competitive rather than always settling last. But they probably didn’t expect the huge pacer’s first night back in the draw to result in barrier one in a hot field, which will present its own series of challenges on Saturday night. Heaven Rocks has only had one mobile start this season and behaved himself when not really asked to take on to the field in the score up in the Flying Mile at Cambridge two weeks ago. But the inside draw in the push and shove of Australian racing could see him bolt to an early lead or have no idea what to do when the outside pressure comes --- neither would surprise. Either way Vincent has emerged as the horse to beat in the A$100,000 group one over the 2710m mobile, even from barrier six, with Lennytheshark to start off the second line. Saturday’s meeting will also play host to three heats of the Victoria Derby, which is run a week earlier this season, with Spankem and The Devil’s Own the Kiwi reps against a strong local three-year-old crop. Meanwhile, an Australian campaign is off the cards for New Zealand Cup runner-up Jack’s Legend. The Auckland pacer was initially being aimed at the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney on February 10 and would have needed to contest a qualifying race but trainer Barry Purdon says the four-year-old will be staying home. “He hasn’t been quite as sharp in his last few starts and with his two huge runs during Cup week maybe he is feeling the effects of a busy start to the season,” says Purdon “We have plenty of good four-year-old races still to go up here so I will set him for those instead.” With races like the Taylor Mile, Messenger and Jewels just a month apart in the north this season and the four-year-old ranks containing Vincent, Ultimate Machete, Jack’s Legend and Star Galleria among others, that last-season treble could prove one of the highlights of the pacing year. Michael Guerin

There is a little bit of Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling about Jack’s Legend’s Auckland Trotting Cup bid on Sunday. But even champion trainer Barry Purdon admits his talented pacer might struggle to get the same result as the now famed Irish raider. In case you have forgotten, it has been less than two months since Rekindling won the Melbourne Cup as officially a four-year-old even though, being Northern Hemisphere bred, he doesn’t physically turn four until March 23 next year. Jack’s Legend also had a decent November, finishing second to Lazarus in the New Zealand Cup and is in the same boat, racing as a four-year-old when he is also bred to Northern Hemisphere time and doesn’t actually turn four until next Friday. “He has done a super job when you consider how late a foal he was,” says Purdon.  “He has only had one really big year of racing and has come from maidens to running second to Lazarus in the Cup in about 14 months. “So with another season like this under his belt I think he will be even stronger, both mentally and physically.” That immaturity may have been why Jack’s Legend disappointed in the Franklin Cup last start, a race won in national record time by Vincent, the $1.35 favourite for Sunday’s $250,000 Cup.  “He had two big races in a short space of time in Christchurch and when he came back his blood wasn’t quite right. So he went into the Franklin Cup needing the run and I think that is why he hit the wall at the 100m mark. But he has trained on well since and is back to his New Zealand Cup form. So with that in mind if he steps well on Sunday I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t in the money. But I am not sure he can beat Vincent at the moment because there might be something a little special about him.” Jack’s Legend and Titan Banner are drawn either side of Vincent handy on the front line and their already obvious chances have been boasted by a little-known change to the Alexandra Park standing start conditions. Many punters will have forgotten the front line limits for standing starts at the track reduced from nine to eight last year, meaning Franklin Cup runner-up A G’s White Socks has to start from the inside of the second line on Sunday. He probably wasn’t a huge winning chance in the race but a legitimate place hope. Now he faces a more difficult task. Meanwhile, Purdon will have remarkably only his second drive of the season behind The Foot Tapper, who he now trains, in the $100,000 National Trot on Sunday. He has won 610 races in the sulky in New Zealand as well as Miracle Miles, Hunter and Victoria Cups in Australia but rarely drives these days, with Zachary Butcher doing most of the stable driving. “It was good to get back out there again last Sunday driving on this horse but his draw this week makes it tough,” he offers. Michael Guerin

Two of Southland's best mares Democrat Party and Venus Serena have recently had foals in the province.  Quality mare Democrat Party owned by Winton couple John and Katrina Price has produced her first foal at Ross and Robyn Jones Poppymalda Acres near Invercargill. The Bettor's Delight filly was born on 31st October. "A stunning effort for a first foal," commented Ross Jones on the newly born.  Democrat Party was bred by the Prices and raced for three seasons. She qualified at Ascot Park as a two year old beating smart colt Pulp Fiction by four lengths. She was transferred to Barry Purdon's barn and then from six starts at two she won twice including the Group Two Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic. Her best season was at three when she won once from twelve starts. That win came in the $138,000 Group One Alabar Three Year Old Fillies Championship Final at Alexandra Park. Her time for the 2200 metre mobile that night was 2-37.1 which was a new New Zealand record. It was bettered twelve months later by Golden Goddess in the same race.  Democrat Party was placed three times in Group One races, twice in Group Two races and once in a Group Three race.  Meanwhile Arden Lodge has a new arrival with high class mare Venus Serena giving birth to an Art Major colt.  Venus Serena was bought privately earlier this year by John and Judy Stiven from Bob and Jen Sandford. John said at the time, “Mares of this calibre are rarely available for sale. She's Mach Three’s best performed mare in New Zealand and was absolutely fabulous on the track and a terrific opportunity for Arden Lodge to take up." On the race track perhaps Venus Serena's most memorable win was at Cambridge in the Three Year Old Diamond on Harness Jewels day when she beat Ideal Belle and Raksdeal.   Venus Serena - At her best, the number one four year old mare in the country In the four seasons Venus Serena raced, she broke six New Zealand records - two of which still stand; Two Year Old Fillies record for 1950 metres mobile of 2-23.5 (Addington) and Four Year Old and Older mares for 2700 metres mobile of 3-18.7 (Cambridge). In 2014 she was named New Zealand Two Year Old Filly of the Year after winning three Group One races; The Caduceus Club Fillies Classic, Sires Stakes Championship and Two Year Old Diamond. The following season she won the Three Year Old Filly of the year title winning another three Group One races. All in all she won seven Group One races. The new colt, who is yet to be named, is a full-brother to Laver, a yearling colt which was Venus Serena's first foal and which has been retained by the Sanfords.  Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Jack's Legend has won the Christchurch Casino Cup trial at Addington tonight, beating a nice field which included this years Cup favourite Lazarus. Driver Zac Butcher had Jack's Legend trailing the leader and stablemate Hug The Wind in the trial tonight and he slipped up the passing lane to win comfortably in 3-18.2 for the 2600m stand. The last 800m was quicker, with the winner zipping home in 55.2 seconds for that section of the trial. Trainer Barry Purdon said, "Jack's Legend has come through every race well this season and his run in the trial today was really good". "He was unlucky in the Derby here when they went 3-06 so he deserves his chance in the cup". Last years Cup winner Lazarus, ran home well from back in the field tonight and driver Mark Purdon said, "He felt good today and was only here for a quiet run". "I was happy with him and it will just be a matter of ticking him over now until next Tuesday". Lazarus has opened up a $1.30 fixed odds win favourite with the TAB bookmakers for the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup. Stablemate Heaven Rocks is the second favourite at $6.00 for the FF win. Dominion Handicap favourite Great Things Happen ran home well for second in his trial today and he will also go around as a favourite next Tuesday in the NZ Trotting FFA. Trained by Gavin Smith, he has a tricky draw of one on the second row for the FFA following out Marcoola. Harnesslink Media  

It is not often punters see a new name among the big gun drivers at Alexandra Park on a Friday night but they will tonight. But the more serious-sounding Zachary Butcher will bring the same huge talent levels to the sulky he has for the last 10 years as happy-go-lucky Zac Butcher. With 582 career successes in New Zealand, Butcher is well on his way to becoming one of our great reinsman and already sits alongside his father David and Tony Herlihy as the most feared drivers at Alexandra Park. But it was his mother's influence that saw Butcher officially change his work name to Zachary starting from tonight's meeting.   "We were out as a family recently and Mum said she had always meant for me to be called by me real name, Zachary, and not Zac but it just got shortened when I got into the racing game," explains Butcher. "As you get older I think you appreciate your family more and if Mum wants me to be called Zachary then that is how I want to be known. "And its a different kind of name. I don't mind being different," he laughs. Butcher hold key hands in two of tonight's main races, the Sires' Stakes heat with Mach Shard and the handicap pace with New Zealand Cup contender Jack's Legend but he expects vastly different runs. "Jack's Legend is going great but I can't see how he got handicapped 20m from winning last start and it makes it nearly impossible over 2200m," he says. "So unless there are a few gallopers up front we are going to be chasing and he will need some luck. "But Mach Shard has a good draw and some gate speed so he will be handy over 1700m and that is a big plus." Mach Shard was one of our more talented juvenile pacers last season and looked in need of his comeback race at Cambridge but gets his chance tonight, especially with Breeders Crown winner King Of Swing drawn the second line over the sprint trip. Add in Recco Lover, South Beach Arden and the rapidly-improving American Brave and the heat has real depth, with the latter and Mach Shard the pair who need the most prominent placings to guarantee a start in the $200,000 final at Addington on Cup day. Best bet: Thefixer (R8, No.1): Huge run sitting parked last start and fitter tonight. Improving: American Brave (R6, No.2): Getting better with every start and up to tonight's test. Trainer change: All Over The Stars (R1, No.5): Talented and now with Tony Cameron, who works for Tony Herlihy. Michael Guerin

Jack's Legend is still well in contention for this years Christchurch Casino Trotting Cup, after winning the fourth running of the $20,000 Holmes DG, a race named in honour of late ATC president Kerry Hoggard. Trained by top harness racing trainer Barry Purdon, Jack's Legend was thirteenth in the Cup rankings yesterday, but will improve quite a few spots after last nights win.  Jack's Legend (Bettor's Delight - Larissa Rose) was driven last night by Zac Butcher, who had the Bettor's Delight 4yo in front from the start, before running very quick last sectionals to hold on and win by a short margin. Jack's Legend ran the 2700m stand in 3-25.7, with a closing 800m in 55.3 and 400m in 27.9 seconds. Later in the night, Butcher and Purdon also combined to win with Raptors Flight, who beat stablemate Opoutama by a neck in 2-43.1 for the 2200m mobile. Jack's Legend winning last night ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Top harness racing driver Blair Orange has increased his lead in the national drivers championship, after driving three winners at Addington on Thursday night. Orange who is driving like a man possessed, won with B D Love, Amazon Lilly and Star Commander on Thursday and he has a great chance of increasing his lead with drives in every one of the eleven races today at Gore.  He also has several drives at Methven on Sunday. Blair is currently sitting on 38 wins for the season, 23 wins clear of second equal placed David Butcher, Dexter Dunn and Matthew Williamson who have all had 15 wins each. ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Classy mare New Years Jay has been retired after fracturing a hind cannon bone. The daughter of Washinton VC was lightly raced, but still managed to win eight races from thirty life-time starts.   Harnesslink Media

If the north has any chance of making a dent in the New Zealand Trotting Cup they need to win tonight’s Holmes DG at Alexandra Park. Only four northerners are still in contention for the Cup at Addington on November 14 --- Jack’s Legend, No Doctor Needed, Maxim and Hug The Wind -- and all four contest tonight’s $20,000 feature named in honour of late ATC president Kerry Hoggard. They are up against two Canterbury raiders in Thefixer and Cash N Flow, who wouldn’t be considered in the top six horses from the All Stars stable so if the northerners can’t beat them tonight, especially with the advantage of race fitness, then it it hard to make a case for them being realistic players come New Zealand Cup day. The Cantabs arrive north with big reputations, impressive strike rates and in Cash N Flow’s case a brilliant Alexandra Park record but they haven’t raced this season whereas rivals like No Doctor Needed and Hug The Wind are fully fit after four starts this campaign. But for all that Jack’s Legend may be the north’s best chance tonight and the horse to beat. He already has group one winning form in last season’s Jewels and only peaked late when third fresh up two weeks ago. Trainer Barry Purdon is pleased with how the four-year-old has progressed since and is hoping a faster getaway tonight enables him to make the most of his front line draw. “That would be ideal, if he can get away and stay handy but he will be better than last start and I was happy enough with him then,” says Purdon.   Purdon also has Hug The Wind in tonight’s race and the Auckland Cup placegetter needs to lift a level to stay on track for a prominent Cup effort after racing a level below his best, admittedly without a great deal of luck, this campaign.  The southern pair of Thefixer and Cash N Flow are on a par fitness-wise according to trainer Mark Purdon but he expects both to improve after their seasonal debuts. Still, they have genuine class on their side so either could win without surprising.  Barry Purdon holds a huge hand race nine tonight with three of the favourites but opts for Raptors Flight as his best hope.  “He was strong to the line in his last race and can keep on winning, “ says Purdon.  Purdon is also confident Accumulator can turn the tables on Italian Delight in race four after looking likely to beat him last week at Cambridge before a late gallop.  “I wasn’t sure he was going to beat him last week but the boys tell me the angle was deceptive and he was a neck in front when he bobbled so he has to be hard to beat this week.”  While the open class action is at Alexandra Park tonight the harness race of the weekend domestically is the Methven Cup on Sunday where Dream About Me is a surprise entry against Titan Banner, with Classie Brigade kicking off his New Zealand Cup campaign Michael Guerin

There are plenty of reasons Jack’s Legend shouldn’t win tonight’s Spring Cup but one important reason he can --- speed. Last season’s Harness Jewels three-year-old winner returns in tonight’s 2200m standing start at Alexandra Park taking on race-hardened rivals with just one trial under his belt. Considering he has never raced in a standing start race and has actually only won four times, Jack’s Legend hardly looks well rated considering he gets only a mere 10m start from 14-race winner No Doctor Needed and Hug The Wind, who has 12 victories to his name. Further back on the 20m mark are New Zealand’s most improved mare Better B Amazed and former Victoria Derby winner Maxim, back from a winning Australian campaign. So while the field is small it contains enough depth that any deficiencies in Jack’s Legend’s manners or fitness could be exposed. So why would you back him? Two very good reasons. Training legend Barry Purdon is convinced Jack’s Legend is a genuine New Zealand Cup contender and secondly in recent season’s our better three-year-olds have stepped up to the best older horses at four. Lazarus was the most graphic example last season but had plenty of back-up from Dream About Me while Have Faith In Me went from top three-year-old to Miracle Mile winner two seasons ago. Jack’s Legend wasn’t our best three-year-old last season but beat many of them in the Jewels and these days to be a serious three-year-old in New Zealand you need to be blessed with exceptional talent, more than many of the older horses who simply work their way to open class. Driver Zac Butcher was pleased with Jack’s Legend’s effort to beat Maxim at the workouts at Pukekohe last week and thinks the young gun can step well enough to determine his own chances. “I think he will be safe and then if we roll along it makes it harder for those behind us over 2200m,” says Butcher. “But I am sure he is up to them because he is that fast and he races well fresh.” The start is always crucial in 2200m stands but especially so tonight, as how many rivals Jack’s Legend can put between himself and Better B Amazed could decide the race. Better B Amazed has improved three to five lengths on last season and trainer Steve Telfer is using tonight to decide whether he takes her to the A$200,000 Victoria Cup in two weeks. “She is holding her form well since that last win but it is one of those races where we could know our fate after 200m,” says Telfer. “If they spread out and we are last, it becomes very hard but if we can get handy enough at some stage she can win. But she doesn’t have to win to go to Victoria.” Telfer also has No Doctor Needed, who will driven by junior Jack MacKinnon, and Valor Lustre in the same race, with Jack’s Legend’s trainer, Purdon has Hug The Wind, another possible NZ Cup contender, so field position and the tactics that allows to unfold will be pivotal. One of the most interesting horses at The Park tonight is Group One-winning trotter Eyre I Come, who has been sent north searching for a Wallis-Hackett beach training miracle as he continues to battle soreness. At his best he would win the 1700m mobile feature trot but may have lost an inch of his speed edge whereas Yagunnakissmeornot has found hers. Michael Guerin

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