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Boom New Zealand pacer Christen Me is a firm favourite in his quest to join an elite harness racing fraternity. Within moments of the star’s brilliant Victoria Cup win at Tabcorp Park Melton tonight, TAB reacted by cutting Christen Me’s quote for next week’s A G Hunter Cup to $3.60 on Fixed odds. Earlier this week Christen Me was on the third line of betting at $6. The Cran Dalgety-trained gelding is aiming to become just the fifth champion to successfully defend his crown since the time-honoured event’s inauguration in 1949. Springfield Globe was the ground breaker in 1961 and ’62, followed by Monara in 1973 and ’74, Pure Steel in ’77 and ’78 and Blossom Lady in ’94 and ’95. Minuteman Man is the only other dual winner having scored in 1964 and ’66, while Pure Steel also boasts a third triumph thanks to his 1980 success. Thrilled with Christen Me’s form, Dalgety is confident the six-year-old can complete consecutive Hunter Cup wins. “I couldn’t be happier with him,” Dalgety said. “He has pulled up a treat from tonight’s run and is ready to go again. “The draw will play a role in next week’s Hunter Cup, but I’m going into this even more confident with him than last year.” As for his latest win, Christen Me began brilliantly to lead from barrier six, with driver Dexter Dunn maintaining a steady tempo as Guaranteed worked at his wheel. Slipped more rein along the back straight, Christen Me was never in danger of defeat as he cruised to a two-metre win from Lennytheshark, which trailed the pacemaker throughout. After gaining a three-wide trail at the bell, Adore Me was three-and-a-half metres away third. “From six, going back at the start wasn’t really an option, so I thought I’d chance my arm and come out looking for the lead,” Dunn said. “Down the back he was travelling so well and when I turned for home I knew I had them covered.” Covering the last half in 54 seconds, the son of Christian Cullen – which finished third in the 2000 edition of the feature - rated 1:55 for the 2240 metres. Christen Me provided Dalgety his fourth win in the Grand Circuit event, having prepared Desperate Comment in 1996 and ’97 and Bettor Strike in 2009. The latter was driven by Dunn. PAUL COURTS

One of the forgotten stars of harness racing will make his return at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Sidelined since November 2013, Chancellor Cullen will be first-up in The Pure Steel for trainer Dean Braun. Before injury halted his career, Chancellor Cullen was regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the country, boasting 11 wins and three seconds from 16 Australian starts. The stallion’s victories include the McInerney Ford Classic, Melton Plate, The Graduate and Kilmore Cup, with the latter two handicaps - the same conditions as this weekend’s assignment. Although Chancellor Cullen is returning from a long spell, Braun is confident the six-year-old son of Christian Cullen is ready to kick-start his career on a winning note. “He had a slight strain in his suspensory, and although we could have pushed on with him, we felt he was too good to risk,” Braun said. “We’ve always had such a high opinion of him and felt a long break was the better option.” Drawn five, Chancellor Cullen faces tough opposition from New Zealand raider Bit Of A Legend, along with locals Smudge Broman and Savesomtimetodream. “Although he hasn’t raced for a while, he has had plenty of ground work and will be forward enough for this,” Braun said. Citing the Inter Dominion as Chancellor Cullen’s main mission, Braun has also earmarked next week’s A G Hunter Cup. Heats of the Inter Dominion are scheduled to be run on February 14, with the Final at Menangle on March 1. “I’d like to see him in the Hunter Cup, but it depends on how he gets through this week,” Braun said. “We are definitely looking at the Inter Dominion with him.” PAUL COURTS

When Cran Dalgety entered his harness racing superstar Christen Me for the Bendigo Cup he expected to be facing Australia's best in the form of the champion Beautide but as we all know that contest never came to pass. Beautide had an elevated temperature and was withdrawn as a precautionary measure with all the big races over the next few weeks and his absense let Christen Me have a much easier run than would otherwise have been the case. Cran Dalgety was philosophical as always with regards to Beautides late defection "It did look like we would have a showdown with Beautide but when you leave town you just never know what will eventuate." "Sometimes horses have setbacks or get sick as in this case but thankfully ours are all ok," Cran said. With no Beautide to worry about, driver Dexter Dunn was able to work his way to the lead in his own good time and then set up a steady but not electric pace before scooting home in 54.1 to leave the competition struggling to keep up. It was the perfect hitout for the son of Christian Cullen as he heads into some serious assignments in the next few weeks and should see him cherry ripe for the Victoria Cup on January 31st. Beautide's connections are confident that their champ will be there on the 31st but it is far from an ideal preparation for the son of Bettor's Delight. Cran on the other hand couldn't be happier with how Christen Me has come through his Bendigo Cup run and one senses a degree of optimism in his comments. " He looks really good in the coat and everything is good with him," Cran said. Throw in Guaranteed, Philadelphia Man, Restrepo and Terror To Love with Beautide and Christen Me and you have one hell of a race on the 31st. Harnesslink Media  

When we were doing the harness racing ringaround prior to Xmas for horses to follow over the holiday period, there was quite a bit of friendly banter when we rang the Williamson household. Phil jokingly told us while Matthew and Nathan were in great touch, Brad was going through a bit of a dry patch and we might be waiting a while for him to salute the judge. Of course at Gore on Boxing Day Nathan drove and trained three winners and Matthew also got his horse to follow over the holidays home in Brads Kenny up on debut but Brad remained winless. At Winton yesterday both Nathan and Matthew had chalked up another winner each by the time it came to race ten where Brad was down to drive Nureyev for Murray Brown. Given out by Brad as his horse to follow over the holidays, Nureyev was not liked by the punters but Brad was quietly confident. " Murray was quite bullish about his chances and told me he would be hard to beat." "I've driven for Murray in the past and when he tells you they are ready, they are." "That is my sixth winner for Murray so I wouldn't mind driving a few more for him,"  Brad told Harnesslink this morning. Nureyev is bred to be good being by Christian Cullen from the former smart racemare Idancedallnight 1:57.5 ($103,656) and Brad says the stable has always had an opinion of the 4 year old gelding. " Murray said nothing had gone right with his last campaign but this time in it had all gone to script." " It was a penalty free win yesterday and he is still a C1 so he could easily win another couple quickly on what he showed yesterday. "Murray was adamant he would improve further with racing as well." " He didn't strike me as a real quick horse and I think stamina will be his strength," " That win price ($10:90) was good for those who follow the ringaround, "Brad said. They say you are only as good as your last drive so Brad can expect a lot less banter at home in the next few days. Harnesslink Media    

Prebbleton trainer John McDermott was more than a touch emotional yesterday when Supreme Gem stormed home late to win the mares mile at the Boxing Day harness racing meeting at Ashburton. John couldn't help but contemplate how the people who taught and helped him get involved in harness racing weren't around to share the victory with him. "Peter Cowan and his partner Vicky were very good friends of mine and taught me the ropes when I was starting out." "Peter wanted to send his top mare Flying Sands to Christian Cullen but didn't have a booking so I let him use one of my bookings and the resultant foal was Supreme Gem." "I saw her from a foal right through to the yearling sales when helping Peter out but I really had no intention of buying her at that stage,"John told Harnesslink today. By the time of the sales Peter had died and Vicky had taken over the racing and breeding operation. Sold for $60,000 to Burnham trainer Mark Jones at the sales, John was told soon after that Mark didn't have any owners in mind when he purchased her. "So I contacted Mark and ended up buying a quarter share for myself and my wife and some very good friends of ours Pat and Fred Dowie also brought a quarter share. "The other half was taken up by one of Marks owners in the first instance but we along with the Dowies brought out the other owner of Supreme Gem when she was a 4 year old." "I took over her training in April 2012 but I couldn't have done it without Mark Jones's help" "I really owe Mark Jones a huge debt of gratitude for all his help and advice through Supreme Gem's racing career," John said. Of course by this time Vicky had also died and John admits he was fairly emotional yesterday when Supreme Gem finally got a time in line with her ability. Restrained off the gate early from barrier nine by driver Mark Jones yesterday, SupremeGem was last at the 800 metres before latching on to the three wide train at that point. From there she stayed on Stradowan's back until 250 metres from home where she peeled off and grabbed a game Stradowan in the last fifty metres for a deserved success. "She was beaten as a 3 year old by a head in 1:54.4 after being three wide for 800 metres and then being parked for the last 800 metres so I was rapt yesterday that Supreme Gem finally got a time in keeping with her ability." "I heard the commentator Mark McNamara say that I would be doing handstands over the win and I would have been if the old body had been up to it,"John said. But John also was aware that his very good good friends Peter and Vicky were no longer here to share in the victory. "I was thinking of them straight after the race and it was a bit of a bitter/sweet moment," John said. Supreme Gem is lucky to be racing at all after fracturing a pasten a couple of years ago. " She had a few screws inserted and why she has had a few niggles with the leg, she has still managed to continue racing." " I've had her on the beach with Regan Todd for the last ten days and that has helped with all those little niggles," John said. Regardless of how her leg holds up, the racing future of Supreme Gem is limited as the daughter of Christian Cullen is in foal to champion sire Bettor's Delight. " She and her stablemate Flyover are both in foal to Bettor's Delight so don't have many races left," John said. With Supreme Gem having won over $80,000 to date and with a winning time of 1:53.7 besides her name, she has plenty to recommend her as a broodmare. However when you take into account that her dam Flying Sands went 1:56.5 and won $113,194 and that she is very closely related to a myriad of outstanding horses such as Venus Serena 1:52.1 ($701,921), Bettor's Strike 1:55.7 ($890,201) and Bella's Boy 1:52.1 ($473,171) then Supreme Gem looks very well placed to add to this outstanding family's achievements. Harnesslink Media     

Laurence Hanrahan has been in harness racing long enough to know what makes a good horse.  With a score sheet on the wall that includes New Age Man, The Tough Nut and Marika, the Ashburton horseman is more than qualified to back up any comments he might make about a horse in his stable.  So when he says that Cullen Keefe is potentially one of the best horses he has had for a few years, it’s worth taking notice. The new kid on the block might never reach the dizzying heights of those who stood in the stables before him. But you know that with Hanrahan at the helm, he’s going to get every chance to do so. Unbeaten in his three races so far everything about Cullen Keefe points towards him being a little bit better than just your normal horse. There is an arrogance and style in the way he goes about his business that is usually only reserved for those who have big futures in front of them. And as far as Hanrahan is concerned, the best is still to come. “I think we will see plenty of improvement out of him in the next 12 months,’’ he said.  “He’s a good horse now, definitely one of the better ones I have had for a few years, but with a bit more time on his side he could get even better.  “Especially physically, that’s where I think he will improve the most.’’ The unbeaten record of the well-bred pacer will go on the line at Ashburton on Boxing Day when he lines up in front of his home crowd in the middle of the day’s proceedings. With neither of his last two wins carrying a penalty, Cullen Keefe remains in the C1 grade which should see him hard to beat again – and starting at very short odds on the market. Hanrahan said he had come through his fresh up run at Forbury Park last week well. He was driven on that occasion by Kimberley Butt who is the grand-daughter of local racing identities Dick and Leonie Prendergast. “It was a good effort I thought, you are always a bit suspect when you haven’t had a race and but Kimberley drove him well. “You would expect him to be hard to beat this week, but it’s another challenge for him and there are a few nice horses in there so he will need to be on the top of his game.’’ Ricky May jumps back in the bike again on Friday and will also be in the sulky behind Hanrahan’s other two runners during the day – The Emperor Robyn (race 5) and Bute Courage (race 11). As long as both of his other runners are running on well at the finish their trainer is going to be happy. “I think we will learn a bit off The Emperor Robyn, I’m happy with him, but not completely happy with him. “Bute Courage has really strengthened up and come back well, but he has to take on three pretty smart ones so if he could run fourth I would be really happy.’’ Today’s feature, the Ashburton Cup, has drawn a small, but select, field of pacers to run over the 3200 metres. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are represented by two runners in Isaiah and Meticulous while Greg and Nina Hope have Jason Rulz and Mossdale Conner. Cran Dalgety might hold the strongest hand in the race however with his talented pacer Bit Of A Legend. A winner at Addington last week, the former Breeders Crown winner will start off a 25 metre handicap but has the services of Dexter Dunn. “You know what to expect from him,’’ Dalgety said. “He will go out there and give you his all and you would like to think that he will be pretty hard to beat.’’ Later in the day Vulcan will attempt to join an elite list of trotters in the $1 million club. The 10-time Group One winner is just $5,000 shy of the magical mark and jumps into another small, but select, field of trotters. Courtesy of Matt Markham - HarnessRacing New Zealand  

Rockin Cullen ended up her race career on a high by taking out the $9915 Stunin Cullen Sprint Series Final over 1200m at Forbury on Thursday, December 17. The 5YO daughter of Christian Cullen and Idancedallnight, racing in foal to top sire Bettor’s Delight, justified her favouritism from the two gate in the hands of Kimberly Butt. he had enough gate speed to cross Sunnivue Bay Boy and after being pressured by Canderel from the 800m, Rockin Cullen kept finding enough to hold strong late finisher Alexy by a head, with Sicilian Secret third. Kimberly also won the Ricoh Junior Drivers Mobile Pace at Forbury, getting short-priced favourite Cullen Keefe home after giving him the run of the race to beat Music, taking her number of driving wins to 20. Rockin Cullen achieved the goal of her father and son Southland owners, Paul and Brendan Duffy, after being sent to Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones as a C1 mare this term. She raced just four times, winning a heat and final of the Stunin Cullen Sprint Series, and also earned a 1:57.4 time trial credit before being retired to the matron’s paddock. Rockin Cullen raced just 16 times for three wins and three placings, earning $19,722. She has plenty going for her on breeding and has a useful record to match. Her dam Idancedallnight (p2, 1:59.3, six wins & $103,655) was a former Group Two Nevele R Stud 2YO Stakes winner during her race career for owner Ian Dobson. Idancedallnight, who died last year, is the dam of four to race for four winners. She left useful brothers to Rockin Cullen in Waltzing With Cullen (1:51.7, Aust, 15 wins & $139,488) and Southland winner Nureyev (2:00), and also this season’s second-up Invercargill winner Degas (by Art Major). Rockin Cullen is a distant relative of the famed Regina-Rosehaven-Black Watch maternal line, which earlier relatives of the Duffy family established. Idancedallnight, by Presidential Ball, was from another good filly in Ciccio Star (p3, 1:58.4), who won five at two and three, including a PGG NZ Yearling Sales 3YO Fillies Pace, earning $102,499. Ciccio Star also left smart half-brothers to Idancedallnight in Conquistare (1:55.9, Aust, 13 wins & $A73,755), Zenthura (1:56.5 Aust, 16 wins & $A117,705), Major Star (1:56.9, seven NZ wins & $101,577) and this season’s promising Canterbury pacer Dana Duke (three wins). Rockin Cullen’s fourth dam Spirit Of Venus (Lordship-Nancy Iola, by Black Fury-Rosehaven) was unraced but besides Ciccio Star left the speedy Nketia (1:52.4, US, 17 Australasian wins), and Whata Spirit, the four-win dam of a NSW Oaks winner in Fake Spirit (p2, 1:59.8, 1700m) and fast North American winner Family Spirit (1:52.4h, US). Another daughter of Spirit Of Venus in Spirit Of Spring left Umoja (1:51.2, US), who won five in NZ and has won 24 in North America, earning nearly $200,000. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables    

Same family but a better Golden Nugget result. Hazelmere harness racing trainer Mike Reed won last night’s $175,000 Group One Retravision Golden Nugget Championship after a brilliant drive from his son Mark who got the mare Libertybelle Midfrew home a clear winner from favourite Waylade and Bobbies A Star.   The daughter of Christian Cullen has now won 11 races and $436,452 in stakes with eight of those wins coming at Gloucester Park.   In the 1989 Golden Nugget Championship Mike Reed trained and drove the Western Australian bred Manageable into third place behind the Victorian trained duo of Sinbad Bay and Another Bart.   It was arguably the strongest field to ever contest Western Australia’s premier race for 4yos with Manageable being one of only four WA trained horses in the ten horse field.   Manageable was an outstanding example of the WA bred horse and after wins in the Western Gateway Pace and Sires Produce Classic as a 3yo he had a sensational 4yo season.   Prior to his Golden Nugget placing Manageable had finished second to Village Kid in a prelude and the final of that year’s WA Pacing Cup. That season he won the Coca Cola Pace (fore-runner of the McInerney Ford Classic) and the WA 4&5yo Championship (fore-runner of the WA 4yo Championship) and after his Nugget placing he won the August Cup, Winter Cup and Navy Cup.   Manageable won a total of 27 races and $316,811 in stakes with 23 of his wins at Gloucester Park and Richmond Raceway in city class races.   That Mike Reed should train two such great 4yos is notable enough but remarkably the two champions are related and share a common ancestress.   Manageable’s third dam Hilda Grattan won a WA Derby for trainer Jim Hand and driver Fred Kersley Snr. Hilda Grattan was a full-sister to Lady Grattan who figures as the fifth dam of Libertybelle Midfrew. This is the maternal family of Lady Irving who was in fact the grand-dam of Hilda Grattan and Lady Grattan.   Libertybelle Midfrew     After race interview       Alan Parker Harness Historian, Pedigrees and Trivia  

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones has capable mare Goodness Gracious Me warming up for the summer circuit. Goodness Gracious Me, first-up since July, ran Willow close at the Rangiora workouts on Wednesday, December 3. The 4YO Christian Cullen mare is the winner of four from 23 starts, but reverts to the C2 grade with dropback age group concessions. She trailed three back for Mark behind the Allstars stablemates Willow and Linda Lovegrace in the C2-4 mobile heat on Wednesday. Goodness Gracious Me may have headed Willow in the run home before the latter kicked back for a half a head win. “She (Goodness Gracious Me) blew out the last little bit,” Mark said. “I’ll look for a junior drivers race, then she can go to to Winton for (Southern Belle) Speed Series heat on December 29th,” he said. Willow ran the mobile 2000m in 2:30.2 (2:00.8 mile rate) in the hands of Tim Williams, the winner pacing her last 800m in 57.2s and final 400m in 27.4s. Strike On Command, a catch drive for Wayne Higgs, tailed the five horse field and wasn’t asked for a serious effort in the run home. Rocker Band, the qualified but unraced 3YO filly by Rocknroll Hanover from 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner (1:55.1), shaped well winning a C0 mobile pace. She backed up a good finish at the workouts a week earlier by coming from back and wide to run down raceplaced Nui Toc Tien, the latter a newcomer to the Steve Dolan team. Rocker Band won the mobile 2000m heat in 2:34.9, the leaders running their last 800m in 58.8s and final 400m in 28.8s. The Greg Brodie-owned Rocker Band could make her race debut at Winton on December 20. “She’s not paid up for anything, but we could make the $14,000 late payment for the Nevele R with her,” Mark said. Rocker Band was put aside after she beat Storm Maguire, Whitershadeofpale and Maritime Arden, in a 2000m qualifier (2:02 rate) at Rangiora in April. Qualified but unraced Bettor Luck (4g Bettor’s Delight-Pocket Conquest, by In The Pocket-Victor Supreme), battled away for third behind Danielle Van De Camp and As Kiwi As in his C0 heat in 3:29.9 (2600m). Bettor Luck trailed up for Michelle Neilson. He has taken time after running fifth of seven in his qualifier at Ashburton in November last year. Kowhai Sunrise, resuming, led up in the C1-3 trot but broke and failed to settle in the run home, allowing Clifden Clowers to beat Sunrise Invasion in 3:30 (2600m). Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here

If the overnight TAB fixed odds move for last-start Miracle Mile winner Christen Me is any indication the Cran Dalgety trained harness racing superstar might be unbeatable in Saturday night’s Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup. Christen Me opened odds-on at $1.70 after drawing pole for the race yesterday but was quickly crunched into $1.55 before shortening further overnight to $1.50. Fellow Kiwi Terror To Love is second favourite at $4.50 after drawing gate four, the three-time New Zealand Cup hero coming off a last-start fourth in the Miracle Mile. The leading local chance with the punters early is Andy Gath trained Maximan, who is clear third favourite with fixed odds betting at $7. The fourth pick, Flaming Flutter, is an $18 chance from his inside-back-row draw. Meanwhile, Keystone Del is hot favourite for the Group 1 Bill Collins Mile at $1.40 with fixed odds ahead of Elegant Image ($4.40) and My High Expectations ($5.50). The winner of the Bill Collins Mile automatically qualifies for HRV's Great Southern Star. The Decron Cranbourne Pacing Cup is a leg of Harness Racing Victoria’s TAB.com.au Trots Country Cups Carnival. A $1000 bet with the TAB will be given away on the night via the popular Trot Selfies promotion (www.facebook.com/trotselfies), while the TAB is also offering a $20,000 First 4 pool Jackpot on the Cranbourne Pacing Cup. There will also be children’s rides and live entertainment. The Carlton Draught Beer Garden will be open for business and dining packages are still available. To book or for more details phone 03 5996 1300. Cody Winnell Harness Racing Victoria

Miracle Mile winning trainer Cran Dalgety will aim Christen Me at the supplementary heat of the Inter Dominion at Tabcorp Park Menangle. After a career defining victory in Saturday night's MIracle Mile, Christen Me will head to Cranbourne this Saturday night before heading home to New Zealand. "Yeah that's the plan at this stage, I'm off home to New Zealand but he will go to Cranbourne and while that race looked to be a good target it sounds like it is going to be a lot harder than we first thought," Dalgety said. "He can go home then and I will get him ready to come back and compete in Victoria's Summer Carnival but after that a trip home to New Zealand to compete in a heat of the Inter Dominion doesn't make sense so he will head to Sydney to compete in a heat." Christen Me continued his love affair with the Menangle track in Saturday night's Miracle Mile after winning the Chariots Of Fire as a four year old on the 1400 metre circuit. "He races well there, after he won the Chariots Of Fire it was always in the back of my mind that we may come back one day to compete in the Miracle Mile." "I must congratulate the team at Menangle, the Retention Barn was very professionally run and all of the horses seemed very happy, I have no problems with the set up at all, I think it is a good thing." Dalgety confirmed Christen Me was flat on Sunday after his sub 1:50 performance. "Yes he was pretty quiet on Sunday morning, but so was I after a big night of celebrating so I can't really blame him for that." "The thing about him now is that he just recovers so well and by Monday morning he had a jog and was feeling on top of the world, he recovers so well now that he has matured." By Greg Hayes  

Allan and Dave Clark, the men behind the Highview standardbred brand has been in the harness racing industry for long enough to know how hard it is to establish a colonial sire these days with all the North American shuttle stallions and frozen semen available to the New Zealand breeder. Nevertheless they decided a few years ago that funneling all the stud income back to North America was not something that was beneficial to the harness racing industry in New Zealand and starting looking for a potential sire locally . After a considerable time researching and evaluating what what local sire prospects were available, they settled on the very smart Christian Cullen entire Justa Tiger.  Justa Tiger is a true "blue blood" in every sense of the word. Not only is he a son of the champion New Zealand sire Christian Cullen but his dam is none other than the brilliant racemare Tigerish. Tigerish 1:57.1 won 15 races and $491, 957 on the track including a swag of group and classic races and was the leading filly of her year. Tigerish has carried than performance through into the breeding barn having left seven winners to date with her first daughter to go to stud Tiger Turner has already left All Tiger 1:49.1 ($409,985) and Tiger Tina 1:53.8 ($119,631) Justa Tiger was purchased by John Street at the Australasian Classic yearling sale and raced under the Lincoln Farm banner. He won his first start as a 2 year old and won two races at that age for stakes of $23,359 and ran in the Harness Jewels at two. As a 3 year old Justa Tiger came into his own, winning seven races and being placed seven times from 20 starts for stakes totaling $138,863. He took his lifetime mark when winning at Auckland over 2200 metres in 2:40.2, a mile rate of 1:57.1. His best performances were when he was beaten a neck by Georgetown in the $215,000 sales series race at Auckland - when running third in the $200,000 Great Northern Derby to Fiery Falcon and second in the $45,000 Flying Stakes to Auckland Reactor, beating home amongst others on that occasion Themightyquinn. Injured as a late 3 year old, Justa Tiger has all the credentials to be given his chance at stud From 37 starts, Justa Tiger won nine races, ran second four times and third seven times for stakes totaling $162,222. Purchased by David Clark after his retirement due to injury, Justa Tiger stood his first season at Highview at Riverton in 2010 which resulted in 23 foals which are now 3 year olds. As with all colonial stallions he struggled for patronage but Allan and David sent a handful of their commercial mares to help him get started. " Its really difficult for New Zealand bred sires to get the mares they deserve to get a chance to prove themselves." "We sent a few of our commercial mares to try to help him get established, " Allan told Harnesslink this week. The first crop of the Justa Tiger's are now 3 year olds and the first to hit the track is Machjagger, a lovely big filly from the Mach Three mare Mach N Elle whose first foal is the very smart Darcee 1:58.9 $40,067) Machjagger qualified in late October beating the smart Another Windermere in the process and Allan and David were hopeful of a good debut when she lined up on Sunday at Invercargill. " Even though you don't own them, you follow his progeny as though you do." "We had heard she was a smart filly and Sunday's run confirmed that,"  Allan said. Restrained off a wide draw by driver Nathan Williamson, Machjagger settled last in the running line before being sent forward with 1400 metres to run. Finding the front at the 850 metres mark, Machjagger was hotly challenged as they turned for home but refused to give in and was still a head to the good at the finishing line. Machjagger paced the 2200 metres in 2:47.2 in the showery conditions and on an easy track. Allan is confident that there are more winners in store in the near future. "We know of several others that are held in high regard with both Geoff Dunn and Peter Bagrie having a Justa Tiger they like." "We had another filly qualify down here in October so Justa Tiger is certainly heading in the right direction." "We have sold most of them privately but still have a handful on the farm for sale," Allan said. It takes a fair bit of courage and commitment to try and establish a colonial bred sire in todays market and Allan and David Clark are to be congratulated for giving Justa Tiger the opportunity that they have. Harnesslink Media  

New Zealand harness racing star Christen Me created Miracle Mile history with his Tabcorp Park Menangle success just moments ago. Driven to perfection by Dexter Dunn, Christen Me became the first winner sired by a previous champion of the time-honoured event. Christen Me is by former super racehorse and topline stallion, Christian Cullen, which captured the 1998 Miracle Mile at Harold Park. In a performance that drew comparisons to the great Popular Alm, Christian Cullen rated a brilliant 1:54.4 for the 1760 metres. Trained by leading horseman Cran Dalgety, Christen Me also grabbed a second slice of history with his 1:49.1 effort, Christen Me’s time just six-tenths of a second outside Smoken Up’s Australasian record set in April 2011. Thrilled with the six-year-old’s victory over defending champion, Beautide, and exciting prospect, Guaranteed, Dalgety has already set his sights on Christen Me’s next target. Stating the Ballarat Cup on December 13 is on Christen Me’s hit list, Dalgety is also considering next Saturday night’s Cranbourne Cup. In what shapes as a sensational fortnight in Victoria, Beautide and Guaranteed are also heading to Ballarat, with a decision on Cranbourne to be made within the next few days. PAUL COURTS

New Zealand harness racing star Christen Me has arrived in Australia early in an attempt to acclimatise ahead of Saturday night’s Miracle Mile. While trainer Cran Dalgety stayed at home in Christchurch, the son of Christen Cullen has settled in at the Sydney stables of Blake Fitzpatrick, where temperatures soared past 40 degrees. “I sent my travelling foreman over with Christen Me a little bit earlier than normal just to make sure he would be acclimatised to the Aussie weather,” Dalgety said. “They tell me it got pretty hot, but he has coped with it really well, and I thought it was better to get him over there and get him ready for the possibility of hot weather rather than turn up a few days before and have him melt when he got off the plane.” Christen Me will head home after the Miracle Mile, with Dalgety keen to return for next year’s Inter Dominion at Tabcorp Park Menangle. “He wasn't ready to race in everything last year and that’s why we missed the Inter Dominion, but we will be there with bells on next year.” GREG HAYES

Connections of outstanding New Zealand pacer Christen Me are hoping he can emulate his father by capturing harness racing’s ultimate speed test on Saturday night. Christen Me will contest the SEW-Eurodrive Miracle Mile at Menangle, a race his sire captured almost two decades ago. Trained by Brian O’Meara, Christian Cullen blitz his rivals in the 1998 edition of the Grand Circuit gem when driven by Danny Campbell. An odd-on favourite at 11/8, Christian Cullen scored by 20 metres from Tailamade Lombo, with Our Sir Vancelot four metres away third. In a performance that drew comparisons to the great Popular Alm, Christian Cullen rated a brilliant 1:54.4 for the 1760 metres, with his time just two-tenths of a second outside Iraklis’ record established in two years earlier. Should Christen Me emerge triumphant, it will also be the first time a Miracle Mile champion has produced a subsequent winner. Drawn barrier four for astute trainer Cran Dalgety, Christen Me is in “perfect shape” for the 1609-metre dash. “I couldn’t be happier with him,” Dalgety declared. “He has come through his two runs during New Zealand Cup week in great condition and is primed for this. “Going into last year’s Miracle Mile when he finished second he hadn’t recovered from the New Zealand Cup week as well, so I’m expecting him to be even better this time.” Citing defending champion Beautide as the one to beat, Dalgety stated he will instruct driver Dexter Dunn to ‘stalk’ the locally-trained gelding. “Beautide is the one to beat and we will stalk him everywhere he goes,” Dalgety said. “From four we should have the chance to follow Beautide right from the start and hopefully get the drop on him and the rest of the field in the home straight.” PAUL COURTS

Before yesterday’s barrier draw, trainer Shane Tritton stated Easy On The Eye could win harness racing’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile – if drawn well. With the son of Christian Cullen set to begin from the pole in the Grand Circuit gem, Tritton is convinced an upset is on the cards. One of the outsiders of the field, Easy On The Eye is paying $16 TAB Fixed Odds, with defending champion Beautide a prohibitive $1.80 favourite for Saturday night’s Menangle showdown. “I’ve said all along he is capable of leading from the right draw and could go all the way under the right conditions,” Tritton declared. “Now he’s got a pearler draw and without doubt he can lead throughout. “He prefers to be rolling along and his best chance is to keep the speed on and take the puff out of the others.” A last-start third behind Beautide and Guaranteed in the Coca-Cola Sprint a fortnight ago, Easy On The Eye has improved since the outing according to the premier horseman. At his previous start the six-year-old won a restricted race at Newcastle in 1:54 over the 1609-metre dash. “He’s done well in his two starts for us and has improved in his track work since,” Tritton said. “He is still adjusting to our way of training, but has come along in leaps and bounds. “He is ready to rock ‘n roll.” PAUL COURTS

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