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Harness racing down under’s biggest day is back for another installment and what a day we have in front of us. The 113th running of the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup is, of course, the main event but there is a wonderful undercard on the 12 race programme to sink the teeth into as well. So many questions will be answered over the next few hours notwithstanding whether or not Lazarus will shoot himself into equine immortality by joining other illustrious four-year-olds to win our greatest race. But there’s also the debate who will reign supreme in the three-year-old feature - the NRM Sires’ Stakes Series Final. It’s the 33rd edition of this important Group One fixture and there’s nothing clear cut about it with chances aplenty. Also we see Monbet try to make it back-to-back New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All victories as he works toward Friday’s Group One Dominion Handicap. Our goal is to bring you all the news from around the stables, bookies updates, snaps from many key players through their social media accounts throughout the day. So make sure you keep checking back here throughout the day to keep up to date with all the happenings courtesy of Matt Markham and Duane Ranger. If you haven’t checked it out yet - make sure you read the Harnessed Cup Day Special - a 33 page printable liftout that details all the action ahead of us with news, views, opinions and selections.   Find the Cup Day special here: http://infohorse.hrnz.co.nz/dochr/hrw/HarnessedCupDaySpecial2016.pdf --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   10:40am: After a slightly cool start to the day, things are starting to heat up temperature wise here at Addington. That should be conducive to some fast times out there on the picture perfect racing surface that has been offered up by the Addington’s Track Manager, John Denton and his team. Expect to see more than a few sub 55 second last 800 metres - especially as the day rolls on. - Matt ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Twitter Update: Michael Guerin has shared his two main previews ahead of today that were in this morning’s NZ Herald. @GuerinSports - Why you should back two horses in NZ Cup today http://nzh.tw/11743966 @Guerin Sports - Sires' Stakes sees one take on many http://nzh.tw/11743965 @Guerin Sports - Simple Cup Day plan: Best: Monbet, Field Marshal-Dream About Me quin, Mr Mojito; EW: Star Galleria, Mighty Flying Major; Bolter, Lothario ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Bookies News:   The TAB Harness Bookies are running a live blog throughout the day detailing all the betting action as it happens. You can check it out here: https://fixedoddsblog.wordpress.com/ we will bring live updates as they become available to us. - Matt   -----------------------------------------------------------------------   Stewards News:    Two big pieces of news from the stewards this morning.    The first regards Locharburn who goes around in Race 4 - the Junior Free-For-All. His trainer, Kevin Chapman has advised stewards that they aren't confident the horse can be driven as agressively as he has been in the past due to his heart issue. Don't expect not to see him driven with a sit, but there are no firm plans as of yet on how he will be driven today.    The second slice of news regards Sires' Stakes favourite More The Better. He became cast in his box last week. He has been checked over twice by the All Stars vet and at this stage is clear to start although the Stewards will order another veterinary check prior to him taking his place in the Group One feature. - Matt   --------------------------------------------------------------------- Bookies News:    Early Cup Day movers from the bookmakers.    R1 – Idle Monkey opened $16 into $9.  $500 @ $10. R2 – Boults On Fire opened $4.20 into $2.90.  $2,000 @ $3.20, $1,000 @ $2.90. R3 – Twelve Monkeys opened $6.60 into $5.20.  $2,000 @ $6.50. R4 – Field Marshal opened $3.80 into $3.10.  $2,000 @ $3.30, $1,000 @ $3.20. R5 – No significant moves R6 – Over $500,000 multi exposure through Monbet. R7 – Star Galleria opened $4.80 into $3.40.  $1,300 @ $4.80.  $1,000 @ $3.50 R8 – Over $500,000 multi exposure through Mr Mojito. R9 – Vincent opened $2.70 into $1.85.  $1,800 @ $2.60, $1,000 $2.20 (twice), $2,000 @ $2 R10 – Lazarus opened $4.50 (Futures) now $1.75.  Over $1.25m multi exposure through Lazarus. R11 – Everybody Knows opened $3.20 into $3.  $2,000 @ $3.20 R12 – Mighty Flying Major opened $5 into $4.  $1,000 @ $5 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------  From the TAB: Bookies have opened a market on how many races Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will win today. Odds are listed below.   Also open is an odds boost on Dream About Me in Race 4 they are offering $2.50 until 12:45pm with a maximum investment of $400 and no multis.  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11:50am: Less than 20 minutes out from the start of race one and the crowd is building very nicely. Plenty of word around in the first for Glass Half Full, a recent addition to the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable after being purchased by Trevor Casey and Graham Bruton - the latter of course of Lyell Creek fame. New Zealand's two leading trotting trainers Paul Nairn and Phil Williamson both have runners in the race. Paul has Lothario and Quevert while Phil is represented by Blazing Under Fire and all three are good each way chances in the opening race of the day. - Matt ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12:30pm: Big push from Mark Purdon for Boults On Fire in Race 2 in a race where they have five runners engaged. It's hard to see the winner not coming from their stable with great chances like Riccardo, Augusta and Smiley Sophie also lining up to take them on. Tim Butt has a nice horse in the race in Letsgotothehop - a long way from being the finished product, but he has got a decent sort of motor hidden away in there. Could surprise them.  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bookies News: Ahead of Race 2 the money keeps rolling in for Boults On Fire.  TAB Racing ‏@TAB_Racing  1m1 minute ago In Race 2, Leg 1 of the Early Quaddie, Boults On Fire has been well backed including: $1,000 @ $3.60 $2,000 @ $3.20 $1,000 @ $2.90 #NZCup16 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Race 1: $20,000 Garrards Horse & Hound Handicap for the C2 and faster trotters. Winner: Lothario. Trainer: Paul Nairn Driver: David Butt. Owners: R J Paterson, Mrs L A Paterson, Birchbrook Breeding Ltd. Breeders: Gaby Maghzal, Julie Maghzal. Time: 4:04.5 - MR: 2:02.9 800m: 59.0 - 400m: 29.6. Margins: 1/2 Length, 3-1/2 lengths, 2-1/4 lengths. 2nd: Glass Half Full. 3rd: Little Mo. By Duane Ranger The injecting of Lothario's joints a couple of weeks ago by his master Canterbury trainer Paul Nairn has worked the oracle following the first race on New Zealand Cup Day. Driven by David Butt the 6-year-old free-wheeled in front and proved too strong for his 15 opponents in the $20,000 Garrards Horse & Hound Handicap for the C2 and faster trotters. "I was able to dictate all the terms with him today and he felt extra. He was happy bowling along in front. He was getting tired towards the end of the race but he's a wonder stayer. "The way he's developing he could line up in next year's Dominion," Butt said. Lothario was impressive beating the favourite Glass Half Full (Mark Purdon), who broke at the start, by half a length. Little Mo and Clint Ford were 3-1/2 lengths back in third. Butt said he Lothario was likely to start again on Friday in one of the supporting trotting races to the Group One Dominion Trot. "He felt real nice today and gave me the impression he can go on with it. He's a credit to Paul. he was spot on today," said Butt. Lothario has now won five of his 35 starts and just on $50,000 in stakes. It was his fifth win at Addington raceway and first from two starts over the extreme distance. Lothario is by Love You and is out of Ten To One, which makes him a full brother to the 16-win open class trotter Habibti, who starts in race six today. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Race 2: Hydroflow Cup Day Maiden Mobile Pace Winner: Smiley Sophie Trainer: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen Driver: Matt Anderson Owners: J A Gibbs, Mrs A Gibbs, Mrs S L Tucker, Mrs J L Wilson, j s Glasgow, Mrs T F Glasgow. Breeders: R A Yarndley, Mrs J V Yarndley   Time: 2:23.1- MR: 1:56.6 800m: 59.1 - 400m: 29.0 Margins: Long Neck, 1 ¼ lengths, 2 lengths 2nd: Shineonyoucrazydiamond. 3rd: Riccardo By Matt Markham Matt Anderson is pleased he only had to wait 12 months to get his maiden Cup Day victory. The young horseman, who is making big strides early on in his career when close to grabbing that win last year when beaten a short margin on board Blackguard’s Corner but made up for it today when he guided Smiley Sophie to success for his employers, Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. “The boss just beat me last year so I was pretty keen to make up for it this time around,” Anderson said. “I thought before the race she might be a bit of a chance with the right run and it turned out to be right because it all worked out perfectly.” Anderson managed to lead early with the three-year-old filly and then chose the right horse to hand up to in Letsgotothehop who held the lead until the final bend. “When Blair (Blair Orange) came looking I thought he was a good horse to hand up to, but then almost straight after that I was starting to wonder if he was because a few of the others looked like they were going to have a look at him. “Luckily he stayed in front though and she travelled off the back really well. “It’s a big thrill to win on a day like this in these colours.” A half-sister to former Sires’ Stakes Final winner, Stunin Cullen, Smiley Sophie had form in behind the very talented Delightful Memphis so her $18 price tag, on reflection, seems well over the odds. Half-way down the straight the race looked likely to belong to Shineonyoucrazydiamond and Dexter Dunn who after getting a dream run hit the front but wasn’t able to hold on for victory. Stablemates of the winner; Riccardo, Augusta and Boults On Fire filled the next three spots.  ----------------------------------------------------------------------  1pm: Strong push for the Paul Nairn trained Waterloo Sunset here and it's almost a carbon copy of Lothario early on. He gets in perfectly after dropping back in grade and has been going some handy races in the best trotting fields. Looks a good each way chance. Strong hopes off the front include Hey Yo, Le Leivre's Gift, Twelve Monkeys and off marks further back Royal Shine and also Springbank Eden. An interesting contest. - Matt ------------------------------------------------------------------------------  Bookies Update: The money just keeps on rolling in for Lazarus. This through a wee while ago.  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------   Race 3: RNP Homes Ltd Handicap Trot Winner: Waterloo Sunset Trainer: Paul Nairn Driver: Bob Butt Owners: Red and White Synd. Rona McKay, Clive McKay, P C Nain Ltd. Time: 3.17.5 - MR: 2.02 - 800m: 58.0 - 400m: 29.6 Margins: 1 ½ lengths, 3/4 length, 2 ½ lengths 2nd: Any Old Way 3rd: Jayceekay By Duane Ranger Two trotting races down on Cup Day 2016 and both have been won by the masterclass of squaregaiter conditioning – Paul Nairn. The Nairn trained Waterloo Sunset led most of the way to win today’s third event - the  $20,000  RNP Homes Handicap for the C4 to Oc trotters - 2600m stand. For good measure the Nairn trained Any Old Way  finished second giving the Leeston trainer the quinella. Jayceekay (Tony Herlihy MNZM) was third. David Butt drove Nairn’s first winner in race one (Lothario) and this time his son Bob did the driving. “He felt so good when he got to the front. He’s a bit of a head-case and you never know what Waterloo Sunset you are going to get. “Today we got the good one and on his day he’s a solid trotter. He’s a nice gaited horse,” Butt said. It was Waterloo Sunset’s first win since Show Day last year and he has now won seven of his 34 starts and third at Addington. “I was quite confident when I felt the way he was bowling along in front. He’s a nice horse who could still race against the best one day,” Butt said. “I personally thought he was the best horse in the field – and I drove him that way,” he added. -------------------------------------------------------------------------  Bookies Update: Where the weight of the money is going ahead of the Junior Free-For-All.  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1:30pm: Hard to see Dream About Me rolled in Race 4. Mark Purdon thinks she pretty close to the boys, and he means Lazarus, Have Faith In Me and Smolda - so she should really be winning this. Field Marshal might get the chance to sneak the victory here. He could be the early leader with Locharburn likely to go back at the start along with Dream About Me. He's a very serious horse and would be a contender in the Cup if he was to start. - Matt ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Race 4: Home And Family Group Three  $80,000 Granite Benchtop New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All Winner:  Dream About Me. Trainer:  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Driver:  Mark Purdon. Owner:  C J Roberts, Est Mrs J L Roberts, P G Kenny, Mrs M L Kenny Breeders:  Charles Roberts. Time:  3:10.3. MR:  1:58.2. 800m:  54.8. 400m:  27 even. Margins:  Neck, head, half a length. 2nd:  Locharburn. 3rd:  Field Marshall. By Matt Markham The battle is set for Friday - The Queen taking on the potential King. And you get the impression from Mark Purdon that his newest superstar pacing mare, Dream About Me will have no issues handling a step up to the big time when she tackles the Group One New Zealand Free-For-All. “There’s nothing between her and our best male pacers,” Purdon said. “She’s got that real will to win, a little bit like Lazarus does I guess you could say. She just sticks her neck out when she needs too and really digs deep for you.” Purdon admitted to being a little nervous when he went back early from behind the gate and Field Marshal got such an easy time of it early on in the race. But when Locharburn moved in front of him and dragged the mare into the race the concerns subsided. “She just relaxed beautifully outside the leader and then dug when I asked her too. “They were two very good horses she ran past at the top of the straight.” Dream About Me’s win continued this incredible run for Charlie Roberts breed on Cup Day who have managed to pick up a victory without fail over the past few years. Locharburn was a brave second after doing the mid race work while Field Marshal was strong in third. All three will now head to Friday’s Free-For-All joining many of the contenders from this afternoon’s Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup.  ------------------------------------------------------------------  2:04pm: One of the trickier races of the day this one. Robert and John Dunn hold a strong hand with Dancing In The Dark and American Tart - both of whom were outstanding at the Cup Trials last week. One should lead and the other should get in the race during the middle stages. Potentially the chance for another big price winner here - expect a big run from Gupta's Cullen who has been a revelation since joining Jonny Cox's stable. - Matt ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Facebook Update: This from the Harness Racing New Zealand Facebook Page.  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Race 5: Colgate Optic White Mobile Pace Winner: American Tart Trainer: Robert Dunn – Driver: Dexter Dunn Owners: R C Courtney, J D McAllister, P D McAllister Breeders: R C Courtney Time: 3.10.7 – MR: 1:58.0 – 800m: 59.0 – 400m: 29.6 Margins: 1 ½ lengths, 1 length, 6 ½ lengths 2nd: Real Torque – 3rd: Runaway Star By Matt Markham If he was surprised by the fresh up effort of American Tart, then John Dunn certainly wasn’t showing it. Fresh up since having issues back in March, the daughter of American Ideal made up for lost time with a rugged, yet oddly appealing, fresh up victory on the biggest of stages. Off the back of some strong trial form the dour mare made a massive mid-race move to find the lead at the winning post with a lap left to run and never looked back  - grinding her rivals into submission. “She’s pretty brave, she just keeps going,” Dunn said. “I knew she would run a big race, she’s a pretty good horse. I got going probably too early considering the speed they were running, but once we had committed we had to keep going.” A winner now of four of his six career starts, American Tart is a horse going places – although Dunn isn’t too keen to head to take on the best of her sex at this early stage. “The four-year-old mare division is pretty strong this season and I don’t think we need to chuck her in the deep end just yet. “Provided she pulls up well, we will look to back her up on Friday and see what happens and then make some plans from there.” The victory continued this great run of form for Dunn and his father Robert as they continue to make their dual stable set up work with stables in Auckland and at Woodend Beach. Real Torque looked desperately unlucky after being held up on the last bend , finding the line strongly. Runaway Star, who followed American Tart around was a brave third after doing her fair share of work.   ---------------------------------------------------------------- 2:40pm: Interesting wee race the Trotting FFA - Sheemon and Habibti both have good gate speed - Marcoola is more likely to roll across them than blow them off the track early. After that though, it seems just a case of Monbet working into it at some point and being too good. So, sit back and watch a superstar go about his business. - Matt ---------------------------------------------------------------------  3:10pm: Another great edition of this Sires' Stakes Final is upon us. And what a race it should be. Star Galleria looks set to lead from his good draw but there will be pressure from More The Better, You Gotta Have Faith & Ultimate Machete from the All Stars team as well as potentially others. Bad draws seem to go out the window in this race so anything could happen. Look for fast-finishes from Tiger Thompson and Mongolian Storm as well as Jack's Legend. - Matt  ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Twitter Updates: Some reaction to the win of Monbet in the NZ Trotting FFA.  Michael Guerin ‏@GuerinSports  21s22 seconds ago Monbet: second line, parked, NZ record. Will end his career one of the all-time greats. Runner-up damn good too Brad Taylor ‏@brad_taylor29  13m13 minutes ago Don't mind watching trotters like that! Monbet huge winning there! #NZCupDay Jason Tan ‏@JSLTan  14m14 minutes ago Monbet over Marcoola, what a trotting race that was @AddingtonNZ! Fantastic finish. #NZCupDay The Trots ‏@HRVnews  15m15 minutes ago Monbet brave winner, Kyvalley Blur runs a drum for 3rd in NZ Trot Group 1. Great drive/training performance by our adopted Kiwis #Trots Mark Jenner ‏@trotbuff   17m17 minutes ago You won't see a better race between two complete stars. Monbet grabs Marcoola right on the line and says I am still king Matt Markham ‏@MattMarkham07  15m15 minutes ago Only Ricky May. Could do what Ricky May just did. That's how you look after a horse but get the result ahead of a Gr.1 in 3 days. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Race 6: The Group One $80,000 Granite Benchtop New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All. Winner:  Monbet. Trainer:  Greg and Nina Hope. Driver:  Ricky May. Owners:  G P Hope, Mrs N M Hope, M J Molloy. Breeders:  Greg and Nina Hope. Time:  2:21.7. MR:  1:56.9. 800m:  57.3. 400m:  28.9. Margins:  Half a head, 1-3/4 lengths, 2-1/2 lengths. 2nd:  Marcoola. 3rd:  Kyvalley Blur. By Duane Ranger Relief. That’s how driver Ricky May described Monbet’s 22nd  win in 33 starts in today’s Group One $80,000 Granite Benchtop New Zealand Trotting Free-For-All. The Greg and Nina Hope trained 5-year-old not only got the measure of second favourite Marcoola (Clint Ford) by half a head, but he also smashed Stig’s 2009 New Zealand record by exactly one second. The son of Love You stopped the clock in 2:21.7 (mile rate 1:56.9) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 28.9. It was also May’s fourth win in the race. “I drove him a bit precious today and I almost blew it because of that. I was real anxious the last 20 metres but then his class prevailed. He’s an exceptional trotter – the best I have sat behind,” May said. Marcoola set a solid clip in front and May was delighted with the way Monbet kept giving. “We worked for 1000m and were wide and then he still had some left. I ducked in behind the pace-maker at the top of the straight to give him a bit of a breather. “There’s a big race we have to worry about  on Friday,” May said. Monbet’s 10th  win on the track took his stake earnings to over $600,000. “He could have won easier than that. I almost cost him,” a modest May said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- RACE 7: NRM SIRES STAKES SERIES 33 FINAL Winner: Ultimate Machete Trainers: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen – Driver: Natalie Rasmussen Owners: Mrs G & P Kennard, K Riseley, G Douglas, Mrs M & P Creighton Breeders: K G Walsh, G P Walsh Time: 2:16.5 (NZ Record) – MR: 1.52.7 – 800M: 55.9 – 400M: 28.4 Margins: 1 length, 3 ½ lengths, 4 1.2 lengths 2nd: More The Better, 3rd: Jack’s Legend By Matt Markham Natalie Rasmussen might be in line for the understatement of the year after her post race comment regarding Ultimate Machete. In her usually understated manner, the brilliant horsewoman, summed up the all-comers national record breaking performance with three perfect words. “He’s pretty tough.” The thing is, tough doesn’t get close to what Ultimate Machete achieved. Three wide for the first third of the race, then parked he served it up to Star Galleria from the 1000 metre mark before running away at the top of the straight. With a class animal like More The Better sitting on his back, many could have expected last season’s two-year-old of the year to come out and run straight past his stablemate, but there was none of that with Ultimate Machete finding all the way to the line. “We always knew he would come back a really good horse as a three-year-old,” Rasmussen said. “The Derbies look ideal for him really.” The race wasn’t without drama though. Mongolian Storm was late scratched after he lashed out with both back legs and got himself tangled in his sulky and then there was plenty of galloping and side-stepping throughout the 1950 metre event. The win gave All Stars their third successive victory in the race following Lazarus and Have Faith In Me but also gave Phil and Glenys Kennard and Kevin Riseley back-to-back wins in the race. They are joined in the ownership of the Bettor’s Delight colt by Gavin Douglas and Phil and Margaret Creighton.  ------------------------------------------------------- 4pm: Potential superstar in line in the next in Mr Mojito. He's headed to Perth for the Golden Nugget and even with a second line draw he should be too good here. His stablemate Superfecta looks a great place option. Walkinshaw might sneak under the guard, he was supposed to go close at Kaikoura before he missed away. Hard to go past the 13 though. - Matt  ---------------------------------------------------------- Race 8: The $20,000 Pascoes The Jewellers Mobile. Winner:  Mr Mojito. Trainer:  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Driver:  Natalie Rasmussen. Owners:  Butterworth racing Syndicate. Breeders:  B L Calder, Mrs K E Calder. Time:  3:06.3. MR:  1:55.3. 800m:  55.2. 400m:  28.4. Margins:  1-1/2 lengths, 3-1/2 lengths, 2-1/2 lengths. 2nd:  Captain Dolmio. 3rd:  Ears Burning. By Duane Ranger Natalie Rasmussen smashed her second New Zealand record with in the space of 45 minutes following today’s eighth race - the $20,000 Pascoes The Jewellers Mobile for C3 to C4 Pacers. This time she was behind the $1.20 hot favourite Mr Mojito who paced the 2600m mobile in  3:06.3. This was was 0.2 second quicker than Locharburn and Christen Me’s previous national record. “He’s a lovely horse who just keeps getting better and better. He had to be good today because he was made to work,” Rasmussen said. Mr Mojito went and sat outside the pace-making Captain Dolmio (Nathan Williamson) at the 1,000m and the latter never relented until late in the race. “That was a real dog fight. We really had to work hard to get past him. This was easily his best race yet. He felt super today,” said Rasmussen who trains the 4-year-old with Mark Purdon at Rolleston. The son of Real Desire and Wanaka Bay has now won seven of his nine starts and just on $50,000. That was his fifth win from six starts at Addington. ------------------------------------------------------- 4:30pm: Big push for Vincent here after he opened at $2.60 in the first markets. In to $1.80 now and expected to just win. Not 100 per cent certain he's a good thing. This is a really good field. Bailey's Rock is a good each way chance and I got a really good feel from Brendon Hill about his runner, Cruzy Dude. - Matt ----------------------------------------------------- Race 9: The Avon City Ford Mobile Pace Winner: The Fixer Trainers: Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen – Driver: Natalie Rasmussen Owners: Mrs G & P Kennard, Mrs P Gillan, R J Fleetwood, R J Magness Breeders: J Green, B Hughes, Mrs P Hughes Time: 2:19.5 – MR: 1:55.1 – 800m: 56.1 – 400m: 28.7 Margins: Neck, 6 lengths, 1 ¼ lengths. By Matt Markham The inkling came for Natalie Rasmussen, in their final hit out ahead of Cup Day, that The Fixer might be able to beat Vincent and 72 hours later, it proved to be correct. Continuing her domination of the driving ranks throughout the day, Rasmussen again pulled all the right reins with the lightly raced three-year-old to get up the passing lane and surpass her high-classed stablemate. “On his work late last week and into the weekend I thought he was closing the gap,” she said. “He was working as good, if not a little bit better then Vincent, so while I’m surprised at the result, I guess I’m not really if that makes sense.” The win took the All Stars haul for the day to five with a further two possible victories in the final three races. A winner now of two of his three starters, The Fixer was on the ballot for the Sires’ Stakes Final but didn’t make the field. “He’s probably just a little bit below the big gun three-year-olds, but he’s going to be a pretty nice horse in time I think.” Rasmussen extended her haul for the day to three with the victory – a far cry from last year when she went winless with Purdon exclaiming that she might be paying him back as he walked off the track with Vincent. The favourite was far from disgraced in second after working hard in the middle stages while The Governor boomed home for young trainer Tom Bagrie to finish in third position. --------------------------------------------------------- 5:05pm: Here we are, the big dance is finally upon us. After months of speculation and talking and writing it all goes out the window in the next few minutes as we enjoy one of the greatest spectacles in NZ sport. Sit back, enjoy it and hopefully you back the winner. Smolda still for me, Lazarus and Have Faith In Me are logicals. Look for a big run from Christen Me.  ----------------------------------------------------------- Twitter reacts to Lazarus:  Michael Guerin ‏@GuerinSports  3m3 minutes ago I have watched harness racing almost every day for the last 30 years and have never seen anything like that. Thanks, Lazarus Mark Jenner ‏@trotbuff   17m17 minutes ago I will state right now, we will talk about this race for the next 20 years. Might be the best ever #lazarus Jason Bonnington ‏@JasonBonnington  18m18 minutes ago You are not supposed to win New Zealand Cups like that #lazarus #freak #rockstar #king Dave Cannan ‏@thewashodt  5m5 minutes ago Lazarus, 10 length winner of NZ Cup in 3:53.7. That's worth coming out of Twitter retirement for!! Never thought I would ever see that Scott Hill ‏@Hillbomber  15m15 minutes ago 4 year olds shouldn't be able to do that to quality older opposition #freak #lazarus #NZCup16 Chris Butt ‏@C_Butt_Racing  16m16 minutes ago Lazarus in glorious isolation Gareth Hall ‏@ghall27  16m16 minutes ago Emotional Mark Purdon says one of the greatest moments he's ever had in Harness Racing after that win with Lazarus in the New Zealand Cup ! Woodlands Stud NZ ‏@WoodlandsStudNZ  18m18 minutes ago Lazurus becomes Harness racing latest milionaire. Last three cup winners to Bettors Delight! #thegreatest NZ Harness Tips ‏@NZHarnessTips  21m21 minutes ago Never seen a horse win for fun in an NZ Cup like that before..Lazarus you beast Matt Markham ‏@MattMarkham07  22m22 minutes ago Wow. That's all I've got right how. #Lazarus -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5:47pm: Hard to come down from the high following that incredible performance. Just simply staggering. Like nothing I have ever seen before. A C1 trot will probably do that though. The toughest of the day. Beg Hall might be the best horse in the race, but Kingdom Come and Everybody Knows are strong chances too. My bias says Jean Sebastien each way all day. But as I said I am biased. - Matt --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Race 10: The Group One $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup. Winner:  Lazarus. Trainer:  Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Driver:  Mark Purdon. Owners:  Mrs G J Kennard, P I Kennard, T G Casey, K J Riseley. Breeders:  G Chin, Studholme Bloodstock Limited Time:  3:53.1. MR:  1:57.2. 800m:  55.3. 400m:  27.1. Margins:  10 lengths, 2-3/4 lengths, 1-3/4 lengths. 2nd:  Tiger Tara. 3rd:  Titan Banner. By Duane Ranger Wow! That’s the only way to describe today’s  Group One $750,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup. The favourite Lazarus not only dealt to his 14 opponents by a whopping 10 lengths but he also smashed  Adore Me’s  2014  New Zealand  Cup  and  race record by 1.5 seconds. Co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon had to work hard to get past pace-maker and stablemate Smolda with a lap-and-half to go, but once he got there it was virtually game over. They controlled the race from that point coming home in 55.3 and 27.1. The winning mile rate was 1:57.2. Purdon had a tear in the winner’s enclosure after the 3200m standing start staying test. “I just can’t believe what this horse has just done. This will go down as one of the greatest moment in my harness racing career. “I know I’ve won the big race before but never this easily. I was confident going into the race but you can never be too confident in a race like the Cup,” Purdon said. “He’s left me speechless,” he added. The 4-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight and Splendid Dream has now won 18 of his 21 starts and  almost $1.5m in stakes. That was his seventh win at Addington and first over the distance. “It’s unbelievable what has just happened. It’s going to take me a while for this to sink in. Horses just don’t do that,” Purdon said. Purdon has now won four New Zealand Cups. Two with Il Vicolo in 1995 and 1996 and Adore Me two years ago. 6:15pm: Last race charlie, the get out stakes, the final flourish - call it what you like but we've got here. Blair Orange gave a huge push to him when spoken to in our Cup liftout. He's drawn well and likes to race on the speed so will give you a great sight in the finale of Cup Day. Letspendanitetogetha might be the best each way chance in the race and who would write off the chances of Benicio as Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen shoot for seven for the day. - Matt -------------------------------------------------------- Race 11: The $20,000 Recruitment Network C1 Trot. Winner:  Everybody Knows. Trainer:  Greg and Nina Hope. Driver:  Ricky May. Owners:  D R Lauren, Dr P J Gerard, A R Pullar, Mrs B E Pullar. Breeders:  Dennis Lauren and Dr Pip Gerard. Time:  3:22.7. MR:  2:05.4. 800m:  59.9. 400m:  36.4. Margins:  4-3/4 lengths, 1-1/4 lengths, ½ a neck. 2nd:  Young Stranger. 3rd:  Kingdom Come. By Duane Ranger Greg and Nina Hope reaffirmed themselves as two of the best trotters in the land when Everybody Knows cleared out to win race 11. The 5-year-old Quite Easy gelding was slow away and then worked a heap to go around to sit outside the leader. Then in the lane he simply left his opposition to it winning the$20,000 Recruitment Network C1 Trot - 2600 stand  as he liked. “This was a very good run because he did a lot of work in this race and yet had plenty left at the end. He was right on his game today. He’s even stronger this time in,” said driver Ricky May. Everybody Knows stopped the clock in 3:22.7 (mile rate 2:05.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.9 and 30.4. That was his fifth win in 33 starts and third at Addington Raceway. It was also his second run back this campaign after winning first up after a five month spell at Addington on October 21. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Race 12: Blue Star Taxis Mobile Pace Winner: Mighty Flying Major Trainers: Ken & Tony Barron – Driver: Blair Orange Owners: S R Thompson, G E Dickey Breeders: Mrs H & L Williams Time: 2:20.9 – MR: 1:56.3 – 800M: 57.2 – 400M: 28.2 Margins: 1 length, ¾ length, 1 length By Matt Markham We are probably not going to ever see the best of Mighty Flying Major – but what’s on offer is still pretty good. The well-bred gelding, who was good enough to run a huge fourth in a Sires’ Stakes final a few years back, made light work of the last race of the day with a dominant front running display in front of the guiding of Blair Orange. Leg issues have plagued the talented pacer and put him on the side line for an extended period of time. “It’s a shame he’s got the issues he’s got because he’s pretty good,” Orange said. “That was pretty easy for him today, he did what he needed to and did it pretty well.” Out of the good producing mare, Fleet’s Pocket, Mighty Flying Major worked to the lead inside the mile and never looked back – running from the back straight and holding off all challenges. It was the first big winner for the newly formed partnership of brothers, Ken and Tony Barron. “I’ve always had a bit of success here on this day,” Tony said. “But it’s nice to get one here as part of the new partnership, and this guy is a pretty nice horse.” Orange said how the gelding pulled up would determine whether or not he would line up again on Friday. Major Rocket, who settled three back the fence ran home strongly for second while Torrid Bromac who set the early pace was good  in third. -------------------------------------------------------------- 7pm: So that brings a close to Cup Day 2016. And what a day it has been. We saw something special in Lazarus winning the New Zealand Trotting Cup by a massive 10 lengths in a NZ record time of 3:53.7 - bettering the time set by his former stablemate, Adore Me. Ultimate Machete's smashing Sires' Stakes victory was something to behold. Monbet and Marcoola's length of the straight effort in the NZ Trotting FFA was special. We also saw a wee taste test for Friday's Free-For-All with Dream About Me, Locharburn and Field Marshal seperated by under a length in the Junior FFA - those three in addition to those who come through the Cup will make for a mouth-watering Group One clash on Friday. On behalf of Duane Ranger and myself, it's been a great pleasure to attend and cover another Cup Day. Only 12 months to go until we can do it all again!!! - Matt Markham Harness Racing New Zealand

It isn’t easy solo-training from remote parts of New Zealand against horses who have won a lot more races than your own, but Thames conditioner Paul Springall knows if he wants to carry training on he is left with no other option. The only horse he has in work – Sheza Springfield, will take on the tighter assessed pacers in the feature event at the Harness Racing Waikato meeting at Cambridge Raceway on Sunday. Sheza Springfield will start from barrier four in the 10-strong $7,000 Four-Year-Old Emerald Winner Field Marshall Mobile in the C2 to C5 (with conditions) Pace. “It’s not easy bowling around the track on your own here in Thames and that’s why Nicky Chilcott will race her for her next few starts. “It’s also not easy taking on horses who have won seven (Major Change and Thomas McBride) and eight (Princess Kate) races. My girl has only won four races, and she’s also up against Max Phactor who set a track record recently. “It’s not going to be easy, and she can run in the money, but what alternative do we have? I’m sure Nicky will get the best out of her on Sunday,” Springall said. The 69-year-old trainer is experiencing his best season yet thanks to the three wins won this year by the only horse he works. Sheza Springfield won at Manawatu in April, Cambridge Raceway on May 20 and then Alexandra Park last Friday (June 3). “Not many trainers win two of their last three races so I must be doing something right, but I feel now is the time for Nicky to get her more hardened. “She’s four now and done all of her growing, so I’ll probably line her up again next season before I think about the broodmare’s paddock with her,” Springall said. The daughter of Attorney General and the un-raced Soky’s Atom mare Kandy Gloss, has now won four of her 28 starts and three from 19 this season. She paid $8.80 when winning in 2:44.7 (mile rate 2:00.4) in the hands of Chilcott last week. Sunday’s race is also a 2200m mobile - a distance which has seen the brown mare win three times. She’s also two of her 14 starts at Cambridge. “Nicky has been a great help and has driven the mare well. It’s going to be tough on Sunday. Max Phactor, Princess Kate and Thomas McBride look the toughest for my mare to beat,” said Springall, who who also owns Sheza Springfield. Springall, who lives in the southwestern Coromandel Peninsula town, is a Thames Harness Racing committee member, and has won six races and placed 16 times, since he took out his trainer's licence in 2008. When HRNZ contacted him he was sitting in a barber’s chair in Thames. Duane Ranger

The Franklin businessman who bred and owned two New Zealand Cup winners; an Inter Dominion quinella; won 300 races; and netted more than $6 million in stakes passed away on Waiuku on Sunday (June 5). Robert Reid was 82. The retired market gardener bred and owned Luxury Liner and Christopher Vance to win the 1988 and 1991 Cups with his late brother Leo. Luxury Liner also won the 1987 and 1988 Auckland Cups while Christopher Vance won that Group One feature in 1991. He also quinella-ed the 1991 Inter Dominion grand final with Mark Hanover (Mark Purdon) and Christopher Vance. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) drove both Cup winners. Mr Reid’s wife Janice said her late husband was born in Ngaruawahia and then relocated with his family to Franklin when he was just four. Ten years later he left school to work in local market gardens. “He was a workaholic from the time he left school. Robert was destined to be a farmer. He harvested his first crop of vegetables when he was about 10 from their home garden. “He later established Reid Brothers with Leo and started off with several crops before specialising in onions, pumpkin and squash. “Robert talked his father into leasing some land off him, then when they proved they were capable they leased some more. Well before he was 20, Robert and Leo bought their first land. together which was the Kidd road base we still farm today. One great crop of carrots went towards paying for this property,” his wife said. She said Mr Reid and his brother bought their first horse - Steads in 1961. Then Miranda Bay, a mare that was acquired for the “none too cheap” sum of $1000 guineas. “It couldn’t run to save itself. Although that was probably his biggest ‘punt’, he definitely wasn’t a betting man!” Mrs Reid said. She said her husband’s number one hobby was the horses and he would spend hours looking through stud books and bloodlines. “It was about the only reading he did. We had many trips following the horses around Australia and New Zealand. The whole family has very fond memories of those times. “Certainly, there were lots of proud moments with the races won, Robert said ‘it was a bit hard on the ticker’. His biggest achievement was having the first two horses home in the Inter Dominion grand final in Auckland in 1991. “In his stable there were 50 horses than won 300 races. Robert was disappointed his brother Leo didn’t get to share the glory as he passed away just prior to the success of Luxury Liner and Christopher Vance,” Mrs Reid said. Wiauku horseman, Steve Hunt, who worked for Mr Reid for 25 years up until January, said he was sad to hear of his former boss’s passing. “I was his private trainer and early on I used to prepare his horses for trainers like Roy, Barry, and Mark Purdon, and also Tony Herlihy. “He was a good friend of mine and very good to work for. He never ever told me what to do. He trusted my horsemanship. He was good to me and I will never forget him. He played a big part in my life,” Hunt said. Mrs Reid said her husband had a heart bypass at 56 which bought him another 26 years of good life. “He was proud of what he achieved and even in his hospital bed he wanted to know how the planting was going, and what the price of onions were doing,” she said. Mr Reid’s funeral was scheduled for Graham’s Funeral Parlour in Tuakau at 10.30am today (Thursday). He is survived by his wife of 56 years Janice, their four children, six grand children and one great grand child. Robert Reid Winners (with broodmare in CAPS and wins and stake earnings): MIRANDA STAR: Top Star 5 17,825 Country Star 10 45,532 Disco Girl 1 1,775 Proud Star 6 34,723 Top Vance 8 72,440 Christopher Vance 38 1,747,167 Mikes Pal 9 139,730 Disco Night 2 25,410 Christopher Too 2 16,450 Dynamite Girl 2 24,274 Operation Dynamite 2 9,365 Star Baron 1 4,065 Alert Motoring 8 147,813 Napoleon 11 124,515 Pacific Cruise 4 22,570 York Star 2 7,495 111 wins total and $2,441,149 MIRANDA BELLE: Kiwi Lord 8 34,355 Julie Vance 7 73,168 Knight Vance 8 120,249 Motoring with Julie 2 10,136 Luxury Liner 37 1,721,984 Me An Roy 740,655 69 wins and $2,000,547 MIRANDA LASS: Vance Glory 13 119,365 Willy Run 7 31,850 Star Glory 8 50,625 Star Motoring 7 42,470 Major Danger 4 21,905 39 wins and $266,215 FOYS FOLLY: Jodi Vance 1 win and $10,635. PLEAD: Miss Clevedon 13 79,930 Mark Hanover 18 700,597 Roy’s Advice 2 15,283 Mark Roy 11 249,916 Vance Lee 3 31,820 Clevedon Lord 3 15,755 Nippy Lord 4 25,810 Surdon 5 44,125 Miss Ardmore 5 62,180 OK Roy 1 4,420 Vice Regal 3 17,295 Hunter’s Valley 3 16,500 Miss O’Shea 2 11,860 Vicky Hanover 1 1,875 Upshot Harry 1 4,330 75 wins total and $1,281,696 STEADS 3 wins and $2,520 LE CHARLES 2 wins and $1,630 TOTAL WINS 300 TOTAL STAKES $6,004,392. Duane Ranger

Master Monarchy’s win at Manawatu Raceway yesterday (Sunday) has seen the talented trotter break into the 4-year-old Ruby Trot Harness Jewels grand final field at Cambridge Raceway on June 4. Ranked 10th, and with one week still remaining for qualifying, his trainer Stephen Doody said the brown gelding won’t now be lining up until early June. “If he makes the final I’ll line him up and try and run second behind Monbet. It will all depend on the draw if that happens. The draws are so vital at Cambridge over a mile. “If he doesn’t make it I’ll line him up at Alexandra Park the night before the Jewels Final and then I will put him out for a spell,” Doody said. Master Monarchy collected $4,000 for his crushing six-and-a-half length win in Sunday’s $7,000 Wright Handicap for the C2 and faster trotters. It took his season earnings to $27,399.50 - $5,294.50 more than 12th-placed Great Things Happen. Doody has had 10 Jewels finalists but never a Jewels winner, and with Monbet in this year’s Final, he believes he will have to wait at least another year to win his maiden Jewels crown. “Nothing will get near Monbet. He is in a class of his own. My wee fella goes good but he’s a long way from that class. I’ll spell him over the winter then bring him back next season for more northern racing,” Palmerston North-based Doody said. Master Monarchy and Doody made a safe start from their 10m handicap on Sunday and settled near the rear and then were third going down the back straight the last time – and stalking the leaders. In the home straight they simply left their opposition to it bolting away to a big victory. They were the $3.40 favourites and it was the brown Monarchy gelding’s third straight win at Manawatu Raceway and fifth overall. Master Monarchy is owned by Doody and Tony Jack. “He trots all right but I’m not getting too carried away with him. He’s a nice wee horse who has done a good job this season, after two unsuccessful starts last season. “He’s a not a big horse but he’s got a big heart. I think he will come back much stronger, and even better as a 5-year-old,” Doody said. Meanwhile, one of the highlights on the first day was Kilkeel Lady’s sixth win in 114 starts. The Sutter Hanover mare and driver Kyle Marshall sat parked, yet were too strong for their eight C1 and C2 pacing opponents. “She showed good gate speed and then when it mattered she dug deep. We were a bit lucky that Kotare Kasai and John (Dunn) worked hard in the race which helped. We were three-wide and then parked, but Colin’s mare showed a lot of heart,” Marshall said. The Colin Butler trained brown 6-year-old was the $5.60 third favourite on Thursday and paced the C1 and C2 Mares 1609m metre (mile) mobile in 1:58.6 and home in 60.5 and 29.7. She had half-a-neck and half-a-head to spare over Kotare Kasai and Atchoo (Jim Curtin). It was Kilkeel Lady’s third win this season and sixth overall – five of which have been at Manawatu Raceway. By Duane Ranger

The “larger than life” founder of the North Harbour Trotting Club will leave this earth without any fanfare. Bruce Lloyd will not be having a public funeral. Instead he will be farewelled privately by family this week. Mr Lloyd died in North Shore Hospital on Monday morning (May 9) – just 20 days short of his 80th birthday. “It’s quite ironic that a man so public and loved by many wanted to disappear without any big ordeal. Bruce did eulogies at other funerals and has attended many more over the years. He insisted that he had no funeral. He wanted me to promise him that he will go quietly,” said Margaret, his wife of 36 years. She said her husband had suffered a stroke in October last year which meant he could no longer train horses. “He was in hospital for three weeks this time and he seemed to progressing - and then we got a phone-call at 7.30am from the Hospital suggesting we come and see him. By the time we got there poor Bruce was dead,” Mrs Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd formed the North Harbour Trotting Club at dairy Flat on October 1 1985. He also trained, bred, and owned standardbreds. He obtained his trainer’s licence in June 1983 and since then Mr Lloyd 67 winners from 1,182 starters. His horses placed 155 times and he won just under $400,000 in stakes. His first training success came at Hutt Park on May 31, 1980 when 12th favourite and $32.30 shot, Johnny Treylor won in the hands of then junior driver Joe Barnes. His last winner came via the one-win trotter, Knead The Dough and junior driver Jack MacKinnon at Thames on January 10 this year. MacKinnon took over the training when Mr Lloyd was sick and the 4-year-old has since been sold to Australia. Mackinnon had nothing but praise for the late horseman. “Bruce was a great man that will be sorely missed, he has helped me out so much over this last year and I couldn't have done a lot of the things that I have achieved without him. Our shared love for trotters saw us spend many hours over at the stables bouncing ideas off each other.  “One of the highlights of my career so far was when knead the dough won at Thames. Bruce has been sick for a while before I started training from his place and I always told him that I was going to win a race for him and to do it on that horse that we put so many hours into getting him trotting right was a very special moment,” MacKinnon said. Mr Lloyd never trained any more than three winners a season but his wife said the best horse he trained was the 1978 Great Evander entire, Rick Evander, who won six races and $34,375. Mr Lloyd was born in Ngaruawahia and educated at Otahuhu College. His family relocated there because his father (Selwyn) was one of the bosses in the boning room of the Otahuhu Freezing Works. “Bruce’s Dad (Selwyn) had gallopers and one of his horses named Yardgar won a Great Northern Steeplechase. Believe it or not Bruce used to ride track work until his legs got too long. From an early age he was also horse mad,” Mrs Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd worked in the cosmetic industry when he left school. “He could sell snow to Eskimo. People couldn’t say no to him. They seldom let him down and he was not afraid to ask. When he became a company director we shifted to Dairy Flat and bought 10 acres. That was in the mid-1970s. “We lived in a caravan and Bruce bought the property so he could train greyhounds. He had dabbled with them before and wanted to go boots ‘n all again. In fact Bruce never did anything in halves, he always went in with all guns blazing,” Mrs Lloyd said. She said the property was equipped for greyhound training and things took a different direction when Mr Lloyd attended the Alexandra Park Standardbred Sales. “I remember the date being February 2, 1976 because Bruce and his mates bought the horses and when his friends asked me about it I said ‘what horse?’ “”It was called Mark Scott and was passed in the first time and then when he was brought out a second time the auctioneer said the first bidder can have it for $500. “Bruce obviously jumped at the opportunity and hasn’t looked back since. Jimmy Smith trained Mark Scott. By 1978 we had stables and a track on our property. Bruce was never one to muck around,” Mrs Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd is survived by his daughter Megan and several “equine grandchildren,” his wife Margaret said. By Duane Ranger 

It’s been just over nine years since David Broadhurst drove his last winner, but at Blenheim on Sunday the 69-year-old trained, drove, owned, and bred Patrick Bee to victory. “He’s a promising horse and I think he will win a few more. It was a great feeling to be saluting the judge again,” the Kaikoura horsemen said. It was Patrick Bee’s first win in 28 starts. He’s also placed 12 times. His three-quarter length victory comes 3,416 days after  Broadhurst drove Patrick Jay to win at Nelson. It was the January 12, 2007 and he was a $9.40 third favourite. Patrick Bee, who is no relation, was the $4 second favourite after finishing fourth when favourite on the first day. “He’s the second of three foals left by Ima Showoff. She died when giving birth to a Sands A Flyin foal in 2012. She was a cantankerous, dirty ole thing who didn’t win a race but did go two minutes. “I was given her for free when I was working for Inter Island Transport. She was from the Vin Devery breed. He’s actually very well bred. His line goes back to the Tactics family, which includes some good ones like Tactile, Noodlum, and Blacks A Fake,” Broadhurst said. He said he was just rapt to have Patrick Bee back racing again. “I’m very proud where he’s at considering he broke a pastern. He only started racing as a late 5-year-old. In think I’ll target the two-day Nelson meeting with him next month,” Broadhurst said. The Kaikoura horseman said he was introduced to harness racing by his next door neighbour Heber Henson back in the 1950s. He was also on the New Zealand Trotting Conference back in the day. “He had the two-time world trotting champion Rip Cord. He gave me my first drive behind a horse and I became hooked.  “I’ve been involved a long time. The first winner I owned and drove was Patrick Sean in the Kaikoura Trot back in 1970. I love the game and have a couple of others coming through. “I’ve got a 5-year-old Armbro Invasion mare named Schoolhouse Road and she is a work in progress. I’ve also got a 3-year-old Bettor’s Delight filly named Donegal Carrickfin. “I named her after the place where my family are from in Northern Ireland. She is out of a sister to Lyell Creek. I qualified her at Blenheim on April 23 when she won by four lengths,” Broadhurst said. Broadhurst has now driven seven winners since 1978 and trained a further six more since 1981. Patrick Bee won Sunday’s $7,000 Royal Hotel 2400m mobile on the Waterlea grass in 3:17.7 (mile rate 2;12.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.1 and 28.3. Courtesy of Duane Ranger

Liza Milina can see no reason why Moment Of Truth will not line up as a 14-year-old next season. She said he could even have his 200th start in 2016-2017. “Mentally and physically he’s as good as when I got him two years ago. He loves going fast. He’s happiest when he can go flat out. He really loves his beach training and racing,” owner-trainer Milina said. Does he what!  The Sundon gelding, who was born on October 15, 2002, won his 28th race when having his 176th start in Sunday’s $7,000 Thames Jockey Club C2-C5 Claiming Pace at Alexandra Park. Moment Of Truth (10m) and driver Peter Ferguson trotted the 2700m standing start event in 3:29.9 (mile rate 2:05) with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 60.3 and 29.6. He was the $5.60 second favourite in the nine-horse field. “The only time we put a sulky on him is race-day. I train him on the Murawai Beach behind the 4-wheel drive with my partner Matt ((Bray). He does the driving and I’m sitting at the back with the horses. “He always wants to go flat out. He’s happiest when he can do that. We can get up to 50km/h. Pete does a great job of driving him on race-day,” Kumeu-based Milina said. She said she didn’t mind making the three-hour round trip to the beach to work the old boy. “When he’s happy he races well. He can be a terrible puller when he doesn’t get his own way. I use a lot of natural products on him. I care for him like he’s my boyfriend,” Milina said. Milina wasn’t kidding when saying that. “I have two boyfriends and Matt will tell you I treat Moment Of Truth way better than him. The horse and I will retire together and he will always be with me. “I love him so much. I hate claiming races because there is always the risk of losing him, but I won’t let that happen. I’ve already claimed him back three times and have bought him back once,” said Milina. Moment Of Truth has now provided Milina with her most successful season as a trainer. He won three times for her in her debut training year last season and has won another three in 2015-2016. Yaldy Boyz has also won twice for Milina this season. “I’m loving it. I just want happy horses and when you have got happy horses they tend to race well. Moment of Truth is one of a kind. He is precious. I feel he is part of me,” Milina said. The bay gelding has now banked $247, 202. “If he can’t go fast he gets the sulks. He didn’t like it when I retired him. He was moping about like a sad thing. All he wants to do is race. So how can you retire a horse when all he wants to do is race? “He will tell me when it’s time to retire him,” the 50-year-old said. If Moment Of Truth does turn out in 2016-2017 it will be his 12th consecutive season of racing. Courtesy of Duane Ranger

Angus Fogg is starting to lose his “bull at a gate” tendencies and is slowly developing into a nice racehorse. That’s the opinion of the 4-year-old gelding’s trainer Derek Balle after the son of Angus Hall and Sun Isa nailed his first win in 12 starts at Cambridge Raceway yesterday (Monday). Angus Fogg didn’t just win, he bolted in by 6-1/2 lengths. “He’s starting to put it all together. He’s been a real handful. He gets wound up real easy. I think it’s in his breed. He’s a big horse at 16 hands,” Balle said. Lincoln Farms (John Street) paid $42,000 for Angus Fogg at the Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka in 2013. He is a half-brother to Flying Isa (by Pegasus Spur) who won 17 races and almost half a million dollars in stakes. “We got him off Ray Green as a 3-year-old and we he came to us he was pretty wound up. He attacks everything at 100 miles an hour. “That’s why I think after a couple of more wins he would go well in Australia. I think the mobile races at Menangle would suit him down to the ground,” Balle said. David Butcher shot Angus Fogg to the lead after 300m in the $6,000 Anzac Day Remembrance Mobile for the maiden trotters. Angus Fogg then trotted beautifully for the remainder of the 2200m mobile stopping the clock in 2:49.9. They lead by three lengths on the turn and then turned it into a one-horse race at the finish. The winning mile rate was 2:04.2 with final 800m and 400m sectionals of 61.4 and 30.6. Angus Fogg was the $1.90 favourite in 10-horse field. He was bred by Cambridge librarian Kym Kearns. “If we can just take the hyper out of him I think he can turn into a serious trotter but he has some way to go yet. He’s gone pretty good after he’s broken a few times at Alexandra Park. “It’s a just a matter of maturity with him and trying to quieten him down a bit. I think the horse that ran second has a brighter future though,” Balle said. The Pukekohe trainer was referring to his Pegasus Spur colt, War Machine. Balle did the driving behind the 2-year-old. “I am hoping to him qualify for the Jewels. He’s a really nice young trotter with a bright future. That was just his second start and I’m hoping he can pick up a cheque or two to make the Jewels Final,” Balle said. It was Balle’s third quinella since April 15. At Alexandra Park that day he drove and trained Kenrick to beat stablemate Ideal World (James Stormont) in a C1 pace and then on April 22 at the same venue it was the same result. “I’ve had a good run of late and I’m hoping it continues,” said Balle who works a team of 18 at Franklin Park on Station Road in Pukekohe. Courtesy of HRNZ and Duane Ranger

Brian Hughes has a habit of winning the Group One Northern Oaks every decade…..and his 10-year anniversary just happens to be at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park this Friday night.   The man they call Bunty bred, owned and trained Iman to win the 1995 edition of the Group One classic for 3-year-old fillies, and then in 2005 Hughes owned and trained Tosti Girl to her neck victory over Cruzee Lass. They were the first and fourth favourites respectively. This Friday Hughes will line up one of the best fillies he has ever co-owned, co-bred or trained in the Pascoes The Jewellers sponsored 2700m mobile feature – and naturally The Orange Agent will again be a hot favourite.   “She’s a classy mare all right. She has come through her last win very well. She’s eaten up everything and is rearing to go. She hasn't had a workout or trial since that race but Dad (Bunty) has been putting the work into her.   “From the draw she is going to be tough to beat,” said Gareth Hughes, son of Bunty, and a man who does a lot with his father’s team.   The Orange Agent has drawn perfectly at four this week and compared to her six draw last time out in the second $20,000 Nevele R Fillies heat.   That night she looked like she would have to settle for the runner-up prize after second favourite Democrat Party got away from her on the home turn.   “She’s got a bad habit of drifting wide simply because she goes too fast for her own good around the final bend. Once she got balanced up last start she came again to win. That was a very good performance.   “We are confident she will fly around the final corner untroubled this time,” Hughes said.   The 3-year-old daughter of American Ideal and Lady Fingers has now won seven of her 12 starts and just over $105,000 in purses.   She is yet to nail a Group One victory but did win the $80,000 Caduceus Club Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park in December.   All seven of her wins have been at at northern headquarters, but she is yet to start over the 2700m.   “The distance won’t hurt her, especially from the draw. The Oaks has been one of Dad’s main targets with her for some time now. It’s a race that means a lot to him. He’s already won it twice,” Hughes junior said.   Another race that means a great deal to Hughes is the Great Northern Derby, which will be run on Friday week – Auckland Cup night.   The Hughes trained Hughie Green will line up one of the favourites in the sixth race on Friday – the $20,000 Derby Prelude.   With some of the best 3-year-olds missing this week a good performance will be required to make the final Derby field.   Follow The Stars, fresh from his placings in Australia, will be tough to beat but Hughes is confident Hughie Green will put in another bold showing.   “He did really well to beat Ohoka Punter last start and Dad says he’s progressed nicely since then. Both he and The Orange Agent have done everything he has asked of them.   "If I was going to single one out at this stage it would be ‘Agent’, simply because she has the better draw and the Derby Final isn’t for another nine days. Sure we will be trying to win it but the main goal is to make the final,” said Hughes.   In fact the Hughes team has five winning chances on Friday.   Gamma Lady won well here a month ago on debut and then was a nice workouts winner on Saturday. Hughes rated her right up there with The Orange Agent as one of his stable’s best winning chances in race four.   “She is flying at the moment for a young horse that has only had one run." "My Kiwi Mate can also win the last race, while Girls Are Better can also follow up her good trial form in ‘Gamma’s’ race,” said Hughes.   “She ran a nice second behind Gamma Lady in the same Workout at ‘The Park’ on Saturday,” he added. Duane Ranger - Courtesy of Steve Richardson (TAB)

The All Stars harness racing stables have long made a habit of unearthing new stars both equine and human and in young driver Tim Williams the All Stars mentors Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have done it again, “You might want to pack your driving bag just in case.” Little did Tim Williams realise it at the time but those 11 words from his boss Mark Purdon proved to be the birth of his most successful day in harness racing. In fact it was a record breaking night by the Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Adore Me and Follow The Stars at Cambridge Raceway last Friday. Williams had the privilege, as he put it, of driving both. “Before I came up to the North Island Mark told me to pack my driving gears just in case. I didn’t think much of it really." “But when Mark went home and I stayed up there I couldn’t believe the opportunity I was given. It was a bit unreal. A chance of a lifetime that not many other drivers get. I’m glad I made the most of it,” Williams said. Williams said although he knew he was driving two horses that almost everyone had their money on, he didn’t let the pressure get to him. “I had a job to do and sure I knew they were both hot favourites, but once I was on the track I was focused and knew what I had to do for Mark, Natalie and the owners. Driving champion horses like Adore Me and Follow The Stars is what every driver dreams of,” Williams said. The 25-year-old had never driven Adore Me or Follow The Stars on race-day but you wouldn’t guessed it. He drove them as good as what regular pilot Purdon would have done getting the hot pots home paying $1.40 and $1.10 respectively The Canterbury reinsman said driving Adore Me was like driving a Ferrari, far superior to anything he had ever sat behind. “When I asked her for an effort she just gave me what I wanted. To sit parked and beat a good horse like Gold Ace in track record time is a phenomenal achievement,” Williams said. From gate four Williams sat outside the Todd Mitchell driven Gold Ace (2) in Friday’s Group Two $60,000 Sky City Flying Mile. Then in the lane when he asked the wonder mare for an effort she found another gear to win the mobile mile by a length in a New Zealand Mares record time of 1:51.6. She also slashed Sky Major’s previous track record of 1:52.07 set in May last year. Her winning mile rate was 1:51.6 and she sprinted her final 800m in 55 and 400m in 27.7. It was the New Zealand Cup winner’s 24th win in 31 starts and she’s now amassed $1.43 million in stakes. While Adore Me was always a winning chance a long way from home, Williams at one stage thought Follow The Stars had too much ground to make up in the $20,000 Mitavite Dinny Johnstone Waikato Guineas. Follow The Stars was eased to the rear soon after the start and that’s where he remained until Williams asked him to go at the 300m when he had to get around his four opponents. “I thought we might have been a wee bit too far off them because they were really going for it in front. He had quite a bit of ground to make up at the 400m, but he showed a real will to win – like a real fighter. He’s got an enormous future,” Williams said. With that powerhouse sprint the Art Major colt became the fastest horse to ever pace a 2200m mobile at Cambridge Raceway. Follows The Stars stopped the clock in 2:37.71 slashing Aslan’s January 2010 2200m mobile record by a whopping 2.2 seconds . He also beat Sir Lincoln’s 3-year-old record of 2:40.12. Follow The Star’s winning mile rate was 1:55.3 and he sprinted his final 800m and 400m in 56.7 and 27.4. That was his 11th win in 12 starts and he’s now won $498,779 in purses. Williams said he would never forget Friday’s meeting. “It will go down as the greatest day of my career so far. I’m so pleased I was given an opportunity to drive the team for Mark, Natalie and the owners,” said Williams who has now driven 210 winners (20 this season) since 2008. He said Adore Me and Follows The Stars were both Victorian bound for the derby and Hunter Cup respectively. Meanwhile another champion who didn’t let the favourite punters down on Friday was multiple Group winning trotter Stent. The $1.30 favourite was too powerful along the passing lane for the second elect, Prime Power. The Colin De Filippi trained and driven 6-year-old won the Group Three $30,000 Harcourts Te Awamutu Trotters Flying Stakes by three quarters of a length. He trotted the 1700m mobile in 2:04.9 (mile rate 1:58.2) with a final 800m of 56.8 and 400m of 27.3 seconds. It was Stent’s 21st win in 52 starts and he’s now banked $622,095 for owner Trevor Casey. Courtesy of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand      

It’s taken just over three months but Charlie and Anne Hunter have finally opened up about the death of their champion trotter Sovereignty. “It was so sad when we had to have him put down." We wanted to tell no-one because he meant so much to us." "You are the first to get the news simply because you heard about it first. “We didn’t want to announce it because it still hurts.' "He was not only one of the best trotters I have ever owned but he was a wonderful horse with it." "Very sad,” said Hunter the man who has an ONZM for his services to harness racing. Sovereignty, who was put down in September, became the first 3-year-old to win ‘Trotter-of-the-Year’ in the 2007-2008 season. He won 28 of his 94 starts and placed on 34 occasions for $780,386. His Group One wins included the 2008 Northern Trotting Derby, and the 2010 National Trot. He also won three Group Two events including the 2008 Cambridge Trotters Final on his beloved home track. In fact Sovereignty’s last race was in the 2013 edition of the Cambridge Trotters Final on Christmas Eve. He finished second behind Stent. The Monarchy - Lockerup (by Sundon) gelding also won the 3-year-old Ruby Jewels Final in 2008 before it was classed a Group One event. He was 10 when he as put down. “We announced his retirement in the middle of last year." "He had very bad arthritis in his off-front coffin joint." "We had been treating it but it gradually got worse." “We tried several options but the injury gradually got worse." "He was in a lot of pain." "We tried lots of pain relief to treat his nerves but in the end we had to make the decision which was best for the horse." “It was a horrible day when he passed away." "We kept it quiet all these months simply because it hurts every time you mention his name." "He was very special to Anne and I,” Hunter said. Sovereignty was treated throughout his career by Waikato vet Ian McKay. He also did his spelling at McKay’s son’s Ross’s Leanoch Lodge in Cambridge. “Ross kindly allocated him a spot on his property to be buried on." "That was very nice." "We know where he is if we ever want to go and see him,” said Hunter who turns 81 tomorrow (January 3). “He was just such a great horse and great individual." "I’ve still got a Love You 2-year-old gelding with Sean, who is spelling at the moment." "His name is Lemond and he will still keep me interested in the game, which I love so much,” Hunter added. Hunter co-trained Sovereignty with Sean McCaffrey at Cambridge. He rated him right up there with his champions of years gone by – Young Quinn and Jenner. Courtesy of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand  

Andrew and Lyn Neal won their second Spring Cup at Alexandra Park last night with a pacer they rate equal in ability to their 2000 Auckland Cup winner, Flight South. They won their first Spring Cup in 2010 when Trigirl Brigade won the 2200m standing start event. This time $13.10 fourth favourite Beyond The Silence proved too strong for Norvic Nightowl and Pembrook Benny in the $25,000 Hydroflow sponsored handicap pace. “He’s only had 14 starts and now this is his seventh win. I have always had a considerable amount of time for him. He’s a quality pacer who has come back well this season. “I just wish Dad was here to watch him race,” said driver Lynn Neal, who co-trains the 5-year-old gelding with her husband Andrew at Cambridge. Dad is former Mid Canterbury conditioner, Frank Bebbington, who passed away in August 2012. “Dad bought him and Andrew and I share the ownership in him with Dad’s estate.  I’d like to race him at Addington one day but this year is a bit too soon. “He needs more racing for that but even at this early stage of his career I rate him right up there with Flight South - and she is one of the best horses we have trained,” Neal (Lyn) said. Beyond The Silence sat in the trail for most of the way behind Te Kawau and Todd Mitchell. Then in the straight he powered along the passing lane to win by a neck and 1-1/2 lengths. He paced the 2200m strand in 2:47.67 (mile rate: 2:02.6) with final 800m and 400m sprint s of 56.7 and 27 even. It was his fourth win in seven starts at Alexandra Park. It was a gutsy performance to win third run back after Beyond The Silence missed most of his 4-year-old season with a fractured cannon bone he suffered in a C2 pace at Addington Raceway on New Zealand Cup Day last year. “It’s been a slow road back but we have always believed in him and tonight he delivered against some of the North Island’s best. “We thought he would go well tonight and he didn’t let us down,” Neal said. The 5-year-old Courage Under Fire gelding won first up after an eight month spell at Alexandra Park on July 11 and then followed that up a third behind Sky Major and Cyamach a fortnight later. He has now won seven of his 14 starts and placed in three others for $59,615. The race didn't pass without some sensation. Averil's Quest was late scratched within minutes of the start of the race after she was found to be lame in the right foreleg. Pembrook Benny earned a tick mark for his fresh up performance - the New Zealand Free-For-All winner made up plenty of ground in his first public outing for the season. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand    

Tony Cameron deserves a break in life.   For the second time his 26 years the South Auckland horseman has defied death.   Cameron, who is employed by Tony and Suzanne Herlihy at Strike Won Stables, was knocked out cold in a training accident at Ardmore on Thursday (September 11) at about 11am.   “I didn’t know a thing about it. I woke up in the hospital on Thursday night. They had to put me under because I was getting too anxious. I think my halfback days were coming back to me.   “Then I thought what am I doing here? I can only tell you what happened from what my workmates told me,” Cameron said.   Cameron, who has driven seven winners since starting out as a junior driver in 2012, was told he was that he was working a filly and the horse in front of him ran out and dislodged him before he was knocked out.   The outer shell of his helmet was torn to shreds. Cameron lay on the track until the ambulance crew arrived from Papakura, which is 10 minutes away.   Cameron spent the weekend in hospital and was released on Monday. He has passed all of his rehab tests and is now just waiting for a clearance to drive.   “I feel as though I can drive now but the doctors have said ‘No’ at this stage. It was just one of those freak accidents. I hope to be back doing light duties the week after next.   “Im not getting the headaches they said I would. I fully understand the risks in the game and I want everyone to know it was absolutely no-ones fault. It was just one of those freak accidents,” said Cameron.   Five years ago Cameron was diagnosed with cancer. He was told he had Hodgkin's Lymphoma (also known as Hodgkin's disease). The cancer originated from white blood cells called lymphocytes.   Cameron said if hadn't contracted the disease he may never have followed his father Dale into the harness racing game.   "I'm the youngest of four children in our family and the only one who got into harness racing. When I left high school I did brick laying for a couple of years and then worked as an engineering labourer.   "Then when I got cancer I thought life was too short and it was time I did something I really enjoyed. I learnt the basic skills off Dad and have been working for Tony Herlihy at Ardmore for just over a couple of years now. He has been really good to me and taught me heaps. You can see why he is a champion horseman," Cameron said.   Cameron is bred to be a top horseman. His father Dale has trained and driven more than 30 winners, while Dale's cousin - Robert was the 1993 World Driving Champion in Macau.   Cameron was born on December 3, 1987 in Southland but shifted to Pukekohe when he was two. He was educated at Waiuku College. Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

One of New Zealand’s most successful harness racing owner/breeders also knows how to cover himself when it comes to the punt. Terry McDonald, the man who owns and bred three-time New Zealand Cup winner, Terror To Love, has put $500 to win on outsider Hands Christian in the big Group One race on November 11. If Hands Christian does win McDonald stands to collect $10,500. But he would give that all away in a heartbeat to see Terror To Love create harness racing history and win the Cup for a fourth consecutive year. McDonald got Hands Christian at $21. He’s now at $15 after opening at $51. “I backed him because I honestly believe he will be one of the hardest to beat on Cup Day. He beat us in the Easter Cup and went very well against us in Auckland. “I also backed him prior to his nice trial this week,” In that trial at Ashburton (Tuesday) the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Hands Christian finished a length behind Smolda and Terror To Love. “I thought the horse went really well and reaffirmed my bet. As for ‘Terror’ he’s peaking nicely. I was rapt with that run. He was timed from post to post (last 800m) in 53.2, and both the trainers and driver think he’s still got a lot of improving in him. “He’s also a sensible bet,” McDonald said. New Zealand’s Wellington based harness racing bookmaker, Steve Richardson, who is close friends with McDonald, said he couldn’t believe the Hands Christian bet. “I rang him and said ‘what are you doing?’. I said I’m going to tell the press about you betting on an outsider and he laughed, and said ‘go for it’. “If he won this would easily be our worst result. Just goes to show what a champ both he and Terror To Love are. He has backed the horse each time, even though he calls himself a ‘goose punter’,” Richardson said. He said his mate had understandably been a bit down and believed a story like this would lift his spirits and make him laugh a bit. Life hasn’t been easy for 73-year-old McDonald of late. He is still grieving the loss of his younger Ken (69) who passed away unexpectedly in Brisbane last month. “Yes I don’t think I will ever get over that. I’m still hurting a lot, but I know he is with me. I’ve just had a tooth out today and then in a couple of weeks (24th) I have to undergo a back operation. “I had an operation eight years ago and they are now going to replace all the nuts and bolts. It needs to be done, but I’m furious that I will miss ‘Terror’s’ first run back in the Avon City Ford Cup,” McDonald said. McDonald was hoping the John McCarthy trained and Luke McCarthy driven For A Reason will make the trip over from Sydney for the New Zealand Cup. “We want the best possible field and For A Reason placed in this year’s Inter Dominion Final. It would be really fitting because my brother had a quarter share in him,” McDonald said. Courtesy Of Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

The powerful Clevedon combination of Barry Purdon and Zac Butcher won the major training and driving honours - while Purdon trained 3-year-olds also won two age-group titles at the 2014 A Rocknroll Dance North Island Harness Racing awards ceremony at Alexandra Park last night. More than 300 people flocked to the Tasman Room to watch the 21 awards handed out. Fifty nine-year-old Purdon won the Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year, while 23-year-old Butcher won the IRT North Island Driver of the Year. Their age group stars Sky Major and Ideal Belle won the Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3yo Colt/Gelding and Filly of the Year awards respectively. Purdon trained Pembrook Benny, Sky Major, Maxim and Ideal Belle to Group One victories in 2013-2014. Butcher also drove the Ray Green trained Beaudiene Boaz in the Harness Jewels 2yo Emerald Final at Cambridge Raceway. Pembrook Benny won the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on November 15. Sky Major cleaned up the 3yo Emerald Jewels Final at Cambridge on May 31. Ideal Belle also won the New Zealand Oaks at Addington on May 16. Maxim nailed the Victoria Derby at Melton on February 8. Sky Major was second. The same two horses also produced the quinella in Group One Sires Stakes 2yo Final the season before. “You are only as good as the team around you. This is an honour. We had a very good season and I’m grateful to all my staff for that,” Purdon said. Purdon trained 39 winners from 199 starters last season and amassed $953,433 in stakes. Butcher saluted the judge 72 times from his 551 drives. He banked $1.23m in purses. “I drive to win and night’s like this are a real bonus. I’m very proud to have won this award because there are so many good drivers out there. “I am lucky to be part of a very strong stable. Barry is a legendary trainer,” Butcher said. In other highlights Maurice McKendry won the Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms NI Achievement Award, while Richard and Julija Brosnan won the night’s most prestigious (and final) award of the evening – the A Rocknroll Dance Alabar Nevele Stud NI Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing. Adore Me’s victories in the Group One $100,000 Queen Of Hearts Pace and the Group Three $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes assured her the Auckland Trotting Club’s Aged Pace Of the Year title. The Charlie Roberts co-owned and bred champ also won the Caduceus Club’s NI Filly/Mare of the Year. In fact Roberts himself collected two awards winning the Garrards Horse and Hound NI Owner of the Year, and the Hygain NI Breeder of the Year 2014 A ROCKNROLL DANCE NORTH ISLAND HARNESS RACING AWARDS - WINNERS Glen Elgin Farm North Island Groom of the Year - Amanda Kiddie Dunstan North Island Amateur Driver of the Year -John Kriechbaumer Magness Video Ltd / Vid-Com LtdNorth Island Licence to Train /Owner – Trainer of the Year - Andrew Grant Mitavite North Island Junior Driver of the Year - Sailesh Abernethy PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Beaudiene Boaz                       PGG Wrightson North Island 2 year old Filly of the Year - Linda Lovegrace Breckon Farms North Island 2 year old Trotter of the Year - Yagunnakissmeornot Breckon Farms North Island 3 year old Trotter of the Year - Mum’s Pride Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Colt or Gelding of the Year - Sky Major Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock North Island 3 year old Filly of the Year - Ideal Belle               Garrards Horse and Hound North Island Owner of the Year - Charles Roberts Caduceus Club North Island Filly / Mare of the year - Adore Me                                Hygain North Island Breeder of the Year - Charles Roberts IRT North Island Driver of the Year -  Zac Butcher Veterinary Associates Equine and Farm North Island Trainer of the Year - Barry Purdon Equine Veterinary Services  North Island Broodmare of the Year - Scuse Me                North Island Stallion of the Year - Bettor’s Delight                                       Harness Racing New Zealand North Island Trotter of the Year - Irish Whisper                          Auckland Trotting Club North Island Aged Pacer of the Year - Adore Me                                Sir Lincoln at Lincoln Farms North Island Racing Achievement Award - Maurice McKendry A Rocknroll Dance/Alabar/Nevele R Stud North Island Award for Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing - Richard and Julija Brosnan Courtesy Duane Ranger - Harness Racing New Zealand

Simon McMullan has decided to end his junior driving days on a high. The 25-year-old Franklin horseman steered Take A Hint to victory on co-trainer David Butcher’s 50th birthday at Cambridge Raceway last Thursday night – and then said that’s his race-day driving was all done and dusted. “Who knows I might return to the sulky one day, say if I lease a trotter and have to drive him, but that’s it for now. “I certainly won’t be driving as an open horseman next year. I want to concentrate on one thing at a time. I’m in a privileged position working for Steven and I want to keep improving as a trainer. “That’s where my focus is now,” McMullan said. Take A Hint won the last race of the season at Cambridge. He and McMullan sat in the trail and then pounced to win the $7,000 Fairview Motors Mobile for C2-C4 pacers. They won by three quarters of a length pacing the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:42.8 with final 800m and 400m sprints of 58.5 and 29.8 seconds. The black Washington V C gelding won with a 1:59 mile rate. It was the 4-year-old’s fifth win in 28 starts. He was the third favourite and paid $8 to win. “He’s a nice horse. Not many pacers can go 2:42 and that tells me he’s got a couple of wins left in him yet. “It’s a drive I won’t forget in a while,” McMullan said. Pukekohe-based McMullan has driven 55 winners since taking out his licence in 2008. He’s also placed 130 times from his 648 starts, and won $428,521 in stakes. Training-wise he has won 29 races and just over $360,000 since joining forces with Reid at the start of the season. They finished 19th on the national training premiership. But McMullan has been with ‘The Reid Man’ for eight years now. “Steven had no right to make me a partner in his stable at the start of the season. He has rewarded me for my loyalty to him and for that I’m extremely grateful. “That’s why I want to give the driving away. I want to repay Steven’s faith in me and keep doing my best and learning from him,” McMullan said. McMullan’s first training wins came via Roger Ramjet and Sweet Jane in races one and four at Alexandra Park on August 16. McMullan was educated at Burnside High School and has worked for Brent Lilley, Brendon Hill and Doug Gale prior to coming to Reid’s Pukekohe stable. His work ethic soon ensured he was stable foreman before being promoted to a partner on August 1. Reid and McMullan are working a team of about 25 out of the Franklin Trotting Club’s complex on Station Road. “We’ve got some nice young horses coming through the ranks. Potentially I think our rising 3-year-old Art Major colt - Zennart is the most promising racehorse we have got. He won really well first-up at Alexandra Park on Friday. “My ambition is to train a Group One winner next season. Hopefully some of the younger horses or perhaps Unforgiving can do that for us,” McMullan said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

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