This Thursdays harness racing meeting at Forbury Park in Dunedin sees the running of the second heat of this seasons 3 year old Sires Stakes Series and it has drawn a field of eight talented second season pacers. Seven of the eight are last start winners and several have had multiple wins in their last few starts. The way the draw has worked out would suggest that Art Major's son Art Union from barrier one is going to be awfully hard to beat. Trained by Cran Dalgety and to be driven on Thursday by champion reinsman Dexter Dunn, Art Union has won five of just ten starts and his season debut at Addington ten days ago was outstanding. After a big mid-race move, Art Union roared over his last 800 in 55.9 for an easy win and with natural improvement from that run, Art Union looks the horse they have to beat. One thing for certain is he won't have it all his own way with the very smart son of Art Major in Pulp Fiction drawn right beside Art Union in barrier two. Competitive at the top level at two, Pulp Fiction has come back a far better horse at three with his three starts this season yielding three wins and all by big margins. Trained by Alan Stratford at Riversdale, Pulp Fiction will have leading reinsman John Dunn in the bike on Thursday night. Another son of Art Major in Mighty Flying Major is the interesting horse of the field. Brought out of the yearling sales for $67,500 and raced out of the Ken Barron barn by long time stable clients Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, Mighty Flying Major was a major player as a 2 year old in most of the big races but placings were his lot until late in the season when he strung four wins together at Alexandra Park. In form reinsman Blair Orange takes the drive on Thursday night Given a short break after his Auckland races, he has had two workout wins in recent weeks to fit him for Thursday night but Ken Barron thinks he may be a run short. " He only had three weeks off and he has done a lot of conditioning work and is really well in himself but he maybe a run short. "He has had a couple of workouts but missed one due to the weather so he may need the run to be honest" he said. Ken thinks the draw hasn't helped his chances as well. "Drawn out at seven with Art Union drawn one makes it really difficult but with the run under his belt he should be cherry ripe for the heat at Addington next week" he said The All Stars team have two in and both have shown enough to be respected especially since they are from the hottest stable in the country Have Faith In Me and Alta Ronaldo are both very talented but have drawn awkwardly and may need a bit of luck while Tas Man Bromac has been going great guns but this is a big step up in class. So for us it is Art Union and Pulp Fiction to fight it out and Have Faith In Me, Alta Ronaldo, Tas Man Bromac and Mighty Flying Major for trifectas and first fours. For the Forbury Park fields click here. Harnesslink Media
Wow. How’s that for a pipe-opener? The 2014 edition of the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup has been built up over the last few months as potentially being something special. A race for the ages. An historic event. Yet, if it was even possible, our greatest race might just have gone to a whole new level tonight after the performance of the horse on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Terror To Love. The three-time Cup winner produced a stunning resumption to win the Avon City Ford Cup at his favourite place of Addington tonight. And in doing so he sent a collective shiver through the spines of those who will line up to try and stop him from creating history on November 11. In short, Terror To Love was sensational. Forget the fact that he faced only a small portion of those who will make the Cup field on the second Tuesday of November for a minute, as far as resuming runs go for him, this was as good as we have seen. Driven confidently and aggressively by Ricky May, the champ found himself in front with a lap to run and from there never let the bit drop from his mouth as he cut out some impressive closing sectional to win under double wraps. “He jogged it to be fair,’’ May said. “In fact he was bolting that much on the bend that he actually got a little rough. “Gee he’s come back super, that was a great performance fresh up.’’ History will show that normally whatever Terror To Love does fresh up, he improves on. His condition was still a little on the burly side last night, but you just know that with a race under his belt he will shed any extra coating by the time he returns for the Canterbury Classic on October 10. Terror To Love stopped the clock at 3.13 for the 2600 metre stand start – running his last one mile in a shade over 1.55 seconds. And as much as he enjoyed watching it, Paul Court, who trains with his father Graham, admitted to being a little surprised. “We knew he was as ready as he wanted him, but that was a really good effort. “He’s got so much improvement left in him yet, it’s the perfect start.’’ So what about those who finished in behind? Smolda looked on first impressions to be the most disappointing of the lot after tiring to finish fourth after sitting parked for the last 1000 metres. But the Purdon/Rasmussen barn are adamant to there is a lot of improvement left in the big pacer and race fitness is the only way they will get that. "He just blew out" said Mark Purdon. "It was his first race since March and you just need the racing to beat these top horses. "I am not really surprised to be honest especially with some of those sectionals. He should get a lot of improvement from that run" he said. Runner-up Bit Of A Legend showed he will foot it with the big guns based on his determined and tradesman like performance – pleasing both Dexter Dunn and Cran Dalgety while Franco Nelson, who missed away, was an eye-catching performance to boom home and finish in third. So the foundation has been set for Terror To Love to write his way into the record books with the next step the Canterbury Classic next month. There ready and waiting to take him on will be a host of stars which look set to include Christen Me, Adore Me, Hands Christian, Tiger Tara and others. Bring it on. Matt Markham - Courtesy Of Harness Racing New Zealand
Harness racing returns to Addington on Friday night with the 2014 Group Three New Brighton Cup and the time honoured classic has drawn a lovely field of high class pacers. The headline act of course is the three time New Zealand Cup winner Terror To Love who is starting his quest for a fourth in Friday nights race. Driver Ricky May is happy with where he is at this stage of his preparation. " He went really good at the trials at Ashburton recently and finished off the trial nicely. He will improve with the race under his belt but I still expect a big run from him on Friday night" he told Harnesslink earlier this week. The big danger is undoubtedly the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Smolda who is also making his seasonal debut on Friday night. Driver Mark Purdon was cautious when assessing his chances for Friday night. "He is perhaps 90 per cent ready and has done very well but it is his first go and I won't want to be driving him hard all the way to prove a point or anything. He is usually solid from a stand so the No 1 draw should not be a problem but it depends how the race unfolds. He is good enough to win and he will be in there trying but he is not at his peak yet. " he said. Franco Nelson is another having his first run for the season and co- trainer and driver John Dunn is expecting a big run. ""He has had a lovely preparation this time in with two trials to tighten him up for Friday night and he went super both times. He has gone on with it at home since and I couldn't be happier with his condition going into the race. He has always stepped up to date when we have asked him and I am very confident that he will measure up against the likes of Terror To Love and Smolda" he said. A Bit Of A Legend from the Cran Dalgety barn is having his first run since a great second in the Breeders Crown at Melton but Cran feels he needs to step up on Friday night to have a chance "He trialled nicely but nothing special last week so I’ve got a bit more serious with his workload since then. On paper he looks like he’s fourth or fifth pick but hopefully he can lift a bit.” For us its Smolda by a nostril from Terror To Love with Franco Nelson and A Bit Of A Legend fighting out third and fourth. Harnesslink Media
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
Another of the early season harness racing features comes up for decision at Addington on Friday night when the 2014 edition of the Group Three $25,000 New Brighton Cup is run. The resumption of both Terror To Love and Smolda has given the race two of the early favourites for the New Zealand Cup but a lot of interest on Friday night will centre on the performance of Franco Nelson who is also lining up for his first run of his 5 year old season. A last start winner of the Harness Jewels in May, Franco Nelson is ready to go according to co-trainer and driver John Dunn "He has had a lovely preparation this time in with two trials to tighten him up for Friday night and he went super both times. He has gone on with it at home since and I couldn't be happier with his condition going into the race" he said A star from the time he hit the tracks as a 2 year old, Franco Nelson has always looked capable of being a player on the Grand Circuit with 14 wins and $425,446 in the bank to date. John Dunn is in no doubt that Franco Nelson has what it takes to be very competitive in the open class races. " He has always stepped up to date when we have asked him and I am very confident that he will measure up against the likes of Terror To Love and Smolda" he said Franco Nelson has only had a handful of standing starts in his career to date but John is confident that it won't be an issue. " He did bobble for a stride in the Hunter Cup at Melton but apart from that he has always been good from a stand at trials and on raceday and I think he will be fine he said. Franco Nelson has blinding speed if saved for one run and he will certainly add a bit to the form puzzle leading into the major races in the next few weeks With Terror To Love, Smolda, Franco Nelson and Bit Of A legend involved, the New Brighton Cup is shaping as a good early season pointer for the New Zealand Cup in just seven weeks time. Harnesslink Media
The first harness racing meeting for the new season at Methven comes up for decision on Sunday and as per usual for this time of year it sees the emergence of a lot of spring 3 year olds. Race 1 for the CO 3 year olds and older over 2300 meters from behind the mobile has drawn a smart field with several promising 3 year olds lining up. McArdle Star form the Ken Barron barn has drawn poorly at three on the second line but his trial runs suggest a big debut run from the son of McArdle. Brought out of the 2013 Australasian Classic Sale for $30,000 by long time stable clients Steve Thompson and Grant Dickey, McArdle Star will have the services of in form reinsman Blair Orange and looks a big winning chance. Highview Freddy from the Robert Dunn barn is another 3 year old who looks above average and from the one draw can make his own luck. A full brother to the outstanding Highview Tommy 1:55.2 ($1,021,904) Highview Freddy had four starts at two against Say My Name and company so it is a big drop back in class here. He ran a lovely fourth behind Margarita in his first run back from a spell and looks sure to be a major player with Sam Ottley in the bike. Another runner from the Robert Dunn barn is Altissimo who has drawn nicely at barrier three. She is a 3 year old daughter of Mach Three from a Beach Towel half sister to the champion pacer Elsu 1:53.6 ($2,083,352). Altissimo qualified recently on the track in very impressive fashion and has the services of leading reinsman John Dunn in the bike. Another 3 year old making his debut for the season is the Gotta Go Cullect gelding Until Further Notice from two on the second line from the Jimmy Curtin barn. Until Further Notice is a recent addition to the stable and he is now owned by long time stable client Ralph Nieper who raced his half brother Slash An Burn 1:54.7 ($277,288) from the Curtin barn. Placed twice as a two year old when racing out of the Murray Swain barn in Southland, Until Further Notice won a trial last week at Ashburton with smart closing sectionals of 56 .8 and 27.4 and looks ready to rumble. Just so all the 3 year olds don't have it all their own way, the Nigel McGrath trained and driven Western Art with four seconds in his last five starts looms as a fly in the ointment for the 3 year olds as he is well overdue to take out a maiden race. We think with his favourable draw Highview Freddy just gets the nod from us but it really is an open race and it wouldn't surprise us to see one of the other four mentioned in this article salute the judge. Harnesslink Media
Last weeks harness racing selections were a case of so near yet so far. Maurice McKendry, Terry Chmiel, Ricky May, Gerald O'Reilly and Nathan Williamson all nabbed winners while six others were placed, some at good odds. This week we have four meetings around the country and our selections are spread over those meetings and Maurice McKendry is shooting for three in a row at Auckland. Addington - Thursday Night Ricky May - Thinks Idolise is ready to win in race 4 Gerald O'Reilly - Likes King Of Strathfield to upset Stent in race 6 Sam Ottley - Rates Lovemetwotimes a big chance from barrier one in race 7 Terry Chmiel - Gives Betabcool a big tick in race 8 Invercargill - Friday Afternoon Clark Barron - Reckons Run Fatboy Run is overdue a winning turn in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Vera's Delight is due a change of luck in race 6 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Costa Del Magnifico will make a winning debut in race 8 Shane Walkinshaw - Very keen on first starter Jetsdream to win race 8 as well Alexandra Park - Friday Night Tony Herlihy - Likes Red Sky Night even from the second row in race 2 Steven Reid - Really rates Sirius Star to win race 3 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks Concorde can go one better than his debut second, also in race 3 Maurice McKendry - Rates The Royal Charger a big chance with the aid of the mobile in race 4 Josh Dickie - Very very bullish about the chances of Voluntad in race 5 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Irish Whisper a big chance to win fresh up in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Le Lua Invasion is overdue a win in race 9 Methven - Sunday Afternoon John Dunn - Thinks Highview Freddy can use barrier one to win race 1 Blair Orange - Rates McArdle Star from the on fire Ken Barron barn as also hard to beat in race 1 Matt Williamson - Reckons Davey's Gift is well overdue and should win race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates the locally owned and trained Golden Desire a big chance in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thinks his fathers trained horse Kylie Castleton can win race 5 Harnesslink Media
One of the more promising trotters recently on the harness racing scene in Canterbury is the Kevin Fairbairn trained Commander Paris. After breaking at his debut, Commander Paris had strung together three second placings which suggested a maiden win was at hand when he lined up in the Robbies Bar and Bistro trot at Addington Raceway tonight. (August 22nd) Away well from barrier 12 in the 2600 meters standing start race, driver John Dunn worked Commander Paris forward towards the lead but took nearly 800 meters to find the front. No sooner had Commander Paris reached the lead with 1800 meters to go than Diedrez Pearl and Sam Smolenski who had followed him through applied the blow torch to the leader. The two of them eyeballed each other for the next round with each quarter being covered in 30 and change and neither driver yielding an inch. As they reached the home corner Commander Paris finally shook off Diedrez Pearl but was instantly challenged by Davey's Gift on his outside and Ethelsville on his inner and just when you thought he would yield, he dug in like a smart horse and held on for a head victory over Davey's Gift with Ethelsville a further head away in third. It was an outstanding win in the circumstances and suggested Commander Paris has a big future in front of him. Commander Paris trotted the 2600 meters from a stand in 3:23.6 with closing sectionals of 60.3 and 29.8 By The Royal Troubador sire CR Commando, Commander In Paris is the fourth foal and the fourth winner from the Safely Kept mare in Paris Metro. The Pearl of Paris ($56,887) Palais Royale ($30,864) and Sundown In Paris ($25,087) have all done a good job to date for Paris Metro and Commander Paris looks capable of adding to that this season They really should show ability at the trotting game as their dam Paris Metro was a quality trotting mare in the early 2000s winning $120,606 on the track. Harnesslink Media
Pure Power, now an 8yo and with more than $300,000 to his name, is the latest big name acquisition to the Robert Dunn stables. Having been in Australia for around 18 months, Pure Power returned to New Zealand in May, rejoining the stable of his former trainers in David and Clare McGowan. He has worked pleasingly of late, having overcome an injury that ended his Australian campaign. He made his New Zealand reappearance at Saturday's Cambridge workouts with an encouraging 1.5 length victory. It was with the confidence of this workout that the decision was made to send him south to the Woodend stables of Robert and John Dunn. Samantha Ottley has been entrusted with the drive. John is delighted with the news of the big Grinfromeartoear gelding joining the stable ranks. "It'll be great. Dave is really pleased with him and hopefully he should be heading down this weekend." Amongst his short term targets will most likely be the Maurice Holmes Vase. Depending on how he continues to progress the 2014 New Zealand Cup is definitely on the long-term planning sheet. The horse has performed well on the big Addington track previously with his last start in NZ resullting in second place in the 2012 NZ Free-For-All, won by Gold Ace. There is a very real chance that the stable may be able to field 3 runners in this year's cup, with that race very much in the sights of stable stars Elios and Franco Nelson. Courtesy Of Robert Dunn Harness Racing
For anyone to be a commercial breeder in the standardbred industry in New Zealand means they usually need a benevolent banker and a determination to stick it out for the long term. It is a part of the harness racing industry that sees a lot of participants come in all gung ho and leave a short time later, wiser and poorer for the experience. A small number have been able to structure their breeding operations in such a way that not only are they profitable but they produce a high quality and successful product to boot. At the forefront of this small group in New Zealand is the founder of Studholme Bloodstock, Brian West. Recently we travelled to his magnificent 300 acre property at Coes Ford in Canterbury to spend an afternoon with Brian to get an over view of his involvement to date and what the future holds. Harnesslink When did you first develop an interest in the Harness Racing Industry. Brian West My first memories were as a thirteen year old. That interest grew to the point where in my early twenties I purchased my first horse. I used to go to local dispersal sales looking to pick up well bred stock with a view to trading them further down the track. Harnesslink Anyone you turned to for advice in those early days. Brian West Jim Dalgety was a great help in those early days and I still seek his advice at times today. He has a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. Alec Purdon and Des Callaghan (Tara Lodge) were two others that I sought out in those early years and they both helped me immensely. I am indebted to them all for their help. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership come about? Brian West In 1986, I set up Yonkers Breeding Partnership in conjunction with four close friends of mine. We floated the partnership and it ended up with 100 investors all up. The aim was to target the top end of the yearling market. The partnership purchased the bloodstock and things looked to be coming together nicely when out of the blue the government of the day completely changed the tax structure for bloodstock. That completely compromised the financial viability of Yonkers Breeding Partnership. As a result we sold down the bloodstock over a period of three years at a significant loss. The partnership was very fortunate however as the funding borrowed from Barclays Bank was secured against the bloodstock and not the investors so the money lost by the investors was minimal. In 1986, we set up Club Classics Syndicates as an outlet for some of our bloodstock. The first syndicate was made up of seven horses with seven different trainers but we were having trouble selecting the seventh horse for the package. Robert Dunn went and looked at a group of horses we owned and to our surprise chose a smallish plain looking Stampede colt as the seventh horse. Of course he turned out to be Defoe 1:53 ($423,372) and that gave the syndicates a lot of creditability going forward. We were based at the old Watties farm in Shands road at the time and we had employed Michael House to do all the pre-training of the syndicate horses which also helped in their success. Harnesslink How did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) come about. Brian West After the wind up of Yonkers Breeding Partnership, a few of the investors wanted to start again. So we wrote to the 100 original investors and offered them the opportunity to be involved. About 10% took up the offer and together we formed Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989). We purchased the ten best pedigreed mares from the original Yonkers portfolio. Harnesslink How long did Yonkers Breeding Partnership (1989) last for? Brian West A little over twelve years all up. Most of the investors were coming up to retirement and wanted to free up some cash. The Bloodstock was valued and purchased by Studholme Park (BD West) The partnership made a profit every year of its twelve years, something I and manager, Jack Hartley, were very proud of, as they were very difficult days in the standardbred industry in New Zealand. Harnesslink At what point did the bloodstock operations evolve to their present name of Studholme Bloodstock? Brian West Studholme Bloodstock was formed in January 2003. Taking ownership of the bloodstock formally owned by Studholme Park (BD West) Harnesslink Why did you move from the Shands road property as it was beautifully set up Brian West I was looking to down size our breeding operation to create more leisure time, at the same time a developer made an offer to purchase the Shands Road property. I wasn't sure where I was going to go but I ran into an old friend of mine in real estate and not long after that he convinced me to have a look at the farm we are presently on. I would have to be honest and say when I first saw the property as I drove in, I was less than impressed as the house and outbuildings looked very run down. But my friend convinced me to have a look at the farm and I am glad I did because it is an outstanding property. I purchased 70 acres at first and then further down the track I purchased an additional 230 acres of an adjoining property to give me the 300 acres we presently have. It is a beautifully set up farm with 10 acre paddocks and shelter to each paddock from the easterly and the southerly winds. The earthquakes destroyed the main house (built in 1863) and I have yet to finalise its future with the insurance company but I have restored the other buildings on the property including the fourteen box ‘mews’, a two-storey stable complex and recently refurbished a small cottage which is now my home. Harnesslink How many stocks does the farm carry? Brian West Can vary from time to time but usually we would be carrying 100 horses and we finish up to 200 cattle as well. We run the cattle behind the horses and we crop some paddocks each year. All our paddocks are sown with a grass mix that has a heavy emphasis on red clover which seems to suit our soil type here. Harnesslink Any outside clients Brian West No, I have turned down dozens of approaches over the years. I do have breeding arrangements with a few people on a 50/50 basis and race some fillies with friends. I would calculate that Studholme Bloodstock owns outright about 70% of the horses on the farm at any one time. I am in breeding and racing arrangements with long term clients and friends: Peter Smith and Winky Foley (Kahukuri Bloodstock), Neville Tilsley, Mike and Sue Grainger (Grainger Bloodstock), John Purvis (Grassy Meadows Farm), Vicky Purdon, Mike Gourdie, Gavin Chin, Graham Gimblett and Ken McDonald of Master Musician and For a Reason fame. Harnesslink You didn’t sell fillies at the sales for a period of four or five years there not long ago .Why? Brian West When I first set up Studholme Park, I sold every foal I bred as that was the only way to pay the bills and keep our heads above water. Buyers of yearlings are generally looking for a reason not to buy and unless they are faultless in conformation and pedigree they were not giving me a return on my investment. As I became more financial and aware that our fillies were being sold at a loss in most instances, I decided to retain all fillies and try them as a race horse. The result of this decision has been very positive for my farm. These days we will sell the odd filly but they have to tick every box before I enter them in the yearling sales. This year I retained nine fillies which have all been broken in. Harnesslink What trainers do you use? Brian West I stopped counting when I got to seventy. These days though I mainly use Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen while I also have some with Cran Dalgety and Robert and John Dunn and Grant Payne. Different fillies suit different trainers. Secret Lotion and Art Critic never really settled at Marks and Natalies but have been in great form since joining Robert and John’s team so I am not afraid to move them if I think it might help. One year I sent seven fillies to Nicole Molander in Sydney. They all won enough money to pay their way and came back home with smart mile rates besides their name which is always helpful when selling at the sales Harnesslink How many have you got for next years’ sales and could you give us a rundown on their programme from weaning up to sale day. Brian West I will have 12 colts and two fillies barring injuries for next years’ sale. We run them in small mobs right through from weaning. They are fed a barley based mix that I have made to our specifications which has a 16% protein component. We change the mix on the 1st of August, reducing the protein component to 13% The hard feed is supplemented with lucerne/red clover baleage and some meadow hay. We have 14 double fenced yearling paddocks which we use during the sale prep. The sales prep starts on December 1st, we bring them in from the paddocks at seven in the morning. Following breakfast, they will be put on a walker for 30 minutes. They stay in for lunch and are put back in their paddocks at two in the afternoon and they stay there overnight. We do that right up to Christmas and then give them ten days off to freshen them up. We will then start again in early January and go right through to the sale which is usually around the 20th February. A lot of trainers/buyers like to come and see the horses on farm and we fit in around them as much as we can. Also, we are part of the very successful sales bus tour. Our main marketing push comes in the form of a booklet showing a photograph of each yearling. Harnesslink Whom would you rate the best horse you have raced –bred—seen Brian West The best horse I have raced would have to be Secret Potion 1:57.5 ($285,313) who won both the Great Northern Oaks (Group1) and Nevele R Fillies Final(Group1). Close behind would be Lancome 1:54.9 ($461,278) who won 13 races including the Harness Jewels 4 year old Diamond (Group1) The best horse I have bred would have to be A Bit Of A Legend 1:54.7 ($720,710) who has won 17 to date including both the two and three year old divisions of the Austrlasian Breeders Crown (Group 1) The best horse I have seen would have to be Lord Module 1:54.9 ($251,750) At his peak he made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with his speed and power. Harnesslink What have been some of the major changes that you think have been positive for the industry in your time. Brian West Two stand out for me. 1.) The DNA testing regime was a major step forward and made those mistakes of the past impossible. 2.) The other was the introduction of shuttle stallions which allowed the breeders in the southern hemisphere access to the best stallions in the world. Jack Rice, a USA lawyer and John Curtin had to fight tooth and nail to establish shuttle stallions and yet neither has ever had their contribution recognised which is a shame as we wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Harnesslink How do you see the future of harness racing and breeding in New Zealand. Brian West One of the major impediments to the future of the harness racing industry in New Zealand is the archaic governance structure that we have in this industry. The ‘Clubs’ run the industry in New Zealand. Clubs were set up to run race meetings and that should be their primary focus. The industry should be governed by a board of directors elected by industry participants, licence holders, breeders and owners. Such a board would free the industry from the glacial pace of change we have under the current structure. The other major problem that needs attention and soon is the lack of any incentives for people to breed. The number of mares bred this last breeding season was the lowest for 45 years and is in a downward spiral. The focus so far has been to increase stakes and that has been successful to a point but still the numbers of mares bred continues to decline. We need to incentivise the breeders to breed. There are several ways you can do that and there are several places overseas which run breeding incentive schemes. Which one would best meet the New Zealand industries needs further evaluation but one thing is certain, the French have it right, twelve and a half percent of every dollar earned is paid to the breeder. If we don't start to reward the people who produce the product that keeps our industry alive then we may not have an industry long term. Harnesslink Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Brian. It is much appreciated. Harnesslink media
Last week the ring-around produced six winners with Matthew Williamson, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, Ricky May, John Dunn, and I all delivering the goods. The best result was my tip Spell which romped in at odds $5.50. Let’s see what winners we have in store for you this week: Cambridge – Thursday Jay Abernethy: Thinks Equulei can kick the ring-around off in style in the first race at Cambridge. Simon Lawson: Rates Betty Boop Brogden as a good each-way chance in the fourth race on the card. Alexandra Park – Friday Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Miss Lotty, who was seen doing her best work late when second last start. She looks a good chance in the first race. Brent Mangos: expects impressive trialist Vibhuti to prove very tough to roll – race four. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Has opted for Djokovic, who looks a bold chance in race five. Scott Phelan: Rates the chances of inform pacer Cyamach, who looks a strong chance despite meeting a very good field in the sixth race at Alexandra Park. Addington – Friday Ken Barron: Expects both Bracken Ridge (race two) and Quaint Glen (Rangiora race 3) to prove very hard to beat. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Bracken Ridge – race two Mark Jones: Thinks the consistent Jaccka Len can break through for another win – race five. Gavin Smith: Rates She’s Extreme as a good place chance in the sixth event on the card. John Dunn: Is expecting a big run from two-year-old filly Cullens First Meddle – race six. Tim Williams: Has opted for smart mare Here We Go Again, who downed likely favourite Fifth Edition in her last start – race eight. Matthew Williamson: Expects Ohoka Benson to be hard to beat in what looks an average C1 field – race ten. Rangiora – Sunday Terry Chmiel: Has opted for the inform That Guy Finn, who looks a good chance despite meeting a strong C1 and 2 line-up – race six. Jonny Cox: Thinks Explosive Art can continue to explode through the grades – race nine.
Popular Canterbury harness racing trainer Robert Dunn cracked the 100 winners for the season for the first time as a trainer when a recent recruit to the stable Wesley Silcox took out the the Tinwald Tavern Mobile Pace at Ashburton today. Robert has had the stable firing on all cylinders all season and to reach the coverted 100 club is a just reward for all the hard work the stable has put in throughout the season. Wesley Silcox was recently purchased for stable clients out of the Brent White barn after two very impressive wins at the recent Nelson meeting with the original owner deciding to stay in and remain part of the ownership group. It is not the first time that Robert Dunn has bought out of the Brent White stable with Elios 1:55 ($213,676) an earlier purchase. Steadied out of the gate today from barrier two by driver John Dunn, Wesley Silcox slotted into a nice possie in the running line for the first 1400 meters. Sent forward outside the leader Change Time at the 1000 meter mark, Wesley Silcox sat there until they turned for home when he kicked away for an impressive two length victory with John Dunn hardly moving in the cart. The win made it three from three for Wesley Silcox and the good looking son of Courage Under Fire looks to have a huge future in front of him. He paced the 2400 meters from the mobile in a swift 3:00.6, a mile rate of 2:01 with impressive closing sectionals of 56.2 and 27.5. Falcon's Goddess, the dam of Wesley Silcox is a 1:58.5 daughter of the former smart Soky's Atom mare, Soky's Lass 1:58.9 ($34,754). Soky's Lass is very closely related to two of the best horses to ever set foot on a racetrack in New Zealand in Luxury Liner 1:56.9 ($1,721,984) and Christopher Vance 1:54.6 ($1,747,167). It is a family that has been a bit quiet in recent years but in Wesley Silcox it looks to have found another star. Wesley Silcox Harnesslink media
Last week was a quiet one for the ring-around with just the two winners. However, T.A.B Bookmaker Steve Richardson did find us some value in the form of $8 and $2.50. Let’s see what good oil the boys have found for us this week. Forbury – Thursday Matthew Williamson: Has opted for Monnay, who is the class horse of the field but and looks a chance despite his huge seventy metre handicap – race six. Nathan Williamson: Rates the chances of Onedin Mach, who should have benefited off his fresh-up fourth. He looks the one to beat in race seven on the card. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of Homeforabubbly, who looks well placed in the ninth race on the card. Alexandra Park – Friday Simon Lawson: Has selected Westwind Flyer as his best bet of the week – race one. Scott Phelan: Believes Pieces Of My Heart can go one better in the third race on the card. Josh Dickie: Has opted for Katieellen Castleton, who would only need to do things right to win the fourth race. Addington – Friday Stephen Richardson (T.A.B): Has selected Hikoi, who got too far back last start before finishing strongly for fourth. Steps up to 2600m this week which should suit – race two. David Butt: Rates the chances of Stingray, who returned to form last week with a nice win. He meets the same sort of field this week and looks a good each-way chance again - race five. Ricky May: Has opted for the impressive Dalton Bromac. He looks the one they all have to beat in the same event – race five. Craig Thornley: Has opted for Playaway, who was a fast finishing second last start. She looks a good each-way chance in the sixth race. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Spell – race eight. Ashburton – Sunday Mark Jones: Expects smart filly Goodness Gracious Me to prove very hard to beat in the sixth race. Ken Barron: Has opted for Change Time, who returns to mobile racing and has landed the plumb draw. She has produced big runs in her last two outings after missing the kick from standing starts and looks a good chance on Sunday – race eight. John Dunn: Thinks stable newcomer Wesley Silcox, who trialled up nicely on Monday, can keep his unbeaten record intact – race eight.
Harness racing can be a great leveler at times. All week the word has been out for Big Lucy, who made her raceday debut at Timaru today (Sunday 6th July) in a 2000 meter mobile for fillies and mares. Another one of the string of youngsters purchased out of the Australian sales by Mark Purdon, Big Lucy has been burning up the trialing track recently with a recent win at Ashburton her best effort. Even though she only paced the mile in 2:02.5, her closing sectionals of 57.8 and 26.9 without being seriously asked suggested she would take all sorts of beating today. Running home strongly for second in that trial was the Cran Dalgety trained Storm Maguire with Margarita a close up third and when Margarita easily won her debut on Thursday night at Forbury Park one realised that Storm Maguire was a chance with a run to suit to upset the hot favourite. And as is so often the case in racing, that is exactly what happened today. Big Lucy ended up in the trail behind Media Queen and when she handed up to Storm Maguire it put the favourite in a very difficult position, three back on the inside and needing plenty of luck which never came. By the time Big Lucy cleared the pocket the race was over with Storm Maguire with John Dunn driving just holding on from a fast finishing Sicilian Secret and She's Extreme with Big Lucy finishing an unlucky sixth. Storm Maguire paced the 2000 meters in 2:31.7 with closing sectionals of 57.8 and 28.8 A two year daughter of Bettor's Delight, Storm Maguire is from the In The Pocket mare, Lethal Mee who has already the dam of the former top filly, Susie Maguire 1:57.7 ($290,784) and the capable Dougie Maguire 1:57.3 ($61,314). It was an encouraging debut run and held the promise of plenty more to come. Harnesslink media
Sam Ottley just keeps breaking records and now the Canterbury driver has her sights set on a couple of other milestones before this season comes to a close. The brilliant young horsewoman’s tally of 42 wins for the season makes her the most successful female junior driver in terms of races won – beating off the old mark held by Jo Herbert of 39 which she set in 1998. And now the 23-year-old is determined to win what she terms the “coveted” junior driving premiership. “That is the main goal now, I’ll drive anywhere to win that,” Ottley said. “I’m also proud of the most-female-wins-in-a-season record as well. “I didn’t realise I had achieved it, this all means so much to me. I love driving and I want to be successful.’’ The female junior driver record for wins in a season came just two months after Ottley created more junior driving history at Forbury Park. The Geraldine-born and educated horse woman became the first ever female junior driver to notch up 100 wins when she reined the Michael House trained appropriately named Gogirl Bromac in race one – the Dunedin City Ford maiden trot on April 17. Ottley is one win clear of the her closest junior driver rival in Sailesh Abernethy, who applied a little more pressure with a winning double at Cambridge last night. She is also three wins clear of Natalie Rasmussen – the country’s second best reinswoman in terms of wins. “It would be great to beat them both, especially Sailesh because I’m getting near the end of my junior driving days and I would love to go out a champion. “The Junior Driving Premiership would be the ultimate way to end the season.’’ Kirsten Barclay was the last female to win the junior driving premiership. That was in in the 2004-2005 season when she won 32 races from 315 drives. Ottley has now driven 112 winners from 1,317 drives since first taking out her licence in 2008-2009. She’s also placed 212 times for $815,799. “It’s been a memorable year. It’[s hard to believe I’ve created a couple of firsts this year. I’m so happy because they can never the achievements away from me.’’ She said other career highlights included winning her first race-day drive behind her mother Denise’s horse Nigel Paul; winning the Geraldine Cup on Just Rose for Colin and Julie (De Filippi) and representing New Zealand at the Australasian Junior Driving Champs (third by a point). Ottley paid a tribute to her mother, Timaru trainer Murray Tapper, the De Filippi’s, and all the owners and trainers who put her on their horses. In an effort to enhance her chances of winning the junior drivers premiership, Ottley is currently on loan to the Woodend Beach stable of Robert and John Dunn with De Filippi low on racing numbers currently. She heads to Forbury Park tonight in search of adding to her season tally with a promising book of five drives. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)
Last week was a great one for the Harnesslink ring-around with Matthew Williamson, Ken Barron, Scott Phelan, Josh Dickie, Jonny Cox, Craig Thornley, Ricky May, Anthony Butt, and Blair Orange all tipping out winners. Here are this week’s selections: Cambridge - Thursday Simon Lawson: Expects Ton Tine to win again – race five. Alexandra Park – Friday Steve Richardson (Harnesslink): Thinks Russley Haste will prove very hard to beat in the fourth race on the card. Scott Phelan: Has opted for the in form Cyamach in the Winter Cup - race seven. Forbury – Friday Mark Jones: Has declared Lady Mackendon as the biggest cert he has ever taken to the races. “It’s like Master Lavros in a maiden trot. Only a bad drive will get it beat.” Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Rip Roaring - race two. John Dunn: Expects smart juvenile Robbie Burns to make it two wins from as many starts – race four. Josh Dickie: Has just an average book of drives this week, but rates Russet Norkotah, who will be at any old odds, as the best of them - race five. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Al Razza will prove very hard to beat again – race ten. Nathan Williamson: Will go head-to-head with brother Matthew, with the talented Sheeza Shark in the same event. Rangiora – Sunday Blair Orange: Rates Zakspatrol as his best chance of the week – race seven. Terry Chmiel: Has opted for That Guy Finn, who will shoot for three wins in a row in the same event – race seven. Ricky May: Has opted for smart three-year-old Explosive Art, who has been coming along in leaps and bounds in recent starts – race eight. Ken Barron: Thinks Livura will prove hard to beat in the ninth race on the card. Jonny Cox: Has a decent book of drives, but rates Galleon’s Triumph as the best of them – race eleven. Anthony Butt: Is bullish about the chances of smart 2yo Field Marshal in the last event on the card.