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By Garrick Knight After three months on the sidelines, Todd MacFarlane is just happy to be back doing what he loves. The experienced horseman returned to race night driving last week after an extended period of convalescence thanks to a couple of grumpy horses. “I copped a decent kick in the back while out with a jog team,” he told HRNZ. “I had one in the cart and two on the leads and they were fighting with each other. I got caught in the cross-fire.” The result? Some pretty serious injuries. “The main issues were a bruised kidney and a split liver. “It meant two months recovery but for the third month I felt fine and like I could return. “But they wouldn’t give me medical clearance because they felt like it hadn’t given my liver enough time to heal properly. “So, even though I felt alright I had to watch from home.” The worst part, MacFarlane says, was that he was on his own when the incident happened and he had three horses in his control. “I just had to suck it up for a while there and try and get back to the barn.” Any good trainer is only as good the team around them and that more than rung true for MacFarlane, who had to rely heavily on his staff for a fair few weeks. “Luckily I’ve got a good crew and they all did their bit, keeping things going.” MacFarlane has his second night back driving at Alexandra Park this evening and will pilot three horses, including two stable runners. Maiden mare Royal went out very well-supported in her resumption last week off the back of an impressive trial on August 31. But she let her supporters – and MacFarlane – down with a middling effort to finish fourth behind Some Do last week. “She’s no star but I was a little bit disappointed with her last week. “I’m hoping for a bit of improvement this week because if she runs like she did in that trial, she won’t be very far away.” Bookies have let her go this week, opening her at $14, well behind race favourite, Down The Hatch ($1.70), who has drawn the ace for Steve Telfer and Benjamin Butcher. “He went super last time out and will be very hard to beat. “Hopefully we can settle handle and finish in the money.” Recent maiden winner Cyclone S Adams opened at $21 for the R47-55 trot and MacFarlane concedes that he’s still a wee way away from reaching physical maturity. “He’s still very much a work in progress. “I think once mentally and physically he develops, he’ll be a good honest horse. “He’s got a lovely way of going and generally his manners are really good. “But he’s a bit tall and immature and that’s just going to hold him up for now.” MacFarlane expects his race team to ramp up over the next month and is looking forward to the return of stable star Heavyweight Hero, along with a number of promising maidens, including Joshua Richard and Harvey Spector. “Hopefully one or two of them step up; in another month we should have quite a handy team around us.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Wainui Creek joins Purdon Barry Purdon will roll out his stable’s newest acquisition at the Pukekohe workouts this coming Saturday. And it’s an adversary of his existing stable star, Belle Of Montana. Wainui Creek, twice Group 1 placed in three-year-old fillies’ features last season for Canterbury trainer Richard Aubrey, is now in the north’s most revered stable. “She’s been working great; a pretty decent mare,” said stable foreman Scott Phelan, deputising while Purdon is on holiday in Japan. “We’ll take her to the workouts this Saturday and map out a plan from there.” Also stepping out this weekend will be Purdon’s sole New Zealand Cup hope, Mach Shard. He hasn’t been in public since running third behind Spankem and Turn It Up in both the Taylor Mile and New Zealand Messenger back in April. On The Cards, who raced through until the Harness Jewels in June and won’t be going to the New Zealand Cup, has just started fast work, as has Belle Of Montana. “She looks amazing,” Phelan said of the latter. “She’s come back from her spell in great order. She’s been hoppling a couple of weeks now and is probably a month away from trialing.” Classy trotter retired Group 3 winner Majestic Ali has been retired to stud. Co-trainer Michelle Wallis confirmed the move, saying the now eight-year-old mare could no longer be placed to advantage. “She was a lovely mare, who would probably still be racing if there were mares’ trots. “But the handicapping is too hard on her now.” Majestic Ali, who will be served by Muscle Mass shortly, won eight races and over $117,000, her feature win coming in the 2018 $30,000 Northern Breeders Stakes.   Dominion winner returns Last season’s Dominion Trot winner, Marcoola, reappeared in public at the Ashburton workouts on Tuesday. In the hands of part-owner Clint Ford he defeated three inferior opponents off a 30-metre handicap to win by four lengths. According to Ford, the horse’s fitness is very advanced due to a long preparation. “We gave him a month off after the Rowe Cup and he came back in to work just after the Jewels. “He’s had plenty of work and could easily have raced by now if we wanted.” But it’s the Canterbury Park on October 4 that will be his likely starting point before a trip north. “We could look at Kaikoura with him. “Given the Ford family hails from Kaikoura, the South Bay Trotters Cup is a race I’ve always wanted to win.” A defense of his Dominion crown and a tilt at the Inter Dominions in Auckland are foremost in Ford’s thinking. “But it will be a big test. The good trotting races are really stacking up at present. “It’s great for the public and the punters - no doubt there will be plenty of great racing this season. “I can’t wait to be a part of it.”  Marcoola beating Stylish Duke at the Ashburton workouts

By Garrick Knight The old adage that a change is as good as a holiday rung true at Ashburton on Sunday. It was there that former two-year-old Group 1 winner Renezmae made a return to the winner’s circle for the first time in 17 months. The pint-sized daughter of The Pres was having her first start for beach trainer Regan Todd, who admitted post-race to being a little surprised by the ease of her six-length win. “She went bloody good today, I thought. “I thought she’d race well but that definitely surprised us a bit. She really showed a bit of ‘lick’.” In the hands of Todd’s stable driver, Robbie Close, Renezmae sat last of the nine horses throughout before angling widest at the top of the straight and letting down with a superb sprint. Former trainer Jack Harrington sent Renezmae out to Todd at Woodend Beach after another disappointing effort, at Rangiora on August 11. “I’ve probably had her a month and we’ve just played around with her,” said Todd. “We started from scratch and gave her completely different training to what she was used to. “That sort of thing, with a change of scenery, can often pick them up. “Jack said she wasn’t half-pie going any good and he basically got to the end of the line with her. “He felt she was too good a horse not to try something with so that’s why he rung me.” It didn’t take Todd long to realise he had the basis of a nice horse to work with. “She’s gotten better and better since she arrived and the last few weeks has worked like a nice horse. “I took her down to the Geraldine trials last week thinking we were going to Methven today and she trialed well.” Renezmae is now a rating 69 and a return to Addington is most likely. “She’s up in the ratings a bit and I thought she was probably a bit hard done by being a 64 before today despite not winning for so long. “So, we can’t get too excited because now we’ll have to give her a go against the better ones.” Todd has made a typical impressive start to the season with five winners on the board already, including a double to Friday night winner Lets Hustle. “Things are going bloody good at the moment. “We’ve got 25 in work and some good clientele behind them so it’s exciting times.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight So what if the phone hasn’t been ringing with potential buyers? Steve Telfer and his sister, Mandy Tidswell, couldn’t care less. Because Court On The Edge, a winner at Alexandra Park on Friday night, has turned in to the best earner in their large stable. His win in the $20,000 R57-67 mile took his earnings for the year over the $50,000 mark and secured ‘equine ATM’ status. “Would you believe we’ve never had one call for him?” said Telfer. “I suppose it’s because he has the spreaders on, but he doesn’t even really need them. “We put them on for confidence on race night; most of the time at home he doesn’t even wear them.” Court On The Edge came north to Stonewall Stud last Christmas after winning a maiden for Cran Dalgety. “His owners, Brian and Lesley Court, sent him north. “We often stay with them when we take horses down south and it’s usually Mandy that’s down there with our horses. “So they offered Mandy a share in him and a deal was reached for him to race up here with us.” Court On The Edge’s trademark is his blistering gate speed, something which has proved invaluable given the myriad of mile races being held in Auckland this year. “We’ve been a bit lucky, I suppose,” said Telfer. “When that gate leaves, you’re just a passenger. He drops his bum and wants to really run. “With that much speed, you just go with him, because he will come back to and relax once he’s in front.” That was exactly the case on Friday with driver Benjamin Butcher eventually taking a trail behind the heavily-backed Nanelle Franco. He then surged Court On The Edge up the passing lane for a convincing 1.56.3 win. “It was great to see that,” said Telfer. “I actually think he’s better off a sit but he has been disappointing at times when driven in behind them “At home he will always come off the back of a horse and run past it.” With further mile nights programmed for September 27 and October 25, Court On The Edge has plenty more earning to do. “He’s done a great job for us and I’m hoping that will continue on with all the mile racing they have here now. _____________________________________________________________________ Milestone win for Mangos Brent Mangos recorded New Zealand driving win number 1500 when sneaking up the markers with Vespa to take out the night’s male maiden pace. It was kind of fitting that the milestone came aboard a horse trained by his longtime friend Tim Vince. “Thrilled to give Mango his 1500th winner, but I can’t say I was very confident,” Vince said post-race. “He’s been sick and needed a trial but there were none up here this week so we brought him to the races instead. “I thought he was a run short.” Accordingly, Mangos was more than content to take a trail behind second favourite Double Or Nothing and hope for the best up the passing lane. The horse’s natural speed and a passing lane paved with gold saw him record an overdue maiden win. “We’ve had a lot of issues with him,” said Vince. “A terrible time with minor problems; he’s been sick a couple of times, a stone bruise, it’s been setback after setback. “But he’s a nice little fella that would give you his heart.” _____________________________________________________________________ Solid Gold makes another statement Solid Gold backed up a super resuming win with another dominant display in the night’s $25,000 feature pace. In the hands of James Stormont, he zipped round to parked a lap out and out-muscled the leader, Bettor My Dreamz, down the straight. For a while it looked like Blazen River would reel him in but he dug deep to get the chocolates. “He’s always shown a lot but he’s really grown up this year,” said Stormont post-race. “And I think in another year again he’ll be even stronger, so he’s got a bright future ahead.” Next up is the Spring Cup in a fortnight, a standing start affair which does have co-trainers, Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins, worried. But Stormont saw something last week that gave him some confidence. “I was really happy with how he stepped at the Pukekohe trials last week. “So, he’s heading in the right direction.” _____________________________________________________________________ NZ record for Canterbury mare Sunny Glenis set a new New Zealand record when taking out the R45-76 standing start mile trot. Her time of 2.02.1 bettered the previous mark (2.03.4) set by Mortician on the same track nearly a year ago. “A record’s a record and that will look nice on her page when she becomes a broodmare,” said driver Scott Phelan. It was only Sunny Glenis’ second win in the north since joining Barry Purdon’s stable in May but, such is the earning potential with the good stakes at Alexandra Park, she has earned well over $40,000 in that time. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Tragedy struck early on Friday morning when highly-regarded broodmare, Zenterfold, died while foaling. The 19-year-old daughter of In The Pocket could not be saved by staff at Alabar Stud in South Auckland shortly after delivering a colt foal by Vincent. Zenterfold is best known as the dam of former Group 1-winning pacer-cum-sire Tintin In America, whose daughter, Shartin, is arguably the best pacing mare in the world given her North American domination over the past couple of years. Zenterfold also left the Group 1 place-getter The Blue Lotus and four other winners, including the 1.52 pacer, Destination Moon. While devastated, her Cambridge co-owner Bee Pears says she has many good memories of the mare, which she bred about-turn with Pukekohe’s Geoff and Aria Small. “She was a very much-loved mare who shuttled between our place in Cambridge, Geoff and Aria's place and Alabar often for foaling. Everyone loved her. “Character is the word you immediately think of with Zenterfold." “She loved people and attention, could be bossy with other horses, and was a super mum to her foals.” “I'm so grateful her daughters and granddaughters are in such good hands. Her legacy lives on in her offspring and theirs, and of course in the deeds of Tintin In America as a sire now.” Both Tintin In America and The Blue Lotus are now based in New South Wales at Yirribee Pacing Stud, Pears having sold The Blue Lotus to the Stud just a few months ago. And while Pears no longer has any female descendants of the family left in her ownership, more memories are still to be made as Zenterfold’s two previous foals, both colts, are in training and showing promise. Ideal Zen (American Ideal) is now three and in training for the Smalls while King Ottokar, which Pears sold to Graeme Rogerson for $30,000 at Karaka earlier this year, has just turned two. “The two colts are getting close to racing and hopefully so will this new boy by Vincent, which Kym Kearns will have. “So, there is lots of legacy but after 20 years of close friendship with this mare, we will all miss her heaps. “I'm so grateful for having known her and what she gave me.” While a healthy foal, the Vincent colt is in desperate need of a foster mum and Alabar Stud were aggressively seeking one as the day wore on. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The hottest favourite on mile night at Alexandra Park this evening is also Ray Green’s great, white hope for the season. In a climate where he and the Lincoln Farms top brass are sending a numerous horses to Australia, he’s looking forward to taking one to the races full of expectations. That horse is Line Up and despite a wide berth in the R52-55 event tonight, he will start an unbackable $1.15 favourite with bookies. “He’s got a lot of potential, this horse,” Green told HRNZ. “Potentially he could be a very serious racehorse, actually. “But we’ve been down this track before with plenty of horses so I’m not getting carried away just yet. “He’s right up there with anything else I’ve targeted the feature three-year-old races with though.” While he has only won one of four, recent trial efforts have confirmed the suspicions long-held by both Green and driver Zachary Butcher. “He’s inexperienced so we’ve been trying to school him at the trials. Making a racehorse out of him. “He had the full blinds on up until now, but the time has come for them to be removed.” Line Up had one start as a two-year-old for a stylish win back in February before being put aside, though the temptation was great for Green to push on. “I’d liked to have. “But he had a few a growing pains, then got sick and I guess we could have medicated and pressed on, but I thought better of it. “We had Perfect Stride and a few others racing at the time and I always knew he would be better at three.” Line Up was a $130,000 purchase at the Karaka yearling sale last year by Green and John Street, but in an interesting turn of events, he was sold to stable clients Emilio and Mary Rosati at the start of the year. “It’s fair to say it cost them a lot of money to buy him off us. “Emilio had purchased the full brother, Typhoon Stride, the year before.” Both horses are full brothers to former star mare, Partyon. As for tactics tonight, Green says that is purely and solely the responsibility of Butcher. “I don’t try and coerce Zac to do anything; the tactics he adopts are his own. “So, I’m not sure how he’ll play things.” With a lack of quality inside him over the short trip, it’s a solid bet Butcher will likely fancy his chances of putting Line Up in the race early and dominating from the top end. Green takes three others to ‘The Park tonight, the best of them being consistent mare The Empress ($3.50), who trialed well in the strongest heat of the day at Franklin Park last Saturday. She’s come up with what will be an advantageous draw at one the second line given the horse in front of her, Court On The Edge, has clearly the most gate speed of anything on the front line. “I’ve got a lot of time for her; she’s a very nice mare. “If she gets the trip behind Court On The Edge, she’ll be right there.” Double Or Nothing ($3.10) is quickly becoming the punters’ enemy, being beaten as the first or second favourite six times in his career to date. Still, he’s placed in eight of 11 runs so can’t be knocked for his consistency. “He’s won $20,000 without winning a race. One day the penny will drop and he will win them in a row, but I couldn’t tell you if that will be this week.” Rounding out the team is Bettor My Dreamz ($26) who, despite drawing the coveted ace under the race’s preferential conditions, find himself with the short end of the stick in the night’s feature race. “Don’t get me started on this subject,” says Green. “He shouldn’t be in that race; he’s won three and is against horses that have won nine or ten. “He’s a handy horse but he’s up against it in that field.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A date with Art Major awaits Cambridge mare Juice Brogden after she bowed out of racing at Cambridge on Thursday night. “She is definitely retired,” her trainer, Nicky Chilcott, confirmed. “Her owners want to breed to sell commercially so they have chosen Art Major.” The Group 1-placed daughter of Bettor’s Delight heads to the matron’s paddock with nine wins and just shy of $150,000 in career earnings. Chilcott says she has every chance to be a top broodmare. “She was very lightly-raced, is beautiful looking, well-gaited and had terrific manners. “It doesn’t always work out that way but it’s hard to imagine she won’t leave quality foals.” While it’s never easy losing your stable star, Chilcott is content knowing she has a strong team to tackle the upcoming season. “I haven’t got a superstar, but I have got a really handy bunch of horses. “I do have big raps on Monkey Selfie but you can never get ahead of yourself with trotters. “There is also a maiden coming through, Nice Vintage, that we call ‘Juice Jnr’; I really like her a lot.” * * * * * Coming away with a win was a real bonus for Bulls trainer Doug Gale with American Me at Cambridge on Thursday night. “That race and his start the week prior were basically his trials to get him fit for the season,” said the veteran conditioner. “He was at about the stage that I would ordinarily take him to the trials but, unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury down here at the moment. “So, I was very happy with how he performed considering where he was at, fitness-wise. “He blew up over the back after Thursday night, so there is still plenty of improvement in him.” Gale plans to return to Cambridge on October 3 for the $22,000 Sires Stakes Series heat but before that, a trip to Auckland might be in the offing. “I’ve been reluctant to go right-handed until now because right from the start he has run out a little bit that way. “There is no obvious reason for it, so I’m going to make a gear change and give him a right-handed workout at Palmerston North on Friday. “If I’m happy with the way he steers, the intention will be to race him at Auckland the following Friday.” American Me, who won also won a race as a juvenile last season, is one of just six horses Gale has in work after a measured scaling down over the winter. “It’s not too much difference in workload at home; it just means we have a little more time to dedicate to each horse. “Where we wanted the change was at the races. Taking eight or nine horses to the races without any staff was proving to be very difficult.”  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The training sect of small West Otago town Tapanui had a day out at Sunday’s Winton races with two of its three licensed horsemen recording wins. And for John Stiven, better known as a highly successful commercial breeder, the win of Countess Of Arden gave him a memorable first training success. It’s not the first time he’s held a training license, but with 2019 being a landmark year for Arden Lodge, he was compelled to give it another crack. “This year is the 50th anniversary for Arden Lodge,” said Stiven. “It was established here in 1969 and that milestone was part of the reason I thought I’d have a wee crack at training again this year.” Stiven is no stranger to the craft, having helped his late father Doug with a team on the same property before his passing in 2001. “I’d been thinking about getting back in to it for a long time,” he told HRNZ. “I took over the licence when dad died, and had just one starter before giving it away to focus on the breeding side of things. “I used to help dad back in the day and knew the times they used to run back then. “So, I spoke to (fellow Tapanui trainer) Alan Shaw about it and he said I wouldn’t need to do much different than what we used to.” The first issue was the farm’s training track, which was somewhat dilapidated after 18 years without being used. “It had a fair bit of grass coming through it in parts that had to be worn off. I actually re-grited it a couple of weeks ago.” Then all he needed was the key part of the equation – a horse. Enter Countess Of Arden, who was a rising four-year-old daughter of Net Ten EOM that had been born and raised on the farm before going through three different stables. “She had been leased to Bob Sandford and Geoff Dunn and they sent her home in May after a couple of starts. “Well she arrived here with new shoes on and I thought, well, rather than pull them off, I’ll wear them off her.” After an encouraging fifth and second at the two Gore meetings, Stiven went to Winton on Sunday semi-confident. That was only magnified when white-hot favourite Chevron Flies was late-scratched an hour before the race. After showing early speed from the mobile start point, Countess Of Arden settled in the trail for junior driver Ben Laughton, whose appointment carried the added bonus of a penalty-free win. The short Winton straight meant she needed to show some zip to reel in leader, Betterthanspraying, but she got there by a half-head in the shadows of the post. With Barry Purdon, Brad Williamson and Dunn having handled her previously, it’s somewhat intriguing that Stiven has managed to get the best out of her. “She’s enjoying life. She’s happy to be home in Tapanui, just like we are.” So, does Stiven have any plans to ramp up his training operation? Probably not immediately with 16 mares nearing foaling and nine yearlings to prepare for next year’s sales. “Just for the moment we will see how it goes, but it’s probably fair to say I’ve got the bug back now.” An added thrill for Stiven was the win earlier in the day of Rah De Rah, who is prepared by fellow Tapanui trainer, Matt Saunders. “Those two horses worked together during the week so it was quite exciting to see them both win on the day. “Matt works them on the galloping track and does a great job. “He’s been up here once and I’ve been down there probably half-a-dozen times.” Like most of Saunders’ winners, he was a recent purchase out of Canterbury and was having his first start from new quarters. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A heady Nathan Williamson drive spelled the end of U May Cullect’s unbeaten record at Winton on Sunday. Williamson, driving the horse he trains, Franco Santino, ensured a frantic pace throughout which meant the 50-metre handicap of the race favourite was insurmountable. Despite running a last half in a tick over 53 seconds, U May Cullect could still only manage third. “The way it worked out, once we made a good beginning, it just sort of made sense to keep them running,” Williamson told HRNZ. “We had a 30-metre advantage over him and there was no point letting him cruise back in to the race because he was always going to be too good in that situation. “I wasn’t actually expecting to be in front, but when the speed backed off early, I thought I would whip around and put it back on.” Franco Santino, kept in work through winter, had a distinct advantage on the score of fitness, and that paid dividends. And for Williamson, the second win in a row has been an overdue delivery of the ability he always knew the horse had. “He’s been a bit of a problem horse in that he showed a bit of ability early - he actually went 1.52 as a three-year-old – but has always struggled to get really physically stronger. “He couldn’t take a lot of work and we kind of had to baby him through it. “As well as that, he was a picky doer and we had to space out his runs because of it.” A trip to Addington for an unplaced effort in the Uncut Gems in June left Williamson scratching his head, “That’s the only time he’s only disappointed me badly and to be honest I think it’s because he didn’t travel up that well. “Being a colt, in new surrounds, he did not settle in and for two days was running around, not himself.” Not gelding the son of Christian Cullen was a conscious decision on the part of owner Neville Cleaver, but one that Williamson agreed with. “Neville loves colts and he spent a bit of money on him so didn’t want him gelded. “And because he’s always been physically a bit behind the others his age, I thought leaving him a colt might help is development. “That extra bit of testosterone would help him get stronger. “And he’s good-mannered for a colt so it worked out well.” Exactly why Franco Santino has come ahead the last couple of starts, firstly with a win at Gore and now Winton, isn’t something Williamson has put his finger on just yet. “Just in the last month he seems to have turned the corner for unknown reasons. “He feels a bit stronger and seems to be eating better so is copping a bit more work. “Hopefully it means we won’t have to space his races anymore.” Kirstin Barclay, revitalised after a holiday in Queensland, was over the moon with the fresh-up performance of her and Tank Ellis’ stable star, U May Cullect. “I was absolutely rapt with him. “He couldn’t have run home any quicker than what I timed him in. “He just got too far back and the horses in front didn’t cart him up.” But it was after the race that had Barclay particularly excited. “He pulled up a treat and would hardly have blown out a candle, so I think we are right on track for the Hannon Memorial next week.” Also heading that way will be Franco Santino, Williamson keen to get a line on where his in-form pacer sits against the big guns. “We might look at the Hannon with him. “Not because I think he’s a huge winning chance, but because it will give us a good line on where he’s at.“ Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Pulling on the colours that have won more races than any other in New Zealand history has an unmistakable aura about it. Just ask Alicia Harrison, who wore Barry Purdon’s famed silver grey with blue spots when winning Thursday night’s $12,000 Te Awamutu Cup behind Mohs Em Down. “It was very cool to drive for Barry in those colours,” the Cambridge junior driver said in the wake of her upset victory. “I feel privileged to have someone like that support me.” With a penalty-free win in the offing with a junior driver in the cart, and Purdon’s employee Nate Delany driving the stablemate Ball Of Art, Harrison got the call up. And she took the opportunity with both hands. In a high-quality, full field from a standing start, against predominantly senior drivers, she drove the perfect race to record a narrow win. It wasn’t without a few early jitters, though. “He was rearing up at the start quite a bit and I was really worried about timing it right. “I thought he went really good last week and after going through all his races I noticed that he can’t do much work. “So, I thought if we stepped well and found cover, he’d be a nice place chance.” Mohs Em Down landed in the one-one and, thanks to early errors by the favourite, Bettorstartdreaming, the well-fancied Baileys Knight, and Ball Of Art, he was perfectly poised to take advantage. Harrison has come a long way in a short time – she already has a national junior drivers’ championship to her name – and says competing against the senior drivers is actually less daunting than her younger peers. “To be fair, with the senior drivers, I think they are better to race against because you know their patterns and how they are going to drive. “Though it can be harder on a slower one because they will push you out more. “Whereas with the juniors, they are so unpredictable you never know what is going to happen. “And that makes it hard to formulate a plan before a race.” Two races later, Harrison drove her second winner on the card, Young Conqueror, for employer Arna Donnelly. After a wretched run with draws, he came up with the coveted ace on his home track and Harrison made every post a winner, stacking the field up before sprinting home in 56.3 and 27.7 to get the chocolates. “He never got out of second gear, really. I kind of thought someone would come around and put some pressure on but it didn’t happen. “I was pretty much told that from the draw only a bad draw would get him beaten. “The boss had done her part so it was all on me.” Harrison has proven herself to cope well under pressure and that was evident once again with a well-judged and heady drive. It was Young Conqueror’s first win in the north some joining Donnelly’s stable in April. “I think he can be competitive in the better grades at Auckland,” said Harrison. “He’s just had no luck with the draws and it’s bloody hard work trying to get in to the race over a mile from a bad draw. “Even going up in grade, running along at a strong tempo, I think he’ll be alright. Earlier in the night, Megan McIntyre made a winning debut in the amateur driver ranks when reining home Pegasus Kommander at double-figure odds for Kumeu trainer, Tim Vince. It was the start of a race night double for Vince, who also prepared Simon to win later in the evening.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight An industry involvement spanning over 30 years was recognised at the North Island Awards on Saturday night when West Auckland lawyer Peter Smith took out the night’s most prestigious honour. Smith was surprised with the Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing gong, the last of 24 awards handed out at the Alexandra Park function. He was in attendance as a sponsor of an earlier award so had no indication that he was going to be the star of the show until his body of work was read out. “The penny dropped when they mentioned that I had mentioned help set up the trust that organises the awards,” Smith told HRNZ. As a lawyer, Smith has afforded countless hours of time and expertise to the industry, usually pro bono. As well as that, he spent eight years on the board of Harness Racing New Zealand, just as long at the Auckland Trotting Club and also served his local Kumeu Trotting Club, the Sires Stakes Board, the Judicial Control Authority and the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association. Beyond that, he and life partner Winky Foley are long-time breeders, owners and sponsors. By Monday morning, as word filtered around that Smith have received the coveted award, he was starting to get bombarded by congratulations. “I’ve been getting a lot of texts and calls as people have started to find out. It’s been very nice and I’m really quite chuffed.” Smith first joined the game in the mid-1980s when then part-time trainer Doug Gale walked in to his law office. “He found out I liked horses and I told him how I was having difficulty getting thoroughbred racing off the ground in Kumeu. “He said why don’t you get in to harness racing instead? “So, he invited me down to the Kumeu Trotting Club one Sunday morning and I was gobsmacked to see 130 horses in work there.” Of course, those days are now well and truly past at Kumeu, but that one visit achieved its goal for Gale and the industry would be a whole lot better for it. “I was hooked. “Doug immediately got me to buy a broodmare called Royal Christina that left one horse that won a race on the West Coast.” Smith and Foley’s breeding operation has come ahead in leaps and bounds thanks in the most part to what he calls their foundation mare, Belle Jane. She won nine races on the track but it was as a broodmare that she really made her mark, leaving eight winners from 13 foals as well as being the granddam or great granddam of Anthem, Kippenberger, and Risk. “We’re still breeding from that family today. She really was a marvelous mare for us.” Smith and Foley have bred in partnership with Canterbury’s Brian West for many years after a chance meeting between Smith and West when the former was doing a week’s ‘work experience’ at Robert Dunn’s then-property in West Melton. “Brian turned up with Michael House on a truck full of two-year-olds with their gear on, ready to be worked. “That was the first time I met both Michael and Brian and they’ve been lifelong friends ever since. “I was at the New Zealand Cup meeting one year and got talking to the late Wayne Francis, who had bought a mare called Resonance off us at the sales. “He said to me she’s not up to our standard as a racehorse, so I offered to buy her back for $6000 and promised to send her to Falcon Seelster the next two seasons. “I turned around and asked Brian if he wanted in on the deal. He said yes and that was the start of our breeding partnership.” In more recent times Smith and Foley have achieved success breeding from the Dream Away mare, Exposay. They raced her second foal, El Jacko, before selling him for good money to Perth, where he has been Group 1 placed and earned nearly A$350,000. But it’s in the boardroom where Smith has really made his mark. He started on the HRNZ Board in 1998 and served for eight years under Jim Wakefield, John Penney and Pat O’Brien. He was an advocate of the controversial accreditation scheme and had a huge part to play in setting up what now known as ‘The Breeders’ with a Chief Executive and Executive Manager. “The breeders association voted me on to the board as their rep and the feeling was that a small number of people were working hard and everyone else was benefiting. “So, we tried to make every breeder pay a registration fee, to try and fund a centralised body with a paid CEO. “But Kypros Kotzikas, John Mooney and a crew of southern breeders felt it was too socialist and took court action. “The judge said it wasn’t within the rules of harness racing to do so and we had to abandon it. “Later, we spoke to the board of HRNZ and organized an annual grant of $100,000 to fund it and now John Mooney is the Chairman. “I’m very proud of that.” He served on the Auckland Trotting Club board for nine years and oversaw its transformation to the self-sufficient entity it is now, with multiple permanent outside income streams. Of course, the back-end of his tenure involved the perennially-delayed Greenlane development. He stands by the fact it was the right move for the club. “I still think it’s the best thing they ever did. “Yes, the risk has come home to roost but the increased value of Greenlane Rd because of this development is only going to help the club in the long-term. “And the ongoing rental from the properties and carparks the club still owns in that development will return millions back to the club.” He says he is probably finished at board level in the thick of the harness industry, even though he is once again eligible for the ATC board after a year’s stand down. Rather, he’d like to apply his legal nous to help the JCA, where he sits as an HRNZ representative on that board. Last year’s Messara Report promoted big changes to the judiciary system in New Zealand racing and Smith is very keen to be a part of that overhaul. “I’m prepared to put my shoulder to the wheel there and help get those changes through. “And I’ll still do a wee bit of voluntary work for HRNZ, as well.” Jeremy Young was one of only two trainers to prepare a horse to beat Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s stable in a pacing Group 1 last season. And for that effort, with his brilliant filly Best Western, he was presented with the Racing Acheivement Award. The only other pacer to upset the All Stars’ apple cart was Belle Of Montana, who won three Group 1s for Barry Purdon and, accordingly, she was presented with the three-year-old filly and overall female pacing awards. Tony Herlihy was the north’s leading trainer with 54 wins last term, and had that memorable day at the Jewels with two wins and a placing. Fittingly, he took out North Island Trainer of the Year. Other human winners were Bruce Hadley, Cheree Wigg, Chanelle Lawson, Kaleb Bublitz, Benjamin Butcher, Arna Donnelly and Zachary Butcher.   Full Awards list: AUCKLAND HARNESS TRUST – NORTH ISLAND PREMIER CADET AWARD Kaleb Bublitz MAJESTIC HORSE FLOATS – NORTH ISLAND AMATEUR DRIVER OF THE YEAR Bruce Hadley KAHUKURI BLOODSTOCK HOLLIS & ROBERTSON - NORTH ISLAND GROOM OF THE YEAR Chanelle Lawson MAGNESS VIDEO LTD / VID-COM LTD - NORTH ISLAND LICENCE TO TRAIN / OWNER – TRAINER OF THE YEAR Cheree Wigg AUCKLAND VETERINARY CENTRE - NORTH ISLAND JUNIOR DRIVER OF THE YEAR Benjamin Butcher PGG WRIGHTSON - NORTH ISLAND 2 YEAR OLD COLT OR GELDING OF THE YEAR Bad To The Bone PGG WRIGHTSON - NORTH ISLAND 2 YEAR OLD FILLY OF THE YEAR Sweet On Me BRECKON FARMS - NORTH ISLAND 2 YEAR OLD TROTTER OF THE YEAR Bolt For Brilliance BRECKON FARMS - NORTH ISLAND 3 YEAR OLD TROTTER OF THE YEAR Tickle Me Pink DUNSTAN - NORTH ISLAND 3 YEAR OLD COLT OR GELDING OF THE YEAR Supreme Dominator DUNSTAN - NORTH ISLAND 3 YEAR OLD FILLY OF THE YEAR Belle Of Montana MERV & MEG BUTTERWORTH - NORTH ISLAND FEMALE RACING ACCOMPLISHMENT AWARD Arna Donnelly GARRARDS HORSE AND HOUND - NORTH ISLAND OWNERS OF THE YEAR Breckon Farms CADUCEUS CLUB - NORTH ISLAND FILLY / MARE OF THE YEAR Belle Of Montana NORTH ISLAND STANDARDBRED BREEDERS ASSOCIATION INC – NORTH ISLAND BREEDER OF THE YEAR Woodlands Stud IRT – NORTH ISLAND DRIVER OF THE YEAR Zachary Butcher VETERINARY ASSOCIATES EQUINE AND FARM – NORTH ISLAND TRAINER OF THE YEAR Tony Herlihy VETERINARY ASSOCIATES EQUINE AND FARM – NORTH ISLAND BROODMARE OF THE YEAR Lady Cullen H R FISKEN AND SONS – NORTH ISLAND TROTTING STALLION OF THE YEAR Majestic Son WOODLANDS STUD – NORTH ISLAND PACING STALLION OF THE YEAR Bettor’s Delight HARNESS RACING NEW ZEALAND – NORTH ISLAND AGED TROTTER OF THE YEAR Speeding Spur AUCKLAND TROTTING CLUB – NORTH ISLAND AGED PACER OF THE YEAR Jack’s Legend SIR LINCOLN AT LINCOLN FARMS BLOODSTOCK – NORTH ISLAND RACING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Jeremy Young ALWAYS B MIKI - ALABAR / NEVELE R STUD – NORTH ISLAND AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HARNESS RACING Peter Smith   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight It was a long road to the winner’s circle for Morrinsville horseman Paul Green with Cambridge victory on Friday night, Hello It’s Me. The now five-year-old daughter of American Ideal outpointed a modest maiden field in the hands of Scott Phelan and, in the process, ended a long 2019 for her trainer. “I have had a lot of trouble with her feet. “She’s been in work for virtually the last eight months, just coming in every day doing her feet and jogging. “It’s been a very big slog.” Hello It’s Me made an impression in a three-race campaign as a late three-year-old but abscesses would wreak havoc on her feet and she never raced last season. “At her second start she sat parked at Auckland and ran second. She went real good. “Then we backed her up a week later and in hindsight that was a bit too soon.” It was then that the rot started to set in – quite literally. “Both her front feet were bad there for a while; they just got kind of rotten and we had to cut quite a bit away.” But his patience paid off and, after a disappointing resuming effort at Cambridge earlier in August when she was backed in to second favourite, she had too much mettle for her opponents this time. “I think she’s good enough to win three or four races; she seems like quite a nice stayer.” Green and a collection of friends and clients purchased Hello It’s Me’s dam, Miss Operative, in foal with her and with a Real Desire filly at foot, at the 2014 mixed sale at Karaka for $2200. “The one at foot was a very tough horse to deal with and never made it. “Even this mare can get a bit wound up. We’ve had a few issues with her getting hot on us.” Green says he is working just the two horses at present, the other being the now seven-year-old maiden mare, Lady Ameera. “I also have the three-year-old half-brother to Leanne’s Boy (nine wins) due to come back in and he shows a bit.” ** ** ** ** ** A career-first training treble for Vaughan Blanchard with his father, Peter, saw them temporarily propelled to top of the national trainers’ premiership. Wins by Ocean Beach, Lovely Bundy and Matai Geordie took them to six for the first month of the season, tied with Cran Dalgety and Nathan Purdon, until Canterbury duo scored a double at Forbury Park on Sunday. “The horses are racing good and naturally we were very happy with how the night went,” said Vaughan. “A few of the team got very crook four or five months ago and now they’re back racing at the level we want them.” Ocean Beach cleared maidens in the hands of Peter Ferguson after three consecutive third placings since arriving north from Ken Barron’s Canterbury stable. “He had been trialing good and (co-owner) Peter Presley had been looking for another horse at the time so we bought him. “He was a little bit disappointing at his first start for us but he got sick after he arrived and I think it just took a little longer for us to figure him out.” Matai Geordie was arguably the night’s most impressive winner, coming from off the speed in a torrid 2.41.8 (1.58.3) mile-rate in the slush. Blanchard said the stable think quite highly of the former Southlander and are giving consideration to sending him south to compete in the Show Day Futurity Series at Addington, which carries a $30,000 final. “He’s a pretty smart horse that just keeps stepping up.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Southland superstar to race next week The wait is almost over for the many, many fans of unbeaten Southland pacer U May Cullect. He’ll return to the races at Winton next Sunday, contesting a 2400-metre handicap off 50 metres. Co-trainer Kirstin Barclay confirmed the plans on Thursday as she and Tank Ellis ramp up proceedings for a tilt at November’s New Zealand Trotting Cup. “That’s the plan (to go to Winton) and we’ll be treating it like a workout. “We can’t be tripping up to Canterbury every other week so we just have to cop racing him off a big handicap.” “He had a private workout at Winton on Tuesday and we were really happy with him. “The main thing at the moment is to get the standing start practice in to him. “His training on the beach has been bang on and we are very happy with his fitness.” Safely through next week, the $30,000 Hannon Memorial at Oamaru on September 22 is the first goal of the Spring. “That will be his first time from a standing start with the rest of the field so it will be a big test for him.” U May Cullect was third favourite for the New Zealand Trotting Cup before nominations closed on Wednesday and bookies took the market down.   Setback for Cup-nominated pacer A foot abscess has delayed the racetrack return of exciting Canterbury prospect, Ive Already Told You. Trainer Stephen Boyd confirmed on Thursday that a foot complaint had seen the four-year-old withdrawn from the nominations for Friday night’s Maurice Holmes Vase. “He’s got a foot abscess and it’s half-pie looking like a quarter crack,” he said. “We’re just going to see how it heals up over the next week before making any decisions.” Boyd was so elated by the work of the son of Prodigal Seelster, that he was prepared to throw him in the deep end against the country’s best pacers this spring, and that included the New Zealand Cup. “He was working very good and he ran a half in 54 at the trials last week. “I’m a bit gutted because we were all set-up to have a crack at the Maurice Holmes Vase this week. “But I’m feeling a lot better about things today than I did on Tuesday.” A week on Boyd’s water walker awaits Ive Already Told You while his trainer waits for the abscess to burst out. From there he will decide if a spring campaign is viable or not.   Purdon sells promising pacer One of the north’s more progressive types from last season has been sold to American interests. Benson Boys will fly out of Auckland on Friday destined for New York according to his trainer, Barry Purdon. Purdon and wife, Katrina, bred Benson Boys and named the son of Art Major after their neighbours’ children. Racing exclusively as a four-year-old in New Zealand, Benson Boys won five races and over $60,000 and contested both the Taylor Mile and Harness Jewels. Others on the American consignment include impressive last start Oamaru winner, Montefalco, and low-grade northern pacers, Sea Change and Two Fiftyeight and four-win Auckland trotter, All American.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight.  Steve Lock really didn’t want to take on Tact Denzel late last year. Until he heard the magic word. “They’ve got to be priced right for me, and that is free,” he quipped after the seven-year-old finally cleared maidens at Gore on Sunday. “I wasn’t that interested because he’d been through a few stables. “He beat my horse Shindal when they qualified at the Balfour trials and that’s really the only reason I agreed to take him. “Bill McDonald had him then, and he sacked him, then I think Rory (McIlwrick) bought him and got sick of him. “After that Brian Norman got him then Matt Saunders had him and he didn’t hang around there for long at all. One start, I think. “And that’s when I got him. “He was free and he had beaten Shindal so I figured there must have been some ability in there somewhere.” There hasn’t been any magic turnaround for Lock – Tact Denzel had placed just twice for him in 28 runs before Sunday’s win in the hands of McIlwrick. “He had been a wee bit of a pain in the butt on the lead so the last couple of weeks I’ve put him in the cart to gallop and it seems to have woken him up. “Rory said that today he was a lot better and more enthusiastic whereas usually he would be trying to scrub him up a lap out.” Lock doesn’t expect Tact Denzel to suddenly start winning with regularity after clearing maidens. “He’s just an ordinary horse; the two times he ran second, things went his way and he got a reasonably handy trip. “And that was the key today – he stepped and got handy in the trail, which was half the battle. “They didn’t go any great time, but he still went faster than the other ones.” The win was the third for the Lock/McIlwrick combination since the latter returned to driving late last season after the best part of a year away from race day driving. “I was short a driver one day and I text Rory and asked him if he would be interested. “He was working for Phil Williamson and happy just doing that but I twisted his arm and I think he’s glad I did. “He said to me, you know, if you hadn’t contacted me, I still wouldn’t be driving. He’s in a good space and was happy with his lot. “But I know he’s loving being back out there driving again. “What I love about Rory is none of the horses come back in with a welt mark.” Lock is the first to admit he’s never had the best winning strike-rate as a trainer because he only gets other trainer’s giveaways, but he’s had five winners this year and is arguably in ‘career best’ form. He admits to being just as excited by the run of stable newcomer Honour Scroll, who ran home well for sixth. “I think I took more enjoyment out of her run than Tact Denzel’s win. “I’m excited by what she could do this season.”   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

It’s been a quiet winter for Frank Cooney and Tate Hopkins, one of the few commercial training setups left in Auckland’s west. In fact, before last night’s mile double at Alexandra Park, they hadn’t had a winner since March and had barely had any starters since then. “It’s been a quiet time since Misty Memory went to America and even now, we are only doing eight,” said Hopkins. But while their team may be small, it’s full of quality. Half-brother and sister, Solid Gold and Diamondsrbettor, proved that with dominant front-running wins fresh-up, both in the hands of James Stormont. For Solid Gold, now five, it was a continuation of a promising career that, to date, has netted seven wins and nearly $90,000. Of note on Friday night was that Cooney and Hopkins had removed the ‘go-straights’ off him and, now liberated in his gait, he set the track alight with a 55.3 last half. “He’s always been a really nice animal and over the last 12 months he’s really matured and strengthened up a lot. “He had been working good heading in to the race and with his gate speed we were pretty confident.” There is nowhere to hide now, last night’s win taking him to a rating 87 and that means races like the Spring Cup and Holmes D G come on to the radar. A lack of genuine open class horses in the north means probably only Star Galleria, On The Cards and Mach Shard would be added to last night’s field in coming weeks. “We’re hopeful that he might be able to measure up in races like that,” said Hopkins. “I’m not 100 percent sure if we will go in that direction but we will have to give him his chance from the standing start sooner or later. Year younger half-sister Diamondsrbettor cleared maidens with a five-length demolition in the night’s opening maiden, at what was just her third career start. “She took a little bit of time to come to it and then got crook as a three-year-old so we pulled the pin and tipped her out. “Being such a big filly, it was always going to be beneficial for her. “She’s always shown us that ability and we do have high hopes for her.” Both horses are out of the Falcon Seelster mare Aquileia, an unraced daughter of imported American mare T A Sportsplex. Cooney had a lot of success with the latter after importing her in 1998, the Artsplace mare leaving nine winners from 12 foals, numerous selling for good money in the sale ring as yearlings. Aquileia is one of two T A Sportsplex daughters Cooney is breeding on with, the other being the race-winning Real Desire mare, Diamonds Forever. Aquileia qualified in 2013 but never raced, owing to injury. “She had a lot of ability but suffered a paddock injury before we got to race her,” said Hopkins. “But she’s left us a couple of nice horses to go on with so I guess it all worked out in the end.”   by Garrick Knight Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

As far as form for a maiden trot goes, She Reigns has the best you could hope for. The problem? It’s from 16 months ago. The daughter of Monarchy resumes as a four-year-old at Auckland on Friday night having missed her entire three-year-old campaign. She was last seen at the Cambridge Harness Jewels in June of last year, where she finished mid-pack behind Enhance Your Calm. But it’s her two prior starts that make for very nice reading – a pair of second placings behind last season’s likely 3YO Trotting Filly of the Year, Tickle Me Pink. Dylan Ferguson is the stable foreman for trainer Graeme Rogerson and will drive She Reigns this week, and he’s expecting big things. “I certainly think she’s the best horse in the race,” he told HRNZ. “And while she’s not there for a gut-buster, she’s there to win and I’d like to think she’ll be very competitive.” The maiden trot is being run over a mile and while She Reigns is drawn wide, that is far less important in this type of race. “Knowing maiden trotters, we should be able to press forward and get an advantage over the ones that make mistakes,” said Ferguson. From there, it should be a formality. “She’s got a ton of speed and I think that will put her in good stead, not just this week but going forward.”  Her and Splitting Image actually set up a New Zealand record for Tickle Me Pink as a two-year-old. “She might not have gone to the level of Tickle Me Pink, but I’ve got no doubt she’s improved a lot since then.” Ferguson only got his hands on She Reigns in March after she returned to Rogerson from Australia. She had been sent there by Rogerson and co-owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, to race as a three-year-old from the stable of Kerryn Manning. “I couldn’t tell you the extent of what she did over there, but she never raced and returned home with a very minor tendon issue. “I think she had banged it and they thought it was best for her to be here where she could take advantage of the treadmill, the water walker and the pool. “She’s been back in work five months and I’ve been very happy with her every step of the way.” She Reigns has contested two workouts this time in and won them both, the most recent at Pukekohe last Saturday where she reeled in advanced trotter The Hulk with ease. “I’m pretty happy with her. “Soundness-wise, she’s faultless. Her blood was out after her first workout after what she showed on Saturday, I have no doubts she’s back to full health.” Stablemate Splitting Image gives Rogerson and Ferguson a good second-stringer in the race. She also missed her three-year-old season and has had two runs back this time for two placings, at Cambridge. “The vets reckon she is lucky to be alive, let alone racing, after she had an issue with a knee. “A bit of a miracle horse apparently, but she’s not quite up to the other filly.” Ferguson also drives Rogerson’s two other chances on the night – Hey Good Looking in a maiden and High Point and a handy mares’ race. “High Point is a bit outclassed in that race but the mile is her go and is a great starting point fresh-up. “The other horse as had her chances to win one before and has been disappointing. “I’d like to say she’s a good chance, but I’ve thought she was a winner before and been let down.” Ferguson is eagerly awaiting 2020 when he and Rogerson will roll out some of their juveniles bought at the Karaka sales earlier this year, including the sale-topper, Challenger. “I’d like to think we have a couple of early runners there. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the expensive one and he’s certainly at the top of the pecking order at this stage.” Ferguson and partner Jo Stevens are two months into life as parents to daughter Grace, and he says it’s been pretty cruisy to date. “She’s pretty well-behaved – we’ve been very lucky. “I’m usually the one waking her up in the morning. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. “I guess it can only go one way from here.”   by Garrick Knight Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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