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Well known North Island harness racing identity Jeff Crouth will retire from training in mid-October after more than thirty years of involvement. But, before that, he would like to get that winning feeling one more time. “I may line-up a couple of horses next week but that will be it,” said Crouth. “So it would be nice to get at least one more winner,” he added. The Pukekohe based conditioner will start three horses on Friday at Alexandra Park, which all look at least each-way chances. The first of them is Home From The Sea, who competes in race one and looks a good chance on the back of a handy fresh-up third. “She came from the outside of the front line last week, so it was a good effort,” said Crouth. “From the four draw you would think she would have to be at least a place chance.” The next of Crouth’s runners is Tormenta, who is a full-brother to his former stable star Stormy Sirocco. “He is a very nice maiden with a lot of ability,” said Crouth. “He doesn’t have a great draw and there are a few handy ones in the field, but he is definitely an each-way prospect.” The last of the runners that will sport Crouth’s red, white, and black colours on Friday is Molly O’Shea, and Crouth rates her as the best of his three charges. “She is a lovely filly, who has trialled up really well,” Crouth enthused. “She has drawn two, and I expect her to go very close to winning.” “Millie Sampson dead-heated with her in a recent trial so perhaps she will be the hardest to beat,” he added. When asked what he is going to do once retired, Crouth said him and his wife Trish would spent a year on the road travelling around New Zealand before making any other plans. “We haven’t had a decent holiday in years, so we will get that out of the way first,” laughed Crouth. Crouth said that he believes that things need to change dramatically if people are going to stay in the game. “It’s hard for anyone outside the top 10 on the trainers’ premiership to survive these days.” “We are also losing too many good horses to Australia. Stormy Sirocco is doing well over there but exports are tough on trainers. I’ve lost a couple recently,” he added. Crouth has recently purchased a retirement home at Marsden Cove just south of Whangarei. “I’ve had some close shaves with my health in recent years and the Grim Reaper has confronted me three times. I think it’s now time for us to be doing better things than training horses. Crouth rates Great Northern Oaks and Harness Jewels winner Running On Faith as the best filly he trained during his career, while he said Casino Lord and Butlers First are among the best male pacers he has been involved with. “Cheetah Man, Thunderstorm, Vital Eyes, and Kamwood Kango, are other nice horses I have been associated with,” he added. The former Franklin Trotting Club president had a great association with the rich Sales Series Final and won the race an amazing four times. Crouth has also been president of the Horseman’s Association and was vice president of the North Island Standardbred Breeders Association. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in harness racing but now it’s time for me to do something new. I might own one, one day but that will be it,” Crouth concluded. By Mitchell Robertson    

Some harness racing folk who witnessed Adore Me's enormous run in tonight's (Friday March 1) Group One Northern Oaks for 3-year-old fillies have described it as one of the most impressive performances by a filly they have seen at Alexandra Park for decades.

New Zealand Northern Oaks aspirants be wary, the unbeaten $1.25 favourite, Adore Me is 100 per cent fit going into tomorrow night's (March 1) Group One feature pace for 3-year-old pacing fillies at northern harness racing headquarters - Alexandra Park.

Harness racing owner Robert Famularo was as surprised as anyone when Carabella was named Harness Horse of the Year last night, only the second time in 43 years that a three-year-old filly has taken the top award. On a vintage night in Christchurch, to end a vintage season, Famularo, his family and trainer Benny Hill wore a groove in the carpet up to the stage, accepting five awards.

Carabella is the best harness racing filly in New Zealand. No-one can deny the brilliant brown filly that status after she put in a paralysing late win to win tonight's (Friday March 4) Group One Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks at Alexandra Park tonight.

The decade-long curse of the Northern Oaks has claimed another victim with the retirement of Lauraella. Last season's champion 3-year-old filly has become one of New Zealand's most commercial broodmares after her retirement this week because of injury.

Don't be surprised if you see Zac Butcher doing cart wheels and handstands down his Cambridge street today (Wednesday). Harness racing's rising star got the nod today from Patumahoe trainer Geoff Small to drive Tintin In America in Friday's $500,000 Auckland Cup.

Auckland Trotting Cup favourite Monkey King is under a slight cloud going into Friday's $500,000 classic. However, trainer Brendon Hill is still confident he will get the $2.40 favourite to the post for the North Island's great harness race.

If anyone deserved to win a Group One race then its Brian West of Studholme Bloodstock. The prolific harness racing breeder has produced bucket loads of Group One champions over the years but tonight (Friday) at Alexandra Park West got to experience his very own Group One glory when Secret Potion won the $150,000 Northern Oaks for 3yo pacing fillies.

The New Zealand TAB's harness racing bookie, Steve Richardson has released the odds for the two Group races tomorrow night (Friday) at Alexandra Park. The initial markets see the Mark Purdon/Grant Payne pair of Lancome and Highview Tommy both highly fancied their respective races.

This Friday night at Alexandra Park is a chance for the harness racing girls to shine on and off the track. The feminine focus of the inaugural 'Girls Night Out' will be paired with the best three-year-old fillies doing battle in the Group 1 Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks.

The New Zealand TAB will run a National Syndicate on the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup race meeting at Addington on Tuesday 10 November. New Zealand Racing Board GM of Racing & Wagering Bill Colgan said the success of the National Syndicate on the Harness Jewels indicated there was a demand for this type of product on days that had a broad national appeal.

David Butcher is one of New Zealand's best big-race drivers. He's eighth on New Zealand's all-time driving list with 1470 wins. He drove Elsu to win the 2005 Interdominion Grand Final. He won two Auckland Cups with the same horse in 2003 and 2004, and last November he won his first New Zealand Cup behind Changeover.

Yarndley Farms in Ohaupo continues to lead the way in harness racing breeding in New Zealand. Following the recent Auckland Cup Carnival at Alexandra Park 'The Farm' had bred both Group One winning 3-year-olds.

Three of Australia's best 3-year-old pacers have been nominated for the $600,000 Woodlands Northern Derby at Alexandra Park on March 6, but don't hold your breath that all three will actually set foot in New Zealand.

The exponential growth of stakes in harness racing in New Zealand of recent seasons continued today when it was announced that $1.6 million is being injected into stakes for next season.

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