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Barry Purdon's day started poorly but it ended with a big smile. Sky Major has drawn the second line for Tuesday's $750,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup but things brightened up significantly in his camp after an imposing cup trial at Addington on Wednesday evening. Purdon and Zac Butcher were all smiles after the multiple Group I winner ran past the field in the final stages of the 2600m trip to win comfortably over Ohoka Punter and No Doctor Needed. Ohoka Punter and Smolda were the major winners from the barrier draw for New Zealand's premier harness race. They will start side by side on the front line with Ohoka Punter at four and Smolda five. But the TAB still moved Sky Major past Smolda as the new favourite after his impressive trial. Sky Major was moved into $3.20 from $4 with Smolda eased out from $3.50 to $3.70. Ohoka Punter was moved out to a point to $7. Purdon and Butcher were more than happy with Sky Major's trial. "It's been a bit of a slow build up," Purdon said. "I guess you could say an old fashion one but he's where he needs to be now." Purdon said Sky Major had came through his run in the Ashburton Flying Stakes with ease. "He probably needed that run tonight to get him through until next week." Sky Major looked like he had been for an afternoon stroll when he returned to the stables and Butcher said he hit the line strongly. Tony Herlihy was happy with the effort of Ohoka Punter who will be a player on Tuesday if he gets an ounce of luck in the running. Australian pacer Corzin Terror led up for most of the trip before falling back behind the front three with Purdon's second runner Lancewood Lizzie in just a five horse field. Canterbury Classic winner Tiger Tara is the biggest loser from the barrier draw. He drew 12 but when third emergency Lewy Risk comes out he will shift into the inside of the second line and follow out No Doctor Needed. Meanwhile, despite reports Australian driver Chris Alford was confirmed to travel across the Tasman to drive Messini, that could change. Natalie Rasmussen will have her injured elbow re-x-rayed later this week and if the results are positive she will look to be back driving on cup day and that would likely include driving Messini. She suffered the injury in race day crash at Methven last month. Sires Stakes favourite Lazarus was missing from the trials but will start from his tricky second line draw in the Group I on Tuesday. Mark Purdon confirmed the $1.80 favourite would definitely be starting on Tuesday. Christen Me was removed from the cup field on Monday and two days later he has officially been withdrawn from the Inter Dominion field along with stablemate Mighty Flying Mac. Trainer Cran Dalgety is vowing Christen Me, last season's horse of the year, will be back to his best in the future. Monbet ran a super trial in the lead up to the Group I NZ Free-For-All at Addington on Wednesday. After working around the field in the running line without cover, Ricky May let the Greg and Nina Hope trained trotter go in the straight and he exploded away from the field. New Zealand Trotting Cup field: No Doctor Needed 1, Franco Nelson 2, Lancewood Lizzie 3, Ohoka Punter 4, Smolda 5, Mossdale Conner 6, Te Kawau 7, Arden Rooney 8, Messini 9, Lewy Risk 10 (E3), Brilliant Strike 11, Tiger Tara 12, Corzin Terror 13, Mighty Flying Mac 14, Sky Major 15, Choise Achiever 16, Mach's Gladiator 17 (E2), Quick As A Trick 18 (E1). Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ    -    Check site here

Since the inception of the Harness Jewels, none of the harness racing stars that have won at the Harness Jewels have been able to win three in a row.   That was before today when Sky Major won the Group 1 Harness Jewels $150,000 four-year-old Emerald and became the first horse to rack up three Jewels wins in three successive years.   Following Quick As A Trick through from the second line, driver Zac Butcher was lucky to miss the melee with Sky Major when Quick As A Trick broke after 200 metres causing a lot of horses plenty of problems.   Zac somehow managed to plot a path through the carnage and landed in the one by one after Te Kawau had worked to the front.   Zac popped out of the one by one at the 500 metres and quickly went up to Te Kawau and grabbed the lead with 300 metres to go.   However Te Kawau wouldn't go away but Sky Major held him comfortably by a length in the end with Messini running on well late for third in front of a slightly disappointing Tiger Tara in fourth who trailed most of the journey but didn't kick on in the straight like most thought he would.   The son of Art Major paced the mile in a sedate 1:54.1 but the closing sectionals were very smart at 54.8 and 24.7   Zac Butcher let out a whoop as he came back to the birdcage.   " That means so much to me to drive the first horse to win three Harness Jewels."   "As always master trainer Barry Purdon had him spot on and the way he was travelling on the corner I thought I would hard to beat."   " He was still travelling at the finish but I said to Jim Curtin as we were pulling up that we had been flying over that last 400 metres,"   It takes  a special horse to win three Harness Jewels and this horse is a special horse," Zac said.   The other treble completed by Sky Major's win was that of prominent owner Trevor Casey who shares in the ownership of three winners at todays Jewels meeting in Missandei, Lazarus and Sky Major.   Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing glamour mare Venus Serena has always been looking over her shoulder for a Barry Purdon trained runner throughout her career.   Last season it was Ideal Belle who beat her in the Oaks and pushed her so close in last seasons Harness Jewels.   This year in the Group 1 $150,000 four year old Diamond at the Harness Jewels at Ashburton the new challenger was another Barry Purdon trained runner in Lancewood Lizzie.   Drawn one off the front line,driver Zac Butcher hustled her out of the gate early and lead for the first 800 metres before handing up to the favourite Venus Serena and John Dunn.   These two went clear as they turned for home and Zac waited and waited before launching up the passing lane at the 200 metres mark with Lancewood Lizzie.   They quickly grabbed Venus Serena and dashed away for an easy win with Venus Serena battling on gamely to be clearly second.   Sweet Art never left the inner the whole journey as she sat on Lancewood Lizzie's back and fought on gamely for third in front of Willow who finished well late.   Lancewood Lizzie paced the mile in a swift 1:52.7 with closing sectionals of 54.7 and 25.4   Zac Butcher was full of compliments for trainer Barry Purdon on returning to the birdcage.   " Barry always has them spot on for the big day."   " She felt super the whole way and I handed up to Venus Serena as she was the horse to beat."   " I was pretty confident at the 200 metres mark as she was travelling super and once I moved into the passing lane, she picked her up pretty easily actually, Zac said.   John Dunn was rapt with the run of Venus Serena.   "I couldn't have asked for any more, she has gone super," John said.   One sad note post race was that Gracious Star was found to have suffered multiple fractures of the right front pastern and she was humanely euthanised.   Harnesslink Media  

The Christian Cullen FFA at tonights harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway may not have had a big field numbers wise but with the Harness Jewels just eight days away, several of the name runners were having their final blowout before the big day. Dalton Bromac was a warm favourite in front of Sky Major and Tiger Tara while Messini was let go at ten to one in the 1950 metres mobile. Dalton Bromac and Ricky May came out firing from barrier four but were hotly challenged and headed by Tiger Tara and Gerard O'Reilly who took up the lead with 1600 metres to go. Tiger Tara was really running in front and was joined in front at the 1000 metres by Messini and Mark Purdon. The speed was upped again passing the 800 metres and the two smart four year olds sizzled down the back straight and and carried the battle around the corner and up the home straight. About 50 metres from home Messini mastered Tiger Tara and held a half neck margin at the finish. Sky Major made ground stylishly from well off the pace for third, 1 3/4 lengths away with six lengths away to a very disappointing Dalton Bromac. The 1950 metres was paced in a very quick 2:19.2 in the cool and brisk conditions, a mile rate of 1:54.8 with closing sectionals of 54.8 and 27.4 Mark Purdon was pleased to have the son of Art Major back in the winners circle. " I am really pleased that he is back to his best. " He didn't handle the Auckland way round so you can disregard those runs" " The draw (14) in the Jewels makes it very hard but at least he is back to his best," Mark said. Geoff Dunn was thrilled with the run of Tiger Tara. "He showed real gate speed and fought on great so I couldn't be happier. "He is right where I want him heading into next week and he is right on target,"Geoff said. Barry Purdon was also very happy with Sky Major. " They have run home in 54.8 and he has made up a lot of ground." " He blew out at the 100 metres but that will top him off nicely for the Jewels," Barry said. Dalton Bromac was very disappointing by his own high standards and it soon became apparent why. Post race it was discovered that Dalton Bromac had bled and he has been stood down for thirty days as a result. Benny Hill was very philosophical after the race. "At least we still have a horse." "We will take him home and give him a break and get him ready for next season," Benny said. Messini sent out a very clear message tonight that he is right in the zone at the moment and not completely out of it on Jewels day even from barrier 14. Harnesslink Media  

A lot of harness racing pundits (us included) had doubts about the ability of Sky Major to bounce back from an horrendous overland trip in the Taylor Mile last week and come from the outside of the second line to beat the great field assembled for the $100,000 New Zealand Messenger. But as horses with that touch of real class can do, Sky Major produced probably his best run at Alexandra Park to run  over the top of them late and snatch the win right on the line. As expected hot favourite Ohoka Punter with Tony Herlihy in the bike easily led from barrier one from Tiger Tara and Mossdale Conner  challenging for the lead with Beyond The Silence in the trail. Mossdale Conner settled in the parked out position while Tiger Tara and Gerard O'Reilly snuck into three back on the inner. Sky Major with Zac Butcher in the bike had settled back in the running line but when horses made their moves three wide, he progressed to be three back in the running line. The field pretty much stayed in that order until 1100 metres from home when Australian visitor Messini went round three wide but couldn't get into the parked position and was left out there for the rest of the race. As they turned for home Ohoka Punter looked all over the winner, but first Tiger Tara burst along the passing lane to claim him and he was quickly joined out wide by a flying Sky Major who had got a lovely drag into the race on the corner. At the finishing line there was only a nose in it but Sky Major had got there by half a head and in the process confirmed himself as a starter in this years Harness Jewels. Tiger Tara was very game in second having been involved in the early burn while Ohoka Punter was slightly disappointing in running third after getting his own rules in front. Sky Major paced the 2700 metres in 3:15.6, a mile rate of 1:56.5 with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 27.8. The time was a new race record, taking two tenths of a second off the old race record held by Tintin In America Zac Butcher was thrilled to have won another race for his boss Barry Purdon.   " Barry is just a master at setting horses for these Group 1 races." " This horse was all out last week but he has got him here tonight in great order." " The horse has gone super but it wasn't until the last 50 metres that I thought we may get up." " I am absolutely thrilled," Zac said.   With that win under his belt, Sky Major will now head to the Harness Jewels where he is a major chance to become the first horse to win three Harness Jewels crowns. Harnesslink Media  

Australians haven’t seen the last of star Kiwi harness racing performer Our Sky Major. Although part-owned on both sides of the Tasman, the son of Art Major is trained in New Zealand by champion horseman, Barry Purdon. As for his latest Aussie adventure, Our Sky Major captured the Chariots Of Fire at Tabcorp Park Menangle just moments ago. Driven by Zac Butcher, Our Sky Major accounted for Bling It On and Isaiah in 1:51.5 for the 1609-metre trip. Pleased with the four-year-old’s performance, Purdon revealed Our Sky Major will return to Australia – Victoria to be precise - later in the season for another shot at Breeders’ Crown glory. Our Sky Major finished third in the two-year-old division and fourth last season. First, the entire will return to the Shaky Isles for the Taylor Mile, Messenger and Harness Jewels. “He will go home now for our major four-year-old races, but will be back for the Breeders’ Crown in August,” Purdon said. Our Sky Major’s victory provided Purdon with his fourth triumph in the Chariots Of Fire since its inception in 1995. Capturing the inaugural running with Gingerman, Purdon also scored with Franco Hat Trick in 1998 and Holmes D G ’99. PAUL COURTS

The first of this years harness racing sales took place today at Auckland and in a splurge that started from lot one, the sale took off and never really slowed down. Lot one was a Bettors Delight colt from the former smart juvenile Veste 1:57.1 ($106,024). Named Voltaire, he was sold to the bid of Maurice McKendry acting as agent for $100,000. With a start like that the sale took off and when lot eight walked into the ring the bar was raised even higher. A three quarter brother to Adore Me and Have Faith In Me from a three quarter sister to Christen Me and Hands Christen, the colt called Praise Be was knocked down to Mark Purdon for $200,000. Mark was acting on behalf of Dennis Dunford and his son Mark who have raced Hands Christian and Have Faith In Me from the All Star barn. There were several other six figure sums achieved on the day which we have listed below: *Lot 106  -  Bettors Delight   -  Scuse Me  -  $180,000 *Lot 133  - Bettors Delight  -  Temepara Cullen  -  $165,000 *Lot 119  -  Art Major  -  Sky Beauty  -  $150,000 *Lot 116  -  Bettors Delight  -  Splendid Dreams  -  $120,000 *Lot 137  -  Art Major  -  Thebestamancanget  -  $107,500 Most of the well known buyers were in attendance but some weren't buying as much as they have in the past. Cran Dalgety was very quiet today buying just one yearling and what was just as surprising was it was Lot 46 an Angus Hall filly which cost him $47,500. We have listed the major players from today below: * Mark Purdon  -  Number brought - 5     Total spend  -  $490,000 * Barry Purdon  -  Number brought - 6     Total spend  -  $357,000 * Lincoln Farms - Number brought  -  4     Total spend  -  $367,500 * Nigel McGrath - Numbers brought  -  5     Total spend  -  $263,500   Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jim Gibbs signed the ticket for two yearlings including lot 95, an Art Major colt which cost him $75,000 Australians  brought seventeen of the 112 lots that changed hands today today with the usual players like Trevor Lindsay involved once again while Emilio and Mary Rosati only brought one lot but it was the $165,000 filly, Kharizma. The overall aggregate for the sale was an impressive $4,653,500 with the average a staggering $41,549. As expected Bettors Delight won the sires battle with the forty sold averaging $55,512. Day two is at Christchurch tomorrow. Sales Results  Select a sale: Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2015 Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale - 2014 Christchurch Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale - 2014 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale - 2014 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2014 Auckland Weanling and All Age Sale - 2013 Christchurch Weanling and All Age Sale - 2013 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 2 - 2013 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 1 - 2013 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2013 Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale - 2012 Christchurch Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale - 2012 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2012 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 2 - 2012 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 1 - 2012 Ready to Run Sale - 2011 Spreydon Lodge Reduction Sale - 2011 Auckland Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale - 2011 Christchurch Autumn Weanling and All Age Sale - 2011 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 3 - 2011 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 2 - 2011 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 1 - 2011 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2011 Ready to Run Sale - 2010 Cullen Breeding Dispersal Sale - 2010 Auckland Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2010 Christchurch Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2010 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 3 - 2010 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Days 1 and 2 - 2010 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2010 Ready to Run Sale - 2009 Auckland Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2009 Christchurch Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2009 Bromac Lodge Sale - 2009 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Day 3 - 2009 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale Days 1 and 2 - 2009 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2009 Ready to Run 2yo Sale - 2008 Auckland Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2008 Christchurch Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2008 Spreydon Lodge Sale - 2008 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale - 2008 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2008 Christchurch Ready to Run Sale - 2007 Auckland Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2007 Christchurch Autumn Broodmare and All Age Sale - 2007 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale - 2007 New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale - 2007   Lot Name Colour Sex Sire Dam Vendor Buyer Location Price   1 Voltaire B C Bettor's Delight Veste Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo M McKendry as agent AUCKLAND $100,000 2 Alta Roulette B C Bettor's Delight Whambam Alta Breeding Co. Ltd Waiau Pa MR T VINCE HOWICK $42,500 3 Major's Nice Girl B F Art Major Wouldnt It Be Nice Solid Gold Standardbreds WA DAILY GRIND SYNDICATE LINCOLN $14,000 4 Angie Maguire BR F Rocknroll Hanover Zenola Starbuck Jubilee Park Cambridge Not sold. Res $20,000     5 Smiley Sophie B F Art Major Vicario Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo JIM GIBBS MATAMATA $35,000 6 Delightful Zen B C Bettor's Delight Zenstar Mrs. A. Small Ramarama & Mr. J. C. & Mrs. K. M. Laurie Hamilton Not sold     7 Melman B C Sportswriter Anarchy Mrs. A. F. Cooney Taupaki N MCGRATH CHCH $20,000 8 Praise Be BR C Bettor's Delight Abide With Me Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon M PURDON CHCH $200,000 9 Sochi B C Bettor's Delight Warm Soak Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo Withdrawn     10 El Gran Senor B C Bettor's Delight Belleruche Highfields Bloodstock Albany Not sold, Res $40,000     11 My Generation B C Bettor's Delight A New Sensation Croon Bloodstock Ltd Auckland MR AJ MCINTOSH POKENO $30,000 12 Welcome Change B F Well Said Anna Matao Messrs. R. G. Carr Karaka & D. G. Kirkbride Pukekohe Not sold, Res $20,000     13 Laredo Torpedo BR C Bettor's Delight Zingara Braeside Lodge Palmerston North B PURDON CLEVEDON $75,000 14 Miss Kitty BR F Bettor's Delight American Sweetheart Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon B PURDON CLEVEDON $16,000 15 Kissme Quick BR F Majestic Son Anytime Aimey Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury ROB LAWSON HAMILTON $15,000 16 Emira B F Real Desire Ballie Hanover Mr. K. J. Haycock Tuakau Not sold, Res $15,000     17 Ring The Till B C Mach Three Affairs Of State Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo GARETH DIXON CLEVEDON $37,500 18 Heidi Maguire BR F American Ideal Bhutan Jubilee Park Cambridge MR GREG PAYNE CHCH $10,000 19 Neighlor BR C Bettor's Delight Braeside Star Braeside Lodge Palmerston North B & P HUGHES as agent PUKEKOHE $52,500 20 Sacred Angel BR F Somebeachsomewhere Dark Angel Highfields Bloodstock Albany Not sold, Res $60,000     21 Marbelous BR F Bettor's Delight Anam Cara Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo MR MARK JONES CHRISTCHURCH $19,000 22 The Tax Cullector B C Gotta Go Cullect Betty's A Delight Mr. K. Warneford Ohaupo GARY BARTON AUSTRALIA $15,000 23 Game Of Thrones BR F Christian Cullen Black And Royal Mrs. M. Carson Helensville EARL SAKAREASSEN AUSTRALIA $25,000 24 Saxon Rose B F Angus Hall Calamity Gal First Grade Lodge Mangere A CONTE AUSTRALIA $13,000 25 Smiling Stunner B F Art Major Black Maire Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo PENRITH HOLDINGS P/S DUNEDIN $52,000 26 Zenner B C McArdle Zenterfold Mr. G. C. & Mrs. A. Small Ramarama JOHNNIE BUTCHER KUMEU $60,000 27 Callme Giganaire B C Shakennotstirred S Call Me Daphne Ashmere Lodge Farm Pukekohe Not sold, Res $5,000     28 Change Pace B C Rocknroll Hanover Chaangerr Messrs. R. G. Carr Karaka & D. G. Kirkbride Pukekohe AUCKLAND TROTTING CLUB 2016 SY TAKANINI, AUCKLAND $35,000 29 Chaaat B C Rocknroll Hanover Braeside Lady Braeside Lodge Palmerston North MR MARK CONNORS GREYMOUTH $32,500 30 Italian Delight B C Bettor's Delight Chivasso Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon MR A G HERLIHY PAPAKURA $30,000 31 Gifted B F Bettor's Delight Gift Of Grace Highfields Bloodstock Albany Not sold, Res $25,000     32 Alta Teresa B F American Ideal Alta Camilla Alta Breeding Co. Ltd Waiau Pa P KERR CHCH $30,000 33 Ima Classic Delight B F Bettor's Delight Classical Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo K M BARRON CHRISTCHURCH $16,000 34 Coopers Beach BR F Somebeachsomewhere Bishops Blessing Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury MR TREVOR LINDSAY AUSTRALIA $40,000 35 American Dynasty B C American Ideal Chokin Hanover Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon KIM PRENTICE AUSTRALIA $27,000 36 Glenferrie Depot B C Changeover Custom Franco Glenferrie Farm NSW P KERR KAIAPOI $20,000 37 Sertorius B C Muscles Yankee Classic Armbro Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo GRINALDI LODGE INVERCARGILL $47,000 38 Whatdoesthefoxsay B C Bettor's Delight Cyathea Wairau Farm Raglan MR ROBERT S TOMLINSON AUSTRALIA $46,000 39 The C E O B C Gotta Go Cullect Dana Maguire Mr. E. B. & Mrs. M. H. Brodie Hamilton Not sold, Res $15,000     40 Acceptance BR C Bettor's Delight Dream Offer Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon ROSSLANDS STUD AUCKLAND $75,000 41 Heart Of Art B F Art Major Classic Nymph Biddlecombe Equine Ltd Auckland S REID PUKEKOHE $70,000 42 Braveheart BR C Bettor's Delight Highfields Angel Highfields Bloodstock Albany MR AJ MCINTOSH POKENO $25,000 43 Runrunjimmydunn B C American Ideal Delightful Paula Letterkenny Lodge Ltd Clevedon PA & DL CRONIN TUAKAU $40,000 44 De Lovista B F Bettor's Delight De Lovely Les Girls No.2 Syndicate Pukekohe Not sold, Res $100,000     45 Franconia B F Art Major Coburg Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo N MCGRATH CHCH $35,000 46 Wistful Dreams B F Angus Hall Galleons Dream First Grade Lodge Mangere CRAN DALGETY CHCH $47,500 47 Unchanged B F Mach Three Changedown Messrs. R. G. Carr Karaka & D. G. Kirkbride Pukekohe M PURDON CHCH $30,000 48 Stone The Crows BR C Mach Three Bishops Dream Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury MR JC HAY ASHBURTON $25,000 49 Rock Diamonds B C Rocknroll Hanover Dancing Diamonds Braeside Lodge Palmerston North PENRITH HOLDINGS P/S DUNEDIN $50,000 50 Keep On Rockin B C Rock N Roll Heaven Elite Belle Messrs. J. H. & W. S. Abernethy Papakura WN HICKEY TUAKAU $22,000   Lot Name Colour Sex Sire Dam Vendor Buyer Location Price   51 Spanish Armada BR F Bettor's Delight Galleons Supreme Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon J FEISS AUSTRALIA $75,000 52 Spellbinding B F Art Major Highfields Diamond Highfields Bloodstock Albany Withdrawn     53 Bobs Your Uncle B C Artsplace Delightful Dale Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo MR GREG PAYNE CHCH $19,000 54 Dreamy Nights B C Gotta Go Cullect Dream Holiday Wairau Farm Raglan Not sold, Res $20,000     55 Ready To Fire B F Somebeachsomewhere Fight Fire With Fire Croon Bloodstock Ltd Auckland MR G ROGERSON HAMILTON $37,000 56 Forgotten Highway B C Bettor's Delight Grace Way Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon P KERR KAIAPOI $75,000 57 Oxygen B F Art Major Dontdrinkthendrive Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo K M BARRON CHCH $23,000 58 Swank BL F Mach Three Erinyes Mr. J. A. Fowler NSW Not sold, Res $12,000     59 Peanut Bettor B F Bettor's Delight Cullerfillee Mr. K. Warneford Ohaupo Withdrawn     60 Alltherightmoves B F Bettor's Delight Indulge Highfields Bloodstock Albany MENTALLY STABLE CHCH $16,000 61 Megamind B C Pegasus Spur Fear Factor Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo JB & JR DAVIES HAMILTON $42,000 62 High Voltage B F Rocknroll Hanover Highly Regal First Grade Lodge Mangere Not sold, Res $50,000     63 Kissmeimloaded BR F Majestic Son Dutch Annie Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury B PURDON CLEVEDON $36,000 64 Flash Boy B C Bettor's Delight Gentle Anvil Croon Bloodstock Ltd Auckland MR G ROGERSON HAMILTON $80,000 65 Major Hippie B C Art Major Hotinthecitytonite Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo MR NEIL PILCHER CHCH $70,000 66 Some Change B C Somebeachsomewhere Dancingonmoonlight Messrs. R. G. Carr Karaka & D. G. Kirkbride Pukekohe Not sold, Res $40,000     67 Paros B C Bettor's Delight Its Showtime Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon WALMSLEY DEVELOPMENTS PTY LTD AUSTRALIA $38,000 68 I'm Just Awesome B F Pegasus Spur Hanover The Gold Mrs. M. B. Lloyd Kumeu & Mr. J. B. Miller Pakuranga MR J P STORMONT **SBRED** PUKEKOHE $11,000 69 Rockahula King B C Art Major Hot Shoe Shuffle Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo Withdrawn     70 La Bella Mia B F Christian Cullen Inspiration Highfields Bloodstock Albany HOOF IT RACING STABLES LTD AUCKLAND $20,000 71 Di'z Luck B F The Pres Howz Lucky Mr. B. R. & Mrs. R. G. Tims Matamata MR GAVIN SMITH KAIAPOI $16,000 72 Awa Charles B C Pegasus Spur Iwi Alex Mr. W. E. & Mrs. E. C. Darrah Thames Withdrawn     73 Lorde O Lorde BR C Christian Cullen Karlysia Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo M BERGER AUCKLAND $12,000 74 Pick My Pocket B F Bettor's Delight La Filou Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon N MCGRATH CHCH $90,000 75 Logic Bomb B C Art Major Elena Star Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury G SMALL PUKEKOHE $18,000 76 Kamwood Kid B C Bettor's Delight Kamwood Diva Kamwood Lodge Pukekohe MENTALLY STABLE CHCH $25,000 77 Snoozeyouloos B C Bettor's Delight Kelly Maguire Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo F D & AF COONEY HENDERSON $30,000 78 Always The Brave B C Well Said Prove The Point Highfields Bloodstock Albany MR GREG PAYNE CHCH $21,000 79 Speculator B C Bettor's Delight La Vicola Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon GARY BARTON AUSTRALIA $16,000 80 Tinny Girl BR F Tintin In America Khatcha Fire Miss L. S. Edwards Morrinsville & Mrs. S. D. Edwards Paeroa Not sold, Res $20,000     81 Strawberry Moose B C Mach Three Magic Moose Braeside Lodge Palmerston North G SMALL PUKEKOHE $30,000 82 Pump Up The Volume BR C Lis Mara Kilmore Mr. D. E. & Mrs. K. M. Kaa Mr. B. A. Hodges Cambridge & Mr. R. S. Tomlinson West Australia M BERGER AUCKLAND $16,000 83 Runaway Train BR C Bettor's Delight Lady Cullen Croon Bloodstock Ltd Auckland TONY PRICE AUSTRALIA $87,500 84 Lead The Way B C American Ideal Lisdargan Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon JEREMY YOUNG PUKEKOHE $7,000 85 Never Say Never B C Bettor's Delight Maid In Splendour Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo PENRITH HOLDINGS P/S DUNEDIN $60,000 86 The Coordinator B C American Ideal Monaro Wairau Farm Raglan D BLACKWELL TE AWAMUTU $26,000 87 Kiss Me Hardy BR C Majestic Son Emma Hamilton Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury B PURDON CLEVEDON $52,500 88 Warloch B C Well Said Pure Envy Highfields Bloodstock Albany MENTALLY STABLE CHCH $42,500 89 Nova's Delight BR C Bettor's Delight Milagro Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo MATTHEW CRAVEN AUSTRALIA $56,000 90 Casino Belle B F Bettor's Delight Lislady Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon M PURDON CHCH $30,000 91 Billy Twelvetrees B C Mach Three Maikona Brogden Lodge Cambridge MR GP & MRS NM HOPE KAIAPOI $22,500 92 Glenferrie Devotee B F Changeover Navarra Franco Glenferrie Farm NSW Not sold, Res $10,000     93 Veluti B C Christian Cullen Neat Franco Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo EARL SAKAREASSEN AUSTRALIA $20,000 94 G B Maverick B C Art Official Okay Matao G B Lodge Huntly KYLE MARSHALL CAMBRIDGE $8,000 95 Pacing Major B C Art Major Pacing Grace Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon JIM GIBBS MATAMATA $75,000 96 Yankee Whizard B F Muscles Yankee Our Sunny Whiz Mr. R. M. Southey, Snells Beach & Mrs. S. D. Lean, Waimauku DOMENICO MARTELLO AUSTRALIA $40,000 97 Got The Music In You B F Rocknroll Hanover OK Rock Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo MR RL SANDFORD CHCH $10,000 98 The Boulevard B F Mach Three Hearty Lass Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury Withdrawn     99 Everlasting Legacy B F Art Major Sabelle Highfields Bloodstock Albany MR MD FAIRBAIRN WINTON $30,000 100 Pleasurable B F Bettor's Delight Pleasureseeker Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon MR GREG PAYNE CHCH $10,000   Lot Name Colour Sex Sire Dam Vendor Buyer Location Price   101 Lawton Luck B C Bettor's Delight Paddy Brown Braeside Lodge Palmerston North G LEE WYNDHAM $30,000 102 Attitude Plus BR F Bettor's Delight Personality Plus Croon Bloodstock Ltd Auckland MR G ROGERSON HAMILTON $80,000 103 Anna Barclay B F Bettor's Delight Precious Maiden Kamwood Lodge Pukekohe BALTIC FAMILY SYN PAPAKURA $11,000 104 Fabregas BL C Muscles Yankee Serene Queen Mr. C. B. Rapley Otorohanga KPC RACING AUSTRALIA $40,000 105 Fullofheart B F Artsplace Pocketfullofposies Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo GENNARO SPOSATO AUSTRALIA $10,000 106 All About Me BR C Bettor's Delight Scuse Me Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon M PURDON CHCH $180,000 107 Mrs Zippy B F American Ideal River Liffey Messrs. N. J. Fleming Oakura & P. B. Fleming Stratford JOHNNIE BUTCHER KUMEU $32,500 108 Carley Maguire BR F Somebeachsomewhere Saccha Maguire Jubilee Park Cambridge STEVE WITTE CHCH $26,000 109 Bettor Under Fire B C Bettor's Delight Queen Of Fire Butterworth Bloodstock Syndicate Victoria MR MARK JONES CHCH $20,000 110 Heavens Secret B F Rock N Roll Heaven Secret Obsession Highfields Bloodstock Albany Not sold, Res $10,000     111 Ace High BR C Bettor's Delight Splendid Deal Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon Withdrawn     112 Te Mahia B C Somebeachsomewhere Hi Ho Silver Lining Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury MR NEIL PILCHER CHCH $42,500 113 Thunderbolt Kid BR C American Ideal Spirit Of Spring Biddlecombe Equine Ltd Auckland       114 Cleaver Green B C Christian Cullen Safin Letterkenny Lodge Ltd Clevedon N MCGRATH CHCH $77,500 115 Alta Intrigue B C Mach Three Samantha Q Alta Breeding Co. Ltd Waiau Pa LINCOLN FARM KUMEU $85,000 116 Accumulator BR C Bettor's Delight Splendid Dreams Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon B PURDON CLEVEDON $120,000 117 Head Honcho B C Rocknroll Hanover Stateofthenation Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo PGW as agent CHCH $34,000 118 Malik B C Somebeachsomewhere Slipinn Slipinn Breeding Partnership Pukekohe Not sold     119 Sky Diamond B C American Ideal Sky Beauty Wairau Farm Raglan LINCOLN FARM KUMEU $150,000 120 Ideal Conquest BR F American Ideal Pocket Conquest Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon MR MD FAIRBAIRN WINTON $5,000 121 Lerato B F Art Major Suidelike Meisie Mr. K. J. & Mrs. D. M. Madgwick Te Aroha. B PURDON CLEVEDON $57,500 122 Brother In Arms B C Art Major Shy Annie Highfields Bloodstock Albany M PURDON CHRISTCHURCH $50,000 123 English Rose BR F Bettor's Delight Sloane Square Bruce Carter Bloodstock Ltd Kumeu P Kennard as agent CHCH $40,000 124 Sister Sandrine B F Santanna Blue Chip Sophie Neveu Mr. A. H. Nicolson Auckland REVELL DOUGLAS AUCKLAND $6,000 125 Vettel B C American Ideal Talks To Angels Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo MR GREG PAYNE CHCH $20,000 126 Lambros BR C Bettor's Delight Queen Camille Mr. S. A. Kolovos Pukekohe S L MCCAFFREY CAMBRIDGE $30,000 127 Star De Lis B F Lis Mara Star Of Astreos Mr. G. J. & Mrs. P. K. Balle Tuakau Not sold, Res $4,500     128 Alta Leonie BL F Big Jim Thanks Anita Alta Breeding Co. Ltd Waiau Pa MR D F HIGGINS TE AROHA $7,000 129 Crystal Sparkles BR F Rocknroll Hanover Taylor Kate Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo BUTTERWORTH RACING SYNDICATE AUSTRALIA $50,000 130 Blind Faith B C American Ideal Running On Faith Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon LINCOLN FARM KUMEU $25,000 131 Thefixer B C Bettor's Delight Tosti Girl Letterkenny Lodge Ltd Clevedon PI & GJ KENNARD B/STOCK CHCH $47,000 132 Bejewelled B F Somebeachsomewhere The Jewel Highfields Bloodstock Albany Not sold, Res $30,000     133 Kharizma B F Bettor's Delight Temepara Cullen Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo EMILIO & MARY ROSATI AUSTRALIA $165,000 134 Trilight Brigade BR F Bettor's Delight Trigirl Brigade Miss S. A. Matthews & Mr. R. & Mrs. C. A. Faulkner Papatoetoe N MCGRATH CHCH $41,000 135 Tipsy B F Bettor's Delight Saturation Woodlands Stud (NZ) Ltd Clevedon ROBERT LUND & TANIA HARVEY PUKEKOHE $27,000 136 Crackacheek B C Rocknroll Hanover Trilby Cambridge Standardbred Stud Ltd Cambridge PAUL T COURT CHCH $17,500 137 Vasari B C Art Major Thebestamancanget Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo LINCOLN FARM KUMEU $107,500 138 Twinklingofaneye B F Art Major Twilight Beauty Mr. A. J. & Mrs. P. R. A. Parker Drury ROBERT LUND & TANIA HARVEY PUKEKOHE $35,000 139 Thats Who BR F Monarchy Tats That First Grade Lodge Mangere N A NORTHCOTT MANUKAU $3,000 140 Veddy Veddy Good B C Art Major Twice As Good Breckon Farms Ltd Ohaupo Withdrawn     141 Show Business B F Bettor's Delight Uptown Attitude Croon Bloodstock Ltd Auckland K M BARRON CHCH $14,000 Harnesslink Media

Like anything connected to harness racing in New Zealand at the moment, if pays to have Scuse Me somewhere in your pedigree if you are racing horses or selling at the sales. Be it Christen Me or Adore Me on the racetrack or the progeny of Scuse Me or any of  her daughters in the yearling sale ring, Charlie Robert's super broodmare Scuse Me is just dominating the scene like no mare in the history of the sport in New Zealand. That was reinforced today at the Australasian Classic yearling sale when Charlie Robert's consigned several members of the family to the first of this years sale The first of the really close relatives of Scuse Me was Lot 9. Named Praise Be, the son of Bettors Delight is the first foal from the smart Christian Cullen mare Abide With Me 1:57.7 ($36,033) which makes the colt a three quarter brother to both Adore Me 1:51.6 ($1,435,101) and Have Faith In Me 1:53.2 ($201,502) The dam Abide With Me is a three quarter sister to both Christen Me 1:49.1($1,923,091) and Hands Christian 1:52.5 ($330,824) so Praise Me had a pedigree to die for. To top it off the individual was as good as the pedigree and from the time he walked into the ring the bidding was fierce. When the dust settled the colt was headed to the All Star barn at Rolleston after Mark Purdon stared downed the opposition but not before he had outlaid a cool $200,000. Mark Purdon purchased Praise Be on behalf of  Dennis Dunford and his son Mark who have raced his close relatives Have Faith In Me and Hands Christian from the All Stars barn.   The next one of the breed to create real interest today was lot 106 and he is named All About Me. Offered by Charlie, the son of Bettor's Delight is from Scuse Me making him a full brother to the champion mare Adore Me and this years star three year old Have Faith In Me. The bidding opened at $50,000 and quickly went into six figures as Mark Purdon and Nigel McGrath battled for the great looking colt. In the end Mark was not to be denied and when the bidding stopped at $180,000 the colt was on his way to the All Stars barn at Rolleston. lot 106 The third and last of the close relatives that was highly sought after today was Lot 116 named Accumulator. Another son of Bettor's Delight, Accumulator is a half brother to Christen Me, Hands Christian and a three quarter brother to Adore Me and Have Faith In Me. The bidding started slowly but then took off and once again it was a Purdon signing the sales docket but this time it was Mark's brother Barry doing the honours. At $120,000, he was the cheapest of the three close relatives to make six figures. Charlie must still wonder at his luck when he agreed to buy Scuse Me all those years ago as she has gone on to dominate the New Zealand harness racing scene both on the track and at the yearling sales  like no mare before her. Harnesslink Media

A pre-start mess almost cost punters dearly before Ohoka Punter surged to his first Alexandra Park win in a year on Friday night. The dual Derby winner led throughout to down trailer No Doctor Needed in a race where Sky Major and Gold Ace never got into winning positions because of a lack of mid-race challenges. But while a 26.6 second last 400m made the win look easy, it could have been far different after Ohoka Punter galloped in the score up. “He actually shied at some horse droppings (not the actual word he used) in the score up and galloped,” said trainer-driver Tony Herlihy. “He got a real fright and almost fell over. He evened up but we had to chase the gate so it could have been a lot worse.” That was why Herlihy had to keep Ohoka Punter up to his work in the early stages of the race, with the incident denting his confidence and seeing him gawk about in the home straight the first time. “But in the end he won really well and like many of those horses he will improve,” he said. Herlihy now has to try and find suitable races for Ohoka Punter to try and get him fit enough to take on the really big guns in the Auckland Cup on March 6. “There will be the free-for-all the week before hopefully but really I’d like to have another race between now and then,” he says. “Taking on those horses won’t be easy so being really fit will be important. “But the Auckland Cup is the logical aim.” And while that means taking on Terror To Love, Christen Me and Adore Me, Ohoka Punter has of course beaten the latter over 2700m mobile at group one level at Alexandra Park, in that remarkable Northern Derby of two years ago. Since then his career has been severely interrupted by tendon problems and Herlihy admits he doesn’t even bother getting Ohoka Punter’s leg scanned any more unless there is a sign of trouble, preferring to look after it as best as possible but treat him like any other good horse. “He seems fine for now but every win is a bonus when you have had leg problems,” he offers. “But I haven’t given up on him being a New Zealand Cup horse because we know the motor is there.” Before then Ohoka Punter has the comparative luxury of dropping back to age group racing for the Taylor Mile and Messenger, although they are almost as strong as the strongest open class races these days. One of his rivals in those could be Sky Major, who stormed home into fourth last Friday in his first start back for the season. Trainer Barry Purdon had gone on record pre-race suggesting the dual Jewels winner may have to be driven with a sit from his wide draw, especially with so much gate speed inside him, and when the midfield horses failed to move down the back straight both he and Gold Ace couldn’t win. But they made ground well, with Sky Major now maybe going to race once more at The Park before heading to Menangle for a February 21 lead-up to the Chariots of Fire on March 1. With him, Ohoka Punter and Gold Ace set to be in Auckland over the next few weeks, it raises the possibility of another rematch to highlight the mid February racing. Michael Guerin - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Margaret Purdon, wife of the Hall Of Fame trainer Roy Purdon and mother of modern day legends Mark and Barry, passed away on Tuesday night just a day shy of her 86th birthday after a short illness. The sporting talent in the Purdon family wasn't  limited to Roy and their children as Margaret was a talented sportswoman in her younger days repersenting New Zealand at golf  touraments overseas and golf remained a passion right up to her recent short illness. Roy has been quoted numerous times over the years that his wife Margaret was the foundation on which all the success the family had achieved over the years was built on. Roy and Margaret had been married for 60 years. Here at Harnesslink  we would like to express our sincere condolences to Roy, Barry and Katrina, Mark and Natalie, Owen and Gaylene and Suzanne and Tony and the wider Purdon family at Margaret's passing.

Gold Ace’s comeback to credibility has received another boost heading into tomorrow night’s stunning premier meeting at Alexandra Park. The scratching of key rival Pembrook Benny from the $30,000 Founders 1700m has removed the major obstacle from Gold Ace making it back to back wins in the small sprint field. Gold Ace opened the $2.30 favourite with the TAB yesterday morning but shortened into $1.60 after Pembrook Benny, drawn directly inside him, was withdrawn. “He banged a knee somewhere and we had to treat it, which meant he couldn’t race,” said trainer Barry Purdon. “It is nothing serious though so he should be fine for Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve and the Flying Mile at Cambridge (Jan 9).” That means Gold Ace faces just four rivals in the group three race and greatly increases his chances of blasting to the lead as he looks to continue on from his all the way last start win. That was his first Alexandra Park success in over three years and his first win since re-joining Steven Reid and Simon McMullen from the McCarthy stable in Sydney. With his blazing gate speed and the Flying Mile just weeks away he could be in for a far more profitable summer than looked likely, especially as big guns like Christen Me and Terror To Love are having Christmas breaks. His early involvement and the Alexandra Park debut of Dalton Bromac in tomorrow night’s opening race sets up one of the stronger December premier meetings seen at Alexandra Park in years. Adore Me is the $1.22 favourite for the group one Queen Of Hearts even drawn the inside of the second line, with trainer-driver Mark Purdon indicating on The Box Seat TV show last night he would be looking to punch through early behind potential leader Helena Jet. “I think Helena Jet is the second best mare in the race and likely to lead so I’d rather do that than go back and try and come around them all,” said Purdon. Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen also have enormous roles to play in the $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial and the $50,000 Alabar Classic. Linda Lovegrace, with the inside draw, was the first horse backed seriously when the feature race markets opened yesterday, and at $3.20 was nudging excitement machine The Orange Agent’s $3 quote last night. Purdon opts for Sires’ Stakes winner Have Faith In Me as narrowly the stable’s next chance of three standouts in the Alabar Classic but the bookies see it the other way, having Hug The Wind the $2.40 top pick over Have Faith In Me at $2.70. The other group race of the night sees Stent return to Alexandra Park and his beloved mobile short course racing in the $40,000 Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes. That combination and a good draw have seen him open a $2.50 favourite over Prime Power at $3.60 in a line-up that also includes Sheemon and Irish Whisper. Courtesy of Michael Guerin + Harness Racing New Zealand

Generations of families being successful in harness racing is quite common in this industry and the one name at the top of that pile is the one tracing to Wes Butt. The list is way too long to compile here but one of the latest from this trotting dynasty to branch out on his own is Bob Butt. Son of the 2006 and 2007 premiership winning trainers David and Catherine Butt, Bob has been around horses all his life. Bob first got serious about a future in harness racing while still at school. " I use to help Nigel McGrath out after school and that confirmed to me that I wanted to do this for a career," Bob told Harnesslink recently. After Bob left school, he went and worked for Cran Dalgety for 18 months before heading north and working for legendary trainer Barry Purdon for just on two years. " It was great going and working for trainers like Cran and Barry." "You learn so much from them,especially all those little things that can make all the difference,"Bob said Returning home to his parents establishment at Woodend Beach after his stint at Barry Purdon's, Bob was only home a short time before being offered an opportunity to travel to Australia to work for the former Kiwi trainer Brent Lilley in Melbourne. "I always wanted to have a look at the Australian scene so i didn't twice about taking the offer to work for Brent" "Brent put me on a lot of nice horses while I was with him and I ended up driving over 80 winners in my time there," Bob said. Returning to New Zealand about 18 months ago , Bob began working for his parents with their team while training one or two of his own account. This season Bob thought it was time to take up training on his own account and is working ten from  boxes he is renting from his parents. He hopes to slowly builds up his team numbers and has the capacity to handle quite a few more. "The facilities are as good as you can get so there are no excuses." "They lack for nothing here," he said Bob has taken over the distinctive colours made famous by his grand - father Robin Butt of green with white sleaves which were carried by such stars as Locarno (Miracle Mile) and Camelot (New Zealand Cup)  The smart qualifier Bettor Be Smooth is the most promising horse in the stable at the moment but Bob has high hopes for a couple of 2 year olds that he is training and found it hard to split them. "I really like both of them to be honest." "There is an Art Official colt out of Honey Babe and a Rocknroll Hanover colt out of Special Rose and they both go pretty good," he said. Expectations are always high for young trainers like Bob when your family is a house hold name in the industry and that can sometimes be hard to overcome. However with over 200 winners as a driver in Australasia and seven winners in his brief training career to date along with the thorough grounding he has undertaken, Bob looks well placed to add another layer to the Butt family harness racing dynasty. Harnesslink Media

Since its inception, the Miracle Mile has become the event that captures the imagination – and opinion – of the harness racing population. Developed in 1967, the Group One was designed with one mission in mind…creating a ‘miracle’. To be more precise the dream was to see the two-minute barrier broken for the first time under race conditions in Australia. To everyone’s delight, New Zealand wonder mare Robin Dundee achieved the feat during inaugural running, stopping the clock in 1:59. Almost five decades later, the Grand Circuit gem has been captured by the “who’s who” of the sport, with records tumbling on a regular basis. As we count down to Saturday night’s edition at Menangle, here are some statistics on the race that has become ultimate speed test on this side of the equator.   SEX OF WINNERS: 3 Mares - (Robin Dundee, 1967 - Norms Daughter, June 1996 – Baby Bling, April 2013) 21 Stallions - (Last winner - Christian Cullen, 1998) 23 Geldings - (Last winner – Beautide, November 2013)   AGES OF WINNERS: 4-Y-O - 5 5-Y-O - 18 6-Y-O - 10 7-Y-O - 7 8-Y-O - 5 9-Y-O - 1 12-Y-O – 1   SUCCESSFUL BARRIERS: 1 - 10 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2011) 2 - 10 (Last winner, Be Good Johnny - 2005) 3 - 6 (Last winner, Baby Bling – April 2013) 4 - 10 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2010) 5 – 7 (Last winner, Beautide – November 2013) 6 - 4 (Last winner, Double Identity - 2002) 7 - 0 8 - 0   FIVE FASTEST WINNERS: Beautide (November 2013) - 1:50.2 Smoken Up (2010) – 1:50.3 Baby Bling (2013 April) – 1:50.5 Monkey King (2009) – 1:50.8 Iraklis (December 1996) - 1:54.2   FIVE SLOWEST WINNERS: The Scotsman (1979) - 2:00.7 Bay Foyle (1972) - 2:00.6 Pure Steel (1978) and Locarno (1980) - 2:00.4 Chokin (1993) - 2:00   CONSECUTIVE WINNERS: Westburn Grant (1989 and ‘90) Chokin (1993 and ‘94) Holmes D G (1999 and 2000) Sokyola (2003 and ‘04) Be Good Johnny (2005 and ‘06) Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11)   MOST APPEARANCES: Paleface Adios - 7 1974 - 2nd (Hondo Grattan 1) 1975 - 5th (Young Quinn 1) 1976 - 1st (Don’t Retreat 2, Hondo Grattan 3) 1977 - 2nd (Royal Force 2) 1978 - 2nd (Pure Steel 1) 1979 - 2nd (The Scotsman 1) 1980 - 3rd (Locarno 1, Pure Steel 2)   WHERE WINNERS TRAINED: New South Wales - 14 (Last winner, Baby Bling – April 2013) New Zealand - 12 (Last winner, Monkey King - 2009) Western Australia - 7 (Last winner, Norms Daughter - June 1996) Victoria - 9 (Last winner, Smoken Up - 2011) Queensland - 3 (Last winner, Be Good Johnny - 2006) Tasmania - 2 (Last winner, Halwes - 1968)…debate over Beautide (November 2013) which was based in New South Wales!   FAVOURITES: 19 Successful - 28 Unsuccessful   BEATEN WHEN ODDS-ON: Preux Chevalier - 8/11 - Last in 1984 Village Kid - 4/9 - 3rd in December 1986 Il Vicolo - 4/5 - 2nd in June 1996 Iraklis - 9/10 - 3rd in 1997 Blacks A Fake - 4/7 - 5th in 2008 Excel Stride – 5/4 – 4th in April 2013   MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINERS: • Barry Purdon - Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993 and ‘94) and Holmes DG (1999 and 2000) • Lance Justice - Sokyola (2003 and ‘04) and Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11)   MOST SUCCESSFUL DRIVERS: • Vic Frost - Lucky Creed (1970), Westburn Grant (1989 and ‘90) • Tony Herlihy - Christopher Vance (1991), Chokin (1993 and ‘94) • Lance Justice – Sokyola (2003), Smoken Up (2010 and ‘11) PAUL COURTS

As the debate surrounding Terror To Love’s invite into harness racing’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile – continues, the topic has revived memories of another invitation which caused its share of conjecture. Despite being unplaced at his last three starts, and his poor form on the opposite side of the Tasman, New Zealand idol, Terror To Love, was one of the first pacers offered a berth in the Miracle Mile. Since the stallion’s invite to the Grand Circuit event was made public, social media has been alive with comments relating to the decision, with the vast majority questioning Terror To Love’s legitimate claim to a position in the elite field. Many believe Franco Nelson is a more worthy recipient given his recent form, which includes beating Terror To Love home during their past three clashes. Franco Nelson finished second behind Adore Me in the New Zealand Cup, with the winner promptly invited to the Miracle Mile. Terror To Love was fourth. Franco Nelson backed up three days later to be third behind Christen Me and Adore Me in the New Zealand Free-For-All, with the winner again invited to the November 29 showdown at Menangle. Terror To Love also finished fourth on that occasion! Should Terror To Love emerge triumphant in the Group One, Miracle Mile selectors will ultimately be proven right, just as they were with Chokin in 1994. While giving the reigning champion the opportunity to defend his title is hardly questionable, Chokin’s form leading into the Miracle Mile was well below expectations. A first-up third for the season, Chokin then won his next two starts before a pair of lack lustre performances had trainer Barry Purdon bewildered. Sixth at Ashburton, the son of Vance Hanover was then pulled up distressed during the New Zealand Cup when favoured to complete consecutive wins in the time-honoured handicap. Purdon was left scratching his head as his other two runners, Christopher Vance and Montana Vance, also finished tailed off. This also put his Miracle Mile defence at risk, however, another unique chapter in the Chokin/Miracle Mile story unfolded when Purdon was given an ultimatum by New South Wales Harness Racing Club Directors. In order to gain a Miracle Mile invitation, Chokin had to trial to the satisfaction of club President Keith Adams, and that meant breaking 2:00 for a mile, with a smart last 800 metres. It was the first time such a demand had been issued….a few years earlier Chokin was involved in another Miracle Mile first when he was invited to contest the feature as a three-year-old. Chokin broke two minutes, with a last half in 57 seconds to seal his invite and join Bee Bee Cee, Master Musician, Golden Reign, Young Mister Charles and Weona Warrior in the 1609-metre dash. History shows Chokin raced his way into the record books by accounting for Bee Bee Cee and Golden Reign when driven by Tony Herlihy. The millionaire covered the mile in 1:56.2 – just six-tenths of a second outside Westburn Grant’s race record set in 1990. Chokin’s win saw him become the third dual Miracle Mile winner and the second to successfully defend his title since the events inauguration in 1967. Westburn Grant was victorious in 1989 and ’90, while Village Kid won in 1986 and ’87. Village Kid had his sequence broken by Master Mood during the second of the 1986 Miracle Miles. PAUL COURTS

It was a gem of a moment. Away from the crowd, out of sight of most on course. But it was the most memorable scene of a day where just about every superlative had been used.  Natalie Rasmussen gave Mark Purdon a big hug and whispered in his ear: "Well done darling, I'm so proud of you, so happy for you.'' And then, hand in hand, the couple stood there reflecting on what they'd just achieved. For it wasn't just the New Zealand Trotting Cup they'd won. The partners had just completed what would have to rate as the most dominant display ever seen on a racecourse anywhere in the world. Adore Me's win was their sixth of the day - they'd won all but one of the races they'd contested, and run second in the other. Backup, Rare Opportunity and Messini were entrees to the prestigeous Sires Stakes Final when Have Faith In Me led home a stable trifecta, then Vice Consul, Adore Me and one race later Prince Fearless made it seven wins. And four of those winners were in New Zealand record time.  The blue colours with the silver stars seemed to be everywhere, and in every finish. It was a feat which wasn't going unnoticed by the man in the hat, helping gear up their next runner. It was brother Barry Purdon, lending a hand in what was a massive operation for the stable with 20 runners on the day. He'd been through this in the early 90s, when he had a large stable, he said, and knew how much hard work it was. "Mark's a champion trainer and his success is due in part because he's so hands-on," he said. "But you're still only as good as the people behind you and he has that with his staff and owners. And he's instilled that much confidence in them that they keep coming back. "I'd like to have 10 great horses in my team too but you have to go through the numbers to do that and I doubt I could get the right people to help these days. "We used to have horses racing at Addington, Sydney and Melbourne at any one time and if you haven't got the right people helping you just can't send them away. "It's a very stressful lifestyle. You have to plan every day and that's what this stable is good at, they know exactly where they're heading.'' It's in the planning that Rasmussen has really helped the All Stars team since she and Purdon joined together two years ago. But she could praise only her own team last night when the gear bags were being packed up. "I'm so proud of the horses. And we have an amazing team of owners and staff. We'd have the best group of track drivers we've ever had. "But achieveing this sort of thing takes a lot of work. It's all day. every day on Sundays, but it all comes down to days like today and they give you a kick along and keep you going a bit longer.'' Purdon admits, however, that only this last week he and Natalie had been questioning their lifestyle. "Natalie has done a big team all her life in Brisbane, like me, and she knows how demanding it is,'' Purdon said. "We were asking ourselves the other day just how much longer we wanted to be doing this. "I'm up at 4am every day doing the work lists, feed up is at 5.30am and we start work at 6.30am. "We've got 12 staff but it's still a big job with 55 horses in the stable.'' The crowd of more than 20,000 who cheered their runners home race after race will be hoping it doesn't end any time soon. Courtesy Of Barry Lichter

One of the bravest veterans in New Zealand pacing faces a huge battle to replicate his shock run in last year’s New Zealand Cup. Because his champion trainer Barry Purdon says quite simply next Tuesday’s field is stronger. Pembrook Benny was 100-1 to win the great race last season but outside of the winner produced the run of the race to finish fourth, before going even better to win the Free-For-All three days later. Both runs left Purdon beaming with pride and while he is happy the now 10-year-old is at least as good as last season he says the job is tougher. “This time last year he was going into the race with only one start under his belt but now he has had three,” says Purdon. The last of those was an unplaced effort at Ashburton, but a performance which has grown on Purdon. “Initially when I saw they had paced the last quarter in 26 I thought he should have stuck with them better,” admits Purdon. “But when I watched it again he was coming at them again on the line and he had a lot harder run than many of the horses around him. “So it wasn’t a bad run and I’d say he is going at least as good as last year, although obviously he is a year older. “So we just have to hope for a good draw and that maybe he can tuck away and get a nice drag along.” While Pembrook Benny didn’t need those sort of favours last season, Purdon realises he will next Tuesday as this Cup has more depth. “It is definitely stronger,” he says. “You have the first four home from last season but they are joined by Adore Me and Hands Christian who are racing really well. “And then you have the two Australian horses, with good trainers. “We all know how good Terror To Love is and he is still the horse to beat but Adore Me and Christen Me are both going great. “And I have been really impressed by Hands Christian. Mark and Natalie have done a great job to get him going the way they have after how long he had off and you would think he will keep improving too. “So it is shaping as a great race.” While there are not many challenges in harness racing Purdon hasn’t conquered, he is undertaking a new one after his election two weeks ago to the board of directors at the Auckland Trotting Club. That gives the board a very experienced representative for horsepeople and Purdon says he is looking forward to being involved. “It is something different for me and I am hoping to do the best I can for my fellow trainers and drivers but also the club as a whole. “So it is great to be involved.” Courtesy Of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

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