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If anyone deserved a Jewels Crown at Ashburton last Saturday then it’s Auckland Trotting Club steward, David Turner. The 56-year-old commercial real estate agent has been ill of late, and he said Paramount King’s 2yo Ruby trot win was just the tonic he needed. Turner has seldom missed a meeting at Alexandra Park in his 23 years as a race night steward at northern headquarters. However an illness which he didn’t want to elaborate on, has meant he can’t drive and has curtailed his progress in recent months. “I’m getting on top of it and will beat it, but I have a lovely family and now Paramount King to look forward to. I’ve known for quite some time that this horse was going to be better than average. “We have some great times ahead because both John and Josh (Dickie - trainers) believe the horse will make a very nice three and four-year-old. His little brother, Paramount Geegee won two Jewels crowns. The way he’s going I think he will win a Rowe Cup one day,” Turner said. The Auckland resident said he couldn’t make it to the Ashburton because of his health, but admitted he didn’t think the horse would win. “His two runs prior to his Jewels win were pretty ordinary and I thought he might have come to the end of a big first-up season. “But what a drive! Josh putting two lengths on them at the top of the straight and that was the winning of the race. I was so happy. It was just what I needed. That was my first Jewels win,” Turner said. Turner co-owns Paramount King with Ben and Karen Calder (Invercargill), Graham Neems (Hamilton), Philip Kelly (Pukekohe), Jenny Sutherland (Cambridge), Jonathan Hope (Cambridge) and the Loyal Owners Syndicate. The Love You - Paramount Star gelding, who has now won four of his eight starts and $64,982, was bred by Studholme Bloodstock Limited (Christchurch) and Graham Gimblett ((Danievirke). Potentially Turner thinks he will develop into the best standardbred he has owned in several decades. "Armadale Lad was pretty smart in the 1980s. John trained him as well and he won three races before prematurely dying of cancer. "Then there was Matai Mackenzie. I was part of the ATC Syndicate with him and he won a few Group races and more than $300,000," Turner said. "But this win is the most special. Not only because I've been a bit crook of late, but more because the horse is a quality trotter with a bright future," he added. Turner said contrary to reports Paramount King would not be heading to Australia for the Breeders Crown in August. “John said he would put him out for three months and then bring him back for 3-year-old racing around Christmas time. “I’m really excited about the horse, but we all know in this racing game not to look too far ahead, but by all accounts he has the breeding, gait, trainers, and driver to go on to big things. Here’s hoping,” Turner said.   Duane Ranger  

Trainer John Dickie is hoping doing the right thing will pay big autumn dividends with Speeding Spur. Dickie is adamant the five-year-old stallion still could have won the A$100,000 Australian Trotting Grand Prix on Saturday even with a slight leg bruise. But Dickie chose to scratch him on the morning of the race, writing off the trip to Australia without a race. “It wasn’t a major deal and nothing to do with the suspensory problems that have kept him away from the track for much of last year,” said Dickie. “It was just so bruising caused by a trotting boot and we alerted the stewards over there to it and they passed him fit to run on Friday night. “But when I wasn’t happy with him on Saturday morning we pulled the pin because you don’t muck around with horses that good. “But his old injury has scanned fine three times so most importantly there is no issue there.” Speeding Spur returns to Auckland today and Dickie will allow him to also bypass the NZ Trotting Champs at Addington to concentrate on the Anzac Cup and Rowe Cups at Alexandra Park in late April. “He still has a lot of racing ahead of him so we will target those.” The repeated interruptions Speeding Spur’s career have been made even harder to swallow since his arch rival Monbet has been sidelined since November and won’t return until next season. A fully-fit Speeding Spur would be dominating an open class trotting crop lacking true class and depth, with only Marcoola at his best looking a threat. Michael Guerin

It might have been a lowly $2,000 non-tote trot but the Haras Des Trotteurs 2yo Mobile is one race Josh Dickie won't forget in a hurry. Dickie went into the 1700m mobile at Alexandra Park last night (Friday) with a 50-50 chance of achieving the his 300th career win. And he did exactly that behind the Muscle Hill filly,Star Of Oleysa, that he and his father, John, train at Clevedon. The only other starter was the Brent Mangos trained and driven Storm Cloud. Mangos too had a brilliant night driving five winners and training four. Between the duo Dickie and Mangos drove nine of the 12 races carded.  Owned and bred by Reg Caldow, Star Of Oleysa (who is out of the Pegasus Spur mare, Olesya) started from the ace draw and was aided by a gallop from Storm Cloud at the start. At the end of the 1700m Star Of Oleysa and Dickie stopped the clock in 2:15.6 (mile rate 2:08.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.2 and 28.9. Dickie was rapt. “It doesn’t matter what type of race it ts, it’s good to win any race. I’m delighted. I am a statistics man and this means a lot. One day I would dearly love to drive 1,000 winners and a lot more Group One events,” Dickie said. “I owe a lot to Dad and all the other owners and trainers for putting me on their horses,” he added. Dickie took eight-and-a-half seasons to achieve the milestone. His stake earnings currently sit at $2.8 million. The 25-year-old alsonotched up his 301st, 302ndand 303rd driving wins behind the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Mr Euroman in the second event, and then combined with his Dad to co-train and drive the $2.80 favourite C K Spur to victory in race five. Then he nailed ninth eventbehind the Dickie trained Kate Black. “It’s been a great night all right. I’ve had some nice drives and landed in some nice positions. It’s been a night to remember. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Dickie said. Meanwhile, Dickie Senior is just two wins away from the 500-training milestone after Star Of Oleysa’s first win at her third start (two previous seconds) and then C K Spur and Kate Black getting the chocolates. Dickie (John) has won 364 on his own and another 133with his son. His collective career earnings stand at $4.1 million. The Ray Green trained and David Butcher driven Northview Hustler caused a slight upset in the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Colts & Geldings Graduate (2200m mobile). The 3-year-old Bettor's Delight colt was the $12.20 fourth favourite and paced the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:40.8 (mile rate 1:57.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 28 even. It was his second win in five starts. The female equivalent – the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Fillies Graduette (2200m mobile) was won by the Gareth Dixon trained and Simon Lawson driven American Princess. The brown American Ideal filly, who was the $15.20 fourth favourite, won in 2:40.9 (mile rate 1;57.7) and home in 58.3 and 29 even. That was her first win in six starts. The $14,999 feature pace and trot were both won by Franklin reinsman Brent Mangos, who nailed the $14,999 Stables Cafe 2017 Franklin Cup Racenight Handicap for the R70 to R100 pacers with Maxim. He also trained Maxim, the 2014 Victoria Cup winner.Maxim has now won two of his three starts this campaign and has finished second in the other. ‘Mango’ repeated the dose in the $14,999 Franklin Long Roofing Handicap for the R67 to R109 (& claimers) trotters with the Tony Herlihy trained King of The Roses. Mangos’s third, fourth and fifth driving victories came via first starter, Culpeka in race three, Roi Des Gitans in the 10th event and then Smoldering Ashes in race 11. The Waiau Pa horseman also trained the trio. “It’s great to win any race but five is a bonus. It’s been a real good night. The team is going really well at the moment,” Mangos said. Duane Ranger

Three-year-olds will take centre stage at Alexandra Park on Friday night with two $30,000 races for the colts/geldings and fillies respectively. Both are New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands-sponsored 2200m mobile events with the colts and geldings Graduate kicking off at 7.03pm (race 3) and the fillies Graduette starting at 8.21pm (race 6). One driver who would desperately love to win one or both heats is South Auckland reinsman Josh Dickie, who together with his father John, leases property off Rosslands Stud at Clevedon, and also works half a dozen of their horses. The owner of Rossland Stud, Kerry Hoggard passed away in Auckland in October 2015 when he was the Auckland Trotting Club president. But his wife Marilyn is still a strong supporter of harness racing and the Dickies, and thanks to her loyalty to the sport, Dickie (Josh) was able to pay $100,000 for Lot 72 – a Bettor’s Delight – Yankee Dream for a colt named Bettorstartdreaming at last Monday’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. “It would mean a lot if Master George could win for Marilyn at Alexandra Park on Friday, because she is such a wonderful lady and has put so much faith in us. She deserves every success that comes her way,” Dickie said. “And the colt can get some of it despite his lack of form in his last two starts,” he added. Dickie currently sits on 299 career driving wins and said he would especially love to nail win number 300 on behind Master George. The son of Bettor's Delight and Lizzie Maguire has drawn well in the Graduate but meets a nice field of quality 3-year-old pacers. “I like him. He’s had terrible draws since I won behind him at Cambridge on January 6. He gave me a real good feel that night and beat quite a nice field. I reckon he can get a slice of the cake from three,” Dickie said. The 25-year-old was also upbeat about the Steven Reid trained Could Be Good in the Graduette, but said the filly would have been a better winning chance had she not drawn the outside of the front line. “She strung two good wins together at Cambridge a few weeks ago and then was an unlucky fourth. She’’s gone real well since then and has quite a bit of speed to call on. “It’s just a shame she has drawn eight, so I’ll have to play the start by ear. If she gets a nice sit the others will knows she’s in the race.,” Dickie said. Dickie paid a tribute to the New Zealand Sires Stakes Board for putting its left-over money into 3-year-olds just below the top echelon. “If gives the 3-year-olds just below the guns a chance to race for good money and I take my hat off to the sponsors for that. It’s exactly what this game needs,” he said. Dickie said C K Spur (race 5) and Kate Black (race 9) were also good winning chances on Friday. “C K Spur has been racing out of his grade recently and the drop-back will suit him nicely, while Kate Black won well here a fortnight ago and has the draw (3) to go on with it,” he said. Duane Ranger

A private workout on Monday has convinced driver Josh Dickie that Speeding Sour can defend his A$300,000 Great Southern Star title tomorrow. The five-year-old multiple group one winner has travelled to Melbourne to try and cap a remarkable comeback, as just six weeks ago Dickie and his father John had written off the summer after a six-month injury break. They changed their minds as Speeding Spur started to sharpen in his work and went to Alexandra Park last Thursday thinking if Speeding Spur performed well they would take the gamble on starting in tomorrow night’s 2760m mobile second up. Speeding Spur was a massive second off his 55m backmark and while the run sealed the trip, it was his work on Monday that boosted their confidence levels. “Because he has been away from racing for so long we found in some of his works, even last week, he was getting tired late,” admits Josh. “But Monday was different. He had that hard enough run last Thursday and it has really brought him on. “He worked like his old self on Monday and came his last 400m in times pacers don’t go on our track. “So we couldn’t be happier her and we are thrilled to have him there.” John Dickie travelled with Speeding Spur on Tuesday and was pleased with how he settled in and the three-time Derby winner has an almost perfect barrier four, from where he has a huge chance of working to the lead. In front and without insane pressure he looks incredibly hard to beat. Kiwi mares Quite A Moment and Sunny Ruby would both benefit from any early burn that turned the race into a staying test, with NSW trotter On Thunder Road the most likely to get into any sort of war with Speeding Spur. The Great Southern Star is the trotting highlight of a night where New Zealand-trained horses could start favourite in all seven races they contest, headlined by Smolda in the A$500,000 Hunter Cup. His draw of two on the second line should see him settle in front of key rival Lennytheshark and he looks a massive chance of working his way to the lead, from where it would take a special performance to beat him. His stablemate Vincent is another with a second line draw but even worse being on the inside in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby but he was so dominant in his heat last Saturday he should be able to overcome it. But the draw does raise the possibility of traffic concerns so trainer-driver Mark Purdon might need to be at his aggressive best. Purdon looks set for an effortless group one win with Lazarus in the A$100,000 Bonanza, which he is racing in because it qualifies him for the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney next week, a springboard to the Miracle Mile on February 25. And stablemate Piccadilly Princess is odd-on to win the A$100,000 Ladyship Cup, with Rocker Band’s chance dented by a poor draw, one of three on the night for trainer Barry Purdon, who also has Be Jack’s Legend (Derby) and Hug The Wind (Hunter Cup) off the second line. Chase The Dream and the unbeaten Partyon all race at Menangle tomorrow night as well, but Dream About Me has been scratched after being off peak this week, a setback not expected to damage her Ladyship Mile campaign. Closer to home New Zealand’s two best three-year-old trotters Habibi Inta and Enghien resume their rivalry in the Hambletonian at Ashburton tomorrow while tonight Cambridge cram seven races into 170 minutes tonight. Michael Guerin

Josh Dickie is hoping he can notch up his 300th career win behind the best horse he has sat behind at Alexandra Park tonight (Thursday). Speeding Spur will have his first start since April 22, when finishing second behind Monbet in the $100,000 Group Two Anzac Cup. He broke down soon after but Dickie believes he is now back to where he should be. “It would be great to win my 300th race behind him because I’ve never driven a better horse than him. He’s five now and from what we can see he is back to somewhere near his best,” 25-year-old Dickie said. “Speeding Spur is in race four. It could come earlier. I quite like Master George in the second race as well,” the Clevedon trainer/driver added. Dickie has driven 299 winners from 2,633 starters, and has placed 548 times for almost $2.9 million in stakes. His best season came in the 2014-2015 season when he saluted the judge 48 times and netted $589,125 in stakes. He has reined 17 winners from 109 starters this season. Dickie has four drives at the Auckland Trotting Club’s first meeting for 2017, including one in the non-tote event at 6.05pm.  Here’s what he had to say about the quartet: Non-tote: Paramount King (1) - “We have got three 2-year-olds from our stable in the race, and I have opted for this gelding. All three have shown a bit and to be fair it’s pretty hard to split them. They are all just there for experience. This fella has the better draw and trots okay.” Race 2: Master George (11) - “He won well when favourite at Cambridge on January 6. He felt real nice that night. I thought he trialled well at Pukekohe last Wednesday, albeit finishing three lengths in behind them. It’s a handy C1 field, but he has worked well since then.” Race 4: Speeding Spur (11 – 55m) - “It’s not going to be easy from the handicap but he won well from 40m behind at the the same Pukekohe Workouts last week. We think he’s back to where he should be and if he does perform to our expectations he will then head to Australia to defend his Great Southern Star crown he won last year. It is a tough ask first up but we wouldn’t be lining him up if we didn’t think he could win. It’s just so great to have the good horse back. I’ll drive him cold for one run and we just hope he hits the line well, like he used to. If he does that then we will be booking our tickets to Melbourne.” Race 7: Kate Black (10) - “We have ironed out a couple of her problems since she broke down the back straight at Alexandra Park on December 16. She has worked nice since and comes into this race well. I think she’s a nice chance. This is just her second run back since July and I wouldn’t be writing her off here.” Best Winning Chance: Speeding Spur. Each-Way: Master George   Duane Ranger

Speeding Spur is one race away from a shock defence of his Great Southern Star title. The exceptional trotter only has to please trainers John and Josh Dickie when he races at Alexandra Park next Thursday to book himself another ticket to Melton. Speeding Spur hasn’t raced since finishing second to Monbet in the Anzac Cup last April, a slight leg injury afterwards being handled with great patience by his connections. Originally they indicated they would bypass the summer riches and head to the autumn feature but he has come up so well the Great Southern Star is back on the agenda. He won the final of the race last season when it was run under the heat and final on the same night format over the 1720m but this season it changes to a 2710m mobile one-off race at Melton on February 4. With Monbet sidelined, Master Lavros not going and Stent still fighting his way back, Speeding Spur rates alongside Keystone Del as the best trotter actually racing in Australasia. “He has been in work a long time and done a lot of ground work,” says driver Josh Dickie. “So Dad decided a few weeks ago this race was possible. And it is getting more likely by the day.”Speeding Spur made his first public appearance since his injury last season when he won well, albeit against moderate opposition, at the Pukekohe workouts on Wednesday. His once troublesome leg was scanned as a precaution yesterday with no sign of any problems. “If you didn’t know he had had a small issue you wouldn’t give it a second thought. “But it is all looking good at the moment and he will race at Alexandra Park next Thursday and if we are happy with him there and after the race he will head across. Still only a five-year-old will a stallion career ahead of him, Speeding Spur’s return would be a welcome addition to an open class trotting scene struggling for star power since Monbet was sidelined after Cup week. Michael Guerin

Being in foal has worked the oracle for Thursday’s Taranaki Breeders Stakes winner, Alta Valencia. The 4-year-old Mach Three mare has been in foal to a Sportswriter for a month and will have a handful more races before being retired to the broodmare’s paddock. Co-trainer John Dickie said he had liked her from day one. “She has been a bit weak but she is quite a nice pacer. Yesterday’s win was her third. The owners want to breed from her because she will be a very valuable broodmare,” Dickie said. Rosslands Stud paid $52,500 to the Alta Breeding Company for Alta Valencia at the 2014 Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. She’s now had 12 starts and won $18,356 in stakes. Her one length victory over favourite Rocknroll Princess (Andre Poutama) on the New Plymouth grass was her first since winning a junior drivers claiming race at Alexandra Park on October 7. Co-trainer Josh Dickie led early and then trailed the favourite before whipping along the passing lane to get the chocolates. He paced the 1750m mobile in 2:13.8 (mile rate 2:03 even) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.9 and 31 flat. Alta Valencia will not be lining up at Hawera on Sunday and neither will the Dickies’ other winner yesterday – This Excuse Is Fine. “We travelled to New Plymouth because it was a $10,000 fillies and mares race. We also wanted to support the race sponsor Woodlands Stud because they also sponsor Josh. “Both horses will return to Auckland and we will plan their schedules from there,” Dickie said. “We will stick to the grass with him. He tries hard and paces pretty well. The mare, however will probably start next on the all-weather tracks,” Dickie 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

It’s taken Robert Argue seven months to drive his fourth career winner. Prior to that you have to go back to the 2010 to have seen him salute the judge. But life has changed for Argue. He now a Dad to 3-year-old Emma and works for one of the North Island’s strongest stables. “Life is great at the moment. My partner and I live in the new sub-division at Pokeno and I travel to Clevedon every day to work. I’ve always wanted to be a driver. I’m glad I decided to return to the game,” the 24-year-old said. At Clevedon he works for John and Josh Dickie at Rosslands Stud. He is also employed by Dave Iremonger at Morrinsville to drive his six-strong team. And it was the Iremonger trained Soul Man that notched up Argue’s first winner of the season when the 6-year-old Real Desire gelding won his second race in 24 starts at Alexandra Park last Friday night.. Soul Man was the $34.30, 11th favourite in the 12-horse field. Tenth favourite Speak Up (Peter Ferguson) ensured a $124 quinella. “We just got there but he won well. It was a great feeling to finally get back in the winner’s circle again. I’m just so appreciative to Dave for believing in me. I want to pay back all his owners’ faith in me by driving well and winning as many races as I can,” said Argue. Argue was born and educated in Pukekohe High School but left at 15. His father Stephen has been a trainer since the early 1980s so it was always highly likely that Argue Junior was going to follow in his Dad’s footsteps. “I’ve been around horses all my life and used to help out Todd Macfarlane in the school holidays. That’s when I got my first taste of fast work and I’ve never looked back since. I absolutely love what I do,” Argue said. Since then he has worked for Geoff Small and Malcolm Shinn. He then returned briefly to Macfarlanes before laving the industry. “I did scaffolding for a couple of years but I always knew trotting was in my blood and it wasn’t until I was helping Dad do fast-work one day that he told me I still had it and should return to what I did best,” said Argue. “Dad got me back into it and I started with the Dickies last November. It was the best move I ever made,” he added. Argue said he would love to represent his country or Island at the New Zealand or Australasia Junior Driving Championships next year. “If I keep driving winners then the rest will sort itself out. I just want to keep improving and maybe one day train a team with my father,” Argue said. He said the highlight of his career to date came behind the Stephen Argue trained Pureora Mac at Alexandra Park on June 16, 2009. “Dad had just trained a winner and then he provided me with my first race-day winner as well. Dad has always been my mentor and inspiration. “He works part-time at Fiskens and only has two horses in work so I can get drives. I respect what he’s doing for me. In fact I am grateful to all the owners and trainers who put me on their horses. “Like all juniors out there we just need a chance to prove ourselves,” Argue said. Argue has had 157 drives since the 2008-2009 season, including four wins, eight seconds, 13 thirds and he has won $48,091 in stakes. His UDR strike rate is 0.814.   Duane Ranger

4YO Diamond Jewels first ballot A Damn Good Excuse is the best of John and Josh Dickie’s four chances at the Harness Racing Waikato meeting at Camridge Raceway tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday). It’s the ‘calm before the Saturday Harness Jewels storm’, and for the first time in a long time, Josh Dickie doesn’t have any drives on his former home track. However the 25-year-old Clevedon-based reinsman has five on Group One Saturday, possibly six, if A Damn Good Excuse makes the $150,000 Final for 4-year-old pacing mares. “She’s first emergency and has drawn well at three in the first race so we are hoping for a scratching. I think she’s definitely the best of our five pacers starting on Tuesday though,” Dickie said. The father-and-son training duo will line up Majestic John in the opening event on Tuesday – the $5,500 Harness Jewels C1-C3 pace for amateur drivers. Alan Shand will do the steering. Then the Dickies will have to wait until the last race – the $6,000 Novatel C1-C3 mares’ pace for junior drivers to see their other three starters greet judge, Colin Courtney. Ben Butcher will drive Joanednobetter (3), Tony Cameron will steer Vibe (4), while stable junior Robert Argue will get behind A Damn Good Excuse. Dickie said it would be nice to win his first Jewels crown on Saturday. He has placed behind The Fascinator in 2014 (4yo Diamond pace), and his Dad has had two Jewels training victories with Paramount Geegee (3yo Ruby trot) and Flying Isa (2yo Ruby trot) – both in 2011. His five drives on Saturday are Change The Rulz (race 1), Jewel On The Beach (Race 3), Paramount Dream (race 4), Bettor Think Quick (race 5), and Motown (race 9). Dickie said Motown was racing well and was the pick of his drives in the last event – the $150,000 Emerald for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings. Here’s what he had to say about his five stable runners on Tuesday: Race 1: Majestic John (9) - “This is his first race for three months and he has been trialling okay. He’s a pretty sharp type but Alan is going to have to drive him for luck from one on the second draw because the one horse isn’t a guaranteed leader.” Race 9: Joanednobetter (3) - “She has a good driver and is racing consistently well at the moment. She got too far back in her amateur race last start at Cambridge last week and came home real well for fourth. She has won on the track twice before and can get some of it from the kind draw.” Race 9: Vibe (4) - “I can’t split her and Joanednobetter in this race. They are both good chances. There’s not much between them. This mare was a good second behind Shantahlia Knight at the same Cambridge meeting two Thursdays ago. She’s won three of her eight starts on the track and placed in three others, so she has to be right in it.” Race 9: A Damn Good Excuse (5) - “You would think the Jewels first emergency might go close in this and that’s why I rate her our best chance at the meeting. She comes into the race really well having won and placed from her last three starts in tougher Auckland fields. This will be her first race at Cambridge but I think Robert can do the job here. Win bet.” Duane Ranger

Out with the old and in with the new. That’s the best summation of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters series with boom harness racing four-year-olds Speeding Spur and Monbet clearly stamping themselves as the future of the sport. Following injury setbacks to seasoned stars Stent and Master Lavros during the season, the new fresh faced young bucks stood tall and dominated their rivals in the major races. Both trotters are based in New Zealand and they collected three of the five races available during the term. The five leg Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters starts in November at Christchurch with the Dominion before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix and the Great Southern Star while the series concludes in Auckland with the ANZAC Cup and the Rowe Cup. Prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie at Clevedon in the north island of New Zealand, Speeding Spur scored a victory in the Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeeds Great Southern Star while being the runner-up in both in the Grand Prix and the ANZAC Cup. Speeding Spur had his season prematurely ended following an injury he sustained during the ANZAC Cup. The Pegasus Spur entire won 6 of his 11 starts this season while being placed in the other 5 events contested and amassed more than $395,000 in stakes. Monbet, prepared in Christchurch by Greg and Nina Hope scored victories in the Gr.1 $91,750 ANZAC Cup and the Gr.1 $145,000 Canam Rowe Cup. He also contested the Grand Prix but finished at the rear of the field after making a break. The Love You gelding has won 12 of his 14 starts to date this season while amassing more than $385,000 in stakes. Speeding Spur amassed 220 points during the series and finished 17 clear of Monbet with 203 points. The full list of Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters winners were Master Lavros (Dominion), Keystone Del (Grand Prix), Speeding Spur (Great Southern Star) and Monbet (ANZAC Cup & Rowe Cup). The top five point scorers were; Speeding Spur (220 points) Monbet (203) Keystone Del (110) Master Lavros (100) Glenferrie Typhoon (64) Congratulations to the winning owners of Speeding Spur – Woodlands Partnership Syndicate plus rugby stars Kieran Read, Andy Ellis, Dave Hewett and Commonwealth Gold Medallist Dick Tayler. And a massive congratulations to both John and Josh Dickie. Chris Barsby

The 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters continued in Melbourne with the running of the Great Southern Star, a true harness racing test for all involved with the heat/final concept staged on the same night. And star New Zealand trotter Speeding Spur underlined his class with an emphatic victory in tonight’s (Saturday) Gr.1 $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star Final at Tabcorp Park Melton. Prepared by father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie, Speeding Spur ($5.40) produced a stunning sprint over the concluding stages to defeat a game Glenferrie Typhoon ($10.20) and Quite A Moment ($26.90) in a time of 1:55.5 for the 1720m event. The star four-year-old started from the inside of the second-line and raced three back on the marker line behind Maori Time and Quite A Moment while race favourite Keystone Del ($1.60) was left without cover. The first half was covered in sectionals of 29.4 and 31.2 seconds. Visiting North American based driver Yannick Gingras continued to control the speed with Maori Time while Keystone Del raced on her outside, as the field headed down the back straight for the final time, Glenferrie Typhoon loomed three-wide and forced the action. Heading by the 400m marker, Maori Time led narrowly from Keystone Del who was put to immediate pressure while Glenferrie Typhoon still loomed deeper off the track. The third quarter was covered in 28 seconds. In the straight, Glenferrie Typhoon raced to a slender lead while Maori Time tried to rally on the inside but Speeding Spur was being angled to the outside and unleashed his finishing burst wider on the track. At the line, Speeding Spur quickly raced clear to score 3.3 metres from Glenferrie Typhoon with a further half neck away to Quite A Moment who came through via the passing lane late. The final quarter clocking was 27.7 seconds. Keystone Del finished fifth. “He raced so well tonight, heat and final and I’m just so proud with the way he’s handled everything this campaign. We’ve got a lot of faith in him and he didn’t disappoint us, he’s such a great horse.” Winning driver Josh Dickie said. The Pegasus Spur – Della’s Speed entire will now return to his Auckland base in readiness for the remaining legs of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters, the $80,000 ANZAC Cup on April 22 followed by the $150,000 Canam Rowe Cup the following week, both events will be staged at Alexandra Park. Speeding Spur Heat 1; The first $50,000 qualifying heat was dominated from classy Australian trotter Glenferrie Typhoon ($1.60 Fav) who sprintlaned to defeat Maori Time ($13.40) and Sun Of Anarchy ($68.90) in a time of 1:55.7. Big striding mare Maori Time was able to lead comfortably despite her wide draw while Glenferrie Typhoon sat comfortably in the trail throughout. Sectionals were covered in 29.4, 30.1 28.5 and 28.6 seconds. Prepared by Andy and Kate Gath, Glenferrie Typhoon sprinted stylishly over the concluding stages to score by 1.8 metres. Also qualifying for the final from this heat was Claudys Princess, Quite A Moment and Super Zeck. Heat 2; In the second $50,000 qualifying heat, star trotter Keystone Del proved why he was the series favourite with his sensational front-running victory in track record time. Keystone Del ($1.30 Fav) led from his inside draw and proved too strong for Kiwi raider Speeding Spur ($4.10) who sat without cover throughout while Kyvalley Blur ($20.70) filled third place after sitting in the trail. Prepared by Brent Lilley and handled by Anthony Butt, Keystone Del recorded sectionals of 29.3, 29.2, 27.6 and 27.8 seconds. The mile rate was a staggering 1:53.7 – shaving almost a full second off his previous track record at 1:54.5. Also advancing to the final from this heat was former European trotter Daryl Boko. by Chris Barsby

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