Day At The Track
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Tonights win by Best Western in the $125,000 Great Northern Oaks was not only a surprise to the punters but a surprise to the owner Dr A Grierson who was not on track for the win, but instead was out fishing at the time of his fillies victory. Trained by Jeremy Young at Pukekohe and superbly driven by Saliesh Abernethy, Best Western (Bettor's Delight - First Western) was unwanted in the betting market paying $38.00 to win, but the nuggety filly dug deepest in the run to the judge and got home to win by a neck, clipping more than half a second of the New Zealand 2700m record in the process. The winning time of 3-16.4 beat the old record of 3-17.1 set by Bonnie Joan in the 2017 Southland Oaks final and equated to a 1-57.0 mile rate. Bettor's Delight sired the first four runners home in the race with all four fillies going under the previous New Zealand record for the 2700m Mobile. Best Western winning the 2019 Pascoes The Jewelers Northern Oaks Earlier in the night the Barry Purdon trained Jack's Legend won the Gr3 The Founders in a 1-52.8 mile rate beating stablemate Mach Shard by half a neck. Smooth Deal won the sixth heat of the Breckon Farm Young Guns series for colts and geldings in 1-56.3 for driver Tim Williams and the All Stars Stables. All Stars also won the Derby Prelude with Jesse Duke who convincingly lowered the colours of the previously unbeaten stablemate and favourite Ultimate Sniper.   Harnesslink Media

Pukekohe trainer Jeremy Young bought two American Ideal fillies at the 2014 Autumn Weanling in Auckland . American Empress went on to become the fifth highest Jewels qualifier in 2016-2017 ($56,796) and quickly became Young's flagship horse. Lynbar Rose suffered from stifle joint problems early on and her only healer has been time. But Young's patience with the now well-developed bay is starting to pay dividends if Saturday’s qualifying trial at Pukekohe is anything to go by. The Charles Roberts-bred filly won by one-and-a-quarter lengths going 4.7 seconds under the required time. Maurice McKendry (MNZM) trailed with Lynbar Rose throughout the 2050m mobile and then in the lane they bolted through to easily win under a hold. She stopped the clock in 2:37.5 pacing a 2:03.6 mile rate and coming home in 60.2 and 29.8. "I've always had a bit of time for her and now that she appears to be over her leg problem hopefully she can now develop into a nice race-horse. "I'm not saying she will be as good as American Empress, but she felt like a good race-horse in the making early on, and Maurice was delighted with her trial on Saturday. This is her second preparation back after my vet Ivan Bridge discovered a problem with her stifle joint shortly after her first prep," Young said. "She will probably have another trial before she makes her race-day debut in three to four weeks," he added. He said American Empress, who finished eighth in Spanish Armada’s recent 3yo Diamond Final, would have six weeks off before being brought back into work. Young put his personal best season earnings of $92,309 down to his loyal band of owners. The same owners - Hazel van Opzeeland, Paul Curran, Kenneth Moore, and the Zinnycef Syndicate - own both American Empress and Lynbar Rose. Young paid $8,500 for American Empress and $2,200 for Lynbar Rose. “The owners, which also includes me ole Lincoln High School mates, have been awesome and given me a leg up as a trainer starting out. I’ve only had my licence for a few years now and in that time I have been up to build up a promising team of yearlings and two-year-olds, as well as my race horses. “When you play a sport you want to play it to the best of your ability, and as a trainer I have only ever wanted a horse to race and compete well in Group One company. “I got a taste of it at the Jewels and now my goal is to not only line uip against the best but also beat them one day. I am intent on doing that. If you don’t set goals in this game you just go through the motions,” said Young. He's the first to admit he rode on the coat tails of Mark Purdon for many years when he worked for him and was Auckland Reactor’s strapper. "It's funny to think I've got four Auckland Reactors running around at the moment and they are just like their Dad - laid back gentle giants. "I've also got a Highview Tommy who is the splitting image of his father, not just in looks but in many of his traits and ways as well," 44-year-old Young said. “I’m really enjoying what I do – and you can put a lot of it down to my loyal band of owners and supporters,” he added. Duane Ranger

Nathan Purdon’s first win at Alexandra Park last Friday night meant a lot to him, especially after what his family have achieved on the track over several decades. “It’s the premier track in the North Island and I know our family have a lot of great history there, especially Grandad (Roy MBE). Actually I went and saw him the day after the races and we had a good talk. “He was thrilled with my win. That meant a lot to me,” Purdon said. His grandfather is the family patriarch and patron of the Auckland Trotting Club. He was a 14-time New Zealand premiership winning trainer – many of those seasons with his eldest son, Barry, who himself is a multiple Group 1 winning New Zealand harness racing legend. Purdon drove the Jeremy Young trained Jamm Kiss to a head victory. The 3-year-old bay paced the 2200m mobile in 2:44.2 (mile rate 2:00.1) and last 800m and 400m in 59 and 29.2. She was the $2.20 favourite. That was her fourth race-day start. Purdon sat back and then eased her around the field three-wide down the back straight the last time, and then she fought bravely in the straight to get up right on the line. “She felt very nice. She had a lot of speed and kept giving all the way up the straight. I don’t think that will be the last race she wins. Jeremy had her spot on,” Purdon said. Young was a former employee of Purdon’s father Mark, and he watched Nathan grow up. Young was also strapper for the Purdon trained $1.8 million stake earner, Auckland Reactor. Purdon (Nathan) has now driven eight winners this season – the last four were all in the space of 10 days. “I’m all over the place,” said Purdon who is the number two driver at Cran Dalgety’s West Melton stable. “I love driving and want to get in the sulky as much as I possibly can.” Purdon said he came back from Australia to enjoy the lifestyle. “There are so many more opportunities for young drivers in Australia. I had about 500 drives in 18 months and won about 70-odd races. “It was a great experience and I would recommend any young horsemen and women to try it. But I came home because I love New Zealand and the way of life. “I like the fact that I can race two nights a week and still pursue other interests outside of racing, like squash,” Purdon said. Purdon has saluted the judge on 16 occasions from 107 ‘part-time’ New Zealand drives since 2014. He's also placed 16 times and banked $102,290 in stakes. His lifetime UDR strike-rate is 0.2118. His four wins this season is two-less than his personal best of six achieved in 2014-2015. "Any winner is special and even though I enjoyed winning at Alexandra Park I think my favourite track would still be Addington Raceway," said Purdon, who was born in Auckland and educated in Christchurch at both Riccarton and Lincoln High Schools.   Duane Ranger

Even a holiday in Rarotonga won’t stop Jeremy Young coming back to Cambridge Raceway tonight (Thursday) to watch his flagship horse do the business. The Pukekohe trainer left for the Cook Islands last Friday and desperately wants American Empress to finish in the top two in race three. The daughter of American Ideal will start from gate three (of seven) in the fifth heat of the $20,000 Nevele R 3YO Fillies Series. The Group One $140,000 Final will be run at Addington Raceway on May 12. "It's my last chance to qualify her for the big race. I know there might be a Nevele Consolation if she doesn't make it. "That would tighten her up nicely for the (Group 1 $150,000) New Zealand Oaks the week later. That is her main targets this season and then of course the Jewels in Ashburton not long after," said Young, who returns to New Zealand on Wednesday night. American Empress is currently fourth on the 3YO Diamond Harness Jewels leader board. "The filly means a lot to me," he added. By that Young said American Empress was his 'flagship' horse - the one he first went out and got new owners for after his main stable client and good friend Bryan Newberry passed away in April 2016. Young paid $8,500 for American Empress at the 2014 Weanling Sales. Her owners are Hazel van Opzeeland (Prebbleton), Kenneth Moore (Onehunga), Paul Curran (Pukekohe), and the Zinnycef Syndicate. “I’ve got owners from all parts of the country involved and I’m just so glad they’ve got a decent horse,” he said. American Empress was bred by John Green. “I like her chances on Thursday because outside of Party On and Spanish Armada I think the 3-year-old fillies are an even lot. There are some nice age group horses who can all go well. “I didn’t see her trial on Saturday but from what Sailesh said she got the best possible trial going into race-night,” Young said. Abernethy never had to pull the plugs as American Impress beat Kiwi Tintin and Delightful Zen by a head and half a head in a R55 to R75 workout at Pukekohe on Saturday. She is an R61 pacer and boasts the highest ranked in Thursday’s field. American Empress trailed Delightful Zen and Andrew Sharpe throughout and then the pair had a speed dual 400m from home with the Young trained filly having too much stamina at the finish. She paced the 2050m mobile (left handed in 2:38.5 (mile rate 2:04.4) and home in 58.5 and 28.6. “Even though I didn’t see it I’m rapt with that. I think she is good enough to make the final, but she can be a bit slow away at times. She will need to do a bit to stay in touch, but in saying that she has drawn well (3) and it’s only a small field,” Young said. The 44-year-old Franklin horseman said he loved sport and saw racing as no different. “When you play a sport you want to play it to the best of your ability, and as a trainer I have only ever wanted a horse to race and compete well in Group 1 company. “I rode on the coat tails of Mark for many years when I worked for him and was Auckland Reactor’s strapper. I tasted Group One victory on many occasions thanks to him and it felt great. Now I want that feeling again – in my own name,” Young said. American Empress’s only win came when she beat recent Group One Northern Oaks runner-up Juice Brogden in a $12,000 maiden at Alexandra Park on December 2. She drew the ace that night and sprinted the 2200m mobile in 2:41.5 (mile rate 1:58.1) and last 800m and 400m in 56.7 and 27.9. That time would go close to winning tonight's feature pacing event. American Empress has now had 14 starts, for one win and seven placings. She has won $42,736 in stakes. “We will have all guns blazing on Thursday. Her trial win has put her in good stead for this week. It’s just so rewarding to have a horse good enough to contest these races,” Young said. Duane Ranger

Two northern stables went on an emotional rollercoaster ride at Alexandra Park last Friday. Training partners John and Josh Dickie and emerging horseman Jeremy Young both started the day losing the services of the stable stars for the meantime, but finished it with Alexandra Park wins. And in Young’s case he completed a double, capping a great start to summer on the track. Off the track things weren’t so perfect for Young, with stable star Brydon Ideal forced out out of a five-horse race on Friday night with a leg problem on the morning of the race. To make matters worse, the way leader Strike The Gold spread the field out in the feature pace, if Brydon Ideal had sat in the trail as expected he would have been hugely hard to beat. Young, who only has six racehorses in work, got two helpings of compensation though as first American Empress and then Circus Boy won. “Things are going well and to get a double at The Park is great,” says Young. The Dickie stable won one of the better races on the night with Motown, who was odds-on after the withdrawal with injury of Star Galleria. That enabled Motown to the find the front and while he didn’t look razor sharp, he was still too good for Killer Queen by a head. Earlier though Josh Dickie revealed that Great Southern Star trotting hero Speeding Spur won’t be back to defend that title in February. “He has come up well but Dad has decided he doesn’t want to rush him,” explained Dickie. “He is still only five and we could rush him back to have him ready for Melbourne but that may not be the best thing for him. “So he will be aimed at the NZ Trotting Champs in April and then the Anzac Cup and the Rowe Cup. “He is a horse of a lifetime for us so we are taking the attitude if we look after him, he will look after us.” Michael Guerin

Jeremy Young could finally step out of Mark Purdon’s shadow on New Year’s Eve, and if he does he will realise a lifetime dream for both himself and his late mentor and friend Bryan Newberry. “I rode on the coat tails of Mark for many years when I worked for him. I tasted Group One victory on many occasions thanks to him and it felt great. “Now I just want to have a taste of what it's like to have a Group One starter in my name. It's always been a dream to line a horse in an Auckland Cup or New Zealand Cup, and if it does happen I will be there to give the others a fright. “If we are good enough to get in my fella can definitely upset a few,” Young said. The Franklin trainer was referring to Brydon Ideal’s nomination for the Group One $250,000 Trillian Trust Auckland Cup at Alexandra Park on December 31. Young said it would be an absolute honour to have Newberry’s yellow and purple colours line up in a Cup. “I know Bryan has had some nice horses in his time including open class pacers Colonel Brydon, Brydon Delight and Rum Brydon, but this would be special to have Brydon Ideal line up in the big race. “He was the last horse that Bryan had anything to do with. He enjoyed watching him race. It would be an honour for Bryan’s horse to make the final 15,” stressed Young who works a team of about 10 at Pukekohe. Newberry passed away on April 20 of this year. Young trained five winners for him in his final season – the last of them being Brydon Ideal when he won a C3 to C7 pace at Alexandra Park on April 15. Newberry owned and bred the American Ideal gelding. “The biggest thrill I got with Auckland Reactor was when Mark (Purdon) and I took him up close and personal to his fans, but I can honestly say that winning any race for Bryan was right up there with that Auckland Reactor experience simply because it made Bryan so happy – and he deserved to be happy in his final years,” Young said. Auckland Reactor won the 2009 edition of the great race and Young remembers the great thrill he got when he was ‘Reactor’s’ strapper. “They were great times I will never ever forget. I travelled all over with the champion and I’m grateful for my years with Mark. I learnt so much. “But now is the time for me to come out of his shadow and have my own Group One starter. Brydon Ideal is eight now and this will be his last chance,” Young said. “If he doesn’t line up this year I don’t think he ever will,” He added. Brydon Ideal was one of 26 nominations for the Auckland Cup on December 31 when the nominations were released last Friday. “He’s got to make the field yet but I couldn’t be more pleased with his first-up third for four months at Alexandra Park last Friday (November 26). “For him to go 2:40.6 after just one trial gives me a lot of confidence. Sure he will be an outsider if he makes the field but the further they go the better it will suit him. All he needs is a hot pace,” said Young. The 43-year-old Franklin horseman said he would not be frightened off by the big guns. “I know some of Mark and Natalie (Rasmussen’s) horses are absolute freaks but there’s no point in lining up against them if you are going to be scared off. “If I make the field I’m going into the race to at least place. If you go in being beaten that’s what will happen. Upsets can occur in racing and my fella won’t be outclassed as much as what the tote will say,” Young said. "He's an underrated stayer," he added. He said he would continue to campaign Brydon Ideal throughout December with the hope of making the final Auckland Cup field. “I’ll be blown away if he makes it. Hopefully it will be new direction in my career. I started with just American Empress when I went out on my own. “And she has now qualified for the Group One ($150,00 Alabar) Sires Stakes 3YO Fillies Final. That’s so satisfying, and to have two horses line up in Group One races on New Year’s Eve would be unbelievable,” Young said Duane Ranger

A pacer who started the year as a seven-year-old maiden could top it by beating Group One performers at Alexandra Park tonight. That is the amazing story of Brydon Ideal, who trainer Jeremy Young believes can give him a shot at the best ever night in his short training career tonight. Young only has a team of six racehorses plus a few babies he is breaking in yet has four at tonight’s meeting and all are at least place chances. “Things are turning the corner. I only have a small team but they are racing well and I am getting interest from some new owners, so it is an exciting time,” says Young. “I am in this for the long haul, it is what I love doing. Especially when you are taking horses to Alexandra Park that are competitive.” Young can definitely place and maybe even win with Harper Franco (race seven) and Circus Boy (race eight) but it is earlier in the night where his brightest hopes lie. American Empress has been racing better than her rivals in race two and is rated good enough to contest some of the elite three-year-old fillies races over the next month. “And she will be improved by her run last week so this could be the week we can drive her aggressive,” says Young. “She has to be a good show.” But the undoubtedly star of his small stable and one of the great stories of the northern pacing year is Brydon Ideal, who was an unheard of old maiden this time last season. Troubled by issues his entire career, Brydon Ideal has thrived with Young’s TLC and has won five times in 2016, including beating talented mares like Arden’s Choice and Aliante. He returned with a sharp third to Walkinshaw last Friday and takes on recent New Zealand Cup starter No Doctor Needed and national record holder Bettor B Amazed, albeit with a handicap start in race one. “I think he can win but the start will be crucial for him,” admits Young. “He hasn’t had a lot of stands but he has been all right and I have given him some more practice this week. “If he can step and hold his position and they go hard he will be hard to beat.” No Doctor Needed and Bettor B Amazed are both returning from the Cup carnival, as is Star Galleria later in the night. He is looking to bounce back in race four after being savaged in the Sires’ Stakes Final. Star Galleria has a new driver tonight in Zac Butcher, with Tony Herlihy committed to one of his own stable. Also coming home from the south is Realmein in tonight’s main trot and if he can trot throughout he will find race three a lot easier than chasing Monbet around Addington in record time. After the Alexandra Park and Addington meetings are finished harness punters have some serious fare in Perth to stay awake for, with the final three heats of the Inter Dominions as well as star four-year-olds Mr Mojito and Piccadilly Princess representing New Zealand in group races. Michael Guerin

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