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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

He’s watched on proudly as his high-flying sons achieve milestones in their harness racing careers, but yesterday Robert Dunn found himself in the limelight for a change. The New Zealand Trotting Cup winning trainer picked up win 1000 of his New Zealand training career when Superintendent was victorious in the Westport Cup, joining some of the most elite names in harness racing in the exclusive club. But the champagne might have to be put on ice for a few days before it can be cracked open as Dunn and his entire operation are spread across the country. With teams at Westport and Ashburton yesterday, Dunn was watching on from Auckland where he has a strong team of horses currently campaigning. But the fact such a notable achievement came at a track that has treated the Woodend Beach horseman so well won’t be lost on the humble trainer though. Dunn has been a frequent face on the West Coast circuit each year and has enjoyed great success too. Superintendent was just one of four winners for the team on the Coast yesterday with wins also coming from Little Lion Man, Geisha Girl and Artismee – underlining their dominance over there at this time of the year. Dunn trained his first winner at Marlborough in 1978 when Blue Schell. The Schell Hanover gelding was a dual winner at the two-day meeting. Since then there have been many ups and plenty of downs for the popular horseman but he is likely to be remembered best for his efforts with grand pacer Master Musician who was a genuine star of the open class pacing ranks winning an Auckland Cup but also placing in many of New Zealand’s biggest races. Master Musician passed away earlier this year. Dunn won the New Zealand Trotting Cup with Mainland Banner in 2005 – with the daughter of Christian Cullen becoming the first four-year-old mare to win our greatest race. In November he nearly made himself a dual Cup winner when Franco Nelson went close to winning this year’s edition. More recently Dunn has become a formidable force in the training ranks – notching up 100 wins last season. That coincides with a shift from West Melton out to Woodend Beach and also the emergence of his eldest son John as a ‘co-trainer’ of their large team. Of course other son Dexter is well known for his incredible feats in the sulky. Officially Dunn’s career tally on his own accord sits at 996 after his successful day at Westport. That led to confusion as many weren’t aware that Dunn also trained in partnership with Paul Black in 1984 and won five races. Courtesy of Matt Markham - Harness Racing New Zealand

We must apologize for last weeks absense due to the staff member responsible being off ill and the "boss" not picking up the slack. It might have been an opportune time for a break anyway as our tipsters were digging themselves a bit of a hole in the last week or two. There are five meetings this week and we have selections for them all. Cambridge - Thursday night Zac Butcher - Thought Georgies Smile from the ace would be hard to roll in race 2 Todd Mitchell - Very keen on the chances of Thanks Shane also in race 2 Scott Phelan - Reckons Santana Jewel is way overdue to win one in race 4 Todd Macfarlane - Thinks if the breaks go her way that Simply Stunning can upset them in race 6 Maurice McKendry - Likes the chances of The Moonraker clearing maidens in race 8   Auckland - Friday night Ricky May - Thinks Dalton Bromac should continue the picket fence formline in race 1 Tony Herlihy - Rates The Fascinator a big chance even from barrier 12 in race 2 John Curtin (Harnesslink) - Reckons Classical Art can keep the winning streak intact in race 5 Blair Orange - Likes the chances of Mighty Flying Major to be a "major" player in race 7 Tim Williams - Not surprisingly Tim thinks that Have Faith In Me will win, also in race 7 Steven Richardson - Has gone a touch rougher with Express Stride to upstage the other two in race 7 Sean McCaffrey - Thought Yagunnakissmeornot can make it six from six at Alexandra Park in race 10 Gerard O'Reilly - Is confident that Zin Zan will strip a lot fitter this week and can win race 11   Addington - Friday night Robbie Holmes - Likes Tehoro Ruby from barrier 1 to break out of maidens in race 1 Bob Butt - Thought if Justalittlebettor could reproduce her Methven run she could win race 6 Matthew Williamson - Rates Monty Python a big chance to go back to back in race 7 Jim Curtin - Thinks Breeders Crown finalist Field Marshall will be to good in race 11   Wairio - Saturday afternoon Nathan Williamson - Thought if Grey Power put his best foot forward they wouldn't beat him in race 1 Dexter Dunn - Likes the chances of Leolas Delight making a winning debut in race 2 John Dunn - Very confident that Jay Dub can make it two from two this time in and take out race 6 Brendon McLellan - Thinks that Vera's Delight can get that long overdue win in race 7 Shane Walkinshaw - Rates Canardy Lover a big show to go back to back in race 8 Clark Barron - Reckons that Shezacheapy back on the roomy Winton track can win race 9   Rangiora - Sunday afternoon Craig Thornley - Thinks Inchbonnie Lad can go one better this week and win race 4   Harnesslink Media  

The summer campaign for one of pacing’s most exciting horses is over while another has suffered an untimely setback. Three-year-old speed machine Hughie Green will miss this Friday’s Alabar Classic at Alexandra Park after a dramatic month that saw him perform well below his best last start. That was at Alexandra Park 11 days ago, a few weeks after his expensive and almost disastrous loss run in the Sires’ Stakes Final at Addington, where he shied and ducked to the inside of the track in the home straight. Trainer Brian Hughes says he can’t work out Hughie Green, who has the fastest official last 800m ever at Alexandra Park, failed so badly at his next start. “There is something not right with him so he is having two weeks off and his next big aim will be the Derby here in March,” said Hughes. That still leaves his stable with a knockout three-year-old, the filly The Orange Agent, who faces her biggest test against some outstanding opposition in the $75,000 Peter Breckon Memorial on Friday. Another star pacer who won’t be at Alexandra Park this Friday is New Zealand Cup runner-up Franco Nelson. He was a shock failure as a $1.10 favourite last start and is been affected by shin problems. “He won’t be ready for this week and the focus is now getting him back to his best for the Four and Five-Year-Old race at Cambridge on Christmas Eve,” said Dunn. But Friday’s meeting does see Adore Me back to defend her title in the $100,000 Rosslands Queen Of Hearts while Stent and Sheemon travel north for the $40,000 Lyell Creek Trot. There will nothing quite so fancy at Alexandra Park’s daytime meeting today but Friday night form will be the key pointer to follow. Makarewa Jake and Moment Of Truth bring that to race two, with the former running on well in a good race last Friday to finish just head of the latter. Liberty Styx (race four) was a good Friday winner two starts ago and raced in a far stronger field last start so being on a Alexandra Park bonus today she makes logical appeal. The Barry Purdon-trained pair of The Faithful (race six) and Aliante (race eight) have both been racing in a far stronger maiden series and fall back into races they can win today. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

If you are considering take the odds-on available for Franco Nelson at Alexandra Park tonight, driver John Dunn has some comforting words for you. Because the Canterbury horseman says the New Zealand Cup runner-up is as fit as he was during Cup week, which means he should simply win tonight’s $30,000 Summer Cup. Franco Nelson starts his northern campaign in tonight’s group three 2200m mobile just three weeks after two huge Cup week efforts. It took something freakish from Adore Me to deny him the Cup, but he did beat home Christen Me and Terror To Love, while he was a fighting third behind Christen Me and Adore Me in the NZ Free-For-All, over a similar trip as tonight. Those performances suggested his open class season last summer has toughened him up and he is now ready to stamp his mark on races. Which Dunn intends doing tonight. “He is good enough now to go forward and control races,” said Dunn. “Not that he has too because he is just as good coming from behind but he has the draw to use this week. “He trialled against Pembrook Benny last Saturday and we were really happy with him so he has lost nothing in fitness, he is ready to race up to the Cup week form.” That should see him win as the only two other genuine Cup class pacers in tonight’s small field, Gold Ace and Pembrook Benny, are drawn outside him. They may have the raw speed to cross to the front but Beyond The Silence, drawn the ace, is also very fast away so an early burn could leave any of them a sitting duck. Under any scenario bar Franco Nelson sitting parked he should win. He is the flagship of the team Dunn and his father Robert now have based in Auckland and John thinks Little Rascal (race six) could be the best value tonight. “He is a good maiden who went really well last week and should improve quite a bit,” says Dunn. “And I’ve Got This (race five) is a really nice trotter but that is a very good field.” While Franco Nelson might be the best horse on show tonight, the Northern Stakes for three-year-olds might be the best race. It brings together Hughie Green fresh from a most dramatic Sires’ Stakes Final failure at Addington against the Purdon-Rasmussen pair of Hug The Wind and Change Stride. Hug The Wind is a professional, high class young horse and will have plenty of fans tonight but Hughie Green has real x-factor and could become a multiple Derby winner. They are both draw wide in the small field so there could be a bit of cat and mouse tonight but Hughie might emerge as the big dog. Meanwhile, Christen Me is monopolizing betting on the A$100,000 Cranbourne Cup in Victoria tomorrow off the back of last Saturday’s Miracle Mile win. He has drawn the ace and his greatest danger would appear getting crossed at the start and locked away on the markers but with champion driver Dexter Dunn having rarely driven better than looks unlikely. If he did eventuate however, Terror To Love’s chances would improve greatly as he would have the option of making a play for the lead in a field lacking depth and attackers. Courtesy of Michael Guerin - Harness Racing New Zealand

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