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Our harness racing tipsters are having a bit of the winter blues at the moment with less than inspiring results some weeks. Last week saw only two of our tipsters pick winners with Sean McCaffrey and Nathan Williamson doing the honours but we did have eight placegetters and some of those such as Shane Walkinshaw's pick, Takitimu Express paid good money ($4:20) This week we have four meetings in the country and we have picks for them all. Forbury - Thursday night Nathan Williamson - Thought Spinyback was overdue and could win race 2 Shane Walkinshaw - Thinks on his work this week, Jetsdream will win race 4 Craig Ferguson - Gives Mordecai a good chance of going back to back in race 6   Auckland  - Friday night Steven Reid - Reckons Concorde even from barrier 8 will be hard to beat in race 2 Scott Phelan - If Superimposed has any luck from his bad draw,he thinks he can win race 2  Todd Mitchell - Thinks the millionaire Vulcan can add to the bankroll in race 6 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Vice Consul from the front line could win race 7 Tony Herlihy -  Gives The Almighty Johnson a big chance of winning race 8 John Dunn - Rates Return To Sender as hard to roll in race 9 Mark Jones - Thought Rocker Band would be very hard to beat, also in race 9   Addington - Friday night Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of the two year old Matatoki in race 1 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Maddison Hill can upset them in race 2 Tim Williams - Gives Bird Of Paradise a big show even from the second line in race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Reckons Zin Zan must win one shortly and thinks it will be in race 7 Ricky May - Thought the southern raider Tetrick would be hard to beat in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Agrees with Ricky that Tetrick will be hard to beat in race 8 Matthew Williamson - Reckons Springbank Eden can get the chocolates in race 9   Timaru - Sunday afternoon  Blair Orange - Thought the first starter My Cash would be hard to beat in race 3 Gavin Smith - Very bullish about the chances of Great Things Happen in race 4 Brad Williamson - Reckons Kylie Castleton can bounce back and win race 6 Jim Curtin - Gives Insignificant a chance to upset them at odds, also in race 6  John Curtin - Thought Naughty Maravu only needed some luck for a change to win race 8 Robbie Holmes - Thinks Contractual Issues will be hard to hold out in race 10   Harnesslink Media

Here at Harnesslink we are regularly amazed at some of the charges leveled against harness racing drivers and how there seems to be a disconnect between the reality of race driving and the perfect world that the Racing Integrity Unit and the JCA live in. A good example in our view is the recent appeal brought by Terry Chmiel against a JCA decision that he had driven carelessly. The transcript below had us here at Harnesslink just shaking our heads. Date of Hearing: 10 June 2015 Venue: Stewards’ Room, Addington Raceway, Christchurch Tribunal: R G McKenzie, Chairman - K G Hales, Panelist Present: Mr T S Chmiel (the Appellant) Mr S P Renault, Stipendiary Steward (representing the Respondent) Mr N M Ydgren (Registrar) Date of Decision: 22 June 2015 RESERVED DECISION OF APPEALS TRIBUNAL Background [1] Following the running of Race 10, Changeover Mobile Pace, at the meeting of Oamaru Harness Racing Club at Oamaru Racecourse on 17 May 2015, the Appellant was charged with careless driving in that, as the driver of PARRAMATTA in the race, he “drove carelessly with 400 metres to run when shifting inwards crowding ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) with this horse locking wheels with HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn)”. [2] Mr Chmiel defended the charge and, following a quite lengthy hearing held after the last race on that day, Race 11, the Judicial Committee found the charge of careless driving to be proved. After hearing penalty submissions, the Judicial Committee imposed a fine of $450. [3] Mr Chmiel now appeals both the finding of the Judicial Committee that he drove carelessly and the penalty imposed. Mr Chmiel’s Notice of Appeal states that the grounds for his disagreeing with the finding and penalty are “inconclusive video evidence and also not guilty of the penalty”. Procedure [4] Rule 1205 (2) of the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing provides: All appeals shall, except when and to the extent that the Appeals Tribunal otherwise directs, be by way of rehearing based on the evidence adduced at the hearing conducted by the persons or body whose decision is appealed against. [5] This Tribunal must carry out its own assessment of the facts, and it should not hesitate to substitute its own findings of fact where it is appropriate to do so. While this Tribunal must apply an independent judgment to the conclusions reached by the Judicial Committee, the onus is still on the Applicant to show that the Judicial Committee was wrong. [6] The standard of proof is the balance of probabilities (Rule 1008A). This is widely understood to mean that facts are required to be proved as being more probable than not. [7] At the outset of the appeal hearing, it was agreed by the parties, at the Tribunal’s suggestion, that the “raceday” procedure for the hearing of charges be adopted – that is to say, the Stewards (in this case the Respondent) present their case showing what they are alleging with the assistance of video replays, after which the Appellant is to present his case in support of his appeal. Submissions of the Respondent [8] Mr Renault began by showing side-on and head-on video replays of the relevant part of the race – approximately 400 metres from the finish as the field was leaving the back straight. He pointed out HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn) leading the field at that point, with ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) outside the leader and Mr Chmiel, driving PARRAMATTA, improving 3-wide. [9] Mr Chmiel had been racing in second-to-last position before commencing to improve 3-wide with cover, and then 4-wide past the tiring CHIEF KAPAI. He got up alongside ON THE TOWN. HERETIC FRANCO and ON THE TOWN then locked wheels and drifted back through the field, Mr Renault said. [10] At the hearing before the Judicial Committee, Mr John Dunn said that his horse’s head was turned outwards but round the bend, he said, he was holding his line rather than running outwards and going wider. Mr Dunn had said that his horse had “run out quite bad down the back” but on the bend he was not having any difficulty with the horse and it was “settled”. Mr Renault submitted that Mr John Dunn’s horse had not contributed to the incident which followed. [11] Mr Dexter Dunn, driving ON THE TOWN, had been parked for some distance and he was having no difficulty with that horse. The following evidence was given by Mr Dexter Dunn at the raceday hearing: DD Yeah just on the video there obviously I was sitting parked and half way round the bend I’ve run out of room and because my wheel is behind John Dunn on the inside. I’ve ended up running out of room and locking wheels with John. Basically, just had no room. SR So was the pressure from the outside here Mr Dunn? DD Yeah it got pretty tight. Yeah at the time it felt like it was from the outside yeah. SR And did you call to Mr Chmiel? DD I just yelled out for a bit of room. Probably a bit before, yeah it just sort of happened really. It happened pretty quick, it just sort of, we were racing there and then all of a sudden it happened you know, right at full speed. When I was out there anyway it felt pretty quick. SR You weren’t having any difficulty with your horse? DD No she was SR Travelling fine DD Yeap SR So there was contact, wheel on wheel, before? DD Just um, yeah, just our stays, obviously we’re touching. SR And he was tight to you, he was hard on your wheel before there, have you got any option to come outwards, can you relieve the pressure, with him to your outside there? Are you able to come any wider if he’s putting pressure on you? DD Yeah, it sort of happened that quick I probably, by the time, I did I’d already locked wheels when it happened SR So did you feel there was any movement from the inside? DD I couldn’t tell at the time, didn’t even look at the horse on the inside, I didn’t even SR So out there live, you felt it was from the outside, when you were out there? DD Yeah probably because I was behind John Dunn, it was mainly me and Mr Chmiel that were um. Obviously you can feel the pressure when you are cart on cart but, maybe if I was up level with John as well I would have felt if there was pressure from the inside but I couldn’t really tell when I was out there. [12] Mr Renault referred again to the video replays. He submitted that Mr Dexter Dunn was clear of Mr John Dunn and there was a clear gap between them. Mr Chmiel then came across and levelled up to Mr Dunn. The locking of wheels had not yet taken place, he submitted. Mr Dunn then looked to his outside and had called to Mr Chmiel and then he locked wheels with Mr John Dunn. [13] The stays of the sulkies of Mr Dexter Dunn and Mr Chmiel had touched, Mr Renault submitted. He pointed out on the video replay that the outside sulky wheel of Mr Chmiel could be seen to be throwing up grit from the track. This was where the “touching” took place, Mr Renault submitted, and this was prior to Mr Dunn locking wheels with the sulky of the horse on his inner. Mr Renault accepted, in response to a question from the Committee, that grit from the track had also been thrown up by the wheel of Dexter Dunn’s sulky. [14] Mr Chmiel had shifted down from a 4-wide position and placed pressure on Dexter Dunn. The onus is on the driver shifting ground, Mr Chmiel in this case, Mr Renault said. Mr Dexter Dunn could be seen to be “wiggling” in the sulky, as he was about to lock wheels. Mr Dunn had nowhere to go to relieve the pressure – he could not come wider. No driver had been in difficulty until Mr Chmiel had come around, Mr Renault submitted. [15] Mr Renault referred to the transcript of the raceday hearing and pointed out that Mr Chmiel had declined the opportunity given to him by the Chairman to ask questions of either Mr Dexter Dunn or Mr John Dunn. He submitted that Mr Chmiel had accepted the evidence given by those witnesses. [16] This was a clear case of careless driving in that Mr Chmiel had placed obvious pressure on Dexter Dunn who, in turn, has been forced onto John Dunn, Mr Renault submitted. [17] Mr Renault submitted that Mr Chmiel had not been in a true 3-wide position but, rather, 2½ carts wide. He pointed out the position of the horse, CHIEF KAPAI, which was in a true 3-wide position, he submitted. [18] Mr Renault then showed the video replay of the race from the point of the alleged interference to the finish. He said that, once Mr Chmiel came around 3-wide and the two inside runners locked wheels, Mr Chmiel continued to the lead and put a break of 2-3 lengths on the field. With the two horses locking wheels, the majority of the field behind them had been inconvenienced. [19] Mr Renault submitted that a reasonable and prudent driver would not have put himself in the position that Mr Chmiel had. His drive fell well short of the standard of that expected of a driver. He had failed to take due care. Submissions of the Appellant [20] Mr Chmiel first addressed the submission by Mr Renault that CHIEF KAPAI had been in a true 3-wide position prior to the incident. He submitted that this was not the case as SECRETS’ OUT (R T May), on the inside of CHIEF KAPAI, had commenced an outwards movement to get on his, Mr Chmiel’s, back and had forced CHIEF KAPAI wider. [21] Mr Chmiel then referred to the head-on video replay of that part the race as the field raced down the back straight. He submitted that, as the field approached the bend out of the back straight, the sulky wheel of ON THE TOWN, which wore a boring pole on its near side, was already inside the sulky wheel of the inside runner, driven by John Dunn, long before any contact was made from his outside. Dexter Dunn had put himself in that situation, he submitted. The pressure came when Dexter Dunn had “panicked” and tried to come out. Mr Chmiel submitted that Dexter Dunn had called for room after he had locked wheels. He referred to the evidence of Mr John Dunn who had said that his horse “did run out quite bad down the back”. It was possible that it had also run out around the bend but the video was not helpful in resolving this. Only a small amount of movement was required to have contributed to the locking of wheels, Mr Chmiel submitted. His own horse’s head was “as straight as a die”, Mr Chmiel submitted, and the horse was in a true 3-wide position. He was unaware that Dexter Dunn was not in a true 2-wide position. [22] Mr Chmiel said that the raceday hearing had commenced some 30 minutes after the last race on the day. This had upset him because he had his horses loaded ready to travel home. He did not have the opportunity to carefully view the videos of the incident until he had got home and was able to study them. He has appealed the raceday finding as he believes that he had done nothing wrong. He had placed no downwards pressure on Dexter Dunn, he said. Further Submissions of the Respondent [23] Mr Renault refuted the submission of Mr Chmiel that Dexter Dunn was inside John Dunn’s wheel prior to being joined by Mr Chmiel. Mr Dunn had not referred to having any difficulty or that he was getting close to John Dunn. [24] The allegation of the Stewards is that Mr Chmiel had driven carelessly by crowding Dexter Dunn. There was clear contact between the stays of the sulkies of Dexter Dunn and Mr Chmiel – this was prior to the former “wiggling” in the sulky and the locking of wheels. Further Submissions of the Appellant [25] Dexter Dunn had plenty of time to get his wheel out before Mr Chmiel got to him. However, he had allowed his horse to run in and, in doing so, had put himself in that situation. He was not just “a little bit inside” John Dunn’s wheel, he was well inside, he submitted, at least 15 to 20 centimetres. Dexter Dunn had called late and Mr Chmiel had given him room and come out. He would have given more room had he realised that Dexter Dunn was inside the wheel of John Dunn’s sulky. [26] His horse wears a rein pricker on the inside and never runs in but runs out, Mr Chmiel said. His horse’s head had not been turned in at any relevant time, he submitted. 27] Tight racing is common and carts touch in every race and that is “just racing”, Mr Chmiel said. He did not believe that he had driven carelessly. He was not aware of any respect in which he had been careless as alleged. Comments on the Video of the Whole Race [28] At the request of the Tribunal, a video replay of the entire race, a mobile start event over 2000 metres, was shown to the hearing. It was shown that HERETIC FRANCO (J R Dunn) took the lead from the start, and the lead time was 26.3 seconds. At the winning post with a lap (1200 metres) to run, ON THE TOWN (D J Dunn) challenged for the lead and took a lead of approximately 1 length without being able to cross the leader, before HERETIC FRANCO was urged along to hold the lead. As the field entered the back straight, PARRAMATTA, driven by Mr Chmiel, was racing in 2nd to last position in the 11-horse field. It then improved quickly 3-wide and then 4-wide to go up alongside ON THE TOWN which was racing on the outside of HERETIC FRANCO. When those two runners locked wheels, there was some disruption to the field and PARRAMATTA established a break of several lengths over the field. It was run down in the straight and finished in 6th placing, 2.7 lengths from the winner. ON THE TOWN finished in 9th placing and HERETIC FRANCO finished in last placing. Appeal Against Penalty [29] Mr Chmiel confirmed that his appeal was also against the level of fine ($450) imposed by the raceday Judicial Committee. The reasons given by that Committee, either at the conclusion of the hearing or in its subsequent written decision, were read to Mr Chmiel. The Stewards had submitted for a fine of between $450 and $500. The Committee took a starting point of a fine of $500 as suggested in the Penalty Guide. The Committee identified that an aggravating factor was the disruption to the majority of the field, making the level of carelessness, in the Committee’s view, at the higher end of the scale. The Committee also referred to Mr Chmiel’s “clean record”. [30] Mr Chmiel submitted that a fine of $450 was excessive. Reasons for Decision [31] Mr Chmiel has appealed against the finding of the raceday Judicial Committee that he drove carelessly when shifting inwards crowding ON THE TOWN with that horse locking wheels with HERETIC FRANCO. [32] This Tribunal has had the benefit of being able to view the various video replays of the incident, and to consider the evidence and submissions without the pressure that is inevitably on a raceday Judicial Committee. [33] We think that it is relevant, in the case of this appeal, for this Tribunal to have regard to the fact, as we were told, that the hearing commenced some 30 minutes after the running of the last race. This means that the hearing of the charge would have commenced at approximately 5.00pm. This, no doubt, placed pressure on all participants including Mr Chmiel and the Judicial Committee. Mr Chmiel told us that he had his horses loaded on his truck awaiting transport home to Leeston. [34] The grounds of Mr Chmiel’s appeal, as set out in his Notice of Appeal, are “inconclusive video evidence and not guilty of penalty”. It was not helpful to the Respondent or, indeed, this Tribunal that the grounds were not spelt out in greater detail. The Tribunal is aware of the provision in Rule 1205 (3) where it states: Except by special leave of the Appeals Tribunal no appellant shall argue or be permitted to argue any ground of appeal not set out in the notice of appeal. [35] In the circumstances, the Tribunal was prepared to allow Mr Chmiel some latitude in this regard. His reference to the “inconclusive video evidence” we took as a reference to the fact that there was no true head-on video of the precise point of the race when the sulky wheels of the two Messrs Dunn locked. This is not a slight on the video coverage, as it is just not possible to have perfect video coverage of every point in a race. [36] Of course, a Judicial Committee and, if appropriate, an Appeals Tribunal has regard to not only the video evidence but also the evidence of the parties to the proceedings and their witnesses. In this case, we had available to us a full transcript of the raceday hearing. We were able to read what Mr Renault and Mr Chmiel had said in their evidence to the Committee and, also, what the drivers of the other two runners involved had to say. [37] The Tribunal is aware that issues of credibility of witnesses arise and concedes that the Judicial Committee had the advantage of seeing the witnesses. However, no deference is required beyond the customary caution appropriate when seeing the witnesses provides an advantage. [38] Having said that, the Tribunal did not find the video evidence entirely inconclusive but, rather, found it to be of considerable assistance. So, our finding has relied on both the video evidence and the evidence given by the parties and witnesses at the raceday hearing. [39] The Tribunal allowed Mr Chmiel to make points in his submissions before us that he did not make before the raceday Committee and did not specify in his Notice of Appeal. We allowed him to do so because we felt that Mr Chmiel was placed in a position, on the raceday, in which he was not able to properly consider the video evidence prior to the hearing and to mount a full and proper defence to the charge of careless driving against him. We do not say this by way of criticism of the raceday process, other than to say that it may well have been appropriate for Mr Chmiel to have been offered the option of having the hearing of the charge adjourned in the circumstances - see paragraph [33] above. It is not ideal, and may even be prejudicial to a Respondent, for the hearing of a charge to be proceeded with in such circumstances. [40] In his submissions before this Tribunal, Mr Chmiel relied quite heavily on a video replay that, he submitted, clearly showed the line of Mr Dexter Dunn’s inside sulky wheel inside the line of the sulky wheel of the horse on his inside, HERETIC FRANCO, driven by Mr John Dunn, prior to his placing the alleged pressure on Mr Dexter Dunn. This was not something raised by Mr Chmiel before the raceday Committee. We feel sure that this was because he had not had the opportunity to properly study the video replays at that time. [41] The Tribunal is of the view that there is more than a little merit in that submission. From our own observation of the video evidence available, it did appear to be the case that Dexter Dunn’s inside sulky wheel was tracking inside the sulky wheel of John Dunn prior to the locking of wheels. In fact, we note that Dexter Dunn told the Judicial Committee: “Yeah, it sort of happened that quick I probably, by the time I did I’d already locked wheels when it happened”. [42] We do not consider the parol evidence of Dexter and John Dunn, as set out in the transcript, to be overly convincing. The former, in response to being asked if there was any movement from the inside, said “I couldn’t tell at the time, didn’t even look at the horse on the inside at the time”. He went on to say that the pressure was “probably” from the outside. Then, asked if there was any pressure from the inside prior to locking wheels, Mr Dexter Dunn stated: “I actually couldn’t actually tell you at the time yeah”. [43] Mr John Dunn, when asked whether his horse had contributed by hanging out or running out slightly responded: “Yeah running out slightly”. Later, when asked whether he was running outwards or holding his line he replied: “Probably yeah probably more holding my line”. Earlier, he had said: “My horse has run out down the back straight, he’s run off a good cart and back. Also, it had its head round a fraction round the bend. So it sort of runs out the whole way but”. [44] This Tribunal also noted that the two witnesses for the Stewards, Messrs Dexter and John Dunn, were each present at the hearing while the other gave evidence. In that situation, there is a very real danger that the evidence given by one witness will be coloured by the evidence given by the other. This should be avoided wherever possible. [45] The Tribunal’s conclusion, from studying the transcript and carefully viewing the available video replays, is that what happened was, simply, a racing incident. It is clear that the three horses concerned were racing tightly and at speed as a result of which ON THE TOWN and HERETIC FRANCO locked wheels. Any inwards movement by Mr Chmiel was not great. Mr Chmiel did not deny that the sulky stays of his and Mr Dexter Dunn’s horse had touched which, he told us and we accept, was not an uncommon happening in a race situation. That they touched was illustrated by the fact that, as shown on the video, track grit was thrown up by the sulky wheels of both of those runners. We especially note that the word “touched” was used in the raceday hearing to describe the degree of contact between the two sulkies. It appeared to be no more than a touch. [46] Mr Renault told the Tribunal that the onus is on the driver shifting ground to leave sufficient room. It does not necessarily follow, however, that any incident as on this occasion must be the result of and the fault of that driver shifting ground. [47] The Tribunal believes that the locking of wheels of the two runners was most likely the result of a number of factors. It is undeniable that the three runners were racing tightly. The possibility that HERETIC FRANCO, which had been running out prior to the incident, had contributed by hanging out on the bend cannot be dismissed. Even more cogent is the fact, which we find, that Mr Dexter Dunn’s inside wheel was tracking a path inside the wheel of HERETIC FRANCO, prior to being joined by Mr Chmiel. Mr Chmiel could not have been aware of this at the time and his submission was that he had heard a call for room from Mr Dunn as Mr Dunn was about to lock wheels, to which he immediately responded by giving room, but only after their stays had briefly contacted, or “touched”. Mr Chmiel correctly pointed out that his horse had its head straight at all material times. [48] The Rules of Harness Racing do not require a horseman to achieve standards of perfection. A horseman must drive to the standard of a reasonable, competent and prudent driver. This Tribunal is not satisfied that Mr Chmiel’s driving fell below that standard on this occasion. [49] The Tribunal finds that the locking of wheels of HERETIC FRANCO and ON THE TOWN was what is commonly referred to as a “racing incident”, which is an occurrence in a race which is not attributable to the actions of any one horse or driver but which occurs, usually, as a result of a combination of factors and as a result of the speed and very competitive nature of a harness race, and was not the result of Mr Chmiel driving carelessly. It was, we believe, the result of a combination of factors with each of the three horses involved contributing to a greater or lesser extent. We are not satisfied, to the required standard of the balance of probabilities, that Mr Chmiel drove in a manner that was careless. Decision [50] The appeal is upheld. The decision of the raceday Judicial Committee at the meeting of Oamaru Harness Racing Club on 17 May 2015 is therefore set aside and the penalty imposed of a fine of $450 is quashed. Costs [51] No order is made as to costs. The fee paid to the Judicial Control Authority on the filing of the appeal shall be forfeited to that body. R G McKenzie        K G Hales Chair                     Panelist

Last week was one of the better weeks overall for a while with our tipsters not far off all weekend. Six selected winners with Kyle Marshall leading the way with the $6 shot, JC Jock while Scott Phelan, Blair Orange, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Ricky May also got the job done. What was so frustrating was the tipsters had eleven placegetters including ten second placings over the weekend. This week however we only have three meetings around the country and quite a few of our regulars are not in action this weekend but as usual it would pay to follow the tipsters selections on the first day at Blenheim on Friday to the second day on Sunday. Forbury Park - Thursday night Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Jetsdream just needed an ounce of luck to win race 2 Brendon McLellan - Thinks Mr Handleman is a chance at huge odds, also in race 2 Craig Ferguson - Rates Lamborne Road a big chance to bounce back and win race 5 Nathan Williamson - Thinks Betta Go Fernco can turn it around and win, also in race 5 Brad Williamson - Hopes to celebrate his 21st birthday with a win on Elusive Flight in race 7 Gavin Smith - Gives the two year old Late Mail a big chance of winning race 9 Matthew Williamson - Rates Springbank Eden a chance of upsetting them in race 11   Blenhiem - Friday afternoon Bob Butt - Quite keen on the chances of the first starter Dusky Eyre in race 1 Ricky May - Rates Delightful Jack as well overdue and thinks he will win race 2 John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of stable runner Mr Meddle in race 6 Blair Orange - Gives Expresso Martini a big push to win race 7 Terry Chmiel - Thinks Art Exhibit is ready to strike and will win race 8     Franklin - Friday night Scott Phelan - Thinks Ideal Roman is a big chance from barrier two in race 1 Todd MacFarlane - Rates I Am The One a good each way prospect in race 4 John Curtin - Thought Bettormack second up from a break would win, also in race 4 Todd Mitchell - Reckons The Tracker can carry on his winning streak in race 5 Steven Reid - Gives Franco Nikau a chance of rolling them at big odds, also in race 5 Steven Richardson (TAB) - Rates Chosen Path fresh up a big chance of winning race 6 Kyle Marshall - Thought Kilkeel Lady from barrier two could upset them in race 10   Harnesslink Media

Tonight's harness racing meeting at Addington was winter racing, Canterbury style. In other words, rain and a strong cold southerly were present most of the evening which had its effect on a lot of runners. One who seemed to relish the conditions was the three year old son of Love You in Great Things Happen who won like a really nice horse after doing plenty of work. Settling back from his second line draw for trainer/driver Gavin Smith, Great Things Happen was five back in the running line when hot favourite Harriet Of Mot galloped with a lap to go when challenging for the lead. Once back trotting John Dunn sent Harriet Of Mot forward again and reached the lead with 700 metres to go. Gavin followed the daughter of Monarchy forward and sat on her wheel from the 700 metres mark. These two knuckled down to it from the 400 metres mark and half way up the straight Great Things Happen grabbed the lead and ran away for a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths victory from a very game Harriet of Mot with Everybody Knows finishing on well late for third. Great Things Happen trotted the 1950 metres in the cold slushy conditions in 2:30.2, a mile rate of 2:03.9 with closing sectionals of 60.3 and 29. Gavin Smith knew he had just got a bit lucky with Harriot Of Mot breaking. " If she hadn't broken I don't think we would have beaten her. " In saying that Great Things Happen is a very nice horse in his own right and has a big future," Gavin said.  Passed in at the 2013 New Zealand Premier yearling sale for $27,500, Great Things Happen is a son of Love You from the former smart imported daughter of S J's Photo in Calamity Gal who won seven races and $92,255 in New Zealand. Offered a half share to train him by his vendor Ted Edwards after he failed to make his reserve, Gavin accepted immediately but not for the reason you would expect. " My daughter Hayley was born the morning of the sales and when I got offered a share in a horse called Great Things Happen the same day, I just had to take it." " I didn't like him when I broke him in and was starting to have some doubts." " However the next time in he was a different horse and hasn't looked back since." " He is very immature and after tonight he is going out for a big spell. " Once he strengthens up and matures I think he will go right to the top level. " He has really high speed and I have a big opinion of him," Gavin said. As progeny of Love You get better with age, Great Things Happen would look to have a big future in front of him. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times as John Dunn well knows. The stable star two year old Code Black has been short on luck the whole season and having to start in the Sires Stakes consolation tonight at Addington (May 15th) instead of the big dance later in the night just about summed up the son of Bettors Delight's season. Code Black was a top third in the Young Guns final in early March but needed a break after that series which meant he only got one shot at a sires stakes heat in which he was very unlucky not to finish a lot closer than sixth. So even though he is more than capable of holding his own against the very best going around, tonight Code Black started in the $17,000 Sires Stakes consolation. Drawing barrier eight tonight meant John took Code Black off the gate and he settled last in the running line. Approaching the 1400 metres mark John sent Code Black forward and he worked to the death seat outside the leader Ice Crusher with 1000 metres to go. John applied some more pressure as they turned for home and Code Black burst clear before having to withstand a late challenge from the hot favourite Cash N Flow and Mark Purdon but he still had half a length to spare when the winning post came up. Sparkling Delight and Gerard O'Reilly battled on well for third. Code Black paced the 1950 metres in 2:25.6 with closing sectionals of 59.1 and 27.9 which was good going in the slushy conditions. John Dunn was happy the horse had showed everyone what he was capable of. " He went huge in the Sales race last week running on from well back on a 26.6 quarter. " If we had had some luck in our Sires Stakes heat he would have been in the final and not the consolation." "I am really glad for the owners who buy one every year at the sales so they deserve a good result like this." John is resigned to losing Code Black as he is under offer and will be vetted tomorrow. " The money is good but not as much as you would think but it is so hard to win those big age group races so the sale makes sense," John said. Code Black was one of the few two year olds around this season who was capable of mixing with the All Stars runners so his sale won't help age group racing in Canterbury. Harnesslink Media    

Our harness racing tipsters had another so so week although to be fair they did have a lot of close second placings over the four meetings. There were five winners selected with Clark Barron continuing his hot run at the moment along with Bob Butt, Tony Herlihy, Shane Walkinshaw and Tim Williams and they also had seven placings as well, a lot of them at good odds. This week we have five meetings but none in the deep south which has affected our number of tipsters a bit. Forbury - Thursday night Nathan Williamson - Thought Chantrey back to his favourite track could upset them in race 3 Brendon McLellan - Gives new stable runner Continental Boy a good chance of winning race 5 Shane Walkinshaw - Likes the chances of smart 3 year old Robyn's Bad Boy winning race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Hezabluechipboy a big winning chance in race 8  Steve Richardson - Thought The Edge Of Reason could upset them at good odds in race 9   Auckland - Friday night  Maurice McKendry - Really quite keen on the chances of the out of form Sir Richie in race 1 Todd MacFarlane - Gives the 2 year old Cyclone Chief a good chance of winning race 2 Sean McCaffrey - Thinks Yagunnakissmeornot can bounce back to winning form in race 4 Todd Mitchell - Rates Charming Lavra a big chance of winning again, also in race 4 Steven Reid - Confident that Shedontloveme will go one better this week and win 6 John Dunn - Thought Barry was due a change of luck and could win race 8   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Reckons Saint Michel with the help of the mobile will win race 2 Bob Butt - With two runs under his belt, thought Any Old Way was ready to win, also in race 2  Brad Williamson - Looks like a trifecta as Brad thinks The Silver Fox will win race 2 Tim Williams - Rates the debutante Cash N Flow as very hard to beat in race 5 Jim Curtin - Thought One Over Da Moon on his Rowe Cup run would win race 6 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks King Of Strathfield has been going great and could win, also in race 6 Scott Phelan - Rates Bettor B Amazed a big winning chance even from barrier 9 in race 7 Blair Orange - Gives Bracken Ridge a big show of turning his form around and winning race 9   Thames - Sunday afternoon Tony Herlihy - Very bullish about the chances of Mighty Regal in race 4   Ashburton - Sunday afternoon Ricky May - Rates the first starter Cable Beach very highly and thinks he will win race 4 John Curtin - Thought Gracious Star and Michelle Neilson would make it two in a row and win race 6   Harnesslink Media

Last week was a mixed bag but two very wet tracks at both Ascot Park and Methven didn't help with the conditions hampering a lot of runners. We managed five winners with the best dividend going to Bob Butt at Methven with Ancient Moonlight while others to select winners were John Dunn, Tim Williams, Nathan Williamson and Scott Phelan and we also had five placings as well. This week there are only the four meetings and we cover them all. Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Gives Soul Hanover a great each way chance in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thinks on his runs to date they can't beat Alta Leroy in race 8    Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Thought Uandmebabe would be hard to beat from her good draw in race 7 Scott Phelan - Very bullish about the chances of Bettor B Amazed, also in race 7 Maurice McKendry - Gives the two year old Shandale a big chance of winning race 8 Steven Reid - Rates Aquickone on her work this week as the one to beat in race 9   Addington - Friday night Terry Chmiel - Thought Danny Del Vito from barrier one could upset them in race 1 John Dunn - Gives Culinary Delight a big push to return to the winners list, also in race 1 Bob Butt - Looking for the trifecta in race one where Bob thinks Gracious Me will be hard to beat Robbie Holmes - Thought Aile Rouge could get a piece of it at good odds in race 2 Brad Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of the very smart Father Christmas, also in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) Reckons Waikiki Beach will beat Chase The Dream and win race 4 Blair Orange - Thinks Habibti Ivy will match it with the boys in the Derby and win race 5 Gerard O'Reilly - Thought Tiger Tara would be improved this week and a each way chance in race 6 Matthew Williamson - Knows Alley Way is up against it this week but a great place chance in race 7 Tim Williams - Keeps giving out Have Faith In Me and he keeps winning, this week in race 8 Ricky May - Rapt with the run of Dalton Bromac last week and won't have him beaten in race 9   Invercargill - Sunday afternoon Brendon McLellan - Reckons Leigh Major must be due a change of luck and can win race1 Steve Richardson(TAB) - Really likes the chances of Denn Nee Nose Best in race 3 Clark Barron - Gave Real Raider a big chance to clear maidens in race 4 Nathan Williamson - Thought Franco Tyson would be a great each way chance at good odds in race 8   Harnesslink Media

With the top two harness racing mares in the country in Adore Me and Helena Jet having been retired recently, the title of New Zealand's best mare was up for grabs tonight at Addington in the $100,000 New Zealand Breeders Stakes. Venus Serena was the public elect from barrier three and she showed last night that at her best, there is no better mare in the country at present.. Driver John Dunn let the daughter of Mach Three work her way to the front after 250 metres and from there she controlled the tempo of the race. With a mile to go John started to up the tempo with Venus Serena and it was obvious a long way from home that most were struggling with the speed up front. The well supported New Years Jay worked around to the death at the 1000 metres mark and the race just hotted up even more. Down the back straight John turned the wick up again with a 27.9 quarter and most were struggling to make ground as they turned for home. The way the race had been run was set up for a swooper and Willow who had been last at the 600 metres flew home along the inner but Venus Serena was still a length to the good at the line. Pemberton Shard went her usual honest race running into third ahead of Here We Go Again who ran on well late for fourth. In the very windy conditions, Venus Serena paced the 2600 metres in 3:12, a mile rate of 1:58.8 with the last mile in a very quick 1:55.7 and closing sectionals of 57.3 and 29.4  John Dunn was happy to see Venus Serena back to something like her best. " That was such a gutsy run tonight and she felt more like her old self." " There is a really strong wind out there tonight and she ran into it twice so it was a top effort." " I eased off the speed early which I probably shouldn't have but once I let her roll she had them in trouble," John said. Trainer Geoff Dunn was a contented man post race. " She deserved that tonight as she hasn't really gone a bad race all season." "Bad draws have cost her a few times this season and that was the first time she had had a decent barrier." "Once she found the front, I knew she would be hard to beat." Geoff has deliberately given Venus Serena a lighter season. " Right through her two and three year old seasons, every race was a track or New Zealand record and that has to take a toll." "So we decided to give her an easier time at four in the hope that if we look after her now, we will be rewarded down the line," Geoff said. The only target left for the mare this season now is the Harness Jewels and last nights win has given her the bankroll to assure her a start in the May 30th feature. Harnesslink Media  

Harness racing can be cruel at times with injury stopping a lot of horses fulfilling their potential. One horse that would fit that description to a tee is Boom Gate. The five year old son of Courage Under Fire was a super impressive winner on debut when he took out the Sapling Stakes as a two year old but it has been far from plain sailing ever since. Soundness issues have restricted his appearances to the point that tonight he was just having start number seventeen. Now with Robert Dunn on the beach, Boom Gate has impressed his new trainers and they were confident of a forward showing tonight at Addington. Away well from barrier nine for driver John Dunn, Boom Gate worked to the front after 400 metres and kept up a solid tempo in front. John Dunn let him run from the 800 metres and as they turned for home the only challenger was Nevertheless who had had the trail the whole way. Boom Gate sprinted away at the 200 metres mark and went to the line an easy winner by 1 3/4 lengths over Nevertheless with Livura running into third. Boom Gate cut out the 2600 metres in 3:14.2, a mile rate of 2:00.1 with closing sectionals of 57.7 and 28.4. Driver John Dunn was full of praise for Boom Gate post race. " He did that fairly easily to be honest." "He has always been a smart horse but injury has blighted his career,"  John said. It hasn't all been plain sailing since he joined the Dunn camp either. " The first time we worked him up he went sore on us so we had to stop. " We gave him a couple of months out and started again and it has all gone smoothly this time."  " We will just take him day by day at the moment but that won't be his last win if he stays sound," John said. The Dunn barn deserves all the kudos they get for getting Boom Gate back to the track and hopefully he can fulfill his early promise. Harnesslink Media

Last week wasn't one of our best but the missing link was our southern tipsters who had a shocker at Winton last Saturday. Everybody else was thereabouts with their selections with Jim Curtin, Todd Mitchell, Maurice McKendry and Ricky May tipping us into winners and we had seven placegetters as well. This week there are only four meetings in the country and we have selections for them all. Taranaki - Thursday afternoon John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Gave Sheza Springfield a big chance of clearing maidens in race 3 Peter Scaife - Likes Prime Legal to improve on his first day run and win race 4 Scott Phelan - Rates Better B Amazed as very hard to beat in race 9 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Styx It To Em was right in the zone and would win race 10   Addington - Friday night John Dunn - Very bullish about the chances of Boom Gate in race 1 Blair Orange - Gives Goodness Gracious Me a big chance in race 2 Steve Richardson (TAB) - Thought Jaccka Justy would be hard to beat in race 3 Tony Herilhy - Thinks Hug The Wind will be very hard to beat from barrier 1 in race 6 Tim Williams - Very keen on the very smart Have Faith In Me, also in race 6 Todd Mitchell - Reckons Prime Power is at his best and will win race 8   Ascot Park - Saturday afternoon Shane Walkinshaw - Likes the chances of Geordie Sivad to make it two in a row in race 4 Brad Williamson - Thought Mokosun from the front line would be hard to beat in race 5 Brendon McLellan - Gives Leigh Major a big chance in race 7 Nathan Williamson - Very bullish about the chances of Statham in race 8 Clark Barron - Not sure if Bonnies Khaleesi can beat Statham but a great place bet, also in race 8   Methven - Sunday afternoon Matthew Williamson - Likes the chances of the first starter Toot Toot in race 1 Bob Butt - Quite bullish about the chances of Ancient Moonlight in race 3 Jim Curtin - Gives Trial Separation a big chance of leaving maidens in race 4 Terry Chmiel - Really keen on the chances of Another Delight, also in race 4 Ricky May - Thought Jack Hammer would be very hard to beat in race 8 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Break Dance is a big chance to make it two in a row in race 9   Harnesslink Media

Everybody involved in harness racing knows the dangers that are ever present when you are racing 500 kg horses at thirty miles a hour in very close proximity to each over. The margin for error is very small and a small  incident can turn into a major smash in a blink of the eye. Last night at Forbury Park in Dunedin in race three, Twitch who was racing in the parked position stumbled and fell with 500 metres to go which resulted in several runners directly behind her crashing into the resulting melee. The stewards report makes grim reading: "With approximately 550 metres to run Twitch(S McNally) which was racing in the parked position stumbled and fell dislodging Mr McNally from the sulky. As a result Rightaround(J Dunn), Real South(M Neilson), Russet Norkotah(K Cox), Eilean Shona(K Grant), Houdini(K Butt) Hez Only The Lonely(R McIlwrick) and Buscemi (R Jenkins) were all severely checked in this incident. Rightaround, Russet Norkotah, Eilean Shona, Hez Only The Lonely and Buscemi all lost their drivers during this incident. Following this race drivers R Jenkins, K Cox, R McIlwrick, S McNally and J Dunn were all examined by the on-course St John Paramedics and cleared to drive. Junior horsewoman K Grant was transported to Dunedin Hospital for further examination and x-rays of her hip region. A medical clearance is required prior to Ms Grant resuming driving. All the respective horses were examined by the club veterinarian with Twitch being the worst effected runner after suffering abrasions to the eye region which required further treatment. Buscemi and Hez Only The Lonely both suffered abrasions. Trainer J McDermott advised the Stewards that Twitch was now retired from racing as the mare is in foal. The only good thing to come out of last nights smash is the fact that it looks as though no driver or horse has been seriously hurt and for that we should be thankful. Harnesslink Media  

All the harness racing pundits thought tonights $20,000 yearling sales graduette was a gift for the All Stars barn runner Northern Velocity. The big strapping daughter of Mach Three had been in great form at trials in Canterbury recently and the punters made her a short priced favourite. Away well, driver Mark Purdon settled her in the one by one early before moving up to the death seat outside the leader Flyingretna with 800 metres to go Passing the 400 metres mark Northern Velocity suddenly went into a wild gallop losing all chance in the process. Just when it looked  like the other All Star runner Emeli Maguire would get home, Sem's Delight with John Dunn in the bike swooped down the outside to nab the win right on the line. The daughter of Bettor's Delight had disgraced herself on debut at Timaru when galloping but showed the benefit of having had a raceday run tonight. John Dunn has a good opinion of the filly. " I have always really liked her but I didn't think she had the ringcraft to win the race with the Purdon duo in there." " Last week wasn't really her fault as it was only her third time off the place in her life." "She is very green still and just needs a bit more experience," John said. Sem's Delight, a $44,000 purchase at last years Australasian Classic sale by Robert Dunn on behalf of long time clients Clive, Rona and Shona McKay is providing some consolation to Clive and Rona who have had a hard luck run recently with their star pacer Franco Nelson. John was of a mind to back off a bit now. " She has come a long way in a short time and with two runs in a week it may pay to back off her now." " There is a really good race for her next week (Leonard Memorial) but it may pay to miss that with all that she has done recently, "John said. Mark Purdon was at a loss to explain why Northern Velocity galloped. " She was travelling really well at the time but just seemed to lose her concentration at the 400 metre mark." "I am at a loss to explain why she did that," Mark said.  Tonights win by Sem's Delight highlights once again that there is no such thing as a certainty in racing. Harnesslink Media  

Another one of those weeks where we were there abouts without getting the rub of the green, with a lot of the horses selected by our tipsters having little luck. Five managed to get home first but another five ran second which about sums up the luck at the moment. Blair Orange, Robbie Holmes, Tony Herlihy, Nathan Williamson and the boss John Curtin all picked winners and special mention for the boss who is going for three in a row this week. Our tipsters have gone near and far this week from Winton in the south to Tabcorp Park Melton in Melbourne. Winton - Thursday afternoon Brad Williamson - Rates Mokosun a big winning chance even off 20 metres in race 4 Clark Barron - Thinks Mass Invasion is overdue a change of luck and can win, also in race 4   Shane Walkinshaw - Thought Princess Arts from the draw could roll the hotpot On The Town in race 8 Brendon McLellan - Gives Repeat After Me a great chance of running in three in race 9     Manawatu - Thursday night Kyle Marshall - Reckons Unmissable is ready to win her second race at Manawatu in race 5 Peter Scaife - Rates Mach Cullen from barrier one a big chance to turn his form around and win race 7   Amberley - Friday afternoon Bob Butt - Rates last weeks impressive debutant Supershakes hard to beat in race 3 Robbie Holmes - Gives Bridget Blue Chip from her handy draw a chance to upset them in race 5 Gerard O"Reilly - Thought Always Yours would take all kinds of stopping in race 6 Jim Curtin - Rates Star Of Dionysis back to the grass a big chance to win race 8   Auckland - Friday night Steven Reid - Thought  Clarius could continue his good form and win race 1 Tony Herlihy - Likes Walkinshaw to improve on his debut run and win race 4 Maurice McKendry -  Thought his two year old Shandale would have a big show, also in race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Rates Our Dainty Lady very hard to beat in race 6 Scott Phelan - Thinks Better B Amazed will be awlfully hard to beat in race 9   Ashburton - Saturday afternoon Tim Williams - Rates Chase The Dream a big chance to win the Sapling Stakes on debut (Race 5) Blair Orange - Thought Goodness Gracious Me could top off a string of placings with a win in race 9   Tabcorp Park Melton - Saturday night Ricky May - Was rapt with "Terrors" run last week and thinks he can win the Hunter Cup   Wairarapa - Sunday Afternoon Todd Mitchell - Rates Te Kawau very difficult to beat in the Wairarapa Cup.   Waikouaiti - Sunday Afternoon Nathan Williamson - Rates Grey Power a big chance on the grass to win race 5 Matthew Williamson  - Thinks if Bet's Sun trots all the way he can beat his brother in race 5 Craig Thornley - Likes the chances of Dream Big to bounce back and win race 8.   Harnesslink Media

John Dunn knows opportunities like Uncas don’t come along very often. Because while he may not be the best trotter in the country, the stable newcomer can be a factor in all the group ones remaining for the season. Uncas backed up an outstanding workout the week before when he overcame a 35m backmark to win the feature trot at Alexandra Park last Friday, trotting the 2700m stand in a swift 3:26.1. He was having just this third start for Robert and John Dunn after being well looked after by Bevan Heron most of his career before joining the bigger stable. And John, who drove the seven-year-old perfectly, realises open class horses don’t get dropped in your lap every day. “It is great to get a horse like him, with his speed, who can race in the top level races so we are lucky,” says John. “You don’t get many open class horses coming into the stable at a time when they can still be really competitive. “But he clearly can. I am not saying he is going to beat Stent or those horses all of a sudden but he is good enough to be aimed at the big races.” Especially in the north where $15,000 trots are common at Alexandra Park and Uncas can be set for the main trots at the Auckland Cup meeting when the likes of Stent are in Australia. With Franco Nelson having returned to Canterbury for repair work, Uncas is now the flagship of the stable’s 12-strong northern team. “We are still really committed to racing up here and we have some nice horses to work with. “No Doctor Needed was a good second to Ohoka Punter and we have some handy three-year-olds like Say My Name ready to resume. “So it is working out well and I will be spending a bit more time up here driving.” Michael Guerin - Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand  

Harness racing can be cruel at times as a lot of our tipsters found out last week when a lot of the selections had little luck on raceday. Both Playaway and Sweet Art had no luck on the first day at Otaki but both won on the second day so it does pay to not drop them in a hurry, Our best performer last week was Steven Reid who nailed Clarius at Otaki at $13:40 and he was unlucky not to make it a double for the weekend on the second day, again at good odds. Other selectors to pick winners were Ricky May, Peter Scaife,Scott Phelan, Blair Orange and Brad Williamson and we picked up three placings as well and a string of fourths. This week we have selections at Motukarara, Blenhiem, Auckland, and Invercargill and Gate Pa. Don't let the selections for Blenheim slip under your guard on Sunday if they miss on Friday. Motukarara - Thursday afternoon Robbie Holmes - Gave us two he couldn't separate. At the Mott it is Willie Shine in race 8 Ricky May - Thought Cullen Keefe could get back on track in race 10 Craig Thornley - Rates Franco Hammond highly and thought he could win again, also in race 10   Blenheim - Friday afternoon Jimmy Curtin - Likes the chances of the Brian O'Meara trained Mach Winger in race 2 Gerard O'Reilly - Thinks Royal Caroline is due a change of luck and can win race 3  Robbie Holmes - The second of his selections this week is the talented Cyclone Kiwi in race 9 Blair Orange - Rates Take After Me a big chance of making it two wins in a row in race 11   Auckland - Friday night Tony Herlihy - Gives Uandmebabe a big show even from the second line in race 2 Maurice McKendry - Rates Hanoverdakash a great each way bet in race 3 Scott Phelan - Thought that Prince Of Pops could bounce back after a brief break and win race 4 John Curtin (Harnesslink)- Thought Gamma Lady on her workout win last weekend would win race 5   Steve Richardson (TAB) - Rates Charleston Belle a big chance to take out race 9 Todd Macfarlane - Knows the draw is dead against him but still likes Simply Stunning, also in race 9    Invercargill - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Splash Cola could get around the first bend then she would win race 1 John Dunn - Gives Alta Las Vegas a big rap even from barrier eight in race 3 Clark Barron - Gives I'm Full Of Excuses a big chance of taking out race 4 Matthew Williamson - Thinks Alley Way on last weeks run should win race 5 Brad Williamson - Thought he might be able to upset big brother with Father Christmas, also in race 5 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Acolyte off the mobile a big chance to turn his form around in race 8 Tim Williams - Thought Meticulous had trained on great this week and would win race 9   Gate Pa - Sunday afternoon Peter Scaife - Confident that a shoeing change will have recent import Winsome Luck winning race 2 Todd Mitchell - Thought Shardon's Pearl would carry on the good work and win, also in race 2 Sean McCaffrey - With no Gold Ace or Adore Me about, he thought Norvic Nightowl could win race 9     

Franco Nelson’s recent woes will force a change of driving tactics in tomorrow’s Franklin Cup at the huge day of harness racing on New Years eve at Alexandra Park. And while John Dunn says the New Zealand Cup runner-up can still win the group two at the massive day meeting, he admits his task will be tougher. Franco Nelson was one of the stars of Cup week, pushing Adore Me to a head in the record run Cup before chasing her and Christen Me home in the New Zealand Free-For-All. But his only start since was a disaster for punters when he raced lengths below his best as a $1.10 favourite at Alexandra Park and has since missed two races because of heal issues. The fact he is actually starting tomorrow confirms he is over those but the combination of being off a 20m handicap and his lack of recent racing means driver Dunn will have to revert to his former patient tactics on the speedster. “He has now only had one race since Cup week so I will have to drive him different,” says Dunn. “He can still win because Dad (trainer, Robert) says he is over the problems he has had but he won’t be 100 per cent screwed down obviously. “He is very good coming from behind too and the way this race is going to pan out he is probably going to have to do that. “So it might be a tricky race.” Bookies agree, opening Franco Nelson the $4 second favourite behind Ohoka Punter, who is the $3 top elect from his 10m handicap. Ohoka Punter has only raced sparingly at Alexandra Park in the last two years but won the greatest race at the venue in all of last year when he downed Adore Me and Franco Nelson in a Woodlands Derby for the ages. The Franklin Cup also sees gun driver Zac Butcher jump off his old mate Pembrook Benny, another returning from a slight setback and facing a handicap, to partner classy mare Lancewood Lizzie. Butcher isn’t the only one making an unexpected change tomorrow as champion driver Dexter Dunn won’t be behind his Breeders Crown winner Katy Perry in the $150,000 Sires’ Stakes Championship, preferring to partner stablemate Delightful Lana after she drew better. TAB bookies stuck true to their word in opening the market for that race by offering $2.60 for superstar filly The Orange Agent even after she has racked up a series of stunning victories. While she has a second line draw and meets some outstanding group one winning rivals, it would be a surprise if that price is matched on the tote today. That same could apply to star trotter Stent in the $80,000 National Trot, where he has opened $2.50 even after completely dominating the major northern trots this month. He would have been odds on from a front line draw but from one on the second line he is backable, with Sheemon rated his biggest danger at $4.60. Dunn believes he can upset in that race partnering Kincaslough, who has opened a $13 hope. Placed in the Dominion last month she was brave in two subsequent Alex Park run before galloping at Cambridge last week. “She got tripped up by the same bend she did at the Jewels but back at Alexandra Park over 2700m I think she has a great chance.” Tomorrow’s richest race, the $200,000 Sales Series Pace, sees Have Faith In Me retain favouritism but only just after early money yesterday for Express Stride. Hug The Wind, the long-term futures favourite for the race is now only on the third line of betting with Mighty Flying Major at $6. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

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