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By Garrick Knight    It wasn’t quite the perfect way for Jay Abernethy to reach 500 New Zealand driving wins, but it was the next best thing. When American Me scooted up the passing lane to win at Cambridge on Thursday night, it brought up the milestone for the 36-year-old. It was rather fitting given the relationship between Abernethy and the Manawatu colt’s trainer, Doug Gale. “It would have been nice to do it on one of my own, because I’m on 199 training wins too,” he told HRNZ. “But doing it with Doug’s horse was the next best thing because he’s given me probably 150 of those winners.” Abernethy is what you might call a workaholic and the fact he still manages to travel to race meetings and drive 300 times a year only underlines the passion he has for the industry. As well as training a team of 18 “mostly young ones” in the morning, he also works a full time job in the office of Abernethy Civil Contractors. “The previous transport manager left in March and I started filling in to help out. I’m still doing it now, so there’s a lot on at the moment.” Abernethy is also a breeder, the President of the northern branch of the horseman’s association, and sits on the national council, too. For good measure he’s in the process of developing a new training and living base out in Hunua, a project that’s been a couple of years in development and is still progressing. “We just got a permit for one of the houses so hopefully we can start on that after Christmas. “We’re in no sort of hurry and are just taking our time.” Abernethy owned the current stable property in Takanini with his father before selling to developers, like most trainers in the South Auckland region. He found himself in that position, and as a trainer, after the death of his grandfather, Bill, in 2007. At the time he was still a junior driver - a heavy burden to take on, but he’s risen to the challenge and has forged a living out of the game. His driving numbers have remained steady throughout his career – always between 300 and 400 a season – and he usually recorded at least 30 winners a season. That number has dropped in to the 20s the last three seasons, mainly due to Gale moving from Helensville to Bulls and reducing his numbers. “Doug and Adrienne Matthews, they’ve kept me as their first choice driver on their teams and that makes a massive difference. “Between them and my own horses, that’s most of what I drive every season now, but I’ve had a lot of support throughout my career. “Everyone has been to me; I’ve been lucky enough to drive for a lot of people, including leading trainers, and that all adds up. “To everyone that ever put me on, I’m grateful for that. I just hope the next 500 doesn’t take as long.” Abernethy’s first winner, Campus, came at just his third drive, at Cambridge in July of 2002. Interestingly it was former caller Terry Yule’s final race behind the microphone before current commentator Aaron White took over in the new season. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

The fourth annual Hilux Rural Games were held in Palmerston North last weekend, and included the second annual running of the Harness Racing New Zealand Harness Gearing Up Competition. A field of six competitors, including last year’s winner Jay Abernethy, went head to head in time trials to find the two fastest qualifiers to make the final on the day, with the finalists being Dylan Ferguson and Kyle Marshall. The contest was to gear up a pacer with basic harness minus the sulky, and Ferguson managed a narrow victory over Marshall clocking in at 2m50s. Marshall was second and Jay Abernethy was third. Thanks also to the other competitors Jo Stevens, Allen Pyers and Ken Tarrant. Ferguson was presented with the trophy, the Cranbourne Cup trophy won by Blossom Lady during her illustrious career, along with prizes presented by Toyota’s General Manager of Marketing, Andrew Harris. During the afternoon members of the public were invited to have a go at gearing up a harness horse under the watchful eye of our horsemen and provided a great hands on memory to a captive audience. The contest was keenly followed by a strong crowd of Palmerston North locals and also tourists who flocked to see horses at the games. All Black great Sir Brian Lochore was also present to witness the final, admitting he was a keen follower of the racing industry and enjoyed following harness racing. He was able to spend time with the competitors following the event. A huge thanks must go to the Manawatu Harness Racing Club team of John Doody, Allen Pyers and Dan Lynch for the organization of the competition and running of the event with Andre Neill. The event provided the perfect entrée leading in to the Palmerston North Gold Cup Festival to be held at the end of this month. HRNZ Marketing

Harness Racing events at Hilux Rural Games  The Hilux Rural Games this year will once again be held in Palmerston North, with the dates being 10 and 11 March, and special opening events in Fielding on Friday 9 March. Last year harness racing was a new sport added to the games roster and this year it will feature as a part of the opening events on the Friday with the Harness Racing New Zealand sulky race at 11.15am on Manchester Street in Fielding. The race will be for teams of four over a distance of 400m, finishing off at the clock tower in the centre of Fielding. Last year over 6,000 people attended the opening event, and this year they are expecting a crowd of over 10,000 as local schools from the region are attending thanks to generous sponsorship with transport. The games receive coverage on MediaWorks, TVNZ and NZME broadcasts, along with extensive coverage by Fairfax media. They are attended by big names in sport including last year’s guest of honour Dame Valerie Adams, who took out the NZ Gumboot Throwing Championship. An initiative that originally started in 2014, the rural games have become a highlight on the calendar for those wanting bragging rights over their peers in the racing and rural sector. But also opens a whole new audience to the skill and craft of those in the rural and racing communities with thousands attending over the two-day event in The Square. At the heart of the games are a series of traditional sports attracting top competitors from throughout New Zealand and Australia. You can expect to see several national and world champions battling for the prestigious Hilux New Zealand Rural Games titles. Together with Sport New Zealand and rural sports associations around the country the games developed exciting new formats for sheep shearing, speed fencing, speed tree climbing and other traditional sports. They also play host to the ANZAXE Wood Chopping Championship, New Zealand Harness Racing Gearing Up Championship and the NZ Rural Highland Games ‘Heavies’ Trans-Tasman Competition that has been so popular in previous events. Jay Abernethy was the inaugural winner of the New Zealand Harness Racing Gear Up Championship last year, an event that attracted a lot of interest and new faces to the product. He intends to return to defend the trophy, which is a stunning gold cup won by Blossom Lady during her career. This year there will once again be a large array of fantastic prizes on offer (including the trophy), and expressions of interest are being called for from the harness racing community. Entry to the contest is free and assistance with accommodation can be arranged. “We would really love to attract as many entries as possible from around the country,” said event founder Steve Hollander. “It’s a great chance to promote the sport, but also a lot of fun. And we can help them out with accommodation and any queries they have. It would be a great opportunity for junior drivers, amateurs and cadets,” he added.  The Harness Gearing Up Championship will be held on the Saturday at 4.30pm, and also offers the public a chance to have a go at gearing up a Standardbred which was an extremely popular event last year. Manawatu Harness Racing have been huge supporters of this event, providing the sulkies and gear and horses for the relative events. Entries close Sunday 18 February. For further information please contact Karen Hollander by emailing Karen@hollander.co.nz Jess Smith Communication and Ownership Co-Ordinator | Harness Racing New Zealand Inc

Today the Oamaru harness racing club will again host the Brothers In Arms driving series. Jay and Sailesh Abernethy who dominated the series last year are back to defend their title in a five-race competition against five sets of brothers at the grass track meeting. Also competing in the series are local drivers Matthew and Brad Williamson, as well as Peter and Hamish Hunter, Dexter and John Dunn, Craig and Chris Thornley and Gerard and Leo O'Reilly. Last year the Abernethy brothers easily won the series, with Sailesh winning three races and Jay winning one. The likeable Abernethy brothers also won the series in 2014. ________________________________________________________________________________________ The Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen trained Major Shard may have booked his ticket to Auckland for the major races in the next few months by winning last nights NRM Sires Stakes Silver for 3yo's. Natalie Rasmussen said on the All Stars Website, "we would have to consider for the Sales race in Auckland on his run tonight and probably he would go now" Last night Major Shard trailed for the last lap before zipping up the passing lane for driver Tim Williams and winning well by more than one length at the line. Tim said after the race, " Major Shard is very good when he is good. He worked to the front and when he got the gap he went thru it strongly." Major Shard paced the 1950m in a quick 1-54.7 mile rate with a closing 800m in a sizzling 54.4 seconds. Henry Hubert ran home strongly for second for driver John Dunn.   Major Shard winning last night.   Harnesslink Media

A Monte Saddle qualifying trot was held at the Alexandra Park harness races on Friday night and drew a field of three starters. Meander With Pegasus trained by Jay Abernethy led all the way and held off the challenge of Cool Son in the straight to win by a half a head. Cool Son did well to get as close as he did after galloping at the start and losing a large stretch of ground. The race was run under Mobile conditions a rare sight for monte racing in this country.       MONTE SADDLE QUALIFYING TROT   Distance: 2200m     Weather: Fine     Track: Fast       Plc Bk Horse Barrier Hcap Time Trainer 1 1 Meander With Pegasus 1 fr 3-05.0 J H Abernethy 2 4 Cool Son U2 fr 3-05.0 J A Cole 3 3 Way To Go U1 fr 3-09.2 J H Abernethy Scratchings SCR 2 Speedy Earl 2       SCR 5 The Scruff U3             Margins: 1/2 head, 21 lengths Times: Mile Rate: 2-15.3 Last 800m: 61.4 Last 400m: 30.5     Harnesslink Media

Saddle trotting events have proved so popular at the annual Pirongia Boxing Day races in recent years they are now part of the Auckland Trotting Club’s Workouts at Pukekohe. And the winning trainers of both Workouts staged so far want saddle trotting races to one day become a TAB event. Waiuku conditioners Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett won the first Monte Saddle Trot at Franklin Raceway on April 29 with their seven-win Sundon gelding, Makarewa Jake. Pukekohe stablehand Riina Maattanen rode the 7-year-old to a two-and-a-quarter length victory. They trotted the R40 and faster 2050m stand (left-handed) in 2:58 (mile rate 2:19.7) and home in 63.8 and 28.7. Then last Saturday (May 13) on the same track the Wallis and Hackett trained three-win Majestic Son mare, Majestic Ali won over the same distance in in 2:47 even (mile rate 2:11), but right-handed this time. The jockey was Wallis and Hackett’s 15-year-old daughter, and stablehand, Tyla. They trotted their last 800m and 400m in 59.4 and 29 even. “We had four starters in the first race and then five in the next. There has been a bit of growing support for them. At the moment we are trying to develop saddle trotting in New Zealand and then hopefully have them at the races one day. “The popular Pirongia races is where the idea originated from. Trainers like Jay (Abernethy) and Tim (Vince) have also been very pro it. We just want to get the word out there. I’ve seen them race in Australia and I know it’s very popular in Europe. I hope it catches on,” Wallis said. The Waiuku horsewomen said the Harness Racing New Zealand Conditions catered for saddle events to be staged in this country. “They are a great spectacle and hope people support our exhibition race at Alexandra Park on May 26. In our stable for example we have six horses who could race in saddle events,” Wallis said. “If we take small steps at a time hopefully then it will catch on,” she added. Wallis said Majestic Ali was probably their best saddle trotter at the moment, but insisted riding them in work was the norm. “We like to mix it up for them and some of them really like it. Tyla rides them a lot. A couple of sponsors have expressed their interest in supporting us and I know one owner who would buy a horse for saddle racing,” Wallis said. Clubs in the South Island have conducted saddle trot events in the past, and the Kumeu District Trotting Club ran saddle trots at its Trophy Day, but April 29 was New Zealand's first official workout. Abernethy loves saddle trots. “We always ride quite a few of our horses. In fact all my trotters over four have been ridden. It’s a good change for them. I've had a horse race in nearly every saddle event in the North Island. “My partner from Sweden, Lisa (Olsson), rides most of mine and if I have two in a race Riina rides the other one. Lisa said they had a lot of saddle trots in Sweden and it was very popular in Scandinavia,” Abernethy said. Abernethy has had success with Silver Stream and The Last Gamble at Pirongia and has also had trotters entered in the New Plymouth ‘Extreme Race Day’ event last year. I took four horses down for that, so yes I’m a keen supporter of saddle trots,” said Abernethy. Duane Ranger

After nailing 442 wins from 3,733 career drives Scott Phelan has now trained his first solo New Zealand winner. The 34-year-old Clevedon horseman achieved that feat with Admiral's Flight in the first event at the Manawatu Harness Racing Club's meeting at Palmerston North last Wednesday. Phelan was rapt, but was quick to point out he had trained other winners before. "I think I trained about 122 when I worked for Barry Purdon (2008 - 2012) and then when I went to Australia I trained about four or five winners in my own name. "It's a great feeling to get that first one out of the way though. I hope it's the start of many more to come," Phelan said. Admiral Flight's first career win in nine starts came just two days after Phelan handed in his resignation at Stonewall Stud, the base of his former employers and Ardmore trainers, Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick. “I’m back working for Barry in the mornings now and then I train my two horses, which are based at Jay Abernethy’s property in Papakura. He’s a close friend and I’m grateful to him for that,” said Phelan. He said Admiral’s Flight had been with him for about six weeks now. He got the 5-year-old gelding from Reg and Earl Drake from Otautau in Southland. He came north with no form but Phelan has now produced two thirds and a win from four starts with the son of Justa Tiger. "He’s no star but goes okay and should win at least a couple more. He felt good today. My other horse in work is a 2-year-old Mach Three filly named Magical Miss. “They are both owned by my mate Lance Goldsmith, who made my first win happen. He’s also my sponsor. I want to thank him, my father (Frank Phelan) and Jay for supporting me in my new training venture,” Phelan said. He said he hoped to build up a small team in the next couple of years and then would decide if he would remain in harness racing. “I’ll just see how things progress along, but at this stage I’m fired up and keen to train and drive. Today’s win has fuelled my fire. You never get sick of that winning feeling,” Phelan said. Phelan said he used some of Purdon’s colours when designing his silks. “I’ve always liked the blue and grey, so I went with that and then put a star in the middle. It was a great feeling to have them paraded in the winner’s circle,” he said. Phelan and Admiral's flight drew three (of seven) in the D & M Webb Mobile for the maiden pacers. They burned early and out-muscled eventual runner-up Wynberg Delight (Philip Butcher) to get the lead after 300m. Admiral’s Flight and Phelan led for the remainder of the race, pacing the 2500m in 3:13 even (mile rate 2:04.2). He won by three quarters of a length and home in 60.3 and 29.9. Phelan has now amassed $4.4 million in driving stakes since he first got in the sulky back in 2000. Meanwhile, Phelan, Ben Butcher, Sailesh Abernethy, and Philip Butcher all drove two winners apiece at yesterday’s 10-strong race meeting. Phelan also saluted the judge with the Willie Fleming trained Rangi Rangdu in the eighth event. Duane Ranger

Irishman Gerry Cronin’s lifetime desire to own and train a winner on his beloved St Patrick’s Day came to fruition at Cambridge Raceway last night (Friday). The 45-year-old South Auckland horseman, who immigrated to New Zealand from Limerick in 1995, was almost doing handstands after Lola Jones won the last of the 11 races. The little 6-year-old McArdle mare with the Shamrock and Irish colours won the Rotorua East Club Mares Mobile for the 4yo and older R66 to R69 rated mares by a neck. Lola Jones was the $6.40 third favourite. It was her seventh win in 62 starts and she's now banked $40,810 in stakes. Cronin, who has driven four amateur winners, works for Steve Telfer and Chris Garlick at Clevedon. Lola Jones races in their name but Cronin does a lot of the work with helpful advice from Telfer. “Our training methods compliment each other. I was so elated. I’ve been planing this St Patrick’s Day victory for over a year now. I did the same last year but she tied up and didn’t win. “I thought this is the year. I’ve set her for this race for some time now. It means so much to win on St Paddy’s Day. It’s huge. I’m still over the moon. It has made my year,” Cronin said. “Now all I want is for the Irish to beat England in the rugby tomorrow and that will make my weekend,” he added. Cronin had huge praise for junior driver, Jacob Wallace. The $7,000 event was also a junior driving race and provided Wallace with his first win since returning from Australia last year. He's now reined two New Zealand winners - the other coming in the 2014-2015 season. “I’m an amateur driver and I know what it’s like not to get drives. I thought I’d give Jacob an opportunity because he’s good driver and has gained a lot of experience having worked in Australia and now works for Barry Purdon. “I had a lot of faith in him and was more than confident to put him on. His drive was superb. He drove the horse exactly like I told him to. Be patient and make sure she has got clear air at the top of the straight. I couldn’t have scripted his drive any better,” Cronin said. Lola Jones and Wallace sat back and then in the lane powered home to beat favourite Rocknroll Princess (Jack MacKinnon) right on the line. It was a stable quinella for Telfer and Garlick. Cronin bought Lola Jones as a one-win pacer off Blenheim’s Mike O’Brien out of the ‘Harness Weekly’. He said he was looking for an amateur horse so he could get more drives. “She’s now won another six races for me and I love her to bits. She gets nothing but tender, loving care from me. That’s the way I was taught back home. I’ve also learnt so much since coming here,” Cronin said. Cronin actually came to New Zealand in the mid-1990s to work in his family’s former pub – Kitty O'Brien's which was near Victoria Park Market in Auckland. “I grew up with horses since I was a kid. In my early teenage years I used to ride for a racing stable but we always had the odd trotter.  “There were no tracks and we used to race them in a paddock or on the road. Then when I met Frank Phelan one day (who’s mother is Irish) we hit it off straight away. “He was foreman for John Green at the time. It must have been around 2000. The Green family are also Irish so I became hooked even more than I thought I would. “I have since worked for Jay Abernethy and the last couple of months I’ve been with Steve and Chris. All of them have been amazing. They have all taught me so much. None of them leave a stone unturned. They are absolute professionals and even though I have always loved the trots, I love them more now because of what they have taught me.” Because Lola Jones is now too highly assessed to trace in amateur events, Cronin said he was now on the lookout for an amateur horse to drive. “I’d love another one because ‘Lola’ is rated 69 now and amateurs go up to R64 or then they become claimers. “Last night’s race was penalty free so that helps. I think I’ll race her at Cambridge again next start. Perhaps in a standing start event. She goes well from a stand. She has a great temperament. “I probably go overboard a bit, but I love spoiling her. I have applied everything I have learnt onto her. She is my darling and last night’s win not only made my day – it made my year,” Cronin said. He also paid a tribute to equine physiotherapist, Clare McGowan who eliminated a few niggles from his beloved mare earlier in the week.   Duane Ranger

Papakura horseman Jay Abernethy is the inaugural 2017 ‘New Zealand Gearing Up’ champion. The 36-year-old geared up a harness, hopples, a bridle, and shin and knee boots in three minutes 14 seconds. The competition was part of the 2017 Hilux Rural Games and was staged in ‘The Square’ in down-town Palmerston North last Saturday (March 11). Olivia Picford was second, while Alan Pyers finished third. Fourth went to Scott Dickson and Kerry Tarrant finished fifth. Abernethy claimed the Blossom Lady Cranbourne Gold Cup and prizes for his victory. He was rapt to have helped out organisers by just entering the event. "I’m pretty happy. I'm just glad to help Steve (Hollander) out and promote the game. "There was a lot of interest when the public had the chance to have a go gearing up a horse. They loved that but I think next time it needs to be held at a race-meeting so more licensed horsemen can get involved," Abernethy said. "It would create a lot more publicity which has to be good for the game, but in saying that, it would be harder to win if there were a few more people in it. That is also good," he added. The South Auckland trainer/driver/breeder/owner also thanked the sponsors even though he never made it to the prize-giving. "I left early but will pick up the Gold Cup and prizes when I next race at Manawatu," Abernethy said. Manawatu Harness Racing Secretary, John Doody said the first-ever Championship was run in association with ‘Interislander’. "We had a lot of interest when the public were given the chance to gear up but we got five for the open sectional. We could have done with a few more. Jay was very fast and efficient. Well done to him. "The title will be up for grabs again at future Shows," Doody said. Abernethy’s trophy was named after one of our greatest mares. Blossom Lady, who was the 1992 New Zealand Trotting Cup (and winner of 43 races and $1.3 million in stakes, was co-owned by a past chairman of Harness Racing New Zealand and former Palmerston North resident, Ralph Kermode. Games founder and trustee, Steve Hollander, said the Cup will be presented back to the Manawatu Harness Racing Club to reconfigure it as an enduring trophy for this event each year at the Games He said the winner and two place-getters would also receive Interislander and Husqvarna prizes to a total value of $1,100, $600, and $450 respectively. Hollander said fourth and fifth also received prizes from other Games sponsors. Trackside presenter Jess Smith was MC at the event. Duane Ranger

Nicky Chilcott is thankful for Everything. The 45-year-old Cambridge horsewoman has Everything to thank for back-to-back Otaki Country Cups victories and has Everything to thank for notching up her 400th and 401st training victories last weekend. Everything, a 5-year-old Sands A Flying gelding, won yesterday’s (Sunday) $10,000 Boundary Oceans Otaki Cup for the R60 and faster pacers. This time last year Chilcott was celebrating her Wellington Cup - Otaki Cup double when Jet Black Shadow won on both days of the Kapiti Coast Harness Racing Club's grass track meeting. "I actually think Everything was good enough to emulate Jet Black Shadow's double of last year, but I thought it was a big step up for him to line up in the Wellington Cup on the first day (Friday), so I put him in a R56 to R80 event. "On hindsight I was probably being a bit cautious. Looking back now though he amazes me. To win on both days like he did is an absolute delight. "I'm going to have to be careful where I place him now because I don't want him to whip through the grades too quick. The Country Cups Final is now his main goal and I don't want him to be off a long mark in that," Chilcott said. Everything notched up his third and fourth wins from just eight starts at Otaki - but more importantly created the milestone for Chilcott. "To win 400 races as a trainer and to be sitting on 598 driving victories is absolutely amazing. "I'm just a small-town country girl who trains a few out of Cambridge. It's quite hard getting owners these days and for me to have almost 1,000 wins as both a trainer and a driver is quite humbling," Chilcott said. "It is extremely satisfying. I am very proud of the achievement," the Cambridge horsewoman added. Everything, who is out of the seven-win ($45, 478) Camtastic mare For The Girls, won his 2100m mobile by a neck on Friday in 2:41.4 (mile rate 2:03.7) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.3 and 32.3. Then two days later he cleaned up his Otaki Cup field by one-and-three-quarter lengths pacing the 3000m stand off the front in 3:57.1 (mile rate 2:07.1) and home in 58.5 and 30.6. He was the $2 favourite on day one and the $6.40 favourite on the second day. "He amazed me what he did on Sunday. After Friday’s race he was such a tired horse. I didn't think he had it in him to win the Otaki Cup over 3000 metres. "That was a really brave performance. I'm going to look after him now. I'll take him home and sit down and plan where we go from here. He's achieved so much in such a short time," Chilcott said. Everything won four of his first five workouts before qualifying 4.6 seconds under time at Cambridge Raceway on July 9 in 2015. "Les White, who works for me, noticed that the horse wasn’t doing much and I got the horse through him. He did a lot of his early work, so the horse is a credit to him,” Chilcott said. She said Everything galloped on debut at Alexandra Park on August 14 and then defibrillated next start. He was then turned out and has come back a new horse winning four of his last six starts. Everything was bred by Hambletonian Limited. He is owned by the Summer Fun Number 1 Syndicate. “We formed the Syndicate because a lot of people wanted me to get them involved in racing. We have had a wee bit of success to date but nothing major. “It’s all about fun and affording what you can. Some of the 30 to 40 owners might only only a hair out of the tail but they will have fun. I’m sure they did tonight even though I didn’t see too many on-course. “A big shout out must go to Jess Smith because she made this Syndicate happen. She did a fantastic job helping me get owners for this horse,” Chilcott said. Chilcott had a good day at the office on Sunday. Her 8-year-old Continentalman brown mare, Hot Chocolate Tart finished a close second behind Silver Stream and Jay Abernethy in the feature trot - the $7,000 Pegasus Spur At Woodlands Stud R50 and faster handicap. "She's has also done a wonderful job. She's won eight races now, but is coming to the end of her racing career because she is in foal," Chilcott said. Duane Ranger

If you are unsure about picking a winner at Cambridge today (Friday) stick with the tried and true – the Raceway’s leading trainer of last season, Jay Abernethy. Abernethy is taking just one horse to the Harness Racing Waikato meeting and punters won’t have to wait long to see his stable representative line up. The consistent Gotta Go Cullect gelding start in the first event - the McMillan Equine Feeds Amateur Mobile for the 4-year-and-older 63 rated paces. The 5-year-old start from gate four, which is really three because there is one scratching inside him. John Kriechbaumer will do the driving. “He’s been racing really well lately and even though this is a step up in grade he seems to get through his races well. With the right run he can be a good chance, but looking at the field he is going to need a few things go his way,” said trainer Abernethy. Collection placed in three starts before winning at Hawera last Sunday. He is having his first look at ‘The Raceway’ tonight but he has placed at Alexandra Park, and he has the draw to find a nice sit early. Abernethy said coming north from Brian Johnson’s stable at Richmond Park in December had been a positive move “Brian organised him to come after the last Manawatu meeting because there was lack of opportunity for him in Blenheim without doing heaps of travelling with him. “Brian sent him up in super order and all we have done is tick him over so most of the credit goes to him. He was in fantastic order and because of that we haven't done anything different with him,” Abernethy said. The toughest for Collection to beat will be the Cheree Wigg trained and driven Elliot Daniel, who was hampered in the straight when heavily supported at Waipa. But her twin sister Sheryl could get over the top of them both with the Tim Vince trained Chal Shocked. The Jereme’s Jet 5-year-old goes well in amateur events and it's best you ignore his last start gallop, also at Waipa. The main event of the evening – the $9,000 Georgia Brooke Memorial Handicap for the R66 and faster pacers is an even affair. Pukekohe trainer Derek Balle has a high opinion of Kenrick, and the 5-year-old Bettor's Delight entire only needs to get a nice sit from barrier his 10m handicap to be a major threat. Kenrick has won one of his five starts at Cambridge Raceway and placed in two others. He's lightly raced having won four of his 25 starts, including one over tonight's 2700m stand. Duane Ranger

The race to 150 could be resolved at Alexandra Park tonight (Thursday). Fresh from their victory in their 'Brothers in Arms Driving Series' at Oamaru earlier this month, the South Auckland-based Abernethy brothers will do battle again on their home track tonight – but this time against one another. Both Jay (33) and Sailesh Abernethy (31) sit on 149 victories – Jay for training, and his younger brother for driving. “We’ve always had the usual sibling rivalry growing up but nothing to any great extent. I would like to get to 150 first though. I am the older one and it’s only right,” he joked. “Any other time I don’t mind running second to Sailesh and vice versa. We are a team and try and do what’s best for the stable and the owners and trainers,” he added. Since 2006-2007 Jay has driven 149 winners from 1664 starters to the races. he's also placed 266 times for $986,052. UDR strike-rate: 0.1597. Compare that to Sailesh who has driven 149 winners from 1,364 starters since 2009-2010. he's also placed 268 times and banked $1,016,777 in stakes. UDR: 0.1980. Of course Jay is the senior driver having saluted the judge 427 times from 4.596 drives since 2002. he's also placed 815 times and won just over $3.2m i stakes. UDR: 0.1722. The older sibling gets two bites at the cherry tonight. The leading trainer at Cambridge Raceway last season will line up Kate Jackson (Trent Lethaby) and Collection (Jacob Wallace) in the opening junior driving event. He will then sit behind the Adrienne Matthews trained Jude's Gem (13) in the fourth event, while Sailesh’s only drive is behind the Cheree Wigg trained Minstrel Boy (2) in the fifth event. “I can’t separate the two from our stable in the first race. The only indication I can give you is that Trent (Lethaby), who woks for us, had the choice of drives. I think it will come down to who gets the best trip,” Abernethy said. “Both can win with luck,” he added. He thought he had a better winning show behind 3-year-old Art Official filly, Jude’s Gem, despite drawing five on the second line. “She went real good first up and I’m sure Adrienne will have her screwed right down for this. Sure it’s a stronger field than what she met here last month but she’s on the improve, and she did go pretty good at the Workouts (fifth) on Saturday. “This is just her third career start so whatever she does she will be improved by the run. I think she will be a nice drive,” Abernethy said. Abernethy said if he or his brother were left on 149 after tonight’s meeting it was likely one of them would hit the 150 mark at Waipa on the Te Awamutu grass next Wednesday. “We will have five or six in at that meeting so surely one of us will break through,” he said. Meanwhile drivers at Alexandra Park tonight will wear black arm bands in race four – the $12,000 NZ Trotting Hall Of Fame Len Hart Memorial Maiden Pace as a mark of respect for the passing last week of Riverton jockey Rebecca Black. Duane Ranger

The Abernethys dominated the brothers in arms drivers series at Oamaru on Saturday with Sailesh winning three of the six heats and Jay winning one.   The brothers, aged 31 (Sailesh) and Jay (33) ended the series with 19 points, three  more than nearest rivals, Nathan and Matthew Williamson with David and Philip Butcher in third place with 12 points. The Abernethys won the series on the grass track in 2014 when contesting it for the first time.    The Abernethys received a $1000 cash prize provided by Fat Sally’s Pub and Restaurant and a trophy sponsored by Ballantynes Showcase Jewellers.   The Abernethys who operate a stable at Papakura are on the move. They have bought a larger property at Hunua, 35 km away and plan to shift in before the winter.   “The new property is 70 acres against 20 at our present place. We will have straight line and oval tracks and transfer our hydro treadmill,’’ said Jay.   Last season was the most successful for the stable with 33 wins.   “We are building up a team again as most of our older horses have moved on.”   Sailesh won on Saturday with McLovin, Veneto and Nui Toc Tien. Veneto is unbeaten in three starts on grass and Nui Toc Tien has had his four wins on grass. Jay won with Soney Beatt, who made the pace and cleared out by five and three quarter lengths. Soney Beatt has gained four of his six wins on grass.   Trainer Ken Ford had left him in the care of the Williamson stable at Oamaru after he raced at Invercargill the previous Sunday.   Trainer Ray Jenkins produced the trotters McLovin and Justmollyarcher to win. McLovin has won twice from four starts. Justmollyarcher was having his fifth start when he cleared maiden ranks. Both 4-year-olds led over the last 1500m of 2000m.   McLovin is by Monarchy from Winfield Invasion, an Armbro Invasion mare who won four races. McLovin is raced by Jenkins with Terrence Kean, of Winton, Morrell Lake, of Melbourne, Shelley Jenkins (daughter of the trainer) and Neville McRae, of Hamilton. McLovin was bred by Daryl and Anne Trainor, of Sawyers Bay, who sold him in April when he was in work with Mark Jones. The Trainors have Say You Pres, a 3-year-old filly by The Pres from Winfield Invasion shaping well with Jones.   Invercargill owners Leo and Genevieve Curtin, who are attending the Interdominion in Perth, race Justamollyarcher. The Curtins  bought Justamollyarcher from Greg Payne as a 3-year-old 12 months ago.   “He has got heaps of ability but needs the ringcraft,’’ said Jenkins of the son of Angus Hall and Justa Kiwi Girl, who won nine races. The Curtins won seven races with Buddsun from the Jenkins stable.   Culley Backy made an immediate winning return for Christchurch owner Peter McDermott. He bought  5yr-old out of the stable of Michael Heenan and Culley Backy was transferred to Brent White at Temuka.   “I can’t take much of the credit I have only had him (Culley Backy) a week,’’ said White.   The Central Courage syndicate were out in force to see their 4-year-old mare Seduce Me clear maiden ranks. Members were urging her on by her stable name, Cindy, rather than attracting  strange looks by yelling her official name. Roxburgh trainer Geoff Knight bought Seduce Me (Ohoka Arizona – Lady Bo Heather) from Glenys Chmiel and Zenmach from Mark Smolenski for the syndicate about the same time in the winter of last year. Zenmach has since six races.   Tayler Strong

Cambridge Raceway’s leading trainer of last season – Jay Abernethy - can notch up his third win of the season at Waikato’s harness racing headquarters tonight (Thursday). The 33-year-old Papakura horseman has four mares nominated for tonight’s Harness Racing Waikato meeting and rated Chevron’s Easy in the $6,500 John Villiger Memorial (race six) as his best chance of the night. “She’s nice rated (R58) nicely in this R50-60 trot. She went real well last start when finishing second behind the favourite (Westwind Flyer) last week. That was over the same distance but she drew the front that night. “She had to do a bit of work and she ended up in front. She’s a much better horse with a sit. If she get’s that from 11 tonight then she can win,” her trainer/driver said. Abernethy said he was working 23 at his South Auckland property – most of them 2-year-olds. He said the return of Silver Stream in the next few weeks would bolster his stable’s winning chances. However, he also liked his prospects in the first two races tonight. In race one he will line up one of the favourites, Lola Jones (Gerry Cronin). “It’s an amateur race and she’ll be driven by her owner (Cronin) from the second row-one draw. She ran home real nice here last week when third from gate 10. “She also won well here two starts back and can do so again if the race pans out her way,” Abernethy said. He also thought American Mary, who has copped the same second row draw as Lola Jones, could go close in the second. “She is working a lot better and can win if she does things right. She needs to step and if she does she can win, but ‘if’ is the big word here. it’s 50-50 with her. She follows out Tony Herlihy’s (MNZM) filly (Marie Browne) which should assist her. She can pace okay but she is a bit of a head-scratcher.” Abernethy believed a bad drive cost his fourth runner, Kate Jackson, her winning chances last week, and he hopes to redeem himself tonight with her in the seventh race. “It’s not going to be easy for her from the widest front-row draw, but she drew 11 last week and couldn’t have got closer had I driven her better. “She was full of running that night as well and because of that I’m sure she will finish closer than 10th tonight. That was her only start on the track and she will be better for that run. She has won over the distance as well,” Abernethy said. Abernethy has trained two winners from 50 starters so far this season. He’s also placed five times and won $21,408 in stakes. In the sulky Abernethy has saluted the judge twice as well. He will drive three of his four starters tonight.   Duane Ranger

The decision to shift north wasn’t an easy one for young driver Trent Lethaby, but it’s certainly all paying off now. Lethaby who moved north roughly 10 months ago has been a revelation since joining forces with Papakura trainer and driver Jay Abernethy not only recording his first driving success, but also another 5 winners, including a double at tonight’s Wairarapa meeting. Trent saluted the judge in Race 2 behind the Abernethy trained runner Sunhaven Boss and Race 10 behind Diamond Delight for Richmond trainer Graeme Hall. Sunhaven Boss, a maiden winner on Tuesday was given a lovely trip by Lethaby and when extricated to the outside stormed home to pip Flight Deck (Stephen Doody) right on the line. “He had the gate speed to be handy, and after that the luck went his way and he was good enough to pick them up” “It’s nice to get my first win for Jay as he’s shown faith in me from day one. I’m really enjoying it up here, the support I’ve received has been awesome so hopefully I can keep delivering the results for owners and trainers” said Trent. Sunhaven Boss paid $15.10 and $4.00 Diamond Delight caused the biggest upset of the night and possibly the year, when the 5yo Santanna Blue Chip mare snuck up the passing lane at odds of $90.90 and $13.40 to record her 2nd win this season. “Her win was a bit of a surprise but the gaps just kept opening up for us on the inside and she hit the line really nice” Tonights two victory’s push Trent up the Junior Driver Championship table where he currently sits 5th on 59 points, 73 points behind North Island leader Kyle Marshall.   Andrew Fitzgerald

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

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