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One of the legends of the harness racing industry Charles Roberts has passed away. At 96 years old and having battled the demon that is dementia for nearly three years Roberts’s passing in his South Auckland nursing home on Monday morning wasn’t a surprise to his family. But it is still very much the end of an era in harness racing as Roberts was a giant of the industry who leaves behind a legacy that will be matched by few. Roberts was a veterinarian his entire working life and was responsible for post-race drugging testing of horses being adopted in New Zealand which changed the integrity of the industry forever. His veterinary practice aside though he was a successful breeder and owner of racehorses in both the thoroughbred and harness racing codes for decades before co-founding standardbred breeding behemoth Woodlands Stud in 1992. After moderate success at times with partner Andrew Grierson the pair changed their business model from from leasing stallions to purchasing their Southern Hemisphere breeding rights. The stud has never looked back and has grown to be one of the best in the world and home to champion stallion Bettors Delight, arguably the greatest harness racing stallion to ever stand in Australasia. Not only has Bettors Delight changed the harness racing breed in New Zealand and Australia through the deeds of champions like Lazarus but in 2014 Bettors Delight’s daughter Adore Me, owned by Roberts won the New Zealand Cup. She later went on to become little miss 1:47.7 in the Ladyship Mile at Menangle, a race Roberts took much pleasure from because he knew in 108 seconds the mare he bred and raced had change the way we thought about times in this part of the world. Adore Me was one of an army of outstanding horses Roberts bred and owned in the last decade of his life and he loved travelling to see them race, even if it was just to hold court at Alexandra Park. In later years that was often with the help of his family and eventually his walking frame. But while his body weakened Charles’s attitude (he always liked being called Charles rather than Charlie) never changed. He was loud to the point of being rambunctious, had the strong opinions of a man with seven decades experience in the industry and a fierce love of the horse, not only his but all horses. His success as a breeder and owner, Woodlands Stud’s enormous generosity as sponsors along with Charles’s contributions to our veterinary industry will ensure Roberts’s legacy in racing continues for decades. He is survived by his daughter Mary (and her husband Paul Kenny), son Mark, seven grandchildren and three great-grand children.   By Michael Guerin

Over the last two or three years in several harness racing magazines and on several web sites, we have seen a host of articles concerning the freakish "Broodmare of the Year," Scuse Me, who passed away last week. With the way Scuse Me has single handedly changed the breed in Australasia that interest is to be expected but one thing that has been sadly missing from these articles has been the most important - the facts. So we thought it was time to set the record straight once and for all now that Scuse Me has passed away. Scuse Me became hot property in April 1998 when she won the Noel Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park in a brilliant 1:53.5 a New Zealand record that stood for many years. That time of 1:53.5 immediately got the attention of several trainers in North America including the ex-pat Kiwi, Kelvin Harrison. Kelvin, who buys all his horses in New Zealand from JC International contacted John Curtin to see if the mare might be for sale. As a result of that approach, a deal was put together between the owners of Scuse Me in Vicki Purdon and Jim Dalgety and the purchaser Joe Alfen who is one of Kelvin's biggest owners. Not long after the mare landed at Kelvins in North America, a major problem developed with Scuse Me in that she bled from both nostrils during fast work. Treated and given time to get over the bleed, Scuse Me was to bleed once again when next tried and was immediately retired as a racehorse. As you can imagine, the recriminations over Scuse Me's sale started from there and in an attempt to sort the problems out, John Curtin was asked to try to resell Scuse Me back to New Zealand as a broodmare. The list of prominent breeders and studs that were offered the mare reads like a who's who of New Zealand breeding but no one really was that keen. Now Charlie Roberts had only got into the standardbred industry a few years before with the launch of  Woodlands Stud by standing the sire of Scuse Me, BG's Bunny and having come from a thoroughbred background, he took a completely different view of the potential of Scuse Me in the broodmare paddock and it wasn't long before Charlie became the new owner. When you look at all the costs involved in buying this mare and shipping her home, this was not a cheap investment and so Charlie Roberts deserved every success with Scuse Me and her progeny as he was the only person that John Curtin approached that could see the potential of Scuse Me as a broodmare. Scuse Me is the only mare in history that has produced two in sub 1:48. Her 10th foal is Adore Me 1:47.7 and her 12th foal is Have Faith In Me 1:47.5 and they are the fastest two horses ever bred in New Zealand or Australia. She is probably the only mare in the world to have achieved that feat. (To be confirmed). Scuse Me also left Megabucks that went 1:49.3 in the USA, so that gives her three progeny that have paced in faster than 1:50, a remarkable record for any mare. As we said Scuse Me was by one of the greatest broodmare sires in history BG's Bunny (by Albatross from Bret's Romance). BG's Bunny is the broodmare sire of over $100,000,000 in earnings and is the broodmare sire for sires like Cams Card Shark , Precious Bunny and Armbro Operative. Cam's Card Shark is the sire of many influential standouts including the greatest of all Bettor's Delight. BG's Bunny was imported to New Zealand by John Curtin on behalf of the late John Geiger.  John Curtin said "We could not find a stud to stand BG's Bunny so we were in a bit of trouble back then. On talking to my vet at that time, Andrew Grierson and telling him the problem, he suggested to go and see his partner in the veterinary business Charlie Roberts who had the old "Harness World" stud Farm. Charlie had purchased this farm a few years earlier at a mortgagee sale for a runoff his dairying Business. So I went and saw Charlie and asked him if he would stand BG's Bunny and he said yes." The rest is history. BG's Bunny was the first stallion to stand at Woodlands Stud. This is how Woodlands Stud was born and with Scuse Me and all her progeny and Bettor's Delight thrown into the mix Woodlands Stud has become a real force to be reckoned with in the standardbred world today. Harnesslink Media.  

As a $200,000 yearling the pressure has always been on You Gotta Have Faith, but this season might be the chance for him to pay back the faith shown in him by his owners, Mark and Dennis Dunford. The royally bred 3-year-old certainly started off on the right hoof when he booked himself a spot in the rich New Zealand Sires’ Stakes Final on Cup Day with a bold victory in Friday night’s heat at Addington Raceway. A descendant of Charlie Roberts wonderful family, You Gotta Have Faith has not only the pressure of the big price tag to contend with but an incredible family heritage as well. “He’s got a fair bit on him already when you look at it,” Natalie Rasmussen, who co-trains the gelding and was also in the bike on Friday night, said. “We always thought he’d be a better three-year-old than what he was at two and he’s come back bigger and stronger this time in and hopefully he should be in for a good season.” He will need to be though with a couple of high class stablemates in More The Better and Ultimate Machete still to join the Sires’ Stakes fray. Rasmussen was able to steal the race on Friday night - producing some incredibly slow sectionals. Although she put that more down to the horse’s inability to take the bit in his mouth and run along than anything else. “He just didn’t really want to go, so I thought getting him out and running would help, but it clearly didn’t early on.” After settling back in the field she moved forward to parked with a lap left to run and pulled the field almost down to a light canter. “He didn’t want to get into it and get running until another horse came up beside him. “But he did fight when the others ranged up to him at the top of the straight, he kept finding when I asked him for an effort and that’s a good sign. “He should be in for a good wee season this guy.” In the stall next to You Gotta Have Faith things weren’t quite so rosy. Stablemate and race favourite, Bettor Be Gold and Mark Purdon were flat keeping up at the 400 metre mark. “There was nothing there when I asked him to run up onto the back of them coming around the bend. “It’s a little disappointing because he has trialled so well in the lead up to this week.” Afterdinnerspeaker from the Ken and Tony Barron stable was a solid second in the heat, booking himself a spot in the rich final while Mongolian Storm was brave after sitting parked before fighting on strongly to finish third. It was the Tim Butt trained The Bachelor who really caught the attention after his good win the week before.   Matt Markim

While the pacing bred yearlings were selling for the big dollars today at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka, the trotting bred yearlings were holding their own with several making $50,000 plus.  As expected prior to the sale, the trotting bred 'blue blood' to really excite the buyers was Lot 83, the Muscle Hill filly from Regal Volo. Named Girls On Film, she was the fifth foal from the Malabar Man mare Regal Volo with the first four all having displayed plenty of talent. Twentyten 1:58.9 ($236,469), High Gait 2:00.1 ($161,351) and Alannah 1:58.4 ($36,880) are the first three foals from Regal Volo who have won to date while the two year old Regal Love was beaten a nose in her debut and is held in very regard by the All Stars barn. When you came to assessing the filly himself, she is an outstanding individual in our opinion and oozes class in both the photos and video. So Girls On Film had all the credentials to hit the $100,000 mark and she didn't disappoint, bringing $120,000 when the dust had settled. Several well known trotting owners were involved at different stages in the bidding but at the end Charlie Roberts was the surprise bidder left standing. Charlie has been breeding from daughters of the former star trotter Merani (19 wins) and has always had an interest in the straight out trotter since standing Pegasus Spur at Woodlands Stud.  While Regal Volo had visited the court of Muscles Yankee, Angus Hall and Love You in her broodmare career to date, many felt that  a Muscle Hill was the best sire the mare had visited to date and that coupled with a pedigree to die for produced today's huge price. Harnesslink Media  

Todays Australasian Classic Yearling Sale has been humming along right from the start but no yearling had managed to hit the magical $100,000 mark until Lot 40 walked into the ring. And as has become the norm in recent years, the filly in question was from the Scuse Me dynasty that has rewritten the record books at sales in New Zealand. At last years Australasian Classic Yearling sale , the Scuse Me family provided the two highest priced lots at $200,000 and $180,000 so $100,000 seems a cheap filly in that context especially as Have Faith In Me and Dream About Me have continued to dominate their respective age groups on both sides of the Tasman this season The filly in question today is named Perfect Take and she was offered by Charlie Roberts. Perfect Take is a  daughter of Bettor's Delight from an In The Pocket daughter of Scuse Me in La Filou and she was a lovely big big filly who had a lot of presence about her. La Filou had already produced two full brothers to Perfect Take in The Dip 1:54 ($154,394) and Lightfingered 1:54.8 ($48,,366) which would have had most buyers paying attention. The fact that Perfect Take is a three quarter sister to Adore Me 1:47.7 ($1,666,789) and Have Faith In Me 1:48.8 ($874,879) might have also played a part of course but the bidding was relentless until it hit that magical $100,000 where it abruptly stopped. For once the buyer wasn't Mark Purdon or the Dennis family from Auckland but instead the filly will head across the Tasman. The purchaser was the well known Victorian John Craven and even though Perfect Take cost John $100,000, she seems a cheap filly at that price to us when you look at the recent history of this family. Harnesslink Media 

Leading harness racing breeder Charlie Roberts has never been one to play by the rules over his lifetime in the industry. As the driving force behind Woodlands Stud, Charlie has been experiencing a run that is unprecedented in Australasia with regards to the stallions he stands and the horses he has bred or is racing. The jewel in the the Charlie Roberts crown is the brilliant Adore Me 1:47.7 ($1,673,286) who with her win in the New Zealand Cup last season and then her win  in the Ladyship Mile in a world class 1:47.7 showed ability rarely seen down under. With her stunning racetrack record and being a full sister to the champion three year old Have Faith In Me 1:52.5 ($550,381) and being a half sister to the dam of the dual Grand Circuit champion Christen Me 1:49.1 ($2,304,325) and this years stunning two year old filly Dream About Me 1:53.3 ($403,872), Adore Me is without doubt the most valuable broodmare in Australasia. Breeders have been holding their breath since Adore Me went amiss in the Auckland Cup in March as to who would be the first consort for this champion mare. Many thought that Charlie would stay in house with both American Ideal and this seasons new stallion Sweet Lou at his disposal at Woodlands Stud but Charlie has never been one to do things by the book. Yesterday it was announced that the consort for Adore Me at her first year at stud would be the champion racehorse and sire Christian Cullen. These days domiciled at Nevele R Stud in Canterbury, Christian Cullen is in the twilight of his siring career but has set siring records that are world class. With Christen Me being by Christian Cullen it shouldn't really be a big surprise that Charlie Roberts has gone back to a sire that has already clicked so potently with this family. Harnesslink Media

Only one category tested the judges in the annual harness racing awards on a night where the industry honoured a bunch of super talented horses. Star pacers Dream About Me, The Orange Agent, Adore Me and Have Faith In Me, who were the toast of the 350-strong Christchurch audience on Saturday night, took a clean sweep of the 25 votes cast, with Sky Major inexplicably stealing one vote from Christen Me in the four-year-old and older section. But the votes were well split between three outstanding two-year-old colts and geldings, with the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained Chase The Dream (11 votes), outpointing his stablemates Waikiki Beach (7) and Lazarus (7). Chase The Dream, with Group I wins in the Young Guns Final and Sires' Stakes, obviously had the home plate advantage with the deeds of Waikiki Beach, unbeaten in 10 starts, almost exclusive to Australia. With Group I scalps in the Australian Pacing Gold and NSW Breeders Challenge, Waikiki Beach won four more races than Chase The Dream and banked $324,081 to Chase The Dream's $212,026. It reflected the strength of the crop that Lazarus, with six wins from eight starts and $265,562 in stakes, including the Group I Harness Jewels in 1:52.9, was an also-ran. And it also reflected the dominance of the season for Purdon and Rasmussen that four of the six pacing category winners came from their All Stars Stables. The voting was clearcut in all the trotters' categories, Speeding Spur and Conon Bridge capturing all 25 votes while one vote for Jewels winner Missandei stopped juvenile High Gait from getting a perfect score and one judge gave King Denny the nod over Stent, the winner of seven Group I races and $640,000 in the four-year-old and older section. The only conceivable excuse could be that they didn't turn the page on HRNZ's performance sheets and missed seeing the feats of Sheemon and Stent, although how the person could have forgotten the extraordinary feats of Stent beggars belief. Kincaslough (22) and Sunny Ruby (21) completed the list of trotting winners. Stent was a unanimous choice for trotter of the year while Christen Me (13) triumphed in the pacer of the year, losing six votes to champion mare Adore Me and two to Have Faith In Me. The judges were also split on overall Harness Horse of the Year, Miracle Mile and Victoria Cup winner Christen Me (13) outpointing New Zealand Cup heroine Adore Me (6), Stent (4) and dual Derby winner Have Faith In Me (2). Other awards: Owner: Trevor Casey. Breeder: Charlie Roberts. Broodmare: Scuse Me. Stallion: Bettor's Delight. Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Driver: Dexter Dunn. Junior driver: Stevie Golding  Cadet: Sean Grayling. Outstanding contribution: John Reedy. Barry Lichter Reproduced by permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

Like anything connected to harness racing in New Zealand at the moment, if pays to have Scuse Me somewhere in your pedigree if you are racing horses or selling at the sales. Be it Christen Me or Adore Me on the racetrack or the progeny of Scuse Me or any of  her daughters in the yearling sale ring, Charlie Robert's super broodmare Scuse Me is just dominating the scene like no mare in the history of the sport in New Zealand. That was reinforced today at the Australasian Classic yearling sale when Charlie Robert's consigned several members of the family to the first of this years sale The first of the really close relatives of Scuse Me was Lot 9. Named Praise Be, the son of Bettors Delight is the first foal from the smart Christian Cullen mare Abide With Me 1:57.7 ($36,033) which makes the colt a three quarter brother to both Adore Me 1:51.6 ($1,435,101) and Have Faith In Me 1:53.2 ($201,502) The dam Abide With Me is a three quarter sister to both Christen Me 1:49.1($1,923,091) and Hands Christian 1:52.5 ($330,824) so Praise Me had a pedigree to die for. To top it off the individual was as good as the pedigree and from the time he walked into the ring the bidding was fierce. When the dust settled the colt was headed to the All Star barn at Rolleston after Mark Purdon stared downed the opposition but not before he had outlaid a cool $200,000. Mark Purdon purchased Praise Be on behalf of  Dennis Dunford and his son Mark who have raced his close relatives Have Faith In Me and Hands Christian from the All Stars barn.   The next one of the breed to create real interest today was lot 106 and he is named All About Me. Offered by Charlie, the son of Bettor's Delight is from Scuse Me making him a full brother to the champion mare Adore Me and this years star three year old Have Faith In Me. The bidding opened at $50,000 and quickly went into six figures as Mark Purdon and Nigel McGrath battled for the great looking colt. In the end Mark was not to be denied and when the bidding stopped at $180,000 the colt was on his way to the All Stars barn at Rolleston. lot 106 The third and last of the close relatives that was highly sought after today was Lot 116 named Accumulator. Another son of Bettor's Delight, Accumulator is a half brother to Christen Me, Hands Christian and a three quarter brother to Adore Me and Have Faith In Me. The bidding started slowly but then took off and once again it was a Purdon signing the sales docket but this time it was Mark's brother Barry doing the honours. At $120,000, he was the cheapest of the three close relatives to make six figures. Charlie must still wonder at his luck when he agreed to buy Scuse Me all those years ago as she has gone on to dominate the New Zealand harness racing scene both on the track and at the yearling sales  like no mare before her. Harnesslink Media

No matter how professional and knowledgeable you are in your approach to harness racing, some times you just need to be in the right place at the right time and to have lady luck with you to taste the real highs of this industry. When Charlie Roberts looks back at how he came to acquire Scuse Me, he must thank his lucky stars that he was in the right place at the right time. Bred by the legendary horseman Jim Dalgety, Scuse Me was raced by Jim in partnership with Vicki Purdon and was trained by her husband at the time, Mark Purdon. Scuse Me won the Great Northern Oaks of her year against such standouts as Kate's First and Megaera and then came back at four and won the Noel Taylor Mile against the boys in a scorching 1:53.5 At this point she was purchased by JC International on behalf of clients of the former New Zealander Kelvin Harrison for racing in North America. Not long after her arrival in North America is when things started to go off the rails a touch. Even though she had passed the vet exam in New Zealand with flying colours, Scuse Me was found to have a problem when tried in North America which meant a huge cloud was cast over her racing future. Just when it looked like a major dispute was flairing, John Curtin of JC International convinced the parties to let him resell Scuse Me as a broodmare to recoup the purchasers money. Charlie Roberts was one of those approached and he must thank his lucky stars every day that he purchased the mare back from North America. As of today Scuse Me has had twelve foals old enough to race for twelve winners including of course Adore Me 1:52.4 ($915,606)  Imagine Me 1:54.5pl ($247,175)  Megabucks 1:49.3 ($88,499)  Toledo 1:57.1 ($88,514) and this years exciting 3 year old Have Faith In Me 1:56.6 who is a live chance in the Sires Stakes final on Cup Day. The first daughter of Scuse Me that Charlie bred from was the Dream Away mare, Splendid Dreams and what a fantastic job she has done to date. She is already the dam of Christen Me 1:50.4 ($1,104,654) and Hands Christian 1:52.5 ($316,824) and her first daughter that Charlie bred from was the In The Pocket mare Splendid Deal who has left Maxim 1:55.9 ($397,413) and Splendour 1:56.2 ($148,990). Next Tuesday at Addington Charlie will get great pleasure in watching Have Faith In Me go round in the Sires Stakes Final and two hours later watching the trio he bred in Christen Me, Adore Me and Hands Christian try to deny Terror To Love a fourth New Zealand Cup. Charlie had the foresight to purchase Scuse Me fifteen years ago when offered her by John Curtin but the circumstances that lead to that offer shows that being in the right place at the right time is just as important. 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

Another harness racing season is under way in New Zealand and Charlie Roberts is continuing to have that golden run that he has been on for a few years now. Tonight Charlie had a first starter in the Vetpro Equine Supplements Pace at Alexandra Park in  the form of Walk Of Fame. The 3 year old daughter of Bettor's Delight flew the gate from barrier five in the 2200 meters mobile event and grabbed an early lead before handing up to Linda Mac after 400 meters. From there she got a lovely run to the corner from where the "Iceman" Tony Herlihy angled her down into the passing lane and she finished far too well for her competition to run out an easy winner by two lengths. It was a very tradesman like performance for a filly having her first lifetime start. Walk Of Fame paced the 2200 meters in 2: 47.3 with the last 800 meters in 57.4 and 400 meters in 28.4. It shouldn't surprise anyone that Walk Of Fame has plenty of ability as she would have to be one of the best bred fillies in New Zealand. Not only is she by a great filly sire in Bettors Delight but Walk Of Fame is from a full sister to the champion In The Pocket mare Tupelo Rose 1:51.4 ($871,753). Not only was Tupelo Rose a great racemare but she has fashioned a great record as a broodmare as well. Not only has she left Willy Mucha 1:50.2 ($348,020) but one of her daughters Capelo Rose is already the dam of Machapelo 1:51.2 ($582,941) and Resistance Futile 1:49.4 ($246,983) Walk Of Fame looks to have inherited much of the family ability going by the ease of her win tonight. Whatever Walk Of Fame does on the racetrack, her residual value when she retires to the broodmare barn will be huge. Harnesslink Media  

Ten horsemen and one horsewoman were inducted into the Noel Taylor New Zealand Trotting Hall Of Fame on Auckland Cup night last Friday. But it was harness racing legend, Charlie Roberts, who stole the limelight at the 4pm ceremony. He was one of four industry participants who were also bestowed with ‘Harness Racing Contribution Awards’. Mr Roberts, who turned 90 this month, left hospital on Friday especially to be at the function and to watch Adore Me run second in the Auckland Cup.  A renowned veterinarian, breeder, stud master and owner, Mr Roberts has been a driving force in New Zealand harness racing circles for more than 60 years. Initially involved in thoroughbreds it has been his association with Woodlands stud that has kept him a household harness racing name. For example at last year’s annual Harness Racing Awards he Christchurch Mr Roberts won five trophies including Owner and Breeder-of-the-Year, as well as awards for his champion stallion and broodmare Bettor’s Delight and Scuse Me. As co-owner of Christen Me and Adore Me, added to his status as a true harness racing legend. Mr Roberts is also the only person to be named Breeder-of-the-Year in both the standardbred and thoroughbred codes. Being an original shareholder in Sir Tristram is another one of the many feathers in his cap. Long before Woodlands Stud Mr Roberts was associated with Haunui Farm, and later qualified as a veterinary surgeon based at Takanini. He became an expert on the reproductive aspect of breeding and more than six decades ago he helped set up the original swabbing proceedings on a national basis. In 1976 Mr Roberts established the Riverside Veterinary and 11 years later the Auckland Vet Centre in partnership with Andrew Grierson, who is now the leading advisor to both codes in all veterinary matters. In partnership with Grierson, Mr Roberts in 1987, bought what was then ‘Harness World’ at a mortgagee sale. They returned its original title of Woodlands and revolutionised standardbred breeding in New Zealand by concentrating on shuttling stallions from the United States and then buying the Southern Hemisphere rights. In The Pocket was the first and his line changed the face of breeding in this country. Then Bettor’s Delight made an even greater impact, now dominating premierships on both sides of the Tasman as well as premierships in North America. He has also been our most dominant forces at recent yearling sales. The 15 people to receive a commemorative plaque and Hall Of Fame cap were: TRAINING ACHIEVEMENT (500 wins or more): Tim Butt – 583 wins and $7,406,072. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) – 670 wins and $8,304,330. Doug Gale – 524 wins and $4,809,758. John Hay – 530 wins and $4,168,136. Grant Payne (Mark Purdon) – 585 wins and $14,433,012. David and Catherine Butt ¬– 676 wins and $5,420,711 DRIVING ACHIEVEMENT (1,000 wins or more): Dexter Dunn – 1,232 wins and $12,047,272. David Butt – 1,100 wins and $9,789,301. Ken Barron – 1,024 wins and $8,557,176. Jim Curtin – 1,430 wins and $11,225,559. 3,000 WINS: Maurice McKendry – 3,002 and $25,452,271. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HARNESS RACING: Charlie Roberts. Alby Gain. Bob McArdle Pat O’Brien. Note: Statistics were as at March 10, 2014. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing NZ)

Barry Purdon signed the dockets for both Lot 162 and Lot 167 at Karaka in 2012 and two years later the pair produced the quinella in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby. Along the way Maxim has won the $150,000 NZ Sires’ Stakes 2YO Final and Sky Major took out the overall title of NZ Two-Year-Old of the Year. Maxim  purchased from the Woodlands Stud draft for $35,000 was bred by none other than Charlie Roberts, who else. A $50,000 purchase,  Sky Major  was offered by Brian and Heather Hedger from  Clevedon and Greg Sweeney of Auckland. The Sales have been a happy hunting ground for Barry Purdon in the past few years with Cheer The Lady(NZ Oaks and Breeders Crown), Five Card Draw(also NZ 2YO of the Year), Precious Rose and Bettor Offer all coming out of either Auckland or Christchurch Yearling Sales. Six NZ breds won on Derby night at Melton,  including Padrisimo, Inky Cullen and Chilli Palmer  from the Yearling Sales as well as Lysenko and Our Blackbird.

Kiwi star Christen Me has raced to a clear lead in the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit standings after a determined victory in the Gr.1 $400,000 Del-Re National Food Group Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton last night. Sitting atop of the leaderboard with For A Reason with 160 points, the Cran Dalgety trained pacer has now established a clear lead after earning maximum points defeating a brave Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace in the 3280m stand start event. Beaten narrowly in last week’s Ballarat Cup behind Restrepo, the Cran Dalgety trained pacer went one better to claim Australia’s richest stand start race after racing without cover over the final 1200m. Under free-for-all conditions, the big field began safely with Abettorpunt shooting to the early lead while aging warrior Smoken Up quickly raced up on his outside and pressed for the lead. The lead time was covered in 125.4 seconds. Smoken Up continued to lead the field as moves continued to be made behind him, Franco Nelson was the first to pull three-wide which was then followed by Mah Sish, Restrepo and then finally, Christen Me. The first half of the final mile was covered in 29.9 and 31.4 seconds. Heading into the back straight for the final time, Smoken Up led Christen Me while Keayang Cullen made his move wider on the track which gave cover to Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace. With the back straight quarter covered in a controlled 28.9 seconds, the big field was tightly packed as they prepared to straighten. Christen Me raced up to Smoken Up while Caribbean Blaster and The Gold Ace both let down with their sprints. In a driving finish, Christen Me lasted narrowly from Caribbean Blaster with The Gold Ace a further 2.5 metres away in third. The final quarter was posted in 27.3 seconds. The mile rate was 1;59.2. “I was happy with how the race unfolded and I felt comfortable at the quarter, he dug deep in the straight to hold out Andy and Kate’s horse. It was a gutsy effort and I’m thrilled with the victory.” Winning driver Dexter Dunn said. The victory providing New Zealand with yet another victory in the great staying race, the Kiwis have now won 13 of the past 22 editions of the Hunter Cup. For Christen Me, it was his first victory on Melbourne soil after gallant placing’s in the recent Victoria and Ballarat Cups, it was his first win in Australia since claiming the Chariots Of Fire last year. The Christian Cullen – Splendid Dreams gelding is raced by his breeder Charlie Roberts along with Vicki Purdon. It was also a first for both trainer and driver, Cran Dalgety and Dexter Dunn toasting their maiden success in the Cup. Only two legs of the Australian Pacing Gold Grand Circuit series remain this season, the $750,000 Inter Dominion Grand Final on Sunday, March 2 at TABCORP Park, Menangle followed by the $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park on Friday, March 7. Christen Me now leads with 260 points followed by For A Reason (160), Caribbean Blaster (130), Beautide (120) and Terror To Love (104). Who will be crowned the 2013/14 champion – the race continues. By Chris Barsby (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)

It’s been 16 years since Vicki Purdon owned her first Group 1 winner but come November 12 at Addington Raceway, Cambridge-born Purdon could nail the greatest New Zealand harness racing event of them all. “The New Zealand Cup is such a hard race to win. You can never get carried away in a big race like the Cup. Any horse can win it because they are all good enough to be there. “All the pressure is on us because we are the favourite. It would be much nicer if Christen Me was third or fourth favourite,” Purdon said Purdon and breeder Charlie Roberts own Christen Me – the pronounced $2.60 favourite for the New Zealand Trotting Cup. Two-time winner Terror To Love is at $3.60 while Inter Dominion king Themightyquinn is the third elect at $4. Last week Themightyquinn’s Australian trainer Gary Hall Senior said he didn’t fear Christen Me. Hall made the following comments after Christen Me’s emphatic first-up win in the Group Three Avon City Ford Cup on September 27: “I don’t see what all the fuss is about. The race didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. It was nothing more than a jog round and a sprint home. “All the talk just fuels us all to get across there and take those horses on.” Purdon said she didn’t want to get into a slanging match with Hall because she respected him as a horseman, but said this was not the first time he had given a dig about a horse she had been closely associated with. “He said Jack Cade was a dog once and couldn’t handle the passing lane. I did a lot of work with ‘Jack’ and after those comments he then went out and placed behind Just An Excuse in the Cup. “Gary is entitled to his opinion but I never forgot those comments all those years ago. Christen Me is a little bit better than what he thinks,” Purdon said. Former New Zealand mile record holder Scuse Me is the grand-dam of Christen Me. She gave Purdon her first taste of Group One glory when winning the Great Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park in February 1997. Purdon has owned some good ones since then including the Group One winning daughter of Dream Away and Scuse Me – Imagine Me. “I’ve been fortunate to have owned some really nice horses. Fear Factor was also a nice horse who won a Sires Stakes Trotting Championship,” Purdon said. Purdon said she hoped trainer Cran Dalgety and driver Dexter Dunn could also nail their first New Zealand Cup wins. “They have done a wonderful job with Christen Me. He is very kind to Dexter and really runs for him. Cran has also got the best out of him. She described Christen Me as a gentle horse who had the all-round game. “The great thing about him is that he’s not highly strung. He’s quite gentle and I think that will help him in standing starts. “But he might not be a jumpy horse but I can tell you when he runs in the Cup I’ll probably be the most nervous person on course. “I was like that the other night when he won. I think it is going to be a very anxious Cup day – that’s why it would be much easier on us all, including the horse, if he was the third or fourth favourite rather than the horse to beat,” said Purdon. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

As expected, North Island harness racing breeder-owner, stud principal and former vet, Charlie Roberts, featured heavily at the 2013 Harnessworld.org Harness Racing Awards in Christchurch tonight. Roberts, who co-owns two of New Zealand’s brightest stars – Christen Me and Adore Me, remarkably received five awards tonight, but to stop you jumping to conclusions I will tell you now – Harness Horse of the Year was not one of them. That award along with Alabar Pacer of the Year went to a deserving Terror To Love. However, the spritely eighty-nine-year-old was awarded Three-year-old Filly of the Year, which was won unanimously by his champion filly Adore Me, as well as Owner and Breeder of the Year. His other awards came through Scuse Me, who was awarded Broodmare of the Year, and Woodlands Stud’s Bettor’s Delight who was named Stallion of the Year for the third consecutive time. The only downer for Roberts was superstar Christen Me, who because of the way the system works missed out on an award altogether. However, something tells me he will pick up plenty of the feature spoils next year. Lonestar man, Trevor Casey, also made plenty of appearances on stage, picking up Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year with Daenery’s Targaryen and Four-Year-Old & Older Trotting Mare of the Year with Escapee. Casey also shares in the ownership of Sky Major, who narrowly got the nod for Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year over Isaiah. Probably the most illustrious award on offer tonight was the New Zealand Racing Board Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing, which was taken out by legendary horseman Jack Carmichael, who I understand still holds a trainers’ licence. Carmichael, who drove his first winner more than seventy-years ago, has prepared and/or driven horses such as Chequer Board, Rocky Star, Hindu Star, Glen Moira, Micron, Astralight, 1973 NZ Cup winner Globe Bay and Interdominion Trotting Champions Precocious (1975) and Yankee Loch (1989). Away from the racetrack, Jack Carmichael put in many years on the committee of the Trainers and Drivers Association as well as being associated with the Owners and Trainers Association running trial meetings at Addington. Jack Carmichael was inducted into the Addington Hall of Fame in 2006. His continued training of horses just goes to prove his staying powers in the industry. One award that wasn't announced tonight was the Leading Trainer. Mark Purdon and Cran Dalgety are currently in deadlock on 113 wins, with tomorrows meeting at Rangiora the decider. RESULTS: *Note: There were 33 voters Pacers Sir Lincoln 2YO Pacing Filly of the Year VENUS SERENA 33 Owners: Bob and Jennifer Sandford, Geoff Dunn   Woodlands Stud 3YO Pacing Filly of the Year ADORE ME 33 Owner: Charles Roberts, Paul Kenny, Mary Kenny   Nevele R Stud 4YO & Older Pacing Mare of the Year BETTOR COVER LOVER 32 Owner: Karnup Racing Pty Ltd Elusive Chick 1   McMillans Feeds 2YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year SKY MAJOR 19 Owners: Katrina Purdon, Trevor Casey, Clear View Racing No 4 Syndicate, John Lohman, Terence Henderson, The Anzac Racing Syndicate Isaiah 14 Auckland Reactor 3YO Pacing Colt or Gelding of the Year OHOKA PUNTER 17 Owner: Katie Carville Border Control 15 Bit Of A Legend 1 Christchurch Casino 4YO & Older Pacing Entire or Gelding of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 27 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) Christen Me 5 Themightyquinn 1 Alabar Stud Pacer of the Year TERROR TO LOVE 17 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) Adore Me 11 Christen Me 4 Themightyquinn 1 Trotters Crombie Lockwood 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year DAENERY’S TARGARYEN 32 Owner: Trevor Casey Schleck 1 Lone Star 2YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year ONE OVER DA MOON 32 Owners: Lex and Heather Williams Dieu De L ’Amour 1 One Over Lodge (Lex & Heather Williams) 3YO Trotting Filly of the year HABIBTI 32 Owners: Rob Paterson, Birchbrook Breeding Ltd, Lynne Paterson Paramount Queen 1 Donegal House 3YO Trotting Colt or Gelding of the Year ROYAL ASPIRATIONS 15 Owner: Fred Fletcher, Grant Adamson, Garry Bree Blitzthemcalder 12 Prime Power 6 Guardian Print 4YO & Older Trotting Mare of the Year ESCAPEE 30 Owner: Trevor Casey Trips On Me 1 No Vote 2 Farmlands 4YO & Older Trotting Entire & Gelding of the Year STIG 18 Owner: Tim & Andrea Butt, Jim & Renee Boyd, Ross Thomas, Jill Gordon I Can Doosit 12 Vulcan 3 Lincoln Farms Trotter of the Year Stig 17 Owners: Tim & Andrea Butt, Jim & Renee Boyd, Ross Thomas, Jill Gordon I Can Doosit 11 Habibti 3 Vulcan 2 Harnessworld.org NZ Harness Horse of the Year Terror To Love 16 Owner: McDonald Bloodstock Limited (Terry McDonald) Adore Me 12 Christen Me 4 Themightyquinn 1 Motukarara Workouts Committee Leading Trainer: TBA NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club Leading Driver: Dexter Dunn Resource Recycling Cruickshank Leading Junior Driver: Matthew Williamson Addington Owner of the Year: Charles Roberts New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Assn Breeder of the Year: Charles Roberts Caxton Press Stallion of the Year: Bettor’s Delight New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Assn Broodmare of the Year: Scuse Me New Zealand Racing Board Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing: Jack Carmichael by Mitchell Robertson

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