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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)

Prominent harness racing identity and Auckland businessman, John Green was appointed to the Board of the Auckland Trotting Club on April 1 as an independent director. Green not only has had a lifetime involvement in harness racing as an owner, breeder, driver and trainer, both in New Zealand and Australia, he is also the CEO of the Hugh Green Foundation - which is focused on giving financial aid to medical research and to people in need in the New Zealand community. He is also a director of The Hugh Green Group, which is one of the largest family owned commercial and residential property developers in New Zealand. Green said he was specifically appointed to the Board for his skills in property development. “I am currently involved in a project that would set the Auckland Trotting Club up for life. Harness racing in this city would have a secure future and no longer have to be reliant on the Racing Board funding or slot machines,” Green said. “It would be a complex five or six stories high comprising retail and residential development. I am now assisting by being a member of the Project Control Group along with President Hoggard, Director Bruce Carter and our CEO,” 58-year-old Green said. “This is all about the Club being totally self-sufficient one day,” he added. The ATC’s chief executive, Dominique Dowding, said Green brought a wealth of commercial, property, racing and governance acumen to the director’s role. “John is a welcome addition to the Board, and will be an enormous asset to the development project on 223 Green Lane West. “We know members will be pleased to have John back involved with the Auckland Trotting Club and the team looks forward to working with him on what is the most exciting time in the Clubs history” Dowding said. His appointment now makes the governance of the ATC an eight-strong board. It comprises: Kerry Hoggard (president), Jamie MacKinnon (vice president), Dene Biddlecombe, Bruce Carter, Phil Cook, Scott Plant, and Peter Smith. Green trained 91 winners in New Zealand from 1990 to 1996 and 194 more with Brian Hughes between 2002 and 2013. He also trained about 300 winners during his time in Australia and drove 80 more. He drove his first winner with his first drive at both Harold and Albion Park and has won a Group race in every state in Australia. His only driving success in New Zealand however, on December 10, 1992 was his most sentimental. “That was at Taranaki. The horse was Letterkenny Lover. I owned, bred, trained and drove her. She paid $60 to win and I took great delight in beating Maurice McKendry and Tony Herlihy (MNZM) that day,” Green laughed. Green has also trained numerous Group One winners in New Zealand. He won the Noel Taylor Mile with The Suileman in 1995; the 2005 Easter Cup with Alta Serena; the 2012 Great Northern Derby with Ideal Scott; the 2005 Great Oaks with Tosti Girl. He also trained Beefy T to win the 1996 Miracle Mile at Harold Park in Sydney and more recently Courage To Rule to win the Victoria Derby in 2010. Green gave away training last season after injecting more than $10 million into the industry. He wanted to concentrate on business, but admitted he did become despondent with training when the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) said it found traces of Arsenic in Delightful Christian after she won the Group One $150,000 Harness Jewels Final for 2yo fillies on 2nd June 2012. He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the case. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Anthony Butt is delighted to be back behind the Nigel McGrath trained Joanne's A Delight at Addington on Friday night (March 28). The brilliant Canterbury reinsman will renew his association with the talented daughter of Bettor's Delight in the fourth heat of the $18,000 Magness Benrow Sires Stakes 2yo Fillies Series. Butt drove her on debut when Joanne's A Delight ran second behind Fight For Glory, but he had to hand the reins over to Dexter Dunn last Saturday due to his Australian commitments. "She would be one of the best fillies I've driven in quite a few years now. She has the all-round game. Stamina, speed, and manners," Butt said. Joanne's A Delight displayed all those attributes when having her second start at Ascot Park in Invercargill on Saturday. The brown filly got her revenge over Fight For Glory in the Group Three $25,000 Caduceus Club of Southland Nevele R Stud Fillies Classic, but she also set a new track record for 2-year-old fillies. The $52,000 purchase at the last year's Premier Yearling Sale stopped the clock in 2:04.4. Western Dream's previous 1700m mobile record was 2:05.3. She set that in April 2005. "Nigel has done a brilliant job with her. He has always liked her and hasn't rushed her - trialling her when he should. I like her toughness and she has given me every indication that she will go on with it," Butt said. Although drawn the outside of the front row Linda Lovegrace looks the hardest for Joanne's A Delight to beat. Another contender, Supriya has also received an unfortunate draw, one outside Joanne's A Delight on the second row. Previous heat winners were: Democrat Party (Alexandra Park); Fight For Glory (Addington Raceway); Bettor Be Supreme (Alexandra Park). The fifth and final heat will be staged at Forbury Park on April 17 with the $150,000 Group One final at Alexandra Park on Rowe Cup night - May 9. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ E-News)

Contrary to reports throughout Australasia Keystone Del will not contest Alexandra Park’s ‘Triple Crown’ starting on Anzac Day (April 25). Trainer Nicole Molander confirmed with Harness Racing New Zealand today (Wednesday) that the son of Dr Ronerail would now go out for a “well earned” spell. “We want him to bow out for the season on a high. He deserves that. We have spoken to all of his owners and they agree that what he has achieved so far this season is more than enough. “Even though he’s come through his Great Southern Star races really well we don’t want to risk coming to Auckland and have him running there as a tired horse,” Molander said. Keystone Del won his $50,000 elimination heat of the Great Southern Star at Melton’s Tabcorp Park on Saturday and then later that evening went on to beat Stent in the $300,000 final. Both were 1720m mobile Group One events. Molander said the Anzac Cup, the Greenland Cup (May 2) and the Rowe Cup (May 9) were tempting. Her husband Dean even contacted the Auckland Trotting Club last week about lining the former Kiwi trotter up in all three races. “We were never going to make a decision until today. Some reporters jumped the gun. The horse’s welfare always comes first and that’s why we waited until he returned home from Victoria (to New South Wales) before we made any decision on coming to New Zealand. “He’s had 14 races this campaign and done a very good job for us. His welfare always comes first,” Molander stressed. In those 14 races Keystone Del has won seven times and placed on five occasions. All up he has now won 15 of his 32 lifetime starts, placed six times and banked $517,429 for Molander and fellow owners P. T. Hall, M. J. Hall, and A. J. Molander. His fastest mile rate of 1;53.9 was recorded when winning the Group One $100,000 Glenferrie Challenge at Tabcorp Park Menangle on March 2 this year. “We would like to follow the same racing schedule as what we did with him last year. The Glenferrie Challenge is definitely on the radar because no trotter has won that three times in a row. “The Southern Star is also part of the plan. As for New Zealand I think the Rowe Cup and supporting races could be a real possibility this time next year,” Molander said. The 6-year-old bay gelding had nine New Zealand starts for trainer Tim Hall before being exported to Australia on November 14, 2011. In fact he never won a race until his final two New Zealand starts – both of them within three days of each other at Manawatu in October 2012. Molander said Keystone Del would now be spelled for a couple of months. “He’s come back from Victoria in great condition. We’ll probably give him two months off and then get him back into training again, because he takes quite a bit of work getting him back to where he should be at,” Molander said. Keystone Del was bred by P. T and M. J. Hall. He is the second of three foals out of the Aereus mare, Flipside. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Don't get too carried away with the royally bred Bettor Think Twice when assessing chances for Friday night's PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Series 2yo Fillies Graduette at Addington Raceway - Click here to view the field. Trainer Cran Dalgety said he was treating the night's richest race as a $18,500 trial, and believed the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Fight For Glory had the race all parcelled up. "My girl is as green as what I am, and like me needs a bit of time. She's not race hardened enough yet but hopefully come the Jewels Final she will be fizzing," the West Melton horseman said. "I can't see any of them beating Fight For Glory," he added. The $78,000 purchase at last year's New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale in Christchurch is the first of three Bettor's Delight foals out of the three-win Christian Cullen - Inspiring Dash mare, Rona Lorraine . She won the Group One Nevele R Stud Caduceus Club 2yo Fillies Classic, and also won Friday's Sales Series Graduette race - both in 2008. "It would be nice to pick up some crumbs behind Mark's horse, but after a few Sires Stakes heats and more race experience I think she will develop into a nice filly," Dalgety said. Bettor Think Twice, who will be driven by Dexter Dunn, has drawn two - one outside the favourite. With two races under her belt Fight For Glory is the most experienced pacer in the six-horse field. She won her only start at Addington, when making her debut as a $1.60 favourite on February 14. The Art Major filly then finished a neck second behind stablemate, Supersonic Miss and Blair Orange at the Cheviot meeting on March 2. The best of the rest appears to be the last start workout winner (mile rate: 2:04.5), the Nigel McGrath trained and Anthony Butt driven Joanne's A Delight. By Duane Ranger *Supersonic Miss, who beat Fight For Glory on debut, has had a setback which could affect the chances of an Australian campaign next month. The impressive Leonard Memorial winner did herself a mischief rolling her her box. She had been on the short list to go to Australia with Follow The Stars but no that could be in doubt. At this stage there is no substitute though Mark and Natalie have not ruled out a travelling companion for Follow The Stars.

Bob Sandford has owned standardbreds since the mid-1970s, but he and his wife Jennifer only started to get serious about ownership in the early 1990s. Now almost a quarter of a century later the Canterbury couple have arguably the best 3-year-old pacing filly and colt going around at present. Both Tiger Tara and Venus Serena have are last start Group One winners, and the Sandfords, who are both 72, still say they can’t quite believe that both champion pacers have really come into their own in 2014. “We are over the moon. We have spent several decades trying to get a top-line horse and now we have two. It’s quite unbelievable really. It’s a dream come true,” Sandford (Bob) said. With the Harness Racing New Zealand Awards still a few months away the Sandfords must surely rate as warm favourites to win their first ‘Owner-of-the-Year title. “I must have owned about 60 plus horses over the years and last week’s (Woodlands Northern) Derby is the richest race I have won. We flew up to Alexandra Park to watch Tiger Tara win. “We were also on track the week before to watch ‘Venus’ win the (Northern) Oaks. It’s been an incredible couple of weeks,” Sandford said. To be fair it’s been an incredible couple of seasons. Since making her debut in February 2013 Venus Serena has won 11 of her 16 starts and placed in three others for $503,622. This includes four Group One victories, a Group Two and a Group Three. The four Group Ones came via the Nevele R Caduceus Club 2yo Fillies Classic at Alexandra Park on April 19; the Magness Benrow Sires Stakes 2yo Fillies Championship at Alexandra Park on May 3; the Ashburton Guardian 2yo Fillies Harness Jewels Diamond at Ashburton on June 1; and the Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks for 3yo fillies at Alexandra Park on February 28. Tiger Tara has won seven of his 18 starts and placed in seven others for $277,375. This comprises two Group One victories – the NRM Sires Stakes 3yo Final at Addington Raceway on November 12, and of course the Woodlands Stud Northern Derby at Alexandra Park on March 7. Sandford said he was introduced to ownership by his late brother Brian, who bred many good horses over the years, including the 10-win ($588,106) son of Mach Three, Fiery Falcon. “The first horse I owned was Tarbar in the mid-1970s and then my brother and I owned Tarsudi. I dabbled in a few more over the years but it wasn’t until about 1990 when we started to buy two or three a year from then on,” Sandford said. He said 2002 Wellington Cup winner Agios Nikolaos (eight wins) was one of the better horses he owned. He also rated Rocket Reign (14 wins) and his full brother Cullens Reign (eight wins) as another couple of his well performed pacers. “The two that are going around at the moment have the potential to be my best. I think they will race against each other one day but not this season. “Ultimately I’d love to win a big Cup with one of them. They both stay pretty well so it’s not an impossibility. I’d really like that for Geoff and Jen,” Sandford said. Geoff is Geoff Dunn, Sandford’s trainer since 1992. “He’s a great horseman and has done a wonderful job with my horses over the years. ‘Tara’ and ‘Venus’ are very much evidence of his great horsemanship,” Sandford said. Cheviot born and Christchurch Boys High School educated Sandford said he bought two fillies at this year’s yearling sales and bought back a half-brother to Venus Serena named Bettor Bolt (bettor’s delight – Inspiring Dash). The two fillies are named Nikita Banner (Bettor’s delight – Corporate Banner) and Flyingretna (Mach Three – Gretna’s Girl). They also bred Venus Serena from their Falcon Seelster mare, Inspiring Dash, who won five races for Dunn. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

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)

Follow The Stars makes it three straight in Cardigan Bay Stakes Mark Purdon won his eighth Cardigan Bay Stakes in 14 years when favourite Follow The Stars cleaned up in tonight's 2014 edition of the The Group One $100,000 Breckon Farms Young Guns Final at Alexandra Park. Starting from the outside of the front row, Follow The Stars was fortunate to avoid the breakers inside him therefore leaving Purdon no option to avoid the breakers and patiently wait for Jonny B Good and Todd Mitchell to drag him into the race. When Jonny B Good was started to fade Purdon pounced with the $2.10 shot and zoomed to the front at the 500m. From that point it was a matter of catch me if you can. They couldn't. The Art Major colt won easily by 3-1/2 lengths and 1-1/4 lengths in 2:02.92 (mile rate: 1:56.3) with final 800m sprints of 58.3 and 28.6. Express Stride (Tony Herlihy - MNZM) was second, with Bettor Sprits (Philip Butcher) third. Purdon also co-trains Follow The Stars with his partner Natalie Rasmussen. "He's a nice colt and had to be good to win from the outside of the front line. I like him a lot. We will head to Australia with him now for the APG Series in Melbourne in April," Purdon said. It was Follow The Star's third consecutive win since making his winning debut at Alexandra Park on December 13. He also won the $25,000 Group Three Sapling Stakes at Ashburton on February 14. Follow The Stars is owned by Mrs G. J. Kennard, P. I Kennard, N. Pilcher, G. R. Douglas, P. J. Creighton, and Mrs M. C Creighton. He was bred by Lauriston Bloodstock. The bay colt has now won $81,477 Past winners (and times) of the Group One Cardigan Bay Stakes Young Guns Final for 2yo colts & geldings have been: 2013: Cyclone Prince (Todd Mitchell) 2:04.6; 2012: Five Card Draw (Brent Mangos) 2:02.5; 2011: Fly Like An Eagle (Mark Purdon) 2:02.5; 2010: Major Mark (Mark Purdon) 2:04.1; 2009: Anvils Best Ever (Anthony Butt) 2:05.6; 2008: Gotta Go Cullect (Jay Abernethy) 2:03.7; 2007: Steve McQueen (Mark Purdon) 2:06.1; 2006: Gotta Go Cullen (Nicole Molander) 2:05.0. by Duane Ranger  

Sires Stakes winner Tiger Tara is also the 2014 Group One $250,000 Woodlands Stud Northern Derby champion. But the three-year-old colt's trainer, Geoff Dunn and driver Gerard O'Reilly were both surprised by the neck victory. "I thought he was flat going into his this race and I did not expect this win. I had his bloods taken during the week and they returned nothing. After last week's run (sixth) I thought he'd go average tonight. It was a pleasant surprise," Dunn said. O'Reilly said he would have just been happy to place after his lack lustre performance in the Derby Prelude seven nights ago. "That was ordinary and even though we won tonight I still don't think he was at 100 per cent. It's very hard to believe the quarters he ran because he can go better than what he did tonight," said driver O'Reilly. Tiger Tara, who was having his second start at Alexandra Park, paced a sensational 54.5 last half, which included a 27.4 last quarter. He stopped the clock in 3:18.10. His winning mile rate for the 2700m mobile was a slick 1:54.8. They are very good times considering favourite Locharburn and Dexter Dunn set a leisurely pace for the first half of the race. But they didn't count on Tiger Tara whipping along the passing lane to get the chocolates. Maxim  (Zac Butcher) was 1-1/2 lengths back in third. Tiger Tara was the second favourite and paid $4.40 to win. He is owned by Dunn, R. L. Sandford & Mrs J. A. Sandford, and J. S. Gould. His breeder was R. P. Anicich. He has now won seven of his 18 starts and placed in seven others for $277,375 in stakes. by Duane Ranger (Courtesy of HRNZ)  

A superb drive from one of New Zealand's most promising reinsmen ensured victory for second favourite Democrat Party in tonight's Group Two $80,000 Gotta Go Cullen Young Guns Delightful Lady Classic (1700m mobile) for 2-year-old fillies. Zac Butcher might have started from barrier six with the daughter of American Ideal but soon after found himself in the one-one. "She started real well and it was just a matter of luck really," a modest Butcher said. "She was always travelling well and at the top of the straight I thought she would be hard to beat. She doesn't like to let anything get past her once she hits the front," he added. Democrat Party paced the 1700m mobile in a slick 2:02.77. Mile rate: 1:56.2 and final 800m and 400m sectionals in 58 flat and 29.2 seconds. "She's a lovely filly, but still a bit green with a lot of improving to do. She has a really bright future," Butcher said. Democrat Party is trained by Butcher's boss and Hall-Of-Fame conditioner Barry Purdon. He is owned by her breeders F. J. and Mrs K. V. Price. The bay filly has now won two of her three starts and banked $52,400. Past winners (and times) of the Group Two Delightful Lady Classic for 2yo fillies have been: 2013: Angelina Jolie (David Butcher) 2:04.0; 2012: La Norvic De Milo (James Stormont) 2:04.9; 2011: Precious Rose (Zac Butcher) 2:06.5; 2010: Collectable (Nicole Molander) 2:04.9; 2009: Sixpence (Steve Reid) 2:06.1; 2008: World Of Dreams (Maurice McKendry) 2:05.4; 2007: So Deep (Graeme Harris) 2:06.4. By Duane Ranger (Friday March 7, 2014)    

It was appropriate that Sean Grayling drove his first winner on the Pukekohe grass yesterday. After all he grew up with horses at his father’s Pukekohe stable, and learnt to drive at Counties Kidz Kartz just across the road at the Franklin track. It was also a just reward for the 18-year-old who on October 10 last year broke his wrist in a race-fall at Cambridge Raceway. He was rushed to Waikato Hospital and was out of action until December 29. That was just his sixth race-day drive. He’s now had 19 drives for one win, two seconds and a third. Grayling, last year’s North Island Cadet Rising Star Award winner, won behind the Tony Grayling (Dad) trained Brookby Prince. The Monarchy bay gelding was the sixth favourite and paid $14.90 to win the $5,500 Tony and Anne Parker Trot. He got the 5-year-old away quickly from his 30m handicap and was fifth in the running line early before lobbing into the one-one. They then loomed up three-wide on the turn to win by 1-3/4 lengths from the favourite Handoverdakash and Tony Herlihy (MNZM). Roughie It’s Big Time (Phil Butcher) was 2-3/4 lengths back in third. It was Brookby Prince’s second win from 32 starts. She trotted the 2300m stand in 3:08.1. Mile rate: 2:11.5. Last 800m: 64.4 and final 400m in 32.6. “He was going real strong at the top of the straight. That’s when I thought this could be my first win. It was a great feeling all right,” said Grayling who is sponsored by JGH Chartered Accountants. Grayling dedicated the win to his late mother Anne, who passed away on July 24, 2012. He also thanked his father and employer Barry Purdon for everything he has learnt in the sulky. “I’m sure Mum would have been watching down on me. She encouraged my driving. I really miss her. I also want to thank Dad and Barry. They have been so supportive,” Grayling said. “I’d also like to thank the owners Steve and Karen Dunn for having the faith in me to drive Brookby Prince the whole time,” he added. He said he loved harness racing especially being employed by Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon. “I’ve learnt so much working here. In fact you never stop learning. It’s not hard to see why Barry is a master trainer. He’s a legend. “Zac (Butcher) also works here so I’m working alongside the best people and the best horses,” he said. Grayling was born in Pukekohe and left Pukekohe High School at the end of Year 11 to join the Purdon barn in December 2011. “It was such a great feeling to win. Super in fact! It might have come a lot earlier had I not been out for 10 weeks,” said Grayling who is also a loose forward in rugby, and brilliant cricket fielder and lower order batsman. Grayling said his goal for the remainder of the season was to land a “couple” more winners and then one day to try and one day qualify for the New Zealand Junior Driving Championships, and then ultimately the Australasian Junior Finals. “I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m really enjoying what I do. I have wanted to be a harness racing driver for as long as I can remember. I’m leaving my dream,” Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Former Auckland Cup winning trainer, Doug Gale, will leave his long-term Helensville base a New Zealand Trotting ‘Hall-Of-Famer’. Gale, who trained Kate’s First to win the 1997 edition of the Cup, will be inducted into the New Zealand Trotting Hall-Of-Fame on Friday night for his 608 training victories since 1988. Any trainer who conditions more than 500 winners in his or her career automatically becomes an inductee. Gale will looking to leave his Rimmer Road property in Helensville in April and intends to train his new team from Scott’s Ferry Beach, near Bulls in May. His new base will be just 30 minutes from the Manawatu harness racing track in Palmerston North. “I think I will do a better job for my owners down there. I’ve spent nine months looking for the right property. It also means I will no longer have to truck my horses to the beach, I’ll be able to take them there in the cart,” Gale said. The 59-year-old said his “type of horse” would be suited to Central Districts racing and didn’t believe he would lose much in travelling time. “When I travelled to Cambridge it would sometimes take me two hours just to get on the other side of Auckland. Cambridge will actually be only an hour further than where I am now, and I’m not ruling out racing at Alexandra Park. “If I have a horse good enough I’ll certainly be lining him or her up there. It also opens possibilities in Nelson and Marlborough and will also make Addington just a day trip away,” Gale said. He said the advent of the larger Auckland Council had also swayed his decision to move south. “Our area is gradually becoming more and more urbanised. And the forest which I drive through to the Beach is now governed by the Forest Authority rather than the Regional Council. “When there’s a high fire risk I can no longer take my horses through the forest like I used to. I have to take the long way around and that’s frustrating. “The state of the industry also played a part in the shift. My owners have been agreeable to the move, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Gale. Gale currently works a team of about 15 from his north-west Auckland stable. He intends working a similar number down south. “I have always been a beach trainer. In fact my career started off in the 1980s when trainers like Peter Wolfenden, Frank Cooney and Mike Nicholas would send their horses to me to have them swum and beach trained. “It saved them from turning them out. I also had a pool which helped me get a few,” the Grey Lynn-born and Mt Albert Grammar educated horseman said. An Auckland University graduate, former school teacher, and racing sub editor with the New Zealand Herald, Gale said he always loved the trots and yearned to work in an outside job. He has trained 524 winners ($4.8m in purses) since 1988. He’s also trained a further 49 more with Wendy Williams from 2007-2009, and 25 with Maurice Calder from 2000-2001. His best season was in 1998 when he trained 59 winners and netted $616,343 in stakes. That was a year after his greatest triumph – Kate’s First and Peter Ferguson winning the Auckland Cup by a head from Brabham. He also trained Five Star Anvil to run second behind Russley Rascal in the 2010 Woodlands Northern Derby, and Motoring Anvil third behind Holmes D G and Annie’s Boy in the 1998 New Zealand Derby. “I have no intention of retiring. I may slow down in a few years, but it is still my ambition to win a Derby. I’d really like to win a Derby before I bow out,” Gale said. Gale spent 27 years working from his Helensville stable. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Pembrook absolutely loves racing at Alexandra Park. The 9-year-old son of Courage Under Fire won his 16th race on the tack when easily winning tonight’s Group Two $50,000 Auckland Co-op Taxis City Of Auckland Free-For-All. All up ‘Benny’ has now won 22 of his 90 starts and $867,982. Driven by Zac Butcher the bay gelding was always going to be a tough nit to crack after trailing last year’s race winner, Easy On The Eye. The Barry Purdon trained gelding paced the 2200m mobile in 2:40.60 with final 800m and 400m sectionals in 57.6 and 29.4. Mile rate: 1:57.4. Easy On The Eye (Peter Ferguson) and Besotted (Simon Lawson) finished second and third some two lengths and 1-1/4 lengths back. Butcher said he would be even stronger come next week’s Group One Auckland Cup. “He hasn’t done much since coming back from Australia and he did it real easy tonight. He can only be improved by the run. I’d love to win that race so much,” said Butcher. Pembrook Benny is owned by his trainer, Terry Henderson, J. C. Higgins, K. G. Parry, Dave Sixton, and former All Black coach John Hart. He was bred by W. D. Power and Mrs G. L. Power. The past winners (with drivers and times have been): 2013: Easy On The Eye (Peter Ferguson) 2:42.8. 2012: Sir Lincoln (Maurice McKendry) 2:40.3. 2011: Power Of Tara (Brent Mangos) 2:41.3. 2010: Big Dog (Scott Phelan) 2:45.7. 2009: Monkey King (Ricky May) 2:41.8. 2008: Classic Cullen (Mark Purdon) 2:43.1. 2007: Classic Cullen (Mark Purdon) 2:39.0. 2006: Mainland Banner (Ricky May) 2:44.7. 2005: Elsu (David Butcher) 2:40.4. 2004: Sly Flyin (Tony Herlihy) 2:43.0. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

One of New Zealand’s most promising young trotters again proved just how good he was when winning the feature trot at Alexandra Park tonight – but you can forget about him lining up in the prestigious Rowe Cup in May. “It would be silly to start him as a 4-year-old in an arduous 3200m race like that. He will however start against the open class trotters in the Anzac Cup,” said trainer-driver Todd Mitchell. Prime Power gave his 10 opponents a trotting lesson in the $20,000 Swiss Deli Handicap for the C3 to Open Class trotters. The 4-year-old Monarchy gelding stopped the clock in 3:30.6 with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 58.1 and 28.4. Mile rate: 2:05.5. He had 3-3/4 lengths and three quarters of a length to spare over place-getters Duchess Diedre (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Sovereignty (Maurice McKendry. Prime Power, who started from the 30m is owned and was bred by Bryan Macey of Homin Hosed New Zealand Cup (1999) fame. He has now had 21 starts for 11 wins and five placings. “After the Anzac Cup We’ll target the Jewels and then next season we will travel a bit with him as a 5-year-old,” Mitchell said. Prime Power is unbeaten in four starts this campaign and his stake earnings now sit at $148,509. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Locharburn cemented favouritism for next week’s Group One Woodlands Northern Derby when fighting back to win tonight’s Derby Prelude. The son of Christian Cullen walked them for most of the race before low flying home to win in 2:43.5. The Kevin Chapman trained and Dexter Dunn driven 3-year-old colt sprinted his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 55.4 and 27.8. Mile rate: 1:59.5. He had a head and two lengths to spare over place-getters Maxim (Zac Butcher), who sat in the trail throughout, and Aldo Rossi (Blair Orange). Locharburn has now won eight of his 10 starts and $119,658. He is owned by his trainer and Mrs B.G. Chapman. Breeder: M. J. Stratford. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

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