Last week was on the up for our harness racing pundits with Sam Ottley, Tony Herlihy, John Dickie, John Curtin, Scott Phelan and Blair Orange nailing winners why five other selections ran a place but just missed the winners circle. This week we cover the four meetings once again and hope our selectors can tip you into a winner or three. Cambridge - Thursday Night Sean McCaffrey - Rates Strawberry Courage a royal chance in the first, the amateur drivers race. Scott Phelan - Thinks Chosen Path can break out of maidens in race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Likes Tarn to overcome her 30 meter handicap, also in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very bullish about the chances of Eyrewell Pegasus in race 5 Maurice McKendry - Thinks Hughie Green can continue his winning streak in race 6 Zac Butcher - Confident that Chachingchaching can win ,even from second line, also in race 6 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Bullish about Bute Mach in race 8 after unlucky run last start Peter Scaife - Is confident Mach Cullen is a big winning chance, also in race 8 Northern Southland - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Confident that Mass Invasion can improve on first up 4th and win race 2 Nathan Williamson - Reckons Nothingforthemedia could cause a real blowout in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Nightmarch will be hold to hold out, also in race 3 Matthew Williamson - Very keen on Smokin Bird in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes Canardly Lover having first run back to win race 8 Addington - Friday Night Sam Ottley - Thinks Ottawa can overcome the unruly mark and win race 3 Brad Williamson - Reckons The Silver Fox is overdue a winning turn, also in race 3 John Dunn - Rates Lumos a huge chance back to a stand in race 4 Steve Richardson - Likes the lightly raced mare Alexandra Leaving in race 8 Blair Orange - Very bullish about the smart Mighty Major in race 9 Banks Peninsula - Sunday Afternoon Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Just Leave can improve on Methven 5th and win race 2 Ricky May - Urges punters to stick with Speedski in race 6 after his luckless 4th at Methven. Terry Chmiel - Likes Gyrate to go back to back in race 10 if he can get a run through from the second line. Harnesslink Media
Well known harness racing owner and breeder Basil Blackwell has never been short of a nice horse around him and in Voluntad 1:56.4 ($28,766) he has another classy racehorse. Bred and owned by Basil and raced out of the Dickie barn as are most of his horses, Voluntad is a six year old mare by Real Desire from the Road Machine mare White Nights who has already left two smart winners in Mont Ventoux 1:55.5 and Lively Nights 1:58.4. Voluntad is from the family of Miranda Star which has been so successful for so long for Robert Reid. Voluntad only started racing in December 2013 and quickly showed she was above average. Going into tonights (September 19th) race at Alexandra Park she had already won three times from just ten starts and the punters made her a warm favourite. Two fixed odds bets of $5,000 were placed on her late in the piece but the punters would have been smiling to themselves from the time she left the mobile. Sent straight to the front from barrier two by regular pilot Josh Dickie, Voluntad kept up a steady pace before being attacked by Rykaard with 1200 meters to go. The next 400 meters was cut out in 29.4 before Voluntad regained control as they went to the 800 meters mark. She then ran down the back straight in 28.9 before scooting home in 28.1 for an effortless victory with Josh hardly moving in the bike all the way up the straight. Voluntad hit the finishing line nearly three lengths clear without being extended which bodes well for her as she works her way through the grades. She paced the 2200 meters in 2:43.3, a mile rate of 1:59.4 with closing sectionals of 57 and 28.1 Voluntad looks capable of mixing it with the better mares later in the season in races such as the Queen Of Hearts if she can keep improving at her present rate of progress. Harnesslink Media
Classy freshman Connoisseur made one of the most impressive debut victories seen at Alexandra Park in recent times when making a mess of his maiden rivals last night. The John and Josh Dickie trained juvenile was backed into $1.30 favouritism on the back of couple of impressive trial wins, and didn’t let punters down, opening up from the 500 metre mark to race away for an emphatic 10 & ½ length victory. Connoisseur, who is a son of Bettor’s Delight and Falcon Seelster mare Cyclone Annie, paced the 2200 metre journey in a slick 2-43.9, with closing sectionals of 58.7 and 28.2. So, although the opposition Connoisseur beat were average, his time wasn’t and neither was the fashion in which he did it. “It took a bit to get him up and running but we always knew he had a huge motor,” said co-trainer John Dickie when interviewed after the race. Dickie said Connoisseur would now be spelled before returning for what could be a very big three-year-old season. Meanwhile, smart age group trotters Arya and Primz Luck are both set for Australian campaigns after breezing through their respective Breeders Crown heats at Alexandra Park last night. Arya had a walkover win as she was the only horse nominated in her heat, while Primz Luck may as well have been the only one in his, smashing his lone rival by some 50 lengths. By Mitchell Robertson
The two year old Ruby at this years Harness Jewels was won in brilliant fashion by the Love You gelding Monbet after a great display of trotting that was as good as anything produced by a juvenile in this country. The rest of the field were left to fight out the minors with Arya getting up on the inside of Prince Fearless to grab second with Yougunnakissmeornot just nabbing Wanna Play for fourth. No sooner had the horses pulled up, the siren went with two protests being lodged over an incident as they passed the 400 meter mark. First up Josh Dickie, the driver of Speeding Spur who was struggling to keep up in the one by one on the hot pace, lodged a protest against Yougunnakissmeornot who on leaving her position three back on the inner at the 400 meters appeared to check Speeding Spur into a break. It looked a 50/50 call and could have gone either way so it was no surprise when it was dismissed. Josh Dickie made no allegation of interference against Ayra driven by Mark Purdon who was three wide outside Speeding Spur at the time but the stewards saw fit to file a protest on exactly those grounds. They claimed Ayra had shifted down at the same time that Yougunnakissmeornot had eased off the inner and that was the primary reason Speeding Spur had broken. It was not an allegation supported by the horses driver or the video evidence but one the JCA found in favour of none the less. Mark Purdon is known for keeping his views to himself and has never been one to lose his cool but was so appalled by the decision that he labeled the chairman of the panel that heard the inquiry, Brian Scott incompetent and the whole process a travesty. And if one watches the replay enough, one tends to come to the conclusion that Mark Purdon has a point. Everybody in this industry is accountable and on the surface the JCA panel in this matter have some serious questions to answer. Harnesslink media
Ardmore-based junior harness racing driver, Josh Dickie drove his second Group winner for his training father John tonight when successful with Great Getaway in the Group Three $25,300 New Zealand Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes.
On a A$500,000 afternoon last August the world seemed full of promise with three of New Zealand racing's brightest young harness racing stars.
Tragedy has struck celebrated Cambridge trotter Paramount Geegee, the champion age-group harness racing performer was found dead in his paddock on Monday morning (May 28).
If you wanted to witness quality harness racing tonight (Friday March 23) then all you had to do was cross to Addington Raceway in Christchurch for a couple of hours between 7.35pm and 9.30pm. Wow the standard of racing was impressive and all the big names were to the fore. If this is the start of what's to come in 2011-12, then it's going to be a bumper season.
French harness racing sire Love You produced another quality winner when his royally bred daughter - Paramount Queen - beat the boys in tonight's (Friday March 16) $4,000 trot for the 2-year-old trotters at Addington Raceway.
Champion young trotter Flying Isa is suffering from a virus and will miss tomorrow's (Saturday February 11) $25,000 Hambletonian Trot at Ashburton. But his Cambridge-based trainer John Dickie is confident the superstar three-year-old will be ready for the rich Sales Series Trot in three weeks.
John Dickie's reputation as one of New Zealand's best trainers of trotters was enhanced at northern harness racing headquarters - Alexandra Park - tonight (Friday September 16) when his 6-year-old mare, Great Getaway won fresh up after her Interdominion Grand Final seventh, on April 8.
New Zealand's greatest reinsman and Alexandra Park's long serving, but now retired clerk of the course, were honoured at the Alabar 2011 North Island Harness Racing Awards held in Auckland tonight (Saturday September 3).
Top Kiwi combination John Dickie and Robbie Holmes celebrated one of their greatest days in harness racing when Paramount Geegee and Flying Isa won their Group 1 Australasian Breeders Crown finals at Melton's Tabcorp Park on Sunday.
Harness racing trainers John Dickie and Robbie Holmes made Breeders Crown day their own, following the victory of Pegasus Spur/Sun Isa gelding ''Flying Isa' in the $164,000 Two Year Old Trotters Breeder's Crown Final over 2240 metres.
The Kiwi's drew first blood at the huge Australasian Breeders Crown program held at Harness Racing Victoria's Tabcorp Park Melton on Sunday August 21, with quality Pegasus Spur/Paramount Star gelding Paramount GeeGee continuing his almost unbeaten record.
Cambridge trainer John Dickie is set to be the human superstar of the richest day in Australasian harness racing. Dickie's two trotting machines Paramount Geegee and Flying Isa are drawn to dominate their finals at the A$1.3 million Australasian Breeders Crown meeting at Melton, outside Melbourne, on Sunday (August 21).