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Smart three-year-old filly Raksdeal is on her way home after suffering a suspensory injury during her lead-up to Saturday night’s Gold Coast Oaks. However, her long-term prognosis is looking good. “She worked super at Albion Park on Wednesday but unfortunately her leg blew up afterwards,” said Clark Barron. We got the vet out straight away and had her leg scanned and luckily it showed there is no hole in the suspensory, just bruising,” he added. “There was a 50/50 chance we could have got her right for the Queensland Oaks but I had a chat with her owner Brendan Fahy and we decided that she was far too good to risk,” said Barron. Barron said that he believes the injury has come as a result of a long season of racing and travel. “It’s obviously a real shame but at least she is probably going to be alright long-term,” highlighted Barron. Raksdeal, who was Group One placed on three occasions during the season, is currently in Auckland and will arrive back at her Southland base on Thursday. “They did a good job of treating her leg in Australia but we will get our vet to reassess her when she is home before sending her to the paddock,” he added. “We have got our fingers crossed that she will make a full recovering and come back good next season and at this stage we have seen nothing that indicates that she won’t,” he enthused. Meanwhile, due to Raksdeal’s unfortunate absence from the upcoming Queensland Oaks, prolific owner Bob McArdle is now contemplating sending Te Amo Bromac over for the Group One feature. A decision is likely to be made after the smart filly, which is now in the care of Barry Purdon, competes at Alexandra Park on Friday night. By Mitchell Robertson

Perhaps the most unlucky horse not to win a Group One race during this harness racing season is tremendous Southland filly Raksdeal. But although there are no Group One races left in New Zealand this season that could still change before the season comes to a close. “I was stoked with her run for third in the Harness Jewels so she will now head to Brisbane for the both the Gold Coast and Queensland Oaks,” confirmed trainer-driver, Clark Barron. “She came through the race well and neither her nor her owner (Brendon Fahy) mind traveling,” he quipped. Raksdeal was Group One placed on three occasions during the season and was responsible for setting up numerous track and New Zealand records. Meanwhile, champion trainer Mark Purdon, who has confirmed he will have no stable representatives competing in the Brisbane carnival, is happy with how star juvenile Follow The Stars has come through his Harness Jewels tragedy. “He is back in Rolleston this week and will have an easy week before starting a buildup toward the Breeders Crown series,” said Purdon on All Stars website. Purdon said that the program leading into the Vic Bred Final was too tough on the youngster. "It would mean he would be over there having to compete in a heat, a semi and a final close together. Too much to ask at this stage. He came through the check at Cambridge in good style" Other All Stars horses that will campaign in Australia include Arya, Iceobar, and Messini, who will all be based with Brent Liley during the Vic bred Series, while Linda Lovegrace and Wanna Play have also returned to Rolleston to enjoy a quiet week before starting their Breeders Crown preparations. By Mitchell Robertson

The 2014 edition of the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on Saturday had all the ingredients for a great days harness racing. Fields full of our future stars made all the more interesting by awkward draws for a lot of the favoured runners. Harness Racing New Zealand and the host club Cambridge had tirelessly promoted the event and the media had played their part with extensive coverage in the lead up to Saturday. To top it all off the weather came to the party with a brilliantly fine warm day for the end of May. So where were all the people? Everything else about the day had been scripted inch perfect but the crowd numbers must have seriously disappointed the organizers. There should have been a real buzz around the course but if anything it was slightly subdued. I seriously doubt that there was anything else that Harness Racing New Zealand or the club could have done to improve the product on show on Saturday. No stone was left unturned and it showed. But still the public never came in the numbers that their efforts deserved. So where to from here with the Harness Jewels? When you think back to the first edition at Ashburton and that cup day like atmosphere that prevailed that day to what we experienced on Saturday and you realise that changes are necessary. Kudos must go to the management at Harness Racing New Zealand for the whole Harness Jewels concept and its development to date. It has been a fantastic success for the industry but appears to have levelled out in its development. Everyone within harness racing has a view of what should be done to take it to the next level so for what its worth here is our two cents worth. (1) The gate charge of $10 has got to go. There is no bigger turn off for the general public than an entry fee to an event such as the Harness Jewels. A average working couple with a couple of children having to pay $40 to just get in the gate is a big turn off for the general public. We are trying to promote the industry to the wider community and hopefully entice some new participants to our industry and we won't do that if we can't get them in the gate. (2) At present the Harness Jewels are rotated between Ashburton and Cambridge. Ashburton to recognize the major part Canterbury plays in the industry in New Zealand and Cambridge does the same for the Waikato and Auckland regions. But there are three major regions in harness racing in New Zealand and the third one Southland is missing out badly at the moment. Before you scoff at the idea of holding a Harness Jewels meeting in Southland lets look at the positives of such a proposal. Harness Racing in Southland is booming at the present. They have some of the best tracks for mile racing in Australasia and a public that love their harness racing. If we were to take the Harness Jewels to Southland, the whole area would get behind the day. Some from the North may question the travel but no one raised it on Saturday as Clark Barron and Kirk Larsen went around at Cambridge. (3) We do need the Australians involved. At present we do not offer any travel subsidy to the invitees but maybe we should for the first pick in each division. We need Australians betting on our races. It needs to become a habit for them. Having some of their own horses to bet on would be a good start. The Harness Racing Jewels have been a winner for our industry but with a little bit of tweaking they could really develop into something really special. Harnesslink media

Congratulations to Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, Todd Mitchell, Joshua Dickie, Jonny Cox, and Nathan Williamson who all produced ‘the goods’ last week. The best result was Katieellen Castleton, who was backed into a closing price of $6.50. Let’s see what good oil the boys have come up with on this massive week of harness racing. Addington - Thursday Colin DeFilippi: Has opted for Strathfield Sun, who recovered well to finish fourth after an early gallop last start - race one. Gavin Smith: Was impressed with Karanga Red Fantasy’s fresh-up second behind Anton Oliver, and think she can go one better in race six tonight. Mark Jones: Has opted for Rock Till You Drop on the back of a couple of impressive workout performances. - race six. Ricky May: Is bullish about the chances of Nevertheless, who has been very good in his last two starts - race seven. Franklin - Friday Jay Abernethy: Likes the chances of Pacific Rapture, who produced a big performance after breaking behind the mobile last start- race six. Simon Lawson: Has opted for the consistent Gold Elite - race eight. Josh Dickie: Rates Kippenberger as a good each-way chance- race nine Forbury Park - Friday Nathan Williamson: Thinks Mr Majestic can break his maiden status in the first race on Friday. Tim Williams: Believes it won’t be long before Mordecai cracks maidens. Probably Friday night- race three. Cambridge Harness Jewels - Saturday Greg Hope: Thinks he has Monbet right back on top of his game and expects him to prove very hard to beat in the 2YO Ruby - race two. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has also opted for Monbet on the back of an impressive workout at Cambridge. - race two. John Dunn: Thinks Venus Serena has a cracking winning chance despite her tricky second-line - race three. David Butt: Thinks One Over Da Moon only needs a touch of luck to be a major player in the 3YO Ruby - race four. Ken Barron: Thinks that if Majestic Time is at her best come Saturday she will be a force to be reckoned with - race four. Anthony Butt: Has opted for smart filly Joannes A Delight, who should strip a better horse this week after missing work last week due to a foot abscess - race five. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Supersonic Miss - race five Todd Mitchell: Is very happy with Prime Power, who will attempt to defend his Jewels title on Saturday - race seven. Matt Markham (HRNZ): Rates Prime Power as the bet of the day on Harness Jewels Day - race seven. Ashburton - Sunday Dexter Dunn: Has a good book of drives on Jewels Day, but has instead opted for Artismee in race two on Sunday Stephen McNally: Thinks Hikoi is closing in rapidly on his maiden win- race five. Terry Chmiel: Thinks last start winner That Guy Finn, can repeat the dose on Sunday - race seven. Sam Ottley: Rates the chances of Mattjestic Rebeck - race nine. Invercargill - Monday Jonny Cox: Is bullish about the chances of King Louie - race five. Clark Barron:  Rates Royal Taz as his best chance of the weekend - race eleven.  

Last week was an adequate one for the ring-around with just, Blair Orange, Nathan Williamson, and yours truly selecting winners. Let’s see if we can add to that tally this week. Forbury Park - Thursday Matthew Williamson: Thinks Cullen's Finest looks well placed in the second race on the card. Blair Orange: Has opted for Doves Veecee, who is now with Jamie Gameson. He was an impressive trialist earlier in the month and looks hard to beat - race five. Ricky May: Rates the fresh-up Even Flo as a very good each-way bet - race seven. Mark Jones: Has opted for capable two-year-old Pomme Roy, who was unlucky in last week’s Sires Stakes Final. Expect him to lead and win race nine. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Rates Berlusconi as his best bet of the week - race four. Simon Lawson: Thinks that The Wonkey Donkey, with manners, can win race six on the card. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for smart three-year-old Cyclone Prince, who looks well placed on Friday night - race eight. Anthony Butt: Thinks smart filly Joanne’s A Delight can lead and win the Sales Series Final - race nine. Jay Abernethy: Has opted for The Early Wicket, who finished a nice second on debut - race twelve. Josh Dickie: Thinks Katieellen Castleton can provide some value in race twelve. Addington - Friday David Butt:  Expects One Over Da Moon, who was sensational in the Northern Derby after making an early break, to prove too good in race five on the card. Colin DeFilippi:  Has opted for smart mare Elusive Chick, who is now back with Derek and Adele Jones. She has trialled up super in preparation for her resumption and looks the one they all have to beat- race six. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Elusive Chick - race six. Samantha Ottley:  Thinks the consistent Spell, who has finished second in her last three starts, can breakthrough for her second win - race eight. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Rates the chances of Lucky VC, who downed a smart type in Mach Winger at a recent trial - race ten. Winton - Sunday Jonny Cox:  Has opted for stable newcomer Pay Me Quick, who looks a good each-way chance in the maiden Claimers Final - race two. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Spash Cola, who produced a herculean performance to win her debut, can repeat the dose - race four. Clark Barron: Has selected Strategic Miss, who looks a strong chance in an average C0-1 line-up - race five. Andrew Armour: Thinks Trial By Jury, who finished second on debut, can go one better on Sunday - race six. Addington - Sunday Dexter Dunn: Expects Delightful Dash, who downed a nice field last start, to win again on Sunday - race two.  

Exciting comeback pacer Raging Bull may be having his first start for some 19 months at Addington on Friday night, but his new trainer John Parsons is confident that he can win, despite the fact that he has had no trials or workouts in preparation for his resumption. “He is as fit as I can have him without having a run under his belt,” said Parsons. “He is a five-year-old stallion having his first run in a long time, so you wouldn’t quite know what he is going to do on raceday, but on his work he is definitely up to winning,” he added. Raging Bull, who hasn’t raced since finishing second to superstar pacer Christen Me on October 12 2012, has been in work with Parsons for four months after standing a season at Dancingonmoonlight Stud, where he served a book of 32 mares. “He went in a suspensory and was retired to stud, but time is a good healer and at this stage his legs seems good. However, he is still a day-to-day proposition,” he warned. The bulky son of Christian Cullen and San Sophia (Artsplace) was sent to Parsons by his owner Haleen David, who recently bought out the stallions other connections. “Haleen rung me up out of the blue one day and said he wanted to try him on the beach,” said Parsons. “At this stage I am very glad that he did,” he enthused. Raging Bull, who was formerly trained by Cran Dalgety, has had 10 starts to date for five wins and five seconds. However, since Raging Bull disappeared off the harness racing scene, we have worked out just how good the only three horses that have ever beaten him are - Christen Me, Smolda (x3), and Ideal Scott. That’s not a bad form line when you consider he will contest a C2-3 on Friday night. “On his work he is as good as any harness horses I have been involved with,” said the dual-coded John Parsons. That’s no mean feat when you consider that Parsons has trained multiple cup class performers including Harnett’s Creek, Scorching, and more recently, Artiface. “But I am not getting too carried away at this stage,” said Parson. “We will just take things as they come and try and get Friday out of the way before making any rash plans,” he concluded. Raging Bull has drawn the outside of his gate for his resumption at Addington at 8.35pm, with some handy enough types inside him including Anton Oliver, Jango Fett, Scotlynn Jiggs, and Karanga Red Fantasy. Meanwhile, Southland trainer-driver Clark Barron has indicated that he is keen to take his star filly Raksdeal to Queensland for the Oaks provided that she comes through the Harness Jewels well. By Mitchell Robertson  

Knapdale horsewoman Kathaleen O’Connor nailed her first training victory when Ronnoco was successful at Invercargill today. Driven beautifully by his former trainer Robin Swain, Ronnoco burst up the passing lane to win by 1 & ¾ lengths over The Witch Doctor and Vera’s Delight. For Ronnoco, who was bred, is owned, and is now trained by O’Connor, it was his third victory from 43 starts. O’Connor, who is in her first season of training, had lined up Ronnoco on eight occasions before his breakthrough win today. The six-year-old gelding is the only horse that the horsewoman has raced as a trainer. Kathaleen is the cousin of the late Brian O’Connor and has taken over his green and tartan colours. The following race was taken out by Westmelton Willie, who led all of the way to give Timaru’s Tracey Healey her first training success of the season and her driving success since 1999. But Healey wasn’t the only driver who made it to the winners circle after a long absence as Earl Swain, who was victorious aboard Kiwi Kex, enjoyed his first driving success since 2011 in an earlier race. Meanwhile, Clark Barron crept closer to joining the 1000 win club by driving a double on the eight race card. By Mitchell Robertson

After setting up two New Zealand records in the north and being gunned down for second in both races, Raksdeal did some record breaking of her own in heat two of the Nevele R Fillies Series at Ascot Park on Saturday.  Kept out of the early speed duel between Luminesce and Goodness Gracious Me, trainer-driver Clark Barron sent the tough Western Ideal filly to the with a lap to go, keeping the pace on, before careering away for an ultra impressive victory. At the end of the 1700 metres she was two and a quarter lengths in front of Goodness Gracious Me with a further length and three quarters back to Luminesce. The 1700 metres was covered in 2-01.4 - a mile rate of 1-54.9. It was a new track record in three categories; open grade with Zapp holding the previous record of 2-03.2 (2010), a new mares record held by Hannah 2-01.7 (2011) and the three year old fillies record held by Flying Anvil of 2-02.5 (2013) also fell. Raksdeal is not eligible for the NZ Yearling Sales Fillies Final on Friday, so will instead take in a Harness Plus race at Wyndham next Sunday. Meanwhile, Pulp Fiction, who was successful on debut in the two-year-old event at Invercargill on Sunday, will head to the Sapling Stakes at Ashburton in a fortnight. "We've had a couple of good two-year-olds; Le Sol and Monaghan but this guy is lengths better. But it's early days yet and we've got to keep our feet on the ground,” said trainer Tony Stratford “He's got good gate speed and he's a beautifully balanced and gaited horse. And he can go forward when you like in a two year old race. Tim (Williams) never pulled the ear plugs he was doing it that easy. So we've still got a bit up our sleeves." By Mitchell Robertson

In the space of half an hour Natalie Rasmussen drove the winner of the Group One Alabar Sires Stakes Fillies Championship with Willow then backed up in the Listed  Pgg/Wrightson Sales Open Final. Collectively the stakes add up to $410,000 so it would be fair to say it has been a great day out for the Australian driver of Blacks a Fake fame. Natalie also shares in the training partnership with partner Mark Purdon. The wins however had very different drives with Willow a Bettors Delight filly racing on the markers when three back on the inside. That was the place to be with a frenetic pace up front being made by Raksdeal who was game in defeat running second. The race had plenty of action early with Ideal Belle breaking after 100 metres and then Venus Serena shying at the marker Ideal Belle hit which caused the field to break apart early. Clark Barron ripped to the front with Raksdeal  and hit the go button. On a National record of 2.39.14 Willow was able to amble off the markers inside the final 300 metres and run down the gallant Raksdeal with stable mate of Willow Rocknroll Arden running third. “She’s such a good filly. It was a blessing in disguise when Blair pushed me onto the rails, with the pace that was on it was clearly the place to be” said a very calm Rasmussen. Willow was having her first start at the “Park” remains unbeaten in four starts now and has Group One glory next to her name. Thirty minutes later Rasmussen and Isaiah completed the memorable day for the All Stars stable who had already won with Sabellian earlier in the day. Off the the mobile arm stable mate Alleluia crossed favourite Locharburn and then Isaiah took the lead off him. “He’s much better in front and Mark and I both thought our horses had the better  tactical speed to beat Locharburn out and that proved to be the case. My fella can pull a bit back in the field so I was happy to be out in front” said Rasmussen. Isaiah a colt by Art Major ran the 2200m in 2.40.75  a 1.57.6 mile rate for the trip. In the process he recorded win number 7 and amassed stakes of over $400,000. Justin Le Lievre

The Barry Purdon trained Ideal Belle has powered into contention for the upcoming three-year-old fillies features with a brilliant New Zealand record-breaking win in the last heat of the Alabar Sires Stakes at Alexandra Park last night. After a few nervous moments when Ideal Belle paced roughly in behind the leader, driver Tony Herlihy settled the American Ideal half-sister to Five Card Draw in the trail, before coming to the outside in the straight to out finish Raksdeal (Clark Barron), who was super in second after setting up the break-neck speed. Ideal Belle paced the 1700 metre journey in a blistering 2-00.4 (mile rate: 1-54.0), which not only smashed the Three-Year-Old fillies record by a second, but also shaved 0.1 of a second off Sir Lincoln’s all-comers New Zealand record. The runs of Ideal Belle and Raksdeal set up for what should be a brilliant four-way clash between those two fillies and Venus Serena and Libertybelle Midfrew on New Years Eve. By Mitchell Robertson  

Top Otago-based reinsmen Matthew Williamson and Jonny Cox yesterday provided Otago with their first ever win in the Inter-Provincial Challenge at Invercargill’s Ascot Park.  First run in 1989, Otago, up until yesterday, were the only province (team) that compete in the challenge that had never won it. Williamson was successful aboard Deano Robyn and finished second with Free Dreams, while Cox was victorious with Canardly Lover, giving the team a combined total of 32 points. Canterbury (John and Dexter Dunn) were second on 25 points, while Mid Canterbury (John Hay and Gerard O’Reilly) were third after accumulating 21 points. While Williamson and Cox took out the team division, Dexter Dunn was the individual winner (24) narrowly downing Matthew Williamson (22). David Butcher representing the Waikato was a distant third of 12 points. Below is a list of the past winners: Year Individual Winner Team Winner 1989 Hamish Hunter Southland 1990 Kirk Larsen Southland Under 20 1991 Anthony Butt Canterbury 1992 Anthony Butt Waikato 1993 Ken Barron Southland    1994 Trevor Walsh Mid Canterbury 1995 Jan Gould Central Districts 1996 Greg Cowie Mid Canterbury 1997 Ali Malcolmson Mid Canterbury 1998 Hamish Hunter Southland 1999 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2000 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2001 Clark Barron Southland 2001 Stephen Doody Southland 2002 Maurice McKendry Auckland 2003 Peter Ferguson Waikato 2004 Clark Barron Southland 2005 Ricky May Central Districts 2006 Brent Barclay Southland 2007 Mark Jones Waikato 2008 Ricky May Canterbury 2009 Dexter Dunn Canterbury 2010 Dexter Dunn Southland 2011 David Butcher Waikato 2012 Blair Orange Canterbury By Mitchell Robertson

On a relatively placid day of racing at Invercargill on Sunday, the Inter-provincial Drivers’ Challenge will be the clear highlight. First run in 1989, the Inter-Provincial Challenge has been won by every province that competes in, most have won it on multiple occasions, apart from Otago that is, they are still sitting on a duck egg. Out to change that on Sunday are gun reinsmen Matthew Williamson and Jonny Cox, who, no offence to previous Otago reinsmen, are probably two of the best representatives they have ever had. “Between me and Jonny we look to have some decent drives, so hopefully we can break the drought,” said Williamson. “We shouldn’t go any worse than the Highlanders anyway,” he laughed. Williamson has a good book, headlined by Free Dreams and Deano Robyn, while Cox, on paper, looks to have a few place chances as well as a good winning chance in the form of Canardly Lover. “I think Free Dreams is my best chance for the day,” confirmed Williamson. “He is quite a nice trotter and I am fortunate enough to know the horse a little bit, whereas a lot of the other fellas will be driving their steeds for the first time,” he added.  The other teams competing in the 25th running of the Inter-Provincial Challenge are: AUCKLAND: Z Butcher, S Phelan WAIKATO: P C Ferguson, D J Butcher CENTRAL DISTRICTS: A Poutama, B Weaver CANTERBURY: D J Dunn, J R Dunn MID-CANTERBURY: G D O’Reilly, J Hay OTAGO: M Williamson, J W Cox SOUTHLAND: N P Williamson, T M Williams. Interprovincial Drivers Championship Winners Year Individual Winner Team Winner 1989 Hamish Hunter Southland 1990 Kirk Larsen Southland Under 20 1991 Anthony Butt Canterbury 1992 Anthony Butt Waikato 1993 Ken Barron Southland    1994 Trevor Walsh Mid Canterbury 1995 Jan Gould Central Districts 1996 Greg Cowie Mid Canterbury 1997 Ali Malcolmson Mid Canterbury 1998 Hamish Hunter Southland 1999 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2000 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2001 Clark Barron Southland 2001 Stephen Doody Southland 2002 Maurice McKendry Auckland 2003 Peter Ferguson Waikato 2004 Clark Barron Southland 2005 Ricky May Central Districts 2006 Brent Barclay Southland 2007 Mark Jones Waikato 2008 Ricky May Canterbury 2009 Dexter Dunn Canterbury 2010 Dexter Dunn Southland 2011 David Butcher Waikato 2012 Blair Orange Canterbury   By Mitchell Robertson

Wyndham trainer Greg Hunter produced a huge training performance to win with two fresh-up runners at today’s Riverton Trotting Club meeting at Ascot Park. The first of those winners was Press On, who upset at odds of $29.60 in the $15,000 Sir Lincoln Riverton Cup. Press On, a five-year-old son of Elsu, was given a soft run on the inside by driver Dexter Dunn before diving up the inside to claim favourite Comply Or Die in the shadows of the post. Press on, who was now won four races, is also co-owned and bred by Hunter. The second runner to carry Hunter’s Blue, Pink and Grey colours to victory was Twilight Franco, who was hugely impressive, winning for Clark Barron by three lenghts. It was the four-year-old’s third win at just her sixth start. Her only time out of the money to date resulted in a seventh to Safedra in the Southland Oaks. Other impressive winners at the meeting were Raksdeal, who blitzed her rivals by 7 & ¾ lengths, and Experiment, who made it three wins in concession when easily accounting for his rivals. It is likely the latter will make an appearance at next week’s New Zealand Cup meeting. Meanwhile, Awesome Arden, who was claimed for just $2000 after finishing second in a heat of the maiden ‘Claim it and Race it’ series on October 20, showed just how effective claiming races can be by winning today and pulling in $3,685 for his new owners and trainer Brent Shirley. There will be a further two claiming races staged in the South next week, so if you see a horse you like – get some mates together, form a syndicate, put in a claim, and have some fun! By Mitchell Robertson

Top filly Venus Serena, who won more Grand Slams than her namesakes last season, will resume at Forbury Park on Sunday in the first heat of the Alabar Sires Stakes for three-year-old fillies, and while her trainer Geoff Dunn is confident the daughter of Mach Three will once again be a dominant force this season, there are a couple of factors that have him slightly worried. “Clark Barron’s filly (Raksdeal) has drawn one, and she possesses great gate speed and loves to run them along, so if we go out of the gate and have a look it may turn into a bit of a speed duel, which would be less than ideal first up,” said Dunn. “She has been very good in winning her last two trials, and the times have been okay, but as we all know there is nothing quite like race fitness, and that is something some of the others have on their side,” he added. On the other hand, Dunn is worried that if they go back on Venus Serena, impressive filly Willow will drop straight in to trail Raksdeal, which will in turn make her very hard to beat. “It really is quite a tricky situation,” said Dunn. “But I am still confident my filly has a class edge on them. Dunn said that Sunday’s outing is likely to be Venus Serena’s only run in the South before heading to the North Island for a campaign starting on December 6th. Meanwhile, the consistent Comply Or Die looks the one they all need to beat in the co-feature for the day, the $15,000 Selwyn Paul Memorial Tuepeka Cup. The five-year-old son Of Live Or Die has good form behind the likes of Blazin N Cullen, Bettor Rock On, and last week’s Gold Coast Cup winner, Field Officer, and on recent form, looks the winner. Others who shape as chances are Devil May Care, Bettor’s Brigadier, Cherokee Charlie, and Better To Be Bad. Venus Serena and Comply Or Die should win the first two legs of what looks like a very easy Quaddie, with Someardensomewhere and Brindy, also looking clear standouts in the third and fourth legs. Another I like, on what is quite a good day of racing, is Red Hot Toddy, who has been ultra impressive in her last two runs. She competes in race six at 2.34pm, and should not only win, but also post a good time for the one mile journey. By Mitchell Robertson

The harness racing community mourn the loss of Alexander (Alex) Robert McDonald who passed away at Invercargill Hospital on Wednesday night aged 68. McDonald, who was Mosgiel bred and raised, had been a long time supporter of the industry not only as a breeder but also as an owner and trainer. His greatest achievements in the sport came through two of his foundation mares Lento (15 wins, $240,000) and Rockne Del (four wins). Lento, a top mare who McDonald trained himself, was purchased as a weanling for $1000, while Rockne Del was purchased as a yearling for a mere $1500. Back in 2011, McDonald told the Southland Times that he didn’t have a thousand bucks to spend on Lento, only five hundred. “Lorraine Coutts (wife of Keith Coutts) said she would add another five hundred for her half share and we raced her together.” McDonald trained her for 12 wins, including two in Australia. Henry Skinner trained her for three wins. McDonald later bought Lento outright. He and Mrs Coutts had gone foal about, McDonald breeding Whanau. Lento was later sold to Robert Famularo of Cavalla Bloodstock. Whanau, a daughter of Sands A Flyin, won 10 races and 137,726; her biggest win came in $100,000 Nevele R Fillies Final. She was trained by Henry Skinner and on that occasion was driven by Peter Jones. Through Lento grew the relationship of Alex McDonald and Clark Barron, who drove the bonny mare to numerous victories. “I have been involved with Alex for the last twenty years,” said his good friend and long time racing partner, Clark Barron. Although it was Lento who ignited the McDonald and Barron partnership, it is McDonald’s other foundation mare, Rockne Dell, that has given them the most success of late. “I trained Joyfullbelle (Road Machine – Lento) to win eight races ($58,798) for Alex and then later bought a share in both her and Whanau for breeding,” said Barron. “We race horses together under the Miracle Lodge Syndicate,” he added. Joyfullbelle has been a great producer for both McDonald and Barron in recent years, having produced the likes of multiple Group winner Joyfuljoy and the 2011 Southland Oaks winner Jumpforjoy. “We had two starts with Joyfuljoy, before John Curtin (JC International) bought her for Ian Dobson for $100,000.” Joyfuljoy was then placed in the hands of Mark Purdon, of who she won 11 races and $339,612 for, before being on sold by JC International to J Alfen of North America. Jumpforjoy, however, raced out her career with Clark Barron and as well as winning the Southland Oaks, won six other races and placed third in the Harness Jewels. She is now in foal to Somebeachsomewhere. “You never really think about what you are going to say in interviews like this one,” said Baron. “He has certainly had a huge impact on my career. “He was a very genuine fella, and was straight up and down. He said what he thought.” “Through all our dealings, very few bad words were said between one another,” Barron added. Although McDonald has passed, don’t expect his breed too. “We promised him we would carry the breed on so hopefully we can produce a few more good horses yet. We will certainly be doing our best,” concluded an emotional Barron. As well as a passionate harness racing enthusiast. McDonald was also a former farmer, shearer and meat worker. His funeral will be held on Monday (July 22) at 2pm. Mitchell Robertson

It may not have been in record-breaking time, like the last New Zealand harness racing driver to reach 1000 wins - Dexter Dunn - but it was still an outstanding achievement when 'The King' Ken Barron brought up his milestone at tonight's (Thursday April 11) Forbury Park meeting.

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