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Southland owned pacer Scarymclearry, who won five races including the Group Two Australasian Young Drivers Stakes in Australia when trained by Menangle trainer David Thorn, is back in New Zealand and will be tried by John and Josh Dickie as a trotter. The six-year-old son of Elsu, who has won $137,456 in stakes and paced a 1:52.3 mile, qualified twice as a trotter in Australia running 2:00.2 in his first trial and 1:57.7 the second time around. However, he then had one race where he broke badly in the score-up and the stewards told Thorn he would have to trial on multiple occasions to gain clearance to race again. That’s when it all became too hard and his syndicate of owners, headed by Vin Nally, opted to bring the gelding home. Originally it was planned that he would return to Southland, however after Nally received an out of the blue phone call from Josh Dickie a 50/50 deal was struck to race the pacer come trotter in the north. Dickie, who won the Australasian Young Drivers Stakes aboard the gelding, was obviously aware of Scarymcleary’s ability to trot and offered to train the speedy type for nothing in return for a half share. Scarymclearry, who won eight races when trained in Southland by Tony Barron and has won 13 races in total, under Australian rules would have had to race as a Free-For-All trotter but by returning to his homeland he will get the opportunity to start fresh as a maiden trotter. The Dolamite Syndicate owned gelding returned to New Zealand last month and began work with the Dickie’s last week. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness Jewels winner Beaudine Boaz is set to make his Australian debut in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Saturday. And if his recent Byford trial where he mile rated 1:58.6 on his way to an impressive win is anything to go by he will take all sorts of beating. The Badlands Hanover colt dashed his last half in 56.4 in his trial and impressed driver Gary Hall Jnr, who bypassed the opportunity to drive Im Themightyquinn in Queensland in order to handle the 2YO Emerald winner in his main hit-out before Saturday’s prestigious two-year-old event.  Beaudiene Boaz, who is a half-brother to top mare Beaudiene Bad Babe, is just one of a few expensive purchases made by clients of the Gary Hall Snr stable in recent months.  Other classy New Zealand juveniles they have snapped up included high priced fillies Nuala and Giuliana Rancic. Meanwhile, impressive debut juvenile winner Connoisseur, who was purchased out off the barn of John and Joshua Dickie by clients of  Greg Bond for a large six-figure sum, will miss the Golden Slipper, with his new connections opting to spell him before bringing him back for early three-year-old racing. Rycroft, an Elsu two-year-old who was also very impressive when winning his debut for Tony Herlihy at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago, is also in Perth after being secured for big money. He has joined the stable of Mike Reed, who has enjoyed tremendious success with former kiwi filly Libertybelle Midfrew this season. Rycroft, like Connoisseur, will now be spelled and will therefore miss this weekend’s two-year-old feature. By Mitchell Robertson

Not many harness racing  meetings go by at the Cambridge track in the Waikato without a Geoff Small runner saluting the judge and tonight was no exception. The beautifully bred Sea MC kept to the script in the NRM Evole Colts and Geldings mobile pace. Dropping back from barrier seven, Sea MC settled four back on the outer for the first 1000 meters before Phil Butcher followed Strawberry Courage around the field on Sea MC, finding the death outside that runner from the 800 meter mark. These two runners eyeballed each other for the rest of the race with Sea MC gaining the upper hand close to home for a well deserved win. It was the McArdle colt's second win from just nine starts in which he has also been placed twice. Sea MC paced the 2200 meters in a respectable 2:44.2, a mile rate of 2:00 with closing sectionals of 58.8 and 28.9. As with most of the horses in the Geoff Small barn, Sea MC has blue blood running through his veins. A son of McArdle, Sea MC is the fourth foal of the former outstanding filly Copper Beach 1:58.6 ($185,991) whose first foal was none other than the champion juvenile De Lovely 1:54.1 ($656,113). Copper Beach is from a half sister to former Geoff Small trained champion pacer, Elsu 1:53.6 ($2.083,352) and this is the family with which Small has had so much success over a long period, Sea MC Harnesslink media    

On Sunday SA BOTRA will host their annual fundraiser "Xmas in July" to be held at the Globe Derby this Sunday starting at noon with the special guest of honor being champion New Zealand reinsman Anthony Butt. Hall of Famer Butt, who has achieved most things in the sport of harness racing including New Zealand, Auckland, Hunter, Rowe Cups and four Inter Dominion finals in a stellar career to date.  Butt, will be interviewed by race caller Jim Jacques in what should be great entertainment. Also during the afternoon you will have a chance to bid on one of nine stallion services that will go under the hammer and in that line up is some of Australia’s most sort after sires: Auckland Reactor, Smiling Shard, Lombo Pocket Watch, Gotta Go Cullect, Western Edition, Tiz A Masterpiece, Art Official, Elsu BG’s Folly, Cullen’s Legacy and Artesian. Tickets are just $40 and includes a three-course meal so please contact Lois Randall on 0402978424. by Gary Newton   

The Jacobsen Headstones mobile pace last night at Auckland was all the talk in the harness racing community this week prior to the race. A two year old son of Christian Cullen in Crockets Cullen trained by Brent Mangos was all the rage on the back of some smart performances at the trials recently. If you listened to the tipsters he was a past the post certainty, but as we all know in racing there is no such thing. Even though the field was only small at just seven runners, what it lacked in numbers it more than made up for with its quality. Aside from Crockets Cullen it included two other two year olds in Bettormack and Rycroft who had also been excelling at trials as well of late. Throw in smart maidens such as Under Worked and Shedontloveme and you had all the ingredients for a fascinating race. Shedontloveme led off the gate before handing up to  Bettormack who in turn handed up to Crockets Cullen after 500 meters. Rycroft had settled last from his wide draw but took off with 950 meters to go to work forward to the death seat. Turning for home Rycroft quickly asserted his superiority and went to line for a comfortable 1 ¼  length win over Shedontloveme who just nosed Bettormack out of second with Crockets Cullen weakening to fourth. The son of Elsu who is trained and was driven by the “iceman” Tony Herlihy, paced the 2200 in the smart time of 2:44.4 with closing sectionals of 57;9 and 28.8. From the famed Black Watch family, Rycroft is from the In The Pocket mare Futures So Bright who is a half- sister to such smart types as Pulsation 1:53.2 ($128,511)  Anescape 1:50.6 ($122,027) and Forever Now 1:57 (106,288) Judging by the ease of his win tonight over such a talented field, this won’t be the last time that Rycroft is first to greet the judge on race night.   Rycroft Harneeslink media

Brilliant Victorian four-year-old Chilli Palmer has arrived in Queensland. Recently transferred to the stables of Belinda McCarthy, the Elsu speed freak will be set for the Brisbane winter carnival features starting next month. And local fans will get their first glimpse of the star pacer this Friday. Connections have confirmed that Chilli Palmer will trial between races at Albion Park as he prepares for the Gr.2 $60,000 Garrards Sunshine Sprint on July 5. Other targets during the campaign include the Gr.3 $45,000 4 & 5yo Championship plus the Gr.1 $100,000 Blacks A Fake. “The trial is just purely about familiarization and an opportunity to stretch his legs after he arrived earlier this week. He’s taken no harm from the trip and he settled in well so that’s pleasing.” McCarthy said. The proven Gr.1 winner has not started since finishing an excellent third in the $50,000 4 & 5yo Championship at TABCORP Park, Melton on May 30 behind Lennytheshark and Inky Cullen. Chilli Palmer has won 7 of his 13 starts this season while banking more than $165,000 in prizemoney. “The Brisbane winter carnival has been part of his program all season long and we’re excited about his chances, I know the owners are looking forward to seeing him strut his stuff in these big races. “As we all know, this is a very special talent with amazing speed and Luke is excited about taking the drive behind him. He stayed with us earlier this year when he competed in the Chariots. “The hard style of racing should suit his racing pattern and hopefully we can get some luck with some good draws, we’re expecting him to perform really well.” Chilli Palmer has already collected three feature events so far this season with the McInerney Ford Classic at Gloucester Park last November plus the 4yo Bonanza defeating Guaranteed at Melton and the Geelong Pacing Cup where he outsprinted champion pacer Smoken Up. Overall, Chilli Palmer has won 11 of his 19 career starts to date. By Chris Barsby (Harness Racing Australia)

Last year 26-year-old Christchurch-born Amanda Grieve returned to Australia after serving an 'apprenticeship' with master NZ horseman Tony Herlihy. Last night at Lord's Raceway Bendigo, Grieve let everyone know she was in business as a trainer, harnessing up her first race winner, Tandias Bromac in the Empire Stallions Super Series 4yo Vicbred mares, 1st heat. The Thompson Bloodstock owned daughter of Art Major that stems from the same family as Bendigo great Mother Courage led all the way to win the Stakes heat impressively for driver Chris Alford in a MR of 1.58.1 for the 2150 metre distance. Glenferrie Shuffle (Jodi Quinlan) charged home for second with Im Smouldering in third place. But the night belonged to former Dean Braun stable employee Grieve, a young lady described by Herlihy who was her boss and mentor for 8 years as "one of his most valued workers. "Grieve has had plenty of good teachers including her father Paul and and on leaving school she had a good grounding with Paul Fitzpatrick in New South Wales and with (Uncle) Dennis Wilson. Greive went to NZ to watch Elsu win the 2005 Inter Dominion at Alexandra Park and got a job with Herlihy where she had many highlights working at his Ardmore barn.  "I got to work with so many good horses like Western Dream, Ohoka Punter and of course One Over Kenny. She was my favourite," Grieve told harnesslink.  Grieve did a lot of the behind-the-scenes work with One Over Kenny and rated her second Rowe Cup win as a career highlight. "She was also the first trotting mare to win $1 million. I loved that horse. I'll never forget her," Grieve said.  Grieve has also worked as a starter's assistant for six years and on premier nights can be seen leading the horses back into the bird cage.  Grieve prefers training to driving but she has had seven drives without saluting. Her father Paul trained eight winners in seven seasons between 1984 and 1998. Mum Katie and dad, Paul are proud as punch about their daughter's success. " Dad & I are very proud of you," Katie Grieve posted on facebook after the win. Meanwhile, recently licenced trainer Amanda Turnbull also notched up her first winner last week. Turnbull, New South Wales’ leading driver, took out the Dunlop Super Dealer Pace at Charlton last Monday with four-year-old Highview Conall. By David Alfred (Bendigo Harness Racing)

With the Harness Jewels nearly upon us, the top twenty in each division are listed as nominations on the Harness Racing New Zealand website. It is from these nominations that the final fields will be selected. We thought an evaluation of the sires represented might be an interesting project so here goes. 2 YR OLD TROT - Surprisingly the sire with the most representatives in this division is the champion sire Sundon with five and this is from just 48 live foals. To all intents and purposes his influence is on the wane but maybe not as much as we think. As you would expect Majestic Son (23 live foals) and Love You (21 live foals) are both well represented with three a piece while Monarchy (74 live foals) and first season sire Bacardi Lindy (25 live foals) both have two. 3 YR OLD TROT - Monarchy and Majestic Son hold a big hand here with four eligible horses each. Of the other sires, four have two eligible with the interesting one being Muscle Mass whose crop of foals that year numbered just five. 4 YR OLD TROT - One sire is completely dominant in this division and that is the Balanced Image sire, Monarchy who has seven eligible including all the favoured runners. Love You with three eligible and Sundon and Monkey Bones with two eligible are the only other sires to have more than one runner nominated. 2 YR OLD FILLIES - Bettors Delight has really stamped his mark on this division with seven horses eligible while Art Major with four and Mach Three with three are the next best. Next in line are Changeover and American Ideal with two each. The ability of Art Major to have four eligible from a 2 yr old crop just 40% the size of that of Bettors Delight is a notable achievement. 3 YR OLD FILLIES - This is undoubtedly the most even division with Art Major, Christian Cullen, Mach Three and American Ideal all having three eligible. The surprise is that noted filly sire Bettors Delight has just two the two eligible fillies while no other sire has more than one. 4 YR OLD MARES - As most would expect, Bettors Delight has the most eligible mares with five while Mach Three was the next best with three. Falcon Seelster and Jeremes Jet both have two eligible while eight other stallions each have one eligible. 2 YR OLD COLTS - There was a real turn up in this division with Art Major being dominant with seven horses eligible trumping Bettors Delight who has four even though the two year crop of Art Major numbers just 87 alongside the 234 of Bettors Delight. Mach Three with two eligible was the only other stallion to have more than one eligible. 3YR OLD COLTS - Three stallions dominated this division with Mach Three with five eligible on top. Art Major with four and Bettors Delight with three were the next best while American Ideal and Badlands Hanover both have two eligible. 4YR OLD COLTS - This division is a Bettors Delight show with the leading sire having a huge eight of the eligible horses. The rest are headed by Mach Three with four, Elsu with three and Christian Cullen with two. Overview TROTTING DIVISIONS - With regards to the trotting divisions it is becoming more apparent by the day that Monarchy, Majestic Son and Love You are in a battle to assume Sundon's crown as the premier trotting stallion. Monarchy has an edge at present due to having more crops on the ground but is under real pressure, especially from Majestic Son. PACING DIVISIONS - Bettors Delight continues to be prominent in all pacing divisions but is not as dominant as he once was. For Art Major to have seven colts and four fillies eligible from a crop of just 85 2yr olds foals is a great result and couple that with Mach Three leading the three year old divisions with five colts and three fillies and the Bettors Delight grip on this series is  loosening. Harnesslink media

The number of harness racing mares served in Australasia by individual pacing stallions in the 2013/2014 season makes for some very interesting reading. The usual suspects are near the top of the list but it is surprisingly headed by the first season sire Auckland Reactor. While it was always expected that Auckland Reactor would serve a large book in New Zealand and he did with 212 mares, his book of 182 mares in Australia was larger than even his most ardent supporters would have predicted. A very realistic service fee of $3,000 certainly helped and means Auckland Reactor has been given every chance to prove himself at Stud. Shadow Play served a huge book in Australia of 295 with a further 80 in New Zealand. That was off the back of some great results with his two year olds in Canada in 2013 but those breeders will be feeling a bit anxious at the moment as his two year olds in both Australia and New Zealand are yet to make an impact. Bettors Delight continues to serve huge books with 249 in New Zealand and 125 in Australia while Art Major served similar numbers with 266 in Australia and 94 in New Zealand. Rock N Roll Heaven was well received by breeders, especially in Australia where he served 225 with a further 41 in New Zealand. Mach Three was thereabouts again with 160 in New Zealand and 99 in Australia along with American Ideal who covered 141 in New Zealand and 109 in Australia. The champion North American sire Somebeachsomewhere continued to be very well supported (by frozen semen) with 135 in Australia and 88 in New Zealand even though his progeny to date down under have not set the world on fire yet. Betterthancheddar had an excellent first year as he didn't arrive until late October yet still served 102 in Australia and 98 in New Zealand to give him a great start to his career. The surprising stat amongst the other stallions was the numbers served by champion sire Christian Cullen. He served just 83 in New Zealand and 26 in Australia. With horses of the class of Christen Me, Franco Nelson, Locharburn and Libertybelle Midfrew starring on the track one would have thought he could have easily doubled his numbers. Of the remaining New Zealand based stallions, Changeover stood out with 142 in New Zealand and 39 in Australia while newbie stallion Sir Lincoln did very well serving 114 in New Zealand and 23 in Australia to make a total of 137. Australian stallions to serve large books included Artistic Fella with 182 in Australia, Sportswriter with 155 in Australia and 17 in New Zealand, Always a Virgin with 145 in Australia and 10 in New Zealand, Courage Under Fire with 127 in Australia and 19 in New Zealand, Roll With Joe with 124 in Australia and 15 in New Zealand and Western Terror with 125 in Australia. At the other end of the spectrum, Elsu managed just 16 in New Zealand and 20 in Australia which would tend to indicate that he is nearing the end of his commercial career. MOST POPULAR SIRES IN AUSTRALASIA IN 2013/2014 STALLION                         NEW ZEALAND      AUSTRALIA       TOTAL Auckland Reactor                      212                      182                394 Shadow Play                              80                       295                375 Bettors Delight                           249                      125                374 Art Major                                    94                       266                360 Rock N Roll Heaven                    41                       225                266 Mach Three                               160                       99                 259 American Ideal                           141                     109                 250 Somebeachsomewhere                88                     135                 213 Betterthancheddar                      102                      98                 200 Artistic Fella                               -                        182                 182 Changeover                                142                      39                 181 Sportswriter                                 17                     155                172 Always A Virgin                           10                    145                 155 Courage Under Fire                      19                    127                 146 Roll With Joe                               15                    124                 139 Sir Lincoln (Lincoln Royal)            114                     23                 137 Western Terror                            -                        125                125 Grinfromeartoear                          34                     90                 124 Modern Art                                  -                       111                111 Christian Cullen                           83                       26                109 Four Starzzz Shark                      -                        109                109     When assessing the trotting stallion numbers it soon became clear that everyone was chasing Majestic Son. With 161 mares served in New Zealand and 90 in Australia for a total of 251, this son of Angus Hall looks set to dominate the trotting scene in the immediate future with such a massive numerical advantage over all his competition. Harnesslink media  

Its been a game of changing owners over the last two years for Ultimate CC, who bowed out of NZ racing a winner of the $15,000 Nevele R Fillies No.36 Consolation at Addington on Saturday, May 10. Initally a $135,000 buy-back at the yearling sales, Ultimate CC was then purchased post the sales by Peter Chambers for under the six figure asking price. Mr Chambers then on-sold her to fellow Australian Overport Lodge stable client Greg Brodie, who recently passed her on to trainer Mark Jones. Mark had sold Mr Brodie a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, which appears to have a more promising future, with the transfer of Ultimate CC to Mark’s WDC 03 (World Driving Champion 2003) Limited company as part of the deal. “She was in a hard grade and Greg’s not interested in breeding them.” Mark said. The Mainland Banner filly, named Rocker Band, is a half-sister to Peruvian Banner (1:52.1, US), Stunin Banner (11 wins, 1:59.5) and Return To Sender (four wins, 1:57.4 rate, 2400m). “I’ve turned her out for a few months and she’s had an operation. She’s a nice type,” Mark said of Rocker Band, who qualified winning a Rangiora 2000m trial in 2:31.7 on April 7. Mark was going to breed from Ultimate CC, but when a good offer came, he reasoned it wasn’t worth it for him waiting years to get her foals on the ground. “Stuart Valentine arranged it. I don’t know who the new owner is but she’s off to Melbourne,” Mark said. Ultimate CC, who picked up a $9000 winning stake on Saturday, has a bit going for post her race career with her breeding (Christian Cullen-TK Swift). She leaves NZ the winner of three and five times placed from 15 starts for $24,086 in stakes and has a fastest winning mile rate to date of 2:00.3 (1800m) on the grass at Waikouaiti. She has placed in a 1:58.1 rate (1609m) and ran a slick final 800m in 56.4s to win Saturday’s consolation. Ultimate CC responded to a smart front-running drive by Mark, who was allowed an easy run front in the mid stages. She kicked best in the straight to hold Armazem, Going To California and favourite Speights Girl (parked over the last 700m) by three-quarters of a length, rating 2:02.2 for the full 1950m. The win was Mark’s 62nd training win of the season. He holds third on the NZ trainers premiership this term behind the Purdon/Rasmussen barn (130 wins) and Robert Dunn (79 wins). SMOKE N SANTANNA SHOULD DEVELOP AT THREE Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones will give last week’s maiden winner Smoke N Santanna his chance in next week’s 2YO Garrards Sires Stakes Silver before tipping him out till next term. “Hopefully he’ll be in the Consolation and then the paddock,” Mark said. “He’s a very nice horse but its scary how good the two-year-olds are this season. “He’ll be better at three,” he said. Smoke N Santanna, a son of the smart racemare Smoke N Mirrors (10 wins for $189,675 in stakes), justified his $1.90 favourtism against the older maidens in the Avon City Ford Mobile Pace at Addington on Friday May 2. He appreciated a significant class drop back after finishing unplaced in three two-year-old starts in April. Driver Jonny Cox didn’t rush the Santanna Blue Chip colt early from the three gate for his maiden victory, being left parked. Cox’s inquiry for the front at the 1200m was denied by Gavin Smith (San Diego) but Cox knew Smoke N Santanna was travelling like the winner down the back, letting him surge to the front at the 600m. The favourite raced several lengths clear on the home turn and was allowed the luxury of easing down over the final 100m, winning untested by 3 1/4 lengths. Smoke N Santanna rated 2:00.4 for the mobile 1950m, the leaders running their last 800m in 61.3s and final 400m in 30.7s. He showed his promise qualifying in early December at Addington in a 2:02.5 rate (1950m). Smoke N Santanna is raced by his breeders, Peter and Debbie Smith, and Peter’s mother, Patricia, who also race Smoke N Santanna’s year older half-brother Smoke N Grin, the winner of one from three from the Dunedin stable of Jonny Cox and Amber Hoffman. The Mark Jones stable notched a winning Addington double, advancing to 60 wins for the term when Tuxedo Max also scored a clear-cut win in the C1-2 Blue Star Taxis Handicap Pace. Tuxedo Max, a 3YO colt by former top pacer Elsu from Paris Hilton (by Village Jasper), appreciated the strong tempo over the 2000m stand. He settled sixth for catch driver Jimmy Curtin, slotting into the running line, then hooked wide at the 400m to reel in Jericho, who had dashed clear the 500m. Tuxedo Max sailed past the pacemaker at the 200m and was unchallenged in the run to the wire, scoring by 3 1/4 lengths in 2:30.4 (2:00.9 mile rate), the leaders last 800m in 58.9s and final 400m in 30.2s. His time was just 0.9 of a second outside the NZ 3YO colts and geldings mark, set by Classie Mach in 2012. “He’s doing a nice job. I can’t believe no-one has bought him!,” Mark said. This was his second win from seven starts. He gets a chance to further his solid record in the C1 mobile pace at Timaru this Sunday. By Jeff Scott (MARK JONES RACING)

TALENTED young harness racing drivers Alex Ashwood and Dylan Ford produced only the second tie in the 28-year history of the Bullock Consulting Youngbloods Challenge series at The TOTE Racing Centre in Launceston on Sunday night. The only other tie was shared by Tammy Mollross and Tamra Fawdry in 1998. It was a thrilling finish to the series with Ashwood holding a six-point lead going into the final heat. Ford partnered Livia Degerolstein into second place in the last heat to earn enough points to draw level with Ashwood who guided Elsudoku into fifth place. Ashwood is now domiciled in Victoria where he has driven 19 winners this season and is earning a reputation as one of the most promising young reinsmen in that state. Ford has gone from strength to strength since he acquired his driver's licence talking out the novice driver's premiership in Tasmania last season. He is on his way to achieving that feat again with 28 winners so far this season that also places him sixth on the overall drivers' premiership table. Ford also has just returned from NSW where he finished second in the 2014 Australasian Young Drivers' Series held in conjunction with the Inter Dominion. Justin Howlett ended the series by winning the final heat aboard Chopstix Boris for Beaconsfield trainer Rohan Hillier. Final points tally for the 2014 Youngbloods Challenge series: 46 - Dylan Ford, Alex Ashwood. 41 - Matthew Howlett. 39 - Duncan Dornauf. 35 - Nichols Brockman. 34 - Justin Howlett. 33 - Lyarna Graham. 32 - Samantha Freeman. 27 - Braden Howlett, Brady Woods. By Peter Staples

Saturday’s Geelong Pacing Cup winner, Chilli Palmer, is coming to New Zealand to contest the two Group One 4-year-old events at Alexandra Park, and then if he can earn enough dollars, the Harness Jewels Final at Cambridge Raceway on May 31. Victorian trainer Dean Braun all but confirmed the New Zealand trip after Chilli Palmer’s 3.8 metre victory over the $1.40 Geelong Cup favourite, Smoken Up. “I’m meeting with the owners on Tuesday night but I can virtually say it’s a done deal. He will contest the Taylor Mile (May 2), the Messenger (May 9), and then hopefully the Jewels Final (May 31),” Braun told Harness Racing New Zealand. He said Chilli Palmer was likely to contest a race at Alexandra Park on Anzac Day - a week before the $100,000 Group One events. “We got tripped up last  time we were here. You need to have a good look at the track before you line a horse up at Alexandra Park. “The first bend is vital. I’ll probably fly the horse in the Saturday before Anzac Day or possibly even the Wednesday so we can trial him on the Saturday. “I don’t want to make the same mistake twice,” he stressed. He was referring to his 2012 New Zealand Messenger champion, Mustang Mach, who went a shocker a week before in the Taylor Mile. “He finished last on the first night and then he and Dexter (Dunn) came out and won the Messenger beating good horses like Gold Ace and Terror To Love. He later ran an unlucky fourth in the Jewels Final at Cambridge,” Braun said. The 37-year-old Lara (near Geelong) horseman said he was delighted with Chilli Palmer’s $30,000 Group Three victory on Saturday, but rated his Group One $125,000 McInerney 4yo Ford Classic victory at Gloucester Park as his best. “What he did that night was unbelievable. He sat back, launched and killed them. I’ve only ever seen one other horse do that on that track. “I’m not saying he’s in the same class as ‘Quinny’ (Themightyquinn), but it was a run I’ll never forget. That’s why I think he will go great on the bigger Alexandra Park track. I’ve trained him that way and it doesn’t seem to be a problem,” Braun said. Like Mustang Mach, Chilli Palmer was bred in New Zealand. Terry and Glenys Chmiel did his early preparation with him. They won two trials at Rangiora and a workout at Motukarara before he was exported to Australia on February 11 last year. Chilli Palmer has now won 10 of his 14 starts and $175,594. He recorded his quickest mile rate of 1:51.5 when winning the Group Three $30,000 Garrards 4yo Bonanza at Tabcorp Park on February 8. He is likely to stay at Tony Herlihy’s stable at Ardmore with Herlihy’s former employee Amanda Grieve. She has been employed by Braun for the last seven weeks and will travel with the 4-year-old Elsu gelding. Chilli Palmer is owned by Braun, Mara Scarpino, K. Farah, A Kheir, J. R. Pezzimenti, S. Parkinson, A Mathews, C Badcock, and A. Badcock. He was bred by Graeme Henley and S. R. Henley. Braun regarded his 2012 NZ Messenger win with Mustang Mach as his career highlight. “It’s hard enough beating the Kiwis on any track but to do it in their own backyard was special. I want to repeat the dose. In fact we are coming to win all three of your Group one races. “I wouldn’t be sending him there if I didn’t think we could achieve that,” Braun said. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Talented Victorian harness racing pacer Outrageous El confirmed his status as a genuine Tasmanian Derby prospect with an effortless win against the older horses in a class one over 2200 metres in Launceston on Sunday night. Driver Rohan Hadley was forced to make his charge work hard to find the lead but once in front the Adam Kelly-trained gelding travelled sweetly and when asked to extend at the top of the home straight he forged clear. Outrageous El went on to score by almost six metres from El Jays Magic with Another Jasper over two metres astern. It was the gelding's third win in success from his four lifetime starts and his second in Tasmania, having been successful in Devonport at his first try on foreign soil. Kelly was hoping the son of Elsu would measure up to Derby class when he travelled him across Bass Strait and so far the three-year-old has lived up to expectations. The Tasmanian Derby will be run over 2579 metres at Tattersall's Park in Hobart on Sunday night. Peter Staples  

When former champion juvenile Sensational Gabby managed just one win and one third placing from 11 starts between December 2012 and January this year her harness racing future was in extreme doubt. She was wrecking her winning prospects by overracing fiercely and hanging and her connections were seriously considering retirement plans. But astute Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri did not give up the battle and after months of experimenting he has cured her bad habits of pulling hard and hanging in her races and now she has regained all the brilliance which enabled her to win at 23 of her first 27 starts. She paced generously and faultlessly when she revealed blistering speed to outclass her rivals in the Ray Duffy Memorial at Gloucester Park on Friday night, recording a smart 1.54.8 rate over the 2130m after speeding over the final mile in 1min.53.9sec. Sensational Gabby now has several feature events for mares over the next two months at her mercy. These include the $20,000 Golden Girls Mile at Pinjarra on April 21, the $35,000 Race For Roses at Gloucester Park on May 9, the $40,000 WASBA Breeders Pace on May 23 and the $30,000 Westbred Fillies and Mares Classic on May 30. And so well is Sensational Gabby performing that there are plans to set her for rich feature events next summer, including the Fremantle Cup and WA Pacing Cup. Olivieri is well pleased that Sensational Gabby is now tractable in her races, but he remains tight-lipped about what gear changes he has made to cure her bad habits. Sensational Gabby was an easing 13/4 second favourite on Friday night when most punters pinned their faith on Soho Valencia, who was a heavily-supported 2/1 on favourite from the No. 2 barrier on the front line. However, the anticipated battle for supremacy never really eventuated, with Chris Lewis firing out Sensational Gabby from the No. 1 barrier and establishing a decisive early lead on the opposition, leaving Soho Valencia in the breeze, but a couple of lengths behind the flying pacemaker. After a 29.3sec. first 400m section of the final mile Sensational Gabby left the opposition floundering in her wake as she sped of the next quarters in 28.5sec., 27.7sec. and 28.4sec. Sensational Gabby won by two lengths from Soho Valencia, with almost a length to Code Red (9/1) in third place after he had trailed the leader throughout. The five-year-old WA-bred Sensational Gabby has now amassed $527,495 from 27 wins and six placings from 48 starts. Sensational Gabby's win gave Lewis the third leg of a winning treble in consecutive events --- after wins with Shirlz Sensation and Lovers Delight. Lewis almost landed four wins in a row (in the four legs of the quadrella) when Pembrook Henry set the pace and finished second to Erris Lad. MACHTU EQUALS STATE RECORD Crack New Zealand-bred gelding Machtu is now a clear favourite for the $200,000 WA Derby on Friday week after his devastating performance to crush his rivals in the Cowden Ltd Derby Prelude at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Machtu, prepared by leading trainer Gary Hall sen., is spot on for the rich classic and he equalled the State record for three-year-olds over 2536m when he rated 1.57.2 in beating Three Blind Mice by almost seven lengths. Robyns C C also rated 1.57.2 when she finished strongly to win a race for fillies last August. What made Machtu's performance all the more impressive was that he worked hard without cover for much of the way before storming away from his rivals in the final stages with a final 400m in 28.2sec. After unplaced runs at his first two starts in New Zealand as a two-year-old in December 2012, Machtu has won at seven of his next eight starts. His five WA starts have produced four wins and a fighting second to stablemate Elegant Christian. Machtu, favourite at 3/1 on, started from barrier four and raced three wide for the first 200m before Clint Hall restrained him back to settle in ninth position. Hall started a three-wide run after 900m and Machtu quickly moved alongside the pacemaker So Ubettabelieveit. Machtu surged to the front 270m from home and careered away from his rivals. Three Blind Mice, trained by Barry Howlett, was a 19/1 chance who raced without cover during the first lap and then gained the one-out, one-back trail behind Classic American before being shuffled back to seventh at the bell. He finished powerfully, out wide, to be a splendid second. Life Live Fast (66/1) enjoyed an ideal pegs run throughout and fought on along the inside to be third, with Zacharia finishing solidly into fourth place. Machtu, who has earned $51,038 from seven wins and a second from ten starts, is the fourth foal out of Holmes Hanover mare Letatalk, who managed to win only once from 20 New Zealand starts for stakes of just $3938. SHIRLZ SENSATION IS ON THE RISE Four-year-old Shirlz Sensation looks set for a bright career after another outstanding performance to score an effortless victory in the Community Newspaper Group Westbred final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Starting favourite at evens from barrier two on the back line, Shirlz Sensational was driven aggressively by Chris Lewis before scoring by three lengths from Smooth Caesar (6/1), with the strongly-supported 9/4 second fancy Soho Jackman one and a half lengths farther back in third place. Oneheart Twofists jumped straight to the front from barrier three and he was joined by Shirlz sensation 700m after the start after a slow 37.9sec. lead time and 30.9sec. opening quarter of the final mile. The third quarter whizzed by in 28.1sec. before Lewis sent Shirlz Sensation to the front with 230m to travel. The final quarter was covered in a sparkling 27.8sec. and Shirlz Sensation rated a smart 1.57 over the 2130m. Soho Jackman started from the outside of the back line and did a good job to finish third. He was last 1050m from home before sustaining a solid three-wide burst. Shirlz Sensation, part-owned and trained by Mike Beech, has turned the corner this season, with his past seven starts producing five wins, a second and a third. He was also extremely impressive last Friday week when he raced without cover before winning by more than ten lengths. He now has raced 22 times for seven wins and three placings for stakes of $58,720. LOVERS DELIGHT IS GETTING TOUGHER Lightly-raced six-year-old Lovers Delight, a noted frontrunner, revealed improved stamina and determination when he raced in the breeze before beating the pacemaker Lord Lombo in the $25,000 Pick Of The Little Scrapbooking Clarke final at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Trained at Capel by Andrew De Campo and driven by Chris Lewis, Lovers Delight, the heavily-supported 3/1 favourite, simply carried too many guns for his 11 rivals. Lord Lombo, a 9/1 chance, was first into stride from barrier two and Lewis then was quite content to allow Lovers Delight to settle in the breeze. After a third section of the final mile in 28.1sec. Lord Lombo looked set to score an upset win. But he was unable to withstand the finishing effort of Lovers Delight who got to the front in the final 25m and scored by 2m at a 1.57.6 rate over 2130m. Outsider Franco Torres overcame the disadvantage of starting from the outside of the back line when he ran on from eighth (on the pegs) at the bell to be third, a half-head in front of polemarker Benjamin Banneker. The New Zealand-bred Lovers Delight has raced 22 times in WA for eight wins and eight placings to take his career record to32 starts for 12 wins, ten placings and $170,203. He now graduates to an M3 classification and looks set for many more successes. BREAKTHROUGH SUCCESS FOR MISSISSIPPI BELL Four-year-old Mississippi Bell, unplaced at her only seven previous appearances at Gloucester Park, made a significant breakthrough when her Waroona trainer Bob Mellsop drove her to a convincing victory in the 2130m Ross North Group Mares Pace on Friday night. Mississippi Bell, a 12/1 chance from the inside of the back line, relished the run of the race behind the pacemaker Awesome Desire (13/4) before Mellsop eased her into the clear in the closing stages. She ran on determinedly to hit the front 80m from the post and draw away to beat Awesome Desire by almost a length, with 20/1 chance Mene Jaccka coming from three back on the pegs to fill third position. Love In The Dark, a newcomer from Queensland, was strongly supported to start favourite at 10/9 on at her WA debut for Byford trainer-reinsman Shannon Suvaljko. She was beaten for early speed from the No. 3 barrier and worked hard in the breeze before fading to finish eighth. Mississippi Bell rated 2.0.3 and took her record to 28 starts for six wins and one placings for stakes of $33,032. She is by American stallion Riverboat King out of Northern Lights mare Firestorm Whitby and is certainly bred to be a good winner. Firestorm Whitby's dam Tempting Franco produced five winners, including Typhoon Whitby, who had 46 starts for 17 wins, seven placings and $163,751. Typhoon Whitby finished second to The Kindly One in the $100,000 1999 Bathurst Gold Tiara, won the $60,000 State Sires Series for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park in August 1999 and was fourth behind Tupelo Rose in the 2000 Victoria oaks. Mississippi bell also is closely related to former outstanding pacer Franco Tiger, who amassed $991,387 from 43 wins and 36 placings from 116 starts. Franco Tiger's victories included the 1992 Miracle Mile, the 1992 Australian Pacing Championship, the 1992 Queensland Pacing Championship and the 1993 Treuer Memorial. He also finished second to Westburn Grant in the 1992 interdominion championship at Moonee Valley and third behind The Harlem Boy and Jack Morris in the 1993 WA Pacing Cup. SPRINT TRIP SUITS CARTERS ROCKET Carters Rocket, a flop when he led and faded to third behind Wolowitz over 2190m at Northam last Tuesday, appreciated returning to a sprint journey when he scored an all-the-way victory in the 1730m Kennards Hire Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. His one-length win over Ima Grumpy Jasper at a 1.57.78 rate ended a losing sequence of 12, which included only two placed efforts. Polemarker Im Clean Cut, a surprising 5/4 on favourite after finishing ninth, twelfth and eleventh at his three previous starts, was beaten out at the start by Carters Rocket (second fancy at 17/4) from the No. 2 barrier. This proved decisive. Colin Brown gave Carters Rocket his head and the New Zealand-bred five-year-old by Elsu sped through the first 400m section of the final mile in 28.7sec. before Brown was able to give the gelding a breather with a leisurely second quarter in only 31.9sec. Carters Rocket covered the final quarters in 29.8sec. and 28.2sec. and won from Ima Grumpy Jasper, a 12/1 chance who ran on from eighth in the middle stages. Im Clean Cut trailed the pacemaker before getting a clear passage in the final stages to finish gamely into third place. Carters Rocket, trained by Greg and Skye Bond, won twice from seven New Zealand starts and has been a handy performer in Western Australia where his 38 starts have produced eight wins and seven placings. He now has a record of 46 starts for ten wins, ten placings and $57,931. Carters Rocket is out of the unraced Pocket Rose, whose full-sister Tupelo Rose was a champion performer who earned $879,867 from 35 wins and 25 placings from 101 starts. Hollywood Rose, a mare by Butler B G, failed to win from 20 starts in the early 1990s. However, Tupelo Rose quickly developed into a superstar who won several group 1 and group 2 events as a juvenile. She won two group 1 classics for fillies as a two-year-old at Alexandra Park in 1999 before winning the New Zealand Great Northern Oaks, the Victoria Oaks, the Queensland Oaks and Australian Oaks the following year. Tupelo Rose won 12 races in New Zealand, 12 in Australia, one in Canada and ten in America. AM OPULENT Four-year-old Am Opulent, a group 1 classic winner as a two-year-old in New Zealand, took full advantage of the coveted No. 1 barrier at Gloucester Park when she gave a bold frontrunning display to win the 2130m Gannons Mares Pace on Friday night. Favourite at 7/4 on, Am Opulent was driven with supreme confidence by Ryan Warwick, who gave the mare her head when she dashed over the final 800m in 57.5sec. She won by a neck at a 1.57.3 rate from 15/1 chance Bettor Whitby, who trailed her throughout. Jungle Genie (13/2), a stablemate of the winner, sustained a three-wide burst from last in the middle stages to be a neck away in third place. Am Opulent, who ended a losing sequence of ten with an easy victory at Harvey at her previous outing, gives every indication of many more wins. She has earned $162,757 from ten wins and eight placings from 31 starts. A winner of three races from seven starts in New Zealand, Am Opulent has had 24 starts in WA for seven wins and seven placings. She revealed abundant early promise and was successful in the group 1 Caduceus Club Classic for two-year-old fillies at Alexandra Park in April 2012. Her dam Imprint (by Life Sign) earned only $22,622 from three wins and three placings from 14 starts, but she is closely related to Smart Son, who earned $347,805 from 41 wins and 59 placings from 226 starts. He was successful in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Am Opulent completed a double in the first two events on Friday night's program for Forrestdale trainers Greg and Skye Bond, who prepared Carters Rocket for his win in the opening event. The Bonds continued on their winning ways with a double at Kellerberrin on Sunday afternoon when Showstopper and Jungle Jewel scored all-the-way victories. DASHING CHRISTIAN ENDS LOSING RUN OF 14 New Zealand-bred seven-year-old Dashing Christian ended a losing sequence of 14 when he unleashed a powerful burst which enabled him to get up in the final stride to snatch victory by a nose over 7/4 favourite Mighty Flying Thomas in the 2536m Plscrapbooking.com.au Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Dashing Christian, third favourite at 5/1, started from the inside of the back line and Clint Hall had him in fifth position, three back on the pegs, for most of the race, with Shifting Sand (14/1) setting the pace. Mighty Flying Thomas settled in tenth place before Morgan Woodley sent him forward after 550m to move into the breeze. After a third quarter of the final mile in a brisk 28.2sec., Mighty Flying Thomas got his head in front with 375m to travel and looked set for victory when he led clearly in the home straight. But Dashing Christian sprouted wings and gained the verdict by the barest of margins after a final quarter in 28.9sec. The Feather Foot (9/2) ran on strongly from sixth at the bell to be third. Dashing Christian, who had finished encouraging seconds at his two previous starts, gave trainer Gary Hall sen. and Clint Hall a double after they had combined to win the previous event with Machtu. Dashing Christian, a winner at one of his seven New Zealand starts, raced seven times in New South Wales for seven wins and six placings. He has had 23 starts in WA for three wins and nine placings to take his career earnings to $105,955 from 11 wins and 19 placings. He is then second foal out of Falcon Seelster mare Dreamy Dash, who managed just one win and seven placings from 33 starts for earnings of $17,165. ERRIS LAD MAKES THE MOST OF DROP-DOWN RULE The drop-down rule introduced a couple of years ago which enables pacers assessed M2 and better to drop down a grade has proved a tremendous boon for WA-bred Erris Lad, who has returned to winning form three times after receiving this advantage. Horses handicapped M2 or better drop down a grade after completing a losing sequence of ten. Erris Lad, trained at Hazelmere by Mike Reed, dropped back from an M2 to an M1 classification after chalking up a losing run of ten when a sound fourth behind Major Fury last Friday week. This enabled the seven-year-old to start from the front line in Friday night's 2503m TABtouch Handicap, an event for M1 and better-class pacers. Colin Brown took advantage of the front-line draw and had Erris Lad, a 20/1 outsider, poised to strike from the one-out, one-back position, with 3/1 chance Pembrook Henry setting the pace. Erris Lad finished full of running to take the lead 100m from the post. He went on to beat Pembrook Henry by a half-length, with a neck back to 16/1 chance Hez Got the Nod, who finished strongly out five wide after racing three back on the pegs. Flyalong Falcon, favourite at 5/2, lost his chance by galloping at the start. Mister Sarkozy also galloped and The Pacing Priest broke soon after the start. Flyalong Falcon came from tenth in the middle stages to be fifth before breaking on the home turn and dropping back to finish last. Erris Lad has been the beneficiary of the drop-down rule three times. His previous victory was last November when having his first start after a losing run of ten. His previous win before that success came after he had also enjoyed a downgrade. Under the old handicapping regulations Erris Lad would now have an M5 classification. His win on Friday night returns him to an M2 mark. FLYING START PAVES THE WAY FOR LA PASSIONE A flying start from the outside barrier paved the way for New Zealand-bred five-year-old La Passione's impressive victory in the 2536m McInerney Ford Pathway Pace at Gloucester Park on Friday night. Darling Downs trainer Aldo Cortopassi revved up La Passione from the unfavourable No. 7 barrier and the gelding quickly charged past polemarker Good Luck Dollar and into the lead. Cortopassi was able to get La Passione to relax and the 4/1 second favourite coasted through the first two sections of the final mile in 31.8sec. and 30.7sec. before dashing over the next two quarters in 28.7sec. and 29.1sec. to win by two lengths from Black Cracker, who fought on doggedly after racing without cover. Good Luck Dollar trailed the leader and finished a neck away in third place. La Passione, by American stallion Pacific Rocket, is beginning to realise his potential after arriving in Western Australia about 14 months ago after having had 18 starts in New Zealand for four wins and seven placings. His 21 WA starts have produced four wins and six placings and he should develop into a handy and consistent city performer. Ken Casellas  

Outstanding Kiwi bred Elsu / Make It Hot four year old harness racing gelding Chilli Palmer was a brilliant victor of the $30,505 Corio Waste Management Geelong Cup for M0 or better class over 2570 metres at Beckley Park on Saturday.   A small but select field contested the event – the biggest in Geelong each season, with multi millionaire and crowd favourite Smoken Up (gate three) and Chilli Palmer (gate five) appearing to be the main chances and that’s the way the race panned out.   Our Blackbird from the pole was the best to begin, with Lance Justice and Smoken Up ambling to the front shortly after the start, multiple cups winner Arber three back the markers being followed by Magical Telf, Chilli Palmer, Smudge Bromac and Savesomtimetodream all in indian file behind him.   Magical Telf was taken away from the markers by Alex Ashwood within a lap to race in the open, with Chris Alford immediately following to possie Chilli Palmer one/one and Smudge Bromac also following to be three back in the moving line.   In quarters of 30.5 and 30.9 for the first half of the last mile, Smoken Up was expected to break the clock for the last half after such an easy time as Lance Justice started to up the tempo.   Easing three wide approaching the final bend, Chilli Palmer sprinted like a gazelle in the straight to overtake Smoken Up and register a 3.8 metre untouched margin over Smoken Up who wouldn’t shirk the issue being the champion that he is, with Our Blackbird holding his ground to finish .7 metres away in third place.   In a last half of 56 seconds (28.5 & 27.5), Chilli Palmer returned a mile rate of 1-59.7 for the journey which was nothing special when you take in the quality of the field.   Trained at Lara by Dean Braun who continues to provide winner after winner with ex-Kiwi talent, Chilli Palmer has recorded 10 wins from only 14 race appearances and without doubt is one of harness racing’s future stars.    Kyneton trainer Joe Attard has Yankee Paco / Kellybrooke five year old gelding El Paco absolutely flying at present, chalking up his 11th victory (4 this season) by taking out the prestigious $10,505 James & Son McNamara Memorial Trotters Cup for T5 or better class over 2570 metres on the Geelong program. . Driven by brother Julian as Joe had family commitments in Adelaide, El Paco flew away from the 10 metre mark to lead and rated to perfection, just held on to score by a half head in a thrilling finish over Duke Of The Moment (three wide home turn) from a 20 metre handicap, with the well backed pole marker Quite A Moment coming from last at the bell to finish third after throwing away her chances by galloping shortly after the start. The mile rate 2-06.5.   Bred by Greg Clark who races the horse in partnership with Joe, El Paco is an owners dream, always finishing close up in his races. Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria    

Just a day after it was announced that Great Southern Star winner Keystone Del will tackle the upcoming Triple Crown at Alexandra Park, news has come through that gun Victorian four-year-old Chilli Palmer is also likely to be at the meeting. The Group One winning four-year-old, who was educated here in New Zealand by Terry and Glenys Chmiel, is likely to compete in both the New Zealand Messenger and the Taylor Mile according to his trainer Dean Braun, who is no stranger to campaigning horses in the north. Braun, who has risen to stardom in the training ranks in recent years, enjoyed success with another former Kiwi in Mustang Mach in the 2012 NZ Messenger, meaning that the Victorian trainer knows exactly what to expect if and when his star Elsu gelding touches down in Auckland. This information is sure to thrill Auckland Trotting Club officials, who have already confirmed that the Brent Lilley trained Zedalite will be in Auckland during April.   Meanwhile, top driver Dexter Dunn, who has now driven seven consecutive centuries, reined home his 100th winner for the season when victorious aboard Marchesa at Wingatui today. By Mitchell Robertson  

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