Day At The Track
Search Results
1 to 16 of 74
1 2 3 4 5 Next »

By Jonny Turner    Shartin’s baby brother showed he has his share of his family’s ability when speeding to an impressive qualifying win at the Ashburton trials on Tuesday. The Tintin In America pacer from Live Or Die mare Bagdarin, named Knockawarwon,  has big shoes to fill considering his sister already has her name etched in harness racing history as the world’s fastest ever mare.  The 3yr-old, bred and trained by Shartin’s breeder Grant Crabbe, has not only revealed he has the ability to make some kind of name for himself in the sport with his trial win.  He has shown he is doing even better than his star sister at the same stage of their careers. “He is a bigger horse, he is taller and he is faster,” Crabbe said.  “He has always been able to run a half [800m] around my track in a second to half a second faster than Shartin.” Shartin qualified in 3.05.1 for 2400m from behind the mobile, four years and four days prior to Knockawarwon qualifying in 3.03.7. Baby brother showed off his speed by dashing his last 400m in 26.2sec on Tuesday. The impressive display came in the horse’s first public appearance.  “First time in a race cart, first time in a race saddle and first time on a race track,” Crabbe said. “He is a very sensible horse, he relaxes, he is one of those ones you’re lucky to have around.” “He has got great manners and he is a stunningly gaited horse.” Knockawarwon will not be seen at the races in the coming weeks, with his breeder-trainer opting to take a patient approach with the promising pacer. “I am going to turn him out for six weeks, because he has only really just turned three -  being a late November foal.” “I thought he is such a nice horse and he has everything right, so if I give him a nice spell now for six weeks, or so, he will be right for racing around February or March.” Knockawarwon’s name was developed from what could be considered a phonetic or mangled spelling of Ngakawau – a region on the West Coast of the South Island. The 3yr-old is partly raced by Crabbe’s daughter, Kylie, and her partner, Michael Mumm. Kylie came in to the ownership of the horse after Crabbe injured his neck and could have been left unable to work Knockawarwon. Mumm’s friends and family, who are from the Ngakawau region, subsequently joined the horse’s ownership. The group had only had one serious offer, which totalled over six figures, before Tuesday’s trials. Crabbe said they declined that proposal and were likely to decline subsequent offers unless they were sizeable. “The guys on the coast said they want to race him - unless the money was reasonable - it is hard to get a nice horse.” “Despite all of the publicity he has had through Shartin, we have only had one phone call from people offering to buy him.” Crabbe has not yet broken in the next foal from Bagdarin, a yearling by A Rocknroll Dance named Done Rockn. The horse is to be gelded this week after displaying coltish tendencies. “He is a roaring, very mature type of horse.” “He is a stunning horse, he is probably the pick of the family on looks.” “He looks like he could go as a 2yr-old.” Bagdarin was served by Gold Ace last season and is due to give birth to a foal by the sire in the coming weeks. Crabbe also plans to put the mare back in foal to Gold Ace. Part of the inspiration for that decision is because he has a 2yr-old by the sire from another of his broodmare’s in Cassie’s Medley, which he rates very highly.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Canterbury horseman Jesse Alford became doubly popular with his family when scoring his first win as a trainer with Held To Ransom at Wyndham on Sunday.  Alford missed watching the victory up close after putting family before going to the races and took in the win while attending a baby shower for expectant partner Josie Reid. Held To Ransom's win meant Reid, who is due to give birth in January, did not just receive baby-related gifts at the celebration. And the 5yr-old's victory meant she was not the only one going home from the event with a present. Alford races Held To Ransom with his mother, Petra Curnow, Reid, her brother, Campbell Reid, and her sister-in-law, Joelle Reid. The trainer's family members came into the mare's ownership after Alford struck up a deal with his employer, Andrew Stuart. "I joked to Andrew one day about five weeks ago, and said `would you take a certain amount of money for the horse?"' Alford said. "He looked at me and said `yes', so, I messaged a couple of people that I knew were keen on getting a horse." The purchase of the pacer prompted Alford to apply for his trainer's licence. Alford did not have wait long to strike his first success with that licence as Held To Ransom's win came in just his second start for his stable. The Cantabrian was keen to purchase the Live Or Die mare as he and Stuart were both aware of the horse's ability. She has been unable to show much of her potential at the races because of hoof problems. "She is quite a good mare. We think she can win a couple, but she has got a lot of issues," Alford said. Alford trains Held To Ransom at Woodend Beach to help the mare's battle with her feet issues. Yesterday's win gave him quick reward for the earlier starts he has each morning before going to work for Stuart. "I normally get up a bit earlier and train her from the beach and swim her a lot," Alford said. "I feed breakfast to her and then go to Andrew's place and then come back in the afternoon and finish up with her." Alford said he would have won his first start as a trainer with the horse had he not handed the lead away in her first start from his stable. The trainer's commitments in Christchurch meant Jonny Cox drove Held To Ransom to win on Sunday.  Rather than being frustrated at missing out on the winning drive, Alford was happy Cox was able to be the driver who brought home his first winner. "It was awesome that Jonny could win with her.“ “He is one of my best mates - he is the reason I am in racing." Stuart, who developed the horse before selling her to Alford's family, also earned credit as the winning breeder alongside partner Becky Sutorius. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    The lure of a penalty free win has progressive Canterbury pacer Yorkshire trekking to Wyndham on Sunday. The Steven McRae trained 4yr-old heads south after adding to his nearly perfect race record with a fighting win on Ashburton Flying Stakes day. Yorkshire has looked well up to competing at the New Zealand Cup Carnival in the three wins from  just four starts. The appeal of a penalty free win has outweighed taking the A Rocknroll Dance pacer to the nation’s biggest harness racing stage.  “It is a $15,000 race and penalty free for junior drivers, so it is a good opportunity for him,” McRae said. “He has won three races pretty quickly, so it he could get a penalty free one it would be ideal.” “He has shot up the grades, so he will be racing the big fish soon and he will still be a pretty green horse.” Yorkshire’s greenness was on show in his last start win at Ashburton. The horse was headed in the straight when his mind was not fully on the race in front of him, before he rallied again for driver Craig Thornley and won. “Craig said he was as green as anything,” McRae said. “Coming up to the bend it was a matter of what he was going to win by.” “The others come up to him and run past him before he went again and he pulled away at the post.” “He feels like he will run all day - he is definitely good enough.” Canterbury junior driver John Morrison has been charged with keeping Yorkshire’s mind on the job on Sunday.  The combination of Yorkshire’s greenness and his quick rise through the harness grades means McRae goes in to the 2400m handicap with full respect for his horse’s rivals. “It is quite a good field – there are two or three that could easily beat him and he could even beat himself.” Leading Southern pacer Robyns Playboy will chase the first penalty free win of his eight-win career in Sunday’s event for reinswoman Sheree Tomlinson. The Ross and Chris Wilson trained 4yr-old comes in to the Hunter Family Handicap after producing a big finish to win the Tuapeka Cup. Robyns Playboy (30m) will give Yorkshire (10m) a 20m head start on Sunday. Sunday’s race features the return of former smart 3yr-old Mighty Flying Art. The 4yr-old ran second behind Paddyproudfoot in his only workout ahead of his return to racing.  It is possible McRae may campaign Yorkshire on the Otago and Southland Christmas and New Year racing circuit following Sunday’s race.  However the pacer could also head to the spelling paddock over summer. “He has only had four starts, but he has been in work eight or nine months, so he will tell us when he is ready for a wee spell,” McRae said.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner    Westwood Beach pacer Spirit Of St Louis showed his class on the nation’s biggest harness racing stage when winning at the New Zealand Cup Carnival’s Show Day meeting at Addington yesterday.  The 3yr-old scored the biggest victory of his fleeting career when dashing along the inner to win race 3, the South Of The Waitaki event, for trainer Graeme Anderson and driver Matthew Williamson. The win gave Cantabrian Trevor Casey a race to race double as a breeder and owner after Lone Star Lad took out the previous event. Casey races Spirit Of St Louis with of a crew of Anderson’s owners who are spread between Canterbury and Southland. The 3yr-old’s win continued a brilliant winning strike rate Anderson has built with Casey’s breed. It’s an association that started when the pair were having morning tea at Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen’s All Stars stable after watching their horses work. “It all started when Trevor sent me a horse called All Star Magician,” Anderson said. “I had Titan Banner at Mark and Natalie’s place and we were there one day having morning tea.” “Trevor offered the horse to me because Mark was finished with him, so I took him home.” “We ended up winning three in a row with him before we sold him.” Anderson and Casey combined to win three races with Bettor Sensation before Spirit Of St Louis arrived in Dunedin. Anderson admitted the pacer did not look like a potential standout when he got him. “He was just a wee thing and he had a horrible big split on one leg.” “But he has developed in to a nice horse, he has got high speed and a cruisy nature.” Spirit Of St Louis’ victory took his career record to three wins and a second placing from four starts. Anderson said he will need to carefully place the horse as his rating continues to rise. “He has got up in the ratings pretty quickly, but we are going to have to keep going.” “He has got the Sires Stakes Silver next and then there is a 3yr-old race for him at Gore.” “At least in those races he is racing his own class.” “I would love to give him a month off after Gore and then get him ready for races like the [New Zealand] derby and the Southern Supremacy.” Williamson was denied another driving win when Lone Star Lad out-sprinted Fanny Hill to win race 2. The victory was a deserved one after the trotter, bred and solely raced by Casey, had campaigned consistently throughout the spring. Friday’s race could be the last time Lone Star Lad starts from trainer Regan Todd’s stable. The 5yr-old is under off to Australian buyers. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner  Patience was rewarded and the winner’s podium overflowed with happy owners when Chase Auckland sprinted to victory in the New Zealand Free-For-All at Addington yesterday. Driver Tim Williams helped the All Stars pacer get group 1 rewards for his consistent spring when securing a perfect run in the trial that set up the 5yr-old’s win. The win meant the Addington Birdcage was again flooded with jubilant owners as the large Alabar Racing Syndicate celebrated their pacer’s first win in an open class group 1 feature.  Syndicate manager, Ivan Behrnes, poured praise on Williams after the race and not just for his cool and calm drive. The reinsman has been instrumental in helping Chase Auckland developing in to a genuine open class force, Behrnes said.  “He can be a bit of a handful, as you could see after the race, but he has been really in the zone in his races this season.” “It is a credit to Tim, you can often see them just going around in the prelim on his own, keeping him relaxed.” “They have really got a great combination since he has become his regular driver.” A patient approach from his trainers has also been key to Chase Auckland developing from one-time age group star to top line Grand Circuit performer. All Stars trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen did not rush the horse after he suffered a muscle problem that set his 4yr-old season back.  “Mark and Natalie kept saying be patient, he wasn’t ready for these kind of races last year, it was too soon for him,” Behrnes said.  “But this season everything has gone perfectly and he has looked a picture.” “He has had a fantastic build up, he has looked a picture and we were hopeful he could develop in to a stayer.” “He has always had the speed, which you could see again today.” Many expected Chase Auckland to blast off the arm and easily slot in to the trail behind the likely leader, Classie Brigade. That was not the case when the newly relaxed Chase Auckland was too chilled out behind the mobile and did not display the blazing gate speed he has in the past. “I was back off the gate - It’s the first time he has raced from behind the mobile this season,” Williams said.  “But it just shows how quick out the others were.” Despite the early moves not playing out as expected, Chase Auckland and Williams still landed in the trail behind Classie Brigade. In a complete turnaround in race fortunes from the New Zealand Cup, the breaks went Chase Auckland’s way when they went against his stablemates in the New Zealand Free-For-All. Spankem was unable to take the lead from Classie Brigade and Cruz Bromac went roughly, losing a handy spot. An overflowing winners podium after Chase Auckland's FFA win                           --HRNZ photo On Tuesday, Chase Auckland copped the bad luck in Cruz Bromac’s New Zealand Cup. The pacer was forced to make his run wide on the track after two of his rivals started stopping quickly in front of him. The Auckland Reactor gelding charged home pacing the fastest closing 400m and 200m sectional times of the great 3200m race.  The Alabar Racing Syndicate were left wondering what might have been after having to settle for fourth placing.  “We were so disappointed on cup day, he was in a excellent spot and Tim drove him tremendously,” Behrnes said.  “He was ready to go today after running the fastest sectionals in the cup.” “It was a huge thrill.” Classie Brigade, who also came out of the New Zealand Cup with a hard luck story held second in the New Zealand Free-For-All, a length from Chase Auckland. Cruz Bromac recovered from his early gallop to produce a huge performance to run third.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner The burning desire to make up for what could have been in the New Zealand Cup should set up a sensational early battle in today’s Junior Free-For-All at Addington. Few came off the track after Cruz Bromac’s win in Tuesday’s feature with a more agonising hard luck story than the camp that races third placegetter Classie Brigade. Driver John Dunn was seen desperately trying to find clear racing room for the 7yr-old trained by his father Robert. Unfortunately, a gap only came after the horse’s winning hope evaporated before the driver’s eyes. “There was a gap there nicely for him, but with Spankem not quite kicking like he usually does it closed on him,” Robert Dunn said. “Johnny said he though the run was going to be nicely there for him and it closed as quick as it opened.” John Dunn has already told the media this week that he has no plans to be behind any horse when the gate leaves for today’s 1980m sprint. Trying to hold the lead from his ace barrier 1 draw is a plan wholeheartedly endorsed by his father. “You can’t waste a good draw like barrier one and he has got great gate speed,” the trainer said. “So he will be going forward and we will have to see what happens after that.” Not being able to fully let down with his run on Tuesday suggests Classie Brigade should go in to today’s $200,000 feature without any hangover effect from the New Zealand Cup. Dunn confirmed his stable have been thrilled with the way he has come through the race. “He has pulled up super, we are really thrilled with him this week.” Chase Auckland, who starts beside Classie Brigade in barrier 2, could lay claim to the New Zealand Cup’s second biggest hard luck story. The pacer had clear air for all of the run home, but had make his finish wider than any horse in the race. Both San Carlo and Mach Shard lost ground around the home turn, hindering Chase Auckland’s momentum and forcing him around them. “Just the way the race ended up being run, we just didn’t get the brakes that we needed,” driver Tim Williams said. “And when San Carlo got around to being parked that took away the option of going around there.” The All Stars 5yr-old faces a massive turn around from the circumstances that put him back in the field in the New Zealand Cup, when moving from the unruly to barrier 2 today. Chase Auckland will not only avoid having to give his rivals a head start, Williams will be able to make use of his blazing gate speed. “It is an ideal draw for him with his gate speed and it is going to be a big help coming off the unruly to be on level terms,” the driver said. “He seems to have pulled up well and he is probably fortunate the way the race was run on Tuesday that he didn’t have a real gut-buster.” It will not just be the horse drawn beside him that could test Classie Brigade’s early speed and possibly cross him to lead. New Zealand Cup runner-up Spankem gets the chance to show off the early zip that saw him lead and go on to win the Miracle Mile from barrier 7. The cup winner Cruz Bromac, who led and won last year’s New Zealand Free-For-All, adds to the speed of the front line after drawing inside his stablemate in barrier 6. Our Uncle Sam and AG’s White Socks could provide some early pressure if they were asked from barrier 3 and 5, respectively. Nandolo (8) and Thefixer (9) look set to drift off the pace early from their wide draws. The Robert Dunn trained Henry Hubert is also likely to bail out of the early burn despite drawing barrier 4. “He has probably raced better over longer trips and I am just a bit weary that he doesn’t have that really high gate speed some of the others have,” Dunn said. The 4yr-old thrilled his trainer with his effort for sixth on Tuesday when finishing just under two lengths from Cruz Bromac after the horse’s interrupted preparation for the race. “If he hadn’t galloped around the first turn he would have been on Classie Brigade’s back and he might have been a chance.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Australasian harness racing fans can thank Oamaru reinswoman Charlotte Purvis, her love of horses and determined attitude, if an open class trotting star is born when Oscar Bonavena contests today’s Dominion at Addington.  On paper it may look as if the All Stars trotter is set to complete just another perfectly plotted path to big race glory for trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. However, a look further back shows the exciting trotter has had to overcome odds exponentially higher than what he will pay to win the 3200m feature just to be in the race. Oscar Bonavena needed a miracle just to be a racehorse and Purvis was the driving force behind making it happen. The Majestic Son trotter was born weak and unable to stand on what vets deemed were legs too crooked for a potential racehorse. Purvis the horse, who was delivered early unexpectedly and started feeding him by bottle, barely showing any signs of life before she quickly began nursing him back to health.  Vets advice to Purvis’s father, John, who bred the horse, was that the foal’s chances of being a successful racehorse were slim because of his crooked legs and his missing out on vital colostrum enriched milk from his dam immediately after being born. Purvis told her father she was not having any of that talk and continued to hand feed the foal. "The vet said because his legs were not that straight and because he had not been fed colostrum straight away he didn’t have much chance of making a racehorse,” she said.  "But I told Dad he wouldn't be worrying about any of that and I kept looking after him.” After helping keep the foal alive, Purvis handed over duties to Nevele R Stud staff, who continued to help Oscar Bonavena get on his feet. “After a couple of days we were able to get the mare and foal to Nevele R and they kept feeding him.” “Eventually he was strong enough to stand on his own and then drink off his mother.” “As he got older his legs got stronger and he was perfectly healthy.” Purvis’ early work with the trotter meant he was almost certain to end up in her care. Her father sent her the trotter and Oscar Bonavena was to be a “project horse” for the horsewoman and her partner, reinsman Matthew Williamson. Oscar Bonavena soon showed the only project he was concerned about was running fast. He went on to win his first start as a 2yr-old before pushing All Stars trotter Enhance Your Calm, who was seen as an unbeatable force at the time, in his Sires Stakes win. That performance led to Oscar Bonavena being sold by John Purvis in a big money deal that saw him transfer from Phil Williamson’s barn to the All Stars stable.  Mark Purdon trialed the horse for his new owners – his father, the former champion trainer, Roy Purdon, and former New Zealand trainer Chris Ryder, who runs a successful stable in New Jersey. The master trainer-driver said Oscar Bonavena gave him the feel of a good horse as soon as he sat behind him. “He just gave me a great feel,” Purdon said.  “Phil is great with the trotters and he had a very high opinion of him, so that gave me a bit more confidence that he was going to be a good buy.” Months later Purdon’s new owners faced similar vets advice about Oscar Bonavena to what  the Purvis family had received earlier – that his legs were not up for racing. More specifically, the horse was diagnosed with a cyst on his knee, a rare condition that ruled out racing.  Purdon admitted there was a time when he Oscar Bonavena’s racing prospects were very bleak. “It was a lot of money to pay for a horse and there was a time when it looked like we could have done our money.” “But everything is back on track now, he is good and sound and we look like we have a very exciting horse on our hands.” Some high level veterinary research coupled with Purdon’s genius horsemanship combined to help Oscar Bonavena’ recover from the potentially career ending injury.   The troubled knee has held up so well since, it has allowed him to catapult to the top of the New Zealand trotting ranks in his seven starts since May.  And apart from one standing start mishap, that did not stop him winning, everything has gone perfectly.   “He had a great preparation and I think when we nominated him he was about 45th in the ranking for the Dominion and now he is right up the ladder and come in to favorite,” Purdon said.  “So, he has had a great prep and I couldn’t be happier with him.” Ryder will fly to be at Addington on Friday, while Roy Purdon is expected to watch on from Auckland. Purvis and her father will also be on hand to watch Oscar Bonavena’s first attempt at open class group 1 racing. The thrill they will get if he is able to win will be just as big as if the trotter was still officially theirs.  “We will be there and it will be very exciting - I still get a huge thrill from seeing him race,” Purvis said.  “Every time I am at the races and he is in I go down and see him, I can’t wait.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Longtime owners and an emerging trainer combined to score their biggest wins when Oamaru trotter Rydgemont Son rocked New Zealand Cup day punters on Tuesday. Cup day bettors were left wondering why they unusually let a Williamson trained trotter go out at massive odds of 50 to one odds after the 5yr-old powered home from off the speed to win. Rydgemont Son’s effort in middle grade company notched a career best win as a trainer Brad Williamson. Williamson was not among those who under rated the well related trotter going in to Tuesday’s race. “I wouldn’t say I was surprised, I was quite confident he would go a good race, but I wasn’t expecting anything because we all know how hard it is on cup day,”the trainer-driver said. “But, I was confident the horse was good enough if everything went to plan.” “It was a big thrill.” Rydgemont Son showed how much progression he has made in his past three starts with his faultless display in front of a large Addington crowd. The 5yr-old began his campaign with a big win at Forbury Park before making mistakes in subsequent outings. The horse then got his act together in his two starts prior to putting together a perfect performance on Tuesday. “We are still not out of the woods from him yet,” Williamson said. “He still gets himself a bit excited sometimes and that is why he gallops.” “He will win more races, but he has just had a few issues that have kept him from being in good form a bit longer.” Rydgemont Son is by Majestic Son from former 10-win race mare Domination. That makes him a half brother to multiple race winners The Dominator and Rydgemont Milly. The Dominator also raced on NZ Cup day, galloping out of another event early. Rydgemont Son is raced by Ray and Joan Scott, of St. Andrews. Ray Scott told Williamson Rydgemont Son’s win was his biggest thrill in harness racing. “They have been in the game a long time, they raced the mother Domination,” Williamson said. “Ray said that was the biggest thrill he’d had - getting a winner on cup day.” Williamson scored another career highlight at Addington, earlier this year, when Cracker Hill notched a Group 1 second placing at the Harness Jewels. The 3yr-old is back in work and progressing towards a return on the Otago-Southland summer racing circuit. Williamson hopes to bank some Harness Jewels qualifying money before targeting early 3yr-old trotting events with Cracker Hill. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Cheers of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” rang out from the Addington birdcage after New Zealand’s leading horse people combined with Australian owned pacer Cruz Bromac to win the New Zealand Cup yesterday. Cruz Bromac was an all-Australian pacer just a month before the two-mile Group 1 feature before his preparation was handed over to champion Rolleston trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen. The All Stars stable’s recipe for New Zealand Cup success was completed when they engaged New Zealand’s record-breaking reinsman, Blair Orange, who produced a perfectly-timed run to win the country’s greatest race in his first drive behind the horse. Though Cruz Bromac would go down in the New Zealand Cup history books as a New Zealand-trained pacer, his part-owner Danny Zavitsanos left no uncertainty among the big Addington crowd that the New Zealand Cup was headed to Melbourne with him. Cruz Bromac’s victory delivered redemption for his group of owners following his effort for fourth in the race last year. The 9yr-old, bred by the late breeding giant Bob McArdle, paced roughly at a vital stage of last year’s race denying himself any chance of victory. “Last year he was unlucky; I really thought the horse should have won or been right in the photo. But this year he is a year older, a year wiser, everything just came to plan.   “What can I say? I am lost for words.” Purdon and Rasmussen’s masterful training ability was on show when Cruz Bromac paced perfectly throughout yesterday’s race. That was far from the case when the horse galloped wildly in a vital lead up race, the Ashburton Flying Stakes. They set about ironing out the often tricky pacer’s wild tendencies. “He hadn’t been with us long before he raced at Ashburton, with the extra time we had with him after, we worked on getting him right,” Purdon said. “I think the key to it was that he was on the inside, because he tends to go roughly the wider he goes.” “It was a great drive from Blair.” Purdon cemented his place in harness racing history with a seventh New Zealand Cup training win, five of them in partnership with Rasmussen. Orange produced a patient drive behind Cruz Bromac to add a New Zealand Cup title to his glittering harness racing record. The record-breaking reinsman had not even sat in a sulky behind the horse until three days prior to yesterday’s race. A trip to the All Stars Rolleston stable for one of the horse’s final training runs was his only contact with Cruz Bromac prior to their win. “It is just incredible, it is what dreams are made of,” Orange said. Cruz Bromac wore down his stablemate, Spankem, to win after the favourite appeared to have every chance to win the race with Purdon in the sulky. “He had his chance, but the distance just isn’t ideal for him,” the trainer-driver said. The hard luck story of the New Zealand Cup came from the camp of third-placed Classie Brigade. Driver John Dunn was desperately searching for clear room for the pacer trained by his father, Robert, for much of the run home after they ran in to a pocket behind the leaders. Classie Brigade got out when Cruz Bromac had the race won to narrowly take fourth from another All Stars pacer in Chase Auckland. The defending champions, Thefixer with Rasmussen in the sulky, battled in to fifth.   Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Owners and racegoers looked on in disbelief as Ultimate Sniper produced a jaw-dropping performance to win the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained 4yr-old set a big Addington crowd buzzing with a tough effort that reminded harness fans why he is New Zealand’s reigning champion 3yr-old. Rasmussen was denied the chance to take the Bettor’s Delight pacer to the front early in the race, when driver Matt Anderson insisted on holding the front with A Bettor Act. That set Ultimate Sniper a massive task to win – one that co-owner Phil Kennard admitted he thought was impossible during the running 2600m Group 3 feature. “I wasn’t confident at all, when he was doing all that work.” “To run 3.06 with a run like that was phenomenal.” Ultimate Sniper stopped the clock in a sizzling 3-06.4, setting a new race record in the Junior Free-For-All on New Zealand Cup day. The performance was undoubtedly the best of Ultimate Sniper’s 4yr-old campaign, that has included a derailed New Zealand Cup bid. Kennard puts the horse bouncing back to his best on the country’s biggest stage down to his conditioning. The pacer was sent to the paddock for several months after his 3yr-old season was ended early by injury. Ultimate Sniper made the most of it, returning to work for his 5yr-old campaign far from the sleek athlete that won on Tuesday. “Today is the first day we have seen his ribs – he just hasn’t been ready,” Kennard said. “But, when I saw him at the stables yesterday I though this horse is ready.” Purdon said the All Stars stable would monitor Ultimate Sniper’s recovery before making a decision on whether the horse would start in Friday’s New Zealand Free-For-All. The master trainer said his first inclination was not to line the 4yr-old up on Friday. Rasmussen made sure her charge was not going to be unlucky by taking Ultimate Sniper to the parked position. The leading reinswoman said it was a case of taking advantage of the horse’s drop in class after he had competed in New Zealand Cup lead up races. “The way he did it - I knew I had to drive him with a fair amount of confidence,” Rasmussen said. “That [race] was a bit of a class drop from what he has been racing – he has been going good races behind Spankem and Chase Auckland.” Ultimate Sniper’s withdrawal from the New Zealand Cup and his win on Tuesday has now seen his season evolve in to a transitioning term. “It was just a year too soon for him for the cup,” Rasmussen said. “He is a good horse.” “I really think next year will be his year.” Rasmussen used contrasting tactics when driving One Change to win the New Zealand Sires Stakes Final. The All Stars 3yr-old held out stablemates Copy That and One Change in a thrilling finish to the Group 1 feature. Rasmussen elected to slot One Change in to the trail behind Line Up and driver Anthony Butt early in the race. The energy she saved there may have given One Change the winning edge to hold out the fast finish of Copy That and driver David Butcher. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner A perfect preparation has reigning national horse of the year Spankem ready to tackle a distance far from perfect for him in the New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington on Tuesday. Trainers Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen have overseen an incredibly faultless lead up to New Zealand’s greatest harness race, with Spankem displaying the speed, stamina and poise of a deserving favourite. The Miracle Mile winner has cruised over every hurdle the champion trainers have put in front of him, speeding to victory in traditional lead up races the Hannon Memorial, Canterbury Classic and Ashburton Flying Stakes. The only question the 5yr-old has not been able to answer in the lead up to the New Zealand Cup is whether he will handle its 3200m distance. Purdon is confident his horse will stay the distance under the pressure environment of a New Zealand Cup. But the master trainer-driver admits it is not the ideal trip for his speed machine. “I wouldn’t think it is his go – he is better over shorter distances,” he said. “But at the same time, he is in a great place and his form suggests he is probably still going to be the one to beat, even though it is not his pet distance.” Spankem’s staying qualities have drawn attention as he has been unplaced in two starts past 2700m. The first of those came when the pacer ran a creditable, but well beaten fourth in last year’s 2760m Interdominion final, won by Tiger Tara. The second came in this year’s 3200m Easter Cup, won by Turn It Up, when the he was first up from a short spell. Whether Spankem or any of the field see out Tuesday’s distance relies heavily on what kind of run and how they are driven. Purdon looks to have limitless options from barrier 6 with his excellent beginner.   The five time New Zealand Cup winning driver would not be drawn in to talking too many tactics, but hinted that taking a trail could help Spankem show his best.  “One thing is that he will follow any speed, it won’t matter how quick they go, he will follow that speed and come out and show his own high speed.” “The way he has been going he is the horse to beat, so I can afford to drive him with some confidence.” The favourite’s stablemate, Thefixer, comes in to the race in a majorly contrasting situation to Spankem.   There are absolutely no queries over his staying prowess, following his tenacious win in the New Zealand Cup last year. That victory came after hoof problems dogged his preparation, which havr also caused his camp grief again this year. Thefixer appears to be ahead of where he was going in to last year’s race – by being able to race in the Ashburton Flying Stakes and Methven Cup. But, Purdon would not go as far as confirming that. However, the trainer was willing to go one step further and suggest Thefixer was a better horse than when he won last year’s edition. “I think he is a stronger horse than he was last year.” “He is a horse that can make his own luck – and he is probably one of the few in the field that could.” “I am really happy with him and I think over the last fortnight he has really tightened up and he is hitting peak fitness.” Purdon has two more horses that can help he can land him an incredible seventh New Zealand Cup training win and a fourth in partnership with Rasmussen. Chase Auckland has stepped up to the big leagues with excellent performances in open company this season. The 5yr-old has shown impressive staying prowess, especially in his strong Methven Cup win. It looks like Chase Auckland will need to call on that strength to win from the unruly starting position on Tuesday. Purdon is confident that is something he can handle “He is very fit and well and he will go a big race.” Cruz Bromac will return to Addington after producing the hard luck story of last year’s New Zealand Cup. The veteran paced roughly at a vital stage, losing momentum that could have put him in the finishing photo beside Thefixer. Cruz Bromac showed he can still put in rough steps when galloping out of commission in the Ashburton Flying Stakes, before producing a better showing for second behind Classie Brigade in the Kaikoura Cup. With manners and some manoeuvring from driver Blair Orange to keep him off the outside of the track – where he tends to pace roughly – he could go a strong race. “He is probably good enough to move up and at some stage and put himself in the race,” Purdon said. “He just can’t be too wide on the last corner.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Northern trainer Ray Green thinks the timing is right for his smart three-year olds Line Up and Copy That to step up to harness racing’s elite level in the Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup day.  Line Up and Copy That will face their ultimate tests in the $170,000 group 1 feature after heading the North Island’s ranks with top two finishes in two heats of the series. The pair, together with the Barry Purdon trained Bad To The Bone, come south to clash with their South Island counterparts, who are headed by a massive six-strong team from the all- conquering All Stars stable. Green thinks his pair can test the southerners, especially considering the polish they have put on their all-around games in the past month. ‘‘I think they can be very competitive,’’ the trainer said.  ‘‘I am pretty happy with them, they have done nothing wrong up north running first and second in the two heats they have been in.” ‘‘Everything has gone according to plan, so we will be ready to rock.’’  Green has gone as far as saying Line Up and Copy That could be as competitive as any of that age group he had taken south for the Sires Stakes Final on New Zealand Cup day. The Pukekohe trainer won the race 10 years ago with Sir Lincoln and produced King Of Swing to set up the race’s record time when running second to Chase Auckland two years ago. Line Up and Copy That both head south after refining their manners with their early season starts. Line Up progressed after three solid starts with a career best 1-54.4 mile (1609m) win to frank the booming reputation that he has with northern harness racing followers. Copy That produced a good second in that heat, after a regulation win after leading in a prior heat at Cambridge. The horse’s prior win at Alexandra Park, when he galloped twice in the running including at a vital stage of the run home, that suggests he has the x-factor to challenge the All Stars contingent. Green believes Copy That has the necessary game for group 1 level and Line Up has it, too. ‘‘I wouldn’t like to split them, they are two very nice horses,’’ he said. ‘‘It is going to come down to the runs they get.” ‘‘One thing is for certain, they are definitely sorted for speed, they are both very fast.’’ Line Up and Copy That could get the chance to show off that speed if they drift off the early pace from barriers 5 and 14, respectively. The Robert Dunn trained Above N Beyond and All Stars favourite One Change look the likely early leaders after drawing barriers one and two, respectively. Line Up and Copy That both had quiet hit-outs behind One Change at Wednesday’s New Zealand Cup trials at Addington. Copy That produced an eye-catching effort, going to the line under a hold, just ahead of Line Up, who was not asked for a serious effort. ‘‘They were just there for a look at the track and they both pulled up very well,’’ Green said. ‘‘They came down last Friday and they have both settled in really well.’’  Line Up has been rated a $21 fixed odds win hope, head of Copy That, who was at $31 in early betting for Tuesday’s feature. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Thursday’s meeting at Ascot Park could be the starting point for an Australian mission for smart 3yr-old Total Diva. The well performed 2yr-old of last season is one of three horses Canterbury trainer Paul Court lines up at the meeting that features the annual North versus South drivers competition. Total Diva showed consistency and a touch of class, placing in five of her six starts last term. Two of those placings came in group 3 company, chasing home Harness Jewels placegetter, Spellbound. The filly will get a shot at more group race riches if she starts her season well. Court plans to take Total Diva to Sydney if her form warrants it. “I’m thinking I might take her to Sydney when I got over with Hail Christian.” “Maybe not right away, when he goes in November, but maybe in the New Year.” “She is part owned by one of my owners in Sydney – so that is probably the plan with her.” Hail Christian will return to Menangle, where he enjoyed an excellent summer campaign last season, following the New Zealand Cup carnival. Total Diva has been prepared for her return in maiden grade in race 8 with two trials from behind the mobile. The Terror To Love filly won her first attempt in a 2400m heat in 3-10.4, before running second in a 2000m hit out in 2-31.6. “She will obviously improve off this race, as she is lacking race fitness, but in saying that she is a pretty nice filly,” Court said. “She won her first trial but they didn’t run much time.” “So in her second trial I took her to the front and ran her along so she could have good run.” “But, she had an open bridle on and she was just hopeless.” “So, I put the blinds on her when I got home and she has seemed a lot sharper.” Total Diva will have those blinds on when she lines up from barrier 5 on Thursday. The 3yr-old will have first starter Swell Time beside her in barrier 4. The 4yr-old has impressed in winning two trials leading in to her debut for trainer Steve Baucke. Bookmakers opened Swell Time the $2.50 favourite, just ahead of Total Diva at $2.60, on Wednesday. Like Total Diva, Stavros The Terror was good enough to race smart 2yr-olds last season. And also like his stablemate, Court has tinkered with the horse’s gear following two trials. “He has come up well,” the trainer said “He trialled really good at Ashburton, but Blair was just a passenger out of the gate.” “So, I took the blinds off him in his next trial at Rangiora and he was much more tractable.” “Even though he ran last it was still quite a nice trial by the watch.” Stavros The Terror, who will start from barrier 1, opened the $1.95 favourite for race 2, on Wednesday. Undercover Mac, who was third in his last start in a very strong maiden event won by See Ya Write, was rated the $2.90 second favourite. Court also starts Stun Gun in race 5, Thursday’s 1700m feature pace.  The 4yr-old produced an eye-catching third behind the talented Spirit Of St Louis in his last start at Forbury Park, after charging around the field in the final lap. “It was a super run,” Court said. “I am picking he ran a 55sec last 800m.” “He is going really good, he is a horse that has got to be cuddled up a little bit and saved for one run.” “That is his go – he has got a tonne of gas.” “He can be used earlier, but I just think he is better being cuddled up.” Stun Gun opened the $5.50 fourth favourite in a highly competitive and even affair. Mach’s Back opened the $4.50 favourite ahead of Lawrence and Nota Bene Denario, who were both at $5. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Inter-island trainer Robert Dunn created history by notching his 1500th win in New Zealand in sensation fashion when Heisenberg headed a stable trifecta just minutes after Classie Brigade won the Kaikoura Cup on Monday. Classie Brigade reminded punters he has the game and manners to be a New Zealand Cup contender with a fast beginning to set himself up for a front-running win with Dunn’s son, John, in the sulky. The perfect dress rehearsal for New Zealand’s greatest harness race took Dunn to career win 1449, before the trainer made triply sure he would reach 1500 wins. When the field turned for home in the Yearling Sales Aged Classic, there was almost no chance that it would not be a Dunn runner hitting the line first. Eventually, Heisenberg sealed the trainer’s milestone win, holding out his stablemates Stars Tonight and Franco Niven. Heisenberg winning the $50,000 Aged Classic Dunn’s 1500-win record includes 19 group 1 victories spread across some of New Zealand’s greatest races. The trainer said he rates the notching his 1500 wins and the style it came in at Kaikoura as big as any thrill he has had during his career of more than 40 years.  “To go one-two-three is quite amazing,” Dunn said. “That is right up there with all of my biggest thrills.” “To have three special owners – Ross and Angela Gordon, Dean and Allen Neumann and their wives Judy and Christine and their family and friends, and Ian Dobson.” “To have three of my biggest owners going one-to-three is something you only dream about really.” Dunn’s next focus will firmly be on both the Interdominions and next week’s New Zealand Cup Carnival. Beyond that, the trainer is looking to throw back to the days of Master Musician – the horse that put him on harness racing’s biggest stages early in his training career.   Dunn’s horses could revisit some of the destinations the winner of almost $2,000,000 took the trainer during his prolific career across Australasia. “We might have to do a bit of travelling this season, we have got a lot of nice horses coming through.” “Australia could be beckoning some of our trotters – but we will get through the Interdominions first.” Dunn’s 1500th win followed a wave of success from his family that has peaked in the past month. The trainer’s son, Dexter, confirmed his status as one of hottest reinsman in North America with two wins at the star studded Breeders Crown meeting in Canada, recently. Dexter’s elder brother, John, has been keeping up the family name in lights back home, recently passing 1100 driving wins. He sealed his father’s milestone win with Heisenberg with the same kind of well rated, front running drive he produced on Classie Brigade. Father and son could enjoy their biggest thrill in racing together if the 7yr-old can win the New Zealand Cup. With the same kind of beginning he made in his Kaikoura Cup win, Classie Brigade should put himself in a position to strike.   Classie Brigade winning the Kaikoura Cup The Robert and John Dunn combination sealed their brilliant day out at the picturesque Kaikoura Cup meeting by completing a hat-trick of wins in its final three races. John produced his third consecutive front-running drive to win with Jay Tee Tyron. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Northern pacer Triple Eight will be on a mission of his own in the Kaikoura Cup while his rivals are being primed for next week’s New Zealand Cup. Addington’s greatest race will be the furthest thing from trainer Steve Telfer’s mind when he lines the 5yr-old and his stablemate Check In up in the final lead up race before the New Zealand Cup. The $50,000 feature will instead serve as an opportunity for Telfer to show off a bigger and stronger Triple Eight and prep him for the Auckland Inter-Dominions. The American Ideal pacer looks to have taken his game to a new level with two brilliant wins at Alexandra Park in two spring starts. Telfer confirmed that is the case and that the timing is right for his pacer to make a mark on the country’s open class ranks. “He has come back a bit stronger and he has matured a bit from last year - he is racing well and we are very happy with him.” trainer Steve Telfer said. The tight turning Kaikoura track, with its noted front runners bias, is set to have horses fighting to be on the speed. That puts Triple Eight in a vastly different scenario from his two starts this season – where he has begun fairly before launching big finishes. “Hopefully he can make a fairly fast getaway,” the trainer said. “At Kaikoura it is important to be in the first couple because it is hard to make ground.” “He has been beginning solidly – he hasn’t been brilliant – but he has not looked like making a mistake.” Check In has had to chase his stablemate home in his last two starts, which has relegated him to Telfer’s second stringer in today’s event. “He is probably a touch below the good ones, but he has got good manners, he is tractable and he follows speed really well.” The Kaikoura Cup favourite Another Masterpiece is in the same position as Triple Eight, as the New Zealand Cup is not on his radar. The 4yr-old has made a respectable start to his season by running fourth behind Ultimate Sniper, first up, and going on to hold fifth behind Spankem in the Ashburton Flying Stakes. While his last effort was not spectacular, after racing three back on the markers, it was good enough to see him easily beat the rivals he faces in today’s race. They included his All Stars stablemate, Cruz Bromac, who galloped without good reason at Ashburton. Despite that below par effort and it being reported that the horse broke in his final serious training run, the 8yr-old has been well supported in early fixed odds betting. Cruz Bromac is not the only horse needing to seriously lift his game to get his New Zealand Cup campaign back on track. Australian Raider Our Uncle Sam is in a similar position after fading out of Spankem’s Ashburton Flying Stakes. A Bettor Act and Nandolo also need to impress ahead of the New Zealand Cup. The pair are effectively fighting over the final spot in next week’s race, if Sheriff and The Devils Own are withdrawn as expected. Another New Zealand Cup position may open up if Ashley Locaz is unable to recover from the setback that ruled him out of the Kaikoura Cup. However, it is hoped the pacer will be back in action at the New Zealand Cup trials on Wednesday.  Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

By Jonny Turner Canterbury trainer Stephen Boyd and leading reinsman Blair Orange are set to rock Saturday’s Forbury Park meeting. They will combine with three runners, with each looking to have strong winning claims. Walk All Over You is the first of two runner Boyd and Orange will combine with that are named after songs by the rock band AC/DC. Walk All Over You comes in to race 2 after fading out of his debut at Addington, last week. The 4yr-old has drawn barrier two on the second row and is set to follow out an outsider in Carter. What kind of a run through that horse allows Walk All Over You could have a big effect on whether he will be faced with a tough trip again, Boyd said. “He goes alright, he will need a bit of luck and it will depend on where he gets to from that second row draw.” Walk All Over opened the $5 second equal favourite with rival Tuapeka Jesse. The pair will clash $2.10 early favourite, Bono Brown. The Graeme Anderson starts for the second time this campaign following his strong resuming run for third, behind Hands Up Jack at Forbury Park earlier this month. Boyd will start another horse named after a song by Australia’s biggest selling band when Whole Lotta Rosie starts in race 3. The 3yr-old goes in to the 2200m standing start after winning a qualifying trial in sedate time at Ashburton. Boyd said he was happy with that effort and that Whole Lotta Rosie had the scope to produce a more impressive effort in her race debut. “She is a nice wee filly, she will improve a lot because she has only been off the place twice.” “She didn’t qualify in a flash time, but she did it well.” “She goes nice, she is a typical wee Bettor’s Delight, she does everything right.” “She is in with a right, royal show to be fair.” Whole Lotta Rosie opened the $4 favourite for race 3. Bookmakers rated both Cotton Socks and Dynamite on the second line of betting at $4.60. Virginia Cool brings a patchy formline in to race 4 for Boyd and Orange. The trainer is hopeful the 4yr-old can turn her fortunes around on Saturday from barrier 6. “She is going well enough, but she hasn’t had much luck to be fair.” “She has and awkward enough draw, but I would expect her to go pretty well.” Virginia Cool opened at red hot $1.75 win odds with bookmakers. Oamaru trotter Springbank Lachie will start for the first time since May in race 6, Saturday’s feature trot. The Phil Williamson trained 5yr-old trialled at Ashburton last week, running second to Overzealous, to prepare him for his return. Springbank Lachie opened the $3 favourite for race 6 ahead of Sea Rover, who was at $3.20. Sea Rover will have his first start for Waikouaiti trainer Amber Hoffman today. The 7yr-old, who has not started since March, won a trial at Oamaru earlier this week. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

1 to 16 of 74
1 2 3 4 5 Next »