Day At The Track
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Picketts Ridge won his fourth race at the Riverton meeting on Sunday and Gore trainer John Ryan realises he's going to have to travel with him.  The Skyvalley gelding, owned by Ryan and Tony and Philippa Holland is now rated R75 and his days of racing consistently in the province may be numbered. "He's going to get handicapped out of it shortly. We won't be going to the Cup meeting or anything like that. We may have to take a wee trip up there at some stage to see how he can handle those trotters," said Ryan after the five year old came off 30 metres to beat King Cassidy by a head in the Neville Cleaver Fishing Aparima Handicap Trot. Picketts Ridge, in only his second season of racing is one of the province's most promising squaregaiters. At the end of last season he was starting to show his qualities and the rate of improvement has continued this season.  "He's developed a wee bit more. Last year he couldn't handle a 1000 metre track. At his first start at Gore he'd just break round the corners but that was also because he was recovering from injury. Last season we stuck to the big tracks." Ryan says he's trotting a lot better this season and is more relaxed on race day.  "This season he's working 10 seconds quicker on the Gore track and he's handling the bends a lot better. He's had three runs on a 1000 metre track now...... I'm real happy with the way he comes to the races. He goes to sleep in his stall and is more relaxed about it all." Driven by regular driver Nathan Williamson, Picketts Ridge settled midfield early before following King Cassidy forward with just over a lap to run. At the 550 metres mark King Cassidy took over from pacemaker Grace O'Malley with Picketts Ridge up challenging. King Cassidy and Picketts Ridge set down to fight out the finish and there was a head between them at the line. "He (Williamson) said he didn't trot as good today. I put it down to leaving the old shoes on. I should have perhaps reshod him. It's been a bit of an experiment in the last couple of weeks. I went from a mid weight heavy shoe with him to aluminiums and he won two races. The old saying is weight takes away the speed. He's handled the transition (shoe changes) well in that respect," stated Ryan. Ryan is a dab hand with trotters, he previously trained ten win mare Golden Gate.  "She had sheer speed. I'm not sure whether he'll get to that speed but he's only had ten starts." Sunday was a good day for Ryan with Golden Gate producing her first foal at Macca Lodge - a colt by Love You. "I got a photo from Brent (McIntyre). The mare's looking happy and the foal looks a bit bedraggled." Meanwhile it was a good day for good mates Alan Lindsay and Cleland Murdoch. The Invercargill based owners who have a share in quality pacer Swamp Major won with separate horse yesterday. Zenola's Art at odds of 14 to 1 won the Ryder Plumbing and Roofing Mobile Pace for Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis, while in the next race Triple VC owned by Murdoch and the Fanny Allen Trust overcame recent bad luck when he won the SBS Bank Mobile Pace. Ryder Plumbing principle Trevor Ryder also bred and shares in the ownership of Swamp Major.  Meanwhile Murray Little in partnership with his nephew Malcolm and Malcolm's wife Sarndra won the Fillies and Mares Feature with Excellent, while Allaboutdreams owned by Malcolm and Sarndra came in a half a length back in second place   Bruce Stewart

"He's got a good motor and he keeps doing what you ask of him and that's all you can ask," said driver Nathan Williamson after Picketts Ridge won the $12,000 Gold Nuggets Final at Wyndham yesterday (Saturday). It was noticeable prior to the start, that Williamson was keeping the four year old busy warming him up away from other horses.  "He just seems to trot through that early part of the race if you keep him moving around prior to the start. I thought by keeping him warm it would help and he trotted off the mark good today." Picketts Ridge stepped well and was kept wide early before reaching the top with just over a lap to run.  "I said to the guys I didn't want to push him early just in case he had a silly gallop for no reason. He felt pretty solid and that was as good as he's trotted." At the end of the 2400 metres Picketts Ridge and favourite Pres The Belle were left to fight out the finish with Picketts Ridge getting there by half a head.  "We had to get there without galloping. It's a fine line. I had to give him a couple on the bum to make sure he got the job done and he kept digging in." Trainer John Ryan holding the head of Picketts Ridge with Tony and Phillipa Holland are either side of driver Nathan Williamson - Photo Bruce Stewart. Owned by Tony and Phillipa Holland and trained by John Ryan the gelding was bred by Macca Lodge which owns a full brother called Cuchulainn. He's three. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing   Picketts Ridge winning at Wyndham

To say that Picketts Ridge has been a bit of a handful is a major understatement! The 'problem child' spent the early part of his life with Gore trainer Tony Holland who picked him up from Macca Lodge when he was looking for a horse to take on holiday to Cromwell. “He’d done six weeks jogging which suited me. He had a bit of a history of bucking. The wife was half scared of him. Thats why I ended up giving him to John. He’s got more carts than I have,” said Holland with a rye smile. Holland said Picketts Ridge has had some major meltdowns - twice on the Gore track and twice at home. “Out on the track one day I was jogging him and having a chat to Tony Stratford and a couple of horses came towards me. Did he go off! He broke the cart in half and got away, with the cart on, down to the far corner of the racecourse. I got within twenty metres of him and he just walked up to me. I’ve never had a horse do that to me. I went home, put another cart on him and we went straight back out. You couldn’t have got a quieter horse.” Picketts Ridge beating Nottingham K Two  - Photo Bruce Stewart Current trainer John Ryan says he got to know Picketts Ridge well in the early days working his own horses with the gelding last season, and also seeing him at the trials at Winton one day. “My mare (Kiwi Inspiration) trotted off the mark and after a while I looked back and Tony’s horse (Picketts Ridge) was still at the start. The next thing he was up beside me and won. He must have trotted 3-10 but didn’t qualify because he broke,” said Ryan. That was in March last year and Holland said at one point he was close to sacking the horse. “The day before the trials at Wyndham I was giving him standing start practice and once again he got into it (bucking and kicking). It was all in mid-air. You had to feel it. I said that was it, bugger him. A fella wanted to buy him and was supposed to be at the trials but he didn’t turn up. Nathan drove him at the trials and won on him and he qualified easily.”  That was in April last season as a three year old. After that his training was taken over by Ryan.  “I took him right back to basics. He’d had a few injuries and had a lot of healing to do so we used that time to put him back onto the long reins,” he said. Ryan says he’s also changed the gear the trotter was wearing, putting a special homemade add-on to the horse’s cropper (see picture). It’s a piece of polythene pipe that’s taped to the top of the cropper which holds the tail higher than usual. Picketts Ridges cropper - Photo Bruce Stewart “It’s actually off one of the markers on the track. It means he couldn’t get his tail down and start bucking. Nine times out of ten they clap their tail before they buck. When they clap their tail it sends a signal to the brain to kick and buck. He’s been picture perfect since.” Ryan says there’s still plenty of sorting out to do but the potential is certainly there. “He’s got a future. He feels like as good a horse as I’ve ever had. In saying that he trotted really roughly when he finished second at Wyndham. If I can get him trotting as good as he should be he could be anything.” Ryan says at the moment he has to be driven in a certain way. “I was working him on the grass and running him down the straight the other day. I just let him go and he rolled into a break. I said to Nathan 'keep him on the bit and hang on'. That’s what Williamson did today and he held on to beat Nottingham K Two by three quarters of a length. John also suspects the horse is feeling his hocks and he’s considering giving the horse a short break. “When I was in Auckland I stayed with Claire and Dave McGowan. Claire’s a wonderful horse physio. Six days a week she’s flat tak from daylight to dark. She’s advised me to ice pack his hocks. I’ve got a set (of special ice packs) arriving this week. She said to take him quietly and not work him too hard which I have done this week.” Picketts Ridge is out of the Sundon mare Come Follow Me and was bred by Macca Lodge. Come Follow Me is out of the nine win Gee Whiz II mare Be Not Afraid. Holland, who shares in the ownership of Picketts Ridge with his wife Philippa, works shift work at Fonterra and finished at 5am this morning. He doesn’t train too many horses and recently sold his unbeaten Washington VC pacer Back In The Day who will do his future racing in Melbourne. Philippa Holland, John Ryan and Tony Holland with Picketts Ridge - Photo Bruce Stewart. “I got four or five good offers for him. I said 'I’m keeping this one - he’s got the X factor'. I got a text (from Peter Larkin) with a huge offer and it buggered me seeing that. I said to the Aussie - you’ve stuffed me making the offer like that. He said that’s usually the best way.”  Meanwhile Ryan’s good mare Golden Gate is in foal to Love You. “She’s not at the peak of her powers at the moment but is enjoying being in work.  It’s good to have her so settled at this time of year. Normally she’s in and out of season and she can be a proper old dog. We can race her until the end of next month before the 120 days are up.” The win on Picketts Ridge was Southland driver Nathan Williamson’s 700th. Bruce Stewart Southland Harness Racing

Honey B and Kyle Ater scored a convincing victory in the $74,625 Ohio Breeders Championship for freshman filly trotters in Tuesday action at the Delaware County Fair. As the field of six was sent on their way, Honey B yielded to the fast leaving I'd Rather Walk (Kayne Kauffman). Ater retook the lead past the quarter in :29.3. Honey B was unchallenged at the half in 1:00.2 and three-quarters in 1:30.2. Josh Sutton sent Like Old Times to attack the leader by a late break in stride sealed his fate as Honey B cruised to a nine and three-quarter length victory in 2:00.2. The Victory Sam lass is conditioned by Dan Ater for Jim Burnett of Wilmington, Ohio, and Tim Homan of Maineville, Ohio. In the first $24,875 division Dark Roast and Marty Wollam battled Soaring Flight through the final three-eighths of the mile and scored a head victory in 2:01. The daughter of Full Count won for the third time in eight starts for her owners Arcadia Farms of Canfield, Ohio, and G & B Racing of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. In the final division Sammy Star and Aaron Merriman won over Student Of Life (Marty Wollam) and I'm Chiptastic (John Ryan Melshaimer) in 2:00.3 Sammy Star is owned by Peggy Carter, Robert Reid, Shelia Hummel and Great Am Stable and trained by Steve Carter. The daughter of Victory Sam won for the seventh time in 15 starts. I Know My Chip & Neely's Messenger Take 2CT OBC I Know My Chip and Jason Brewer passed the pace setting Cooter Dun (Louis Bauslaugh) at the top of the stretch and scored a one length victory in the $65,534 (division ) Ohio Breeders Championship for two-year-old trotting colts in a lifetime best 1:59.3. Jim Daily trains the Deep Chip colt for Kimberly Dailey of Mechanicsburg, Ohio. I Know My Chip has finished first or second in nine of 10 starts this season. In the second $32,767 division, Neely's Messenger and Marty Wollam won for the sixth straight time with this one in 2:00.3. When the field was set on their way, Kick A Lot (Kurt Sugg) protected his rail spot forcing Lantern's Chip (Greg Grismore) to race the long mile. Neely's Messenger patiently sat fourth on the rail until he was sent three wide as the field headed to the three-quarter pole. Kick A Lot didn't like the pressure and broke stride. Neely's Messenger won by one and three-quarter lengths over Lantern's Chip and Really Deep Chip (Jack Daily). Dale and Julie Ann Sweet own the son of Neely Dunn. by Jay Wolf, for the Little Brown Jug  

On Thursday, July 3 Northfield Park hosted the first leg of Ohio Sires Stake racing action for two year-old fillies as part of a 15-race program. Trotters and pacers each competed in three divisions. The pacers started the stakes action in the evening's opening race. Friskie Lil Devil (Feelin Friskie-Devils Desire-Cole Muffler) bested her competition by three lengths in her $40,000 stakes event. The race was Friskie Lil Devil's career debut. Chris Page piloted the filly for trainer Brian Brown and owner Lil Devil Stable of Findlay, Ohio. Friskie Lil Devil started from post two. Page sent her to the lead and never looked back. She posted fractions of :29, 59.1, 1:29 and 1:58. Finishing behind Friskie Lil Devil were Hailstorm Grace, Finefeelinfriskie, Happy Jude, Zebra Stripes and Feelin Outragous. Friskie Lil Devil returned $14.80 to win. Trotters took to the stage next for the second race of the evening. Honey B (Victory Sam-Honey Mesquite-Angus Hall) took the lion's share of her $40,000 division. Kyle Ater piloted the filly for trainer Dan Ater and the owning partnership of Jim Burnett of Wilmington, Ohio and Tim Homan of Maineville, Ohio. Honey B started from post two and led at virtually every call. She trotted fractions of :30.4, 1:03.2, 1:34.1 and 2:04.2. She held off late closing challengers by a head in this career debut. She was followed across the wire by Student Of Life, Song Of The Valley, Sammy Star, I'd Rather Walk, Star Of Thine and Iron Lucy. Hello Chipper was scratched. Honey B paid $7.80 to win Suite Feelin won the $40,000 second division for filly pacers in the third race of the night. Ronnie Wrenn Jr. was the winning driver for the owning partnership of Dr. RV Hutchinson of North Ridgeville, Ohio, Dr. R Van Hutchinson of Avon Lake, Ohio and TF Hoovler of Pataskala, Ohio. Mike Medors is the filly's trainer. Suite Feelin (Feelin Friskie-Easter Lace-Dare You To) started from post one and was content with letting her competition post the :29 opening fraction before taking the lead in the second quarter. Once on the lead, Suite Feelin did not experience an anxious moment for the remainder of the mile. She continued on the lead through fractions of :58.4, 1:28.2 and 1:58.4 and was a dominating 5-1/4 lengths in front as she crossed the wire. The time represents a new lifetime mark for Suite Feelin. Thursday's victory was the second start and second win for Suite Feelin, who now has earnings of $21,475. Suite Feelin was followed by Playa Del Sol, Karlee Sue, Corner Girl, Zoey's Lemon Tart, Feelin Flirty and Blinded. She returned $6.40 to win. Trotters again competed in the evening's fifth race. Sunrise Nibbles (Iron Duke-Sweethomeourbama-Kadabra) won the $40,000 second division. This win was Chris Page's second stakes victory of the night, this one was for trainer Christopher Beaver and the owning partnership of C Beaver of Delaware, Ohio, Synerco Vent of Ontario, Canada, S Zeehandler of Worthington, Ohio and D Lang of Hilliard, Ohio. Sunrise Nibbles started from the rail and led at virtually every call. She posted fractions of :31.1, 1:02.4, 1:34.3 and 2:04.3. She held off her challengers by a neck. This victory is her first win in as many starts. She was followed across the wire by Dolly Dunn, Soaring Flight, Influential Girl, Sammie's Delite, Bettys Sam, Talissa and Defiant Victory. Sunrise Nibbles was the punter's choice and paid $3.00 to win. Pacers returned to the scene to compete in the $40,000 third division. Friskie Til Dawn (Feelin Friskie-Lullaby Til Dawn-Dawn Ofa New Day) bested her competition by two lengths. The race was Friskie Til Dawn's career debut. Tony Hall piloted the filly for trainer Jim Arledge Jr. and owner Spring Mill Venture of New Albany, Ohio. Friskie Till Dawn started from post four. Hall sent her to the lead and there was never a question. She posted fractions of :29.1, 59, 1:29.3 and 1:59. Finishing behind Friskie Til Dawn were Medoland Kendolin, Bevnlindas Blossom, Tolatetoapologize, Colossal Chaos, Forever Golden, Indian Rockette and The Light. Friskie Til Dawn returned $4.60 to win. Totters completed the evening's stakes action in the twelfth race. I'm Chiptastic captured the $40,000 third division. John Ryan Melsheimer trains and drove the filly for owners Mel Rose Stable of Hopewell, Ohio and David Pierce of Houston, Texas. The win came in I'm Chiptastic's career debut. I'm Chiptastic (Chip Chip Hooray-Kamtastic Score-Final Score) started from post five. Melsheimer sent the filly to the front and she continued on the lead throughout. I'm Chiptastic posted fractions of :31.1, 1:03.3, 1:33.4 and 2:03.2. I'm Chiptastic won by 1 ¾-lengths. Finishing in succession after the winner were Lisa Jane, Dark Roast, If I Could Count, Little Casino, Miss Fanci Cash, Hot Chip and Chip Chip Skater. I'm Chiptastic paid $7.00 to win.  

On Thursday, July 3 Northfield Park will host six divisions of Ohio Sires Stake racing action as part of the 15-race program. This will be the first leg of the Sires Stakes for the freshman fillies. The stakes action will help to highlight "Back to the Track." The United States Trotting Association has coordinated "Back to the Track" with racetracks across the United States to make it a national event. "Back to the Track" is designed to promote harness racing and encourage occasional or former race fans to come "Back to the Track" for an exciting night of entertainment. Freshman filly pacers will start Thursday's stake action in Race 1 for the $40,000 first division. Finefeelinfriskie (Feelin Friskie-Lady Shuffle-Cam's Card Shark) is the 7-5 morning-line favorite for owners CT Howard of Hilliard, Ohio, Herres Stables of Bellbrook, Ohio, GS Tucker of Quebec, Canada and DA Mitchell of Novi, Michigan. Virgil Morgan Jr. is the filly's trainer and has enlisted the services of Greg Grismore. Finefeelinfriskie makes her first lifetime start. She has posted three qualifying efforts, most recently winning at Scioto Downs in 1:56.4. Finefeelinfriskie will start from post three. Also competing in the first division will be Naughty Osborne, Friskie Lil Devil, Happy Jude, Feelin Outragous, Zebra Stripes and Hailstorm Grace. Race 2 will be the $40,000 first division for two-year old filly Ohio-bred trotters. Trainer Dan Ater will start Honey B (Victory Sam-Honey Mesquite-Angus Hall) as the 3-1 slight morning-line favorite. Honey B starts from post two and faces seven rivals. Honey B shows two qualifying lines, most recently finishing second in 2:03.3 at Scioto Downs. Kyle Ater is scheduled to drive for owners Jim Burnett of Wilmington, Ohio and Tim Homan of Maineville, Ohio. Song Of The Valley, Iron Lucy, Student Of Life, I'd Rather Walk, Hello Chipper, Star Of Thine and Sammy Star complete the line-up. Pacers return to the stage in Race 3 for the $40,000 second division Ohio Sire Stakes. Karlee Sue (Feelin Friskie-Magical Jeanie-Magical Mike) is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for owners Dennis Stolz of Midland, Michigan, Daniel Mitchell of Novi, Michigan and co-owner/trainer Allen Tomlinson of Mason, Michigan. Karlee Sue has one start to her credit, a 3rd place finish in a $11,160 race at Mohawk. Driver Chris Page will start the pacer from post-six in a field that consists of Suite Feelin, Playa Del Sol, Zoey's Lemon Tart, Blinded, Fellin Flirty and Corner Girl. Trotters again compete in Race 5 for the $40,000 second division of the Ohio Sires Stakes. Sunrise Nibbles (Iron Duke-Sweethomeourbama-Kadabra) starts from the rail and is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. She is owned by C Beaver of Delaware, Ohio, Synerco Vent of Ontario, Canada, S Zeehandler of Worthington, Ohio and D Lang of Hird, Ohio. Trainer, Christopher Beaver, has called upon Chris Page to drive. This filly has two qualifying efforts, winning both, the fastest in 2:02.1 at Scioto Downs. Sunrise Nibbles starts from the rail and has a host of rivals consisting of Influential Girl, Dolly Dunn, Defiant Victory, Talissa, Bettys Sam, Soaring Flight and Sammie's Delight. Race 11 will host the $40,000 third division for two year-old filly pacers. Medoland Kendolin (Feelin Friskie-Wanida Jean-Mattcando) is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for owners TF Hoovler of Pataskala, Ohio, RV Hutchinson of North Ridgeville, Ohio and Dr. R Van Hutchison of Avon Lake, Ohio. Mike Medors trains the filly and uses Aaron Merriman to drive. This freshman has two qualifying lines, most recently finishing second and pacing in 1:59.3 at Scioto Downs. Medoland Kendolin starts from post three in a field consisting of The Light, Indian Rockette, Friskie Til Dawn, Tolatetoapologize, Colossal Chaos, Forever Golden and Bevnlindas Blossom. Race 12, the final freshman stakes on the night, is the $40,000 third division for trotters. I'm Chiptastic (Chip Chip Hooray-Pleasure Skate-Super Pleasure) is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for owners Mel Rose Stable of Hopewell, Ohio and David Pierce of Houston, Texas. John Ryan Melsheimer is the filly's trainer and driver. I'm Chiptastic makes her first lifetime start. She has posted two qualifying efforts, most recently being timed in 2:02.3 at The Meadows. I'm Chiptastic will start from post five. Also competing in the third division will be Miss Fanci Cash, Hot Chip, If I Could Count, Chip Chip Skater, Little Casino, Dark Roast and Lisa Jane. Northfield's Lady Luck's Clubhouse restaurant will be open featuring a picnic style buffet for just $12.95. Reservations are preferred and are placed by calling 330/467-4101. Harness Racing Bingo is back by popular demand as part of the "Back to the Track" festivities. Bingo is FREE to participate in and offers prizes worth over $1,500. Guests in attendance will receive a FREE 2014 Northfield Park Drivers Poster. A driver autograph station and meet and greet will be open from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Fans can catch t-shirts that will be tossed into the crowd by the winning driver of each race. "Back to the Track" also features FREE television carrels. Dollar programs, hot dogs and soft drinks will be offered as well as $3.00 beer specials. With exciting racing action and a host of great activities, everyone has a reason to come "Back to the Track." Thursday night has a regular 1st race post time of 6:00 p.m. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park      

Chintin (Darraweit) harness racing trainer/driver Steve Cleave has 6-Y-0 Our Sir Vancelot/Sweetadelaidewally mare Maximum Joy racing in peak form at present, bring up two wins in succession by taking the Lilmore Equine Clinic Pace for C1 class over 1690 metres at Kilmore on Tuesday September 25.

Romsey harness racing trainer/driver John Ryan made a long awaited return to the winners list at a rather wet Kilmore on Tuesday August 9, when Dream Away/Island Sailor gelding Island Rumba saluted the judge in the Garrard's Horse & Hound 3-Y-0 Vicbred Pace over 2180 metres.

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