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Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including my bet of the week and my two each-way bets of the week. Others to tip out winners were Jonny Cox, Steve Richardson, and Ken Barron. Let’s see if some of the trainers and drivers can hold up their end of the bargain this week! Forbury – Thursday Dexter Dunn: Has surprisingly opted for Phat Freddy’s Drop, who will look to break maidens in the first race on the card. Jonny Cox: Rates Mako Banner as a very good each-way chance in race three. Quinella with Katy Perry perhaps? Craig Thornley: Was pleased with U Can I Can at the recent Motukarara workouts - race four Mark Jones: Expects Ultimate CC to prove very hard to beat in the ninth race on the card Terry Chmiel: Is expecting a bold performance from Angus T Jones in the ninth race. Alexandra Park - Friday Scott Phelan: Expects Cheers Kathy to be very hard to roll in the first race on the card. Simon Lawson: Has opted for impressive last start winner Destination Moon - race six Todd Mitchell: Is a very big fan of Mach's Gladiator, and expects him to be hard to roll in the ninth race on the card. Addington - Friday   Blair Orange: Is bullish about the chances of Paramount Queen, who looks very well placed in race two. Anthony Butt: Thinks Thebestlove is a big chance in the NZ Trotting Derby - race four David Butt: Warns punters not to drop One Over Da Moon, who also competes in the NZ Trotting Derby - race four Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Expects Locharburn to prove to strong in the NZ Derby - race nine Ken Barron:  Rates the chances of capable two-year-old filly Livura, who has drawn well for Friday’s assignment - race twelve Gavin Smith: Thinks Dana Duke could be well over the odds in the same event - race twelve Invercargill - Sunday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for the capable yet enigmatic Bet's Sun, who would only need to trot to win the first race on the card. Tim Williams: Thinks Just A Delight, who has finished second in her last three outings, is overdue a winning turn - race ten Andrew Armour Thinks Blanco, who has raced well since joining the barn of Tom Kilkelly, is a good each-way chance in race eleven. Motukarara – Sunday Ricky May: Believes Franco Salisbury will take all sorts of beating from his ace draw – race seven. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Char Do Neigh – Invercargill, race five Each-way: Dream Gal – Forbury Park, race five Emmanuel – Addington, race three Value: Ranfurly Rulz – Addington, race one  

Congratulations to David Butt, Josh Dickie, Mark Jones, Simon Lawson, and Tim Williams who all tipped out winners last week. Unfortunately Blair Orange came up a  ½ length short of tipping six consecutive winners, with the stablemate that he did highlight as the horse to beat holding on to win narrowly. Let’s find out what the boys have sorted out for us this week: Andrew Armour: Expects Armbro Courage to break maidens at very short notice – Winton, race six. Anthony Butt: Thinks Ideal Power can make it three straight victories – Addington, race seven. Blair Orange: Has opted to go head-to-head with Anthony, tipping Rocknroll Arden in the same event - Addington, race seven. Craig Thornely: Believes Gotta Grunter can break maidens after a string of seconds to open her career. She competes in the sixth race at Rangiora on Sunday. David Butt:  Has a big opinion of One Over Da Moon and expects him to win the second race at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Thinks the unbeaten Karanga Red Fantasy, who trialled well behind Adore Me on Monday, will prove hard to beat in race three at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Expects Goodness Gracious Me, who was a game third in the Southland Oaks, to be very hard to beat in the seventh race at Winton on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Has opted for Sunny Vacation as his bet of the week – Alexandra Park, race ten. Ken Barron: Was keen around the chances of Quality Invasion but in the end opted for Majestic Time who will take all sorts of stopping in the NZ Trotting Oaks – Addington, race four. Mark Jones: Is very happy with Master Lavros and expects him to bounce back to winning for in the race ten at Addington on Friday. Matthew Williamson:  Thinks talented but enigmatic trotter Bet’s Sun can bet its best foot forward in the third race at Rangiora on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the consistent Defy is overdue a winning turn – Winton, race six. Ricky May: Expects extremely talented two-year-old trotter Monbet to prove too good in the first race at Rangiora on Sunday. Simon Lawson: Rates the chances of Besotted in the Kumeu Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B):  Likes the chances of speedy filly God Forbid who should be better for her fresh up run – Alexandra Park, race five. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Less can get some money in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Tim Williams: Has opted for Popular, who should be just that with punters after a very good run behind Raksdeal last start – Winton, race two. Todd Mitchell: Expects his stable star Prime Power to prove very hard to beat in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet: Saratoga – Alexandra Park, race ten. Each-way: Hug The Wind – Addington, race eleven. Smiles For Miles – Winton, race six. Value: Pomme Roy – Addington, race six.

Champion trotter Stig has been retired for approximately the third time but this time his trainer Paul Nairn is all but certain there will be no fairytale comeback story. “He is more likely to be seen at the Ellesmere show in October competing in the hack class than back on a racetrack,” says the eleven year-old gelding’s legendary trainer, Paul Nairn. “He has been offloading which has caused him to go in a hind suspensory,” advised Nairn. “He is still relatively sound but he would definitely need a spell and it is not easy to bring back an eleven-year-old gelding,” he added. “And I think he has earned his retirement, don’t you?” The war horse who stole the hearts of harness racing fans across Australasia will now live out his days as a riding hack for Stacy Whatuira, who works for Nairn at his Leeston base. When asked what Stig’s greatest attributes were, Nairn was quick to highlight his toughness and huge will to win. “When he was right he was just such a tremendous stayer,” said Nairn. “He simply had no bottom to him.” “The race that will always stand out for me is his Dominion Handicap win in 2008. I think Darren Tyquin called the race that day and it was a tremendous call. He was last and looped the field four wide and was simply too good. For those of you who can’t remember that day, Darren Tyquin’s words were: “Super Stig. Have a look at a real champion go. He is the best trotter in New Zealand and his name is Stig!” Sadly, just four months after this, Stig went amiss and after the gelding went sore again while being jogged up by co-owner Tim Butt, the son of Armbro Invasion was officially retired. But, somehow, through the deeds of a champion horse and a champion trainer, Stig made it back to the races in February of 2012 to start a campaign which saw him win the Rowe Cup in December in what was one of the most emotional victories ever seen at Alexandra Park. “He was doing the dual sulkies out at Lindsay Kerslake’s place and he seemed sound so I decided to give him another go,” recalls Nairn. “I’m certainly glad I did now,” he laughed. “His Rowe Cup win was an absolute fairytale and is definitely the race that stands out alongside his Dominion victory.” “If he had have had a sound career he could have been absolutely anything,” Nairn concluded. Nairn said he would like to pay thanks to his vet Lindsay Colwell, who has been an instrumental part of the second half of Stig’s career, as well as David Butt, who did a wonderful job of driving the gelding throughout his career. Nairn also thanked co-owner Jim Boyd, who became famous for his post-race songs, which included the hit single ‘Stigey boy’. “I think I need to thank Jim as he annoyed Tim (Butt) so much that Tim got sick of him and decided to offload him, as well as Stig, on to me,” Nairn quipped. Stig fact file: lifetime starts: 63 wins: 23 seconds: 12 thirds: 6 Stakes: $855,096 Sire: Armbro Invasion Dam: Naraya (Gekoj) Owners:  T G Butt, Mrs Andrea Butt, J S Boyd, Mrs R I Boyd, R G Thomas, Ms J A Gordon Group One wins: New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All, Dominion Handicap, National Trot, Rowe Cup, Great Southern Star heat. By Mitchell Robertson    

The ring-around continues to gain momentum, so much so that it debuted on The Box Seat last night and will now hold a weekly spot on the show. Last week the Harnesslink ring-around produced seven winners with the best result being the Stephen Richardson tipped Djokovic who romped in by 8 & ½ lengths at odds of $6.20. Other winners included Sunhaven Express, who was victorious at a nice each-way price of $5.30 and $2.20. So, let see what the boys have come up with for us this week! Andrew Armour: Rates Armbro Courage as his best chance of the week – Invercargill, race three Blair Orange: Who is shooting for six winning tips in a row, expects Itz Bettor To Win to remain unbeaten after the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Craig Thornely: Has opted for Smithy in the eighth race at Addington on Friday. David Butt:  Rates Lotalov as a very good each-way bet in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks the highly capable trotter Sheemon will prove very hard to beat in race seven at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Has opted for Zena Mac, who was a bold second last start at Methven – Akaroa @ Motukarara, race four. Jonny Cox: Expects Smiles For Miles to be very hard to beat on Sunday – Invercargill, race three. Josh Dickie: Is bullish about the chances of Destination Moon in the last race at Cambridge tonight. Ken Barron: Expects Mighty Major to be very hard to stop from his inside barrier draw – Addington, race four. Mark Jones: Is prepared to give The Ultimate Storm one last chance - Addington, race eleven. Matthew Williamson: Rates Zhenya as his best chance of the week – Addington, race ten. Nathan Williamson: Thinks talented filly I Smart can get some money in the Southland Oaks – Invercargill, race eight. Simon Lawson:  Has a high opinion of Unforgiving, and expects her to be very hard to beat in the third race at Cambridge tonight. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Robyn's Raider can make it back-to-back wins in the tenth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Terry Chmiel: Expects Swarozki to be competitive in the second race at Addington on Friday. Tim Williams: Has opted for Bobbie McArdle, who looks a good each-way chance in race five at Invercargill on Sunday. Todd Mitchell: Thinks It's All On will offer some good each-way value for punters – Cambridge, race ten.   Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bets: Alleluia – Addington, race eight Tokohoka – Invercargill, race five Each-way: Blue Eyed Suzie – Invercargill, race seven Value: Holy Grail – Addington, race nine

Congratulations to Blair Orange, Jim Curtin, Matthew Williamson, and Nathan Williamson, who were last week’s top tipsters. Let’s see what good oil we can dig up this week Andrew Armour:  Likes the chances of Armbro Courage in race five at Winton on Saturday. Anthony Butt: Is bullish about the chances of capable maiden Blingiton in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Thinks Gentle Western will prove awfully hard to beat in the tenth race at Winton on Saturday. David Butt: Thinks war horse Stig can return to winning form in the fifth race at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith: Rates Zena Mac as a good each-way prospect in the first race at Motukarara on Sunday. Jonny Cox: Expects William H Bonny to be very hard to beat in the second race at Winton on Saturday. Ken Barron: Has a lot of time for smart trotting filly Majestic Time, who was impressive at the recent Addington trials. She will compete in the sixth race at Addington on Friday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Cam Before The Storm can make it three straight wins at Winton on Saturday. Nathan Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of I Smart in seventh race at Winton on Saturday. Scott Phelan: Has opted for Washington Diva as his bet of the week – Manawatu, race three. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Think First Holme might be exactly that in the first race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Tim Williams: Rates the chances of capable three-year-old Bettor Buy It in the race twelve at Winton. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Cullies Delight in the last race at Manawatu tonight as his bet of the week. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: Tazzy’s Devil – Alexandra Park, race 10 Each-way: Johnny Fox – Addington, race three Value: Spinyback – Motukarara, race one  

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  

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