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Andy Gath’s rising star two-year-old Padrisimo has been scratched from tomorrow night’s Breeders Crown heats at Shepparton. Gath told Harness Racing Victoria this morning the horse would be scoped and is possibly suffering a cold, which is the affliction that ruled him out of the Harness Jewels in New Zealand earlier this year. “It is bad luck but you’ve just got to put the horse first,” Gath said. Birdy Mach spearheads the line-up for the three Breeders Crown two-year-old colts and geldings heats at Shepparton. Belinda and Luke McCarthy’s colt will line up in gate four in heat 11 of the series (Race 7 at Shepparton), hoping to bounce back after a shock defeat in the Tatlow Stakes last start. Birdy Mach took a two-from-two record into the Tatlow and was heavily backed before having his colours lowered by Kept Under Wraps. Team McCarthy has huge wraps on the son of Mach Three though, and if he can reproduce his Sydney form he will be very hard to beat. Kept Under Wraps is back for another crack though and has drawn pole in his bid to beat Birdy Mach again. The Brent Lilley trained son of Bettors Delight will be driven by in-form reinsman Greg Sugars and another victory would thrust him to the top of betting calculations for the Crown finals. Gath-trained Burnaholeinmypocket will contest the same heat as Birdy Mach but is drawn seven and will find it tough, his trainer says. “He’s a very quality racehorse but the way the numbers have fallen realistically there’s no way he can run in the first two,” Gath said. “But we’re not too deterred because realistically the first five or six in the repechage can usually make their way into the final.” The first of the three heats tomorrow will feature Vicbred Super Series champion Feeling Arty. Trainer-driver Cameron Maggs is hoping Feeling Arty can bounce back after dropping out badly in the Tatlow last time out. “I followed through OK last time but I just couldn’t get in unfortunately and when they run those times it makes it tough,” Maggs said. “I was a bit disappointed. His recovery wasn’t real good on the night but he ate up afterwards and has worked good since.” Maggs said although Feeling Arty led throughout his Vicbred campaign the horse had previously raced off the speed. “I’ll probably have to follow through again … but the only time he’s led in his races are in those Vicbred races,” he said. “He can sit in behind them and come with a run at the finish if he needs to race that way.” By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Victoria)

For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West  My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties  I  purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels  4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media  

Smart three-year-old Sky Major looks right on song for the upcoming Breeders Crown Series in Australia after downing a smart field of older rivals at Alexandra Park last night. The Art Major colt, who was having his first race start since his emphatic victory in the 3YO Emerald division of the Harness Jewels, was driven cold by Zac Butcher, sitting last before moving into the race three wide down the back straight. He then let down strongly in the home stretch to run down Cyamach, who looked home after kicking away at the top of lane. Beyond The Silence finish a further half length away in third after enjoying a nice run in the trail. The Barry Purdon trained star paced the 2200 metre journey in a slick 2:43.3. The official last half was 56.5. However, Sky Major would have gone his last 800 metres a lot quicker as he came from a long way off the pace. The dual Jewels winner, who won a walkover heat of the Breeders’ Crown at Cambridge last week, will now head to Australia to compete in an MO at Melton on the 8th of August before tackling the 3YO Breeders Crown semi finals on August 22. All going well he well then progress through to the rich Group One final on the 30th of August. Cyamach, who was good in second behind the speedy colt, is also likely to head to Australia for the four-year-old male division of the series, while Cambridge winners Field Marshall and Cyclone Kate will also be part of the ever-growing Kiwi contingent heading across the Tasman for the series. Meanwhile, star Australian three-year-old Bling It On, who was thought to be the main danger to Sky Major in the ABC 3yo colts and geldings division, suffered a shock loss to Kiwi export Alleluia in a two horse heat of the Breeders Crown at Albion Park last night and will now head to repechage on the 13th of August. After sitting second while Alleluia set a leisurely pace in front, driver Bart Cockburn set Bling It On a light at the 700 metres. The pair then eyeballed each other until the bend, but it was Alleluia who showed more dash in the straight, sprinting away for a 6 metre win. Alleluia paced his last 800 metres in a sizzling 54.8 with a final quarter of 26.3. Driver Bart Cockburn was questioned regarding his driving tactics on Bling It On when allowing Grant Dixon to go through the first half of the last mile in 68 seconds. Under rule 149 (1) he was suspended for a period of eight weeks. By Mitchell Robertson

After seeing Katy Perry roar at her Australian debut at Melton on Saturday night, the local two-year-old fillies' Breeders Crown contingent must be a tad jittery. At her most recent start before the weekend's Tatlow Stakes win at Tabcorp Park, Katy Perry came in second behind Joanne’s A Delight in a Breeders Crown heat in New Zealand. Joanne’s A Delight is headed Down Under along with another filly in Linda Lovegrace to contest the Breeders Crown. They finished second and third behind Supersonic Miss on Harness Jewels Day and were considered ahead of Katy Perry in Breeders Crown pecking order before Saturday night. So the Aussies it would seem might need to find a few metres. Katy Perry defeated highly rated Soho Tokyo by 2.5 metres on Saturday night, working to the lead early despite a back-row draw and comfortably holding off all late challengers. But who's to say Australia's leading Crown contender has already been seen? Maybe there’s a yet-to-race filly capable of grabbing headlines between now and Breeders Crown finals. Watch this space. By Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

Harness racing can be a cruel game at times with some horses forever seeming to have bad luck. The Bucket List would have to be near the front of that queue in the last twelve months with a run of bad luck you wouldn't wish on anybody. After The Bucket List had won four of his first seven starts, he was thrown in the deep end against the best of his age group at three. While he performed really well, it was a steep learning curve for the Christian Cullen entire and seem to shake his confidence for a while. A nice run for second behind Pass Them By 1:53.6 ($175,081), beaten a ½ neck in a 1:57.3 mile rate over 2200 meters convinced trainer Geoff Small to send The Bucket List to Ashburton for the 3 year old Harness Jewels. Although never a winning chance in a race run in 1:50.6, The Bucket List went super to run 1:52.1, beating home two very smart horses in Franco Nelson 1:53.1 ($425,446) and Elios 1:55 ($213,676) in the process. Reappearing at Alexandra Park in January 2014, The Bucket List looked ready to fulfill his early potential with a brilliant win, coming from last at the 500 meter mark to beat a field containing Ideal Belle 1:52.2 (pl) ($176,409)  Maxim 1:56.6 $396,913) and Sky Major 1:52 ($411,002). He paced the 2200 meters in a brilliant 2:39.4, a mile rate of 1:56.6 with closing sectionals of 56.7 and 28.3 and looked set for a huge season. But from that point on, The Bucket List has hit one brick wall after another. Renowned for having a lethal sprint if saved for one run, the Bucket List has had a succession of runs where he was late getting clear, blocked for a run or pushed back at the wrong time. The luck had to change eventually and last night at Alexandra Park, The Bucket List got the kind of run he has been seeking for a while now. Leading early in the 2700 meters stand, driver Philip Butcher took a trail after 400 meters and soon after was three back on the inner as the smart 3 year old Regulus went to the front. Thats where he stayed until they turned for home where he angled for a run up the passing lane and burst through late to win going away by two lengths. He paced the 2700 from a stand in 3:27.8, a mile rate of 2:03.8 with smart closing sectionals of 56.7 and 27.6. It was his sixth lifetime win coupled with twelve placings which has seen him bank $76,945 in stakes to date. Now that his luck has turned, it wouldn't surprise anyone if The Bucket List strung a few wins together in the next few weeks. Harnesslink media  

Over a long period now, New Zealand bred horses have enjoyed great success in the major harness racing age and group classics in Western Australia. Already this season in Western Australia, the New Zealand bred Three Blind Mice 1:56.7 ($161,891) has taken out the Western Australian Derby while the New Zealand bred filly Libertybelle Midfrew 1:56.1 ($261,267) was way too good in the West Australian Oaks. Last night (Friday 18th July) at Gloucester Park in the $125,000 Premier Suzuki Golden Slipper for two year olds, it was the recent New Zealand import Beaudiene Boaz who reinforced that Kiwi dominance with a outstanding performance to win convincingly over all the best two year olds in Western Australia. Wide early from barrier five and then checked by The Odd Lover, Gary Hall (Jnr)sent Beaudiene Boaz around to the death seat outside the leader Major Reality after 500 meters. With a lap to go Gary Hall (Jnr) really applied some pressure to the leader with a 28.5 quarter down the back straight before shooting clear at the 400 for an emphatic victory. Two New Zealand breds filled the minor placings with Mister Ardee finishing well for second and Major Reality battling on well for third. Beaudiene Boaz paced the 2130 meters in a smart 2:35.3, a mile rate of 1:57.3 with closing sectionals of 56.1 and 27.6. It was the second major win of the season for Beaudiene Boaz who scored a stunning win in the $150,000 Harness Jewels for two year old colts and geldings at Cambridge in New Zealand in a very quick 1:54 for the mile on the 1000 metre circuit. Bought at last years yearling sales for $62,000 by Ray Green on behalf of Lincoln Farms, Beaudiene Boaz was sold to clients of leading Western Australian trainer Gary Hall after his Harness Jewels win. A son of the Nevele R based sire Badlands Hanover, Beaudiene Boaz is a full sister to the former outstanding filly Beaudiene Bad Babe 1:55.7 ($404,898) who was also a Harness Jewels winner during her career. Judging by the ease of last nights win Beaudiene Boaz looks to be set for a huge future in Western Australia. Beaudiene Boaz Clint Hall on Beaudiene Boaz Harnesslink media    

Champion harness racing driver Ricky May notched up his third season century in succession when winning aboard the Dave Anderson trained Abbey Cullen at Addington last night. The win was May’s third for the night after good mate Mark Jones put him on Zakspatrol and Sabellian in order to help him reach the milestone. Both 3YO pacers were winners of their two-horse Breeders Crown heats. However, Zakspatrol was actually a narrow second and was a promoted winner after Artismee was relegated for galloping over the line. Driven positively by May, Abbey Cullen held up from her ace alley before undergoing a mid-race attack from Smart Alex. She then kicked strongly in the straight to hold off a late bid from Smart Alex who was able to drop into the trail when the mid-race speed went on. Hikoi finished a further a one and a quarter lengths away in third. The win was the Christian Cullen mares first from fourteen starts. It was also the first time May has taken the reins behind the four-year-old. May then went on to notch up his 101st win  for the season, and fourth for the night,  when winning aboard the smart Brendon Hill trained pacer Dalton Bromac, who looked back to the horse that we saw in his South Island debut two starts back. After missing away from the standing start, May worked Dalton Bromac into the race three-wide before taking a one-one sit down the back straight. He then worked the gelding into the clear rounding the final bend, with the three-year-old letting down strongly for a comprehensive win despite not running straight. Robbie Close, who has been the caretaker trainer of the gelding during the week, said that he believes Dalton Bromac is a better horse when coming from behind, which may be the reason he was slightly disappointing when a well beaten third after leading up in his second start in the south. “He is still pretty green and I think he is a better horse when he is chasing,” revealed Close. “I also think the 2600 metre trips suit him as he is a very good stayer and can follow pace,” he added. The season century tops off what has been another tremendous innings for May. Not only did he notch up his seventh New Zealand Cup victory but he was also victorious in the Auckland Cup. His emphatic win aboard Monbet in the Harness Jewels 2YO Ruby, which gave long-time supporters Greg & Nina Hope their first Group One win in New Zealand, was another one of his highlights. Meanwhile, Robert Dunn is now just two wins shy of training 100 winners in a season for the first time after winning a heat of the Golden Girls with Westburn Warrior. His tally could have been 99 had Artismee not been relegated. By Mitchell Robertson

Harness Jewels winner Beaudine Boaz is set to make his Australian debut in the $125,000 Group One Golden Slipper at Gloucester Park on Saturday. And if his recent Byford trial where he mile rated 1:58.6 on his way to an impressive win is anything to go by he will take all sorts of beating. The Badlands Hanover colt dashed his last half in 56.4 in his trial and impressed driver Gary Hall Jnr, who bypassed the opportunity to drive Im Themightyquinn in Queensland in order to handle the 2YO Emerald winner in his main hit-out before Saturday’s prestigious two-year-old event.  Beaudiene Boaz, who is a half-brother to top mare Beaudiene Bad Babe, is just one of a few expensive purchases made by clients of the Gary Hall Snr stable in recent months.  Other classy New Zealand juveniles they have snapped up included high priced fillies Nuala and Giuliana Rancic. Meanwhile, impressive debut juvenile winner Connoisseur, who was purchased out off the barn of John and Joshua Dickie by clients of  Greg Bond for a large six-figure sum, will miss the Golden Slipper, with his new connections opting to spell him before bringing him back for early three-year-old racing. Rycroft, an Elsu two-year-old who was also very impressive when winning his debut for Tony Herlihy at Alexandra Park a fortnight ago, is also in Perth after being secured for big money. He has joined the stable of Mike Reed, who has enjoyed tremendious success with former kiwi filly Libertybelle Midfrew this season. Rycroft, like Connoisseur, will now be spelled and will therefore miss this weekend’s two-year-old feature. By Mitchell Robertson

Arya’s much talked about and unjust Harness Jewels Day disqualification may cost her more than just prize money. In the wash-up, it may also cost her Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year honours, something that would have added value to her broodmare career once her racing days are over. If Arya had her 2YO Ruby second on her résumé , she would have got my vote and I am confident she would have been awarded 2YO Trotting Filly of the Year. Because of her disqualification, I instead opted for her stablemate Wanna Play on the back of her super impressive win in the Group Two Sires’ Stakes Championship where she completely dominated a high class field which included Arya, who finished four and a half lengths away in second place. Luckily, Wanna Play is also owned by Trevor Casey and trained by Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, so whichever way the decision swings Casey will still have his hands on the trophy come awards night. But circumstances could have been a lot worse had that alleged disqualification debacle denied someone their chance in the spotlight come August 9. Other tricky divisions include the two-year-old fillies, where Supersonic Miss, Linda Lovegrace and Joanne’s A Delight all look a chance of bringing home Two-Year-Old Filly of the Year honours. I have no doubt Supersonic Miss was the best two-year-old filly in New Zealand this season and, had she won the Australian Pacing Gold final in which she was a tragedy beaten, she would have been a shoe in. But, the fact of the matter is, she didn’t. So now, what we have to decide is do her stunning wins in the American Ideal Leonard Memorial (Gr3), APG Semi-Final, and the Group One 2YO Diamond, make her a more deserving winner than Linda Lovegrace and Joanne’s A Delight who both won Group One races and performed with distinction throughout the season? By Mitchell Robertson

The 2014 Breeders Crown series heads to Cambridge and Addington this Thursday and Friday before Tasmanian tracks Launceston and Hobart take centre stage on Sunday and Monday. In the two-year-old fillies’ heat at Cambridge Dexter Dunn will drive highly rated Katy Perry, while Anthony Butt will partner with Harness Jewels placegetter Joanne’s A Delight. Cyclone Kate, which also contested the Jewels, rounds out the three-horse field. Despite just the three runners contesting the race, it promises to be an enthralling duel. Addington on Saturday will see Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen-trained duo Linda Lovegrace and superstar Follow The Stars in action in Breeders Crown heats. On Sunday the spotlight turns to Launceston in Tasmania for the running of two two-year-old heats (one for the fillies and one for colts and geldings), while Hobart will host two three-year-old pacers’ heats on Monday night. Earlier this month Controversial made it three wins from three Australian starts when he won at Albion Park in his two-year-old colts and geldings Breeders Crown heat. Controversial, driven by Lauren Panella for Shane Tritton, led and ran a 1:57.1 mile rate (after a lead time of 39secs) to score by 6.1m over Major Coup. Only two fillies contested the two-year-old fillies’ heat at Albion Park on the same day, with Grant Dixon trained-and-driven Feel The Faith 11.4m too good for Acer Animus in a mile rate of 2:03.4 after a lead time of 40.5secs. By  Cody Winnell (Harness Racing Australia)

The all conquering Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen training partnership are about to get serious with their assault on this years harness racing Breeders Crown. All up it looks like they will have seven representatives trying to qualify for finals day and everyone of them has the credentials to suggest they will get there. Two-year-old trotting fillies Arya and Wanna Play look taylor made for the two year old trotters division. Arya has impeccable manners and comes off a last start second in better than 1:57 in the Harness Jewels only to be disqualified post race, while Wanna Play is a brillaint stayer with a very high crusing speed. The two 2 year old pacing fillies in Supersonic Miss and Linda Lovegrace both look capable of carrying off the major prize on finals day. They finished first and second in the Harness Jewels in a tick over 1:54 and there was a lot of merit in both their runs. The super talented 2 year old, Follow The Stars looks very hard to hold out in the 2 year old colts and gelding division and he will have support in the form of Kept Under Wraps and Iceobar who would both have to have runners chances. The last of the stable's runners is Messini who has been racing out of the Brent Lilley barn during the recently completed Vicbred series which he went through undefeated with a stunning win in last Saturday night's final. Overall it is a very strong group who should acquit themselves really well. Arya - 7 starts for 3 wins and 3 placings for stakes of $36,788. Best time of 2:01.1 Wanna Play - 9 starts for  2 wis and 4 placings for stakes of 50,771 . Best time of 1:58.9  Supersonic Miss -  6 starts for 4 wins and 1 placing for stakes of $137,128.  Best time of 1:54.1 Linda Lovegrace - 8 starts for 3 wins and 4 placings for stakes of $122,789.  Best time of 1:54.4 pl Follow The Stars - 7 starts for 6 wins for stakes of $263,710. Best time of 1:53.8 Kept Under Wraps - 4 starts for 2 wins and 1 placing for stakes of $40,855. Best time of 1:57.2 Iceobar - 9 starts for 3 wins and 2 placings for stakes of $33,580.  Best time of 1:58.1 Messini - 24 starts for 10 wins and 7 placings for stakes of $207,306. Best m/r of 1:55.9  (2240m) Harnesslink media

Fly Like An Eagle was back "home'' last Monday resuming with All Stars in a bid to go one better than his second in the New Zealand Cup in November. Since being sold out of the stable earlier this year Fly Like An Eagle has largely been with Tony Herlihy but his form deteriorated as his long season wore on. The Mach Three star had a busy winter and spring as a four year old leading up to his great Cup bid and then continued a campaign in Australia and in the north. It was all too much so now he is back where he started his wonderful career. Winning the two year old male Jewels a Derby and just being beaten in the New Zealand Cup the next season is rare. The one to get close was Highview Tommy, now at stud though he did not win a Derby, Fly Like An Eagle  is one of at least five horses All Stars could have headed for Cup honours. Other possible contenders HANDS CHRISTIAN resumed hoppling last week. He is recovering from successive tendon injuries with all that implies but so far is so good. ADORE ME is back in work after a five week break following the Jewels. ARDEN ROONEY's staying efforts as a  four year old has earned him a possible Cup start. Mark and Natalie have always considered the top staying races would be his forte. SMOLDA is back in work at Rolleston and will probably appear around September/October also. He seems 100 per cent In the wings still is DIDJAMAKEM BOLT pre-training across the Tasman but at this stage he is not a Cup contender. It does not seem likely Mark and Natalie will again have a four year old in Cup contention as ISAIAH probably the most likely contender has so far had superior form at shorter distances.  But the list is far from set in concrete with several months to go before the big race. Normally however the All Star decisions on Cup runners are made by this time of the year. BORDER CONTROL SIDELINED Missing from the list of NZ Cup propositions for All Stars stable is the tough BORDER CONTROL a tough stayer seemingly born for a race like the Cup But unfortunately a leg problem has proven more extensive than originally thought and the decision has been made to put the Australasian three year old record holder over the mile out for a long spell. Border Ctontrol has been a tough fighter all through his career his win in the NZ Derby and wonderful performance in the Harness Jewels 3yo in 1.50.6 stamped him as one of the best in the business.This season  has not gone his way but a 53.9 800m at Addington reminded everyone how good he was. Hopefully he will be back better than ever next year. By David McCarthy (ALL STARS RACING STABLES)

In case you have not already signed up for Harnesslink’s great new newsletter called Insider Access, then here is your chance.  Just click here and within seconds you will be on track for the latest news in harness racing that you will not see or read about anywhere else, even on our own website. This past week’s newsletter contains the following feature stories: Somebeachsomewhere – It is becoming harder and harder to ignore the difference in performance that the sons and daughters of Somebeachsomewhere deliver in the Southern hemisphere compared to their record breaking feats in the Northern Hemisphere. What was the big rush at Pocono Downs Saturday? – Read about how great the Sun Stakes were at Pocono Downs this past weekend yet why did track management run the races off so fast like the building was on fire? Vindication regarding Arya disqualification? – The Judicial Control Authority in New Zealand now promises to do a thorough investigation into the questionable decision on Harness Jewels Day. How fast can Sebastian K really go? – The trotters in North American can no longer keep up with Sebastian K. What if the other top trotters from Europe were to come here and race? Grinfromeartoear Stallion Report/Review – Has he been as good in the sack as he was on the track? Don’t miss out on the next edition of Insider Access. The newsletter currently comes out every other Tuesday morning (North America), Tuesday afternoon (Europe) and Wednesday morning (Australasia).

In the last couple of years in Australasia, the influence of Angus Hall on the trotting half of the harness racing industry has really come to the fore. This son of Garland Lobell has had a brilliant stud career in the Northern Hemisphere with stakes won to date totalling $77,583,707. First up down under we had his biggest stakes winning son in Majestic Son taking all before him in both Australia and New Zealand. In the current season in New Zealand, Majestic Son will win both the two and three year old sires premiership for trotters while in Australia he leads the two year old section and is a close second in the three year old section. This season Angus Hall himself has small crops of two year olds via frozen semen in both Australia and New Zealand and with the season drawing to a close, he has already established himself as sire to be reckoned with. In New Zealand Angus Hall has had 18 two year olds to represent him this season. Arya would be the pick of them winning three races and $36,788 and only missing the money once in seven starts when she was controversially disqualified from second in the Harness Jewels when placed in under 1:57. Arya is headed for the Breeders Crown and on her record to date, would have to be a serious player. Springbank Eden ($5,642) also won this season while the ultra-impressive trialist Petite One 2:01.9 makes her race debut on Friday night at Addington and will be very tough to hold out. The stablemate of Petite One in Alannah Hall 2:02.1 has also trialled up stylishly while Sansa Stark has also qualified. Angus Hall presently sits third on the New Zealand sires list for two year old trotters. In Australia he has a first crop of just 15 two year olds and four have started to date for two winners including the smart Endsino ($9,645) who finished a close up third in the Group Two Tatlow Stakes and the recent winner Elegant Angus ($4,932). Angus Hall presently sits fifth on the Australian sires list for two year old trotters. With Angus Hall doing so well and his son Majestic Son excelling at the same time, the influence of Angus Hall on the trotting breed down under looks set to grow even larger in the years to come. Harnesslink media

There have been plenty of highs and a few lows in the debut season of the very smart harness racing  two year old, Mighty Flying Major. From his outstanding run on debut in the Sapling Stakes where he ran 1:54 when finishing a close second to Follow My Stars, to his galloping in the Harness Jewels where he scuttled amongst others, Follow My Stars, this son of Art Major has experienced all the highs and lows racing has to offer. For a while it seemed he always found one too good for himself, notching up four seconds in town hall company prior to the Jewels. Following the Jewels disaster, trainer Ken Barron decided to leave him in the North Island to race at Auckland and what an inspired decision that has turned out to be. Three starts have resulted in three wins, each one more impressive than the last. Last night at Auckland on a slushy track, he was three wide for the first 600 meters from his wide barrier draw of eight before working to the lead. From there he turned the race into a procession with driver Peter Ferguson hardly moving in the cart in the home straight as he cruised home 1 1/2 lengths clear of the competition. When one has a look at Mighty Flying Major's pedigree, you find one of the hottest commercial pedigrees in Australasia. Not only is he a half brother to such talented types as Flying Pocketlands 1:52.6 ($442,423) Mighty Flying Mac 1:58 ($127,484) and Mighty Flying Thomas 1:58.1 ($145,293) but Mighty Flying Major is also very closely related to Baby Bling 1:50.5 ($853,272) and Bling It On 1:51.7 ($565,210). Mighty Flying Mac always looked like a horse that would get better with time so his trainer Ken Barron must be looking forward to his three year old season with a lot of confidence. Mighty Flying Major Harnesslink media

The star of the champion sire Christian Cullen has started to dim a bit in recent years. The son of In The Pocket is having his 20th birthday shortly and many have started to look elsewhere for their  brood mares next consort. Issues around fertility also having affected him more in the last few years, his fertility rate hovering around the 60% mark for the last three years. That and his age have seen a drop off in support for  Christian Cullen who served  just 83 mares last year, his smallest book in over twelve years. The naysayers are out in force at the moment but anyone having an objective look at the current season will soon realise Christian Cullen still has a lot to offer. In the 5 year old+ age group we have the brilliant Christen Me who has won $547,549 this season on his way to becoming the grand circuit champion in Australasia. In the 4 year old age group we have Franco Nelson who has won $200,905 this season including the 4 year old Harness Jewels Diamond. In the 3 year old age group we have the outstanding Lochaburn who has won $256,067 and looks a shoe in for 3 year old colt/gelding of the year. Christian Cullen currently sits third overall on the sires list for 2013/2014 with earnings to date of $1,847,008 His overall numbers are mind boggling. His winners in Australasia number 930 with 145 of those have won in excess of $100,000. And his daughters are roaring up the brood mare charts in both Australia and New Zealand. Many astute judges rate Christian Cullen as the greatest stallion to have stood in the Southern hemisphere Anyone who has been around the industry long term will know that champion sires usually taper off slowly in their latter years but most seem able to produce one outstanding crop late in their siring careers. It should therefore surprise no one if one of Christian Cullen's last crops turns out to be one of his best. Click here to see a recent full review of Christian Cullen's siring ability.   Harnesslink media

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