Day At The Track
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Gold Ace’s comeback to credibility has received another boost heading into tomorrow night’s stunning premier meeting at Alexandra Park. The scratching of key rival Pembrook Benny from the $30,000 Founders 1700m has removed the major obstacle from Gold Ace making it back to back wins in the small sprint field. Gold Ace opened the $2.30 favourite with the TAB yesterday morning but shortened into $1.60 after Pembrook Benny, drawn directly inside him, was withdrawn. “He banged a knee somewhere and we had to treat it, which meant he couldn’t race,” said trainer Barry Purdon. “It is nothing serious though so he should be fine for Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve and the Flying Mile at Cambridge (Jan 9).” That means Gold Ace faces just four rivals in the group three race and greatly increases his chances of blasting to the lead as he looks to continue on from his all the way last start win. That was his first Alexandra Park success in over three years and his first win since re-joining Steven Reid and Simon McMullen from the McCarthy stable in Sydney. With his blazing gate speed and the Flying Mile just weeks away he could be in for a far more profitable summer than looked likely, especially as big guns like Christen Me and Terror To Love are having Christmas breaks. His early involvement and the Alexandra Park debut of Dalton Bromac in tomorrow night’s opening race sets up one of the stronger December premier meetings seen at Alexandra Park in years. Adore Me is the $1.22 favourite for the group one Queen Of Hearts even drawn the inside of the second line, with trainer-driver Mark Purdon indicating on The Box Seat TV show last night he would be looking to punch through early behind potential leader Helena Jet. “I think Helena Jet is the second best mare in the race and likely to lead so I’d rather do that than go back and try and come around them all,” said Purdon. Purdon and training partner Natalie Rasmussen also have enormous roles to play in the $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial and the $50,000 Alabar Classic. Linda Lovegrace, with the inside draw, was the first horse backed seriously when the feature race markets opened yesterday, and at $3.20 was nudging excitement machine The Orange Agent’s $3 quote last night. Purdon opts for Sires’ Stakes winner Have Faith In Me as narrowly the stable’s next chance of three standouts in the Alabar Classic but the bookies see it the other way, having Hug The Wind the $2.40 top pick over Have Faith In Me at $2.70. The other group race of the night sees Stent return to Alexandra Park and his beloved mobile short course racing in the $40,000 Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes. That combination and a good draw have seen him open a $2.50 favourite over Prime Power at $3.60 in a line-up that also includes Sheemon and Irish Whisper. Courtesy of Michael Guerin + Harness Racing New Zealand

Harness racing has been dominated in the south this season by the outstanding efforts of the All Stars team and tonight at Addington was no different. Heat three of this years Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies series for 3 year fillies looked like a three horse affair with the All Star Team duo of Supersonic Miss and Classical Art joined by the talented Delightful Lana from the Cran Dalgety barn. In slushy track conditions, Delightful Lana and Classical Art came out together and dueled for 300 metres before Natalie Rasmussen slotted Classical Art into the trail behind Delightful Lana who as usual had Dexter Dunn in the bike. Mark Purdon had settled Supersonic Miss back on the inner but hooked her out and sent her forward with 1200 metres to go and she worked to Delightful Lana's wheel with 700 metres to run.  As they swung for home Delightful Lana held a narrow advantage but was quickly claimed by Classical Art up the passing lane and by Supersonic Miss on her outer and these two settled down to battle it out. Even allowing for the run she had most pundits would have still expected Supersonic Miss to assert her superiority but it wasn't to be as Classical Art ran away from her better credentialed stablemate for an emphatic victory by 2 1/2 lengths with Delightful Lana a further 1 3/4 lengths in third. It was the fourth win in a row for the strongly built daughter of Mach Three and maintained her unbeaten record since her debut just over a month ago. Classical Art paced the 1950 metres in slushy conditions in 2:24.6, a mile rate of 1:59.3 with smart sectionals of 56 and 27.5 considering the state of the track. It should be little wonder that Classical Art is as talented as she is as the daughter of Mach Three is from the 1:57.6 Artsplace mare Art Lover who is a daughter of none other than the brilliant racemare Under Cover Lover 1:51.8 ($864,923). Purchased for $31,000 from the Australasian Classic Yearling sale in 2013, Classical Art's progress has been far from plain sailing for her trainers. Mark Purdon was quite reflective after the race tonight  on his unbeaten filly. " She was close to being sacked not to long ago to be honest." " She is quite a hard filly to work with and is not that good a track worker at home." "When it comes to raceday however she is a completely different filly." "To win that race tonight in the manner she did at just her fourth lifetime start was some effort," Mark said Mark wasn't disappointed with the run of the brilliant Supersonic Miss to run second. " The track didn't suit her 100% and she had a tough run but it was still a smart effort under the circumstances but she ran into a better one on the night," he said. Both fillies will now head to Auckland with the $75,000 Ladyship Stakes and $150,000 Alabar Sires Stakes final firmly on the radar. While Supersonic Miss would have started the season as the top ranked filly in the All Stars stable, one gets the feeling from listening to Mark Purdon tonight that she is being  quickly overtaken by Classical Art. Harnesslink Media    

Well known Reporoa harness racing enthusiast Danny McGill has had a lot of smart horses over the years and in last nights Alexandra Park winner Elliesjet  he seems to have another one to keep the bank manager happy. Danny has had a great run over the years breeding such smart types as Magie Lilly Rose 1:54.1 ($202,718), Golden Trowel 1:52.4 ($117,056) and Maximus Meridius 1:52.3 ($109,515). His latest winner though has been a bit of a surprise to the noted stockman. "She is a big filly, I mean really big and I didn't think she would have any speed," he told Harnesslink today. By Jeremes Jet from the speedy Village Jasper mare Elle Mary Rose 2:00.7, Elliesjet has been given plenty of time to grow into her large frame. "The original plan was to get her up and running and try to sell her but after after the way she has gone the last two weeks we have taken the for sale sign down," Danny said today. The 4 year old mare was having just her third lifetime start last night and on the back of a super third last week was warmly supported even though she drew the outside of the second row. Patiently driven in the early stages by driver Todd Mitchell, Elliesjet settled back in the running line before Todd sent her forward after 600 metres to grab the lead. From there it turned into a procession as Elliesjet gradually increased the tempo and then powered away in the home straight for an emphatic win by four lengths. Elliesjet paced the 2200 metres in 2:45.9, a mile rate of 2:01.3 with closing sectionals of 58.1 and 28.9 Today Danny was musing that you should never judge a book by its cover. " Todd said she absolutely jogged it and had plenty left at the finish so thats very encouraging,"  "Gareth Dixon (trainer) has suggested we should look at some of the support races over the Xmas carnival at Auckland so thats where we are heading,"  he said. Its been a big week for Danny as a half sister to Elliesjet in Annie Morva was successful at Menangle last Saturday night. "She ran second in the Ladyship stakes to Adore Me at three at Alexandra Park and then we sent her to Blake Fitzpatrick in Sydney to race. "Its worked out really well as she has topped the $100,000 mark in earnings and took a mark of 1:52.9 when she won last week," Danny said Danny almost made it a trifecta for the week as a breeder when the trotter he bred Al Bundy was an unlucky third at Alexandra Park last night. With Elliesjet and Annie Morva in such fine form, Danny looks in for a very profitable summer over the next few months. Harnesslink Media  

Adore Me came to the North Island with a big reputation and she didn't let her harness racing fans down when she easily won tonight's (Friday December 7) $75,000 Group Two Peter Breckon Memorial and Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes for 3yo fillies.

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