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Six-year-old Libertybelle Midfrew has struck peak form and is poised to become at Gloucester Park on Friday night, only the eighth harness racing mare in the 62-year history of the Mount Eden Pace to win the Group 3 $50,000 feature event. Her prospects in Friday night’s event  soared when she drew the prized No. 1 barrier and Henley Brook trainer Mike Reed and reinsman Shannon Suvaljko are planning for an all-the-way victory. In a major departure from the norm, the race will be decided over 2130m. The Mount Eden Sprint has been run over 1730m or 1700m for many years. The only mares to have won the Mount Eden Sprint, formerly known as the State Sprint Championship, and first run in 1955 when Bernie Cushing drove Village Chief to victory, are Dainty’s Daughter (1970), Pyramus (1971), Virgil Queen (1977), Kiwi Cloud (1978), Line On (1986), Whitbys Miss Penny (1992) and Sensational Gabby (2014). Reed has yet to train a winner of the Mount Eden Sprint, while Suvaljko will be keen to replicate his effort in 2010 when he drove 6/1 chance Real Life to an all-the-way win from barrier three in the Mount Eden Sprint. Reed has the high-priced New Zealand-bred Libertybelle Midfrew well and truly on track to be a major player in the TABtouch interdoiminion championship, which will get under way with the opening set of heats at Gloucester Park on November 25. The Christian Cullen mare started from barrier six and was a 25/1 chance in the 2015 Mount Eden Sprint when she finished strongly from seventh at the bell to be third behind Waylade and My Hard Copy. She also contested the 2014 Mount Eden Sprint when she started from barrier four and at 9/2. She ran home solidly, out wide, from eighth at the bell to be fifth behind Sensational Gabby. Libertybelle Midfrew cashed in on the preferential conditions for the 2536m Media Guild Cup and the 2130m Stratton Cup at her past two starts. Suvaljko made the most of the No. 1 barrier in both events in which Libertybelle Midfrew was untroubled to set the pace and win. She beat the fast-finishing Heez On Fire by a half-length in the Media Guild Cup and she sprinted over the final three quarters in 28.5sec., 27.3sec. and 28.1sec. when she scored by 4m from The Bucket List and Bettors Fire in the Stratton Cup. Her most recent success improved her record to 49 starts for 18 wins and 11 placings for earnings of $607,497.    Only two pacers have won the Mount Eden Sprint twice ---- Kolworth in 1961 and 1963 and Im Themightyquinn in 2011 and 2012. Trainer-reinsman Kyle Harper’s hopes of winning the Mount Eden Sprint again with Bettors Fire were dampened to a degree when the outstanding eight-year-old drew the outside barrier (No. 9). Bettors Fire led from the No. 1 barrier in 2013 when he defeated Im Victorious by almost three lengths at a 1.53.8 rate over 1730m. Then a year later Bettors Fire was a 20/1 chance when he surged home from the rear to be third behind Sensational Gabby. In last year’s race, Bettors Fire (14/1) thundered home from last the bell to be fourth behind Waylade. Last year’s winner Waylade will start from the No. 4 barrier on Friday night, but he faces a hard task after being unplaced at his past four starts. Waylade is one of five runners in the race prepared by champion trainer Gary Hall sen. Hall’s chief hope looks certain to be the brilliant five-year-old Beaudiene Boaz, who is awkwardly drawn at barrier seven on the front line. In the Stratton Cup last Friday week Beaudiene Boaz was restrained at the start from barrier six and raced at the rear in the field of eight before starting a three-wide move 550m from home. He fought on determinedly to finish sixth, three lengths behind the winner. The final fast sectionals recorded by Libertybelle Midfrew set Beaudiene Boaz a hopeless task. A week earlier Beaudiene Boaz gave a sample of his great class when he rated 1.52.9 to smash the track record for 2130m in winning the Navy Cup by two and a half lengths from the pacemaker Bettors Fire. Gary Hall jun. sent Beaudiene Boaz forward with a three-wide move from last with 1050m to travel and the Badlands Hanover stallion burst to the front 680m from home. His final quarters were run in 27.3sec. and 28.2sec. Comeback pacer Heez On Fire, now trained by Bill Horn, is ideally drawn on the inside of the back line and the WA-bred seven-year-old should enjoy a perfect run behind the likely pacemaker Libertytbelle Midfrew. Heez On Fire, to be handled by Chris Lewis, enjoyed an ideal passage, one-out and one-back, when fifth behind Libertybelle Midfrew in the Stratton Cup last Friday week. That followed his eye-catching first-up effort a fortnight earlier when he was eighth and last 250m from home before sprinting brilliantly in the straight to finish second, just a half-length behind Libertybelle Midfrew. Ken Casellas

Kotare Madhi made it back-to-back wins when he led throughout to take out the Luxbet Club Extra Stakes over 2200 metres at the Luxbet Harness Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. Kotare Madhi notched his first win for Brighton trainer Dylan Ford in Hobart last week with his sister Taylor Ford in the cart and she again teamed up with the five-year-old gelding to repeat the dose. The Christian Cullen gelding has taken a while to come to terms with racing in his adopted state but after he won last week his trainer predicted the gelding could string a few wins together. Kotare Madhi ($5.40) showed brilliant gate speed to lead from barrier four and once in front he was rated superbly by his talented young driver who made the winning move when she released the deafeners 400 metres from home. Thirlstane King ($3.30 fav) trailed the leader and Glenenise ($9.90) had the coveted one-out-one-back position but they were left flat-footed when Ford called on the leader to sprint. Kotare Madhi won by over 12 metres with a half-metre separating Thirlstane King and Glenenise while Cheshire Cat ($10.20) rattled home from near last turning for home to finish fourth and only two metres behind the minor placegetters. Peter Staples  

Lightly raced six-year-old harness racing pacer Baldock gave his new owners plenty to cheer about when he powered his way to an impressive win in the Crown Lager Pace over 2090 metres in Hobart on Sunday night. With multiple premiership-winning driver Gareth Rattray in the sulky, Baldock faced the breeze early before Rattray pushed on to find the front but he was forced to take hold and take a trail when Safari Sunshine pressured for the lead. When the leaders moved clear turning for home Baldock lost ground but when Rattray balanced his charge for the run home the gelding ran on powerfully to score by over three metres Lockaway Kacie and Safari Sunshine. It was Baldock's first start for Marc Butler who purchased the horse after one of his close friends inquired about racing a horse. "My mate was keen to get a horse so I looked around and found Baldock that was with trainer Heath Szczypka who had him for sale," Butler said. "My mate got a few workmates involved and I'm sure they were all rapt with the horse's first start for the group. "I got him about three months ago and it's taken a bit of time to work him out but I reckon from what he showed us tonight he can win a few races. "He wobbled a bit around the corner tonight and lost ground but I should be able to straighten that out. "We can't take any notice of his time tonight because the wind was so strong they were lucky to stay on their feet." Gale force winds swept across the rack early in the night and were probably at their worst for the first three races. Baldock (Christian Cullen-The Summer Wind) had 38 starts for a win and a dozen minor placings before making his way to Butler's stables at Dysart. Peter Staples

Batavia, NY---An all-day rain left the track sloppy for the harness racing card at Batavia Downs on Saturday night (Oct. 1), but some of the fastest times of the meet were recorded during the evening. None the least the one Highview Conall N registered while winning the $10,000 featured Open pace at the Genesee County oval. The red-hot Jim Morrill Jr. fired the New Zealand bred off the gate and to the lead as the rest of the field watched in single-file fashion. After fractions of :27.3 and :56.2, Highview Conall N and the second place Heaven Rocks (Kevin Cummings) had a two-horse breakaway in place as they opened up six-lengths on the rest of the field while motoring up the backside. As those two continued to compete alone, Knocking Around (Dave McNeight III) pulled from fourth and started to close the distance with the leader. Around the far turn, Highview Conall N was widening the gap between himself and Heaven Rocks as Knocking around was closing it from third. When they straightened out down the lane it was Highview Conall N pacing strong to the wire for a 1:53.2 win with Knocking Around closing well for second over Heaven Rocks. It was the eighth win of the year for Highview Conall N ($4.10) and it raised his annual income to $74,770. The 7-year-old son of Christian Cullen was a recent acquisition for owner/trainer Nick Gampietro Jr., who purchased him privately on September 26. For the second night in a row, John Cummings Jr. scored a driving grand slam. He returned to the Purple Haze winner's circle with Cheyenne Louie ($6.70, 1:54.4), Normandy Invasion ($2.70, 1:54.4), Youwillwishyouhad ($63.00, 1:55.1) and Bags of Money ($6.00, 1:57.4). Jim Morrill Jr. was a close second with a triple and Drew Monti came through with two. Trained JD Perrin also conditioned two winners on the night. Racing resumes at Batavia Downs on Wednesday night (Oct. 5) with the first post set at 6:15 p.m.     Tim Bojarski

Pukekohe horseman Derek Balle looks set for a nice juvenile season in 2016-2017 if last Saturday’s annual Franklin harness racing yearling parade is anything to go by. Yearling colt Cullen's Caviar (Christian Cullen – Callie O’Malley) was judged the top yearling at the Franklin Trotting Club’s track on Station Road. Balle cleaned up the two major prizes with stablemate, Bit Of A Tiger (Bettor’s Delight – Tigerswish colt) also judged the ‘Best-of-the-Rest’. Balle received an NRM voucher while the Cullen’s Caviar’s gelding’s owners received a McMillan Feeds voucher. Bit Of A Tiger’s efforts earned Balle a Dunstan voucher sponsored by North Island Standardbred Breeders Association. Balle said there wasn’t much between the two yearlings. “I couldn’t separate them at this early stage. They are both very nice horses and the pick of my yearlings so far,” Balle said. Cullen’s Caviar is owned by his breeders (D M J Verryt, P J Cowsill, Mrs P Cowsill, Miss K Verryt, Miss T Verryt, Mrs D Farrell) – the Syndicate that owned the colt’s dam – Callie O’Malley, who won five races for Balle. They also have a Bettor’s Delight weanling out of Callie O’Malley with Balle. The mare was served by Auckland Reactor in September. “Cullen’s Caviar is very well put together and a bit more mature than most I’ve had. He feels like a 2-year-old but probably not a Young Guns horse. He will more than likely front after Christmas if he keeps developing the way he has,” said Balle. He said Cullen’s Caviar had paced a mile in 2:20, a half in 65, and a quarter in 31. “I broke him in, and like a lot of Christian Cullens he took a while to gait up, but once he got the hang of it he took to it well. He’s been in work for 10 weeks and I’ll give him a break now,” said Balle. He said Bit of A Tiger was a nice little horse, who had eight week’s work since he was passed in at the this year’s Karaka Yearling Sales. His reserve prize of $60,000 wasn’t reached. “He will have his second prep in about a month. He should also make a 2-year-old, but after Christmas as well,” Balle said. Meanwhile the Steve Cornwall (Pukekohe) trained Monkey Bones - Immortal Beloved gelding, Tobruk, was judged the best trotter at the parade. He was also named the ‘Best-Turned-Out-Trotter. The Robert Dunn trained Monkey Princess (Christian Cullen – Sheza Monkey) was judged the best pacing filly and the Ray Green trained Yasmine Bromac (Sir Lincoln – Jasmine Bromac) was the 'Best-Turned-Out'. The Brent Mangos trained Culpeka (Mach Three – Tuapeka Maddy) was named the best pacing colt and gelding and Balle's Cullen’s Caviar, the 'Best-Turned-Out'. Two Lincoln Farms service fees to Sir Lincoln were won by the Paulette Scree trained Petite's Majestie / and Joe Powell. Twenty five yearlings (eight trotters, nine pacing fillies, and eight pacing colts and geldings) took part in the Parade. Franklin Park Yearling Parade results - Overall Yearling-of-the-Year - The Derek Balle trained Cullen's Caviar (Christian Cullen – Callie O’Malley colt). Owner received an NRM voucher and trainer received a McMillan Feeds voucher. Best-of-the-Rest: Dunstan voucher sponsored by North Island Standardbred Breeders Association – The Derek Balle trained Bit Of A Tiger (Bettor’s Delight – Tigerswish colt). Trotters: Veterinary Associates Equine & Farm $500.00 product – The Steve Cornwall trained Tobruk (Monkey Bones – Immortal Beloved gelding) 1; HR Fisken & Sons voucher - Sir George Bowen 2; The Stables Cafe voucher - Traveller Girl 3. Takanini Feeds Merit Award - Out Of The Box; Takanini Feeds Best Turned Out - Tobruk. Pacing Fillies: Pukekohe/Waiuku Vet Centre $500 Feed Voucher – The Robert Dunn trained Monkey Princess (Christian Cullen – Sheza Monkey) 1; H R Fisken & Sons Voucher - Tiger Swift 2; The Stables Cafe voucher - Bettathanapokeindeye 3; Takanini Feeds Merit Award – Eyes Blazing; Takanini Feeds Best Turned Out – The Ray Green trained Yasmine Bromac (Sir Lincoln – Jasmine Bromac). Pacing Colts: Vetpro $500.00 product prize – The Brent Mangos trained Culpeka (Mach Three – Tuapeka Maddy) 1; H R Fisken & Sons voucher – Lincoln Road; The Stables Cafe voucher - Bayardo 3; Takanini Feeds Merit Award – Diamonds N Cash; Takanini Feeds Best Turned Out – The Derek Balle trained Cullen’s Caviar. Others: Betavet Random Trainers Draw - Ray Green; Muang Thai Voucher Horse/Owner Random Draw – Diamonds N Cash (Breckon Racing Syndicate); The Stables Cafe Voucher = ‘Sam'; Two Lincoln Farms Service Fees to Sir Lincoln Horse/Owner Random Draw - the Paulette Scree trained Petite's Majestie / and Joe Powell. Every horse that entered received a halter.   Duane Ranger

A new weekly harness racing segement on, Around the Traps will, each Tuesday, put together happenings from around New Zealand and Australia over the weekend just been. NEK TIME TRIALS IMPRESSIVELY Speedy Canterbury 3-year-old filly, Nek Time, was an impressive winner of a trial at Albion Park on Friday night as she readies herself for the Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks. The Terry and Glenys Chmiel trainer filly, who is based at the stable of Ian Gurney, paced her 1660 metre trial in 1:58.9 which equates to a 1.55 mile rate. The Southland Oaks winner, will kick off her campaign in the Gold Coast Oaks this weekend before tackling the Queensland Oaks a week later. Dexter Dunn has been booked to drive the filly during her Australian campaign. TELFER/GARLICK TEAM DRAW LEVEL North Island trainers, Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick drew level with their best ever season tally of 37 with a winning double at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The Papkura Stable won on Friday with River Emperor and First Home to take them to 37 and continue what has been a great season. Just inside the Top 10 trainers on the national premiership, the partnership have produced 16 individual winners this season with Better B Amazed (5 wins), Prince Of Pops and Ashton K (4 wins) and Superimposed, No Doctor Needed, American Flybye and Ideal Flybye (3 wins) their best performers. MAINLAND BANNER’S PERFECT RECORD The win of Glenferrie Classic on Friday at Blenheim kept former New Zealand Trotting Cup winning mare, Mainland Banner’s strike rate perfect. Of the five foals the daughter of Christian Cullen has produced, all five have now been winners with Glenferrie Classic the latest. Aside from Stunin Banner (13 wins) her other four foals; Peruvian Banner (1 win), Return To Sender (8 wins), Rocker Band (9 wins) and Glenferrie Classic (1 win) have all been embryo transfer foals. Incidentally, Stunin Banner will race this weekend at Alexandra Park in a claimers event carrying a price tag of $9,000. He is currently domiciled with Todd Mitchell. GILL SUSPENDED Marlborough horsewoman, Kendra Gill has her licence suspended until the middle of August on the opening, and only, day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s meeting on Friday. Gill, the daughter of local trainer, Mark, was suspended for careless driving after her charge, Gotta Ticket was shifted into a position in which there is was insufficient room to allow it to happen. Gill’s suspension ends on the 14th of August. OUR WAIKIKI BEACH TRIALS TODAY Embattled 3-year-old pacer, (Our) Waikiki Beach will trial today (Tuesday) at Menangle as he continues his preparations for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown. In the care of leading Australian stable, Belinda McCarthy, the unbeaten pacer, who has won all 20 of his career starts, is earmarked to return to the race next Tuesday in a C3-C5 pace before tackling a heat of the Breeders Crown seven days later. VOTING CLOSED Voting for the annual Harness Racing New Zealand Awards, which are to be held in the Mashina Lounge at Christchurch Casino on Saturday, July 30, closed on Friday. There has been plenty of speculation around the Awards this year - in particular the battle for Horse of the Year between freakish pacer Have Faith In Me and superstar trotter, Monbet. 29 votes are allocated for each of the categories, which this year include the return of the 5-year-old and older categories. The voting panel is made up largely of members of the harness racing media in New Zealand which also includes commentators and Trackside presenters. BREEDERS CROWN HEATS KICK OFF The first round of heats for the rich Australasian Breeders Crown will be held this week. Addington plays host to heats for the 3YO Trotting Colts and Geldings as well as the 3YO Trotting fillies. Three horses will go around in the male event; Blood And Whiskey, Conon Bridge and My Armour while the fillies race will be contested by Oona and Wilma’s Mate. Further heats will be held at Addington on the 8th, the 15th and the 22nd of July and at Cambridge on July 10 and 21. By Matt Markham

Durable pacer Glenferrie Hood sprung a major harness racing upset by claiming the Gr.3 $30,000 Wondais Mate at Albion Park tonight (Saturday). Recently transferred to the leading stables of Vicki Rasmussen, the Christian Cullen gelding had not won since taking out the Terang Cup back in February this year. But Glenferrie Hood ($34.90) turned his fortunes around with a barnstorming finish to defeat Ideal Scott ($5.90) and kiwi sensation Christen Me ($1.60 fav) in a time of 1:52.4 for the 1660m feature event. Sectionals were posted in 27.5, 29.2, 27.6 and 28.2 seconds. “He was absolutely super tonight and thrived on a genuine speed and finished really well, I still gave myself a good chance working off the back straight and got good cover flow from Christen Me before unwinding with a big late burst.” Winning driver Pete McMullen said. Connections of Glenferrie Hood have the option of starting again next week in the Listed $25,000 Mr Feelgood Open Pace or waiting for the Gr.2 $50,000 Sunshine Sprint on July 9. Tonight’s victory guarantees him a start in the Gr.1 $200,000 Blacks A Fake on July 16. “The draw was the obvious concern tonight because I wasn’t sure where we would land but we were lucky enough to get into a fairly handy spot, things played out pretty good thereafter. I thought he went really good last week; he got a little rank mid-race before being caught up behind weakening horses. “Obviously the opposition will only get stronger in the coming weeks but he’s fit and in-form so he’s got a show provided he gets some normal luck. Hopefully, he can land some handy draws which will give him a shot again.” Glenferrie Hood has now won 21 of his 62 starts while amassing more than $220,000 in prizemoney. Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety was happy with the effort of Christen Me and stated he will improve off tonight’s run. Christen Me had not raced since May 21 at Addington. The Brisbane winter carnival officially gets underway next week at Albion Park with three weeks of high quality pacing action planned.

Star Canterbury harness racing pacer Christen Me flies out for his Queensland campaign tomorrow morning. The 7yo Christian Cullen gelding will land in Sydney before arriving in Brisbane on Friday, with his main goal being the Group 1 Blacks a Fake. …...................................................... Nathan Purdon has changed his plans with his stable star Ohoka Punter and will now head to Sydney for the Group 1 Len Smith Mile. Purdon will look to go to war against the two David Aiken runners Lennytheshark and Hectorjayjay before returning to Queensland to battle Christen Me during the up and coming Queensland carnival. …................................................................................................................................... Tact Tate has picked up a cold and will now be been sent for a spell by trainer Amanda Turnbull following his victory at Tabcorp Park Menangle last Saturday. The result means the 4yo McArdle gelding will not head to the Queensland Carnival. Turnbull will still have a star at the Carnival however with Fcee, who is unbeaten in 4 starts and will now head to the Group 1 Queensland Derby on July 16 at Albion Park. ….................................................................................................................................... While Canterbury trainers Terry and Glenys Chmiel are set to campaign their handy 3yo filly, Nek Time. The Gotta Go Cullect ran a solid 3rd at Alexandra Park last Friday, and convinced owners Robert and Sharyn Symon of Southland, that she was ready to take on the Queensland features. Leading New Zealand reinsman Dexter Dunn will fly over to drive the filly in the Gold Coast Oaks (July 2) and Queensland Oaks (July 9). Andrew Fitzgerald

Cambridge based Harness Racing Trainer Jo Stevens has a great chance to pick up her first career training win, when she lines up On The Razzle in Race 1 at Alexandra Park tonight. The 8yo Bettor's Delight gelding is to be handled by Jo's partner Dylan Ferguson and will start off the 10m mark. “He needs some luck in the running and some speed up front would suit him perfectly. He's a good each way chance” said Ferguson. Race 2 sees the Mark Jones trained Aymar get her chance to break maidens. The 3yo Real Desire filly has been in super form of late, including a 2nd behind recent jewels winner Partyon 3 starts ago. That form should see her as a leading chance from the ace barrier, although her manners can be suspect early on. These first few races have plenty of nice form in them including Bevan's Cullen in Race 3. An ex Purdon/Rasmussen runner, the 3yo Christian Cullen gelding was super first up for Robert Dunn last week, and has drawn well for tonights assignment. The stable are obviously on the look out for his penalty free 3yo win before that end of the season, so if he wasn't to win tonight, he would be one to follow over the following month. Fast forward to Race 9 and we see the clash of the night, Sunny Ruby vs Le Reveur. While the former was disappointing in the jewels, she is well know for her high speed. If the Sam Smolenski trained mare was to get a perfect run into the race, her sprint could see her rolling right over the top of them. Le Reveur was super in defeat behind Monbet in the jewels and draws well in barrier 3 for Bob Butt, while Royal Shine who is also trained by Sam Smolenski was another who was super at the jewels before being disqualified for breaking too long. If he was to bring his manner, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him storming up the Alexandra Park straight for driver Dexter Dunn. On The Razzle Bevan's Cullen Royal Shine - Le Reveur - Sunny Ruby Aymar Andrew Fitzgerald

New Zealand-bred five-year-old Crusader Banner has managed just one placing from his past eight starts, but he looks to be a star bet at Gloucester Park on Friday night when he resumes harness racing after a spell in the 2130m Seven News Pace. He will start from barrier two and trainer Gary Hall sen. is full of enthusiasm after his son Clint drove the Christian Cullen gelding to an effortless seven-length victory over stablemate Big Spook in a three-horse trial over 2150m at Byford on Sunday morning. “His trial was sensational,” said Hall sen. “It was fantastic and he’s come back better than ever and should win first-up. He went 1.57.3 in the trial and I expect him to lead from barrier two on Friday night. I don’t think the polemarker Mosquito Buzzin can hold him out.” The nine-year-old Mosquito Buzzin has a losing sequence of 25 and has won once from his past 41 starts. Crusader Banner, an M5-class pacer, drops significantly in class after contesting the interdominion championship series last November and December. He has won at 12 of his 34 starts. Little Boy Blue (barrier five) and Firebomb (three) possess good gate speed, but it is difficult to suggest that either pacer will be abler to wrest the early lead from Crusader banner. The Hall stable will also be represented by Our Arlington, an eight-year-old who has an M7 classification after winning at 18 of his 81 starts. He faces a stern test from the outside of the front line at his first appearance for 12 months. “Our Arlington has recovered from a damaged suspensory ligament,” Hall sen. said. “He has been working well and I wouldn’t say that he’s not without some chance. However, I doubt whether he can win first-up. But if he stands up he’ll win more races.” Hall also has high hopes of making a flying start to the ten-event program by winning the first event, the 1730m House Rules On Seven Pace, with the promising but inexperienced Dali gelding El Barcelona. El Barcelona, to be driven by Gary Hall jun., will start from the outside in the field of seven and should carry too many guns for his rivals, providing he is on his best behaviour. He was a hot favourite in the $50,000 Champagne Classic last Friday week when he galloped at the start, was last in the field of nine at the bell and went six wide on the home turn when fifth behind the pacemaking Wesley. El Barcelona overcame difficulties to get up and score a narrow win on debut at Bunbury two starts before that and then worked hard in the breeze before finishing third behind Major Pocket at Bunbury a week later. The main danger appears to be the Ed Dewar-trained Our Zak Whitby, who caught the eye at Bunbury last Saturday night when he came from eighth and last at the bell with a powerful finishing burst to be a close third behind Sergeant Oats and Heza Head Honcho in the 1609m de Campo Memorial. Fields for Gloucester Park, Friday 13 May 2016 Form guide for Gloucester Park, Friday 13 May 2016 Ken Casellas

Champion pacer Christen Me is likely to make his first start at Addington in more than seven months on Saturday. Trainer Cran Dalgety faces a nervous wait to see if a c4 to open class mobile over 1950m will get off the ground on Saturday but nominations are looking positive. The reigning horse of the year has missed the majority of the season with a lingering virus but Monday's impressive trial at Motukarara was further evidence he is close to being back to his brilliant best. The West Melton trainer said his star pacer was showing no ill effects from the virus. Christen Me made a sensational winning return in the Rangiora Classic on April 24 and is on track for the Group I Len Smith Mile at Menangle on June 26. "At this stage we are very happy with him, we'll just have to cross our fingers that he gets a start this week," Dalgety said. The New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club had nine nominations for the race on Monday afternoon but the deadline was extended to 10am on Tuesday. There was some concern the inclusion of the more than $2 million earner may be enough to scare a couple of others away and the race is unlikely to go ahead with fewer than seven runners. There is an option the following week, but Dalgety is not so keen on the 3200m of the Winter Cup given Christen Me will be off a sizeable handicap. Dalgety said even if the 7-year-old son of Christian Cullen does gain a start on Saturday he is still likely to start in a lead-up race at Menangle a week before the Group I. Heading to the Queensland Carnival is a possibility if Christen Me can impress in Sydney. Dexter Dunn settled Christen Me at the rear of the six strong field in Monday's trial but followed up stablemate Lightning Mach in the running line with a lap to run, then sprinted home to win by a length over stablemate another Fifth Edition. Dunn gave the run his tick of approval. "He felt really good and he was nice and relaxed," he said. Christen Me paced the 2200m on the grit at Motukarara in 2:51.8 with a mile rate of  2:05.6 and closing sectionals of 56.8 and 28.8. Fifth Edition has not been sighted on race day since December 2014 due to suffering the effects of a bone chip but is likely to return before the end of the season.   Mat Kermeen

Cullen Breeding and Nevele R Stud wish to advise that for the coming harness racing breeding season Christian Cullen will stand at Dancingonmoonlight Farm in Ohoka, Canterbury. Both parties believe that the move is in the stallion’s best interests, given his age and well documented fertility issues, and that a smaller boutique stud environment would be beneficial to the horse. Cullen Breeding thanks Nevele R for the management and care of the horse in recent years. Dancingonmoonlight is very excited to be given the opportunity and looking forward to standing the champion stallion. Christian Cullen will continue to serve mares on-farm only, continuing the practice that Nevele R Stud introduced. With full stallion and broodmare facilities Dancingonmoonlight is confident of the best possible in foal results. Christian Cullen’s service fee will remain unchanged at $9,000 + GST. All enquiries should be to Sara at Dancingonmoonlight Farm on 03 312 6864, mobile 021 237 4223 or email Ian Dobson Cullen Breeding

Cobbity harness racing trainer John McCarthy made the Treuer Memorial his own with talented pacer Washakie when he won the event on five successive occasions.  History also shows McCarthy has a dominant record in Penrith’s flagship race, the Renshaw Cup.  The Miracle Mile winning trainer has won three of the past four Renshaw Cups and could add another to his collection this Thursday night. The McCarthy stable will be represented by giant-killer Blazin N Cullen in this week’s $50,000 Group Two event.  The gelding became the first pacer to defeat Beautide over 2300 metres at Menangle last Saturday night handing the dual Inter Dominion winner just his second loss in races further than a mile at the track. Blazin N Cullen won the 2014 Renshaw Cup for McCarthy and was a fast finishing third behind New Zealand star Smolda in last year’s event.  Washakie won the race in 2013 while Terrorway won it in 2012.  The son of Christian Cullen is well bred.  His mother Rye Hanover is a full sister to stallions Red River Hanover, Rustler Hanover and Righteous Hanover while her half brother was $3 million winner Rocknroll Hanover. Punters should not be concerned about the recent workload for Blazin N Cullen as it will be his third run in the space of twelve days.  He came through an arduous Inter Dominion campaign late last year and raced four times in the space of seventeen days.  The final run of his Inter Dominion campaign saw him finish fourth in the Inter Dominion Consolation. Yayas Hot Spot looks the hardest to beat for Blazin N Cullen after the five-year-old gelding drew the front row.  The son of Jeremes Jet has the speed to cross to the front should Lauren Panella choose to fire him out of the gate.  He led for most of last year’s Renshaw Cup before being collared in the shadows of the post by Smolda.  Spare Me Days will start from barrier one if the emergencies are withdrawn.  The Brad Hewitt trained four year old defeated Frith in the Young Cup two starts ago and looks to be another of the winning chances in Thursday’s event. TAB has Blazin N Cullen equal favourite for Thursday’s race with last year’s runner up Yayas Hot Spot at $3.50.  Spare Me Days is next in the market at $4.60 while My General Lee is priced at $5.00. Greg Hayes  

With the depth of the open class pacing ranks in New Zealand not exactly flush this season due to injury and retirement, harness racing has been crying out for a new face to challenge the established stars and just lately there have been a few looking likely. Seel  The Deal and Costa Del Magnifico have suggested they will be challengers with some outstanding performances so far this season while some of those coming back from injury such as Locharburn and Franco Nelson are proven performers at this level but now have to really re-establish themselves after quietly working themselves back into form. Tonights $100,000 Group 1 Easter Cup at Addington Raceway only drew one horse to have raced on the Grand Circuit with distinction this season in the form of the Courage Under Fire gelding, Smolda who was handicapped on 20 metres.  Locharburn (Christian Cullen) is a renowned stayer and with a 20 metre head start, he was given a good chance of upsetting Smolda while several others had a case to be a first four player. Mighty Flying Mac and Blair Orange grabbed the lead early and kept the tempo solid before handing up to Sky Major and Zac Butcher with two laps to go. Two hundred metres later, Locharburn and Dexter Dunn who been working around the field for the first 800 metres swept to the front with ease and eased off the pace a touch to give the big horse a bit of a breather. With a mile to go, Smolda and Mark Purdon started to mooch around the field from the rear and ended up on Locharburn's wheel with 1000 metres to go at which point Dexter upped the tempo. Off the back straight Dexter went for broke and put two to three lengths on Smolda as they straightened for home. As only Smolda can do, he slowly started to reel in Locharburn in the straight and in the last 50 metres Smolda got up alongside Locharburn but just couldn't get past and was still a neck adrift at the winning post. Smolda was as game as ever in running second with Mighty Flying Mac flying along the inner late for third. Costa Del Magnifico provided a minor highlight of the race after working early, sitting parked for 600 metres and running on well again to break 4:00 in finishing fourth. Locharburn paced the 3200 metres in a very quick 3:58.9, a mile rate of 2:00.1 with closing sectionals of 55.3 and 27.9 It is the third quickest time for the 3200 metres Easter Cup since the race was changed to that distance in 1972 with only Christen Me and Monkey King having gone quicker. Smolda's official time of 3:57.4 off the 20 metres mark was a brilliant effort from the old warrior. Dexter Dunn was all smiles post race. "I had to work a bit early to get around them but once I got to front I was able to button off the speed a touch." "I upped the ante at the 1000 metre mark and really put the pressure on down the back straight." "When I had a look just before the corner, I thought Mark was a bit flat on Smolda so I went for home." "I thought I was on the winner until the last 50 metres when Smolda really came at us but Locharburn had enough of a lead to hold him out and my fella fights really hard," Dexter said. Locharburn plans are not set in concrete but Dexter felt that tonights race may be last this season with a view to having a long prep aimed at next years New Zealand Cup. Harnesslink Media  

Give Sage N the rail and Tim Tetrick driving and that's all you need as the harness racing combination worked for the second consecutive week in the $24,000 Mares Open pace at Dover Downs on Tuesday, March 23. George Dennis had a four bagger. Tetrick took command after a :55.3 opening half mile and was on the way for Sage N's fourth win of the year with a new mark of 1:50.4. Scott DiDomenico trains the six-year-old Christian Cullen-Smart Decision New Zealand-bred mare who has won half of her eight seasonal starts for $43,450 and now has won 10 times in her career for $90,147. Fashion Showdown and Corey Callahan raced gamely to finish second besting Empress Deo and Allan Davis by a neck. A 9-1 shot Foulk Stable's Marigold Bloom, a daughter of Artistic Fella-Classic Move, pulled a mild surprise in the $18,500 4&5-Year-Old Mares pace, one of George Dennis' four driving wins. Caviart Cari Ann (Vic Kirby) was second. Race favorite Nice Trip (A.Davis) took third. Another winning combo at the track is driver Andrew McCarty, trainer Jason Skinner and Only Money Inc.'s Truth And Liberty who have clicked for three straight wins. The latest was in a $16,500 Filly and Mares 1:52.3 pace, a lifetime best for the Total Truth-Jazzy Hall four-year-old. Westluckycam (Callahan) and Eternal Sunrise (Dennis) were second and third respectively. Veteran Paradise Lost and Corey Callahan featured a driving finish to win a $14,500 Mares pace. The win was the 31st for the nine-year-old Artsplace-Loving Ideal mare who now boasts an earnings bankroll of $351,253. Bob Winklelman owns and trains Paradise Lost. Jerseylicious (A.Davis) led through the early stages and hung on for second. Greatdayforamerica (Montrell Teague) was the third-place finisher. George Dennis led all drivers with four wins. Tim Tetrick and Corey Callahan had doubles. BLUEBIRD REVEREND, AWSOME VALLEY LEAD NINE IN $17,500 TROT Indiana stakes winner Bluebird Reverend, Awsome Valley and Cash On Delivery, all recent winners, lead a strong group of veteran trotters into the Wednesday, March 23 feature at Dover Downs. First post is 4:30 p.m. A two-time Open winner, Bluebird Reverend owned by trainer Bob Reeser, Denise Dennis, Jay Johannsen and Holly Case will be driven by Montrell Teague, and is program favorite in the field of nine. Frank Chick’s Awsome Valley reined by Tony Morgan drew the rail. Mike Casalino’s Tough Mac, gets regular driver Corey Callahan back and will leave from post 9 in the second tier. Ca;;a, Racing’s Spunky Jack is usually close in his efforts including four second-place finishes and is piloted by Roger Plante. Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar, Steve Iaquinta and Minisink Farms’ Celebrity Pegasus and Allan Davis have been disappointing recently breaking stride when favorite in his last three outings. David Miller’s Cash On Delivery with Vince Copeland, on the other hand as been very consistent with two wins in his last three races. Bob Shahan and Don Marine’s Six Gun Hall steered by George Dennis drops down a notch in class. Tim Tetrick will drive LA Express Stable’s Five Towns while Winemaster, owned, trained and driven by Toby Lynch must overcome starting from post 8.    . A strong array of trotting races compliment the rest of the program. Dover Downs races four days a week, Mondays through Thursdays beginning at 4:30 p.m. No Live racing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  Watch the races and enjoy dining in the Winners Circle Restaurant’s acclaimed Harness Buffet. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight at Dover Downs where there is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600. Marv Bachrad

Harness racing driver Tim Tetrick directed Sage N to her third win of the meet in the $24,000 pace at Dover Downs on a Ides of March Tuesday, March 15, at Dover Downs. Tony Morgan and Andrew McCarthy had three wins each. A major change in post positions from 8 last week to the rail was advantageous for Sage N who led the way from early in the $24,000 distaff feature to a 1:52 triumph. Trained by Scott DiDomenico for C.V.Iannazzo, JFE Enterprise and Triple D Stables, the six-year-old daughter of Christian Cullen-Smart Decision has picked up a check in six of her seven starts at the track including three wins while earning $31,450 this year. The win was the second for Tetrick. Empress Deo closed strongly for Allan Davis to finish second with 41-1 shot Matinee Dragon and Montrell Teague, third. One race earlier, Tetrick steered Caviart Scarlett to her fourth consecutive win in an $18,500 4&5-Year-Old Mares Winners-Over pace. It was win four in her last five starts and sixth in seven 2016 races for the Rich Lombardi, C.A.Atley and JJ&M Stable owned four-year-old by Sportswriter-Caviart Sydney, trained by Josh Green. Nice Trip (Davis) came on fast for second money while Cover Up Hall (Art Stafford Jr.) was third. The 2016 four-year-old debut of $1-million winner, Sassy Hanover, was not a success. Driver Andrew McCarthy put her into action several times but to no avail as she finished eighth. In a $16,000 pace for young females, Truth And Liberty, owned by Only Money Inc., made it two-in-a-row as Andrew McCarty guided the Total Truth-Jazzy Hall four-year-old, conditioned by Jason Skinner, to her fourth win of the year. She swept past front pacing Marigold Bloom (George Dennis) in mid-stretch for the 1:54 victory. Westluckycam (Vic Kirby) was third ending a five-race win streak. Ross Wolfenden piloted Bill Hall's Cedar Hall Heiress from off-the-pace to a 1:54.2 decision in a $14,000 pace for 4&5-year-old females beating Lady Spartacus (Tyler Davis) to the finish line after chasing leader Miss Read (Vic Kirby) who led coming for home. A daughter of Riggins-Paris The Heiress, the win for the Brian Wright trainee, was the second this year in eight starts. PT Stable's Jetomatt stormed home first via the passing lane at 63-1 odds to become the second highest longshot of 2016 at the track. The win in a $9,000 distaff pace was the first of the year for the Jereme's Jet-Mattoftheyear four-year-old. Two drivers collared three wins each, Andrew McCarthy and Tony Morgan, who is currently third in the driver standings with 113 wins this meet. Ross Wolfenden, in fourth place, with a driving double, now has 100 wins. Tim Tetrick and George Dennis, also had two winners. Gural Hanover, Somebody AS joins last week's winner War Cry Hall in the Wednesday feature, $25,000 Open trot. Monday through Thursday racing begins at 4:30 p.m. Dover Downs is dark on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. When at the track, watch live races and enjoy dining in the Winners Circle Restaurant's acclaimed Harness Racing Buffet. Call 302-674-4600 for reservations. Simulcasting of harness and thoroughbred racing is available daily from 12 Noon until 12 Midnight at Dover Downs where there is no charge for parking and admission. Reservations are suggested for the Winner's Circle Restaurant and for those planning to stay at the 4-star Dover Downs Hotel. Call 302-674-4600.  Marv Bachrad                              

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