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If there is any yearling which can brag a family littered with Group One winners, then this is it! A striking bay, the colt is part of the Yirribee Pacing Stud collection ready to ‘go under the hammer’ at the Sydney Australian Pacing Gold Sale. With ‘movie star’ looks, the youngster will enter the ring as Lot 293. As for his bloodlines, the colt is by the greatest juvenile produced in the Southern Hemisphere – Courage Under Fire. Successful at his first 24 starts, Courage Under Fire won a record six Derbys on his way to earning more than $1.4million. At stud Courage Under Fire continues to set records, including becoming only the third Victoria Derby winner to sire a subsequent winner in more than 100 years. Courage Under Fire’s effort saw him join Robert Derby and Radiant Robert – two immortal stallions! Lot 293 also boasts Group One success on his maternal side being from All Fire N Ice, which is the dam of four winners from five starters. All Fire N Ice is from Group One winner Rain Girl, which is the dam of multiple Group One winner, Atitagain, Group One winner Rain Again. The family also includes Group One winners Go West U Terror, Tricky Styx and Willow. PAUL COURTS

Most harness racing enthusiasts in New Zealand headed to the sales this week at both Auckland and Christchurch and a lot took home a yearling or two. With the dust just settling on the two days at the Premier Sale in Christchurch, we thought it a good time to assess the performance of our leading sires at that sale along with a few of the other sires who aspire to reach that level. All the numbers used are correct at the present time but may vary slightly as more of the passed in horses are sold post sale The elephant in the room in any review such as this is of course Bettor's Delight. He just completely dominated both days at Christchurch both in numbers sold and the average over the two days. Bettor's Delight  Number sold - 49 Overall average - $51,091 Colt average - $56,645 Filly average - $34,291 The surprising thing from those statistics is the big gap between his colts and his fillies. Bettor's Delight is renowned for leaving great fillies so to us the gap was surprising. Apart from that what can you say. A great sire who continues to dominate the sales and nothing happened in the two days at Christchurch to suggest that any change to the status quo is coming anytime soon. The next most successful sire with big numbers was the stallion that Bettor's Delight dethroned from the top spot in the yearling sales averages in Christian Cullen. His numbers held up well considering all the challengers he is facing on the siring front. Christian Cullen Numbers sold - 18 Overall average - $37,611 Colt average - $40,133 Filly average - $25,000 Considering where his service fee presently sits, Christian Cullen represents great value on yesterdays results and that is not something we were able to say just a few years ago. Every year the pundits predict his demise as a sire of significance but every year the buyers continue to put their hand up for the Christian Cullens and for big money to boot. Another elite sire who had a good sale was Mach Three. Mach Three Numbers sold - 20 Overall average - $30,700 Colt average - $32,062 Filly average - $29,791 This was one sire who had little difference in the average between his fillies and his colts. The top price of $71,000 was the same for both his best filly and colt and most of the leading trainers brought one or two by him. Has been doing a great job over the last few years but is probably overdue another high class colt in the next twelve months or else the so called experts will be suggesting his best days are behind him. American Ideal Numbers sold - 22 Overall average - $15,681 Colt average - $19,166 Filly average - $11,500  Considering the great last twelve months that his stock have had on the racetracks of Australasia, it was a real surprise to us and no doubt to vendors as well that he struggled as much as he did. Even more confusing was the lack of interest in his fillies when they have been his flag bearers in New Zealand over the last twelve months. Sometimes there is a lag in racetrack performance being converted into sales success and to us that is the most logical explanation here. Courage Under Fire Numbers sold - 8 Overall average - $32,375 Colt average - $34,857 Filly average - $16,000 Just continues to fly under the radar of most of the breeders in New Zealand but not the buyers thats for sure. Only sold one filly so that average is misleading but his colts were highly sought after throughout the two days. Has shown repeatedly that he can compete with any sire in the sales ring but his number of mares served in New Zealand continue to decline. He only served nineteen mares in 2014 so some vendors who have a foal by him may be in for a good return at next years sales. Art Major Numbers sold - 14 Overall average - $29,600 Colt average - $28,833 Filly average - $30,187  Considering the run that Art Major is having on both sides of the Tasman, the lack of big money for most of his yearlings took us by surprise. He did have one six figure filly but his second best yearling price wise only made $45,000. Didn't appear to us to be anything amiss with the yearlings in question and the only answer we could come up with was they weren't Bettor's Delights. Amazing result really when you look at the super season his three year olds are having in New Zealand Somebeachsomewhere Numbers sold - 5 Overall average - $48,000 Colt average - $55,000 Filly average - $20,000 First crop of any size in New Zealand and these yearlings were conceived via fresh semen. Without exception they were good looking types and were keenly sought after. Going by the type of yearling produced by Somebeachsomewhere at this years sales,  we could be about to see why the North Americans hold the son of Mach Three in such high esteem. Rock N Roll Heaven Numbers sold - 4 Overall average - $30,250 Colt average - $40,000 Filly average - $20,500 They all were nice types but what surprised us was his only filly made just $20,500. The fillies have been the ones flying the flag for Rock N Roll Heaven in North America and in Australasia so the emphasis on the colts was a surprise. Look very much like clones of their grand sire Rock N Roll Hanover which is a good thing in our book though attitude did seem an issue at times with a couple of them. Sportswriter Numbers sold - 5 Overall average - $26,300 Colt average - $27,625 Filly average - $21,000 The whole five of them were lovely types and we thought they under sold when you looked at the pedigrees and the individuals at the sale. All of them made at least $20,000 but only one kicked on from that to make $46,000. There are question marks over whether he can leave that elite level colt or filly but you couldn't fault the yearlings in Christchurch and we were a touch disappointed with the prices they made. Changeover Numbers sold - 10 Overall average - $11,550 Colt average - $12,333 Filly average - $10,375 Not the kind of sale he would have been looking for. He had his moments but his lack of classic winning horses from his first crop is starting to hurt him. All he needs is one or two top liners to appear and his stock will double in value over night. His overall numbers are great and everything else is on track but he does need those couple of stars and sooner rather than later. Love You Numbers sold - 4 Overall average - $28,875 Colt average - $28,875 A great result for a trotting sire to have four average over $28,000. They were keenly sought after when ever a Love You entered the ring. The only issue now is he only served 13 mares in 2014 and was unavailable this season so there will few of them at the sales in the next year or two. Muscle Mass Numbers sold - 13 Overall average - $16,923 Colt average - $16,625 Filly average - $17,400 A great return to New Zealand for the son of Muscles Yankee and he had a big sale considering his numbers and the fact some of the maternal families were ok but not sensational. A sire who is really on the up in North America but the only downside is this is his only crop in New Zealand to go through the sales and at this stage it will be his last as he hasn't shuttled for the last two years. Overview All the sires we have reviewed would in the main be satisfied with what they achieved at this years Premier sale in Christchurch. Some probably hoped to do a bit better and some probably did a bit better than they thought they would but the numbers for the sires we have covered are commendable. Some sires at this years Christchurch sales that we haven't reviewed here didn't help the overall sale on any level and you would have to question the value of continuing to present stock by them at what is meant to be a "Premier" sale. Harnesslink Media

Astute New South Wales trainer Colin Thomas experienced the highs and lows of harness racing this week. Just days after registering one of his biggest victories at Tabcorp Park Menangle when successful with rising star Bettermatch, Thomas had to humanely put down stable ‘King’, Business In Motion. One of the state’s most promising pacers, Business In Motion’s demise was the result of a freak paddock accident. Having also competed at Menangle, Business In Motion was placed in his usual paddock upon return to Thomas’ property the following day where he was set to enjoy an easy week. The following morning, however, Thomas discovered the entire impaled on a metal pole in his groin. Although Business In Motion had a few cuts from the incident, the son of Courage Under Fire “appeared to be okay.” In fact, the four-year-old even ate his lunch! “A mare in one of the back paddocks had escaped and he must have reared up and come down on top of a metal post,” Thomas explained. “Once I washed him off, I tended to a couple of cuts, but it didn’t seem that bad. “I checked on him all day and he appeared to be okay, he even had a feed. “Later in the afternoon when I checked him he had swelled up around the cuts and was haemorrhaging pretty badly…he must have pierced himself right up his ‘old fella’. “In the end, I had no choice and it was the humane thing to do.” A classy performer, Business In Motion won his first five starts before finishing his freshman season with 10 wins. Making steady progress through the grades at three and four, Business In Motion’s record sits on 20 wins and 13 placings from 43 starts for earnings of $161,840. On a brighter note, Bettermatch has “pulled up well” from his latest victory, which saw the son of Kenneth J maintain his unbeaten sequence from four starts. Thrilled with the two-year-old’s progress, Thomas has aimed Bettermatch at several key features. “That was his toughest run to date and he has pulled up well,” Thomas said. “Steve said he thought the horse may have been gone up the straight, but when he put a couple on his bum, he responded well. “Only good horses find extra under pressure and he is a serious racehorse. “I will set him for the Bathurst Crown next. He is eligible for the Breeders’ Challenge, Vicbred and Breeders’ Crown, but I don’t want to overtax him. “Even if he goes in all of those, he won’t do much between the heats and Finals.” PAUL COURTS

She might bear closer resemblance to a pony than a quality harness racing performer, but ‘pocket sized’ filly Du Vella is all class according to trainer Geoff Webster. The Kiwi-bred daughter of Courage Under Fire – known as “Mighty Mouse” during his racing days – will be a key player Friday night’s $15,000 AJ Prendergast Memorial Oaks Trial at Ballarat. Webster acknowledges his youngster faces tough opposition in the time-honoured 2200-metre event, which was first run in 1981 and has produced winners the calibre of Bellas Delight, Jadah Rose, Ashlees Babe and Jasmarilla. However, the accomplished Bannockburn horseman is confident Du Vella, which is aiming for her fourth consecutive win, can more than hold her own despite an unfashionable barrier 11 draw. “She’s a lovely filly,” Webster said.  “She only came over here from New Zealand last season and she’s going very well. “She has progressed through the grades to C2 class quite quickly and I’m really happy with the way she’s developing. She gives me every reason to think she’ll measure up against the best of her age.” The Oaks Trial provides a launching pad into a raft of features, most immediately heats of the New South Wales Oaks to be run at Tabcorp Park Menangle on February 21. The $200,000 Group One Final will be staged at the same venue on March 1 – TAB.com.au Inter Dominion day. “New South Wales is our main target at present, so the Ballarat race will give us a better guide to her chances against the good fillies,” Webster said. “That said, she came off a quick speed to beat a smart field at Melton a couple of starts back after being held up and I do believe she’s a really nice horse. “She seems to go best when driven sit-sprint and she’s going to need to get the right run into the race from her draw, but I think she’s capable.” Webster has also qualified recent Kiwi import Angus T Jones for the second of Friday night’s features, the $30,000 Group Three Flying Horse Bistro Tontine Pacers’ Series Final, but does not fancy his chances of notching an unprecedented third consecutive victory in the prized provincial championship. Webster trained and drove Charlie Machsheen to win the race in 2013 and prepared Flaming Flutter, which was partnered to victory by Greg Sugars, in 2014. “Angus T Jones is honest, but I think he’ll struggle in that field,” Webster said. “It’s a super line-up and on paper they look like they’re better than him. “He had every chance when third in a heat of the series at Hamilton (beaten 23 metres) last start and Friday night’s opposition is stronger again so I’d say the best we can hope for is a place.” Dominant Smythes Creek training duo Clayton Tonkin and Emma Stewart look to have one hand on the Tontine trophy, preparing leading hopefuls Another Safari and Major Secret. Another Safari will begin from barrier three, with New South Wales Derby winner, Major Secret, to come out of 10. Ballarat Media

The biggest buyers of harness racing bloodstock in the southern hemisphere are turning a new leaf in New Zealand next week when they consign a colt to the Australasian Classic yearling sale. Everytime you looked up in the last few years Merv and Meg Butterworth had been buying yearlings at the sales or snapping up promising racehorses in New Zealand for their huge racing empire. The Butterworths have enjoyed huge success in the last few seasons especially since they hooked up with the leading New Zealand training duo of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. The Butterworths have just enjoyed their best night as owners on Saturday when Arden Rooney scooped the $400,000 Hunter Cup. So next week when Lot 109 walks into the ring at Auckland the Butterworths will have come full circle. Lot 109 is named Bettor Under Fire and just like his vendors, he is from a 100% Australian maternal family. Bettor Under Fire is the first foal from the outstanding Courage Under Fire racemare in Queen Of Fire 1:57.1 ($176,809) who ran second in both the Australian Oaks and the Australasian Breeders Crown final for four year old mares. Queen Of Fire is from Penultimate who has left six other winners including Majestic Emperor 1:58.1 ($186,378) and Major Mac 1:59.2 ($72,163) and the dam of the very promising Machtwister 1:55 ($57,578) Penultimate is a half sister to six winners including Detroit Dan 1:56.8 ($118,639) Mister Motown 1:59.6 (72,163) and to Star Chaser who is the dam of four $100,000 winners including  the champion Australian pacer Safari 1:55.7 ($535,445) as well as Astronaut 1:57.1 ($141,129) Our Maid Marianne 1:57.9 ($110,338) and Major Frank 1:52 ($108,228). Kiwi buyers have had a tendency to overlook Australian bred stock in the past but Mark Purdons successful raids on the Australian yearling sales and the performance last season of Alta Orlando 1:56.2 ($173 486) who is from a West Australian mare has certainly changed that perception on this side of the Tasman. The hardest thing for Merv and Meg to get the hang of next week may well be the inclination to put their hands up when the bidding starts. Old habits are hard to break. Harnesslink Media  

The first of this years harness racing yearling sales were held in Melbourne yesterday with  the Victorian section of the  Australian Pacing Gold being staged As has become common in recent years, there was quite a few Kiwis on hand and they were active again throughout the day. The first Kiwi in action was Neil Pilcher who continued his long standing habit of buying a son of Courage Under Fire at most sales. On this occasion Neil brought lot 7 which was a colt from the former 1:58.7 two year old Artificial for $25,000. Artificial has already left Im For Real 1:55.6 while the grand dam is the talented racemare Counterfeit Girl 1:58.1 ($118,769) Neil has had a great run with his Couage Under Fire purchasers in the last few years and this one has all the credentials to keep up his strike rate. Second cab off the rank for the Kiwis were the prominent husband and wife team of Philip and Glenys Kennard. Their first purchase was lot 102 which is a Bettor's Delight colt from the unraced Mach Three mare Miss Montoya. Her claim to fame is she is a half sister to the dam of A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($760,747) and London Legend ($456,124) so the $26,000 purchase price looked good value to us. Well known trotting owner Trevor Casey was next up but as this was a pacer only sale, thats what he brought. Trevor brought lot 105 which is a son of Art Major from the imported American mare Magic Z Tam 1:57.1 ($83,942) The first foal from the dam, the colt is related to a string of top performers in North America and even though he cost Trevor $72,000, he didn't appear an expensive colt once you had read his pedigree page. High flying New Zealand trainer Cran Dalgety was the next Kiwi into the fray forking out $60,000 for a colt by American super sire Somebeachsomewhere from the imported daughter of Bettor's Delight in Molly's Lucky Star 1:54.2 ($96,700) The grand dam Pacific Destiny is a half sister to the brilliant Pacific Fella 1:48.2 ($1,064,631) so he has all the credentials to make it on the track. The Kennards were next into the fray again when they went to $42,000 to secure lot 131 who was an Art Major colt from the race winning Albert Albert mare in Nosotros who has already produced Red Vee Hanover 1:58.8 ($89,094). The dam Nosotros is a half sister to the former brilliant grand circuit performer in Hexus 1:55 ($555,114) and with Nosotros being a 3/4 sister to the smart Winforus 1:55 ($139,915) this colt ticks plenty of boxes. Mark Purdon waited to lot 167 before he brought his one and only purchase for the day. Mark purchased a Modern Art colt from a Badlands Hanover half sister to the champion juvenile Gotta Go Cullen 1:58.2 ($1,127,567) for $34,000 The grand dam is a half sister to Mark's former champion pacer Il Vicolo 1:56.7 ($1,580,945) and to the dam of Stunnin Cullen 1:54.1 ($1,359,094) Mark has a history of plucking horses out of sales for not a lot of money and turning them into stars and this colt has a maternal pedigree to die for. The last purchase by Kiwis for the day was when the Kennards went back to the well for the third time and spent $30,000 to buy lot 173 who is an Art Major colt from the former race winning two year old Sophies Girl. She was from a half sister to Seinfield 1:55.1 ($126,082) and belongs to the New Zealand family made famous by the great Manaroa 1:58.1 ($218,159) back in the 1970s. The top priced colt for the sale was lot 63 who was a Western Ideal half brother to the brilliant Guaranteed 1:50.4 ($829,5910). The top price in the fillies division of $51,000 was shared by Lot 159 who was a Rocknroll Hanover filly from a mare tracing to the great New Zealand broodmare Armiss and Lot 187 who was a Bettor's Delight filly who had the outstanding Lordship broodmare Black Debate as her third dam. Overall the sale would have to considered a big success with the average up nearly $3,000 ($26,046)  and the clearance rate on a par with last year at just under 80%. Harnesslink Media

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, January 17, 2015--Rank outsider Flem N Em N (Jason Bartlett, $71.50) stunned 'em from first-up Saturday night, easily winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Open Pace. Sitting early from post position No. 4, Flem N Em N saw Cam B Zipper (Brian Sears) break leaving. Sapphire City, also leaving, worked around pole-sitting BJ's Guy (Matt Kakaley) before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. After a seemingly-soft 57.1 intermission, Flem N Em N moved briskly from fourth. The same horse who tired noticeably in the pocket the previous week blew eight on by here, disposing of Sapphire City nearing the 1:25.2 three-quarters. The tiring leader trapped both BJ's Guy and last week's winner, Take it Back Terry (George Brennan), in behind. Flem N Em N opened four lengths into the lane before winning by 3¼ lengths in 1:52.4. "Terry" shifted out and closed for second, with McErlean (Eric Goodell), BJ's Guy and Sapphire City settling for the remainder. For Flem N Em N, a 10-year-old Down Under Courage Under Fire gelding owned by Bamond Racing and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was his first win in two seasonal starts. The exacta paid $285.50, with the triple returning $1,504. Flem N Em N now has lifetime earnings of $604,865 from 33 wins 32 seconds and 29 thirds from 181 starts. Flem N Em N Special Saturday props to Warrawee Needy (MacDonald, $5.90), whose zipped through his $21,000, 12th-race rivals in 1:51.4, fastest local mile of the season. Note that since no one took down Saturday's Pick 5, Monday's gimmick begins with a carryover of $2,665.18 (50-cent base wager, races 5 through 9). The Raceway's live season continues Monday (7:10 PM), then Tuesday (1 PM) and Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Promising harness racing youngster Sporty Spook claimed the Temora track record when successful at the country circuit last Saturday night. First-up from a spell, the David Kennedy-trained gelding covered the mile in a slick 1:57.5 when driven to an effortless victory by Jarrod Alchin. After finding the front from barrier three, the son of Sportswriter was untouched to score by 20-and-a-half metres from Casino Grin, with Itsallaboutex 14-and-a-half metres away third. The three-year-old sprinted through the final 800 metres in 57.7 to extend his record to an impressive six wins and five placings from 12 starts for earnings of $63,800. Sporty Spook’s placings include the Bathurst Gold Crown and Breeders’ Challenge Finals. “Dave must have been thinking he was ready to race because he told me he had checked up what the track record was in the lead up to the race,” Alchin said. “Just as he left the gate he just flicked a wheel, and it fired him up a bit, but I didn’t really want to fight him so I let him stride.” Set to back up in this weekend’s Simpson Memorial at Tabcorp Park Menangle, the three-year-old may be taken south for the Victoria Derby heats later in the month. The New South Wales Derby and another crack at the Breeders’ Challenge are also on the agenda. “Dave was pretty clear that he wanted to see him race well because if he is going to be competitive in a race like the Simpson Memorial then he needs to be in good form leading into it,” Alchin said. “The Victoria Derby heats are also on the cards, although that will be a big step up with some of the big names coming from New Zealand. “I guess that decision will be made after he races at Menangle.” Another rising star also established a track record earlier in the night, with Business In Motion setting the standard over 2000 metres. Completing a hat-trick in the process, Business In Motion rated 2:01.2, with the last half covered in 57.9 seconds. Thrilled with the son of Courage Under Fire, trainer Col Thomas has set his sights on the rich Chariots Of Fire. Australasia’s premier four-year-old event, the Group One is scheduled to be run at Menangle on March 1 – TAB.COM.AU Inter Dominion day. Thomas is also considering heading south of the Murray River to contest the Bonanza on February 7. The feature is part of the A G Hunter Cup program. “He’s gone well again,” Thomas said. “I will just keep racing him along before a possible trip to Melton for the Bonanza in February.” PAUL COURTS

Tasmanian harness racing trainer Steve Lukac admitted to being surprised after Pockets of Courage won the first two-year-old race of the season in Launceston last night. Lukac was not surprised the gelding won, but taken aback at the odds offered about the youngster in the $10,000 Keith Stanley Debutante Stakes over 1680 metres. Pockets of Courage paid $11.80 on the Tote and much the same was offered by the fixed odds corporate bookies. “He finished first and second in the two trials and I was very confident he would run well, so yes, I was surprised he paid so well,” Lukac said. “His biggest asset is that he is a beautifully-gaited horse with good manners. There’s a lot of upside to this horse.” Lukac admitted the win also had a lot to do with a very good drive from Nathan Ford. Pockets of Courage was well away from the mobile, but despite beginning from the pole, he couldn’t match the speed of Goggo Gee Gee, which landed in front, with the favourite Sultan Fella facing the breeze. Ford was content to settle the son of Courage Under Fire and Rangiann behind the leader where he stayed until the home turn. When Ford called on Pockets of Courage for the supreme effort in the home straight the freshman responded magnificently to score by two metres from rank outsider Origin Cronk, with another outsider, Chica Bella, flashing home to be four-and-a-half metres away third. PETER STAPLES

Integrity will be at a premium for the annual Garrards 2YO Trialling Sale to be conducted at Tabcorp Park Menangle this Sunday. HRNSW will take a select number of samples in consultation with the Sales organisers including the fastest horse of the morning. In addition to this any buyer will be able to have their purchase tested for Steroids by notifying the HRNSW representative at the sale and paying the appropriate fee. This is the first sale in which buyers have had this opportunity. The 51-head catalogue has brought together two-year-old colts, geldings and fillies from every Australian eastern Mainland State as well as New Zealand. Included in the draft are sons and daughters of such notable sires as Beautide's sire, Bettors Delight, Courage Under Fire, Mach Three, Rocknroll Hanover and Rock N Roll Heaven. HRNSW CEO John Dumesny said the controlling body want to make it clear that all prospective owners, stakeholders, participants and supporters that they can have faith in harness racing in NSW. "As has been acknowledged nationally HRNSW has the strongest approach of any jurisdiction to integrity processes." "The HRNSW commitment covers every aspect and it is with the support of the Ready To Race Sale organisers that swabs will be taken, tested and if required stored for future analysis." Only graduates are eligible to nominate for the associated Group Three feature, the C.J. Garrard Classic, to be held at Tabcorp Park, Menangle, next August. NSW Breeders Challenge Owners Bonus certificates can be used as legal tender at the sale. By Dale Walker  

Talented harness racing driver Nathan Jack to the honours during last night’s harness racing meeting at Melton. One of Victoria’s leading reinsman, Jack registered a quartet on the 10-race program in what was a career equalling best performance. Jack kick-started his evening with the Michael Hughes-trained Call Me Bond, which led throughout from barrier five. A promising son of Courage Under Fire, Call Me Bond rated a slick 1:56.5 for the 2240 metres, taking his record to eight wins and three seconds from 16 starts. Jack then combined with astute mentor Wayne Potter to secure the main event of the night – The Tailamade Lombo. Partnering rank outsider Sophies Deal, Jack produced the drive of the night to score at $58.90 on the tote. Finishing stoutly along the home straight, the daughter of American Ideal accounted for Tandias Bromac and Glenferrie Ej. Owned by Stephen Walker, Sophies Deal lowered her best time to 1:53.5. Jack completed a running double when Scruffy Major proved too good over 1720 metres. After leading from barrier four, Jack elected to take a trail behind the hot favourite Jilliby Master during the middle stages. Regaining the front halfway along the home straight, the son of Art Major scored by three-and-a-half metres from Jilliby Master, with The Noble Steed six metres away third. A member of the Gary Quinlan stable, Scruffy Major extended his record to 10 wins and 13 placings from 39 starts by rating 1:54.6 for the 1720 metres. Jack rounded out his evening with the Emma Stewart-trained Jadahson, which travelled two-back along the pegs before beating Arber and Johnny Quid in 1:53.9. By Falcon Seelster from Jadah Rose, the stallion is a half-brother to pacing sensation, Guaranteed. PAUL COURTS

Courage Under Fire has created a lot of special moments for a lot of people. Bruce Negus and Greg Brodie will certainly never forget the ride Courage Under Fire took them on with one of the all-time great race careers – 24 wins in a row, 6 Derbies and over $1.5 million in stakes. Courage Under Fire is still the benchmark other great three-year-olds are measured against. Neil Pilcher has established a special affection for the progeny of Courage – little wonder when you consider his two latest “Courage” stars are the brilliant NZ Jewels winner, Smolda and last season’s leading stake earning New Zealand two-year-old, Alta Orlando. What a great achievement (for Neil and Courage) – if they are both at Addington on the 11th of November – Smolda in the NZ Cup and Alta Orlando in the NZSS 3yo Final. Another outstanding son of Courage is the timeless Pembrook Benny. Winner of the NZ free-for-all last season as a nine-year-old and still very much in contention for the NZ Cup this season as a ten-year-old. A truly wonderful horse for Barry and Katrina Purdon and their partners. Beyond The Silence is a son of Courage racing wonderfully well for Andrew and Lyn Neal – winning the Spring Cup and then heading home Pembrook Benny for a Courage Under Fire quinella in the Open Class feature at Auckland last week. To make racing a horse that is now 8 from 16 even more special, Beyond The Silence was purchased by Lyn’s late father Frank Bebbington and is now raced in partnership with his estate. With several of the other big gun sires fully booked, Courage is a great option for breeders looking to sell and compete at the highest level. Courage is ready and willing to provide even more people with their special moments – and despite the mistake in the NZ Sires Book – he is definitely available in New Zealand via fresh semen. COURAGE UNDER FIRE HIGHLIGHTS *A wonderful champion, he won his first 24 starts, 6 Derbies and almost $1.5 million. *NZ 2, 3 and 4yo Pacer of the Year. *The sire of over 70 individual $100,000 earners to date. *Consistently ranks amongst the leading sires in both Australia and NZ. *In 2013/14 the sire of Alta Orlando – NZ’s leading stake earning 2yo.   Courtesy Of Alabar New Zealand

Mark and Natalie have been around top horses for a long time and Mark's list of leading New Zealand Cup contenders is a lengthy one. But even among so many individuals Smolda stands out -and not because he is difficult to deal with. Its just that he can be a bit of a mystery. Top trainers don't like mysteries especially leading in to big races. The reason Mark has had so many expert Cup preps_and now Natalie too is that they are experts at looking at a horse and see things other people miss. They also time a star against the clock and still know that all is not well even if the clock says it is. Yes they monitor all the usual things, heart rates, feed bins, any signs of change. But all good trainers can do that. The difference between the good and the great is something else-the sixth sense, the feeling there is something going on which needs more investigating even before the experts are called in. That is where Smolda can present problems-because he hates any fuss-about anything. "He's always been a very laid back sort of horse" Mark says. "It is hard to get a line on his work and always has been. He does what he has to and its always good work but you are left wondering just how good it was just how forward he is. It is not until you get to the trials or raceday you find that out fully" There was a good example  last January when Smolda in his first race in yonks buried a field at Addington in 3.10 and change. Even Mark was surprised by that one. "Sometimes you forget how good he is" he said then. But its his laid back approach which gives his trainers plenty of time for thinking. Before his season debut he seemed pretty forward but racenight proved otherwise. Even Mark looked a tad disappointed but he just thought Smolda needed more racing. Then he thought maybe there was something else. Blood tests required. They came back perfect. But something was niggling at Mark and Natalie. Sure enough a second round of tests showed a white cell count amiss. In between Smolda ate away at the same rate and did everything else by the book. Many horses test the skills and patience of their trainers but not all because they are so relaxed and easy going. So in any race Smolda is stepping out in there is even for experts, a little doubt as to what is going to happen. He'll be good of course-but how good? Sometimes only Smolda knows. And he's not telling! Courtesy Of All Star Racing - Check site here

Beyond The Silence completed the Spring Cup – Holmes D G harness racing double at Alexandra Park tonight. The Andrew and Lyn Neal trained gelding shot along the markers to hold out the fast finishing favourite Pembrook Benny by a length. Driver Lyn Neal said the son of Courage Under Fire was back to his best after finishing second behind Rockn Ruby in a lower class event at Cambridge September 25. “He just felt better tonight. He sprinted hard at the finish. It’s nice to win a race against the good horses again,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence, who started off the front in the $20,000 Air Vanuatu Holmes D G Pace, trailed the front-running Norvic Nightowl throughout the 2700m stranding start event. Then when the gaps opened in the straight Beyond The Silence burst through to win in 3:23.74. Pembrook Benny and Easy On The Eye filled the minors, while Delight Brigade, Norvic Nightowl, and Lets Elope ran fourth, fifth, and six in the six-horse field. His winning mile rate was 2:01.4 and he sprinted his last 800m and 400m sectionals. On September 20 he won the Spring Cup (2200m stand) in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6). Neal said she wasn’t tempted to head south for the New Zealand Cup Carnival with the 5-year-old.  “No not this year. Perhaps in 13 months but for now he’s staying put. There are plenty of races for him up here over the Summer. The Franklin Cup is one target,” Neal said. Beyond The Silence has now won eight of his 16 starts and placed in four others. It was his fifth win on the track and first over the distance. The Neals share in the ownership of Beyond The Silence with the estate of Neal’s late father Frank Bebbington. He was bred by D.M. Brown. Courtesy of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Andrew and Lyn Neal won their second Spring Cup at Alexandra Park last night with a pacer they rate equal in ability to their 2000 Auckland Cup winner, Flight South. They won their first Spring Cup in 2010 when Trigirl Brigade won the 2200m standing start event. This time $13.10 fourth favourite Beyond The Silence proved too strong for Norvic Nightowl and Pembrook Benny in the $25,000 Hydroflow sponsored handicap pace. “He’s only had 14 starts and now this is his seventh win. I have always had a considerable amount of time for him. He’s a quality pacer who has come back well this season. “I just wish Dad was here to watch him race,” said driver Lynn Neal, who co-trains the 5-year-old gelding with her husband Andrew at Cambridge. Dad is former Mid Canterbury conditioner, Frank Bebbington, who passed away in August 2012. “Dad bought him and Andrew and I share the ownership in him with Dad’s estate.  I’d like to race him at Addington one day but this year is a bit too soon. “He needs more racing for that but even at this early stage of his career I rate him right up there with Flight South - and she is one of the best horses we have trained,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence sat in the trail for most of the way behind Te Kawau and Todd Mitchell. Then in the straight he powered along the passing lane to win by a neck and 1-1/2 lengths. He paced the 2200m strand in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6) with final 800m and 400m sprint s of 56.7 and 27 even. It was his fourth win in seven starts at Alexandra Park. It was a gutsy performance to win third run back after Beyond The Silence missed most of his 4-year-old season with a fractured cannon bone he suffered in a C2 pace at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup Day last year. “It’s been a slow road back but we have always believed in him and tonight he delivered against some of the North Island’s best. “We thought he would go well tonight and he didn’t let us down,” Neal said. The 5-year-old Courage Under Fire gelding won first up after an eight month spell at Alexandra Park on July 11 and then followed that up a third behind Sky Major and Cyamach a fortnight later. He has now won seven of his 14 starts and placed in three others for $59,615. The race didn't pass without some sensation. Averil's Quest was late scratched within minutes of the start of the race after she was found to be lame in the right foreleg. Pembrook Benny earned a tick mark for his fresh up performance - the New Zealand Free-For-All winner made up plenty of ground in his first public outing for the season. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Kialla trainer-driver David Moran enjoyed a winning double with two of his in-form pacers last night at Tabcorp Park Melton. Both The Baggy Green (a four-year-old mare by Art Major out of Lady Waratah) and Our Santa Catalina (a three-year-old filly by Rocknroll Hanover out of San Sophia) carried their strong Breeders Crown form into last night's meeting and both recorded strong victories. The Baggy Green, who ran second to Frith in the four-year-old mares’ Breeders Crown Final last time out, found the back of early leader Earth Angel last night used the sprint lane at the finish to wind up for a 2.3-metre victory in the Alabar Pace, Race 1, over 1720 metres. Earth Angel led for Josh Aiken with Isabelle Delacour (Jason Lee) parking in the breeze after a failed attack for the front. Glenferrie EJ (Jodi Quinlan) ran second after a sustained run three-wide, while Earth Angel boxed on gamely for third. The Baggy Green started at $2.20, kicking the night off on a winning note for punters. Moran’s second winner came up in Race 4, the Harness Breeders Vic 3YO Classic over 1720 metres. He drove Our Santa Catalina, who scored an upset win over last-start Group 1 winner Just Cala (Amanda Turnbull) by 1.8 metres, with Madison Louise (Chris Alford) third. With 1200 metres to go Moran and Our Santa Catalina eased three-wide from the one-out-one-back spot and moved to the breeze outside race leader Dazzling Arden. At this stage Turnbull had the $1.40 favourite Just Cala in last position. Down the back, though, Turnbull started her move, taking the Dennis Picker trained filly around the field three-wide. But the leaders quickened up with middle sectionals of 29.9 and 28.4, Just Cala forced to work hard for the bulk of the final lap. Once the field straightened up for the run to the judge, Our Santa Catalina shook off Dazzling Arden and then hit the line in a 27.8 final quarter. Just Cala simply didn’t have the firepower at the finish as Our Santa Catalina – who ran third in a Breeders Crown semi-final at Ballarat two starts back – showed enormous grit in the run to the line. Our Santa Catalina has now won seven of 20 starts. Leading reinsman Nathan Jack was the other driver to pick up a winning double last night, piloting Bad Habbott to a 2.7-metre triumph in the Home Timber and Hardware Melton 3YO Trot for trainer Russell Commens before finishing the program aboard Shared Interest, the Russell Jack trained gelded son of Angus Hall obliterating his rivals by 18.1 metres in the Haley Toulmin 2YO Trot over 1720 metres. Other winners on the card were Action Kosmos for Geoff Webster and Emmett Brosnan in the Tab.com.au Trot and Game We Play in the Empire Stallions 3YO Pace Final for trainer-driver Craig Turnbull, the son of Courage Under Fire too strong as the long odds-on favourite in the race Karkarooc who finished a well-beaten seventh. In-form mare Tandias Bromac won the Pet Rock Pace for trainer Amanda Grieve and driver Chris Alford while the Michael Stanley trained and driven Young Modern won the Woodlands Stud Pace over 1720 metres. Gumdrops won for trainer Steve Zammit and driver Rodney Petroff in the Breeders Crown Broodmare Noms Close 1 Sept Pace, and the Chris Lang trained and driven Lord Liam won the Aldebaran Park Trotters Handicap. The Victorian harness racing spotlight turns to Cranbourne tonight (Saturday) with the first of 11 races at 5.35pm. Cody Winnell - Harness Racing Victoria

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