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John Hay came within a head of ruining Ineka Lee’s big day at Oamaru yesterday. Hay and his drive, Good Deed, did their best to hold Lee and Franco Nate, their stablemate, out in the third event at Oamaru on Sunday – but Lee, with a little more horsepower up her sleeve, shot along the passing lane to not only score the victory, but also record her first winning drive. The 27-year-old Canterbury reinswoman has worked for Hay, who is also her partner, at his Ashburton stables since her College work experience days - back in the fourth form. “I was 13 when I first started working for John, so it’s been a long time - and then on Sunday he almost denied me my first win,’’ Lee said. “I thought he was actually going to hang on and win but his horse was a bit light on work going into the race and tied up in the last 50m. “It’s been a long-time coming but it’s great to get that first win out of the way. “I actually thought I was going to win behind my first drive at Addington - that was a while ago.’’ That first drive came just 10 starts ago when she finished a brave second on Daughtry Bromac at Addington. “John thought I should get my licence since I knew the horses pretty well and drive a lot of them at the trials and workouts, I never really wanted to get it but now that I’ve had a taste of winning I want more. “I think my next drive will be behind him (Franco Nate) again, I know him pretty well. “The owners – the ‘Two Eye Cee’ Syndicate are great people and have been loyal owners of John’s for years.’’ Franco Nate trailed Good Deed throughout Sunday’s $7,000 PGG Wrightson maiden pace. He won going away in 3:24.8 (mile rate for the 2600m stand: 2:06.7), with final 800m and 400m bursts of 58.2 and 27.8 seconds. It was the black 3-year-old Live Or Die gelding’s first win in two starts. Lee also ran second with him on debut at Ashburton on June 1. But Lee, who has one standardbred and one thoroughbred in training, is no stranger to winning. She’s also trained three galloping winners – the first being Hundred Pipers at Riccarton in May 2011. “I love thoroughbreds, I love the challenge of getting a flighty horse and training him or her into an equine athlete. “I’ve broken a bone in my foot and can’t ride again until I get it operated on. “At one stage I had five gallopers in work, but it’s all harness at John’s now. “He has a strong team. We’ve got 15 in at the moment. The best of them going around would be Jimmy Johnstone.’’ Lee was born in Nelson and educated at Waimea College before relocating to Ashburton and Ashburton College in the fourth form (Year 10). “I used to ride hacks but never knew or wanted to know anything about harness racing until I went to the Ashburton trots one day…I loved it. “I originally mucked out boxes for galloping trainer Shane Marr but it wasn’t long after I got work experience with John. “I left school in the sixth form (Year 12), so I’ve been with John 13 or 14 years now. I love working with standardbreds. “They are beautiful animals, but I’m also a thoroughbred girl as well, I just love horses. For the record - the Hay quinella in Lee’s most memorable race, paid just $3.50. They were first and second favourites. Franco Nate was bred by Spreydon Lodge. He is the first foal out of the un-raced Courage Under Fire mare, Neversaynever Franco. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

A belief in the direction that the Auckland Trotting Club is taking; and the future of the Franklin Training track; were two major reasons why John Street is relocating Lincoln Farm’s harness racing business from Kumeu to Pukekohe. Street recently bought the National Bloodstock property on Golding Road right adjacent to the Franklin track. He is currently spending another $500,000 upgrading the property into a racing stable. “It’s going to take a couple of months before we can move in because hardly anything has been done on the place for 20 years,'' Street said. “But I’ve got six contractors working on site now. The place has up to 60 horse boxes, so we are able to relocate all 30 of our harness horses. "This also includes 21 rising 2-year-olds. "It took a bit of time planning and negotiating but we are pleased with the purchase.'' Street said the Lincoln Farms in Kumeu would continue to house broodmares and stallions. “The property hasn’t sold yet but we are in no hurry, it is serving a very good purpose now." Street said his team could now just walk through to the Franklin track rather than the current situation where they had to be transported into Kumeu or Alexandra Park to work. “The Franklin track is in a much better state and is regularly maintained, the boys do a good job out there and I believe it will be improved even more to make it the Auckland Trotting Club’s major training centre. “The Auckland Club is doing a good job and I want to support them as much as possible. "We both see Pukekohe as the training centre of the future and personally for us the best place to further our success. “Ray (Green - trainer) and all the staff will relocate, it will be the same team with Simon Lawson, Maurice McKendry, and Zac Butcher being used as our drivers." The 69-year-old Auckland businessman who sold his Pak Save Supermarket last year, said he was now spending his retirement developing his thoroughbred and standardbred enterprises. “We are looking to have 10 per cent of our gallopers race with our trainer Lisa Latta in Singapore, and we will continue to promote our popular harness racing syndicates as well. “We have virtually sold Beaudiene Boaz to Gary Hall in Perth and the boys in that syndicate invested about $10,000 and made $40,000 each on him.” “Ian Middleton is overseeing 10 syndicates for us now, and we have got lots of people, especially South Islanders keen to get in. "I think people are realising now that we don’t keep the horse unless we make money." Street said he enjoyed syndicating standardbreds – simply because they were not difficult to sell on. “They are also easy to sell to Australia for a good price if they have or have not met their grade here,” he added. Meanwhile, Street said it was unlikely he would be relocating to Pukekohe. “I am very happy here in Half Moon Bay. Lincoln Farms was the brainchild of Street and his late great mate Graham Blackburn. The company has been in operation for more than three decades having commenced modestly with two horses in 1985 and has now won well in excess of than 300 races and millions in stakes money. Their greatest victory came via Sir Lincoln in the 2012 Auckland Cup. Their most tightly assessed horse is 14-win recent Taylor Mile winner, Besotted. Lincoln Farms has won numerous age races, the most recent of them being Group $150,000 Emerald 2yo Colts and geldings Jewels winner, Beaudiene Boaz. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Abbey Holdaway says she owes her first training victory to her boss and partner, Todd Mitchell. The 26-year-old Waikato horseman had her green, white, and black colours in the winner’s circle for the first time when Celeris won the Cambridge Primary Mobile Trot at Cambridge Raceway on Tuesday. “It was a huge thrill," she said. "Actually I was excited just getting my trainer’s licence, but now after six starts this happens....I’m still buzzing.” After stints with Geoff Small and Dale Cameron, Holdaway was actually looking for employment in the administration sector when Mitchell offered her part-time work. “I used to manage the Royal Oak Tab for a couple of years but always loved working with horses. "I didn’t think I could earn an income in the harness racing industry again until Todd offered me work." And then when Gene Robb left Mitchell’s early this year, Holdaway was offered full-time employment working alongside the four-time New Zealand Cup winning reinsman. She helps Mitchell work his team of about 13 in Tauwhare, as well as her only horse in training – Celeris. “I paid $2,000 for him off Adrienne Matthews in March last year. "Chris Gillies then trained him for me before I got my licence. "I had my first start with him in March. His previous best finish for me was sixth,” Holdaway said. Celeris drew 10 of 10 at Cambridge on Tuesday and was characteristically slow away. Mitchell had the Pegasus Spur gelding in sixth place (three-back on the outer) at the bell and then took lead at the 400m. They hung on to win by three quarters of a length, trotting the 2200m mobile in 2:48.8 (mile rate: 2:03.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.5 and 30.5. He was rank outsider and paid a whopping $83.40 to win. “He’s such a slow starter especially from stands, and I thought he might have gone a bit better from the mobile - and he did. "He was slow away again but it was a nice confident drive by Todd. “I won’t forget this win in a very long time,” Holdaway said. Holdaway was born in Auckland and educated at Pukekohe High School. “I wasn’t born into a harness racing family but soon learnt all about it when I was working for Geoff and then Dale. “Todd has also taught me heaps and I'm grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to train. "I am really enjoying it, I have no desire to drive – I’ll leave that to the professionals. “I would like to sell Celeris now and then perhaps lease another one. “I’m totally hooked,” she said. Holdaway shares in the ownership of Celeris with Neill and Aaron Bowrey. The 6-year-old was bred by Matthews, Johnnie Butcher and Philippa. Butcher. He is the 12th of 13 foals out of Game Pride mare, Game Robinson. Trained and driven by the late Max Robinson, Game Robinson won five races between 1989 and 1992. Her last foal – The Fat Controller (by Britewell) – was her most successful in New Zealand, winning 11 races and just over $150,000. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

1:51 miler Pure Power will arrive back in New Zealand tomorrow (Tuesday), 17 months after joining Nicole Molander’s New South Wales barn. The 2012 New Zealand Free-For All runner-up will now be spelled and then brought back for the New Zealand Cup and lead-up races at Addington Raceway in the spring. But to do that he will first have to overcome a muscle-tear which he copped when finishing seventh in the Society 389 Free-For-All at Tabcorp Park Menangle on May 10. It was Pure Power’s first run back since February and Molander said it was unfortunate because he had been trialling well prior to the injury. Original co-trainer, Dave McGowan said the horse now needed the expertise of his wife Clare – a renowned equine physiotherapist, and also co-owner and trainer of the rising 8-year-old. “It sounds like an injury which Clare could treat,’’ McGowan said. “He’s pulled a muscle in his rump so we will get him home and get Clare to manipulate him – and then we will put him out for while. “It’s good timing because Clare gets home from England this week.’’ Both McGowan and Molander believed Pure Power’s 23-race stint in Australia had been a success. He won four of those starts and placed four more times for $177,035 in stakes. The bay won in 1:51 and placed in 1:50.6 and also won the Group Three $40,000 Ilsley Cup at Menangle on May 25 last year. He also ran third behind Baby Bling in the 2013 Miracle Mile. “It will be great to have him back, Nicole, who is like a daughter to me, has done a wonderful job with him. “He will probably end up with Nicole and Dean next year but for now it’s all about diagnosing his injury and then treating it. “If he does come back okay he can only really race at Addington because he can’t go the right-handed way around. “We would probably send him down to the beach for the lead-up races to the Cup. “There’s nothing for him at Cambridge, so that’s his only New Zealand option really.’’ Pure Power won on debut (with Tony Herlihy (MNZM) in the bike) at Cambridge Raceway back on July 1 2010. The Grinfromeartoear gelding has had 31 starts in New Zealand, winning nine of them and placing four times. His biggest win came on May 8, 2011 when he won the Group Three $50,000 Rangiora Classic. His last start in this country, on November 16, 2002, saw him run second behind Gold Ace in the New Zealand Free-For-All. His career stats now read 54 starts, 13 wins, six seconds, two thirds and $301, 202 in purses. “It’s a shame he can’t be treated in Australia, a vet can only do so much but physiotherapists can actually treat and cure the problem. “Personally I don’t think there are not enough equine physiotherapists in harness racing – and to me that is a shame. “It’s weird because every sports athlete or team has one. “I’m just so grateful for the skills that Clare has, I have learnt so much from her. “Without her skills there was no way in the world Be Seein Ya would have won at Alexandra Park last week. “She was a cripple until Clare worked on her.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

If prominent American owner/breeders Gordon Banks and Mark Hanover could win one aged Group One race in New Zealand it would be a Harness Jewels Final. The Florida-based cousins are the only owners in the world to have won Breeders Crown finals in both North America and Australia, but have yet to win a Harness Jewels crown. “That would be a dream come true,’’ Banks told HRNZ from his Miami base. “The only reason we own horses is to win the big races. “Sure the New Zealand Cup and an Inter Dominion Final would be nice but we don’t usually race aged pacers so a Jewels title would cap it off nicely. Banks and Hanover could get their wish on May 31 when the Jewels leader they own - Joanne’s A Delight lines up in the $150,000 2YO Fillies Diamond Pace at Cambridge Raceway. Both men stayed up until 3.30am last Friday to watch Joanne’s A Delight win their first New Zealand Group One race. The Nigel McGrath trained daughter of Bettor’s Delight won the $150,000 Magness Benrow Sires Stakes Championship. “I couldn’t get to sleep after watching the race, I must have watched the replay five times and she won every time. “Then when I tried to get to sleep I kept seeing the race in my head. “It was a great night despite the lack of sleep,” Banks said. His cousin agreed saying it was one of the recent highlights in their ‘Down Under’ racing careers. “We have won two New Zealand Messengers and Tupelo Rose won almost every aged Group race down there, but this was a real highlight,’’ Hanover said. “Nigel has got her in fantastic condition for the big races this month. “It was also a great drive from Anthony Butt, to win the Jewels Final would be a dream come true.’’ The cousins have won numerous Group One races in both hemispheres. They won the North American and Australasian Breeders Crown Finals with Molly Can Do It (2002) and Passions Promise (2010). Alert Fulla and Tupelo Rose also won the 1990 and 2001 New Zealand Messenger Championships at Alexandra Park. “The year Molly Can Do It won the Breeders Crown, Tupelo Rose also ran third in the race. “She is the best ‘Down Under’ horse we have owned,” Hanover said. Banks and Hanover said there was a possibility that they could fly to Cambridge to watch their filly line up a favourite in the Yarndley sponsored Group One Final. “It would be great to get down there again and see her race in the flesh, but it all depends on our commitments up here. “I was in New Zealand and Australia for 10 weeks this year as a guest at the Inter Dominion final. “I did some sight-seeing and also went to the Sales in both countries. “If we can’t make it we will certainly be glued to the TV. “She’s a real darling and I think we are going to have a lot of fun with her,” Banks said. “I’d love to come as well but it depends on our commitments up here, It’s a long way to Tipperary,” Hanover added. The cousins fell in love with harness racing in New Zealand three decades ago and then became even more hooked when they brought Presidential Ball. They bought his first two foals – Lets Thank Heaven and Its Forever Now, which both went on to win Group One races. “We fell in love with harness racing in New Zealand a long time ago and still love it. That’s why we keep attending your sales there and in Australia,’’ Banks said. “To be frank racing in North America is boring. “Mobile mile races day in and day out is all you get, It’s very monotonous and the only time you get a crowd up here is for the big races. “The rest of the time the tracks are empty, you guys put on a great show down there and we are proud to be a part of it. The pair have about half a dozen horses, all youngsters, with McGrath at Weedons. They bought two Bettor’s Delights at this year’s yearling Sale and two last year. Their stock includes 2yo fillies - Cyclone Charlie (Rock N Roll Hanover – Eyre To The Throne); Baileys Gold (Bettor’s Delight – Baileys Pearl); and 2yo colt Listentothemusic (Bettor’s Delight – Shoshana Hall). By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

When David Branch leaves New Zealand bound for London on Sunday June 1 he will know he has played a huge part in developing possibly a world first at the Auckland Trotting Club. The former assistant racing manager, and now sales and marketing coordinator at the ATC, has been the leading force behind the club’s new-look website which will be launched on May 23. The website will stream all of its weekly race-card, as well as non-totes, Kidz Kartz Races and in fact all Alexandra Park happenings on race-night via APTV. “We have been working on this launch for several months now. It will be sad to walk away from it all just as it’s taking off – but I will walk away satisfied knowing a new revolution in racing has been forged,” Branch said. “The website will also have individual driver pages with their latest tips and information, as well as video interviews. But it is APTV that excites me the most. I don’t know of any other club that does this,” the 24-year-old added. Branch said the time was right for him to do his OE and see the world. “It took a lot of thought because I work with a wonderful team at the ATC and that’s going to be the hardest part – saying goodbye to them. I think Dominique (Dowding) is an exceptional CEO with revolutionary ideas. APTV and the new website is just one of them,” he said. “The club is heading both with the times and in the right direction because of her,” he added. Branch, who is the son of Hautapu trainers Murray and Susan Branch, started driving in the 2007-2008 season. He was appointed ATC assistant racing manager in May 2010. That was almost two years (August 2008) after he drove his first winner behind the John Green and Brian Hughes trained Roddick at Cambridge Raceway. That was the same year Branch was named 2008 Northern Harness Racing Cadet-of-the-Year. His racetrack highlight however came in May 2011 when he trained his first winner on his hometown course of Cambridge. The horse was his favourite all-time pacer - Ripped Pocket. “He was just the coolest horse to do anything with and definitely my favourite. I started working with him when I worked for Michelle Wallis (2010) and was later given the chance to train him thanks to Michelle and his owner, Tim Vince,” he said. He said he would sorely miss being around horses.  “I love harness racing and sadly where I’m heading it’s not strong but I’m looking forward to a complete break from the industry,” he said. Branch said there were many highs during his four years with the ATC. A couple of those were hosting the 2011 Inter Dominions with the NZMTC and then this year’s Auckland Cup. “I enjoyed working with the team from Christchurch and then again this year the Auckland Cup was so satisfying because we all worked so hard - and pulled off an amazing event,” Branch said. Branch said he would be coming home for Christmas before deciding his next move. “It was always going to be hard leaving and it’s even harder knowing the Club is experiencing a lot of changes and I can’t be there to see them develop. “But if I don’t do it now I may never get the chance. At 24 I feel the time is right.” For the record Branch has driven 18 winners since 2008 and trained five more. Branch also paid tribute to his parents. “Both Mum and Dad have been amazing and thoroughly supportive with my decision. That made it a lot easier knowing I have their blessing,” he said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Josh Dickie’s first serious assault into harness racing ownership looks set to be successful one if his pride and joy Giuliana Rancic is anything to go by. The 2-year-old filly, named after the courageous Italian/American television personality, looks to have the tenacious fighting qualities of her namesake. Driven by Dickie, Giuliana Rancic led all the way to win last Thursday’s Dunstan Feeds Fillies and Mares Maiden at Cambridge Raceway. She was a pronounced $1.40 favourite and never looked like losing the 2200m mobile cruising to victory in 2:45.7 (mile rate 2:01.2), with final 800m and 400m bursts of 58.1 and 28.5 seconds. “I think she has a nice future but I’m not getting too carried away after just one start,’’ Dickie said, who co-trains the daughter of American Ideal with his father John at Clevedon. “She’s an athletic type who has a great conformation. “I liked her from day one because she was a big natural looking horse who had a good size about her.’’ Dickie paid Woodlands Stud $10,000 for the filly as a weanling at the All Age Sale. He then tried to sell her at the annual Yearling Sale but received no bids. “I’d never done this sort of thing before, so it was quite new - yet quite exciting. “I thought she might have been okay when I saw Bunty Hughes was doing the under-bidding at the All Age Sale, that was an encouraging sign. “Since then she has progressed really well, but when I bought her I had to convince my grandmother (Gwen Dickie) to free up the money to purchase her. “My Nana looks after my finances and she was quite reluctant to fork out that much for a baby. “I talked her into it and I think she’s now a bit happier after last week’s result,” Dickie said. He said he named the big bay after Giuliana Rancic because both he and his girlfriend Angela admired the TV journalist. “She had both of her breasts removed and then had to resort to an embryo transfer after not being able to give birth. “She has fighting qualities that both Ange and I really admire. “If my horse is half as gutsy as what Giuliana Rancic is then I’ll be a very happy owner,” the 23-year-old said. Dickie said the filly’s dam line also lured him into buying Giuliana Rancic. “I thought she was worth a crack because her mother (Finiamo) had good bloodlines via Party Baby and Bee Gee’s Dream. “She was put together very well,” Dickie said. He said he could give Giuliana Rancic perhaps one more run before spelling her for her 3-year-old season. “I’m not too concerned about the Jewels. “If she did qualify I don’t think I would line her up, I think she is a better long-term proposition. “She’s ready just yet to line up against quality opposition after just one start, It could break her. “Her long-term welfare means a lot to me. “I’ll bring her back as an early 3-year-old and take it from there.’’ Giuliana Rancic easily won her debut start by five lengths after leading all the way from barrier two. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Anthony Butt still maintains Joanne’s A Delight is one of the best 2-year-old fillies he has ever driven. “She put the pressure on all the way tonight and proved to me again just how good she is," Butt said. "She never really got an easy quarter. It was a gutsy run." The champion reinsman made those comments shortly after Joanne’s A Delight won the Group One $150,000 Magness Benrow Sires Stakes Championship for 2yo fillies at Alexandra Park tonight. The Nigel McGrath trained daughter of Bettor’s Delight burned to the lead early from gate two and never relented holding out the fast finishing Fight For Glory and Natalie Rasmussen by a nose. There was a length and 2-3/4 lengths back to Bettor Be Supreme (Tony Herlihy) and Unforgiving (Simon Lawson). The brown filly stopped the clock in 2:01.97 with a very slick mile rate of 1:55.4. Her final sectionals for the 1700m mobile were 59 flat and 29.5. “She just kept giving tonight." "I’m pleased for Nigel because he’s got her in brilliant condition and she hasn’t been far away in recent starts." It was Joanne’s A Delight’s second win in five starts. She placed in her first look at Alexandra Park last week. “She’s just got a great feel to her and there wouldn’t be many 2-year-old fillies I’ve driven that would be better than her,” Butt said. “I think this will be the first of a few more big wins,” he added. The gifted filly took her stake earnings to $107,458. She is owned by American’s Mark Hanover and Gordon Banks and was bred by Jack Smolenski. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has had a lifetime love affair with harness racing and says he would like to own a pacer one day. “I’ve never owned one, but one day I might well buy a pacer. I have always enjoyed harness racing. “I’m going back to the 1970s now – my all-time favourite pacer was Lord Module, one of Cecil Devine’s champions, and my favourite trotter was Scotch Tar,” the Prime Minister said. There was always going to be a Cecil Devine trained standardbred in the Prime Minister’s “favourite list”. He used to work for the six-time New Zealand Cup winning trainer. “I actually have a bit of history in racing, going right back to the days when I worked for the legendary driver and trainer Cecil Devine in my youth in Christchurch. “It was an after-school job cleaning out the stables, and all the things that stable hands do. And I have to say I did it mainly for love, not money! “And while I sometimes did drive horses, I was pretty young – only 14 or 15 – so I wouldn’t want to overstate my responsibility. But, my lasting memory is that they’re big animals and they go quick.” 53-year-old Prime Minister Key said. From those early days, through to more recent years when Mr Key was a member of Kumeu Trotting Club. “I have had a real fondness for horses and racing, and in particular, harness racing. I actually used to go to the New Zealand Trotting Cup and the Inter-Doms whenever I could when I was at school and university. I loved it,” He said. The Prime Minister did have a share in a galloper named Atherius, as one of about 10 in a syndicate at one stage. “I believe he’s now enjoying his retirement on Norfolk Island. But for me personally, you can’t beat harness racing and it would definitely be a pacer if I was to get a horse. “Harness racing provides a great day out for families; it’s a lot of fun and because trotting is held at night, it’s often a very picturesque occasion,” The Prime Minister said. In terms of the racing industry itself, Mr Key believed it was going through a period of substantial change, and his goal was to make owning a racehorse profitable. “There will always be those who simply get involved for the sheer fun of it, but at the moment the stakes are too low and the costs are too high. “I know the New Zealand Racing Board is constantly working on ways to improve those metrics,” he said. A little bit about our Prime Minister: Born in Auckland before moving to Christchurch when he was a child, Key attended the University of Canterbury and graduated in 1981 with a bachelor of commerce. He began a career in the foreign exchange market in New Zealand before moving overseas to work for Merrill Lynch, in which he became head of global foreign exchange in 1995, a position he would hold for six years. In 1999 he was appointed a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York until leaving in 2001. Key entered the New Zealand Parliament representing the Auckland electorate of Helensville as one of the few new National members of parliament in the election of 2002 following National's significant defeat of that year. He has held the seat since then. In 2004, he was appointed Finance Spokesman for National and eventually succeeded Don Brash as the National Party leader in 2006. After two years as Leader of the Opposition, Key led his party to victory in both the November 2008 and the November 2011 general elections. As Prime Minister, Key leads the Fifth National Government of New Zealand which entered government at the beginning of the late-2000s recession in 2008. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

After emphatic wins at Alexandra Park on March 21 and April 4 Sovereignty’s season has come to an abrupt end meaning a third tilt at the prestigious Rowe Cup on May 9 has had to be abandoned. The Sean McCaffrey trained and Charlie (ONZM) & Annette Hunter owned 9-year-old came right into Rowe Cup calculations with three wins and five placings from 12 starts this season, but the plug was pulled last week – just hours before he was expected to line up in the third annual Anzac Cup. Hunter said he was disappointed that Sovereignty would now be spelled for the remainder of the season, but said the welfare of the 2007-2008 Trotter-Of-The-Year always came first. “We discovered a corn in his foot after he trained at Te Awamutu last week. We swam and jogged him on Thursday morning and then on Friday he was lame. “The vet looked at him again and we decided without a race under his belt it would be too big a mission for him to start against the best in a two mile race,” said owner Charlie Hunter. Sovereignty finished 9th in the time honoured event last year when ninth favourite, and in 2011 he was fourth when fifth favourite. The Monarchy gelding would have been vying for his third Group One victory since embarking on his racing career back on September 21, 2007. Hunter said it was a shame that he now won’t be able to claim his second Rowe Cup Jenner gave victory in the great race in 1984. John Langdon drove him that night because Hunter was still recovering from a smash he suffered in the New Zealand Derby. “He will be brought back in the spring and is likely to make a hit-and-run assault on the Dominion Handicap at Addington in November. “In hindsight we stayed down there too long last year. This time I think we will just head down for the big race and then come home. “He’s had a few injuries in his career and we want to look after him during his 10-year-old season,” Hunter said. Meanwhile McCaffrey said there was no point going into a big race like the Rowe Cup “half cooked” and withdrew his nomination today (Thursday May 1). “He’ll go out to the paddock now and will tell us when he’s ready to race again. There’s no way you can bring a horse like this back to a race like the Rowe Cup when he’s not ready. “For that to happen we really needed to start him last week. It’s a shame but it’s the best decision we could make for him,” McCaffrey said. Sovereignty has now banked $780,386 in 94 starts. He’s won 28 races and also placed 34 times. Two of those victories have come in Group One events - the Group One 3yo Northern Trotting Derby in 2008, and the Group One National Trot in 2010. He also won the then Listed 3yo Harness Jewels ruby Final in 2008 and has also placed in several Group One and Two events. He was bred by Roydon Lodge. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Rodney Petroff admits he should have dug deeper into the Harness Racing New Zealand rule book before visiting this country for the first time in his 32 years. The Melton (Victoria)-based reinsman said his initiation into the New Zealand was one he wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Moments after the third annual running of the Group One Anzac Cup the hooter blew and there was an inquiry was into Petroff’s drive behind Australian trotter, Zedalite. Zedalite finished a nose second behind Superbowlcheerleader, but his placing wasn’t safe because the protest was lodged by David Butt who was driving the fourth placed Dr Hook. He alleged Zedalite interfered with Dr Hook by not racing straight over the concluding stages. The 5-year-old son of Zooma kept second but Petroff was then slapped with a $450 fine by the JCA (Judicial Control Authority) for overuse of the whip. “It’s totally different to what I’m used to. Racing the right-handed way around is a whole new ball game. I should have known the rules better. It’s a bit different over there to here. “You can get away with a quick elbow-wrist action here in Australia and in New Zealand that’s what I thought I was doing. But I think you count the number of flourishes here and they are not so much of a flick but more of a hitting action” Petroff said. He breached Rule number 869(2)(a) which states no horseman shall use his whip in an unnecessary, excessive, or improper manner. Whereas in Australia the whip rule states that excessive use comes into being if: Rule 156(4)(a) The tip of the whip is drawn back further than the driver’s shoulder (b) If the whip action involves more than a wrist and elbow action. (d) If the whip is used other than a flicking motion. “Obviously what I done was wrong and the rules have been enforced and I will abide by them. Like I said I should have known better,” Petroff stressed. Petroff arrived back in Australia the day after his little drama to drive his stable representatives, McRita and Antiquities into third and fourth respectively at Bendigo on Saturday night. But Anthony Butt will drive Zedalite in Friday's Group Three $30,000 Majestic Horse Floats Greenlane Cup. Petroff hopes to be back a week later for the Rowe Cup. “This trip is his first time away from home and he’s already acquitted himself extremely well. I’m looking forward to coming back because he’s a good standing start horse and even better over the 2700m than the 2200m. “Last week’s run showed he’s going to be very hard to beat – even from 30m behind. There’s nothing like experience,” Petroff said. Tweed Heads (NSW) born Petroff said Zedalite had developed into a much stronger horse every time he got behind him. He believed he would strip even fitter this week and then fitter again for the Rowe Cup the following Friday,” said Petroff. Petroff moved to Victoria 13 years ago. His family have long been involved in harness racing and his older brother Chris (35) is one of Queensland’s top drivers, having driven more than 1,000 winners. Petroff (Rod) drives for several trainers including Zedalite’s conditioner Brent Lilley. He also works a team of seven at the Melton track – the best of them being McArdle 4-year-old mare McRita, who has won five of her 29 starts and $31,667. As for Zedalite the bay gelding has now raced 70 times for 21 wins, 28 placings, and $223,256 in stakes. He’s won two of his seven starts over Friday’s 2700m standing start distance, and also placed twice. Zedalite is being cared for by Lilley’s partner Tracey Cullen in Cambridge. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

The Marlborough Harness Racing Club carded four races last week and Nelson trainer Murray Pash won three of them – with just two horses. Pash cleaned up one day one of the dual-code meeting on Thursday winning with Arcano and Rosetta Stone. Then three days later Arcano did the business again. All three were driven by visiting Palmerston North driver, Stephen Doody. Pash said he would have loved to have driven his team, but said he lost putting Doody in the bike. “Stephen is a very accomplished and underrated driver. I asked him a while back if he could drive my horses and he said yes if he was coming down. He did a super job. I have always rated Stephen’s abilities in the cart. You have to - he’s driven more than 450 winners,” Pash said. Pash was taken to hospital following a three-horse crash at the Westport meeting on March 7. He is still waiting for a clearance to drive. “I’ll be seeing the Specialist in a week’s time and hopefully I’ll be right to get back in the sulky then. In saying that I’m still getting severe headaches so it will be interesting to see what he has to say,” Pash said. The 69-year-old only has three horses in work and it was his grey 4-year-old Arcano who got the chocolates on Thursday and Sunday. The son of Klondike Kid came from the second row (10) to win Thursday’s $7,000 Crafar Crouch Construction Mobile for the maiden pacers. He then repeated the dose from gate 11 on the second day in the $7,000 Haack Construction Mobile for the C1 and C2 pacers. His winning times for the 2400m were 3:31.7 and then 3:25 even. He won by 4-3/4 lengths and two lengths respectively. Mile rates: 2:21.9 and 2:17.5. Sectionals: 67.9 & 32.8 and then 64.2 & 31.6. Arcano has now won two of his 15 starts and placed in four others. Sixth favourite Rosetta Stone got up by a nose in the $70,000 Nigel & Trevor Mobile for C1 and C2 pacers on the first day. Winning time for the 2400m mobile: 3:29.6. Mile rate: 2;20.5. Last 80m: 65.5. Last 400m: 32 even. Rosetta Stone is a 4-year-old black Julius Caesar mare who has now won two of her 25 starts and placed in two others. “There’s not much between them. They are much of a muchness. Rosetta Stone was the first to win and the first to become a C2 pacer so I suppose she is slightly ahead on the points count at the moment,” Pash said. The Nelson horseman has been training out of Richmond Park since 1972 and said he still loved working and driving horses in his retirement. He regarded Eastburn Gee, Mac Raider and Bonnie’s Lass as the best three he had trained and said time would tell as whether or not Rosetta Stone and Arcano would go on with it. Pash has trained 40 winners since the 1970s and three of his five winners this season came at Waterlea last week. He’s also saluted the judge 60 times in his driving career. Arcano is owned by his breeder Ms M. R. Bickley, and M. P. Robinson, while Rosetta Stone is owned by her breeder Mrs D. M Berkett, and Mrs P. L. Gaugler, and Mrs C. B. Pash. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Dylan Ferguson achieved the biggest win of his career when he won the $25,000 North Island Country Cups Final at Hawera on Easter Monday. The 17-year-old won the C3-Oc pace behind the Pat and Mike O’Brien trained outsider, Beckinsale. It was the 4-year-old mare’s eighth win from 50 career starts, and fourth this season. For Ferguson it was his 11th win since starting his driving career at the start of the season. He’s also placed 34 times in 191 drives. “This is my biggest win by far. I’m really happy for Pat and Mike because they have supported me a lot. I’m also pleased that Dad drove Lifesofine (seventh) which freed me up for the drive behind Beckinsale,” Ferguson said. Beckinsale stepped well from her 10m handicap and Ferguson settled the daughter of Falcon Seelster three and then four deep on the inner. When the moves were made Ferguson managed to get off the markers and flew down the outside to get up and win the 3000m standing start event by three quarters of a length and a neck. Kippenberger (Simon Lawson) and favourite River Polka (Tony Herlihy MNZM) were second and third. Beckinsale, who was the $46.50 eleventh favourite, sprinted her last 800m in 60.8. Her winning mile rate was 2:17.6. “She hasn’t had things go his way recently but this time everything worked out well. We got an economical run early on which allowed her to sprint when it mattered. “It was a brave run. She is much better than what her price suggested. She was always travelling well and brought out her A-game this time,” Ferguson said. “I thought she’d go well because he seemed really happy in her warm-up,” he added. The Waikato horseman, who is employed by Graeme Rogerson and Peter Blanchard at Tauherenikau, said he was enjoying his first season of driving. “I’m getting a lot of opportunities to drive thanks to Graeme, Peter, Mike, Pat, and of course Dad. There have also been so many other owners and trainers I’m grateful to for giving me the chance to drive their horses,” he said. It’s been five months since Ferguson drove his first winner. That was on his favourite horse – Carlos at Cambridge Raceway on November 17. Ferguson left Cambridge High School at the end of Year 11 (sixth form), but if he had it his way he would have left the day he started. He said school got in the way of the horses because he had his mind set on following in the footsteps of his father Peter - and becoming one of New Zealand’s finest reinsmen. He said 2013-3014 was all about learning and taking advice from the horsemen and women around him. “I’ll just keep trying to win races and see what happens from there. I’d like to give the New Zealand Junior Champs a crack,” he said. Meanwhile, Beckinsale is owned by Pat O’Brien and was bred by the Astaire Standardbred Breeding Company. She is the second foal of five out of the seven-win Presidential Ball mare, Ballroom Babe. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

 Andrew Neal fondly remembers Easter School holidays being spent travelling with his father Peter to the Hawera trots from their Marlborough home. The Neals holidayed in the rural Taranaki town while racing on the Saturday and Monday. Although Neal Senior never won a Hawera Cup he had success and memorable times while competing in North Island grass track events. Fast forward to 2014 and his son and daughter-in-law have won the last two Hawera Cups. After Delight Brigade won last year, stablemate Three Jewels added the 2014 Hawera Cup on Saturday to the Taranaki Cup he won last year. The Mach Three mare was driven a treat by (Lyn) Neal. She settled her four back on the inner from her 20m handicap and was then four back on the outside with cover. Then on the home turn Neal had Three Jewels the widest turning in, and in the straight they were simply too strong clearing out to win by 2-1/2 lengths and one length from favourite River Polka (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and second favourite Styx It To Em (Maurice McKendry). Andrew Neal was delighted with the performance. “It’s a prestigious Cup. We are thrilled with her. She’s not far behind some of the best mares running around. She was a really nice fourth behind Adore Me in the Queen Of Hearts at Alexandra Park in December. “She also won the Taranaki in the mud last year. She’s a good tough mare who I think will be a nice broodmare one day,” Neal said. “It was also a very nice drive from Lyn,” he added. It was the 5-year-old’s 11th win in 25 starts. She’s also placed nine times and now won $90,548. Three of those wins have come this season. She also won two $8,000 races in consecutive starts at Cambridge Raceway on November 17 and December 5. Stablemate Delight Brigade was scratched from the Cup due to a blood disorder, and as a precaution will be out for another couple of weeks. Neal said Three Jewels, who finished fifth in the Country Cups Final two days after her Hawera Cup win, will now continue to race at Alexandra Park and Cambridge, most likely from handicaps. “She’s won 11 races and it’s not always easy to place her but she’s a quality mare and is a lot better than what her recent form-line has displayed. “She has a win or two left in her yet, and should perform well at stud one day,” he said. Three Jewels is the third of three foals out of the one-win Falcon Seelster mare, Falcon Jewel. Younger brother Courageous Falcon (by Courage Under Fire) won four of his 17 starts in New Zealand for the Neals, before being exported to Australia on July 18, 2011 where he won seven more races. Three Jewels is owned by the Neals and Mrs K. M. Yardley. She was bred by her trainers and Mrs J. Yardley. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

Art Union should not be lining up for career start number two in the Resource Recycling Technologies NZ $8,000 Pace for 2-year-olds at Addington Raceway on Saturday. In fact he should have been retired long before his racing career started. Trainer Cran Dalgety said the well-bred Art Major colt could easily have been wandering around in a paddock now retired from what he termed a “one in a million” injury. “He could have been racing for us three months ago, but we lost valuable ground with him. If you raced a thousand times you wouldn’t see what happened to the poor buggar in a trial at Ashburton back in December. “He was in the one-one and the parked horse came back on him and he got his foot stuck up in the cart and fractured his hock,” Dalgety said. Vets then told the West Melton horseman there was little or no chance of Art Union ever racing again. They did toy with operating and putting a screw in his leg but Dalgety opted against it. “I told the vets if he was out in the wild he wouldn’t be able to get operated on, so we just swum him. It’s a bit of a miracle but time, swimming, and Mother Nature have cured it,” Dalgety said. “Well fingers crossed it’s cured. He’s shown no signs of distress and has bounced back well from his win the other night,” he added. Art Union won his Motukarara Workout on April 5 and then his Rangiora Trial two days later before making a winning debut at Addington Raceway last Friday (April 11). The brown colt was backed into a $3.20 favourite and never looked like losing the $8,000 Spectators Bar & Bistro Open ‘Til Late Mobile Pace. He won the 1950m mobile by 1-1/4 lengths in 2:24.2. Mile rate: 1:58.9. last 800m: 57.2. Last 400m: 27.4. Art Union was eased back early, improved to be parked at the 900m and then drew clear inside the closing 100m proving too strong for Dana Duke (Gavin Smith) and Abbey Cullen (Stephen McNally). “His dam Sparks A Flyin (21 wins and $627,218) was a very good horse winning several big races here and was a New South Wales Oaks winner. She also went 1:51 in America. She was also 3yo Filly-Of-The-Year and just keeps popping them out for the Wakefields (owners and breeders),” Dalgety said. Art Union is a half-brother to earlier classy performers, Diomedes (1:57.5), Empyrean (1:56.2), Bettor’s Fire (1:57.4) and Safedra (1:56.3). Last Friday he became the fifth sub 2:00 winner from Sparks A Flyin (1:52). Dalgety said he would race him in the Sires Stakes heat at Addington after this weekend’s mission, and if he still didn’t have enough money in the bank he could possibly head north to qualify for the 2yo Emerald Final at the Harness Jewels meeting at Cambridge Raceway on May 31. “He’d be right up there with some of the best colts I’ve trained. He has really bulked up since coming back from his injury. He now looks like a 3-year-old. “He’s a tall and long legged creature. Almost thoroughbred like. He’s certainly no flash in the pan,” Dalgety said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

Last year’s Rowe Cup place-getter and New Zealand record holder - Boizel – is back in New Zealand and set to tackle the Group races at Alexandra Park within the next month. The Tony Grayling trained 7-year-old gelding arrived back in New Zealand on March 28 after a second, third, seventh and 10th in four races at Tabcorp Park, Melton in Australia from February 15 to March 15. “He went really well in the Cochran Trotters Cup first up and then was an unlucky third in the Free-For-All the following week. Then he went off the boil. “I don’t know whether it was the heat, the bush fires, or he just wasn’t feeling well, but he wasn’t up to competing in the Great Southern Stars Series. Instead we wanted to look after him for the big races back here at Alexandra Park,” Grayling said. The Franklin horseman was referring to the Group One $100,000 Anzac Cup on Anzac Day (April 25), the Group Three $30,000 Greenlane Cup on May 2, and the Group One $150,000 Rowe Cup on May 9. “He was a bit tired when he came home but Chris Alford did a terrific job with him. I went over for the first 10 days and then came back to my team. “I’ll definitely line him up in the Anzac Cup and the Rowe Cup but I’m not sure about the Greenlane Cup. I’d like to get a trial into him before Anzac Day but the Easter break might put a dampener on that. I’m not too perturbed though because he’s bouncing around again and working very well,” said Grayling who works a team of 20 at Pukekohe. Boizel finished third behind Stig and Springbank Sam in last year’s Rowe Cup. Six months later the son of Dream Vacation set a New Zealand 2400m standing start record of 3:01 flat in Free-For-All Trot at Kaikoura. Boizel settle well back in that field that day while Stent and Master Lavros set a solid clip in front. He was three deep and second last down the back the last time and then in the straight Dexter Dunn threaded his way through the field to knock over Stent in the shadows of the post. He won with 2:01.3 mile rate and trotted his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 59.1 and 29.9 seconds. Boizel was the fourth favourite of the nine starters and paid $11.80 to win. “He placed in the Jewels but that was the best race of his career beating good horses like Stent and Master Lavros. The longer the go the better he is because he’s an out-and-out stayer. The Rowe Cup’s 3200m distance is ideal for him. “We will want a hot pace like they went at Kaikoura and then he will be in his element. He can stay all day. He’s a very good one-paced horse who just keeps bowling along,” Grayling said. Boizel has raced 29 times for 11 wins, 10 seconds and 13 thirds. The brown gelding has won $167,469 in stakes. “He’s my stable star and a very good trotter when he’s right. Every trainer would love to win a Rowe Cup. We went close last year. Hopefully we can go two better this time around,” 48-year-old Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)

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