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Top NZ harness racing trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen won the New Brighton Cup on Saturday with their speedy pacer Have Faith In Me. Have Faith In Me got home quickly from a nice spot on the outer to down an ex-stablemate Titan Banner and last year's Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me. The winner ran his last 800m in 55.2 with a closing 400m in 26.89 seconds, proving he is back to somewhere near his best. ____________________________ Blair Orange won four races over the weekend to move to twenty two wins for the season, nine wins clear of second place David Butcher. Orange won three races at Addington on Saturday and added another win at Methven yesterday behind the Nigel McGrath trained Goodlookin Chick. Last years drivers premiership winner Dexter Dunn is languishing back in the pack on three wins, after missing some early season racing while he was overseas at the World Drivers Championships.. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Destiny Jones has won this years Ordeal Trotting Cup for trainer Kevin Townley and driver Ricky May. Destiny Jones finished quickly from midfield on the outer to down last years winner Ameretto Sun by a length. The two favourites Habibti Ivy and Harriet Of Mot both blew their chances with early breaks shortly after the start. Destiny Jones (The Pres - Galleons Destiny) has now won eight races and $85,379 in stakes. She trotted the 2600m mobile in 3-16.1 with a closing 800m in 59.4 and 400m in 29.9 seconds. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Jonny Cox will train in partnership with Tim Butt from the beginning of December. Tim Butt is shifting most of his stable horses to Australia shortly and will be training from a 20-horse barn at Menangle, outside Sydney. Cox will be running the satelite stable here in New Zealand. The Tim Butt trained My Field Marshall won the Garrards Horse And Hound pace (Group 3) over 1609m at  Menangle on Saturday night in 1-51.9 _______________________________________________________________________________________ Canterbury amateur harness racing driver Ray Reekie was suspended for 2 1/2 years for driving in a manner which diminished his chances of winning a race at Addington on Saturday.  Of particular concern to the Stewards was his decision to maintain his challenge for the lead for such an extended period, after his initial challenge had been unsuccessful. After hearing the explanation tendered by Mr Reekie, Stewards issued him a charge under Rule 869(3)(g) in that he drove in a manner capable of diminishing Zakspatrol's chance of winning the race.  The JCA subsequently suspended Reekie's Amateur Horseman's licence from the conclusion of racing today up to and including 15th March 2020, a period of 2 1/2 years.   Harnesslink Media  

The progeny of harness racing champion Auckland Reactor are starting to emerge throughout Australasia, including a potential topliner who won his first race-day start in good fashion at Addington today (Saturday). Chase Auckland was having his first start out of the Purdon/Rasmussen All Stars Stable and ended up demolished a strong field without being fully extended by his driver Natalie Rasmussen. The race was run at a solid clip, with Rasmaussen taking Chase Auckland to the front after 600m. Despite a strong mid race attack by second favourite Ready To Rumble and Blair Orange, Chase Auckland had the field covered at the turn, and he went on to win by more than five lengths with no urging needed from the driver. The speedy Auckland Reactor gelding paced the 1950m mobile in a 1.58.8 mile rate with a closing 800m in 58.4 and 400m in 28.7 seconds. Ironically it was exactly 10 years to the day that Auckland Reactor won his first start. It was on the 16th of September 2007 at Timaru rating a 2.01.9 mile rate over 2000 metres.. Chase Auckland will now head to a heat of the Sires Stakes Series in a few weeks time. Chase Auckland winning easily in quick time. Harnesslink Media

Buster Brady is New Zealand Cup bound and getting fitter by the day, going by his authoritative win in today’s harness racing trial at Ashburton Raceway. The big Real Desire gelding who is nominated for the New Zealand Cup in November, is trained at Weedons by Kyle Austin, and was driven in the trial win today by Blair Orange.   Buster Brady began safely in today’s race and settled last of the five-horse field. Orange started his move from the back at the 900m and sat parked until hitting the go button in the home straight. Buster cruised to the line without being extended in a time of 3-05.6 for the 2400m stand. He ripped home from the 800m in a sizzling 54.7 (hand timed), with the 400m cut out in 26.7. Buster Brady is currently a $51.00 chance for the New Zealand Cup in the TAB fixed odds FF win futures market. Earlier in the day Orange drove a smart 3yo colt called Stunin Love (Stunin Cullen - Love To Live) to victory in impressive fashion. Stunin Love is a half-brother to three-time New Zealand Cup champion Terror To Love. He is owned by Terry McDonald and Eddie Griffin and trained by Paul Court. The speedy colt looked a good horse in the making when he came from three deep on the fence to swamp the leaders in the last 100m to win easily. He ran the 2400m in 3-01.3 with closing sectionals of 58.3 and 28.0 Stunin Love and Blair Orange                                                 Harnesslink Photo   Harnesslink Media

Top harness racing driver Blair Orange is looking to extend his lead in the national drivers premiership at Forbury today (Sunday). Orange leads the drivers premiership with eleven wins this season, one clear of David Butcher who is currently on ten wins. Blair has a good book of drives today and is driving in seven of the nine races programmed at the Forbury track, including all three horses that Canterbury trainer Paul Court has engaged at the meeting. Hypervelocity would be the best of the Court runners today in the last race on the card. The Mach Three five year old ran a good second last start at Kurow and had previously been racing better horses in the Canterbury area. Orange labelled Hypervelocity his best chance this week in the Harnesslink ringaround and he looks a good bet and possible anchor in the $30,000 pick six available today. Last years premiership winner Dexter Dunn is also looking to make up some lost ground, after he missed the first few weeks of the season while he was away at World Drivers Championships in Canada. He also has a good book of drives today and is fresh from winning the Maurice Holmes Vase on Friday night at Addington on the Otago trained Titan Banner. Dexter will retain the drive on Titan Banner in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup in November. Other drivers chances today at Forbury.   Nathan Williamson - Nathan thinks his best chance this week is Scarlett Lane in Race 1 Brad Williamson - Brad says his best drive this week is Get Real on Sunday in Race 4 Sheree Tomlinson - Sheree is going for No More Change as her best drive this week in Race 6 John Morrison - John thinks his best drive this week is Lorretta Franco also in Race 6 Matthew Williamson - Matthew says his best drive this week would be Articulight in Race 7 Geoff Knight - Geoff says his best chance this week is Fiery Ferret at Forbury in Race 9 Blair Orange - Blair is going for Hypervelocity as his best drive this week also in Race 9   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing driver Samantha Ottley managed to grab two driving wins last night at Addington and she did it by winning two of the trotting races with pacing bred mares.  Ottley drove outsider Michelle to a dominant win at long odds in the first trotting race of the night. At bolters odds of over $36.20 and $7.30 on the tote, Michelle who has been a serial breaker in her races, finally trotted all the way and cruised to an easy win over second favorite Still Eyre and driver Matthew Williamson. Michelle (Live Or Die - Eves Apple) is a pacing bred mare trained by Mark Jones and owned by Wayne Higgs. The lightly raced mare has taken a while to adapt to the trotting gait but is clearly going to win more races judging by last nights impressive performance. A few races later, Donegal Bettergretch won the R60 and Faster trot last night in a quick 3-19.7 for the 2600m stand. Donegal Bettergretch (Bettor's Delight - Donegal Gretchen) was driven to the lead early by Ottley and the pacing bred mare trotted well and proved too strong for her rivals, winning comfortably from Petite One and driver Colin DeFilippi. DeFilippi is sitting on 1999 lifetime driving wins and was a bit unlucky not to finish closer with Petite One as she was last at the 400m and was held up for most of the run home, until a late gap saw her close strongly into second. Top reinsman Blair Orange has moved to a two win lead in this seasons drivers premiership. Orange is sitting on eight wins for the season, two wins clear of David Butcher who is poised to narrow the gap with his good book of drives at Alexandra Park tonight. Amazon Lily got the ball rolling for Blair last night when she began well from the standing start and was quickly around to lead and controlling the race in front. The Ken Barron trained daughter of Bettor's Delight had too much speed for the opposition and won as she liked pacing the 2600m stand in 3.23.1. The last 800m of 57.5 was the quickest of the night until the last race when Orange adopted similar tactics on another Barron trained horse in For The Corz.  For The Corz also led early and controlled the race from the front before whipping over her last 800m in an identical 57.5 to win easily giving Blair and Barron a double for the night.    Samantha Ottley driving Michelle to victory.   Harnesslink Media  

Handy pacer Art Union grabbed an easy win at todays Rangiora harness racing trials. Art Union who has won 16 of his 32 starts is nominated for the New Zealand Cup in November and will race against the likes of last years Cup winner Lazarus, who is now back in work at the All Stars Stable. In todays trial driver Rory Mcllwrick let the Cran Dalgety trained pacer find his feet early and settled back in the field for the first half of the race. The Art Major six year old followed smart 4yo Malik and Blair Orange into the race at the 800m and was too good in the straight winning by 1 length in 2-31.8 for the mobile 2000m. He sprinted the last 800m in 56.9 and 400m in 29.2.   Last 800m of todays trial.   Another winner at todays trials was Captain Dolmio. The six-year-old son of Grinfromeartoear is also being aimed at the $800,000 New Zealand Cup by trainer Robert Dunn, and was again impressive in his heat today. Captain Dolmio ran the 2600m stand in a sedate 3-27.0 but sped over his last 800m in 56.3 with a closing 400m in 27.6 Captain Dolmio raced well last season against the top class pacers including setting up a track record time over 3200m in the Invercargill Cup when second to Classie Brigade. He also ran second in the Easter Cup behind the brilliant Heaven Rocks proving he has what it takes to be a leading hope in the great race over two miles in November. Harriet Of Mot also won her trial today easily in preparation for her upcoming feature races in November. The speedy 6yo Monarchy mare won as she liked by six lengths for driver John Dunn   Harnesslink Media

Young harness racing trainer Mitchell Kerr holds the key for today’s Kurow pick six at Oamaru Raceway. Mitchell has two runners entered today and both are in legs of the $30,000 pick six. Both horses are red hot favourites and both horses have won their previous starts. Mitchell has Run Boy Run engaged in the last leg of pick six today. The four-year-old American Ideal gelding won easily on the Oamaru track last start and looks to have turned the corner on some previous average form. Run Boy Run will be driven again by Matt Anderson who also drove him at his last win on the course. Kerr’s other runner is The Dorchester in Leg 3 of the pick six. A very quick three-year-old by Mach Three, he is a $1.50 favorite on the fixed odds FF market and he looks like he can step up to the next grade. The Dorchester is a potential derby horse in the making and he ran fast sectionals to win his first start at Addington three weeks ago. A wet track and an outside draw look to be the only question marks in his quest to win todays race. Blair Orange will again be the pilot for the The Dorchester, and he also has chances in other legs of pick six today with Glenferrie Classic in the Kurow Cup and Sundons Flyer in the R56 & faster trot. Glenferrie Classic who starts of the front in the Kurow Cup is up against classy mare New Years Jay who is having her first start this season for trainer Graeme Anderson. James Dean going for four wins on end for trainer Leo O’Reilly is also a big chance in that leg along with the Robert Dunn trained Bite The Bullet who also ran quick sectionals on the Oamaru track last start. Sundons Flyer has been freshened and is having her first start since the end of June, but has a liking for rain affected tracks and the Sundon mare is the TAB second favourite. Earlier in the day the Greg and Nina Hope trained Benhope Rulz (Courage Under Fire-Victoria Rulz ) looks a great bet to give junior driver Ben Hope his first driving win in Race 2. Benhope Rulz has had one start for a narrow second to The Dorchester at Addington and is a $1.50 chance to win on the FF fixed odds market. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing trainer Paul Nairn has Ronald J primed and ready to go in Race 6 at the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Clubs meeting tonight at Addington. Nairn does not think the mobile start tonight will worry the big Love You gelding and the small field should suit his style of racing.  Young junior driver Stacy Whatuira has driven Ronald J in all six of his wins and the times the horse is running suggests that he is a logical anchor in tonights $25,000 Pick Six starting in Race 5 Pick Six Preview   Leg 1     Race 5 [7:24pm] Mark Jones holds the key to this leg with his two speedy 3yo pacers The Bus and Si Si Senior. Mark has opted to drive Si Si Senior who came home in very fast sectionals in his first start to the races. With a run closer to the pace he should be hard to beat in this field. The Bus will be driven by Samantha Ottley and he won a workout easily at Rangiora on the 9th August with Sam doing the driving and could try to lead in this race. Van Laddie is another in form horse needed, with driver Blair Orange declaring him his best drive of the night. Leg 2     Race 6 [7:49pm] Ronald J looks to be the clear anchor of Pick Six and should win with no mistakes.   Leg 3     Race 7 [8:16pm] Malik was disappointing last start but his bloods were out and he has been freshened for this. He won a workout recently in preparation for this race and he will be hard to beat if he can find the front at some stage. Lovetodream drops back in class here and gets the services of Matt Purvis with a junior claim. She ran home in 54.7 from back in the field last start which suggests she can win if handier on the turn this week.   Leg 4     Race 8 [8:46pm] This leg is quite tricky with a big field of trotters and many chances. Alvira Hest beat a similar field easily last week and could win again with the same trip but she does go back another 10m this week. We suggest taking as many as the budget allows, but include: Medusa, Dusky Eyre, Rum In The Sun, Redwood Invasion, Rocknpop and Alvira Hest   Leg 5     Race 9 [9:16pm] Another big field here with the TAB favorite being Matau Gem. She went well here when leading last time to the track and driver Gavin Smith thinks she is his best drive this week, so she is a possible anchor. Others worth including are Bound To Impress who has been running home late in most of her starts from back in the field and she could trail here from the ace draw. Also Boomer and Christmas Toyboy from the second row are chances.   Leg 6     Race 10 [9:46pm]  The final leg is an even go and again as many as the budget allows. Gunpowder has been racing well and has drawn to race handy. The 2600m distance will suit and he is the TAB favorite. Others needed are, Bohannan, Kiwi On Show, Bettor Chance, Martin John and My Wee Man.   Suggested Pick Six   ($21.60 for 20%) Leg 1     4,7,10 Leg 2     3 Leg 3     7,9 Leg 4     3,6,7,15,16,17 Leg 5     3 Leg 6     3,4,8,9,10,11   Harnesslink Media          

Rookie Rangiora trainer Mitchell Kerr has two potential Derby contenders and a perfect three wins from three starts to open the new harness racing season. Kerr, 25, is in his first full season as a trainer based at Rangiora Raceway and produced impressive Addington three-year-old winner The Dorchester on Friday night, followed by another exciting three-year-old in Alta Shelby, who scored easily at Oamaru on Sunday. He also trains four-year-old American Ideal gelding Run Boy Run, who won well at Oamaru. “It’s been a lucky start really. I’m still pinching myself,’’ Kerr said on Monday. The Dorchester, by Mach Three, is the first foal of five-win Falcon Seelster mare Meet Me In Mayfair. “He’s got a big motor there and a lot of natural ability … I think he’ll go a long way but he’s as green as grass. “He was going to win by two or three lengths, but knocked off and started pissing round. He’s got a lot to learn,’’ said Kerr. The colt settled back and moved up parked at the 800m at Addington, but ran greenly in the last 200m for leading driver Blair Orange, hanging on to beat Benhope Rulz by a head and deny rookie junior driver Ben Hope his first race win.  The Dorchester ($1.60) clocked 2:25.8 (mobile 1950m), with his last 800m in 55.7s and the 400m in 26.9. “He’s paid up for all the big three-year-old races so hopefully he keeps improving,’’ said Kerr. “It was his first time off the place, apart from the Rangiora workouts where I train from.  ‘’There was a bit of an unknown factor on Friday night, but he delivered which was great.’’ Alta Shelby, a half-brother by Mach Three to Alta Orlando (six wins, 2014 Sales Series winner), is also a potential Derby contender and was never out of second gear winning at Oamaru for driver Matt Anderson.  “The more racing he has the better he’ll be,’’ said Kerr.  Kerr is the son of veteran Ohoka-based trainer Paul Kerr, who gets the young horses up and going before sending them to Mitchell for the last two months of their build-up to racing. ‘’Dad had him [Alta Shelby] originally and had a good opinion of him. His manners are improving all the time.’’ Anderson, who recently left the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen All Stars stable, helps Kerr in the mornings at Rangiora and the trainer is keen to give him more chances.  “He’s a good wee driver with a future. He’s really neat, looks good in the cart and makes good decisions.’’ Anderson gave Run Boy Run a dream run in the trail and he scored nicely in the junior drivers’ race at Oamaru, clocking 3.15 for the mobile 2600m, his last 800m in 56.9s. “He’s been knocking on the door and was really unlucky [third when late clear] at Rangiora the start before. He’s developed into a nice horse and won it pretty easily.’’ The Dorchester will probably head to the Kurow meeting at Oamaru on August 20, while Alta Shelby will target Addington. ‘’The Dorchester has the edge at this stage on ability, but they are both really nice horses.’’ Kerr says talented four-win pacer Forgotten Highway is ‘’coming up really good’’ after a short spell. “Hopefully, we can get him to the New Zealand Cup meeting and up to Auckland in December.’’ Kerr has previously worked for his father, Robert Dunn at Woodend Beach and Gareth Dixon in Auckland, going out on his own full time this season after securing 10 boxes and a barn at Rangiora Raceway and developing the outside yards and paddocks, before moving the horses in about June 20. “Dad does the young ones and jogs them up - then they come over to me for the last couple of months. It works out really good.’’ Kerr has driven 112 winners since 2009, but always wanted to train on his own. “I have always really loved the training side of it … Dad pretty much taught me everything I know and you just sort of take the good points from trainers like Gareth Dixon and Robert Dunn and mould it all together with your own ideas.’’ With his blue and yellow colours atop the national premiership early on, he has made the ideal start. NZ Harness News http://www.theinformant.co.nz/

The Dorchester won his first harness racing start last night at Addington in impressive fashion for trainer Mitchell Kerr. After sitting parked for the last lap he shot clear and held off the big finish of Benhop Rulz to deny Ben Hope his first winning drive. Blair Orange was bang on with his prediction that The Dorchester would be very hard to beat with no mistakes. The smart three year old Mach Three colt ran his last 800m in a quick 55.7 seconds on the back of a 2:00.3 mile rate, suggesting that he could be a force to be reckoned with in the three year old feature races later in the season. Earlier in the night Kardesler also had tongues wagging after easily winning in the fastest mile rate of the night and beating the hot $1.50 favorite Hayley Nicole in the process. Kardesler (American Ideal - Kusadasi) made a big run from midfield at the 400m and pulled clear in the run home winning by more than 2 lengths in a 1:56.1 mile rate. James Dean won the feature pace and his third win in a row for trainer driver Leo O'Reilly. James Dean (Santanna Blue Chip - Alegria) took the lead for the last lap and was never headed winning by a neck beating Lovetodream and Bite The Bullet who was third. Blair Orange started the new season with three wins, building an early lead on rival and friend Dexter Dunn while he is away in Canada at the World Drivers Championship.     Harnesslink Media

It’s taken a bit of time to get to this point, but Andrew Stuart is pretty excited about what the future might hold for Sportscaster. The three-year-old son of Mister Big made it two wins from three starts at Addington on Friday night, after an extended period on the sideline that curtailed most of his three-year-old year. “He got a really bad quarter crack,” Stuart said, “Which was a shame because he could have picked up a few wins along the way, and a few free ones too with the old handicapping system. “But we just gave him as long as he needed to get over it, and it looks like it it’s going to be worth the wait.” Confidently driven on Friday night by the red hot Blair Orange, Sportscaster held off all the challenges to win by a head. It was a good return to form after he blotted his copybook with a wild gallop at Ashburton fresh up. “I hoped that wouldn’t knock his confidence and it appears like it hasn’t which is great.” The intention going forward is strike while the iron is hot with the gelding, and that means you’ll see plenty more of him over the winter months. “He’s good and healthy and fit so it makes sense to press right on with him. “I’ve got a lot of time for him and think he will do a really good job.” Sportscaster was bred by the late Lynair O’Connell and is the third foal from the Bettor’s Delight mare, Maddison Lee who has also left the talented Jeanie Pops who raced from the Nigel McGrath stable. Stuart purchased the horse as a yearling and is joined in the ownership by good mates, Brent Wall, Jason Everest and Tony Smart. Stuart was another who joined the growing chorus of horseman, particularly from Canterbury, who are starting to see the positive nature of the new handicapping system, despite the fact Sportcaster is one of those who was given a raw deal. “He should have had a free win, but that doesn’t really matter - he would have got to where he is anyway. “I can honestly say though, particularly at this time of the year when the racing is a little light, that it’s doing a good job for the horse numbers.” Sportscaster was one of four winning drives for Orange on Friday night who continued a grand run of form. He won the first non-tote, Breeders Crown heat with the promising Angel Of Harlem for Barry Ward in what was a pick up drive, with Matty Williamson having transport difficulties due to the weather. Then on the normal card he won with the promising Idle Moose for Roger Austin and then also won the last of the night with Reaza Grunter for Ken and Tony Barron. That takes him to 191 wins for the season, and will leave him short of the magical 200 mark by the time the end of the season rolls around, most likely, but his tally, as it sits, is the ninth highest season tally for a driver in a season ever. Matt Markham

He may not have been able to beat him in the national drivers premiership, but Blair Orange is in a position to take control of another title that Dexter Dunn has had a stranglehold on. Heading into the last meeting of the season at Addington tonight, Orange has a slim, one-win, margin in the Addington drivers’ premiership with 58 winners for the term at Harness HQ. With 57, Dunn is breathing down the neck of his good mate but he is also in the unfamiliar territory of being the one who is doing the chasing as opposed to the being the one who is getting chased. He does have the huge advantage however of two non-tote drives that should see him put himself in front. He jumps on the Cran Dalgety trained pair of Bettor Joy and Master Moonlite, both of whom should taste success in their respective Breeders Crown heats, putting Dunn back in the hotseat and setting up an intriguing battle over the night. Dunn also has strong winning hopes with Especial in the South of the Waitaki Series early in the night while Kamwood Kid and Mikey Maguire are also good winning options. Orange’s book tonight is full of each way chances with no superstar standouts. His best could be the Roger Austin trained pair of Idle Moose and Idle Monkey. Both are talented trotters with the all-round game to be victorious and provided they bring their manners they will be right in the fight. Theboyslightup and Reaza Grunter are also good chances for Orange. The remainder of the Addington premiership races are all over with Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen prominent figures among the prize winners. With 53 wins they are well clear on the overall trainers’ premiership - 25 wins clear of Greg and Nina Hope, while they also lead the Universal Trainer Rating with an impressive .4381 % from 174 starters. Paul Court is next on that list with a strike-rate of .3118 % from his 67 starters. Rasmussen has the strike rate drivers prize all to herself with an incredible .6580% from her 51 winners. With no junior drivers race tonight, Kim Butt will finish a one-point victor in the Junior Drivers Prize and Spanish Armada has the popular Filly or Mare of the Year award. Meanwhile, Addington officials will make a decision on tonight’s meeting around 1pm today. Inclement weather is tearing it’s way down the country with a deluge of rain and the threat of some heavy snowfalls. Contingency plans were put in place yesterday that could see the meeting shift to tomorrow if need be. Those decision are expected to be made after lunchtime to allow enough time to see how the storm is going to play out.   Matt Markham - Addington Selections Race 1: Sharknado, Lloydin Magic, All Nuts N Bolts, As Kiwi As Race 2: Jerry Garcia, Spurred By Success, Sunshadz, Spurofthemoment Race 3: Vera’s Delight, Especial, Jody Direen, Melina Lowe Race 4: Gunpower, Rocknroll Nevin, Sportscaster, Takitimu Express Race 5: Beyond The Horizon, Jean Sebastien, Idle Moose, Diana Harbour Race 6: Boults On Fire, Hypervelocity, Bite The Bullet, Compliant Race 7: Ronald J, Idle Monkey, He’s Like The Wind, All Settled Down Race 8: Christmas Toyboy, Kamwood Kid, My Nikayla, Theboyslightup Race 9: Mikey Maguire, Spirit Of Delight, One Direction, Reaza Grunter Best Bet: Christmas Toyboy (Race 8) Value: Vera’s Delight (Race 3) Matt Markham

Blair Orange has a goal for next season --- he wants to buy Dexter Dunn more food. Like lots of food. In fact, he would be happy to buy Dunn dinner every weekend next term. Because as it turns out the two men who dominate the national harness racing driver’s premiership spend a huge amount of time together.  “I joked to my wife the other day I spend more time sleeping in the same room as Dexter than I do with her,” says Orange. Orange and Dunn have won over 400 races between them this season, Dunn setting the new national record of 221 last Friday. Largely lost in that clatter is the fact Orange has reined 183 winners, the closest any other driver has ever got to 200 wins a season. “I won’t get to the 200 for the season now, I’ve run out of time,” admits Orange. “But it gives me a goal for next season. It is a lot of travel and a lot of hard work but to be honest I’ve enjoyed it.” Orange and his racetrack nemesis Dunn are great friends off the track, which is just as well as they travel to almost all meetings outside Canterbury together.  And that is a lot of meetings. They have both had well over 1000 drives this season while Matthew Williamson with 711 is our next busiest driver.  By comparison, Samantha Collett with 846 rides has been New Zealand’s busiest jockey with only Alysha Collett and Chris Johnson also having ridden over 700 mounts.   “We do travel a lot and often that means driving six hours each way to Invercargill and lots of Forbury trips,” says Orange.  “So having Dex there, somebody to talk to and share the (car) driving with is a huge help.”  Surely it must frustrating, spending so much time with the person keeping you from the harness racing crown? “I’d love to win the premiership but Dex is like a good horse. I can get close but I can’t get past him.  “But the reality is we are happy for each other when one of us has a good day.  “The rule is the one who has the better day has to pay for dinner or a few beers. So I hope I end up buying him dinner more often next season.” The thought of the two men who so thoroughly rule the premiership traveling together will raise suspicions among the cynics but Orange says tactics are rarely discussed. “If I am driving a horse that Dex drove the previous week I’ll ask him what he made of it.  “But we don’t talk about how actual races are going to pan out and neither of us actually drive like that. “Some people might think we have an idea what is going to happen in races but when you drive as many different horses under as many different circumstances as we do you learn to take the races as they come because things rarely go to plan. “So I don’t have a plan these days.”  Orange says his workload has made him a better driver now then when he was a regular group one winner working for the All Stars.  “When you are driving as much as I am now you are always updating you knowledge base on horses because you are out there all the time.  “And I do more video analysis now than I used to. When I was working for Mark and Nat it didn’t matter as much because the horses I was on were so good.”  An official kick up the arse at the start of last year when Orange was fined and suspended for being over the alcohol limit on a race day after a social night helped refocus him. “I learned my lesson and it helped me take things more seriously. Talking to a few people after that happened made me realise I’m lucky to have the career I do.”  With key supporters like Nigel McGrath and Paul Court having good numbers for next season as well as the continued support from part-time bosses Ken and Tony Barron, he thinks cracking the 200 next season is possible.  “That is one of my aims before I look more into the training side of things in maybe five years or so,” says the 39-year-old.  “To break 200, win a premiership and even get to the World Drivers Champs would be great while I’d love to win a Rowe Cup or the Dominion, because I love the trotters.” Drives for season: 1080. Wins: 183 (53 on trotters) Stakes earned: $1,984,616. Achievements: 2nd on premiership. Group one wins:  Anzac Cup, Jewels 2-yo fillies and NZ Trotting Champs.   Michael Guerin

Champion driver Dexter Dunn has answered a call-up to drive last-start Group One winner My Field Marshal in next Saturday night’s Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park.  The drives on My Field Marshal and Australia’s best pacer Lennytheshark became available because of a date clash with the huge Vicbred Grand Final night meeting at Melton.  Anthony Butt and Chris Alford had strong commitments keeping them at Melton.  My Field Marshal’s trainer Tim Butt gave Dunn first refusal, but had a good back-up with Blair Orange already driving at the Albion Park meeting. He will be on Delightful Memphis in the Queensland Oaks.  “Both have driven him before, but Dexter more often. I gave him first option and it’s great he said yes,” Tim Butt said.  “Dexter will drive him this week and Ants (Anthony) will be back on for the Blacks A Fake the week after.”  In Lennytheshark’s case, it will be the first time since June 28, 2013 anyone other than Alford has driven him in a race.  That stems back to when former trainer John Justice drove Lennytheshark in a semi-final of the Vicbred 3YO series at Melton.  Alford has taken the reins in all 41 starts since, for a smorgasbord of feature races wins.  “I’ve got some thinking to do and some talks to have with Kevin (Riseley, owner),” Lennytheshark’s trainer David Aiken said. “There’s no rush. I’ll enter him without a driver and make the decision when we have to.”  Aiken often drives Lennytheshark in his trials and must be a chance to take the reins himself this week, but he declined to speculate.  “I’d rather talk with Kevin and weigh-up all our options,” he said.  Aiken also confirmed Hectorjayjay would be a definite Sunshine Sprint starter.  “Yes, both of mine are definitely running next week,” he said. “They’ve come through their Len Smith runs well.”  Hectorjayjay is the defending Sunshine Sprint champ after storming home from a seemingly impossible position to beat Christen Me and Ohoka Punter in a 1.51.8 mile rate for 1660m last year.  Aiken said Hectorjayjay’s fourth after leading in the Len Smith Mile last Saturday week showed he was probably best suited to be driven with a sit at the absolute top level.  “We had to find out. He got a fairly comfortable lead time and second split, but then Lenny really poured the pressure on down the back straight,” he said.  “It’s always hard when you draw well with a horse that has his gate speed, but that speed he has at the finish when driven with a sit is a pretty big weapon.” Adam Hamilton

Ideally, a few more would be the perfect result, but even if Paul Court only trains one more winner this season he’ll be a happy man. In just his second season of solo training, the West Melton horseman has drawn level with his debut season tally of wins with 35 victories on the board and four weeks of racing still remaining. That should spell a new personal best by the time August rolls around and Court considers that mission accomplished. “You set out at the start of the season with the goal of going better than the season before,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have had a good season again, with some nice horses wearing the colours and doing the job out on the track.” After training in partnership with his father, Graham for seven seasons with close to 100 wins, the pressure was always going to be on the young trainer when he broke out on his own accord. But with 70 winners in his first two seasons and a strong team of horses around him, things are looking pretty bright. “It’s been good to be able to pick up where Dad and I left off in a way, we’d set things in motion and I’ve been able to carry it on which is great.” Incidentally, one of the finds of the season for Court was the horse who registered his 35th victory on Friday night at Addington. And he’s hoping that Malik isn’t finished either. The Somebeachsomewhere colt has now won four of his last five starts and is a horse on the rise. He beat a tidy field of intermediate grade pacers on Friday night showing some impressive qualities in the process. “He’s just getting better and better, I was a wee bit hesitant on Friday because we had taken him off the unruly, but he handled it really well and showed a bit of class against what I thought was a pretty good field. “He’s starting to stand up and show what he’s got now which is great, and the best part is that I think he will just keep getting better. “We’ll press on through the winter with him too, so hopefully he’s not finished.” The other leg of Court’s winning double on Friday night came from Beach Skipper, who took longer to win his first race than anticipated. He’d technically already won a race, but that was a dead-heat at Methven, so Friday’s victory was well overdue. And adding double the delight to the win, was the fact Court did the driving himself. Despite not driving often these days and preferring to leave that job to the likes of Blair Orange and Ricky May, Court has still managed to grab himself a win each season for the past 12 years from very limited opportunities. Matt Markham  

It is a lot easier to give up a shot at New Zealand’s racing toughest record when you already own it. So champion driver Dexter Dunn will miss the end of the season even if it costs him setting a new national record for win in the term. After a typically successful weekend Dunn sits on 199 wins for the term, 30 more than closest rival Blair Orange so assured of his 10th straight driver’s premiership. With 19 meetings left in the South Island for the remainder of the season, 27-year-old Dunn would only need to average one per meeting with a couple of extras to break the record of 220 wins. He set that figure back in 2011 and got close with 214 last season and 216 the one before. While the profitable Southland circuit finished over the weekend, there are five Forbury Park meetings to go this season, which are often the scene of multiple wins for Dunn. But complicating Dunn’s equation is the fact he will miss the last weekend of the season as he heads to North America for a brief holiday before his defence of the World Driver’s title in Canada in August. Dunn won the series in Australia two years ago and says it takes priority over breaking the national wins record. “I can’t wait to get over there because it is a great series and you learn so much,” he says. “Not only is it special to represent your country but you make a lot of friends and learn things from all the other drivers. “It will be my third championships and it is the highlight of the season.” Dunn wants to travel to the championships via New York to take in Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands so will miss the final two meetings of his season at Addigton and Oamaru. “That could potentially end up costing me getting past 220 but it doesn’t bother you are much when it is your own record,” he admits. “But if I get to 218 or something with a week to go then I might not see it that way. “It would be cool to reset the record and I think it is possibly on because the Forbury meetings tend to be be pretty good to me and I don’t have any Australian commitments coming up.” With another 200-win season just one away Dunn will continue a scarcely believable average of just over 200 wins per season for the ninth straight year, even more remarkable because nobody else has ever achieved the feat even once. “I’m on 199 now and not being stuck on that is one of the most important things, because I’ve finished two seasons on 199 and that sucked. “But I should get well past that and considering how long a season it has been I am feeling pretty fresh. “I haven’t had as much travel to Australia this season, which has helped.” Dunn says while his strike rate is better now than ever, driving a winner every 4.7 drives, he says he drives more “ugly races” now then he used to. “The racing has changed so much in the last five years,” he offers. “You used to be able to sit back and drive them pretty and come with one run when I first started driving but now you have to be on the speed a lot more. “The odd one can still come from back in the field but on the whole you need to be on the speed because they just keep running.” If Dunn does get surpass his 220 seasonal record he could also join another very elite club as he sits on 1978 career wins in New Zealand, meaning he could top 2000 before the end of the term if he has a stellar next six weeks. The biggest difference: Dunn is 25 years younger than any other member of the 2000-win club. And if he keeps winning at his current rate he would become New Zealand’s first 4000-win horseperson of any code before his 38th birthday.   DEXTER DUNN ** Heading for 10th straight national premiership. ** Averaging 203 wins per season over last eight years. ** Already holds NZ record for wins in a season at 220. ** Current World Driving Champ ** 22 wins away from joining elite 2000 wins in New Zealand club.  ** Strike rate of win every 4.7 drives.   Michael Guerin

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