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Exciting three-year-old Jack Mac faces a moment of truth at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he clashes with the highly-promising Bettor Aim in the Visit Princi Butchers in North Perth Pace. Neither youngster has tasted defeat in Australia and Jack Mac has the brilliance to overcome the outside barrier in the field of eight and beat Bettor Aim, who will be driven by Ryan Warwick for trainers Greg and Skye Bond from the No. 6 barrier in the 2130m event. Jack Mac will be strongly fancied to chalk up his tenth victory at his tenth start in Western Australia after scoring decisive victories at his two outings after resuming after a four-month absence. He followed his first-up win over 2130m at Gloucester Park on May 25 with a commanding victory by 12 lengths over Blackjack Anna over the same distance on Tuesday of last week when he raced three wide early, sped to the front after 550m and was unextended in careering away from his rivals. Busselton trainer Barry Howlett certainly is more than happy that he rejected a tempting offer of $100,000 for the Mach Three colt in April last year. Howlett, who races Jack Mac in partnership with his wife Lyn and their son Jim, was purchased for $31,000 at the Auckland weanling sales and a win this week will take the colt’s earnings to $236,181. Howlett picked out a couple of youngsters who were being offered for sale as weanlings and he asked experienced New Zealand trainer-reinsman Brent Mangos to have a look at them. Mangos took a liking to Jack Mac and he purchased him at the sale on behalf of Howlett. Mangos broke in the colt and gave him five starts for five unplaced efforts against the best two-year-olds in New Zealand. Those five runs netted his owners $7450 and few pacing pundits predicted that the colt, the seventh foal out of unfashionable mare Matavutu, would develop into a juvenile champion. Bettor Aim also looks destined to become a star performer. A winner at his farewell appearance in New Zealand, over 1950m at Addington in early April this year, the Bettors Delight gelding has been ultra-impressive in winning effortlessly at his first two starts in WA, both over 2185m at Pinjarra in the space of eight days this month. Bettor Aim sustained a powerful three-wide burst to beat Itsnotova by almost three lengths at a 1.57.3 rate and a week later, on Monday of this week, he was untroubled to lead from barrier one and coast to victory by two lengths from Seeknyoushallfind at a 1.57.8 rate, with a final quarter in 27.8sec.   Ken Casellas  

The North Island Trainers and Drivers Association have appointed Scott Phelan as Youth Development Officer for the region. The role has been created to assist the youth of the industry with their development and knowledge and act as a support role for any young person who may require assistance or advice. Todd Macfarlane of the North Island Trainers and Drivers Association explained that Phelan will be available for all youth in the industry on an open door approach. “There is a lot of talent out there and we want to help nurture them and help them be the best they can be,” said Macfarlane. “Scott will be available in a support role at race meetings and trials and can be contacted at any time.” “He can also assist in enquires and view race videos, and if a rule has been breached he can also help explain what could have been done to help drivers learn from mistakes. The stipendiary stewards are also very supportive of Scott and we feel that this is a positive support base for cadets and young drivers and trainers.” “The trainers and drivers association also would like to thank the North Island Amateur and North Island Owners association for their support financially in creating this role.” Anyone wishing to seek advice or support from Phelan is encouraged to contact him directly on 022-329-9455. The Northern Harness Racing Cadets in conjunction with the North Island Branch of NZ Trainers & Drivers Association will also hold an Industry Field Day at Franklin Park Training Centre. This will be on Monday 26 March starting with lunch at 12 noon and the activities beginning at 12.30pm. Both groups are encouraging the North Island harness trainers to send along their stable hands, cadets and junior drivers so they have the opportunity to gain knowledge from our industry leaders. Speakers on the day will be Graeme Henley on pedigrees, Tony Grayling on stud duties from getting mares in foal until they are ready for the next step which is Yearling preparation. This topic will be covered by Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson. Brent Mangos and Steven Reid will part with their knowledge and opinions for selecting Yearlings to purchase and then following on Derek Balle and Owen Gillies will demonstrate how the breaking and gaiting process works. Syndication with ATC Syndicate Manager Andrew Jamieson will be the last topic on the day. The day will have its share of fun along the way with quizzes, prizes and giveaways for those in attendance. Scott Phelan in his role as the Youth Development Officer along with a delegation of the North Island Trainers & Drivers will be there to co-ordinate and over-see the afternoon. The North Island Trainers & Drivers have organised for an MVP Award for the 2017/18 season with a trip to leading trainer Gary Hall in Perth. This will be points based with all cadets and junior drivers eligible. For any further information on the day contact Sally Waters the North Island Education & Training Co-ordinator on 027 494 2850.

Heaven Rocks may have finally met his match at Cambridge tonight. Because the goof with the mega motor is being paired up with Brent Mangos is what looks an inspired catch driving choice for the $60,000 Cambridge Flying Mile. Heaven Rocks will be the warm favourite for the sprint even though a dash around Cambridge hardly seems ideal for the long-striding pacer and his erratic ways. He won a Jewels over a mile there 19 months ago but that was a three-year-old and he seems even more eccentric now, not to mention he has two genuine speedsters drawn inside him in Star Galleria and Jack’s Legend. But enter Mangos, the Mr No Nonsense of the northern driving ranks and the master of the balance-em-up-and-launch-em school of driving. Mangos has been called in as the All Stars usual drivers head home or in the case of Mark Purdon to Perth tonight to drive Lazarus. So Mangos has been entrusted with getting Heaven Rocks away, around the first bend and then deciding when to push the button. He looks the ideal driver for the job but while he sits behind the most talented horse in the race it may not be a simple stroll around Cambridge for the mad mammoth.  Star Galleria was a brave fourth, just behind Heaven Rocks in the Auckland Cup last Sunday and Jack’s Legend sixth after missing away. Both are wicked sprinters with natural gate speed so should have a huge tactical advantage over Heaven Rocks. If you can back the pair at an average of $5, giving you basically a $2.50 bracket to beat Heaven Rocks, it wouldn’t be the worst bet. Heaven Rocks isn’t the only big name catch drive for Mangos tonight as he has also picked up the reins behind Kyvalley Blur in the Flying Stakes Trot after the Victorian trotter’s three huge runs during this New Zealand campaign. He has been beaten twice in as many meetings by a race rival tonight Temporale so far this summer but both runs have been excellent and if he could stay in front of the favourite he can severely test him, so against Mangos’s aggression could be an asset. Trainer-driver Tony Herlihy is using tonight’s race as a trial to confirm Temporale’s trip to Victoria later this month and says the left-handed track won’t be an issue even though only four of his 21 starts have been anti-clockwise for one win. “He does a lot of work left-handed and I don’t think it will be an issue,” says Herlihy. “But it could be a tricky little race with Kyvalley Blur drawn inside us. Still, my fella is well.”Herlihy has a vastly-improved second string in The Almighty Johnson, who from barrier one could get the perfect trip. He has really stepped up and with that right trip I wouldn’t be stunned if he tested the two favourites.” Meanwhile, Lazarus should be too good again when he returns to racing in a A$22,000 event in Perth tonight. He has drawn two in the 2536m mobile and should win without Mark Purdon needing to ask for his best, with stablemate Ultimate Machete set to be even shorter in the race before.   Michael Guerin

Busselton trainer Barry Howlett is delighted that he rejected a tempting offer of $100,000 for Jack Mac four months ago and he is looking forward with confidence to the brilliant colt winning the $125,000 Choices Flooring Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Howlett picked out Jack Mac and bought him as a weanling in New Zealand. He races the two-year-old in partnership with his wife Lyn and their son Jim and he was seriously considering the big offer after Jack Mac had been unplaced at his first five starts in New Zealand when he earned just $7450. However, Howlett pointed out that Jack Mac, trained by Brent Mangos, had been racing against the best two-year-olds in New Zealand and he is more than happy that the colt has developed into a star performer in Western Australia where he is unbeaten in five starts, earning $99,298. Howlett’s confidence grew considerably when the colt drew most favourably at barrier two on the front line in Friday night’s 2130m classic. The colt will be driven by Chris Lewis, who holds the record in the 49-year history of the Golden Slipper with seven victories ---- with Pardon Me Boys (1987), Harry Gunn (1995), Saab (1997), Talladega (1999), The Jobs On (2004), Aikido Whitby (2006) and Western Cullen (2011). Howlett is hopeful of winning the Golden Slipper for the second time. He is a part-owner of Mitch Maguire, who started at 3/1 on and made full use of the prized No. 1 barrier by leading all the way for trainers Greg and Skye Bond and reinsman Ryan Warwick and scoring an easy win over Major Pocket and El Barcelona in last year’s classic. “I bought Mitch Maguire for $43,000 as a yearling in New Zealand, sold a share to Trevor Lindsay and gave Mangos a share,” Howlett said. “After Mitch Maguire had finished third in the Jewels we decided to sell him to Greg and Skye Bond. Then Greg asked if we would be interested in keeping a share. So, Trevor and I kept a ten per cent share. My wife wasn’t very happy when I sold Mitch Maguire and she strongly suggested that I shouldn’t sell Jack Mac. Therefore, I didn’t. Now I consider that Jack Mac goes better than Mitch Maguire.” Lyn Howlett named Jack Mac after her late father Jack McGowan. And, remarkably, there is little to suggest in his breeding that he should be such a brilliant young pacer. Jack Mac, by Mach Three, is the seventh foal out of Matavutu, whose first six foals had only a combined total of 62 starts for seven wins in minor races for combined earnings of $45,686. The only bright feature in Jack Mac’s breeding goes back a long way. His great, great granddam Wainoni Command’s first foal was Markovina (by Mark Lobell) who was a star of the 1970s, winning 35 races and being placed another 20 times from 97 starts. Trained and driven by Brian Gath, Markovina unwound a powerful finishing burst to win the 1978 Inter Dominion championship final at Moonee Valley. “I was up north fishing a couple of years ago when I picked out two or three youngsters at the weanling sales in Auckland,” Howlett said. “I asked Brent to have a look at them and he liked the look of Jack Mac and bought him for me. Brent broke in Jack Mac and the colt always showed a bit." He impressed at his final start in New Zealand in finishing fifth behind the outstanding colt Alta Maestro in a 1700m heat of the New Zealand Sires Stakes at Cambridge on March 23 this year. He started out wide at barrier seven and raced at the rear before running home solidly from eighth at the bell. The quarters were run in 27.9sec., 29.1sec., 28.3sec. and 28.3sec. and the winner rated 1.53.3, a national record for two-year-olds. Jack Mac has had to work hard and cover a lot of extra ground in four of his five WA starts, but he should be able to set the pace from the No. 2 barrier on Friday night. “He’s got a lot of early speed if you want to use it,” Howlett said. “He’s got speed and stamina and has also got a good kick when you want it.” At his most recent start, at Gloucester Park last Saturday week, Jack Mac started from barrier five, raced three wide early and then in the breeze before wobbling and running out on the turn into the back straight in the final circuit. Lewis quickly got his mind back on the job and the colt burst to the front and was coasting when he won by two lengths from Antero at a 1.57.8 rate over 2130m. “He went to run off the track,” Howlett said. “He thought he had finished and wanted to pull up, something he had never done before. However, he went to the line well and still had the ear plugs in. Chris said he was travelling easily." "We thought he was a little bit underdone, so we gave him a little light hit-out in a trial at Pinjarra on Sunday morning.” He set the pace and was not extended in winning the trial by more than three lengths. Ken Casellas

Brent Mangos is set to be the star of the show at Alexandra Park tonight but his best chance may surprise you. The Pukekohe horseman lines up the class horse on the night -- former Victoria Derby winner Maxim --- as well as talented juvenile Culpeka, who uses tonight’s meeting as a lead-up to over $500,000 worth of races in the next month. Yet while Mangos thinks that pair can both win, he rates Vampiro potentially his top chance of the night even from a tricky draw in race four. “He had no luck last week when I thought he could win on a premier night,” says Mangos. “He was following the favourite and got pushed back at the wrong time and never got clear. “I definitely rate him a premier grade horse in this grade and if he has any luck I think he can win.” Mangos should start the night with a victory as Culpeka has looked very sharp in his three starts and heads to Addington next week for the rich Sales Series Pace. He was second to Alta Maestro in a super fast time last start and while off colour for a few days after, a private workout at Pukekohe on Tuesday convinced Mangos he is ready to win. “It is only a small field and The Black Prince should probably be the main danger.” Maxim’s recent form includes a third in the Easter Cup and a luckless fourth to Cash N Flow in a race he simply couldn’t win last Friday. “Once we went back at the start from the bad draw we had no luck but he actually went really well,” said Mangos. “But that is the problem again this week. He is off a 35 handicap which is hard at Alexandra Park because the tempo of the race might dictate our chances. “If he steps as quickly as he did in the Easter Cup and gets past a few early then he can win but if he gets back and they got 3:22 (for 2700m) off the front he might have no hope. “I wouldn’t say he can’t win but to be honest he could win or finish third with exactly the same level of performance, it all depends how hard they go.” Maxim will be conceding that full 35 handicap to three Cran Dalgety-trained runners on the front line and Dalgety looks set to win the first ever Northern Trotting Oaks (race nine) with Chevron Express. She only just beat key rival tonight Regal Love in the NZ Oaks on March 31 but was clearly superior to her in the Sires’ Stakes last start so should make it an Oaks double tonight, especially with Dexter Dunn making the trip north to drive her in favour of driving at Addington. There will be plenty of northern interest at Addington, where Mach Shard takes on Spankem and The Devils Own in a strong juvenile race while wonderful mare The Orange Agent is red hot win her return to Australia at Melton in Victoria tomorrow night.   Michael Guerin

Monday’s Hawera Cup winner, Imajollywally, will progress on to the North Island Country Cups Final at Cambridge Raceway on ANZAC Day. The 7-year-old Armbro Operative gelding has come through his two-length victory over the Series top qualifier, Fleeting Grin, well - and the $25,000 Final is now his immediate goal. “That’s my first Country Cups win since Ideal Success won five Cups in a season a couple of years ago. At the moment Imajollywally is probably the stable star. “He's the loveliest pacer to drive and has quite high speed for an older horse. He jogged it yesterday, which was a surprise as the track was pretty testing,” Donnelly said. The Cambridge trainer and driver settled Imajollywally fifth along the markers from their 20m handicap in Monday’s $12,000 South Taranaki Club Hawera Cup for the R60 and faster pacers. They then tracked Everything and Nicky Chilcott down the back straight before pouncing out of the one-one at the top of the straight to run away and win in 4:37. The Parawai Cup (Thames) runner-up recorded a 2:21.4 mile rate for the 3150m stand. Imajollywally also came home in 61.6 and 29.7 on the trying surface. He has now won 11 of his 83 starts and placed in 14 others ($75,786) for his owner/breeder Craig Good. “Wally pulled up great and I’m looking forward to the Country Cups Final on our home track. I’m also hoping Eldolar will make the field,” said Donnelly. Eldolar finished with five points in the Series, but notched up his fifth career win (all this season) at the Hawera meeting on Saturday. Junior reinsman Mark Johnson drove Eldolar to a head victory over Everything (Nicky Chilcott) for trainer Donnelly in the $9,000 Egmont Tyre Service R59 to R80 pace. Meanwhile, Saturday night’s Easter Cup place-getter ($4.50) and 2014 Victory Derby winner – Maxim – should be tough to beat in the 2017 North Island Country Cups Final. The Brent Mangos trained and driven 6-year-old only had two starts in the 13-race Country Cups Final Series and won them both. They were the Wanganui Grass Cup on February 12 and the Franklin Country Cup at Alexandra Park 10 days later. Maxim was the only pacer to win two North Island Country Cups this season. The classy Bettor’s Delight gelding got 10 points for each of those wins, and finished fourth highest qualifier in the ‘summer series’ behind Fleeting Grin 39, Everything 36, and Imajollywally 22. North Island Country Cup winners this season were: December 28: Te Awamutu Grass Cup - The John & Josh Dickie trained Joanednobettor (Josh Dickie). January 15: Rotorua Grass Cup - The Michelle Wallis & Bernie Hackett trained Full Speed Ahead (Todd Macfarlane). January 21: Parawai Grass Cup - The Steve Telfer & Chris Garlick trained Sir Richie (Maurice McKendry). January 27: Wellington Grass Cup - The Andrew Stuart trained Pay Me Visa (Kyle Marshall). January 29: Otaki Grass Cup - The Nicky Chilcott trained and driven Everything. February 5: Tauranga Grass Cup - The Chris Webber trained Fleeting Grin (Peter Ferguson). February 9: The Manawatu Cup - The Mike Berger trained Lusty Mac (Philip Butcher). February 12: Wanganui Grass Cup - The Brent Mangos trained and driven Maxim. February 24: The Franklin Country Cup (Alexandra Park) - The Brent Mangos trained and driven Maxim. March 2: Taranaki Grass Cup - The Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Walkinshaw (Scott Phelan). March 5: Stratford Grass Cup - The Nicky Chilcott trained and driven Everything. March 31: Palmerston North Gold Cup - The Mike Berger trained Bettor Spirits (Philip Butcher). April 17: Hawera Grass Cup - The Arna Donnelly trained and driven Imajollywally. Tuesday April 25 (ANZAC Day): The 2017 North Island Country Cups Final worth $25,000 at Cambridge Raceway. The top qualifiers for the North Island Country Cups Final (with points) are: Fleeting Grin 39, Everything 36, Imajollywally 22, Maxim 20, Full Speed Ahead 18, Bettor Spirits 15, Sir Richie 15, Pay Me Visa 14, Beyond the Silence 10, Joanednobettor 10, Lusty Mac 10, Mo Casino 10, Walkinshaw 10, Extra Guinness 8, Kenrick, Eldolar 5, Major Classic 4, Dikerry 3, Hudy Haxwell 3, The Tracker 3.   Duane Ranger

Maxim is going to tell trainer Brent Mangos something on Saturday night. Because where the heroic comeback pacer finishes in the $100,000 Easter Cup could determine his pathway for next season. Maxim has been one of the stories of the harness racing season, the former Victoria Derby winner who was sidelined for a remarkable three years before returning for new trainer Mangos. He was sent the horse by Barry Purdon so Maxim could be swum regularly to ease pressure on his troublesome legs and Mangos has worked the miracle, the now six-year-old having won three of his four starts since his huge break. But now Maxim heads back into the big time, against four other Group One winners, two NZ Cup placegetters and Classie Brigade, who holds the second fastest 3200m winning time in New Zealand history. It is a steep jump in class and could determine whether Maxim is set for a New Zealand Cup campaign or something a level easier. “I know he is up to them,” says Mangos. “He won very well last week at Alex Park and while he only went 2:41, he could have gone 2:38 (for 2200m mobile). “And it is not even that. He just feels like a good horse should. “So I can see him running in three this week, maybe even better because he will keep going no matter what the speed.” Mangos admits what all punters know, if the best version of freakish talent Heaven Rocks turns up on Saturday night he may have too much x-factor for even a field of this class. But while it took Lazarus to beat him last start, Heaven Rocks may not be ideally suited by the field configuration as he is on the front line but unruly with some fast beginners on the 10m handicap mark. Not only will that give the mammoth pacer little room to move early but the added threat of horses rushing up behind him early. It may not matter and if he is able to behave then he might simply be too special. “A horse like him would be very hard to beat but if his manners see him settle a little way off us then horses like my fella and Captain Dolmio will roll along and make it hard for the others.” As good as Maxim is, and he looks serious open class material, he is not proven at that level yet whereas Franco Nelson and Titan Banner are. Franco Nelson almost won Adore Me’s New Zealand Cup two years ago and is a high class stayer with great manners who is well placed under Saturday’s handicaps. So he looks the best value to upset Heaven Rocks, while Titan Banner was third in this season’s New Zealand Cup and was massive at Alexandra Park in December so is another worthy of respect in a wonderfully put together field, in which almost any of the nine could win without stunning. A surprise entry for the Cup is Piccadilly Princess as trainer Mark Purdon tries to earn around $5000 more dollars with her domestically this season to assure her place in the Harness Jewels come June. Her stablemate Golden Goddess races in a $13,000 race on Saturday for the same reason, needing to earn around $18,000 in the next six weeks to make the Jewels because she has no earnings that count toward the Jewels this season. “There aren’t many races for them and Golden Goddess in particular needs to win some money soon,” says Purdon. The stable will dominate betting on the two-year-old pace on Saturday, with Spankem certain to be odds on after his easy win in last Friday’s Welcome Stakes. One of the heartening factors at Saturday’s meeting is the capacity field with some genuine talent in the juvenile Trotting Stakes, with the two-year-old crop looking one of the more advanced in recent years.   Michael Guerin

There is a slight chance that the 2014 Victoria Derby winner could line up in the Group One Easter Cup at Addington Raceway on Saturday week (April 15). Maxim’s trainer/driver, Brent Mangos said the Easter Cup was in the back of his mind, but he would have to go super in tonight's feature pace at Alexandra Park to warrant a trip south. “He would have to go well and come through the race really well. At this stage it’s probably a no, but I’m not completely writing off the idea. His suspect legs mean he’s still very much a day-to-day proposition. “If he did go he would travel alone, and then possibly meet up with a couple of my two-year-olds when I take them to the Jewels next month,” Mangos said. “In saying that there’s plenty of good races for him up here, so it’s a bit of a win-win situation,” the Waiau Pa horseman added. Maxim is the second highest ranked pacer in tonight's 2200m mobile with an R102 rating - one point behind the Barry Purdon trained and driven Arden's Choice. They have drawn the second-to-outside and outside front row draws respectively. "My fella trialled well on Saturday. I was real happy with that run. That was his first run back since winning at 'The Park' on February 24. He seems real good and trialled with purpose," Mangos said. Maxim Mangos drew six of nine in Saturday's right-handed 2500m mobile workout at Pukekohe. He settled him second last early before going around to sit parked and then landing the one-one, when The Faithful went and sat parked outside pacemaker Robbie Burns and the trailing Jack's Legend. In the lane Maxim powered home wide out to get within three quarters of a length to Jack's Legend and Zac Butcher, who stopped the clock in 3:08.8 (mile rate 2:01.5) - and home in 56.3 and 27.6. "He's still got issues with his legs but I think he can go close on Friday, even though he's drawn out a bit I think he's up to that field," Mangos said. “That Workout really satisfied me,” he stressed. Maxim suffered tendon problems after placing behind Tiger Tara and Locharburn in the Group One 3-Year-Old feature pace back in March 2014. The son of Bettor’s Delight and Splendid Deal, who was formerly trained by Barry Purdon, has now had three solid starts for Mangos. He resumed from a 34-month spell with a promising second behind Stroke Of Luck at Alexandra Park on January 26, and then on February 12 he was too classy (from 30m behind) for his nine opponents on the grass in the $10,000 Wanganui Cup. Then Maxim won his first race in 13 Alexandra Park starts (10 placings) on February 24 when he justified his $2.10 favouritism by nailing a $14,000 R70 to R100 handicap pace. He paced the 2200m mobile in 3:25.2 (mile rate 2:02.2) and last 800m and 400m in 55.6 and 27.3. That was his seventh win in 24 lifetime starts. He's also placed 13 times for $413,487. "You can't plan too far ahead with this fella because of his legs. He's well now but you have to be very mindful of what he’s been through. "He swims a lot and does a bit of work on the walking machine as well. Right now I couldn't be happier with him," Mangos said. Maxim has won three times and placed on six occasions in 10 starts over Friday's 2200m mobile. He is owned by Katrina Purdon, Trevor Casey, John Lohman, Terry Henderson, The Clear View Racing Number 4 Syndicate and The Anzac racing Syndicate. He was bred by Charles Roberts.   Duane Ranger

Michelle Wallis nailed her first Group Three victory at ‘The Park’ last night but don’t expect to see more of the Franklin reinswoman in the sulky. Waiuku-based Wallis won the Group Three $25,000 Sims Metals Northern Breeders Stakes for mares behind the horse that she and her husband Bernie Hackett train on Karioitahi Beach – Princess Mackendon. “I only drive her because she’s such an honest little mare. I think this is her limit thought. I couldn’t see her winning a Group One against some of the big guns, but she is very consistent and this is her career highlight,” Wallis said. The 5-year-old Skyvalley mare had finished second three times and won once in her last four starts before tonight’s three quarter length and four length victory over Sunset Peak (David Butcher) and Majestic Ali (Maurice McKendry). Princess Mackendon trotted the 2700m stand in 3:30.4 (mile rate 2:05.4) and home in 60.8 and 30.6. Wallis was quick to point that her driving career would be limited. “There’s too much pressure from owners and I’d rather let the guns do it,” a modest Wallis said. The 40m handicap was a bridge too far for the $1.70 favourite, Idle Bones (Brent Mangos). After a quick 1:26.5 lead time he finished seventh of 10. It was the 21st running of the Northern Breeders Stakes. The Group Three $25,000 Lincoln Farms 'The Founders' Free-For-All was won by the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Heaven Rocks, who led for 1100m of the 1700m mobile event. Bowling along fiercely in front thereafter the 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding ran his nine opponents off their feet. Driver Rasmussen dubbed him a ‘nutter’ after his one-and-a-quarter length and half neck victory over stablemate More The Better (Mark Purdon) and The Orange Agent (Tony Herlihy MNZM). “He’s a bit of a wild animal. A loose cannon. He’s a very nice pacer but doesn’t know a lot. he’s got a heap to learn yet,” Rasmussen said. Heaven Rocks, who has been pulled up in both of his starts this campaign, went very wide around the home-straight bend the first time and then with momentum took the lead off eventual fourth place-getter, Christen Me. He then bowled along in front pacing the 1700m in 1:59.3 (mile rate 1.53) and came home in 56.1 and 27.7. It was Heaven Rock’s sixth win in 11 starts and he was the $4 second favourite. Meanwhile, Speeding Spur returned to the winner’s circle for the 18th time following his last start second in the Group One $300,000 Great Southern Star in Victoria on February 4. It was a well-time run by driver Josh Dickie who sat three-back on the outside and followed Lemond (Maurice McKendry) throughout. It was his eight win at Alexandra Park. “I didn’t mind following Lemond because he’s a nice trotter and if I thought that if we had one go at them my horse would have the sprint to get over the top of them. He felt like the old Speeding Spur tonight,” Co-trainer and driver Dickie said. The 5-year-old Pegasus Spur entire trotted the 2700m stand from his 45m handicap in a very respectable 3:26.9 (mile rate 2:03.3) and came home in 59 and 28.6. He had half a neck and a nose to spare over Temporale (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Lemond. Speeding Spur is also trained by Dickie’s father John at Clevedon and is owned by All Black captain Kieran Read; former All Blacks Andy Hewitt and Dave Hewett; Commonwealth Games gold medalist Dick Tayler; and the Woodlands Partnership Syndicate. He was bred by Woodlands Stud. Speeding Spur’s stake earnings now rest at $694,291. The Barry Purdon trained and driven Mach Shard made it two wins from three starts (second in the other) in the seventh heat of the $25,000 Breckon Farms Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. The Mach Three and Sly Shard colt dug deep to hold out the Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen trained duo of Ashley Locaz (Rasmussen) and Spankem (Purdon) by a nose and a length. Mach Shard paced the 1700m mobile in 2:04.67 (mile rate 1.58 even) and came home in 57.9 and 27.9. But the performance of the night came in the last event when the Todd Macfarlane trained and driven Heavyweight Hero set a national record for 3-year-old trotters. His time of 2:49.8 was 1.4 seconds quicker than Rock Tonight's New Zealand record, also set at Alexandra Park in March 2015. Heavyweight Hero dealt to his up to R66 opposition by four-and-a-quarter lengths.The Muscles Yankee gelding’s mile rate was 2:04.1 and he came home in 57.8 and 28.8. It was Heavyweight Hero's second win in nine starts and he's also placed four times. The victory took his stake earnings past $50,000 for Macfarlane, Aaron Lowe and their band of owners. Duane Ranger

It might have been a lowly $2,000 non-tote trot but the Haras Des Trotteurs 2yo Mobile is one race Josh Dickie won't forget in a hurry. Dickie went into the 1700m mobile at Alexandra Park last night (Friday) with a 50-50 chance of achieving the his 300th career win. And he did exactly that behind the Muscle Hill filly,Star Of Oleysa, that he and his father, John, train at Clevedon. The only other starter was the Brent Mangos trained and driven Storm Cloud. Mangos too had a brilliant night driving five winners and training four. Between the duo Dickie and Mangos drove nine of the 12 races carded.  Owned and bred by Reg Caldow, Star Of Oleysa (who is out of the Pegasus Spur mare, Olesya) started from the ace draw and was aided by a gallop from Storm Cloud at the start. At the end of the 1700m Star Of Oleysa and Dickie stopped the clock in 2:15.6 (mile rate 2:08.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.2 and 28.9. Dickie was rapt. “It doesn’t matter what type of race it ts, it’s good to win any race. I’m delighted. I am a statistics man and this means a lot. One day I would dearly love to drive 1,000 winners and a lot more Group One events,” Dickie said. “I owe a lot to Dad and all the other owners and trainers for putting me on their horses,” he added. Dickie took eight-and-a-half seasons to achieve the milestone. His stake earnings currently sit at $2.8 million. The 25-year-old alsonotched up his 301st, 302ndand 303rd driving wins behind the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Mr Euroman in the second event, and then combined with his Dad to co-train and drive the $2.80 favourite C K Spur to victory in race five. Then he nailed ninth eventbehind the Dickie trained Kate Black. “It’s been a great night all right. I’ve had some nice drives and landed in some nice positions. It’s been a night to remember. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Dickie said. Meanwhile, Dickie Senior is just two wins away from the 500-training milestone after Star Of Oleysa’s first win at her third start (two previous seconds) and then C K Spur and Kate Black getting the chocolates. Dickie (John) has won 364 on his own and another 133with his son. His collective career earnings stand at $4.1 million. The Ray Green trained and David Butcher driven Northview Hustler caused a slight upset in the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Colts & Geldings Graduate (2200m mobile). The 3-year-old Bettor's Delight colt was the $12.20 fourth favourite and paced the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:40.8 (mile rate 1:57.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 28 even. It was his second win in five starts. The female equivalent – the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Fillies Graduette (2200m mobile) was won by the Gareth Dixon trained and Simon Lawson driven American Princess. The brown American Ideal filly, who was the $15.20 fourth favourite, won in 2:40.9 (mile rate 1;57.7) and home in 58.3 and 29 even. That was her first win in six starts. The $14,999 feature pace and trot were both won by Franklin reinsman Brent Mangos, who nailed the $14,999 Stables Cafe 2017 Franklin Cup Racenight Handicap for the R70 to R100 pacers with Maxim. He also trained Maxim, the 2014 Victoria Cup winner.Maxim has now won two of his three starts this campaign and has finished second in the other. ‘Mango’ repeated the dose in the $14,999 Franklin Long Roofing Handicap for the R67 to R109 (& claimers) trotters with the Tony Herlihy trained King of The Roses. Mangos’s third, fourth and fifth driving victories came via first starter, Culpeka in race three, Roi Des Gitans in the 10th event and then Smoldering Ashes in race 11. The Waiau Pa horseman also trained the trio. “It’s great to win any race but five is a bonus. It’s been a real good night. The team is going really well at the moment,” Mangos said. Duane Ranger

Brent Mangos has had a successful week without even jumping in the sulky but he hopes to put the icing on that cake at Alexandra Park tonight. Mangos was one of the busier New Zealand trainers at the three days of yearling sales this week securing at least a dozen lots including a $150,000 colt out of the former top filly Cheer The Lady. “It has been a very solid week for us and we were really happy with what we got,” says Mangos. “We did the same last year and so far the now two-year-olds we got out of those sales are showing ability.” Two of those --- Culpeka and Jack Mac --- take on older horses in race four tonight, with Mangos saying the former can win on debut as he has plenty of x-factor. “They are only starting against the older horses because it is 1700m and won’t hurt them as they get ready for some of the good races coming up for their own age group.” But while rolling out the juveniles is always an exciting time for any trainer, it is Maxim who Mangos is looking forward to the most tonight. The former Victoria Derby winner for Barry Purdon is now with Mangos so he can do much of his training in the pool. His two starts since a three-year injury enforced layoff have seen a brave Alex Park second and then a huge win Wanganui, not a place you expect to see a horse of his calibre. “I took him there because after three years off he needs the racing and it was better than going to the trials,” says Mangos. “And it really helped. It has brought him on fitness wise and while his legs are still a bit day to day, I think he can win this week.” Maxim is a genuinely good horse and while 30m handicaps are never easy to overcome in pacing races at Alexandra Park, most of his dangers are likely to settle back in the field with him, which could be a huge help. On sheer class alone he is the horse to beat. Mangos was impressed with Vampiro’s maiden success last starts and suggests he can win race nine while Roi Des Gitans is rated an each way chance in the weakish fifth leg of Pick6. “And I am on King Of The Roses in the trot (race seven) and he is a good little horse who tries very hard so he has to be a show.” That trots features open classers Prime Power, who looks close to a win, and Foray, who should be greatly improved by his last-start resumption. The richest race tonight is the $30,000 Sires’ Stakes Graduette where Gotta Go Dali Queen is good enough to overcome her second line draw as she looks an Oaks class filly.   Michael Guerin

Art Major went within a whisker of usurping super sire, Bettor’s Delight on the second day of selling at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales in Christchurch yesterday. Alabar principals will have been over the moon to calculate the statistics of their marquee stallion as he went stride for stride with the seemingly untouchable Woodlands Stud resident on what was a slightly improved day two. With 30 lots on offer, Art Major’s progeny produced an aggregate of $892,000 for the day - with an average of just over $40,500 and a clearance rate of above 73 per cent. Bettor’s Delight had 37 lots in the book with three withdrawn but still managed to a total of just over $1 million in sales for the day with an average of over $41,000 and a clearance of just above 70 per cent. Four of the day’s five top lots were by Art Major - the highest of them a colt from Rocknroll Arden who fetched $155,000 when purchased by Cran Dalgety. Cheer The Lady’s first foal, a colt, went for $150,000 to clients of Brent Mangos while half-brothers to start four-year-old’s Lazarus and Chase The Dream both went for $120,000. The only Bettor’s Delight to split them was a filly from Gotta Go Harmony who was purchased by Mark Jones for a band of his owners for $120,000. Jones joined the party late in bidding for the standout filly before eventually grabbing her following some healthy bidding. For Nigel McGrath, the $120,000 he found to secure the half-brother to Lazarus, who was a rig, was breaking new ground. “It’s the highest I’ve paid for one,” McGrath said. “I was the underbidder on the brother to Partyon on Monday so this is a bit of a consolation. “McGrath was still in the process of finalising ownership for the colt.” Trevor Casey stamped his authority early when grabbing the half to Chase The Dream, who incidentally was also a rig. Cheer The Lady’s first foal will remain in New Zealand after Brent Mangos played the role of purchaser for one of his clients. “I actually drove the mare a few times, and she has left an outstanding colt. “It’s getting into big territory for us, but we decided this year to cut back on the number of horses we buy and focus on some bigger prices so to get this one is reallypleasing.” All counted there were seven lots on the second day that fetched six figure totals. Greg and Nina Hope were proactive on the trotting front, buying three lots for the day including a close relation to one of their current stars, Enghien. They paid $54,000 for a Dream Vacation colt from Another Love who herself was purchased in foal from the sale of the late Carl Middleton two years ago then they also went to $50,000 to grab a Revenue colt from Harriet Hughes, making the colt a half-brother to Harriet Of Mot. There was a slight lift in sales on the day from Tuesday’s opening day in Christchurch. The two days ended with an average of just over $27,000 and a surprising clearance rate of 77 per cent. More than $11 million was spent over the three days   Matt Markham

The pacer that won the 2014 Victoria Derby and ran third in Northern Derby that same year, is well and truly back on the road to recovery under new trainer/driver Brent Mangos. Maxim, who suffered tendon problems after placing behind Tiger Tara and Locharburn in that Group One 3-year-old feature pace in March 2014, is nearing peak form and will now start at the premier meetings at Alexandra Park next month. The son of Bettor’s Delight and Splendid Deal, who was formerly trained by Barry Purdon, has now had two eye-catching starts for Mangos. He resumed from a 34-month spell with a promising second behind Stroke Of Luck at Alexandra Park on January 26, and then yesterday (Sunday) he was too classy (from 30m behind) for his nine opponents in the $10,000 Wanganui Cup. “He jarred up a bit when he resumed, and this time I wanted to give him an easier assignment and a softer surface to run on. That’s why we took him to down to race at the 'River City' on the Wanganui grass. “It was all about getting fitness into him as well. He seems to be over his problems now and he’s a good wee horse who I think can get back to where he was. I’ll start him again on March 3 at ‘The Park’,” Mangos said. “The way he feels I see no reason why he can’t get back to being a Free-For-All horse again,” he added. Mangos settled last at the bell with the bay and then shot him around to the lead down the back straight the last time, before trailing Brainstormer not long after. He then sat in behind the pace-maker until the home straight before digging deep to beat last month’s Otaki Cup winner, Everything (Nicky Chilcott), by a length. The now 6-year-old gelding paced the AG Challenge-sponsored 2650m stand in 3:41.8 (mile rate 2:14.6) and came home in 61.6 and 32.1. It was his sixth win in 23 starts. Maxim has also placed 13 times and banked $405,463 in stakes. He was the $2.10 favourite. At his peak Maxim was compared in the same breath as former multiple Group One winning stablemate, Sky Major, who ran second behind Maxim in the Victoria Derby and fourth behind him in the Northern Derby. “He felt real good today and I think he will keep improving. There is no sign of that ole injury, which is heartening. He capped off a really good day for the stable,” the Waiau Pa horseman said. Mangos had five starters at the Wanganui Trotting Club’s annual meeting for three winners and two thirds. Both of his wins came from warm favourites. His day started in the best possible fashion when he steered Anse Vata to victory in the first race, and then won behind Smoldering Ashes in the last. They paid $1.50 and $1.60 respectively. His place-getters were second favourite Saint Michel, who finished third in race four, and then favourite Double Twist repeated the dose two races later. South Auckland driver Sailesh Abernethy also drove three consecutive winners in races two, three, and four. They came behind the Brent Weaver trained Extra Guinness; the Jason Cossey trained Megatron; and the Todd Mitchell trained Mighty Sunny. Duane Ranger

Brent Mangos isn’t getting too carried away with his promising pacer Vampiro, but deep down he knows he has a very nice 3-year-old in his Waiau Pa barn. “He’s done everything we have asked of him. Every time he steps out on the track he seems to be a better race-horse. He’s still three or four months away from his best. “Whether he can match it with the top 3-year-olds is a another quiestion. That’s a huge step for any young horse to take, but as for now, I couldn’t be happier with him,” Mangos said. The lightly tried son of Rocknroll Hanover and Fortune Lover (by Artsplace) notched up his second win in two starts at Alexandra Park last night (Thursday). Vampiro and Mangos led all the way from barrier one in the $13,000 Dunstan Summer Series Maiden Pace. They paced the 2200m mobile in 2:42.4 (mile rate 1:58.8) and sprinted their last 800m and 400m in 56.8 and 27.7 seconds. “He won his last three Workouts quite easily and then on debut (December 22) he drew one on the second line and didn’t get a go at them. “We turned him out when he was a 2-year-old and he’s come back real strong this time in. He’s a very nice 3-year-old, but I want to stress to you he has a big leap to make if he wants to foot it with the guns later in the season,” the Franklin-based trainer/driver said. “In saying that I couldn’t be happier with his progress,” he stressed. Mangos liked the way Vampiro raced. “He has a will to win and hasn’t let me down yet. He is quite impressive,” he said. But perhaps the ‘drive of the night’ came from Mangos behind the Tim Vince trained Monnay in the feature trot - the $15,000 Dunstan Summer Series Handicap for the R60 to R116 trotters. The 9-year-old Majestic gelding and Mangos started from 30m behind and went around to the lead at the 1700m (of 2700m) - and from that put Mangos set a solid clip in front, stretching his 12 opponents down the back straight. It was a daring drive and proved the winning of the race. They held out the fast-finishing favourite, Speeding Spur, by half a neck. The connections of the first two home would have been delighted with the race, especially the latter who has now virtually sealed himself a start in the Great Southern Star in Melbourne - a race he won last year. Asked if Mangos took driving advice from Vince he replied: "If he did it went in one ear and out the other,” he joked. “I knew that this fella couldn’t go much quicker than 3:30 (3:29.9) so that was the tactic. “I tried to bowl him along as fast as he could to keep the good trotter out and it worked. Tim has done a great job with this trotter and I take my hat off to him. He fell in but the tactic worked,” said Mangos. Monnay trotted a 2:05 mile rate and came home in 58.9 and 30.2. It was the Monarchy gelding's 15th win ($120,259) in 75 starts, and second straight victory for Vince. Vince has now remarkably trained eight winners from nine starters in the last fortnight. The Kumeu horseman’s 13 wins this season is a personal best. Meanwhile, Mangos and Hall-of-Famer, Barry Purdon, were the most successful drivers at ‘The Park’ last night, winning two races apiece. Purdon won the non-tote event behind the 2-year-old Majestic - Fear Factor (four wins) gelding he trains named Stress Factor and then three races later he won behind the Mach Three - Sly Shard (four wins) 2-year-old colt he also trains called Mach Shard. Purdon paid $200,000 for the half-brother to Smiling Shard (17 wins and $1.1m) at last year's New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch. He was the Sales topper. One of the other highlights of the night came in $9,000 Winger group Fashion At The Oaks Handicap for the Up to R58 trotters. Fourteen-year-old Moment Of Truth (Peter Ferguson) notched up his 29th career win ($266,919) in the 2200m stand. The Sundon gelding, who was claimed, was the $12.20 eighth favourite. The old boy, who is trained by Liza Milina at Kumeu, has now won at least one race every season (except 2013-2014) since 2006-2007. “The only time we put a sulky on him is race-day. I train him on the Murawai Beach behind the 4-wheel drive with my partner Matt (Bray). He does the driving and I’m sitting at the back with the horses. “He always wants to go flat out. He’s happiest when he can do that. We can get up to 50km/h. Pete does a great job of driving him on race-day,” Milina said. Duane Ranger

When Speeding Spur and Maxim make their comebacks at Alexandra Park tonight they will both have group one winning performances in their recent formline. The problem is for Speeding Spur that form was 10 months ago, for Maxim it was over three years ago. The two best horses at the first Alexandra Park meeting of the year come with unusual comeback stories, particularly Maxim. The exciting pacer actually won three starts ago but that was the 2014 Victoria Derby at Melton, beating his stablemate Sky Major. It finished third in Tiger Tara’s Northern Derby a month later and trainer Barry Purdon was adamant he would be an open class force until he broke down soon after. Three years and plenty of patience later he returns in the last race tonight for new trainer-driver Brent Mangos. "Barry sent him here so he could be swum almost every day and apart from the two days a week he hopples that is all he does,” says Mangos. "He is a good horse and he is fit but of course he isn’t race hard after this long away. "I think we have found the right race for him to return in and I wouldn’t be stunned if he won but we all know how hard it will be for him. "But he is sound and it is great to have him back.”While Maxim wins comeback story of the night, Speeding Spur’s return is also a surprise as trainer John Dickie had originally thought the injured star would be out until the autumn. Speeding Spur won the Great Southern Star at Melton last March but damaged a leg when chasing Monbet home in the Anzac Cup last April, being sidelined since. “We were going to miss all the summer races but he is very well and has done a lot of work so we are using this as a trial for the Great Southern Star next week,” says Dickie. “If he performs how we want tonight he will be going back to Melton next week.” Driver Josh Dickie says the 55m handicap facing Speeding Spur is not insurmountable but their chances may be determined by the tempo of the race. “He can win but if they run hard in front he isn’t ready to take off and go hard all the way so I think the punters should be careful because it could be out of our hands,” says Josh. Michael Guerin

The North Island’s leading Auckland Cup and National Trot prospects emerged at Alexandra Park last night (Friday).   Last year’s Auckland Cup runner-up Hughie Green was simply too big and strong for his six opponents in the feature pace, while Idle Bones set a New Zealand record in the R70 to R99 Trot.   They won their respective 1700m mobiles by three lengths and three-and-a-half lengths respectively. It was Hughie Green’s 11thcareer win and Idle Bones’ 12th and they paid $2.90 and $1.90.   Idle Bones and her trainer/driver Brent Mangos stopped the clock in 2:03.8 beating Allegro Agitato’s 2007 national record for trotting mares by 0.7 of a second.   The grey Monkey Bones mare trotted a 1:57.2 mile rate and came home in 58 even and 29.5.   And it was a smart drive by Tony Herlihy (MNZM) who got Hughie Green home in the fourth event – the $14,000 Mitavite Mobile for the R83 to R106 rated pacers. Hughie Green was rated 106 prior to the race and that is why he started from the widest front-row draw.   "It was a nice drive by Tony. He got back and then got him into the one-one before securing the lead with just under a lap to go.   "He will stay on the horse now as we head towards the Auckland Cup on New Year's Eve," said Gareth Hughes, who trains the big lump of a horse with his father Bunty at Ardmore.   “If he didn’t win tonight, you wouldn’t think he would be much chop in the Auckland Cup. It was a must-win race and the big fella obliged,” Hughes added.   Herlihy was having his first drive behind Hughie Green because regular pilot Maurice McKendry is now committed to the 4-year-old entire he trains – Shandale.   Herlihy notched up his 3,401st winner when Hughie Green stopped the clock in 2:00.3 (mile rate 1:53.9) and last half and quarter in 56.3 and 28.2.   Win number 3,400 came a race earlier when he trained and drove 5-year-old Monarchy gelding, King of The Roses, to a neck victory in the $14,000 Haras Des Trotteurs Handicap for the R36 to R71 trotters.   Maurice McKendry, who finished third in the race behind Hughie Green and Rocker Band (Samantha Ottley), is second on the New Zealand All-Time Driver’s Premiership with 3,162 wins.   Hughes said Hughie Green had come through the race well and had eaten up everything last night. He will now target the Group Three $30,000 Summer Cup on December 9, the Group Two $40,000 Franklin Cup a week later and then the Group One $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup on December 31.   Co-owner and breeder John Green termed Hughie Green a disappointment up until last night. Earlier in the week he said if he didn’t measure up in that race and in December the 5-year-old son of Art Major and Alta Serena would do his future racing in Australia.   “John is right in what he says. Even though he ran second in last year’s Auckland Cup (in March) he hasn’t won a Group or Listed race yet, so we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. Obviously the main target is to go one better in this year’s Auckland Cup and with some of Mark’s (Purdon) nice horses either spelling or at the Interdominions, we might have a chance,” Hughes said.   Hughes said it was a matter of just improving the horse from now until the last day of the year.   “He’s gone okay this time in without getting too excited but I must admit last night’s win brought a few smiles to our faces,” he said.   Meanwhile, Hughie Green’s full sister, 3-year-old bay filly Hughie’s Sister, was expected to make her first public appearance over the mobile mile at the Pukekohe Workouts today.   Hughes said she was a promising type just like the stable’s other winner at Alexandra Park last night – 3-year-old American Ideal – Nicolosa filly, Kaitlyn.   “She’s a nice little racehorse too, whom we have got an a bit of time for. She won her Workouts the week before and we thought she might go a bold race tonight.   “We were delighted with Maurie’s drive and the way she won,” said Hughes.   Kaitlyn, who was the $2.90 favourite, has now raced twice for a win and a third – both over the 2200m mobile at Alexandra Park.   She stopped the clock in 2:46.1 (mile rate 2:01.5 ) and home in 59.7 and 28 flat.   Footnote: There was sad news at Alexandra Park last night when people learnt of the death of Greg Bosma, who was in his 40s.   The jovial and long-time security employee (20-plus years) at ‘The Park’ sadly succumbed to cancer leaving this writer and many, many Alexandra Park patrons absolutely devastated.   Duane Ranger

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