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Pat’s Delight is expected to clinch a berth in the Harness Jewels for 2yr-old colts and geldings with a win at Forbury Park tonight (Thursday). Pat’s Delight (race 6) is eleventh in qualifying order in stake earnings for the HJ restricted to a maximum of 13 starters in each race. The Bettor’s Delight – Righteous Franco colt, trained by Cran Dalgety and driven by Dexter Dunn, was successful against older horses at Forbury Park on March 30 at his second start. Pat’s Delight  ran the 2200m from the mobile gate in 2.43.4, 0.5sec outside the track record for a 3-year-old and won by three and a half lengths. He has since had three starts all against his own age, for an eighth in the Welcome Stakes, a fourth in a Sires’ Stakes heat and a win at Addington over 1950m (mobile) in a 1.56.3 mile rate. Sweet Mary, who is twelfth in qualifying order the 2-year-old fillies section of the Harness Jewels, will come in for close attention in race 10. Sweet Mary won against older horses at Rangiora on April 9 and finished third there a fortnight later. Glenisthebettor could prove a formidable opponent for Sweet Mary. Glenisthebettor has won twice at Forbury Park in her last three starts and finished fifth there last after being held up in the closing stages in a fast run race. Poppymalda, who resumed on a winning note at Gore five days ago, could carry on in race 8. It was her first race for close on 17 months. She has won twice at Forbury Park. Seaswift Joy, who is in the $140,000 Final of the Nevele R Series for 3-year-old fillies at Addington on Friday night, is back in the West Melton stable of Malcolm Shinn. Jim Curtin is her new driver. Seaswift Joy has campaigned from the Wyndham stable of Gordon and Colin Lee since mid-December, winning six of her 11 starts and minor placing in three others with Gordon Lee the driver. She won a heat of the Nevele R series at Methven, her fifth win in a row. Shinn  shared the ownership of the 1983 Nevele R series final winner, Preferred with the late Wayne Francis. Preferred was trained by brother Ian Shinn. Curtin drove Solberge to win the 1999 Nevele R Final for owner –trainer Jim Dalgety, father of Cran, who has Bonnie Joan in the final on Friday night. Cran trained the 2001 winner Sparks A Flyin, driven by Mark Jones. Tayler Strong

Cran Dalgety has two horses nominated for his home-town meeting Addington Raceway tonight but insisted Dexter Dunn drive at Alexandra Park instead. “I had to twist his arm and tell him about the prestige of a North Island Oaks race. If Chevron Express can win that tonight it will put her in good stead when it comes to her broodmare career. “I also had to calm the owner down and put him in a head-lock and tell him this is the race we wanted to win. We could have lined her up in last month’s Northern Trotting Derby and finished a creditable fifth, but no this is has been the race I wanted to win with her for a long time now,” Dalgety said. “I have wrapped her in cotton wool for this one. This is her New Zealand Cup,” he added. Chevron Express will start a hot favourite in tonight’s $25,000 Haras des Trotteurs North Island Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. She is rated R82 – 18 points more than the next highest assessed trotter in the 2200m mobile event – the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Regal Love. “She should win but we all know in racing there are no such thing as certainties. I’ve been in Auckland for two weeks and have left the horse with Nathan Purdon. He’s doing a splendid job. I’ll be back in Auckland on Thursday,” Dalgety said. Chevron Express beat Regal Love by half a head from an awkward second row draw in the Group Two $40,000 New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on March 31. That victory came almost two months after he and Dunn nailed the Group Three $25,000 Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton. Only six starters will greet starter Frank Phelan tonight. Chevron Express has drawn six. The 3-year-old Muscle Mass - Kathy Galleon filly has only had one start at Alexandra Park. That was when she finished a creditable third against the boys from gate 10 in the Group Two Sires Stakes 3yo Trotters Champs on April 21. “I think Dexter will amble forward with her at the start and then he will assess it from there. She should win but you can never tell with juvenile trotters. “You have to drive them like their reins are made of cotton, whereas a pacer you can throw rocks and stones at them all day and they will generally remain in their gait,” said Dalgety. “It’s an Oaks race and carries a lot of prestige. I want it,” he added. Chevron Express has been staying at Derek Balle's Pukekohe stable. Her only start over the 2200m mobile came last start when finishing a three-and-three-quarter length third behind the favourites Enghien and President Roydon. Chevron Express was the third favourite in that Group Two $60,000 Sires Stakes 3yo Trotting Championship. Toughest for her to beat tonight will be the Purdon and Rasmussen trained Regal Love, who has drawn five. The Love You filly was fifth favourite last week and finished an 11-length eighth. Tim Williams did the driving that night. Josh Dickie takes over the reins this time. But it’s hard to see any horse getting past Chevron Express. What beats her wins and for that reason she looks a trebles and quaddies anchor in the penultimate race of the evening. Chevron Express has raced 16 times for five wins, five placings and has banked $61,162 in stakes. She is owned by Small car World Limited.   Duane Ranger

Any doubts about speedy filly Bonnie Joan handling the longer distance of the Southland Oaks were well and truly kicked for touch today when she lead all the way and held on to win in a new New Zealand, Southland, race and track record time. “Even when she qualified on the grass at Balfour she seemed to be stronger. She’s got a great cruising speed and looks relaxed. The other feature she’s got is gait speed, and she doesn’t have to grind to get to the front. She seems to be able to do it and then they leave her alone which is great,” said Fr Dan Cummings who shares in the ownership with sister Julie Davie and brother Peter. “She’s the best filly we've raced in our own name," he added. In today's Group Two feature she was taken straight to the front by driver Dexter Dunn. Quality Southland filly Seaswift Joy sat parked beside her and her main danger, Delightful Memphis was hot on her tail in the trailing position. But it didn't matter with Bonnie Joan proving too good for those main rivals which ran second (Delightful Memphis) and third (Seaswift Joy).   Bonnie Joan and Dexter Dunn beating Delightful Memphis on the inside        Photo Bruce Stewart. The winning time of 3-17.1 bettered Nek Time's race record of  3-19.1, surpassed the all-comers record of 3-18.2 held by The Big Boss, broke the track and Southland record for the distance and became a new New Zealand record for three year old fillies. Piccadilly Princess's old record for the 2700 metre mobile for fillies was 3-17.9. Trained by Cran Dalgety, Bonnie Joan is fast becoming a new stable star for the Canterbury trainer. “He (Dalgety) said at one stage when Christen Me wasn’t firing that people were starting to ask him about her (Bonnie Joan).” Bonnie Joan is by Somebeachsomewhere out of the eight win Live Or Die mare Wave Runner and is named after Dan, Julie and Peter's mum Bonnie Joan Cummings. “Mum was completely responsible for Tuapeka Lodge. It’s a great delight for us that this filly is named after her. It’s been over forty years since mum died and to have her name on it – whether it’s a fluke or what?” The horse that’s putting up the performance has got her name and it's very delightful.” The win caps off a sensational few days for Tuapeka Lodge. Bonnie Joan’s half  sister Break Dance won the North Island Breeders Stakes in Auckland on Friday night and last night at Menangle Tuapeka Glory (Art Major – Lillian) won the Menangle Country Series pacing the 1609 metres in 1-52.1. Galactic Star also won in Perth on Friday night. Julie Davie, Peter Cummings, Dan Cummings, Brent and Sheree McIntyre (Macca Lodge) and Ged Mooar (Nevele R Stud) “It’s an unbelievable roll that we are on. You get a bit anxious about how long it’s going to last. We’ve been in the game too long to know that it will last forever.” For driver Dexter Dunn it cemented his domination of some of the feature races in Southland  He's now won four of the last six Southland Oaks, winning with Nek Time last season, Safedra in 2013 and Gaylee’s Delight in 2012. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing      

Bonnie Joan was sensational winning a heat of the Nevele R Fillies series at Forbury Park last night.    She ran her rivals ragged in New Zealand record time for a 3-year-old of any gender, 2.00.2 (1.53.8 mile rate) for 1700m (mobile) in drizzling rain on a saturated track. Her time was 0.2sec inside the record set by the filly Ideal Belle at Alexandra Park in 2013.   The time for Bonnie Joan was a track record for all ages, eclipsing the 2.01.8 mark set by filly Adore Me as a 3-year-old in ideal daytime conditions in 2012. The previous best in a Nevele R series heat at Forbury Park was 2.02.9 by Safedra in 2013.   Bonnie Joan had won over 2400m (mobile) in 2.53.8 (1.56 mile rate), 0.8sec outside a NZ record four days earlier at Winton.   “She is a nice filly who has got gate speed. It was a good effort to do those times in a few days and she did it comfortably,’’ said her driver Dexter Dunn.   “Nathan did a good job of looking after her.” Dunn was referring to Nathan Williamson who cared for Bonnie Jean during the week at Ryal Bush.   Bonnie Joan had won the first heat of the Nevele R series at Ashburton on February 4 in 1.52.8 for the mile.   The daughter of Somebeachsomewhere – Wave Runner is trained by Cran Dalgety for the Tuapeka Lodge syndicate comprising Peter and Dan Cummings and Julie Davie. Bonnie Joan is a half sister to Break Dance, who won the final of the Southern Belle series at Winton last Sunday in 1.53.3.   The Tuapeka Lodge syndicate have Break Dance leased out but the stud operation at Lawrence (Central Otago) sold her dam, Wave Runner, who won eight races.   Bonnie Joan gave Dalgety and Dunn their fourth win in a Nevele R series heat at Forbury Park. They also won with Safedra, Donegal Delight (2011) and Angela’s Dream (2008). Dalgety also won the 2007 heat with Dontdrinkthendrive, driven by Mark Jones.   Dalgety won the final in 2001 with Sparks A Flyin. She won a heat at Ashburton and did not race at Forbury Park.   Preferred (1983) and Venus Serena (2014) have gone on to win the final after success in the Forbury Park heat. Bonnie Joan is ineligible for the final heat of the series at Addington on April 21. The $140,000 final is there on May 12.   Bonnie Jean ended the unbeaten record in 10 starts of Partyon, who raced in the open and faded to fifth, 2.6 lengths from the winner.   “I think it was just the speed they went in her first race since March 3,” said trainer–driver Mark Purdon. Partyon will now go to the final heat, along with stablemate Spanish Armada, who won a heat at Addington on March 16.   Tayler Strong

Dexter Dunn knows how to beat Ultimate Machete and he says it isn’t the way some punters expect in tonight’s $200,000 New Zealand Derby. The champion reinsman Dunn pulled off one of the tactical drives of the season to capture the Northern Derby last month on Raukapuka Ruler, who he kept ticking over  in front as Ultimate Machete got into traffic trouble back in the field. The pair clash again in tonight’s classic and this time Ultimate Machete has the ace draw but Raukapuka Ruler probably has the gate speed to get across him early from barrier six. But Dunn, who drives at Addington more than anybody else, says punters wanting to bet against Ultimate Machete shouldn’t do so thinking he will get beaten for speed and locked away on the markers. “That doesn’t tend to be the case at Addington from the 2600m start,” warns Dunn. “It is quite easy to hold up from barrier one and even if you don’t as long as you are going forward at the winning post the first time around you can usually get off because the field breaks open. “So I don’t see Ultimate Machete being locked away and to be honest it is not the way I drive to try and keep him there.” Dunn doesn’t rule out a Derby double for Raukapuka Ruler but admits it will be harder to win tonight than it was at Alexandra Park last month. “My fella has a little chance of winning again because he is racing great but the two favourites have the advantage. “Ultimate Machete will be near the lead at some stage and we know what a good stayer he is but I think Vincent is the horse to beat. “He shouldn’t have been able to make ground three wide in a 53.9 last 800m like he did last Friday and I think he will be the improver.” While Raukapuka Ruler and even Tiger Thompson could add early tactical spice it is hard to envisage any other scenario than either Ultimate Machete or Vincent being in front with a lap to go. Ultimate Machete may be the better stayer but Vincent could have more raw speed so in a lead-trail scenario maybe Vincent is the better bet, definitely the better value. The All Stars look set for another huge night on their home track, with Lazarus red hot to win the free-for-all even from a wide draw, especially if driven aggressively early. And they have numbers on their side in the Welcome Stakes, with Spankem the favourite but The Devils Own maybe having a little x-factor and capable of upsetting. The Trotting Derby looks Enghien’s to lose, with his manners his biggest issue but he has been solid in most of his Addington starts. An interesting challenger is Heavyweight Hero, who has looked very sharp in national record times at Alexandra Park but starts on the unruly tonight after misbehaving twice at the workouts last week. As his best he looks more of a threat to Enghien than most of his usual southern rivals. The night’s other group one trot, the NZ Champs, shows just how weakened our elite ranks are by injury and exports, with Master Lavros a shadow of the horse he was two years ago but still probably the one to beat.  Michael Guerin

Pat’s Delight gave Gore owners Pat and Margaret Kubala a change of fortunes with an easy win at Forbury Park on Thursday night. The Kubalas, operating as Charlton Park Enterprises Ltd, lost Rapid Flight, a 3-year-old sister to Pat’s Delight a week earlier. Rapid Flight, who had been placed in four of her five starts, died from ryegrass staggers when due to resume work. The 2-year-old colt Pat’s Delight (Bettor’s Delight – Righteous Franco) is believed to have been affected by the same problem 12 months ago and he was on intravenous treatment for three days. Pat’s Delight, who finished third in his other start, led throughout 2200m and won by three and a half lengths. Righteous Franco has also left Rapid Mach (three wins) and Lightning Mach, both by Mach Three. Lightning Mach won 10 races for the Kubalas when trained by Cran Dalgety. He is also the trainer of Pat’s Delight. Lightning Mach was sold to the United States in July, 2016. She subsequently won her first three races and took a record of 1.51.2. Pat Kubala, who has a seed business, said anyone grazing horses should be aware of ryegrass varieties that have a low level of endophyte. That is a naturally occurring fungi in ryegrass when ingested affects the nervous system of animals, causing  “staggers”. Dunedin owner Russell Nieper also had a change of fortunes when he won with The Persuader, trained by Eion Latimer. His two win pacer Until Further Notice, trained by Latimer, has been diagnosed with a second fractured pastern. He was sidelined in December, 2015 with a fracture in his other hind leg. Gerard Cayford, the owner of Ygritte, said he would exercise a right of purchase on the 5-year-old trotting mare after her win, her third this year. He has the sister to dual Harness Jewels winner King Denny and half sister to Sarah Lindenny on lease from Trevor Casey. Ygritte won a race for Colin and Julie De Filippi before joining the stable of Amber Hoffman. The daughter of Majestic Son – A Touch of Sun had another 26 starts over 23 months before she regaining the winning list at Waikouaiti in February. Heard The Whisper, the six - win trotter owned by Cayford and trained by Hoffman, has fractured a cannon bone. He will require boxing for the next six weeks. Zsa Ziva has thrived during a stint with Makarewa trainer Craig Ferguson. She capped four minor placings with a six and a quarter length win in the hands of Sheree Tomlinson, whose mother Amanda Tomlinson and Grandfather Ken Ford race. She a half-sister to Zachary Binx (seven wins). “We have been doing little work with her (Zsa Ziva) between races,” said Sheree. Martin Denton did not get the win he wanted when he drove Och Aye The Noo on his 65th birthday, but he trained the winner Bourbon And Dry. He also had a great party at Forbury Park with a host of friends. Tayler Strong  

The best of them might still be in the paddock at home, but even that shouldn’t be enough to stop the All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen from dominating tonight’s Group One New Zealand Breeders Stakes. With no Dream About Me in the $100,000 event, the All Stars have two more the capable replacements to carry the stable colours and shoot for the gold in Piccadilly Princess and Golden Goddess. Piccadilly Princess returns off the back of a highly successful Australian campaign while Golden Goddess returns to the races having not had a workout or a trial but is certain to be ready to rock and roll when the whips are cracking. With their high class stablemate absent, it’s a perfect opportunity for one of them to step up and grab some major glory although North Island raiders, Better B Amazed and The Orange Agent might have something to say about that. They have both been fantastic in recent weeks and Better B Amazed already has a feature mares’ win at Addington under her belt this season from winning the Premier Mares’ Championship. The Orange Agent comes into the event with the best form however having beaten Inter Dominion Champion, Smolda at her last start and that was enough to lure Tony Herlihy down for the night to drive the Brian Hughes trained mare. Meanwhile Cran Dalgety will lead the charge against the blue and silver army in another highlight of the night, the Vero Flying Stakes. A precursor to the Group One New Zealand Derby for the three-year-olds the race is littered with Purdon and Rasmussen runners, but Dalgety’s star, Rakapuka Ruler has shown that even the best are beatable given the right circumstances. “It’s going to be tough, there’s a few of them there to contend with,” Dalgety said. “Whether we can repeat what happened last time, I’m not sure.” Last time was the Great Northern Derby at Alexandra Park where Rakapuka Ruler was too good for everyone, thanks in large to a cagey front running drive from Dexter Dunn. “I said to our owners the other day that if there’s only two Derbies every year and we have won one of them, so what happens now is a bonus really. “He’s in great fettle, the trip to Auckland has really brought him on in my opinion. “But then again he will need to be better.” Ultimate Machete, who finished second to Rakapuka Ruler at Auckland and Vincent who was too good in Australia are expected to dominate tonight. One race where the All Stars don’t appear to be assured of a win, but aren’t completely out of the equation, is the New Zealand Trotting Oaks. They line up Regal Love, fresh from Australia, against a quality field of three-year-old trotting fillies. Dalgety holds a strong hand in that race too with Chevron Express. “It’s nice to have something a bit different to the norm in a trotter,” he said after her win last Friday night. “It’s a new a challenge and one I am enjoying and she’s going great guns.” Chevron Express will start off the second line with Zoey’s Gift, from the Phil Williamson barn, expected to be a formidable foe based on her career to date. The well bred filly, who is raced by big spending Australians, Emilio and Mary Rosati, looks an ideal staying prospect and from a good draw will be on the speed to press the issue with Matty Williamson in the bike. And, in a case of potentially leaving the best to last, tonight’s Superstars Championship promises to be a humdinger. New Zealand Cup champion, Lazarus returns to Addington for the first time since his Cup Week heroics and looks almost a certainty based on his season to date, enhanced even further by the one barrier draw. The enigma however will come from his stable mate, Heaven Rocks, who showed at Auckland that he’s capable of footing it with anyone in Australasia when on his game and an intriguing battle is in store if he can put everything together.   Super Selector - by Matt Markham Race 1: Bailey’s Knight, Mac Almighty, Shineonyoucrazydiamond, Sparkling Delight Race 2: Musculus, BD Khaosan, Lavros Jack, Foreverman Race 3: Mossdale Rose, Sheeza GNP, Hard Day’s Night, Art Courage Race 4: Zoey’s Gift, Chevron’s Express, Di’z Luck, Regal Love Race 5: Lazarus, Heaven Rocks, Field Marshal, Chase The Dream Race 6: Franco Nelson, Ears Burning, Benicio, Maverick Race 7: Piccadilly Princess, The Orange Agent, Golden Goddess, Better B Amazed Race 8: Ultimate Machete, Vincent, Rakapuka Ruler, Pacing Major Race 9: Wilma’s Mate, Ronald J, Blazing Under Fire, Habibti Ivy Race 10: Whittaker, Let It Ride, Mongolian Hero, Franco Hampton Best Bet: Ultimate Machete (Race 8) Value: Bailey’s Knight (Race 1)

Away from New Zealand for close to 10 years, Graham Bond got back on the board at Addington on Thursday night. Better known around the traps as Bondy, the colourful character, who used to be domiciled in Rakaia, but is now training out of West Melton gained his first winner since returning home when he produced Superfecta to win the highest assessed pace of the night on Thursday, lowering the colours of some tidy individuals in the process. Bond spent the majority of his time away from New Zealand in Western Australia training the odd horse but has returned to his native land and is back training here while also helping out at the Kentuckiana Lodge stables of Cran Dalgety. Bond has 74 New Zealand winners next to his name with many handy types along the way. Microscopic who he trained to win 10 would be the best of them – his list of victories included success in the Group One Easter Cup when driven by John Hay. Other notable performers from his stable over the years have included; Scottish Sailor (six wins), Amiable Poplar (six wins), Beaudiene Byrd, Sun Lover and Royal Wren (all three wins). Thursday night’s winner, Superfecta was acquired by Bond when he returned to New Zealand from the stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. A winner of four races prior to joining his care, Superfecta finished second first up for his new trainer before being late scratched at the barrier at Amberley after refusing to face the starter. He finished second at the Cheviot meeting behind the talented Gotta Go Ya Hu and once Blair Orange managed to secure the trail on Thursday night the five-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight was always going to be a chance. He burst through the passing lane and held off a brave A G’s Whitesocks to claim the victory in a slick 1:55.2 mile rate.   Earlier in the night Spanish Armada booked herself a spot in the Group One $140,000 Nevele R Fillies Final on May 12. The All Stars filly was handled by Tim Williams in the absence of regular pilot Natalie Rasmussen and made things look all too pedestrian as she strode to the front, dictated terms, and then jogged her way down to the line. Delightful Memphis emerged from the pack to finish second – all but assuring herself a spot in the final while Mossdale Rose and Seaswift Joy both produced tidy efforts. Three heats remain in the series with one at Cambridge, another at Forbury and then the final chance to qualify at Addington late in April. Partyon will be expected to contest one of those heats as she looks to continue her incredible career. Spanish Armada was one of two winners for the All Stars with The Devil’s Own producing an impressive effort to win the two-year-old event in the hands of Williams. The half-brother to well-credentialed pacer, Devil Dodger was far too good for his rivals in a very slick time.   Matt Markham

Vicki Purdon is keeping realistic about the sale of the horse who shot her back into the harness racing limelight. News has filtered through this week of the sale to North America of outstanding pacer Christen Me who has struggled to recapture his best form in the past 12 months. And for Purdon, who co-owned by the 11-time Group One winner with Charlie Roberts, it’s bringing mixed emotions. “Obviously there is a bit of sadness there that he’s going,” she said. “But at the same time he has given myself, Paul and Mary Kenny and Charlie Roberts a wonderful ride for such a long time too. So I’m also excited about the next chapter for him and hope that he goes over there and does a great job.” The news was a bit of a bolt from the blue for the industry with Dalgety suggesting that next month’s Easter Cup could potentially be the pacer’s last start. But the wheels have obviously gained motion quickly and the sale is now official. Despite some word about that they would retain a share in the gelding, Purdon confirmed that wasn’t going to be the case. “We have decided not to keep a share in him, so he’s completely sold.” That also negates the opportunity for Christen Me to return to New Zealand following the completion of his racing days in North America with the decision on what happens post-career ultimately up to his new owners. Christen Me leaves New Zealand as one of the greats of the past decade. After beginning his career with Mark Purdon and Grant Payne he found his way into the Cran Dalgety stable and would win his first eight starts in Kentuckianna Lodge colours. As a four-year-old, he raced 15 times for 13 wins and two seconds as well as two Australian victories. He won the Taylor Mile, The Messenger and the Jewels - the latter arguably one of his best performances on Kiwi soil after drawing badly on the second row and working hard the entire trip three wide in a 1:51.5 mile. But it was his five-year-old career that will go down as his greatest. He won the Hunter Cup, sitting parked, over a distance that many said he couldn’t handle and then returned to the following year to add to Miracle Mile, sitting outside Beautide, and the Victoria Cup to the mantle. “That would have to be the highlight for me,” Purdon said. “Winning those big races over there, especially the Hunter Cup after everyone kept telling me he couldn’t go the distance. “Just having him at the races was great though, we had some wonderful times.” In 68 starts down under, Christen Me won 32 races, placed 21 times and won close to $2.5 million in earnings. Now he gets the chance to revitalise himself in America and hopefully recapture some of that form that made his almost invincible here. Matt Markham

Champion harness racing pacer Christen Me has run his last race on New Zealand soil. The 11 time Group I winner, who earned his connections more than $2,470,000 in stakes, will continue his racing career in North America. His departure, in three weeks time, brings the curtain down on what has been a life changing era for Cran Dalgety. The Canterbury-based trainer guided the career of the exceptional pacer for 66 of his 68 starts across Australasia. Christen Me would be sold, but Dalgety confirmed there was a possibility his owners, Charlie Roberts and Vicki Purdon, could retain a share. Dalgety said it was still very much on the radar that he would return to New Zealand when he retired from racing. The decision to send the star pacer overseas had been an emotional and difficult process for his connections, but one Dalgety is adamant is the right decision for the horse. At his best, Christen Me was every bit as good as his record suggests. Being named the New Zealand Horse of the Year for the 2014/15 season as well as countless other awards from all over Australasia proved that. But right in his prime, when his reputation as the pin-up boy of pacing across Australasia and immense popularity were in full swing, Christen Me was struck down with a virus in the lead up to the 2015 New Zealand Trotting Cup. He would be sidelined for 10 and a half months and when he did return, he was never the same. He did win two more races, including the Group III Rangiora Classic, but his once scintillating speed and stamina were gone. His connections felt it likely, the son of Christian Cullen out of standout broodmare Splendid Dreams, had been suffering from minor pulmonary haemorrhages. In North America, the use of Lasix, which helps prevent such bleeding, is within the rules of racing and has helped revive the career of many New Zealand and Australian horses. Three time Harness Jewels winner Sky Major recently won in North America after struggling to find his best form in New Zealand and Australia. Dalgety said it was frustrating that he could not race on competitively in New Zealand or that they could not take him to North America themselves, but neither option was realistic. "With the way things are over there he could really improve," he said. "He's got a lot of life left in him yet, he's only had 68 starts so he hasn't been overaced." Dalgety was aware there would be criticism for not sending Christen Me off for a happy retirement but the other side of the equation was that the horse deserves the chance to finish his stellar career on a high. "He's happy, healthy and still enjoying his work and racing so do we really want to shove him in a paddock and watch him charge up and down the fence line? He's got the next 20 years to do that. "People could say I should have done the same with Bit Of A Legend, but he's gone over there and won $1.2 million New Zealand dollars in the last 18 months. "The good ones love being around the stable and love racing, that's what sets them apart," Dalgety said. The decision was a fine balance of a good business move and what was best for the horse, he said. It is hard to make a case for it being any different to an All Black who was on the downward slide and taking up a lucrative playing contact overseas. Dalgety is confident most harness racing purists would remember Christen Me's brilliance rather than the struggles of the last 12 months. At his peak, Christen Me, Dalgety and regular driver Dexter Dunn were as close to household names as racing identities get. All of Christen Me's 32 victories came in Dalgety's colours, including the first eight in as many starts after transferring from the Mark Purdon and Grant Payne training partnership. Winning the 2014 $500,000 Miracle Mile was an obvious standout for Dalgety amongst a career full of highlights. Christen Me did not contest an Inter Dominion series, and the only major scalp he missed out on that he did start in was the New Zealand Trotting Cup. "For New Zealand trainers, the big one is the New Zealand Cup and then if you can't win that you really want the Miracle Mile," Dalgety said. His best result from three Cup attempts, was his third behind Terror To Love in 2013 but his best performance came the following year. He blew the start, was held up significantly in the last 400m and still charged home to finish fifth, just three and a half lengths behind race winner Adore Me. Dalgety said he was lucky and privileged to be involved with a horse like Christen Me. Although he never won a Cup, Christen Me's name would always be in the discussion when the best horses not to win a Cup were mulled over. "People said that he couldn't stay the two miles, but he sat parked and won the Hunter Cup (3280m)," Dalgety said. Hunter Cup When it comes time to say goodbye, it would not be easy. Christen Me has been a major part of the Dalgety family's life. "He's laid back around the stables, but he's got a strong personality on race day that you cannot help but like. "He's been a flag bearer for our stable for many reasons," Dalgety said. He knows a horse like Christen Me may be a once in a lifetime experience, but he can already look to a bright future with Friday night's Group I Northern Derby winner Raukapuka Ruler and Group II Delightful Lady Classic winner Bettor Joy. "It was unexpected to win the Derby, but a massive thrill for us and the filly has got a really bright future," Dalgety said. Bettor Joy will stay in the North to contest a Sires Stakes heat at Alexandra Park in two weeks time and Raukapuka Ruler will head back to Canterbury to prepare for the New Zealand Derby. The departure of Christen Me follows the recent defection of fellow Group I winning pacers Mossdale Conner (United States) and Tiger Tara (Australia). Reprinted with permission - Matt Kermeen  

Nothing went to plan for Raukapuka Ruler in last night’s $250,000 Woodlands Derby - and that is what won him the race. The Canterbury three-year-old lead throughout to hold off a luckless favourite Ultimate Machete, much to the surprise of trainer Cran Dalgety and driver Dexter Dunn. “I am as surprised as anybody,” said Dalgety. “I would have been thrilled with fourth in a field that strong because this Derby is the New Zealand Cup of three-year-old racing. “So we had to use the draw (ace) and lead but the plan was to hand up to the first one of the big guns to get there and take us on. “But as it turned out the ones who challenged weren’t the best ones so Dex stayed in front and he is still there. “He is a lovely horse and we are thrilled but it also goes to show how special a driver Dexter is.” The win capped a golden night for Dalgety and Dunn who also combined to win the $80,000 Delightful Lady Classic with Bettor Joy. “To come up here and get two big ones is special but especially the Derby, I have never won this one before, its a huge deal to me.” It was a night where leaders and those close to the speed dominated on one of the wettest Alexandra Park tracks in the last 20 years but Raukapuka Ruler’s time was still that of a very good horse and he should end up another open classer for Dalgety. Earlier in the night trainer-driver Barry Purdon was all aggression to steer Mach Shard to an all the way win in the Young Guns Final, taking the first major juvenile race of the season in emphatic fashion. Last season’s Karaka sales topper now looked a cheap buy as a stylish colt who has so much a head of him. But one of the most heart-warming wins of the night was The Orange Agent’s victory over Smolda in the City Of Auckland Free-For-All. Having only her second start back after 14 months away from racing with a potentially career-ending injury, The Orange Agent clawed past Smolda up the passing lane. It sets her up for a glass of pacing’s queens when she heads to Addington in a few weeks to take on Dream About Me and potentially Piccadilly Princess in the Breeders Stakes. Michael Guerin The $250,000 Great Northern Derby The $80,000 Delightful Lady Classic The $96,000 Young Guns Final

Southland breeders once again had mixed results at the harness racing Sale Of the Stars in Christchurch early this week. From a general sales perceptive there were a good number of top end yearlings sold. But on the other side of the ledger a number of horses were passed in and the fillies in the catalogue sold relatively cheaply. Leading the southern charge though, were John and Judy Stiven from Arden Lodge in West Otago who took seven colts and one filly to this years sale. Their top lot Arden Roanoke sold for $155,000 and was bought by Cran Dalgety while Arden Crest (sold for $80,000) and Arden Voyager (sold for $52,500) made up their top three lots. “We were very pleased. We thought we had three colts that could go to $100,000 and if one of them did we’d be alright. When you average the three of them out they basically did." said John. Arden's Crest and Arden Rumours went to Australian owners, Arden Surf was picked up by Southland trainer Nathan Williamson, Barry Purdon has Arden Voyager in his barn and Arden's Pearl was bought by Woodlands Stud. The rest of the lots will remain in Canterbury.  “It was a very good spread geographically and everyone that's got them has the ability to do a job with them.” Arden Roanoke was the sale's second top lot, only bettered by Franco Stallone ($190,000).  “He was always the favourite as Rocknroll Arden (his dam) is my favourite mare. To leave a colt like that first up was pretty good. He looked good from when he was born.”  This is the first time the Stivens have had a sizeable number of well bred colts at the sale and John says the SBSR tour helped sell his draft.  “We had some very good comments on the tour. I guess that put a bit of buoyancy into our trip up there. We had a number of people coming along and saying that your Mum and Dad would be proud of you. The result we got made us proud for them as well as us.” The Arden name is also starting to become more prominent on the other side of the Tasman and Arden Rooney's win in the 2015 New Zealand Trotting Cup has been a great promotional tool for the next generation. “I think we’re going to get a rub off for some time. It’s hard to quantify. We had Geoff Webster (Australian trainer of Southland pacer Franco Ledger) looking at quite a few of our draft before they went to the ring and he ended up buying Arden's Crest. I said to him 'you must know a bit about Arden Lodge with Franco Ledger racing against Arden Rooney' and he said 'sure do.' It’s huge what Arden Rooney has done for Arden Lodge - there’s no doubt about that.” The Stivens had one lot passed in - Arden In Flight - but he's gone to Canterbury trainer Grant Payne who's taken up a partnership deal with the Stivens. “Grant did that with Arden Rooney. He's been a good part of what Arden Lodge does for many many years. I’ve known him since I was a lad at school.” When asked if there were any disappointing results Stiven pointed to his well bred filly Arden's Pearl (Somebeachsomewhere - Ardenart). “I was surprised she only got to twenty. I thought she was as modern a breed as people could get. It was nice that the people at Woodlands Stud could see that and basically snapped her up. They’ve bought her for the long term.” Stiven says that what lifted this draft above others he has taken to the sales, were the number of colts they had to offer. They were undoubtedly better sellers than fillies.   “Having colts makes a horrendously big difference. To have Macca Lodge ringing up saying you’ve got another colt is music to your ears at that stage.” Stiven says one noticeable trend this year was that buyers were concentrating on buying at the top end of the market and were not so interested in spreading their purchasing dollar to horses in the lower price range. “I think the way multiple ownerships are set up now, trainers are targeting horses for their needs and the number they want. They’re putting more people into the horses they buy.” Other Southland bred horses fared well too. These yearling were all in the top twenty selling lots: Cheer The Major (Art Major- Cheer The Lady) $150,000; Dream Major (Art Major - Christian Dreamer) $120,000; Harmony Delight (Bettor's Delight - Gotta Go Harmony) $120,000; Findlay Road (Art Major - Priscilla Shard) $80,000 and Hopeing For Glory (Mach Three - Breath Of Life) $70,000. On the buying front Invercargill lawyer Murray Little, his nephew Malcolm Little and his wife Sandra of Cromwell invested in a nice range of fillies. Leading the purchases was Bettor's Delight filly Pembrook Ruby which is a full-sister to Pembrook's Delight, the winner of nine races and the winner of the Four Year Old Mares Diamond. They paid $41,000 for her. Major Joy (Art Major - Jumpforjoy) is now also under their ownership. They paid $27,000 for the daughter of the seven win mare. They also purchased Carrera Caress, a filly by Bettor's Delight out of Gentle Audrey. She's had eight foals to the races all of which have been winners including the ill-fated Gentle Western which won five of his ten starts and holds a Southland track record for three years.  At the lower end of their spend was Rocknroll Robin a A Rocknroll Dance filly out of Classy Fleet. This filly is from the Black Watch family. "Malcolm spent a lot of time studying. The A Rocknroll Dance we bought in the ring, because at $8,500 we thought it was a good buy. It was a buyers sale. If we'd bought those fillies last year or the year before they would have cost us another forty percent," said Murray.    Malcolm Little used to train horses in the mid eighties early nineties at Murray Gray's property at Ryal Bush. He's now retired but looks after the family cherry orchards in Cromwell. "He got back into them when I bought Popular for about $1,500. I broke her in and said to him I'll give you a fifty per-cent share for $1,500. Now he can't keep his hand down (went he's at the sales)."   Murray also, under the Havtime Breeding banner, purchased the Mach Three filly Movin Right Along - the first foal of the Bettor's Delight mare Bettor Move It. She won four races and was placed in a good number of age group stake races. He paid $36,000 for her. Movin Right Along Local trainer Wayne Adams, who's had marked success with his sales purchases, bought four between $10,000 and $18,000 while the Whatever Syndicate got back into the game buying The Mighty Cullen (Christian Cullen - Themightykendall) for $24,000. He's out of a full sister to I'm Themightyquinn. They also paid $52,000 for Bettor's Delight colt Stingray Tara a full-brother to Tiger Tara.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Art Major went within a whisker of usurping super sire, Bettor’s Delight on the second day of selling at the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sales in Christchurch yesterday. Alabar principals will have been over the moon to calculate the statistics of their marquee stallion as he went stride for stride with the seemingly untouchable Woodlands Stud resident on what was a slightly improved day two. With 30 lots on offer, Art Major’s progeny produced an aggregate of $892,000 for the day - with an average of just over $40,500 and a clearance rate of above 73 per cent. Bettor’s Delight had 37 lots in the book with three withdrawn but still managed to a total of just over $1 million in sales for the day with an average of over $41,000 and a clearance of just above 70 per cent. Four of the day’s five top lots were by Art Major - the highest of them a colt from Rocknroll Arden who fetched $155,000 when purchased by Cran Dalgety. Cheer The Lady’s first foal, a colt, went for $150,000 to clients of Brent Mangos while half-brothers to start four-year-old’s Lazarus and Chase The Dream both went for $120,000. The only Bettor’s Delight to split them was a filly from Gotta Go Harmony who was purchased by Mark Jones for a band of his owners for $120,000. Jones joined the party late in bidding for the standout filly before eventually grabbing her following some healthy bidding. For Nigel McGrath, the $120,000 he found to secure the half-brother to Lazarus, who was a rig, was breaking new ground. “It’s the highest I’ve paid for one,” McGrath said. “I was the underbidder on the brother to Partyon on Monday so this is a bit of a consolation. “McGrath was still in the process of finalising ownership for the colt.” Trevor Casey stamped his authority early when grabbing the half to Chase The Dream, who incidentally was also a rig. Cheer The Lady’s first foal will remain in New Zealand after Brent Mangos played the role of purchaser for one of his clients. “I actually drove the mare a few times, and she has left an outstanding colt. “It’s getting into big territory for us, but we decided this year to cut back on the number of horses we buy and focus on some bigger prices so to get this one is reallypleasing.” All counted there were seven lots on the second day that fetched six figure totals. Greg and Nina Hope were proactive on the trotting front, buying three lots for the day including a close relation to one of their current stars, Enghien. They paid $54,000 for a Dream Vacation colt from Another Love who herself was purchased in foal from the sale of the late Carl Middleton two years ago then they also went to $50,000 to grab a Revenue colt from Harriet Hughes, making the colt a half-brother to Harriet Of Mot. There was a slight lift in sales on the day from Tuesday’s opening day in Christchurch. The two days ended with an average of just over $27,000 and a surprising clearance rate of 77 per cent. More than $11 million was spent over the three days   Matt Markham

The latest harness racing star to come out of the John and Katrina Price Winton stable Chicago Bull, is now doing a fantastic job in Western Australia for trainer Gary Hall. The diminutive gelding was bred by Roger, Helen, John and Katrina Price from their Christian Cullen mare Chicago Blues which they bought off Aidan Johnstone for $40,000 at the 2008 Yearling Sales. Chicago Blues is from the famed Black Watch family and her dam Bluejeanbabyqueen is by Jenna’s Beach Boy out of the nine win Vance Hanover mare Pacific Flight whose wins included the 1993 New Zealand Oaks. She then went on to have a successful racing career in America winning a further thirty eight races and recording a mile time of 1-51.2. Bluejeanbabyqueen despite her international pedigree didn’t reach any great heights on the race track. She started her career in America in 2004 before she came to New Zealand where David and Catherine Butt took over her training. Her only win was at Wyndham in March 2016. Chicago Blues is Bluejeanbabyqueen’s first foal and one of only two winners from her eight live foals. “We were interested in her (Chicago Blues) but she was passed in. She wasn’t a big filly. It was Aidan Johnstone who sold her. He had a terrible sale that year. One other yearling that he had which was probably going to fetch a bit slipped over on the concrete and broke a pelvis. She (Chicago Blues) went early in the sale but after that I guess he was keen to sell because he hadn’t had a very lucky sale at all.” Katrina said. Consequently Chicago Blues was bought by the Prices privately a week later. “We always wanted something out of the Black Watch family and she was one that we targeted for that reason.” Looking back into Chicago Blues pedigree; as well as leaving Bluejeansbabyqueen, Pacific Flight also left the unbeaten Sirius Flight (The Big Dog) which won five of its five starts in America. Chicago Blues third dam is Significant which has made a major contribution to the New Zealand breeding scene. She’s left winners of 104 races with her biggest winners being Pacific Flight (47 wins) and The Unicorn (29). Sirius Flight after her stint in America went to stud in New Zealand where she has left Malak Uswaad (9 wins) and Timeless Perfection (6 NZ wins). She’s owned by Cavalla Bloodstock and they continue to breed from her. They offered a colt foal by Raging Bull out of Lady Moonlight (Sands A Flyin – Sirius Flight) at last year’s Yearling Sales which was bought by Chrissie Dalgety for $27,000. Commentator Mark McNamara and Cavalla Bloodstock are breeding from another one of Sirius Flight’s daughters Miss Moonlight Shadow (Christian Cullen). Her son Schweinsteiger by Falcon Seelster was purchased by the owners of Franco Ledger – the Whatever Syndicate,and Hamish Hunter for $16,000, also at last year’s sales. But back to Chicago Blues.As a racehorse she showed potential. “She had a lot of ability but she had a few problems as well. She used to lock on and hang very badly. As a four year old she used to tie up really badly. We only had her right a couple of times. One of those days she ran a super second to Malak Uswaad at Winton when those two cleared out from the field. She was hormonal and always in season so we had to make the decision to quit,” said Katrina. “She showed a lot of speed when we first broke her in,” added John. It was just a matter of slowing her down.” At the end of her racing career Chicago Blues was sent up to Cran Dalgetys. “She just wouldn’t go for him because she just kept hanging so we brought her home,” said Katrina. So twenty three starts yielded three wins, two seconds and a third. She was sent to Bettor’s Delight to begin her stud career. Her first foal Chicago Bull was born on the 14th October 2014. “He was small but nuggety so he got the nickname Bull straight away,” said Katrina.  We castrated him early because Peter Williams said “I think you should cut him. It might help him grow,” said John. He never did grow much and for a start there were reservations about him even making it as a racehorse. “He wasn’t a natural at the start. He just wouldn’t pace at all. I was going to give up on him but John had another go and the day he started pacing he was just off.” It was then that he started to show real potential. “Up here at Winton one day be worked 2-04 one day, half in 56 in September and did it on his ear. The year before we’d had Democrat Party and we thought he was as good as her at the same stage,” stated John.  I’ve had other horses that have felt good until you hit top speed. Whereas he never felt good until you hit that top speed. The faster you went the bigger he felt,” said Katrina. He won at Winton twice as a two year old and buyer interest began to heighten but his size was putting some off. “They’d ring up and say they’d checked him and he was too small. The guy that wanted him originally from Perth said he wasn’t good enough for him. He ended up buying another horse that’s gone no good,” Katrina said. Chicago Bull finished his two year old season by running seventh in the Two Year Old Emerald at Ashburton behind Lazarus. His time for the 1609 metres that day was 1-53.7 and he was less than five lengths from the winner. He was then sold to clients of Gary Hall Senior’s stable in West Australia. “It was a strong crop that year with horses like Lazarus. He ran home in better than 25 that day when he came along the rails. That’s what sold him really. They bought him a week after that,” said John. North Island bloodstock agent Peter Blanchard did the deal. “He was a neat wee horse to work with. He was always on your side. As far as a two year old goes whatever we asked him to do at home he never ever stop trying and he was always hitting the line really strongly,” said Katrina. “At home I always thought we never got to the bottom of him. He always had his knockers because he was so small and you were always worried that he’d reach his limit quickly. He’s in the right spot at Gloucester Park. He just seems to like that track.” His Australian record is impeccable - sixteen wins, three seconds and four thirds from twenty three starts. Chicago Bull His wins include the Group One West Australian Derby, Group One McInerney Ford Four Year Old Classic and $450,000 Group One West Australian Pacing Cup. He has now won $854,314. Chicago Blues continues to be bred from, producing a colt by Somebeachsomewhere named Maliblu Beach and a two year old filly by Rock N Roll Heaven.   “He (Maliblu Beach) was just the complete opposite in every respect to Bull. He was huge, ugly, slow and dirty, said Katrina.                                                                                                 “We roped him so many times but he’d still kick you so he’s not around.” added John.  The two year old Rock N Roll Heaven filly appears to be better. “She’s really big. She’s done a bit and is a nice filly but she’s in the paddock.” And the good news is that Chicago Blues has just had a colt by Bettor’s Delight making him a full brother to Chicago Bull. And she’s returning to that sire. “We want a colt. Don’t want fillies. We had a run where we had 23 foals and we had 21 fillies. We really want colts,” said John. Although the Prices are having a quiet time on the training front there are plenty more foals to be broken in and tried and certainly some rich pedigrees to match up with the wide array of stallions available. Chicago Bull still has plenty of racing ahead of him and the Prices will no doubt continue to watch a bit of late night Trackside as he tends to do most of his racing in Western Australia. And despite his diminutive stature he’s proof that size doesn’t matter.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Leading harness trainer Cran Dalgety says he will fight to defend his name after two of his stable returned positive swabs to cobalt. Dalgety was left feeling sick to his stomach after Fatima Siad at Timaru on November 19 and Raukapuka Ruler at Addington on December 16 returned unacceptably high levels of cobalt. Dalgety was informed of the positives on Tuesday and said while he is resigned to his two horses being disqualified from their wins, he will defend his reputation should any charges of administration be laid against him. “To be point blank honest about it, anybody who thinks I would give a horse something illegal to win a race at Timaru is crazy and I would be crazy to do it. “I wouldn’t jeopardize my career for a race where the trainer’s percentage would hardly buy by family a dinner out. That just ridiculous. “All I can put it down to is we have changed some of our feeds recently and they, like a lot of feeds, have trace elements of cobalt in them. “I am hoping the RIU investigations will show that but I won’t be getting into a big legal battle with them. “The facts are the facts and I know we never use anything inappropriate on the horses so I don’t want to get into a big legal stoush over it. “So hopefully the right things happen because if something like this ended up in me getting time that would be the end of my career, which would be ridiculous. “But while I am gutted at what has happened, my conscience is clear.” Southern trainer Shane Walkinshaw was found to have not committed any wrongdoing last year when a cobalt positive returned by one of his runners was found to have been caused by contaminated feed. Dalgety is a far bigger name in the racing industry, as not only a premiership winner but the trainer of $2.4million earner Christen Me. RIU boss Mike Godber told the Herald  his inspectors had taken samples of food and supplements from Dalgety’s stable and the analysis of those products would be crucial to the next step in the investigation. “Cran’s other horses had been returning higher than usual cobalt readings for a few weeks so we need to see if his change in feeding and supplements used was the cause of that. “That won’t be a quick process that but that is the next step in the investigation.” Michael Guerin

The NZ Racing Laboratory Services has advised the Racing Integrity Unit of irregularities in the urine samples taken from the horses Fatima Siad in Race 11 at the Timaru Harness Racing Club meeting on Saturday 19 November 2016 and Raukapuka Ruler in Race 1 at the NZMTC meeting on Friday 16 December 2016. Both horses are trained in Canterbury by Mr C Dalgety.   The irregularities are to Cobalt which in New Zealand Harness Racing is a prohibited substance at a level above 200 ug/L.    RIU Officials are conducting an investigation and no further comment will be made until the investigation has been completed.    A previous cobalt positive in harness racing was caused by contamination in a feed supplement.    Mike Godber  General Manager  Racing Integrity Unit

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