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Harness racing trainers' Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick have never had a horse line up in a Breeders Crown Final before, but they won’t be too perturbed if Cyamach doesn’t make the trip across the Tasman next month. “It all depends how he comes through his next race at Alexandra Park on July 25, but after Friday’s race we couldn’t be happier with him,’’ Telfer said. “We will make a decision on the Breeders Crown then. “If we do decide to go he will race over there (Victoria) on August 17 and 24.’’ Cyamach was an impressive winner of last Friday’s fifth event at Alexandra Park – the $14,999 Prudentia Law Mobile for the C2 to C5 pacers. Scott Phelan rushed the recent Winter Cup winner to the lead from barrier five soon after the start of Friday’s 2200m mobile. From there they dictated all the pace to easily win in wet conditions by 2-1/4 lengths in 2:44 even. Central Districts visitor Te Kawau (Todd Mitchell) was an impressive first-up second after sitting outside of Cyamach for the last lap. Cyamach paced a creditable 1:59.9 mile rate in the wet and windy conditions. He sped his last 800m and 400m in 56.6 and 27 seconds. It was his ninth win in 36 starts. His bank balance stands at $154,926. Someone knew Cyamach would win. NZ harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson said he received a $5,000 win bet on Friday afternoon on Cyamach at $2.60. That was his also closing price. Telfer is really starting to warm to the exploits of talented 4-year-old. “He’s going really well at the moment. He’s really started to strengthen up and mature lately. He’s a nice horse who has always had speed. But now that he’s strengthened up he’s turned the corner again. “He’s the best we have got.’’ The former Australian, who came to New Zealand from rural New South Wales in 1995, said he was really enjoying his work at present. “We have a nice team, great staff, and a very nice place to work. “Chris is great to work with and Scotty (Phelan) is doing a brilliant job in the sulky,” the 43-year-old horseman said. “I can’t forget my sister Amanda (Tidswell) too. It’s a team effort,” he added. While a Breeders Crown trip would be a real highlight, Telfer said the desire to remain in NZ and focus on some our big races was huge. “It would be nice to win a Breeders Crown but to be honest I’d prefer to win a big Group One race here. “If Cyamach does go then he’s going to have to step up to the next level. Even though there will be some nice 4-year-olds missing good ones like Lennytheshark and Chilli Palmer will be there. “He will either go to Australia or be spelled after his next race,” Telfer said. He said he was quite happy to target the Group One 4&5-year-old races like the Taylor Mile and NZ Messenger with Cyamach next season. Looking to the future Telfer said to watch out for a Grinfromeartoear-Spicey colt named Ashton K. “He’s a rising 3-year-old who has been up for a while now. He trialled real nice as a 2-year-old and we have all got a lot of time for him.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)    

Waikato trainer and administrator Rob Lawson will go into partnership with his son Simon on August 1. Lawson senior will train out of Newstead in the Waikato while Simon will train a team at Pukekohe. “We intend on having a boutique stable of perhaps eight or nine horses, but they will all race in my name. “We could register them in both names but we felt it might jeopardise Simon’s chances of getting more drives,’’ Lawson snr said. “He’s already driving for top trainers like Ray Green, Steven Reid, and Geoff Small when he can. He’s a naturally talented driver who can send them, and save them, when he has to.’’ He said he would head up to Pukekohe regularly to see how Simon is getting on. He believed his son had what it took to be a good trainer. “I’m biased but I know he’s a top driver and I also know he’s been around horses all of his life - so he certainly knows what training is all about. As well as working for me he’s also worked for Peter Simpson, Steven Reid and Geoff Small. He’s learnt a lot from a lot of people.’’ The Lawsons’ will swap their team around from time to time racing at both Cambridge Raceway and Alexandra Park. “We will also be looking to entice South Island owners and trainers to send their horses north to us. I’m vice president at Cambridge but I realise the stakes in Auckland are too good to ignore, so it makes sense to race there. “Even second-placed money at Alexandra Park is nice. Having two stables reinforces our commitment to the industry. I am also going to be the trainers and drivers rep on the harness racing executive – so as you can see the industry means a lot to me and my family.’’ The Nathan Williamson trained The Wonkey Donkey was a recent South Island addition to Lawson’s stable. While in the north the 4-year-old Thanksgiving gelding recorded two seconds and two thirds. Lawson has trained 41 winners from 362 starters since 1991 and he’s also placed 67 times for $248,278 in stakes. His best year was last season when he trained eight winners. This year Lawson has won four times from 12 attempts. Son, Simon on the other hand has had a season in the sulky he will never forget. He won his first group One race behind the Green trained Besotted at Alexandra Park on May 2. That was one of 24 winners for him so far this season – 23 fewer than his best season in 2010. All up Lawson has won 166 of his 1,516 drives. He’s also placed on 322 occasions for $1.3 million in purses. Not a bad effort considering he only started driving in 2009. The Lawsons’ currently have Ton Tine going around at the moment. That son 4-year-old son of Monarchy has won three of his 23 starts “We’ve also got an exciting young rising 2-year-old named Van Mara. We bought him at the yearling sales and he is quite talented. We have a lot of time for him.’’ By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Kristie Hill has always wanted to campaign a horse at Alexandra Park and now thanks to her father Brian and enigmatic trotter Sunchita, she fulfilling that dream. Hill snr, who trains in Nelson, took Sunchita to Auckland and Kristie took over the reins a couple of days before the 6-year-old mare had her first race at Alexandra Park last Friday. Sent out a $3.40 second favourite and under the guidance and driving exploits of Tony Herlihy, the daughter of Sundon never looked like losing. Away well from her 10 metre handicap, Sunchita settled handy to the pace before Herlihy sent her forward to find the lead at the 500 metre mark from where she simply out-trotted her opponents – winning by 1 ½ lengths. It was Sunchita’s third consecutive win, fifth this season, and seventh in a career spanning 51 starts. She’s now banked $52,101. “She had to earn her trip up north and prove to us she was worthy of going up there and she did that at Nelson.’’ Hill senior said. “I have campaigned Single Lord and McShane up there before but this is the first time Kristie has been in Auckland with one of our team. “She has lots of friends up there and she always believed Sunchita would go well that way around because that’s the only way we train her back home.’’ He said Sunchita would have two more starts at Alexandra Park over the next two Fridays before returning home. The father and daughter combination both believe the often frustrating trotter has finally turned the corner and put it all together on the track. “If she keeps improving the way she is, well who knows she could start in the Dominion Handicap in November, I don’t want to get ahead of myself but that is the goal. “It’s every trainer’s dream to have a horse line up in either the Dominion or Rowe Cup.’’ Kristie is staying with Steve and Ann Phillips in Waiau Pa, while Sunchita is being stabled half an hour away at Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis’s Waiuku barn. “She loves being beach trained and the wet track on Friday would have suited her, she has really turned the corner now,’’ Kristie said. “We haven’t made too many changes to her gear. “Once upon a time she either finished first or last because of her tendency to gallop. “I think we can put her recent improvement down to maturity.’’ Hill, who is the former Education Manager for Harness Racing New Zealand, said the stakes at Alexandra Park also swayed their decision to bring Sunchita north. “The money on offer was too good to resist and I always wanted to bring her up here because I felt she would go better this way around. “It was a great performance first-up and a brilliant drive by a brilliant reinsman.’’ Hill is a graduation driver who has won 12 races since 1998. She has also placed 38 times from 293 starts for $93,897 in stakes. Two of those wins have come aboard Sunchita while Blair Orange and Jimmy Curtin have also won on her twice prior to Herlihy’s victory on Friday night. Hill said she wasn’t tempted to jump in the sulky and have a drive around Alexandra Park on this trip and was happy to leave the driving duties to Herlihy. “No I won’t be getting in the sulky when I’m up there, why would you put me in the sulky when one of the best drivers in the world can do the business?” Brian and Kristie own Sunchita and also bred her. She is the third of six foals (and most successful) out of Hills’ three-win Dancing Master mare, Carmenchita, who was also trained by Hill. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Sam Ottley just keeps breaking records and now the Canterbury driver has her sights set on a couple of other milestones before this season comes to a close. The brilliant young horsewoman’s tally of 42 wins for the season makes her the most successful female junior driver in terms of races won – beating off the old mark held by Jo Herbert of 39 which she set in 1998. And now the 23-year-old is determined to win what she terms the “coveted” junior driving premiership. “That is the main goal now, I’ll drive anywhere to win that,” Ottley said. “I’m also proud of the most-female-wins-in-a-season record as well. “I didn’t realise I had achieved it, this all means so much to me. I love driving and I want to be successful.’’ The female junior driver record for wins in a season came just two months after Ottley created more junior driving history at Forbury Park. The Geraldine-born and educated horse woman became the first ever female junior driver to notch up 100 wins when she reined the Michael House trained appropriately named Gogirl Bromac in race one – the Dunedin City Ford maiden trot on April 17. Ottley is one win clear of the her closest junior driver rival in Sailesh Abernethy, who applied a little more pressure with a winning double at Cambridge last night. She is also three wins clear of Natalie Rasmussen – the country’s second best reinswoman in terms of wins. “It would be great to beat them both, especially Sailesh because I’m getting near the end of my junior driving days and I would love to go out a champion. “The Junior Driving Premiership would be the ultimate way to end the season.’’ Kirsten Barclay was the last female to win the junior driving premiership. That was in in the 2004-2005 season when she won 32 races from 315 drives. Ottley has now driven 112 winners from 1,317 drives since first taking out her licence in 2008-2009. She’s also placed 212 times for $815,799. “It’s been a memorable year. It’[s hard to believe I’ve created a couple of firsts this year. I’m so happy because they can never the achievements away from me.’’ She said other career highlights included winning her first race-day drive behind her mother Denise’s horse Nigel Paul; winning the Geraldine Cup on Just Rose for Colin and Julie (De Filippi) and representing New Zealand at the Australasian Junior Driving Champs (third by a point). Ottley paid a tribute to her mother, Timaru trainer Murray Tapper, the De Filippi’s, and all the owners and trainers who put her on their horses. In an effort to enhance her chances of winning the junior drivers premiership, Ottley is currently on loan to the Woodend Beach stable of Robert and John Dunn with De Filippi low on racing numbers currently. She heads to Forbury Park tonight in search of adding to her season tally with a promising book of five drives. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

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)

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