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There is waiting a long-time between drinks and then there is dying of thirst and Tim Trathen probably came close to later. But if he continues to drive his promising trotter Summer Vacation and drives him in the way he did at Rangiora on Sunday he probably won’t have to wait another ten years before driving his next winner. The popular farrier trained a winner earlier in the season and one back in 2011 but on Sunday it was the first time Trathen had driven a winner since 2004. Sent straight to the front by Trathen, Summer Vacation was allowed to dictate terms in front before sprinting strongly in the straight to hold off the talented Commander Paris. He came his last half in 59.8 and his last quarter in 29.2 to hold on for a game win. By Dream Vacation out of five win mare In Command, Summer Vacation is a close relation to top race mare Meniscus. He was now had six starts for a win and a further three placings and has been driven by Trathen on each of those six occasions. Trathen has now trained 15 winners and driven 26 (since 1986) but is more widely known for his work as a blacksmith and a breaker. He did the early educating of Jewels winner Cowgirls N Indians before selling his share in the boom filly. Meanwhile, Madiba Magic broke the track record at Rangiora for a 2000 metre mobile when pacing the distance in a slick 2-24.8. Driven by Sam Ottley, the erratic Christian Cullen four-year-old was kept back from the gate early before lobbing the one-one. He then unleashed a powerful sprint in the home straight to overhaul stablemate Lumos and favourite Explosive Art. Madiba Magic is out of superstar Washington VC mare Foreal, who notched up a double for the weekend. Her smart Art Major two-year-old son Field Marshal was an impressive winner at Cambridge on Thursday and will now head to Australia for the Breeders Crown. By Mitchell Robertson

The Christian Cullen Mobile Pace for fillies and mares at the Waikato Harness Racing meeting at Cambridge this evening looked to be a benefit race for the smart Mach Three filly Zeta Bromac. The winner of four of her six lifetime starts had drawn perfectly at four for the 1700 meters mobile while her main competition Cyclone Kate had drawn poorly. Backed into microscopic odds by punters, Zeta Bromac went straight to the front and kept up a hot pace in front throughout. Turning for home Zeta Bromac looked to have the field in trouble until the smart two year old filly Cyclone Kate angled off from three back on the inner and stormed home for a narrow but impressive win. It was the third win in nine starts in her juvenile season for the daughter of Mach Three and showed  once again how dangerous she is with a soft run. Placed second earlier in the season in the $75,000 Young Guns Final to the very smart Democrat Party 1:56.1 ($60,524), Cyclone Prince is raced by a group of owners that includes New Zealand cricketer Kyle Mills and former Auckland Blues rugby player, Ant Strachan. Cyclone Kate paced the 1700 meters mobile in a very quick 2:02.08, a mile rate of 1:55.5 with closing sectionals of 57.5 and 28.3 Cyclone Kate is  from the Presidential Ball mare Eyre To The Throne 1:58.9 who won three of her five lifetime starts. The first foal from Eyre To The Throne is this years smart three year old Cyclone Prince 1:57.1 ($128,607) who is a full brother to Cyclone Kate.  The grand dam of Cyclone Kate is Erin Brockovich who is a full sister to the former champion juvenile, Courage Under Fire 1:54.2 ($1,551,941). It is a family littered with classic winning horses and Cyclone Kate looks to have inherited all the family ability if tonights win is any guide. Harnesslink media    

One of the great difficulties that faces some harness racing sires as they go to stud is how they cope with expectations that have been raised for the sire by the performance and reputation of a sibling that is already established in the stallion ranks. Such are the hurdles that Julius Caesar has faced throughout his siring career. A smart performer at two in just four starts which included a great run for second in the $25,000 Sapling Stakes in 1:57.2, Julius Caesar's race career was curtailed at that point by injury. Due to the fact  that Julius Caesar is a full brother to the champion racehorse and sire Christian Cullen 1:54.1 ($1,249,150) meant that Julius Caesar was given a chance in the stallion barn when injury cut short his career. The issue for any young stallion in his initial years is not just the number of mares served but just as important is the quality of those mares he covers. Julius Caesar's connections decided to stand him at a low fee of $2,000 which surprised many people and discounts were available which meant although he got the numbers, the quality of the mares served was sadly lacking. While Julius Caesar left a lot of nice horses in New Zealand, he quickly made a reputation as a good solid middle of the road stallion but just a notch below the very best. Even though he left 120 winners in New Zealand, after six years at stud he was starting to struggle for mares and the decision was made to sell him to Australia. His appeal to Australian breeders was obvious as while his sons and daughters had done a good job in New Zealand, the numerous horses exported to Australia had done a great job of promoting their sire across the Tasman. Led by the Grand Circuit performer Gaius Caesar 1:51.6 ($477,751) who won the 2013 Group1  $200,000 Len Smith Mile at Menangle, the stock of Julius Caesar have laid a platform for the sire to join the stallion ranks in Australia. Gaius Caesar was joined by horses of the class of Our Chain Of Command 1:55.4 ($259,019)  Emperor Montana 1:54.9 ($210,183)  Julias Song 1:52.4 ($192,859)  Caesar Supreme 1:54.3 ($157,401) and Toretto 1:55.4 ($153,390) to name just a few of his smart performers and you can see why Australian breeders embraced the son of In The Pocket when he arrived in Australia. As of today the stock of Julius Caesar have won $3,097,460 in Australia to date. Add in $2,154,418 from New Zealand and Julius Caesar is starting to establish himself as a really successful sire. Standing for $3000+Gst, Julius Caesar covered 126 mares in his first season in Australia which resulted in 83 foals which are racing as two year olds in the 2013/2014 season. As of today Julius Caesar has had 13 starters for five winners for stakes totaling $100,639 which is a good start to his siring career in Australia. The star performer is undoubtedly Mister Wickham 1:55.9 ($44,725) who looks a classic horse in the making in his short career to date. With breeders keeping the faith in him by sending 78 mares in year two and 92 in year three, Julius Caesar looks to have been given a great opportunity to establish himself in the highly competitive  Australian stallion market.  Gaius Caesar winning The Len Smith Mile Harnesslink media    

Harness racing can be a cruel game at times with some horses forever seeming to have bad luck. The Bucket List would have to be near the front of that queue in the last twelve months with a run of bad luck you wouldn't wish on anybody. After The Bucket List had won four of his first seven starts, he was thrown in the deep end against the best of his age group at three. While he performed really well, it was a steep learning curve for the Christian Cullen entire and seem to shake his confidence for a while. A nice run for second behind Pass Them By 1:53.6 ($175,081), beaten a ½ neck in a 1:57.3 mile rate over 2200 meters convinced trainer Geoff Small to send The Bucket List to Ashburton for the 3 year old Harness Jewels. Although never a winning chance in a race run in 1:50.6, The Bucket List went super to run 1:52.1, beating home two very smart horses in Franco Nelson 1:53.1 ($425,446) and Elios 1:55 ($213,676) in the process. Reappearing at Alexandra Park in January 2014, The Bucket List looked ready to fulfill his early potential with a brilliant win, coming from last at the 500 meter mark to beat a field containing Ideal Belle 1:52.2 (pl) ($176,409)  Maxim 1:56.6 $396,913) and Sky Major 1:52 ($411,002). He paced the 2200 meters in a brilliant 2:39.4, a mile rate of 1:56.6 with closing sectionals of 56.7 and 28.3 and looked set for a huge season. But from that point on, The Bucket List has hit one brick wall after another. Renowned for having a lethal sprint if saved for one run, the Bucket List has had a succession of runs where he was late getting clear, blocked for a run or pushed back at the wrong time. The luck had to change eventually and last night at Alexandra Park, The Bucket List got the kind of run he has been seeking for a while now. Leading early in the 2700 meters stand, driver Philip Butcher took a trail after 400 meters and soon after was three back on the inner as the smart 3 year old Regulus went to the front. Thats where he stayed until they turned for home where he angled for a run up the passing lane and burst through late to win going away by two lengths. He paced the 2700 from a stand in 3:27.8, a mile rate of 2:03.8 with smart closing sectionals of 56.7 and 27.6. It was his sixth lifetime win coupled with twelve placings which has seen him bank $76,945 in stakes to date. Now that his luck has turned, it wouldn't surprise anyone if The Bucket List strung a few wins together in the next few weeks. Harnesslink media  

Champion harness racing driver Ricky May notched up his third season century in succession when winning aboard the Dave Anderson trained Abbey Cullen at Addington last night. The win was May’s third for the night after good mate Mark Jones put him on Zakspatrol and Sabellian in order to help him reach the milestone. Both 3YO pacers were winners of their two-horse Breeders Crown heats. However, Zakspatrol was actually a narrow second and was a promoted winner after Artismee was relegated for galloping over the line. Driven positively by May, Abbey Cullen held up from her ace alley before undergoing a mid-race attack from Smart Alex. She then kicked strongly in the straight to hold off a late bid from Smart Alex who was able to drop into the trail when the mid-race speed went on. Hikoi finished a further a one and a quarter lengths away in third. The win was the Christian Cullen mares first from fourteen starts. It was also the first time May has taken the reins behind the four-year-old. May then went on to notch up his 101st win  for the season, and fourth for the night,  when winning aboard the smart Brendon Hill trained pacer Dalton Bromac, who looked back to the horse that we saw in his South Island debut two starts back. After missing away from the standing start, May worked Dalton Bromac into the race three-wide before taking a one-one sit down the back straight. He then worked the gelding into the clear rounding the final bend, with the three-year-old letting down strongly for a comprehensive win despite not running straight. Robbie Close, who has been the caretaker trainer of the gelding during the week, said that he believes Dalton Bromac is a better horse when coming from behind, which may be the reason he was slightly disappointing when a well beaten third after leading up in his second start in the south. “He is still pretty green and I think he is a better horse when he is chasing,” revealed Close. “I also think the 2600 metre trips suit him as he is a very good stayer and can follow pace,” he added. The season century tops off what has been another tremendous innings for May. Not only did he notch up his seventh New Zealand Cup victory but he was also victorious in the Auckland Cup. His emphatic win aboard Monbet in the Harness Jewels 2YO Ruby, which gave long-time supporters Greg & Nina Hope their first Group One win in New Zealand, was another one of his highlights. Meanwhile, Robert Dunn is now just two wins shy of training 100 winners in a season for the first time after winning a heat of the Golden Girls with Westburn Warrior. His tally could have been 99 had Artismee not been relegated. By Mitchell Robertson

Alta Christiano, one of Australasia’s most exciting harness racing prospects, has had his brilliant career cut short by injury. He has been retired and will stand at Alabar this season – and beyond. With Im Themightyquinn, champion West Australian trainer, Gary Hall has the greatest horse in Australasia. In Alta Christiano he felt he had his heir apparent. In the words of Gary Hall: “For Alta Christiano to win the WA Derby in only his second start for us – and after only eight weeks work – was outstanding. He drew 10, sat outside them and was just too good. “When he came back as a four-year-old we had nothing else that could go with him in work so we had to work him with Quinny – and Quinny really had to open up and stretch his neck to get past him – and then there wasn’t much in it. There’s not too many horses that could make Quinny go all out - not on a one-on-one basis. “When Alta Christiano set his time of 1:54.2 at Gloucester Park he sat three wide outside them and just jogged it. Gary didn’t even pull the earplugs. He said he could easily had broken 1:53 that night if he’d wanted to. I was pleased on the night that he didn’t have to – but looking back I wish he had let the brakes off as everyone would have been able to see what an outstanding horse this is. “It’s a great shame that he never really had another chance to show the type of horse he was. As a four-year-old he was never 100% in all his wins. This was a serious horse. “Of all the top sons of Christian Cullen, he had the gait that was the closest to Cullen himself as I’d seen. He’s also the one that I feel looked the most like Cullen. “He’s got all the attributes you could want in a horse – he’s fast, he can stay and he’s great gaited. Very quick – with high, high speed but also very strong with a high cruising speed. “In my eyes there can’t be a better prospect as a stallion. He’s out of a Fake Left mare and is a direct descendant of Black Watch. If gait, speed, pedigree and temperament make a stallion then he’s got everything.” On Sky Channel’s “In The Gig” earlier this year, Johnny Tapp – an icon of Australian racing broadcasting – compared Alta Christiano to the champion galloper Might And Power. Quite the compliment indeed. After all, Might And Power was one of the greats of Australian racing - rated the world’s best stayer in 1997 when, as a four-year-old he won the Caulfield Cup / Melbourne Cup double. He’s the only horse to lead all the way to win both great races. Like Might And Power, Alta Christiano has a free-striding style, a high cruising speed and could effortlessly draw away from fields without even appearing to accelerate – traits he also shares with his own champion sire, Christian Cullen. Alta Christiano was bred in New Zealand by Tony and Val Dickinson’s Alta Breeding Co Ltd. Right from his very first start he showed he was something special – winning on debut in February 2012 as a two-year-old in 1:56.8 by 7 ½ lengths with a 57.5 last half – paying $1.20. He also went on to win his next three starts in 1:57.6 (the Gr.3 NZ Kindergarten Stakes), 1:56.6 and 1:59.6 (last half in 56.5). Undoubtedly the hottest youngster on the New Zealand harness racing scene, he was sold for huge money to clients of Gary Hall’s Perth stable. The intention being that he would continue to race in New Zealand through both the NZ two and three-year-old Sires Stakes Series. Following a massive third in the $250,000 NZ Yearling Sales Series Final the plans went somewhat pear-shaped culminating in the diagnosis of a spiral fracture in his near hind leg. After a long period of recuperation he joined the Hall stable – and became an instant sensation. First-up he won the $50,000 Gr.2 Western Gateway Pace in 1:55.4. He then absolutely monstered them in the $200,000 Gr.1 WA Derby and in his only other start as a three-year-old he won at Pinjarra in 1:54.9. This season as four-year-old, he was in sensational form. His last four starts were victories - mostly by wide margins - in 1:56.9, 1:55.3, 1:54.2 (after sitting three wide) and 1:56.7. Only ever beaten once in nine starts in Australia, Alta Christiano most certainly excited race-goers – had it not been for being a day-to-day proposition (in all probability due to the after effects of his original injury) it could have been oh so much more. It will be as a stallion that he now gets the opportunity to fulfil this immense promise. He certainly has the pedigree to be a stallion – not only are the first four sires in his pedigree all champion, premiership-winning sires (Christian Cullen, Fake Left, Vance Hanover and Noodlum) but he also boasts the former NZ Broodmare of the Year, Black Watch as his fourth dam. Alta Christiano will be based at Alabar’s Victorian farm and will be available in Australia at a fee of A$2,750 (incl GST) and in New Zealand at NZ$2,750 (plus GST).  

Christian Cullen gelding Upanatom continued working his way through the grades with a 19.3m win at Yarra Valley on Monday. The former New Zealander from the Amanda Grieve yard is undefeated in four starts since arriving Down Under and has won six out of nine overall. Chris Alford piloted the four-year-old in Monday’s victory and, oh boy, didn’t this pacer look a cut above his rivals. (Access Yarra Valley Monday replays here) From gate seven Upanatom charged straight to the lead clearly despite Alford hardly moving a muscle. Recording the fastest lead time of the day from the 2150m start, 38.3secs, Upanatom came home with a 58.6secs last half to score by a huge margin. It was an armchair ride for Alford all the way in fact, as even late in the race he hardly had to call on his charge. The winner’s mile rate was 1:59.1. Five of the eight races at Yarra Valley were won by favourites, with Im Anonymous scoring by a head off a 20m handicap in the yarravalleyracing.com.au Trotters Handicap over 2150m at $3.30, Game We Play winning his second race from four starts at $1.70 in the United Petroleum 3YO Pace, Pushkin getting up by a head at $1.30 for Adam Kelly/Gavin Lang in the De Bortoli Pace over 2150m, and $3.50 elect Our Horizon scoring by 6m in the Yarra Valley Forklifting Claiming Pace for trainer-driver Jodi Quinlan. Other winners were Ourboyjay for Daryl Douglas, which out-bobbed Glenferrie Bunter by a half-head in the Yarra Ranges Tourism 2YO Pace over 1650m, Onemorelaugh in the Spring Packages Online 3YO Pace, which gave Lang a driving double, and outsider Lets Go Happy for Mark Peace in the Lilydale Instant Lawn Pace over 1650m. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Well known Selwyn pig farmers Pete Molloy and Ray Seebeck have had a succession of nice horses around them over the years and their latest harness racing winner at Timaru today (Sunday 6th July) in Gotta Grunter is no exception. It is never hard to spot their horses at the races as most have a reference to pigs in their name. Ever since their smart racehorse Three Little Pigs 1:59.7 ($55,135) in the nineties, the two pig farmers have had a succession of horses with a "piggish" name. By the son of Christian Cullen, Gotta Go Cullen 1:58.3 ($1,127,567), Gotta Grunter is from the speedy Badlands Hanover mare Sheza Grunter 1:59.8 ($21,482) Starting his career with Spreydon Lodge trainer Steve McRae, Gotta Grunter looked very promising early on, running second at his first three lifetime starts. But from there Gotta Grunter had a few issues and his form fell away. A transfer to the Mark Jones Woodend beach stable followed and he was having his first start for his new trainer when he won today with regular pilot Craig Thornley in the bike. Sent straight to the front from his inside draw, Gotta Grunter was attacked a couple of times mid race but still had enough in reserve to hold on for a deserved success. He paced the 2600 meters mobile in 3:19.6, a mile rate of 2:03.5 with closing sectionals of 58.7 and 29.5. One thing you can be sure of is that this latest win by these two well known characters of harness racing in Canterbury will be celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm at one of the local watering holes tonight. Gotta Grunter Harnesslink media

The Jacobsen Headstones mobile pace last night at Auckland was all the talk in the harness racing community this week prior to the race. A two year old son of Christian Cullen in Crockets Cullen trained by Brent Mangos was all the rage on the back of some smart performances at the trials recently. If you listened to the tipsters he was a past the post certainty, but as we all know in racing there is no such thing. Even though the field was only small at just seven runners, what it lacked in numbers it more than made up for with its quality. Aside from Crockets Cullen it included two other two year olds in Bettormack and Rycroft who had also been excelling at trials as well of late. Throw in smart maidens such as Under Worked and Shedontloveme and you had all the ingredients for a fascinating race. Shedontloveme led off the gate before handing up to  Bettormack who in turn handed up to Crockets Cullen after 500 meters. Rycroft had settled last from his wide draw but took off with 950 meters to go to work forward to the death seat. Turning for home Rycroft quickly asserted his superiority and went to line for a comfortable 1 ¼  length win over Shedontloveme who just nosed Bettormack out of second with Crockets Cullen weakening to fourth. The son of Elsu who is trained and was driven by the “iceman” Tony Herlihy, paced the 2200 in the smart time of 2:44.4 with closing sectionals of 57;9 and 28.8. From the famed Black Watch family, Rycroft is from the In The Pocket mare Futures So Bright who is a half- sister to such smart types as Pulsation 1:53.2 ($128,511)  Anescape 1:50.6 ($122,027) and Forever Now 1:57 (106,288) Judging by the ease of his win tonight over such a talented field, this won’t be the last time that Rycroft is first to greet the judge on race night.   Rycroft Harneeslink media

Two of the most impressive trialists seen at Alexandra Park during the winter months are set to make their much awaited debuts on Friday night. So if you don’t like backing first starters, I suggest you turn the page now. The first of them is Al Bundy, who is likely to start a warm favourite in the second event on the card, the maiden trot. Trained by Andrew Grant at Pukekohe, the four-year son of Great Success has been sublime in all three of his public appearances and while I generally don’t like to tip out maiden trotters. This fella, touch wood, hasn’t looked like putting a foot wrong in any of them. In his first public appearance he won a sedate workout by two lenghts, before coming back the next week and winning a workout by 15 lenghts. He then obliterated his opponents in his qualifying trial by some 22 lenghts and trotted four seconds under the required time. A half-brother to the well-performed Double Bundy, who has won 14 races and trotted a mile in 1-54.6 at Menangle, Al Bundy, looks to have inherited  all of his brother’s ability. Already dubbed an up and coming trotting star by one North Island scribe, Al Bundy looks set to make a winning debut on Friday. As does Crocket’s Cullen, the other star trialist set to debut on Friday. “He is a nice two-year-old who I think has the potential to develop into a top-liner,” said his trainer Brent Mangos. Crocket’s Cullen, who is full-brother to Band On The Run, was victorious in his first three public appearances back in February and early March.  He was then spelled before returning to the workouts on the 14th of June. “He was coming into strongly and then galloped in that workout, but it actually wasn’t his fault as he was hitting the wheels,” explained Mangos. Mangos then resolved that issue before taking him back to the trials the week later where he was once again very impressive, winning by three lenghts in a 2:02 mile rate. The strong son of Christian Cullen has drawn the pole in the eighth race on Friday and baring bad luck, and plenty of it, he should be winning. “I’ll just see how he feels behind the gate, but he doesn’t have to hold up to win,” said Mangos. “It’s a small field so even if he gets crossed from the gate I should be able to get him back out and around them,” he added. “Either way I expect him to be very hard to beat.” Crocket’s Cullen is Australasian Breeders Crown eligible but Mangos thinks the rich series comes just a few months to soon for the exciting colt. “We will know more after Friday but he is still pretty green and I think he lacks the ring-craft to go to Australia for a series like the Breeders Crown,” said Mangos. “He may compete in the heat at Cambridge next week but I don’t think we will take him over to Australia for the Final. He is going to be a much better horse next season,” he enthused. Meanwhile, reformed rogue trotting mares Sunchita and Idle Bones look set to battle out the feature trot with in form gelding Sunshield. All three of the trotters look set for open class. However, a few months ago I wouldn’t have given any of them a chance of making it to the elite level. Idle Bones was victorious in her debut at Ashburton before bad manners led to a sixteen race losing streak, while Sunchita had, up until a few weeks ago, thrown away more races than she had won. But a few weeks is a long time in harness racing and a few changes to Sunchita’s gear and shoeing and opportunities for Idle Bones to race from behind a mobile have led to both mares winning their past three starts. Sunshield has also won his past three starts, but on Friday only one of the three will retain their picket-line fence form line. Which one will it be you ask? My money is on Idle Bones. She, like Sunchita, was fantastic in her North Island debut and has the advantage  of the mobile, which will probably suit her more than it will Sunchita, who is generally a fast beginner from a stand. She has also come up with the ace alley and should be able to lead and roll along in front, like she did at Addington two starts back when winning by 15 lengths in a two-minute mile rate. If she can replicate that performance, she should win again. Idle Bones is one of two horses South Island trainer Paul ‘Tank’ Ellis has racing on Friday. The other is Ellmer Hanover, who drops back from racing in last week’s Winter Cup to a much more suitable C2-5 mobile pace. He wouldn’t be without a chance and is worth specking at odds in an interesting race with sees smart two-year-old Mighty Flying Major and Southland Oaks winner Royal Counsel clash with country cup type pacers such as Ellmer Hanover, Who Dares Wins, and Chief Thundercloud, who caught my eye when flying home for fourth in the Winter Cup and is my top pick in the race. That race is the first leg of the Quaddie and I suggest that you go wide and take Zeta Bromac, Mighty Flying Major, Royal Counsel, and Ellmer Hanover as I am confident that you can get away with anchoring Crocket’s Cullen in the second leg. It may also pay to go wide in the third leg before thinning things down again in the last. By Mitchell Robertson

The star of the champion sire Christian Cullen has started to dim a bit in recent years. The son of In The Pocket is having his 20th birthday shortly and many have started to look elsewhere for their  brood mares next consort. Issues around fertility also having affected him more in the last few years, his fertility rate hovering around the 60% mark for the last three years. That and his age have seen a drop off in support for  Christian Cullen who served  just 83 mares last year, his smallest book in over twelve years. The naysayers are out in force at the moment but anyone having an objective look at the current season will soon realise Christian Cullen still has a lot to offer. In the 5 year old+ age group we have the brilliant Christen Me who has won $547,549 this season on his way to becoming the grand circuit champion in Australasia. In the 4 year old age group we have Franco Nelson who has won $200,905 this season including the 4 year old Harness Jewels Diamond. In the 3 year old age group we have the outstanding Lochaburn who has won $256,067 and looks a shoe in for 3 year old colt/gelding of the year. Christian Cullen currently sits third overall on the sires list for 2013/2014 with earnings to date of $1,847,008 His overall numbers are mind boggling. His winners in Australasia number 930 with 145 of those have won in excess of $100,000. And his daughters are roaring up the brood mare charts in both Australia and New Zealand. Many astute judges rate Christian Cullen as the greatest stallion to have stood in the Southern hemisphere Anyone who has been around the industry long term will know that champion sires usually taper off slowly in their latter years but most seem able to produce one outstanding crop late in their siring careers. It should therefore surprise no one if one of Christian Cullen's last crops turns out to be one of his best. Click here to see a recent full review of Christian Cullen's siring ability.   Harnesslink media

The footprint left on the harness racing industry in New Zealand by the brilliant Direct Scooter sire, In The Pocket continues to grow. Not only have his sons made their mark as sires with Christian Cullen and Courage Under Fire excelling in this role, and now Changeover is starting to make some impact with his first crop, but it is his daughters that have done just as well as broodmares. With just six weeks to go to the end of the season, In The Pocket holds a handy $280,000 lead on his nearest rival Falcon Seelster and appears certain to claim his second broodmare title in the last three years. And he has done that with broodmare numbers significantly less than his competition. In The Pocket had fertility issues for most of his stud career and ended up only leaving 1381 foals in his time at stud in New Zealand. Those In The Pocket foals managed to win $18,230,743 on the track and his daughters have already hit the $15,795,276 mark in the broodmare ranks with the promise of a lot more to come in the next few years. In the current season In The Pocket broodmares have not had any huge stake winners but just a steady stream of high quality winners. These are headed by Isaiah 1:54.6 ($241,778) while others to have had a good season include Sky Major 1:52.1 ($142,422), Linda Lovegrace 1:57.7 ($122,789)  Kate Perry 1:56.7 ($116,872) Willow 1:56.3 ($110,265 and Besotted 1:53.5 ($109,296). Isaiah (out of the In The Pocket mare EJ Becks) winning the sale series final The main threat to In The Pocket as the leading broodmare sire in the next couple of years may come from the champion trotting sire, Sundon. Sundon has made steady progress in the last three years and sits on earnings of $2,121,970 in the present season which is light years ahead of the next best in the trotting ranks, Chiola Hanover who has $499,420 on his card this season. With his large number of mares yet to go to stud or just beginning their broodmare careers, Sundon may yet achieve the notable feat of topping both the overall sires and broodmare sires list in his siring career. For a trotting sire like Sundon  to achieve the broodmare title would be the crowning glory to what has already been a stunning stud career. Harnesslink media  

Now for the Lombardo final for Jungle Genie Classy New Zealand-bred pacer Jungle Genie leapt the first hurdle in her quest to win two feature events in the space of eight days when she produced a powerful burst to score a narrow victory in the $30,000 Clipsal And Schneider Electric Pace for four-year-old mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Her strong performance boosted the confidence of Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond that she will complete the double by proving too good for her rivals in the $25,000 final of the Lombardo Pace next Friday night. Jungle Genie, second favourite at 9/2, overcame the distinct disadvantage of starting from the outside of the back line when she relished the solid pace set by 9/1 chance Loving You. Colin Brown was content to keep Jungle Genie ninth position before starting a three-wide move in the final circuit. Miss Atomic, the 10/9 favourite, surprisingly was easily beaten out at the start when she was lethargic and lacked sparkle. Stablemate Loving You burst straight to the front from the No. 2 barrier and then was able to withstand an early challenge from Am Opulent. Miss Atomic slotted in behind the pacemaker and gained a fortuitous inside passage when Loving You, despite the efforts of reinsman Morgan Woodley, drifted off the pegs passing the 450m mark. Miss Atomic then took lead 150m later and Chris Lewis drove her vigorously in the home straight. But she was unable to hold out the fast-finishing Jungle Genie, who got to the front 120m from the post and won by a head from Miss Atomic, with 20/1 chance Bettor Dreams running on from tenth at the bell to be third, a head in front of Cielito. The final 800m was covered in 58.5sec. and Jungle Genie rated 1.57.2 over the 2130m. She has been wonderfully consistent for owners Greg Bond, Kevin, Rob and John Gartrell, Andrew Foster and Craig Hampson since arriving in Australia 13 months ago after managing just one third placing from five starts in New Zealand as a three-year-old. Her 34 WA starts have produced 14 wins and 13 placings and her win on Friday night boosted her earnings to $101,412. She is by Bettors Delight and is the second foal out of the Live Or Die mare Jungle Jane, who raced 43 times for six wins, ten placings and $58,371 in prizemoney. Im Themightyquinn on target for Queensland It's all systems go for Im Themightyquinn, who will enter the next phase of his remarkable career when he contests feature events at the annual Queensland winter carnival in Brisbane next month. The champion pacer rounded off his preparation with a thrilling last-gasp victory over stablemate My Hard Copy in the 2130m Clipsal Powerhouse Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night and he will travel by air to Brisbane on Thursday, with his driver Gary Hall jun. full of confidence. "I know that a lot of people will think that he hasn't come back anywhere near his best (after a nose victory over Crombie in the Pinjarra Cup followed by a two-length second to David Hercules at Gloucester Park)," Hall said. "But I'm glad that they are sort of writing us off again before we go to Queensland. "I've got no worries. He'll be excited because it will be a new place and once he gets into a genuinely-run race and is driven the way he likes to be driven, he'll prove his worth. "There aren't many horses capable of doing what he did tonight. I think that people expect him to just beat those horses easily because they consider those horses are not in the same class as he is. But those horses are hard to beat round here (the 805m circuit at Gloucester Park) when they run a slow lead time (69.9sec.) and then walk around the next half (60.9sec.) and then run a 55sec. last half. "That makes it almost impossible to come from the back in the field. Around the bend out of the front straight in the last lap I had a good hold of him and he was going pretty much as fast as he can go. That was a quarter in 27.6sec. off the front and he would have gone 27sec. "I think that in his old age he has got a bit dour. Tonight I just wanted to creep up on the others, nice and relaxed, but he's gone back to pulling a bit. It's always hard to do that (remaining relaxed) when he is out of his comfort zone and they're running 55sec. halves. "However, I always felt that he was going to win. I was still holding him a bit down the back straight. When we got to the breeze he thought that his job was done. But he knuckled down in the straight when I gave him two cuts with the whip. He dug in as deep as he ever has. "He's having a bit of trouble in recent races because they are so slow early and are not really genuine fast-class races. Generally there is no pressure put on the leader and he's finding it a bit tough with that. And the way the track is, horses from behind are having trouble getting past the leader when they're running quick times in the last lap. "I don't think that he's a hundred per cent fit yet. He's come in tonight a bit big, but that's not too much of a worry. He's got a lot ahead of him. He leaves by plane on Thursday and will be on the tarmac for an hour in Melbourne before continuing to Brisbane. "Once he gets over there he can really tighten up. I have no doubts that he has come back as good as ever." Champion trainer Gary Hall sen. will remain with Im Themightyquinn and prepare him at Shannon Price's property. Hall jun. will fly in and fly out to drive the nine-year-old in the $60,000 Sunshine Sprint at Albion Park on Saturday week (July 5) and the $100,000 Blacks A Fake Free-For-All a fortnight later. Providing that he performs strongly in those events, Im Themightyquinn will wind up his Queensland campaign in the $40,000 standing-start Redcliffe Cup on August 8. Im Themightyquinn was favourite at 10/1 on in Friday night's race in which he started from the No. 6 barrier on the front line. He was restrained back to last, while stablemate My Hard Copy, second fancy at 6/1 from the No. 2 barrier, bounced straight to the front for Clint Hall, with Shardons Rocket moving to the breeze after 450m. Hall jun. started a three-wide run with Im Themightyquinn with 900m to travel and the champion sustained his spirited finishing burst to get up and score in the final stride, rating 1.58.5 over the 2536m journey. Im Themightyquinn boosted his earnings to $4,468,736 from 56 wins and 33 placings from 108 starts. Pacific Black proving a wonderful bargain Baskerville trainer Sonia Zucchiatti and Adam Kirke made an inspired decision six years ago when they outlaid $20,000 to purchase Victorian-bred three-year-old Pacific Black. Now a nine-year-old, Pacific Black, ended a losing sequence of 27 when he sprinted home fast to score a surprise win at 18/1 in the 2503m Schneider Electric Handicap at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This boosted Pacific Black's earnings for Zucchiatti and Kirke to $167,609 from 16 wins and 38 placings from 122 starts to take his career record to 143 starts for 21 wins, 46 placings and $190,684. As a three-year-old, Pacific Black won four races in a row in the month of August 2008, one at Shepparton and three at Wagga, before being advertised for sale. "I saw him advertised on the internet, on the Trading Ring, for $20,000," Zucchiatti said. "He had won four in a row and I thought that was a good enough reason to buy him. He had one start for us and won at Harold Park and now has won five city-class races at Gloucester Park. " Pacific Black certainly has made the most of the drop-down regulation which enables a pacer assessed M2 or better to drop down a classification every time he has a losing sequence of ten. Pacific Black has gradually dropped down in class and went into Friday night's race as an M1-class performer. He is now back to an M2 mark. Zucchiatti credits Pacific Black's longevity to racing almost exclusively in stands. His five city wins have been in stands and he has contested a mobile race only twice in his past 50 starts. "He pulls in mobiles and I've had to restrict him to stands in the past few years," she said. "He is getting old and basically he needs to race back on the fence. He travels better on the fence and if he gets the right run he'll finish thereabouts." Pacific Black started off the 10m mark on Friday night and Kim Prentice quickly manoeuvred the old gelding to the pegs, with 11/1 chance Telham Lane setting the pace. Pacific Black gained a split half-way down the home straight and he sprinted fast to gain the upper hand in the final couple of strides. Heez Orl Black bred to be a star It is little wonder that Heez Orl Black is developing into a smart performer. He is closely related to former champion pacer and highly-successful sire Christian Cullen. The New Zealand-bred five-year-old is by In The Pocket out of the unraced Holmes Hanover mare Cracker Kate, who is a half-sister to Christian Cullen, who earned $1,249,150 from 22 wins and four placings from 31 starts before developing into an outstanding sire. Cracker Kate is also a full-sister to Kates First, who had 65 starts for 19 wins, 19 placings and $624,023 in prizemoney. Kates First's successes included the New Zealand Oaks at Addington and the Queensland Oaks at Albion Park in 1997 when she defeated Concorde Lombo. She finished second to Holmes D G in the $250,000 Victoria Cup at Moonee Valley in January 1999 when she finished in front of Our Sir Vancelot, Tailamade Lombo and Iraklis. Heez Orl Black, owned by Max Grynberg, Bill Paterson, Tony and Ruth Thompson, Dave Kahl, Karen Hall, Frank Borrello and Trudi Spiniello, revealed tremendous pace to score an effortless victory in the Clipsal Saturn Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. This gave leading trainer Gary Hall sen. the first leg of a double and reinsman Kim Prentice the second leg of a double after an earlier success with Pacific Black. Heez Orl Black, favourite at 10/9 on from the coveted No. 1 barrier on the front line, had no difficulty in jumping straight to the lead. After a slow lead time of 8.6sec., the tempo increased when outsider Empire Flame began to overrace badly in the breeze and the first 400m section of the final mile whizzed by in 27.5sec., followed by a quarter of 28.8sec. Gary Hall jun. eased 4/1 third fancy Vapour from the one-out, one-back position to start a three-wide move 650m from home. The third quarter was covered in 29.2sec. and Heez Orl Black appeared vulnerable after such a hectic pace. However, Heez Orl Black revealed sparkling speed and great resilience to dash over the final quarter in 28sec. and win by five metres from Vapour, with Slick Chapel (7/2) running on from sixth at the bello to be third to give Hall sen. a trifecta result in the 1730m event. Heez Orl Black rated a sparkling 1.53.6 to improve his record to 59 starts for 14 wins, 16 placings and $190,065. He has had 27 starts in Western Australia for eight wins and eight placings. Macintosh surges from last to first New Zealand-bred four-year-old Macintosh looks well and truly on the path to many more wins when he impressed with a splendid last-to-first victory in the 2536m Clipsal Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Produced in fine fettle by veteran trainer Dick Moore, Macintosh, favourite at 6/4, was driven with supreme confidence by Colin Brown. Macintosh started from the outside of the back line and Brown was quite content to let the Mach Three gelding lob along in last position in the field of eleven. Four Grinners (15/1) set the pace and Brown had Macintosh travelling easily at the rear until Chris Voak started a three-wide move with Barkers Hall 1100m from home. Brown then followed the run of Barkers Hall and Macintosh exploded to the front 60m from the post to win easily by four metres from Four Grinners, with Barkers Hall three lengths away in third place. Macintosh rated 1.59.2 and took his West Australian record to seven wins from nine starts after having raced ten times in New Zealand for two wins and three third placings. Macintosh is the second foal out of Style By The Mile, who won once from 17 starts. Style By The Mile is a full-sister to Gomeo Romeo, who earned $340,193 from 13 wins and 12 placings from 52 starts. He was the winner of one group 1 and two group 2 events in New Zealand. Olivieri consolidates second place Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri maintained his recent run of successes with a double at Gloucester Park on Friday night and consolidated his spot in second place on the Metropolitan trainers' premiership table. Olivieri now has trained 54 city winners this season and trails Gary Hall sen. (143 wins), with Greg and Skye Bond in third place with 43 winners. Olivieri's winners on Friday night were Real Hammer and Finbar Abbey. Real Hammer, a Victorian-bred five-year-old, was second fancy at 9/4 who enjoyed the ideal passage behind the pacemaker and 11/4 chance Well Hello Dolly in the 1730m Schneider Acti 9 Pace before gaining a late split and finishing strongly to beat that mare by one metre, with 6/4 favourite Black Aquila a fighting third after working hard in the breeze. This gave Chris Lewis the first leg of a double, which he completed with the all-the-way win of Say It Now in the final event. Real Hammer, a recent addition to the Olivieri stable, has now raced 23 times in Western Australia for four wins and five placings to improve his career record to 12 wins, 14 placings and $100,062 from 52 starts. Finbar Abbey, driven by Chris Voak, was a 11/2 chance off the 20m mark in the 2503m Clipsal Lighting Handicap, in which former New Zealand performer Robyns Raider dominated betting and was favourite at 5/4 at his first appearance at Gloucester Park. Punters groaned when Robyns Raider galloped from the outside of the front line and lost several lengths. However, Colin Brown quickly got Robyns Raider back into a pacing gait and the four-year-old surged forward to assume control after 450m. Finbar Abbey settled down in ninth place before Voak sent him forward, three wide, after a lap to move to the breeze 1450m from home. The eight-year-old appeared under considerable pressure 250m from home when he was not responding particularly strongly to heavy punishment. However, he ran home with dogged determination to hit the front 50m from the post and win by a neck from 16/1 chance Thumpem, who was eighth on the pegs at the bell before finishing fast. Robyns Raider was a close third. Finbar Abbey, who has won at five of his nine starts for Olivieri, has earned $138,831 from 16 wins and 24 placings from 106 starts. $400 pacer takes earnings to $96,870 Four-year-old West Australian-bred mare Lucky Joy, unwanted as a yearling before being picked up for a mere $400 at a dispersal sale, boosted her earnings for Raelene and Ian Williams and their son Robbie to $96,870 when she stormed home to win the 2130m third heat of the Clipsal 56 Series Lombardo Pace for mares at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Robbie Williams, who trains Lucky Joy at Henley Brook, drove a typical patient race with the talented sit-sprinter, who started from barrier two on the back line and raced in sixth position in the one-wide line before unleashing a powerful finishing burst, out wide, to hit the front 70m from the post and win by a half-length from the fast-finishing 16/1 chance Ace of Cards. Hoylakes Firstlady, second fancy at 3/1, had a tough run in the breeze before fighting on to finish third, with the heavily-backed 6/4 favourite My Lady of the Night setting the pace and fading to finish sixth. Lucky Joy, by Canadian stallion Northern Luck, was third favourite at 9/2 and she impressed in dashing over the final 400m in 28.9sec. Her 30 starts have produced seven wins and 11 placings. Smooth Caesar is a giant-killer Giant pacer Smooth Caesar, a generally unfancied 21/1 chance, caused an upset when he stormed home from tenth and last 350m from home to beat 6/4 favourite Pride of Colorado in the 2130m Clipspec Claiming Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. The powerfully-built eight-year-old has certainly been a great buy for Marie Bingham, who claimed him for $10,000 last November. Since then Smooth Caesar has won four races and been placed nine times for Pinjarra trainer-reinsman Kim Young, earning $46,985 in stakes to take his career record to 91 starts for 13 wins, 24 placings and $115,039. Polemarker Heavens Delight (7/4) set the pace from Pride of Colorado in the breeze, with Our Gent trailing the pacemaker and Elite Under Fire enjoying the one-out, one-back trail after having been fastest into stride from barrier five, but being unable to cross to the lead. Smooth Caesar, who started from the No. 3 barrier, was tucked away on the pegs and did not get into the clear until 420m from home. He was still last at the 350m mark when Young switched him five wide. After a third quarter in a slick 28.8sec., the final section was a considerably slower 30.2sec. and Smooth Caesar burst to the front 50m from the post before defeating Pride of Colorado by two metres. Veteran The Oyster Bar was a half-length away in third place. Say It Now has the last say Noted frontrunner Say It Now further illustrated the great advantage of the prized No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park when Chris Lewis drove him to an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Clipsal and Schneider Electric Westbred Pathway Pace on Friday night. Say It Now was a well-fancied 7/4 second fancy, but many punters preferred the highly-promising four-year-old Bettor Party, who was favourite at 5/4 despite the marked disadvantage of starting from the outside of the front line of seven. Bettor Party was wisely eased back to last by Colin Brown, while the lack of any great pressure in the early stages enabled Lewis to rate Say It Now expertly in front, with modest opening quarters of the final mile in the sprint trip in 30sec. and a casual 31.1sec. This proved the decisive factor in the result. Brown started a three-wide move with Bettor Party approaching the bell and the gelding moved to seco0nd 320m from home and fought on with great determination. But after a third quarter in 29sec. Say It Now was able to sprint the final section in 28.4sec. and just hold Bettor Party at bay to score by a head at a 1.57.7 rate. Leftrightgoodnight tracked Bettor Party in the final lap and ran home strongly to be a close third. Say It Now, bred and owned by Kevin Charles and his son Kody, is prepared at Hopeland by Kevin Charles and the stallion showed early promise with wins in the 2012 South-West and Country Derbies. He has now earned $90,431 from 11 wins and 11 placings from 51 starts. He is related on his dam's side to former champion pacer Preux Chevalier, who won the 1985 interdominion championship at Moonee Valley, beating Village Kid, before being retired with earnings of $791,331 from 40 wins and nine placings from 53 starts. by Ken Casellas  

Harness racing trainer Jake Huff got quite a surprise last Sunday morning for Father’s Day. It’s wasn’t a special tie or breakfast in bed from his two sons. This Sunday it was a phone call he received telling him that he was going to have two new additions to his stable by the names of Golden Receiver and Statesman N. “It was Father’s Day when I got the phone call from Gene Kurzrok (Our Horse Cents Stable),” Jake Huff said. “It came as quite a surprise and a heck of a Father’s Day gift of sorts. I’ve known the owners for many years and they said they would like to send me a couple of horses. Then when they said it was Golden Receiver and Statesman, my eyes really lit-up.” What people did not know is that Jake Huff has been working with Nina Simmons, co-owner and breeder of Golden Receiver for many years and also has had many horses for Gene Kurzrok. But because Jake races all winter in Florida at Pompano Park, the purses are not as great for top horses to race, but now that Huff is stabled for the summer at Tioga Downs, they felt a change in trainers was needed for their two horses. “I actually had Golden Receiver before Mark Harder,” Jake explained, “I had him a short time when he was a three-year-old and then they turned him over to Mark. Mark has done a superb job with him over the years. There is no animosity between us. Many trainers when they have issues with horses will turn them over to another trainer and hope they can freshen them up. “If I am successful with these two,” Jake said, “They won’t come back with me to Florida come September or October. In all likelihood they will go back to Mark. I am just grateful for the opportunity. I know the horse is getting a little long in the tooth, but he is just a couple of steps away from being with the top horses in the nation at the finish.” Now age 9, Golden Receiver is a gelded son of Village Jove and sports 60 career wins and lifetime earnings of $2,144,036 with a race record of 1:48 at age 7. Stateman N is now age 7, also a gelding by Christian Cullen, who raced most of his career down under and has 21 wins, $351,000 in earnings and a record of 1:50.3f. “It was quite a pick me up getting that call on Father’s Day,” Jake Huff said. “Hopefully this will work out well for everyone involved.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com

Ashburton harness racing trainer Laurence Hanrahan knows just how good Cullen Kefee is. That is why he has sent the Christian Cullen three-year-old to the spelling paddock rather than trying to make the most of his 3YO concessions over the winter. Cullen Keefe, who is owned in Canada, made it two wins from as many starts when easily putting away a C1 field at Oamaru on Sunday. He was also equally impressive when winning his debut at Ashburton a fortnight earlier. “We have got one penalty free win now and that will do us,” said Hanrahan. “I want to look after him so he can have a spell now before coming back to target some nice races in the spring,’ he added. “I think he is the nicest three-year-old I have had for 10 years,” enthused Hanrahan. That’s quite a statement considering in that time Hanrahan has raced talented types such as Marika and Empire Flame. Driver Ricky May shared Hanrahan’s thoughts when questioned about the first foal from the well performed racemare Luckisaladytonight. “I really rate the horse and think he will do a tremendious job,” said May, who drove Cullen Keefe’s dam on multiple occasions. “Laurence is really looking after him and I think that will pay off in the long run,” he added. By Mitchell Robertson  

Millionaire pacer Highview Tommy is set to try his hand at stud. And where better to do so than alongside his famous sire Bettor’s Delight at Woodlands? A natural talent right from day one, Highview Tommy was purchased out of the Ready-To-Run Sale for $200,000 after recording the quickest last half of the day. Just a few months later, under the guidance of Mark Purdon, he won the $100,000 Welcome Stakes and the $200,000 2YO Harness Jewels, which was more than enough to see him crowned New Zealand 2yo of the season in his freshman year. As a 3yo he was the winner of the Southern Supremacy Stakes, was placed second in the 3yo Sales Series Final and was placed third in the 3YO Sires Stakes Final. A resilient type, Highview Tommy remarkably won $100,000 in each racing season from the time he stepped on to the track until the end of his 7YO season. Among his career highlights was the 2012 Group One Ballarat Cup, where he came with a potent finishing burst to down the legendary Australian pacer Smoken Up and the extremely talented Sushi Sushi, who was shooting 17 straight victories. Some of his other major victories included wins in the Superstars Championship, Invercargill Cup, Franklin Cup, Manukau Summer Cup, The Pure Steel, and the Interdominion Consolation. He also placed twice in the New Zealand Cup behind none other than Terror To Love, and set a New Zealand record of 3-08.5 for a 2600 metre mobile when smashing his rivals on Cup Day of 2009. Highview Tommy raced against the best and defeated the best during his career. Included in this list are fellow sires Changeover, Stunin Cullen, and Tintin N America. They say the apple never falls far from the tree and that is definitely the case with Bettor’s Delight and Highview Tommy. Highview Tommy has inherited nearly all of his father’s characteristics including his dark colour and powerful frame. He is without a doubt his father’s son. Highview Tommy, who is out of Christian Cullen mare Baptism Of Fire, is bred on the ‘Golden cross’ which has proved potent right throughout Australasia. Others bred on this cross include Group and Listed winners Bettor’s Strike, Gold Ace, Ohoka Punter, Texican, Dancing Diamonds, Arden’s Darlin, and Pembrook’s Delight. Highview Tommy, who quickly became a ‘crowd favourite’ on the racetrack, is now set to be a ‘Breeders’ favourite’ with a service fee of NZ$3,000 plus GST or A$3,300 for the upcoming breeding season.  Woodlands Stud is also happy to confirm a price freeze for the World’s best stallion Bettor’s Delight for the 2014/15 season. His service fee will be $ 12,500 plus GST. AUD$ 13,750 GST INC.  American Ideal, who is having a big impact down under, especially in Australia, will stand at $8,000 plus GST (AUD$8,800), while Group One winning trotting stallion Pegasus Spur will stand at $3,000 plus GST (AUD$3,300). Frozen semen will again be available from Crazed for $5,000 plus GST (AUD$5,500) payable on live foal. For New Zealand inquires contact Woodlands NZ agent – Hazel van Opzeeland – nzagent@woodlandsstud.co.nz 021 595 492 or 0800 117 883 Australian inquires to Woodlands Australian Agent – Mark Hughes on 0451650707 or email markhughes@woodlandsstud.co.nz By Mitchell Robertson

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