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Noel Kennards Prodigal Seelster Summer Of Speed Final for older mares today at Ashburton Raceway only drew a field of eight runners but there were plenty of chances in an open field. The southern visitor Sheeza Shark was sent out a warm favourite on the strength of a win at Ashburton in a heat of the series but drew barrier eight due to the preferential system in place for the final. Tintinara led early for Dexter Dunn before handing up to Valor Lustre and Blair Orange who continued to roll once he found the front with New Years Jay and John Dunn sitting on his wheel.. Blair kept the tempo going from the half which made it really hard for those back in the field to make any ground. Turning for home New Years Jay went up to Valor Lustre but the big strong McArdle mare kept finding and was comfortably holding her at bay over the last 200 metres. New Years Jay fought on gamely for second after being parked the whole trip while Tintinara nabbed third up the passing lane after a lovely run in the trail the whole way. Sheeza Shark made little headway from the back,finishing a disappointing seventh. Valor Lustre cut the mile out in a sharp 1:54.3 with closing sectionals of 55.3 and 27.2 Trainer/owner Ivan Court was all smiles post race. " Once she got to the front I thought she was a big chance." " She is very tough and I thought they would have their work cut out getting past her." Ivan is now seriously thinking about lining Valor Lustre up in the New Zealand Premier Mares Championship at Addington next Friday night. " We will see how she comes through today's run first but I am leaning towards lining her up." " She is a bit under rated in some quarters but I think she will measure up," Ivan said. Ivan bred Valor Lustre from his former smart racemare Regal Lustre who won five but he thinks Valor Lustre is a lot better mare. " I think Valor Lustre is a very smart mare and think she has a few more wins in front of her yet," Ivan said. Harnesslink Media

This time twelve months ago, Swamp Major looked a two year old that was capable of competing for harness racing divisional honours amongst the juveniles.   Two outstanding seconds behind Lazarus in the Young Gun Series had signalled that the son of Art Major was good enough to challenge in most of the major races to follow.   However on returning to Christchurch, Swamp Major was bedeviled by minor issues to the point that trainer Ken Barron tipped him out in the end for a long spell.    Fast forward twelve months and after a long and slow build up, Swamp Major made his long awaited racetrack resumption at Ascot Park today at their Invercargill Cup day meeting.   Even though Swamp Major had drawn barrier eight at the 2200 metres, punters made him a $1:40 shot on the strength of his two great runs at two.   Sent straight to the front by driver Blair Orange, Swamp Major always looked in total control throughout the race and when Blair gave him his head on the corner, he scooted clear and held them at bay without being seriously threatened.   Swamp Major paced the 2200metres in 2:42.1, a mile rate of 1:58.5 with closing sectionals of 56.7 and 28.   Blair Orange was happy to have got the show back on the road.   “That was just the kind of race he needed first up.”   “It has been a long slow build up after all those little niggles at two and he is going to need a few runs to get back to full race fitness.”   “He is entered in the Futurity in which you have to start twice down here so the plans are for him to stay down and race again next week.”   “As to future plans, we will have to see how he progresses over the next few weeks.”   “He does hold a nomination for the New Zealand Derby but we will just see how things progress before making any firm plans,” Blair said.   The big upstanding son of Art Major has already shown he can mix it with the very best at two and he would certainly add plenty of interest to the upcoming three year old classics if he can get back to that form.   Swamp Major     Harnesslink Media

Harness racing trainer Kyle Austin knows what it is like to own a top horse having raced the very talented Nutwood 1:50.6 (8wins) over twenty odd years ago and he now has one in his care that looks to be blessed with the same abundance of ability. Buster Bailey is the horses name and the three year old son of Real Desire gave Addington racegoers a glimpse tonight of why he is held in such high regard by both Kyle and driver Blair Orange. Staying out of the early fireworks from barrier three, Buster Bailey was sent forward to grab the lead with just over a lap to go by Blair, though not without a fight with Dream Damien. These two went clear on the home turn but Buster Bailey was always travelling the better and although racing greenly in the straight still had half a length to spare at the finish. The time of 2:22.5 was super impressive in the cold conditions, a mile rate of 1:57.5 with closing sectionals of 58.8 and 27.6. Kyle is enjoying the ride just as much this time as he did with Nutwood. " It is so hard to get a really smart horse so I am rapt to have Buster in the stable." "After I sold Nutwood, I struggled to find a winner for quite a while so it is nice to have another smart one." Kyle said. With only a handful of starts off the place in his short career, there would appear to be plenty of upside to Buster Bailey. "I gave him a few runs off the place at two but he was pretty immature and I put him aside in the end." " He only qualified in early November at Addington so you would like to think he has plenty of upside." " That win tonight was penalty free but our big aim is the $23,500 Super Series Final on February 12th which is a maiden front for him," Kyle said. As to be expected with a three year old who looks well above average, the bloodstock agents have been hovering but no business is close to be done at present. " No one has made me a firm offer to date but I am not sure I want to sell anyway." " It has been a long time between drinks and I am really enjoying it," Kyle said. However that pans out, Kyle has one very talented three year old in his care. Harnesslink Media  

It is really frustrating at times to be involved in harness racing. You spend the whole year trying to build up the image of harness racing with the wider community and then a couple of misguided articles go viral and the industry has to put up with the media circus that has been the Blair Orange saga over the last few days. Blair made a misjudgement on New Years Day and has paid dearly for it. The upside is he has been dealt with by both the RIU and the JCA involved in this case in a professional and competent manner. All the others tested that day had been out the night before in the same group as Blair which they see as a bit strange as the testing is meant to be random. They all tested negative except Blair due in no small part in to the fact he is barely 60 kg in the view of those drinking with him. Blair has done what he did on New Years day countless times before and has always come up negative when tested the next day. He was as shocked as anyone else by the reading he returned at Omakau. The coverage given the matter by the main stream media is not something they should be proud of. It turned a mistake by one of our leading reinsman into a media storm which became the second leading item on both the TV1 and TV3 news that night. The tone of the items was very negative and did a lot of damage to the image of harness racing. Yesterday they had a second bite of the cherry, again raking over the coals of the case after a couple of follow up articles in the main stream media about the case. All of those articles were written by Taylor Strong, a vastly experienced journalist but in this instance he seems to have completely lost his bearings. Apart from a few comments recorded second hand at the penalty hearing, there is no where in the articles that Taylor Strong had written, any comment from either Blair Orange or anyone else associated with him. Two of the articles gave the distinct impression this was a serious judicial matter when in reality it is not classified as a serious racing offence by the RIU or JCA. Impartiality is the cornerstone of being a journalist and Taylor Strong's effort here falls well short of what is expected.  Sensational headlines like "Failed breath test lands Orange in hot water" just added petrol to the fire and are unworthy of such an experienced journalist. As in all cases such as this there is no free lunch. Taylor Strong needs drivers, trainers and owners to trust him when they speak to him and his performance over the last few days has put a huge question mark beside his name according to the people we have spoken to in the last 48 hours. He has a lot of bridges to mend in the next few weeks or he may find himself interviewing his typewriter a lot more in the near future. JC  

Promising Overport Lodge 3YO Ice Crusher began his quest for possible $40,000 Southern Supremacy honours on April 17 with the easiest of maiden wins as at Invercargill on Sunday, December 1. The hot $1.50 favourite circled wide for Blair Orange from the back row as some inside him scrambled early in the Ryder Plumbling Ltd Mobile Pace at the Riverton Trotting Club’s meeting. After landing up in the open, Blair made a play for the lead with around 1100m to run and was always travelling like the winner. He cruised to the wire 2 3/4 lengths of nearest challenger Annie Fitz, with hood deafeners still intact, in a comfortable 2:48.3 (2:03.1 mile rate) for the 2200m. Ice Crusher wasn’t asked for a serious effort over his last 800m in 59.7s and final 400m in 29.1s. The Southern Supremacy is a possible target for Ice Crusher, who won once from three 2YO outings for Burnham trainer Mark Jones and the Ice C Syndicate. Back on May 9, he ran his last 800m in 55.5s and final 400m in 27.1s at Addington when he held Hickstead in the Listed $11,700 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Open Consolation. He reverted back to maiden status beginning his 3YO racing. A horse must have at least two starts in Southern Harness Racing Club races to be eligible for the Southern Supremacy final, hence the decision to try and win his maiden in the south. He’s bred to be above average being a gelded son of Christian Cullen and Helena Kilena (five wins, 1:57 m.r, 1950m), making him a brother to good south winner Shak’n Cullen (four wins, 1:58.9). Dam Helena Kilena is a sister to Fearleass Freda (p2, 1:59), winner of the 1998 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2YO Fillies Pace. Another sister in Hilarious Heather (three wins) is the dam of useful pacers Holy Hero (five NZ wins, 1:56.5) and Collecting (four wins, p3, 1:58.6), a NZ record 3YO fillies record holder over 2200m from a stand. Helena Kilena is also a half-sister to Franco Himself (3 NZ wins, 18 USA wins, 1:55.4). Helena Kilena’s grand-dam Golden Guest won nine and ran third against the boys behind the Alister Kerslake-trained stablemate Bachelor Star in the 1971 New Zealand Derby at Addington (another filly Van Glory ran second and Roydon Roux was fourth). Golden Guest was a Garrison Hanover sister to a top Jack Smolenski-trained 1970s pacer in Speedy Guest (19 wins including a Great Northern Derby and a NZ Messenger. Earlier, stablemate and debutante Itz Ivy Hillis was a game third after moving up in the open in a mobile 2200m maiden. She kept fighting in the run home but was outgunned late by the Tony Barron-trained Whata Excuse, wide out for Dexter Dunn, and Tuapeka Troy, with the winner clocking 2:46.4. Consistent 3YO Derringer had to settle for second from the trail to Machrie in the C1 pace at Invercargill with stablemate Coringa Delight having little luck from the second row, finishing fifth. Mark Jones Racing Stable    -    Check site here

Young harness racing trainer Jack Harrington lined up Hey Yo in the maiden trot at Addington Raceway this evening confident she wouldn't disgrace herself and just wanting for her to do everything right in her racetrack debut. In the hands of leading driver Blair Orange, Hey Yo landed the parked out position soon after the start and was left there for the rest of the race Turning for home you could have excused Hey Yo for shortening stride but instead she dug in and ground out a memorable victory. Jack Harrington was all smiles when talking to Harnesslink post race. " I expected her to go a good race as she had been working really well but I didn't think she could sit parked the whole way and still win." " She has really improved the last little bit but that was really impressive," Jack said. Jack works a small team of just five and Hey Yo is only his third runner to the races. " I start at six in the morning working my team before going to my day job at Andrew Stuarts about 8:30." " In the afternoon I do a lot of work around home knocking it into shape for the horses," Jack said. Jack was surprised as anyone when Hey Yo was dropped off at the stable.  " Dad brought her without telling me so it was a bit of a surprise when the transporter dropped her off." " She has had a few issues with her tendons so I have taken a lot of time with her, a lot more than I normally would."  " When I was working for Tim Butt, one of the things he really stressed was how you conditioned your horse, especially his trotters." " I have tried to follow what he taught me and things are going good at this stage," Jack said. The daughter of Revenue from the former top class trotter Too Much Too Soon 1:59.2 ($153,021), Hey Yo has no firm plans at this stage. " We will see what Blair has to say first before we make any plans with her." " There are a couple of C1 trots during Cup Week but it is a big step up and we may yet miss Cup Week," Jack said. Jack has created a good impression in his short time as a trainer and looks to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media

Every week, Harnesslink produces the harness racing ringaround where a group of twenty odd of our leading drivers give us their best tips for the weekend racing. Results in the main have been good with the odd shocker thrown in but last night at Addington Raceway the tipsters had a night to remember. The drivers selected horses in seven races last night at Addington and bagged five winners which is a great strike rate. In started in the first when Gavin Smith selected Paris Princess who led form go to whoa and returned a healthy dividend of $6:60 Blair Orange was the next tipster to see the winners circle with the very talented Southern GNP who was backed in very short but never gave his supporters any cause for concern with an effortless victory. Onto race 6 and Mark Jones was very bullish around the chances of Franco Harrington and the way he cruised to the front and ran away and hid in the home straight showed that his confidence was not misplaced. In race 8, North Canterbury trainer/driver Robbie Holmes had two horses involved in the race and he was very keen on the chances of Clean Break with Gavin Smith in the bike even from the outside of the gate, with Robbie taking the reins on the stablemate Tehoro Holly. The win dividend of $8:70 for Clean Break was a great return for the inform trotter. As happens, the best was saved for last. Three of our tipsters chose their best drives of the week in race 9 last night. Ricky May, John Dunn and Bob Butt were all keen on the chances of their runners and as it turned out none of them were far off the mark. John Dunn worked to the lead on Mr Meddle with Bob Butt settling in the trail with Justalittlebettor and Ricky May and Change The Rulz snookered away four back on the inner. John got away with a couple of cheap quarters in front with Mr Meddle which left enough in the tank to fight off all the challengers in the home straight. Ricky May and Change The Rulz flashed late for an unlucky second just in front of Justalittlebettor and Bob Butt who held third. Mr Meddle paid $10:90 for the win with the quinella paying $15:30 and the trifecta a healthy $185:20 Throw in the double result of Clean Break and Mr Meddle of $49:50 and followers of the ringaround should have made plenty last night. Harnesslink Media

One of the newest harness racing trainers on the New Zealand scene is Sam Smolenski who to date has only lined up three runners since taking out  a trainers license late last season. On Friday night at  Addington Raceway, Sam has two runners engaged in the maiden mobile trot over 1950 metres. Paris Princess, to be driven by Gavin Smith has drawn nicely at barrier five and although the form line may look a bit bleak, there is no doubting the ability. The daughter of Diedre Don won a recent trial at Ashburton over 2400 metres in a smart 3:08.9 with terrific closing sectionals of 57.7 and 27.7 and if she was to bring that form to Addington tonight she would be incredibly hard to hold out. Sams other runner is Gleneleven who has drawn barrier seven and is to be driven by Blair Orange. A smart second on debut, Gleneleven looked out of sorts at his next start at Rangiora in the slush last Sunday, breaking early and again in the home straight which ended up in him being disqualified. With the aid of the mobile the son of Monkey Bones rates as a big winning chance tonight. Sam found it hard to separate the pair when speaking to Harnesslink earlier today. " I am expecting a big run from both of them tonight and there is not that much between them at this stage." " Paris Princess will really appreciate the mobile." " She just doesn't concentrate when in standing starts but she will be fine behind the mobile and I would be surprised if she galloped tonight." " Gleneleven had an issue in his neck at Rangiora, getting on one rein the whole way and that is why he broke." " I have had him treated post race and his work this week has been great so I am expecting him to go a big race tonight." "Long term I think Gleneleven will be the better of the two horses and I think he will go a fair way," Sam said. With any kind of luck, Sam looks a big chance to have his first winner as a trainer in race 1 at Addington tonight. Harnesslink Media

Harness racing can be trying at times as anyone who has been in the industry for any length of time will be able to tell you. One who knows this better than most at the moment is owner of the year, Trevor Casey For all his recent success Trevor is experiencing a few bumps in the road trying to keep Escapee's new campaign on track The plan had as its immediate aim the Dominion Handicap in November. The plan is up in the air at the moment but that doesn't mean that she won't be racing this season Its just that she won't be racing from the All Stars barn. Mark and Duane Marfisi knew that Escapee would need special handling during her comeback but with the big spring team getting ready for racing, the extra time required to put into Escapee was just not available at the All Stars barn. As a result, Escapee is to be tried in in a different environment. Never an easy horse to train, Escapee has had a long absence after having a foal but after a very promising start this time in at the All Stars barn, she has caused problems for Duane. "When she gets upset she just takes off and one day when we had a gear problem I had trouble pulling her up on the straight track." "She just never came back to me" Duane said. Mark trialled her a few days later but she pulled very hard and he recommended a different approach to owner, Trevor Casey. " Mark thought that since he wouldn't be home at Rolleston for several weeks yet, that a move away from All Stars might help, " Trevor told Harnnesslink today. "After consulting with Mark, I have moved Escapee to Ken Barron's barn." " Blair (Orange) is there and he handled Escapee a lot when he worked at All Stars. " He has driven her and knows her so it seemed a logical move." " She is off to the trials at Ashburton on Tuesday so we will all be a lot wiser after that," Trevor said. Escapee has always been a high class race mare and would certainly add another dimension to the trotting features in New Zealand if she made a successful comeback to the track. Harnesslink Media

A decisive return to winning form by Saveapatrol in the $18,500 Bayleys Coromandel 2015 Thames Cup hasn’t changed plans for the horse to cross the Tasman any time soon. “Its great to get him back in the winner’s circle,” said trainer Mark Jones. “A lot of the credit goes to Regan (Todd) for the work he does with him,” he said. Following the Thames Cup on Friday, July 3, Mark, and owner Grant Hatton, confirmed their decision for the horse to remain in Auckland this month. Saveapatrol made a smart beginning from the 20m line and was in front after the opening 500m. The lightly-raced big boy son of Christian Cullen and Rondel Franco revelled in his work on the front-end, second-up after an enforced 14 month layoff. Although inclined to knock off a tad when he clearly had his rivals beaten inside the final 100m, Saveapatrol was super impressive, pacing the 2700m (stand) in a race record 3:22.2 (2:00.4 mile rate). Driver Blair Orange put the hammer down passing the final 800m, letting Saveapatrol quicken from that point in a slick 55.5s. Saveapatrol, even though knocking off at the finish, still steam-rolled the opposition over his closing 400m in 27.6s. Everything now over the next four months will prep the former Auckland Cup placegetter for the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November. “He’ll just continue to race in Auckland and come back south for the Hannon Memorial etc. in the spring as the second Tuesday in November is the aim,” Mark said. Saveapatrol has now raced only 18 times for 11 wins and a couple of minor placings, for $145,618 in stakes. Providing he stays sound, and with regular racing, he could be one of the best prepared for this year’s 3200m cup. Mark also picked up solid place money with stablemates, Zakspatrol (strong-finishing second) and the consistent squaregaiter Sunoflindenny (third) on Friday. Oasis Dream and Kowhai Monarch ran sound fourths, and Landora’s Girl finished fifth, but Rocker Band, Pomme Roy and Twice The Delight were all unplaced. Rocker Band, after sprinting hard early to wrest the lead in the C2-4 pace, over-raced and dropped away in the run home. Pomme Roy tired after working early from the outside gate to race parked in a C1-2 pace, while Twice The Delight, wilted after trailing in the C1-2 mares pace. Jeff Scott - Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here    

Harness racing reinsman Blair Orange has done what a lot of industry people thought might be out of reach this season and chalked up 100 driving wins. Last season Blair notched up 100 driving wins for the first time in his career but that was when he was working for the all conquering All Star barn. For this season Blair moved camps and took up a position as the stable foreman for the Ken Barron barn. While Ken always has a very strong team around him, it is not on the same scale as the All Star barn and many thought Blair would battle to hit the hundred mark this season. However right from the beginning of the season Blair has been driving in dynamic form and has chalked up some notable milestones this year. Blair joined the 1000 wins club when successful with Change Time at Addington at the end of January and it is no coincidence that the Ken Barron stable has had its most successful season since Ken went solo in 2005 and just needs one more winner to crack the fifty wins for the season for the first time. Blair went to Forbury Park tonight with ninety eight driving wins in the bag  for the season and while he had a useful book, it was hard to label one as a likely winner. That all changed pretty quickly with a couple of Blair Orange " specials" that saw him reach the 100 mark by race 4. The first of the two winners was Cerato who Blair took straight to the front and  then rated  to perfection to get him home for a comfortable victory at odds of twelve to one. Blair followed that up in the very next race with another lovely front running drive on Nova Time who lead all the way and held on gamely at odds of seven to one. To hit the 100 mark this season, Blair has had to travel and it has not been uncommon to see him at Ascot Park, Addington and Alexandra Park in the space of three days. Forbury Park is another track that has seen a lot of Blair this season and it is good to see all the hard work pay off for one of the industry's star reinsman. Harnesslink Media      

Our harness racing tipsters are having a bit of the winter blues at the moment with less than inspiring results some weeks. Last week saw only two of our tipsters pick winners with Sean McCaffrey and Nathan Williamson doing the honours but we did have eight placegetters and some of those such as Shane Walkinshaw's pick, Takitimu Express paid good money ($4:20) This week we have four meetings in the country and we have picks for them all. Forbury - Thursday night Nathan Williamson - Thought Spinyback was overdue and could win race 2 Shane Walkinshaw - Thinks on his work this week, Jetsdream will win race 4 Craig Ferguson - Gives Mordecai a good chance of going back to back in race 6   Auckland  - Friday night Steven Reid - Reckons Concorde even from barrier 8 will be hard to beat in race 2 Scott Phelan - If Superimposed has any luck from his bad draw,he thinks he can win race 2  Todd Mitchell - Thinks the millionaire Vulcan can add to the bankroll in race 6 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Vice Consul from the front line could win race 7 Tony Herlihy -  Gives The Almighty Johnson a big chance of winning race 8 John Dunn - Rates Return To Sender as hard to roll in race 9 Mark Jones - Thought Rocker Band would be very hard to beat, also in race 9   Addington - Friday night Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of the two year old Matatoki in race 1 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Maddison Hill can upset them in race 2 Tim Williams - Gives Bird Of Paradise a big show even from the second line in race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Zin Zan must win one shortly and thinks it will be in race 7 Ricky May - Thought the southern raider Tetrick would be hard to beat in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Agrees with Ricky that Tetrick will be hard to beat in race 8 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Eden can get the chocolates in race 9   Timaru - Sunday afternoon  Blair Orange - Thought the first starter My Cash would be hard to beat in race 3 Gavin Smith - Very bullish about the chances of Great Things Happen in race 4 Brad Williamson - Reckons Kylie Castleton can bounce back and win race 6 Jim Curtin - Gives Insignificant a chance to upset them at odds, also in race 6  John Curtin - Thought Naughty Maravu only needed some luck for a change to win race 8 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Contractual Issues will be hard to hold out in race 10   Harnesslink Media

One of harness racing's most promising partnerships is on the verge of reaching two significant milestones. Ken Barron and Blair Orange's first season together has been full of highlights and Change Time's victory in Sunday's Winter Cup was another exclamation mark on a season that has shattered all expectations.  With the Barron-trained Livura a winner earlier in the day at the Rangiora Harness Racing Club's meeting, the Barron-Orange combination scored a winning double. Orange now heads into Forbury Park's meeting on Thursday with 98 wins for the season. He went past the 100 mark for the first time last season with 106 winners. With Addington on Friday night and Timaru on Sunday, Orange is a strong chance to reach the century by the end of the weekend if not sooner. Barron's two winners on Sunday have taken him to 49 training wins for the season. Despite going close on a couple of occasions, on his own and in partnership with John Lischner, Barron has never reached 50 wins in a season but the West Melton trainer is certain to break the milestone before the current one is out. Orange credits getting an economical trip as the difference for Change Time who upset the field to win the Winter Cup at a $17 quote. "Finding the trail was definitely the key," Orange said. Change Time's form line was nothing to get excited about going into the Winter Cup but she has come out of the four-year-old Diamond at the Harness Jewels and some quality fields when racing in Auckland. "Last start she had to sit parked and was found wanting a bit, but she's always been better with a sit," Orange said. Change Time's win was Orange's second Winter Cup in as many weeks after he won the Marlborough version last week with Lilac Desire. The Christian Cullen mare picked up her seventh career at Rangiora but her racing days are numbered. A four-year-old mare out of Chaangerr, Change Time will head to Australia at the end of the season to be retired to the broodmare paddock. Orange will always have fond memories of the mare that brought him his 1000th driving win with her victory at Addington back in January. Talented three-year-old Bracken Ridge is another leaving the Barron stable after being sold to Perth but Orange said there was still plenty of talent in Barron's stable. Gerard O'Reilly, Ricky May and Robbie Close also drove winning doubles at the Rangiora meeting. Woodend Beach trainers Greg and Nina Hope continued their standout season with three winners in the last three races of the day. The husband and wife partnership now have 66 winners for the season, just one shy of their best of 67 in 2013. Meanwhile, Dexter Dunn brought up his 200th win of the season at Forbury Park on Friday night. Dunn started the night on 196 winners and brought up the double century with his fourth win of the night with Give Me Strength. It is the fourth time he has gone past 200 winners in a season but in 2012 and 2013 he was finished on 199. By Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission

A decision to operate on an unknown injury has given harness racing star Saveapatrol a second chance. In early 2014, Saveapatrol, was one of the most promising pacers in the country but that ground to a halt when he pulled up sore after running third in the 2014 Auckland Cup behind Terror To Love and Adore Me. Initial scans on the Mark Jones trained gelding could not pin-point the problem but Jones and owner Grant Hatton elected to open up his leg in an attempt to find what was troubling the son of Christian Cullen. Surgery found a slight tear in his tendon that was too small to show up on the scans. "We're lucky we did operate otherwise we could have ended up doing much more damage," Jones said. Getting his star pacer back to the track is a huge relief for Jones. "When they go a miss like that you're never sure if you will get them back." The Canterbury trainer is especially pleased for Hatton who has been patient throughout the injury layoff. "We're lucky to have an owner like Grant who has given him the time to get him back to where he needs to be," Jones said. Fifteen months of patience will come to fruition at Alexandra Park on Friday night when the now five-year-old contests the Auckland Trotting Club's $20,000 Winter Cup. Saveapatrol has had two workouts at Rangiora and a trial at Addington in the lead up to Friday's assignment. "He seems 100 per cent sound now so we are very happy with with where he is at," Jones said. In the hands of Blair Orange, Saveapatrol will start off the 20m mark and despite the long lay off, Jones is confident of a bold showing. "I'd like to think he should be winning really, he comes in pretty good on the handicaps so he should be pretty hard to beat," Jones said. Saveapatrol is booked to board a plane for Brisbane on Monday for the the Queensland Winter Trotting Carnival. Jones said Saveapatrol would have to fail badly on Friday night to change those plans. Saveapatrol is ear-marked for four feature races worth a combined total of around $300,000 during the carnival. "When he is right with a bit of racing under his belt I think he can be a grand circuit horse," Jones said. The Queensland campaign will provide an ideal opportunity to get some quality racing under his belt before he comes back and prepares for a tilt at the New Zealand Trotting Cup. Saveapatrol's last win came in January 2014 when he beat home Terror To Love, Arden Rooney and Franco Ledger to win the Group III Invercargill Cup. Lightly raced, Saveapatrol won his first three starts and currently holds a record of ten wins and two placings from 16 starts for more than $130,000 in stakes. Saveapatrol is out of the tough mare Rondel Franco who won 37 races from 153 starts for more than $650,000 in stakes across New Zealand, Australian and America. There were plans to defend the Invercargill Cup this year but Jones pulled the pin when Saveapatrol was not quite ready. By Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission of the Christchurch Press

Last week was one of the better weeks overall for a while with our tipsters not far off all weekend. Six selected winners with Kyle Marshall leading the way with the $6 shot, JC Jock while Scott Phelan, Blair Orange, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Ricky May also got the job done. What was so frustrating was the tipsters had eleven placegetters including ten second placings over the weekend. This week however we only have three meetings around the country and quite a few of our regulars are not in action this weekend but as usual it would pay to follow the tipsters selections on the first day at Blenheim on Friday to the second day on Sunday. Forbury Park - Thursday night Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Jetsdream just needed an ounce of luck to win race 2 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Mr Handleman is a chance at huge odds, also in race 2 Craig Ferguson - Rates Lamborne Road a big chance to bounce back and win race 5 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Betta Go Fernco can turn it around and win, also in race 5 Brad Williamson - Hopes to celebrate his 21st birthday with a win on Elusive Flight in race 7 Gavin Smith - Gives the two year old Late Mail a big chance of winning race 9 Matthew Williamson - Rates Springbank Eden a chance of upsetting them in race 11   Blenhiem - Friday afternoon Bob Butt - Quite keen on the chances of the first starter Dusky Eyre in race 1 Ricky May - Rates Delightful Jack as well overdue and thinks he will win race 2 John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of stable runner Mr Meddle in race 6 Blair Orange - Gives Expresso Martini a big push to win race 7 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Art Exhibit is ready to strike and will win race 8     Franklin - Friday night Scott Phelan - Thinks Ideal Roman is a big chance from barrier two in race 1 Todd MacFarlane - Rates I Am The One a good each way prospect in race 4 John Curtin - Thought Bettormack second up from a break would win, also in race 4 Todd Mitchell - Reckons The Tracker can carry on his winning streak in race 5 Steven Reid - Gives Franco Nikau a chance of rolling them at big odds, also in race 5 Steven Richardson (TAB) - Rates Chosen Path fresh up a big chance of winning race 6 Kyle Marshall - Thought Kilkeel Lady from barrier two could upset them in race 10   Harnesslink Media

The All Stars barn via Dave McCarthy preview their runners at the harness racing meetings every week.   This week of course is the Harness Jewels meeting at Ashburton on Saturday (May 30th) and with their kind permission we reproduce here the comments for the 23 runners the All Stars barn have in on Saturday      HARNESS JEWELS- Rated out of 10 as a winning chance with the comment by the driver of the horse on Staurday     Race 1 - Two Year Old Diamond   Northern Velocity (7)   Form: Won Sales Final at Addington.   Comment:   7- "I would rate her a 7 and a good one. Equal second best of ours on form. " (Mark)   Dream About Me (9)   Form: Just keeps winning and bold in trials last week.   Comment: 9 " The draw seems a problem though she has never really had good draws. Doing everything right and I am hoping she will just be too good for them" (Tim)   Arden's Choice (11)   Form: Good in 1.54 MR after getting back early at Auckland. G1 winner previous.   Comment: 6 "She might be better than that but as a win chance it is going to be very hard from that draw. I think it is the worst draw of the lot in some respects because it is harder to get on the three line line" (Natalie)   Race 2 - Two Year Old Ruby   Missandei (2)   Form: Looked the winner last time until stablemate came on the scene. This her best draw yet.   Comment: 7 "Gets better with each run and this is the best draw she has had if she can hold up early" (Mark)   High Gait (12)   Form: Huge run last time to come from impossible possie to win.   Comment: 9 "I don't like the draw but she can follow Missandei out which is a help. She is working terrific and only the draw stops her from being my best for the day" (Natalie)   Race 3 - Four Year Old Diamond   Willow (12)   Form: Three on end is hard to beat even if some easier than this.   Comment: 8 "Again a draw I am not thrilled about but she is following some useful early speed. She is good enough to make her own luck and she tries so hard she could offer some value" (Natalie)   Race 4 -  Three Year Old Ruby   Prince Fearless (3)   Form: Raced solidly in the north and at Addington without being quite as impressive as formerly.   Comment: 8 "I am very pleased with him and his work has been excellent. He likes Ashburton and is at his best in sprint type races.  He is a danger" (Natalie)   Petite One (10)   Form:  Returned to near her best at Addington winning well.   Comment; 6 "She seems well but that draw is going to make things hard for her against the boys and they will probably be too strong." (Mark)   Race 5 - Three Year Old Diamond   Supersonic Miss (9)   Form: Faded after hard run in the Oaks. Nearly landed third in G1 start before.   Comment: 5 "It looks tough for her from out there especially with the pace inside. You can only hope you get on to a train when she would be competitive but it won't be easy" (Mark)   Linda Lovegrace (10)   Form: Been running on strongly from bad draws. Has a moderate one again.   Comment: 7 "She can run home strongly over a mile as she has shown here before. Blair will drive his own race but if she got the run she can be at least in the finish" (Natalie)   Fight for Glory (11)   Form: Outstanding in the NZ Oaks and tested  The Orange Agent in the Nevele R Final after being parked.   Comment: 7  "I really don't like that draw. I reckon even 12 would have been better. We are in behind some speed certainly but she has to have luck to get a crack at them which is why I have her down a bit as a win chance. She is doing everything right at home" (Natalie)   Classical Art (14)   Form: Ran on in Oaks after enjoying nice trail. Likes this trip   Comment: 5 "It is going to be hard to win from there. But she is very well and she could surprise a few. Mark said after he worked her Wednesday if she had drawn the front line she could be right in it. The mile will really suit her where she can go hard all the way. Might be a place bet at odds" (Tim)   Race 6 - Two Year Old Emerald   Motu Premier (2)   Form: Consistently placed at highest level including the Sapling Stakes here earlier.   Comment: 6 "A couple of our others might have it on him for brilliance but he has a bit going for him even though a place looks more likely. I think he has the gate speed to get a nice trip from a good draw and he is a genuine horse. He will try all day. " (Tim)     Chase the Dream (4)   Form: Winner of the Sires Stakes Final at his last start and other juvenile features earlier.   Comment: 9 "He is my best drive of the day I think. He can speed out of the gate and he is as tough as. The draw is going to be a big help for those abilities (Natalie)   Lazarus (7)   Form: Brilliant late run for second in Sires Stakes Final after easy win in Sales Pace.   Comment: 8 "A brilliant horse so you use him out of the gate if you need to or use him during the race. Has an ideal draw. He is probably a bit quicker than Chase The Stars but not quite as  tough at this stage. He can win but Chase The Dream will be tough to beat" (Mark)   Cash n Flow (11)   Form:  Finished on in Sires Stakes Final and a late arriving two year old with ability (Jim Curtin to drive)   Comment: 6 "A really lovely horse but he is going to find it hard to beat the top one from where he is" (Natalie)   Race 7 - Four Year Old Ruby   King Denny (1)   Form: Beat all but Master Lavros at Addington in lead up race.   Comment: 9 "I would say my best chance on the day. He has trained on well has a nice draw which gives him options and no Master Lavros or Stents in this time" (Mark)   Race 8 - Four Year Old Emerald   Isaiah (13)   Form: Faded after tough run last time and has trained well this week   Comment: 4 "I suppose that sounds harsh but it is just that for this race he is in a bad place from the draw and personally I don't think a mile is his best trip " (Natalie)   Messini (14)   Form: Outstanding win at Addington back to left handed track last start.   Comment: 8 "He is just back to the best form he showed in Australia really. The mile will not bother him. He's a tough customer and he has a shot at them" (Mark)   Race 9 - Three Year Old Emerald   Hug The Wind (1)   Form: Outstanding win in class racing at Addington showed his real class.   Comment: 6 "I just don't think he is quite with the other two at this stage. He has the draw and has the gate speed to hold up. If I landed in front I would probably stay there as long as I could because that is his best chance of upsetting them. He was terrific last start but this is a way stronger field " (Natalie)   Have Faith In Me (4)   Form:  First race since late March when he won the NZ Derby. Trials since.   Comment: 9 "I don't think the lack of racing will be a problem for him. He has had two good hitouts at trials and has done it easily. The thing about him is that he loves to be out there and really enjoys his racing. From the draw there are options and while I was reluctant to put a number on him he should be the one to beat" (Tim)   Follow the Stars (5)   Form: Runner up in three Derby's this season and three wins in easier company in Australia to fit him for this. Worked well this week.   Comment: 8 "I don't think that he can beat Have Faith In Me all things being equal. The pecking order is fairly well established now. For all that he seems very well and he has been enjoying his work. He is a class horse even if there seems to be one better at the moment " (Mark)   Lightfingered (13)   Form: Battled into fifth at Addington last start. Has made strong progress this year however.   Comment: 3 "I don't like to put a number on him. I am just grateful I have been given an opportunity to drive on the day and behind a horse I know won't let anybody down. Sure there are stars in there but I like to think he will go a pretty good race" (Matt)     Courtesy Of Dave McCarthy - All Stars Racing Stables - Check site here  

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