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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

Last week was an improvement from the week before with our tipsters selecting six winners along with eight placegetters so not far away from a great result. Clark Barron, Todd Mitchell, Zac Butcher, John Curtin, Matthew Williamson and Maurice McKendry all got their selections home first to carry on the good strike rate that most of that group have. This week we are covering the four meetings with declared fields but we would suggest that anyone backing a horse at Westport on Friday follows their selection through to Reefton on Sunday. Forbury - Thursday night Terry Chmiel - Gives Moment Of Love a big chance of turning her form around and winning race 4 Brad Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of Mokosun in race 9   Westport - Friday afternoon Jim Curtin - Likes the chances of Insignificant even off 30 metres in race 2 Robbie Holmes - Thought As Kiwi As was due a change of luck and could win race 4 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Breakdance can turn her form around and win race 5 Steve Richardson (Tab) - Thought the durable Ideal Arden would be hard to beat in race 7 John Dunn - Rates Geisha Girl a huge chance to make it three in a row, also in race 7 Bob Butt - Gives Georgie Mach a big winning chance even from the unruly mark in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Maurice McKendry - Reckons Yagunnakissmeornot can carry on her winning way in race 2 Blair Orange - Thinks Barry with a drop back this week would be very hard to beat, also in race 2 John Curtin - Gives Chase The Dream a big chance of upsetting Lazarus in race 3  Scott Phelan - Thought First Home, even from barrier eight could upset them in race 4  Tim Williams - Rates Dream About Me a big chance to make it three from three in race 5 Todd Mitchell - Gives Prime Power a great chance of going back to back in race 7 Ricky May - Thinks Jason Rulz is a great place chance from barrier two in race 8 Tony Herlihy - Rates San Diego Love coming in fresh a big chance of winning race 9   Gore - Sunday afternoon Brendon McLellan - Gives Taranto a good chance on grass to win race 2 Matthew Williamson - Thought Falcon Asset would be hard to roll in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Statham has kept improving lately and will win race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Thought with a drag into the race Viscountess could get some of it, also in race 7 Clark Barron - Gives Flight Deck a good chance of making a winning debut in race 10

Another one of those weeks where we were there abouts without getting the rub of the green, with a lot of the horses selected by our tipsters having little luck. Five managed to get home first but another five ran second which about sums up the luck at the moment. Blair Orange, Robbie Holmes, Tony Herlihy, Nathan Williamson and the boss John Curtin all picked winners and special mention for the boss who is going for three in a row this week. Our tipsters have gone near and far this week from Winton in the south to Tabcorp Park Melton in Melbourne. Winton - Thursday afternoon Brad Williamson - Rates Mokosun a big winning chance even off 20 metres in race 4 Clark Barron - Thinks Mass Invasion is overdue a change of luck and can win, also in race 4   Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Princess Arts from the draw could roll the hotpot On The Town in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Gives Repeat After Me a great chance of running in three in race 9     Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Reckons Unmissable is ready to win her second race at Manawatu in race 5 Peter Scaife - Rates Mach Cullen from barrier one a big chance to turn his form around and win race 7   Amberley - Friday afternoon Bob Butt - Rates last weeks impressive debutant Supershakes hard to beat in race 3 Robbie Holmes - Gives Bridget Blue Chip from her handy draw a chance to upset them in race 5 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought Always Yours would take all kinds of stopping in race 6 Jim Curtin - Rates Star Of Dionysis back to the grass a big chance to win race 8   Auckland - Friday night Steven Reid - Thought  Clarius could continue his good form and win race 1 Tony Herlihy - Likes Walkinshaw to improve on his debut run and win race 4 Maurice McKendry -  Thought his two year old Shandale would have a big show, also in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Our Dainty Lady very hard to beat in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Better B Amazed will be awlfully hard to beat in race 9   Ashburton - Saturday afternoon Tim Williams - Rates Chase The Dream a big chance to win the Sapling Stakes on debut (Race 5) Blair Orange - Thought Goodness Gracious Me could top off a string of placings with a win in race 9   Tabcorp Park Melton - Saturday night Ricky May - Was rapt with "Terrors" run last week and thinks he can win the Hunter Cup   Wairarapa - Sunday Afternoon Todd Mitchell - Rates Te Kawau very difficult to beat in the Wairarapa Cup.   Waikouaiti - Sunday Afternoon Nathan Williamson - Rates Grey Power a big chance on the grass to win race 5 Matthew Williamson  - Thinks if Bet's Sun trots all the way he can beat his brother in race 5 Craig Thornley - Likes the chances of Dream Big to bounce back and win race 8.   Harnesslink Media

The second heat of the Southern Belle Speed Series for mares, run at Ascot Park on Thursday, was a triumph for Makarewa trainer Austin Stack who shares ownership of the winner Sheeza Shark with Terry Ashby and Neil McDiarmid. Ashby paid $9000 for Sheeza Shark at the 2012 Sales and invited Stack and McDiarmid in. When she ended her three year old season with a record of three wins and three placings from six starts, Stack named the speed series as an ideal target for her second campaign. The win guarantees her a start in the $20,000 final at Winton on 14 March, won last year by Helena Jet. Nathan Williamson drove Sheeza Shark, his 498th New Zealand winner. Earlier in the day, trotter Poppymalda was his 497th when she scored her second win in six starts. She is trained by Williamson who also has an ownership share. He was the only driver to get two wins but his father Phil, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and Tony Stratford trained two each. Springbank Sam won the group three Southern Lights for Phil Williamson while stablemate Father Christmas returned from six months away from racing to record his fourth win in eight starts. Williamson said the four year old is still maturing but will be given the chance to make the Jewels. “If he wins enough money he'll be there,” Williamson said. Purdon and Rasmussen won the group three Northern Southland Cup with Isaiah and produced Take The Sky to win his third from five starts, despite going from the outside of the second line and being caught wide for a lot of the 2200 metre journey. Take To The Sky was bred by Brian West and is raced by his company Studholme Bloodstock Limited. Bonnie's Khaleesi was the first of Stratford's two winners and credited Clark Barron with his 990th New Zealand driving win. S he is the fourth foal of Bonnie Lass whose 10 wins included the 2001 Northern Southland Cup. Bonnie Lass was prepared for all but one of her wins by Brent McIntyre, who shares in the ownership of Bonnie's Khaleesi. She was his second winner in a week following the success of Levi Jade at Wyndham two days earlier. In his first start since the Sires Stakes Final in November, Stratford's second winner Pulp Fiction won the battle of arguably Southland's best three year old colts when he came off the back of Costa Del Magnifico and beat him by three lengths in 2:41.7 for the mobile 2200. It was the last race of the day but Dexter Dunn's first winner. Glenn Scott from Kaiapoi gained his first win at Ascot Park when Take After Me not only won but picked up a harness plus bonus as well. From the 21st crop of the legendary Holmes Hanover, Take After Me is raced by Scott's parents, Fred and Janice. Mainland Banner's fourth foal Rocker Band won at her second start, having been narrowly beaten on debut at the Wairio meeting by Rakarolla, half sister to 1:54.9 miler Raksdeal. Mac Henry - Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand  

The racing programme is finally getting back to something like normal this week although there is no meeting in the Auckland/ Waikato region so the number of selections this week reflects that. Our "holiday" selectors were in good form with Scott Phelan, Ricky May, Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, Steve Richardson, Bob Butt, Nathan Williamson, Matthew Williamson and Brad Williamson all tipping out winners with Brad getting bragging rights on the back of Nureyev paying $10:90 at Winton. This week we have four meetings in the country covered with some interesting selections from our tipsters. Northern Southland - Thursday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Bullish about the chances of Acolyte in race 4 Bob Butt - Thinks that with an ounce of luck Justalittlebettor can win race 5 even from barrier 8 Terry Chmiel - Reckons Millwood Pink Lady from barrier two will be very hard to beat, also in race 5 Ricky May - Rates Rocker Band very hard to hold out if she gets clear air in race 6 Brendon McLellan - Reckons with his dropback to C1 Sammy The Bull can win race 8 Nathan Williamson - Gives Dwindle Mist a real chance of upsetting the favourites in race 9 Clark Barron - Thought even in a red hot field, Twilight Franco could upset them in race 10    Otaki - Friday afternoon John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates the chances of recent northern import Balius in race 6 Scott Phelan - Likes the chances of Sweet Art off the front mark to win race 7 Steven Reid - Thought Clarius was a chance to upset them in race 8 Peter Scaife - Thought Playaway was due a change of luck and could win race 10   Addington - Friday night Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Royal Caroline a big chance of leaving maidens in race 1 Craig Thornley - Thought Supreme Gem even from barrier 6 at the mile could win race 3 Robbie Holmes - Gives Petite Royal a chance of turning her form around and winning race 4 Blair Orange - Quite bullish about the chances of Bracken Ridge in race 6  Steve Richardson (TAB) - Likes the chances of Big Lucy winning first up for the season in race 8 Brad Williamson- Thought Monty Python could make it three in a row in race 9   Oamaru - Sunday Afternoon Matthew Williamson - Rates Brads Kenny a huge chance on his home track to win race 5

Anyone and everyone in the harness racing industry in Canterbury were in agreement about one horses's chances this weekend and that horse was Rocker Band. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover from the former champion mare Mainland Banner 1:55.1 ($684,579) has always been held in high regard by trainer Mark Jones. A recent trial win at Ashburton where Rocker Band won by 12 lengths with a closing quarter in a sensational 25.3 meant punters wanted nothing else when she made her debut at Winton yesterday over a mile.  However while most in Canterbury thought Rocker Band was a home run, Southern trainer Clark Barron was firmly of the opinion that his debut runner Rakarolla who is also by Rocknroll Hanover would not be a pushover. Whilst talking to Harnesslink mid week for his pick for the weekly ringaround, he mentioned that Rocker Band wouldn't have it all her own way and he expected a big run from the half brother to last season's outstanding filly Raksdeal 1:54.9 ($121,096) When the heavens opened prior to the races yesterday the track was affected but held up well overall. Clark took Rakarolla straight to the front from barrier 4 and immediately put the foot to floor while driver Mark Jones settled Rocker Band third last from her second row draw. Clark kept Rakarolla rolling in front at a quick tempo while Mark bided his time until the 600 metres mark where he set Rocker Band alight and she quickly looped the field to level up to Rakarolla as they turned for home. Just as everyone thought Rocker Band was going to stroll away for an easy win, Rakarolla dug deep and refused to go away. Come the finishing line Rakarolla still held a neck advantage and was holding Rocker Band with eight lengths away to Beaudiene Beaut Babe in third. Rakarolla cut out the mile in slushy conditions in an impressive 1:57.9 with closing sectionals of 58.7 and 29.2 Clark has had Rakarolla in his stable since he was broken in as a yearling. " He is such a lovely pacer, just like his half sister Raksdeal."  " I have always liked him but he did have a few tricks early on. " He is just a big dumb horse who has taken time to organize," Clark said. Qualifying as a 2 year old, Clark gave Rakarolla a few runs at trials and workouts before spelling him. This time in Clark has again given Rakarolla  a handful of workouts and trials and he was happy heading into Saturday. "He has been running 3.3 - 3.4 for the 2400 metres and doing it easy but the reason I wanted to start him over a mile was to try to wake him up." "I had to keep at him yesterday to keep his mind on the job but as you saw he is a really good stayer," Clark said. Rakarolla is now going to have a week off to freshen up before Clark turns his attention to his racing programme. " The main aim for now is to qualify for the Southern Supremacy finals and that's what I will aim him for in the New Year," Clark said. Bred and raced by longtime stable client Brendon Fahy, Rakarolla is from the race winning Artsplace mare Raksplace and Clark has trained her first two foals. "Raksdeal and Rakarolla are her first two foals but the third, a colt by Mach Three is with Peter Hunter who Brendon has a few with as well." "By all accounts he goes pretty good as well," Clark said. Judging by yesterdays debut run Clark can look forward to a very profitable season with the son of Rocknroll Hanover. Harnesslink Media  

We must apologize for last weeks absense due to the staff member responsible being off ill and the "boss" not picking up the slack. It might have been an opportune time for a break anyway as our tipsters were digging themselves a bit of a hole in the last week or two. There are five meetings this week and we have selections for them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Zac Butcher - Thought Georgies Smile from the ace would be hard to roll in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very keen on the chances of Thanks Shane also in race 2 Scott Phelan - Reckons Santana Jewel is way overdue to win one in race 4 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks if the breaks go her way that Simply Stunning can upset them in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Likes the chances of The Moonraker clearing maidens in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Ricky May - Thinks Dalton Bromac should continue the picket fence formline in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Rates The Fascinator a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Reckons Classical Art can keep the winning streak intact in race 5 Blair Orange - Likes the chances of Mighty Flying Major to be a "major" player in race 7 Tim Williams - Not surprisingly Tim thinks that Have Faith In Me will win, also in race 7 Steven Richardson - Has gone a touch rougher with Express Stride to upstage the other two in race 7 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Yagunnakissmeornot can make it six from six at Alexandra Park in race 10 Gerard O'Reilly - Is confident that Zin Zan will strip a lot fitter this week and can win race 11   Addington - Friday night Robbie Holmes - Likes Tehoro Ruby from barrier 1 to break out of maidens in race 1 Bob Butt - Thought if Justalittlebettor could reproduce her Methven run she could win race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Monty Python a big chance to go back to back in race 7 Jim Curtin - Thinks Breeders Crown finalist Field Marshall will be to good in race 11   Wairio - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Grey Power put his best foot forward they wouldn't beat him in race 1 Dexter Dunn - Likes the chances of Leolas Delight making a winning debut in race 2 John Dunn - Very confident that Jay Dub can make it two from two this time in and take out race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks that Vera's Delight can get that long overdue win in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Canardy Lover a big show to go back to back in race 8 Clark Barron - Reckons that Shezacheapy back on the roomy Winton track can win race 9   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Craig Thornley - Thinks Inchbonnie Lad can go one better this week and win race 4   Harnesslink Media  

We thought it would be interesting to get the viewpoint of all our regular tipsters with regards how they see the New Zealand Cup this week and so the following selections are how they see the race. Maurice McKendry --- Adore Me -- Terror To Love -- Christen Me Tony Herlihy --- Adore Me -- Terror To Love -- Tiger Tara Sean McCaffrey --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian --Christen Me Scott Phelan --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me --Christen Me Todd Macfarlane --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- For A Reason Todd Mitchell --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- For A Reason John Curtin --- Christen Me -- For A Reason -- Terror To Love Matthew Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- Christen Me Nathan Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Brad Williamson --- Terror To Love -- Adore Me -- Christen Me Shane Walkinshaw --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Brendon McLellan --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me Clark Barron --- Christen Me -- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian Tim Williams --- Adore Me --- Terror To Love --- Christen Me   Terry Chmiel --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- For A Reason Steve Richardson --- Terror To Love --For A Reason -- Tiger Tara Robbie Holmes --- Christen Me -- Terror To Love -- Franco Nelson Gerard O'Reilly --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian -- Tiger Tara  Craig Thornley --- Terror To Love -- Hands Christian --Jimmy Johnstone Jim Curtin --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Hands Christian Ricky May --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Hands Christian Blair Orange --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Adore Me John Dunn --- Terror To Love -- Christen Me -- Franco Nelson                                                                 Cup Day Ringaround   With a lot of our regular tipsters involved in Cup Day we thought we would ask them for their best drive from their book tomorrow. Blair Orange - Quite bullish about the chances of Eyre I Come in race 1 Tony Herlihy -  Rates Tokohoka from the All Stars team as tough to beat in race 2 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought King Of Strathfield had freshened up nicely and could win race 3 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Like Gerard, Steve thinks that King Of Strathfield will win race 3 Ricky May - Very bullish about Dalton Bromac even fron barrier 9 winning race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thinks Fly Like An Eagle can confound the pundits and win race 5 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Sam is a great place chance in race 6 Maurice McKendry - As you would expect, Maurice thinks Hughie Green will win race 7 Robbie Holmes - If Cyclone Kiwi steps Robbie thinks he will win race 8 Craig Thornley - Thought All Delight was a good place chance at odds, also in race 8 Jimmy Curtin - Thinks Te Kawau from barrier three will win  race 9 Tim Williams - Reckons Here We Go Again can overcome the bad draw and win, also in race 9 Nathan Williamson - Confident that Spash Cola is a big chance to win race 11 John Dunn - Rates No Doctor Needed very hard to beat in race 12 Terry Chmiel - Likes Happy Heidi to run the Quinella with No Doctor Needed  in race 12   Harnesslink Media

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