Day At The Track
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Punters may find the tried and true to be the best formula when attacking grass track racing at the Banks Peninsula Trotting Club’s meeting this afternoon. And it’s for that reason that Clasina Maria should be hardest to beat in the day’s feature for the father and daughter combination of Paul and Jessica Young. The Art Major four-year-old mare has shown a real affinity to the grass track surface out at Motukarara with two of her three career wins on the track. With a blistering turn of foot, that is often unseen on the grass, Clasina Maria has the ability to stalk the speed and then unleash down the long straight. It won’t be easy though with noted grass-track performer, Johnny Eyre also engaged in the race with Stevie Golding picking up the drive off his partner, Sam Ottley after she elected to stick with Rocki Warrior who is trained by her Mum, Denise. Johnny Eyre’s last start came in the Reefton Cup where he pulled out all stops to hold off the challenges of a good field. With his usual good manners today the Mike Brown trained pacer should be able to get on the speed and be there when it counts. Cran Dalgety’s Linton Shard also looks a chance in the race. Ottley could be in for a good day, with a strong book of drives throughout the programme – fresh off the back of her double at Invercargill yesterday with Whittaker and Ariadne Lavra. She Drives the in-form Momentous who will be looking to make it back-to-back victories after a big win at Rangiora last time for Andrew Garters. The Muscleman gelding, who is a half-brother to noted trotters, Moment Of Truth and Dr Hook will without doubt make use of his exemplary manners and put himself in the race. Ottley’s other drives include London Grammar, Matrika and Cullen’s Joy who all hold each way hopes. Super Selector – By Matt Markham Race 1: Ace Commander Gold Sovereign, Zoned Scarlett, Spurred By Success Race 2: Rena Bay, Sky City King, Highview Justice, Like Ya More Race 3: Say Your Pres, Prince George, Kai Time, Whataboyz Race 4: Cullen’s Joy, Blazing VC, English Rose, Loretta Franco Race 5: Black Art, Novak, Regal Grin, Matrika Race 6: Buckeye, Our Quinn, Highland Reign, Kiel Race 7: Arannalea, Time For Diamonds, BK Dawn, Ella Abbe Race 8: Canderdel, Jack Hammer, Shadow Rider, Real South Race 9: Johnny Eyre, Clasina Maria, Rocki Warrior, Linton Shard Race 10: Momentous, Free Bird, Mon Richie, Soney Beatt Race 11: Volatile Lavra, Articulight, Wobbegong, Donegal Carrickfinn Best Bet: Arrannalea (Race 7) Value: Cullen’s Joy (Race 4)

There’s potential for Motukarara to live up to it’s Bermuda Triangle billing this afternoon. The big, roomy, grass track is renowned for throwing up long-price winners and generally giving punters a headache. Today should be no different for the club’s big race day and with massive fields and even lineups, the chances of some double-digit winners is a high probability. In particular the feature event of the day, the Xmas Cup, is has many winning chances. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained duo of Benicio and Motu Premier look set to dominate betting, but after a horror day at Ashburton on Boxing Day where the stable had three hot-pots rolled there’s enough there to make you start second guessing yourself. What looks more appealing is the grass track credentials of some of the contenders. Horses like Boomer Bailey, Clasina Maria, Dana Duke and Rocki Warrior all have strong grass track form and that will aid them well in a race like this. Meanwhile Ladbrooks trainer, Dean Taylor, heads into the meeting on 497 career training wins. He moved to the mark courtesy of Franco Tmick’s seven and a half length romp at Westport yesterday and has a strong team in both today and then tomorrow at Reefton which could see him get close to the mark before the week is out. His six runners today include impressive last start winner, Go Davey who should be a royal show in the Wakefield and Williams Grass Track Final. Jessica Young takes the reins on the pacer as she looks to extend her impressive record on the Motukarara track after driving three winners at the last meeting on the venue which was the Akaroa meeting. All totaled Young has driven 14 of her 53 career winners on the track. Taylor’s other chances for the day include; maiden’s King Size, Possente Cavallo, Fortune Tiller and Scotlyn Mach and Nomattermee. Young has a nice drive in the feature event on Clasina Maria for her father, Paul.   Matt Markham

Auckland, look out, there’s a Marcoola coming your way and he means business. After some speculation early last week that a trip across the Cook Strait was unlikely, Auckland Trotting Club bosses got the news they wanted yesterday when connections of the outstanding squaregaiter confirmed that they would be making the trip. It came after the four-year-old made far too lighter work of winning the Methven Green Mile for the trotters in the hands of usual pilot, Clint Ford. Allowed to work the to the front at the 800 metre mark, it was curtains for everyone else from there as Marcoola ran along and cleared out to win by three and a quarter lengths in 1:59.7. “He did that pretty comfortably really,” Ford said. “We probably could have gone a wee bit quicker if we wanted to, but he was happy bowling along.” The performance wasn’t without it’s scary moments for Ford though. “He actually kind of slipped a couple of times out there. “Once going into the back straight and then when we straightened up to run home.” Marcoola will jump on the float on either Tuesday or Wednesday to head North. “I’m looking forward to getting back up there with him.” Tornado Valley, who is also Auckland bound, was a strong second in the Green Mile while Daryl Boko finished off strongly to run third. Half an hour later, Jessica Young captured her second consecutive Methven Green Mile for the pacers when guided Franco Texas to success in the $17,999 event. Young won the race last year with a bold front running drive on Quick As A Trick and it was a little ironic that it was the same horse who she followed throughout the one mile event before out-sprinting him up the straight this year. Trainer Dean Taylor was full of praise for the young horsewoman. “A very good drive from Jess, she summed it up perfectly. “I thought he could probably run a place, so to actually win is a really nice surprise.”  Franco Texas is owned by the Herie Ford Syndicate and has now won five of his 29 career starts with close to $45,000 in the bank. The win also took Taylor to 494 career training wins. Quick As A Trick was a brave second after working hard from the outside barrier before setting up a 1:57.6 mile while Chase The Dream, who got left in no man’s land at the back of the field before booming home for third. Matt Markham

Canterbury Junior Driver Jessica Young should have won the South Island section of the Australasian Young Drivers Championships and should be representing her country this year. She was leading at the normal cut off time and thought she had won the chance to compete, but due to confusion from Perth officials she has lost that chance. The Australasia Young Drivers Championship is one of two serious targets for all junior drivers in New Zealand each season, with the NZ Junior Drivers Championships being the most sort after. Thanks to a outstanding season which has so far seen Young salute 23 times, she is now a leading chance to qualify and in with a chance to win this years edition of the NZ Junior Drivers Championships. But it's missing out on the Australasian Champs that really has Young upset. With qualifying usually running from the start of the season to around March, the points system was simply and easy to follow thanks to weekly updates on the HRNZ website. First there was talk it might be held in conjunction with the Tabtouch Perth Inter Dominions in December 2015. Then it was March 2016. That date came and went with little communication from Perth Officials. Now it looks like December 2016 will be the confirmed date. While it is great that the series will finally be held, it doesn't help Young out at all. Thanks to the new points system in place she currently sits in 4th place in the South Island ladder, 141 points behind leader Brad Williamson. Even if Young somehow made a unlikely come back to topple Brad, she would be unable to compete due to age restrictions. This throws up some questions, such as: Why is the date not a fixed? - We suggest March/April each year, to allow a good time of qualifying for New Zealand & Australian young drivers. Where is the communication from the Perth officials?  Did they hope to push it under the rug and hope nothing became of it? ​Major issues were raised after a disappointed owner sent in this letter http://www.harnesslink.com/International/Horse-owner-pleads-for- While plenty of the anger in that letter was directed at HRNZ, we would like to direct the attention away from them and their staff. They are the middle man, and have been given little information to work with by the Perth officials. The issue is clearly with Perth, and a lack of communication that has resulted in them letting down young drivers all around Australasia. Something needs to be done to clear up these issues. A Junior Driver in New Zealand only gets 5 season as a junior. And usually it is only in the last two seasons that a young driver really hits their straps and starts to get a larger amount of drives which sets them up to qualify for series such as these. The last thing they need is uncertainties on dates they can collect points and when the competition will be held. Harnesslink Media

Two grass track specialists have combined for a massive boil over win at the Geraldine Trotting Club's annual meeting. Junior driver Jessica Young has found the best in Karanga Red Fantasy to win the final race of the day at $73.40 for the win. Trained by Donald Jones at Greendale, the 6-year-old Red River Hanover mare out of Beaudiene Fantasy, has been struggling for form in her current preparation but was back to the real Karanga Red Fantasy at the Orari Racecourse. Given a charmed run by Young, Karanga Red Fantasy let down in the straight to run past the field and win by one and a quarter lengths with her last quarter in 28.8 on the grass track. It was Karanga Red Fantasy's first win in 53 weeks and the first time Young has sat behind her. Raced by Jacqueline Jones, Karanga Red Fantasy is lightly raced but now has a more than handy record of six wins from 26 starts. Five of those wins have come on the grass. Young's strike rate on the grass is phenomenal and she only enhanced her reputation on Saturday with a winning double. She picked up a winner earlier in the day with the Dean Taylor trained Franco Texas in the junior drivers race. All Stars stablemates Alta Ronaldo and Itz Bettor To Win picked up the quinella in the Geraldine Cup ahead of Brilliant Strike. Natalie Rasmussen moved Itz Bettor To Win up three wide to roll to the front with just under a lap to run before handing up to stablemate Alta Ronaldo and Mark Purdon. Just a long neck separated the stablemates with a further half length back to Brilliant Strike. Valmagne picked up the tenth win of his career for trainer Josh Kennett in the same race he won 12 months earlier. Tim Butt pulled off the training performance of the day with Bettor's Delight mare Millies Creek broke maidens in just her third start with a half a head victory in the fillies and mares maiden. Her last start at the races was way back in January. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here

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