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The first Jewels held at Addington has overcome the worst weather in the meeting’s history to boast near record turnover. And the numbers have left bedraggled harness racing administrators beaming. Saturday’s nine group-one meeting looked in danger of being postponed just hours before the first race as Canterbury was lashed by extreme weather and a giant puddle formed inside the track threatening to encroach on the racing surface at the 1000m mark. But with the drains working overtime and the recently re-surfaced track overseen by John Denton, the meeting not only went ahead but provided fair racing. And while the weather impacted the walk-up crowd, the betting figures have been surprisingly positive considering the conditions and the large number of odds-on favourites, which can often be off-putting for punters from the two other codes. The combined on and off-course domestic turnover was $2,547,222, of which $974,816 was fixed odds. That is already the third highest amount ever invested domestically on a Harness Jewels meeting and with the Australian turnover expected to come in around $750,000 the meeting should have Australasia-wide turnover close to $3.5million, without counting money bet with corporate bookmakers. That will mean the meeting has the second highest Australasian turnover in the Jewels’s 13-year history with the only higher one coming when the Queensland Oaks meeting at Eagle Farm and several other Australian fixtures were abandoned in 2016, creating record figures for the Cambridge-run Jewels that season. “We couldn’t be happier,” says HRNZ’s Darrin Williams. “Sure the weather was brutal but the betting figures make up for that. “I really feel for Addington because they put their heart and soul into the day and did a super job and the weather was against them. “But they already had a good crowd and the only under-utilised area they had was the marquee on top of the stables which would have been great but for the weather, which nobody could control. “So the results are very pleasing, especially the way the track responded. That is a real credit to John Denton and his staff.” Had Saturday’s meeting being held at Ashburton, who did a great job with their first six running of the Jewels, the weather would have had a far more dire impact. Next year’s Jewels return to Cambridge in the annual inter-island rotation with the Waikato track to host a two-day meeting, racing the Friday night before the Jewels on the Saturday.   Michael Guerin

 This is the story the bookies don't want to read. Because the odds setters know there will be an avalanche of money for the All Stars runners at the Harness Jewels tomorrow and the bad news is champion trainer Mark Purdon couldn't be happier with his team. The All Stars have eight of the nine favourites for tomorrow's $1,275,000 mega meeting at Addington and as always they will be at the centre of the multi bets which are so popular on Jewels day. With the Jewels the Grand Finals of the harness racing season the pecking order is well and truly established, hence the six pacing races tomorrow all having odds-on favourites.  So punters look for more juicy returns via the multis. By comparison, the trotting races have just one odds-on chance in Enhance Your Calm and the 2 and 4-year-old trots look more open. But after a few setbacks late last week, when Oscar Bonavena just missed a Jewels start and then several of the All Stars horses reacted badly to a worming paste, Purdon couldn't be happier going into tomorrow. "The worming paste was just a reaction thing and not a big deal and the horses are all well over that," said Purdon. "The ones who raced last Friday (Turn It Up, Ashley Locaz, Elle Mac and Funatthebeach) weren't treated with it while we took a lot of the other Jewels runners into Addington on Wednesday for their final fast work. "I couldn't fault any of them. It is getting late in the season and some horses get tired but I couldn't be happier with where the team is at." Purdon thinks Elle Mac (mares) and Turn It Up (boys) will win their 4-year-old pacing races but he is not as confident with Winterfell and King's Landing in the trot.  "Winterfell is back to his best but the way Sundees Son won the two big races in Auckland if he behaves himself he might be too good for us, especially from the draws." The 2-year-old pacing races also look to the All Stars to dominate with One Change and Sweet On Me deserved favourites. "The way the draws have worked out I think One Change will lead and that will make it really hard on [stablemate] Flying Even Bettor while Sweet On Me's work on Wednesday was very good. She feels very strong and if anything tries to park her out I think she will crush them." But while the stable has $2.40 favourite Tailored Elegance in the juvenile trot Purdon warns she faces a big task. "She is very professional and a lovely filly but there are some nice horses in there and a horse like Ultimate Stride might even be more talented than her just at the moment," says Purdon. The 3-year-old races are the most interesting tactical battles for the All Stars, with none of their three favourites guaranteed the lead. Princess Tiffany looks to be in a two-horse race with arch rival Belle Of Montana and Purdon is positively beaming about his filly. "She is spot on, in a really good place but we know Belle Of Montana is a very good filly too." Enhance Your Calm has occasionally shown signs of growing pains and mental fragility this autumn but has been in the zone this week, boosting confidence he can overcome a second line draw, which may not be a disadvantage as the front line looks super fast. The best version of him would win. And Purdon saves some of his highest post-workout praise for Jesse Duke, who is the only group one winner in the 3-year-old male pace. "He worked very well on Wednesday so he is in the right place. I wouldn't be surprised if Heisenberg held the lead but if he does then I'd be keen to stay parked," he says. "That could make it a tricky race but I am confident he [Jesse Duke] is in the right form to try that."   Michael Guerin

Zac Butcher isn’t giving away his driving tactics in what shapes as the cat-and-mouse clash of the Harness Jewels on Saturday.  But his driving history may be the biggest clue.  Butcher pilots exceptional filly Belle Of Montana in the $150,000 three-year-old Diamond and as the winner of three group ones in the last six months she would usually be red hot after drawing the ace. But she is only second elect after being clearly outpointed by another special filly in Princess Tiffany in the New Zealand Oaks two weeks ago.  Belle Of Montana though has a 3-1 winning record over Princess Tiffany and with the ace draw Butcher would be justified in staying in front, even though Belle Of Montana has never led throughout before.  If he chooses that role then he has the inside advantage and Princess Tiffany would have to sit parked or at least cover more ground after starting from barrier five.  Butcher is staying quiet about his early preference.  “Often you can’t tell until you get out there and things can change very quickly,” he offers.  “So I will drive her how she feels. I have a lot of respect for Princess Tiffany but we have beaten her three times.”  Butcher says training legend Barry Purdon never gives him driving instructions so he is not going in with a pre-determined plan.  “Barry just says good luck and see you when you get back,” smiles Butcher. Their career best performances would suggest Belle Of Montana might have more sheer speed than Princess Tiffany but the later looks a more brutal stayer. And when it comes to Butcher and speed freak pacers, history suggests he has the ice in his veins to hand up and launch a late pin-point attack.  That is exactly what he did to win Jewels races with Lancewood Lizzie (Ashburton, 2015) and an even more brilliant drive on Jacks Legend (Ashburton, 2017), both times leading then giving that advantage away before waiting until deep into the straight to divebomb the leader.  And you don’t even have to go that far back to find Butcher handing up on a red hot favourite and waiting till late to assert his superiority, he did it three starts ago with Belle Of Montana.  That was in the Victoria Oaks when he led as a $1.40 chance but shocked lead-at-all-cost Aussie punters by gifting that lead to second favourite Kualoa with just 1200m to run.  Even with the short Melton straight Belle Of Montana outsprinted the leader so the smart money would be on Belle Of Montana taking a trail on Princess Tiffany on Saturday should the latter’s driver Natalie Rasmussen get serious inside the first 800m. So who would win a drag race down the Addington straight? The answer: probably the one closest to their absolute peak on the day in a race that appears to lack much other pressure and could see a wicked last 400m.  As well as having handy place chances on Saturday in the well drawn On The Cards (race seven) and Kratos (race five), Butcher will also have his first Jewels runner as a trainer.  He has only just branched out into training, albeit very much part time, and looks to have found a talented first flagbearer in two-year-old Zeuss Bromac.  He was a huge second in a maiden race on debut and snuck into the Jewels but has copped a second row draw.  “I think he is a good horse in the making but obviously this is a huge challenge from that draw,” he adds.  “Still, we think enough of him to be thinking about the Breeders Crown after this.”   Michael Guerin

Champion reinsman Tony Herlihy is willing to swap one of the greatest milestones in New Zealand racing history for a Harness Jewels win this weekend. But he admits he might struggle to get either. Herlihy took his record total of domestic driving wins to 3497 when Gambit won at Alexandra Park on Friday night, meaning he is a good night at the office away from becoming the first driver or jockey in this country to 3500 wins. While 3500 is hardly a number that roles off the tongue, every winner Herlihy drives is a new record as Maurice McKendry, who sits next to Herlihy in the Alexandra Park drivers room almost every week, is the only other horseperson to partner over 3000 winners here. Ricky May is the next reinsman honing in on the number, with 2913 domestic wins in his career and with Dexter Dunn driving so successfully in North America, it could be a long time before anybody in either code threatens Herlihy's numbers. David Walsh holds the record for a jockey with 2451 victories. But Herlihy could end the weekend still stuck on 3497 as he won't drive at Alexandra Park this Friday night because he will be in Christchurch preparing stable reps Tickle Me Pink and Bolt For Brilliance for the Jewels on Saturday. Bolt For Brilliance is already in Canterbury and won well enough at the Addington trials on Saturday to suggest he is not the worst chance in the juvenile trot but Tickle Me Pink is the second favourite for the 3-year-old trot and has been one of the comeback stories of the season. Her week has not gone to plan though, as she was one of 11 horses whose flight from Auckland to Christchurch has been delayed by fog in Canterbury, but with the weather there changing, all the horses are expected to make it to Jewels day. Herlihy warns if the worst happened and the flight can't make it, Tickle Me Pink wouldn't be risked travelling down by road. "It is too late for that, so we are sticking with the plane to get her down, but it sounds like they will get them here," Herlihy said last night. While Tickle Me Pink has won three Alexandra Park races in impressive fashion since returning from a nine-month break, Herlihy doubts she can beat the best version of Enhance Your Calm should he turn up on Saturday. "He is a bit of beast and unless he galloped and lost quite a bit of ground, he might be too good for all of us," says Herlihy. "But our filly has a touch of class and is racing really well. I am very proud of what she has achieved in basically a month of racing after coming back from such a long break." As for the hitherto unreached 3500 wins, Herlihy didn't even know he was that close until informed on Friday night and knows milestones are impossible to plan. "The last time I knew one was coming up was the 3000-win one and the family came to the races a couple of weeks in a row to be there for it and I didn't drive any winners," he laughs. "So it will happen when it happens, but it will still be a nice number to get to." Now 60, Herlihy is still driving as well as ever but not as often. He rarely drives in New Zealand outside of Alexandra Park, Addington and the better Cambridge meetings, often handing the latter opportunities to stable No2 Tony Cameron. And considering it has taken him over eight years to get from 3000 to the brink of 3500, he isn't even entertaining making it to 4000 domestic career wins, which could mean driving until he was 70. "I don't think I'll be doing that, although I am a very young 60," he says with his customary giggle.   Michael Guerin

Welcome to one of the strangest days of the harness racing season.   Most race days have a familiar pattern to them for those close to the horses. They work first, then go to the race and work more, hoping the Racing gods smile on them. Raceday is when, hopefully, when all the work pays off.  Tonight at Alexandra Park and Addington that will still be the case, the desire for winning omnipresent. But unlike any other race day of the year what happens on the track tonight might not impact some quite as much as what is revealed on their computers and phone screens just after noon.  Because that is when the draws come out for Jewels days at Addington tomorrow week.  They are the draws that matter more than for any other meeting. These are, after all, group one sprint races with not only big stakes but enormous breeding repercussions.  So just after noon today some dreams will feel a step closer to becoming reality, other will feel like they have ended.  Then trainers, drivers, owners, punters and bookies can start an eight-day game guessing game before the first ever Addington jewels.  Barry Purdon is one trainer who knows his best Jewels chance Belle Of Montana could be odds-on or $4 next Saturday depending what number the computer spits out today.  He wasn’t at all disappointed with her third to Princess Tiffany in the NZ Oaks last week but if one draws handy and the other the second line this Jewels might be as good as decided.  “They are both very good fillies but if one of them gets a long way in front of the other the one, it is going to be tough to peg back,” muses Purdon. Purdon also has two four-year-old boys heading to the Jewels and they clash in the last at Alexandra Park tonight.  While Benson Boys is enormously improved and not finished winning yet, stablemate On The Cards looks one of the bets of the night. “I don’t give the guys driving instructions but On The Cards seems to like rolling along so I can see him going forward and maybe leading,” says Purdon.  Fifth to Spankem in both the Taylor Mile and Messenger, if he leads tonight he should go to the Jewels a last-start winner.  At Addington some even more high-profile four-year-olds take centre stage as the main race becomes a $13,000 Jewels trial.  The two favourites for the four-year-old emerald in Turn It Up and Ashley Locaz have drawn wide in the 1980m event and the latter will be fitter. So tactics will be crucial but with next week’s race worth almost 12 times as much, don’t expect too many drivers trying to be heroes.  That race also features Elle Mac, one of the hottest favourites of Jewels day for the four-year-old Diamond   Michael Guerin

 Sundees Son will be asked to add a new weapon to his growing arsenal this week and it is one that could ultimately win him the Harness Jewels. The last-start Rowe Cup winner has been the surprise package of the trotting season, his late-season group one double giving him a shot at the Trotter of the Year title. He could almost put that battle to bed if he wins the 4-year-old Ruby at Addington on Saturday week and a crucial step will be the official Jewels trials on the same track this Saturday. While Sundees Son was stunning coming from well back to win both the Anzac and Rowe Cups he can't afford to be giving the likes of Winterfell, Majestic Man and King's Landing a big start over the 1980m mobile. So Sundees Son is, draw permitting, going to be asked to use his gate speed at Saturday's trials.  "We would like him to be able to run the gate this week to give us the option to do that if he draws well at the Jewels," says trainer Robert Dunn. "If he can develop that, and he hasn't had many good draws in mobile races to try in the past, then it is another string to his bow which could be really helpful." Harness Racing New Zealand has had plenty of Jewels withdrawals this week, mainly from horses who weren't likely to make the final 12 or younger horses who have hit the wall. Hardly any major players near the head of the markets have come out. But while some horses are showing signs of wear and tear this deep into the season, Dunn says his four-year-olds Sundees Son and Henry Hubert (pacer) are in great shape. "They both had scintigraphy at Matamata after the Rowe Cup carnival and we are really happy with the results."  Dunn and son John have 11 qualified for the Jewels and expect all to be there. "The one we had a setback with last week was Spellbound, who had a really high white blood cell count after she raced at Addington," he explains. "Her heart rate was 120 bpm 20 minutes after the race and even higher 10 minutes later. "So the blood tests showed what we thought they might but she has been treated and we will look after her to get her blood right and get her back on track for the Jewels." While the Jewels trials will impact the markets of far greater importance will be the draws, set to released at noon on Friday. And in a surprise move the two hottest Jewels favourites, Turn It Up (4-year-old male pace) and Elle Mac (4-year-old mares pace) will clash in a free-for-all at Addington on Friday night. Both were expected to trial this week but will instead race against a former Jewels winner in Ashley Locaz just hours after the draws are released. Meanwhile, the chances of their stablemate Oscar Bonavena making the field for the three-year-old trot are diminishing as he still sits 14th with the trainers of those above him indicating they will start, meaning he is unlikely to even make the ballot.   Michael Guerin

A couple of one-time favourites for the Harness Jewels face a nervous week to even make it to the mega meeting. Because the Jewels campaigns of stablemates Smooth Deal and Oscar Bonavena hang in the balance for very different reasons. Oscar Bonavena rocketed to favouritism for the 3-year-old trot division with a comeback win at Addington two weeks ago but after three rivals passed him on the stakes-based leaderboard he is now ranked 14th to make the field of 12. So his connections have to hope for one withdrawal before the fields are drawn on Friday to even be the emergency for the $125,000 trot at Addington on June 1. Get Lucky was the last horse to usurp Oscar Bonavena with his effortless win in the last race at Oamaru yesterday, the last day for Jewels qualifying. Connections of horses have until Friday to withdraw and the fields of 12 plus one emergency will be drawn at noon. Oscar Bonavena's late fall down the ranking has seen him drift from $1.90 to win his division a few days ago to $2.80 last night. Stablemate Smooth Deal's fall has been even more dramatic as he was the $1.40 favourite to win his division a few weeks ago but has since been beaten twice, including a battling sixth at Addington on Friday night. But he was bouncing around his paddock on Saturday morning, which was enough to deter trainer Mark Purdon from scratching him from the Jewels. "He came home, ate up and has been fine since so maybe it was just one of those nights," said Purdon. "We really don't know but we will get him vetted and then decide. But at this stage, unless the vet examination and blood tests show something is wrong with him, he will still be aimed at the Jewels." Smooth Deal is likely to trial at Addington on Saturday along with many of the Purdon-Rasmussen stars including Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up.   Michael Guerin

One of the surprise favourites for the Harness Jewels could be forced out of the million-dollar meeting by a mere $10 in stake earnings.  Because the fate of three-year-old trotting favourite Oscar Bonavena now lies in his rival’s hands.  The exciting young trotter raced to the head of his market with a stunning comeback win against older horses at Addington last Friday night.  So crushing was the victory Oscar Bonavena replaced stablemate Enhance Your Calm as favourite for the $125,000 Three-Year-Old Ruby at Addington on June 1, being rated a $1.95 chance to Enhance Your Calm’s $2.10.  The only problem is Oscar Bonavena isn’t guaranteed a Jewels start and could be knocked out of contention this weekend, with the final day for Jewels qualification being Sunday.  He sits 10th on the stakes-based entry table but there are only 11 New Zealand-trained invites to each Jewels race if an Australian is invited to that division.  The connection of Victorian trotter All Cashed Up have accepted an invite so there will only be 11 spots for locals and that is where things get tricky for Oscar Bonavena.  He is not racing this week and sits on $24,700 in stakes but Southland trotter Full Noise only needs $530 to get past him which he should achieve with a third placing or better in a moderate trot field at Gore on Saturday.  That would push Oscar Bonavena into the last of the 11 spots with others able to leagfrog him.  Swiss Miss, who sits just $1150 behind Oscar Bonavena, could pass him with a top four finish in the Northern Trotting Oaks at Alexandra Park on Friday night but she may not pose much problem to the favourite’s Jewels chances.  “We are actually looking at keeping her in the north for a few starts to target some lower grade races because the stakes are so good,” said Swiss Miss’s trainer Gavin Smith. “So I doubt we would take her back south for the Jewels.” Fortunato, Peakz Luck and Sunny’s Little Jestic could all also overtake Oscar Bonavena if they won the Oaks, but up against Tickle Me Pink that looks unlikely.  But a much greater threat comes from Southland trotter Get Lucky, who sits just $370 behind Oscar Bonavena heading into the weekend  He is one of the favourites for the $75,000 Sales Series Trot at Addington on Friday night but money won in sales races doesn’t count toward Jewels qualification because they are restricted.  But trainer Alister Black is also nominating Get Lucky for a trot at Oamaru on Sunday and will decide whether to start there after Friday night’s race.  If Black takes Get Lucky to Oamaru he only needs to run top four against what will be mainly older battlers to snare the last qualifying spot because he sits $370 behind Oscar Bonavena and fourth at Oamaru is worth $380. So the fate of the Jewels favourite could be decided by $10 in earnings.  “Alister is aware that is what we need to do because the Sales Series race doesn’t count for the Jewels qualifying so he will definitely be in at Oamaru and Alister will decide whether we start or not,” said Get Lucky’s driver Brad Williamson.  Trainer Mark Purdon is aware of the precarious position Oscar Bonavena finds himself in but has decided to stick to his plans and hope they are still be in the field come Sunday night.  Oscar Bonavena does, of course, have the option of also getting into the field through a higher earning rival pulling out but the connections of most of those above Oscar Bonavena has indicated they are targeting the Jewels.  Another well in the market but not certain to be at the Jewels is Alta Maestro, one of the speed influences of the day but now only rated 50-50 to be there.  Driver John Dunn says the four-year-old has what could be a potential knee problem and while he has only missed two or three days work a veterinary examination today could determine his chances of making it to Addington. Michael Guerin

All Cashed Up has been confirmed as the most recent Australian horse to be invited to compete in the IRT Harness Jewels at Addington Raceway on Saturday 1 June.   Following the announcement last week that Majestic Player will represent Anton Golino and Yabby Dam Farms in the 4yo Ruby, stablemate All Cashed Up will line up in the 3yo Ruby in the Green Harness Jewels colours also.   All Cashed Up is a son of Ready Kash and has won four of 13 career starts.   He was a brave third in Saturday night’s NSW Trotting Derby despite being attacked for the first half of the race when in front. He went down fighting and was not far off the winner despite working overtime early on in the race.   “He’s a tough bugger,” said Golino. “He’s a typical son of Ready Kash he has a little bit of a crazy streak to him but I think that’s what makes him good.”   Golino reported the horse has pulled up well and has come through Saturday night’s race in good order. (Full information can be found in the interview attached)   All Cashed Up is owned by Pat Driscoll of Yabby Dams Racing, which is an exclusive trotting focused farm, following European training styles and focusing on the best trotting bloodlines worldwide.   This is reflected in the breeding of All Cashed Up, being by Ready Kash out of a Kadabra mare.       Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Two key withdrawals and three Australian additions saw Harness Jewels markets go on a rollercoaster ride as the key contenders for the glamour meeting are starting to take final shape.  The Jewels move to Addington for the first time on June 1 and while horses have until May 19 to earn enough money to qualify most of the serious players are already locked in.  The market most still in flux is the three-year-old trotters where Enhance Your Calm the favourite could be vulnerable to either Australian star Alpha Male or the forgotten Oscar Bonavena if they make it to Addington.  Alpha Male would secure the Australian invite if he wins the NSW Trotting Derby this Saturday and then the question for punters will be whether trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin want to bring him to New Zealand, where they have rarely campaigned horses before.  Oscar Bonavena only sits 20th in the order of entry after a season interrupted by soreness and will need to win at Addington either this Friday or next to be guaranteed a Jewels spot.  And while Enhance Your Calm has hardly looked bulletproof when galloping in both his recent starts, trainer Mark Purdon puts that down to Alexandra Park being right-handed and says the leggy trotter will definitely be at the Jewels unless something goes amiss beforehand.  But Purdon confirmed two high profile withdrawals and one major yes for the Jewels yesterday with Spankem, as expected, pulled out of the four-year-old male pace and joined soon after by Chase Auckland.  “Spankem has done enough for the season and he will have a break now while Chase Auckland is too far down the rankings so he can have a spell now too instead of chasing a spot.”  But just as importantly for punters Purdon confirmed Auckland Cup winner Turn It Up, all going well, will be at the Jewels. “He hasn’t had a busy second half to the season so he will press on,” says Purdon.  Turn It Up could easily have missed the Jewels and gone for an early spell as he is one of the favourites for the NZ and Auckland Cups as well as the Inter Dominions all run between November and December 31 this year.  So Purdon’s confirmation the Jewels are still his season-ending target as well as the withdrawal of his stablemates has seen Turn It Up move from $2.90 on Friday night to $1.95 to win his division. Purdon says most of the stable’s other favoured runners are still targeting the Jewels with only form loss or unforseen problems likely to see them withdrawn.  The four-year-old male pace is often the glamour race of Jewels Day but that title could fall to the four-year-old trotters this year as it will contain Anzac and Rowe Cup winner Sundees Son, unlucky placegetter in both Majestic Man, last season’s Jewels winner Winterfell and the exciting King’s Landing. Trainer Robert Dunn has confirmed Sundees Son will head to the Jewels and while he is unruly from a stand he is not from a mobile, meaning he will be in the draw, crucial for the 1980m mobile. “Being in the draw is very important because he couldn’t give these horses a start in a sprint but he actually has good gate speed so we can’t wait to get him there,” says Dunn. “John (son and driver) and I should have about 10-12 in the Jewels.” The favoured trotting quartet will be joined by one of the latest Australian invites in Majestic Player, who won his way into the Jewels at Menangle on Saturday night. Also invited from Australia yesterday were Pete’s Big Jim, who was a close second in the juvenile male pace last year and his stablemate Falcon Stride, who will contest the four-year-old Emerald. That brings the number of Australian invites to five and with a three-year-old trotter likely they could field potentially the strongest Australian team in the history of the Jewels. **  A stronger than expected sale saw a huge increase in average at the NZB Standardbred all-aged sale at Karaka yesterday. With mainly weanling, broodmares and a very small number of yearlings offered an outstanding clearance rate of 96 per cent was surprising for the 130-plus lots. While these sort of sales can vary wildly, the average of $10,816 was an increase of over $3000 on last year. The top price was $80,000 paid for a trotting-bred filly by Kadabra by NSW owners Emilio and Mary Rosati.   Michael Guerin

Following last week’s announcement of the first two Australian invites for the IRT Harness Jewels (Lulu Le Mans and Major Occasion), Harness Racing New Zealand and Addington Raceway are thrilled to now confirm our three latest Australian competitors.   Pete’s Big Jim (3yo Emerald), Falcon Stride (4yo Emerald) and Majestic Player (4yo Ruby) will represent their homeland in this year’s edition of the Jewels.   Shane and Lauren Tritton will bring back Pete’s Big Jim, who was a gallant second beaten just a neck by Another Master- piece last year, and talented four-year-old gelding Falcon Stride across the Tasman for a Jewels endeavor.   Peter Kohlsdorf is the owner of Pete’s Big Jim, and was ecstatic to be able to return to New Zealand with his pride and joy.   “It’s hardly sunk in to be honest,” said Kohlsdorf. “I’ve been thinking about it since last year when we were just beaten a neck by Another Masterpiece. So we set a programme to come back with the horse to the Jewels again, if it was at all possible.”   Pete’s Big Jim has not had the best of luck this year, struggling with setbacks and lameness but Kohlsdorf and Tritton report the horse is on the way back up.   Falcon Stride is a horse that Shane Tritton has a high opinion of and has won 6 of his 14 career starts. He has previously won over a mile in 1.51.7.   “He’s a horse that I’ve said several times, if he was in a Miracle Mile and they went 1.48, I’ve got no doubt he’d be good enough to be there, ” said Tritton.   “I’m really excited about him. I know it’s a strong division don’t get me wrong, and he’s a horse that a lot of people won’t know a lot about. But he’ll turn some heads at the top of the straight if he can be close enough.”   Anton Golino will also return to the Harness Jewels when he presents four-year-old trotter Majestic Player in the Ruby.   Golino campaigned with Dance Craze at Cambridge in 2018. She was third despite being desperately unlucky in the running and has since gone on to win the Great Southern Star and Saturday night’s La Coocaracha.   The Yabby Dams Farm owned Majestic Player extended his career record to 13 wins from 25 starts when winning at Menangle untouched on Saturday night. This season alone he has won 7 of his ten attempts.   Pat Discoll of Yabby Dams Farm is elated to returning to New Zealand with Jewels contender for Australia. But he did explain to HRNZ that the horse has not been without his challenges.   “We are very honoured and privileged to get the invite and providing the horse has pulled up ok after Saturday night we will definitely be there,” said Driscoll.   “He’s a bit of a stable star.”   “The horse has actually come from nowhere,” explained Driscoll. “As a young horse and a two-year-old he was short in stature and gangly and everyone loved him because even though he tried, he couldn’t trot.”   “Each year he’s just got better and better and from the horse’s point of view it’s a wonderful story. A horse that had a wonderful will to win but just couldn’t trot, and each year has just improved. He just seems to be getting better every start.”   Yabby Dams Racing is an exclusive trotting focused farm, following European training styles and focusing on the best trotting bloodlines worldwide. In an interview (link below) Driscoll describes his passion for the square gait breed and how that has led to the establishment of Yabby Dam Racing.   New Zealand Racing Board Harness Bookmaker Richard Wilson has released the opening prices on the New Zealand TAB for the latest Australian invites for the IRT Harness Jewels; Pete’s Big Jim $26; Falcon Stride $12 and Majestic Player $8. All IRT Harness Jewels future markets are now open on www.tab.co.nz   To hear an interview with Shane Tritton, Peter Kohlsdorf and Pat Driscoll please follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/wat ch?v=vC2kelvv66M&feature=youtu.be   Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator Harness Racing New Zealand Inc          

EMERGING speedster Majestic Player looks set to become the second Harness Jewels contestant for the giant Yabby Dams operation. Trainer Anton Golino took Dance Craze across to Cambridge for last year’s 4YO Jewels trot and would’ve gone close to winning with any luck. She’s since returned home, gone to another level with wins in the Great Southern Star and other features and shown the NZ trip was the making of her. Maybe Golino thinks it could be the same with Majestic Player, who made it 13 wins from just 25 starts when he won untouched in a 1min54.8sec mile at Menangle last night. Jewels recruiter Darrin Williams made it clear Majestic Player and Drop The Hammer – who ran fourth last night – were racing against each other for the Jewels invite. Majestic Player’s gate speed is lethal and he used it to lead and win as he liked last night. That gate speed will be huge with a kind draw at Addington on June 1. Golino said a Jewels trip was “very likely as long as he comes through this well.”   HRNZ

The first two Australian representatives for the 2019 IRT Harness Jewels have today been confirmed.   Lulu Le Mans (2YO Diamond) and Major Occasion (4YO Diamond) have been invited to wear the Australian Jewels colours and compete in this year’s edition of the IRT Harness Jewels, to be held at Addington Raceway in Christchurch on Saturday 1 June.   A Kiwi bred daughter of Bettors Delight and Elusive Chick, Lulu Le Mans came to compete in New Zealand with two wins to her name and also group placings in the Group Two Sapling Stakes and Group Two Pink Bonnet.   Lulu Le Mans is trained by Aaron Goadsby and Mark Jones and is currently in New Zealand racing in the two-year-old fillies’ features.   She will compete again this week at Alexandra Park in the Magness Benrow NZ Sires Stakes Two-Year-Old Fillies Championship.   Major Occasion will fly the flag for Australia in the Four-Year-Old Diamond, and brings with her an impressive array of achievements in her homeland.   Major Occasion is trained by Chris Frisby and has recorded four wins from just ten starts alone this season, including the Group Two Sebelia Stakes over one mile in 1.50.4. She was also a game second in the Ladyship behind Dream About Me in March.   She also competed at the highest level as a three-year-old, finishing second in the Queeland Oaks to Sociable.   Interest from Australian connections this year has been extremely high, hot off the back of the strong showing from Australian horses in the Harness Jewels in 2018.   Although Shez All Rock became the first Australian Jewels winner last year at Cambridge, she was under the care of Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. So we are yet to have an Australian trained Jewels victor.   More Australian invites will be announced in the near future.   To hear an interview with Aaron Goadsby (co-trainer of Lulu Le Mans) and Peter Ward (owner of Major Occasion) please follow this link:      Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

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

Steven Reid is happy being harness racing’s David, able to occasionally slay Goliath. And Reid almost did that twice at the Jewels on Saturday, winning one of the $150,000 pacing divisions with Utmost Delight and only field position costing him doing it again when Star Galleria went down narrowly to Eamon Maguire. Reid left Cambridge a happy man, knowing his Jewels double had only been denied by the most powerful stable New Zealand has ever seen, the Goliaths of the All Stars. “How could I not be happy?” said Reid. “The mare went super to win her race while I think reverse the runs and Star Galleria could have beat Eamon Maguire. “So for a guy with a small team we had a great day and Utmost Delight’s win might have been my first group one since Gold Ace so I’m pretty stoked.” Reid and rival Cran Dalgety with Pat’s Delight in the three-year-old race were the only pacing trainers able to slow the All Stars, who won six races, most of them by big margins. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen were the deserved stars of the show after a tough, interrupted week, their mammoth harness racing machine honed down to peak performance. But while Reid has been at least remotely close to where the All Stars are, having won a premiership beating Purdon 20 years ago, he says he is happy living in the giant’s shadow. “Things have changed a lot for me since those days and I don’t have the owners for a big team any more and wouldn’t want to train one anyway. “I find it less stressful and my attention to detail is better this way and I can train the horses I want. “And having these two horses means we can have a real presence at the major carnivals next season.” Utmost Delight is the 13th foal of the fantastically flawed mare Victor Supreme. She used to be talented yet weak but the Bettors Delight influence has seen her strengthen with every campaign. “She has turned into a lovely mare and while we will probably stick mainly to mares races next season she might be good enough to be a Cup horse. “Star Galleria will almost certainly bypass Australia over the winter and be set for the New Zealand Cup.” The two Delights -- Utmost and Pat’s -- were rare points of difference as the All Stars were at their ruthless best in the majority of Saturday’s races. Shez All Rock, on loan to them before heading back to Australia, finally broke the Aussie invite duck with a whirlwind performance in the three-year-old Diamond and she might be one of the most talented fillies seen in this part of the world. But her juvenile stablemate Princess Tiffany was just as crushing in the opening race, coming from last to blow her rivals away. Driver Tim Williams used Another Masterpiece’s draw to win the juvenile male pace while Eamon Maguire was fast enough to hold Star Galleria at bay as Rasmussen won a driving game of cat and mouse. Now the super stable will need to sit down in the coming week and decided which horses press on to Victoria and the Breeders Crown riches and who heads to the paddock as they call time on another premiership season during which they have won a record $4.4million domestically and plenty of Lazarus loot in Australia. What they have achieved this season, even with plenty of lows among the highs, has been remarkable in not just its brilliance but its sustainability. But as Reid, Dalgety and Paul Nairn showed on Saturday, even giants are beatable. By Michael Guerin

Tough summer love paid huge winter dividends for Habibi Inta in the sensation race at the Harness Jewels on Saturday. While there were better winning performances on the nine group one raceday, the four-year-old trot was controversial even before it started, with hot favourite Enghien galloping from barrier three in the score-up and driver Ricky May choosing to start from the unruly for the second attempt. Enghien galloped again, losing his winning chance and burning punters, but trainer Greg Hope backed May’s call 100 per cent. “If I had a phone and was able top call Ricky after that first gallop I would have told him to do exactly what he did, start from the unruly,” said Hope. “It was a real shame because he went enormous after galloping. I am starting to think maybe he just doesn’t like Cambridge.” While the incident would have left Enghien punters feeling sour at least the three minute hold up gave some a chance to cover their bets on Habibi Inta, who unlike his arch rival never put a hoof wrong and won easily from in front. And his trainer Paul Nairn says this new, more mature Habibi Inta may have been forged on the rugged hills of Waikari in North Canterbury. “Last season he could be a bit weak, both physically and mentally, so we chucked him into a big paddock on the hills up there and left him there for three months,” says Nairn. “I went back and got him on New Year’s Day and was thrilled with what I saw. He was bigger and stronger and had grown up and he has raced liked that. “The hills are pretty rugged there and they have to keep themselves fit just walking around. Its been great for him. “He has all the tools to be a genuine open class horse next season now.” Habiba Inta always looked a good horse waiting to happen and Saturday was his graduation day. He can now trot 1:56 miles from a mobile, begin quickly from a stand, win over any distance and has developed into being just as potent left or right-handed. That suggests he is Nairn’s next seriously good horse at a time when the career of his older sister Habibti Ivy, a national record holder, is in doubt. But Nairn has two more past Jewels winners in One Over Da Moon and Wilma’s Mate, who returns to jogging soon, to work with also. Which is just as well as the Canterbury trainer is going to have a few more bills in the new season, he and new wife Vangie are expecting their first child together next month.  “We are both very excited and wins like this will help,” smiled Nairn. Habibi Inta’s win mirrored that on Saturday’s two other trots, with both Enhance Your Calm and Winterfell big strong boys who led throughout from good draws. Winterfell has been a huge improver in the last three months and looks an open class star of the future while Enhance Your Calm is unbeaten and so in the zone for a trip to Victoria, where he is owned, for the Breeders Crown wouldn’t surprise. Michael Guerin

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