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Ricky May found out the hard way why you can never be too confident heading into the Harness Jewels. Despite picking up a victory with Terror To Love at last year’s Jewels in Ashburton, the Methven horseman had a tough day at the office overall despite being touted  as the driver to follow throughout the day. Seven of May’s drives at the meeting started inside the top three favourites and only three filled a placing. “It definitely taught me that you can’t be too confident that’s for sure.’’ Fast forward 12 months and the most successful driver in New Zealand Trotting Cup history is in a similar position as he heads to Cambridge tomorrow for this year’s $1.2 million Harness Jewels Raceday. Despite being devoid of a stand out drive like Terror To Love this year, May’s dance card for the meeting is high quality and he has more than one chance at adding to the two Jewels victories he already has. “It’s a good book of drives and for once the draws have actually come out alright for me. “I’m just trying not to get too far ahead of myself this year.’’ Heading the list of drives is speedy pacing mare Helena Jet. Had it not been for champion mare, Adore Me, the Greg and Nina Hope trained mare would be going around a commanding favourite – instead she is the runner everyone is tipping to finish second. May can’t afford and doesn’t want to think that way. “You can’t go out there thinking you are just there to run second. “I think she is a great chance in the race, people probably underestimate just how good she is. “Her trial at Addington last week was really impressive – she felt great.’’ Coming into the race fresh, Helena Jet is going to have to be at her best. “She does seem to race some of her best races when she is in a fresh state so we are just going to have to punch out and see where we end up.’’ Helena Jet is one of three runners May will driver for the Woodend Beach based Hope training duo. The other two, Monbet and Mossdale Connor, both turned heads with impressive workout victories at Cambridge last week and from good barrier draws they are expected to play a big role in both of their respective races. “I think Monbet would have to be my best chance of the day,’’ May said. “He’s a really talented trotter and he’s finally got a barrier draw to use, he feels like he could trot out really quickly if I want him too. “Mossdale Connor is in the same sort of position, he can fly the gate if he wants too, but it’s what we do after that is the big question – I think he could lead if he wanted to. “This could be his big chance at getting a big one.’’ May’s book of drives for the day are rounded out by three-year-old filly, Lancewood Lizzie for Auckland trainer Barry Purdon and also Davey’s Gift in the three—year-old Ruby for Michael Ward. By Matt Markham (HRNZ)

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  

If she wasn’t there already, Venus Serena rocketed herself into the status of superstar today at Addington. The brilliant three-year-old filly notched up the fifth Group One of her career this afternoon (Saturday) at Addington when winning the $140,000 Nevele R Fillies final in New Zealand record time – the fourth of its kind in her career. And the fun hasn’t stopped yet. Such is the domination of the Geoff Dunn-trained filly that she will go out a red-hot favourite in the remaining two Group One battles for her age group and sex this season. The first of those will come as soon as next week when Venus Serena returns to Addington to tackle the New Zealand Oaks. Then it is on to Cambridge for a tilt at becoming a dual Jewels winner on May 31. And Dunn had a warning for those who will take their place in the Oaks next week. “She has only had a workout in between her last run and today, so you would like to think she will get better,’’ he said. Venus Serena lowered the NZ record held by champion three-year-old filly Carabella when stopping the clock at a blistering 2.19.1 – 0.6 seconds inside Carabella’s time. After burning out of the gate from her handy draw, Venus Serena was given little respite throughout the 1950 metre event but still had the audacity to run away from her opponents at the top of the straight. Things might have got a little interesting had North Island filly, Ideal Belle not galloped rounding the final bend when in the trail though. The Barry Purdon-trained runner managed to pick herself up off the canvas and put the issue to Venus Serena, but John Dunn who was sitting in the bike of the winner quickly eliminated any concerns she might have been beaten had the incident occurred. “She fights like a tiger when another horse comes up to her,'' he said. “When she got clear she pretty much knocked off but when Zac came up on my inside she grabbed the bit again. “It was a pretty impressive performance considering she pulled the whole way. “She was very keen today.’’ The win gave John Dunn his second Group One victory in less than 24 hours following the victory of Elios in the New Zealand Messenger at Alexandra Park on Friday night. Owned by Bob and Jenny Sandford along with Geoff Dunn – Venus Serena has now won 13 of her 18 career starts and is closing in on $600,000 in stakes and with $225,000 left to race for this season that figure should improve noticeably over the next month. Ideal Belle lost no admirers with her second placing while Rocknroll Arden emerged out of the pack to finish in third position. By Matt Markham (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Last week the ring-around produced seven winners, with Mark Jones, Stephen Richardson, Blair Orange, David Butt, Simon Lawson, Terry Chmiel, Jonny Cox, and Ricky May all producing the goods. Let’s hope for a repeat performance this week! Forbury Park - Thursday Andrew Armour: Has opted for Al Raza, who will look to go one better after a nice debut second - race two. Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of Tagataese, who smashed his rivals in a penalty free maiden claimers race last start. He competes in the third race on the card. Tim Williams: Has opted for the consistent Waitoto Express, who should add to his bank balance on Thursday - race five. Matthew Williamson: Had the choice of three drives in the last race at Forbury but opted for Lionels Meddle, who looks well placed in the tenth race on the card. Alexandra Park - Friday Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chance of Full Speed Ahead, who was an emphatic winner at Addington last start - race one. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for the smart Doubleodeano, who looks the main threat to Full Speed Ahead. - race one. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Rates the chances of smart filly Lancewood Lizzie, who is now trained by Barry Purdon - race four. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Linda Lovegrace - race five David Butt: Thinks One Over Da Moon can make the most of his ace alley in the Northern Trotting Derby - race eight. Ken Barron: Expects star trotting filly Majestic Time to prove very hard to beat in the Northern Trotting Derby - race eight. Anthony Butt: Will take the reins behind Aussie raider Zedalite, who was a very good second in the Anzac Cup last week - race ten. Nathan Williamson: Has taken The Wonkey Donkey north and expects him to be very competitive in the last race on the card. Addington - Friday Mark Jones: Thinks two-year-old Smoke N Santanna will be very hard to beat in what looks an average maiden line-up - race one. Gavin Smith: Thinks the consistent Naughty Maravu can be competitive despite his tricky barrier draw - race eight. Thames@ Alexandra Park - Sunday Josh Dickie: Has opted for Live At Speed, who drops back from a handy fifth in a much stronger field last start - race one. Jay Abernethy: Rates Riverboat Sue as his best chance of the week- race five. Ashburton – Sunday Ricky May: Believes Franco Salisbury, who was a fast-finishing fourth last start, will prove hard to beat from his ace alley – race seven. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Tess looks very well placed in the ninth race on Sunday.    

Barry Purdon has gone to the bench and called in a super-sub for Friday night's Group I New Zealand Derby at Addington. One of the most successful horseman in Derby history, Purdon has enlisted champion reinsman Ricky May to drive his charge Sky Major in the $175,000 event. Initially the North Island horseman came south with a view to driving the Group I winner himself, but May's availability proved too good to pass up on. "I want to give the horse the best possible opportunity," Purdon said yesterday. "Ricky is one of the best in the business, it makes sense to use him. "He knows all the opposition and their racing styles and he's one of our best in the big races." Purdon's record in the Derby is exemplary, although he hasn't started a horse in New Zealand's greatest three-year-old race since The Cavalier (11th), who he trained in partnership with Scott Phelan, ran in the 2008 edition, and then you have to go back to 2004 to find his next starters; High Calibre (9th) and Derek Bromac (11th). Purdon's five winners came during the 90s, including a golden period where he and his father Roy won four consecutive editions of the race with Kiwi Scooter (1992), Mark Roy (1993), Ginger Man (1994) and Il Vicolo (1995). He was successful on his own accord with Holmes DG in 1998. For May, the race hasn't been quite so kind. He's yet to claim a victory in 22 attempts with just three placings on Spring Alot (2004), Colonel Anvil (1999) and Happy Patron (1986) all he has to show for his efforts - a remarkable statistic considering some of the three-year-olds he has driven in his career. A brave fifth placing in last week's Flying Stakes gives Sky Major more than an outside chance of beating some of his talented opposition, although an outside barrier draw hasn't exactly helped. "We haven't had a great run of barrier draws with him," Purdon said. "But it could turn out to be a good one if there is plenty of speed in the race, Ricky's patient driving style could work right in our favour. He was super last week I thought, he just had to do too much work, but he has come through that run really well. "Now we just need that luck to fall our way." While one Purdon had to scratch his head at yet another average barrier draw, another was smiling after some good fortune. Purdon's brother Mark will line up four horses in the race as he shoots for his third consecutive victory and his 12th victory overall as either a trainer or a driver. And all four have drawn inside the first five marbles with Messini going from barrier one, Aldo Rossi barrier two, Isaiah barrier four and Alleluia barrier five. Gun three-year-olds Locharburn and Tiger Tara had mixed results in the draw stakes with Locharburn drawing six and Tiger Tara one on the second line. By Matt Markham (Courtesy of THE PRESS)              

A superb drive from one of New Zealand's most promising reinsmen ensured victory for second favourite Democrat Party in tonight's Group Two $80,000 Gotta Go Cullen Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic (1700m mobile) for 2-year-old fillies. Zac Butcher might have started from barrier six with the daughter of American Ideal but soon after found himself in the one-one. "She started real well and it was just a matter of luck really," a modest Butcher said. "She was always travelling well and at the top of the straight I thought she would be hard to beat. She doesn't like to let anything get past her once she hits the front," he added. Democrat Party paced the 1700m mobile in a slick 2:02.77. Mile rate: 1:56.2 and final 800m and 400m sectionals in 58 flat and 29.2 seconds. "She's a lovely filly, but still a bit green with a lot of improving to do. She has a really bright future," Butcher said. Democrat Party is trained by Butcher's boss and Hall-Of-Fame conditioner Barry Purdon. He is owned by her breeders F. J. and Mrs K. V. Price. The bay filly has now won two of her three starts and banked $52,400. Past winners (and times) of the Group Two Delightful Lady Classic for 2yo fillies have been: 2013: Angelina Jolie (David Butcher) 2:04.0; 2012: La Norvic De Milo (James Stormont) 2:04.9; 2011: Precious Rose (Zac Butcher) 2:06.5; 2010: Collectable (Nicole Molander) 2:04.9; 2009: Sixpence (Steve Reid) 2:06.1; 2008: World Of Dreams (Maurice McKendry) 2:05.4; 2007: So Deep (Graeme Harris) 2:06.4. By Duane Ranger (Friday March 7, 2014)    

It was appropriate that Sean Grayling drove his first winner on the Pukekohe grass yesterday. After all he grew up with horses at his father’s Pukekohe stable, and learnt to drive at Counties Kidz Kartz just across the road at the Franklin track. It was also a just reward for the 18-year-old who on October 10 last year broke his wrist in a race-fall at Cambridge Raceway. He was rushed to Waikato Hospital and was out of action until December 29. That was just his sixth race-day drive. He’s now had 19 drives for one win, two seconds and a third. Grayling, last year’s North Island Cadet Rising Star Award winner, won behind the Tony Grayling (Dad) trained Brookby Prince. The Monarchy bay gelding was the sixth favourite and paid $14.90 to win the $5,500 Tony and Anne Parker Trot. He got the 5-year-old away quickly from his 30m handicap and was fifth in the running line early before lobbing into the one-one. They then loomed up three-wide on the turn to win by 1-3/4 lengths from the favourite Handoverdakash and Tony Herlihy (MNZM). Roughie It’s Big Time (Phil Butcher) was 2-3/4 lengths back in third. It was Brookby Prince’s second win from 32 starts. She trotted the 2300m stand in 3:08.1. Mile rate: 2:11.5. Last 800m: 64.4 and final 400m in 32.6. “He was going real strong at the top of the straight. That’s when I thought this could be my first win. It was a great feeling all right,” said Grayling who is sponsored by JGH Chartered Accountants. Grayling dedicated the win to his late mother Anne, who passed away on July 24, 2012. He also thanked his father and employer Barry Purdon for everything he has learnt in the sulky. “I’m sure Mum would have been watching down on me. She encouraged my driving. I really miss her. I also want to thank Dad and Barry. They have been so supportive,” Grayling said. “I’d also like to thank the owners Steve and Karen Dunn for having the faith in me to drive Brookby Prince the whole time,” he added. He said he loved harness racing especially being employed by Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon. “I’ve learnt so much working here. In fact you never stop learning. It’s not hard to see why Barry is a master trainer. He’s a legend. “Zac (Butcher) also works here so I’m working alongside the best people and the best horses,” he said. Grayling was born in Pukekohe and left Pukekohe High School at the end of Year 11 to join the Purdon barn in December 2011. “It was such a great feeling to win. Super in fact! It might have come a lot earlier had I not been out for 10 weeks,” said Grayling who is also a loose forward in rugby, and brilliant cricket fielder and lower order batsman. Grayling said his goal for the remainder of the season was to land a “couple” more winners and then one day to try and one day qualify for the New Zealand Junior Driving Championships, and then ultimately the Australasian Junior Finals. “I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m really enjoying what I do. I have wanted to be a harness racing driver for as long as I can remember. I’m leaving my dream,” Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Pembrook absolutely loves racing at Alexandra Park. The 9-year-old son of Courage Under Fire won his 16th race on the tack when easily winning tonight’s Group Two $50,000 Auckland Co-op Taxis City Of Auckland Free-For-All. All up ‘Benny’ has now won 22 of his 90 starts and $867,982. Driven by Zac Butcher the bay gelding was always going to be a tough nit to crack after trailing last year’s race winner, Easy On The Eye. The Barry Purdon trained gelding paced the 2200m mobile in 2:40.60 with final 800m and 400m sectionals in 57.6 and 29.4. Mile rate: 1:57.4. Easy On The Eye (Peter Ferguson) and Besotted (Simon Lawson) finished second and third some two lengths and 1-1/4 lengths back. Butcher said he would be even stronger come next week’s Group One Auckland Cup. “He hasn’t done much since coming back from Australia and he did it real easy tonight. He can only be improved by the run. I’d love to win that race so much,” said Butcher. Pembrook Benny is owned by his trainer, Terry Henderson, J. C. Higgins, K. G. Parry, Dave Sixton, and former All Black coach John Hart. He was bred by W. D. Power and Mrs G. L. Power. The past winners (with drivers and times have been): 2013: Easy On The Eye (Peter Ferguson) 2:42.8. 2012: Sir Lincoln (Maurice McKendry) 2:40.3. 2011: Power Of Tara (Brent Mangos) 2:41.3. 2010: Big Dog (Scott Phelan) 2:45.7. 2009: Monkey King (Ricky May) 2:41.8. 2008: Classic Cullen (Mark Purdon) 2:43.1. 2007: Classic Cullen (Mark Purdon) 2:39.0. 2006: Mainland Banner (Ricky May) 2:44.7. 2005: Elsu (David Butcher) 2:40.4. 2004: Sly Flyin (Tony Herlihy) 2:43.0. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Barry Purdon signed the dockets for both Lot 162 and Lot 167 at Karaka in 2012 and two years later the pair produced the quinella in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby. Along the way Maxim has won the $150,000 NZ Sires’ Stakes 2YO Final and Sky Major took out the overall title of NZ Two-Year-Old of the Year. Maxim  purchased from the Woodlands Stud draft for $35,000 was bred by none other than Charlie Roberts, who else. A $50,000 purchase,  Sky Major  was offered by Brian and Heather Hedger from  Clevedon and Greg Sweeney of Auckland. The Sales have been a happy hunting ground for Barry Purdon in the past few years with Cheer The Lady(NZ Oaks and Breeders Crown), Five Card Draw(also NZ 2YO of the Year), Precious Rose and Bettor Offer all coming out of either Auckland or Christchurch Yearling Sales. Six NZ breds won on Derby night at Melton,  including Padrisimo, Inky Cullen and Chilli Palmer  from the Yearling Sales as well as Lysenko and Our Blackbird.

It was a brilliant Barry Purdon quinella that marked the 100th year since the first ever running of the harness racing Victorian Derby. In a tactically brilliant move Craig Demmler switch Our Sky Major - a noted leader - off the pegs in the opening stages to take the lead off his stablemate - a noted sit sprinter. From there the McCarthy army enforced the pace through the middle stages with Bling It On finding the chair and Lettucrockthem in the one by one. But a lack of mid-race pressure told the story of the race as Our Maxim was produced along the sprint lane to claim the $200,000 classic in gritty fashion. A winner of over $340,000 in prizemoney now, Barry Purdon has never been willing to split his two rising stable stars and the VHRSC Victoria Derby proved just why. Our Sky Major clung on for second in a mile rate of 1:56.0 with the last half coming in 54.2 seconds while Yayas Hot Spot shot along the pegs to claim third to complete an all New Zealand bred trifecta. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

Australia’s leading trainer admits two Kiwi stablemates hold all the aces in the $A200,000 Victoria Derby at Melton tomorrow night. Our Maxim and Our Sky Major, who have already quinellaed two group one races in their careers, are drawn to potentially lead and trail in the classic over 2240m. And once that draw came out superstar Sydney trainer Luke McCarthy knew he was in trouble. McCarthy trains the Australian equivalent of the Barry Purdon-trained pair, having pre-draw favourites Bling It On and Lettucerockthem, who also quinealled group one races last season. But tonight they have both drawn wide and McCarthy says that gives the New Zealand three-year-olds a huge advantage. “The Kiwis are both good horses, I know that from chasing them home in the Sires’ Stakes and Harness Jewels last season with Allblack Stride,” says McCarthy. “Then they came over here and my pair beat them in the Breeders Crown because we led and trailed and they simply couldn’t make enough ground over the last 800m. “And I can see the reverse happening this week. I am pretty sure they have the speed to lead and trail and if we have to come around them we might not be good enough. “So they are definitely the ones to beat.”
 The irony is the Kiwi pair would probably be more potent with Our Sky Major drawn to lead and Our Maxim on his back, rather than the other way around. Purdon has always rated Our Maxim the speedster and Our Sky Major the stayer of the pair but with the Derby likely to have at least some pressure, both should get their chance. Still, with Our Sky Major double the fixed odds price of Our Maxim, he is clearly the better value option. Our Maxim’s driver Zac Butcher has one of the key drives at Alexandra Park tonight before he heads back to Melbourne tomorrow. He will partner former Southland trotter Cool Cobber in race seven, where he faces a 30m handicap and talented four-year-olds Revenue Maker and Wingsonhai in the best race of the night. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)

If there has been one horse post-draw punters have been willing to discard totalling it would be the horse from the far west of the state – Paua Fella. Trained by Kevin Brough at Heywood, the Artistic Fella gelding continues to defy the odds and will line up in his first Group 1 ever in the VHRSC Victoria Derby. And when he has to take on the big guns in the form of Barry Purdon and Belinda and Luke McCarthy, there is little wonder why the South Australian Derby winner has drifted from $41 to $61 with TAB fixed odds. But Brough won’t be giving up hope just yet, even if thinks didn’t quite pan out his way with the barriers. “We were very happy with the way he went in the heat, from the draw we didn’t think he would get in, we thought he might have to do too much work but the way it panned out I was really happy,” Brough said. “He just seems to be one of those horses that keep improving with every run and he is just taking the next step each time which helps when you start to get into this sort of class.  “We could have done with a better barrier but we’ll just be hoping to slot in somewhere with a nice run. We are just happy to be there, if he gets the right run into things we’ll be hoping he can run into it.” Underrated at every turn, Paua Fella has started at $37, $17 and $20 in his last three starts with his worst effort a fast-finishing second behind Motor Smoken in last week’s heat. It might not be the last punters see of the three-year-old either with Brough weighing up his options following the race. “He’s always shown a bit at home but he’s been a bit headstrong, he pulls really hard at home but now at the races he is starting to settle down a bit which is helping him,” he said. “We’re debating on giving him a bit of a let up and then aim him at the Vicbred and the Breeders Crown; he’s eligible for both so we will see how he goes this weekend. “He’s still not filled out properly; he’s a very tall horse so I’d say after another spell he will turn into a really nice horse.” The VHRSC Victoria Derby will be run at 10pm as the last leg of the Quaddie and Race 8 on the card. by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria

Champion reinsman David Butcher is likely to miss six months in the sulky after the worst possible diagnosis following a trackwork injury. Butcher has pulled his pectoral muscle away from the bone and will require surgery to reattach it and then a lengthy healing period before he can drive in races again. So the Cambridge horseman has basically written the rest of the season off. He suffered the injury while jogging two horses at home last week, one in the sulky, the other on a lead rope. "The leader pulled back and then stopped in his tracks and I didn't let go of him fast enough," said Butcher. "I knew straight away something pretty bad had happened but hoped it was only a tear and that I'd be back in a month. "But it has come away from the bone and while I can keep driving, it won't heal without an operation and I won't be able to do any lifting or heaps of the other things I do around the stables.   "So I will bite the bullet and get the operation done as soon as possible." While disappointed to be facing such a long stint on the sidelines, Butcher admits it could have been worse. A similar injury at almost any other time in the past decade could have cost him career-defining wins behind the likes of Elsu, Changeover or De Lovely, to mention just a few of the champions he has partnered to group one success on both sides of the Tasman. "But at the moment I am not driving too many big-race winning chances, it is just the way it has fallen. "And last year I was lucky enough to represent New Zealand at the World champs in France, and I would have hated to miss that. "But I'm still not looking forward to being away from racing for so long, especially because it is not my choice." Butcher isn't the only New Zealand harness star out for the season, with top trotting mare Habibti off to the paddock and set to miss over $900,000 worth of races in the next three months. A group one winner this season after dominating her age group on both sides of the Tasman last term, Habibti trotted below her best in defeat at Addington last Friday. That has convinced co-trainer David Butt to spell the 4-year-old and turn down his invitation to the A$200,000 Glenferrie Farm Challenge in Sydney on March 2 as well as the A$350,000 Great Southern Star at Melton three weeks later. However, New Zealand will have two big chances in another Melton classic this Saturday, with Our Maxim and Our Sky Major in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby. The Barry Purdon-trained pair drew perfectly in the classic, Our Maxim at barrier one and his stablemate on his back and possibly set to get the perfect trail. And the race pans out even better for the Auckland pair as pre-draw hot favourite Bling It On has drawn the outside of the front line. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald

The ball is now in the court of the Barry Purdon trained three-year-olds Maxim and Sky Major, after the star pair draw one and one on the second line in today's Victoria Derby barrier draw Of the main Australian contenders, star three-year-old Bling It On draw the outside of the gate, while his capable stablemate Lettucerockthem drew more favourably in barrier five. *Video footage of the Victoria Derby barrier draw is available on the left hand-side fo your screen next to the picture

Former New Zealand two-year-old of the year Five Card Draw is now a Queenslander. Negotiations were completed last Friday after a deal was struck earlier in the week through well-known agent Paul Davies before being purchased by Dean Shannon. The Bettors Delight gelding will join the stables of Fernvale based trainer/driver Darrel Graham after being previously prepared by legendary horseman Barry Purdon. Graham has enjoyed immense success this season with another former Kiwi pacer in Major Sam, a winner of six of his last seven starts including four $20,000 events – two Seymour Rising Stars Championships and two Seymour Dash For Cash Finals at Albion Park. Amazingly, Five Card Draw will arrive on Australian soil assessed as a CO/RO/MO. “Given his credentials, he’s a nice horse to have in the stables and his assessment was too good to be true. That was the key component for us.” Graham said. Five Card Draw was simply brilliant during his rookie term winning five of his seven starts including two Group One features. His haul included the $NZ100,000 Cardigan Bay Stakes at Alexandra Park and the $NZ150,000 Harness Jewels Emerald Final at Cambridge while he also claimed the Listed $NZ243,000 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Open Final at Addington. Five Card Draw was an obvious choice for 2yo Colt/Gelding Pacer of the Year. As a three-year-old, Five Card Draw won twice from eight starts but battled niggling injuries along the way which forced him out of many classics during the season. Since returning as a four-year-old, Five Card Draw has gone winless in nine starts while showing glimpses of his best form including a third placing in the Gr.2 $NZ51,000 Waikato Flying Mile at Cambridge behind Pembrook Benny and Christen Me in a time of 1;54.4. “His overall record is very impressive and he vetted well last week so we’re hopeful he can do a good job here in Brisbane, coming over as a maiden gives us plenty of breathing space. “Given our current structure with the weekly Seymour sponsored races plus the new metro system, we have a very good opportunity to make a good earn out of him. Hopefully, we can take him to Sydney and cash in on their good prizemoney. “Another bonus with this horse, he is also eligible for the Australasian Breeders Crown series at the end of the season if his form holds up.” FIVE CARD DRAW FACT FILE; 24 Starts 7 Wins 7 Placing’s Prizemoney - $347,316 Best Time – 1;55.1  By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

When Harnesslink spoke to Craig Judd of Benstud Standardbreds early last week he was in ore of an Art Major colt out of 10 win mare Morgan Abby. As it turns out, the buyers at the sale a few days later were too. The stunning colt topped the strong 190 lot sale and was sold for $120,000 to the bid of big spending harness racing owners Emilio and Maria Rosati. “Last season I thought that All Eyes On Us was the nicest horse we had ever put through the sale, but this fella was equally as good,” Judd explained. “He is a tremendous colt with a bit of the X-Factor,” he added. Others out of the Benstud Standardbreds draft to sell well included a Mach Three full-sister to Fly Like An Eagle, who was sold to Peter Oshea for $85,000, and a Rock N Roll Heaven colt out of 17 win mare Mendelico, who will head to New Zealand after being purchased by Phil & Glenys Kennard for $60,000. Other yearlings destined for New Zealand shores are a Major In Art – Seel A Corka colt, $11,000 (Neil Piltcher), a Sportswriter colt out of Ultra Trendy Lombo, $30,000 (Barry Purdon), a Major In Art colt out of Bolton Lady, $24,000 (Kennard Bloodstock), a Somebeachsomewhere colt out of Cyclone Betty, $50,000 (Neil Piltcher)  a Mach Three colt out of Giveusachance, $27,000 (Mark Purdon), and last but not least, a Art Major full-brother to Restrepo (Cran Dalgety) The second highest lot of the day was an Art Major filly out of Localize (3/4 to Sushi Sushi), who was slammed down to the bid of mammoth owners Merv & Meg Butterworth for $101,000, while others to fetch good money included a Rock N Roll Heaven – Miss Brazilian colt ($85,000), a Rocknroll Heaven colt out smart mare Top Tempo ($66,000), and an Art Major colt out of Valero ($66,000). 2014 Clearance Rate – 77.53% 2014 Sale Average - $23,550 2013 Clearance Rate – 78.70% 2013 Sales Average - $21,789 To view the full results of the Melbourne APG Sale click here. By Mitchell Robertson

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