Day At The Track
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The Gavin Smith trained Imola absolutely crushed his rivals at yesterdays Rangiora harness racing workouts.   Imola who narrowly beat the All Stars Stable pairing of Dream About Me and Have Faith In Me at last weeks trials, did not give his better performed opposition a chance of beating him yesterday. Driven to lead early by Gavin Smith, Imola (Jereme's Jet - Imprint) put the foot down and just went further in front the further they went. On a very windy day the speedy 5 year old gelding reeled off a sensational last half of 55.7 and quarter in 26.5 to demolish the opposition by 36 lengths. Imola holds a New Zealand Cup nomination and is currently last in the rankings at 28th, but might quickly climb up the order if that workout win is anything to go by. Earlier in the day smart three years old pacers Pat's Delight and Cullenburn, both showed they are ready for a return to the races, when winning their respective heats. Pat's Delight (Bettor's Delight - Righteous Franco) trained by Cran Dalgety was too strong winning his heat for driver Dexter Dunn.  He sped home from midfield on the outer and sprinted his last quarter in better than 27 seconds to narrowly beat the early leader Frankie Jones and Robbie Holmes. Cullenburn (Christian Cullen - Suzys Delight) trained and driven by Benny Hill, was also impressive winning his workout. Cullenburn sprinted a closing quarter in 27 seconds coming from the trail behind the leader Billy Badger to easily beat him in the run home. Harneslink Media

Frustrated with the current farming life, champion harness racing driver Ricky May might find driving high-priced racehorses today at Ashburton somewhat of a stress relief from the battles he’s facing on the farm.  The Methven horseman is currently juggling harvest work with driving horses, but as the unpredictable weather continues to wreak havoc on his yields, May, has the luxury of being able to focus on the job at hand on the racetrack a little more than what he usually does at this time of the year. “It’s been a bit of a weird old season,” May said of the cropping life.  “We are getting a couple of really good days and then some wet ones which is meaning the crops aren’t drying and it keeps pushing things back.”  Today though the focus will be solely on the track as he looks forward to two of the Ashburton Trotting Club’s most prestigious juvenile races – the Hambletonian Classic and the Sapling Stakes.  His Hambletonian drive – Enghien, is a beauty.  The Greg and Nina Hope trained three-year-old hasn’t been to the races since a stunning fresh victory back prior to Christmas.  He did trial at Ashburton last week, galloping late in the piece when beaten by race-rival today, Habibi Inta.  “It’s always a concern when they do that, but I think we can forgive it, I’m not worried about it.”  “They have made some changes to his shoes since then and knowing Greg and Nina he should be sorted.” May used the trial as a chance to push Enghien out of the gate and he responded beautifully looking powerful as he surged forward.  “That’s the best he has felt out of the gate, I was really happy with it.  “We are going to have to go forward from our draw, so I’m pleased we did it.” Enghien will start from barrier eight. His biggest rival, Habibi Inta, will start from the second row for Blair Orange.  Never far from the action at Ashburton, which is just a 20 minute drive from home base, May is closing in on 200 driving wins on the track over his career. He’s got 182 wins on the grit track and one sole victory on the grass track from when he drove Liz Winter to success for David Isherwood in 1979 – the first of his wins at the Ashburton Racecourse.  In the Sapling Stakes, which he won back in 2000 with Thank U John, May will take the reins on Cullenburn for Benny Hill. The big-figure purchase at last year’s yearling sales is a brother to open class pacing star, Locharburn and has had two public appearances ahead of his debut in the two-year-old feature.  “He’s got all the makings of a really nice horse, he’s going to be pretty tough when it all clicks together.  “I don’t know about this week though, he might just need the experience, I think he’s good enough but we will have to see.” Gerard O’Reilly will drive the likely favourite in the event, Cole Porter – a son of former top racemare, De Lovely by Bettor’s Delight.  May’s other chances today include Mossdale Rose and Bella Jones for the Hope stable while he made Diamond Life his best of the day.  “I thought he’d be pretty hard to beat. It’s not a super field.” Diamond Life is trained by Hill and part-owned by popular rodeo identity, Craig Wiggins along with May’s wife Judy who bred the foal from her broodmare, Ruby Wax.    Ashburton Selections – By Matt Markham  Race 1: Say Your Pres, Kai Time, Louis Moss, Paradise Spur Race 2: Sky City King, Cleaver Green, Loretta Franco, Locked Out Of Heaven  Race 3: Diamond Life, Waimac Attack, Glenferrie Duster, Kotare Mist Race 4: Woosh Factor, Burn Off, Living Legend, Elusive Flight Race 5: Matrika, Tahlia Franco, Supreme Banner, Happy Styx Race 6: Mossdale Rose, Bonnie Joan, Ariadne Lavra, Ask Again Race 7: Mighty American, Cruzy Dude, Gumpowder, Crackamoa Race 8: The Brooklyn Brawler, Cullenburn, Cole Porter, John The Plumber Race 9: Enghien, Habibi Inta, Chevron Express, Firenze Race 10: Habibti Ivy, Arannalea, Sugar Cane, Agatha Tyron Race 11: Ultimate Desire, Glenferrie Classic, Cmeerock, Bella Jones Best Bet: Ultimate Desire (Race 11) Value: Sugar Cane (Race 10)

Nearly everyone was left breathless at Alexandra Park on Friday night when New Zealand records fell like ninepins and even lower class horses ran unheard-of times. But there was one horse, who just missed out on a record his owner longs for, who definitely didn't run out of puff. Stent put the memory of his poor Dominion Handicap run well behind him when he crushed his opposition in the Lyell Creek Stakes, becoming an unbackable favourite for Wednesday's $45,000 Flying Mile at Cambridge. And it was all down to the treatment the horse has been getting since Show Day after which he was diagnosed with symptoms of asthma. Trainer-driver Colin de Filippi knew something wasn't quite right with Stent when he was gone at the quarter, a run completely out of character for a horse who always tries his heart out. And when his vet did a lung wash it revealed the problem. "The vets said given what they found they were surprised he could run as well as he was," de Filippi said. "We're not sure what caused it but it could be pollen at this time of the year, or dust." In the ensuing weeks Stent has been treated with a number of powders and has been on a course of inhalers, just like humans with asthma. Each morning before he works Stent has a few puffs of Ventolin and afterwards another inhaler, before going on a nebuliser for 20 minutes. The regime has to be stopped a number of days before he races but its effectiveness was evident on Friday night when Stent burst out of the gate, easily held an early challenge for the lead by Prime Power, then just as easily repelled his passing lane run in the stretch. Owner Trevor Casey was delighted with the return to form but sorry Stent missed Royal Aspirations' national 2200 metres record of 2:43 by just four tenths of a second. "I'd love him to get a record because he so deserves it. He's broken records before but only been placed." But Stent, who clocked a mile rate of 1:59.5 and zipped his last 400 in 27.6, looks well placed in the next few months to gain the recognition Casey says is well overdue. After Cambridge he has the $80,000 National Trot back at Alex Park on New Year's Even then a smorgasbord of races Casey has mapped out in Australia where last year he won the A$100,000 Grand Prix. First stop is the A$30,275 Maori Mile at Bendigo, a race his speedy mare Escapee won two years ago. Then he has unfinished business with former Kiwi Keystone Del in both the Glenferrie Challenge and Great Southern Star. "He was three back on the fence in the Glenferrie and got out too late to catch Keystone Del and in the final of the Great Southern Star he drew one, led, but was attacked all the way by Blitzthemcalder and Keystone Del beat him again." It's not a schedule rival trainer Todd Mitchell has much appetite for with Prime Power unless he can beat Stent on December 31. "If we can't beat Stent here there's no point going over there to run second to him. We'll miss Cambridge and I'll freshen him up with a couple of trips to the beach and make up our minds about Australia after his next run. "If we do go it might be just for the one race at Menangle. The Great Southern Star (heat and final the same day) could be a year too soon for him." Trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will wait until after Queen Of Hearts winner Adore Me runs in the $60,000 Waikato Flying Mile at Cambridge on January 9 before confirming her Australian targets. Purdon was super impressed by the way Adore Me dug deep in the home straight to get the better of Helena Jet and Lancewood Lizzie. "It was a very, very tough effort as we went a pretty solid 300 metres to get round them to the death." Fellow Canterbury trainer Benny Hill knows exactly where and when he wants to land in Australia with Dalton Bromac, who ran a supersonic 2:36.1, smashing Bogan Fella's New Zealand 2200m mark by two seconds. His whole campaign has been aimed at the A$200,000 Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on March 1, the reason he is running in Wednesday's $50,000 Futurity at Cambridge, where a win would gain him automatic entry. Dalton Bromac was by far the most impressive of all the record-breakers on Friday - as good as Gold Ace, Delightful Lana and Itz Bettor To Win were - his run prompting pinch-hitting driver Dexter Dunn to rate him the most impressive horse he had driven since Christen Me was coming through the grades. Courtesy of Barry Lichter - Sunday Star Times - Check site here  

Anyone tuning in to the first race at Alexandra Park to see the emerging harness racing star Dalton Bromac would have been a touch puzzled to see leading reinsman Dexter Dunn in the bike instead of regular pilot Ricky May. Ricky had transport issues this afternoon and never made it to Auckland in time and trainer Benny Hill had the luxury of replacing one champion reinsman with another on his budding star. Allowed to ease off the gate by Dexter from barrier seven, Dalton Bromac settled last early while Te Kawau and No Doctor Needed went to war early with a lead time of under 40 seconds for the opening 600 metres for only the second time ever at Alexandra Park. As soon as Te Kawau went to ease the hectic pace, Dexter was off with Dalton Bromac looping the field to lead with 1100 metres to run. From there Dexter hardly moved as Dalton Bromac had them all gasping on the corner before strolling home for an effortless win by 2 3/4 lengths over a fast finishing The Bucket List. What grabbed everybody's attention was the time that Dalton Bromac ran for the 2200 metres which demolished the previous record set in 1999 by Bogan Fella of 2:38.2 by 2.1 seconds. The son of Major In Art paced the 2200 metres in 2:36.1, a mile rate of 1:54.2 with closing sectionals of 56.4 and 28. Dexter was quick to express a bit of sympathy for Ricky missing the drive. " I feel a bit sorry for Ricky missing the drive, it was a bit unfortunate,"  " They went really hard early and I got around them when they eased." "He was always travelling well after that and won pretty easily in the end" Dexter said. When asked how he rated Dalton Bromac Dexter was very positive in his comments. " He is still really green and has a bit to learn" "When he puts it all together its scary what he could be able to do" "He has a big future," Dexter said. Dalton Bromac now heads to Cambridge next Wednesday for the $50,000 Waikato Futurity against a small but quality lineup. If he can win that Dalton Bromac gets automatic entry to the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle which should really wet the appetite of all harness racing enthusiasts on both sides of the Tasman about what time this big impressive son of Major In Art could run on the super quick Menangle track. Harnesslink Media  

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