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By Jonny Turner    Speedy Ashburton mare Queen Bee Bardon will be out to get her season back on track in today’s Hororata Cup at Methven. The Ben Waldron trained pacer started this term off in good style, before a blood complaint saw her form drop away. Queen Bee Bardon ran top four placings behind top tier pacers Amazing Dream and Gran Chico, before going a creditable race when tiring late after doing a power of week in Wainui Creek’s Southern Mares Classic on Show Day at Addington. It was not until her head-scratching last in the Ashburton Cup that Waldron was forced to go back to the drawing board with his 7yr-old. The trainer has got on top of Queen Bee Bardon’s issues and she is ready to start working on resurrecting her form line in today’s 3000m feature. “She had been disappointing, because she did come up really well in the early part of the spring and we were really happy with where she was at,” Waldron said.  “Her blood was all over the place after Cup Week, but she is much better now.” Queen Bee Bardon has been known as a sit-sprinter for much of her career, but has been seen doing more work in her races recently. That is not likely to continue today from her 20m backmark, but it will further in to her campaign. “She is a very strong horse and there is no reason she couldn’t muscle up a bit,” Waldron said. “But, tomorrow I would be inclined to be a bit cautious.” “It’s her first run back for a while.” “But. as a rule she can definitely work.” Queen Bee Bardon won a workout at Methven last week ahead of her return from 20m alongside leading race contender Baltimore Jack. The pair give two of the other key players in the race, Hayden’s Meddle and Jay Tee Tyron, a 10m head start. Waldron lines his blueblood trotter One Over Dover up in the following event at Methven today. The 8yr-old went a sound race for fourth in his last start at Orari, after disappointing on the recent Blenheim circuit.  “You wouldn’t want to play poker with him, he would have another set of cards under his seat,” Waldron said. “He is probably another one that has been a wee bit off colour. “We were really confident with him ahead of Blenheim and he went up there and went awful. “It was a bit of a shock to us, because he trialled super.” “We have just changed his work pattern a bit since then and he seems to be staying up better.” Waldron also starts Fletch in race 6. He also went a creditable race for sixth in his last start at Orari.  “Blair said he will win one, but whether it is on Sunday I don’t know,” Waldron said. “But that was pretty encouraging, because nobody knows more than him.” The 8yr-old will be having his third start for Waldron after transferring from Colin deFilippi’s stable to take advantage of the Ashburton trainer’s water walker.  “He is a funny wee horse, he has had a few wee injury problems.” “That is why Colin decided to give him a go with us in the water.” “He is capable enough, I think.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Gore trotter Picketts Ridge’s physical condition, rather than any under foot conditions, look to be the biggest challenge for the talented trotter ahead of his return on his home track today. The 6yr-old will resume his stop-start and injury plagued career, after having his last start in October, in the meeting’s feature trot. Picketts Ridge won first up at Winton after overcoming one of the his many injury battles to start his last campaign. Ryan has got on top of a his trotter’s most recent trouble with his problem hind leg with circulation therapy, which has helped the 6yr-old get back to full soundness. The timing of the trotter’s return is the factor the trainer is most weary about going in to today’s feature. Picketts Ridges has made the most of the spring and summer and is carrying a little more condition than he normally would at this time of year. “He is pretty fat, he is a carrying a few more kilos than he should be,” Ryan said. “He had been getting an easy time of it on the spring and summer grass, so he might need a run or two to get race fit.” Picketts Ridge has finished second in what Ryan described as “quiet workouts” ahead of his return. Picketts Ridge, who starts from a 45m handicap, clearly gives away a race fitness edge to his main rivals. Humble Ladd (25m) looks the horse to beat on his last start third behind Cuchulainn and Dark Horse. The 5yr-old is one of quartet of runners in the event for Oamaru trainer Phil Williamson that includes Lisa Marie P (15m), Riteur (25m) and Monty Python (55m). The move from grass racing to Gore’s all weather surface is against veteran pacer Tartan Trilogy. Though, trainer Chelsea Faithful is still hopeful her 10yr-old can continue his excellent spring and summer form in today’s feature 2700m handicap pace. Tartan Trilogy will be out to complete a remarkable past month and go from pin up boy to cup winner at Gore on Saturday. The 10yr-old has almost undoubtedly had the most interesting and varied preparation of the field that was to contest today’s race. Tartan Trilogy comes in as a pin-up pacer of sorts, after he and his trainer combined to win a Best Presented Horse and Handler title at the recent Winton A&P show. The veteran starts from the sometimes tricky barrier 1 on the front line in just his sixth standing start of his 66-start career. Faithful is hopeful that position will not cause too many problems for her veteran. “I think he will be ok,” Faithful said. “He drew one in the Tin Shed Cup at Balfour and began really well and led, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.” Both Picketts Ridge and Tartan Trilogy will be driven by Nathan Williamson. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Trotting stallion Father Patrick got his New Zealand career off to a brilliant start when La Reina Del Sur won at Addington on Friday night. The All Stars filly notched her sire’s first win with his first starter when taking out the first 2yr-old trotters’ tote race of the season. La Reina Del Sur put in a late dive to nab runner-up Royal Del and deny sire Royal Aspirations from notching his first winner with his first starter. Scoring his first win in New Zealand was a mere formality for Father Patrick given the wave of success he has produced in North America. Nevele R Stud, who stand the stallion in Australasia via frozen semen, is delighted their son of Cantab Hall is on the board, general manager Ged Mooar said. “We are really happy.” “First starter, first winner and she was pretty professional.” “She is a beautifully bred filly and she had been trialling pretty well.” La Reina Del Sur is one of 28 New Zealand bred 2yr-olds by Father Patrick. If reports on his stock are accurate, the filly certainly will not be his only winner among them this season. “The feedback we are getting from his 2yr-olds is really positive,” Mooar said. La Reina Del Sur is from the talented former All Stars racemare Escapee and is bred and owned by Trevor Casey. Another of the progeny of Father Patrick and a talented former All Stars mare is among the tiny group of yearlings the sire will be represented by at this year’s national yearling sales. Just four Father Patrick yearlings will be offered – all of which will go through the ring in Christchurch. The stallion produced just 12 live foals in New Zealand in the 2018-19 breeding season, before his popularity skyrocketed in the Northern Hemisphere. A colt from Hot Pants, offered by Spreydon Lodge, which is also managed by Mooar, is among the draft. Colts from Kiwi Girl, Moment Of Beauty and a filly from Rosedorae will also be offered. The success of Father Patrick’s yearlings at sales in North America has been well documented after a full brother to star trotter Greenshoe sold for $US1,100,000 at Lexington, late last year. The first public offerings  Father Patrick’s Australasian yearling crop of this season went through the ring at last weekend’s Melbourne trotting sale. Four fillies sold at an average of $A36,875. Many more yearlings are set to be offered at next year’s yearling sale after Father Patrick served a what is thought to be a record book, this season, for a stallion standing via frozen semen. The book of 126 mares included a high number of quality producers, Mooar said. The sale of Always B Miki’s first crop of yearlings in New Zealand could bring more excitement to Nevele R Stud at the upcoming yearling sales. The stallion has 20 yearlings in the sale, with 14 being offered in Christchurch and six in Auckland. The stock of Always B Miki have been popular at yearling sales in North America and Australia, recently. His progeny that have sold at the recent Brisbane and Melbourne sales have fetched an average price of A$32,307.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner   Smart trotter Muscle Mountain began his 3yr-old season just like he started his 2yr-old term when winning the Orari Challenge Stakes on Saturday. The Greg And Nina Hope trained gelding got his sophomore season off to the perfect start when beating a smart line up to win the first 3yr-old trotting feature of the season. With regular stable drivers Ricky May and Ben Hope sidelined it was left to Matthew Williamson to partner Muscle Mountain and the reinsman made the most of the one off opportunity. “With Ben being suspended it was a bit of a one off drive, so it was good to be able to win with him,” Williamson said. “He is a nice trotter and he should go on with it after today and be in for a big season.” Williamson gave Muscle Mountain a perfect run in the one-one throughout behind his stablemate, Midnight Dash. Midnight Dash rallied hard in the straight, but was eventually overhauled by Muscle Mountain to secure a Hope trained quinella. “He did it easy enough, but I did have to hold him together down the straight,” Williamson said. Muscle Mountain’s task was made slightly easier when several of the leading chances in the race galloped. One Majic Kenny botched the mobile score up before recovering to go a big race and run fourth. The favourite, Tailored Elegance, galloped when challenging in the home straight. The Hope stable took out another of the trotting races at Orari on Saturday when Bev K’s One broke her maiden. Williamson will attempt to keep his winning form up at Wyndham on Sunday. The reinsman rates the Hamish Hunter trained Holy Havoc in race 5 as the leading chance among his nine drives. “He went a pretty good race for fifth on Thursday and has a nice draw in one.” “He should get every hope and be a pretty good chance.” Williamson also drives I’m Watching You in race 2, Tartan Robyn in race 8 and Stingray Tara in race 9 for Hunter. The reinsman said each were good eachway hopes, without looking standouts in their races. Punters look to be banking on Williamson to turn around the fortunes of Delight N Gold in race 6. He is the new pilot of the Earl Swain trained mare, who opened at remarkably short $2 win odds in the race’s fixed odds market. Delight In Gold brings patchy form to a race almost without any strong exposed form. “She is in the right field and has gone some good races before.”    “Hopefully she can improve and she would be a chance.” Williamson drives Slainte in race 1 and Monty Python in race 4 for his father, Phil. “Monty Python is an eachway chance, but it will be hard for him off 45m.” “He hasn’t been going too bad and he is slowly getting back to his best.” “Slainte would be a good chance if he did everything right, but that is no certainty.” Williamson also drives Bub’s VC in race 3 and Jacks N Jazz in race 10.   

By Jonny Turner    Nathan did it last weekend, now it is Michael’s turn. That is the scenario for brothers Michael and Nathan Purdon, who line up One Guz Hall in a star studded early season clash of 3yr-old trotters in the Orari Challenge Stakes at Geraldine today. To win, the brothers must beat out their father Mark Purdon, who starts the favourite Tailored Elegance with training partner Natalie Rasmussen. Nathan downed his dad in last weekend’s Victoria Oaks when his filly, Dr Susan, was trailed home by Stylish Memphis with Mark in the sulky. Victory would not just mean getting one up on his old man for Michael. It would be a timely boost for his stable if One Guz Hall can continue his winning momentum ahead of the national yearling sales. The rookie trainer is hoping to expand his team, invest in young stock and attract new owners. “I am hoping to pick up a few more owners come sales time,” Purdon said. “I have got seven in work in the moment, I have got a few 2yr-olds out that will come back later in the season.” Purdon has kept up an excellent strike rate during his short career and hopes One Guz Hall can keep that going and help him to continue to build his reputation as a trainer. “You need those horses to fly your flag and people tend to take notice when those good ones step out.” The 3yr-old showed he returned better than last season with a comfortable maiden victory at Timaru last month. Purdon will get a good line on exactly how well the horse has come up when he clashes with a high quality field today. “He has got a fair amount of ability, but Saturday will be a real test for them.” “He is up against a lot of nice 3yr-olds, but he should hold his own.” Today’s brilliant field of 3yr-olds includes Cracker Hill, Muscle Mountain, Tailored Elegance and One Majic Kenny. Though it is hard to say exactly where One Guz Hall sits among them on ability, it is clear he does not have their experience with just two starts to his name. “He is still racing a bit green at the moment, where as horses like Tailored Elegance and Cracker Hill are the full package,” Purdon said. “You watch them racing around and they look absolutely professional.” Should One Guz Hall measure up Purdon will aim his 3yr-old at the upcoming features for 3yr-old trotters. “We will see how he goes on Saturday and is he shows me he is up to these 3yr-olds the next race we will be looking at will be the Hambletonian.” The leading contenders have each taken a different path towards today’s exciting Orari Challenge Stakes clash. Cracker Hill has made a perfect start to his season since running second at the Harness Jewels with two starts for two wins in smart times. Tailored Elegance kicked off her 3yr-old term when impressively beating older horses at Addington, last week. One Majic Kenny has also been mixing it with older horses. The Robert Dunn trained trotter should relish getting back to mobile racing and taking on his own age group, today. Exactly where last season’s early 2yr-old trotting star, Muscle Mountain, is ahead of his return today is somewhat of a mystery. The Greg and Nina Hope trained trotter has made mistakes in two of his the three trials and workouts ahead of his 3yr-old return. He was held up and was not fully tested in the other. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Talented, but temperamental trotter War Admiral has given trainer Michael House an interesting ride leading in to his impressive first up win at Addington on Friday night. The 5yr-old produced a big win in his first start in House’s colours when holding out The Dominator in a hectic feature trot. War Admiral transferred to House’s barn after having his last start behind Sundees Son at the Harness Jewels for Southland trainer Tony Stratford. Since arriving, the trotter has tested the patience of House and his staff. “He is an interesting horse, I am only a recipient of all of the hard work Tony Stratford has done,” the trainer said. “He would have been an awful horse to have had for the first two years of his career.” “Tony must have done a fantastic job to get him to where he did and get him educated and raced up and getting him winning.” “He is just not an easy horse.” House credited his staff for helping War Admiral calm his wild tendencies since arriving in his stable. “My team has done a great job with him, the girls have spent a lot of time with him and made him really manageable.” “They all love him, they all think he is a cuddly teddy bear now.” “Wherever you go in this game there are horses that challenge you and he has been a horse that has challenged anyone that has worked with him.” War Admiral was sent north by his Southland owner-breeders Kenny and Jo Baynes with the hope he could take his career to a new level. “Kenny has great faith in the horse, he is the one pushing the barrow of the horse and you have got to admire the faith he has in him,” House said. Punters had no qualms about backing War Admiral in to a $3.50 win price despite the trotter giving away a race fitness advantage to his rivals. The Skyvalley trotter was fit and ready to win, meaning his fitness will not significantly improve following his victory. However, House expects general improvement through the horses manners and tractability.   “He was pretty ready,” the trainer said. “Overall, in the big scheme of things he will improve – we have got a couple of wee things to work on.”  “He is the sort of horse on the big tracks when they are going a bit he will be competitive.” Star performer Princess Tiffany added another group race to her glittering resume when easily winning the group 2 Premier Mares Championship on Friday night. Driver and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen secured a dream run in front for the returning 4yr-old after they speared to the lead at the start. Princess Tiffany reeled off a slick 26.6sec second last 400m to set her rivals an impossible task to catch her. The All Stars mare scored by a length over Bettor’s Heart. Step Up stuck on well for third after sitting parked.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Leading filly Spellbound will attempt to get her summer campaign back on track at Addington tonight. The Robert Dunn trained 3yr-old put in a performance too bad to be true when she tired from the 600m in Amazing Dream’s Sires Stakes Championship at Alexandra Park, last month. Spellbound was found to have been suffering from a virus, which did not show up leading in to the group 1 event. “It was one of those ones that was out of the blue – we couldn’t pick it,” Dunn said. “She was working great and she was eating great.” Spellbound returned to Dunn’s Woodend Beach stable after her northern campaign. The filly has pleased the trainer’s son, John, who manages the southern base and will drive Spellbound from barrier 8 in race 1.  “She seems really good now, Johnny is pretty happy with her,” Dunn said. “She will obviously need this race this week and then she has the Sales Series race in a couple of weeks.” “She has drawn out a bit, so I don’t think Johnny will be doing anything drastic at the start, he won’t want to knock her around.” The Dunn stable start two of the leading chances in race 8 in Spot On and Hayden’s Meddle. Spot On beat rivals Bettathanfast and Mongolian Cavalry at Addington last week. “He would have to be a great chance again, it is not much of a different field to last time,” Dunn said.  “He is just a nice horse all round.” Hayden’s Meddle comes in to the race after running second to his stablemate, Stars Tonight, in the Marlborough Cup.  Star mare Princess Tiffany will have her first start as a 4yr-old in tonight’s group 2 Premier Mares Championship. The All Stars filly has looked ready to resume when reeling off slick sectionals to win two trials leading in to her resumption.  Despite that, co-trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen is weary about the task in front of Princess Tiffany.  “She is really well and fit but I am worried about her lack of racing and I fear she could be vulnerable in the late stages because of that,” she said on her stable’s website.  “The leadup race that could have suited her is restricted to keep mares like her out of it.” Princess Tiffany opened the hot $1.40 favourite for the 1980m feature.  Father and son trainers Peter and Tom Bagrie start two of the main challengers to Princess Tiffany. Peter lines up Bettor’s Heart from barrier 12 and Pressed For Time starts from barrier 7 for Tom.  Though the mares do their trackwork together, they are difficult to compare as they are contrasting types.  “They are both class mares, I will say mine is the best and Dad will say his is the best,” Tom said. “It is hard to compare them, because they are different.”  “Pressed For Time is a great stayer and I think she would be able to sustain her speed for a long time.” “Bettor’s Heart is a sit sprinter that has got a bit tougher over time.” Bettor’s Heart stuck on well for second after she sat parked outside star mare Belle Of Montana in the group 1 Queen Of Hearts, three starts ago.  The 6yr-old then beat a moderate field at Alexandra Par,  before tuning up for tonight’s race with a solid fourth behind rival Enchantee at Addington, last week. “We were pretty happy with her run last week because she probably needed that run and she should improve a lot from it,” Bagrie said. Pressed For Time goes in to the Premier Mares Classic after making a perfect two-from-two start to her 4yr-old term. Though she is already a group 2 winner, tonight’s race will be her toughest career test. “Obviously there are some nice mares in there and we are optimistic that we will be able to measure up,” Bagrie said. “She has been working great with Bettor’s Heart.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Roxburgh trainers Geoff and Jude Knight will attempt to keep their strong run of recent form going at Wyndham today. The husband and wife trainers have been striking at a good rate over the summer months while they juggle racing a small team with their day jobs as rural delivery contractors. The Knights kept their momentum going when the consistent Jacks N Jazz won at big odds at last weekend’s Invercargill Cup meeting. Despite running second in his three starts leading in to the meeting, the 6yr-old scored a $18 win price. Last weekend’s victory was a case of the horse getting the extra ounce of luck he needed to break through for a deserved victory, Geoff Knight said. “He paid huge money considering how he had been going.” “He got a lovely run and that was the difference, really.” The Knights will attempt to cash in again with the three runners they take to Wyndham today. Wolfenstein is in a similar position to what Jack N Jazz was going in to his Ascot Park win ahead of today’s opener. Despite having not missed a top four finish in his past four starts, the pacer was rated a $15 outsider when race 1’s fixed odds market opened, last night. The way the Wolfenstein is working and feeling, that quote might turn out to be good value for punters. “He is thriving at the moment,” Knight said. “He has been a horse hard to keep condition on, but lately he has been better and better.” “It’s partly down to him maturing, but also we treated him for stomach ulcers a while ago.” “Since then he has been a very happy horse.” Wolfenstein beat a field down on form to win his maiden four starts ago, before being competitive while stepping up in company in each run since. “He beat a pretty average field at Forbury, then beat a stronger field in his next start.” “He ran a really good third against a nice field at Cromwell then his fourth at Wyndham last time was pretty good, too.” Delightful Gloria also has her form trending upward ahead of race 6, today. The 4yr-old improved on her fresh up sixth at Cromwell to produce a third at Ascot Park, before winning her last start at Wyndham, recently. Whether she can win again on the track today could depend on where she lands from barrier 1 on the second row, following out the pole-marker, Miss Waikiwi. “She is improving all the time and she is a great follower of speed,” Knight said. “If Miss Waikiwi were to lead and we were to trail, or if we were three back on the markers, she would be a great place chance.” Star Ruler has been in career best form for the Knight stable heading in to race 4. The 6yr-old should get a good run through at the start from barrier 2 on the second row as he follows out one of the likely leaders in Groomsman. “He doesn’t win out of turn as he has only won the one race, but he is in the best form of his career,” Knight said.  “He should be thereabouts in that field.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury pacer Dadndave ran his rivals ragged to score the biggest win of Tim Trathen’s training career in Saturday’s Invercargill Cup. Driver Brent Barclay had the 4yr-old in front soon after the start of the group 3 feature and they set a pace that had their rivals chasing in vain throughout. Dadndave still had plenty left in reserve after setting a strong tempo in the middle stages to reel off a 56sec last 800m to win the 2700m handicap. “It was a great drive – I said to Brent he usually steps well, so it worked out great,” Trathen said. Trathen races Dadndave with the two men the horse is named after – his father, John, and Dave McHugh, the proprietor at the Yaldhurst Hotel in Christchurch. “It good for Dad because he’s been a bit sick and Dave’s got a few with us,” Trathen said. “I’m only allowed to drink at the [Yaldhurst Hotel] otherwise he’d probably take the horses off me.” Dadndave produced consistent form in three of his four starts at both the recent Nelson and Blenheim meetings. He took no part in his last run after galloping out, which came with a silver lining after some initial disappointment. That soft run meant Dadndave could head south soon after a busy ten days at the top of the South Island. “He had just been thriving and he pulled up good, so we thought we would bite the bullet and he can have a wee freshener after this.” “He had no luck, really, at Blenheim.” “He is a lovely wee horse, he has quite a bit of character about him.” Dadndave’s trip to last year’s Nelson meeting showed he had the staying prowess to win a feature cups event like the Invercargill Cup. The pacer beat older horses over 3000m to win the Nelson Cup as a 3yr-old. Dadndave’s Invercargill Cup victory is Trathen’s biggest success among the 32 winners he has trained since 1993. “That would be the biggest win for me.” “I have a few, but I don’t race that many, just some with friends and family.” Trathen works as a farrier and also pre trains horses for All Stars trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. Runner-up Franco Santino sat on Dadndave’s back throughout Saturday’s race, but could not reel him in. Later on Saturday, smart 3yr-old Spirit Of St Louis bounced back after his Roxburgh Cup disappointment earlier this month to beat older and more experienced pacers. The Graeme Anderson trained 3yr-old reverted back to mobile racing after standing on the mark and taking no part in the Roxburgh Cup. Spirit Of St Louis was too good in race 10 after sitting parked for the last lap for driver Matthew Williamson. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Ashburton trainer Laurence Hanrahan has all bases covered ahead of race 7 at Motukarara today. Hanrahan will line up impressive first up winner, Rocknroll Max, and the consistent Ultimate Rocker in the 2400m standing start event. Having that talented duo means a Hanrahan runner should be in the finish whether the race tempo suits front-runners or back-markers. Rocknroll Max is likely to land near the speed, as he did when winning his first start of the season at Timaru, earlier this month. The 4yr-old showed he had returned bigger and strong from a spell when powering along the passing lane to break his maden. “He won nicely last time, so hopefully he can take the step and mix it with the next grade,” Hanrahan said. “He has probably just taken a little bit of time.” “He just wasn’t mentally ready or mature enough last season, but this year he seems to have bounced back quite nicely.” Hanrahan is hopeful his A Rocknroll Dance pacer will handle stepping out of maiden grade to race more experienced campaigners in today’s event. “I hope so - his work has been fine since he raced.” “He had a quiet run at the Methven workouts on Sunday and he felt quite good there.” “So, going forward, hopefully we are on the right path.” Rocknroll Max must beat his stablemate Ultimate Rocker to continue his rise through the grades. The question of whether he can do it is not one Hanrahan can not answer easily. The two 4yr-olds have totally different racing styles, meaning race tempo and positioning will dictate their chances. “I don’t know if I would favour one – they are both different styles of horses in terms of how they need to be driven.” “But, if either of them get the right run, I would like to think they could be in the finish.” Getting back and sprinting off a fast tempo is the best scenario for Ultimate Rocker. “Ultimate Rocker has had a bit more experience in that grade.” “He has been going well without a lot of luck.” “If he gets the right run, he can come out and sprint quite fast.” “As he gets a bit more hardened up from a bit more racing, hopefully he will go forward from that.” Driver Stephen McNally will combine with Rocknroll Max, with Lawrence McCormick to drive Ultimate Rocker. Hanrahan also starts Pembrook’s Legacy in race 6. On form, the 6yr-old looks a strong eachway chance in the 2000m event for junior drivers. “He has come back nicely.” “The only question mark I have over him is I don’t know whether he is as effective on the grass as he is on the crusher dust.” John Morrison will drive Pembrook’s Legacy today. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury pacer Heisenberg will be fully focused when he attempts a hat-trick of South Island cup wins in Saturday’s Invercargill Cup. The Robert Dunn trained 4yr-old will be out to add the group 3 Ascot Park feature to his recent Central Otago Cup and Ashburton Cup victories. Heisenberg comes in to Saturday’s 2700m handicap after producing a stunning performance to break the New Zealand record for 2400m in the re-running of the Central Otago Cup at Wyndham, last week. The Art Major pacer strode out powerfully in front and never looked like shirking his task when holding out runner-up and Invercargill Cup rival Nandolo. Two months earlier, Heisenberg may not have shown the same application or tenacity. The pacer was beaten in the Geraldine Cup and Pacers Green Mile at Methven victories when looking to have every chance to win. Dunn and son, John, who manages his father’s South Island stable and who will drive the horse, both knew Heisenberg had more to offer. The pacer is now starting to realise his full potential after developing his will to win. “We were just a bit worried he wasn’t toughing it out at certain times,” Dunn said. “Johnny said he was felt like he was doing things easy in his races and he knew there was more in the tank.” “We always thought he would come to it.” “He was a late developer and we gelded him later on because we knew if we did it early he would lighten up.” “But it was a catch 22, because I think we might have kept him a colt too long.” “So, now he is learning his craft and he is developing the will to want to win a race.” “He is getting smarter all the time and I think it is just the natural progression of racing him.” Applying a galloping hood to Heisenberg’s bridle has helped the 4yr-old’s concentration levels. The pacer has also be aided in his past two cup wins by being in his favoured front-running position. “He just drives so much better with [the hood], without it he tends to run around a bit,” Dunn said. “He is obviously racing where he likes, too.” “He is a strong front-running horse and he likes to get a rhythm.” Heisenberg made a solid beginning before working to the lead in his Ashburton Cup win. John Dunn will almost certainly have the same plan in mind as the pacer reverts back to a standing start event on Saturday. Finding the front on the tight-turning Ascot Park track looks a recipe made to order for Heisenberg. “He is good from a stand and he gets the turns very well, as well,” Dunn said. “Invercargill is a track that if you can sprint around the turn quickly, it is a big advantage.” Kilowatt Kid, Nandolo, Franco Santino and Robyns Playboy all back up after chasing Heisenberg home in last week’s Central Otago Cup. The 4yr-old also clashes with two pacers that have been stopping the clock in sizzling times recently. Bringitonhome reverts back to a staying test after his sensational 1.52.2 mile (1609m) win at Nelson earlier this month. The Regan Todd trained pacer starts from the 10m mark, ahead of 20m backmarker Vintage Cheddar. Vintage Cheddar was brilliant when reeling off a 26.6sec last 400m to impressively win the Wairio Cup in his first start for the season for trainer Alister Black.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Southern trotter Majestic Man is set to find himself in the middle of Australasia’s trotting showdown of the season. The 4yr-old booked his ticket to the group 1 Great Southern Star after pleasing trainer Phil Williamson with his progress after a huge six weeks of racing in the North Island. Majestic Man has freshened up well after travelling back to Oamaru following his gallant second behind Winterfell in the group 1 National Trot at Alexandra Park earlier this month. With a fit, healthy and happy horse on his hands, Williamson had no hesitation to book his and Majestic Man’s tickets to Melbourne. “I have only really confirmed that he is going in the last 10 days,” the trainer said. “I just wanted to see how he had come through all of the racing he has had. “I am pretty pleased with him, so there is no option but to go, really. “There is no sense in staying here and standing in his box — being a gelding.” Majestic Man had six starts in group races on his northern campaign and finished in a top-three placing in each one. Those results included his second behind Winterfell in the Interdominion trotting final. Majestic Man will not have to clash with Winterfell in the Great Southern Star in Melbourne next week, but he is set to face every other star trotter in Australasia in the race. Majestic Man is part of a star-studded New Zealand contingent alongside Oscar Bonavena, Temporale and Massive Metro. The quartet are likely to clash with the star Australian trotters Tornado Valley, McLovin, Tough Monarch and Dance Craze. Oscar Bonavena, Temporale, Massive Metro and McLovin will clash in the group 1 Dullard Trotters Cup at Melton on Saturday night. Majestic Man will have his first Australian start at Melton in the Great Southern Star. His trainer does not think Australian racing should pose any problems for the 5yr-old. “I don’t have any worries about him racing over there. But, he will need the right run.” Driver Brad Williamson is set to be faced with a tough decision before next week’s Victorian feature. His stable star, Cracker Hill, will race at Geraldine on the same day as the Great Southern Star. New Zealand’s brilliant trotting team is complemented by a star pacing line-up that has already notched a trifecta in the Ballarat Cup. Thefixer, Mach Shard and Triple Eight will have the first starts of their Australian campaigns in the group 2 Casey Classic at Melton on Saturday night. The trio are set to join A G’s White Socks and Chase Auckland in next week’s Hunter Cup. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Junior driver Ben Hope will be out to do his family proud in their home region of Marlborough today. Hope will drive first starter Awapuni for his parents, Greg and Nina, in the Four Generations Of Hopes Trot. The 2400m maiden event is dedicated to Hope family’s contribution to harness racing in Blenheim. And it is one the fourth generation of the family to contribute to the Marlborough Harness Racing Club’s history would love to win. “My Dad’s side are all from Blenheim, my granddad and my great granddad have all been involved with the club,” Ben Hope said.  “It would be great to win it.” “The horse goes pretty good, she is only a maiden trotter, so she has to trot.” “But, if she did she would be more than capable of taking it out.” Awapuni is by Andover Hall from strong producing mare Lough Neagh, who is from the family of champion trotter Lyell Creek. The 3yr-old looked like she had enough ability to live up to her breeding when winning a Methven workout by three lengths, earlier this month. Greg, Nina and Ben Hope will step out another trotter with a strong pedigree when Baxter starts in today’s feature handicap trot. The half-brother to star trotter Monbet comes in to the 2400m event after producing two wins and a second from three starts on the West Coast Christmas circuit.  Baxter steps up in grade to face his toughest test when taking on open class performers Amaretto Sun and Heavyweight Hero today. “We will get a bit of a line of him to see where he sits with the better trotters,” Hope said. “He has done a great job and he is always in the money.” “Heavyweight Hero, Medusa and Amaretto Sun all go nice.” Baxter will start from a 10m handicap, getting a head start on Amaretto Sun (45m) and Heavyweight Hero (35m).  The feeling in the Hope stable is that Baxter could eventually progress to join his main rivals in open class. “He is the sort of horse that could get to open class, through the back door,” Hope said.  “I like the horse because he definitely wants to be a part of it and he tries.” “He is not going to be a genuine open class horse, I don’t think.” “But he could be one of those horses that gets there through the back door, like a horse like Everybody Knows.” The Hope team have Homebush Lad in today’s feature handicap pace. The 6yr-old bounced back to his best form ahead of the 2400m event with a strong win at Motukarara late last month. “That win wasn’t a fluke, his starts before that were good, he is a pretty nice wee horse,” Hope said.  “There are a couple of smart ones in there, like Stars Tonight and Rocknroll Rod and a couple of others.” “But if he can step away he is as good of a chance as any, I think.” Homebush Lad will start from barrier one on the front line, alongside his main rivals Stars Tonight and Rocknroll Rod.  The Hope stable eight horses at today’s Marlborough meeting and each of their team looks to have genuine winning claims.  “There wouldn’t be one that is without a show.” Greg and Nina Hope will start A G’s White Socks in tomorrow night’s Ballarat Cup. The two time Interdominion heat winner will clash with fellow New Zealand pacer Self Assured.  Victorian reinsman Greg Sugars will drive A G’s White Socks in the group 1 feature.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Much has changed for the re-running of the group 3 Central Otago Trotting Cup at Wyndham today. The Central Otago Trotting Club feature at Omakau on January 2 was called off when leading driver Ricky May collapsed after suffering a medical event in its early stages. May was revived after the falling to the track from his sulky and then airlifted to Dunedin Hospital. He was subsequently transferred to Christchurch Hospital. The race has undergone significant changes with withdrawals and additions to the field that will compete over 2400m at its temporary venue. But those changes pale into insignificance when compared with the change May has gone through since the incident on January 2. The champion driver has made excellent progress and has returned to his Methven home. Canterbury driver Jonny Cox gets the chance to reunite with Nandolo, who he could not drive earlier this month because of suspension. Though Cox is glad to get back behind the John Howe-trained pacer, he wishes it was under different circumstances. “You never like to see anything like that happen to anyone. The main thing is Ricky is doing well.” Cox was behind Nandolo when he was beaten by his main rival, Heisenberg, in last month’s Ashburton Cup. Howe said after the race Nandolo may not have been at his best for the 3200m race and Cox agrees. “The horse had raced right through New Zealand Cup week and ‘‘Coaster’’ [Howe] was trying to look after him after he had had a lot of hard racing. “He was probably not quite ready for Ashburton and he did have quite a good blow after it. ‘‘He should be right up to the mark now.” Heisenberg looks the toughest horse for Nandolo to beat. Nandolo’s task to win looks easier now as A G’s White Socks, Vintage Cheddar and Jazzy Star are not starting in the re-run. Swamp Major and Franco Santino return alongside Nandolo and Heisenberg. Mach’s Back, Lawrence, Kilowatt Kid and Robyns Play have joined the field. The withdrawal of several high-class opponents does not mean Cox will look to dominate the race with Nandolo. “He is not that great in front. He knocks off a bit and you have to keep tapping him along. “He has got a lot of speed and if we were able to slot him in somewhere that could be his best chance.” Heisenberg was the early leader of the race at Omakau before he handed the front to A G’s White Socks. The 4yr-old led in his strong Ashburton Cup win and he looks the likely leader again today. Bookmakers opened Nandolo the $2.90 favourite for the Central Otago Cup when the fixed-odds market opened yesterday. The pacer was quickly backed in to $2.20. Heisenberg also received support, moving from $3.20 to $2.70. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    West Melton mare Miss Mucho can help continue the mid season momentum of her trainer Tony Barron at Timaru today. Miss Mucho and Sheree Tomlinson will attempt to repeat the impressive win they combined for at Omakau in a competitive junior driver’s event. The 4yr-old fired up her trainer’s season when powering away from her maiden rivals to win by nearly five lengths at Omakau. The victory was Barron’s first for the season and came with just his 11th starter. The West Melton trainer has had a quiet start to this term, but it has clearly about to heat up. “We haven’t lined up many, mostly because we have been working on quite a few young ones,” Barron said. “It’ll be good to line a few of them up, but I am looking forward to next season even more, to be honest.” Tomlinson gave Miss Mucho a brilliant steer at Omakau, keeping her out of a hectic early pace before letting her charge home to win. Barron is hoping the reinswoman can produce more of the same in today’s 2600m mobile. “It was a great drive by Sheree at Omakau, the way she stayed out of the early speed.” “If they go hard she will be able to do the same at Timaru, but she is a pretty adaptable mare.” “So, if she needs to she will be able to get around them.” Barron hopes Miss Mucho can score a penalty free win in today’s race to help the mare’s progress. “It would be great to pick up a free one, it would just make it a bit easier on her.” “I might look at bringing her down south after this for a crack at the Robin Dundee Crown.” Miss Mucho will need to work to notch a penalty free win, judging by the quality of today’s field. Talented pacers Burlington, Kensington Bill and Firenze Amore are among the line up. Barron also lines up Matau Meg in race 2 and Glassy Web in race 5. Both have their share of ability, but must overcome horror second row draws. Matau Meg, who starts from barrier 13, went a sound race for third behind Lucys Delight in her last start at Omakau from barrier 1. Glassy Web will be worse off when he starts from barrier 14 following his seventh behind Itz All Down To Luck at Omakau. Talented 4yr-old Pressed For Time must overcome a 30m handicap to win race 6, today’s feature pace. The Tom Bagrie trained mare bolted in in her first start since winning last season’s Southland Oaks final at Rangiora, earlier this month. Pressed For Time’s task in today’s race has been made a little easier with the scratching of her main rival, Just Holla. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Some brilliant home straight maneuvering from Robbie Close helped Bringitonhome head a track record breaking quinella for trainer Regan Todd at Nelson on Sunday. The 6yr-old unleashed a powerful finish after Close negotiated a passage out of a horror spot on the home bend to help Bringitonhome run down his stablemate Taxman and win in a sizzling mile (1609m) time of 1-52.2. Todd was full of praise for Close’s home straight handywork that guided Bringitonhome through the tightest of gaps. “It was a great drive by Robbie to get him through those gaps,” Todd said. Though he was beaten by more than a length, Todd rated Taxman’s effort to run second in the race’s hot time just as good as the winner. “They both went great – Taxman went just as good as the winner after doing a lot of work in the race.” “I was rapt with both of them.” The chance to race middle grade pacers off level marks in Sunday’s mile feature was a key to Bringitonhome scoring his first win since April of last year. “It was a really good opportunity to race those kind of horses off level marks,” Todd said. “He had raced in some pretty good fields through the cup carnival and that race was probably a bit easier than them.” “If there were more of those kind of races people might be able to keep more of the horses in that grade.” Bringitonhome and Taxman are likely to take different paths out of Sunday’s feature. Neither will return to the top of the South Island for this weekend’s Marlborough meeting. Bringitonhome could contest the Invercargill Cup later this month. Taxman will stick to mobile racing and head to the upcoming premier night at Addington. “I will discuss it with the owners, but Bringitonhome could go to the Invercargill Cup.” “It might just depend on what handicap he will be off.” The track record Bringitonhome broke lasted just two races. Earlier on Sunday, Marlborough battler Sonic Reign seriously upgraded his resume with a booming 1-53.9 mile (1609m) win in rating 40-45 company. Driver Tim Williams sat the Kevin Musso trained 5yr-old off a strong speed set up by Barkley and All Nuts N Bolts, before launching his winning run before the home turn. Todd will have two runners in his form hometown of Wyndham on Thursday. Seamark will attempt to go one better than his second on debut at Omakau. Swamp Major will contest the rerunning of the Central Otago Cup.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

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