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
*This week’s ring-around was delayed in order to include the New Zealand Cup meeting Last week was a good one for the ring-around with David Butt, John Dunn, Jonny Cox, Mark Jones, Nathan Williamson, and Scott Phelan all tipping out winners – So hopefully we can carry that sort of form into this week. All trainers-drivers were told that it was preferred that they tip a horse that is racing on Cup Day, but were given the option to tip at any other meeting. So, let’s see what they came up with: Andrew Armour: Likes the chances of Sharpenuff in race two at Wyndham on Sunday. Anthony Butt: Thinks Peak has continued to go forward since his Ashburton Trotters’ Mile win, and expects him to be hard to beat in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day. Blair Orange & Mark Jones: Think the impressive Saveapatrol will prove very hard to beat in race eight on Cup Day. Craig Thornley: Has opted away from Cup Day, tipping out Givenchy Franco in race ten at Wyndham on Sunday. David Butt: Thinks last start winner Lothario is at least an each-way chance in race three on Cup Day. John Dunn: Rates the chance of Kotare Mahal who has been in brilliant form of late. He will compete in the Show Day Futurity on Show Day Ken Barron: Said that Pacquiao was his best chance on Cup Day, but that he rates Change Time at Ashburton on Thursday as his best of the week. Matthew Williamson: Believes Yankee One will take some beating in race eleven on Cup Day. Nathan Williamson: Has opted for talented trotter Springbank Sam. He competes in the New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All on Cup Day. Ricky May: Thinks Mossdale Connor will take improvement out of his fresh-up second, and therefore expects him to be very hard to beat in the last on Cup Day. Terry Chmiel: Rates the just of Hi Jinx, who was ultra impressive when winning two starts back. He competes in the last race on Cup Day Todd Mitchell: Believes the ace alley gives Cyclone Prince a great chance of claiming Group One glory in the Sires Stakes Final on Cup Day. Tim Williams: Is not driving on Cup Day – but he does like the chances of The Lutts in race two at Wyndham on Sunday. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mark McNamara (Cup Day commentator): Thinks classy pacer Didjamakem Bolt will have four straight wins next to his name after the ninth race on Cup Day. Matt Markham ( The Press): Has opted for Harry Johnstone as his best bet of the day on Cup Day. The Northern raider looks well placed in race eleven on the card. Justin Le Lievre (The Informant): Like trainer Mark Jones and driver Blair Orange, thinks Saveapatrol will be very hard to roll in race eight on Cup Day. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet: Arden Rooney – race five. Each-way: Elios – race twelve. Value: Sundown In Paris – race three. By Mitchell Robertson
Don’t expect last Friday’s Addington feature trot winner – Phil’s Gift – to line up in the Group One $200,000 Dominion Trot on Show Day (November 15). Trainer Murray Tapper said he preferred to start the Sundon gelding in the Free-For-All on Cup Day (November 12). “I’ll talk to the owners again but they know how I feel. I’d rather start him in the shorter race on Cup Day than I would the Dominion. “There’s no way he could back up in three days for both. He’s not that type of horse. Racing can take a lot out of him and he can take some time to recover. The 3200m is a bit far for him at this stage,” Tapper said. “I think he would be a better Dominion horse in 13 months,” added the Timaru horseman. Tapper said the 6-year-old bay had to be driven with a sit and that’s exactly what Ricky May did on Friday. “He has won in front before but as he’s gone through the grades it’s got harder, and I’ve now trained him to have one sprint at them. “It’s a tougher class opposition now and I’ve had to adjust my trainer because of that. He’s got a very good sprint when saved for the run. That was evident on Friday,” Tapper said. May had Phil’s Gift second last early and swinging for home were still in that position with favourite Escapee snookered last on the markers. They both flew down the outer with Phil’s Gift hanging on to beat Escapee and Mark Purdon by half a head. Raydon and David Butt were 2-1/2 lengths back in third. They won the $7,500, C3 and faster trot in 3:23.2. Mile rate for the 2600m stand: 2:05.7. Last 800m: 59.8. Last 400m: 28.9. Phil’s Gift started from the 40m back-mark and was the $5.80 third favourite. That was his ninth win in 33 starts and he’s also placed eight times for $76,997. Tapper paid $16,000 for him at the Christchurch yearling sales. He said he was easily the best of the 12 horses he had in work at Levels in South Canterbury, but said Phil’s Gift had some way to go to surpassing the best trotter he’s trained – the recently retired Stylish Monarch, and Group One winning 10-year-old son of Monarchy, who has won 17 races and $500,620. “Phil’s Gift has more speed but Stylish Monarch is a tougher grinder who can churn out solid quarters. “We’ll see exactly where Phil’s Gift is at when he lines up on Cup Day. He would make a good Australian horse and that could be an option down the track but for now it’s all about progressing through to compete with the best,” the 50-year-old said. Phil’s Gift is owned by K.P. Tapper, R.L.P. Scott, P.F. Parker, and M. L. Hynes. He was bred by Colin and Rona McKay. He is the seventh foal of eight out of the one-win Speedy Summit mare, Ilona Del. Phil’s Gift’s full sister (and fourth foal), Jasmyn’s Gift won 17 races, including the Group One New Zealand Trotting Championship and New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All. Phil’s Gift’s biggest win to date was the $25,000 Group Three Glenferrie Farm Trotters Championship in March. Friday’s win was his second race back since finishing fifth behind Charlemagne in the Harness Jewels final at Ashburton in June. Exciting trotter Experiment heading to Addington Exciting Southland trotter, Experiment will head to Addington Raceway to compete in two mid-graded races on Cup and Show Day. The 5-year-old Sundon mare confirmed the trip north when notching up her third win in a row and fourth in five starts this season at the Riverton Trotting Club’s meeting on Sunday (November 3). The Tony Barron trained Experiment blitzed her opposition with an effortless front-running display in the in the $8,000 Never Cleaver Fishing discretionary for the C1 and faster trotters. She has also won at the Wairio, Gore, and Forbury Park meetings this season, after racing 12 times in 2012-2013 for just two placings. Errol Forde (72) owns Experiment with his partner Jan Hawthorn (68). The retired Makarewa resident said now that his mare had turned the corner she would definitely now be heading to Christchurch. “I’m still on a high. I’ve had horses since the 1980s but never had one this good. I would never have ever thought I’d have a horse good enough to win three races in a row. “She will now head north and take on some of the best in her grade. One day, maybe two years, I’d like to think she could make a Dominion horse. That is one race I’d really like to win,” Forde said. He said Experiment had been a work in progress and it now appeared that Barron had ironed out most of her issues. “We had a bit of trouble with her early on. She had a few bad habits, but with training, time and age she has developed into a nice trotter. “We are hoping she will go on with it now she has won four races,” Forde said. Brent Barclay got Experiment away quickly from her 10m handicap on Sunday and then when they hit the front at the 2000m, the race was for second. Experiment simply out-trotted her 12 opponents, stopping the clock in 3:34.8 (2700m stand) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60 and 28.9. Her winning mile rate was 2:08. She was the $3.60 favourite. Forde and Hawthorn have two-and-a-half years left on their four-year lease. Then then have right of purchase from breeder Michael House. “She’s still got plenty of time and there’s plenty of improvement left in her yet,” said Forde who does a bit of work with his pride and joy. Forde, who worked in the engineering trade, retired to Makarewa from Nightcaps and assisted Ron Barron there before he retired. “Ron asked me if I wanted to buy Experiment and it all went from there. That’s how Tony ended up with her,” Forde said. He said Experiment’s racing future would not be decided until after her race on Show Day. “That’s when we will sit down and plan her racing. Auckland could be an option over Christmas because Tony has campaigned horses up there before. “I’ve never had a horse good enough to race up there. It is a possibility, but like I said it all depends how she fronts up in Christchurch,” Forde said. Experiment has now won just under $20,000 from her 18 starts, which includes four wins and three placings. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Blair and ‘Tommy’ go way back. And on Monday (November 4) Blair Orange and Highview Tommy will be looking to reignite their long-term partnership in the $50,000 Alabar Kaikoura Cup at the picturesque South Bay Racecourse. Highview Tommy hasn’t won the Kaikoura Cup in three attempts. He did finish a half-head second behind Smiling Shard in 2010. He was fourth in 2011 and seventh last year. Orange on the other hand has won a Kaikoura Cup previously. That was in 2004 when he steered the John Parsons trained Harnetts Creek to victory in 2:59.6. Blair and ‘Tommy’s’ first big win came five-and-a-half years ago when they won the Group One $100,000 Welcome Stakes at Addington Raceway. ‘Tommy’ was just two. The black Bettor’s Delight – Baptism Of Fire entire is now eight and on the verge of competing in his fourth straight New Zealand Cup. Orange said the Cup could be D-Day for the Greg and Nina Hope trained pacer. “That will probably be the day we know whether or not he will be retired or not. He’s been one of my favourite horses I have driven over the years. “He’s given me a lot of pleasure, but he hasn’t shown much lately. You never can write him off though. It all depends which ‘Tommy’ turns up,” Orange said. He said he would be surprised if he won the Kaikoura Cup but was looking for an improved performance heading into the New Zealand Cup on November 12. “He’s a great grinder and the New Zealand Cup suits his racing style. It would not surprise me if he showed up in the Cup because when he wants to he can mix it with them. Like I said it depends which ‘Tommy’ turns up,” Orange said. Highview Tommy finished a three-quarter length second to Terror To Love in last year’s NZ Cup; the same margin plus a nose third in 2011, and ninth in 2010, “He runs his best races on a loose rein. He’s an out-and-out stayer. In saying that he must reverse his form-line or that might be it,” Orange said. Highview Tommy was trained by Mark Purdon up until his 11th in this year’s Auckland Cup. In late March he transferred to the Hope stable. He has had seven races since then for a third. “He needed a change of scenery and that’s why he went to Greg and Nina’s. A change is as good as a holiday. “You have to remember his lead-up form into last year’s Cup wasn’t good and he finished less than a length from winning,” Orange said. Highview Tommy has recorded two placing’s from four starts at Kaikoura, and a win and three placing’s from eight starts at the 2400m standing start distance. All up Highview Tommy has won 17 of his 102 starts and placed in 27 others for $1,009, 323 in purses. He is ninth in the NZ Cup rankings and paying $61 to win the great race in just over a week. ‘Tommy’ has finished sixth, fifth, eighth and 10th this campaign. Highview Tommy’s stablemate, Jason Rulz will be tough to beat on Monday. The 14th New Zealand Cup seed was the $6.50 fourth favourite when odds on the Kaikoura Cup opened this week. Only Aussie pacer Suave Stuey Lombo $3.50; Fly Like An Eagle $4.80; and Jarcullembra $6 are favoured to beat ‘Tommy’ in the Group Two event. Opening odds for Monday’s 2013 Kaikoura Cup were: Suave Stuey Lombo $3.50; Fly Like An Eagle $4.80; Jarcullembra $6; Jason Rulz $6.50; Easy On The Eye $7; Jimmy Johnstone $10; Pass Them By $17; Highview Tommy $21; Mach Banner $21; Phantom Grin $31; Ellmer Hanover $51; Ardghal $51. Kaikoura Cup winners since 2000 (with drivers and times) have been: 2012: Sushi Sushi (Natalie Rasmussen) 2.55.5. 2011: Smiling Shard (Dexter Dunn) 2:58.7. 2. 2010: Smiling Shard (Dexter Dunn) 2:58.9. 2009: Nearea Franco (Craig Thornley) 2:59.9. 2008: Report For Duty (Anthony Butt) 3:01.1. 2007: Bondy (David Butt) 2:59.8; 2006: Tribute (David Earnshaw) 3:01.5. 2005: Imagine That (Grant Payne) 3:03.6. 2004: Harnetts Creek (Blair Orange) 2:59.6; 2003: Falcon Rise (Peter Ferguson) 2:59.2. 2002: Disprove (David Butcher) 2:59.2. 2001: Pic Me Pockets (Tony Herlihy) 3:01.3. 2000: Bogan Fella (Mark Purdon) 2:59.4. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Last week the ring-around produced just the four winners, so there were some slim pickings for ring-around followers. However, the ring-around rarely has two bad weeks in a row – so expect this one to be a good one. For the record, those who tipped out winners last week were: Blair Orange, Nathan Williamson, Steve Richardson (T.A.B), and Todd Mitchell. Blair Orange: Thinks smart trotter Notaboutthemoney will get the money in race three at Addington on Friday night. David Butt: Has also gone for a trotter in race three at Addington in Lothario. All things being equal, the pair should make up the quinella. Gavin Smith: Thinks The Burning Question is a place chance at what should be lucrative odds in race eight at Addington on Friday. John Dunn: Has opted for Kotare Mahal as his best bet of the week. The smart pacer goes around in race six at Kaikoura on Monday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Smoke N Grin, on the back of a bold debut second, is a strong chance in race five at Ascot Park on Sunday. Ken Barron: Rates the chances of capable pacer Still Laughin. He resumes in race six at Kaikoura on Monday. Mark Jones: Thinks Major Sam is a strong each-way chance in race five at Addington. Matthew Williamson: Was impressed with Windermere Lad last start, and thinks he will take some stopping in the Riverton Cup on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Has a strong book of drives at Ascot Park on Sunday, but rates Royal Squeeze as the best of them. She goes around in the first race on the card Ricky May: Has a lot of time for Helena Jet and thinks she will take all sorts of beating in race eight at Addington. Scott Phelan: Rates the chances of speedy mare Pepper Pots. She competes in the seventh race at Cambridge tonight. Simon Lawson: Is bullish about the chances of Valencay in race three at Cambridge tonight. Steve Richardson T.A.B: Who has been in good tipping form of late, has this week opted for Mary Anastasia. She resumes in the sixth race at Cambridge tonight. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Continental Auto as his bet of the week. She looks well placed in race two at Cambridge tonight. By Mitchell Robertson
Last week was just an average one for the ring-around with only John Dunn, and Sean McCaffrey tipping out winners, but this week I am sure it will bounce back to its brilliant best. Anthony Butt: Has opted for the capable three-year-old Major Sam. He competes in the sixth race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Is extremely bullish about the chances of Someardensomewhere, who baring bad luck, will be winning the ninth race at Forbury Park on Sunday. Craig Thornley: Thinks that if U Dream is on her best behaviour, she can win race five at Ashburton on Monday. David Butt: Likes the chances of Stig, who will attempt to win his third Ashburton Trotters’ Flying Mile on Monday. His run last start had plenty of merit and from all reports, he has worked on good since. Gavin Smith: Thinks All Shook Up is atleast an each-way chance in the first race at Ashburton on Monday. John Dunn: Has opted for smart filly Venus Serena, who resumes in the seventh race at Forbury on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Is torn between Washington Flier and Homeforabubbly. Both runners compete at Forbury on Sunday. Joshua Dickie: Thinks Showtime Lady could offer some value in the second race at Alexandra Park. Ken Barron: Rates the chances of Red Hot Toddy, who has been super in winning her last two starts. She looks the one in race sixth at Forbury Park. Matthew Williamson: Is big on the chances of Yankee One, who made a super return to racing at Addington on October 11. Look out for him in the third race at Ashburton on Monday. Nathan Williamson: Has opted for Livvy Franco, who looks a good each-way prospect from the ace draw in race six at Forbury Park on Sunday. Ricky May: Found it hard to pick one in what is such a good week of racing, but in the end opted for Lady Godiva. She looks a great chance in race nine at Addington on Friday. Sean McCaffrey: Who tipped a winner in his first attempt last week, has opted for Sodeska. The capable trotter will compete in race seven at Alexandra Park. Simon Lawson: Has selected the consistent Hot Mach, who is set to do battle in the first race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of Hi Jinx in the first race at Addington on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks Te Kawau should be winning the second race at Manawatu tonight. Tim Williams: Is bullish about the chances of Brindy, who should have benefited greatly off his fresh-up third. He looks the one they all have to beat in the last race at Forbury on Sunday. *More horses may be added to the ring-around later in the day. By Mitchell Robertson
Christen Me is as good as his trainer Cran Dalgety can have him going into his first assignment in almost four months – the $25,000 Avon City Ford Cup at Addington Raceway on Friday (September 27). Dalgety is going for his fourth win in the Group 3 Free-For-All, also known as the New Brighton Cup. He believes Christen Me is as good as ever and can finish in the first three – at least. If victorious it will be his seventh win in a row and 17th from 22nd all up. “My fella is as good as I can get him after a couple of public runs. If he had one race under his belt I’d say he’d be very hard to beat, so whatever happens on Friday he will be primed for the Canterbury Classic in a fortnight,” Dalgety said. “Last year’s winner of this race, Terror To Love is always tough to beat and Franco Ledger went big at Oamaru last start. I think they will provide Christen Me with his toughest competition,” he added. Christen Me has drawn five (of nine) in Friday’s 2600m stand, three outside New Zealand Cup champ, Terror To Love. The 5-year-old Christian Cullen gelding had two workouts on September 14 and 17 at Rangiora and Ashburton respectively, where he was just given a run both times. At Ashburton he won a three-horse 2600m stand from 30m in 3:21.7 (mile rate: 2:04.8). He sprinted his last 800m and 400m in 55.3 and 28.1. Then three days later he finished a nose, nose, three quarters of a length, and neck fifth (of five) behind Pass Them By, Fly Like An Eagle, and Jimmy Johnstone and Terror To Love. Dalgety said the last start Jewels winner had developed into an even more refined athlete this time in. “He has bigger hind quarters. He’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but has a very athletic body. He puts his food away and never seems to be full. “He has a controlled diet of course but his food intake is high and to be honest I don’t know where it all goes. He’s all muscle,” his West Melton trainer said. Christen Me will have three races before the New Zealand Cup on November 12. “The Canterbury Classic (October 11) and the Ashburton Flying Stakes (October 28) and the will be all that he needs,” Dalgety said. If successful on Friday Christen Me’s stake earnings will rest at $500,000 – not bad for a horse who won his first race just 15 months ago. For the record Dalgety has won Friday’s race three times with Desperate Comment (1994 and 1995), and Scorching (2004). If Christen Me does win it will also be Dexter Dunn’s first triumph in the time-honoured event, which goes back to Beckleigh’s win in 1950. Previous New Brighton Cup winners (with drivers and times) have been: 2012: Terror To Love (Ricky May) 3:17.1; 2011: Auckland Reactor (Mark Purdon) 3:15.9; 2010: Stunin Cullen (Anthony Butt) 3:13.9; 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:13.5; 2008: Zenad (David Butcher) 3:14.4; 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:11.7; 2006: Tribute (David Earnshaw) 3:13.1; 2005: Harnetts Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:14.4; 2004: Scorching (Mark Jones) 3:15.9; 2003: Cool Hand Luke (Anthony Butt) 3:12.6; 2002: Cool Hand Luke (Mark Purdon) 3:12.0; 2001: Makati Galahad (John Hay) 3:15.3; 2000: The Tough Nut (Ricky May) 3:14.7. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Officials under fire for deciding to invite top Australians into the Harness Jewels say that by raising the profile of harness racing across the Tasman the industry will benefit from stimulated betting turnover. But trainers, almost to a man, fear all that will happen is a large slice of the $1.2 million in prizemoney will be lost to struggling owners here and the code will see very little in return. Leading Canterbury trainer David Butt was so incensed by news last week that one top Australian will be given a free ticket into each of the nine age group categories, he called Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell to find out exactly how much the industry stood to gain. And just as he suspected there was no financial robustness behind the pie-in-the-sky promises. In a climate where owners are selling their horses because they can’t win enough money to pay their bills, Butt figured there had to be tens of thousands of reasons for scuttling their one big payday. But, incredibly, Butt discovered it would take a massive increase in betting to even see just a few thousand dollars find its way into the code’s coffers. It’s a complicated formula, but in essence for every dollar the Australians bet on the NZ tote, the code gets 2.5%. So even if the Australians bet an extra $100,000 on the Jewels meeting, following their horses, it will lead to only another $2500 being earned by harness racing. The chances of that happening appear slim given the Australians bet $733,382 on the 2012 Jewels and just 1.4% or $10,282 more this year with their two big guns Blitzthemcalder and Allblack Stride running. The figures shoot down the wild, unsubstantiated claims made in some quarters that Australian turnover on this year’s Jewels ‘‘went through the roof ‘‘because of Allblack Stride and Blitzthemcalder. The Australians didn’t even bet proportionately more in the two races that featured their own horses - the $74,934 they wagered on Allblack Stride’s race ranked it only sixth of the nine races. (New Zealanders bet $118,617 on our tote, fourth highest of the day). And the Aussies bet $86,315 on Blitzthemcalder’s race, the fourth highest of the day, compared with the Kiwis tote spend of $118,201, the fifth highest. Butt said while the Harness Jewels was the highlight of the New Zealand season, it hardly rated with the Aussies who had a plethora of feature races to bet on each week. Our races screened only on the Sky2 channel and ran the risk of not being shown at all if they clashed with other Australian races. Rennell said it was wrong to get ‘‘too hung up’’ on Australian turnover increasing, which was only one of the predicted gains of getting Australian horses here. ‘‘The biggest impact on turnover might be domestically if we can raise the profile of the meeting outside the core harness punters. ‘‘If we can turn over another $100,000 here, it would be worth another $16,250 to the club under the payout formula.’’ The chances of that happening also appear remote given off course betting on the Jewels at Ashburton this year was $1,185,344, down $111,593 or 8.6% on 2012 at Cambridge. Fixed odds betting also fell from $534,740 in 2012 to $518,588 this year. Claims that Kiwis bet more with the bookies because of the two Australians also lack foundation. Blitzthemcalder’s seeming domination over Royal Aspirations, Prime Power and co in the Three-Year-Old Trot had the opposite effect - the $41,873 wagered on fixed odds the lowest amount bet of all nine races. By comparison, last year Kiwis bet a lot more on the harness book, $63,355, on the Three-Year-Old trot won by Cyclone U Bolt - with no Australians in the field. Rennell said he believed ‘‘playing on the Kiwi-Aussie rivalry’’ would be crucial in the future marketing of the Jewels. ‘‘Do we want the event to stay the same and not grow? ‘The key motivation in inviting the Australians is to increase the profile and status of the event. ‘‘And if we can do that it will be more attractive to sponsors and the mainstream media. We’ll be able to achieve promotion without paying for advertising. ‘‘The cost of buying space in Australian newspapers is unattainable but we need to find smart ways of exposing our form to punters over there.’’ Harness racing lagged well behind the other two codes in the crucial market of Australian betting, Rennell said. Australians bet $297 million on New Zealand gallops (2954 races) each year compared with $178 million on the greyhounds (4876 races) and just $118 million on the trots (2637 races). The turnover contributed $21 million to the total of $137 million that the New Zealand Racing Board distributed to the industry, he said. Rennell said no travelling subsidy would be paid to Australians who took up the invitations. ‘‘We looked at that but decided no. The travel costs of South Island horses going up to Cambridge next year will be significant, we can’t treat the Aussies any differently.’’ HRNZ would be looking to stagger the naming of Australian invitees, Rennell said, hopefully timing each to allow horses to cross the Tasman earlier and contest other lead-up races. Four-year-olds would be named in time to allow them to contest races like the Taylor Mile and Messenger at Auckland, fillies in time to run in races like the Oaks. Butt, however, says you can kiss goodbye to seeing Australians running here before the Jewels when they no longer have to earn stakemoney here to qualify. Barry Lichter
Mah Sish is primed for his best year according to the 7-year-old gelding’s trainer Tim Butt – and even without racing for five months he’s still the one to beat in the Group Three $25,000 PGG Wrightson Hannon Memorial for six-plus-win Free-For-All pacers at Oamaru on Sunday (September 15). Mah Sish is the $2.40 favourite. Four Starzzz Flash is paying $4, Franco Ledger $4.20, and Mach Banner $7.50. “He will derive a lot of benefit out of Sunday’s run and it this stage of his preparation I couldn’t have him any better. I think he’s set for a big season. “Personally I think he has got the ability to be a top Grand Circuit horse again. Sunday’s Hannon is the perfect launch for him. He will then race in fortnightly intervals leading into the (New Zealand) Cup,” Butt said. Butt said his family had had a close association with the Oamaru Harness Racing Club’s Hannon Memorial over the years. “We grew up with it. It is a time honoured race really. There have been some nice horses win the Hannon Memorial. Anthony has won it a couple of times with Blossom Lady, then there were other nice horses like Roydon Glen and Derby who have won it. “It is the perfect lead-in race for us,” Butt said. Brother Anthony is going for his sixth win in the Hannon. He’s saluted previously with Blossom Lady in 1990 and 1993, Mister D G 2004, The Flyin Doctor 2006, and Cullen’s Creek in 2010. Mah Sish hasn’t raced since finishing seventh in the Miracle Mile in Sydney on April 28. This year’s Hunter Cup champion goes into the Hannon with two trials wins at Addington and Rangiora on September 2 and August 26 respectively. At Addington he beat four three-plus-win opponents from his 40m back-mark in 3:20.4 (mile rate: 2:04). Last 800m: 56.8. Last 400m: 28.3.Terror To Love was fourth. At Rangiora Mah Sish dealt to his six one-win rivals in 3:14 (mile rate: 2:00.3). Last 800m: 58. Last 400m: 29.2. Both were the same distance as Sunday’s race – 2600m standing start events. Stablemate Choise Achiever could also figure in the finish on Sunday. “He’s going well but it’s going to be harder for him to get into the Cup field. Mah Sish is definitely our best chance,” Butt said. Mah Sish, who finished runner-up to Im Themightyquinn's in this year’s Inter Dominion grand final has won 14 of his 38 starts, placed 12 times and won $892,250 The son of Mach Three - Dancing On Winds was bred by K. J. Taylor, and is owned by P. J. Hailes, T. G. Casey, G. A. Ayers, Mrs L. N. Ayers, Mrs M. McKay, and J. W. Hall. He finished fourth in last year’s New Zealand Cup. The first Hannon Memorial in 1938 was won by the Bill Johnstone trained and Maurice McTigue driven King’s Play. He won the (mile-and-a-quarter) 2000m event in 2:44.8. Pacer, driver, and winning time of North Otago’s premier pacing event (since 2000): 2012: Franco Ledger (Hamish Hunter) 3:15.7. 2011: Monkey King (Ricky May) 3:15.7. 2010: Cullen’s Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:13.4. 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:18.1. 2008: Ohoka Rebel (David Butt) 3:19.3. 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:26.4. 2006: The Flyin Doctor (Anthony Butt) 3:14.5. 2005: Bob’s Blue Boy (Craig Thornley) 3:22.8. 2004: Mister D G (Anthony Butt) 3:19.7; 2003: Jack Cade (Mark Purdon) 3:17.4. 2002: Panky’s Pacer (Ricky May) 3:18.1. 2001: Kym’s Girl (Colin de Filippi) 3:18.8. 2000: Chloe Hanover (Jo Herbert) 3:17.6. By Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand
2YO Ruby champion, One Over Da Moon, booked his ticket to the Australasian Breeders' Crown with a strong win in a five horse non-tote heat at Addington last night.
A big night of trotting at Tabcorp Park Melton Friday night was capped by New Zealand's most exciting squaregaiting filly in a dominant harness racing Group 1 display. Habibti muscled her way to the front in the Glenferrie Farm Victoria Trotters Oaks then cruised to a stunning seven-metre win.
Master Canterbury reinsman David Butt scored his first harness racing Jewels victory when the Paul Nairn trained One Over Da Moon won today's (Saturday June 1) $150,000 Neumann's Tyres 2yo Ruby Trot.
Congratulations to David Butt, John Dunn, Jonny Cox, Matthew Williamson and Tim Williams who tipped out winners last week.
Congratulations to Andrew Armour, Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, David Butt, John Dunn and Matthew Williamson who all tipped out winners last week.