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The nominations for the 2017 North Island Always B Miki harness racing awards have been released. The ‘Silver Jubilee’ (25th) Awards, which will be held at Alexandra Park on Saturday September 2, will see Better B Amazed, Dream About Me, Hug The Wind, Maxim, and The Orange Agent competing for honours in the Auckland Trotting Club’s Aged Pacer of the Year category. Gentleman Sir, King Of The Roses, Princess Mackendon, and Temporale will vie for the other prestigious 'on track' award - the Harness Racing New Zealand North Island Aged Trotter of the Year. The function is again being organised by the quartet affectionately known as ‘The Fab Four’ - aka Raelene Balle, Janene Cole, Karen Blanchard, and Suzanne Herlihy. "We are so looking forward to the 25th anniversary awards. We are very grateful to our sponsors who remain so loyal sponsoring us year on year, and big thanks also goes to Always B Miki, who has come on board," Pukekohe-based Balle said. "This year some of the nominees have been very close in the running, which is great to see as this means the wins and stakes are getting spread around.  “There are a lot of new owners names amongst the nominees, and also a broader range of trainers names training these horses. I would like to think that this is very healthy for our industry in the North," she added. Balle reminded people that the Awards are merit-based and did not operate the same way as the National Awards ceremony. "The Racing Achievement and Outstanding Contribution Awards are always a highlight as there are no nominees and the recipients have no idea they will be receiving the accolade. “Of course we are celebrating 25 years of awards in the north, which is just wonderful and we girls ('the Fab 4') have had the pleasure of organising them for 11 years now," Balle said. ALWAYS B MIKI 2017 NORTH ISLAND HARNESS RACING AWARDS NOMINEES – (in alphabetical order): KAHUKURI BLOODSTOCK HOLLIS & ROBERTSON - NORTH ISLAND GROOM OF THE YEAR: Taitlyn Henara, Yvette Hughes, Christopher Morrison, Sheridan Rapley, Danielle Rowden. MAGNESS VIDEO LTD / VID-COM LTD - NORTH ISLAND LICENCE TO TRAIN / OWNER – TRAINEROF THE YEAR: Ray Darby, Dave Iremonger, Rod MacKenzie, Fred Mitchell, Tim Vince. MITAVITE - NORTH ISLAND JUNIOR DRIVER OF THE YEAR: Robert Argue, Ben Butcher, Tony Cameron, Dylan Ferguson, Jack MacKinnon. DEXION – NORTH ISLAND AMATEUR DRIVER OF THE YEAR: To be announced. PGG WRIGHTSON - NORTH ISLAND 2-YEAR-OLD COLT OR GELDING OF THE YEAR: Alta Maestro, Culpeka, Mach Shard, South Beach Arden. PGG WRIGHTSON - NORTH ISLAND 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY OF THE YEAR: Caitlyn Clarke, Dontstopbelievin, New York Rain, Purest Silk, Spandau Ballet. BRECKON FARMS - NORTH ISLAND 2-YEAR-OLD TROTTER OF THE YEAR: More Shades Of Gold, Paramount King, Star Of Olesya, Stress Factor. BRECKON FARMS - NORTH ISLAND 3-YEAR-OLD TROTTER OF THE YEAR: C K Spur, Heavyweight Hero, Kissmeimloaded, Sertorius. DUNSTAN - NORTH ISLAND 3-YEAR-OLD COLT OR GELDING OF THE YEAR: Alta Intrigue, Jack’s Legend, More The Better, Star Galleria. DUNSTAN - NORTH ISLAND 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY OF THE YEAR: American Empress, Gotta Go Dali Queen, Juice Brogden, Step Up. MERV & MEG BUTTERWORTH - NORTH ISLAND FEMALE RACING ACCOMPLISHMENT AWARD: Nicola Chilcott, Arna Donnelly, Gayleen MacKinnon, Michelle Wallis. GARRARDS HORSE AND HOUND - NORTH ISLAND OWNERS OF THE YEAR: Breckon Bloodstock, Bernie Lim, Stonewall Stud, Tim Vince. CADUCEUS CLUB - NORTH ISLAND FILLY / MARE OF THE YEAR: Better B Amazed, Dream About Me, Rocknroll Princess, The Orange Agent, Yagunnakissmeornot. NORTH ISLAND STANDARDBRED BREEDERS ASSOCIATION INC – NORTH ISLAND BREEDER OF THE YEAR: Breckon Farms, Charles Roberts, Kahukuri Bloodstock, Stonewall Stud, Woodlands Stud. IRT – NORTH ISLAND DRIVER OF THE YEAR: Salish Abernethy, David Butcher, Zac Butcher, Josh Dickie, Andre Poutama. VETERINARY ASSOCIATES EQUINE AND FARM – NORTH ISLAND TRAINER OF THE YEAR: John & Josh Dickie, Arna Donnelly, Tony Herlihy, Barry Purdon, Steve Telfer & Chris Garlick. VETERINARY ASSOCIATES EQUINE AND FARM – NORTH ISLAND BROODMARE OF THE YEAR: Alta Camilla, Galleons Supreme, Lady Fingers, Splendid Dreams. WOODLANDS STUD – NORTH ISLAND STALLION OF THE YEAR: American Ideal, Art Major, Bettor’s Delight, Majestic Son, Pegasus Spur. HARNESS RACING NEW ZEALAND – NORTH ISLAND AGED TROTTER OF THE YEAR: Gentleman Sir, King Of The Roses, Princess Mackendon, Temporale. AUCKLAND TROTTING CLUB – NORTH ISLAND AGED PACER OF THE YEAR: Better B Amazed, Dream About Me, Hug The Wind, Maxim, The Orange Agent.  SIR LINCOLN AT LINCOLN FARMS – NORTH ISLAND RACING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: To be announced. ALWAYS B MIKI - ALABAR / NEVELE R STUD – NORTH ISLAND AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HARNESS RACING: To be announced.   Duane Ranger

Elle Mac, a $51,000 yearling sales purchase, began her racing career with a track record win in a $6000 race at Forbury Park on Thursday night. Elle Mac ran the 2200m (mobile) in 2.43.4 (1.59.5 mile rate), 1.2sec inside the track mark set by the filly Ultimate Desire in 2015. The 2-year-old track record for all genders is 2.42.9 by Mach Time. Elle Mac held off her stablemate, another 2-year-old filly, A Lister by a neck. Elle Mac settled fifth, joined the leader at the 600m and stuck on gamely. The pair are trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Elle Mac is raced by Jean Feiss, of  Victoria. Elle Mac, a daughter of Bettor’s Delight – Goodlookinggirl was  purchased at the 2016 Australasian Classic sale when offered by Breckon Bloodstock. Elle Mac is the third winner from as many foals to race out of Goodlookinggirl, a Christian Cullen mare  who won as a 3yr-old from five starts when trained by Purdon and Grant Payne. Goodlookinggirl is a half sister to nine winners including Waitfornoone (group one Queen Of Hearts), Mark Dennis (39 wins mainly in Australia) and St Barts (15 wins). Mrs Feiss has the leading 3-year-old filly Spanish Armada and Chase the Dream in the Purdon – Rasmussen stable. Her husband, Bill races Vincent, second favourite behind Ultimate Machete for the New Zealand Derby tonight. Kyle Cameron drove Brite N Lovely and Natives Lasting Love to in trotting races on Thursday. He trains Native Lasting Love for Danny and Dawn McGirr and Austin Thornton.  Brite N Lovely is trained by Cameron’s father, Ian, who races the 6yr-old mare with his wife, Jocelyn. The 3-year-old filly Miss Fandango gave Peter Dynes, of Dunedin his first win as an owner when she led for most of the way. Dynes is in the Dark Horse syndicate along with Garry Aitken, of Timaru, Steve Herring and Gerard Darony, both of Christchurch and Shannon McEwan, whose father, Wayne trains Miss Fandango at Branxholme (Southland). She was having her third start for McEwan. She joined his stable seven weeks ago after twice finishing second in five starts for Ken Barron. Miss Fandango was a $22,000 purchase at the premier yearling sale. McEwan was among three trainers who previously prepared Newmans Jet, a maiden winner for Steve Lock at her 75th start. The 7-year-old mare began racing close on five years ago. Lock was loaned a truck by Tom Kilkelly to transport Newmans Jet and three other horses to Dunedin from Invercargill. His horse transporter had a alternator problem. Aymar was claimed  for $10,000 by Menangle trainer Leon Jurd after finishing second to Machie Mach. West Melton trainer Michael House, who won with Ask Me Art and Shillelagh said he would be racing his team at Forbury Park on a regular basis in the next few weeks. “It is brutal racing them at Addington under the ratings system,’’ he said. Shillelagh was driven by Blair Orange who drove Miss Fandango and Its Elvis who led for most of the way in the rating 50 and faster trot. Tayler Strong

One thing in harness racing in Australasia has remained pretty constant  in the last thirty years and that is the influence of the champion broodmare Black Watch on the yearling sales in New Zealand. Her descendants have continued  to churn out the topliners year after year and while other maternal families have their day in the sun every now and again, Black Watch is still the benchmark by which maternal families in New Zealand are judged against. Sandy Yarndley has long since retired to the background but his wonder mare has kept him in the spotlight for close to thirty years. Every year there are numerous yearlings consigned to the sales that trace back to Black Watch and without fail each crop produces that elite level colt or filly. Last year it was the brilliant two year old Kate Perry 1:56.7 ($378,478) who kept up the long term trend that Black Watch started. These days Black Watch is starting to drop down to the fourth or fifth generation of a lot of the yearlings for sale but one yearling  at this years Australasian Classic Sale who does have her close up in his pedigree is Lot 89, Nova's Delight. Nova's Delight has Black Watch as his third dam and for good measure he has the best daughter of Black Watch in Aberfeldy as his second dam. Both of these two mares have won the Broodmare Excellence award over the years and they are responsible for a lot of this families major winners. The dam of Nova's Delight is the Dream Away daughter of Aberfeldy in Milagro  who has already produced the filly Christian Miracle 1:55.2 ($47,539) and Fusion Power 1:56.2 ($30,312) as well as this years smart three year old filly Better Rose 1:59.7 who ran third to the brilliant Linda Lovegrace 1:54.4 ($163,878) in a Sires Stakes heat in December. Better Rose is a full sister to this years yearling Nova's Delight. Black Watch has created such a successful family that you sometimes feel it must start to wane eventually. What the results show is that this family continues to evolve and strengthen and you can be sure there is a jewel or two amongst her offspring this year. Harnesslink Media  

On July 5 John Devlin was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Fifty-seven days later (Saturday August 31) the 70-year-old stole the limelight at the annual North Island Harness Racing Awards at Alexandra Park. Devlin termed his ‘Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing Award’ as the pinnacle of a 40-plus harness racing career. “Winning the Great Northern Derby and the recent Breeders Crown with Ideal Scott was my career highlight up until Saturday night. “This award beats them all. It means so much to be recognised by your peers. This is the pinnacle of everything I have achieved in harness racing,” Devlin said. Devlin had no idea that he was being presented an award but he did think it unusual that his son Bradley attended the Alabar Auckland Reactor-sponsored function. “He doesn’t usually come to things like this. Actually I wasn’t going to come either but my boys said it would be a great chance to see my all of my trotting mates one last time. “It meant a lot to me having both sons and my grandson Josh with me. I was overwhelmed,” Papatoetoe-based Devlin said. Devlin said he didn’t want to the doctor to tell him how long he had to live when told he had incurable cancer of the pancreas and liver. “I’d rather not know. I just want to carry on and live each day to the fullest. I’m a man of faith and I have a ninth grandchild on the way. I still have plenty to live for,” Devlin, a practising Catholic said. “I would have been at Mass on Saturday night had it not been for the Awards. I never miss. That’s what keeps me going,” he added. Devlin is a true Anzac. He was born in Brisbane and attended St St Laurence’s College. He came to New Zealand in 1963, and even though he still supports Australia in sport, most of his family are Kiwis. He has two sons – Bradley a Kiwi, and Shane an Australian. “I came to New Zealand with a few mates from the Gold Coast who were on a working holiday. When I got here night trotting was relatively new and I took to it immediately. “Four years after getting here I married a Kiwi and have remained here since,” Devlin said. Devlin got a job writing for Ron Bisman and the Star. A renowned journalist Devlin later started South Auckland Bloodstock before being employed by Woodlands Stud. “I still work for Woodlands Stud and really enjoy doing all their promotions work,” he said. Devlin has owned a couple of Group Two galloping winners but Ideal Scott is the best horse he has owned. “The first nice horse I had was Sir Vance. I bought him for $1,500 and sold him for $100,000. Riley was a nice horse too. He started in the Auckland Cup and lost 30 metres. “You can’t afford to lose that sort of ground against a champion like Delightful Lady,” Devlin said. He said he was both humbled by the award and the amount of support he had received since his diagnosis. “The support from the harness racing people in both Islands has been absolutely tremendous. They have been so wonderful. “It is a fantastic industry to be involved in. To you all: I thank you so much for your kind words and gestures,” Devlin said. Meanwhile one of the organisers of the Awards function Raelene Balle said Devlin was a more than worthy recipient of the major awards. “John acknowledged the support he has received from both the North and South Island racing community over the last couple of months. As usual he was still quick witted and hasn't lost his sense of humour, and had MC Michael Guerin at a loss for a cheeky response for a change,” Balle said. Results from the 2013 Alabar Auckland Reactor North Island Harness Racing Awards were: Glen Elgin Farm North Island Groom of the Year: Leon Adams. Graeme Blackburn Memorial Amateur Driver: Michelle Northcott. Magness Video Ltd-Vid-Com Ltd Licence to Train/Owner Trainer: David Cambie; Mitavite Junior Driver: Zac Butcher; PGG Wrightson 2 year old Colt or Gelding: Sky Major; PGG Wrightson 2 year old Filly: Angelina Jolie; Breckon Bloodstock Ltd 2 year old Trotter: Hot Chocolate Tart; Breckon Bloodstock Ltd 3 year old Trotter: Prime Power. Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock 3 year old Colt or Gelding: Cyamach; Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock 3 year old Filly: Adore Me; Garrards Horse and Hound Owner: Charles Roberts; Caduceus Club Filly / Mare: Adore Me; Nevele R Stud North Island Breeder: Charles Roberts. IRT Driver: Tony Herlihy; Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm Trainer: Barry Purdon; Equine Veterinary Services Broodmare: Scuse Me; Woodlands Stud Stallion: Bettor’s Delight; Harness Racing New Zealand Trotter: I Can Doosit; Auckland Trotting Club Aged Pacer of the Year: Bettor Cover Lover; Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms Racing Achievement: Colin Butler Alabar Auckland Reactor Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing: John Devlin. By Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand

The prognosis is that he should be able to race again but we might only get two more seasons of light harness racing out of him. Ken Breckon, owner The news has gone from bad to worse for champion trotter I Can Doosit, who will not race again this year.

The Gareth Dixon trained Cyclone Prince improved on his debut fourth to take out tonight's (Friday February 15) $25,000 fifth Breckon Bloodstock Young Guns heat for 2yo colts and geldings at northern harness racing headquarters - Alexandra Park.

Barbara Bates described last Friday's (December 7) the Auckland Trotting Club's 'You Can Doosit' harness racing promotion as the greatest thing to have happened to her since her husband Peter passed away in January 2011. "Peter died two Januarys ago and it seems just like a couple of months. It's been really tough for me. I need nights out like this.

I Can Doosit not only won Mark Purdon's first ever Dominion Trot at Addington Raceway today (Friday November 16) but the champion 7-year-old trotter also equalled Auckland Reactor's mark of 17 consecutive harness racing victories.

The next step in I Can Doosit's stellar harness racing career won't be about money, glory or glamour. Because when the champion trotter steps on to the track for the Dominion Handicap at Addington on Friday he will be racing for love.

The ICE Bloodstock New Zealand Harness Racing Awards held at in Christchurch tonight (Saturday July 28) were a Ken and Karen Breckon benefit.

Australasia's best trotter bagged the Group One New Zealand Trotting Triple Crown at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday May 4) and in doing so knocked up his 12th harness racing win in a row.

There will be no Sweden trip and a tilt at harness racing's prestigious Elitlopp Trot has been put off for at least a year for Australasia's best trotter I Can Doosit - despite winning his 27th race from 44 starts at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday April 20).

The $1.70 favourite punters might have been chewing their finger nails to the bone but champion harness racing driver Maurice McKendry always thought he had tonight's (Friday April 13) Auckland Reactor Pace for 2-year-olds at Alexandra Park all parcelled up - despite being hemmed away on the markers just prior to turning for home.

Ken and Karen Breckon might have experienced a harness racing victory with their brilliant trotter I Can Doosit earlier in the evening, but when Twist And Twirl won the $125,000 Northern Oaks for 3yo fillies it was a moment they will never forget.

Star Kiwi gelding I Can Doosit assumed what will forever remain a unique place in harness racing history with his sprint-lane win in tonight's Inter Dominion Trotting Championship finale at Melton's Tabcorp Park.

Breckon Bloodstock gives so much to harness racing in New Zealand and today (Saturday December 31) Ken and Karen Breckon (the owners of Breckon Bloodstock) got some of their goodwill back when winning back-to-back Group Ones at Alexandra Park.

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