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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harness racing superstar Beautide is has been installed an odds-on favourite to retain his Miracle Mile crown at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night. With the draw for the SEW-Eurodrive sponsored event conducted just moments ago, TAB responded by cutting Beautide’s price to $1.75. Earlier this week the James Rattray-trained gelding was $2.60 on Fixed Odds markets. Drawn well in barrier three, Beautide is aiming to become just the seventh Miracle Mile winner to successfully defend his crown since the Group One’s inauguration in 1967 when annexed by wonder mare, Robin Dundee. Former champion Westbrun Grant was the ground breaker with his wins in 1989 and ’90, followed by Chokin (’93-’94), Holmes D G (1999, 2000), Sokyola (’03-’04), Be Good Johnny (’05-’06) and Smoken Up (’10-’11). Village Kid is the only other dual winner of the prestigious sprint, having scored in 1986 and ’87. The Western Australian’s victories were split by Master Mood when two Miracle Miles were conducted in 1986. New Zealand star Christen Me is the second elect at $5 after receiving barrier four. A member of the Cran Dalgety stable, Christen Me was runner-up behind Beautide in last year’s edition of the Grand Circuit event. Christen Me is by 1998 Miracle Mile champion Christian Cullen, with no winner of the prestigious sprint producing a subsequent winner. On the opposite end of the scale, fellow Kiwi pacer, Terror To Love, is the rank outsider at $21 after drawing gate 10. The son of Western Terror slots into eight with the removal of the emergencies. Miracle Mile field in barrier order and TAB Fixed Odds: Easy On The Eye  $16 Avonova    $12 Beautide    $1.75 Christen Me    $5 For A Reason    $6.5 Chariot King   (2nd emerg) Guaranteed    $7.5 Suave Stuey Lombo    $12 Bettor Bet Black    (Emerg) Terror To Love    $21 PAUL COURTS

Is the latest controversy surrounding harness racing’s premier sprint – Miracle Mile – about to unfold? Without doubt the most successful race in Australasia relating to media attention, the Miracle Mile has thrived on the ongoing conflicts, troubles and antics associated with the Group One. From questionable selections and omissions to scratchings and court action, the Miracle Mile has seen it all. For example, quite a few fans and ‘experts’ still have ‘hang ups’ about Our Sir Vancelot being overlooked in 1996. Despite winning the Qantas Sprint – conducted these days as the Cordina Sprint - Our Sir Vancelot missed the December edition of the Grand Circuit event won by Iraklis. On the other side of the scale, little-known pacer Manaville won a restricted class race in 1:55.5 for the 1740 metres, shaving a tenth of a second off Norms Daughter’s track record set in the June 1996 Miracle Mile, earning him an invite into the time-honoured feature in the process. A year later Our Sir Vancelot was Miracle Mile champion. Our Sir Vancelot was trained by legendary horseman Brian Hancock, who was coincidently involved in a controversial admission to the premier speed test a few years earlier. Hancock was in charge of reigning Inter Dominion champion Weona Warrior, which hadn’t won from four starts since his upset victory in the 1994 series. On top of that, Weona Warrior was beaten in the Qantas Sprint, while the nation’s premier mare Exceptionally Smooth won the Ladyship Mile on the same night, but missed a start the following week. Another prominent controversy is Jack Morris’ scratching just moments before the scheduled starting time in 1993. A dominant favourite, Jack Morris was withdrawn by on-course vet, David Evans, as the field lined up behind the mobile barrier. Trainer Sean Harney argued with Chief Steward, Roger Nebauer, but to no avail. Harney believed the hype and atmosphere of the event – especially the fireworks display – may have caused bruising of a membrane in Jack Morris’ nose, which resulted in the trace of blood. A few years later, another scratching minutes before the race took place when stewards ordered Christian Cullen out of the 1997 edition. Only the second three-year-old to be invited to the race – Chokin was the first in 1991 – Christian Cullen’s a pre-race swab revealed traces of heptaminol. Trainer Brian O’Meara was cleared a week later when it was announced testing of the reserve urine sample taken from Christian Cullen had found the swab’s accompanying control fluid was contaminated. The Australian Forensic Laboratory at Randwick carried out testing under the authority of Melbourne analyst Craig Carmichael, who was appointed by O’Meara. Furious with the overall situation, O’Meara sued for compensation against the black mark attached to his name. In a claim before the court, owner Ian Dobson and Brian O’Meara sought the $180,000 winning stake from the Miracle Mile, plus $500,000 for not being able to charge higher stud fees for the horse. Dobson later stated a settlement had been reached with lawyers for the laboratory. Christian Cullen returned to win the Miracle Mile in 1998. That brings us to this year’s Miracle Mile, or more specifically, last Saturday night’s Coca-Cola Sprint at Menangle. The 1609-metre dash is one of three races guaranteeing the winner an automatic pass to the Miracle Mile on November 29. But what happens if the winner has already been invited? The short answer is no invitation is issued! Defending Miracle Mile champion Beautide capture last weekend’s Sprint, with boom Victorian pacer Guaranteed finishing second. Despite his effort, and sensational record, Guaranteed was not afforded a ‘golden ticket’ to the Miracle Mile. “Unfortunately we cannot issue an invitation to any horses from tonight’s Coca-Cola Amatil Sprint,” club chief executive Bruce Christison declared. As such, Guaranteed’s connections have two choices – return to Menangle for this week’s Cordina Sprint and try again or rest on their laurels and hope for an invite. Resting on their laurels didn’t work out well for Franco Ice’s owners in 1991. Despite capturing the Queensland Pacing Championship and finishing third in the Tasmanian Pacing Championship – both Grand Circuit events – Franco Ice was snubbed by Miracle Mile selectors after connections elected to bypass the traditional sprints the previous week. A week after the Miracle Mile, Franco Ice registered his second Grand Circuit victory in the M H Treuer Memoral at Bankstown. That leads to another question…will Guaranteed gain a berth in the famed feature or become the latest Miracle Mile controversy? PAUL COURTS

If you listened to all the harness racing pundits leading into todays $200,000 New Zealand FFA, you would have thought that Christen Me had lost his mojo. Not that you would hear such comments from Cran Dalgety or Dexter Dunn who are the central support crew behind the outstanding gelding.   After missing away badly in Tuesday's New Zealand Cup and then staging a huge recovery to finish fifth, the son of Christian Cullen was set today to show his supporters the magic was still there.   Drawing inside his main rivals at barrier four, Dexter let him find his feet early as Seel In Print and A Bit Of A legend went to war.   Sent forward after 600 metres by Dexter, Christen Me reached the front with a lap to go and was joined first by Franco Nelson and then Adore Me as Dexter kept the throttle to the floor.   Down the back in 27.5, Dexter said go at the quarter pole and put a length on Adore Me as they straightened up for home.   The battle went the length of the straight but at the finish Christen Me was still 3/4 length to the good of Adore Me with Franco Nelson finishing on for third, just in front of Terror To Love who was late clearing a pocket.   Christen Me paced the 1950 metres in a blistering 2:18.4, a mile rate of 1:54.2 with closing sectionals of 54.9 and 27.4.   Dexter was confident a long way from home that Christen Me would be hard to beat.   " After they burned early and I was able to get the front, I knew he would be hard to beat."   "At the quarter Adore Me was still going great but so was I and when I asked him he put a length on her."   "I knew it would be a hard battle in the straight but I knew he was up for it," he said.   Dexter has never lost the faith in his champion despite the critics.   " He has got so much ability and his work at home has been super .   "When we broke at the start on Tuesday we were all disappointed but you can't change that now so you have to put it aside and move on," Dexter said.   Dexter was hopeful the win would bring forth a invitation to the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle in a fortnight.   " He ran second in it last year and I think he is going better this campaign and would be a real chance he said.   Christen Me silenced the doubters today in real style and one can only hope he is on track at Menangle in a fortnight.   Footnote - Christen Me was the fourth horse to receive an  invite to the Miracle Mile 30 minutes after his win today and he is a confirmed starter.     Harnesslink Media

Kentuckiana Lodge NZ Cup contender Christen Me, after getting back on the outer, had to settle for third to the Allstars stablemates, Adore Me and Hands Christian in the $49,396 The Trust Ashburton Flying Stakes, but there was plenty to like about his performance. The reigning Grand Circuit champ, like triple NZ Cup winner and favourite Terror To Love, were left to pick up the crumbs as the Allstars stablemates controlled the front end. Adore Me made one of her best beginnings from the stand start to take up the early running, then eased to trail Hands Christian with 1200m to run. She finished best to score by three-quarters of a length in 2:56 for the stand start 2400m (1:58 mile rate), the leaders running their last 800m in 54.9s and final 400m in 26s. This was a NZ mares record, lowering Jamie’s previous mark of 2:57.2 set in 2006, but outside Terror To Love’s allcomers NZ mark of 2:54.9. Christen Me stormed home wide out for third, being timed over his last mile in 1:53.8, his closing 800m in 54s and his final 400m in a sensational 25.1s. “I knew that last quarter must have been something very fast,” Cran said. “We were going as fast as we can but couldn’t get past the top two. Dex said he (Christen Me) was powerful at the line.” In a remarkable feat, 90-year-old Charlie Roberts bred the trifecta, and co-races both Adore Me and Christen Me. Adore Me is a daughter of Bettor’s Delight and the former NZ mile record-holder Scuse Me (1:53.5), who Mr Roberts purchased at the end of her race career in North America and returned her to NZ for breeding. Both Hands Christian and Christen Me are brothers, being by Christian Cullen from Scuse Me’s Dream Away daughter, Splendid Dreams. At the presentation, Mr Roberts’ son-in-law Paul Kenny, also a co-owner of Adore Me, confirmed the mare had “put her best foot forward”, adding: “the win was totally unexpected, but a total thrill.” Bit Of A Legend, the second Kentuckiana Lodge runner in the Flying Stakes, began nervously from the inside, galloping away and settling back on the inner. He wasn’t able to feature, but still paced 2:57 for the stand start 2400m to finish last of the nine, and only five lengths from the winner. Two of Bit Of A Legend’s Gore co-owners, Pat and Margaret Kubala, had better luck the previous day at Forbury when Lightning Mach justified her short quote when resuming in a maiden pace. Despite starting from the back row, Lightning Mach enjoyed a good run through to improve three wide and was in front at the end of 600m and won untested by 3 1/4 lengths. The Mach Three-Righteous Franco filly, having her first start since May, paced the 2200m on the slushy track in 2:49 without having her earplugs pulled. She is one of four 3YO fillies for her trainer in Friday’s $25,000 Alabar Sires’ Stakes Fillies Series Heat at Addington, having drawn the inside of the second row. She is drawn to follow out one of her stablemates, Delightful Lana (ace), while Margarita (not entirely happy on the rain-affected track when a beaten favourite at Forbury last Sunday) and Bettor Think Twice will start from the outside of the front row. Courtesy Cran Dalgety Racing Stables - Check site here    

Colourful racecaller Mark McNamara described dramatic pacer Cody Singer as a “weirdo” after making hard work of winning his second race in six starts at Addington on Friday, October 24. “He’s a wierdo . . . in the nicest possible way,” was Mr McNamara’s summation after Cody Singer won the C1 Lindauer Lawn Cup Day Limited Tickets Available Mobile Pace. Mr McNamara was elaborating after his discription over the concluding stages when he said Cody Singer “turns on and off like a light switch.” Mr McNamara explained Cody Singer waits for others to come alongside him then goes again. Cody Singer, a massive Christian Cullen gelding with a motor to match his size, chooses to be eccentric. His two Addington wins have been far from conventional. They’ve been achieved in the most difficult fashion but the day ‘Cody’ learns to be an agreeable racehorse his opponents should be in for a severe spanking. He galloped off the unruly from a stand for his maiden win on October 10. He looped the field and looked like he was going to run fourth before hitting the go button and pulling away. His latest win came in similar circumstances. Trainer Cran Dalgety had reservations after Cody Singer drew the ace for the mobile start. The big horse was in trouble 100m after the start, tangling but soon settling at the tail of the field. Driver Dexter Dunn let the favourite roll impressively round the field four and five wide to take control with 1400m to run. However, the $2 favourite looked in danger of being run down with 100m to run, firstly by former stablemate Cracklin Rosie (trail), then Eastburn Mara (three back), along the markers. But after drifting out and balancing up, he had more to give when asked by Dexter, drawing away by three-quarters of a length. Cody Singer paced the mobile 2600m in 3:17.8 (2:02.4 mile rate), running his last 800 in 58.6s and final 400m in 27.9s. Considering his mid-race burn, it was a terrific win. Cody Singer was placed with a second warning over his mobile manners by stewards. His first came after his mobile race debut on September 5. He also became claustrophobic after being crossed drawing the one barrier there, galloping and being pulled up. Cody Singer, despite the drama that surrounds him, will have a big following if he draws anywhere but the inside for the $32,400 Graphite Developments Show Day Futurity Mobile Pace (2600m) on November 14. Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety notched a winning double at Addington’s Labour Weekend meeting. He opened proceedings when hot $1.50 favourite Delightful Lana showing her class by coming out on top despite racing in the gale-force cool easterly breeze throughout the Cup Day - Only 18 Days To Go Mobile Mile. The promising 3YO Bettor’s Delight-Long Live Lana filly earned herself a 1:55.9 mile mark in the process. She was caught wide in the early rush from the four gate, pressing to the parked position with just over 1200m to run. Delightful Lana held the attentions of Betabcool, who tracked her on the outer, in the run home, holding by half a length, with Abbey Cullen, three back on the outer, finishing on wide for third, a further three-quarters of a length away. The winner breezed over the last 800m in 57.1s and 400m in 27.2s. She racked up her fourth win from eight starts for her Melbourne owners and is unbeaten in both spring 3YO starts. Resuming 3YO filly stablemates, Supriya (fourth) and Bettor Think Twice (fifth), were sound without luck in their respective engagements. Supriya worked hard from the nine gate three wide, surging to the front with 850m to run, then getting swamped over the last 100m. Bettor Think Twice tangled away first-up from the stand start, settling second last, and did well, making ground for fifth. Courtesy Cran Dalgety Racing  - Check site here        

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