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By Garrick Knight Glamour mare Belle Of Montana makes a welcome resumption at Alexandra Park on Friday. Last season’s Filly of the Year has had two workouts in preparation for the race and trainer Barry Purdon says both he and driver Zachary Butcher have been satisfied with proceedings. “Really happy,” he told HRNZ. “I think she may be a little bit vulnerable this week from a wide draw against some good ones, but she is there to win.” After enjoying a good, and well-earned, winter spell, it took some extra work to get the daughter of Bettor’s Delight back in to race trim. “She’s been pretty big in condition and isn’t quite there yet but is looking a picture.” Belle Of Montana strikes a strong field over the mobile mile which includes the likes of Star Galleria, The Devils Own and her own stablemates, Havtime and On The Cards, who are both also resuming from spells. Purdon believes On The Cards is the fittest of his trio and despite drawing the outside alley, probably presents as the best of his hopes in the race. “He’s won both his trials and has gone good in doing so. “He’s pretty forward for this week and it’s just the draw that will hurt his chances.” Belle Of Montana is being set for next month’s Group 1 Queen of Hearts, where she will likely go head to head with her nemesis from last season, Princess Tiffany. “After that, we’ll probably look across to Australia for the Ladyship Mile if she’s going good enough at the time.” Purdon has gotten off to a rampant start this season, training 19 winners and 18 place-getters from just 60 starters and he is six clear of the next best northerner on the trainers’ premiership. Accordingly, he has a very strong team in tonight and could easily go home with another three or four winners. Asked for an indication on perhaps his strongest chance on the night, he looked towards maiden pacer Bettor Listen, who is having just his second start after an encouraging second on debut. “He’s a nice horse and shouldn’t be a maiden for much longer; I expect him to go a good race.” “Little Miss Perfect is fresh-up and might just need the run in what is quite a good field. “We have Some Do in the same race and she’s a really nice filly, just not ideally drawn.” Purdon is in Christchurch this week, firstly for Mach Shard’s New Zealand Cup tilt on Tuesday and now Wainui Creek’s $40,000 Mares Classic tilt today. Mach Shard isn’t backing up after a disappointing run, where we dropped away from a perfect striking position on the point of the turn. “We haven’t had the bloods back yet but he’s feeling a little bit down on himself. “I think he’s just jarred up. “It’s just one of those things you can’t do much about.” The Racing Integrity Unit’s head harness steward, Nick Ydgren, said he was yet to be advised of any other horses having felt the effects of the track from Tuesday’s racing. “We haven’t heard anything, good or bad, about the state of the track.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The race career of last season’s top juvenile pacing filly, Sweet On Me, has come to a premature end. Her connections made the decision to retire her last week after being told by vets she would not race as a three-year-old this season. “We had the option to put her out for six months and bring her back for next season,” said Paul Kenny, who raced her with wife Mary and father-in-law, Charles Roberts. “But by that time, she’s a four-year-old and when we really looked at it, we felt like she’d done enough. “She had a glittering career as a two-year-old so we thought we’d just leave it at that and have her as a broodmare.” It’s a fair assessment – the blueblood first born daughter of champion mare Adore Me won nearly a quarter of a million dollars in a career spanning just seven starts. She won two Group 1 races, including the 2YO Diamond at Addington’s Harness Jewels back in June, from the stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, and also won the 2YO Pacing Filly of the Year title. The diagnosis came while she was back in work with Purdon and Rasmussen after undergoing winter surgery. “When she was heading back south last season, Mark suggested we stop in and get scintigraphy done in Matamata,” said Kenny. “There was a chip in one knee and some minor cartilage issues in both knees. “They said we could keep racing her so we did that. “Then, on the way home after the Jewels she stopped off and had an operation and subsequently went through a faultless post-operative recovery.” It was all systems go for her three-year-old season and, after a period of swimming work, she returned to Canterbury for a new preparation. “But she just wasn’t comfortable at speed so we had some x-rays taken and it showed further problems. “We are too fond of the horse, all our horses, to risk her as we have plenty of others to go on with. “We’re not greedy and are very grateful for the success we have. “She gave us some great thrills last season.” Sweet On Me will not be bred now, but rather early next season. “You’re not going to get an early foal and we are breeding from 30 others, so we’ll start her nice and early next season.” Adore Me’s next foal, a full sister named Darling Me, is showing great promise for Purdon and Rasmussen. “On type and temperament, she’s a lovely filly but you never really know how good they are until they get to the track.” In a further blow for Roberts and the Kennys, they’ve also had to retire an unraced, but qualified, three-year-old full sister to recently-retired champion mare Dream About Me. “She had a problem with a suspensory as a two-year-old last season and now, unfortunately, she’s gone in the other suspensory. “She hadn’t raced, but she’d done enough at the trials stage to know she had some ability.” Dream About Me has returned a positive scan to Captaintreacherous, which would be her first foal. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Ex-pat Kiwi horseman Anthony Butt put aside a hellish 18 hours to win the day’s feature trot at Addington on Tuesday. Driving Sydney visitor Tough Monarch, Butt executed an aggressive front-running drive to win the $100,000 Group 1 New Zealand Trotting Free For All. In frantic scenes, the now Sydney-based Cantabrian Butt only arrived on course mere minutes before the horses were due to go on track. Smoke from the wild fires raging in New South Wales saw his flight cancelled last evening and he only landed in the country 1 hour before the start of the race. “It was a nightmare,” he said post-race. “I went there yesterday afternoon and when I’d nearly got to the airport, I got a text that said the flight was postponed for three hours until 10 o’clock last night. “I went to them and said, tell me now if it’s not going to go and I’ll get on something else. “They said no, no it’s definitely going to go and then at about 9 o’clock they cancelled on me. “By then it was too late to get on anything else.” So, Butt went back home to Menangle and tried everything he could to try and get to Addington the next day. “I was up half the night trying to find flights. “I tried everything – through Auckland, through Melbourne, through Brisbane. “But there was only one option and it got in at 2 o’clock.” The race was set down to start at 2.47 on the other side of town. It didn’t seem likely. “But luckily we landed 10 minutes early. Plus, I only had carry-on and the attendants put me right by the door so I was first off.” His mum, Jenny Butt, picked him up and rushed across town while Butt got changed in to his driving gear in the back seat. He ran in to the Addington stables just five minutes before the horses were called on to the track. Tough Monarch, off the back of an excellent trial on the track last Wednesday, was a $3 favourite with punters and never them any cause for concern. “He felt good the whole way,” said Butt. “We sort of had to a bit early but he was comfortable and Rickie (Alchin, trainer) said to not let them get up to him. “Round the bend they started to drop off and we put a gap on them.” About then, fellow Australian trotter, McLovin, was extracted to the outside by Kate Gath and launched a grinding finish. He got close, but not close enough, and the pair recorded a famous Australian quinella on New Zealand’s biggest race day. Tough Monarch has been there or thereabouts in all the features across the ditch in recent seasons, but Tuesday’s was his first Group 1 win after three placings. “He’s just a wee professional. “It was his first Group 1, but he’s been around about it a lot of the time so he really deserves this.” Gath was thrilled with McLovin’s effort, saying he overcome a less-than-preferable draw and trip to finish close up in second. “I was really happy with him. “I was a little bit disheartened when the draws came out and we knew Tough Monarch would be tough to beat off the front. “So, to get as close as we did was pleasing and it’s a good sign for the Dominion on Friday.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Young Christchurch trainer Darren Keast had a day he will never forget when training two upset winners on New Zealand Cup Day, Tuesday. The 22-year-old could barely believe what had just unfolded before his eyes when Ascalabus won paying $49.10 with his dad, Jamie in the cart. A couple of hours earlier, the father-and-son combo had opened the day with a victory by trotter Lovey Dovey Moment. “I absolutely flippin’ can’t believe that that’s happened,” said the younger Keast after the second win. “At the start of the day I was thinking Lovey Dovey Moment was a live chance. “And Ascalabus, it’s hard to get confident at $50 but I thought his last start at Addington was as good as it could be. “He was three-wide and just got beat on the post by a horse we dragged in to the race.” In another layer to the story, Ascalabus is owned by one of the biggest names of yesteryear, local fisheries businessman, Kypros Kotzikas, who won the New Zealand Cup in 1997 with Iraklis. “I’m just unbelievably grateful to have Kypros behind me. “How many young fellas would have a big owner like him behind them? “We’ve had our issues with the horse. “This time last year he raced in the Cup Day maiden and finished fourth and we got offered really big money for him. “But when he was checked over by the vets, he had a niggle in a leg and had to be boxed for six weeks. “Kypros was probably entitled to take him off me then but he stuck by me and gave me a go.” Training two winners on the country’s biggest race day is one thing, but having his dad drive them was the cherry on top for Keast. “It’s just unbelievable. “He served it up with that trotter; he came out and attacked Majestic Hurricane, which is a known puller, and that was really ballsy. “But it was the winning of the race. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Dad and his support and I’m forever grateful for everything he’s done for me.” Keast left school at 15 to go and work in Sydney and then Brisbane before returning to Canterbury. “I got a bit home sick so came back and started working for Cran Dalgety.” He will now turn his attention to Auckland a crack at the Inter Dominions, which start at the end of the month. “Lovey Dovey Moment is about 95 percent sure to go because he trots so much better that way around. “I’m not sure about Ascalabus though; I’ll see what Kypros is happy doing and go from there.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Come Tuesday, the big stables will attract the most attention on New Zealand Cup day at Addington, and rightly so. Rolleston’s Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen will likely train half the card, and will probably win the day’s $750,000 feature with either of the pre-post favourites, Thefixer and Spankem. Woodend’s Robert and John Dunn have an arsenal of contenders that could see them win a couple of features or least a few on the under card, too. But one local man with a much smaller team is also in the mix and in fact will line up a horse in both the Cup and the day’s feature trot, the Group 1 Trotting Free For All. John Howe, universally known as ‘Coaster’, is a man of the people and if either Didjabringthebeers or Nandolo can find their way in to the money on Tuesday, it will take him half an hour to get back to the stable, such will be the number of hands he has to shake. Loyal as they come, well-liked by his peers and a real social butterfly, that’s Coaster. He wasn’t even really meant to be a full-time professional trainer. But he made it so fun for those involved with him that eventually he couldn’t hold out on it any longer. “I suppose I’ve been in the game for 25 years or so. “I used to break in 80 or 90 a year but was really only training one or two at a time. “It was really only doing the odd one for the Smiths, who own Nandolo. “But I kept getting more and more horses from them and eventually decided to have a real crack.” He’s now trained 175 winners and last season’s 19 was a career-best. His association with fellow ‘West Meltoners’, Phil and Christine Smith started over a beer at their local watering hole, The Swamp. “They were locals at the pub and one day they approach me over a beer and asked if I would train a few for them as their current trainer, Kevin Fairbairn, was semi-retiring. “And it’s just grown from there, really. “They’ve been bloody great for me and it’s all come from socializing.” Nandolo is one of the outsiders in the Cup, but clock-watchers have been quietly impressed with his last two runs in open company and there is a real belief that he can snag some prize money with the right trip. “Ideally, the plan will be to lob three-fence behind two favourites. “I would have thought that was his perfect trip, but do plans ever really fall in to place?” Nandolo, a five-year-old by Betterthancheddar, has found himself in the top grade a year quicker than expected, but he has flourished. “I always thought he would be a cup horse, but probably next year. “Then when the time came for his first race for the season, they capped the field at rating 80 and he was an 81, so he went in with the big boys.” Nandolo is a horse that has been prone to switching off at times, especially in front, but the hot speed of the top grade, and being driven in behind, has unleashed him, according to Howe. “He can reef or pull, or he can be lazy, so we’ve made some gear changes as well for this season and they seem to have worked.” That Howe still has Nandolo to train is thanks to the patience and loyalty of the Smiths, who have, understandably, been overwhelmed with big offers previously for the horse. “The offers have been pretty regular. They turned down good money when he was three. I know because I was there when it came through. “Then I think the same buyers came back later and offered more. “But they’re in it for the fun and thrill of racing; they’re real passionate people and enjoy going to the races.” Loyalty is a fine thing in the racing game. Often talked about, not always enacted. But in the case of trotter Didjabringthebeers, Howe has stuck with a young driver just out of the junior ranks when he could easily have handed the reins to a more experienced driver. Kim Butt has driven him in all 15 of his runs this year and it’s never been a consideration to take her off, according to Howe. “She drove him in a junior drivers’ race this time last year and drove him really well to win. “Terry Chmiel had been driving him to that point and he got back on, but then he broke his ankle in the Show Day smash last year. “So, I said to the owners, how about we give Kim another go? And we haven’t looked back since.” Butt, naturally, couldn’t be more appreciative as she gets ready for her first Group 1 drive on Tuesday. “I can’t thank them enough for letting me stay on the horse; they could have easily have gone back to Terry when he returned to driving. “But that’s the stable for you. They’re pretty relaxed owners, just like Coaster. “It actually takes the pressure off heading in to Cup week with the Free For All and the Dominion. “You don’t worry about messing up for them, because there is no pressure. “Coaster is one best people I’ve ever driven for, actually. He’s very chill and never gives you any instructions.“ The fact Howe has two horses in Group 1s from a comparatively small team is testament to his training ability, Butt reckons. “He sort of goes under the radar a bit, and he only does a smallish team, so it’s no mean feat to have two horses in the biggest races of the year. “And you’ll never find someone to say a bad word about Coaster. “Everybody knows him and everybody loves him. Anywhere he goes, he’ll find a group of people and fit right in. “You just couldn’t find a nicer bloke.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight It was a night she never thought would come. Her first race drive, let alone her first race winner. But thanks to a sneaky move on the part of her boss, Dave McGowan, Sheridan Rapley now has a perfect one-from-one record as a driver. “It’s a little bit surreal,” she told HRNZ a day after reining home Pekeson at Cambridge on Friday night. “It’s starting to sink in now and I’m really forward to the next one.” Rapley reckons those words would probably surprise most who know her. “I’m not the most confident person. “And I didn’t even know I had the drive until I got home from Aussie on Wednesday and Dave told me I had been confirmed as the driver. “Which was kind of a good thing, probably, as I would have chickened out otherwise.” Working for McGowan and his wife Clare meant Rapley knew plenty about Pekeson, but it still didn’t prepare her for what was to come on race night. “I’d driven him at the workouts a couple of times leading up the races. “I would have been happy with any place, really - I just wanted to get around safely. “But he felt really good during the warm up and amazing in the run. Then all the gaps just opened up.” A hot early tempo isn’t uncommon in a junior drivers’ race and that was to be the case on Friday night as even-money favourite Callie’s Delight was softened up in front. Rapley meanwhile sat back on the markers smoking the proverbial pipe. “I wasn’t expecting to get quite so far back on the fence but I managed to get off a lap out and just kept finding gaps to run in to.” They needed the length of the straight to reel in Callie’s Delight but in the shadows of the post she gained the upper hand. Rapley, a North Shore girl with no family background in the industry, actually started off doing Kidz Kartz in Kumeu. “I went to Rangitoto College and grew up in Albany. “A family friend’s daughter was going to Kidz Kartz and I went along a few times and got hooked.” After leaving school a few years ago she took a job working in Pukekohe for Peter and Vaughan Blanchard. “I was travelling from North Shore to their barn every day; it would take me an hour and a half to drive there some days. “Which is why I moved out here to Whangarata about a year ago.” Desiring a change of scenery and fresh start, Rapley took up a job offer from the McGowans three months ago and hasn’t regretted it a day since. “Dave has been really good, giving me a variety of different horses to drive and get my confidence up on. “I’ve actually had my junior drivers’ licence for a year, I just wasn’t confident enough to have my first drive. “But Dave was so helpful. He knew how I would be feeling and talked me through the whole thing. “And that was such a big thing for me. I was so worried about the owners getting upset. “But I had a great time out there and now I can’t wait for my next opportunity.” With a dearth of junior drivers in the north at present, that is bound to come sooner than she thinks. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight You’d forgive Ben Laughton for having one eye on next Tuesday when he steers two horses around at the Rangiora meeting today. The Canterbury junior driver pilots a couple of modest chances at the twilight meeting and it will be quite an upset if either wins. So, it’s understandable that he’s more thinking about making his New Zealand Cup Day debut at Addington next Tuesday. His boss, Dean Taylor, together with the owners, have entrusted him to continue his association with Go Davey in a $25,000 sprint. “I’m pretty excited. “It’s a few days away yet, but the nerves are already starting to kick in. “It’s definitely going to be a real thrill to go out there in front of 20,000 people, as well as all my family and friends. “And the best part is that it’s a couple of races before the Cup so it’s right when the day is at its peak rather than the first or last.” He’s been driving Go Davey in all his recent racing and says he’s immensely grateful to get the opportunity on such a big stage. “Dean left the decision up to the owners and they’ve been really good to me in that sense. When a senior horseman couldn’t drive him earlier in the year, they put me straight on and fortunately I’ve been with him ever since.” The pair have already won two races together and Laughton credits him as being “a consistent horse that always tries his best”. “It’s a bit different to what we’ve had recently, which is standing starts. This week it’s a mobile and he’s drawn to get a drag along. “Being Cup day, the speed should be on all the way and his staying ability should come in to it.” His best chance at Rangiora today is Glory Days in the junior drivers’ race, but her chances have been cruelled by a couple of scratchings, meaning she’s on the inside of the second line. “And the horse in front of her is a sit-sprinter that will be looking for cover, so we are going to be three or four back on the fence. “She’s not the worst in the field and looks a good place chance.” Another of Laughton’s regular drives is the veteran, Flamboyant, who he partners in the days’ feature pace. “He probably hasn’t come back as good from his break but I would forget his last start at Addington; he galloped going up to the gate and cut his quarter. “There was blood everywhere when we returned to the stable and that will explain why I couldn’t steer him in to the passing lane.” “He’s off 15 metres but does step really well, though I will be looking to drive him quietly.” Bookies opened both of his Rangiora drives at $41 and $8 yesterday afternoon. Even though he’s unlikely to record a winner in the next seven days, Laughton, with 17 wins to his name, is just grateful to be extended opportunities. “Every meeting where my name is in the race book is a positive. That’s the way I look at it. “The more times people see my name the better.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Punters looking to back quality three-year-old American Me at Cambridge tonight can optimistically expect him to bounce back from two recent setbacks, according to his trainer. The first was a case of sore feet after his start at Alexandra Park two runs back, in September, but most recently it was a virus that reared its head after his last start failure in the Sires Stakes heat at Cambridge on October 3. “He didn’t finish off like he should have in the Sires heat,” said Doug Gale. “He was never going to run in three the way they sprinted up the straight, but he still didn’t find the line and he was coughing afterwards. “We had him vetted and it showed a respiratory virus.” So, it was back home to Bulls for some treatment and recovery before resetting, the first step of which comes tonight. Gale is happy, though says he won’t truly be satisfied until after the race. “The last blood on him suggested he has recovered, and so has his work this week. “But in my experience, they can eat well, work well, look well and when you take them to the races, they are found out in that last 200 metres. “So, this is a test to see where we are at.” He’s come up with the ace draw in a small but handy field and Gale thinks that’s the best thing for him. As for gate speed, he’s not quite sure what to expect. “He’s never drawn better than about six so he’s never really been asked to come out hard. We will find out this week. “If he’s not still effected by the virus, I would expect he’ll run in the money.” Bookies opened American Me at $7, on the second line of betting behind Miracle Moose, Troubador and Flying Steps, who are all around the $3-$3.50 mark. Gale hopes to be back in Auckland on New Years’ Eve for the rich Sales Series Final which indicates he does rate the horse above average. “He has shown me enough that, when he matures, I think he could make an open class horse. “He’s a typical American Ideal, though he hasn’t matured as quickly as some.” Gale will haul two other stable runners the five hours north tonight, recent addition Classey Robin ($8.50) and one-win pacer Onedin Punter ($23). Classey Robin only joined his stable last month but ran a placing at her new local track in Palmerston North. “It didn’t surprise me on her work but I was scratching my head looking at her trial form in Canterbury. “It said she ran last in all three of her trials before coming north, but she’s a bit better than that.” This week she’s drawn the inside of the second row but follows out the exact same horse as she did last time – Yankee Dancer. “If things go the same way she’ll probably end up three back on the markers. From there she’s a solid place chance I think. “If she keeps improving, she has two or three wins in her this season.” Gale says Onedin Punter is “more likely to win on the grass this season” but he was pleased with his last start effort at Palmerston North all the same. “It wasn’t really his racing style and he stuck to his guns pretty well.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Tonight’s Melbourne Cup Day meeting at Cambridge marks the first stop in a long season for promising local filly Emmber. The blueblood will go around as an even-money favourite in an $8,000 maiden, and co-trainer Matthew White expects a forward showing. “She goes quite nice; I have got a bit of time for her,” he told HRNZ. “She’s forward enough and is there to win, there’s no doubt about that. “We felt it was a good race for her to start off in as we head towards the better three-year-old fillies’ races throughout the season.” Emmber was unplaced in two runs as a juvenile but White says she has furnished in to her frame now. “She’s quite a big filly and has really grown in to her frame nicely.”’ Emmber has two big things in her favour. One is her father, the all-conquering champion stallion Bettor’s Delight. The other is her mum, former Filly of the Year and three-time Group 1 winner, Lauraella. White is a pretty relaxed operator but when pushed he admits that together with training partner Mike Berger, they could have some real fun this season. “I am quite excited by her; she gives me the feel of a pretty good horse.” The stable has two other runners on the card – the resuming Arty Pharty and the departing Mhai Uptown Girl. The latter has drawn one but strikes a handy field and White is underwhelmed by her chances. “I think she’ll be a bit outclassed – maybe an outside place chance at best. “She’s on the plane to Brisbane on Thursday and I think she’ll be better off over there.” Arty Pharty has shown glimpses of ability in his career to date and White just hopes his work at home translates to race night finally. “It’s not a strong field and I don’t think it’s a bad race for him. “I’m not too worried about drawing one on the second line – it’s probably not bad for him. “He’s been working well but is a horse that has done that in the past; he can show a bit in his training. “He’s probably let the side down come race day before so hopefully he’s grown out of that this time.” Elsewhere, the stable’s star, three-year-old colt Eagle Watch, is back in work after suffering a virus. “We late scratched him from the sires stakes heat here and then pulled stumps for a couple of weeks. “We’ve got him right and he’s on his way back.” In something a bit different in honour of Melbourne Cup day, the Cambridge club has put on two two-miles races, one each for the pacers and trotters. Each race carries a $10,000 stake plus a $2,500 bounty if the winners can break a track record for their gait and sex. The trot only has four horses, but three of them - Temporale, Lemond and Massive Metro – are Group 1 winners which will make for a fascinating contest. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight An eye-catching run seven days prior gave an indication of what was to come from Accelere at Alexandra Park on Friday night. On the back of an aggressive drive from usual pilot Todd Mitchell, the Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson-trained gelding thumped his opponents with a jarring 2.40.2 (1.57.1 MR) run. Punters sent him out second favourite after an impressive finish in stronger company the week prior, despite only finishing sixth. “We were pretty confident heading in to tonight,” said Hollis. “His last three starts have been good, he’s just either had bad draws or bad luck.” They thought enough of him to tackle the Sires Stakes series this time last year and then the Northern Derby back in March, suffice to say his connections have turned down numerous decent offers to date. “He was just big and weak so we gave him a good two-month spell.” Mitchell went forward and set a strong tempo, not giving anything else a look in, though Magilligan Point mounted a strong late challenge to push him close to the line. “We don’t ever really tell Todd how to drive him. “Basically, it was just ‘pop him out of the gate and see how he feels.” Obviously, he was feeling pretty good. There are no major plans for the son of Auckland Reactor, though he will be “raced sparingly” according to his trainers. “We’ll just race him here and there and look after him. “It’s nice to be able to win a race as a rating 50 that carries a stake of $15,000. “It wasn’t the richest race on the night but it’s still good money.” Accelere continues the good record of his dam, Exposay who has now left four decent horses, including the former Hollis & Robertson pacer El Jacko, now a star in Perth. “He’s won 22 races. She’s also left Pakipaki, who did a good job for us, and VC Manoevure (13 wins). Emilio Rosati purchased the current two-year-old out of the mare – a filly by Somebeachsomewhere – and it’s in training next door to Hollis and Robertson’s at Lincoln Farms with Ray Green. The stable couldn’t quite pull off a double with their promising three-year-old maiden, Christianshavtime, who managed only fourth. They make up two thirds of the current race team, one which has been eroded in recent months by the sales of the likes of Big Mach, Katamach, Destined For Heaven, Three Kisses and The Notorious One. “We’ve sold six horses this year, which has really depleted our barn. “So, it’s pretty quiet at the moment but the yearlings are about to come in later this month to get ready for the sales. “We are preparing 14 this year, which will keep us very busy.” Elsewhere on the night, John and Josh Dickie, Arna Donnelly and Barry Purdon all recorded training doubles while Inter Dominion prospects, Temporale and Massive Metro, got their preparations back on track with good placings off long marks in the night’s feature trot. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett have had a rather interesting boarder at their Waiuku property recently. Group 1-winning trotter Temporale has been utilising their beach training services as connections look to get his career back on track. His usual trainer and part-owner, Tony Herlihy, made the decision earlier in the month. “He’s been out here for about three weeks,” said Wallis. “There was nothing seriously wrong with him; Tony just felt the old fella would benefit from something different.” The son of Monarchy had an inauspicious finish to his racing last season, dropping out to be beaten 28 lengths in April’s Anzac Cup and then galloping in the Rowe Cup a week later. After a good spell, Temporale resumes at Alexandra Park tonight in Herlihy’s name, but will be on the track up the Southern Motorway alongside Wallis and Hackett’s own open class trotter, Massive Metro. “They trialed together at Pukekohe last Saturday and did it nicely. I know Tony was very pleased with Temporale.” While it would make sense to work two Group 1-winning trotters together, Wallis says they aren’t specifically training partners. “They have done some work together but they do a bit of work on their own as well. “Temporale really seems to be enjoying life out on the beach. He’s a lovely horse who has been working nicely.” It’s not the first time Herlihy has sent his stable star to Wallis and Hackett – he famously did it with injury-plagued pacer Sly Flyin in 2007 and again with Bettor Dream in 2015. Wallis doesn’t know how long they’ll have Temporale – whether it is through until the Inter Dominions later this month or in to next year. “It’s entirely up to Tony and he hasn’t given us any indication at this stage.” Both Temporale and Massive Metro face an almost insurmountable 50-metre handicap over the shorter 2200-metre trip this week and Wallis is none-too-pleased. “We are happy with both horses but I can’t see them winning off 50 metres. “But we need to get the racing in to them if we are going to target the Inter Dominions. You can’t go in to it too fresh. “There’s a race for them in two weeks but it’s a mobile mile, which is ridiculous. I bet the pacers don’t have to contest a mile two weeks before the series. “We’ve nominated Massive Metro for a two-mile race at Cambridge on Tuesday but there are only five horses so I doubt that race will get off the ground. “It’s a shame because that race would have been perfect for him.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Inters sustaining payments made Club officials are optimistic that the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship will still be contested over rounds of three heats in Auckland next month. After the $450 sustaining payment was due on Tuesday, 33 horses remain in the reckoning, including 11 from Australia. Should the final number dip below 30, the Auckland Trotting Club would have to consider reverting to two heats of 12. “Three heats of ten will be ok; but that’s about the minimum,” says Racing Manager, Regan Cotter. “The fact they’ve all paid $450 means they’re all fairly serious about coming so I’d be surprised if many more drop out. “We always knew this first round of payments was going to see quite a few withdrawals because it cost nothing to nominate.” All major players remain nominated for the series, including eight from the dominant Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen stable. Of the 21 withdrawn this week, the highest ranked were Australian pacers Wrappers Delight (14), Buster Brady (15) and Ignatius (18) while Gran Chico (25), sold last week to Perth interests, was the highest-ranked New Zealand defection. The trotting series had its numbers virtually halved from 66 to 35 with a $300 payment due. It did manage to hold on to its top eight ranked horses though lost arguably the biggest name with Oscar Bonavena’s withdrawal. The retirements of Monbet and Kyvalley Blur hurt, as did the loss of five other Australians – Lily Stride, Save Our Pennys, Maori Law, Fratellino and Sassy Pants. Of most interest was that Aussie star McLovin was paid up despite a belief his connections would not do so. According to Cotter, trainer Andy Gath was unable to contact owner Norm Jenkin over the past week so made the last-minute call to play it safe and make the sustaining payment. Two other Australian trotters, Big Jack Hammer and Tough Monarch, are still in contention, the latter already in New Zealand and on his way to Christchurch for Cup Week.   First training win for Sailesh Abernethy South Auckland horseman Sailesh Abernethy is now officially a race-winning trainer. He piloted his own horse, Benjamin Button, to win a maiden in Palmerston North on Tuesday just a couple of months after taking out a training license. The five-year-old Art Official gelding has battled back from a tendon injury suffered as a three-year-old and, plainly, a general lack of ability. “He’s never shown me too much,” Abernethy told HRNZ. “Just enough to keep going with. He’s gone some handy races this time and I always thought he had a win in him.” Abernethy wasn’t getting too carried away with the achievement. Much like Marcoola with Clint and Ken Ford, he has always done most of the work with veteran trotter Majestic One, a 14-race winner despite it being in his brother, Jay’s name. Both horses were trained Jay until Sailesh got his license at the start of this season. Majestic One has been served by boom sire, Father Patrick. “She’s not quite retired. “I’m trying to get her in foal and then she’ll have a few more starts. “I would like to get to 15 wins with her.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Michael House has issued a stern warning to punters ahead of today’s first meeting of the new Manawatu season. Don’t expect a lot. “I’ve had a change of heart and didn’t take the third truck up,” he told HRNZ. “There’s only a couple there that can win, I think – the rest are pretty average horses. “I’ve saved the ones that were really working well for Kaikoura next week. “The way the nominations ended up, there was no point sending another eight horses and racing ourselves. “This trip will be to give everyone else a chance to get the jump on us.” That’s not to say he doesn’t expect to win at least two of the seven races. He did send 17 horses to the meeting after all. Sundons Flyer is a class above the field she meets in the day’s only trot and a 40-metre handicap shouldn’t stop her. “She should go close. “We sent her up there because it’s a free win with a junior driver and that’s why Alicia (Harrison) is on her. “The plan will be to win both days and then it’s like she’s won an $18,000 race.” House credits the mare’s usual trainer and part-owner, Bruce Negus, for the move. “It was all his idea; he came to me with the plan and I liked it. “I do keep saying to people that’s not just me doing this, I am always getting calls floating different ideas. “I’m really just the logistics manager.” Champion driver Blair Orange has made the trip again today and House says do not read too much in to his allocations today, but more so on Thursday. “He wouldn’t have even known what I put him on until he arrived this morning. “There’s various relationships to factor in when I made the driving decisions and he could easily get beaten by other horses of ours. “He’ll have the pick on the second day and that’s when you should pay attention to what he is driving.” Of the other 16 horses, House has engaged, he points to Voodoo Prince, Fancy Schmancy and newcomer Jessie Kelly as the best of them. “If Voodoo Prince wasn’t drawn one, he would win by five lengths. But he’s at risk of being crossed by Jay Abernethy and Peter Forsberg early. “He’s really well and if he can keep himself out of trouble, he should win. “Steven Reid (northern stable trainer) told me Fancy Schmancy should win. “She over-raced last time so will be seeing plenty of the track in the open this time. “And Jessie Kelly is a good chance in the last; her track work’s been quite nice. “Steve Telfer has a couple of handy ones in there that could make things difficult though.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight When old mate Phil Williamson came calling with a horse, Tony Herlihy wasn’t going to say no. But he admits neither man foresaw what a brilliant move it would be to have Kenny’s Dream shift from Oamaru to Auckland earlier this year. The blueblood trotting mare went on a tear at Auckland through winter, recording four wins and two seconds from six starts for over $56,000 in stakes. “Me and the owner (Williamson) were very happy,” Herlihy told HRNZ with a chuckle. “Phil felt she had always been happier the Auckland way round so that’s why she came north. “And once she kept winning, he said, why send her home? So, she stayed up here to spell, too.” She resumes for the season at Alexandra Park tonight in a $25,000 mobile mile and has come up with the ace draw in a tidy field. A trial behind the arm with the pacers at Pukekohe last week told Herlihy everything he needed to know heading in to this week. “I gave her a bit of a blowout and was very happy; she found the line well. “The mile will suit her this week, but if Credit Master goes like he did last time, he will take a lot of beating. “He jogged it in 1.57 so I’d say she’d be flat beating him if he repeated that performance.” But that’s not to say Herlihy doesn’t have ample time for the daughter of Dream Vacation. On the contrary, he has nominated her for the time-honoured Inter Dominon series at Alexandra Park in December. “I think she’s good enough to take on that class with a bit more racing and improvement. “We can go in the heats at least and see where we stand. Ultimately, we’ll make a decision closer to the time.” Herlihy and Williamson know a thing or two about good trotters, especially from that family. Between them they trained Kenny’s Dream’s auntie, One Over Kenny, to win 32 races and more than a million dollars. Perhaps Kenny’s Dream won’t match our greatest ever female trotter, but she’s got a heck of a lot of earning potential ahead of her. It’s another mile night this week and Herlihy takes a big team of nine to the track. Of his big team, Herlihy couldn’t single out a clear best chance, but believes the entire team are capable of running in the money. “To be fair, they’re probably all each-way chances that just need a bit of luck in the running. “I think if you went a dollar each way on most of them, you’d come out ok.” Artemis is an interesting first starter, though has drawn the outside of the barrier in her maiden race. She hails from a prolific family and is owned by former internationals Ant Strachan and Kyle Mills, as well as former trainer Gareth Dixon. “Whatever she does, the experience will do her good. “She’s showing a bit of promise and has just kept improving, it’s just going to be tough from the outside draw over a mile. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight It’s been a dream start in horse ownership for the group of lads behind Lets Hustle, one of the more improved horses in Canterbury at present. Training on Woodend Beach with Regan Todd has worked the oracle with the son of Bettor’s Delight, who has won three races and over $18,000 since a new syndicate was formed to lease part of him back in August. “For a lot of them it’s their first horse, so they think it’s pretty easy this game,” Todd told HRNZ. “They’ve had bloody good time with him and he’s been a bit of a surprise package, really.” Their ‘equine ATM’ has a chance of an even bigger pay day when he contests the last race at Addington tonight – he’s a chance of taking home a $10,000 bonus. Addington’s new Met Mega Series promotion has seen all horses earn points for good performances at the track between August 16 and this week’s final meeting. The winning owners get $10,000 while there are also prizes of $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 for those that run second through fifth. Heading in to tonight, Lets Hustle is third, just seven points off leader Scorcha, who was ineligible for any race tonight and thus won’t be earning any points. A second place would cause a tie and earn the connections of both horses $7,000, while a win would bring home the max payout for the Lets Hustle syndicate. While he strikes a hard field, Lets Hustle has drawn one on the second line over the sprint trip and Todd sees that as playing to the horse’s strengths. “He’s best when following so we just need thing to open up for him and he’ll boom home. “The horse in front of us (Givemewhatineed) has got the ability, it just depends if he behaves himself. He has galloped out before so we’ll need a bit of luck there.” One thing’s for sure, the big group of owners will be there at Addington enjoying the hospitality and having a wager. In that regard, the new series has been an excellent move by Addington officials. “They love it, they absolutely love it. “And because of this series I have raced the horse at Addington more than I ever would. “He’s a horse that you’d probably take to Timaru and Oamaru, but he’s thrived on the racing at Addington. “Now we’re in a position where the top two horses have raced themselves out of it and we have a chance of getting a big bonus.” Lets Hustle was sent to Todd on a hope and a prayer by good friend Mark Jones after winning one of 32 starts, but placing 12 times. “He sort-of showed up here one day and I thought it might be a good one for the lads. “He was meant to be sold to Aussie but the money never arrived so the breeder, Steve O’Brien, bought Mark out and sent him to us on the beach. “Two boys that work for me took shares and then another syndicate of mates joined in as well. “They’ve got the bug because they’ve bred one this year as well; by Buy Kiwi Made.” Todd cites Lets Hustle the best of his four chances on the night, but says he is optimistic that a few of the others can place as well. “That Alexander Guy let us down at Methven but it’s not a very good field this week. “Koromiko Eyre is in the same race. He’s having one start for us before heading south to his new owner, Matt Saunders. “He would get the Met Multipler Bonus ($7,000) if he won. “And little Renezmae is going around in a winnable race but has drawn the outside. “She’s been in the pool for a week with a stone bruise but otherwise I’m really happy with her.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight An Oamaru twilight meeting presents as an unusual but interesting offering for punters on Thursday. Ben Hope will head down from Woodend Beach in North Canterbury to drive five of the team prepared by his parents, Greg and Nina. Among them is Baxter, a resuming four-year-old trotter that was deemed good enough by the Hopes to contest the Hambletonian Classic at just his second start last season. What’s more, the half-brother to former champion trotter Monbet ran third behind Lotamuscle in the Group 3 feature. He only had one further start before being turfed out and this week represents his first run since March. The junior Hope piloted the son of Muscle Hill in heavy weather at the Rangiora workouts last week and says he was happy enough with his third placing. But this week, in a junior drivers’ event, where a penalty-free win is in the offing, he isn’t exactly preparing his acceptance speech. “He’s a nice enough horse without being a star. “I was happy with his trial and, while he got a bit tired towards the end, he was entitled to first up on a heavy track. “He’s obviously going to be an each-way chance, but is no certainty. “To be fair, too, I think he would prefer a shorter distance than the 2600 metres.” Hope points to another relative of Monbet as probably his best chance on the day. Her name is Crazy N Love and she debuts in the first on the card, a maiden trotter. She’s been given plenty of time to learn the ropes at recent workouts and trials and has shown her trainers plenty. “I really rate her,” said Hope. “She is a lovely filly and is going to do a bloody good job in time. Whether that is this week or in a couple of years’ time, I’m not sure. “She’s not fool-proof and mentally is just not quite there yet. “I was really happy with her first trial this time, but in the second one she knuckled over on the bend. “It does look a pretty weak field and if she trots the whole way, she should go pretty close.” Rockntommy Rulz doesn’t have an overly inspiring record – just one placing in nine starts – but his two runs for fifth this time in have been better than they looked. He’s drawn well in gate three in a handy field of maiden pacers over the short course mile-and-a-quarter trip and Hope reckons he could surprise. “He can take advantage of that draw. “He’s actually improved a lot since last season and those first two runs have been ok, I thought. “Last season he kept going out as a favourite but I felt he was too physically weak to be very competitive, but he’s definitely grown up now.” Panda Girl is a daughter of former stable star Helena Jet, but doesn’t seem to have inherited much of her mother’s ability. “She’s really not showing a lot, but if she was ever going to win one, this is it. “I would have liked to have drawn the front line with her because she’s usually quite a good beginner. “It doesn’t seem an overly strong field and with an economical run I expect her to be at least a place chance.” Rounding out Hope’s book is stable newcomer Melody Pond, who showed glimpses of ability for former trainer Robert Anderson on the grass last season and has seemingly turned the corner in recent weeks. “The first few weeks we had her, she was pretty average, but has definitely improved. “Dad’s been doing most of the driving with her and he reckons she’s come on lately. “We’ll know more after the race but if she can settle handy from that good draw, she’s got to be a reasonably good chance.” Bookies have shown respect to Crazy N Love, opening her a $2.90 favourite while Melody Pond ($7.50), Rockntommy Rulz ($17), Panda Girl ($5.50) and Baxter ($4.20) all present varying degrees of each-way appeal. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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