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A lot of of the harness racing pundits looking at today's Westport Cup were convinced that those off the back marks would find it difficult to win the race due to the leader bias of the Paterson Park track.   It is a good thing Cullect A Guinness can't read as the lone back marker on 30 metres turned in an outstanding staying performance to take this years Westport Cup.   John Dunn settled the big son of Gotta Go Cullect well back in the field early before getting on the three wide line and working himself into the one by one with just over a lap to run.   Coming out on the point of the turn, Cullect A Guinness dashed clear and while a couple closed late, he never looking in danger of being beaten.   Cullect A Guinness paced the 3200 metres on grass in 4:11.8 with closing sectionals of 61.3 and 29.5.   It was Cullect A Guinness's seventh win at just his fourteenth start and took his earnings over the $50,000 mark.   John Dunn was impressed with the performance.   “This horse never fails to impress this time in.”   “He won his first race two and a half years ago but then broke down.”   “We gave him plenty of time to get over his problems but when we brought him back in he looked terrible so we turned him out again.”   “This time in he has just gone from strength to strength”   “I got a nice drag around to get handy but when I pulled him out he just went straight past them.”   “I may have been a bit hard on him in the straight as he was running away from them at the line”   “He has just absolutely bolted in,” John said.   One thing that has been noticeable all this campaign has been the tendancy of Cullect A Guinness to get his head around at right angles during the running.   “He won't accept any gear to straighten him up so it is just something you have to put up with,” John said.   It is Murphy's law that as soon a stallion dies or is withdrawn from service that his progency excel on the track.   With Gotta Go Cullect back in work with Jay Abernethy, it shouldn't be a surprise that Cullect A Guinness is on the rampage through the grades.   Cullect A Guinness     Harnesslink Media

It is a fact of life in harness racing that having a season or two away from the track due to injury or illness can be career ending for some horses who never recapture their former glory once they comeback. Having a horse attempting a comeback after six and a half years on the sidelines due to injury and stallion duty would seem a herculean task but that is what the former age group star Gotta Go Cullect is attempting at the moment. Brought outright by Alabar (NZ) Ltd for stud duties when injury brought his racing career to a premature end , Gotta Go Cullect was given every show by breeders in his six years at stud. He has served 550 mares in those six seasons which has resulted in 399 live foals on the ground. As of today he has produced 45 winners including such smart types as Al Raza 1:52.1 (H) ($149,977), the Southland Oaks winner Royal Counsel, 1:54.2 ($88,202), the current form pacer Cullect A Guinness, 1:55.1 ($39,690 and Harrysul 1:57.1 ($45,056) but overall his numbers have fallen short of what is required in today’s hugely competitive stallion market and the numbers of mares he served each season has dropped accordingly. Alabar head honcho Graeme Henley was at a crossroads as the 2015-2016 breeding season drew close on what to do with Gotta Go Cullect – especially with the imminent arrival of high profile new recruit He’s Watching meaning Alabar needed to free up a stallion paddock. " I’d previously had a couple of approaches from Jay Abernethy to lease the horse and when I weighed it all up that looked to be the best option for Gotta Go Cullect going forward." "Especially with Jay having a water treadmill to get him fit without having to put pressure on his legs." " Jay had driven Gotta Go Cullect in his first five starts for four wins and a second and has a genuine fondness for the horse and was keen to be reunited with him." " Gotta Go Cullect has had six years as a stallion." "He’s kept himself fairly fit but without the stress of training and racing. As a result his legs were looking great when he went to Jay's." " The reports from Jay have been very positive and I think at this stage it is highly likely we will see Gotta Go Cullect back at the races early in 2016. We’re really grateful to Jay for looking after Gotta Go Cullect and hope it goes well for them both" Graeme said.   Gotta Go Cullect was an outstanding two and three year old racing against quality horses such as Stunin Cullen, 1:53.7 ($1,493,716), Highview Tommy 1:54 ($1,021,904) and Tintin In America 1:53.2 ($934,305) and while it is unrealistic to expect him to race at that level again at this stage of his career, class will ensure he won't disgrace himself where ever he lines up. Harnesslink Media

A profitable start to the summer got a whole let better for Cullect A Guinness on Sunday afternoon at Rangiora Raceway as he dominated a very good field to win the Summer Cup by an impressive five and a half lengths. Backed into favourite for today's cup over the 2600m on the grass, Cullect A Guinness made a great beginning from his 10m handicap and was soon up disputing the pace as they headed down the straight for the first time. After a brief tussle for the lead with Jerry Garcia he was able to take the front with just under a lap to go and then dominated the race from the top as he had done at Oamaru a fortnight ago. Going down the back straight he faced some fresh challenges from first Royal Counsel and then Star Of Dionysis, but he always looked to be travelling well within himself. Turning for home, all chasers appeared flat and when driver John Dunn asked him for the supreme effort at the 200m, the response was instant. The further he went, the bigger the gap became. Star Of Dionysis for tenaciously for his second placing, as too did Royal Counsel for third. Stablemates The Royal Garden (5th) and Mach Cruiser (8th), were both seen running home with purpose in the straight. Today's win was the 6th from just 13 starts for the Gotta Go Cullect 5yr old. With a further five placings also, he is doing a tremendous job for his owner/breeder, Peter Higinbottom, having banked just under $40,000. There are few more genuine pacers going around in the Canterbury region at the moment than this fellow, which has graduated to C5 with today's win, meaning that a coast campaign would seem unlikely, but will be something that Robert and John will be discussing. Well done to Peter, John and Robert on a great win, which tops off a very good weekend for the Robert Dunn stable with the four wins overall. Robert Dunn Racing Stables  -  Check site here

The harness racing meeting at Rangiora on Thursday saw the debut of the four year gelding Star Fantasy for the old team of Benny Hill and Ricky May. The son of Gotta Go Cullect drew badly on the second line but was very well supported by the betting public off the back of a series of impressive trial runs in Canterbury. Three wide with cover for most of the last lap, Star Fantasy burst down the outside late to win narrowly without being knocked about by driver Ricky May. Developed in Southland by Nathan Williamson, Star Fantasy qualified for Nathan at Gore at the end of August. " I owned a part of him and I am in the process of developing new stables so he was for sale right from the start." "I always thought a bit of him and it doesn't surprise me he won first up" Nathan said. Ricky May was bullish about the chances of Star Fantasy before the race and predicted a bright future for him post race. " He is very green and has lots to learn so there is a lot of upside to him." " I didn't really ask him for too much in the straight as he was always going to win anyway." " Once he gets a bit of ringcraft, he could go a fair way," Ricky said. Trainer Benny Hill  was more than happy with Star Fantasy's first up effort " He has got a lot to learn but there is plenty to like about him." " He just needs to be taken quietly at this stage or you could undo all the good work." " Ricky is the perfect driver for a horse like this" " We will just see how he comes through this race first but we may head to Ashburton next week,"Benny said. In the process of rebuilding his team at the moment, Benny has several promising young horses in the pipeline that will be seen out at workouts and trials in the next few weeks. Harnesslink Media  

YONKERS, NY, Friday, October 9, 2015 - There's a new leading lady in town. Harness racing odds-on favorite Al Raza N (Jordan Stratton, $3.90) ground down triple millionairess Anndrovette (Jason Bartlett) Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $48,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. In her first start at the adult table, Al Raza N, from post position No. 2, was her usual unhurried self. Outside numbers Anndrovette and Cinamony (George Brennan) both were put into play, with the former seating the latter. After early intervals of :27.2 and :55.4, Al Raza N took out of fourth. She engaged Anndrovette toward a 1:23.2 three-quarters (:27.3 third quarter), with Anndrovette owning length lead into the lane. However, Al Raza N was far from done, going past by three-quarters of a length in a life-best 1:52.1. Cinamony, who angled off the pylons for the drive, couldn't match strides and settled for third. Envious Hanover (Brent Holland) and Justhaven'tmetuyet (Eric Carlson) settled for the remainder. . For Al Raza N, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Gotta Go Cullect owned by Durrazzanno Stables and trained by Augie Abbatiello, it was her sixth win in 16 seasonal starts (3 wins and a second since arriving stateside). The exacta paid $29.60, the triple returned $153.50 and the superfecta paid $923. Saturday afternoon (special post time 2 PM), it's the return of the International Trot. The million-dollar event, back for the first time in two decades, goes as the fourth race (approx. post 3:10 PM), There's a $75,000 guaranteed pool Pick 5 (races 2 through 6, with $25,000 'seed money'), a hat giveaway, winning country trip contest, Oktoberfest on the track apron and much more. The 10-horse field for the 1¼ -mile classic... PP HORSE (COUNTRY) DRIVER M/L 1 Creatine (USA) Johnny Takter 4-1 2 Papagayo E (NOR) Ulf Ohlsson 5-1 3 Rod Stewart (ITA) Enrico Bellei 12-1 4 Timoko (FRA) Bjorn Goop 6-1 5 Bee a Magician (CAN) Brian Sears 3-1 6 On Track Piraten (SWE) Erik Adielsson 10-1 7 Natural Herbie (USA) Verlin Yoder 8-1 8 Mosaique Face (SWE) Adrian Kolgjini 6-1 9 BBS Sugarlight (NOR) Johan Untersteiner 6-1 10 Oasis Bi (ITA) Orjan Kihlstrom 8-1 Frank Drucker

Ballarat based Jaimie-Lee King had the last laugh on her rivals when four year old Major In Art/Laughing Meadow gelding Major Laugh blitzed his rivals in the Fishers IGA Pace at the Arrat trots on Tuesday. Trained at Smythes Creek by “boss” Emma Stewart, Major Laugh raced and driven by Jaimie-Lee starting from the extreme draw settled at the tail of the field, with polemarker Under Your Thumb kept honest all through the race by the favourite Four Starzzz Fella outside him. Send forward four wide in the last lap, Major Laugh followed Zermanion three wide in the back straight, before sprinting like a gazelle four wide to lead on the home turn, scoring by 9.5 metres over Our Sir Ivanhoe along the sprint lane after trailing the pacemaker and being held up at a vital stage, with Nobetterthanthis (one/one) third. The mile rate was 1-58.1. A winner at Mildura on June 3 when making his Victorian debut after racing mostly around the Hunter Valley, Major Laugh returned a mile rate of 1-58.1. Two relatively unknown participants of the sport were successful on the night – Bunkers Hill (Ballarat) based owner/trainer Alan Holman combining with Zac Steenhuis to land the Hygain Feeds Vicbred Pace for C1 class over 2195 metres with $61.80 chance Blude Master and Gordon’s Larry Lynch the Eastick Homes Pace for C1 class over 1790 metres with Graceful Art at $40.60. Blude Master a five year old gelded son of Attorney General and Bludegirl having start number 23 and first since April 2014 after taking a lift, was taken back at the start from outside the front row to settle at the tail of the field. Under pressure in the final circuit to follow Extra three wide, Blude Master hard driven gradually made ground and when Go Betweens four wide outside him joined in approaching the home turn, grabbed the bit and went with him to set sail after the leader Blissful Spanker. In a race than changed complexion over the concluding stages, Blude Master prevailed by a nose from Go Betweens in a mile rate of 2-01.7, with Blissful Spanker 1.6 metres away in third place.  Five year old Metropolitan/Private Affair mare Graceful Affair trained by Larry Lynch racing under the banner of Lynch Harness Horses, possied mid-field in the running line from the extreme draw with local Michael Bellman in the sulky. Held up in the last lap with horses all around her as the leaders Our Bedrock and Bellas Jet kicked clear appearing to have the race to themselves, Graceful Affair came with a withering burst of speed down the centre of the track to score by 1.2 metres over Bellas Jet which raced in the open for the majority of the journey, dropping in for a breather approaching the home turn. Saab Magic flashed home late from three back the markers after also being held up prior to the home turn to be 1.5 metres away in third place. The mile rate was 1-59.4. Great Western’s Peter Manning combined with Glen Craven aboard 4-Y-0 Christian Cullen/Precious Delight gelding Precious Cullen to snare the Ararat RSL Red Poppy Bistro Pace for C0 class over 2195 metres in 1-59.2. Sent forward three wide out of gate four to cross Space Keeper running into the first turn, Precious Cullen coming off a fifth at Horsham on June 17 when badly held up on debut, ran his rivals ragged in defeating Mister Untouchable which faced the breeze for the final circuit, with Eyesrromin (four wide last lap) third.  Huntly (Bendigo) trainer/driver Anthony Crossland has Kiwi bred 4-Y-0 Love You/Sun Goddess gelding Dieu De Lamour racing in peak form, bringing up his third victory in the last four starts by taking the Ararat Vet Clinic Trotters Mobile for T0 & T1 class over 2195 metres. Biding his time four back in the moving line from the extreme draw, Dieu De Lamour when eased three wide in the last lap exploded to the front prior to the home turn, scoring by a huge 56.5 metres in 2-03.3 over Copa Comaida which led from the pole, with Truscott Sun 5.8 metres away in third place after racing in the open for most of the trip. Terang’s Matty Craven experiencing his best season ever, had an armchair drive aboard Grinfromeartoear/Classic Malibu five year old gelding Roy George in the AME System Pace for C4 to C6 class over 1790 metres, leading all of the way from gate two in accounting for Xavier Jack which trailed and Myrniongfirecracker (one/three) in a rate of 1-58.8. The winning margin was 11.8 metres. Burrumbeet trainer Ash Herbertson took advantage of a concession for Bolinda’s Josh Duggan aboard in-form 6-Y-0 Metropolitan/Ellovalooka mare Metrofromelle to capture the David O Jones Mitre 10 Pace for C2 & C3 class over 2195 metres. Settling three back in the running line from a solo second line draw, Metrofromelle was soon off and running to park outside the pacemaker Forced Out (gate two) where Duggan was content to dictate the tempo. Taking a slender lead on the final bend, Metrofromelle outstayed her rivals to score by a neck over Our Supreme Guy along the sprint lane after following Forced Out who finished 2.9 metres away in third place. Great Western trainer Brad Hunt who assists at Peter Manning’s stable, was successful with Grinfromeartoear/Big Time Babe gelding If The Mood Suits in the E. W. Bulte Timber & Hardware 3-Y-0 Pace over 2195 metres when making his third appearance at the races. Driven by Glen Craven, If The Mood Suits (gate six) was restrained as gate sped away, going back to the tail of the field. Still a long way off the leader Katsina which had crossed the pacemaker Second Hands approaching the home turn, If The Mood Suits came from the clouds on straightening to record a 1.4 metre victory in advance of Sisulu Success (one/three – three wide last lap) and Lavish Smile (one/two) in a rate of 2-02.7. Perhaps the biggest winner of the night was Gotta Go Cullect/Princess Of Stars colt Rockstar Confusion on debut for Armstrong duo Brooke Hansen and Tim O’Brien in the Chally’s Bar & Bistro 3-Y-0 Trotters Mobile over 2195 metres. Driven by Maryborough’s Ash Matthews, Rockstar Confusion although rocky in the score-up, led from the pole only to gallop running into the first turn appearing to throw away any chance of figuring in the finish, which allowed Uwouldntbelieverit to take over. Still a mile off the leader Strazeele which had crossed to lead for the final circuit, Rockstar Confusion showed a terrific turn of speed in the last lap to get close to the front runner on straightening and in a ding-dong duel all the way up the running, gained the judge’s nod by a half head in 2-05.7. Hanging On A Dream finished 35.6 metres away in third place off a mid-field passage. Len Baker  

Memories of the late and great doyen of the Melbourne Showgrounds – Gordon Rothacker were revived at Shepparton trots on Wednesday, when Gotta Go Cullect/Wendy Anne filly Heirloom Angel greeted the judge on debut in the 2nd Heat of the Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series for harness racing Two Year Old Fillies over 2190 metres. Bred and raced by Gordon’s daughter Judy and granddaughter Kate, Heirloom Angel trained at Doreen by Craig Turnbull and driven by Gavin Lang carrying the famous Rothacker colours of Red with a Dark Blue V, led throughout from the pole to impressively account for Jovial Jurno Lombo (three back the markers) by 5.5 metres, with Rockstar Angel ((one/one – three wide last lap) third. The mile rate 2-03.4. by Len Baker Harness Racing Victoria

Prominent South Australian harness racing participant Ryan Hryhorec has enjoyed another raid on Victoria’s riches. Hryhorec made the trek across the border for last night’s Mildura meeting and returned home with a treble. “I’m very pleased with the result,” Hryhorec declared. “Especially with Sammy Seelster. “I had been waiting to find the right race for him there as he is eligible for the Vicbred bonus. “For him to pick it up at his first attempt it a great result.” Leading throughout from barrier five, Sammy Seelster staved off a late challenge from Scout Hall Road to score by a head, with One Golden Day five-and-a-half metres away third. Covering the last half in 60.1 seconds, the son of Gotta Go Cullect rated 2:02.5 for the 2190 metres. “He has been racing well, so I knew he’d be hard to beat,” Hryhorec said. “I’ve got nothing specific in mind for him now, so he will just go in whatever suitable races I can find for him back home.” Hryhorec completed a running double when he piloted Skylarker to a drought-breaking victory. Also leading throughout, the daughter of Village Jasper registered her first win since August 2014. “That was her last run for me,” Hryhorec said. “I think she will be better suited to the smaller track at Mildura, so she will head to Frank Cavallaro’s stable. “I’m sure she can win a couple more there.” Hryhorec then combined with fellow South Australian trainer Allan Cronin to score with Trysomemagic, which led throughout in 2:02.3 for the 2190 metres. “It was good to get that win for Allan and topped the night right off,” Hryhorec said. PAUL COURTS

Syndicates have been around in harness racing for as long as anyone can remember with varying degrees of success or failure. One syndicate that has had a long run of success is the Central Courage syndicate which has been having a great ride for over ten years now. Their latest winner is the very smart Gotta Go Cullect mare Al Raza who won her ninth race from just twenty two starts when she took out the $25,000 Southern Country Cups final on Diamonds Day at Ascot Park on Sunday. Away well from the 30 metres mark for driver Tim Williams, Al Raza settled fifth in indian file early before slotting into the one by one when Sheeza Shark and Nathan Williamson moved to the death seat outside the leader I Smart. Positions stayed the same until a lap out when The Wrath Of Robyn looped the field to sit outside I Smart. Passing the 400 metres Sheeza Shark peeled out three wide and quickly went to the lead while Al Raza loomed up four wide as they straightened for home. These two smart mares drew clear with Al Raza proving too good on the day as she went to the line a comfortable winner by 1 1/4 lengths over a game Sheeza Shark who just held out a flying That's Hunting Pink for second. Al Raza paced the 2700 metres from a stand in a smart 3:24.4 in the cool and windy conditions, a mile rate of 2:01.8 with closing sectionals of 58.5 and 28.9. As you can hear on the video the syndicate are a very enthusastic group of owners and you certainly knew they were on track on Sunday. Driver Tim Williams was impressed with the run. " She did it a bit easier than it looked actually." " We got a lovely run following Sheeza Shark and I was pretty confident she would be hard to beat a fair way out. " I feel for Matty (Williamson) a bit as I was only on today because Matty got suspended," Tim said. Co trainer Geoff Knight would love to have a barnful like Al Raza. " She is such an easy horse to train and always gives of her best." "It doesn't matter weather it is a stand or a mobile or a mile or two miles, Al Raza is always competitive." " I was looking for a horse for this syndicate and Bill Keeler was working her on our property and I was quite taken by her." "It took a wee while but we managed to buy her in the end and she is just the perfect syndicate horse as she is always a chance in her races," Geoff said. The Central Courage syndicate has been in existence for over ten years and have rarely had a horse who hasn't paid their way. " It is a really good syndicate of people from Cental Otago mainly and we have had a ball over the last ten years." "We have had a lot of success with this syndicate but Al Raza would be the best of them,"Geoff said. Geoff and Jude Knight have built up a really successful training operation based at Roxburgh and judging by the smiles of the syndicate post race, there may be a few more people in the southern region lining up to join one of their syndicates in the next few months. Harnesslink Media  

October 12, 2001 seems so long ago to Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Sam Dimarco.  On that Friday evening Dimarco geared up talented pacer Bills Bingo for the first race at Harold Park. Bills Bingo started favourite in the race but locked wheels and ran last…it was the last time Dimarco took a horse to the races for more than a decade. After some major health issues that kept Dimarco away from the sport, including a battle with depression, it was fitting he returned on Valentines Day, February 14th 2014.  He loved his horses and through the support and love from his daughter Marissa, Dimarco was back doing what made him feel good. Fast forward to this week and Dimarco is about to enjoy a thrill many trainers never get to experience.  Dimarco will have two runners - Gotta Go Gold and Shadow Runner - in Saturday night’s Group One Alabar Bathurst Gold Crown, with both owned by Marissa. “Marissa is very keen on the horses,” Dimarco said. “She has a few broodmares and breeds a couple every season, but has always had a love for the horses since she was a young child. “We went out to Brooklyn Lodge last year, and when she picked the two of them out, I asked her which trainer she was going to send them to and she told me she wanted me to train them. “She wanted to help me and thought the horses would do that.” Shadow Runner was super impressive winning his heat by 11 metres last weekend, while Gotta Go Gold had to work a bit harder to record his five-metre win…something the son of Gotta Go Cullect has become accustomed to. “Rickie Alchin broke them both in and told us they would both make it, so we took them home and spelled them at a property at Wyee,” Dimarco said. “But we got a call to say Gotta Go Gold wasn’t very well and looked to be suffering from colic. “We raced to see him and he looked to be in a bad way. The vets were treating him for colic, but he wasn’t improving, so took him to an equine hospital in Newcastle and they did some investigations and worked out he had a blockage in his intestine.” After discussions with a surgeon about the operation, Sam and Marissa contacted Alchin to see whether he thought it was worth spending $10,000 to try and save him. “We put Rickie on the spot and he suggested we try and save him and I know Marissa would have had him operated on no matter what the cost,” Dimarco said. Gotta Go Gold debuted last month and was an impressive winner at Newcastle winning by more than 25 metres. “He has only been beaten once and that was when Shadow Runner proved too strong for him at Newcastle,” Dimarco said. “He is very speedy, but probably isn’t as strong as Shadow Runner. “Shadow Runner has won all three starts, but his biggest test is going to be this Saturday night in the Final.” At Monday night’s barrier draw neither freshman fared wellm with Gotta Go Gold drawing barrier sevenm while Shadow Runner has drawn gate 10. HRNSW Media

Harness racing breeders are never slow to pick up the trends about new sires and these days are pretty quick to abandon any stallion who they think is not delivering on the track. The numbers of mares served by some of our newer sires this year are way down on what they served just twelve months ago and are due no doubt to the lack of winners these stallions are producing. The first one we are going to review is Art Official who dropped this season to just 17 mares after covering 72 last season. His oldest crop are three year olds and numbers 49 horses of which nineteen have qualified but just five have won a race. His second crop are two year olds this year and that crop numbers 80 horses and have produced one smart horse in Salty Robyn 1:53.9 ($ 44,600) who has been burning up Menagle in the last two months. His Australian offspring are doing a good job with small numbers which makes the New Zealand situation harder to understand.  Overall Art Official has been a little disappointing and unless his stock have a big next six months it is hard to see him coming back to Australasia next season. Tintin In America is another sire whose numbers fell away this year even though his oldest crop are only two year olds. That first crop numbers only 32 horses but to date has only had three qualifiers which is disappointing. It is way to early to make any decision about him as a sire but he only served 13 mares this year which means the breeders have taken a wait and see approach. Tintin In America badly needs four or five of those two year olds to salute the judge and create some momentum before the next breeding season or his days as a sire might be numbered. The former champion pacer Elsu is another stallion to get the cold shoulder from breeders. This is a stallion who has produced over 250 winners of over $12,733,000 to date in Australasia alone yet breeders have deserted him. This year he served just six mares in New Zealand and his future may lie in Australia where his stock have won over $8,424,000 and where he has left most of his winners. Gotta Go Cullect is another stallion to get the cold shoulder from breeders after being given every chance in his initial seasons at stud. In his first four years he served over 100 mares every year but this fell away bigtime this season with him attracting just 18 mares. At present he has 222 three year olds and older in New Zealand and to date he has sired just 30 winners so his days may be numbered in New Zealand. Lis Mara was an interesting one for us in that his numbers are not that bad overall. He has 175 horses three year old or older and so far has produced 49 winners and a further 37 that have qualified. Their main problem is like their sire they are better with a bit of age and people are not prepared to wait these days. From a high of 90 mares, Lis Mara dropped to just 7 mares this season and there would have to be real doubts that he would shuttle next year. Finally the trotting sire The Pres is another stallion to suffer a big drop off in demand from breeders after a slow start to his siring career. His oldest crop are just three year olds and number 38 horses and to date he has had just two winners as well as a further four qualifiers. From a high of 80 mares bred in 2013, The Pres slipped to just 13 mares this season and like all the others here badly needs a few flagbearers. It is very early for a trotting sire to be condemned but the breeders patience these days seems to wear out very quickly with any sire not performing immediately. What the above list shows is how hard it is to get a foot on the stallion ladder and once there how difficult it is to stay there. Harnesslink Media

The first harness racing meeting for the new season at Methven comes up for decision on Sunday and as per usual for this time of year it sees the emergence of a lot of spring 3 year olds. Race 1 for the CO 3 year olds and older over 2300 meters from behind the mobile has drawn a smart field with several promising 3 year olds lining up. McArdle Star form the Ken Barron barn has drawn poorly at three on the second line but his trial runs suggest a big debut run from the son of McArdle. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star will have the services of in form reinsman Blair Orange and looks a big winning chance. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn is another 3 year old who looks above average and from the one draw can make his own luck. A full brother to the outstanding Highview Tommy 1:55.2 ($1,021,904) Highview Freddy had four starts at two against Say My Name and company so it is a big drop back in class here. He ran a lovely fourth behind Margarita in his first run back from a spell and looks sure to be a major player with Sam Ottley in the bike. Another runner from the Robert Dunn barn is Altissimo who has drawn nicely at barrier three. She is a 3 year old daughter of Mach Three from a Beach Towel half sister to the champion pacer Elsu 1:53.6 ($2,083,352). Altissimo qualified recently on the track in very impressive fashion and has the services of leading reinsman John Dunn in the bike.  Another 3 year old making his debut for the season is the Gotta Go Cullect gelding Until Further Notice from two on the second line from the Jimmy Curtin barn. Until Further Notice is a recent addition to the stable and he is now owned by long time stable client Ralph Nieper who raced his half brother Slash An Burn 1:54.7 ($277,288) from the Curtin barn. Placed twice as a two year old when racing out of the Murray Swain barn in Southland, Until Further Notice won a trial last week at Ashburton with smart closing sectionals of 56 .8 and 27.4 and looks ready to rumble. Just so all the 3 year olds don't have it all their own way, the Nigel McGrath trained and driven Western Art with four seconds in his last five starts looms as a fly in the ointment for the 3 year olds as he is well overdue to take out a maiden race.  We think with his favourable draw Highview Freddy just gets the nod from us but it  really is an open race and it wouldn't surprise us to see one of the other four mentioned in this article salute the judge. Harnesslink Media

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

A nasty smash which caused the $45,000 Group Two Southern Supremacy to be abandoned put a dampener on what was otherwise a great days harness racing at Invercargill. As the talented 12 horse line-up raced into the back straight, Meticulous (Natalie Rasmussen), who was four back the fence, galloped and then fell, causing chaos to the second half of the field. Both Mark Purdon (Gentle Western) and Kirk Larsen (Jango Fett) were dislodged from their sulkies. Jango Fett then galloped off driverless and the race was quickly called off due to safety precautions. All horses and drivers came through the crash relatively unscathed but because the race had gone further than 1000 metres the race was unable to be re-run and was therefore abandoned. It is currently unknown if the race will be rescheduled for a later date. Meanwhile, the $45,000 Southland Oaks was taken out by the Gordon and Colin Lee trained Royal Counsel, who clocked a track record time of 2-39.4 when winning the Group Two feature. Driven patiently by Gordon Lee, who celebrated the win with a victory salute, Royal Counsel boomed down centre track to down Raksdeal by a head. Goodness Gracious Me and Willow, who was made to work hard early, were close up in third and fourth. Royal Counsel, who was sent South to Gordon & Colin Lee by Malcolm Shinn, is owned by Shinn’s partner Lisa Daily along with Jan Calvert. The big strong daughter of Gotta Go Cullect has now won three of her nine starts. For Colin Lee, it was his second win in the prestigious Southland race after taking out the 1988 edition with Scapa Chip. Other impressive winners on the card included stylish two-year-old debutant Kept Under Wraps, who downed the previously unbeaten Itz Bettor To Win, while Pemberton Shard claimed victory in the $25,000 Southern Country Cups Final. By Mitchell Robertson    

Always A Virgin gelding Blackntan remained unbeaten with his third win in three attempts in tonight’s $15,000 Kindergarten Stakes at Adelaide’s Globe Derby Park track. Blackntan won from the Grinfromeartoear filly Whats Emma Got and Go Go Red. Lot 38 in today’s WA Yearling Sale is the only Always A Virgin yearling in the catalogue and is a filly from the Million To One mare Our First Million. There are a pair of Grinfromeartoear fillies in today’s catalogue including one from the Group One winning 2yo filly Sheza Clout 1:58.1 $252,928. Lots 72 and 73 in the Western Australian sale are a colt and filly by Gotta Go Cullect who sired his 15th winner when the 3yo colt Gotta Go Chocolate won on debut at Bunbury last night in a smart 1:59.6 rate over the 2100 metres. Earlier in the day the 3yo Gotta Go Cullect filly Royal Counsel won her second race of the season at Wyndham in New Zealand at her sixth start in a time of 1:57.0 over the mile. The Group Three New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes for 2yos at the same meeting was won by the Bettor’s Delight filly Itz Bettor To Win which ran the mile in a scintillating 1:54.3 to win from the Art Major filly Say My Name. Itz Bettor To Win is from the Courage Under Fire mare Itz Queen Of Newyork. Lot 10 at today’s Gloucester Standardbreds WA Yearling Sale is a filly bred on the same cross being by Bettor’s Delight from the Courage Under Fire mare Priscilla Rocks. While Itz Queen Of Newyork won just one 3yo race in a moderate 2:03.0, Priscilla Rocks won four races as a 2yo and a further four as a 3yo including a prelude of the WA Oaks on her way to career earnings of $115,179. The 2014 Gloucester Standardbreds WA Yearling Sale gets under way at the Belmont Park Sales Complex at 1:00pm with a parade of yearlings commencing at 10:00am. The office at the complex will open at 8:00am for those wishing to make an early start on finding their champion.

When it comes to racing in the North Island, especially at some of the lower key meetings away from Alexandra Park, it pays to follow Abernethy brothers, Jay and Sailesh. The capable pair were at it again at Manawatu on Thursday night, with Sailesh winning one race and Jay training and driving two. The brothers also quinelled the tenth race on the card with Gotta Justdoit (Jay) narrowly downing Thats Bettor (Saliesh). The Manawatu Quinella remarkably comes just four days after they drove back-to-back Quinellas at Stratford. Jay has now reined home 21 winners for the season, while younger brother Sailesh is hot on his tail with a tally of 19. Both of Jay’s winners on Thursday were bred by Sue Martin, hence the ‘Gotta Go’ name tag they both carry. The first of Jay’s winners, Gotta Go Armbro, has now won 3 races from just 15 starts, making him the second most successful New Zealand bred son of promising sire Gotta Go Cullect. By Mitchell Robertson

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