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Krug’s superstar qualities turned pre-race concern into post-race jubilation as he left his rivals in his wake in a brilliant New Zealand Derby win at Addington on Friday night. Driver Blair Orange seized the opportunity to control the Group One feature in front and in the process delivered the quickest of answers following a week of pontificating by fans and pundits over how the Cran and Chrissie Dalgety trained colt would handle his wide front row.  The result afterwards was both predictable and a delight to the three-year-old’s army of fans as Krug and Orange never gave their rivals even a slight look-in in the home straight.    In winning, the star colt joined a select group of winners of both the New Zealand and Northern derbies.  After taking his camp on a wild ride during his incredible Northern Derby win, Cran Dalgety admitted this time relief was one of his overriding emotions.  “It is actually a thrill just to win one, let alone two.” “Coming into tonight expectations were high that he would perform – that he would win and do this and that.” “But as a trainer you just can’t take that on board until the job is actually done.” “It is a big thrill and a big relief as much as it is a big thrill.” Krug came to be a dual derby winner during a hectic three-year-old season, packed with two-year-old features rescheduled because of COVID19. The Dalgety stable have expertly guided their star colt through a busy schedule and under their management Krug just keeps getting better. Cran was modest when he and his wife were credited for an outstanding training performance.   “We planned to do this, we planned to get him fit and planned to get him healthy.” “But the last percentage is in the lap of the gods and we were lucky in that respect.” “Blair was able to drive him hard and he was still good enough to fight the others off.” The Harness Jewels are the next target for New Zealand’s star three-year-old. Beyond that the Dalgety camp are spoilt for choice with plenty of age-group features to target across the Tasman. Though nothing has been confirmed, the Dalgety stable is leaning towards venturing to Australia rather than aiming their derby winning star at the New Zealand Cup.  “What to do next is a very good question and a very hard one to answer," Cran said.  “To answer it half-pie, sure we would love to be in the New Zealand Cup.” “But I don’t want to miss the age-group racing on the way through because we can’t back-pedal on that.” “The New Zealand Cup will always be there every 365 days.” “You are only three once and to tentatively put it forward, I would love to have a crack at another derby or two in Australia.” The Dalgety camp have the Rising Sun (July 10), the Queensland Derby (July 24), Victoria Derby (October 9) and the Australasian Breeders Crown (November 21) as possible targets.  B D Joe chased hard from the trail to run second behind Krug, his second Group One second placing following his runner-up effort behind It’s All About Faith in the Sires Stakes Final.  The Falcon followed the quinella makers through from three-deep on the markers to run third.    by Jonny Turner 

Kentuckiana Lodge trainers Cran and Chrissie Dalgety have had a spring in their step this week and when Krug drew barrier 9 in the New Zealand Derby they were never even close to breaking stride. Excitement is building at their West Melton stable as the team prepare Krug for his second derby tilt at Addington on Friday night.   News of Krug’s wide front row draw has had harness racing fans and pundits a little concerned about how it will affect the star colt's chances of bagging a second derby crown. Cran and Chrissie do not share their concerns and have barely given the draw a second thought since it was announced on Tuesday. And there are two very good reasons for that. The first is that Krug is showing every sign that he will go into the New Zealand Derby at his absolute peak. And the second is that they have got full faith in driver Blair Orange.  “We are not too worried about the draw, there are a lot worse places he could be, like one on the second row or somewhere like that,” Cran said. “If the emergency inside him comes out he will come into (barrier) 8 and at least from there he will be out of trouble.” “Blair can decide when he wants to put him in the race, naturally there will be plenty inside us wanting to get the markers first.” “We can let that unfold and it will be up to Blair to work it out from there.” “He is the man for the job and we are happy he is driving for us and not against us.” Krug showed exactly how hard he is going to be to beat on Friday night when backing up his Northern Derby win by thrashing many of his rivals in the Flying Stakes at Addington a fortnight ago. Cran admitted he has been a little stunned by how much his star three-year-old has thrived since his standout win.  “It is incredible to say, but I can’t believe how much he has improved since his last run,” Cran said. “It is quite exciting, really.” “I would say that he is a better horse now than he was before the Northern Derby.” “He is maturing all the time and that would be what I would put it down to.” “I couldn’t be happier with him going into this week’s race.” Krug over-raced to set up one of the most stunning derby wins seen in New Zealand with his front-running display in the Northern Derby.  The chances of those scenes playing out again on Friday night are almost impossible.  “There won’t be anything like that again, he doesn’t have the blinds on that got him a bit fired-up up north,” Dalgety said.  “He will be nice and relaxed and he doesn’t need them any more either.” “He is in a really good mental space at the moment and he will have his game face on on Friday night.” Kentuckiana Lodge starts three more runners at Addington on Friday night including Admirable in race 3. The three-year-old has had two trials to prepare for his return to racing following a short break. Though his latest trial effort may have looked sedate, running fourth in moderate time at Ashburton, the Dalgety camp was pleased with it. “We were thinking of starting him last week so we just wanted him to have a quiet trial,” Cran said. “He is fit and ready and I would expect him to go a pretty tidy race first up in that field on Friday night.” Kentuckiana Lodge starts both Cardinal Sin and Invaluable in race 4. Cardinal Sin looks capable of featuring in the 1980m event going on his form. The four-year-old has also had two trials and has pleased his trainers ahead of his first run since November. “He has come back in really nice, his two trials have been good and I am very happy with him,” Cran said. “He is as fit as he can be without having a race and I would like to think he would go pretty good.” “But it is hard to go into a premier night fresh up being overconfident.” Invaluable returns to Addington after a strong second at Winton and a desperately unlucky run at Ascot Park. From barrier 3 the four-year-old looks a place chance in race 4. “He is a quiet achiever and if he were able to get into a nice spot I could see him getting into a dividend-bearing position,” Cran said. Cardinal Sin starts outside his stablemate in barrier 7.   By Jonny Turner

Self Assured gave punters the smoothest of rides when confirming his status as New Zealand’s best pacer when speeding to victory in the Easter Cup at Addington on Saturday night. In a repeat of this season’s New Zealand Cup finish the five-year-old filled the quinella with Spankem to set up a Hayden Cullen trained trifecta in the Group 1 3200m feature. The comfortable watch for Self Assured’s backers came after he found the lead for driver Mark Purdon in the middle stages and then outsprinted his rivals with fast closing sectionals. Incredibly, pulling off the second of two trifectas, completed by Amazing Dream’s third placing, may not have been Cullen’s biggest feat on Saturday. Because having Self Assured primed to win his Group One staying test with just one 1980m race in the last eight weeks rates right up with them. “It was probably the perfect race for him the way it panned out,” Cullen said. “They didn’t go that hard which was probably ideal for him with the way he came into it.” “When he made the front he was always going to be very hard to catch.” The only problem Cullen is facing with the Jean Feiss owned Self Assured is what to do beyond next week. Both the five-year-old and Amazing Dream are scheduled to return to Addington for the Group 2 Superstars Championship. But beyond that the horse harness racing fans want to see the most may not be going anywhere. “He will come back to Addington next week for the Superstars but after that there is not really a lot for him,” Cullen said. “There is the Rangiora Classic later on but not much else, so I am not sure what we will do with him after that.” “At this stage, Jean is keen to keep him in New Zealand, though that could change.” “If there are not any more races programmed then the Maurice Holmes Vase (August-September) would just about be the next race we would be targeting.” Spankem is in a similar position, but Amazing Dream has a clearly defined path with the Taylor Mile, New Zealand Messenger Championship and Harness Jewels on her schedule. Cullen and Feiss enjoyed more success at Addington when True Fantasy booked her ticket to the Group One Sires Stakes Fillies Championship Final at Alexandra Park when heading a Cullen trifecta in a heat of the series on Saturday night. “She was very good in her first start, A Bettor You just had the wood on her with her race experience, but she really sharpened up off that run,” Cullen said. “And she should sharpen up a bit more after tonight as well.” Cullen completed a spectacular night when Shan Noble and Luke John ran the quinella in a minor event. Most importantly, the pair put in excellent trials ahead of next week’s New Zealand Derby. “Shan Noble has done nothing wrong, he didn’t have a hard run and it was probably ideal leading into next week.” “Luke John just kept finding the line, Tony (Herlihy) drove him last week and said a bit more distance would be right up his alley.” “He will stay all day.” Before Cullen took over the former All Stars Stable property it was announced that Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen would be on hand to help the trainer prepare his team for premier meetings. That was the case ahead of Saturday night’s card and Cullen was quick to praise the champion trainers for helping him enjoy a brilliant night. “I have to give a lot of thanks to Mark and Natalie, they have been a great help leading into this meeting.” “It’s pretty incredible that you can call on people of their experience.” “And they drove the horses brilliantly, as well.” Cullen also produced the second and third placegetters, Ellaria Sand and Wy Fi, behind emerging star Highgrove in the New Zealand Two-Year-Old Trotting Championship. View the full Addington results click here!   By Jonny Turner

Chinese Whisper bucked an Addington trend when announcing himself as an open class force on a big night for Nathan Williamson’s trotters at Addington on Saturday. Sprint races from the much talked about mile starting point at the Christchurch track are supposed to be won by horses that draw handily and race on the speed. But Chinese Whisper did neither when flying home from four-deep on the pegs for a stylish win in his first start north of the Waitaki. And its clear that brilliant speed he showed is going to be a major asset as the Sundon trotter continues to establish himself in open class. “He has got a lot of speed, that was a really good performance,” Williamson said. “To run down Oscar Bonavena is not mean feat, he is a very good horse.” “I was rapt with him.” Patience has been the key to Chinese Whisper’s rise to the top grades for Williamson, wife Katie and her fellow owner, Brendon Franks. The trotter has always had plenty of class and has been hyped to be well above average since his debut as a three-year-old. Just 13 starts over three seasons since then demonstrates just how patiently Williamson has been with Chinese Whisper. “We have been patient with him and taken him along quietly and got him ready to be able and come out and do something like that tonight.” Williamson doubled up and completed the rarest of quinellas when his towering five-year-old Andy Hall took out race 8. The trotter added to his fine record at Addington when holding out Son On Patrick, who Williamson co-bred and sold at the National Yearling Sales. The trainer also bred and trained Son Of Patrick’s half-brother Kiwitrix to run fourth in the same race. Andy Hall showed outstanding staying power when coming from barrier 9 over 1980 to win after sitting parked in the middle stages. “It was a really big effort, I had to ask him and he really dug in,” Williamson said. “It was a great run.” It is no coincidence that his best performances have come at the South Island’s premier harness racing track. And it’s not just the wide-open spaces of Addington that suit the big striding five-year-old. “The thing with him is when it gets tough that is when he is really at his best.” “When they go hard and the pressure goes on he thrives on it.” “He is a really nice big horse.” Willaimson’s stable star Pembrook Playboy flew home for fourth behind Self Assured in his first Group One test in the Easter Cup. The four-year-old will be back at Addington next week to square off with Self Assured and Amazing Dream in the Group Two Superstars Championship. View the full Addington results click here!   By Jonny Turner

If anyone else trained Pembrook Playboy more people may have been left wondering just what he doing at the Winton trials just days out from the Easter Cup. But given the way Nathan Williamson has developed the pacer into one of the best four-year-olds in the country and guided him to a recent hat-trick of group-race wins, few would dare question him. And the astute trainer said there was method behind what he calls his “madness”. “There is method to my madness, the horse is just that well I had to get another run into him,” Williamson said. “He has had plenty of racing and he has had a great preparation but he is just that full of himself it made sense to take him for another runaround.” “The other thing is you don’t want to be going to Addington for a Group One race over two miles short (of fitness).” The fit and in form Pembrook Playboy comes into the Easter Cup having galloped away in his last start at Winton. Williamson is hopeful the pacer can step away much more cleanly on Saturday night despite drawing the often tricky barrier 1. “I think he will be OK, he will be much better having a horse beside him.” “At Winton he was on his own and it didn’t help.” While Pembrook Playboy comes into the Easter Cup rated a standing start flier who made a rare mistake in his last start, the favourite Self Assured is in the opposite position. The five-year-old comes into the race known as a risky standing start exponent who made a rare good beginning in his last attempt the much talked about New Zealand Cup start. While he was not a trialist this week it could be argued Self Assured’s last public appearance was also not typical of a leading Easter Cup contender. The New Zealand Cup winner did not attack the line in his last outing over 1980m behind his stablemates and Amazing Dream and Spankem at Addington last week. Held up for much of the run home, Self Assured could not take any ground off his fellow 20m backmarkers in the run home. But that has not caused any concern between trainer Hayden Cullen and driver Mark Purdon. “Mark was very happy with him, it was just one of those races,” Cullen said. “With the time they ran, Mark was pretty happy with the way he stuck on, he wasn’t disappointed with him at all.” Self Assured goes into the Easter Cup having had just that one 1980m start in the eight weeks leading into the 3200m test. But Cullen has absolutely no doubts about him being fit enough and ready to win. “He is pretty well conditioned, he only had two weeks off over summer, he hasn’t really missed any work,” Cullen said. “I think if he steps away, then on his New Zealand Cup form then he is probably the one to beat.” Spankem has had even less racing in that time, having started for the first time since early January last week. The six-year-old has improved with his fresh up outing and Cullen sees Saturday night’s small field as a big help. “He sprinted a fair way from home last week, he blew out a bit but he stuck on pretty well,” Cullen said. “He had a good puff afterwards and he has improved off it.” “It is just a small field and he is a good sit sprinter so if they go a genuine clip he is always going to get home.” Like Spankem, Amazing Dream has thrived since last week’s race. She looked back to the version of herself seen winning the Auckland Cup with her impressive win over her two stablemates. “She has really thrived, she is probably a little bit better this week than she was last week,” Cullen said. Latest fixed odds prices: Self Assured $2.50, Amazing Dream $3.60, Pembrook Playboy $5, Spankem $5.50.   by Jonny Turner

The decision to send Prop Rock south paid off at Addington on Wednesday when she cleared maidens in style. The five-year-old powered to her first win for Pukekohe trainer Penny Fensom courtesy of a confident drive from John Dunn. After getting back to second last early, Dunn made a three-wide move with Prop Rock at the 1000m and she just kept on trucking. “Johnny drove her good and she went good,” Fensom said. “She has probably been going a bit better than her form suggests.” “She paced a bit rough at the end there, which she can do, I am not really sure why she does that.” Fensom and husband Rhys head up Robert Dunn’s Pukekohe stable. The trainer registering her first win at Addington after she sent Prop Rock south to Dunn’s South Island base in search of more racing opportunities. “It is just the opportunities down there, up here she was going to have three weeks between runs,” Fensom said. “She is not really an Auckland horse, she can’t go right-handed as good as she can left-handed.” “She has already had three starts down there and she might have only been able to have one up here if she was lucky.” Like so many before her, Prop Rock has thrived while working on Woodend Beach. “She went a little bit sore in her feet up here, so we thought the beach would suit her.” “She will stay down there, at this stage it is probably a one-way trip.” Most of Dunn’s stable stars are based at Woodend, targeting the current run of premier meetings at Addington. That means a quieter time for his North Island base. However, it will not last long with races like the Rowe Cup and the Taylor Mile coming up. “There are only six racehorses and we are breaking in three.” “It is quiet, but that is OK, during the carnivals it tends to fill up a bit.” “Obviously Sundees Son will come up for the Rowe Cup.” Prop Rock was to have gone around at Motukarara on Monday but has earned having Easter off following her win. View the Addington results click here!   By Jonny Turner

Driver Jonny Cox heads to Addington on Wednesday to combine with a small but select book of four drives. Cox starts the early favourite for race 7 from his own stable in the consistent Leconte. The pacer looks to have the perfect opportunity to clear maidens from barrier 1 over 1980m. Bookmakers agree and opened him the $2.80 fixed odds favourite. “It is a good race for him, but he has had good opportunities in the past and he probably hasn’t quite hit the line the way he should have,” Cox said. “He has been racing pretty well since he came up here, but he is a funny wee horse at times.” “He definitely gets his chance on Wednesday.” Cox is hopeful gear changes can help Leconte muster enough gate speed to make full use of barrier 1. “We will have a go at getting out.” “The first start he had for me he was on the second row and he was hard on the back of the one in front of him and he wanted to get out.” “But last time he drew 2 and he wasn’t that keen on getting off the gate.” “It will depend on what mood he is in, but I have taken the earplugs off him and put blinds on him, so hopefully that sparks him up a wee bit.” Cox also reunites with the $3.60 second favoruite for race 2 in Cut N Run. The pacer ran a nice second first up before he was slightly disappointing in his last start behind Franco Mac. “I probably over-drove him a wee bit last time, to be fair.” “The week before he felt like he lacked a wee bit of speed but would keep going.” “I thought I would keep the speed on in the race when it backed off a bit.” “He probably did a wee bit too much and he whacked away.” “We might look to drive him a bit quieter this week.” Cox has been able to keep a close eye on Cut N Run’s main rival, his stablemate Willow Bay ($2.10). The reinsman has returned to working in Rolleston for trainer Hayden Cullen after previously working for Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen at the same property. “Willow Bay is not a bad sort of an animal but it is his first start.” “My fellow has probably got a bit of ringcraft on a couple of them, he should be an eachway chance I would think.” Cox also drives $13 chance Ruby’s A Delight in race 8. The John McDermott trained pacer comes into the 1980m event after winning her last start at Motukarara. “I drove her two starts ago when she ran third and she was probably a wee bit unlucky.” “She has got a wee bit of gate speed and can put herself in the race.” “It is not a strong field to step out of maidens into so if she goes as well as she has been she should be a place chance.” Cox also drives Mighty Reactor ($7.50) in race 4 for trainer Brad Mowbray The reinsman’s fiancé Kimberly Butt has driven the horse several times but Cox has not. Butt has filled Cox in on some of Mighty Reactor’s quirks ahead of their first start together. “I have never driven him before, Kim has driven him a wee bit when she worked for Brad.” “He has got a few tricks and a few funny wee steps and he has a bit of a habit of hanging at the wrong time.” “But the motor is there, it is just a matter of holding your breath and hoping he gets around in one piece.” Punters may have noticed that Kimberly Butt has not been driving recently. That is because she is pregnant and she and Cox are expecting their first child in July.   by Jonny Turner

Derby trials do not come any better than the brilliant performance Krug delivered in the Group Two Flying Stakes at Addington on Friday night. The Kentuckiana Lodge star backed up his incredible Northern Derby victory by again thrashing the best of his age-group in the 1980m feature for driver Blair Orange. Cran Dalgety went into Friday night's feature expecting a strong performance from his star pacer. But the trainer admitted he was not expecting Krug to produce quite such a dominant display. “I was expecting him to go a very good race but I didn’t think he would come out and win like he did.” “He is just in a great zone at the moment and we couldn’t be happier with him.” Blair sent Krug straight to the lead and set a strong tempo throughout the Flying Stakes. If any of his fellow drivers were hoping Krug was going to come back to the field on the home turn they were left bitterly disappointed. When the reinsman said go at the top of the straight Krug exploded away from his rivals who were left to fight out the minor placings. “We didn’t really get into talking about too many tactics before the race, I just said to Blair go out there and drive him on your instincts,” Cran said. “Blair summed up the race perfectly, like he always does.” “We have been fortunate enough to have a bit of success with this horse and Blair deserves a lot of credit for the way he has handled him.” Despite being the dominant performer among his age-group over two seasons, Krug remarkably was not rated as the favourite for the New Zealand Derby before Friday night's race. Now there is absolutely no doubt that he is the horse to beat in the Group One feature, in two weeks. Krug's delighted owners celebrate his emphatic win in the Flying Stakes at Addington. The Dalgety stable's focus will now be on putting the finishing touches on Krug for his quest for a second derby title in just his second attempt. “That run was exactly what we were looking for ahead of the derby,” Cran said. “He has run super time and he has had a good hit-out, we couldn’t have asked for much more, really.” “Now we have got two weeks to put the polish on him for the derby and we can’t wait.” Krug stopped the clock in a sensational 2-20.6 time, producing a slick 1-54.2 mile rate. Friday night's victory continued an incredible ride for owners Mike Hanning, Kevin McKerrow, Gary Merlo, Phil and Margaret Creighton, Grant Dickey and Ken Cummings, who took shares in the star colt after Cran selected him at the 2019 National Yearling Sales.   by Jonny Turner

Challengers of the undisputed king of New Zealand trotting will need to bring their best game when Sundees Son continues his incredible season at Addington on Friday night. The Robert Dunn trained six-year-old returns to racing in the Group 3 Lamb & Hayward Trotters Classic after being freshened following his powerful victory in the National Trot at Alexandra Park on New Year’s Eve. On the surface Sundees Son may look a little vulnerable, racing first up on the back of just one quiet trial and having to give his main rivals Muscle Mountain (10m) and Bolt For Brilliance (10m) a headstart from his 20m back mark. But there are no concerns among the Dunn camp that their star trotter is not forward enough to run a huge race. “I am not saying he is going to need the run, but he will improve with it,” Robert Dunn said. “He is pretty sharp, that is for sure.” Sundees Son has done plenty of miles up and down Woodend Beach ahead of his return. And his work suggests he will be able to return in the same headspace that underpinned his brilliant spring and summer campaign. “He is well and he has done a lot of work, obviously,” Dunn said. “Johnny (Dunn) is pretty happy with where he is at and he trotted very nice down the beach this week.” “He is fresh, but he has got a pretty good fresh record.” “It is a pretty good field, but Johnny and Craig (Edmonds) can’t fault him.” “He tells us when he is 100% and he is trotting super at the minute.” Like at any premier meeting in New Zealand, the Dunn stable has a big team entered on Friday night. Dashing Major looks one of the hardest of the Diamond Racing runners to beat in race 4 when he starts alongside stablemates Mighty Looee and A Delightful Act. The three-year-old was just over a length behind leading three-year-olds Pace N Pride and Ragazzo Mach in last week’s Ian Dobson Classic. “It was a good run last week, it was behind two really smart horses,” Dunn said. “He has got a lot of speed and down in grade this week he should be hard to beat.” One Majic Kenny steps out in race 9 for Dunn after disappointing in his recent starts at Alexandra Park when missing away. The trainer is hopeful the talented trotter can show his true worth on Friday night. “He lost his confidence going away, recently.” “He had one bad trial when things went wrong and that has stuck in his mind.” “I bought him down (from Auckland) last Friday and I have been really impressed with how he has been enjoying working on the beach again.” “From 20m and on the unruly he should be able to walk up and trot away nicely.” Steel The Show steps out in race 10 after running fifth to Henry Hubert after being slow away from the tapes at Addington last week. The pacer appeared to be there to strike on the home turn but disappointed late. But Dunn thinks the race should best be forgotten. “The last run didn’t suit him because he was in chase mode after he was slow away.” “It doesn’t suit him at all, he is a horse that needs to get his rhythm.” “He is still learning his gait, he is not the greatest gaited horse in the world but he is getting better.” “I think we will put that race behind us, he should be able to get his rhythm going behind the mobile in that field on Friday night.” Dunn also starts Donegal Carrickfin (race 2), Off N Gone (race 3), Got You Covered (race 8), Passion And Power (race 11) and Surfers Delight (race 11) at Friday night’s premier meeting. View the Addington fields click here!   By Jonny Turner

After a powerful return to racing Tac Mac looks ready to strike at Ascot Park on Thursday. The Brent Shirley trained filly kicked her new campaign off in style when running second to Duke Of Dundee on Northern Southland Cup Day. The effort pleased Shirley and showed the real Tac Mac after her form tailed off at the end of her last campaign. “She has always had the ability but she had a lot of seasonal problems last time in,” Shirley said. “I took her up to Addington and she didn’t settle in up there then she had another couple of starts and I decided to give her a spell.” “She has come up really good and I was very pleased with her workouts before she ran second.” After drawing the second row first up, Tac Mac moves into a much more suitable barrier 4 draw in race 7 for driver Nathan Williamson. Combined with the benefit she has taken from her first up run, the three-year-old looks hard to beat. “She has improved since her first run.” “I gave her plenty of time to get over it and I have been very happy with her work since then.” Like a lot of fillies in the South Island, Tac Mac has the Southland Oaks Final on her agenda. A win on Thursday would just about guarantee the three-year-old a start in the Group Two feature. Several of Tac Mac’s rivals could also boost their qualifying chances in race 7, including Debutante Party, Wattlebank Star and Boarding Pass. Suzie Rocks looks the hardest of the older horses in race 7 to beat after she also ran second first up on Northern Southland Cup Day. Shirley starts two more horses on his home track on Thursday in Battle Axe (race 4) and Tairlaw Toll (race 6). Battle Axe got home strongly for third at Wingatui on Monday but faces a tougher task in his second start this week. “He went quite good at Wingatui on the grass, but that is his level,” Shirley said. “It will be a lot harder for him this time, so he would be a place chance at best.” With Grace clearly looks the horse to beat in race 4. The Robert Dunn trained filly went a big race at Winton last week when working around to sit parked before running second to Captain Pins. The three-year-old will be eligible for the Southland Oaks Final after her second Southland start on Thursday. Shirley has recently taken over the training of Tairlaw Toll ahead of race 6. The pacer has shown plenty of ability in the past but his form has dropped away recently. But his new trainer would not be surprised if Tairlaw Toll produced an improved performance on Thursday. “I have been quite pleased with him since I have had him and he does have a bit of ability.” “He has got a good draw and I think he could be an eachway chance.” Invaluable and A Taste Of Honey looks the hardest horses to beat in race 6. Invaluable sustained a long and wide run at Winton when second to Ivana Legacy last weekend. A Taste Of Honey dug deep for an impressive third when parked throughout Plutonium Lady’s Southern Belle Speed Series Final.   by Jonny Turner

If you thought Cosmic Major was impressive at Addington last week wait until you see him on Wednesday. The Hayden Cullen trained colt is one of several two-year-olds who will be out to secure Sires Stakes Finals berths when heats are run for both fillies and colts. Cosmic Major (4) steps out alongside his stablemates Cut N Run (2) and Franco Mac (1) in heat one of the Sires Stakes Series for colts and geldings following his powerful debut win. After thriving since his sparkling in his work since, the pacer will take top billing among Cullen’s trio and should prove very hard to beat. “It was a nice win last start and he has really sharpened up off the run,” Cullen said. “He is definitely the one to beat out of our three.” Cosmic Major got just the kind of experience his trainer wanted him to have in his first start at the races. Driver Tim Williams sat him off a solid speed and let him power to the line full of confidence. “It panned out really good, we didn’t really want to be in the early burn and there was a bit of speed on and a few lead changes.” “It really played into our hands.” Cut N Run was strong in second behind Cosmic Major last week. Though he was four lengths behind his stablemate in second he had more than five lengths on the rest of the field at the finish. “I thought he was really good,” Cullen said. “He has still got a bit to learn and he is not quite as good as Cosmic Major just yet, but the Bettor’s Delights do improve a lot.” “Hopefully he can keep improving and catch up with the other guy a wee bit.” Cosmic Major and Cut N Run both had the measure of Franco Mac when all three clashed in a recent Ashburton trial. Cullen would not be surprised if the pacer came out and run a better race on Wednesday than that trial may effort may suggest. “I actually really like him, he went a really nice trial at Ashburton a couple of weeks ago.” “He is a nice progressive type, he is a definite place chance, especially where he has drawn.” “I could see him running second or third.” The Cullen trio face stiff competition from two classy geldings from Gavin Smith’s stable. My Ultimate Chevron (5) returns to racing for the first time since his brilliant debut in last month’s Sapling Stakes. James Cagney (3) starts for the first time from Smith on Wednesday on the back of two recent trial wins. The gelding heads to the races having beaten Cosmic Major, Cut N Run and Franco Mac in those efforts. Cullen starts four of the seven runners in Wednesday’s Sires Stakes heat for two-year-old fillies, including Suntan (6), A Bettor You (1), True Fantasy (3) and Emmy (5). Suntan’s strong debut in the Leonard Memorial Stakes means she rates as the trainer’s leading chance just ahead of A Bettor You. “I think you would have to go Suntan on her first up run and with the draw (1) A Bettor You, you would have to put them one and two,” Cullen said. True Fantasy beat all three of her stablemates in a recent trial and though Cullen rates her highly he is wary that Suntan and A Bettor You have more experience than her. “It was a nice trial, she is a horse with a bit of ability.” “She will improve on whatever she does on Wednesday.”” “She should be an eachway chance.” Emmy also beat Suntan and A Bettor You as the four Cullen runners went to the line close together in their recent trial. “She is one that hasn’t shown a lot at home but every time she has stepped off the property she has really improved.” The Cullen quartet look to have a big job on their hands to down North Island raider. Chantilly (4). The Barry Purdon and Scott Phelan trained filly staged an incredible recovery to run fourth after being checked and losing vital ground in her last start in the Delightful Lady Classic at Alexandra Park.    by Jonny Turner

Belle’s Boy took his turn in the limelight while he could when bolting in by six lengths at Wingatui yesterday for Eastern Southland trainer Bruce Wallace. The pacer finally lived up to the faith his trainer has had in him when powering up the rising Wingatui straight to win race 1. The win rounded out a perfect three days for Wallace after Leer scored an effortless debut win at Winton on Saturday. Under normal circumstances, Belle’s Boy might take top billing in the popularity stakes at Wallace’s Chatton (near Gore) stables following his emphatic display. However, he is set to live in the shadow of his stablemate given the booming reputation Leer has gained following her impressive trials displays and comfortable debut victory. Just how good the American Ideal filly is is a mystery to most harness racing fans considering her steady 1-57.9 (1609m) winning time and because driver Brent Barclay handed her such a soft trip in the trail. Wallace admitted he is no different and does not know yet how good Leer could be. But he is certain he has a very serious filly on his hands. “You train a lot of horses over the years and they are OK, but there has never been one that has jumped out of the bridle like this one.” Big money offers and interest in buying the filly has flowed since her victory. At this stage Wallace and wife Maree have no plans to sell. “I am at a stage of life where money isn’t everything anymore,” Wallace said. “When I was sharemilking and trying to buy a farm money ruled my life.” “Now I have got to this stage it would be nice to take a chance.” “I said to one guy who rang up that if you want to buy her you would be buying a forty-year-dream.” Rather than simply jumping in the sulky for the first time at the races on Saturday, Barclay continued a four-year journey with Leer. The reinsman had trained her dam Bay Jet and prepared Leer’s half-brother Wildwest before he was sold to West Australia after winning his debut by a massive 12 and a half lengths. When Wallace asked Barclay about Bay Jet they agreed American Ideal was a good match for her and the driver said he would be there to drive the resulting foal when it got to the races. “Brent had her mother and he said she had a lot of speed but she had a lot of tying up issues and I think eventually soundness got the better of her,” Wallace said. “I was offered the choice of a few mares by Brent McIntyre at Macca Lodge and I chose her.” Wallace credited equine dentist Jason Enright for being another key person in Leer’s journey to the races. The filly had bad hanging tendencies while Wallace was working her up, which Enright helped correct with some serious dental work. The now streamlined Leer will head to Wyndham next week as she works towards some serious goals her trainer has for her, which include the Southland Oaks.   by Jonny Turner

Driver Jo Herbert wound back the clock almost 18 years when she notched a race-to-race double at Motukarara on Sunday. Herbert’s double was her first since 2003 and it came after she drove Taumata VC to win race 4 and Hello Adele to win race 5. The reinswoman kept herself in her family’s good books when producing a perfectly timed run with the Colin and Julie DeFilippi trained Taumata VC. The victory was a turnaround for the pacer after she could not capitalise on an even better run in her last start at Addington. But the difference on Sunday was the four-year-old was in a winning mood. “She has been due for that one for a while, Herbert said. “She has always had the ability, you go back to her trials and she has always had that speed and stamina.” “I think she got herself worked up more than anything last time.” “She is a moody mare, basically.” “Today she was actually not too bad for her.” Taumata VC is owned by Herbert’s uncle Doug and his children Joey and Kimba. Herbert made it back to back wins when Hello Adele produced a gritty effort to take out race 5. The Philip Beveridge trained mare was caught wide early before eventually getting to the parked position and then into the one-one. Normally considered a sit-sprint type, the five-year-old shrugged off her early work when proving too tough for her rivals. “For a sit-sprinter, she did a bit of work, we were pretty blown away,” Herbert said. “She was unlucky at Westport and at Reefton it was a funny one because the two in front got away on her and she was never going to beat them.” “I was hoping she was going to be in the first three, but I wasn’t expecting her to go that good today.” Sunday’s double was Herbert’s first since she won with the Paul Kerr trained duo of Pascale Bromac and Speed Monster at Rangiora in April of 2003. Kerr also got in on the winning action at Motukarara on Sunday when producing Duffy Hollow to win race 11 with Tim Williams in the sulky. Ross Cameron also scored a race-to-race double at Sunday’s meeting. Cameron doubled up for the first time in his short career when Manjimup scored a tough win in race 7 and Not Really Blonde produced a late surge to take out race 8.   by Jonny Turner

Four quality drives await junior reinswoman Kerryn Tomlinson at Wingatui on Monday. Bookmakers are backing Tomlinson to enjoy a good afternoon at Forbury Park’s dual-code meeting, rating each of her four drives either first or second favourite. Olive Cook heads Tomlinson’s handy book following her solid fresh up second at Addington last week. The Peter and Mitchell Robertson trained mare looks to get a royal chance to strike winning form in race 5. “We were really happy with her at Addington,” Tomlinson said. “She was fresh up and she should be a little bit fitter this time.” “And the race on Monday looks a little bit easier, so she should be a good chance.” Olive Cook opened the $3.10 favourite for race 5 on the back of her second to Immer Besser last Thursday. Lincoln Moment, to be driven by Tomlinson’s sister Sheree, looks the main threat to Olive Cook. The Shane Matheson trained pacer struggled in his last start on a wet Oamaru track but should be back on firmer ground on Monday. Lincoln Moment has been rated the $4.80 second-favourite by bookmakers. Tomlinson also combines with Sundons Flyer in race 4. The Bruce Negus trained mare free-falls back in class considering she raced Dark Horse in free-for-all company two starts ago. If she brings her A-game the eight-year-old should offer plenty. “She hasn’t been going as well as she can but if she was on her game she would be a good chance,” Tomlinson said. “She likes grass and she is best driven with a sit so hopefully she can get a nice run somewhere.” “It’s a long straight at Wingatui so hopefully she is running home over top of them.” Sundons Flyer opened at $5 odds in fixed odds betting before being backed into $4.60. Top Pocket Chance was rated the $4 favourite for race 4 on market opening. Tomlinson combines with the consistent Summars in race 2. It will not be easy for the Ross Wilson trained mare to take on race winners as a maidener, but her form means she deserves good respect. “It is never easy being a maiden taking on those horses that have won races,” Tomlinson said. “But she is very consistent, she looks like she will need the right run and if she gets it she should be a good chance.” Summars was rated the $5.50 equal second favourite with Whangamata on fixed-odds market opening. Deborah’s Gem, who trialled well at Oamaru last week, was rated the $5 favourite. Tomlinson also drives Olive Cook’s stablemate Itz The Con Artist in race 3. The pacer worked too hard in his first-up effort when seventh at Addington last week. From barrier 1 the four-year-old should get a much more economical trip on Monday. “She just got caught a bit wide and had to do too much work at Addington,” Tomlinson said. “From [barrier] 1 she should get a nice run.” Itz The Con Artist opened at a $3.40 fixed odds win price, behind the $3.20 favourite for race 3, Arizona Doll. View the fields for Wingatui click here!   by Jonny Turner

Normal transmission is set to resume at Motukarara on Sunday for Bettor Believe who is among a nice book of drives for Colin DeFilippi. The pacer trained by DeFilippi and wife Julie goes into race 8 after blotting his exceptional copybook form line when breaking a hopple in his last outing at Addington. Better Believe had put a string of six placings together prior to that race, mostly on grass tracks. The five-year-old steps back on to his favourite surface on Sunday and it would take a brave punter to bet against him not at least putting himself in place contention once again. “He broke a hopple last time and that was the end of that,” Colin DeFilippi said. “But in saying that he drew the second line and got back a bit too far, so he probably wasn’t going to get any money anyway.” “But he is off the front on Sunday and if he begins like he normally does then he is a chance.” “He is probably the best chance of the ones from our stable.” Bettor Believe it opened at a $3.60 win price and $1.60 win price in fixed odds betting. DeFilippi rates Aldebaran Floss in race 6 as the best of his winning chances from his drives outside of his own stable. The Murray Alfeld trained trotter charged home into second in an excellent effort from off the pace in her last start at Addington. “She should be the hardest to beat from the draw (3),” DeFilippi said. “She is a nice filly.” Aldebaran Floss opened at a generous $4.40 fixed odds win price. Terror Maria also looks a strong eachway chance for DeFilippi in race 7. The Bob Butt trained mare produced sound form before missing away and then racing wide in her last start at Methven. “Bob has got a bit of time for her, she has gone some good races, she is a chance.” Terror Maria has been rated at $9.50 and $2.70 in fixed odds markets. DeFilippi will jump behind The Artful Dodger in race 3 for the first time since he converted to pacing after previously driving the horse as a trotter. Two gritty efforts for second in his last two starts make the five-year-old far from the worst proposition. “He has been going good races and he can do a bit of work, so he wouldn’t be the worst chance,” DeFilippi said. The Artful Dodger was rated at juicy $21 win odds and $5 place odds on Saturday night. DeFilippi and wife Julie start both Sweet Heaven and Taumata VC in race 4. DeFilippi hopes Taumata VC can bounce back to form after disappointing in her last start at Addington. “She let me down last start.” “I went to the trials at Ashburton on the Tuesday and she jogged 3.06 (for 2400m), I never pulled the plugs and never turned the stick.” “I don’t know if that took the edge off her or not but she was disappointing on the Sunday.” “The second row will make it hard because she is one that needs to be on the pace. “It will depend on how she gets away.” “And it is much the same for Sweet Heaven.” Sweet Heaven was at $10 and $3 and Taumata VC was at $17 and $4.60 in fixed odds betting on Saturday night. The DeFilippi stable also start Don’t Write Me Off in race 2, who has been rated at fixed odds of $19 and $4.50.   by Jonny Turner

Robyns Playboy looks the best placed of the Winton Cup runners facing mission almost impossible on Saturday. The Ross and Chris Wilson trained pacer and several of his key rivals will take on the massive task of turning the tables on Southern star Pembrook Playboy following his scintillating win in last weekend’s Northern Southland Cup. Robyns Playboy rallied hard for third for driver Sheree Tomlinson in the Group 3 event after their chances of getting closer were effectively extinguished when they were held up on the home turn. “Getting held up didn’t help, but Sheree said she was more worried about holding third than chasing the second horse,” Chris Wilson said. “He did blow out a wee bit because they went that hard.” “But he has come through it fine and I think he will back up alright.” Robyns Playboy made a flying beginning in last week’s feature, leading soon after the start from his 10m handicap. Though he goes back another 10m this week there are two key factors in his favour when he reunites with regular driver Craig Ferguson. The five-year-old gets an extra 10m advantage over Pembrook Playboy who starts from the 40m back mark and the race shortens from 2700m to 2400m. All those factors could add up to Robyns Playboy being the hardest for Pembrook Playboy to beat or the best quinella option for punters to take with him. “He will turn his 20m handicap into 10m, he started so good last week it was phenomenal, really,” Wilson said. “It would be good if he was able to get to the front.” “Though if Pembrook Playboy came knocking we wouldn’t be scared to hand up to him.” “We don’t give Craig too many driving instructions, so it will be up to him.” Northern Southland Cup runner-up Vintage Cheddar was strong behind Pembrook Playboy last weekend and again looks one of his biggest threats. The Alister Black trained pacer gets a 10m advantage over the favourite from his 30m handicap after starting on level marks with him in their last clash. U May Cullect will be in the same situation when he starts from the 30m mark. The popular pacer was caught back in the field on fast closing sectionals last week and faded when launching a wide run. The Wilson stable also start Hans Ideal in race 5 and Robyns Shadow in race 10 on Saturday. Robyns Shadow was buried on the pegs and held up on the home turn at Ascot Park last weekend before running on nicely behind Duke Of Dundee. Starting from barrier 8 looks a negative for the pacer, but the Wilson camp does not think that ends his winning chances. “He got home really good last weekend, we were really happy with him,” Wilson said. “Because we are driving him with a sit I don’t mind that draw.” “His work was really good this week.” Hans Ideal looks decent eachway hope in race 5. The mare drops back in grade after running a solid seventh in a hotly contested graduation final won by Lifes A Beach at Ascot Park last week. Well-travelled mare Plutonium Lady looks the horse to beat in Saturday’s Southern Belle Speed Series Final. The Mark Jones trained mare will trek almost the length of the country to compete in the mile feature after winning back-to-back group races in her last two starts at Alexandra Park. Though she has not been asked to show gate speed on many occasions recently, Jones thinks she has all the necessary assets to take advantage of barrier 5 for driver Sam Ottley. “If you look at her last start she almost crossed them from out wide.” “She is pretty quick off the gate if you want her to be and she is pretty adaptable.” “So, Sam will have plenty of options.” Yankee Party, who starts from barrier 7 looks the biggest threat to Plutonium Lady.   by Jonny Turner

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