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The harness racing trials at Addington today (September 22nd) saw more of the All Star team step out prior to starting new campaigns and judging by their performances, the all conquering barn is in for another bumper season. In conditions that could only be described as atrocious with gale force winds and driving rain, several members of the All Stars team looked forward to resume and some looked to have made the step up since they last raced. Arden Rooney led up in the open class heat in the worst of the conditions and sprinted his last 400 meters in a quick 26.9 to defeat stablemate Hands Christian who did well after missing away and settling 15 meters behind the bunch. The other stablemate the champion racemare Adore Me was on Hands Christian's back all the way up the straight and was not asked for a serious effort in finishing fourth. Earlier on the program Hug The Wind was super impressive in winning his heat after starting from barrier nine and looks in for a big spring campaign as a 3 year old. In a hot field including stablemate Alta Orlando, Elusive Chick and Johny Rock, Hug The Wind settled back early before working forward mid-race and finishing way to well for the competition. Hug The Wind could not have been more impressive and his resumption should be a winning one. Alta Orlando was not pushed to finish fourth and he should improve bigtime with that run under his belt. Another 3 year old in the All Star barn to impress was the full brother to Adore Me in Have Faith In Me who also started from barrier nine in his heat. Last early, he looped the field to sit parked from the 1000 meters and then kicked away in the straight for an easy win over Brilliant Strike with stablemates Holy Grail and Change Stride  finishing close up behind. Have Faith In Me looks to have taken the step up since his 2 year old season and could be a bit of a smoky for the upcoming sires stakes heat. Another All Star runner Superbowlcheerleader lead up in her heat but was was collared late by Vulcan who looked sharp for upcoming events. The first run this time in for Superbowlcheerleader, she should take a lot of benefit from her outing. One of the other horses to really impress today was the Geoff Dunn trained 3 year old trotter in Kaimanawa who bolted in by 42 lengths and over 8 seconds under the qualifying time in conditions that were far from ideal. Driven by part owner Tim Williams, the son of Monarchy looked a trotter of real quality as he came his his last quarter in 29.4 in terrible conditions. Trial results here Harnesslink Media

You could have been excused for thinking you were watching a race at The Meadowlands if you flicked on Trackside at around 11.08pm last night. Firstly, there was a USA pacer called Johny Rock competing in the race and secondly, Dexter Dunn was getting vertical in the sulky as he reined Vice Chairman through four very tidy quarters. It was a daring drive that paid off big time, with nothing baring Tiger Tara, who was a certainty beat, able to eat into his leeway in the home stretch. In the end, Vice Chairman stopped the clock at a blistering 1-51.9, which shaved 0.7 seconds of the previous track record which was set by Gold Ace in the New Zealand Free-For-All. Tiger Tara, who got held up badly rounding the final bend, closed strongly to finish 1 & ¾ lengths away in second, while Johny Rock was very good in his New Zealand debut, finishing a further ¾ of a length away in third after sitting parked on the hot tempo. Of the rest, Saveapatrol made good late ground to finish fourth after starting from an impossible barrier draw. Although a good viewing spectacle, the race reiterated two things – When on his game, Vice Chairman is a good horse, and, horses that draw badly over the one mile at Addington virtually have no chance, especially if the leaders run along a bit in front. The fact that three of the last four miles that have been run at Addington have been won by horses drawn in either barrier one or two is proof of the pudding. By Mitchell Robertson

The ring-around was a bit quiet last week, producing just four winners. Those who did pick winners were Blair Orange, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, and I. However, the ring-around rarely has two bad weeks in a row, so this could be the time to jump on the bandwagon. Good luck and happy punting! Andrew Armour: Thinks Double Impact can make up for his last start mishap in the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Blair Orange: Rates the consistent Juneamy Castleton as a good each-way prospect in sixth race at Motukarara on Sunday.   Craig Thornely: Thinks North American import Johny Rock can make his presence felt in his New Zealand debut – Addington, race ten. David Butt: Has opted for the talented yet untrustworthy Mundaka. He will compete in the first race at Addington on Saturday. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes will be very hard to beat provided she can overcome her tricky barrier draw. Motukarara– race ten. Jim Curtin: Hopes Damon Runyon can finally break his maiden status in the sixth race at Addington on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Rates Danny Cool as a good each-way prospect in race six at Invercargill on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Thinks Voluntad will give them something to chase for her ace alley in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Expects the consistent Red Under Fire to be ‘there or thereabouts’ again in the fourth race at Motukarara on Friday. Mark Jones: Expects Superior Desire to be very hard to beat in the first race at Motukarara on Friday. Matty Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Milligan from his handy gate in race four at Invercargill on Sunday. Ricky May: Said he couldn’t look past NZ Cup champion Terror To Love – Addington, race eight. Scott Phelan: Thinks the aptly named Big Ern will prove hard to beat in the fourth race at Stratford on Sunday. Simon Lawson:  Likes the chances of Art Major debutant Love Is My Drug – Alexandra Park, race seven. Stephen McNally: Has opted for Easy Empress in the third race at Motukarara on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Cyclone Prince will be tough to toss in the tenth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Mister Harris in the ninth race at Stratford on Sunday. Tim Williams: Thinks classy mare Here We Go Again will be very hard to beat in the ninth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Don’t Call Me Su – Motukarara, race four Each-way – Bootie Bromac – Invercargill, race four Value -  Playaway – Addington, race three                                                                                                                 

Tiger Tara looks set to continue his tremendous three-year-old season after effortlessly downing North American import Johny Rock at the Ashburton trials today. The Geoff Dunn trained three-year-old led the two horse trial early, before taking a trail behind the 1-48 pacer at around the 1000 metre mark. He then peeled out in the home stretch and raced away to win by two lengths in an impressive time of 2-59.3 for the 2400 metre journey. Johny Rock, a four-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover, was anxious in the warm up and needed to have his sulky replaced after double-barrowing it during his prelude. Classy comeback pacer Smolda was also supposed to compete in the C4 & faster heat, but was scratched due to the small field. He is now likely to go the Motukarara workouts on Saturday before making his much awaited resumption in the Group 3 Rose Dankin Summer Cup at Addington on Friday January 31st. Meanwhile, The Jazzman, who was an expensive purchase for Tim Butt out of the barn of Ken Odgers, was also very impressive at the trials and looks one to follow during the two-year-old season. In other news, more than capable three win trotter Trouble Whiz has died after suffering from Pneumonia. . The Brylin Boyz five-year-old was treated by vets for dehydration after travelling down from Auckland to Blenhiem with stablemate Lewy Risk, but died the next day. Trouble Whiz was second on Show Day in his last start in the South Island, before travelling to Auckland for a three start campaign. By Mitchell Robertson

Not even downing a 1:48 miler at the trials has been enough to boost Ricky May's confidence with Helena Jet heading to Addington tonight. The reason is simple: Adore Me is among her rivals for the $40,000 Premier Mares Championship. Helena Jet will start second favourite behind the champion mare and goes into the race in career best form. Not only has she won her last two starts but she downed former top US 3-year-old Johny Rock in his first New Zealand outing at the Rangiora trials on Monday. Johny Rock has been syndicated by Graham and Paul Court for serious money and is being aimed at our major 4-year-old races after competing at the highest level in North America, where he took his sensational time. He wasn't pushed on Monday after leading in a 2000m trial but Helena Jet still ran him down fair and square in a 56-second last 800m. But May knows that running down a fully-fit Adore Me is another thing all together.   "She is very hard to beat, Adore Me, because she is so relaxed," said May. "She rolls along at open class type times and then kicks hard when Mark [Purdon] asks her to go. "My mare is racing really well and she has gate speed so we will try and go forward early and if we can lead then we would probably trail Adore Me. "If that happens it will be interesting to see how close we get to her. "I probably don't think we can beat her but I'd say we would run second for sure." The race being over 1950m means the wide draw of Pemberton Shard is a major disadvantage even though she was placed twice behind Adore Me at Alexandra Park last month. The missing piece of tonight's equation is NZ's other great mare Bettor Cover Lover, who is being saved for the group one mares at Addington in a fortnight as it provides automatic entry into the Ladyship Mile in Sydney on March 2. Courtesy of Michael Guerin and the New Zealand Herald

USA import Johny Rock impressed his co-trainer Graham Court in his first public appearance since touching down in New Zealand. “He got out of the gate really good and just got piped on the post by a smart mare in Helena Jet,” enthused Court. “He should take plenty of improvement out of that trial and he will trial again before racing,” he added. Court said that while it will take some time for the four-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover to adapt to New Zealand racing, Johny Rock is a very quick learner. “In America it is just handlebars down from the get-go, so he has got to learn to come back to you in the middle stages, before really kicking strongly again in the home straight,” explained Court. Court said that he is still yet to decide when and where the 1:48 pacer will kick off his New Zealand career. “It will depend on how he performs in his next trial, but at this stage I couldn’t be happier with him,” confirmed Court. “He has really high speed and is just going to be a tremendous stayer. He has all the attributes of a real top-liner.” Court said that while it is far too early to try and compare Johny Rock to a horse like ‘Terror’, his trackwork would indicate that he is the second best that Court has ever trained. Johny Rock was driven by co-trainer Paul Court in his first public appearance, but Graham confirmed that the man that has steered Terror To Love to victory in the last two New Zealand Cups, Ricky May, would be the entire’s regular driver. Meanwhile, Terror To Love will resume in the $50,000 Northern Southland Cup tomorrow, where he will face the stiff task of giving rising star Arden Rooney a 25 metre head start.   Johny Rock fact file: *25 starts – 9 wins – 7 seconds – 1 third *Stakes: $494,805 NZ *New Zealand assessment – C5 *As a two-year-old Johny Rock raced on 10 occasions for four wins and four placings, earning $151,241. His most important success was the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship at The Meadowlands. *Johny Rock is out of Soggy Britches (1:50.4), a $200,000 winning daughter of the Woodrow Wilson winner Allamerican Ingot (1:50.6) *Johny Rock finished second to World Champion Captaintreacherous in a heat of the Metro Pace *Johny Rock was formerly trained by John Butenschoen and driven by Andy Miller *He had his last start in the USA in an elimination of the Little Brown Jug, where he finished an unlucky sixth. *He is a striking individual who stands at 15.3 hands  By Mitchell Robertson

A New Zealand syndicate has completed the purchase in America of the three-year-old Rocknroll Hanover colt, Johny Rock, who will race in NZ and later do stud duties. Johny Rock, one of the top three-year-olds in commission in USA this year, is at present doing quarantine in Auckland and is expected to join the Christchurch stable of dual NZ Cup winning trainer Graham Court at the end of this month. The syndication was assisted by well known Christchurch identity Peter O’Rourke, principal of Stallions Australasia Pty Ltd. At the time of writing there was only one share remaining to be sold in the horse. “Shares were for a 1/25th ownership and many have purchased multiple shares. Ownership stretches from the deep south of NZ to the far reaches of WA,” O’Rourke said. “We are very excited to bring Johny Rock to NZ. We believe he will make his mark as a racehorse in NZ and being a son of Rocknroll Hanover, will be an outstanding addition to stallion ranks in the future,” he added. “He possessed brilliant gate speed and a perfect gait. He is a lovely individual, 15.3 hands with a strikingly defined muscular physique.” Johny Rock proved himself a brilliant pacer on his day, taking a record of 1:48 on a five furlongs track and winning almost $400,000 in stakes. As a two-year-old Johny Rock raced on 10 occasions for four wins and four placings, earning $151,241. His most important success was the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship at The Meadowlands, in which he took his two-year-old record of 1:51.2. He also won a heat of the New Jersey Sire Stakes and finished runner-up to Captaintreacherous in a heat of the Metro Pace and second in the $71,000 Geers Stake. While at three he won a further five races including the $200,000 Battle of Brandywine Consolation in 1:48.6, the $39,000 John Simpson Memorial, a prep for the New Jersey Classic and a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes (2nd in final beaten a neck). He bankrolled $246,757 as a three-year-old racing against the likes of Captaintreacherous, Rockin Amadeus, Wake Up Peter, Resistance Futile and other stars. All told, Johny Rock had 25 starts for the splendid record of nine wins, seven seconds and a third for $397,998. A $60,000 yearling at the Lexington sale, Johny Rock is a son of Rocknroll Hanover (1:48.6), world champion racehorse and sire, and Soggy Britches (1:50.4), a $200,000 winning daughter of the Woodrow Wilson winner Allamerican Ingot (1:50.6) and Soggy Dragon (1:55), by Dragon’s Lair from the French Chef mare Soggy. Johny Rock is a member of the same family as the Cane Pace winner Smog, the Jugette winner Watering Can, Die Lute (1:49.6), Gehrig ($874,387), Ryan’s Miracle (1:50.8) and Sprinkler, a leading sire of three-year-olds in Australia. by Peter Wharton  

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