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A decision by Dexter Dunn to drive at Wyndham today over Blenheim could result in good fortune for those who picked up the champion driver’s drives at Waterlea Raceway in Blenheim. Dunn was to be driving at the meeting in the Marlborough region, but the postponement of yesterday’s Wyndham meeting and its shift to today, left the current premiership leader with a decision to make on where he would drive today. Dunn’s current closest rival, Blair Orange elected to head back to Canterbury and head up to Blenheim, but Dunn decided to fulfil his engagements in Wyndham leaving some nice pick-up drives for those already up for the two-day meeting. Robbie Close was one of the biggest winners, securing the steer on the exciting intermediate grade trotter Arditi for Blenheim local, Dean Hunter. “It’s a nice one to pick up,” Close said. “The runs on the West Coast were really good and it looks to have a bit of a future.” Hunter has a strong hand to play in the feature race of the day with his three trotters all engaged with Arditi joining Lady Beatrix Bourbon and Nelson winner, Destiny Jones. All three were winners on the recent West Coast circuit. Craig Thornley is another to have picked up a nice drive in the form of the Jamie Gameson trained, Franco Hampton who hasn’t been seen since running seventh behind Thefixer on Cup Day at Addington. With an abundance of gate speed the Christian Cullen colt may be able to slot himself into a forward position and get a good chance to secure another victory. The other of Dunn’s notable drives at Blenheim is Miss Daisy who has been picked up by Ross Houghton. A member of the Robert Dunn stable, Miss Daisy ran a big second at Ashburton on Boxing Day when second behind her stablemate American Tart and with a cushy run on the cards today she gets a good chance to grab another victory. Her toughest opposition will be another stablemate, Billy Badger who was a big winner on the first day of the Nelson meeting. As they did last week, the Dunn stable is expected to be right in the thick of the action again today with an ominous looking line up of runners. They’ve got nine runners engaged at Waterlea, one at Wyndham and four at Cambridge tonight.   Super Selector – By Matt Markham Race 1: Reign On Me, IW McNik, Tehoro Dazzle, Zsa Ziva Race 2: Born Again Delight, Goldiloch, Smooth N Easy, Gotta Ticket Race 3: Runaway Three, Hayden’s Meddle, Titanium, Idealagain Race 4: Crackabella, Man Of Steel, Danse McAabre, Nova Time Race 5: Arditi, Destiny Jones, Muscles Galore, Redwood Invasion Race 6: Kitura, Lolita Franco, Dana Dawn, Sauciehall Race 7: Billy Badger, Miss Daisy, Smithy, Eh Ef El Race 8: She’s A Flyin, Gotta Go Ya Hu, Franco Hampton, Scotlyn Jack Best Bet: Billy Badger (Race 7) Value: Crackabella (Race 4)

Full fields, good mid-week stakes, a sprinkling of mobile miles and Canterbury visitors, all makes for an interesting day on the big Wyndham track today (Thursday). It also makes the pick six at Wyndham a battle for survival with an abundance of quality in some races and a dearth of the commodity in others. First leg CLARK BARRON RACING STABLES FILLIES & MARES MOBILE PACE Plenty of chances here. Bonnie Joan dominated a similar field at Invercargill, runner-up Dancing In The Dark was prominent again, and they go from the same draws on Thursday. Seaswift Joy is unbeaten her last two including a mile in 1:54.8 and is racing on her new home track for the first time. Bettor Enforce was sound in the Equine Stakes and punched above her weight in the Roxburgh Cup. If going wide, find a place for Somejoy, Varenna and Motu Time To Shine. Second leg ALABAR (NZ) LTD FILLIES & MARES MOBILE PACE Manuka Valley and Blair Orange have looked lethal from the front and the back their last two and look closer than any others to an anchor. The Michael House trained Art Courage qualified in September, goes into the race with good recent workout form and Dexter Dunn aboard. Last week's qualifier Chinook Winds has drawn the ace and looks promising but is another first starter. Trendy's Bad Girl and Vera Mac are getting up in starts but their recent form looks good in this line-up. Third leg MATAURA LICENSING TRUST MOBILE PACE Lilac Flash is not the finished product yet but has the draw and the driver to capitalise on some previous good results. Better Than Most isn't the finished product yet either but has enough upside to figure in this. Santanna's Blue Chip did work to get handy last week only to get shuffled back and had nothing left for a second crack. With one run he can be in this but the draw makes it harder, is it does also with Rakarover and Silver Dale. Fourth leg KINDERGARTEN STAKES DAY - SATURDAY 4TH MARCH HANDICAP PACE On class and the value of his Cromwell run Statham should be winning this. Rakarolla and Flashing On are both threats from the 10 metre mark and so is Cromwell winner Gotta Del. He has recently joined Clark Barron from his brothers Tony and Ken and will be having his first stand start. Luciano has the class to be prominent from 20 metres while a possible wet track plays to the strengths of Acolyte. Fifth leg SINCLAIR BROTHERS MOBILE PACE RR Sand Collar stuck well last week after drawing a bad marble and sitting parked for the last lap. From no wider than four off the front this week she looks the top chance. All Jokes Aside drops from C4 to C3 and that might be all it takes. Lamborne Road got back early last week and after getting handy was left in the open three wide round the final bend. He is not far away from striking. Mr Handleman impressed at Ascot Park and Art Exhibit is seldom far away. Sixth leg PANSPACIFICFLIGHT MOBILE PACE In a competitive field. Sagwitch and Young Conqueror have the draws to dominate and the potential to fight out the finish. Thorn in their side might be Baileys Knight who is still a C1 after wins in two of his past three. They look the trifecta but Seduce Me, Western Dream and Milehigh Magic are all capable chances. Mac Henry

Nigel McGrath couldn’t have scripted a better result in yesterday’s Ashburton Cup. The Weedons horseman started three horses in the race and they picked up first, second and third placings with his rising stable star, Classie Brigade claiming the major prize in the hands of leading horseman Blair Orange. McGrath had never picked up a stable trifecta in his impressive career before, but was all smiles as he came off the track yesterday at winning the Boxing Day feature. Maverick was second in the race with Colin DeFilippi in the sulky while McGrath drove the third placed, Ears Burning himself. It was a victory of justification for Orange who made the decision to turn down a drive in the Westport Cup on exciting pacer, Buster Brady, to drive at the Ashburton meeting. Buster Brady finished a narrowly beaten second on the other side of the Southern Alps. Classie Brigade, who spent most of last season as a three-year-old chasing New Zealand Trotting Cup winner Lazarus, has now won his last two starts and looks set for a big summer on the country circuit with plenty of options available for McGrath to choose from. McGrath confirmed after the race that the trio were likely to target a lot of races in the Southland region. “We might make them a bit of a travelling roadshow and see what happens,” he said. “They are all going really at the moment, so it makes sense to keep them ticking over.” His 27 career starts have now yielded eight wins and nine placings with more than $150,000 in the bank. Meanwhile, Bob Butt picked up a major win in his early training career when Bronze Over caused a minor upset in the Westport Cup. The Woodend Beach trainer inherited the pacer from North Island trainers John and Josh Dickie after he traveled South earlier in the season and the decision was made to leave him in the care of Butt to target the country racing. He managed to get home over the top of Buster Brady who looked set to be the winner but appeared to gawk and run about up the straight before lunging right before the line, only to come up short. Matt Markham

Well bred Canterbury pacer Pick My Pocket won yesterday (Saturday) for Weedons harness racing trainer Nigel McGrath. Owned by Allwood Stud Farm the Bettor's Delight three year old filly was bred by Charlie Robert and is out of In The Pocket mare La Filou which is a half sister to a host of winners including Have Faith In Me (14 wins), Imagine Me (9) and Megabucks (5). Another half-sister Splendid Dream is the dam of Hands Christian (13), Christen Me (32) and Dream About Me (18).  Driver Blair Orange says Pick My Pocket probably won't reach the height of some of her immediate family but she won well enough yesterday.  "She just needs to sharpen up a bit. I said to Nigel if we had that rule like to do in Australia (no whip rule about to be introduced) we couldn't race her because she'd just drop out. Hopefully she'll switch on but she's just very very lazy," said Orange. Pick My Pockets winning at Wairio                              Photo by Bruce Stewart           Her win in 2-56.3 will add value to her potential career as a broodmare.  Other highlights of the Wairio meeting included Rocking Robyn running 2-54.1, equalling the track and Southland record held by stablemate Robyn's Bad Boy. In addition Rocking Robin provided junior reinsman Jamie Campbell with another winning drive.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

There is a tight battle going on at the top of the New Zealand harness racing training premiership. Last years premiership winners Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen on 25 wins currently hold a narrow lead of just one over Greg and Nina Hope on 24 wins. Mark and Natalie headed into cup week fourth on the premiership and 5 wins behind, but a 10 horse winning spree last week saw them surge past Greg and Nina and they now lead by one heading into this week.  Barry Purdon is currently sitting in third place on 21 wins and Robert Dunn is fourth on 18 wins. The drivers premiership is equally as close with Dexter Dunn on 43 wins holding a slim one win lead over Blair Orange on 42 wins with a gap back to Ricky May in third on 24 wins. Trainers Premiership Leaderboard Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen 79 25 12 10 1,061,862 0.4430 Greg & Nina Hope 109 24 11 7 434,055 0.2977 Barry Purdon 69 21 15 11 205,477 0.4783 Robert Dunn 139 18 9 18 247,285 0.2086 Mark Jones 73 13 7 5 93,336 0.2542 Cran Dalgety 84 12 13 8 206,379 0.2606   Drivers Premiership Leaderboard Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Dexter Dunn 226 43 35 31 451,471 0.3220 Blair Orange 249 42 32 29 407,678 0.2789 Ricky May 163 24 15 14 421,126 0.2270 Zac Butcher 77 20 12 15 185,771 0.4113 David Butcher 99 19 18 14 166,670 0.3401 John Dunn 132 17 9 15 247,359 0.2045   Harnesslink Media Statistics courtesy of HRNZ  

The Ken and Tony Barron trained Terracotta won her third race for the goHarness Buy Race and Sell Syndicate.   The Big Jim filly started her harness racing career in Southland before she moved to Canterbury when co-trainer Tony Barron sold his Makarewa stable and moved to West Melton.   She looks to be the type of progressive filly that could be aimed at the Nevele R/Macca Lodge Southland Oaks later in the season.   She won easily by a length and a half and was driven by stable driver Blair Orange.     Some of the goHarness Buy Race and Sell Syndicate                                        Photo Bruce Stewart.     Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

A look at some of the action from Thursday’s Rangiora Harness Racing Club’s meeting. DUNN AND ORANGE CONTINUE TUSSLE There’s a battle brewing at the top of the national drivers’ premiership already. Good mates, and fierce rivals, Dexter Dunn and Blair Orange are in the midst of an early season battle for the top spot on the national premiership after the first three months of racing. Just three wins separate the pair with Dunn on 41 and Orange on 38 as both drive winners frequently from one end of the South Island to the other and everywhere in between. They both picked up one win a piece at Rangiora on Thursday with Orange saluting on Blade for Gavin Smith while Dunn saluted with Fratellino for long-time supporter, Kevin Townley. Both drivers are getting strong books of drives at most meetings and despite three quarters of the season remaining there is the potential for things to get really interesting, especially over the summer months when things really ramp up on the racing front.   WHITE COLLECTS HIS FIRST TRAINING QUINELLA South Canterbury horseman, Brent White, entered new territory on Thursday when he produced his first stable quinella in the opening race of the Rangiora programme. The underrated Run To Hide produced a strong, front-running, effort to hold on for the victory ahead of stablemate, Cullens Lady. Off the back of a solid season last term where he equalled his best ever season of 17 winners, White has kicked into gear strongly with seven wins already thanks to a strong racing team over the summer months. Driven forward by Stephen McNally, Run To Hide tossed away a few assumptions that he was a horse who only showed up off a soft run. Ricky May and Cullens Lady looked likely at the top of the straight but battled well to hold down second.   LOW BACK IN THE WINNERS’ CIRCLE After a quiet time of it recently, Raewyn Low got that winning feeling back on Monday. The Ashburton horsewoman produced Linda’s Cullen to produce a victory on Thursday that warranted the toughtline that it wouldn’t be the last time she’s in the circle this season. Low’s last winner was Ardwell’s Key two years ago. Owned by Ron and Dallas Patterson along with George Henderson, Linda’s Cullen has always looked capable of winning a maiden and after a canny drive from Gavin Smith she has now ticked that off the list. It also took Smith to within striking distance of 500 career driving wins with just five wins remaining.   PERSEVERANCE BEING REWARDED To say three win mare Morissette has been a success at stud might be a bit of an understatement - but she does have a perfect record for foals to the races. On 13 occasions the Soky’s Atom mare has been served an on only the one occasions has she produced a foal - a colt by Tinted Cloud who would later be named Burn Off. Clearly not the easiest mare to get in foal, the one result from nearly a decade of trying is doing a good job of making up for it. He notched up the fourth in of his career on Thursday when he came with a withering run for Rory McIlwrick in the final race of the day for trainers Greg and Nina Hope.   HRNZ

On Saturday at the Riverton harness racing meeting, the Aparima Trot field was lead out by 30 year old gelding Diamond Field. He won 33 races and $536,607 in stakes. Amongst his wins were the 1994 Rowe Cup, 1994 Interdominion Trotting Championship and a number of Free For All trots. He was presented at the races by his first trainer Allan Beck and Michelle Blackie - daughter of Bob Blackie who was part of the Southland Standardbred Number Two Syndicate that raced the Yankee Jolter gelding.  The Neil Munro trained Jayceekay easily won the Neville Cleaver Fishing Aparima Handicap Trot in the hands of Blair Orange. Jayceekay winning in the hands of Blair Orange                Photo by Bruce Stewart The seven year old Monkey Bones mare who last won at Addington in December 2014 took the lead with a lap to run before handing up to De Vito. Orange sent her off down the middle of the track at the home turn and she sprinted too well for a game De Vito winning by two and a half lengths. The race time of 3-29.2 was a new race record. The previous record was held by The Fiery Ginga which trotted 3-30.0 when winning in 2012. Jayceekay returning to the birdcage after winning                  Photo by Bruce Stewart It was the second time Munro has won this race. He also won it back in 2005 with Ado's Angel which was driven by Billy Heads. The run of the race came from the runner up De Vito. Having his first start of the season he was posted three wide for half a lap and battled home nicely for second.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Delightful Memphis will have the luxury of seven-10 days off to freshen after winning the opening $22,000 Alabar Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Heat in a harness racing jog at Addington on Friday, October 21. The smart daughter of champion sire Bettor’s Delight and Memphis Melody will be back for the third heat at Addington on November 25, then head to Auckland to fine tune for the final on December 31. There is also another heat of the series at Alexandra Park on December 9. Last season’s experience of racing well right-handed at Auckland will stand to her for the Sires Stakes Final. She was the runnerup in three stakes races in four Auckland starts behind Spanish Armada last autumn, and wound up her two-year-old season with a second to Partyon in the $150,000 Harness Jewels 2YO Diamond at Cambridge on June 4. Trainer Mark Jones had Delightful Memphis on song for the opening Alabar Sires Heat despite a week ago blowing out near the end of her Rangiora workout. She was untroubled to lead throughout from the ace draw for regular driver Blair Orange, who didn’t have to release the deafeners in the run to the line. Delightful Memphis came clear of Major Rocket (parked) by 2 1/2 lengths in a solid 2:22.8 for the 1950m (1:57.8 mile rate), with Blair letting her quicken over the last 800m in 56s and final 400m in a slick 26.6s. Major Rocket held out the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained stablemates, Smiley Sophie and Tachyon, for the minors. Delightful Memphis was recording her second win, after earlier winning her 2YO debut in the Group Three $25,000 Sweet Lou Leonard Memorial at the Cheviot meeting on February 28. She edged past the $100,000 mark with Friday’s win in her eighth career start for owners, Wayne Higgs, Simon Doull, Sir Loins Limted, Debra and Pete Smith, Kaysan Farming Ltd and BM & JH Holdings Ltd. By Jeff Scott Reprinted with permission of the Mark Jones site

The prince of pacing is now red hot to do what only the greatest have done before. Lazarus has opened odds-on with some bookies to win the Flying Stakes at Ashburton on Monday, victory in which could push him close to $2 favouritism in the New Zealand Cup on November 8. Monday’s standing start 2400m feature has long been the most crucial form trial for the New Zealand Cup but the New Zealand TAB hadn’t opened their market for it last night. But the Australian TAB did and they had Lazarus a $1.60 win hope over stablemates Smolda ($3.50) and Have Faith In Me ($4.20). Lazarus is already as short as $2.20 with most bookies to win the Cup in a few weeks so surely moves close to a $2 quote if he justifies the shock $1.60 odds on Monday. But a four-year-old winning both the Flying Stakes and New Zealand Cup is not just rare, the last one to do was an icon. That was Christian Cullen 18 years ago and even he paid $2.35 on the tote in the Flying Stakes, giving you some perspective on how tight Lazarus’s $1.60 quote is. So the winner of 16 of his 19 starts and unlucky in the other three, Lazarus is going to need to walk in the hoof prints of the greats to justify his super slim odds. He has come up with barrier two on Monday with Christen Me (4), Smolda (6) and Have Faith In Me on the unruly, which may not be as big as disadvantage with only eight starters. Sandwiched between the favourites is last season’s three-time group one winning four-year-old Field Marshal, who resumes for the season but with a new driver as Blair Orange fills in for Dexter Dunn, who is committed to Christen Me. The race will have an enormous bearing in the market for the New Zealand Cup, with only Franco Nelson, Tita Banner and Messini missing out of the realistic Cup chances. It headlines a superstar day which also sees the return of Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess and a truck load of the All Stars promising young pacers but the other key pre-Cup carnival match up for the day is the Flying Mile Trot. It sees Monbet drawn seven in his comeback race giving him the advantage over last season’s champion three-year-old Marcoola, who will have to overcome a second line draw in his first open class start. Michael Guerin

A simple nod towards Smolda’s head was all it took for Tim Williams to hammer home his point after yesterday’s Methven Cup. Walking back to the stables after the big gelding’s victory in the $35,000 Methven Cup yesterday afternoon Williams pointed toward his charges head, and in particular his ear plugs, which were still firmly in place. “I didn’t pull them. I didn’t feel like I had too,” Williams said.  It looked that easy too. Smolda overcame a midrace move to sit up outside Mossdale Conner before working to the lead at the 1000 metre mark and then suffering an extended period of attack around the final bend from Quick As A Trick before he had the audacity to run away from those chasing him at the top of the straight to win by a comfortable one and a half lengths. “He was very good today, you can just feel him getting better and better every time he goes to the race,” Williams said. “When I got up to parked at the winning post with a lap to run he got quite keen and wanted to get going. “That’s why we pressed on to find the top, he was just travelling that well. “Then when Quick As A Trick came up to us he got all lazy and I had to chase him along to wake him up.” Seel The Deal, fresh from a minor wind operation, was best of those behind the might of Smolda – emerging from three back the fence on the home bend to unwind stylishly while Titan Banner was a brave third. The talk of the race though was the run of the C2 pacer, Johnny Eyre, who despite being three grades below the next horse in the race, produced a bobby dazzler to run fourth – and be slightly unlucky in the process. Sunday’s win should see Smolda shorten for the New Zealand Trotting Cup – an occasion that Smolda’s owners, Phil & Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher and Marcus Kirkwood can’t wait to get back to. “Running second last year after missing away and all that was a little hard to swallow,” Phil Kennard said. “But we just love Cup Day so much and can’t wait to have a couple of chances in the Cup.” Half an hour earlier Mike Austin and Blair Orange combined to cause one of the big upsets of the day when Twelve Monkeys gave some of New Zealand’s best trotting mares a bit of a hiding in the fillies and mares’ trotting event. The daughter of Monkey Bones emerged late from the pack and unwound brilliantly to win by three and three quarter lengths. Stephen Kennedy also had plenty of reasons to smile when he produced his first training win courtesy of Quest Star’s win in the maiden trot. Driven by Gerard O’Reilly the Monarchy six-year-old emerged from the pack late in the piece to run down Rusty I Am in the shadows of the post.    Matt Markham

Betta Go Fernco has been in work for a while but health issues have prevented her from getting to the races. Today's win with a clean bill of health after colds and other viruses had hindered the Gotta Go Cullect five year old mares progress for young trainer Aaron Swain. "She's been in work since November. Because I break in so many yearlings and they bring in so many bugs she caught a couple of colds when she'd been ready to go. Since I've had my operation I've sent her to Dad who just has racehorses, so I didn't need to worry about her getting those bugs," he said. Swain has had to watch from the side lines as she progressed to today's winning outing after having had reconstruction surgery on his left ankle. So his father Murray has put the finishing touches on the mare's training.  "I constantly rolled my ankle before I finally decided to get it fixed. It turned out that the ligaments were stretched and were off the bone so that needed fixing. I've been out of action for the last six to seven weeks so Dad's done a good job. I'm the sort of guy that barks orders as he's gone around the track, so he has listened." Murray initially trained Betta Go Fernco and won with her at Invercargill in June last year. Her last race before today's outing was in a heat of the South of the Waitaki Series at Addington in July 2015 where she finished seventh.  "After that she just got a bit silly so we turned her out to mature and grow. She's come back a lot bigger and stronger. She's also picked up a bit of speed this time in." To fit her for today's race Swain had taken her to three workouts for an unplaced run, a win and a fourth.   "I was confident because she hadn't had a bug."  From draw two on the second line driver Blair Orange held his ground early before ending up in the one one behind favourite Spinnaker. Spinnaker took Betta Go Fernco to the top of the straight before Orange peeled off her back and ran home well down the outside to beat Tuherbs Two by three quarters of a length. Betta Go Fernco returning to the birdcage                                                Photo by Bruce Stewart   The win was Aaron Swain's second. His first was with Beau Cishlom at Invercargill last November. Swain uses the colours of his aunty Denise who trained 124 winners including the likes of Clancy (12), The Orator (5), Milton Vance (5), Pickapocket (8), Chavelli (6), Crackem (5), and Just Royce (9). Those white and yellow colours won $990,971 in stakes for Denise, and adding Aaron's two wins and a second, the colours have just gone past the $1,000,000 mark with $1,000,379.  The young trainer recently bought 6 acres at Roslyn Bush that adjoins his fathers property. The new barn which can house up to 10 horses is just being finished and once all aspects of the setup have been completed he'll be utilising his father's track. "I want to throw away some of the breaking in of horses and start training a few more racehorses for people."   Betta Go Fernco is owned by Brian and Elizabeth Ferns along with Murray and Aaron Swain. She's out of the Miles McCool mare I'm A Star which won six races for Geoff Knight. Today's successful reinsman Blair Orange also won driving I'm A Star to win at Forbury Park in June 2008.   As a broodmare I'm A Star has also left Fernco Bobby G which won two for Murray Swain including a mile in 1-56.7 on this track in 2014.   Bruce Stewart

Balfour trainer Robert Wilson only has a handful of horses on his books. Some he's obtained from other trainers and he gets a certain amount of satisfaction in improving their formline and getting wins out of them from time to time. At the moment one such horse is Another Delight - a thirty five race starter who won once from fifteen starts for Glenise and Terry Chmiel before Wilson took over her training in late 2015. Prior to today, her twenty one starts for him had shown enough to carry on for another season with the odd third, four or fifth in her formline.  Today at Winton he got the chocolates when the mare won her second race and first for him.  "She's just a bit of a one speeder really but I think times really helping her. Her works been super. I said to the wee girl that's been working with me last weekend, that we should be racing this weekend because she had worked so well," he said. The seven year old Now Another Look mare is out Springfield Delight. Springfield Delight's half brother Springfield Master won seven races. "She promised last year but never really delivered so it's good to get one early in the season. She is working as well as she's ever worked."   In today's race, driver Blair Orange settled her last in the outside running line. She launched her run five wide at the top of the straight and held on nicely to beat a late charge from Topnotch Eagle winning by half a length. Another Delight returning to the birdcage                                                     Photo - Bruce Stewart Meanwhile Southland based reinsman Andrew Suddaby returned to winning form at Winton today driving a double for West Plains trainer Matt Saunders. His last winner prior to today's double, was on Good Togo Washington in March 2011.   Todays winners were Pocket Caesar in the claimers race and That Cat in Race Nine. Over the seventeen seasons he's been a driver he's driven 212 winners. The first came in January 1998 with a win from Claire's Double.   Bruce Stewart

Harness racing at Gore on Sunday starts the southern season in the deep south. With big fields and many horses coming in fresh with little trial and workout form, it will be a difficult to job to pinpoint where each horse is at in terms of picking a winner. With fields like that it is often better to stick with the bigger stables. Riversdale trainer Tony Stratford has four runners engaged and all are winning hopes. Mucho Macho Man is possibly the pick of them as far as ability goes. Tony thought enough of the horse to send him to Auckland for a 2-year-old race as a juvenile where the son of Mach Three finished fifth of six starters in a  race at Alexandra Park in December 2015. Ashleighs Flight, Ted Cady and Deceitndesire are also engaged and all have claims in their individual races. Blair Orange is making the long trip south to drive three of the Stratford runners and he also has a drive in every race all with good chances. He will be short on the fixed odds drivers book based on the number and class of the horses he is driving. Blair thinks his best drive at Gore is Really Desirable who has been racing at Forbury Park for her last eight starts. The 4yo mare and  daughter of  Real Desire has good gate speed and could lead of the gate in a field devoid of race day form.   Harnesslink Media Selections Gore Race 1: Duchess Grace, Trouble Del, Matai Jetstar, Loxi Clairborne. Race 2: Harriet Price, Swap Over, Dennis Lillee, Green Fingers Race 3: Really Desirable, Balius, Sweet As, Backseat Chick Race 4: Pyramid Magic, Sun's Invasion, The Jinja Ninja, Madam Spur Race 5: Seduce Me, Ted Cady, Tact Ollie, Thunda Down Unda Race 6: Mucho Macho Man, Honey Cullen, Ideal Art, Real Love Race 7: Jetsdream, Risk Factor, Ossessione, Franco Nixon Race 8: Frank The Tank, Skyfall, Justasip, Raphoe Race 9: Jabali, Whoosh Factor, Bold Ruler, Pulling The Strings Best Bet: Frank The Tank(Race 8) Value Bet: Harriet Price(Race 2)   Harnesslink media  

Breaking out on your own after a successful harness racing partnership that has lasted many years is supposed to be hard yakka, but Paul Court can be forgiven though for thinking it’s all a little too easy. The West Melton horseman, who was alongside his father Graham in training partnership for close to a decade, is making a pretty good fist of the solo training caper and yesterday, on the first day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting, he picked up his first training hatrick. “It’s been a pretty dream start really, better than I could have ever expected anyway,” Court said. Yesterday’s three wins came less than 24 hours after Stunin Dude won at Forbury Park on Thursday night in the hands of Blair Orange and it was the Postman who was in the sulky for two thirds of his Friday success. Orange drove both Hypervelocity and Expressive Victor to victory while Ricky May was on board Courage To Live who won the last race of the day. “I thought that they were all good chances, but for all three to win was great. “You got to the race expecting to have a good day and often it’s the opposite.” Expressive Victor’s win in the Winter Cup Prelude was impressive. The 4-year-old mare, who was second behind Rocker Band in the 4YO Ruby at the Harness Jewels three weeks ago, overcame an early bobble to sit off the speed before unwinding brilliantly down centre track to secure victory. “The gallop was a bit of a worry, she’s usually such a good beginner. “Blair said she got a bit of a fright when the tapes went, I don’t think one on the 10 metre line was a good draw for her.” The imposing mare will start a warm order favourite on Sunday to go back-to-back on what is fast becoming her favourite track. From five starts on the Waterlea Raceway surface she’s won twice and placed on as many occasions with her only failure coming when she choked down and crashed to the deck at the Summer meeting earlier this year. Both Hypervelocity and Courage To Live will both also be in action on Sunday.   The former will have to deal with the impressive Franco Cristiano who made light work of his race track return earlier in yesterday’s programme for Robert and John Dunn. Courage To Live also has a tough ask from a wider draw, but his free going racing style means he will be on the speed at some stage in the race and that’s here he seems to race best. “He probably lacks that really high speed, but he will just keep going. “I was pretty impressed with the way he won, he looked like he could have kept going at that speed too. “He’s just got better and better each time I’ve taken him to the races.” Closely related to Terror To Love, the Jereme’s Jet colt was one of two winners for Terry McDonald who also shares owns Hypervelocity. McDonald went had the perfect day on Friday with Letspendanitetogetha, who he owns with good friend Reg Storer, finishing second to Courage To Live. While Court’s three wins was impressive, Orange’s driving talents were on full display. He won three races to go with the three he picked up on Thursday night, taking him to 117 winners for the season and 16 wins clear in second position on the national premiership which is being led by Dexter Dunn. Dunn endured a winless day at the office and will have to wait until next week to get New Zealand win No. 200 as he’s on a plane to drive Christen Me in Queensland on Saturday night and isn’t returning to Blenheim for Sunday’s meeting. Matt Markham

Hamish Hunter became the first Southland based Harness Racing trainer to join the elite 500 club when I Try won at Forbury Park last night (Thursday 23rd). I Try is owned by  Hunter and loyal clients of the stable The What Ever Syndicate. Together, they also own the stable's biggest winner, Franco Ledger. I Try is a Mach Three four year old. Tonight he raced three back on the rails and found room in the straight to get up and nab Pembrook Harry.  "It was pretty good for a middle of the road trainer as I describe myself. I was aware I was getting close as my family informed me," said Hunter.  Hamish Hunters best season was in 2014 when star pacer Franco Ledger was a leading stake earner. That season he racked up 33 wins from 339 starters and $347,376 in stakes. "He's back in work (Franco Ledger). He's a 100 percent sound and all going well we'll have one more go at the cup. It's probably be his last chance."  In 1989 he recorded his best UDR ranking when he started horses 174 times for 23 wins, 18 seconds and 14 thirds for a UDR .2165. Horses racing that season included Betonim, Benachie Lad and Admiral Luca. He's won the Southland trainers premiership 6 times; 1985, 1986, 2007 (jointly with Brendon McLellan and Kirk Larsen), 2008 (jointly with Murray Brown), 2011 and 2014. Out of his 500 training successes he's driven 374 himself. His first winner was Karen's Pride at Waikouaiti in October 1976. He won five races on the mare between October and June of that season. In the following two season's he had the services of half brothers Good Too and Model Hardcraft. Model Hardcraft won his first three races as a two year old including the 1979 New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes at Wyndham. Good Too won eight races for Hunter. Hunter has trained three winners in one day three times; Forbury Park October 1984 (Heiden, Sissy Bogart and Tapado Time), Invercargill September 2001 (Catalina Dreaming, Galleons Treasure and Grenadier) and Northern Southland October 2005 (Grenadier, Rockie's Dream and Mainstay).  Of all the Southern Harness feature races it's the Wairio Cup that he's won the most: Josephine Bret (1984), Yandoon (1992), Grenadier (2004), Franco Ledger (2013) and Canardly Lover (2014).  List of major winners: Franco Ledger (25 wins) Malaz (15 wins)  Nursemaid (14 wins) Devil May Care (11 wins) Canardly Lover (10 wins) Good Too  (8 wins) Grenadier (8 wins)  Cornell (8 wins) Betonim (8 wins) Model Hardcraft (7 wins) Holmezy (7 wins) Galleons Treasure (7 wins) Southern Boy (6 wins) Christian Ruler (6 wins) Stand Asquire (6 wins) Galleons Cheer ( 5 wins from just nine starts) Nordette (5 wins) Blueberry Hill (5 wins)  Benachie Lad (5 wins)  Admiral Luca (5 wins)  Congratulations Hamish - great effort. Meanwhile, Dexter Dunn got win number 199 for the season behind Lightning Mach for trainer Cran Dalgety. Four Starzzz Shiraz won heat 4 of the Claimers series for new trainer Brian Norman & driver Blair Orange, and Run To Hide was claimed by Canterbury Junior Driver Andrew Fitzgerald. Bruce Stewart - Southland Harness.

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