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Border rivalry will be to the fore when the What The Hill Drivers Challenge takes place at Ascot Park Raceway in Invercargill on Friday (23 November). The challenge repeats last year’s successful format where a team of six from North of the Waitaki took on a team from South of the Waitaki. The North of the Waitaki team took the team honours on that occasion spearheaded by a former Southlander now domiciled in Canterbury, Gavin Smith, who took the Individual honours. However both teams were tied on points going into the final heat so it was a close run thing. As the defending champion Smith returns as part of the north team this year joined by Ricky May, Blair Orange, Samantha Ottley, Tim Williams and Jim Curtin. Attempting to wrest the silverware back onto this side of the Waitaki is the South of the Waitaki team led by the Williamson brothers – Nathan, Matthew and Brad along with Brent Barclay, Craig Ferguson and Allan Beck. The invited drivers compete in four heats with points allocated to the first five home on each occasion with 10 points for a win, 7 for second, 5 for third, 3 for fourth and 1 for fifth. Each driver receives the points they accumulate towards finding an individual champion while their points also go into their teams score to find the champion team. The event is a twilight meeting with the first race timed to start at 3.38pm. It is a perfect night to come out and enjoy some top class racing. Admission to the course will be free. One punter will take home a meal voucher from Level One Restaurant & Bar in Invercargill when a draw of all losing on course tote tickets is made after Race 6 while also after race 6 all children on course receive a free bag of lollies.   HRNZ Marketing

Welcome to the Harness Half Hourpodcast brought to you by HRNZ marketing. Jess Smith brings the latest harness racing news and interviews with colorful and interesting industry participants from New Zealand and around the world. This week’s Harness Half Hour with Jess Smith features Natalie Rasmussen following Thefixer’s guaranteed entry into the NZ Cup; leading North Island trainer Steve Telfer; Aaron White on his brand new podcast which is being released this week; Gavin Smith following his 200th winner; Nigel Armstrong regarding this Friday’s Owners Night and Bookie Richard Wilson.   Jess Smith

Gavin Smith is hoping his patience pays off at Addington tonight. What Smith has done with stable star Great Things Happen and what he would liked to have done with him are two very different things. What he has done is craft a short but sometimes spectacular career, punctuated by breathtaking wins in races such as last season's NZ Free-For-All at Addington. On days like that Great Things Happen looks the equal of any trotter in Australasia outside of Monbet but when he resumes as a seven-year-old at Addington tonight it will be just his 32nd start. Which is not what Smith has wanted. He would relish a 12-14 start season, taking on the numerous group one opportunities for the open class trotters. He hopes that finally comes true this season. "That would be great, to be able to race him for a full season," says Smith. "But it just hasn't worked out that way. Last season, he had a recurring problem with a quarter crack and I thought I could keep patching it up and having half seasons with him or give him the whole six months off and start again. So I put the horse first and missed a lot of big races last season. But his feet are now great." They have looked that way in recent trials when Great Things Happen has dominated in the style of a fresh-up winner in what looks a perfect race tonight. "He obviously isn't at his peak and is still pretty round but he should still win," says Smith. "Then he can have another race and we will give him a short break, get ready for Cup week and start thinking about things like the Inter Dominion and all the big races later in the season. "But it is great to have a horse like him back." Although the domestic harness scene lacks any other stars this weekend, Harness Jewels winners Princess Tiffany and Another Masterpiece take on Aussie's best in semifinals of the Breeders Crown at Bendigo on Saturday night. Trainer Mark Purdon is thrilled with both horses but slightly concerned by their barrier draws, particularly the second line marble for Another Masterpiece.   Michael Guerin

Several leading harness racing drivers have had their fines reduced after being charged for failing to come up into and/or maintain their position behind the starting gate at this years harness jewels at Cambridge. The normal penalty for breaking this rule is $100 but the Judicial Committee however, in all cases imposed higher penalties as the meeting was a major one with all stakes being higher than $40,000. Gavin Smith, Ricky May and Mark Purdon were fined $400. Natalie Rasmussen was fined $500 because she had been warned earlier in the day. Brent Barclay was fined $200 and his licence was suspended for one day and Terry Chmiel had imposed on him a three day suspension. All drivers appealed their penalties and all were succesfull with the fines reduced to $200 for Mark Purdon, Gavin Smith, Ricky May and Natalie Rasmussen. Terry Chmiel had his suspension reduced to two days and since two days had already been served there was no further penalty. Brent Barclay had his penalty reduced to the fine of $200 only.   Full details below: BEFORE AN APPEALS TRIBUNAL OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY FOR RACING UNDER THE RACING ACT 2003 IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Harness Racing BETWEEN MARK PURDON TERRY CHMIEL BRENT BARCLAY NATALIE RASMUSSEN RICKY MAY GAVIN SMITH Appellants AND RACING INTEGRITY UNIT Respondent Appeals Tribunal: Mr Garry Thompson, Chairman Mr Russell McKenzie, Member Written decision issued on the 30th June 2018 It was ordered by consent that the appeals be dealt with on the papers. DECISION OF THE APPEALS TRIBUNAL OF THE JUDICIAL CONTROL AUTHORITY 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 Each Appellant was charged under Rule 857(7) which states “no horseman shall fail to come up into and/or maintain his position” 1.2 The Rule referred to above is normally dealt with as a minor offence being listed in the Minor Infringement Schedule but the Race meeting at which this was held being the Waikato Bay of Plenty Harness Racing Club (Harness Jewels meeting) meeting on 2nd June 2018 at Cambridge Raceway had every race carrying a stake of $40,000 or greater being what is described in the Penalty Guide as a major race. 1.3 Accordingly, the RIU stewards sought to uplift the penalty amount which had a standard penalty of $100 and therefore filed the charge with the raceday Judicial Committee. 1.4 The Stewards submitted that a 100% increase in the normal penalty be imposed since in all cases these were major races. They therefore submitted that a penalty of $200.00 or an equivalent suspension was appropriate. 1.5 The Judicial Committee, however, in all cases imposed higher penalties. Messrs Smith, May and Purdon were fined $400. Ms Rasmussen was fined $500 because she had been warned earlier in the day. Mr Barclay was fined $200 and his licence was suspended for one day and Mr Chmiel had imposed on him a three day suspension. All have appealed. 2. THE APPEAL 2.1 It is necessary for the Appeals Tribunal to form its own decision on the matters placed before it and in this case the Tribunal has directed that this be dealt with on the papers. 3. SUBMISSIONS FOR THE APPELLANTS 3.1 Mr Lawson submitted that what the Stewards submitted by way of penalty was appropriate and that the penalties imposed by the Judicial Committee were excessive. 3.2 Mr Lawson raised a number of relevant matters including the fact that it was not suggested that the penalties had previously been manifestly inadequate, the losing driving fees after 6th position were the same as any other meeting, the visual aspects of knowing where 1609m starting point was created a difficulty and the mobile barrier moved faster than normal because of the distance of the race and the quality of the horses. 3.3 Mr Lawson admitted that the penalties should all be $200.00 except that Mr Barclay who received a one day suspension as well as a $200 fine simply have this replaced by a $200 fine only and Mr Chmiel who received a three day suspension, but no fine have his suspension reduced to two days. 4. SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RESPONDENT 4.1 Mr Ydgren submitted that a 100% increase on $100 being the standard penalty to $200 was appropriate except in the case of Mr Chmiel who had a previous breach of the rule so his penalty it was submitted be a two day suspension which had already been served. 4.2 Mr Ydgren explained the allowance horsemen have of half a length grace and stated that drivers are required to know where the starting position is on the track and that in the circumstances all the horseman either made a simple error and misjudged their position or were unaware of where the actual starting point was. 5. DECISION Having considered the submissions on behalf of the Appellants and the Respondent we are satisfied that a 100% increase in the penalty prescribed by Minor infringement Scheme is appropriate in the circumstances this being the submission of the RIU stewards at the Race Day Hearing. The onus is on the Appellants to show that the penalty imposed by the Judicial Committee was manifestly excessive and in our view the Appellants have discharged that onus. 6. PENALTIES We impose a penalty of $200 fine on Mark Purdon, Gavin Smith, Ricky May and Natalie Rasmussen. We impose a penalty of a two day suspension on Terry Chmiel he having had a previous breach of this rule and since two days have already been served there is no further penalty. Brent Barclay was issued with a fine of $200 and had his licence suspended for one day and his penalty is reduced to the fine of $200 only. 7. COST AND FILLING FEE Mr Lawson has made no application for costs and submits that costs should lie where they fall. He has submitted that the $250 filing fee be refunded. We agree with both those submissions. The penalties we are imposing are what were submitted by the RIU at the hearing and the Respondent should not be penalised because the appeal is successful. The Appellants should not be out of pocket as they were successful. Dated this 30th June 2018 Garry Thompson CHAIRMAN   Harnesslink Media

Harness racing trainer Gavin Smith has been fined $750.00 for striking his own horse. Nothing wrong with that you say! Except the horse he hit with his whip was racing next to him and being driven by another driver. At the North Canterbury trials on the 9th May Gavin Smith was driving Bronx Village (a horse he trains) who was leading as the field turned for home with Reverse Phsychology, Smith’s other runner in the race who was being driven by Siv Diamant, in the trail. Reverse Phsychology improved to Smith’s outside and shortly afterwards he drew his whip and struck that horse on one occasion. Smith admitted he had acted in moment of stupidity and said that he had told Siv that she would have to be tough on the horse, as he was a bludger. He said that he could see he was going well when he raced up beside him but straight away “knocked off”. Siv was only giving the horse little flicks, he said, and he had yelled to her to “get up him”. Smith said Siv continued on with the little flicks and without thinking he reached around and struck the horse. He did not even think about it being a trials day and that it was a spur of the moment, a stupid thing to do. The JCA submitted that a $500 fine and a 3-day suspension be considered as penalty, but after taking all factors into account determined that a $750.00 fine was a more appropriate penalty in this case.   Full details below:   BEFORE A JUDICIAL COMMITTEE IN THE MATTER of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing IN THE MATTER of Information No. A10183 BETWEEN SHANE RENAULT Stipendiary Steward for the Racing Integrity Unit Informant AND GAVIN SMITH of Kaiapoi, Licensed Open Horseman Respondent Date of Hearing: 13 May 2018 Venue: Phar Lap Racecourse, Timaru Judicial Committee: S Ching (Chair) D Anderson (Committee Member) Present: S Renault, the Informant G Smith, the Respondent Date of Decision: 13 May 2018 PENALTY DECISION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE The Charge [1] Information No.A10183 alleges that: G Smith as the driver of BRONX VILLAGE used his whip to strike another runner namely REVERSE PSYCHLOGY, near the 200 metres. The Rules [2] Rule 869(2) reads as follows; 869 (2) No horseman shall during any race use a whip in a manner in contravention of the Use of the Whip Regulations made by the Board. Use of the Whip Regulation (g) reads as follows; (g) No horseman shall use their whip in such a way that it baulks, inconveniences, impedes or strikes another horse or horseman. The Plea [3] Mr Smith had signed the Information that the breach was admitted. Mr Smith confirmed this at the hearing. He also confirmed he understood the rule he was being charged with. Summary of Facts [4] On 9 May 2018 at the North Canterbury TOA trials meeting at Rangiora Racecourse, Open Horseman, Mr G Smith was the trainer and driver of BRONX VILLAGE in Race 12, a Non-winners Pace trial and was placed 3rd in the event. Mr Smith was also the trainer of REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY, who was driven by Ms S Diamant, and was placed 2nd in the same event. [5] During the running and near the 200m, Mr Smith was observed to strike another runner, being REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. [6] This incident was observed by the officiating Stipendiary Steward, Mr S Renault and recorded by the oncourse cameras. [7] Mr Renault made application pursuant to Rule 1103(4)(c) from the General Manager of the RIU, Mr M Godber, to lodge an information against Mr Smith for a breach of Rule 869(2)(g). This application was granted on 11 May 2018 and a letter was produced for the Judicial Committee. [8] Mr Smith was subsequently charged with a breach of Rule 869(2) in that he used his whip to strike another runner near the 200m. Informant’s Submissions [9] Mr Renault showed side on video footage of the incident to the Committee which showed Mr Smith driving BRONX VILLAGE leading as the field turned for home with REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY, Mr Smith’s other runner in the race and driven by Ms S Diamant, in the trail. He said that REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY improved to Mr Smith’s outside and shortly afterwards Mr Smith drew his whip and struck REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY on one occasion. [10] Mr Renault stated that this was a deliberate action by Mr Smith who looked to his outside, saw his other horse there, drew the whip and struck the horse. Mr Smith, on the day, stated to Mr Renault, that he didn’t think his driver was hitting the horse or urging it on enough over the concluding stages. Mr Renault submitted that this was a safety issue as Mr Smith could not know what reaction the horse would take after being struck on the inside. He also stated that the Stewards take a dim view of Mr Smith’s actions and believe they are totally unacceptable. Mr Renault in answer to a question from the Committee, stated that Ms Diamant had informed him that the whip had struck the horse on the backside. Mr Renault said that even though it was only one strike, the perception to the betting public, was poor. Submissions of Respondent [11] Mr Smith stated that it was a “moment of stupidity”. He said that he owned REVERSE PYSCHOLOGY, that he was a “bludger” and hadn’t been anywhere in the past year. Mr Smith said that as he owns REVERSE PYSCHOLOGY and as he had a paying clients horse in the race, he had decided to drive BRONX VILLAGE. [12] Mr Smith said that he had told Ms Diamant that she would have to be tough on the horse, as he was a bludger. He said that he could see he was going well when he raced up beside him but straight away “knocked off”. Ms Diamant was only giving the horse little flicks, he said, and he had yelled to her to “get up him”. Mr Smith said Ms Diamant continued on with the little flicks and without thinking he reached around and struck the horse. He did not even think about it being a trials day and that it was a spur of the moment, a stupid thing to do. He also said that as soon as he had done it, could not believe how stupid he had been. He also said it was a bad look, a dumb thing to do, and still doesn’t know why he let it happen. Submissions of Informant on Penalty [13] Mr Renault for the RIU stated that Mr Smith had a clear record in relation to this part of the rule. He said that a breach of this particular rule where another horse is struck, was very uncommon and as such here were no precedents to assist with penalty. Mr Renault stated that the JCA Penalty Guide does not provide a starting point and only refers to penalty being “case by case on merits”. [14] Mr Renault submitted that an appropriate penalty in this case is a combined suspension and fine. He stated that this was a deliberate act which should not be accepted, and an appropriate penalty should be one that will send a clear message to all industry participants that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. Mr Renault submitted that a fine of $500 as well as a 3-day suspension be considered as penalty. Respondent’s Submissions [15] Mr Smith stated that a suspension as well as a fine was incredibly harsh for one strike at a trials meeting. He said that he was already suspended, for careless driving, from after the Addington meeting on Friday 18 May up to and including 27 May 2018. He said a suspension would be excessive especially as the first day of suspension would be the Harness Jewels day on 2 June. Reasons for Penalty [16] In determining penalty, we carefully considered all factors in regard to this breach. In mitigation, Mr Smith’s frank admission of the breach, his genuine remorse and his clear record in relation to this part of the rule, are factors to be taken into account. [17] Mr Smith admitted to an act of stupidity and also conceded that it was not a good look for the industry. We agree with both points and determined that these were aggravating factors. We also agreed with Mr Renault who stated that there is a need to send a clear message to all industry participants that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. [18] Mr Renault submitted that a $500 fine and a 3-day suspension be considered as penalty in this case. The JCA Penalty Guide does not provide a starting point for a breach of this rule but states that any penalty be on a “case by case on merits”. Charges under this section of the Whip Regulations with similar circumstances are so uncommon there are no historical precedents of penalty to assist us. After careful consideration this Committee determined that a combined penalty of a fine of $500 and a 3-day suspension would be disproportionate to the level of offending, especially in Mr Smith’s case where the first day of any suspension imposed would be the country’s premier meeting of the year, being the Harness Jewels meeting at Cambridge. [19] Taking all factors into account we determined that a fine was an appropriate penalty in this case. The level of this fine we set at $750. [20] Mr Smith is fined the sum of $750. S Ching CHAIR http://www.jca.org.nz/non-race-day-hearings/non-raceday-inquiry-riu-v-g-smith-decision-dated-13-may-2018-chair-mr-s-ching   Harnesslink Media

Four-year-old pacing mare, Piece Of Cake, may not have won a race but she is a very strong chance of winning the title of Horse of the Year. That is of course at the annual Horse of the Year event in the Hawke’s Bay this March, New Zealand’s premier equestrian event. A daughter of Major In Art and five win mare Ice The Cake, she was prepared for her race day assignments by Gavin Smith in Canterbury. However last January after just three starts she was retired from racing and advertised on a Standardbred rehoming page on Facebook. This is where owner, Kristy King-Turner, embarked on brand new showing campaign with the Standardbred breed. “I was looking for a Standardbred to produce for shows as a new challenge,” explained King-Turner.  “I had not owned Standardbreds before but I had worked as a trek guide a long time ago where they were used, and they all seemed very calm and trainable. I was really drawn to Piece Of Cake’s conformation.” Just two weeks after Piece Of Cake had her last race she was entered at the Nelson Breeders show, where remarkably she collected the prize for Champion Standardbred. The dominance would continue with Piece Of Cake as she took titles at various shows over a busy show circuit. Picking up ribbons for; Champion Ridden Novice, Champion Open Ridden and Champion In Hand at the Rangiora Show; Champion Novice and Open Ridden and Reserved Champion Paced and Mannered at the Canterbury Show; Champion Ridden and In Hand at the South Island Premiers and Supreme In Hand at the New Zealand Standardbred Riding Association Open Show. Piece Of Cake has had a first or second in every open hack class she has competed in, and collected six rugs and eight trophies already this season. An outstanding effort, especially so early in her showing career.  Tamara Muirson had never ridden a Standardbred before riding Piece Of Cake, and is a regular rider for King-Turner on the show circuit. “I have ridden quite a few horses for Kristy ranging from ring ponies to giant saddle hunters, so this was a new challenge,” said Muirson. “The hardest part has been retraining her movement. The first thing I taught her was to leg yield (a lateral movement that teaches the horse to move forward and sideways at the same time) and get her moving her body around the leg.” “Most people have been quite impressed with her being able to come out in her first season under saddle and come home with so many Championships. Quite a few of my friends have been shocked that I’ve been riding a Standardbred and then they see Ice and they all comment on how nicely put together she is,” Muirson explained. King-Turner and Muirson are now busy preparing Piece Of Cake for what will be her biggest test on New Zealand’s biggest equestrian stage. “She is going to Horse of the Year in March to do the Ridden and In Hand Standardbred class and also an In Hand Hack Class. After that she may be sold as we were only ever going to produce her for one year as I have other youngsters now to bring in,” said King-Turner. “She is starting jumping more now, we haven’t done a lot of it because of her age but she really enjoys it. If she doesn’t sell I won’t mind keeping her as she is so easy to work with and has a huge future ahead of her in showing, probably jumping as well, and will also be a very good broodmare in future.” Muirson will use the lead in time to school the mare and keep improving her movement and her way of going before Horse of the Year. When it comes to promoting the Standardbred breed as a show prospect to others in the show world, the recommendations are glowing. “I would recommend to others to have a go at showing a Standardbred. There are lot more opportunities for them than I realized and there are classes at most shows. The ring is usually very well supported,” said King-Turner. “After riding Ice I have a new appreciation for the breed. They are so versatile and very willing to learn. There is still some prejudice against them which is a shame because there are some really nice ones out there and with the correct schooling can hold their own in any discipline,” said Muirson. “I’d recommend that people not only taken them on for showing, but for other disciplines as well. I’ve seen a few with super jumping techniques.” HRNZ Marketing

Katie Cox got her first win as a trainer when Mad Lu Li won her first race with Katie doing the driving.  Mad Lu Li won narrowly by a neck but worked hard in the open for the last 1000m and it was a good effort to hold on, with the last 800m being run in 58.3 seconds. Seaswift Joy has taken out this years running of the Geraldine Cup yesterday at the Orari racecourse. The Malcolm Shinn trained 4yo mare was given a perfect run in the trail by driver John Morrison and she sprinted too well for the opposition in the straight winning by nearly a length. Favourite James Dean was brave in defeat after trying to lead all the way. He stuck well for second with Mongolian Hero and Blair Orange running home well for third. Seaswift Joy (Bettor's Delight - Swift Belle) ran the 2850m stand in 3-37.6 with a final last 800m on the grass in a very quick 56.6 seconds. Later in the day Harriet Of Mot narrowly beat Dominion Handicap place getter Monty Python in a thrilling home stretch battle, with Harriet Of Mot getting the upper hand by a head. They were 12 lengths clear of Tornado Valley in third. The Phil Burrows trained Friend kept his unbeaten record intact when he impressively won his second race in as many starts. Diven by Gavin Smith the Changeover colt had to work hard mid-race to lead then left his rivals to it in the straight winning immpressively by more than six lengths.  Friend paced his last 800m in a slick 57.8 with a closing 400m in 27.8 seconds. First starter Saying Grace was also impressive winning by 5 lengths for trainers Greg and Nina Hope. After some impressive trial and workout form, Saying Grace (American Ideal - Move Heaven Andearth) was all the rage with the punters paying 1.50 to win on the tote. Driver Ricky May had the speedy gelding in front with 900m to go and nothing got near him as he careered away for an easy win. Seaswift Joy winning this years running of the Geraldine Cup   Harnesslink Media      

Shezacullengirl showed plenty of determination to hold out all challenges in the John Devlin Memorial Invited Drivers Mobile Pace. She was seriously taken on mid-race by Delishka before holding onto her lead. Hot favourite Franco Tai was waiting in the trail to challenge but wasn't good enough to beat Shezacullengirl who held on under the urgings of driver Gavin Smith. It was the Tank Ellis trained mare's fifth win in eleven starts.  Kirk Larsen doesn't train many trotters so when Prince George won at Ascot Park today it was the first time he'd trained a squaregaiter since Yaldy Boyz won at Winton in 2011. Prince George comes up the inside to win - Photo Bruce Stewart. He's only had the trotter since October after he was left down here by his previous trainer David McCormick. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing  

Jack's Legend gets the perfect chance to replicate the richest win of his career on an even bigger stage at Addington Raceway in Christchurch today. A driving masterclass from Zachary Butcher helped Jack's Legend cause a huge upset at the Harness Jewels in June when he blasted across to a shock early lead before trailing Ultimate Machete and waiting until late in the straight to surge past him via the passing lane. He meets Ultimate Machete again in the $260,000 NZ Free-For-All today but if Butcher wants to try those lead-then-trail tactics again he will probably end up following a different rival, Australian visitor Tiger Tara. The pair chased home Lazarus, who is absent today as he travels to the Perth Inter Dominions, in the New Zealand Cup on Tuesday and while Jack's Legend was impressive in second, Tiger Tara was the run of the race outside Lazarus. He was parked for much of the race before galloping and losing four lengths at the 800m mark when he jumped a mark left on the track by the Seal The Deal/Dream About Me meelee at the start of the race. Tiger Tara has developed high gate speed since being sold to Australia and driver Todd McCarthy says he will be using it today. "He gets off the gate well and loves to lead and run along so that will be the plan," he says. "And I think most of the other drivers would be keen to follow him because he will give whoever is in the trail their chance," says McCarthy. "I was thrilled with him in the Cup and he has come through it really well." For all the talent of Ultimate Machete and Dream About Me, if Tiger Tara leads with Jack's Legend trailing they have a huge advantage. The question of the $260,000 may be whether Jack's Legend has enough change up speed to slingshot Tiger Tara. Ultimate Machete can win but will have to do it the hard way while Dream About Me's nightmare week continues with her wide draw. The draws have been kind to Great Things Happen, though, in the $300,000 Dominion Trot as he secured the front line while key rival Bordeaux will have to start from the second line. There is little between the pair on raw ability but Bordeaux is at his most potent when able to lead and roll even sectionals, which now looks unlikely. Great Things Happen was awesome winning the Trot Free-For-All on Tuesday. Trainer-driver Gavin Smith says he has pulled up perfectly. "I got a blood [sample] done and it is even better than it was going into Tuesday," says Smith. "I have been thinking for a while it is a race in two between us and Bordeaux so to draw in front of him is a big advantage and I'll be keen to get to the front." Smith says punters concerned about Great Things Happen returning to standing start after the hustle and bustle of two recent mobile starts need not worry. "I can't remember the last time he galloped away. "In fact, I'd love the start to be a long one with some waiting around because he will just relax and then perk up when I ask him to go," says Smith. If Smith is right and Great Things Happen is able to lead, it is hard to see him getting beaten. Michael Guerin  

If harness racing trainer Gavin Smith is looking for inspiration, he doesn’t have to look far.  Fresh from his success earlier this week (Tuesday) with his maiden Group One victory as a trainer with giant trotter Great Things Happen in the $100,000 NZ Trotting FFA at Addington, they will combine again tomorrow (Friday) in the $300,000 Dominion Handicap. The Dominion is the biggest trotting event staged in New Zealand, a time honoured feature staged over the marathon distance of 3200m and from the stand-start. It’s the trotting version of the New Zealand Cup. And it kicks off the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, a five leg series that takes in features spread between New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia. Many great names feature in the honour roll of the Dominion which was first staged back in 1911 while many have achieved the Cup week double including Monbet last year. A total of 17 trotters have achieved the Cup week double - names include Durban Chief, Tutira, Easton Light, Scotch Tar, Admiral Soanai, Simon Katz, Tobago, William Dee, Call Me Now, Chiola Cola, Take A Moment x 2, Lyell Creek, Stig, Vulcan and I Can Doosit. So, Smith and Great Things Happen aren’t looking to rewrite the record books, more simply just chasing their own slice of Christchurch history and add their names to the exclusive list. Great Things Happen was brilliant winning on Tuesday, winning by a widening margin while equaling the New Zealand record of Monbet. And while he looked very comfortable from the mobile over the short course of 1950m, the extra distance of the Dominion looks even more appealing for the six-year-old Love You gelding. Great Things Happen will sport saddlecloth number six. Flashy trotter Bordeaux looms as a major threat but his chances were hampered after landing a second-line draw (13). The Philip Iggo trained gelding is unbeaten this campaign and again will be handled by star reinsman Dexter Dunn, a rare feature he is yet to win to date during his glittering career. Brothers Tim and Anthony Butt have enjoyed tremendous success in the Dominion; Tim has trained the winner 8 times (Vulcan, Mountbatten, Lyell Creek x 3, Take A Moment x 3) while Anthony has driven the winner 9 times (Simon Katz the extra to Tim’s list). This year they combine with former European trotter Daryl Boko, lining up in his third Dominion and still looking for his maiden success in the great race. Master horseman Paul Nairn is no stranger to success in the Dominion; the unorthodox trainer is a dual winner after scoring with Call Me Now (1995) and Stig (2008). He will be represented by a trio of starters this year including Wilma’s Mate, The Foot Tapper and One Over Da Moon. The Williamson family also boast Dominion success owing to the 2009 triumph of Springbank Richard and this year they will have Monty Python (Phil & Matthew) and Dark Horse (Nathan) lining up in the feature. Another duo chasing further Dominion glory is Ricky May and Kevin Townley, they will combine with talented mare Destiny Jones. May has won the Dominion three times previously including last year with Monbet while Stylish Monarch (2010) and Cedar Fella (1998) were his other winners while Townley scored with Armbro Lady back in 1976. No female driver has won the Dominion; Sheree Tomlinson (Amaretto Sun) and Sam Ottley (Arya) can claim history with their respective drives this year. Female representation of the four legged variety includes Wilma's Mate, Harriet Of Mot, Hey Yo, Destiny Jones, Arya and Dark Horse. The last mare to win the Dominion was Martina H who deadheated with Take A Moment back in 2002. Connections of Harriet Of Mot, Hey Yo, Doctor Bones and Belles Son are all chasing their slice of Dominion history when they line up in the south island feature. The Haras des Trotteurs Dominion is scheduled to start at 4.33pm local time. Chris Barsby

Hurricane Banner provided Gore trainer Shane Matheson and stable helper Jane Orr with a big thrill on Sunday when he easily won the Ryder Plumbing and Roofing Mobile Pace by three and a quarter lengths in the hands of Brad Williamson. Orr, who is married to Northern Southland trotting identity Noddy Orr, has rekindled her love of horses by helping Matheson out in his stables.  "I had a lovely standardbred when I was a teenager called Patanga Park but it wasn't until I got involved with Noddy that I got involved again," she said. The five year old by Real Desire started his career with Gavin Smith before stints with Nathan Williamson and Ray Faithful. Matheson has had him since July this year.  "He's paddock trained. He loves the life in Northern Southland and is happy out on the grass. He loves tearing around the paddock after he's done his training." Hurricane Banner is raced by the Bluff Bowling Club Syndicate which includes Noddy Orr. Meanwhile young junior driver Chelsea Faithful won her third race as a driver when Maidonthebeach got up to beat Ellnbac by three quarters of a length in the junior drivers race at Ascot Park on Sunday. "At her first run she needed a bit of a blow out. In her second run she ran on well and at home she's been working better than ever so we were reasonably confident," said Faithful. Maidonthebeach was positioned nicely by Faithful in the outside running line. At the top of the straight the pair had collared leader Foo Fighter and had to ward off a late challenge from Ellnbac who came up the passing lane.  Maidonthebeach and Chelsea Faithful winning at Riverton on Sunday - Photo Bruce Stewart. "She was getting a bit woobly with about 70 metres to run. I was hoping she'd keep going and I was hoping I didn't go over the ten (whips). The whole one eye thing (Maidonthebeach only has one eye) probably doesn't help." Faithful says like her dam Nursemaid, Maidonthebeach is getting better with age. "She's better this season than she was last season."  The royally bred mare by Somebeachsomewhere is raced by Graham and Jill Cooney, Vin Nally and the Centaurus Syndicate.   Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Harness racing trotter Great Things Happen led all the way to win yesterdays Ashburton Trotters Flying Mile for trainer Gavin Smith. Smith had the speedy Love You gelding blasting off the mobile from barrier seven and the 6yo gelding was in front after 400m. He kept up a strong pace and always had the field covered, coasting to an easy win in quick time of 1-55.4.  Habibti Ivy finished quickly from the rear of the field in the straight for second and the Greg and Nina Hope trained Everybody Knows ran on well for third. The time for the mobile mile was the second fastest in the history of the race, with only Monbet last year going a fraction faster in 1-55.2. By winning yesterday Great Things Happen has cemented his tag as favourite for the (Gr 1) $300,000 Dominion Handicap at Addington in November. The TAB bookmakers have shortened him in to $3.60 on the FF win futures market, with Bordeax a $4.20 second favourite. Habibti Ivy has also firmed in to $5.00 in the Dominion after her slashing late run for second in yesterdays race.   Great Things Happen winning the Flying Mile   Harnesslink Media

Emerald Jewels 4yo winner Heaven Rocks showed he will be very hard to beat in this years Christchurch Casino Trotting Cup, with a dominant win today at the North Canterbury harness racing trials at Rangiora. The powerful All Stars Stable had a strong presence in todays trial with last years New Zealand Cup winner Lazarus and New Brighton Cup winner Have Faith In Me also entered in the race. All three Purdon/Rasmussen runners started from a 40m handicap. Lazarus and Heaven Rocks both made solid beginnings in the standing start trial and settled at the rear of the field, while Have Faith In Me made a mess of his start, breaking badly and adding 30m to his handicap.  Driver Natalie Rasmussen made a move with Heaven Rocks at the 500m mark to sit parked. He was simply too strong in the straight winning easily while Lazarus made up a lot of ground through the middle to run into third place.  This week the trial was run at a much faster clip, with Heaven Rocks pacing the 2600m stand in a quick 3-15.1 with a final 800m in 55.0 and 400m in 27.0 seconds The TAB bookmakers have reacted to the trial win by caving Heaven Rocks in to $2.60 in the NZ Cup Futures market, from an earlier quote of $3.00 before the trial. The favourite Lazarus has now drifted out 10 cents to $2.30  Earlier in the day, smart trotter Great Things Happen showed he would be a force to be reckoned with in the major trotting races this season, with a nine length win in his trial. Trainer Gavin Smith took the Love You six year old to the lead with a lap to go and he careered away in the straight to record an easy win by nine lengths.  Great Things Happen ran the 2600m in 3-22.4 for the 2600m stand with a quick last half in 57.2 seconds. Heaven Rocks winning todays trial (Apologies for the poor picture quality) Harnesslink Media

The Gavin Smith trained Imola absolutely crushed his rivals at yesterdays Rangiora harness racing workouts.   Imola who narrowly beat the All Stars Stable pairing of Dream About Me and Have Faith In Me at last weeks trials, did not give his better performed opposition a chance of beating him yesterday. Driven to lead early by Gavin Smith, Imola (Jereme's Jet - Imprint) put the foot down and just went further in front the further they went. On a very windy day the speedy 5 year old gelding reeled off a sensational last half of 55.7 and quarter in 26.5 to demolish the opposition by 36 lengths. Imola holds a New Zealand Cup nomination and is currently last in the rankings at 28th, but might quickly climb up the order if that workout win is anything to go by. Earlier in the day smart three years old pacers Pat's Delight and Cullenburn, both showed they are ready for a return to the races, when winning their respective heats. Pat's Delight (Bettor's Delight - Righteous Franco) trained by Cran Dalgety was too strong winning his heat for driver Dexter Dunn.  He sped home from midfield on the outer and sprinted his last quarter in better than 27 seconds to narrowly beat the early leader Frankie Jones and Robbie Holmes. Cullenburn (Christian Cullen - Suzys Delight) trained and driven by Benny Hill, was also impressive winning his workout. Cullenburn sprinted a closing quarter in 27 seconds coming from the trail behind the leader Billy Badger to easily beat him in the run home. Harneslink Media

Carl Markham is more hopeful than he is confident that he could have a decent day at Rangiora today. The Methven horseman will take two horses over the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers to the Sunday meeting and has hopes that both could be right in the action if things go their way. Still searching for his first winner this season, Markham will be hoping that either Midfrew Tarpediem or Jean Sebastien can get him that elusive win. “You think you might have a couple of good chances, but you still need things to go your way,” he said. “And that’s what we will need, I think both are capable enough. But you need the luck.” Midfrew Tarpediem looked set to be a player at Timaru last week before he locked wheels on the home bend and lost all momentum. Today he has drawn to do no extra work from one on the second line and with a good run behind Articulight, he might not be the worst. “He was travelling good last week but needs that momentum, this week should work out well for him. “He’s best suited to sneaking through gaps and not covering too much ground and that should happen today. “I think he can run a pretty big race.” Jean Sebastien is on the quick back up from Addington on Friday night where he was spotted storming home after an early gallop in the Darren DeFilippi Memorial. “I’m not quite sure what is going on with the galloping thing at the moment with him. “He’s never been the most fluent of trotters, but he showed on Friday night that the motor is still there because he made up so much ground. “I thought, looking at the field that he’s racing that if he did everything right and didn’t finish in the top three that I would be pretty disappointed. “At his best he would be very hard to beat.” Both horses will be driven today by Markham’s son, Jeremy. Meanwhile, Gavin Smith will welcome back one of his more promising prospects in Red Moon Rising. The three-year-old son of Artsplace hasn’t raced since finishing third to Motu Meteor at Alexandra Park back in December after being struck down by injury. He won his debut at Methven prior to the Auckland trip, impressively and has always been held in high regard. Smith has given the colt a slow, but solid build up towards a return to the track. He’s had two workouts and a trial, with tidy performances in each and looks ready for a strong resumption today. The standing start will provide arguably the most interesting part of his case today, but if he can safely navigate his way through that early challenge then he should be in a good space to become a major contender. Go Davey, One Direction, Bet On A Rascal and Arizona Atom make up some of his tougher opposition. Smith will also be looking for a double for the weekend with All Settled Down. The racehorse-cum-broodmare-cum-racehorse again was an impressive winner over Donsmedad at Addington on Friday night and will be out to repeat the dose in the first heat of the Joan Belcher Legacy Fillies and Mares Mobile Trot. Rangiora Selections Race 1: #14 Don Pierre, #3 Franco Caliph, #11 As Kiwi As, #8 Mr Midnight Race 2: #3 Fiery Comet, #13 Jerry Garcia, #10 Laura Bush, #7 Girls N Boyz Race 3: #7 Tall Poppy, #5 Vyndetta, #6 Corena Lea, #12 Junkyard Mase Race 4: #6 Donsmedad, #7 All Settled Down, #3 Rocknpop, #8 Sarah Palin Race 5: #1 Articulight, #5 Rocknroll Nevin, #10 Midfrew Tarpediem, #3 Leading The Way Race 6: #2 Jean Sebastien, #7 Another Chapter, #1 Monarchy Invasion, #11 Majestic Moment Race 7: #1 Fear Rockn, #2 Flyin Milly Mac, #5 Theboyslightup, #7 Got A Beauty Race 8: #5 Red Moon Rising, #7 Go Davey, #10 One Direction, #11 Bet On A RascaL Race 9: #11 Franco Nate, #1 Jonty James, #10 Beach Skipper, #2 Machjagger Best Bet: #11 Franco Nate (Race 9) Value Bet: #1 Fear Rockn (Race 7)   Matt Markham

They’ve driven a combined total of more than 330 winners, but the group of junior drivers contesting tonight’s prestigious Darren DeFilippi Memorial at Addington would give most, if not all, of those wins back to claim victory into tonight’s special event. Premierships and victories are nice. But a win in one of the most sought after races a junior driver will contest in their time in the ranks is high up the pecking order and any young driver will tell you of their desire to get their name on the trophy that means so much to the harness racing industry, particularly in Canterbury. DeFilippi, the son of trainers Colin and Julie, was tragically killed in a car accident while on his way home from the Orari races in 1995, leaving the harness racing community reeling at the loss of such a talented young horseman. In his second season of driving at the time of his death, DeFilippi was already making a big impact on the Canterbury harness scene with 15 winners next to his name and was being touted for bigger and better things. The Memorial race, named in his honour, has been held each season since 1996 with some of the best young driving talents to have worked their way through the junior ranks having been lucky enough to win it. Gavin Smith (twice; Bristle - 2003 and Atomic Dusk - 2005) and Matthew Williamson (three times; Maori Invasion - 2011, Beyond Reason - 2012 and William Lance -2013) are multiple winners of the event. This year a new winner will be crowned, with no previous driving victors going around. The sentimental favourite will be He’s Like The Wind, driven by Loren Lester who currently works for the DeFilippi stable. A big winner at Timaru last week, there is every conceivable chance that the Gavin Smith trained runner can go back-to-back in what is a very open field. New Zealand’s two leading junior drivers, Rory McIlwrick and Matt Anderson are both in with a show. McIlwrick has the power of the Phil Williamson colours on his drive, Danielle Amore. Williamson has trained three winners of the race. Anderson picks up the drive on the talented Robbie Holmes trotter, Redwood Invasion. Often enigmatic, the big trotter has a huge motor and is a chance to jump and run from the one barrier draw. Sheree Tomlinson will fancy herself a chance in the race with the in-form Lord Roydon. The Michael House trained runner has won his last two starts at Forbury with patient Dexter Dunn drives and a repeat performance will see him go close tonight. Jeremy Markham will be hoping he can sign off on his time as a junior driver in the right fashion when he jumps on board his father, Carl’s trotter Jean Sebastien. The trio will contest the race for the third time having finished fourth, second and third in their three attempts. Addington Selections by Matt Markham Race 1: All Settled Down, Craddock, Idle Moose, Sunny Bill Race 2: Boults On Fire, Le Vado, Especial, Covered N Diamonds Race 3: Daylight Robbery, Spirit Of Delight, Bettor Chance, Take After Me Race 4: Hall Of Fame, Ace High, Letsgotothehop, Rishi Race 5: Lord Roydon, Redwood Invasion, Jean Sebastien, Danielle Amore Race 6: Vera’s Delight, Jody Direen, No More Change, Art Exhibit Race 7: Donegal Bettorgretch, Ronald J, Petite One, Jayceekay Race 8: Usain Colt, Billy Badger, Bite The Bullet, Donegal Carrickfin Race 9: Mistahmistah, For The Corz, Honour The Bet, Maninthemirror Best Bet: Mistahmistah (Race 9) Value: Vera’s Delight (Race 6)   DARREN DEFILLIPI MEMORIAL WINNERS   Year Driver Horse Trainer Gait 1996 Jamie Keast   No Need   Mike Austin  (Pace) 1997 Dale Forbes   Incredible Fella   Ron Barron  (Pace) 1998 Mark Jones  Sylvia’s Star   Kevin Townley  (Trot) 1999 Philip Keats  Valiant Heart  Peter Bagrie (Pace) 2000 Stephen McNally  Russ The Legend  Gerard O’Reilly  (Trot) 2001 Lisa Godsall (Orange) Bergen Carl Middleton (Trot) 2002 Kirstin Green (Barclay) Galleon’s Telepathy Michael House  (Trot) 2003 Gavin Smith Bristle Paul Nairn (Trot) 2004 Nick Ydgren Onedin Legacy  Henderson Hunter (Pace) 2005 Gavin Smith  Atomic Dusk Patrick O’Reilly (Pace) 2006 Jonny Cox Lady Segil Phil Williamson (Trot) 2007 Sam Smolenski Amber Gambler Fred Fletcher (Trot) 2008 Shane Walkinshaw  Ronnie Coute Murray Edmonds (Trot) 2009 Regan Todd Unique Star Mark Jones (Trot) 2010 Andrew Veint  Double Bundy Michael Heenan (Trot) 2011 Matthew Williamson Maori Invasion Phil Williamson (Trot) 2012 Matthew Williamson Beyond Reason Phil Williamson (Trot) 2013 Matthew Williamson William Lance Bevan Heron (Trot) 2014 Robbie Close  Aile Rouge Robbie Holmes (Trot) 2015 Jessica Young Arran Chief  Andrew Faulks (Trot) 2017 Katie Cox King Of The Roses John Versteeg (Trot)

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