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Invercargill based harness racing junior driver Sheree Tomlinson achieved her 8th career win and first at Addington Raceway tonight when she was successful on Amaretto Sun who is trained by her grandfather Ken Ford. In her first season as a Junior Driver, Tomlinson has thrived in the deep south after teaming up with Murray Brown and all roads lead to her being the no 1 junior in the deep south with current premiership leader Brad Williamson and Craig Ferguson in their last season of driving. It also adds to a wonderful season for the West Melton based Ford who thanks to top trotter Marcoola has surpassed his previous best of 14 (2004) to post 19 wins this season. Sent around the field to sit parked, Amaretto Sun proved too strong for Monnay(Brad Williamson) and Kowhai Monarch(Sam Ottley). Amaretto Sun In the Junior Drivers event, Matt Anderson and the All Stars trained Superfecta absolutely destroyed their opponents. After swinging sideways at the start and adding at least 40 metres on to their task, Anderson will quick to tack on the bunch. Thanks to a hot speed up front, Anderson was happy to sit back before launching at the 700m and looping the field to run away and win by 2 ½ lengths. Mr Handleman(Craig Ferguson) and Jewelz(Nicole Harris) were seen storming home from well back to run 2nd and 3rd. Superfecta Meanwhile, Smart 3yo Franco Cristiano beat a brave G I Joe to record his 6th career victory for trainer Robert Dunn and driver John Dunn. Sitting back and letting it all unfold in front of him, Dunn let his charge down powerfully in the home straight to grab the All Stars trained G I Joe just before the post. That win made it 3 for the night for Robert Dunn after Freedom Fighter made a dominate return to the racetrack and Letspendthenighttogether saluted. That will help Robert on his mission towards the premiership as he now sits 12 wins behind and is hoping for a big Forbury Park meeting tomorrow. Franco Cristiano Andrew Fitzgerald

Breaking out on your own after a successful harness racing partnership that has lasted many years is supposed to be hard yakka, but Paul Court can be forgiven though for thinking it’s all a little too easy. The West Melton horseman, who was alongside his father Graham in training partnership for close to a decade, is making a pretty good fist of the solo training caper and yesterday, on the first day of the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting, he picked up his first training hatrick. “It’s been a pretty dream start really, better than I could have ever expected anyway,” Court said. Yesterday’s three wins came less than 24 hours after Stunin Dude won at Forbury Park on Thursday night in the hands of Blair Orange and it was the Postman who was in the sulky for two thirds of his Friday success. Orange drove both Hypervelocity and Expressive Victor to victory while Ricky May was on board Courage To Live who won the last race of the day. “I thought that they were all good chances, but for all three to win was great. “You got to the race expecting to have a good day and often it’s the opposite.” Expressive Victor’s win in the Winter Cup Prelude was impressive. The 4-year-old mare, who was second behind Rocker Band in the 4YO Ruby at the Harness Jewels three weeks ago, overcame an early bobble to sit off the speed before unwinding brilliantly down centre track to secure victory. “The gallop was a bit of a worry, she’s usually such a good beginner. “Blair said she got a bit of a fright when the tapes went, I don’t think one on the 10 metre line was a good draw for her.” The imposing mare will start a warm order favourite on Sunday to go back-to-back on what is fast becoming her favourite track. From five starts on the Waterlea Raceway surface she’s won twice and placed on as many occasions with her only failure coming when she choked down and crashed to the deck at the Summer meeting earlier this year. Both Hypervelocity and Courage To Live will both also be in action on Sunday.   The former will have to deal with the impressive Franco Cristiano who made light work of his race track return earlier in yesterday’s programme for Robert and John Dunn. Courage To Live also has a tough ask from a wider draw, but his free going racing style means he will be on the speed at some stage in the race and that’s here he seems to race best. “He probably lacks that really high speed, but he will just keep going. “I was pretty impressed with the way he won, he looked like he could have kept going at that speed too. “He’s just got better and better each time I’ve taken him to the races.” Closely related to Terror To Love, the Jereme’s Jet colt was one of two winners for Terry McDonald who also shares owns Hypervelocity. McDonald went had the perfect day on Friday with Letspendanitetogetha, who he owns with good friend Reg Storer, finishing second to Courage To Live. While Court’s three wins was impressive, Orange’s driving talents were on full display. He won three races to go with the three he picked up on Thursday night, taking him to 117 winners for the season and 16 wins clear in second position on the national premiership which is being led by Dexter Dunn. Dunn endured a winless day at the office and will have to wait until next week to get New Zealand win No. 200 as he’s on a plane to drive Christen Me in Queensland on Saturday night and isn’t returning to Blenheim for Sunday’s meeting. Matt Markham

Its been a seven month absence from the track, but talented three year old Franco Cristiano looks set to make a winning return on day one at Blenheim tomorrow for Harness Racing Trainer Robert Dunn. Good enough to win a Sires Stakes heat in the spring, Franco Cristiano was well supported in the final on Cup Day. However, after blowing to bits soon after the start, he would take no part in the Group One feature, won outstandingly by Lazarus. Shortly after this, Franco Cristiano headed north to Pukekohe under Robert's tutelage. However, very soon things began to unravel for the talented Bettor's Delight 3yr old. He had been a bit off in his work and Robert's worst fears were realised when after a scan, a hairline fracture of the pastern was revealed. After a successful surgery, he returned to the beach nearly three months ago and has been given plenty of time as he makes his progress back to the track. It was a winning turn at last week's Ashburton trials that told John that all was well and that it was time to get back to the track. "He was pretty impressive alright and just jogged it in some pretty quick sectionals." The news gets even better for his very patient connections. "He does seem a very different racehorse this time in and is definitely a lot more settled. Of course you never know until you get to the races though," said John. While the TAB have him installed the shortest of favourites in the early markets at $1.10, John said that first up, he must be some sort of risk. "Celestial Arden is in good form and is race fit, so we will need to be near enough to get the win." Win or lose, plans are a bit up in the air past tomorrow. "We are no certainty to go around again on Sunday. We will see how he is after the race, how he eats up and that sort of thing, but we won't be taking any risks with him." When assessing the rest of the team's chances tomorrow, John was a little frustrated by some of the draws and felt that perhaps their chances will be better on day two. "I really liked Mr Preston, but we have had to pull him out after he pulled up sore yesterday. Blood And Whisky is probably one of the best chances after Franco Cristiano. While he broke at the trials last week, I have made a couple of gear adjustments since then. He seems a nice type and should get one pretty quickly. Then later in the day, Highview Freddy and Graduate Under Fire should both go good races. They have both been near enough."Ex And when asked where things sit in terms of the much talked about premiership race, John was quite philosophical about things. "Realistically we will need to get a few wins this weekend if we are any chance. We will just keep on doing what we are doing and either way it has been a great season." Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

Harness Racing Trainer Robert Dunn, who trains in an unofficial partnership with his son John, had 103 wins for the season going into last night’s Forbury Park meeting, 17 behind the Mark Purdon-Natalie Rasmussen stable. Just a week ago the gap was much bigger, but the Dunns had a nine-win week and now Robert says the premiership is still possible. “We basically have three bases going,” he told the Herald. “We have six horses based near Forbury Park, where they race almost every week until the end of the season. “We have a nice team up here in Auckland and a good Canterbury team, which is about to be boosted by the return of Franco Christiano, who we think is the bee’s knees. “Before last week I thought we couldn’t catch them but if we can have another big week before the end of the month we have a shot going into July.”
 Dunn’s hopes of a first premiership win should be boosted by the Purdon-Rasmussen stable powering down to virtually only their Breeders Crown horses after Addington tonight. “We will have the Breeders Crown horses and maybe two others going over the winter,” Purdon confirmed. So Dunn is doing his math. “Mark and Nat will probably win most of the Breeders Crown heats here they contest, although we have Franco Christiano against Heaven Rocks so that will be no gimme for them,” says Dunn. “So they could easily end up on 125 or 126 for the season. That would mean we need to train at least 22 more, maybe even 25 but it is not impossible.”
 Ironically, Dunn’s best winning chance at Alexandra Park tonight is Bevan’s Cullen, who was trained by the All Stars until two starts ago. “He can definitely win again, while Natural and Cherry Bay are racing well and will win again over the winter. “But the one who has really improved is Formula One, who won’t start race this week but can win again soon.”
 Any success at Alexandra Park tonight for Dunn could be cancelled out by G I Joe (race six) and Augusta (race nine) for Purdon-Rasmussen at Addington tonight. While the premiership battle heats up of more immediate interest to punters is the $75,000 jackpot at Alexandra Park tonight. It starts early on race four and brings together three trot races, two paces for grass track performers and a form-packed 2200m for the fillies and mares. There aren’t many, if any, anchors so percentage betting looks the way to go as a small divvy is unlikely. Meanwhile, unbeaten New Zealand pacer Our Waikiki Beach is looking increasingly unlikely to get a start in his Breeders Challenge semi final at Menangle tomorrow night, meaning he will miss the A$150,000 final on Sunday week. Our Waikiki Beach’s connections missed the nomination time by six minutes on Tuesday, forcing him to last in the rankings and being an emergency in the semis. No rivals have been scratched yet. Purdon said no decision will be made on where the glamour colt goes next until Sunday at the earliest. Michael Guerin

The rain kept coming and so did the winners for Kaiapoi based Harness Racing Driver/Trainer Gavin Smith. For the past few days Smith has watched his good mates Robert and John Dunn's team dominate. The Dunn's picked up trebles at Forbury on Thursday, Nelson on Friday and Auckland on Friday night. Not to be out done, Smith also picked up a double on the first day of Nelson Harness Racing Club's annual two day winter meeting with his own runner Alison Stokke and the Bruce Hutton trained Ideal Arden. And by the end on of racing on Sunday, there was only one person people on course were talking about, and that was Smith. After dominating the 9 card meeting with 4 driving win's which included 2 training wins. Alison Stokke, a 3yo Bettor's Delight filly, put the writing on the wall for Friday's maiden victory with a strong 2nd at Ashburton 5 days earlier. Making a flying from the tapes, Smith had the filly who is owned by his wife Sara and J Chin, out front and running along nicely before handing up to Sam Ottley and 2nd favourite Glenferrie Classic with 1400m to run. It all nearly turned to disaster though when Glenferrie Classic galloped in front, causing Alison Stokke to break for several strides before Smith was able to get her back down into a pace. With the galloper safely negotiated, Gavin asked his charge for a full effort and cleared out to win by 1 ½ lengths over Bobby M (Robbie Close) and Cullen's Bardon (Stephen McNally). Although it was the drives on Ideal Arden in the Nelson Winter Cup Prelude and Cup that had most people impressed. Using the American Ideal gelding's stand start speed to lead out on both occasions, Smith then handed up to the Robert Dunn trained Highview Freddy, who is well known as a front runner. From there on it was just a matter of Smith extracting the Bruce Hutton trained 6yo to either the inside or the outside of the leading and zipping away. Ideal Arden was the only runner to record a win on both days of the meeting. Smith started off his Sunday morning with a well deserved win aboard It's How You Use It who is trained by former stable employee Lawrence McCormick. The 5yo mare by Diedre Don recorded her maiden victory at start number 18 for owners, J T Morrison, A J Morrison, M J Gallagher, A Palmer, Mrs J E Lowe and Lawrence himself. Smith also recorded wins with pacer Melanie Ohara, who galloped on the first day but thanks to a change in bit was a strong maiden winner. While He's Like The Wind put up a improved performance after galloping late on day one to record win number three of his career. Andrew Fitzgerald

It was business as usual for Team Dunn at the Nelson Harness Racing Meeting today. Backing up from a treble at last nights Forbury Park Trotting Meeting, the Dunn team started their late season charge towards closing the premiership gap between themselves and the All Stars team. Sitting on 97 wins coming into todays meeting, that was soon 98 when maiden trotter Bourbon And Dry won the first of the day. Purchased at the late Carl Middleton's dispersal sale by the Neumann family, Bourbon And Dry was having his 2nd run from a spell when he beat 40 start maiden South Coaster, trained by Brad Mowbray at Yaldhurst, was will be forced to come back on Sunday to try and break his maiden status. Fast forward to race 6 and smart 3yo pacer Letspendanighttogetha was a dominate winner and brought up win number 99 for the season for trainer Robert Dunn and also win 99 for driver John Dunn. Away well from barrier one, the Washington VC gelding was shuffled back along the fence, before storming up the passing lane to win by ½ length to a super brave Ultimate Fella in 2nd. It took until the last race in the day for Team Dunn to bring up season win 100 and what a way to do it. Driver Ross Houghton, who is John Dunn's right hand man at their Woodend operation, was successful on Joey Maguire who he also part owns. It was a masterful drive by Houghton, who also brought up his 50th Career driving win, to find the front early on after drawing badly on the second row. After being allowed to dictate the race in front, Ross was off and gone at the top of the straight with 29.2 final quarter on a slushy Nelson track. Houghton was obviously stoked with the win, shown by his large salute to the crowd as he went over the line. Todays treble closed the gap in the premiership down to just 20 wins with a little over 6 weeks left to go in the season. John will look to pick up his 100th Season driving win on Sunday. Bourban And Dry Letspendanighttogetha Joey Maguire Andrew Fitzgerald

Maybe there is one last plot twist in the harness racing national trainers’ premiership after all. A hat-trick of wins at Forbury Park on Thursday night set the ball rolling for the weekend that could make or break Robert Dunn’s chances of winning the national title. Still 23 wins behind the Purdon/Rasmussen stable, Dunn has a bit of ground to make up - but has the luxury of a strong and plentiful winter racing team which will take him deep into July. The All Stars on the other hand are expected to start to slow their operation down, but with a number of Breeders Crown heats to be contested as well as the odd winter racing proposition they will still be out and about. Dunn made the call to push for the premiership earlier in the year when things were close. He’s had to watch as his stable ran a string of unlucky placings over the last month while the All Stars have kicked right into gear. But last night’s treble, including the first driving win for Craig Smith, might have been the boost needed to get things moving and with 14 more chances over the course of the weekend - especially considering one venue is Nelson could really set things alight. The stable has eight runners engaged on the opening day of the Nelson Harness Racing Club’s Winter meeting and there are a number of strong winning chances amongst them. Those who race today at Nelson will also race there again on Sunday giving the stable two bites of the cherry. Leading the charge is promising 3-year-old, Letspendanitetogetha. The Washington VC gelding, who has placed behind; GI Joe, Major Ben and Mr Mojito in his last three starts gets the coveted ace barrier draw against a tidy field of pacers and will give his owners; Reg Storer and Terry McDonald a great shot at the second win of his career. Yukon Cloud, who was a very handy runner-up behind Anny Ivy when last produced also has the one marble and will be hard to beat from there for Ross Houghton. An in-form Highview Freddy and the consistent Joey Maguire look like other leading chances of success for the barn at Richmond Park. In Auckland, five runners will do business - spearheaded by talented trotter, Natural and Bevan’s Cullen was very good last week at Alexandra Park. Matt Markham

Canterbury based Harness Racing Junior Driver Craig Smith's past month in the sport have involved one of the worst days, and now the best day of his career so far. 3 weeks ago, Ohoka Benson who was part owned by Smith, sustained a life ended injury at Timaru. The loss of his good mate 'Ben' hit him hard but the stable rallied around Craig, and soon he was back to the smiling and laughing Craig Smith everyone knows. "The support from everyone after losing Ben was awesome and Nigel Armstrong gifted me a 50% share in Vanhalem, so that's the reason I'm driving him. I owe this win to him and the rest of the Syndicate members" said Smith. Smith picked up his first driving success from just the 29 career drives aboard the Robert Dunn trained Vanhalem at Forbury Park tonight. Shuffled back early after the start from barrier 1, Smith soon had the 5yo Santanna Blue Chip gelding off the pegs and into the 1x1 position before again being shuffled back. Down the back Craig was able to push out and get a lovely drag into the race behind Blair Orange and Really Desirable, before just being able to hold on from a fast finishing Jessica Young and Real Raider. Vanhalem is owned by the Westview Racing No 15 Syndicate, which is run by Nigel Armstrong, who is a large supporter of the Robert Dunn barn and Craig. From just the 4 drives behind Vanhalem, Smith has recorded a 3rd, a 10th, a 2nd and now a win. Not having any family involved in Harness Racing didn't stop Craig getting involved in the industry. “I went along to the races one day with a bunch of school mates and liked what I saw, so I looked up some stables and asked around.  Most people told me Robert & John were some of the best, so I rang up and asked for a job” said Smith. "I wasn't too worried about how long it took to get my first win, being out there and gaining experience was what I was after" "I'd love to thank everyone over the last few years who have given me advice, especially John. Being able to learn off John and Dexter each day has been a huge help to my driving". Craig has been employed by Dunn for approximately 3 years and has had stints with the satellite stable up in Auckland, but is currently in charge of a team of 7-8 runners based out of Martin Denton's property in Mosgiel. "Marty has been great, the team are going super at the moment, I just hope it continues" Dunn also picked up another two wins with Music and Mr Meddle saluting the judge, both were driven by son Dexter. With the support of John & Robert Dunn this certainly won't be Craig's last winner, we look forward to following him over the following seasons. Andrew Fitzgerald

If there is to be any chance of a stable success on jewels day, it will most likely have been in the 4yr old Diamond for the mares. Miss Daisy and Dalness Xchange are two quality mares and while needing that ounce of luck on the big day, can get a major slice of the prize. Miss Daisy has always been a notch below the very best mares, but her stocks have increased steadily this season as some of the real class mares of her age - especially The Orange Agent and Fight For Glory - have been resigned to the sideline through injury and retirement. In her lead-up race last week at Alexandra Park she was stunning in fillies and mares company, blasting the gate from a wide draw and then being untroubled to lead throughout. While this week's race is a major step up, from her good draw she will get all favours with options to either stay in front, or to hand up to one of the more favoured brigade. She is sure to be ultra competitive here. Stablemate Dalness Xchange has done very well this season and has a Group One placing in top mares company at Addington in her form four starts ago. She rarely runs a bad race and if she can get forward early from an awkward draw, she would be far from a forlorn hope for driver Colin De Filippi. Eyrish Mist is a newcomer to the stable, transferred this week by owner Ricky Allen. He contests the 2yr old Ruby for the trotters (Race Two) and from his unruly barrier, will need mistakes by others and be on his very best behaviour. While he shows a lot of promise he may be a season away from his best. Billy Badger (Race Six) contests the 2yr old Emerald for the colts and geldings. From his wide second line draw, he will need every bit of luck for driver Dexter Dunn and deserves to be at long odds. The final two stable runners on the day are Little Rascal and Robbie Burns in the 4yr old Emerald. Both horses are in form, but have had contrasting luck with the draw. Little Rascal from two looks sure to go forward early. He may end up in a good spot and could be a nice place hope at odds. Robbie Burns has had no luck at all drawing wide on the second line. He will rely on a cracking pace up front and a nice drag into it to have any chance. He too is a place hope. Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

With no shortage of racing in Dunedin in the next month, the decision has been made by Robert and John Dunn to base a team in the south headed by Craig Smith. Smith will look after a team of 5-6 horses out of the Mosgiel property that Martin Denton trains from. "As much as anything it is trying to look after the owners really," said John. "The types of horses that we will send down will be the ones that have been competitive at Manawatu and Forbury as of late." "They have either met their mark in Canterbury, or are just needing that slight drop-back in class to be really competitive." John sees Craig as the ideal man to look after these horses. "He's a great worker Craig and he can look after our ones and give Marty a hand with his ones. They get on well so it should be a good fit." John has been very mindful of travel costs and the fact that the owners do take a decent hit in the pocket whenever their horses travel. "It is hard on the owners definitely. This way it will keep the costs down in terms of travelling and they will have a race each week that they will be competitive in." This weekend there is a big stable representation, with 23 horses down to run from Auckland in the north to Addington in the South.  Michael Drury Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

He was meant to be enjoying some time on the hills in the north, but in a cruel twist of fate, Wesley Silcox has lost his life in a freak accident caused by a lightning strike. Always rated highly by the stable, Wesley Silcox, the winner of eight of his 12 race starts was in recovery mode after being troubled by a suspensory injury. The winner of his last three starts in Auckland 14 months ago, Wesley Silcox was being given every chance to return to the track after injuries had curtailed his promising career. "We thought this time that rather than bugger around we'd give him every chance to recover and that time would be his best friend," said Robert. However, some severe weather including some spectacular electrical storms hit the north late last week. "When we were coming back from the races last Friday you couldn't see a thing," said John. "It was shocking weather." Further north and it was one of these electrical storms that would seal the fate of Wesley Silcox. "He was in a paddock with a couple of other horses," said John "and it sounds like a tree in the paddock got hit by lightning." "Wesley Silcox was obviously sheltering under the tree when a massive branch fell hitting him and taking his life. They reckon he would have been dead instantly." "Its really sad," said Robert. "He had a lot of untapped potential and I was confident we would get him back and into the highest classes." "They are a great bunch of owners, but I feel really bad especially for Stu Leadley who owned a half share in the horse. Stu owns Alta Las Vegas outright and is also a part-owner in Franco Cristiano, both horses that went amiss this season suffering the same injury, a fracture of the pastern. I am just pleased for him that Franco Cristiano is getting close to being on the track again." Robert Dunn Trotting Stables www.robertdunntrotting.co.nz

An unlucky second on the first night, The Royal Garden was simply too good for a handy C2-C6 field yesterday at the Manawatu Harness Racing Club's second day. While drawn poorly on the second line, John Dunn was able to work the Mach Three 5yr old into the clear early and eventually found the front at the 1700m. Once there he was able to set a strong tempo and as the field turned for home, he showed a decent kick finding plenty in the run to the line to hold on from the trailing Princess Kate and a late finisher in Hudy Haxwell. The 2500m trip was run in 3.11.6, the last 800m in 58 and the last 400m in 28.3. After struggling for some time in stronger Canterbury fields, John sent The Royal Garden south to Forbury last month where he was a convincing winner over smart southerner Statham. On the back of that win he was confidently backed on Thursday, but after having little luck had to settle for second. Yesterday's win was his 7th from 31 starts and takes his stakes to just under the $50,000 mark. Meanwhile in the south, Highview Freddy completed a successful comeback to racing with a good win in yesterday's feature at Timaru. His win came at his 4th start back after an extended break from the track with injuries. He had built nicely towards this win with a good second first up and then a couple of runs in stronger fields. Highview Freddy stepped like a toff from the front, over the 2600m stand and was soon in front setting his own terms. While taken on early in the race, Dexter elected to stay in front and always looked to have the Bettor's Delight 4yr old travelling nicely. He was allowed some rein from the 500m and quickly put three lengths on the opposition. At the 200m he was a clear six lengths in front and while he tired slightly over the last 100m, he held on an easy winner by four and a half lengths in a smart 3.17.5 for the 2600m stand. Owned by Ian Dobson, Highview Freddy had shown his potential at three winning the three races, but then came his time on the sideline. Based on the manner of yesterday's win, he will be easy to place over the winter months. Michael Drury - Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

On the brink of a drop-back leading into tonight's assignment, Little Rascal produced a tough winning run, after missing away and in doing so strengthened his claim for a start in this year's 4yr old Emerald for the colts and geldings. After a good run for 6th in the Taylor Mile two starts ago, the son of Panspacificflight had no luck in Field Marshall's Messenger, choking down and being pulled out of the race. John had reported pre-race that the horse had worked up well leading into tonight's assignment, but his real concern was the stand start manners. As he has done previous, he bobbled away at the start, settling at the tailend. With a strong tempo being set up front John waited until the backstraight to launch and he strode to the front entering the straight. Having done a power of work, he did look vulnerable in the run to the line, but fought resolutely to hold on by a neck from Risk in 3.23.9 for the 2700m. Tonight's winning stake see's him rise a few places on the jewels leaderboard to 9th spot and he now looks a great chance to join stablemate Robbie Burns on jewels day in three weeks time. The win tonight was Little Rascal's was his 7th from 35 starts and takes his stake-earnings to over $90,000 for his owner Ian Dobson. Courtesy of Robert Dunn Trotting Stables

The casualty ward for what is usually the glamour race of Harness Jewels day is getting crowded. Second favourite Say My Name is in danger of missing his $150,000 division at Cambridge on June 4 after being scratched from Alexandra Park tomorrow night. Driver John Dunn says the gelding, who is unbeaten in three starts this season, is still being troubled by a hock problem. “We don’t really know how he got it,” admits Dunn. “It happened somewhere between when he left here (Canterbury) before the Taylor Mile meeting and settled in the north and we thought we were on top of it. “But he wasn’t right today so we have pulled him out of Friday night. “That isn’t ideal as a Jewels lead-up and because he is such a good horse, if he doesn’t improve soon he will probably miss the Jewels too.”
 The timing of Say My Name’s injury could hardly have been worse as the four-year-old division which looked freakish mid-season has seen Auckland Cup quinella mates Have Faith In Me and Hughie Green both pull out as well as Costa Del Magnifico, Itz Bettor To Win (exported) and Maverick. While Field Marshal has emerged as a serious open class horse there are plenty in the division looking weary after huge seasons and Say My Name, the fresh horse on the scene, is the second favourite with the TAB, although probably not for long. By Michael Guerin

The last time popular Canterbury trainer/driver Jim Curtin ventured north to the mighty Manawatu Raceway was back in February of 2015. He picked up a driving/training win with The Persuader, while he also saluted the judge with Miss Middleton for Palmerston North trainer Stephen Doody.   Curtin travels north with 1 stable runner Atchoo and while she has drawn badly she doesn’t appear the worst chance. “We had to come north to find a suitable race for her; she’s not too good from the tapes. I thought she would be a good chance but it’s a hard draw so we are hoping for some luck” said Jim. Interestingly enough, Curtin has driven 7 trebles at the Manawatu track, and he is a regular to salute the judge. “7 trebles are pretty nice but I’ve had some luck on the track and hopefully it continues” Jim also had a further 6 drives and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him salute the judge with any of them. Jim Curtin & The Persuader winning at Manawatu back in February 2015. Robert & John Dunn travel north with a strong team of 4 runners, which includes last start Forbury winner The Royal Garden and while the son of Mach Three climbs a grade for this assignment he slots in well and looks mighty tough to beat. While earlier on in the night Mr Meddle, a 5yo Live Or Die gelding comes up with the plum draw, and looks the likely leader in an even C2 field. He was only beaten 2.5l by Beyond Belief, which has since ran 2nd in a hard race. That form should make Mr Meddle a leading chance on both days of the meeting The Royal Garden's last start win Andrew Fitzgerald

Stu and Hayden Corps are living the harness racing dream with their handy 3yo filly Ultimate Desire. Based in Christchurch, the father and son duo are landscapers by day, major horse owners by night. “We have shares in plenty of horses, but Bailey (Ultimate Desire) is definitely the stable star at the moment” said Hayden Corps. “I reckon we have 5 race horses, a couple of yearlings and a few broodmare’s in foal” Brought from the Alabar Weanling Sales and originally prepared by co owner Brent Weaver, who shares in the ownership with his wife and the Corps, Ultimate Desire was the centre of a number of large offers as a 2yo. “She won at Forbury as a 2yo back in May last year (2015) and a few decent offers came in for her, and a few times since we’ve have had some more offers. But we have always said that it’s not about the money, we just want to enjoy the thrill of a handy horse” said Corps. And the thrills keep coming with the 3yo Real Desire filly who recorded her 3rd win from just the 18 starts at Ashburton Raceway last Saturday afternoon. Dragged back from a wide draw, driver John Dunn soon found himself 3 wide around the first bend before slotting in fourth last in the running line. Sent 3 wide again at the 1200m, Ultimate Desire had cover till the 800m mark; from then on it was up to the pint sized filly to display her toughness. Dunn let his charge slide around the bend and was able to put a number of lengths on the field which appeared to be the winning of the race as they were able to hold on for victory by a nose over He Can Fly (Tim Williams), with ¾ lengths back to Christopher Banner (Ricky May) in 3rd. Ultimate Desire set a new track record in 2-54.6, which is 1.6 seconds outside the NZ Record set by Nek Time back in March. With a mile rate of 1-57.0, 800m 56.8, 400m 27.7, it certainly appears like this won’t be the last time the Corps visit the winners bar thanks to their super filly, nor will it be the last time Corps thanks the Tab for offering up odds of $15 and $3.20. “I couldn’t believe the price she was paying, she went super last start and we were pretty confident” “We have one eye on a jewels start, so we will be lining up this week and then hopefully in the Oaks to try and sneak a spot. She might not level up to the All Stars fillies but just having a jewels runner would be a victory for us” “The credit has to go to Brent (Weaver) for developing her early and now Brad Mowbray for looking after her so well” said Hayden Corps. WATCH BELOW: Ultimate Desire sets a new track record and records her 3rd victory: Saturday’s victory also brought up a milestone for driver John Dunn who recorded his 800th career driving success. Dunn currently sits 3rd in the drivers Premiership on 88 wins, 5 behind Blair Orange in 2nd, while Brother Dexter Dunn is untouchable in the lead on 167 wins for the season. Andrew Fitzgerald

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