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As reliable as ‘death and taxes’, Breckon Farms is once again set to create plenty of interest during next month’s harness racing yearling sale. To be more precise, Breckon Farms has an impressive line-up ready to enter the ring at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka in Auckland on Monday, February 16. While a ‘sale topper’ is always unpredictable, the opening entrant of the day is destined to attract more than his share of bids. Lot 1 is a son of boom sire, Bettors Delight, from Group One winner, Veste.               Veste winning the Nevele R Stud Caduceus Club Classic His dam’s first foal (Lot 1) – VOLTAIRE – comes from a family littered with top-shelf winners, including his grand-dam, Coburg, who won the Group 1 $100,000 Mach Three NZ Standardbred Breeders Stakes.  Voltaire Coburg is a half-sister to A G Hunter Cup winner, Stunin Cullen, who won four Group Ones on his way to earning $1,493,716. $425,000 A G Hunter Cup winner, Stunin Cullen Voltaire’s clan also includes dual New Zealand Cup winner, Il Vicolo ($1,253,807), Auckland Cup star Gotta Go Cullen ($1,173,343), Lauraella ($649,946), Smooth Falcon and  Reba Lord. Harnesslink Media

The powerful Clevedon combination of Barry Purdon and Zac Butcher won the major training and driving honours - while Purdon trained 3-year-olds also won two age-group titles at the 2014 A Rocknroll Dance North Island Harness Racing awards ceremony at Alexandra Park last night. More than 300 people flocked to the Tasman Room to watch the 21 awards handed out. Fifty nine-year-old Purdon won the Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year, while 23-year-old Butcher won the IRT North Island Driver of the Year. Their age group stars Sky Major and Ideal Belle won the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3yo Colt/Gelding and Filly of the Year awards respectively. Purdon trained Pembrook Benny, Sky Major, Maxim and Ideal Belle to Group One victories in 2013-2014. Butcher also drove the Ray Green trained Beaudiene Boaz in the Harness Jewels 2yo Emerald Final at Cambridge Raceway. Pembrook Benny won the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on November 15. Sky Major cleaned up the 3yo Emerald Jewels Final at Cambridge on May 31. Ideal Belle also won the New Zealand Oaks at Addington on May 16. Maxim nailed the Victoria Derby at Melton on February 8. Sky Major was second. The same two horses also produced the quinella in Group One Sires Stakes 2yo Final the season before. “You are only as good as the team around you. This is an honour. We had a very good season and I’m grateful to all my staff for that,” Purdon said. Purdon trained 39 winners from 199 starters last season and amassed $953,433 in stakes. Butcher saluted the judge 72 times from his 551 drives. He banked $1.23m in purses. “I drive to win and night’s like this are a real bonus. I’m very proud to have won this award because there are so many good drivers out there. “I am lucky to be part of a very strong stable. Barry is a legendary trainer,” Butcher said. In other highlights Maurice McKendry won the Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms NI Achievement Award, while Richard and Julija Brosnan won the night’s most prestigious (and final) award of the evening – the A Rocknroll Dance Alabar Nevele Stud NI Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing. Adore Me’s victories in the Group One $100,000 Queen Of Hearts Pace and the Group Three $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes assured her the Auckland Trotting Club’s Aged Pace Of the Year title. The Charlie Roberts co-owned and bred champ also won the Caduceus Club’s NI Filly/Mare of the Year. In fact Roberts himself collected two awards winning the Garrards Horse and Hound NI Owner of the Year, and the Hygain NI Breeder of the Year 2014 A ROCKNROLL DANCE NORTH ISLAND HARNESS RACING AWARDS - WINNERS Glen Elgin Farm North Island Groom of the Year - Amanda Kiddie Dunstan North Island Amateur Driver of the Year -John Kriechbaumer Magness Video Ltd / Vid-Com LtdNorth Island Licence to Train /Owner – Trainer of the Year - Andrew Grant Mitavite North Island Junior Driver of the Year - Sailesh Abernethy PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Beaudiene Boaz                       PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Filly of the Year - Linda Lovegrace Breckon Farms North Island 2 year old Trotter of the Year - Yagunnakissmeornot Breckon Farms North Island 3 year old Trotter of the Year - Mum’s Pride Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Sky Major Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Filly of the Year - Ideal Belle               Garrards Horse and Hound North Island Owner of the Year - Charles Roberts Caduceus Club North Island Filly / Mare of the year - Adore Me                                Hygain North Island Breeder of the Year - Charles Roberts IRT North Island Driver of the Year -  Zac Butcher Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year - Barry Purdon Equine Veterinary Services  North Island Broodmare of the Year - Scuse Me                North Island Stallion of the Year - Bettor’s Delight                                       Harness Racing New Zealand North Island Trotter of the Year - Irish Whisper                          Auckland Trotting Club North Island Aged Pacer of the Year - Adore Me                                Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms North Island Racing Achievement Award - Maurice McKendry A Rocknroll Dance/Alabar/Nevele R Stud North Island Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing - Richard and Julija Brosnan Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

King Denny may have been beaten by his former stablemate Twentyten in last week’s Sires Stakes Championship but the All Stars team are confident that NZ Trotting Derby winner can once again turn the tables on him in the $80,000 Breckon Farms Trotting Derby at Alexandra Park on Friday. ”Dad (Mark Purdon) had someone go over him after last week and he was found to be really sore so he has had a lot of work done on him and seems back on track for this week,” advised Nathan Purdon. King Denny’s shot at dual Derby glory has been made a lot easier by the defection of Majestic Time, who was scratched from the Group One feature this morning after she failed to handle the Alexandra Park track last week. “She didn’t handle Alexandra Park right-handed track last week but she will be at the Jewels were the track will suit her a lot better,” trainer Michael Ward told HRNZ’S Michael Guerin. King Denny has been installed as a $3 favourite for the Derby by NZ TAB Bookmakers, while One Over Da Moon, who will race with a new bit and a pole on the outside on Friday, is the $3.20 second favourite. The Trotting Derby is just of six feature races the All Stars team will contest over the weekend. “Linda Lovegrace, Border Control, and Alta Orlando also look to have good chances in their respective features so with a bit of luck it could be a very good week,” said Purdon Jnr. By Mitchell Robertson  

Follow The Stars makes it three straight in Cardigan Bay Stakes Mark Purdon won his eighth Cardigan Bay Stakes in 14 years when favourite Follow The Stars cleaned up in tonight's 2014 edition of the The Group One $100,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns Final at Alexandra Park. Starting from the outside of the front row, Follow The Stars was fortunate to avoid the breakers inside him therefore leaving Purdon no option to avoid the breakers and patiently wait for Jonny B Good and Todd Mitchell to drag him into the race. When Jonny B Good was started to fade Purdon pounced with the $2.10 shot and zoomed to the front at the 500m. From that point it was a matter of catch me if you can. They couldn't. The Art Major colt won easily by 3-1/2 lengths and 1-1/4 lengths in 2:02.92 (mile rate: 1:56.3) with final 800m sprints of 58.3 and 28.6. Express Stride (Tony Herlihy - MNZM) was second, with Bettor Sprits (Philip Butcher) third. Purdon also co-trains Follow The Stars with his partner Natalie Rasmussen. "He's a nice colt and had to be good to win from the outside of the front line. I like him a lot. We will head to Australia with him now for the APG Series in Melbourne in April," Purdon said. It was Follow The Star's third consecutive win since making his winning debut at Alexandra Park on December 13. He also won the $25,000 Group Three Sapling Stakes at Ashburton on February 14. Follow The Stars is owned by Mrs G. J. Kennard, P. I Kennard, N. Pilcher, G. R. Douglas, P. J. Creighton, and Mrs M. C Creighton. He was bred by Lauriston Bloodstock. The bay colt has now won $81,477 Past winners (and times) of the Group One Cardigan Bay Stakes Young Guns Final for 2yo colts & geldings have been: 2013: Cyclone Prince (Todd Mitchell) 2:04.6; 2012: Five Card Draw (Brent Mangos) 2:02.5; 2011: Fly Like An Eagle (Mark Purdon) 2:02.5; 2010: Major Mark (Mark Purdon) 2:04.1; 2009: Anvils Best Ever (Anthony Butt) 2:05.6; 2008: Gotta Go Cullect (Jay Abernethy) 2:03.7; 2007: Steve McQueen (Mark Purdon) 2:06.1; 2006: Gotta Go Cullen (Nicole Molander) 2:05.0. by Duane Ranger  

A superb drive from one of New Zealand's most promising reinsmen ensured victory for second favourite Democrat Party in tonight's Group Two $80,000 Gotta Go Cullen Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic (1700m mobile) for 2-year-old fillies. Zac Butcher might have started from barrier six with the daughter of American Ideal but soon after found himself in the one-one. "She started real well and it was just a matter of luck really," a modest Butcher said. "She was always travelling well and at the top of the straight I thought she would be hard to beat. She doesn't like to let anything get past her once she hits the front," he added. Democrat Party paced the 1700m mobile in a slick 2:02.77. Mile rate: 1:56.2 and final 800m and 400m sectionals in 58 flat and 29.2 seconds. "She's a lovely filly, but still a bit green with a lot of improving to do. She has a really bright future," Butcher said. Democrat Party is trained by Butcher's boss and Hall-Of-Fame conditioner Barry Purdon. He is owned by her breeders F. J. and Mrs K. V. Price. The bay filly has now won two of her three starts and banked $52,400. Past winners (and times) of the Group Two Delightful Lady Classic for 2yo fillies have been: 2013: Angelina Jolie (David Butcher) 2:04.0; 2012: La Norvic De Milo (James Stormont) 2:04.9; 2011: Precious Rose (Zac Butcher) 2:06.5; 2010: Collectable (Nicole Molander) 2:04.9; 2009: Sixpence (Steve Reid) 2:06.1; 2008: World Of Dreams (Maurice McKendry) 2:05.4; 2007: So Deep (Graeme Harris) 2:06.4. By Duane Ranger (Friday March 7, 2014)    

The trainers of Easy On The Eye say the draw nobody usually wants actually improves their chances in Tuesday’s New Zealand Trotting Cup. The speedster was one of the hidden gems in a generally underwhelming Kaikoura Cup on Monday, running on well after being checked into an early gallop. He is still long odds for the Cup, both because he lacks a certain x-factor and has doubts over how much he will enjoy a hard 3200m but co-trainer Simon McMullen is surprisingly upbeat about starting from barrier one. “I think it suits him and we are rapt to get it,” explains McMullen, who trains in partnership with Steven Reid. “He is usually a very good beginner and if he does that again then he might even be the first leader and can roll along and choose who we hand up to, which would probably be Christen Me or Terror To Love. “If we are following them or at worse three deep on the markers he might have a place chance.” McMullen’s enthusiasm is rare as many trainers hate drawing the ace in the Cup, which often has a very long build-up to the tapes being released, meaning the horse who starts from one has to stand the longest. And can then be forced to scoot early to stay handy. But in the case of Easy On The Eye it at least gives him a shot at getting a drag along behind one of the favourites, whose coattail’s have been lucrative this spring. He isn’t the only stable star chasing the big money this week, with Reid campaigning The Gold Ace in New South Wales where he was a brave second fresh-up in a stunning 1:49.4 mile last Saturday. The Gold Ace once again draws poorly in tomorrow night’s A$75,000 Newcastle Mile and probably needs to win one of three lead-up races over the next 15 days to earn a spot in his ultimate aim, the A$750,000 Miracle Mile on November 30. Closer to home the Reid/McMullen camp have been on a roll at Alexandra Park and that should continue tonight in the Breckon Farms Pace with Tiago Bromac. He ranks among the most improved pacers in the north and downed Besotted last Friday, albeit with the advantage of a 20m start. He has an advantage of a different type tonight in race fitness over the likes of Averil’s Quest and Five Card Draw and that, coupled with driver Peter Ferguson’s trademark aggression, suggests he will be very hard to catch again. “He has surprised us the way he has just kept improving and this week is no harder than last Friday so he has to be a huge again,” says McMullen. A potential serious open class player for the summer is Realmein, who should win the opening trot tonight. He has rare speed for a trotter, which was on show when he flashed home late in his seasonal debut last Friday. While he faces a 40m handicap tonight he has only five opponents standing in front of him and if within four lengths on the leader starting the final bend he should win. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

A very poor low end and an average harness racing price of $29,786 highlighted the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale held at the Karaka Sale ring in South Auckland today (Monday February 18).

That man Sandy Yarndley has done it again. The Waikato harness racing owner-breeder sold the top lot at today's (Monday February 18) Australasia Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka in South Auckland. That sales topper was Lot 38 - Raell's Delight - a Bettor's Delight colt who was the first foal from multiple Group One winning Christian Cullen mare, Lauraella.

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