Ten horsemen and one horsewoman were inducted into the Noel Taylor New Zealand Trotting Hall Of Fame on Auckland Cup night last Friday. But it was harness racing legend, Charlie Roberts, who stole the limelight at the 4pm ceremony. He was one of four industry participants who were also bestowed with ‘Harness Racing Contribution Awards’. Mr Roberts, who turned 90 this month, left hospital on Friday especially to be at the function and to watch Adore Me run second in the Auckland Cup. A renowned veterinarian, breeder, stud master and owner, Mr Roberts has been a driving force in New Zealand harness racing circles for more than 60 years. Initially involved in thoroughbreds it has been his association with Woodlands stud that has kept him a household harness racing name. For example at last year’s annual Harness Racing Awards he Christchurch Mr Roberts won five trophies including Owner and Breeder-of-the-Year, as well as awards for his champion stallion and broodmare Bettor’s Delight and Scuse Me. As co-owner of Christen Me and Adore Me, added to his status as a true harness racing legend. Mr Roberts is also the only person to be named Breeder-of-the-Year in both the standardbred and thoroughbred codes. Being an original shareholder in Sir Tristram is another one of the many feathers in his cap. Long before Woodlands Stud Mr Roberts was associated with Haunui Farm, and later qualified as a veterinary surgeon based at Takanini. He became an expert on the reproductive aspect of breeding and more than six decades ago he helped set up the original swabbing proceedings on a national basis. In 1976 Mr Roberts established the Riverside Veterinary and 11 years later the Auckland Vet Centre in partnership with Andrew Grierson, who is now the leading advisor to both codes in all veterinary matters. In partnership with Grierson, Mr Roberts in 1987, bought what was then ‘Harness World’ at a mortgagee sale. They returned its original title of Woodlands and revolutionised standardbred breeding in New Zealand by concentrating on shuttling stallions from the United States and then buying the Southern Hemisphere rights. In The Pocket was the first and his line changed the face of breeding in this country. Then Bettor’s Delight made an even greater impact, now dominating premierships on both sides of the Tasman as well as premierships in North America. He has also been our most dominant forces at recent yearling sales. The 15 people to receive a commemorative plaque and Hall Of Fame cap were: TRAINING ACHIEVEMENT (500 wins or more): Tim Butt – 583 wins and $7,406,072. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) – 670 wins and $8,304,330. Doug Gale – 524 wins and $4,809,758. John Hay – 530 wins and $4,168,136. Grant Payne (Mark Purdon) – 585 wins and $14,433,012. David and Catherine Butt ¬– 676 wins and $5,420,711 DRIVING ACHIEVEMENT (1,000 wins or more): Dexter Dunn – 1,232 wins and $12,047,272. David Butt – 1,100 wins and $9,789,301. Ken Barron – 1,024 wins and $8,557,176. Jim Curtin – 1,430 wins and $11,225,559. 3,000 WINS: Maurice McKendry – 3,002 and $25,452,271. OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HARNESS RACING: Charlie Roberts. Alby Gain. Bob McArdle Pat O’Brien. Note: Statistics were as at March 10, 2014. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing NZ)
Last week was a memorable one for the New Zealand bets of the week ring-around. Aside from my three tips which all won, Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, Gavin Smith, Jim Curtin, Ricky May, and Todd Mitchell also tipped out winners. The best result was Gavin Smith’s bet of the week in The Mighty Falcon, who got home at odds of $10, while my value bet of the week Scotlynn Jiggs ($7) wasn’t too far behind. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week. Andrew Armour: Thinks two-year-old First Flight In is a good each-way prospect in the fourth race at Gore on Sunday. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented two-year-old The Jazzman will be tough to beat from his inside alley in the eighth race at Forbury Park tonight. Blair Orange: Rates the chances of Strike On Command in the last race at Forbury Park tonight. Craig Thornley: Will take the reins behind Franco Harrington at Reefton where he expects him to be very hard to beat. David Butt: Thinks Georgie Mach can go back-to-back in the eighth race at Westport on Friday. Gavin Smith: Who was last week’s top tipster, has opted for True Legend in the fourth race at Westport on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the talented but enigmatic Sunchita can win the tenth race at Westport on Friday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of Sharpenuff in the eighth race at Gore on Sunday. Ken Barron: Thinks Sapling Stakes runner-up Mighty Flying Major will be tough to beat in race eight at Forbury tonight. Mark Jones: Thinks The Ultimate Storm will take a power of beating in the third race at Forbury Park tonight. Matthew Williamson: Expects Quick As A Trick to regain top form in the 12th race at Forbury tonight. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Aidan’s Rocket will be tough to toss in the last race at Gore on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has thrown out some value in the form of Goodboy Tiger – Forbury, race seven. Tim Williams: Thinks Waitoto Express has a good each-way chance in the seventh race at Gore on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Expects Cyclone Kate to be thereabouts in the Delightful Lady Classic at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: The Ultimate Storm – Forbury Park, race three Each-way: Linda Lovegrace – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Whynotagrey – Gore, race two.
Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including Eyre I Come, who opened up at $31 fixed odds. Let’s see if we can dig up some more value this week. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented trotter Thebestove will be hard to beat in tonight’s Sales Series Trot at Addington. Blair Orange: Thinks Twentyten, who showed plenty of ability as a two-year-old, can make a winning return at three – Cheviot, race two. David Butt: Expects Lothario to make amends for his last start gallop in the third race at Cheviot (Addington) on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates The Mighty Falcon as a good each-way chance from his ace alley in the first race at the Cheviot meeting at Addington on Sunday. Jim Curtin: Believes the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Cheviot, race five. Ken Barron: Thinks Mighty Mara can make a winning debut in the first race at Addington on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Believes in form trotter Springbank Sam can carry on his winning way – Cheviot, race seven. Ricky May: Expects Pal Amino, who has trialled up nicely for her fresh-up assignment, to be tough to toss from her ace barrier in the ninth race at Addington tonight. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Tess, who caught the eye flashing home late last start, is a good each-way prospect in the last race at Addington tonight. Todd Mitchell: Expects Prime Power to add to his picket-line fence in fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet : Free Falling – Cheviot, race four. Each-way: Unforgiving – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Scotlynn Jiggs – Addington, race ten.
This week’s ring-around is smaller than usual as many trainers and drivers have been busy during the week with the sales. However, I am sure the ring-around will, like always, throw out a few winners. Andrew Armour: Believes Macardo is a good bet in the third race at Wyndham on Saturday. Craig Thornley: Thinks Franco Harrington, who was desperately unlucky at Waikouaiti, can make amends in the ninth race at Methven on Sunday. David Butt: Expects Lothario to be hard to beat in the third race at Timaru on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates Vincennes as a good each-way chance in the fifth race at Methven on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Timaru, race one. John Dunn: Expects Lovemetwotimes to be tough to toss in the sixth race at Timaru on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Simply Susational is a good each-way chance from his ace alley in seventh race at Timaru on Sunday. Scott Phelan: Is bullish about the chances of Rocknroll Lass in the sixth race at Manawatu tonight. Stephen McNally: Has opted for the talented Trouble Rieu as his bet of the week. He competes in the third race at Timaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has been impressed by No Doctor Needed at the trials. He makes his debut in the last race at Wyndham on Saturday. Simon Lawson: Will wait until Monday for his best bet – Bute Mach – Avondale, race ten. Tim Williams: Thinks smart last start winner Come On Jaccka can repeat the dose on Saturday – Wyndham, race ten. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best bet – Franco Harrington –Methven, race nine. Each-way – Lovemetwotimes – Timaru, race six. Each-way - Tazzy's Devil - Alexandra Park, race eight. Value – Eyre I Come – Timaru, race three.
The ring-around was a bit quiet last week, producing just four winners. Those who did pick winners were Blair Orange, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, and I. However, the ring-around rarely has two bad weeks in a row, so this could be the time to jump on the bandwagon. Good luck and happy punting! Andrew Armour: Thinks Double Impact can make up for his last start mishap in the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Blair Orange: Rates the consistent Juneamy Castleton as a good each-way prospect in sixth race at Motukarara on Sunday. Craig Thornely: Thinks North American import Johny Rock can make his presence felt in his New Zealand debut – Addington, race ten. David Butt: Has opted for the talented yet untrustworthy Mundaka. He will compete in the first race at Addington on Saturday. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes will be very hard to beat provided she can overcome her tricky barrier draw. Motukarara– race ten. Jim Curtin: Hopes Damon Runyon can finally break his maiden status in the sixth race at Addington on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Rates Danny Cool as a good each-way prospect in race six at Invercargill on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Thinks Voluntad will give them something to chase for her ace alley in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Expects the consistent Red Under Fire to be ‘there or thereabouts’ again in the fourth race at Motukarara on Friday. Mark Jones: Expects Superior Desire to be very hard to beat in the first race at Motukarara on Friday. Matty Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Milligan from his handy gate in race four at Invercargill on Sunday. Ricky May: Said he couldn’t look past NZ Cup champion Terror To Love – Addington, race eight. Scott Phelan: Thinks the aptly named Big Ern will prove hard to beat in the fourth race at Stratford on Sunday. Simon Lawson: Likes the chances of Art Major debutant Love Is My Drug – Alexandra Park, race seven. Stephen McNally: Has opted for Easy Empress in the third race at Motukarara on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Cyclone Prince will be tough to toss in the tenth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Mister Harris in the ninth race at Stratford on Sunday. Tim Williams: Thinks classy mare Here We Go Again will be very hard to beat in the ninth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Don’t Call Me Su – Motukarara, race four Each-way – Bootie Bromac – Invercargill, race four Value - Playaway – Addington, race three
Last week the ring-around produced five winners, including both my best and each-way bet of the week. The best result was my each-way bet of the week in Mashika, who opened at a quote of $6.50 but was eventually backed into a $2.20 favourite. So, what’s winning this week? Anthony Butt: Thinks extremely talented two-year-old The Jazzman will be very hard to beat in Saturday’s Sapling Stakes at Ashburton. Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chances of Jay Dubb, who was an expensive purchase out of the barn of Mark Smolenski. The classy two-year-old is set to do battle in the first race at Winton on Friday. David Butt: Has opted for Eagles Nest, who looks a good each-way prospect in the Sapling Stakes on the back of some strong trial form. Gavin Smith: Thinks capable mare Vincennes will be hard to stop in the fifth race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. John Dunn: Thinks Princess Galleon only needs to trot to win the second race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of the unpredictable but talented Chiola Belle. She competes in the tenth race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Thinks Spanish Angel can break through for his maiden victory in the third race at Manawatu tonight. Mark Jones: Thinks stable newcomer Jaccka Len will prove very hard to beat in the twelfth race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Matty Williamson: Likes the chances of capable three-year-old trotter Zhenya. She goes around in the fourth race at Rangiora today. Nathan Williamson: Rates Harry Mac as a good each-way prospect from his ace alley in race five at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Ricky May: Thinks Delightful Dash can go one better in the second race at Waikouaiti on Sunday. Scott Phelan: Likes the chances of Starry Delight in the second race at Manawatu tomorrow. Simon Lawson: Believes Ace Of Delight is his best drive of the week – Alexandra Park, race six. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for On A Promise in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Rip Roaring should break his maiden status in the ninth race at Rangiora tomorrow. Tim Williams: Likes the chances of talented 3YO Bettor Buy It, who competes in the ninth race at Winton on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Expects Lost In Bangkok to be hard to beat in the fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – A Boy Named Rosie – Ashburton, race eight. Each-way – Smart Alex – Rangiora, race seven. Value – Hairy Maclary – Rangiora, race three.
Champion reinsman David Butcher is likely to miss six months in the sulky after the worst possible diagnosis following a trackwork injury. Butcher has pulled his pectoral muscle away from the bone and will require surgery to reattach it and then a lengthy healing period before he can drive in races again. So the Cambridge horseman has basically written the rest of the season off. He suffered the injury while jogging two horses at home last week, one in the sulky, the other on a lead rope. "The leader pulled back and then stopped in his tracks and I didn't let go of him fast enough," said Butcher. "I knew straight away something pretty bad had happened but hoped it was only a tear and that I'd be back in a month. "But it has come away from the bone and while I can keep driving, it won't heal without an operation and I won't be able to do any lifting or heaps of the other things I do around the stables. "So I will bite the bullet and get the operation done as soon as possible." While disappointed to be facing such a long stint on the sidelines, Butcher admits it could have been worse. A similar injury at almost any other time in the past decade could have cost him career-defining wins behind the likes of Elsu, Changeover or De Lovely, to mention just a few of the champions he has partnered to group one success on both sides of the Tasman. "But at the moment I am not driving too many big-race winning chances, it is just the way it has fallen. "And last year I was lucky enough to represent New Zealand at the World champs in France, and I would have hated to miss that. "But I'm still not looking forward to being away from racing for so long, especially because it is not my choice." Butcher isn't the only New Zealand harness star out for the season, with top trotting mare Habibti off to the paddock and set to miss over $900,000 worth of races in the next three months. A group one winner this season after dominating her age group on both sides of the Tasman last term, Habibti trotted below her best in defeat at Addington last Friday. That has convinced co-trainer David Butt to spell the 4-year-old and turn down his invitation to the A$200,000 Glenferrie Farm Challenge in Sydney on March 2 as well as the A$350,000 Great Southern Star at Melton three weeks later. However, New Zealand will have two big chances in another Melton classic this Saturday, with Our Maxim and Our Sky Major in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby. The Barry Purdon-trained pair drew perfectly in the classic, Our Maxim at barrier one and his stablemate on his back and possibly set to get the perfect trail. And the race pans out even better for the Auckland pair as pre-draw hot favourite Bling It On has drawn the outside of the front line. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald
The ring-around was a bit quieter last week with just Andrew Armour, Anthony Butt, and myself tipping out winners. Of those winners, the best resulted was my each-way bet of the week in Dr Hook who romped in at odds of $6.70 and $1.80 Hopefully we can bounce back to top form this week. Anthony Butt: Has opted for Mah Sish, who will attempt to go back-to-back in the Hunter Cup on Saturday. David Butt: Thinks stable star Habibti will be hard to beat despite her wide alley - Addington, race ten. Dexter Dunn: Has opted for Jennalee, who was desperately unlucky last start. She competes in the third race at Forbury Park tonight. John Dunn: Has a lot of time for the smart two-year-old qualifier Say My Name, and expects him to be very hard to beat in the third race at Addington on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks Damon Runyon is a good each-way chance in the third race at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of capable filly Goodness Gracious Me in the seventh race at Wyndham on Sunday. Ken Barron: Thinks Red Under Fire, who has been desperately unlucky lately, can break through for his maiden win in race six at Geraldine on Saturday. Mark Jones: Has opted for the talented Smart Caesar as his bet of the week. He will compete in the ninth race at Addington on Friday. Sam Ottley: Thinks capable trotter Spell is knocking on the door of another win – Geraldine, race eight. Simon Lawson: Thinks Electric Chapel can make it five straight win on Friday – Alexandra Park, race four. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of Chillysjustastrutter in the seventh race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Tim Williams: Thinks Jocy Jaccka, with manners, will be hard to beat in the first race at Wyndham on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Rates Cullies Delight as a good each-way chance in race seven at Alexandra Park. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Tiger Tara – Addington, race six Each-way – Mashika – Addington, race eleven Value – Valmagne – Forbury, race eight.
Top pacer Smolda is set to resume on Friday at Addington after producing a brilliant performance at the Rangiora workouts on Saturday. In need of a stern workout, driver Natalie Rasmussen opted to take the comeback five-year-old away from the trail at the 600 metre mark to race outside star filly Venus Serena. The pair then raced away from the rest of the field to win by some 15 lengths, but it was Smolda who had a head advantage at the line. Smolda recorded his last mile in a very quick 1-57.3, however that wasn’t an inch on his staggering last half of 54.5. "He was good" Rasmussen said, in what was a complete understatement. "I was quite happy with him. He felt the part and didn't blow too hard so he is not far away'' West Melton trainer Geoff Dunn was also more than happy with Venus Serena’s effort in running second. “She was a bit flat after getting back from Auckland but she is really good now. That should top her of nicely for the Sales Series Final on Friday. Another to trial up well was superstar trotting mare, Habibti, who proved far too strong for a field of maiden pacers. “Her bloods weren’t dead right last week which is why we scratched, but she seems real good again now,” said co-trainer-driver David Butt. Habibti will now compete in the Summer Trotting Free-For-all on Friday, where she will go head to head with Dominion winner Master Lavros and talented up and comer Royal Aspirations. “It should be a good race. I’d say the barrier draw is going to be pretty crucial,” concluded Butt. By Mitchell Robertson
Defending champion Keystone Del is among the list of horses being considered for the Australian team for the Glenferrie Farm Trotters Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2. With five Australian trotters and as many from New Zealand to be invited to contest the $200,000 Group One, the Nicole Molander-trained gelding is one of nine that could possibly line-up for what already looks to be a strong Australian team. Others dominate in the minds of selectors include the David Aiken-trained duo My High Expectations and Cold Sister as well as star squaregaiter Blitzthemcalder. Kyvalley Blur who is trained by master trotting conditioner Chris Lang senior, former pacer Mister Zion as well as Elegant Image, Aleppo Midas and Stoned I Am are considerations also. While the Australian team will be finalised in the coming weeks following the results of races, the New Zealand representatives have been selected. The New Zealand team being selected early to allow for travel are Dullard Cup winner Habibti, Danish Derby winner Peak, Anzac Cup victor Stent, Hellers Dominion winner Master Lavros and recent National Trot winner Irish Whisper. Three reserves have been added to the team being Vulcan, The Fiery Ginga and Sovereignty who could be called upon if neccessary. Team New Zealand: Master Lavros (trainer Mark Jones) Stent (trainer Colin De Filippi) Peak (trainer Tim Butt) Irish Whisper (trainer Tony Herlihy) Habibti (trainer David Butt) Reserves Vulcan (trainer Tim Butt) The Fiery Ginga (trainer Alan Clark) Sovereignty (Trainer Sean McCaffrey) Team Australia*: My High Expectations (trainer David Aiken) Kyvalley Blur (trainer Chris Lang) Mister Zion (trainer Geoff Webster) Keystone Del (trainer Nicole Molander) Elegant Image (trainer Andy Gath) Blitzthemcalder (trainer Dean Braun) Aleppo Midas (trainer Michael Eastman) Cold Sister (trainer David Aiken) Stoned I Am (trainer Bill Walker) *Five to be selected and one reserve
Last week was yet another good one for the ring-around with John Dunn, Mark Jones, Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, and yours truly all tipping out winners. Let’s see if we can repeat the dose this week. Blair Orange: Has opted for last start winner Best Bones. She goes around in the ninth race at Oamaru on Sunday. David Butt: Thinks Lothario, with manners, will take all sorts of stopping in race nine at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks Jaccka Lonny will be hard to beat from his ace alley in race four at Invercargill today. Gavin Smith: Has opted for All Shook Up, who will do battle in the sixth race at Oamaru on Sunday. John Dunn: Rates the chances of Crackaheiny in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Platinum Princess can get some money in the fifth race at Invercargill today. Ken Barron: Thinks Planet Princess is an each-way chance in race eight at Addington tomorrow. Mark Jones: Likes the chances of Juneamy Castleton, who should be hard to catch in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Matthew Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Galleons Triumph, who also competes in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Hector McFeckle can trot and win the first race at Otaki on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine, who looks a strong chance in fourth race at Otaki on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Thinks that Hi Jinx is a strong chance with right run in race seven at Addington Todd Mitchell: Thinks Snow Fairy will be very hard to beat in race five at Otaki. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Superbowlcheerleader – Addington, race five Each-way – Happy Heidi – Invercargill, race two Value – Karen Dana – Oamaru, race one
Old crocks who have placed only once in their last seven starts hardly make attractive group one betting prospects - unless they are Stig. The amazing veteran returns to his favourite track at something approaching his favourite distance in the $80,000 National Trot tomorrow and it will take a very good horse to beat him. The last time Stig graced Alexandra Park he bolted away with the Rowe Cup, reminding us that when he is sound and can grind to run the sprint out of his rivals over extreme distances even he forgets how old he is. He did exactly that in this very race last year, downing a true champ in I Can Doosit in national record time. So the question tomorrow isn't whether 11-year-old Stig is good enough, but is he happy and sound enough? "I think so," says trainer Paul Nairn, who knows Stig better than most people know their partners. "He has had his issues one way or another this season and he can sometimes struggle over the shorter trips but I think he will love the distance. "And he will be better than he was at Cambridge last week. I worked him with Dr Hook here on Saturday and I was happier with him than I have been in a while." Stig has always loved Alexandra Park and Nairn expects a no-nonsense approach from driver David Butt. "Once he has settled I'd like to see him in front because that is how he races best." As good as Stent was at Cambridge last Tuesday, if he can give Stig a start and a beating over a hard-run 2700m he will have gone to a new level because the old horse simply outstayed him last time they clashed over 3200m in the Dominion Handicap last month. That was Stig's only placing this season, showing he may now be a one-trick pony. But what a wonderful, courageous trick it is. The TAB has opened Stent the $2.30 favourite, with Stig very backable at $3.80 and Irish Whisper at $6.50. Nairn goes into tomorrow with two other last-start winners who can repeat, including the lower-grade trotting find of the summer in Any Old Way. He has bolted in twice in as many starts since coming north and meets a weakish field in the first race, considering he is a future Derby contender. "I thought Love Ya Doosie could be tough if she trotted all the way but my fella has really thrived with the racing," says Nairn. "He is pretty good." Lotalov will give Harness Jewels winner Prime Power plenty to chase in race three tomorrow provided she can get in front of him, which depends on how quickly Prime Power begins as he can really make a flyer. Superbowlcheerleader has cost punters plenty lately but is another contender if she mends her manners in one of several great support races. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald
Habibti has taken out the Group 1 SEW-Eurodrive Dullard Trotters Cup in the first real test of last season’s most talked about group of three-year-old trotters in living memory. Starting from barrier three, she was quick to find the front for trainer/driver David Butt and from there it was a walk in the park for the talented daughter of Love You. Inaugural Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star winner Vulcan battled on for second with Keystone Del flashing home for third to be beaten just 6.8 metres. Habibti rated a relatively even time of 1:59.5 for the mile but rushed home in a quick last half of 57.8secs to score with consummate ease. The brilliant four-year-old mare has now won 14 from 27 and her trainer explained post-race the problems behind her failure last start where she galloped. “I’m pretty relieved, she doesn’t normally gallop and it all went to plan tonight. She was a little bit tied up before the race last time but we got her over that and she was still going good at finish tonight,” Butt said. “We’ll head to Cambridge on Christmas Eve and then have a break and hopefully comeback over for your big race (Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star) in March.” For more information on the Pryde’s EasiFeed Great Southern Star you can visit the website at www.greatsouthernstar.com.au. By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Au)
Last week was an average one for our trainers and drivers with only Anthony and David Butt tipping out winners, but luckily I pulled through for ring-around followers delivering with three winners from three selections. The best of them was my each-way bet of the week in The Peace Train who romped in at odds of $12.20 and $2.70 Let’s see if we can replicate that performance again this week. Andrew Armour: Likes the chances of debutant Love Filly Dale. She goes around in the sixth race at Invercargill on Friday. Blair Orange: Has been very brave this week and has tipped out superstar mare Adore Me to win at odds of $1.10. Gavin Smith: Has opted for Back Pay as his bet of the week. He will compete in the tenth race at Oamaru on Saturday. John Dunn: Thinks Elios is a good each-way bet in race twelve at Alexandra Park on Friday. Josh Dickie: Was impressed with how Millie Sampson went at the workouts last week and thinks she can remain unbeaten in the Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday. Jonny Cox: Likes the chances of Provocative Prince who looks a bold chance from his ace draw in race four at Oamaru on Saturday. Ken Barron: Thinks Still Laughin can pick up some money in race four at Methven on Sunday. Mark Jones: Has opted for Ready For Takeoff as his bet of the week. He looks a good chance in race eight at Oamaru. Matthew Williamson: Has picked up the drive on The Bog and thinks she will prove very hard to beat in race three at Oamaru. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the consistent Nickelson can resume on a winning note in race seven at Invercargill on Friday. Ricky May: Is very bullish about the chances of Helena Jet in race four at Methven on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of Jarcullembra in the Franklin Cup on Friday. Simon Lawson: Rates the chances of Valencay in race seven at Cambridge tonight. Todd Mitchell: Thinks his very smart trotter Prime Power can go back-to-back in race eight at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet: Trouble Rieu – Methven, race one. Each-way: Shak’n Cullen – Invercargill, race ten. Value: Garibaldi – Oamaru, race two
Last week was an average one for the ring-around with only John Dunn, Jonny Cox, and Matthew Williamson tipping out winners. Let’s see if the boys can step up a notch this week. Andrew Armour: Has opted for Shez Wicked as his bet of the week. She goes around in the last race at Invercargill on Sunday. Anthony Butt: Thinks Vulcan can get back to winning form at Tabcorp Park Melton on Saturday. Blair Orange: Expects a bold showing from Rocknroll Arden in race seven at Addington on Friday. Craig Thornley: Has opted for Lavros Cash, who was seen finding the line strongly at Motukarara. He competes in the fifth race at Geraldine on Saturday. David Butt: Thinks Habibti will kick off her Australian campaign with a win at Tabcorp Melton on Saturday. Jim Curtin: Thinks Maximan is overdue a win and could very get one in the eleventh race at Geraldine on Saturday. John Dunn: Thinks Graduate Under Fire will offer some good each-way value in race eleven at Geraldine on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Jaccka Justy, who was super when winning his last start of the grass, will prove very hard to beat in race ten at Geraldine on Saturday. Matthew Williamson: Likes the chances of Lewy Risk in race five at Addington on Friday. Nathan Williamson: Has opted for Aidan’s Rocket, who competes in race three at Invercargill on Sunday. Ricky May: Thinks you should have a wager on Woodlea Wager in race eight at Addington on Friday. Simon Lawson: Likes Bettor Romance as an each-way prospect in race nine at Alexandra Park on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Handlebar Hank to take out the last race at Addington on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks that, with the aid of the one draw, Pricillas Girl will prove very hard to beat in race six at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best bet: Invercargill, race seven – The Wraith Of Robyn Each-way: Geraldine, race three – The Peace Train Value: Addington, race three – Moondyne Joe By Mitchell Robertson
Habibti may still race in Auckland during the month of December, but that will all depend on how she goes in Australia first. The superstar trotting filly of last season flew out late last week and, according to her co-trainer David Butt, has settled in well at the Victorian property of Susan Hunter. “She has settled in a treat and her work this morning was great,” enthused Butt. Habibti will be eased into her Australian campaign with an M0 on Saturday night at Tabcorp Park Melton, before she takes on the big fish in next week’s Bill Collins Trotters Mile. “She seems reasonably forward, so I expect her to be very hard to beat on Saturday,” said a bullish Butt. “The plan is to then race her in the Bill Collins Mile next week, followed by the Dullard Trotting Cup and if we are happy with her performances in both of those races she may go via Auckland for their feature trot races on the way home,” explains Butt. Butt has few qualms about Habibti stepping out into the open class ranks, but believes that this Australian campaign will provide her with a good introduction. “It looks a little bit easier than going head-to-head with the likes of Master Lavros, Stent, Peak, and, Stig, straight off the bat” he explains. “Judging by the times she ran last season she should have no problems in open class but you never quite know until you get there,” said Butt. “It’s never easy for a four-year-old trotting mare in open class but, in the saying that, she is a little bit special,” he added. Meanwhile, fellow kiwis Mah Sish and Vulcan will also fly the New Zealand flag at Melton on Saturday. The latter will clash with Habibti in next week’s Bill Collins Mile. “If he can replicate his Australian form from last season he will be hard to beat,” says Butt. “As will Blitzthemcalder if he lines up. They tell me he was pretty impressive in his trial yesterday.” While there is plenty of high class racing coming in from Melton on Saturday, it will be playing second fiddle to Tabcorp Park Menangle, which has a card made up of ten group or listed races, headlined by the $750,000 Miracle Mile. By Mitchell Robertson