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Rising star Smolda remains on target for New Zealand harness racing’s biggest event despite being missing from this weekend’s fixtures. Originally planning to start the son of Courage Under Fire at Addington on Friday night, co-trainer Mark Purdon has elected to keep Smolda fresh ahead of the New Zealand Cup. Purdon based his decision of Smolda’s track work this week, during which the six-year-old “wasn’t that impressive”. “He didn’t work as well as we would like, so Mark made the call not to race him this week,” co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen said. “He went okay, but just wasn’t that impressive. “We’re getting his blood tested to make sure he’s not crook. Given the Cup is so close, it’s not worth pushing on and better to err on the side of caution.” Although Smolda will be missing from his lead-up target, Purdon and Rasmussen will have dual representation in the Christian Cullen Canterbury Classic. The duo have entered Adore Me and comeback pacer Hands Christian, with both returning from spells. Adore Me, which has drawn seven, hasn’t raced since winning the Jewels last May, while Hands Christian has been sidelined for 29 months. Troubled by leg problems, Hands Christian has trialled in solid fashion, with Rasmussen confident of a forward showing from the seven-year-old. “He’s been off the scene for a long time, but we are happy with where is at,” Rasmussen said. Citing Terror To Love and Christen Me as the pair to beat, Rasmussen feels Hands Christian “is ready to surprise a few.” Terror To Love will come from nine, with Christen Me in 10. “Hands Christian’s had three trials and done well in those, plus his work has been good,” Rasmussen said. “Nothing beats race fitness, so whatever he does this week, he will improve on…they both will. “It’s hard to look past Terror To Love and Christen Me, with which one gets the better run the only thing separating them. “You’d expect them to run the quinella.” PAUL COURTS

The four-year-old pacer Dobson (Christian Cullen) scored the biggest win of his young career on Thursday night at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. Kevin Verdon owns and trains Dobson who was moving up in class to compete in the featured Winners of 2 but not more than 4 pace on Thursday. Drawing the rail in the $7,490 pace, Dobson moved aggressively to the early lead with driver Jay Randall in the sulky. Dismissed at odds of 10-1, Dobson was up to the task scoring a career best victory in 1:54.3 surviving a photo with the race's favorite Bondi Hanover (Wally Hennessey). The win for Dobson was his fourth in eleven starts this season. Bondi Hanover came up second best while Rock N Joe (Billy Dobson) finished third. Live racing continues on Friday night with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway

The fields for the harness racing meeting at Addington tomorrow night are full of horses in the lower grades who are embarking on new campaigns. One who has caught our eye is the Shadow Play colt Brilliant Strike who resumes from the dreaded barrier nine in race 10 tomorrow night over 1950 metres. A winner at Winton over 2400 metres as a 2 year old, Brilliant Strike has been to the fore at recent trials with a slashing second to Have Faith In Me at the Addington trials ten days ago his most recent effort. Co-trainer Paul Court is expecting a big run from his charge tomorrow night. " I think he will go really well on Friday night but he will definitely improve with the run "He is as good as he can be without having had a race" he said The stable has always had a high opinion of the colt and long term they are looking to test him against the best come Derby time. "The 1950 metres tomorrow is probably a bit short for him but will still go a big race" Paul said when talking to Harnesslink this afternoon. "We are really looking forward to the Derbies later in the season over the longer trips where we think he will really excell as he is such a tough stayer" "He is such a pleasure to do anything with and Ricky really likes him so thats always a good sign" he said From the first crop of a son of The Panderosa in Shadow Play, Brilliant Strike is not the only horse by the sire that the stable has in work. Paul has a lot of time for the Shadow Plays. "We have a filly by him that we qualified as a 2 year old called Beyond Belief who is off to the trials next Tuesday and we think a bit of her. "Dad and I both bred a couple of mares to Shadow Play last year on the back of how much we liked these two and we got some of the stable clients to go to him as well" he said An interesting aside is that both of the Shadow Play's at the Court barn are from mares by Christian Cullen. With only has 19 foals from his first crop, Shadow Play has had a low profile to date but Brilliant Strike looks capable of changing that in the next few months. Harnesslink Media

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones is counting down the months for the racetrack return of stable pacing star Saveapatrol next year. Saveapatrol, last seasons’s luckless Auckland Cup placegetter,  underwent a minor surgery for a leg issue after spelling in March. “I’m rapt with Saveapatrol’s recovery. His leg looks great after we  took a precautionary measure to operate,” Mark said. “He’s had sixs weeks swimming already and walks one hour in surf  every day. He’s set to resume jogging next month and he looks great.” Mark says he’ll be in no hurry with the lightly-raced Christian Cullen gelding. “I guess we’ll take our time and have good options after New Year, like the Northern Southland and Invercargill Cups.” Mark says the $A400,000 Hunter Cup at Melton in early February could also be an option if Saveapatrol makes a sharp return to his outstanding form of last season. Saveapatrol won six of 10 four-year-old starts. He was spelled after his Group One Auckland Cup third behind Terror To Love and Adore Me at Auckland on March 7. Saveapatrol was a brilliant winner of a C3 pace at Addington on New  Zealand Cup day in a fast 3:09 (mobile 2600m), just half a second outside the NZ record. He starred on the provincial cups circuit, taking out the Geraldine, Marlborough and Invercargill Cups, the latter a precious Group Three scalp over triple New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love, in a strong 4:03 (3200m). Saveapatrol, who also racetimed in 1:53.4 (1609m) when fourth from an impossible draw at Addington in February, has only had 16 career starts, for 10 wins, a second and a third, earning $134,868 for owner Grant Hatton. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here

The harness racing meeting at Cambridge last night (September25th) turned into a benefit night for leading South Auckland trainer/driver Brent Mangos.  Brent reined home four winners on the nine race card and what made it even more memorable for the top reinsman was the fact that he trained the four winners as well. The first of the quartet to put his foot in the winners enclosure was Vibhuti who after doing plenty mid race, run away and hid in the straight  for an easy win and Brent has a bit of time for the son of American Ideal. " He is quite a progressive horse and Cambridge suits him a lot better than Auckland as he has trouble getting around the last bend up there. I think he is getting more tractable with racing and has a bright future" he said when speaking to Harnesslink this morning.  The second winner came in the Te Awamutu Cup where Rockn Ruby made full use of a lovely trail behind the pacemaking Beyond The Silence to grab him in the shadows of the finishing post for her seventh lifetime win and Brent thinks that won't be the last win for the daughter of Mach Three " She is such a lovely mare to do anything with and is so consistent. That win last night took her over the $80,000 mark and I think she has got two or three wins in her yet" he said The third winner was another daughter of Mach Three in Molly O'Shea who in her first run for the season went straight to the front from barrier one and kept up a very steady clip and then scooted away from the 400 meters for an easy victory in a very smart 3:21.6 for the 2700 meters That was her third win from just ten starts and Brent thought there were more wins in store. "She just lacks a touch of high speed to be honest but she can really stay and thats how I drove her last night. I think theres another two or three wins in her as well" he said. The fourth winner was the debut runner Justforyou who is owned in Perth by Karnup Racing Pty Ltd who raced the champion mare Bettor Cover Lover from Brent's stable. A daughter of Christian Cullen, they purchased her out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for the princely sum of $10,000 which must seem like a bargain after last nights win. Justforyou settled three back on the inner early and was only angled off  the inner by Brent as they turned for home from where she absolutely flew to win going away by an ever increasing 2 1/2 lengths in a performance that both surprised and impressed Brent. "She had only had a couple of trials and I didn't think she was ready to do that. She really impressed me last night and she looks to have a big future" he said. Brent Mangos has always been rated one of the best drivers in the industry in New Zealand and last nights quartet of winners was just a timely reminder of how good he is. Harnesslink Media                

Harness racing stud brochures are littered with claims by stallion promoters that their stallion is the best bred or the fastest son of a particular sire and a lot of the time you have to take the claims with a grain of salt. However having looked at the pedigree of  Raging Bull, for once we would have to agree with the promoters claims. There can be little doubt that Raging Bull is the best bred son of Christian Cullen available to breeders in New Zealand. His dam is the imported Artsplace mare in San Sophia who took a mark in North America of 1:52.6 ($91,481)  and was imported into New Zealand by Dennis Thompson of Platinum Breeding. Her stud record looks like this: 2005 - San Rafella 1:52.3 ($86,288)  2006 - Private Joke 1:52.1 ($154,792) 2008 -  Raging Bull 1:56.6 ($115,581) 2009 - Red West - 1:56.6 ($28,463) 2010 - Santa Catalina - 1:55.6 ($40,698) 2011 - Hilltop Delight - 2:04.4 ($10,962) San Sophia is a full sister to the brilliant racemare Galleria 1:49.1 ($1,814,453) who has produced 4 in 1:53 including this season's brilliant 3 year old filly Gallie By The Beach 1:50.3 ($437,390) and Western Gallie 1:51.2 ($334,223) Another full sister to San Sophia is National Gallery 1:53.2 ($35,530) who also has 4 in 1:53 including Smithsonian 1:48.4 ($508,230) and Lorrie Please 1:50.2 ($546,760) The dam of San Sophia is the very smart racemare Emory Girl 1:52.4 ($200,730) It is nothing short of a sensational maternal family that is going great guns as we speak. Sold as a yearling for $85,000 to clients of Cran Dalgety, Raging Bull has the looks and physique to match his pedigree.  Raging Bull bolted in at his only two starts at two and was again successful at his first start at three before tasting defeat for the first time at start number four on Cup Day at Addington when he sat outside Smolda 1:52.1 ($559,331) and ran second but his performance was full of merit as they did go a 1:54.3 mile rate over 1950 meters that day.  Before injury struck him down and brought a stop to his racetrack career, Raging Bull would only race ten times for 5 wins and 5 placings for stakes of $115,581.  Raging Bull's  best mile rate was 1:54.5 over 1950 meters when second to Smolda on Cup Day.  Apart from Smolda, the only other two horses to beat Raging Bull on the track were Christen Me 1:51. ($1,097,875) and Ideal Scott 1:52.8 ($755,414) which speaks volumes for his class. After his career ending injury, one of the original owners Hal David brought the other owners out with a view to giving Raging Bull his chance as a sire. Standing at Dancingonmoonlight Stud last year in his debut season, Raging Bull served 32 mares and that was without any semen transportation. This season Raging Bull has moved to the well respected Barra Equine Ltd setup in North Canterbury run by Jonathan McNeill where he will stand for a fee of $1250+GST and his semen will be available nationwide. With his pedigree, looks, physique and race track performances, Raging Bull has all the attributes to make it as a sire. Harnesslink Media

The first race on the program at Methven today was blessed with three really smart 3 year olds and as expected they dominated the finish. McArdle Star, Highview Freedy and Until Further Notice all had their supporters prior to the race and all went well enough to justify that support. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn led easily from barrier one with Sam Ottley in the bike while the Jimmy Curtin trained and driven Until Further Notice settled three back on the inner from his second row draw. The Ken Barron trained McArdle Star with stable reinsman Blair Orange in the bike settled third last from his second line draw.. Sent forward three wide with cover by Blair with a lap to run, McArdle Star found the death seat with 900 meters to run and sat there until the 400 meters when he went up to eyeball Highview Freddy as they turned for home. Blair did little more than flick the reins at McArdle Star up the straight as he went on for an impressive debut win by 2 and 1/4 lengths from Highview Freddy who was just as clearly second. Until Further Notice cleared the pocket three back on the inner as they turned for home and ran on well for third but was 2 and 1/2 lengths from Highview Freddy at the finish. McArdle Star paced the 2300 meters on the grass in 3:02.3, a mile rate of 2:07.5 on a track rated as dead. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients of Ken Barron in Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star is as the name suggests is a 3 year old by McArdle from the talented Presidential Ball mare Star Of The Ball 1:56.1 ($68,647) The first foal from Star Of The Ball by Christian Cullen was named Two Twenty in reference to the fact he cost $220,000 at the sales. Why he didn't amount to much on the racetrack, the next two colts in Merv 1:53 ($67,763) and Macha 1:55.8 ($115,297) were well above average. The grand dam of Star Of The Ball is none other than the champion broodmare in Black Watch. McArdle Star looks to have inherited all the family ability and should be in for a profitable season judging by todays run. Harnesslink Media      

Exciting Western Australian pacer Elegant Christian gave notice of bigger harness racing wins to come with his success at Gloucester Park tonight. Having his third run back from a spell for trainer Gary Hall, the four-year-old remains unbeaten this campaign as he works towards the local age-based features in November and December. “He has come back well,” Hall declared. “I’m really happy with his progress and still think there is a bit of improvement in him yet. “All going well he will be racing in the Golden Nugget and McInerney in a couple of months.” Driven by Hall’s reinsman-son Clint, Elegant Christian led throughout from barrier two to account for Bettor Off and Sign In. Rating 1:58.1 for the 2130 metres, the son of Christian Cullen covered the last half in 56.1 seconds. “Once he got to the front he was never going to be run down,” Hall said. “It was a nice easy win for him. “He’ll keep getting better as he goes along and should be able to make his way through the grades without too much fuss.” Since crossing the Tasman, Elegant Christian has registered nine wins from 11 starts, including the Western Gateway Pace and Caduceus Classic. PAUL COURTS

The C0 pace for 3 year olds and older at the Oamaru Harness Racing clubs meeting today (September 14th) drew three horses with a reputation for being above average pacers. Cran Dalgety lined up the talented Christian Cullen gelding Cody Singer who is big on ability but still lacks a touch of ringcraft. Kevin Court lined up Smokin Bird, a daughter of Bettor's Delight who had won her only start at two but is still classed as a maiden as she starts her 3 year old season. The third of the fancied horses was Tas Man Bromac, a son of American Ideal who had also won his only start at two and races out of the barn of Nathan Williamson. The public made Smokin Bird a warm favourite but there was plenty of support for Cody Singer and Tas Man Bromac as well. Smokin Bird got away first and grabbed an early lead with Tas Man Bromac settling fourth on the inner and Cody Singer last after missing away for a few strides. It stayed that way until Dexter Dunn moved Cody Singer around the field to sit parked at the 1600 meters mark and Nathan Williamson came off the inner with Tas Man Bromac and slotted into the one by one. Then Dexter decided he wanted the front with Cody Singer but Matthew Williamson on Smokin Bird didnt want to hand up and they went to war for the next 600 meters. By the time they reached the 800 meters mark, Cody Singer had dropped in on Smokin Bird's back which left Tas Man Bromac parked out. Thats how they stayed until they turned for home where Nathan shot Tas Man Bromac clear for an easy and impressive win. Smokin Bird stuck on gamely for second after being mauled mid race while Cody Singer ended up fifth but only four and half lengths from the winner. Tas Man Bromac paced the 2600 meters from a stand in a very smart 3:19.2 with closing sectionals of 57.8 and 28.5 Tas Man Bromac is the second foal of the imported North American McArdle mare Tasmcmanian who is a half sister to five in 1:55 including Arts Conquest 1:50 ($880,576) and Lifeoftheparty 1:54 ($151,365) Shy Devil, the dam of Tasmcmanian went 1:53.3 and earned $169,185 on the track and is a half sister to the talented Gamma Ray 1:52.1 ($467,504) and XLR Ray Shun King 1:52.1 ($207,210). Tasmcmarian is closely related to two outstanding mares in Naughty But Nice 1:54 ($1,062,197) and Leah Almahurst 1:52.3 ($1,053,201) Tas Man Bromac lived up to his pedigree today with a performance that suggested he had many wins left in front of him. Harnesslink Media    

As one of last season's top 4yr olds with his five wins incuding the 4yr old Emerald on Jewels day, Franco Nelson looks sure to be one to follow over the comimg weeks. He had his first public run for the new season at the Rangiora's workouts on Wednesday and put paid to a moderate C1 and faster field over the 2600m, coming home his last 800m in 57.6 and 400m in 28.7. John was very pleased with his charge. "Yea he went really good mate. Very happy! We'll give him a trial next week and then reassess. He's a chance to run in the Avon City Ford (26 September), but otherwise the classic a couple of weeks later." In terms of the other fast class pacers in the stable, there has been some mixed news. "Elios has had a setback and has gone out. He'll probably not be back racing now until December." Pure Power and Jivin Cullen both raced in the Maurice Holmes Vase last Friday and were a bit disappointing. "I did go pretty hard with Jivin Cullen, but he was still entitled to go better than he did."  "Pure Power had a bit of an off night and we are hoping for better this week in the Hannon." Both will carry on in their push for places in the 2014 cup field.   Some of last seasons younger brigade are also getting close to race day. "Say My Name has really filled out now and looks superb. He ran a nice second at the Rangiora workouts. We will most likely go to the Forbury Sires Stakes heat with him." Robbie Burns who impressed first up last season and stable newcomer Little Grin are both getting close to workouts and trials and can be expected to be seen in the next couple of weeks. The "babies" had an early season run on Wednesday as well, with Sales purchase Code Black (Bettor's Delight - Chritian Watch) getting the big tick from John. "He came out of the gate well and travelled good throughout. He took the passing lane good and went to the line full of running." "He can have a short break now and then he'll be back. We'll be targeting the Young Guns with him for sure." The Art Official colt Ruffalo went a pleasing run in the same workout. Courtesy Robert Dunn Racing      Click here to visit site      

Bit Of A Legend, fresh from his first defeat in three Australasian Breeders Crown Finals at Melton last month, will play tag with stablemate Christen Me and return to Addington on Friday, September 26. Kentuckiana Lodge trainer Cran Dalgety will attempt to make the most of the special conditions of the Group Three $25,000 Avon City Ford (New Brighton) Cup in just over two weeks time. The winner of the stand start 2600m race is guaranteed a place in the field for the $700,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup at Addington on November 11. Christen Me, the second ranked cup starter and assured of a start anyway, gained the automatic cup entry associated with winning the Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington last Friday. After two explosive Addington wins in recent weeks, Christen Me won’t get the chance to defend his Avon City Ford (New Brighton) Cup title of 12 months ago. The reigning Australasian Grand Circuit champ is having a change of pace this week, running leisurely among the cattle at the nearby West Melton property of Cran’s father, Jim Dalgety. “He thinks he’s hot. He’s king of the kids there,” Cran said. Christen Me is scheduled to return and chase consecutive wins in the Group Two $40,000 ‘Christian Cullen’ Canterbury Classic (2600m stand) at Addington on October 10. Meanwhile, Cran says Bit Of A Legend is excited to be back home. I’m just deciding on which trial he will go in beforehand,” he said. Bit Of A Legend tried hard to make a three-peat of Australasian Breeders Crown Finals on August 24, but had to settle for second in the $A100,000 4YO colts and geldings final behind front-running Marty Monkhouser. He had the toughest run after starting from the outside of the second row. Bit Of A Legend moved up wide to be parked over the final 1200m and fought gamely but the Shane Tritton-trained leader kicked too well over the final 800m in 56.3s and closing 400m in 28.3s, the winner rating 1:57.6 for the full 2240m. A week earlier, first-up for nine months, he drew the front row, found the front, and ran a slightly quicker rate (1:57.1), pacing his last 800m in 55.7s. With those two races under his belt, and the trip back to Christchurch, Bit Of A Legend will continue to become race-hardened, after an interrupted 4YO season last term. The big-winning Bettor’s Delight entire is unbeaten in two stand start races, scoring at Rangiora and Addington in June-July of his three-year-old racing season. Bit Of A Legend, the winner of 18 and 12 times second in 39 career starts for $742,491, still has to force his way into the cup reckoning. He has been ranked in 19th spot for the New Zealand Cup, despite winning at least twice, and up to six times more, than some others ranked ahead of him. Courtesy Of Cran Dalgety Racing      Click through to website here

A new sale concept for harness racing broodmares and mixed stock had its first outing tonight and it didn't quite go to script. All up there were 73 broodmares and 18 mixed stock that went under the hammer this evening at Addington Raceway. There was a good crowd of over 100 people in the Blossom Lady lounge at Addington when the auction began but it was soon apparent that if the broodmare had a bit of age or had a hole in her pedigree then there was absolutely no interest from the buyers present. The passed in rate was very high with only 16 of the 73 broodmares changing hands on the night although the auctioneers were confident of doubling that number from post auction sales. Top price as expected was lot 2 which was the In The Pocket mare Zenola's Princess who was sold in foal to the  leading sire Art Major for $10,000.  The second best price was for lot 41 which was the Christian Cullen mare Stronecullen who was sold in foal to Shadow Play for $3,500 Lot 31, the Soky's Atom mare Bionic Reign who was not in foal made $3,000 as did lot 58, the Mach Three mare Triple Sec who was in foal to Betterthancheddar. Several mares were passed in when the last bid ended up with the vendor at the rerserve price and no more bids were forthcoming. Lot 20, Glenferrie Skipper was passed in for $10,000 while lot 50 Sun Goddess was also passed in at $7,000. Two other passings of note were lot 7, A Touch Of Sun who was not in foal and lot 44 Hayley Brogden who was in foal to Mach Three. Both made $6,000 on the night but went home with their vendors but negotiations are continuing. In the mixed stock side of the sale the trend was the same as with the broodmares with the two most keenly sought lots reaching $6,000 but on their vendors bid. Both times the auctioneer announced that one more bid would buy the horse involved but no further bids were made from the buyers bench. The two lots involved were lot 1, the American Ideal filly Miss Patriot and lot 2, the Sam Bourbon colt. While there were a lot of things they would do slightly differently in hindsight, The Canterbury Standardbred Breeders are to be congratulated for trying to bring a low cost sale option to the market to try to help the average breeder. With its low entry fee and no commission and no travel involved for the lots to be auctioned, the sale concept definitely has a future. What was sadly lacking today was a lot more quality lots but that was due in no small part to the uncertainty about how the sale would pan out for the vendors. Well bred stock sold well tonight and hopefully next year a much stronger draft will be catalogued. Harnesslink Media

Veteran Byford harness racing mentor Tony Svilicich extended his record in the Sullys Painting New Seasons Pace at Gloucester Park last night. Heading into the popular feature, Svilicich topped the event’s honour roll with three victories - Taihape Tickler in 2006 and Has The Answers in 2010 and 2011. Svilicich’s fourth success came courtesy of Shardons Rocket’s upset win with champion reinsman Chris Lewis in the cart. Paying an inviting $34.30 on the tote, Shardons Rocket was caught in the breeze early before being allowed to roll to the front during the middle stages as Courage Tells was eased to take a trail. Proving too slick along the home straight, the veteran son of Pacific Rocket scored by a metre-and-a-half from Ballas Arockstar, with Courage Tells a metre-and-a-half away third. Completing his first win since last May, Shardons Rocket rated 1:57.4 for the 2536-metre journey, with the last half covered in 57.8 seconds. With no major plans in mind for the 10-year-old, Svilicich will follow his usual training method of racing Shardons Rocket on a weekly basis. Another highlight of the program was Libertybelle Midfrew’s impressive triumph for trainer Mike Reed as the mare continues her rapid transition through the grades. Driven by Reed’s reinsman-son, Mark, Libertybelle Midfrew was three-wide into the lead from the second row before registering an arrogant 15-metre win from Adda Rising Star, with Courtneys Best 26 metres away third. Covering the last half in 58.4 seconds, the daughter of Christian Cullen rated a slick 1:56.7 for the 2170 metres. Boasting seven wins from eight starts since joining Reed’s stable, Libertybelle Midfrew is likely to tackle the ‘boys’ in the four-year-old features such as the Golden Nugget during the next few months. - PAUL COURTS

Harness racing superstar Smoken Up faces a tough challenge in his bid for a farewell victory at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday night. Due to be retired after his appearance in the Casey Classic, Smoken Up has drawn awkwardly in gate nine for trainer Lance Justice. Admitting the barrier has hampered the prospects of a final win, Justice stated the outing is “more about enjoying the moment” with the sprightly 12-year-old. “If he wins, he wins and if he doesn’t it’s not the end of the world,” Justice declared. “Saturday is more about enjoying the moment as he says good bye to racing. “We’ve been fortunate to have won 72 races with him, so one more will only be some sweet, sweet icing on the cake. “Naturally, I would love to see him go out on a high, but from the draw it may not be possible. “Don’t get me wrong, I still think he can win, and no matter what happens, I know he will do his best as always. “Overall, it is going to be very emotion as it’s the end of an era.” Justice was fortunate to enjoy a perfect end to former stable star Sokyola’s career at Moonee Valley on June 22, 2007 when the son of Soky’s Atom accounted for The Warp Drive and The Phantoms Guest. “We were lucking enough to have a happy ending with Sokyola and with a bit of luck we can enjoy the same with Smoken Up,” Justice said. “A win would also bookend his career with me as he won on debut at Yarra Valley in March 2007. To begin and end with a win would be a fairytale.” Smoken Up has registered 72 victories and 48 placings from 141 starts with Justice for earnings of $3,588,949 to be Australasia's third richest pacer behind Blacks A Fake ($4,575,438) and Im Themightyquinn ($4,567,456). His wins include two Miracle Miles, four South Australia Cups, four Len Smith Miles and the Victoria Cup, with his best time of 1:48.5 coming at Tabcorp Park Menangle on April 30, 2011. The son of Tinted Cloud has claimed 13 Group Ones across the Southern Hemisphere, won at 15 tracks and set numerous records, including becoming the first standardbred on this side of the equator to better 1:50. While his favourite track is Menangle due its spacious 1400-metre circuit, Smoken Up has registered the majority of his wins at Melbourne’s two metropolitan tracks. In fact, the gelding boasts the record for the most wins at headquarters, with his 33 triumphs breaking down to 12 at Moonee Valley and 21 at Melton. That total also equates to 32 metropolitan wins and one country front. Former top mare Make Mine Cullen held the previous record thanks to her 30 wins between the two tracks. The daughter of Christian Cullen won 29 at Melton and one at Moonee Valley for Glenn Douglas. Her tally breaks down to 25 city and five country wins, with one of her provincial fronts coming at the Valley. Sokyola was credited as Moonee Valley’s leading performer with his 29 wins, which splits to 26 metro and three country. Former outstanding pacer Dusty Miller is believed to have won 27 races at the Ascot Vale Showgrounds, however, there are no in depth records to verify his stats. To put things into another perspective, the immortal Popular Alm notched 21 wins at the Valley, while his arch-rival, Gammalite, had 24! A farewell victory will also see Smoken Up fall a win short of True Roman’s ‘all-comers’ record in town. Among the best trotters produced in the Southern Hemisphere, True Roman won an amazing 35 races at the Valley. True Roman’s tally breaks down to an incredible 34 metro and one country success. “To have Sokyola as the most successful metro horse in numbers and now Smoken Up is amazing,” Justice said. “Now with a bit of luck Trigger can match old Soky by bowing out with a win. “Like I said, it’s going to be an emotional night and we will both be out there doing our best.” - PAUL COURTS

It is not that often that horses from the central districts of the north island are sent out the hot favourite at the northern harness racing capital of Alexandra Park. But then Te Kawau is not your normal central districts horse. Going into tonights race as the warmest of favourites was due in no small part to the outstanding runs he put up last season at three against Locharburn, Sky Major and company. With two runs back against Cyamach to help him to full fitness, Te Kawau looked very hard to beat and so it proved. Steadied from his second row draw by driver Zac Butcher in the 2200 meters mobile event, Zac sent him forward with 1400 to go and grabbed the lead off Royal Taz with 1100 meters to run. From there Te Kawau always held too many guns for the opposition and comfortably held them at bay in the home straight. Pricillas Girl continued her rich vein of form to grab second after starting from the outside of the second row while early leader Royal Taz was a nose away in third. Te Kawau paced the 2200 meters in 2:43.71 with closing sectionals of 57.3 and 27.3 It was his sixth win from just 14 starts along with five minor placings and stake earnings of $39,727 When you look at how Te Kawau is bred it is no wonder he is smart. By the champion sire Bettors Delight , the dam of Te Kawau is Haylin Express, a daughter of Christian Cullen who won $44,438 on the track and Te Kawau is her first foal. The grand dam by Holmes Hanover is a half sister to the brilliant Agua Caliente 1:55.3 ($413,027) and the ill fated Haylin Fella (7 wins) who died suddenly in Auckland after being sold for big money to Queensland interests. A big striking looking individual, Te Kawau looks to have come back better than ever and should grace the better four year old races later in the season. Harnesslink Media    

Leviathan harness racing owner Emilio Rosati is set to transfer his team out of New South Wales. While a few are already in Queensland and Victoria, the rest will be sent south of the Murray River during next couple of months. Rosati’s stock is estimated to be between 30 and 40 horses, with star youngster Allblack Stride headlining the crew. Other than confirming the Group One winning son of Christian Cullen is becoming a Victorian, Rosati stated he isn’t ready to announce which trainers will be in charge of his team. Rosati’s horses carry the ‘Stride’ prefix, with former stars Excel Stride and Idol Stride among his best performed pacers. “Although they haven’t raced yet, a lot have moved and the rest will be moved soon,” Rosati said. “I won’t put a number on how many horses I have, but it’s a lot. “I’m not ready to say which horses will go to which trainer, but it will be known in good time.” Rosati’s decision to vacate New South Wales is based on his ‘principles', with the astute owner citing the integrity of the industry as the primary reason for the switch. When asked to elaborate, Rosati stated he’d “leave it at that.” “I have no problem with the people running the sport, I just have a problem with the integrity of it,” Rosati said. “I don’t want to harm the industry, I’m just frustrated with the way it is at the moment. “I’m not doing this because I want to...I have to, based on my principles. “Ideally I’d prefer to be in New South Wales and hopefully the problem gets fixed and I will return them. “I will still stay on as a sponsor there.” Paul Courts

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