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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 Of the 21 withdrawn this week, the highest ranked were Australian pacers Wrappers Delight (14), Buster Brady (15) and Ignatius (18) while Gran Chico (25), sold last week to Perth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

By Garrick Knight Gran Chico under offer One of the country’s more promising pacers is under offer to Perth interests. Four-year-old Gran Chico, due to race in Monday’s Ashburton Flying Stakes, is being vetted Thursday with a view to join Mike Reed’s Perth stable. Part-owner Grant Eynon, from Tauranga, confirmed a deal was in place but had not yet been finalised. The deal is for a significant six-figure sum that reflected the reluctance of Eynon and his father, Colin, to sell their prized horse. Prepared to this point by Nigel McGrath, Gran Chico has won six of his 13 lifetime starts as well as placing runner-up to Jesse Duke in last season’s Group 1 3yo Emerald at Addington. After a fourth in the Methven Cup at his most recent outing interest ramped up in the son of Bettor’s Delight, according to Eynon. Reed’s clients would be unlikely to pursue a New Zealand Cup start and would instead ship him to Perth immediately with a view to two Group 1 races for four-year-olds there in December.   Palmy raids on again for House The first two-day Manawatu meeting of the season is down to go next week and trainer Michael House will once again be under-pinning the fields. The now dual-island trainer has made Palmerston North a happy hunting ground over the two seasons, winning 107 races there. “I’ve just nominated 18 horses for the first meeting,” he told HRNZ. “Six will come down from the Auckland barn and I’ll send a dozen up from here in Christchurch.” The country’s leading reinsman, Blair Orange, will again link up with House as he uses Manawatu as a key aspect of his push for a third straight drivers’ premiership. “There was an Air New Zealand sale recently with $50 fares to Palmerston North and Blair said he bought tickets for the whole season. “So, I guess that means he’ll be driving them again,” House said.  After a big dispersal and clean out at the end of last season, House has been building up his stables for the regular raids over the past couple of months. “It’s been harder than last year; there are less horses around and people are finding it easier to win in their own district. “But over the next couple of months I am expecting a huge influx as we get rolling.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Life has gone on for Kirstin Barclay and Tank Ellis, even after the most bitter of blows. It’s horse training 101 – even after losing your best horse to injury, you still have to get up and train the rest of the team. Luckily for Barclay and Ellis after the injury setback to U May Cullect, their remaining squad is pretty decent, evidenced by their pair of wins at Ascot Park on Sunday with Paddyproudfoot and Somethings Burning. Paddyproudfoot’s story is not dissimilar to U May Cullect’s in that he too has overcome a couple of significant setbacks in his career. Yesterday’s win in the $15,000 Riverton Cup was the realisation of the faith Barclay has always had in him and the patience she has shown. “It was gutting to lose U May Cullect but the season’s not over, it’s only just starting,” she told HRNZ. “I’ve always had a really high opinion of Paddyproudfoot – he’s got really high speed and can stay a bit too. “Throw in his standing start manners and he should make a tidy, wee country cups horse this season.” He debuted with big raps as a three-year-old this time two years ago, ultimately running second. But he wouldn’t be seen again at the races for a full year. “He got a really bad virus after that first race as a three-year-old and just could never shake it. “He kept getting crook all the time so he chucked him out.” Resuming this time last year, he ran second to Mighty Flying Art at Winton before injury struck, this time a hairline fracture in a pastern. Thankfully it wasn’t season-ending and he bounced back in the autumn to win four races, including two on a trip north to Canterbury and the Tasman region. Now it’s full steam ahead and Barclay and Ellis are considering their options, which could include another trip north. “There is a race for him at Addington on Show Day, a standing start that we had him ear-marked for. “Whether we carry on to that will be something Tank and I discuss in the coming days.” The wheels have come off a planned stable strike on Cup week through U May Cullect’s injury and the sale last week of the stable’s best trotter, Wee Man Trouble, to Queensland interests. He was scratched from his engagement at Ascot Park on Sunday in the day’s feature trot, but that didn’t stop the stable from winning the race. With a 30-metre head start on all-bar-one of her opponents, Barclay seized the opportunity to make a race of it with improving two-win mare, Somethings Burning. Well clear of the field, which included Group 1 performers Majestic Man, Monty Python and Dark Horse, for most of the race, she was never reeled in. The daring steer completed not just a training, but a driving double for Barclay, who also bred and co-owns the daughter of Majestic Son with Julie Kilkelly. “Julie and I bred her; she was my first foray in to breeding. “The dam is a half-sister to The Fiery Ginga and every foal she’s left looks like being pretty decent. “The next one, Smokin Bandar, has a stack of ability but keeps going sore and then the three-year-old out of her also has a fair bit of ability.” Barclay was quietly confident heading in to the race after some excellent training mid-week. “Her work was quite phenomenal up the beach this week.” Completing a good day for Barclay and Ellis were the placings by Betterthanbrie, Hampton and Undercover Mac but that doesn’t quite take away the pain of not being in the country’s biggest race in three weeks’ time. “It’s heart-breaking, you know. “You walk him (U May Cullect) out of the box and he’s sound as a bell, the tendon injury doesn’t show at all. “It looks unreal, but the scans tell a different story.” Treatment plans are being discussed at present but the most likely option is a stem cell transplant. “We are doing our homework on that now and talking to the vets about a treatment plan.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight It was a dream start to his driving career for Zev Meredith at Cambridge on Friday night. On his first night of driving, six days after hurriedly satisfying his licence requirements, the 17-year-old took two drives for boss Brent Mangos and came away with a win and a placing. After flying home on Gladamare to run second, Meredith drove hot favourite Havehorsewilltravel in the junior drivers’ event and got the job done to cap a memorable night. “It’s been a fantastic night, I couldn’t be happier,” Meredith told HRNZ. “I really want to send a massive thank you to ‘Mango’, as well as the owners of both horses, for putting me on. “To accept that a junior was on, having his first drives, might not have been easy.” Meredith doesn’t have a heap of family history in the game apart from a mother who worked at Linden Park Stud in Pukekawa at one point in time. “I really only got in to it because we lived next door to the Franklin Park track manager and he introduced me to Franklin Kidz Kartz. “That taught me the basics and then I started to help out Paulette Screen with her ponies. “Then I got offered some holiday work at Mango’s because he needed someone for a few weeks while his staff were on holiday. “I went back for another week after that and before long he offered me a full-time job.” That was in June last year and in the ensuing 16 months Meredith has absorbed all he can from one of New Zealand’s most accomplished and revered horsemen. “He’s been really good, trying to teach me as much as he can. “He’ll tell you when you’re doing something wrong and then give you tips on how to do it better. “I’m a very curious person so I’m always asking questions.” A junior driver shortage in the north plus the opportunity to drive the exciting Havehorsewilltravel less than a week later prompted Meredith to complete his final four graduating drives at the workouts last Saturday. The problem was, Mangos only had one horse in. Enter Ray Green. “Ray was massive; he enabled me to get signed off by giving me three drives last week. “And it was nice to sit behind different horses that I hadn’t driven before, wearing different gear, too.” By coincidence, two of the three drives Meredith took for Green were on the three-year-olds Double Or Nothing and Larry Lincoln, who both also won at Cambridge on Friday night. After a good steer on the unlucky Gladamare, Meredith wanted to take luck out of the equation on Havehorsewilltravel. He’s a recent arrival from Otago but is chock-full of ability and was facing a significant drop in grade from recent Auckland racing. Crucially, Meredith had the advantage of practicing on him at home during the week. “I did most of the work with him in the last week to try and learn his little tricks and traits.” It paid off – Meredith got him round in one piece even after being illegally pushed out 1100 from home and having to go four-wide out of the straight the final time. “I just pressed on even after I nearly got knocked over. If I didn’t do that, I wasn’t likely to win it. “He was definitely the best horse in the race – he has a fair bit of ability – so it made sense to drive him that way.” Meredith is like any other teenage junior driver; he has the same hopes and ambitions. Except for one surprising one. “I don’t plan on leaving the industry. In fact, I want to train one day, hopefully. If I earn the right to do it.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Expect big things from Armed Reactor at Cambridge tonight and as the season wears on. That’s the word from one of his trainers. The big son of Auckland Reactor is fresh-up since July for Ohaupo husband-and-wife duo Jason and Megan Teaz as he tackles an $8,500 pace on his home track. It might well be the only start he has at Cambridge this season with the stakes on offer at Alexandra Park in Auckland impossible to avoid. But with junior driver Dylan Ferguson in the cart this week, it’s a potential ‘free’ win and connections fully intend on capitalising. “We’ve been really patient because we’ve always had a lot of time for him,” said Jason Teaz. “He’s potentially the best pacer we’ve had.” From gate three he has his first decent draw and the plan is to utilise that. “We’ve always looked after him off the gate because he kept getting bad draws but this is the first time he’s had a decent one. “He can really fly the gate so we’ll go forward and look to make it a staying test. “He’s untapped; we haven’t found the bottom of him yet and good luck to anything that can outstay him.” Armed Reactor had a workout at Cambridge last Saturday which went as well as could be expected and put the polish on him, fitness wise. “He went 2.48, home in 27 with the plugs still in and had a good blow afterwards. “We topped him off with a nice run at home on Wednesday and I think it’s fair to say he’s more forward than most of ours usually are first-up. “He’s a natural athlete and comes to it very quickly.” The stable has two maiden three-year-old trotters stepping out in the last on the card – the resuming Tarukenga and the debutant Majestic Harry. “Majestic Harry is a lot like another former trotter of ours, Mortician. “He’s got great manners, tries hard and has his share of ability too. “His owner, Bill Hickey, has had a tough time recently so we are really hoping he has a good season for him.” Tarukenga was a race winner placed numerous times across six starts as a juvenile last season. “She did a good job at two, despite being a bit weak. “The family trait is to improve with age and she’s come back well. “The issue for her will be coming to grips with the standing starts; she made a bit of a hash of it at the workouts the other day.” Asked to compare the chances of their pair this week, Teaz says it is tough to split them. “It’s hard to say. Majestic Harry is more reliable but if they both trotted the whole way, I would expect them to be in the first four.” Rounding out the team is Hit The Sky, who has drawn wide in a race that he would otherwise have been pretty hard to beat. “I think he’s the best horse in the race. He’s been running the best or second-best sectionals every time he goes round. “Another nightmare draw but we are going to go push forward and take our chances.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Handy Canterbury mare Uptown Lady has been sold to American interests. The daughter of Art Major left for Colts Neck, New Jersey, last Friday. Her former trainer, Mark Jones, says it was disappointing to lose a mare of her quality. “She has a good turn of speed, a great attitude and will love the hard racing over there. “I was sad to lose her but the lack of fillies and mares’ options here was a reason to sell. “And we lose a nice future broodmare, too.” Accompanying her across the Pacific was another four-year-old Art Major mare in Flashazz, a one-win daughter of former Harness Jewels winner, Pembrook’s Delight. Also on the flight was Global Domination, who ran fourth in last year’s New Zealand Derby behind Ultimate Sniper and had just resumed racing for the new season with a couple of inauspicious performances. He’ll join the stable of Peter Tritton, a prodigious buyer of New Zealand stock over many years. ___________________________________________________________________________________ Former Group 1 winning trotter Great Things Happen has had a minor setback. After a disappointing resumption in the Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington on October 4, Rangiora trainer Gavin Smith got the horse checked out. “It was the worst he’s ever gone – he just doesn’t do that,” Smith said of his 10-length defeat at the hands of Oscar Bonavena after doing no work in transit. “I thought something had to be drastically wrong. “So, we got him scoped and he was full of snot. His bloods were fine so it’s no wonder we couldn’t detect it beforehand.” With the horse requiring an easy time of it, his Dominion Trot preparation has been compromised and Smith now faces a race against time to get him fit enough for the November 15 feature. ___________________________________________________________________________________ An old friend is about to reunite with the dominant All Stars stable of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Cruz Bromac is due to return to their Rolleston stable next week for a second Spring stint in Christchurch. The New Zealand-bred pacer won last year’s New Zealand Free For All on Show Day after being slightly unlucky in the New Zealand Cup three days earlier. He then contested the Inter Dominions for Purdon and Rasmussen, going undefeated in the heats before running third behind Tiger Tara in the Final. He stayed in Australia through the winter and recently resumed for trainer Amanda Grieve, running third in Saturday night’s Victoria Cup. Purdon confirmed the $12 fifth favourite for the New Zealand Cup was due in the next 10 days when speaking on Radio Trackside on Monday. “He’s going to join us; we’re making arrangements this week to fly him over so hopefully they’ll have him on the way by next Sunday. “It was an eye-catching run in the Victoria Cup; he made up good ground for third. “I’ve spoken to Dean Braun and he’s been very, very happy with his preparation and how he is.” Cruz Bromac is also nominated for December’s Inter Dominion Series in Auckland. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A national record run has forced trainer Steve Telfer’s hand with his stable star, Triple Eight. He took out the $30,000 Kerry Hoggard Memorial – Holmes D G in a thrilling finish with Mach Shard, the two capitalising on a break-neck speed that played perfectly in to their hands. Both started from handicaps but ended up getting sweet trips in the running line which allowed them to fight out the finish, Triple Eight prevailing in 3.17.2. It was a remarkable time that shaved 2.4 seconds off the previous mark, set by Vincent. Telfer purposely avoided nominating for the New Zealand Cup, saying the Inter Dominions at Alexandra Park at the end of the year were the clear focus. And while that still remains, Triple Eight will now head south for two races, contrary to earlier plans. “Looking at the programme at Auckland, and knowing he needs some good hard runs to prepare him for the Inter Dominions, we are going to send him south next week. “So, we’ll go to Kaikoura and then the junior free for all on Cup Day. “But that will be it; he’ll come home and prepare for the Inters after that.” Stablemate Check In will also head south to race, joining stablemates, Ivana Flybye and Flying Steps, who are already down there. Earlier in the night, one of the stable’s best three-year-olds, Mimi E Coco, resumed with an all-the-way win in the hands of David Butcher. She has classic potential according to Telfer, but will need to be expertly-managed to realise that. “It’s early in the season but she gives you that feel of a horse that will be up to the better fillies’ races later on. “She has a lot to learn though – at the moment she is a lot better in behind. “David was saying she was switching off and needed a horse up beside her to keep her mind on the job.” The name, according to her breeder and part-owner, Scott Plant, was chosen on a whim while he and his wife were on an overseas holiday. “Initially she was going to be called The Last Mach but my wife didn’t like that. “We were talking about in a café in the south of France and on the wall was a sign that said Mimi E Coco. “I said what about that? And she liked it so we went with it.” It’s actually Italian and language experts spoken to by HRNZ suggested it refers to ‘soulmates’ or a couple displaying extreme levels of love for one another.   Old friends combine with Sole Ambition Sole Ambition is one of those horses everyone would like to own. His front-running win on Friday night capped off a consistent run of form for trainer Barry Purdon, who owns the son of Bettor’s Delight with American-based expat Kiwi trainer, Chris Ryder. “I’ve known Chris for as long as I can remember – we got right back to the eighties when he was training here.” Ryder, who owns star trotter Oscar Bonavena with Purdon’s father, Roy, also has ownership interests in Henry Hu, Bad To The Bone and three other unraced horses in the stable. He looks like being the best performer to date out of former champion race mare One Dream, who has been somewhat disappointing at stud. There’s no real story to tell behind the rise of Sole Ambition – just a good, honest horse that keeps getting better, like all the stock of his sire. “He’s really stepped up recently and kept on improving,” said Purdon. Purdon was non-committal on the immediate future for the horse but says, at this stage, sending him to America to race for Ryder was not on the cards. Purdon had a decent night at the office with Thumbs Up clearing maidens and Sunny Glenis getting another win while he also had placings with Henry Hu, Wainui Creek and Mach Shard. The latter was narrowly beaten by Triple Eight again but lost no admirers in a New Zealand record run. “He’s a pretty damn good horse, I think. “We’ve been patient with him and he’s just continually gotten a bit better. “He’ll race here again on the 25th and then go south for the Cup trial and the Cup.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight The addition of a key piece of gear helped James Stormont train his 200th winner, with Sunny Petite at Alexandra Park on Friday night. “She was really good early on and I’ve always had a bit of time for her,” he told HRNZ. “But she would panic and gallop here at Auckland so I’ve really had to try and educate her as I go. “I put the half-hopples on her and they have helped big time.” Sunny Petite had been unplaced in all five runs at Alexandra Park to this point, but had been racing well at Cambridge. Stormont says there is an element of frustration in the fact that trainers have been unable to give their horses workouts at Alexandra Park for the past couple of years, owing to the building development. “It would be nice if we could trial here and I’m hopeful that once the buildings are finished that will be the case again, because it’s so important, especially for the trotters.” Sunny Petite, by Majestic Son, is a granddaughter of one of New Zealand’s greatest ever trotting mares, Pride Of Petite. It’s a family made famous by semi-retired Takanini horseman Snow Weaver, who still breeds from two descendants of the great mare and horses with Stormont, as well as Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis. Stormont will now carefully place Sunny Petite so as not to overexpose her to established and more experienced horses. “It can be cruel to trotters just out of maidens, this handicapping system.” Stormont has driven 1236 winners since kicking off his career in 1982, but he only took up training in 1995. Mr Kiwi floors punters Punters may have been shocked by the upset win of Mr Kiwi in the R60-68 pace, but his co-trainer John Dickie wasn’t. “I couldn’t believe he paid $43. “His trial last Saturday was super; he hit the line hard for third behind Wainui Creek.” It was probably the draw that put punters off – the inside of the second row with hot favourite Wainui Creek and her stablemate, Henry Hu on the front line. But some canny early driving from Dickie’s son, and training partner, Josh, negated that. A power of early speed from noted gate-runners Nanelle Franco and Court On The Edge spread the field out early and that allowed him to extract Mr Kiwi from an early four-markers sit to then challenge for the lead. From there he set a solid clip before whipping home in 55.9 to defy a fast-finishing Henry Hu with Wainui Creek in third. “They’ve gone 2.40 but no one really looked at him, which was quite surprising,” said John. It was the first northern win for Mr Kiwi, who arrived in Auckland from Brett Gray’s Ryal Bush stable at the start of the year with four wins in the bank. Dickie and stable client Steve Waters, a local property developer, joined the former’s longtime supporter, Southland’s Ben Calder, in the ownership. Mr Kiwi’s first Auckland campaign didn’t yield a win from six starts, but the Dickies weren’t panicking. “We didn’t have any issues with him; he was just very tired by the end of it because he’d had a long season.” He’ll go up in grade now and likely have to contend with the better class of horse on display, but for now there isn’t any major concern in the camp. “He’s a good stand start horse so that won’t be a problem.”

By Garrick Knight The most interesting runner at Alexandra Park tonight is without a doubt Millwood Maizie. Anyone watching Trackside last Saturday night might have done a double take when they scanned the fields earlier this week because she raced – and won – at Menangle. “She only flew in to Auckland on Tuesday morning,” said Jamie Gameson, her part owner and new trainer. Gameson is also her old trainer and, while she lines up in his name tonight, he won’t have actually laid a finger on her before the race. “Todd MacFarlane is looking after her; he got up at 4.30 to meet the truck and worked her yesterday for me. “He was pretty happy and said she worked well.” There is a method to Gameson’s madness in starting her over 2700 metres from a stand less than four days after landing from Sydney - bearing in mind she has never had a standing start in 107 career outings. “I want to bring her back up to Auckland at Christmas time for the Queen of Hearts so I thought I would chuck her in and let her have a look at the track. “It’s a big ask but she has been racing horses just as good as any of those ones recently.” He’s right – two starts ago she ran fourth behind millionaire pacer Bling It On in 1.50.2. “And Luke (McCarthy, driver) said she would have run second if she didn’t get held up in the straight.” McCarthy and Craig Cross, who train in Sydney, were the last leg of Millwood Maizie’s three-and-a-half year, three-state tour of duty across the ditch. She had won one race – at Reefton – for Gameson when the decision was made to send her to Victoria as a three-year-old. “It started with a chance meeting of her other owner, John Gould, and Nathan Jack at the Ashburton Harness Jewels the year before (2015). “John was sitting at a table with Nathan at a function the night before and they just got chatting, as John does. “He said he might be interested in sending Nathan a horse one day and six months later we decided to do it with her. “Initially she went to Nathan and Amanda Turnball but then Nathan got in a bit of strife so we sent her up to Brisbane and a good mate of ours in Daren Garrard. “He did an amazing job with her and, even though she had a lot of starts, she ran a truck load of placings.” Once the decision was made to bring her home and serve the full sister to Ohoka Punter, a stopover in Sydney become appealing. “We had to go to Sydney to fly home so we thought we’d go to Luke’s for a few starts. “The first start she drew one and got up in 1.51.4, which was a new lifetime winning mark for her.” After this week’s run, the plan is to target the restricted mares’ race at Addington on Show Day before a return to Auckland for the Queen of Hearts and then the two Addington mares’ features in the late summer, which will be her swansong. A nomination is held for the Inter Dominions, but that clashes with the Queen of Hearts and is most unlikely. “We are going to serve her in November so we can take in those two races at Addington early next year. “Initially we held a booking to Captaintreacherous but at the last minute they said they don’t take them if they’re still racing – they want them to have a 40-day stand down before being served. “So, we’ve gone with Downbytheseaside instead. “I got talking to David Miller when he was driven down here a few years ago and asked him what horse he drives that he would recommend as a future stallion and, without hesitation, he said Downbytheseaside. “At the time he was driving Always B Miki too, so I thought that was a big endorsement.” Bookies have Millwood Maizie at $19 tonight, well adrift of race favourite Mach Shard ($3) and Triple Eight ($3.80).

By Garrick Knight The money was on him at Phar Lap Raceway yesterday and debuting trotter B D Yasothon delivered in style for his many supporters. The four-year-old son of Andover Hall displayed perfect manners in the hands of driver Matt Anderson to lead within half a lap and never give his opponents a look in thereafter. It confirmed the high opinion held of him by his Flaxton trainer Philip Iggo. “He’s got quite a lot of ability, this horse. “He can be a funny wee fellow at the start – he reaches for the bit and plays with his mouth so you can’t just get him to walk up and stand there. “But fortunately, because he’s so well-gaited he will move in to a trot quickly. “And once he’s underway, he’s got the ability to make his own luck.” Iggo and his wife, Martine, race B D Yasothon with his breeder, Brent Smith, who recently moved from North Canterbury to Otautau in Western Southland. “Brent is a very good friend of ours and the ‘B D’ prefix is made up of the B from his name and the D from his late son, Dallas, who died tragically at just eight years’ old. “Yasothon is a town in Bangkok, Thailand, that we once rented a house and stayed at. “BD Khaosan, his half-brother, was named for the same reason.” Next up for will be a junior drivers’ race at Addington on October 18 as Iggo tries to manage his horse to get in to a $25,000 race on New Zealand Cup day in five weeks’ time. “The race for him is a rating 48-60 so if he wins another race that will put him over the limit. “So, we have to look to a junior drivers’ race to keep him within that band.” The win of B D Yasothon continued the brilliant start to the season for Anderson, who sits a clear third on the drivers’ premiership, with 18 wins, behind only Blair Orange and John Dunn. “Matt drove him perfectly,” said Iggo. “I think he thought he had the best horse in the race and got him in to the best position to capitalize. “We are all seeing lately just what a good driver he is.” Anderson has also partnered Iggo’s stable star Bordeaux in three of his four recent trials as he makes a comeback from injury. He’ll keep the drive on race night, which looks like being the $15,000 mobile free for all at Addington next Friday night. “He’s had four runs now and is creeping closer and closer to full fitness. “The shorter trip is not his obvious preference but he’s got to get underway and he has won over the 1950 metres before. “We’ll head to Kaikoura after that. “Of course, we are hoping to avoid Sundees Son and Oscar Bonavena, but I think most are.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight A technique honed over more than 60 years of training horses has helped transform Majestic Sunset, a winner at Phar Lap Raceway in Timaru on Sunday. The four-year-old trotter was a freebie for his 86-year-old Christchurch trainer, Ivan Schwamm, who says he thinks his charge can go right through the grades. “I got him for nothing off Bruce Negus. Bruce bred him, and trained him, but didn’t really like him. “So, he sent him to Bruce Hutton, who put him on the jogging machine for five or six weeks, but he sent then it home saying it was going to take a long time to get him going. “I had a great association with Bruce Negus’ late father, Bob, and that’s what prompted him to offer me the horse. “He said he thought it might come right for me after working down the roadside and he was right.” Schwamm, who turns 87 later this week, says he finds the benefits of training on the roadside similar to that of another common training method. “The straight-line training is just like they do on the beach. I do it on one of the side roads in Springston, on the grass verge. “This horse has actually been quite well-mannered since I got him, he was just very fat and used to blow like hell. “He couldn’t really get around the corners in his first few races so I worked away at that and got him sorted. “But as I’ve worked him down, he’s changed in to a new horse. “I never put him on a track or work him with anyone other horses and he seems to like it that way.: Jimmy Curtin did the driving for Schwamm yesterday and despite sitting parked, he nursed the horse home with expert poise in a close finish. “I’ve known Jimmy since he was a 10-year-old boy. “He’s an excellent horseman and did the right thing by the horse today. “He could have asked him to go at the two furlongs and taken the ‘lick’ out of him, but he never really asked him until short of the line.” Schwamm gifted a half share in Majestic Sunset to Burnham couple, Phil and Ginge Silcock as a gesture for them letting him stable the horse at their property. “They are such nice people to me that I thought it was the right thing to do. “When you get to my age, it’s lovely to have good friends because you look around and many of them aren’t there anymore. “Some have passed away and others just can’t do anything and it gets to the stage that you lose contact with people.” Which is part of the reason Schwamm continues to train horses when most his age are in retirement homes. “It was so great at the races today, the number of people that called out to me, owners, trainers, drivers – many of them I’ve known for years and years. “It’s a fellowship and I love it.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Garrick Knight Every stallion needs a flagship horse in their first crop if they want to join the elite ranks as time wears on. The new stallion game can be a cruel and unforgiving exercise for studs, who take the annual gamble on new sires to try and gather a bigger slice of the ever-dwindling market share. Christchurch’s Nevele R Stud, once the country’s flagship stud farm and nursery, had fallen off the pace in recent years as super sires the likes of Bettor’s Delight and Art Major had boosted their Auckland-based competitors. But like most things, the stud game is cyclical and Nevele R are on their way up the ladder thanks in to part to a little bit of luck. When Ged Mooar and the team at Nevele R secured the frozen semen rights to a new trotting stallion back in 2016, they could not have imagined just what a good move that would turn out to be. The USA-based son of Cantab Hall has since shot to stardom as the father of superstar three-year-old colt Greenshoe, who came from his first crop. “What it marks it more remarkable is that he only had 29 foals in that first crop,” said Mooar, the General Manager at Nevele R. “He was still racing at the time and only covered 40-odd mares. “So, to get a superstar like Greenshoe is quite amazing.” Early last week, the flow-on effects of that were evident when his full brother, Maverick, sold for US$1.1 Million at a Kentucky auction. And Nevele R are now are benefitting too with Father Patrick’s book for this breeding season fully subscribed well in advance. “We started getting calls back in March from a lot of people, a lot of top breeders with good trotting mares. “I must have put the sign up over a month ago that he was full and he’s attracted a wonderful book of mares.” Father Patrick’s first Down Under crop have just turned two and the New Zealand contingent numbers 29 foals, too. Despite the calendar only just ticking over to October, he already has a workout winner and it came from New Zealand’s best stable. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen took the filly, named La Reina Del Sur, for a public hit-out with a stablemate at Rangiora on September 25 and she got home in a 30-second quarter to win. Importantly, she trotted perfectly and did everything right. “That’s in line with everything we have heard from breakers and trainers who have done the early education with the Father Patrick stock,” said Mooar. “Quite a few have said they’re rapt with them and that has been reflected in his book this season. “We’ve been astounded, to be honest, at the interest in him.” And Greenshoe isn’t just a one-off freak, either. Father Patrick’s next crop, juveniles in North America, have been kicking goals too and he is battling it out with the established king of trotting sires, Muscle Hill, at the top of all metric tables there at present. Unfortunately, there are only 12 yearlings in New Zealand this season, but the next crop, foaling down this spring, will number more than 80 while next year’s is expected to be well in to six figures. Trotting buffs will get their chance to buy one though – Mooar says Nevele R and sister company Spreydon Lodge plan on consigning a colt out of the former good mare Hot Pants in the upcoming yearling sales. It wasn’t just Father Patrick doing the job for Nevele R in Kentucky last week – pacing sire Always B Miki also stuck his hand up, his progeny selling incredibly well. Eleven of his stock sold for six-figures at the premium ‘day 1’ sale, including a high price of US$290,000 for a filly. In fact, by all common indicators, he was second only to Somebeachsomewhere in terms of popularity. He’s stood two seasons in New Zealand so far, in a joint collaboration between Nevele R and Alabar Stud, getting just shy of 100 mares both times. But there will be none of the usual ‘third season hangover’ that strikes virtually every stallion – the breeding season before their first crop have been broken in or going through the yearling sales. “He’s going to serve more mares this year than in each of his first two,” said Mooar. “They sold like hot cakes in the USA last week and the feedback has been that he has really left a stamp on his stock. “Really impressive, athletic types with good conformation and that was reflected not only in his American sale results, but in the interest we have been getting down here. “Peter Lagan, from New Zealand Bloodstock Standardbred, made a point of telling me that in his recent inspections, he was quite impressed by them” The third strong to the bow for Nevele R as they fight their way back up the stud ladder is Vincent, who is about to embark on his second season at stud, again in a joint deal with Alabar. “He got 260 mares between here and Australia last season, and 150 of them were in New Zealand. “The first foals are dropping now so are we are eagerly anticipating their arrivals. “He’ll serve a nice book again, going by the bookings we have so far.” Recently retired pacing star Ultimate Machete is a new sire for the Stud and already has in excess of 60 bookings. “He’s going ok – it’s never easy for a colonial stallion, but we are happy with the response to him. “He’s impeccably-bred; his brother was last season’s three-year-old of the year and his sister is a Group 1 winner in Perth. “We’re optimistic.” Not just about Ultimate Machete, but the future of the famous nursery, no doubt. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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