If there was a horse that deserved a Group One win in New Zealand it was today’s $200,000 Woodlands Stud New Zealand Free-For-All winner Pembrook Benny. The now nine-year-old has been in and around the placings in some of New Zealand’s biggest races since he burst on to the scene as a three-year-old but, until now, he had never won one. “He really was overdue a big one,” said an ecstatic Zac Butcher. “He has been close so many times,” he added. Butcher was once again singing out praise to his boss Barry Purdon, who has produced yet another sensational training performance. “The man is an absolute genius,” claimed Butcher. “He has this horse sounder and better than he has ever been, and at the age of nine! Pembrook Benny was third-up for the season today after returning home from a winter campaign in Australia. He was a great fourth at Alexandra Park first-up before finishing an even better fourth in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday. “We left him in Australia to race over the winter as there wasn’t much for him back home,” said Butcher. “He won a few races over there, but his form soon tapered off. “He can get a bit sour sometimes when he travels but he absolutely loves it at Barry’s. As soon as he got home he starting pricking his ears and bouncing around again. Butcher said that he was absolutely stoked with Benny’s fourth in the New Zealand Cup and that he was quietly confident going into today. “He came through the run surprisingly well and had plenty of spring in his step yesterday. I think keeping him fresh has been the key this time in,” explained Butcher. “Or perhaps he is like a fine wine and is just getting better with age,” he quipped. It was Zac Butcher’s fourth Group One driving success, and third at Addington. “I would like to pay a huge thanks to all of the owners of this horse. There have been a couple of times were I probably have pulled the wrong rein and, being a young fella, they could have easily opted for someone with more experience like the old man (David Butcher) or Tony Herlihy but they stayed loyal to me.” Pembrook Benny, by Courage Under Fire is owned by B Purdon, T F Henderson, J C Higgins, K G Parry, D H Sixton, J B Hart and was bred by W D Power, Mrs G L Power paced the one mile journey in 1-54.3. It was a North Island quinella with Easy On The Eye finishing a game second after serving it up to Australian raider Suave Stuey Lombo, who folded in the home stretch. Fellow Australian Caribbean Blaster was herculean in third after being trapped three-wide from the 1100. Meanwhile favourite Chisten Me galloped when in tight quarters at the start and did well to recover for seven, finishing just two and a half lengths from the winner. “The one mile start at Addington is an absolute joke,” said driver Dexter Dunn. “I’m not just saying that because of what happened today, I’ve been saying it ever since it came in. Today was just the proof of the pudding.” By Mitchell Robertson
Robbie Close is going to have an early night on Monday. Well at least that’s the advice he’s been given anyway. “I don’t know how much sleep I’ll get. I never expected this to happen so soon in my career, but people have told me to get a good night's sleep. Saying I’m excited is a huge understatement,” Close said. The 21-year-old will have his first Group One drive behind the Greg and Nina Hope trained Jason Rulz in Tuesday’s 110th edition of the Group One $650,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup. Not a bad achievement considering he’s only been driving three and a bit seasons. “I just want to thank Greg and Nina and the owners Greg, Jason (Yang) and Richard (Dellaca). This will be the thrill of my life. It’s something I always dreamed of,” Rangiora-based Close said. He also wanted to pay a tribute to 'Cups King' Ricky May who had not only taught him a great deal about being a reinsman, but had also watched and encouraged Close’s career. “I think Ricky put the word in for me. I thought I might have been an outside chance to drive in the big race. Ricky usually drives Jason Rulz but his commitment to Terror To Love, gave me the drive. “I was hoping I would get asked to drive him but I didn’t want to get too excited just in case it didn’t happen. I’m still buzzing - it hasn’t really sunk in. “This is the race every driver dreams of competing in,” Close said. Close said he wanted to give junior driving a real crack this season. He said his Cup drive had already ensured 2013 would be a year he would never forget. “It helps when drivers like Ricky May give you sound advice. I like to ask him questions because I like to learn from the best. He has changed my driving,” said Close. Close has so far recorded 44 wins from 593 drives since 2011. He has also placed 105 times for $316,222 in purses. He is currently situated in eighth place on the junior driving premiership with three wins. Last year he finished sixth with his 22 wins. Jason Rulz is paying $41 to win the Cup. Close believed he could figure in the photo finish. “If he’s anywhere near them swinging for home he has the sprint to win. Every time Greg and Nina have spelled him he’s come back bigger and stronger. I like the horse, Close said. Close shifted from South Auckland to Canterbury four years ago from his home town of Waiuku. He worked for Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett in Waiuku and had a short stint with Barry Purdon before transferring south and taking up a position with Robbie Holmes at Amberley for three years. Close has been with Greg and Nina Hope since just prior to last Christmas. Jason Rulz will be one of two drives for Close on his first premier race-day. He will also steer the Hope trained Reklaw Supreme 40 minutes before the Cup. Jason Rulz has raced 32 times for 12 wins, 10 placings and he has won $164,008. He has won two of his three starts over the 3200m standing start journey. Stablemate, Highview Tommy, who is paying $81, will again be driven by Blair Orange. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
There is more than just money and pride at stake when Besotted heads to Alexandra Park tonight. Because victory in his $13,000 standing start event appears the only way the in-form pacer can earn his way into the $650,000 New Zealand Cup in 11 days. Even after a campaign which has seen him runner-up to Ideal Scott in a group one Breeders Crown Final and win his last two starts in dominant fashion, Besotted goes into tonight’s race ranked just 18th for the Cup, three spots outside of the field. You would be hard pressed finding anybody who doesn’t think the five-year-old should be in the race but the criteria for selection is stacked in favour of those with Cups form in the last two years or who have been racing in the stronger South Island lead-up races. So much so that even a win tonight won’t guarantee Besotted his place in the Cup, even though if he did make the field he would start about sixth favourite. His connections weren’t overly concerned about a Cup start a month ago but are understandably now peeved that decision may be out of their hands. What would help tonight is a big win and a below par comeback from key rival Pembrook Benny. The first half of that equation should be a gimme because if Besotted races up to his spring form a 20m handicap shouldn’t be enough to stop him, especially with most of his rivals lacking race fitness. Pembrook Benny is a class act and did beat Besotted well at the Alexandra Park workouts last Saturday but it is a huge ask to down Besotted in more serious mode over 2700m tonight. Which then raises the question of whether trainer Barry Purdon elects to take Pembrook Benny to Addington with only one run under his belt. If Besotted beats Pembrook Benny tonight, they could even end up fighting for the same final spot in the field when it is announced next week. Purdon is not only bringing Pembrook Benny back tonight but group one winning stablemates Five Card Draw and Cheer The Lady, although he expects them to improve with their runs. “Five Card Draw pleased me at the workouts last week but he has been away from the races for a long time,” says Purdon. “This is a hard grade to win in fresh up but I’ll be happy if he races well and keeps improving.” Purdon can go into four of tonight’s other races with far more confidence as he unleashes his heavy equine artillery. Destined To Take (R2) and Asuka (R3) have both been racing very well while Love Ya Doosie (R10) would have won her debut last start had it not been for an untimely gallop and she is way better than maiden grade. And Purdon also lines up the Sires’ Stakes-qualified Bettor Offer in race eight, where he will be favourite but meets some talented opposition in Medley Moose and Major Star and even his own stablemate Bettor Romance. Meanwhile, three of New Zealand’s best pacers will start high-profile Australian campaigns this week. Bettor Cover Lover and Bit Of A Legend race in Perth tonight while Gold Ace tackles NZ Cup contender Caribbean Blaster at Menangle tomorrow night. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Junior reinsman Sean Grayling is currently recovering in Waikato Hospital after suffering a broken wrist after being dislodged from the cart by La Norvic De Milo, who ran out of racing room and fell in the second race at Cambridge last night. “It was a shame because it had been a good drive before El Success started stopping on him at a huge rate of knots,” said Sean’s father, Tony. “He has also got a fair bit of skin off his face but apart from that he is in good spirits. Just very very sore,” he added. Stewards interviewed horsemen Peter Ferguson and Arna Donnelly. Both stated that La Norvic De Milo did not make contact with either sulky. Due to the unavailability of Sean Grayling the stewards adjourned an enquiry. Grayling, who was recently awarded the North Island Cadet Ring Star Award, said that his memory of the events was slightly foggy. The young ambitious reinsman said that he was gutted to miss out on the drive on Destined To Take, who finished a narrow second later in the night for replacement driver Tony Cameron. “He missed the start, and then got humped three-wide down the back, so it was a big run,” said Grayling. Grayling, who is employed by Destined To Take’s trainer Barry Purdon, said that he has been told that his wrist will take 5-6 weeks to heal and that he may still need surgery on it. Grayling was having his sixth career drive on La Norvic De Milo last night. He has already notched up two seconds and is a former Kidz Kartz Premiership winning driver, so something tells me when he does get back out on the track, he won’t be long out of the winners circle. Meanwhile, the feature pace of the night at Cambridge was taken out by the John and Josh Dickie trainer Lively Nights, who peeled off some slick sectionals to hold off Bettor Romance and Underwood Road. By Mitchell Robertson
Don’t be surprised if you see Robbie Close achieve high honours amongst our best Junior Drivers this season. The 21-year-old reinsman, as he puts it, ‘wants to give the Juniors a real crack’ in 2013-2014. And one man who believes in his driving abilities is one of our greatest all-time reinsman, Methven maestro, Ricky May. It was May who convinced Kaiapoi trainer Brendon Hill to give the former South Aucklander the drive last Friday night (August 23) behind the talented Bettor Rock On. The 4-year-old Bettor’s Delight gelding is now unbeaten in two starts this season after May drove him to one-two-win victory at Oamaru on August 4. Close had Bettor Rock On in front soon after the start of the $5,500 Muscara Standardbred Pace for Junior Drivers. From that point they proved too strong in the run home pacing the 2600m stand in 3:19.3 (mile rate: 2:03.3), with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.2 and 28 seconds flat. He was the $2.90 favourite. Outsiders Tyron’s Falcon Ella (Jessica Young) and Massimo (Matt Purvis) were second and third some 1-3/4 lengths and 1-1/2 lengths away. “He’s a really nice horse – probably one of the best I’ve driven. He was doing it easy, but he did knock off with about 100 to go. “It was really good of Ricky and Brendon to give me the drive. He felt like a good horse. “It was really pleasing to hear that Ricky had been impressed by some of my drives lately. Drivers like him and Blair Orange are reinsmen I really look up to,” Close said. Close transferred from South Auckland to Canterbury four years ago from his home town of Waiuku. He’s just started his fourth season. He’s driven 43 winners – 22 of them last year. Asked if he felt the pressure, especially when sitting behind a warm favourite, Close replied: “Pressure has never been a concern. I am pretty relaxed actually. I talk to the other drivers and really don’t think about anything until the starter says ‘Go’. “I really enjoyed driving Bettor Rock On. Even though he’s a bit green you can tell he’s going to be a very nice horse.” Bettor Rock On is the fourth of six foals out of the 17-year-old one-win Caprock mare, Jingle Belle Rock. Her first two foals – Great Balls A Flyin (by Sands A Flyin) and J D Fortune (Washington VC) won three and six races respectively. Bettor Rock on has now raced 18 times for four wins and eight placings. He’s won $32,716 in purses. He is owned by Hill, D.P. McHugh, P.M. Ellis, and Peter Yesberg. He was bred by Yesberg, and A, and R. Hemingway. Close regarded Bettor Rock On As his number one drive so far. “Donaldson and Lachlan Jack are some other nice ones I’ve driven also. They are right up there,” he added. For the record Close has driven two winners and two place-getters from eight drives this season. He worked for Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett in Waiuku and had a short stint with Barry Purdon before transferring south and taking up a position with Robbie Holmes at Amberley for three years. Close has been with Greg and Nina Hope since just prior to last Christmas. By Duane Ranger Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand
In Melbourne.--- From the mud, to the beach to the big stage. That is the journey that has taken Kiwi trainers Greg and Nina Hope from battling trainers on the circuit to the winners circle at Melton on Breeders Crown day yesterday. The Canterbury couple trained their first group one winner when Quite A Moment upset local hero Blitzthemcalder in the A$95,000 three-year-old trot at the ABC meeting. For the Hopes, glamour days like yesterday used to be something they watched on television from afar as they prepared a team of lower grade scrubbers but that all started to change two years ago when they dedicated themselves to beach training. That saw them quickly turn castoffs into cash and with that came some better bred horses and this season appearances at major racedays. “We used to battle around, doing a lot of pre-training for other people and something like this was just a dream,” said Greg Hope. “And it is that much more special because the owners of this filly have been with us a long time, right from the start.” And Hope says results like yesterday should prove to plenty of other battling trainers that their luck can turn. “Of course I admire all the top trainers but sometimes it comes down to the horses you get and because of the beach training we are getting better horses these days.” While it was their first group one, for fellow Kiwi trainer Gareth Dixon yesterday’s victory with Carpenter’s Daughter was almost a homecoming. Some of Dixon’s biggest wins have come in Australia, including two early Breeders Crown trot finals with Super Command. After a tough season in New Zealand, Dixon gave owners a reminder of his skills, peaking Carpenters Daughter for her A$100,000 final and a perfect drive from John Caldow did the rest. A mare dogged by seasonal problems, Carpenters Daughter has now sealed her future broodmare career. While punters were stunned by her win, the hottest favourite in Breeders Crown history hardly raised a sweat winning his A$175,000 three-year-old final. Kiwi colt Bit Of A Legend started the at the minimum allowed price of $1.04 on the tote and won untested by 9.5metres, driver Dexter Dunn let him cruise down the home straight after he had put 15m on his rivals at the 300m mark. While his final was decimated by withdrawals of key rivals, Bit Of A Legend has developed into a world class three-year-old and it will be interesting to see how far he goes in open class, where his pony-like size is often a disadvantage. While New Zealand owned or training horses took out four of yesterday’s nine group ones, the most hyped contest of the day went to Team McCarthy, who quinellaed the A$302,000 two-year-old male final with Bling It On and Lettucerockthem. They led and trailed and that gave no tactical chance to the Barry Purdon-trained pair of Sky Major and Maxim, who were brave in third and fourth. And earlier in the meeting Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon had to settle for second in the juvenile trot after coming from 30m off favourite I’m Stately. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and Harness Racing New Zealand
SUPER SUNDAY SET TO SIZZLE The cream of pacing and trotting talent from Australia and New Zealand will converge on Tabcorp Park Melton this Sunday to contest the season’s grand finale. Harnesslink’s Len Baker looks at this marvellous Breeders Crown Grand Final Day program. THREE YEAR OLD FILLIES Champion NSW filly Frith (3) appears to have a mortgage on this race – a brilliant beginner, Frith will pounce on the lead and good luck to those trying to run her down. Plenty of place chances with Rogers Passion (1) drawn to get the run of the race on her back, while Im Smouldering (5) is likely to go forward in the early stages, then may look for cover. The Kiwi Safedra (9) will be better for her first up effort last week and is a strong place chance along with Our Femme Fatale (4), Delightful Christian (8), Getya Wings Out (11) and Montana Marie (12) who will find it much harder than her all the way Semi Final victory. (3) FRITH, (9) Safedra, (5) Im Smouldering, (1) Rogers Passion TWO YEAR OLD TROTTERS Four main chances here in a clash between Australia and New Zealand. Im Stately (4) is racing in great form for David Jack and was unlucky when beaten by Daenerys Targaryen (1) in The Redwood after giving that filly a tidy start. Claudys Princess (7) is a filly with a future, but the draw is no help, while the Harness Jewels victor One Over Da Moon (12) is fresh for this assignment and will be primed for victory. Plenty of place chances with Guiltless (2), Four Lillies (3), and Dell Boy (8) a must for multiple players. (4) IM STATELY, (12) One Over Da Moon, (1) Daenerys Targaryen, (7) Claudys Princess FOUR YEAR OLD TROTTERS Only three winning hopes here – Shes An Image (4), Rosalee Bay (5) and Brunelleschi (9). Shes An Image appears a certain leader and will take plenty of running down, however Brunelleschi got very close last Sunday after giving away a tidy start. Rosalee Bay was driven a treat to win her Semi after striding clear at the bell. Place chances to the ever reliable Zedalite (2), Maorisfavouritesun (6) and the very inexperienced Shakamond (12) who will need plenty of luck from the extreme draw. (9) BRUNELLESCHI, (4) Shes An Image, (5) Rosalee Bay, (2) Zedalite THREE YEAR OLD TROTTERS A great clash between outstanding colt Blitzthemcalder (6) and in-form pair Our Dreamlover (9) and Quite A Moment (10) who appear to have an edge on their rivals. Should he do everything right, Blitzthemcalder is definitely the one to beat, but should he make a mistake, Our Dreamlover who has been airborne in recent outings can salute. Kiwi Quite A Moment has also been in superb form since crossing the Tasman and is peaking at the right time. Looking for a blow-out, The Boss Man (1) and Spidergirl (2) are the ones most likely, while Lord Liam (4), Fiftyshadesofbrown (8) Invasive (13) and the Craig Demmler trained pair Glenferrie Dreamer (11) and Glenferrie Typhoon (12) are genuine place hopes. (6) BLITZTHEMCALDER, (9) Our Dreamlover, (10) Quite A Moment, (1) The Boss Man TWO YEAR OLD FILLIES NSW hope Majestic Amy (2) was ultra impressive in her Semi Final victory after over racing three back the markers and looks the yardstick here. Whereibelong (9) should have finished a lot closer in her Semi after locking wheels on the final bend which probably cost her victory. Our Petite Soeur (3) just weakened over the final stages after leading in the Semi won by Majestic Amy and may go better here if able to lead once again. Te Amo Bromac (8) is never far away but having difficulty in winning after being given every opportunity in recent runs, however Mark Purdon can never be underestimated in these big races. Place hopes to Freedom Is (1) and Quick Draft (11). (2) MAJESTIC AMY, (9) Whereibelong, (3) Our Petite Soeur, (8) Te Amo Bromac FOUR YEAR OLD ENTIRES & GELDINGS The barrier draw has fallen into place for Ideal Scott (2) who will start from the pole if the emergency Freemason comes out. A dominant winner on Sunday after finding the lead, Ideal Scott appears to be the leader again and will take no end of running down. Heza Presidente (4) was strong in his death-seat victory and will be hard to hold out, while Besotted (5) was very strong in finishing third to Ideal Scott after racing in the open. Keayang Steamer (8) is the ultimate racehorse drawn to get a lovely trip following Ideal Scott and will use the sprint lane to advantage over the concluding stages. Restrepo (9) trailed Ideal Scott, making no impression at the finish, but may place in things go his way. (2) IDEAL SCOTT, (8) Keayang Steamer, (5) Besotted, (4) Heza Presidente TWO YEAR OLD COLTS & GELDINGS Team McCartney looks like controlling this race with three of the main chances in Bling It On (1), All Eyes On Us (2) and Lettucerockthem (5), however Barry Purdon’s pair Our Sky Major (9) and Our Maxim (12) are both in the mix despite bad draws. Bling It On found the lead mid-race when defeating Our Maxim which raced outside him for the last lap at Ballarat, Lettucerockthem trailed all the way winner Our Sky Major in his Semi, with All Eyes On Us finishing third after racing in the open. Messini (4) is very consistent but may lack the class of his rivals here and Hezarealgem (8) from inside the second row can place should Bling It On hold the lead as can Major Secret (3) off a cosy passage. (5) LETTUCEROCKTHEM, (1) Bling It On, (3) All Eyes On Us, (9) Our Sky Major 4-Y-0 MARES Barry Purdon’s Cheer The Lady (10) couldn’t have been more impressive when blowing her rivals away off a three wide trail last Sunday and is looking to record back to back Breeders Crown victories after winning the two year old section last year. Glenn Douglas has done a wonderful job with Born Again Sassy (1) this season who will be given every opportunity by brother Daryl at the head of affairs. Dean Braun’s Im Living The Dream (5) ran home strongly to finish third in her Semi behind Born Again Sassy, but it’s hard to see her troubling Cheer The Lady. Major Bonus ((8) led throughout to score from Real Bonus (one/one), but will find it more difficult from inside the second line. Ourbellabro was strong in finishing third to Major Bonus after breezing, while Carpenters Daughter (11) had every chance when second to Cheer The Lady, as did Real Bonus (4) when second to Major Bonus. Light In Every Day (7) was game in defeat behind Born Again Sassy from the breeze and La Machine (12) can never be under estimated should the speed be on. (10) CHEER THE LADY, (1) Born Again Sassy, (5) Im Living TheDream, (12) La Machane 3-Y-0 COLTS & GELDINGS Cran Dalgety’s Bit Of A Legend (5) has yards on the opposition here and will be at an almost unbackable quote to repeat his 2-Y-0 victory of last season. Plenty of place chances for trifecta and first four players though with Must Be Nice (2), Echeveria (3), Almost El Eagle (4), Major Calipso (10), Ginger Bliss (11), Pachacuti (12) and Nowitzki (13) all in the mix. Pachacuti was strong in his defeat of Modern Max and Blissful Guy at Ballarat after breezing, while Nowitzki was game in finishing second to Bit Of A Legend after also racing in the open. (5) BIT OF A LEGEND, (10) Major Calipso, (12) Pachacuti, (2) Must Be Nice Len Baker
Training legend Barry Purdon’s dream Breeders Crown campaign has hit some serious speed bumps. Purdon has reminded harness fans on both sides of the Tasman in the last fortnight of his special gift for peaking horses for the big money races, having five starters in Victoria for four wins and a luckless second heading into Sunday’s rich ABC finals day. But while Purdon has the likes of Sky Major and Cheer The Lady is perfect condition, after a painful 30 minutes on Sunday they might need more than Purdon’s genius to win their Breeders Crown finals. The pair, and stablemate Maxim, all drew the second line in their Breeders Crown finals at Sunday’s barrier draw function. Sky Major, an effortless semi final winner, drew two on the second line and Maxim further out in their A$302,000 group one but that wasn’t the really bad news. What had Purdon shaking his head was the Belinda McCarthy-trained trio of Bling It On (1), All Eyes On Us (2) and Lettucerockthem (5) drawing to control the race. On raw talent there is little between the two camps of juveniles but on a track with a distinct lead-trail advantage like Melton, Purdon’s pair now face a huge task. Cheer The Lady was so dominant winning her heat on Sunday and meets only an average bunch of four-year-old mares that even from the second line she is still the $2.60 favourite to repeat her win of last season. While Purdon’s trio were luckless in the draws, Kiwi three-year-old Bit Of A Legend secured the front line barrier he needed to open one of the shortest favourites in ABC history. After a 13m semi final win on Saturday, Bit Of A Legend drew barrier five and the Australian TAB have opened him $1.10 to defend the title he won against far stronger opposition last season. His stablemate Safedra looks a place chance at best after drawing the second line in a three-year-old fillies final dominated by Frith at $1.40, while juvenile filly Te Amo Bromac also faces a second line draw but in a weak A$302,000 final. Her stablemate Daenerys Targaryen has the advantage of the ace in the A$158,000 juvenile trot final but will need it against local star I’m Stately (4) and Harness Jewels winner One Over Da Moon, who will start from the unruly. And one of the stars of the ABC carnival so far, Auckland-owned Ideal Scott, is a $1.80 to win the four-year-old final after drawing the ace, with the Kumeu-trained Besotted third favourite after a gutsy third in his Australian debut on Sunday. The New Zealand TAB is moving to provide punters who shy away from very short-priced harness racing favourites with another option. Bookmakers will now frame fixed odds markets without the favourite when the top pick opens shorter than $1.50. While the TAB often gets hit hard by bigger punters on hot harness favourites, smaller punters are reluctant to back $1.50 or shorter chances or bet against them. So starting this week the TAB will open favourite-out markets, which means they will have prices for the rest of the field without the hot favourite and you win if that horses wins or runs second to the hot favourite. In 57 harness races so far this season there have been five $1.50 fixed odds favourites and four have won, the other running second. But the number of hotpots will increase once the superstars return to the track, especially the age group pacers coming back into grade racing. By Michael Guerin (Harness Racing New Zealand)
Sunday’s barrier draws for the Breeders Crown finals may have sealed the fate, for better or worse, of many of the major contenders. Frith will turn up on Super Sunday with a picket fence next to her name and that is expected to continue as she will be trying to make amends for her third place finish in last year’s series. From barrier three she will be hard to hold out at the start, and the finish; however Kiwi filly Safedra (9) and Victoria’s leading chance Im Smouldering (5) will be among a large chase group in the $175,000 final. The second race is for the juvenile trotters and the all-but-unbeaten Im Stately has drawn well in four. Having gone down by a head, a head and a metre in his three defeats, the David Jack-trained colt will have to overcome his Redwood Classic conqueror in Daenerys Targaryen. The New Zealand filly has drawn the pole and despite looking shaky in her gait on more than one occasion, looms as a major threat along with Vicbred Super Series winner Claudys Princess who has drawn seven. One Over Da Moon for Paul Nairn was a winner of the Harness Jewels just on six weeks ago but will be stuck with the extreme draw if the emergency is to be withdrawn. The four-year-old trotters’ final could well be the most open of the season however Shes An Image has returned to form at her past three starts and will be aided by her front row draw of four. Directly outside her are Rosalie Bay and the exciting Maorisfavouritesun however there will also be a serious challenge from the second row as Brunelleschi, drawn nine, and Shakamond, drawn 12, are likely to be well supported. Blitzthemcalder is one of the headline horses of the series and on paper barrier six isn’t what you’d be hoping for in a Group 1 final. However the enigmatic superstar will have time to balance up early; The Boss Man and Spidergirl have drawn barriers one and two while the entire second row can all be considered chances. Lead by Our Dreamlover in nine, the talented back row may turn the race into one of the best of the season for the classic-aged squaregaiters. Majestic Amy was a $12 chance heading into her heat but off the back of an impressive win and inside barrier, she has opened the clear-cut favourite for the two-year-old fillies final. From two, Michael Muscat will have options early as major dangers Te Amo Bromac and Whereibylong have drawn inside the second row. Race 6 will be for the four-year-old boys and Ideal Scott is coming off one of the quickest last halves ever recorded at Tabcorp Park Melton and if he can replicate that he will again be hard to beat. If the emergency comes out he will assume pole position but the challengers will be lining up left right and centre. Heza Presidente in four (three with the emergency out), Kiwi hope Besotted just outside him and both Keayang Steamer (drawn eight) and Restrepo (drawn nine) all primed for battle. The two-year-old colts and geldings go head-to-head on Super Sunday for $303,000 and the race that was turning into the Purdon’s Vs. the McCarthy’s may have been won at the barrier draw. Luke and Belinda McCarthy received front row draws for all three of their superstar juveniles as impressive semi-final winner Bling It On came up with barrier one. All Eyes On Us will start from two and Lettucerockthem from five. In contrast, Barry Purdon’s pair of Our Sky Major (drawn nine) and Our Maxim (drawn 12) will have no favours in the run. The same can be said for Mark Purdon’s lone hope Messini who appears awkwardly placed in four. The four-year-old mares won’t be an easy division to predict however heat winners Born Again Sassy and Major Bonus have both drawn well in one and eight respectively. Real Bonus, who went down narrowly to Major Bonus in their heat, will start from the front row in barrier four. Cheer The Lady is coming off a heat win of her own and last year’s three-year-old fillies Breeders Crown champion will need luck from 10. Shane Tritton not only has Major Bonus qualified for the final, he will also train Light In Every Day from barrier seven in the $100,000 race. The last Breeders Crown final to be run on the program will be for the three-year-old colts and geldings and despite drawing five; Bit Of A Legend will start the shortest priced favourite of the day. Likely challengers Pachacuti and Nowitzki had no luck at the draw taking barriers 12 and 13 for connections of the promising types. by Blake Redden ( Harness Racing Australia)
TAB.com.au opened all-in markets on each of the two and three-year-old Breeders Crown finals earlier this week and it didn’t take long for punters to step in with gusto. The most notably backed horses, as is often the case each year, came from the Shaky Isles with Barry Purdon’s Our Maxim an early shortener from $6.50 into $5 before continued support late into the week saw him as short as $3.80. The biggest firmer in the early markets came in the three-year-old boys division with the New Zealand bred gelding Chilli Palmer, for Dean Braun, $26 into $11 before the shock scratching of Border Control saw him wound into $8.50. In the same division Bit Of A Legend for Cran Dalgety continued the theme of Kiwi horses finding support in the market as he was $2.60 into $2.20 and now as short as $1.40 off the back of the second-favourites scratching. Mindarie Priddy is the sole Australian bred representative to find solid money from the punters but at $2.50 when markets were put up, she found plenty of admirers. Immediately trimmed into $2.40, the backing didn’t stop with her into $2.25 before more money came to have her at $1.90 before her semi-final is already run. The other favourite for the series that has continued to be solidly backed is Frith who was as high as $2.50 earlier in the week before the cash came, leaving her the $2.20 outright favourite for the series. Long-priced followers haven’t missed one at $101 either with lightly raced Susan Hunter-trained filly Still In Denial backed down to $61 by Friday afternoon. To back any horse pre-post for the finals on August 18 simply follow this link through to TAB.com.au who have a raft of markets available already for Super Sunday. by HRV Media
There is no more formidable team in trotting at the moment than the Luke and Belinda McCarthy stable from Cobbitty in New South Wales. The most significant gulf has emerged in the two-year-old ranks with four of the most outstanding horses to be seen this season all under the care of the leading stable. Allblack Stride proved his wares early in the piece before heading to New Zealand to test the waters. He won’t be around in the next fortnight but a trio of stars will be more than ready to take his place. All Eyes On Us has shown his enigmatic ability already in Victoria; in his heat he appeared to skip for a stride before looking gone before the bend, only a truly brave performance saw him rally and hold off Vicbred Super Series semi-final winner Hectorjayjay. “The trial was good last week but it’s probably a bit harder this week with the draw and the field; I do think he will hopefully have some improvement left in him,” Belinda McCarthy said. “He’s a lovely, big, horse who will probably train on as a three-year-old so he has plenty of potential.” That potential to get better as they get older has also been identified in Lettucerockthem, a stable recruit who has taken all before him since making his way to the husband and wife team. He most notably scored a running win in the Breeders Challenge final at Menangle on Len Smith Mile Day. McCarthy was conceding underdog status however after Barry Purdon’s Our Sky Major drew the pole in what could turn into one of the juvenile races of the season. “He’s a great horse with a lot of ability. When he gets a nice draw he is just super but with Purdon’s horses it might be a bit harder for him this week,” she said. “Even when Paul Kahlefeldt had him before us, he showed the ability and he has just continued to step up.” That leaves the last, but certainly not least of the exciting trio of chances in the Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown semi-final’s at Ballarat this Saturday night. And that is, of course, Bling It On. A Nursery Pace final winner at Albion Park earlier this season, he won’t have to compete with his stablemates drawing the other semi-final, however Barry Purdon may well again prove the fly in the ointment. Bling It On is already a winner of seven from 12 this season with his worst effort a close-up third in the Group 1 APG final behind his stablemates. He was however, a shock defeat in his last lead up run however McCarthy believes there were genuine reasons for that. “He was probably a bit underdone last time with the road trip coming up and he will be a lot better for that,” she said. “We don’t have the draw again and we have to take on Purdon but it will just be nice to get through the semis and try to draw a barrier in the final. “They are all so talented but you have to go for these big races so clashes are inevitable. I really couldn’t split our three; even on ability they are all very similar. Taking into account all the runners it will end up being the horse with the best barrier and run that takes home the Crown because it’s a strong group.” Sunday at Tabcorp Park Melton will bring about the final qualifiers for the 2013 Blue Chip Farms Breeders Crown series and with them comes one of the most highly touted horses in the series. Ideal Scott is a veteran of just two Australian starts for the McCarthy’s but his New Zealand form prior to returning to Australia was up with the best. Having won the Group 1 Blacks A Fake at Albion Park late last month, the blistering son of American Ideal will be primed for a tilt at Restrepo and Besotted in a defining heat for the four-year-old’s. “We’ve probably got another hard field with the three best horses in the one heat but he is an up and coming horse who looks really smart,” McCarthy said. “We’ve just been ecstatic to have a horse like him in the stable; he has a very big future in front of him. “I think he has the potential to be right up there with the likes of Excel Stride, he’s only had two starts for us so it’s hard to know where his bottom is at, but he definitely shows us that he can keep improving and getting better.” For fixed odds on all the Breeders Crown semi-finals and all-in markets for August 18, simply follow this link. by Blake Redden (Harness Racing Australia)
Barry Purdon’s Breeders Crown campaign couldn’t be going much better. While the business end of the mega rich Victorian series has yet to start, everything is so far going right for Purdon’s three-pronged team. The roll started when Cheer The Lady, last season’s shock three-year-old fillies winner, blew her opponents away at Melton last Friday night on her way to a heat of the fohttps://admin.harnesslink.com/news/manage?id=0ur-year-old division this Sunday. But more importantly Purdon’s group one winning pair of juvenile pacers have secured ideal barriers in their semi-finals at Ballarat on Saturday night. Harness Jewels winner Sky Major has crucially drawn the ace in his clash with Australia’s best young pacer Lettucerockthem. And stablemate Maxim, who won the Sires’ Stakes in May, has a front line draw against another NSW gun in Bling It On earlier in the night. While they will both come in for plenty of punter support, the two biggest New Zealand names in the series have drawn the same semi-final, a race sure to confuse bookies. Border Control and Bit Of A Legend will continue their personal war in the 2200m event, even though Harness Racing Victoria officials must have been tempted to split the pair before the final eight days later. Bit Of A Legend has used more economical trips to nose out Bit Of A Legend in both the NZ Derby and the 1:50.6 record run Harness Jewels and has drawn inside his arch rival again on Saturday.\ Meanwhile, regular driver Maurice McKendry has been confirmed to drive series late inclusion Besotted in his heat of the four-year-old male pacing division at Melton on Sunday. Other Kiwis in the ABC include Safedra, Te Amo Bromac and the Auckland-owned Ideal Scott as well as trotters One Over Da Moon, Daenerys Targaryen and Quite A Moment. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy Harness Racing New Zealand)
Legendary Clevedon based harness racing trainer Barry Purdon quinelled a Group One two-year old event for the second time in a fortnight today (Saturday June 1).
They say that Mark Purdon is New Zealand’s best juvenile trainer, well I'll tell you what. His older brother Barry isn’t half bad either.
Barry Purdon admits Thursday's (March 21) $18,000 Sires Stakes 2yo heat at Cambridge Raceway is a serious harness racing test for his two juvenile pacers - Maxim and Sky Major.
The Barry Purdon trained Cheer The Lady won the feature harness racing event at tonight's (Friday February 8) Franklin Trotting Club meeting at Alexandra Park in Auckland.