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
Last week saw a big improvement from the week before but the team of tipsters are still not really at peak yet. Maurice McKendry, Sean McCaffrey, Todd Mitchell, Todd Macfarlane, Matthew Williamson and Steve Richardson from the TAB all nabbed winners while another five managed placings. As we countdown to Cup week, there are once again five meetings nationwide and we have selections for all of them. Forbury Park - Thursday night Craig Thornley - Likes Smart Caesar from a mobile to be hard to beat in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Pegasus Kommander from barrier 2 would be hard to beat in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Dwindle Mist is on the improve and can take out race 7 Auckland - Friday night John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Thought the central districts visitor Our Wicklow would be hard in race 1 Maurice Mckendry - Rates the chances of The Orange Agent in race 2 Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path even from barrier 15 can win race 6 Zac Butcher - Likes Chachingchaching to upset Hughie Green in race 7 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Eyrewell Pegasus can overcome the 20 metre handicap and win race 8 Tony Herlihy - Likes stable runner Danger Mouse in the hands of Tony Cameron to win race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks A Chance To Dream from barrier 1 could win race 10 Addington - Friday night Jim Curtin - Thought Juliette Bromac was a real chance of winning race 2 Tim Williams - Rates Have Faith In Me back to a maiden very hard to beat, also in race 2 Robbie Holmes - Rates Tehoro Ruby a chance to upset from the mobile in race 3 John Dunn - Likes Monumental to turn his form around in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Confident that Stradowan has improved from first up run and can win race 8 Riverton - Sunday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Majestic Stride a real show of winning race 3 Matthew Williamson - Thought Alley Way even from 50 metres should be too good for them in race 5 Clark Barron - Thinks with natural improvement Sheeza Shark won't be far away in race 7 Dexter Dunn - Likes Courage To Fly to end his run of seconds and win race 8 Kaikoura - Monday afternoon Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought star trialist Princess Galleon could win race 1 Blair Orange - Couldn't see Mighty Flying Major beaten in race 3 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Carrickmannon could trouble Webb Ellis and Highview Freddy in race 4 Ricky May - Confident that Mel Gibson can go one better than his last start and win race 5 Sam Ottley - Thinks Price Of Fame will go very close also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Rates Norvic Nightowl a real chance in the Kaikoura Cup, race 8 Harnesslink Media
Last week we had usual suspects tipping out the winners with Blair Orange, Gerard O"Reilly, Ricky May, Clark Barron and Steve Richardson all being successful while eleven of our other tipsters were in the money headed by Robbie Holmes with Nicalea ($6.30) at Timaru. This week we have five meetings to cover and our tipsters have covered them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Todd Mitchell - Thinks Take Charge from barrier two is a big chance in race 4 Steve Richardson - Keen on Speak Up who has been racing with merit at Auckland in race 5 Peter Scaife - Confident of a big run from V C Dell, also in race 5 Sean McCaffrey - Bullish about Strawberry Courage from the front line in race 6 Auckland - Friday night Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Hudy Haxwell is due a change of luck in race 4 Scott Phelan - Thought Le Lua Invasion would be tough to roll in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about My Kiwi Mate in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Confident that Hughie Green can take the step up in race 7 Tony Herlihy - Likes Mighty Regal to go one better than his last start second in race 9 Steven Reid - Rates Sirius Star as well overdue for a win and thinks it will come in race 9 as well Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thinks with last weeks run under her belt that Oh Nova is ready to win race 3 Blair Orange - Confident Mighty Flying Major will be too good in race 4 Ricky May - Very bullish on the chances of Matty Groves in race 5 Craig Thornley - Rates Johny Rock a big chance, even from barrier nine in race 7 Brad Williamson - Quietly confident about the chances of Al Raza in race 8 Methven - Sunday afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Rates Give Me Strength a huge chance back on the grass in race 1 John Dunn - Confident Return To Sender is primed to win race 5 Jim Curtin - Thinks stable rep Star Of Dionysis is a big chance in the junior drivers event, race 10 Wairio - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes Springbank Ruby to atone for her Timaru effort and win race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks oldtimer Suncrusher can teach the young ones a thing or two, also in race 3 Nathan Williamson - Confident of a big showing from the classy Jag's Invasion in race 4 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Smiling Star can make a race of it with Fly Like An Eagle in race 7 Clark Barron - Quite bullish about Shezacheapy who comes in fresh in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Draw a killer but still likes Double Rainbow in race 9 Harnesslink Media
Yesterday at the harness racing meeting at Gore another daughter of the Muscles Yankee sire, Muscle Mass was a winner at just her third lifetime start. Mass Invasion is a 4 year old mare by Muscle Mass who is trained at Rakauhauka by Clark Barron for his father in law Joe Crooks. Sent out favourite after being unlucky at her previous start, Clark jumped Mass Invasion to an early lead from barrier four. Attacked after 300 metres by Springfield Eyre who went to the front, Clark immediately took Mass Invasion out of the trail and back into the lead and it was a lead she would never surrender. Keeping up a good clip the whole journey, Mass Invasion had too many guns in the straight and comfortably held off her challengers. Mass Invasion trotted the 2200 metres from a stand in 2:57.6 with closing sectionals of 60.6 and 30. Clark has a bit of time for the young trotter who only qualified in late August. "This is really only her first serious preparation and she has come a long way in a short time. She is a lovely gaited trotter with great manners as she showed yesterday," he said. The track had plenty of top on it early in the day and Clark thought Mass Invasion wasn't as fluid as normal in the conditions. "The track had a lot of top in race one and she wasn't completely at ease in it She wasn't that happy in front either but after being so unlucky the start before I thought I would take luck out of the equation," Clark said Clark thinks that she will handle the step up to the C1 grade going on her trial runs. "She has raced a lot of the C1 trotters at trials and more than held her own so I think she will handle the rise in class," he said. Mass Invasion is one of only five live foals from the first crop of Muscle Mass that were sired by frozen semen. The whole five are 4 year old mares and Mass Invasion is his third winner but the best performer from that crop of five is undoubtedly K D Muscles 2:00.1 ($40,297) who though placed second in both the Trotting Oaks and the PGG Sales race, is yet to win on raceday. Muscle Mass was not available in 2011 or 2012 to New Zealand breeders but was available in 2013 via fresh semen and does have 55 yearlings to represent him next season. With his oldest crop just coming to the end of their four year old season in North America, Muscle Mass has $7,606,424 on his card already with 11 in 1:55. Muscle Mass is currently 11th on the North American 2 year old sires list this season while his full brother Muscle Massive is a close second to Muscle Hill with his first crop of 2 year olds. With the performance of his stock in North America and of the handful of his 4 year olds in New Zealand, you would expect the stock of Muscle Mass to be keenly sought after at next years sales. Harnesslink Media
Last week was on the up for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8 Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson - Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8 Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9 Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line. Harnesslink Media
Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8 Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well Alexandra Park - Friday Night Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9 Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5 Harnesslink Media
A race with conditions outside of the square at Addington is scheduled for Show Day, Friday 14th November. The New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (The Met) is programming a new race on Show Day, exclusively for horses trained south of the Waitaki River for a stake of $20,000. To be eligible to compete, horses must be registered in the name of a trainer(s) that is based south of the Waitaki River as at Friday 12 September 2014. Brian Rabbitt, Racing Secretary at Addington, commented “that this will be a race with a real difference with a Southern flavour and an opportunity to bring a new array of horses to Addington on one of our biggest meetings of the season. It’s all about utilising the horse population to our best advantage. With attractive stake money up for grabs we’re confident the race will be well supported and wouldn’t it be great to get back to the days when we saw a stack of horses come up from the South.” Richard Bromley and Ged Mooar of Addington were in the Southland area yesterday visiting prominent trainers including Murray Brown, Wayne Adams, Tony Barron, Clark Barron, Nathan Williamson, Hamish Hunter and Kirk Larsen. “The race has been very well received and we’re confident it will be supported,” said Mooar. The race is for four-year-old and older pacers assessed at C1 and C2 and is to be run over 2600 metres behind the mobile with a preferential barrier draw based on win stakes. For further information please contact either Brian, Richard or Colin at Addington’s Racing Department on (03) 338 9094. Ged Mooar Marketing and Commercial Manager Addington
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