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Reducing the maximum field size from 14 to 12 will be among items discussed at a meeting of the clubs attached to the Southern Harness Racing body, on Thursday next week. Southern Harness General Manager Jason Broad says TAB figures indicate 12 is the optimum field size and has the potential to provide not only a better betting contest but also a better spectacle. “It would also take the winner's share of the stake from 55 percent to 59 percent,” he added. Broad eases the fear dropping each field by two will reduce opportunities. “Since the rating system was introduced we've been running more races than ever,” he said. He puts this down to the good work of the programming committee of which he, along with Clark Barron, Geoff Knight, Murray Swain and Nathan Williamson, are members. “It's taken programming away from the Clubs and we've been able to put races on more consistently. Our discussions have only been positive and feedback good.” Field size will be but one of a number of items discussed next week at the meeting of Club Presidents to confirm plans for the new season. There may also be some review of the current season but a full picture of financial performance is still some way off. It will certainly be available for the AGM in November, at which the Board for the new season will be elected. The three board members each have a one year term with the current appointees being Murray Little (Invercargill HRC), plus John Earl and Kevin McNaught (other eight clubs). Nominations have not yet been called. Even without the financials, Broad said the season has felt more positive. Stakes were up and all runners received a share, and they will be up about another 10 percent this season as the result of the extra Racing Board funds. “Also, the HRNZ bonus of $1500 on every maiden race will go to the winner.” Broad pointed out that the Southern Harness Board provides bulk stakes funding for each meeting, the Programme Committee allocates a sum to each race, and Clubs can add to it. The only races run for less than $8000 will be the Claimers contests, at $6000 because of their penalty free status. Most races other than for non-winners would be tiered from $8000 to $12,000, depending on a number of factors, with Cup races starting at $14,000. The number of meetings in the catchment area for the new season is up from 38 to 40 with Ascot Park to host 18: Invercargill Club-14, Northern Southland-three and Riverton-one. There will be nine at the Central Southland Raceway: Winton-seven, Wairio-two; five each at the Young Quinn Raceway (Wyndham) and Gore Racecourse (Gore), and one each at Cromwell (Wyndham Club), Omakau (Central Otago) and Roxburgh. Mac Henry

After impressively qualifying earlier this season Dali Bread cleared maiden ranks today (Saturday) in the Anka Pipe Fittings Mobile Pace at Ascot Park. Harness racing trainer Clark Barron said after the win that the gelding has had his share of bad luck.  "Apart from one run in which he hung badly the rest he’s had bad luck. He’s still a work in progress but he’s got ability. He was only broken in twelve months ago so he’s come a long way in a short time and he was gelded late as well. He’s got talent but he’s just weak and immature,” he said.  The three year old gelding by Dali Bread is owned by Aucklander Grant Dowdall. “He’s been sending horses down here for a while. He's had a few slow ones but we won a race last season with Something Special. I’ve never met him but I’ve talked to him on the phone for about four years.” Dali Bread qualified at Ascot Park in March this year winning a 2200 metre mobile heat by ten lengths in 2-45.7 and Barron has rated him from day one.  “He’s a good looking horse and a very good pacer so it’s just a matter of waiting on him to develop.” In an inch perfect drive by Nathan Williamson Dali Bread ended up four back on the inside running line. With 1800 metres to run Williamson was able to get the gelding off the running line and followed the three wide train forward. With 900 metres to run he was sitting parked outside leader Matai Valour. Dali Bread went down to the post to win easily by a length from Matai Valour.  Returning to the birdcage                                  - Photo Bruce Stewart  As a stallion Dali has left twenty one named foals in New Zealand. Eleven have qualified including winners El Barcelona (5), Gotta Go Dali Queen (4), Dali Bread (1), Jeremy Jones (1) and The Dali Express (1). Clark Barron doesn't do too much driving these days, preferring to concentrate on training a large team at his base at Rakauhauka. The stable is going through a rebuilding stage after horses like Rakarolla and I'm Full Of Excuses were sold to Australia.  “We’ve got ten to a dozen being jogged up for next season already.” One horse he's enthused about is Black Ops. He's by McArdle out of the twelve win mare Special Ops. Black Ops, which is a half brother to Bettor Ops, qualified at Gore in February and is raced on lease by The Setarip Syndicate.  “We’ve just had to wait on him but he qualified pretty nicely.” Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

 - Zoey's Gift confirmed her spot in the group two New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on 31 March with a New Zealand record winning performance at Winton on Saturday. Third daughter of the group one winning mare Jasmyn's Gift, Zoey trotted the 2400 metres from behind the mobile in 3:03.5, best ever for a three year old filly. The previous record had also been set on the track, by Jen Jaccka two years earlier. She was driven by Matthew Williamson and trained by his father Phil who has reservations about running in the Oaks but knows she is only eligible for it once. “I hope she will be competitive but I'm not getting too carried away,” he said. “She's a fair sort of horse but the 1950 mobile start is a bit draw-dependent. Her mother was outpaced in the Oaks and this filly might be too.” Jasmyn's Gift was having her third start when only eighth in the 2003 Oaks, but went on to win 17 of her 48 goes. Williamson said Zoey's Gift was too big to race as a juvenile and the family is better with time. “She should have a big future,” he said. - Matthew Williamson gained a second win on Saturday when he guided Gotta Del to victory in the C3 to C5 mobile 2400. They led all the way and cleared out to score by five and three quarter lengths in 2:58.2. Gotta Del is trained by Clark Barron for his breeder and owner Ian Hunter who won with his trotter Delestic last Sunday. The horses share the same third dam in the trotting winner Delalee. She left the group two winner Aron Del who finished fourth in the 1989 Rowe Cup. - Trainer Kirstin Barclay gained her first bag of three winners when My Rona Gold, Grace Burns and Magical Marn were successful. Grace Burns, a winner at Waikouaiti 11 days earlier, is raced by her breeder Tom Kilkelly. The mare is named after a sister of Kilkelly's father in law, long time southern harness administrator Peter Burns. Kilkelly also races the three year old Magical Marn, a $15,000 purchase at the 2015 premier sale. “Tom picked him but didn't go to the sales, I had to do the bidding and was a bit nervous, I went slightly over his limit,” Barclay said. Five year old grey mare Rona Gold is raced by Barclay's husband, Nick, Kilkelly's wife Julie, and Julie's daughter Holly Brown. Barclay was the successful driver of Magical Marn while Andrew Suddaby won on My Rona Gold and Grace Burns. - Earlier in the day, Suddaby had won the C0 claimers on Pegasus Merrily to give him three for the day. He'd previously achieved the feat at Invercargill in January 2002, and Forbury Park in November of both 2004 and 2005, but his best was Copper Belt, Jaccka Turbo, Boulder Bay and Elvis Rocks at Forbury Park in May 2005. Pegasus Merrily was trainer Matt Saunders' third win since his move to Tapanui on 6 January. He has taken over the seven-days-a week Four Square store there and trains on the old Tapanui race-course, sharing the facilities with galloping trainers Nikki and Barrie Blatch. “I can have three there, I paddock train them,” said Saunders. His first two wins were with Marshal Star, on the grass at Cromwell and Waikouaiti. Saunders said he sold the six year old to the Central Districts during the week and had only just replenished his team to three and it is back to two again. Pegasus Merrily, who won the mobile mile in 1:56.7, was claimed for $4500 by Rowena Mackintosh after spending about six weeks with Saunders. - Nathan Williamson kicked off a trainer-driver double with the unbeaten Shezacullengirl in a C0 mile. The daughter of Chloe Hanover had won her sole start as a juvenile in April and was getting ready to kick off in October when she strained a muscle in her back end. She paced the mile in 1:57.3 and pleased Williamson. “She doesn't thrill you at home but turned it on on raceday,” he said. Talented trotter Sundons Wish made it two from three and Williamson reckons he is back on track after failing at Ascot Park in January. “He was tying up and is trained out of the paddock now,” Williamson said, “he's got a good motor and trotted nice and square today.” - Rain had soaked the track before the C1 and C2 mares and fillies mile but Break Dance still managed to clock 1:55.9, fastest of the three mobile miles on the day. Break Dance is trained at Waikouaiti by Amber Hoffman and one of two winners for Blair Orange whose drives this season are about to crack the million dollars in earnings. In the final race of the day, fellow Cantabrian visitor, the Cran Dalgety-trained Baileys Rock gave Orange his second win. - Operative Asset, dam of the good performers Citylight and Belkmyster, struck again when I'm Jimmy James won at just his second time to the races. The three year old by Big Jim was bred and is owned and trained by Steve Baucke at Woodlands who said he had I'm Jimmy James running at two, he showed ability but he turned him out to grow. A half brother by Mach Three was picked up by Mark Jones for $12,000 and last week's sales. Baucke has an American Ideal two year old filly from operative Asset, she has a foal at foot by A Rocknroll Dance, and is in foal to Sportswriter. Mac Henry

Makarewa Rum's breeder, owner and trainer, Clark Barron drove the four year old to victory in the Willy's Flooring / J D Souness Ltd Trot at Wyndham on Sunday and then hung up his driving kit for the rest of the day. “I've been lucky to work for people who have known when to slow down,” Barron remarked, “I'm not sick of it and I'm not retiring, I've just got too many racing and not enough time to do both. I've pretty much finished outside driving.” At the previous Wyndham fixture, Barron had 10 racing and drove eight of them. In the first race on Invercargill Cup Day, he provided three of the six runners in the race. That helped him make the decision to cut down on driving and spend more time with the racing team.  Another factor was when his daughter Elle, a talented equestrian, regular assistant on raceday, and recently qualified physiotherapist, took up full-time employment with SportsMed at Stadium Southland. Barron had nine horses at Wyndham, including three for his brothers Ken and Tony, and double-ups on a couple of occasions.  He bred and owns Makarewa Rum in partnership with his father Ron. A four year old son of Bacardi Lindy, the gelding's dam Ali's Girl is out of 1991 Rowe cup winner, Gee du Jour. Ron Barron recalled the Cain family of Gore shared in the ownership of Gee du Jour who was trained by John Lischner when Ken Barron worked for him. Clark and Ron were given Ali's Girl to train, she failed to win, her owners didn't want to breed from her and gave her to the Barrons. “We took three foals, Makarewa Monarch had a second and third in New Zealand, and won in Australia,” Ron Barron said. Of the three visitors from Ken and Tony's barn, Shezza GNP and Don Domingo were both winners. Shezza GNP, one of a trio of three year old fillies to impress at Wyndham, was driven by Blair Orange in the Aon Insurance Mobile. Don Domingo scored in the hands of Matt Anderson who picked up both junior drivers events. From the All Stars stable, Anderson said he is happy to come south for just one drive and two wins was a bonus. His first winner, the Tim Butt-trained The Best Beg gave him special satisfaction. “He'd been doing things wrong, it was good to win on him,” he said of the victory in the Rodgers Garage Ltd Trot. Anderson was driving both horses for the first time and comfortable sitting parked on Don Domingo in the Marshalls Garage 2005 Ltd Pace. “The front wasn't available but I was on the best horse and dictated the speed to a certain degree,” he said, after winning in 2:57.6. The Southland Standardbred Breeders Association mobile mile for mares, third of four heats in the Southern Belle Speed Series, was won in 1:54.9 by Dexter Dunn aboard the Regan Todd-trained Kayteeoh Denario. From one off the gate, Dunn handed up to Matthew Williamson on My Cash, quickly when round to regain the lead and never surrendered. Bred and raced by Mark and Pauline O'Connor, Kayteeoh Denario is from the family of 1:48.4 miler Fake Denario. Kayteeoh Denario started her career with Wayne Adams at Invercargill but Mark O'Connor said she brushed a knee and it was decided to send her for straight line training on the beach.  She is named after the O'Connor's second daughter Kaitlen Therese, an Auckland banker who at Arrowtown a couple of days earlier, celebrated her 26th birthday. Kayteeoh Denario had been set for the mile series in a bid for a good winning mile time and will be back south for the series final at Winton on 9 April. In other highlights from Wyndham:  * three year filly Seaswift Franco lined up against the older horses in the MLT/Pioneer Tavern Handicap and won her first stand start contest in 3:00.1, a track record for females of any age; * Alister Black picked up a training double, starting with Bettor's Delight gelding Jean Luc's win in the non-tote Southern Bred Southern Reared mobile mile for two year olds in 1:57.6. Gavin Smith was the winning driver. Black's second winner was three year old Changeover filly Power Surge who overcame going from the outside of the second line on debut in the stand-start Alan Caldwell Contracting Pace; * another winner on debut was the Brett Gray-trained El Capitan in the Betterthancheddar @ Alabar Mobile for the Dolamite Syndicate, still going after 47 years and one of the oldest ownership groups in the country; * three year old Whittaker backed up his Invercargill win from last week with an even more impressive performance in the Placemakers Invercargill Mobile to make it three from four; * more than 13 years after winning with Cool Ripple at Wyndham, trainer Greg Hunter and driver Andrew Suddaby scored with her daughter Simple Pleasure, in the G T Chamberlain Builders Mobile; * on his first trip to Southland, West Melton six year old The God Botherer was successful in the Shane Matheson Crutching & Shearing trot. Mac Henry

She's been one of the big improvers of the Southland Harness Racing season and Rydgemont Milly won her second race at Ascot Park today. She's trained by Mark Shirley, President of the Invercargill Harness Racing Club and his partner Debbie Larkins.  "I came across her on Horse Trader. I was looking around for something that I could prepare. I contacted Murray Tapper (owner) on the website and he felt she was just going to need time. I said I've got time," said Debbie who works as the Office Manager at a local Doctors practice. Rydgemont Milly is by Monarchy out of the ten win Sundon mare Domination and is the mare's first foal.  "When I first got her I thought he was right about her going to take time. She had a bit of a jibbing habit. The first couple of times I put her in the cart she planted all four legs and I had to walk her home swearing and cursing at her with the reins in my hands. After she did that a few times I thought that I'd put her on the frame. From there she never looked back. For the next few months she was on the frame every day and we long reined her again and spent a lot of time mucking around with just basic stuff." Larkins drove her to win at Gore last month. Junior driver Andrew Fitzgerald drove the mare on the first day of the two day Wyndham meeting with Clark Barron taking over for her other two starts, including today. After the win Larkins said she'll have a couple of weeks off to freshen.  "Just during the week Mark and I felt she didn't feel her usual happy self and Clark made the same comment today. We can't find anything major wrong with her so we'll just give her a wee break."  From the front line the five year old stepped well. She trotted in fourth place early before she was checked by a breaking Bobbin,s finally settling four back on the inside. At the 600 metre mark Barron was able to push off when I've Got This broke and Och Aye The Noo weakened. At the top of the straight she trotted easily into second, challenging pacemaker Sundon's Flyer. She was tapped up by Barron to beat Sundon's Flyer by a length and a quarter with Bobbins coming home well for third.   Debbie Larkins and Mark Shirley with Rydgemont Milly           Photo Bruce Stewart "Clark said she stepped away very well today which has been her nemesis. In the past it's taken a few hundred metres to get her head in the right space. We put ear plugs in again and tried them for the second time and Clark said this time it worked."    Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

There was a bit of word out for first starter Crime Scene at Winton today. The Bettor's Delight three year old trained at Rakauhauka by Clark Barron had impressed at the Wyndham workouts last month, beating some handy types in a good time. "He went extra good that day," said Barron.  Crime Scene is owned by Alan and Liz Sloan who bought him privately as a yearling from Tony Barron. He qualified at his second attempt as a two year old and had one more run at the trials before being turned out. "He was very immature and didn't know what he was doing. He was always going to be better with a bit of time."  In today's Trevor Proctor Painter Mobile Pace he lead out early from barrier one, handed up briefly to Dennis Lillee before taking up the leaders roles again from the 2000 metre mark. At the top of the straight Barron was getting to work on the three year old and true to the Bettor's Delight type he battled hard to the line beating Tact Ollie by one and a quarter lengths.   "He was very lost in front today but that's all new and they've got to learn that." His time today of 2-59.8 for the 2400 metres was respectable for this time of the year.  Crime Scene returning to the birdcage                                                      Photo by Bruce Stewart Crime Scene is well related and it's a family all three Barron boys (Clark, Ken and Tony) know well. He was bred by Tony and is out of the Mach Three mare Gross Misconduct. She won once for Tony in Southland before winning another ten races in Australia. She was brought back to New Zealand when her racing career had finished and Tony bred Southern GNP which was trained by Ken Barron to win four of his nine starts before heading to Australia. The mare's other foal Wrongly Accused also won here before she headed offshore to Australia.  Tony also trained the grandam of Crime Scene, Godet, which won four races for the Smudge Syndicate. The family roots stem back to a pedigree made famous in the province by Peter and Jan Williams. So what's next for Crime Scene?  "It depends on what Alan wants to do but we may give him another race or two to educate him then give him a break. Hopefully he can improve to the next level. Most of the Bettor's Delights wake up eventually so it could be all ahead of him."    Bruce Stewart

A relatively good summer, improved track grooming and the injection of some quality Canterbury horses led to a bumper season for track records in the Southern region. Forty one track records were broken over all southern surfaces during the 2015-2016 season which wrapped up at Invercargill on Queens Birthday Monday - the highest number for many years. And twenty of those were also Southland records. The Club that hosted the most track records for the season was Invercargill where 7 pacers made the list and 6 trotters were added to the record books. The Young Quinn Raceway at Wyndham had 6 pacing and 1 trotting record broken, Central Southland Raceway at Winton had 6 pacers break records. All other southern surfaces got amongst the action, Gore all weather (2 pacers), Omakau (2 pacers and 1 trotter), Roxburgh (1 pacer and 2 trotters), Gore Grass (4 pacers and 1 trotter) and Cromwell Grass (1 pacer and 1 trotter). Heading the class of record breakers was Nek Time who broke the 2400 metre mobile record at Winton in February running 2-53.0 which was also a New Zealand record for a three year old filly. She also broke the 2700 metre mobile record at Invercargill for three year old fillies running 3-19.4.  Meanwhile a number of Southland trainers are heading towards personal best seasons. Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray is currently sitting on 24 winners which is 10 more than his previous best season of 14 in 2015. Gray trains for Australian owners Merv and Meg Butterworth who purchase horses in the province and many stay here initially before heading to Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen in Canterbury, Tony Herlihy in Auckland or to Australian trainers. Clark Barron recorded 22 training wins this season 4 more than his previous best of 18 in 2011 while Ascot Park trainer Brent Shirley who is only in his fourth season of training finished the season with 20 winners - 4 better than his old PB of 16 in 2014. Alister Black was another young trainer to improve his standing with 13 winners. His previous personal best was 8 in 2013. Driver Nathan Williamson was the only driver of note to better his driving PB. He currently has 86 wins on the board, that’s 8 better than the 78 he drove in 2013.   Bruce Stewart - Southland Harness

The $18,500 sixth heat of this years Nevele R Fillies Series was run at the harness racing meeting at Forbury Park on Thursday night and the Southland owned and trained Rakarazor upset a handy field of three year old fillies with a nice staying performance that suggests she is more than a forlorn place chance in the final in May at Addington Raceway. After an early dig for the lead by trainer/driver Clark Barron on Rakarazor which was rebuffed by Scarlett Banner and Gavin Smith, Rakarazor was parked for the first 700 metres before slotting into the one by one behind the well supported RR Sand Dollar. RR Sand Dollar went for home at the 300 metres mark and skipped away by two or three lengths with Love Ova Gold going with her after a wide searching run from back in the field. These two look set to fight out the finish but Rakarazor kept taking ground off the first two all the way up the straight, grabbing first Love Ova Gold and then right in the shadows of the of the winning post RR Sand Dollar. Rakarazor paced the 1700 metres in 2:03, a mile rate of 1:56.4 with closing sectionals of 59 and 28.2 It was the second lifetime victory for the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover from twelve starts but she has also been placed on a further six occasions including a nice third in 1:54.1 only last weekend. Clark Barron felt that RR Sand Dollar having a very hard run had brought his filly into contention. " I knew that RR Sand Dollar was the horse to beat and she had had a hard run so when I got onto her back I knew we wouldn't be far away." " My filly is a really good stayer and she has kept improving with every run lately so with the run we got for the last 1000 metres, we were always going to be a big chance." " I owe a big depth of gratitude for the win to Brent Barclay who has been driving her in her last few starts." " She wasn't really finding the line for me over that last 100 metres or so but Brent has turned her around in that regard so I owe him for getting her to attack the line like she does now," Clark said. Harnesslink Media

The harness racing industry in New Zealand has never been one for the faint hearted. Trainers and drivers have to be fairly resilient and thick skinned to make their mark and that in some cases in our experience leads to situations where people's behaviour and truthfulness can be less than exemplary at times. One trainer/driver who doesn't fit that mold is this season's leading Southland trainer,Clark Barron. Harnesslink has had many contacts with Clark over the years and we have always found his honest direct approach to everything refreshing in todays cynical environment. Recently we sat down with Clark to talk about his career in harness racing, the run of success he is having at the moment and how he sees the future. Harnesslink - I suppose harness racing was always going to be a career option with all the family involvement. Clark - Yes, it was always something that I was around from an early age and I always had the desire to work with horses. Harnesslink - Your father was keen on you having a qualification before you had a go at harness racing. Clark - He thought I needed a trade behind me before going into harness racing  full time so I qualified as a builder before working with the horses. I worked for Ray Harper during my apprenticeship. It took me four years but through all that time I kept my hand in with the horses. I use to go and help Maurice and Val Skinner every weekend and thats where I learned the basics of the game. I use to go and help out dad when I could so there was never much spare time. Harnesslink - Your first fulltime job in harness racing was with your father.  Clark - Yes I went to work for dad when I was twenty one. Dad went the extra mile on my behalf to give me every opportunity to make it as a driver. He convinced most of his owners to put me up so I never lacked for drives when I was starting out. It let me get my name out there and get established and I couldn't thank dad enough for his support in those early days. Harnesslink - Your first winner wasn't long in coming. Clark - I drove my first winner at just my third lifetime drive when Free Trouble won at Forbury Park in 1982. What made it really special at the time was I beat Peter Jones who I always thought was the best driver going around at the time so that added to the thrill of winning my first race. Harnesslink - It wasn't long before you got the drive behind some very talented horses. Clark - Yes, Titan Chip (7 wins) was one of the first really smart horses I drove and he certainly lifted my profile. Right through the 1990s I got to drive a number of very talented horses such as Whale Of A Tale (9wins) and Incredible Fella who dad trained also won nine. Harnesslink - Who is the best colt - filly you have driven? Clark - Prince Rashad - 21 wins ($202,375) was the best of the colts. He was just so tough and never gave an inch in his races The best filly was undoubtedly Lento - 15 wins ($272,110)  She had blinding speed and was easy to drive. In later times I would rate Raksdeal ($121,096) right up there . She had speed but was a great stayer as well. Harnesslink - You got married very early in your career  Clark - Yes I got married in 1983 to Jackie Honestly the best thing I ever did and I wouldn't change a thing. Harnesslink - They tell me your daughter Ellie may be following in the footsteps of her father. Clark - Ellie is training to be a physio at the moment but it wouldn't surprise me at all if  after she is qualified she ended up working with the horses full time. So yes following the path I took when I was her age. Harnesslink - You took out a training license in 1990 Clark - I started out at dads where I had twelve boxes and quickly had a good loyal group of owners around me. The loyalty of the owners in Southland  has always been good and it makes the whole exercise of being a professional trainer that much easier when you have such supportive owners. Harnesslink - Just when you were starting to put some good numbers on the training front in the mid-late nineties, Michael House called with an offer. Clark - Yes and it was such a good offer I had to give it a go. Michael was great for my career and a great boss to work for. He let me keep driving down south so I could maintain my contacts down here but I also got to travel throughout Australia and New Zealand with the stable runners. I learnt plenty in the couple of years I worked for Michael. He is a very accomplished horseman and quite innovative in a lot of ways so it changed my outlook on some things after my time there. I had a lot of success while there,driving 65 winners the second year. Harnesslink - Anywhere you went on your travels that impressed you. Clark - I know the industry in South Australia is not going so well these days but I loved the time I spent there. Probably the pick of the states I spent time in, in Australia. Harnesslink - Any reason you only worked for Michael House for two years. Clark - Jackie and I had made a decision before we went north that we would be settled back in Southland before Allie started school so that was the major reason we only stayed two years. Harnesslink - Any problems getting reestablished as a trainer after two years away. Clark - No, the same ten owners I had been training for before I left quickly came back to me when I moved home. It is that loyalty thing again. Harnesslink - You get involved in the yearling sales at all? Clark - I go every year but I focus on that $ 5,000- $15,000 bracket most of the time. I have had a lot of success over the years buying in that bracket and turning them over for good money down the track. My owners are comfortable in that price bracket and it means if we do miss it is not the end of the world. Quick Relection 1:54.9 ($126,630) is a good example. We only paid $10,000 for dollars for him at the sales and we only lined him up twice before selling him for really good money to the Jimmy Curtin barn. Harnesslink - Are you involved in the breeding side of the industry. Clark - The late Alec McDonald and I were breeding form several mares from the Lento family and the Joyfuljoy family and I have carried on since his death. I usually breed seven or eight a year and I like to go to the proven stallions to give the mares every chance. Last season I sent mares to Somebeachsomewhere, Bettor's Delight and Art Major and Auckland Reactor. Harnesslink - Have you had an Auckland Reactor through the barn yet. Clark - I have broken in a couple and I think they will both make the grade. They are both nice horses. Harnesslink - When did you move to your present property at Rakauhauka Clark - We have been here 14 years. When we came here there was just a couple of loose boxes so the building skills have come into play a bit since. I had seen a number of things on my travels that I thought I would like to incorporate into the setup when I built it so starting from scratch has let me do a lot of these things. It is a very functional setup which I think works really well We have room here for up to twenty five and I am pretty full most of the time. Harnesslink - The team has been on fire lately and you seem to have a bigger team racing than you normally do. Clark - Normally my owners and I would have sold a lot of them but that hasn't happened this year and as a result we have had a big team racing. Two or three have really stepped up which has been really pleasing and I still have a few more to bring out yet. Harnesslink - Big moment last year when you drove your 1000th winner. Clark - I am only the third Southlander to drive a thousand winners after Robert Cameron and my brother Ken but I was pretty happy that I had achieved the 1000 wins while based for most of my career in Southland.  Harnesslink - Any thoughts of slowing down at some point in the near future. Clark - When I turned fifty I stopped travelling outside of Southland to tracks like Forbury. I will still go anywhere in the country if I have the right horse but travelling a lot these days for the smaller meetings is not that appealing any more. I am happy with the size of the team at the moment but will look to downside a bit in the next few years. Harnesslink - Whats your opinion of the changes that HRNZ were proposing for Southland Clark - Very positive actually We are looking to take the bits that we think can really move the industry forward down here. Centralization is a dirty word down here but the idea of having the freedom to structure our whole season down here ourselves is exciting. We have a working group that is working through the issues for the clubs and I think it is an opportunity to secure the future of harness racing in Southland. Harnesslink - Thanks for your time Clark and all the best for the future. Harnesslink Media

Rakauhauka harness racing trainer Clark Barron was unsure about which of his two inform runners was the better winning chance in the SBS Pace at Ascot Park today in Invercargill.   In one corner stood the the Panspacificflight gelding Southern Pursuit who had won his last three races in the manner of a horse headed to the best grades.   In the other corner stood the Grinfromeartoear gelding All Jokes Aside who had won three of his last four in just as impressive fashion as his stablemate.   Clark opted for All Jokes Aside on the driving front with Brent Barclay taking the drive behind Southern Pursuit.   Southern Pursuit jumped to an early lead from barrier five before Clark worked All Jokes Aside around the field and took over after 800 metres.   Not long after Statham and Nathan Williamson moved up to sit on All Jokes Aside wheel and the battle was on.   Head to head from the half mile, the two paced the final bend together and settled down to battle it out.   Statham looked to momentarily put his nose in front before All Jokes Aside nudged back in front and grabbed a narrow advantage he was never to relinquish.   Statham was equally game in holding second after sitting parked the whole way in his first start in 10 weeks while Southern Pursuit got home well late to run third after having trouble with his first experience of the passing lane which tricked him up a touch.   All Jokes Aside paced the 2200 metres in a very sharp 2:40.9, a mile rate of 1:57.6 with closing sectionals of 57.2 and 28.9.   Clark was suitably impressed with his charge's performance.   “He got a good run through early but I had to use him a fair bit to get to the front.”   “I thought I was in a bit of trouble on the corner but he just won't lie down.”   “They can get up beside him but it is damn hard to get past,” Clark said.   Clark was a touch unsure as to where to from here with All Jokes Aside.   “I suppose we will have to see how he handles the standing starts now.”   “I think he will cope with them but we won't know until we line him up on raceday, “ Clark said.   Nathan Williamson was thrilled with the run of the second placed Statham.   “That was his first run since Cup day in November and his condition gave out late but he has gone super.”   “He will derive huge benefit from the run and he should be in for a big campaign this time in,” Nathan said.   All Jokes Aside is just another of the southern trained four year olds who are creating such a big impression this season and looks far from finished winning judging by today's effort.     Harnesslink Media

Rakauhauka trainer Clark Barron continued to add to his excellent season's training tally when he won three consecutive races at Ascot Park today.   Rakaporsche, Sumthin Special and Tight Lipped all won.   From barrier six Rakaporsche was taken straight to the top.   "She's got natural gate speed and the way the draw worked out a lot of people didn't realise that there were only six (runners) off the front and eight on the second row so it was no good going back," said Barron.     Rakaporsche held off a late charge by Likethelook which came home along the inside. The margin was a nose.   "She's taken a lot of runs to come right and even knocked up pretty quick today but she's been pretty fat inside I think."   Rakaporche showed talent as a two year old running third on debut behind Envious before winning her next start at Wyndham in February last year over a mile in 1-58.4. After that win she injured a pastern which required an operation.   She returned to the racetrack just before Christmas but has required five starts before returning to winning form.   Rakaporsche is by Mach Three out of the maiden Mark Lobell mare Rakamobile. Her foals include Rakatoy (1 NZ  and 2 Australian wins), Rakamaz (2 New Zealand and 6 Australian wins) and Only The One (1 New Zealand and 12 Australian wins).   The mare's best performer off the track has been her Artsplace daughter Raksplace who has left Raksdeal, Rakarolla and Raksmach.    The second win for Barron came a race later when Sumthin Special improved from a first start sixth to win the Book A Mini Marquee on Cup Day Mobile Pace.   The four year daughter of Mach Three is out of Borowan, a Bo Scots Blue Chip mare which won two races in New Zealand before winning a further fifteen in Australia.   From seven Barron took Sumthin Special to the lead before handing up to Hot Chilli with 1500 metres to run. When second favourite This Excuse Is Fine started to improved inside the 700, Barron hooked Sumthin Special out of the trail and went up to challenge Hot Chilli. The pair drew away and battled hard in the slush up the straight. Sumthin Special won by a length and a half from a game Hot Chilli.   "As you can see she's quite tough."     Somthin Special is owned by Aucklander Grant Dowdall.   "He's sent a few horses down and this is the first one that's been alright." "We had a lot of problems with her feet.." It was our winter and a lot of trainers had it. Nathan (Williamson) had it with his team. We were picking that the frost got into her feet and she actually had to regrow her feet."      The win was Barron’s sixteenth of the season. His best season in the training ranks was in 2011 when he trained 18 winners. With the team around him this season he’s likely to better that. He's also closing in on his 200th win - after today’s meeting he sits at 199.    Barron's final winner of the day came in the very next race when he adapted front running tactics to win the Kelvin Hotel Mobile Pace with maiden pacer Tight Lipped.    Tight Lipped is owned by Kieran Fahy and Michael Turner. He’s by Changeover out of Letatalk and was bred by Tuapeka Lodge. The pair bought him for $6,000 in 2013. Turner then bought Letatalk in 2014. She’s a half - sister to Reconteur the dam of promising Talkerup who has won her only two starts for Cran Dalgety. Reconteur was recently bought by Macca Lodge as Tuapeka Lodge looks to downsize its operation.  Bruce Stewart  -  Southland Harness Racing  -  Check site here  

Most harness racing pundits ( Us included) thought the Southern Supremacy final at Ascot Park Raceway, Invercargill was a battle between four horses with Tas Man Bromac, Statham, Pulp Fiction and Costa Del Magnifico looking to have a class edge on the rest. No one told I'm Full Of Excuses and the three year old son of Jereme's Jet got his nose in front right on the post to cause a huge upset in the biggest race for three year old colts and geldings in Southland. As expected Statham and Brent Barclay led early but before long Dexter Dunn and Pulp Fiction circled the field and attacked him and grabbed the front with two rounds to go. I'm Full Of Excuses had been in the one by one early before being left parked with a mile to go when Smithy went to the front but he again found the one by one when Tas Man Bromac moved to the death with a lap to go. Tas Man Bromac eyeballed Smithy off the back and grabbed the lead as they turned for home and half way up the straight looked home but bit by bit I'm Full Of Excuses reeled him in and stuck his nose out right on the line to claim a memorable win. Pulp Fiction fought on well for third 1 ¼ lengths away with Smithy the best of the rest 7 ½ lengths away. I'm Full Of Excuses paced the 2700 metres in a very quick 3:22.4 in the windy conditions with closing sectionals of 59.2 and 28.6. Trainer/ driver Clark Barron had an odd doubt or two pre race weather I'm Full Of Excuses was up to some of his opposition. “ I thought a couple may have a class edge on him but I knew the distance would suit him.” “ He won his first couple of starts and that was a handicap in a way as he didn't know a thing about racing yet was up a grade. “ The more ring craft he has got with racing the better he has gone and he won his last start really easily in smart time so I knew he would go good today.” “With the speed on the whole way that really suited him but it took the whole straight to get there,” Clark said. Clark has had I'm Full Of Excuses all the way through. “Ollie (Owner) brought the dam out of the trotting calendar from Dave Clark down here so he has been here from day one.” “He is a real nice looker and I have always had a bit of time for him,” Clark said. Clark had already reached the 1000 wins as a driver earlier in the meeting and capped off a great day with the trainer/driver double in the Southern Supremacy. Harnesslink Media

Last weeks selections at the four harness racing meetings looked ok on paper but it turned into our worst performance since we started doing the ringaround. Todd MacFarlane has bragging rights this week because he was the only tipster to select a winner last week. We did have eleven placings but it is still hard to fathom how we only managed one winner from twenty odd selections. Still as Steve Hansen would say, "flush the dunny" and move on to this week. There are five meetings this week and we have selections for them all. Forbury Park - Thursday night Brad Williamson - Gives The Silver Fox a big chance of taking out race 3 Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Astro Boy was a good each way chance in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Rates Parramatta very hard to beat, also in race 4   Alexandra Park - Friday night Todd Mitchell - Thinks the two year old filly Are You Ready Girl can win race 1 Tony Herlihy - Rates Rub Of The Green a good each way chance in race 4 Scott Phelan - Reckons Prince Of Pops will be very hard to beat,also in race 4 Todd MacFarlane - Gives Twoandahalf Tigers a good each way show in race 5 Steven Reid - Very bullish about the chances of Art Form, also in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) Quite keen on the chances of Chachingchaching in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Thought Makarewa Jake was a big chance in race 8   Addington - Friday night Blair Orange - Rates Bracken Ridge a big winning chance in race 1 Bob Butt - Thrilled with Conon Bridge last week and thinks he will win race 4 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thinks Trouble Rieu will be too smart for them in race 5  Ricky May - Very bullish about the chances of Brilliant Strike in race 9   Motukarara - Sunday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly  - Gives Hit The Spot a good chance fresh up to win race 7 John Dunn - Thinks Geisha Girl can bounce back to her winning ways, also in race 7    Invercargill - Sunday afternoon Tim Williams - Can't see the very smart Lazarus being beaten in race 1 Clark Barron - Thinks he can bring up win number 1000 on Mass Invasion in race 3 Nathan Williamson - Thought Sue Me from barrier one would be hard to beat in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Reckons Leigh Major just needs a little bit of luck from her barrier to win race 11   Harnesslink Media

One of the more select clubs in harness racing in New Zealand is the 1000 wins driver club which is about to get another new inductee in Clark Barron. The modest Southlander has been a quiet achiever on the New Zealand scene since he first started driving in the 1980/1981 season. A member of the renown Barron clan from Southland, Clark didn't go from school straight into harness racing, prefering instead to get a trade qualification behind him first. "I had four years doing a builders apprenticeship with Ray Harper before I got into harness racing full time." "During that four years I use to go and help out at the weekends at Maurice and Val Skinners." " They were really good to me and thats where I learnt the basics of the game," Clark told Harnesslink today. At age twenty one, Clark went to work for his father full time and appreciates the help his dad gave him in getting established. " I got plenty of drives for dad so that certainly helped in getting my name out there." " I drove my first winner at just my third start on Free Trouble at Forbury Park and what made it even more special was I beat one of my idols at the time in Peter Jones," Clark said.  Clark was full of praise for the part Michael House had played in his development. " I worked for Michael for two years and learnt so much while I was there." "Michael let me go south as often as I wanted to keep up all my contacts so he was great to work for," Clark said. Clark was quick to name the two best horses he had been associated with in his career to date. "Prince Rashard was the best colt or gelding that I have driven, he was just so tough." "On the mares side Lento would be number one just in front of Raksdeal," Clark said. Clark was quick to acknowledge the support of his wife and daughter throughout his career. " Jackie has been so supportive over the years and our daughter Allie has been as well." "Allie is a bit like me in that she is getting a physio qualification at the moment but it wouldn't surprise me if she ended up working with horses," Clark said. While two other members of the 1000 wins drivers club in Ken Barron and Robert Cameron started their careers in Southland, Clark will be the first to be based there when he actually reaches the milestone in the next week or two. Clark deserves all the accolades that come his way and hopefully that 1000th win won't be far away. Harnesslink Media

Last week was a mixed bag but two very wet tracks at both Ascot Park and Methven didn't help with the conditions hampering a lot of runners. We managed five winners with the best dividend going to Bob Butt at Methven with Ancient Moonlight while others to select winners were John Dunn, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Scott Phelan and we also had five placings as well. This week there are only the four meetings and we cover them all. Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Gives Soul Hanover a great each way chance in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thinks on his runs to date they can't beat Alta Leroy in race 8    Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Thought Uandmebabe would be hard to beat from her good draw in race 7 Scott Phelan - Very bullish about the chances of Bettor B Amazed, also in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Gives the two year old Shandale a big chance of winning race 8 Steven Reid - Rates Aquickone on her work this week as the one to beat in race 9   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thought Danny Del Vito from barrier one could upset them in race 1 John Dunn - Gives Culinary Delight a big push to return to the winners list, also in race 1 Bob Butt - Looking for the trifecta in race one where Bob thinks Gracious Me will be hard to beat Robbie Holmes - Thought Aile Rouge could get a piece of it at good odds in race 2 Brad Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of the very smart Father Christmas, also in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) Reckons Waikiki Beach will beat Chase The Dream and win race 4 Blair Orange - Thinks Habibti Ivy will match it with the boys in the Derby and win race 5 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Tiger Tara would be improved this week and a each way chance in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Knows Alley Way is up against it this week but a great place chance in race 7 Tim Williams - Keeps giving out Have Faith In Me and he keeps winning, this week in race 8 Ricky May - Rapt with the run of Dalton Bromac last week and won't have him beaten in race 9   Invercargill - Sunday afternoon Brendon McLellan - Reckons Leigh Major must be due a change of luck and can win race1 Steve Richardson(TAB) - Really likes the chances of Denn Nee Nose Best in race 3 Clark Barron - Gave Real Raider a big chance to clear maidens in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Thought Franco Tyson would be a great each way chance at good odds in race 8   Harnesslink Media

Last week wasn't one of our best but the missing link was our southern tipsters who had a shocker at Winton last Saturday. Everybody else was thereabouts with their selections with Jim Curtin, Todd Mitchell, Maurice McKendry and Ricky May tipping us into winners and we had seven placegetters as well. This week there are only four meetings in the country and we have selections for them all. Taranaki - Thursday afternoon John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Gave Sheza Springfield a big chance of clearing maidens in race 3 Peter Scaife - Likes Prime Legal to improve on his first day run and win race 4 Scott Phelan - Rates Better B Amazed as very hard to beat in race 9 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Styx It To Em was right in the zone and would win race 10   Addington - Friday night John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of Boom Gate in race 1 Blair Orange - Gives Goodness Gracious Me a big chance in race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Jaccka Justy would be hard to beat in race 3 Tony Herilhy - Thinks Hug The Wind will be very hard to beat from barrier 1 in race 6 Tim Williams - Very keen on the very smart Have Faith In Me, also in race 6 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Prime Power is at his best and will win race 8   Ascot Park - Saturday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Likes the chances of Geordie Sivad to make it two in a row in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Mokosun from the front line would be hard to beat in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Gives Leigh Major a big chance in race 7 Nathan Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of Statham in race 8 Clark Barron - Not sure if Bonnies Khaleesi can beat Statham but a great place bet, also in race 8   Methven - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes the chances of the first starter Toot Toot in race 1 Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of Ancient Moonlight in race 3 Jim Curtin - Gives Trial Separation a big chance of leaving maidens in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Really keen on the chances of Another Delight, also in race 4 Ricky May - Thought Jack Hammer would be very hard to beat in race 8 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Break Dance is a big chance to make it two in a row in race 9   Harnesslink Media

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