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Alta Shelby looks to be getting back to the form he showed early in his three year old season when he comprehensively dealt to a field of R51 - R53s at Winton on Saturday. The Mach Three colt lead all the way and won easily by four and a half lengths running the 2400 metre mobile in a smart 2-56.0.  "He's just starting to come back into form which is pretty pleasing. I thought he would go really close today. We changed a bit of gear on him. He's a bit of a head shaker so I put a chinguard on him and it's made all the difference. He's starting to live up to his potential and what he showed early on," said trainer Mitch Kerr who's considering a start in the Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in a fortnight. The Winton Business's Cup was won by the Ken and Tony Barron trained Royal Bengal. The four year was originally trained in Southland by Robin Swain before heading to Canterbury. Owned by Baynes Racing Limited which is Kenny Baynes and his sister in-law Penny, he carries the colours made famous by Kenny's father the late Colin Baynes. The same colours were worn when Kamahl driven by Colin Baynes won this race in 1983. The winning margin today was a length and a quarter with Star Commander running second. Royal Bengal adding the Winton Cup to the Gore Cup he also won - Photo Bruce Stewart. The race was marred by the second favourite Aloka breaking at the 450 metre mark. He was pulled out of the race by driver Blair Orange and found to have fractured his left hind cannon bone. Unfortunately for all his connections he had to be euthanaised. Winton Cup winners last 10years Year Winner Age Sire Driver Trainer Distance Time 2008 Biella Star 4g Mattuity DJ Dunn RD Holmes 2400m 3-01.0 2009 Bettor's Strike 4g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 2400m 2-58.8 2010 Lionels Meddle 4g Live Or Die JR Dunn RJ Dunn 3200m 4-04.6 2011 Van Washington Man 6g Washington VC RT May BA Waldron 3200m 4-06.5 2012 Texican 3g Bettor's Delight DJ Dunn CT Dalgety 3200m 4-05.5 2013 Jimmy Johnstone 4g P-Forty Seven JC Hay JC Hay 3200m 4-04.9 2014 Belkmyster 4g Mach Three DJ Dunn G Anderson 3200 metres 4-06.0 2015 That's Hunting Pink 5m Christian Cullen Terry Chmiel Dean Taylor 3200 metres 4-02.5 2015 Costa Del Magnifico 4h Mach Three Nathan Williamson Brent Shirley 3200 metres 3-59.8 2016 Democrat Party 4m American Ideal Nathan Williamson Katrina and John Price 2400 metre stand 3-01.2 2017 Delightful Memphis 3f Bettors Delight Blair Orange Mark Jones  2400 metre stand 2-55.5 2018 Royal Bengal 4g Bettors Delight Dexter Dunn Ken and Tony Barron 2400 metre stand 2-57.1   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing

Mach's Back continued the stellar season Murray Little and trainer Paul Ellis are having when he impressively won at Winton today.  "We just rolled along and I just let him do what he wanted to do," was how driver Blair Orange described his winning drive on Mach's Back which won the Drymix Concrete Mobile Pace. Orange was driving the four year old for the first time with regular driver Dexter Dunn sticking with favourite Governor's Bay.  "He had to be tough today and he was. I wasn't too worried about being wide early. He's shown in some of his runs that he can do it at both ends." Mach's Back after being wide early, was taken to the top by Orange with Governor's Bay hard on his back.  "At the 400 I felt him (favourite Governor's Bay) lose my back so after that I wasn't too worried about him," Orange said.  The winning margin was a length and a quarter from a late stayers run from Franco Santino. The eye catching run came from Kilowatt Kid who charged home to run fourth just three lengths away from the winner. Mach's Back winning from Franco Santino (wide) - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win was Mach's Back's second this season and owner Murray Little's fifth. Other winners for Little have been Betterthanbrie (2) and Shezacullengirl (1). He also owns Mach Three two year old filly Havtime which qualified for Nathan Williamson and is now in Auckland with Barry Purdon.  It was Mach's Back's trainer Paul Ellis's eleventh win of the season making it his best season to date in the sixteen he's been training.  Meanwhile Winton trainer Lauren Pearson wasn't overly confident in winning the two year old race today with her Bettor's Delight filly Rise Above This.  When asked if she was confident she replie "Not really, when you're racing horses like Zinny Mach that ran 1-53 in the Kindergarten Stakes. You're never confident especially with two year olds. We were just hoping she'd go well."  Driven by her partner Brent Barclay, Rise Above This was sent forward early before handing up to favourite Zinny Mach.  "She didn't come out the gate like she has done before so that was just a pass. She seemed sensible out there and was asleep in the box beforehand so nothing phased her too much." Zinny Mach lead until the top of the straight before being collared firstly by Bottle Rock then Rise Above This which came up the inside passing lane. Rise Above This won by three quarters of a length from a late charging Robyns Playboy. Pearson says she's unsure as to where the talented filly will go next but there are some options.  "We'll see what happens. She's paid up for the Breeders Crown but we'll just have to see. It's a bit hard racing against the colts and geldings but I thinks there's a couple of fillies races here next month." Rise Above This was bred by Invercargill lawyer Lester Smith who races the filly. He also races her half brother Duke Of Wellington - the winner of three races this season.  "I don't think he's ever been there when one of them have won. He reckons the horses go better when he's at home watching on TV."  There has been some buyer interest in Duke Of Wellington but Pearson says nothing serious is on the table at the moment.  "I think at this stage he'll try and sell him and keep the filly."  Duke Of Wellington is now being set for the $45,000 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes in the fortnight on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park.  "He just had a canter the other day and a light hopple today and he felt real good so we'll line up next week and give him a run before the Supremacy."       Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing Mach's Back winning  

Harness racing driver Blair Orange now holds an almost impenetrable grip on the New Zealand drivers premiership after winning another five races at Manawatu yesterday.  Orange was 31 wins clear of his nearest rival Dexter Dunn before yesterdays Manawatu domination but has now raced to 172 wins for the season, 36 wins ahead of Dunn who won last years drivers premiership for a record 10th year in a row.  Yesterdays Manawaru meeting once again proved a lucrative one for trainer Michael House, who won six races, had three seconds and also had a third on the 10 race programme. House has moved into third place on the trainers premiership with 40 wins for the season and remarkably 30 of those wins have come courtesy of wins at Manawatu Raceway. Orange and House will look to dominate again on the second day of the Manawau two day meeting with most of the House winners nominated to back up again tomorrow night. Trainers Premiership table Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen 276 85 58 28 2,901,422 0.4585 Robert Dunn 425 60 55 58 849,499 0.2586 Michael House 194 40 23 23 301,015 0.3116 Steve Telfer 256 37 38 37 519,113 0.2752 Ken & Tony Barron 225 34 24 20 352,411 0.2400 Cran Dalgety 174 32 19 19 549,225 0.2810 Tony Herlihy 177 31 23 35 458,190 0.3132 Greg & Nina Hope 256 31 28 25 446,022 0.2144 Mark Jones 281 31 36 22 303,341 0.2076 Nigel McGrath 122 31 12 13 445,777 0.3443   Drivers Premiership table   Name Starts Wins  2nds 3rds Stakes UDR Blair Orange 954 172 124 100 1,704,836 0.2874 Dexter Dunn 840 136 106 95 1,595,714 0.2697 John Dunn 474 70 66 55 849,939 0.2637 David Butcher 379 62 62 39 729,612 0.2888 Matthew Williamson 658 61 63 53 631,058 0.1727 Ricky May 464 51 34 56 758,382 0.1909 Samantha Ottley 433 45 41 40 483,645 0.1873 Gavin Smith 321 42 35 30 494,523 0.2226 Brad Williamson 332 37 34 29 342,451 0.1975 Natalie Rasmussen 71 35 11 5 1,229,245 0.6025   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing 3yo Sheriff has smashed the NZ mobile 2600m all comers record when winning the $200,000 (Gr1) New Zealand Derby at Addington Raceway tonight . The Nigel McGrath trained pacer ran the mobile 2600m in a blistering 3-05.4 which obliterated the old record held by the Purdon/Rasmussen trained Vincent by more than half a second.  McGrath had three nice chances in the race as he also trained race rivals Aloka and Star Commander, but he rated Sheriff the best of the horses he had in the race. "He has come up nice this year and every start this season he has found the line really well. "He ran a good third in the Northern Derby and I think he is ready tonight," he said before the race. Sheriff (Bettor's Delight - Jen Marie) had to work hard to loop the field on a hot pace and he finally found the the lead with 700m to go. The classy pacer then had to withstand all the challenges in the straight, but lasted to beat a fast finishing Pat's Delight by a nose at the line. Driver Blair Orange was ecstatic after the race and said, "It was a great win and Nigel had him peaking at the right time. "I had a good battle with Dexter up the straight but luckily the coin flipped my way." Sheriff rated 1-54.7 over the 2600m mobile and zipped over his last 800m in 56.4 with a closing 400m in 27.5 seconds.   Sheriff winning the NZ Derby   Harnesslink Media

Blair Orange knows all about beating the seemingly unbeatable. He is doing it right now, day by day, as he continues on his surprising path to the national driver’s premiership, downing perennial champion Dexter Dunn. Barring injury, a huge suspension or a freakish Dunn performance between now and  August 1, Orange will beat the man who has won the last 10 premierships. But at Addington tonight he has to do something even tougher. He has to try and beat the All Stars in a Derby. Like the premiership, Orange thinks he can do just that with Sheriff and like the premiership he knows it won’t be easy. Sheriff has a second line draw and four All Stars runners, headlined by Anthem and Sicario, to contend with in the $200,000 New Zealand Derby. Nobody knows more than Orange how hard it is to beat the legendary stable in the Derby, after all it was working for the All Stars that he made his name. “I think we can win, because they are beatable. Everybody is beatable,” says Orange.   “But I also know how good Mark and Nat are at what they do, how ready the horses will be.  “And they have numbers of their side. We might be good enough to beat three of theirs but you have to beat all four.  “But I think Sheriff is as good as their ones, especially with Chase Auckland out.”  On paper it appears Sheriff has slightly the better draw of the three favourites as he follows out a fast beginner in Pat’s Delight but Orange says that means little.  “You look at these races and think who you are following out matters but it very rarely does,” he says.  “If I try and punch through behind it at the start then I am probably three wide on a hot pace for the first 800m and I think they will go very hard.  “So I don’t see that happening but what it does mean is I might be able to settle in front of Sicario and Anthem and that could help.”  The reality of the Derby is all three favourites are likely to settle in the second half of the field, not a bad thing with a likely hot tempo, then move together and the one who ends up in the one-one with 1000m to go becomes the one to beat.  “That sort of luck will play a huge role but this is a horse who can win a Derby so we have our chance.”  While so many Derbys in the modern era are won by horses on the marker pegs saving valuable ground tonight’s 2600m mobile could be an exception, with Sicario and Anthem such good stayers, but the race looms as one of the more competitive classics in years.  It it matched by the Trotting Derby where the northern stable of John and Josh Dickie have a strong two-horse punch in Girls On Film and Paramount King, with backing both not the worst play.  The Dickies have another group one shot with Speeding Spur, who is the horse to beat in the $100,000 Trotting Champs on form and with the best draw.   Michael Guerin

Logic said Somejoy would easily win her heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series today (Saturday) and she did just that. From barrier nine driver Blair Orange realised he was on a hiding to nothing if he pressed forward so he eased the mare out of the gate and settled at the rear. At the 600, Dexter Dunn who was second last driving Especial, decided to press forward and Orange got right on her back. Just  before the turn Somejoy was running into the race four wide. Orange just had to  run the reins over her rump and she responded to win easily by two lengths from a game Especial. The mile was cut out in 1-53.2. It was a new track record for four year old and older mares. The previous record of 1-53.3 was set by Rocker Band in 2015. Somejoy winning in 1-53.2                        - Photo Bruce Stewart. Trained by Clark Barron at Rakauhauka , the Somebeachsomewhere mare was fitted for her assignment today with two trials at Winton on the 14th March and three days ago at Wyndham, winning both impressively.  "She does take plenty of work. We're lucky to have the Southern Belle series and after the final we'll have to reassess things I suppose. I haven't thought as far as the Jewels but it's a possibility," said Barron. It was the mare's eighth win from just eighteen starts and six of those have come this season.   "She's a lot stronger this year but we've been lucky enough to race the same pool of horses down here which makes her look good."  The winning time was 0.1 of a second outside of Kiwi On Show's Southland record of 1-52.2. The wins also means she surpasses her dam Jumpforjoys record of seven career wins.   "Like her mum her gait is immaculate." So the next race on the radar for Somejoy is the Southern Belle Speed Series Final on this track over the 1609  metre distance on 14th April. It's a race Barron hasn't yet won but this year could be different. "I've always been all for it. We've been luck enough to to keep a lot of mares and fillies and you always try to target those sort of races."   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing  

Dean Hunter has only been living in Canterbury for the last month having relocated to the garden city from Blenheim and today's win by Destiny Jones in the Pryde's Easifeeds Southern Lights was his first from his new barn at Russley. In today's trotting feature The Pres mare beat a nice field of squaregaiters, improving on her last start second to quality trotter Bordeax at Addington last week. Hunter has trained Destiny Jones for most of her career but good friend Kevin Townley has also had a stint at training her. “Kevin and I are very good friends and I’ve learnt most of my stuff from him.”  Hunter says Destiny Jones career hasn't been without drama.  “We’ve had our problems with her so it’s nice to have her back. She's had a wee nose bleed because she’s been popping blood vessels in her nose. It looks worse than it is. It isn’t happening further down but we’ve had to scratch her a few times. Hopefully we're on top of it now.” The hot pace set primarily by Splash Cola suited Destiny Jones and driver Blair Orange. With a lap to run they got a drag into the race when Sundons Wish improved. Just before straightening Orange hooked the six year old mare out and she came three wide to make her claim. She trotted nicely to the line beating a late run from Harriet Of Mot. The winning margin was one and a half lengths with another head back to Jen Jaccka. Destiny Jones trotting out to win the Southern Light - Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time of 3-27.2 was just outside Dark Horse's track record of 3-26.7 but the time is a new race record as this was the first time the Southern Lights has been run over 2700 metres.  Hunter has held a trainers licence since 1988. He's trained twenty nine winners - twenty three of those being trotters. Other good trotters he's had in his stable have been Mo Hahn (by Earl) which won five races and Avon Develd (Gee Whiz II) which also won five. He also trains Dolly Jones a half-sister to Destiny Jones by Monkey Bones which ran third at Westport yesterday.    Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

At the start of the season Branxholme harness racing trainer Alister Black rated Kilowatt Kid as his best three year old. But  that was before Lawrence started to hit his straps and looked to have an advantage over his stablemate. However Kilowatt Kid has made a bit of a comeback in recent weeks and today's win in the Caduceus Club of Southland Super Nuggets Final has swayed Black's opinion again. “I don’t know what to put it down to really. I gave him a freshen and I've always thought he goes well fresh. Today he was like that and raced accordingly,” he said. The American Ideal gelding's form has been impeccable this season. He's won three of his eight starts and Black knew during the week that he was in tune for today's feature. “His work on Thursday was nothing short of superb. I woke him up a bit, saying come on son, it’s time to be a race horse.” Black, like all trainers, gets to know his horses and he's discovered how Kilowatt Kid best operates. "I’ve looked after him all the way through because I’ve really really liked him. Maybe I was being a wee bit soft on him.” Kilowatt Kid is owned by Ian and Lindsay Thomson both of whom have been great supporters of the young Branxholme trainer. “Without them I wouldn't be here. Ian and Lindsay have been so good to me. Words can’t describe it. What they’ve put into the game - I hope they get a good horse one day and I hope I’m around to see it and train it.” In today's final driver Blair Orange had Kilowatt Kid in the outside running line. With a lap to run stablemate Lawrence was putting pressure on the leader as well as on the favourite, The Bus. At the 600 Orange improved the gelding, taking him three wide and at the top of the straight he challenged the two leaders. In what was a  real staying test Kilowatt Kid got the better of The Bus just before the post, winning by half a neck.  Ian Thomson, Lindsay Thomson, Alister Black, Shirley Leakie (sister of the Ian and Lindsay), Blair Orange, Riley Black, Sheree Black and McKenzie Black    - Photo Bruce Stewart “He’s got an awesome attitude and a lovely way of going. I thought we had a good chance today even though Trottech completely wrote us off. I wasn’t so sure that we could bet The Bus, but we did.” Kilowatt Kid won't be targeting the New Zealand Derby, with Black preferring to stay close to home and aim at the Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day at the end of next month.   Bruce Stewart Southland harness racing    

Southland harness racing trainer Clark Barron scored a double at Ashburton today (Sunday) when Raksbet and Somejoy both won. Barron, who has a handful of nice three year old fillies in his stable, rates Raksbet as the pick of them and that judgement was vindicated today when she came from a second line draw to get up by a neck to win the The Nevele R Three Year Old Fillies Series Conditional Heat. Owned by her breeder Brendon Fahy, it was the filly's second win in five race day appearances.  "Brendon and I have spoken a few times about one day the penny will drop for her after missing a full season of racing. It's taken a long time to get her fitness up because she's a gross doing filly. She was aided by a perfect run today and she made the most of it," said Barron. The Bettor's Delight filly missed her entire two year old season because of injury. "She had an operation to get a bone chip off her hock. It was a paddock accident at Brendon's. She was out for four months." Barron says the Bettor's Delight filly's main target for the season is the Group Two $45,000 Nevele R/ Macca Lodge Southland Oaks Final on Diamonds Day at the end of April.  She is now also eligible for the Nevele R Fillies Series Final. Her half-sister Raksdeal finished fourth in the Nevele R Series Fillies Final in 2014 and ran second behind Royal Counsel in the Southland Oaks Final so there's some unfinished business for Fahy and Barron.  The result also elevates Raksbet into the top twenty five for the end of season Harness Jewels.  Somejoy was also very impressive in winning the Studholme Bloodstock Fillies and Mares Mobile Pace. From the inside of the second row driver Blair Orange settled the Somebeachsomewhere mare seventh on the outside. With just over 800 metres to run, he sent her forward and she quickly when to the lead. Orange waited until inside the last 200 metres to pull the ear plugs and Somejoy, despite running out into the middle of the track, won easily by two and a half lengths. "She was pretty dominant wasn't she? She just suits that grade to be fair. She's qualified for the Southern Belle so we'll head down those lines."  Somejoy is owned by the Miracle Lodge Syndicate which consists of Clark and Eric Parr. The win puts Somejoy in the top three for the end of season Four Year Old Diamonds. "Eric and Wendy (Parr) were both on-course today."  Winning races at Ashburton isn't new to Barron but this is the first time he's trained two on the course on one day. Prior to today's wins he was successful with Motu Mister Quest in 1998, Kyak in 1992 and Rakalooka in 1990. On the breeding front Rakalooka was by Clever Innocence out of Sentimental Belle. Sentimental Belle is the third dam of Raksbet. Raksplace, the dam of Raksbet, has been a great broodmare for Fahy. All of her foals of racing age have been winners. Raksdeal won five races and $121,096, Rakarolla won four races in New Zealand and another five in Australia while Raksmach won once here before heading to Australia where he's won another ten races.  Jumpforjoy, the dam of Somejoy, ran third to Carabella in the 2011 Group One Three Year Old Diamond at Ashburton on Harness Jewels Day. Somejoy was her first foal while her second, a filly by Art Major, was sold to Malcolm and Sarndra Little at the 2017 Sale of the Stars for $27,000. She has a Mach Three colt at foot.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing    

War Admiral further demonstrated his raw ability when he started from the unruly position and beat older and more experienced square gaiters in the Plumbing World Mobile Trot. The three year was placed in the unruly spot after he was responsible for a false start in take one of the race. In the re-run he sat parked for the last lap but was still too good for Spotlight The Valley. He’s owned by Kenny and Jo Baynes and today’s win was his third from just seven starts. He currently sits in fourth position in the three year old trotters section of the Harness Jewels scheduled at the end of the season.  Kagee VC won at Winton today. Turning in, Glacier Coaster (Ellie Barron) and Stormntaza (Blair Orange) were dislodged from their charges disrupting some of the field. Orange was stood down for the rest of the day with grazing on his leg while Barron had grazes on her arm. The race was won by Kagee VC driven by Shane Walkinshaw. It was his first win since he’s returned to race day driving after being injured in a bad accident at Ascot Park in November. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness racing    

The battle to be this season’s leading overall driver has just had another plot twist. Last week the Harness Racing New Zealand Board agreed to commit to the winner of this season’s premiership being given the rights to represent New Zealand at the World Driving Championship next year in Sweden. With just over five months remaining in the racing season, there will be an extra incentive to go alongside the title of New Zealand’s leading driver for 2017/18. Dexter Dunn has won the last ten premierships in a row, including the junior title in four of those seasons. But he has his work cut out for him the season as he attempts to chase down currently leader, Blair Orange. As of today, Thursday 15 February before the Manawatu meeting, Orange sits on 121 wins, while Dunn is on 97, and John Dunn is third on 65 wins. Should Blair Orange win it will be the first time he has competed in the World Driving Championship, whilst Dunn is a previous World Champion and has represented New Zealand in past series. New Zealand has a proud record in the series, with previous winners; Dexter Dunn (Australia, 2015); Mark Jones (Canada, 2003); Maurice McKendry (Australia/NZ 1991); Tony Herlihy (Australai/NZ 1985); Robert Cameron (Macau 1983) and Kevin Holmes (USA/Canada 1978).   Jess Smith

Brett Gray has had Gotta Go Cullett gelding Son Of Brahma for fifteen months. He was bought by the Butterworth Racing Syndicate in November 2015 after he was spotted at trials as a two year old. Gray qualified him as a three year old and after winning two races back to back in January 2016 his form dropped away. "He's been going a bit better this year but just needs to get the right run. He just needs to get that one crack at them. He can't do an ounce of work in the running," he said. Son Of Brahma was bred by the late Colin Baynes and is out of the two win Village Jasper mare Brahma Girl who has also left four win gelding Royal Bengal.  In today's R40-R49 mobile pace, driver Blair Orange settled the gelding well off the pace. With a lap to run he was third last. At the 500 metres he progressed Son Of Brahma three wide as part of the improving back runners. When the field straightened the gelding let down nicely to beat Nighmarch by two lengths. He's now won three races in his twenty five starts and has also picked up a number of placings. It was one of three wins on the card for New Zealand's leading reinsman Blair Orange. His other wins were Majestic Lavros for Mark Jones and Ideal Breeze for Des Baynes. Heading back to the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart  Orange remains locked in battle with Dexter Dunn for the drivers premiership. Dunn drove five winners at the NZ Met meeting on Friday night and three at Geraldine yesterday. Orange still leads the premiership with 114 winners with Dunn sitting on 94.  Meanwhile Brent Barclay and Nathan Williamson are locked in their own battle for the Southland Drivers Premiership. Barclay who last won the premiership in 2008 has a four win buffer over Williamson. Barclay won two races at Wyndham today driving Maidonthebeach and Duke Of Wellington. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Ana Malak, owned by Gaby Maghzal, added to the Southern Supremacy puzzle when he impressively won the seventh race at the Invercargill Harness Racing Club's meeting at Ascot Park today. "He's qualified now and we're going to take a little step up on Saturday and line him up again, just to see where we're at against the better ones. He'll be nominated for the Derby but the Supremacy is his number one aim at this stage," said co-trainer Tony Barron. The imposing Bettor's Delight colt sat parked for the entire journey taking over the lead when pacemaker Leah Mac broke with broken gear with 600 metres to run. He went down to the line easily with driver Blair Orange not having to turn the stick. His winning margin was two and a quarter lengths from Mr Woodlea. The time for the 2200 metres was 2-43.3.  "He's a very laid back colt. He's been in his box sleeping all afternoon. It was never ever going to worry him sitting out there. His work on Saturday was absolutely sensational so we expected a pretty big run. We've looked after him and he hasn't had too many starts. He just keeps developing every start and hopefully he'll continue to do so."  Ana Malak was driven by stable driver Blair Orange. Returning to scale                                          - Photo Bruce Stewart. "He's (Orange) pretty happy and left the ear plug in. He just jogged it really. It was a nice run without having a gut buster for Saturday," said Barron. Ana Malak is out of the Tinted Cloud mare Anna Livia which was bred by John and Karen Parsons. Anna Livia won nine races for Gaby Maghzal and is a half sister to Artiface which won ten. Anna Livia was trained by Davey and Catherine Butt.  Barron moved to Canterbury at the start of the 2016 season after training successfully in Southland for most of his career. He's now into his second full season of training with brother Ken.  "We're ticking over and getting wins every week. Love the move, but love getting back here and catching up with everyone."  Winning connections with Tony Barron (centre)                  - Photo Bruce Stewart. Horses already qualified for the $45,000 Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day in April include The  Bus, Kilowatt Kid and Franco Santino. Maghzal would dearly love to win the Supremacy. His horse Malak Uswaad ran second to Ohoka Texas in 2011 Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Ana Malak winning today

It's great when a plan comes off - and it did yesterday when the Nigel McGrath trained three year old Aloka won the House Of Travel Lakers Summer Cup at the Northern Southland Meeting.  "Nigel wanted the race run at tempo from the front. He was on his hands and knees at the finish but everything else was as well luckily," said driver Blair Orange. Orange took the Bettor's Delight colt straight to the lead and made sure the race was run at even quarters.  "He's not with the top tier of three year olds but he is with the ones in the middle. There's still a few things he does wrong but I think he'll get better and be a better horse in twelve months." The winning margin was two and a half lengths with a game The Big Boss, which sat parked for most of the trip, finishing second.  The overall time for the 2700 metres mobile was 3-21.0, a second outside the track and Southland record for three year olds of 3-19.1 held jointly by Highview Tommy (2009) and Eamon Maguire (2017). Aloka remains unbeaten at Ascot Park. In his only other start on the track last April as a two year old, he won the Diamond Creek Farm Two Year Old Classic. Returning to the birdcage                                           - Photo Bruce Stewart. The win was one of three for Orange, the country's leading reinsman. The others were with the Clark Barron trained Giftofjoy and another McGrath trained runner Gore Bay.  Orange says it's likely Aloka will be back in late April to contest the $45,000 Group Two Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes on Diamonds Day.  Aloka has a full-brother in next months Sale of the Stars in Christchurch. Meanwhile Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray and stable driver Brent Barclay scored a treble at the meeting yesterday. The three winners were Bettor B Ready, Zealand Star and The Heart Rulz. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing Aloka winning his race.

Broodmare Satire Franco produced another winner when John Coltrane won his first race at the Winton Harness racing meeting today (Sunday). The Real Desire four year old became the sixth winner of the nine foals Satire Franco has produced. And her three other foals of racing age have all qualified. Her progeny have now won forty six races between them.   The best of these is Costa Del Magnifico the winner of twelve races here and another three in Australia. Other winners out of the mare are; When The Music’s Over (five New Zealand wins and six in Australia), Turbine (three), Rowchester (three New Zealand wins and eight Australian) and I Smart (six). It’s a family that Peter Van Der Looy had lots of success with, racing Vanderel (Holmes Hanover) which won fourteen races and Impish which won six. It’s produced its fair share of quality colts including Smart Son, Grobbelaar, Sherlock, Kincaid, Idealindiamonds and King Of Swing. The fillies have been good as well with the pedigree page including The Fascinator (10 wins), Opulent (18) and Twist and Twirl (7 wins). In today's race, driver Matt Anderson settled John Coltrane back from the wide draw. He followed up favourite Zealand Star with 1200 metres to run. At the 800 metres he was sitting parked and with 600 metres to run Anderson put the pressure on leader Zealand Star. At the top of the straight he pinched a break and that proved to be the winning of the race as the only challenger Major McRae was clearing traffic back in the field. John Coltrane just held on to beat a fast finishing Major McRae by a nose.  John Coltrane (13) on the inside holding out Major McRae (6) by a nose - Photo Bruce Stewart. John Coltrane, is named after an American jazz saxophonist and composer, and is owned by Calvin Claridge, Raywen Shirley, Brendon Hiini and Craig McKenzie. They've had success with other horses in the Shirley stable including 2012 Riverton Cup winner Chokullen and Tuapeka Troy. "They're also luck enough to be in on a colt by Art Major out of the mare. I don't want to say too much about him because they'll just get big headed," joked John Coltrane's trainer Brent Shirley. John Coltrane qualified impressively at Wyndham thirteen months ago and has had four workouts and two races prior to today's win.  "He's just taken a bit of time and is still six months away. He's basically like a pupil that's a year behind at school. A four year old but we have to treat him like a three year old. When he was two we turned him out and he didn't do very well. It took him a whole year to come right." Shirley says the horse will be turned out for a short spell now and he'll look at racing him in the New Year. Meanwhile, Some Excusesomewhere capped off a great weekend for Rakauhauka trainer Clark Barron. The upstanding gelding handled the wet conditions well and beat a brave Cast A Shadow by half a length. He was driven by the country's leading reinsman Blair Orange. Some Excusesomewhere (11) winning for Blair Orange - Photo Bruce Stewart. On Friday night at Alexandra Park a horse Barron part-bred, Bettor Joy, won the Group Two Peter Breckon Memorial Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Blair Orange has opened up a 27 win lead in the race for this years New Zealand Drivers Premiership premiership title. Orange is currently sitting on 61 wins this season, while last years premiership winner Dexter Dunn is in second place with 34 wins. The TAB have opened up a futures market (Option 997 Outright winner) this morning for the outright winner of the premiership with Orange a hot favourite to take the title at $1.35 and Dexter at $2.90. TAB bookmaker Richard Wilson said, "There has been quite a bit of interest with punters wanting us to open a market for a while now." This time last year it was quite even between the two drivers at the end of November with Blair having won 49 races and Dexter having won 46 races at the same stage, before Dexter kicked away near the end and won by 35 races. Dexter usually has a strong last few months so it could be an interesting battle between the two if the gap narrows before then. Click here to bet on the premiership winner. Harnesslink Media    

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