Terror To Love’s Australian campaign is over but the confusion over his record there is no clearer to being resolved. The three-time New Zealand Cup winner has been pulled out of next week’s Victoria Cup in Melbourne after an embarrassing last placing in Saturday’s Miracle Mile. Terror To Love settled last in the A$750,000 race, hung badly and then improved wide before dropping in the home straight. It was his sixth failure at Menangle, where he has yet to win a race, and his connections are as stunned as any of the fans who watched him win his third New Zealand Cup so incredibly three weeks ago, “We have no idea what is going on with him,” said co-trainer Paul Court. “He just never seemed happy. He hung, which he can sometimes do in New Zealand but he also straightens up in the straights. “But on Saturday he actually paced roughly in the home straight too. “He just wasn’t himself at all and we have no idea why. “So we will miss the Victoria Cup and he can come home, but we are none the wiser as to what is going on.” His performances at Menangle are baffling because you can argue against any conceivable explanation. While some horses struggle with the intense Mile racing there, Terror To Love jogged a 1:51 mile at Ashburton back in June, when arguably not as screwed down as he was on Saturday. The Ashburton track and Menangle are almost identical and while driver Ricky May was concerned the track surface was hard on Saturday, that would hardly explain Terror To Love hanging so badly early in the race when he can’t possibly have been jarred up. He paraded before the event looking amazing and when you consider he gave Christen Me a 30m start and thrashed him in the New Zealand Cup, it is impossible to work out how he could perform 20m inferior to his fellow Kiwi rival just 18 days later. It also raises a serious question for his connections: whether they should even bother taking Terror To Love back to Menangle for the Interdominion Final on March 2? They would almost certainly win their Addington heat on February 15 but can’t have any great confidence he would bring anything like his A-game to Sydney. Whereas if they elected to bypass the Inter, they could aim as the Ballarat and Hunter Cups in Victoria in late January before the Auckland Cup in March, worth a total of $950,000. “The problem is we want a big Aussie win for his stud career,” admits Court. “It could boost his future service fee by $2000 or something, which is a lot of money over a few seasons. “But we almost don’t know where to start with that.” One of the great ironies of the race was that Terror To Love’s arch rival Christen Me looked far more at home at Menangle than he has been on his home track at Addington. He will now head to the Victoria Cup and could be best placed staying in Australia for the entire summer, culminating in the Interdoms. The Kiwi invasion on the Victorian carnivals started well on Saturday when Tim Butt prepared Vulcan and Pass Them By to win at Melton while Mah Sish was a greatly-improved third in a free-for-all. There rapid improvement matches their form last season in Victoria, where Butt’s team seem to grow another leg, suggesting they are in for another profitable summer. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
David Aiken enjoyed a stellar season just past, coming within three wins of the metropolitan trainer’s premiership, but he has picked up where he left off with 12 winners from just 70 runners this term. The trend is set to continue too with a strong hand engaged at Tabcorp Park Friday night and at the Maryborough Cup meeting on Sunday for the Avenel trainer. Jaccka Clive will headline his Central Goldfields Shire Maryborough Gold Cup hopes and although he is coming in with the figure form of 0, 7, 7, Aiken is convinced he is starting to reach his peak. And his peak is well and truly up to this race, having run a placing in the past two Hunter Cup’s. “I’m pretty happy with where he is at and even though he is off the 20 metres I think he is going better than his form probably reads,” Aiken said. “My other runner, Composed, has been beaten a head two years in a row in the race (Maryborough Cup) so hopefully he can go one better this time around. “I thought he was good at Kilmore off the 20-metre mark so if he steps away he shouldn’t be far from them.” But first attention will turn to Tabcorp Park where brilliant trotting mare Cold Sister returns from a break in the Pryde’s EasiFeed Trotters Free For All. Having drawn two, she comes off a handy trial win at Shepparton where Aiken believed she had plenty in hand. “It’s just the start of her prep but we are really happy with where she is at. It’s a short race but the others are racing really well and they have a few runs under their belt whereas we will be an improver I think,” he said. “She’s a free-for-all class trotter now so there are a lot of races on for her and hopefully she will get to the Great Southern Star like last year.” Nominating his best for the weekend’s racing, the in-form horseman leant to stable stalwart Smudge Bromac, who has been around the money throughout recent claiming series without getting to the line in front. Drawn outside of the front row on Friday night, he gets his chance to work forward over the mile and stamp his authority on the race. “Catch Your Breath has been getting in our way so with him not there he gets his chance,” Aiken said. “Catch Your Breath came out and beat Smoken Up in the Popular Alm Sprint so it’s proof that we’ve been racing well. “I’d say he will keep rolling forward from the wide barrier but I’ll just leave that up to Nathan (Jack, driver).” Jasper Jumping At Mares Races The win of Stylish Jasper at Tabcorp Park Melton may have been a fair while in the making, but that brilliant turn of foot suggested that despite being 12 months in the metropolitan wilderness, it won’t take that long to return to the Melton winners stall. Having done the majority of her racing at Tabcorp Park in the last year, Stylish Jasper returns to the track Friday night for the Harness Breeders Victoria Tailamade Lombo. And once again she has been underrated in the market, opening $21 with TAB fixed odds. She proved last time that the odds mean nothing as she stormed home at cricket score odds and her trainer, Vivian Tomren, will be hoping that’s the case again. “She went super last week and it was a good drive too which always helps,” Tomren said. “I’ve thought for quite a while that she would be competitive in these sorts of races but she kept getting balloted out so she never really got to prove it.” Having finished second in the mares feature race three weeks ago behind Bettor Give It, she drops back from the open class of her M1 win to mares grade but the competition isn’t lacking with Shake It Mama the favourite at $2.10. It’s been a pretty long road for Stylish Jasper, 92 starts for $92,000 in prizemoney indicates she has been a handy mare who has toiled her way to 14 wins. But with a lack of success coming earlier in her career, Tomren is convinced she is now ready to blossom. “I wouldn’t say she’s always had a lot of ability, she only fell in at her first win and as a younger horse she was probably a fat and lazy horse but as she’s got older and fitter she’s just kept on improving,” she said. That improvement has taken her a long way in a short time, but her trainer can also put the leap she has made down to a few other factors, namely having an open-class pacer to work with. “Because we don’t have any paddocks at the training centre I probably started working her a little bit harder,” Tomren said. “Her workmate went to Queensland last year so when we lost her we needed something to work her with to get her up in the grades and we had In Monaco so we thought this will either make her or break her and it has certainly brought her on.” Josh Duggan will again be in the cart from barrier five for the first leg of the Quaddie to be run at 7.09pm. By Blake Redden (Courtesy of Harness Racing Australia)
Champion New Zealand trainer Tim Butt will look to give his horses the best possible opportunities over the next few months by setting up a ‘satellite stable’ in New South Wales. The maroon and white raid will start next week, with smart pacer Pass Them By and speedy trotter Thanesan booked to head across the Tasman. Once there, the pair will be joined on course at Menangle by My Temudjin and Mac The Finn, who are already waiting patiently in New South Wales. “I will head across next week to help set up, before returning to New Zealand for Cup week,” said Butt. During Butt’s week of absence the team will be left in the hands of new stable employee James Hornbrook, who will be helping Butt during his Australian assault. The Butt team will race in New South Wales until the end of November, which takes in all of the Miracle Mile carnival, before the show heads to Victoria for meetings such as Victoria and Hunter Cup day. Butt himself will be in Australia for a period of at least a few months with a team which is likely to include Mah Sish, Elusive Chick, Madiba Magic, Vulcan, and possibly Choice Achiever. “We are hoping to set up a permanent stable in New South Wales once the new Menangle stable complex is built,” said Butt. “The money and racing opportunities are just too good over there to be ignored,” he stressed. “For instance, I think there are about three suitable $100,000 races coming up for Pass Them By,” he enthused. Yesterday’s Ashburton Trotters’ Flying Mile winner Peak is another that, all going well, the Aussies will get to see a lot of. “We plan to race him in the Trans-Tasman Challenge on Interdominion Final Day before following a similar routine to what Vulcan did last year, and heading on to the Great Southern Star. So, if you couldn’t keep up with all that - The Butt team will race in New South Wales until the end of November before heading to Victoria for the months of December and January. They will then return to their ‘satellite stable’ to prepare for the Interdominion carnival in March – And all this while still racing horses in New Zealand, wow. Butt has had great success doing these ‘summer raids’ over the last few years and has won 50 Grand Circuit races to date. So there is no doubt this one will be another that is highly successful. He may also look to take outside horses to New South Wales on 50/50 deals, so if you have a horse with ability that you think would suit Australia, don’t hold back on contacting him. By Mitchell Robertson
Trainer Cran Dalgety has one nagging doubt as his wonder pacer Christen Me prepares for his return at Addington tonight. And it is not whether he can beat dual New Zealand Cup winner nor whether Christen Me will handle just his second standing start. What bothers Dalgety the most is the five-year-old’s lack of a lead-up race to tonight’s $25,000 Avon City Ford Cup. “If he had had a race last week and was screwed down a bit more then I’d be very confident, even against these big guns,” said Dalgety. “But as we keep seeing time and time again in open class even the best horses are vulnerable fresh. “He is obviously good enough to win but I am not sure he is forward enough to overcome anything going wrong.” While Christen Me is listed as having only had two officials trials this campaign he worked privately at near race-speed after the Addington trials on Monday, pacing 2600m in 3:17, his last 800m in 56 seconds. Dalgety isn’t concerned about is the starting start, even though Christen Me is a relative novice behind the tapes. “He had plenty of practice at home and if he steps as good as he has been then that won’t be a problem.” Even if everything does go Christen Me’s way there is the issue of beating Terror To Love, who won their only clash back in February, albeit when favoured by the better run. As great as he is Terror To Love has been given two very quiet trials in the last month and being a six-year-old stallion should benefit even more from tonight’s race than Christen Me. “He is the top gun at the moment and we have to catch him,” said Dalgety. “But maybe their preparation is are all about winning the New Zealand Cup for the third time and he could be in the same boat as us fitness-wise, maybe even a bit softer.” The start will be crucial as if either of the big two got away quickly enough to press on to the lead they would be supremely hard to catch, especially as early season racing can be pedestrian. While any opposition containing a Hunter Cup winner, two Ballarat Cup winners, Jewels and Derby winners as well as the in-form Franco Ledger is not to be under-estimated, it would still surprise if the winner came from outside the two superstars, the TAB opening them Christen Me at $2 and Terror To Love at $2.50, with money quickly moving the former into $1.80. While he has never beaten the best, Franco Ledger peeled off a sub-54 second 800m winning the Hannon at Oamaru last start and has both standing start manners and a huge fitness each so make some appeal, while Four Starzzz Flash is the place value for similar reasons. Even this early in the season tonight’s race becomes an interesting one for the reputation of Mah Sish, who was wonderful at the highest level last term. But he may need to raise his game to stay relevant, especially as he performs best when respected and therefore able to control races. Later in the night Dalgety expects unbeaten Locharburn to stay that way even though he faces his first standing start but he has no such confidence with Regulus in the Sires’ Stakes heat. “He is working well but has drawn outside Mark Purdon’s pair (Isaiah and Someardensomewhere) so they have a huge edge on us.” By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Tim Butt isn’t pushing the panic button even after Mah Sish raced like anything but a Hunter Cup winner at Oamaru on Sunday. The dual group one winner was the first horse beaten in his comeback race and finished seventh of nine after leading in the middle stages. While winner Franco Ledger had to break 54 seconds for his last 800m and the runner-up Four Starzzz Flash has gone to another level, the fact Mah Sish was beaten so easily is a concern for punters who have taken fixed odds about him for November’s New Zealand Cup. But trainer Butt says Mah Sish will improve quickly and the race may be a wake up call for other established open class stars like Terror To Love and Christen Me. “When you see horses like Franco Ledger breaking 54 for their last 800m you realise how hard the open class season is going to be,” said Butt. “I wasn’t too unhappy with my fella because he will improve quickly. “But it also shows that you can go to the trials and think you have gone well pacing 56 seconds (for the last 800m) but that isn’t going to be good enough to win races.” With so many of New Zealand’s best pacers able to sprint blistering last sectionals at present, winning fresh-up is becoming a rarity in open class. Four Starzzz Flash found that three starts ago, while Franco Ledger struggled in his return to racing at Addington two weeks ago before improving immensley to win the Hannon on Sunday. With those two and Mah Sish set to head to Addington on September 27, both Terror To Love and Christen Me will need to be close to their peaks to beat them. Christen Me made his first public appearance of the spring at the Rangiora trials on Saturday and looked very sharp and most importantly handled the standing start well. He will back-up at the Ashburton trials today. Meanwhile, the Auckland Trotting Club has stuck by a pledge to the trainers of northern open class horses by holding the $25,000 Spring Cup this Friday. The ATC could have scrapped the race with only six acceptors but wanted to give the northern pacers a chance to gain form and fitness for the New Zealand Cup meeting without having to head south too early. The Spring Cup pits Besotted up against one of the big movers of last season in Easy On The Eye. By Michael Guerin (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Mah Sish is primed for his best year according to the 7-year-old gelding’s trainer Tim Butt – and even without racing for five months he’s still the one to beat in the Group Three $25,000 PGG Wrightson Hannon Memorial for six-plus-win Free-For-All pacers at Oamaru on Sunday (September 15). Mah Sish is the $2.40 favourite. Four Starzzz Flash is paying $4, Franco Ledger $4.20, and Mach Banner $7.50. “He will derive a lot of benefit out of Sunday’s run and it this stage of his preparation I couldn’t have him any better. I think he’s set for a big season. “Personally I think he has got the ability to be a top Grand Circuit horse again. Sunday’s Hannon is the perfect launch for him. He will then race in fortnightly intervals leading into the (New Zealand) Cup,” Butt said. Butt said his family had had a close association with the Oamaru Harness Racing Club’s Hannon Memorial over the years. “We grew up with it. It is a time honoured race really. There have been some nice horses win the Hannon Memorial. Anthony has won it a couple of times with Blossom Lady, then there were other nice horses like Roydon Glen and Derby who have won it. “It is the perfect lead-in race for us,” Butt said. Brother Anthony is going for his sixth win in the Hannon. He’s saluted previously with Blossom Lady in 1990 and 1993, Mister D G 2004, The Flyin Doctor 2006, and Cullen’s Creek in 2010. Mah Sish hasn’t raced since finishing seventh in the Miracle Mile in Sydney on April 28. This year’s Hunter Cup champion goes into the Hannon with two trials wins at Addington and Rangiora on September 2 and August 26 respectively. At Addington he beat four three-plus-win opponents from his 40m back-mark in 3:20.4 (mile rate: 2:04). Last 800m: 56.8. Last 400m: 28.3.Terror To Love was fourth. At Rangiora Mah Sish dealt to his six one-win rivals in 3:14 (mile rate: 2:00.3). Last 800m: 58. Last 400m: 29.2. Both were the same distance as Sunday’s race – 2600m standing start events. Stablemate Choise Achiever could also figure in the finish on Sunday. “He’s going well but it’s going to be harder for him to get into the Cup field. Mah Sish is definitely our best chance,” Butt said. Mah Sish, who finished runner-up to Im Themightyquinn's in this year’s Inter Dominion grand final has won 14 of his 38 starts, placed 12 times and won $892,250 The son of Mach Three - Dancing On Winds was bred by K. J. Taylor, and is owned by P. J. Hailes, T. G. Casey, G. A. Ayers, Mrs L. N. Ayers, Mrs M. McKay, and J. W. Hall. He finished fourth in last year’s New Zealand Cup. The first Hannon Memorial in 1938 was won by the Bill Johnstone trained and Maurice McTigue driven King’s Play. He won the (mile-and-a-quarter) 2000m event in 2:44.8. Pacer, driver, and winning time of North Otago’s premier pacing event (since 2000): 2012: Franco Ledger (Hamish Hunter) 3:15.7. 2011: Monkey King (Ricky May) 3:15.7. 2010: Cullen’s Creek (Anthony Butt) 3:13.4. 2009: Bondy (David Butt) 3:18.1. 2008: Ohoka Rebel (David Butt) 3:19.3. 2007: Baileys Dream (Ricky May) 3:26.4. 2006: The Flyin Doctor (Anthony Butt) 3:14.5. 2005: Bob’s Blue Boy (Craig Thornley) 3:22.8. 2004: Mister D G (Anthony Butt) 3:19.7; 2003: Jack Cade (Mark Purdon) 3:17.4. 2002: Panky’s Pacer (Ricky May) 3:18.1. 2001: Kym’s Girl (Colin de Filippi) 3:18.8. 2000: Chloe Hanover (Jo Herbert) 3:17.6. By Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand
Last season’s Hunter Cup winner, Mah Sish, will take his first step towards the New Zealand Trotting Cup on November 13 when he competes in Sunday’s Hannon Memorial at Oamaru. And on the back of two more than tidy trials, he looks the one they all have to beat. The now seven-year-old son of Mach Three, who confirmed himself as a genuine Grand Circuit performer earlier in the year, had his first trial for the season at Rangiora on the 26th of August where he downed a handy field, before repeating the dose on the 2nd of September. On that occasion he beat the likes of Greenburn Creek, Pass Them By and dual New Zealand Cup champion Terror To Love. “He seems to have come back really well and both of his trials have been great,” said Mah Sish’s regular driver, Anthony Butt. “He is ready to go, and I think he is the one they all have to beat,” added an upbeat Butt. Perhaps the hardest for Mah Sish to beat will be last week’s Maurice Holmes Vase winner, Four Starzzz Flash. While, Highview Tommy, Mach Banner, Choise Achiever and last year’s winner, Franco Ledger, all pose as serious threats. I was initially disappointed with Franco Ledger’s fresh-up fourth in the Maurice Holmes Vase, but after speaking with both Colin De Filippi and Hamish Hunter I have changed my tune. “All and all I was actually quite pleased with him last week,” said Hamish Hunter. “You can’t compare apples with oranges. Last campaign was completely different as he missed the Harness Jewels and was in the paddock six weeks earlier; therefore he had a much longer preparation.” “He only finished two lengths from the winner last week and I think he will have benefited greatly from the run.” Colin De Filippi shared Hunter’s sentiments. “I think they might have just gone a bit slow for him last week.” “He went three seconds quicker when he won the race last year. I think with a bit of pace on he can definitely come over the top of them,” he added. Hunter also has Devil May Care engaged to race on Sunday and on the back of a strong second he looks a very good each-way chance. “He is a lovely wee horse with brilliant standing start manners.” “He has had a couple of runs back now, so he is pretty screwed down. “I think he is a good place bet.” By Mitchell Robertson
It’s been over 10 months in the making but last season’s Melton Plate winner will make his racetrack return to Tabcorp Park Melton this Friday night. The winner of seven straight races last season, including the rich McInerney Ford 4YO Classic, was defeated at his last run in the Gold Nugget in his two-start Perth campaign. But Dean Braun has Chancellor Cullen back and ready for action in the 2760-metre stand start Gammalite. It might seem a big assignment first up, but his trainer is going in quietly confident off the back of two strong trial performances at Victorian HQ, a track he is unbeaten at. “He had a trial a fortnight ago and trialled well. He went around again Monday night behind the strands and went away good and was good on the clock; Chris (Alford, driver) said he was never out of second gear and he’s works been good,” Braun said. “2700 doesn’t really worry me, he’s fairly forward and been in work a long time so he is up in grade a little bit but he’s shown before he’s a pretty nice horse.” It’s the first step in a five-year-old season where the Lara trainer won’t be afraid to tackle the best of the best when the opportunity presents. The Gammalite is essentially a mini-Hunter Cup and it begs the question of whether the prestigious Group 1 is in the back of the connections minds. “We are definitely thinking about the Hunter Cup later in the season. We’ll probably come out of here and go to the Melton Plate and then races like the Hunter Cup,” Braun said. “I won’t hammer him all year with them but we’ll pick the eyes out of the ones we think best suit him.” Chancellor Cullen is also likely to be joined by his stablemate Rule Like A King in the Melton Plate. The four-year-old son of Mach Three has continued to improve and impress since joining the elite stable and surrounded by talented horses, he has more than held his own. A hit and run mission to Menangle saw Rule Like A King take down the promising Tasmanian Pachacuti just a week after that horse was chasing down Bit Of A Legend. And now he will line up at Bendigo on Saturday night in the first leg of the Quaddie. “I was probably going to tip him out at the end of the season but he’s just going too well. We’ve decided to keep him in and he’s on track for the Melton Plate also,” Braun said. “He’s come a long way since we’ve had him and he just keeps stepping up. He’s last run at Menangle he beat the Breeders Crown runner up so we’ve given him a little freshen up and he’s trained really well this week.” by Blake Redden Harness Racing Victoria
Grand Circuit warrior Washakie won’t be ready for the opening leg of the new season. The Gr.1 $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship at Albion Park kicks off the new season on October 26 for the eight leg series but the defending champion won’t be ready to defend his title. The millionaire pacer injured his pastern not long after winning the Renshaw Cup at Penrith back in April. “He’s back doing light duties but there’s no chance he’ll be ready for the Queensland carnival.” Trainer/driver John McCarthy said. The Queensland Spring Carnival during the month of October at Albion Park consists of the $30,000 Be Good Johnny Sprint on October 12 followed by the $75,000 Gold Coast Cup the following week while the $200,000 Queensland Pacing Championship completes the carnival. Washakie dominated the spring features last year winning both the Gold Coast Cup and the Queensland Pacing Championship defeating his stable mate Terrorway on both occasions. “It’s a shame he won’t be ready for those features again; he’s coming along nicely but he won’t be rushed back, we’re taking our time with him as he goes through plenty of swimming to build up his core fitness. The race that I’m keen to have him ready for is the Treuer Memorial on December 7 at Bankstown because he’s owned that race winning the last four editions. It would be pretty amazing if he could come back and win it for a fifth time. He just thrives racing at that tight track and being an old Bankstown boy myself it would be very special for all involved to win that race again.” Meanwhile, stablemate and Grand Circuit star in the making Terrorway is also back in work for McCarthy and is rated an outside chance of being ready for the Queensland features. The giant gelding was placed in all three events last season but like Washakie, McCarthy will bide his time with the proven Group One winner. “He’s coming along really well but I won’t rush him back; he’s done plenty of swimming and his fitness levels are quite good so we’ll just keep building on that at the moment. The Miracle Mile is an obvious target for a horse like him while the Inter Dominion next year is the long term goal. He’s a very classy horse that should return bigger and better after his break away from the track.” Terrorway was forced to the spelling paddock after suffering an injury after competing in the Hunter Cup at TABCORP Park, Melton earlier this year. by Chris Barsby
Fans of Hunter Cup winner Mah Sish got a double helping of good news in just an hour on Monday as the open class pacing season stepped up a gear. The Hunter Cup winner impressed at the Addington trials for the second week in a row, overcoming a 40m handicap to bolt away with the main trial, leaving Terror To Love among others in his wake. While the latter was not asked for a serious effort in his first public outing for the season, Mah Sish’s trial confirmed what a potent combination his manners and stamina are going to be on the biggest stage this season. And it will also tweak punters interest in his $13 opening quote with the New Zealand TAB for the New Zealand Cup, in which he ran fourth last year when still very much a newcomer to open class. The New Zealand TAB opened their market for the great Addington race on November 12 just minutes after the trial and had Terror To Love the $4.30 favourite to become just the third pacer to win the Cup three times. He narrowly shades Christen Me at $4.50 and West Australian hero I’m Themightyquinn at $4.60. That is different from TAB.COM.AU, which had Christen Me as favourite over I’m Themightyquinn and Terror To Love. The dominance of the big three sees group one winners like Mah Sish and Caribbean Blaster ($15) at odds with the New Zealand TAB rarely associated with horses of their class and Mah Sish’s trainer Tim Butt says while his pacer lacks the x-factor of the favourites he is an ideal New Zealand Cup horse. “All things being equal my fella will be there on the big day and will love the 3200m standing start. “He might not be as flat out good as the other three, but I’m Themightyquinn still has to actually make the trip from Perth and Christen Me is a wonderful talent but he now has to transfer that to open class. “So we will give them something to chase.” Im Themightyquinn is back in work after a spider bite that caused a severely swollen leg two weeks ago and his trainer Gary Hall is targeting an unexpected Cup lead-up. “I’m thinking about taking him to Kaikoura for the Cup,” said Hall. “He will scoot around the little track there (November 4) and it is only eight days out from the Cup which suits him. “So all going smoothly we will definitely be there.” Caribbean Blaster is a definite Cup contender but fellow Victorian star Bitobliss is unlikely, so steer away from the $12 on offer for him. The connections of NSW pacer Suave Stuey Lombo are also serious considering the trip to Addington after he downed Excel Stride at Menangle on Saturday night. “We want to come and also think the Free-For-All on the Friday will be a great race for him,” said trainer Shane Tritton. While Mah Sish will kick off his season at Oamaru on September 15, Butt’s other former Hunter Cup winner Choise Achiever returns in Friday night’s Maurice Holmes Vase at Addington. The winner of the race is guaranteed a start in the New Zealand Cup and so has lured in-form northern star Besotted south. Fresh back from his outstanding Breeders Crown campaign, Besotted sizzled at the Alexandra Park workouts on Saturday, prompting trainer Ray Green to head south earlier than intended to try and secure a Cup start. Also entered for Addington on Friday is champion trotter Stig. Courtesy of Michael Guerin
The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board has approved the 2013/14 season racing calendar and budget. 1. Racing Calendar There will be three more race meetings in the coming year (456) and there will be a similar number of races programmed. There is no material difference in the number of meetings conducted by each Club. Tabcorp Park Melton will conduct 66 meetings (65 in 2012/13) and this year will have 11 Saturday night meetings (up from 7 in 2012/13). 2. Financial Performance HRV is forecasting an unaudited profit in excess of $1.6m in 2012/13 which is a major turnaround from the $6.6m loss in 2011/12. The budget for 2013/14 forecasts a similar trend with a profit again estimated at $1.6m. Wagering revenue is expected to increase from $55.9m in 2012/13 up to $57.3m in 2013/14. 3. Stakemoney HRV is pleased to announce a $2.5m increase in stakes, up from $33.5m in 2012/13 to $36m in 2013/14. Due to the phased nature of the increases, the full year impact is an increase of $3.9m. The key features of stakemoney rises for next season are as follows. Career Penalty and Metropolitan Stakes: The minimum career penalty stake of $5,000 will rise by 10% up to $5,500 effective from 1 September 2013; The minimum career penalty stake will rise a further $500 up to $6,000 from 1 March 2014 - a total increase of 20%; At the time of the second rise, the distribution will change to account for a payment of $50 for horses which finish from 6th to last. The actual stake will be $115, which will include the drivers' fee, which is in line with current practice for stakemoney paid for 1st to 5th placegetters; The Metropolitan stake will rise by $1,000 to $16,000 for M1 or better class races from 1 September 2013; o From 1 March 2014 Metropolitan stakes will rise to $16,000 for M0 class races and to $17,000 for M1 or better class races. Note that M0 or better Free For All races will remain at $20,000. Vicbred: To ensure Vicbred continues to be the national leader in breeding incentive schemes the following enhancements are to be made to Vicbred: i. The First Win Bonus will increase on 1 September 2013 from $5,000 to $7,000 for the 2YO crop in the 2013/14 season. The increase will be extended to 2YO and 3YO in 2014/15 and 2YO, 3YO and 4YO in 2015/16; ii. The Empire Stallions Vicbred Super Series Finals in July 2014 will all increase by $10,000 with the Pacers Finals increasing to $110,000 and Trotters Finals to $60,000. It is the Board's intent to increase each of these finals by $10,000 each year. With the increases in the Vicbred First Win Bonus and the basic stake it means winning connections will receive (for a career class race) $11,000, up from the current $8,300 for the first win. Fillies and Mares: Consistent with HRV's strategy to promote fillies and mares racing, the following races will increase by $5,000 - up to $25,000: Golden Wattle Cup Tailamade Lombo Angelique Club Cup Jodies Babe Make Mine Cullen Richmond Lass Jane Ellen To further promote the fillies, the Victoria Oaks heats will rise from $15,000 to $20,000 each. The Victoria Oaks Final will rise from $100,000 to $150,000. Further Increases: Other races which will receive increased stakes are: (increase in brackets) Country Clubs Championship VHRSC Metropolitan Cup VHRSC Provincial Cup Breed for Speed – Silver Breed for Speed – Bronze Bray Country Cups Final The Holmfield Vicbred Championship Final Winter Trotters Cup $25,000 $25,000 $12,000 $12,000 $10,000 $12,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 ($5,000) ($5,000) ($2,000) ($2,000) ($2,000) ($2,000) ($5,000) ($5,000) ($5,000) Feature Races: The HRV Board has chosen to leave the major feature races at existing levels - except for the Great Southern Star. Prizemoney for the Great Southern Star will increase from $350,000 to $400,000, being $50,000 for each semi-final and $300,000 for the Final. This brings the Great Southern Star into line with HRV's other features, the SEW-Eurodrive Victoria Cup and the Del Re National Food Group Hunter Cup. Other Increases: The current practice of running $1,500 penalty free races for non-winners on Saturday night programs will change to $3,000 restricted penalty races for non-winners. Drivers' fees for restricted races will increase from $60 to $65. Full Year Impact: While the above stakes increases represent an additional $2.5m in the 2013/14 financial year, the full year impact will not be felt until 2014/15, when stakes will rise by a further $1.4m to $37.4m. Victorian Premier and Minister for Racing Denis Napthine welcomed the increases in stakemoney and other returns to trots participants including owners, breeders, drivers and trainers. "The harness racing industry is vital to Victoria's economy generating more than $400 million in annual economic benefits and 4,000 jobs, the majority in country Victoria". "These stakemoney increases will help grow confidence in the industry. Combined with initiatives such as the Coalition Government supported Vicbred Platinum program and infrastructure upgrades they point to a healthy future for Victorian harness racing." HRV Chairman Ken Latta said that he was pleased to be able to deliver these stakes rises following several tough years financially. "The stakes rises have been deliberately placed in accordance with the Board's Strategic Plan and following consultation with the industry," Latta said. "The increases to the basic stakes, enhancements to the Vicbred scheme, increases for mares and fillies races and additional support for trotting are all consistent with the Board's current strategies and policies." Mr Latta said that HRV had invested heavily in infrastructure over the past decade, having upgraded many of our tracks around regional Victoria, as well as the major investment in the future of the sport at Tabcorp Park Melton. While the Board remains steadfast in its commitment to the sport's integrity and the Country Club network, its priority now is to maximise returns to industry participants via stakes and bonuses. "We have many talented young people in the sport and it is important that they have confidence that harness racing in Victoria has a sustainable future. The industry must also realise that wagering growth is the key to further increases in stakes therefore the Board will be looking at areas such as handicapping and programming with a view to ensuring our product is as attractive as possible to punters." John Anderson - Chief Executive
In a bold change of direction, the Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board has implemented a range of changes to policies relating to racing and race programming. One of the premier races on the Victorian calendar, the A. G. Hunter Cup will be run under standing start free-for-all conditions from next year.
Mah Sish was awesome in winning the recent Hunter Cup, but how unlucky was Pub Blitz? The pair have both qualified for the 2013 Inter Dominion Grand Final on Sunday 3 March.
Harness racing Victoria's Hunter Cup is behind us and we look forward to the Inter Dominion (March 3) and the Great Southern Star (March 23). European Trotter Ridgehead Cahore comes out of quarantine this weekend.
Hi everyone, we're revelling in the success of more NZ horses in Melbourne this week and some fantastic harness racing performances across NZ.
The Australians were left with a few crumbs after New Zealand's big guns blasted the locals off the track at Saturday's feature harness racing meeting at Melton.