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Tough staying trotter Speeding Spur went back to back in the Gr1 $90,000 NZ Trotting Championships tonight by leading all the way and proving too strong at the finish for harness racing driver Josh Dickie. In last years edition of the race Speeding Spur led and stuck his nose out at the right time to win narrowly and this year was a repeat of that with the Pegasus Spur horse lasting by a neck from a game Sundees Son who broke late when challlenging him close to the line. An emotional Josh Dickie gave credit to the horses toughness after the race, "This horses courage is unbelievable really," he said. "We have had a bit of an up and down campaign since winning the Free For All here during Cup Week. "I was quite happy to just pull back last week and let him run home, but tonight we wanted to lead up and let him dictate like he likes to do. "Dad and I had confidence in him and he has backed that up tonight," he said  Speeding Spur trotted the 2600m mobile in a slick 3-17.9 in the wet conditions with a last 800m in 58 seconds with a closing 400m in 29.6 seconds. Earlier in the night young harness racing driver Bob Butt caused a major boilover in the Gr1 $100,000 New Zealand Trotting Derby when Lotamuscle downed the hot favourite Enhance Your Calm and Mark Purdon right on the line. On a slushy track made wet by continual afternoon rain Lotamuscle settled three deep on the fence while the hotpot Enhance Your Calm rolled straight to the lead and set a solid pace with no mid race attackers. In the straight and it looked like the favourite was home until Butt wound up the Paul Nairn trained Lotamuscle and he sprouted wings in the last 50m to win by a nose. Lotamuscle trotted the mobile 2600m mobile in 3-20.8 with a closing 800m in 58.9 and final 400m in 28.2 seconds. The win gave Bob Butt his first Group One success on New Zealand soil. Lotamuscle winning the NZ Trotting Derby   Harnesslink Media

Trainer John Dickie is full of honesty and hope heading into the A$150,000 Inter Dominion Trotting Final with Speeding Spur. Because while the Kiwi trainer is honest enough to admit his millionaire trotter may have lost his sheer speed, he is also hopeful his stamina may snare him one of the most important races of Dickie's career. Dickie trains the now seven-year-old with his son Josh and after two wins in his three heats of the series Speeding Spur is the clear second favourite for the 2760m mobile at Melton on Saturday night. He has the advantage of the ace and at his peak of two or three years ago would be a dominant favourite but that honour instead lies with Tornado Valley, who was unbeaten in his heats. Dickie admits that is fair. "On their form in this series Tornado Valley has looked the best horse. "But that doesn't mean we can't beat him," says Dickie. "He is faster than us, which is how he beat us in the sprint heat at Ballarat last week. "Our fella doesn't have that sub-27 second quarter (400m) in him like he used to and that makes it hard to beat Tornado Valley. "But the distance and the draw helps us. "If we can hold the lead Josh (driver) will have options." The most logical of those would be making Tornado Valley work to get the lead and hope he gets fired up and leaves himself vulnerable at the end of a hard 2760m for Speeding Spur to grab him. He used those tactics against another speedier rival in Enghien in the Rowe Cup last April, handing up in the middle stages when many would have expected Speeding Spur to stay in front. After a long, brave career punctuated by at least two serious injuries Speeding Spur may simply not be as sharp as he used to be but he looks certain to get his shot on Saturday night if he is good enough. "But to do that we have to hold the lead early, so that will be Josh's first job." The Dickie family has been involved with elite level trotters for decades so the reinstatement of the trotting Inter Dominion after a six year hiatus is a huge deal for them. "To me the two biggest races in Australasia are the New Zealand Cup and the Inter Dominions. "Sure I would like it to be worth more money but if we win on Saturday night that won't bother us because I have wanted to win the Inter since I started training." Speeding Spur is the $3.30 second favourite behind Tornado Valley while in Saturday night's A$500,000 pacing final the money has come for Cruz Bromac, who has been the shortener on both sides of the Tasman, slightly pushing out the prices of fellow Kiwi favourites Spankem and Im Pats Delight. Michael Guerin

The man behind Kiwi trotting star Speeding Spur says he is as interested as everybody else to find out how the first mega clash of the series unfolds at Ballarat tonight.  Because trainer-driver Josh Dickie admits he doesn’t know whether he can beat leading Aussie hope Tornado Valley as the series moves into the second round of heats.  New Zealand-trained horses won three of the Inter Dominion heats on the opening night at Melton on Saturday, with Cruz Bromac and Spankem impressive in their pacing events and Speeding Spur dominant in his trotting one.  But while the Kiwi pacers will be favoured in two of the three pacing heats over the 1710m mobile at Ballarat tonight, the second trotting heat could be the clash of the night.   Speeding Spur and Tornado Valley were so impressive winning their first night heats it is hard to envisage one of the pair not winning the A$150,000 Trotting Final on Saturday week and punters get a sneak preview of that tonight.  While some would like to see the pair, who completely dominate the market for the final, kept apart until then to create suspense, that wouldn’t be fair on their rivals.  So they clash in the second trotting heat at 10.02pm (NZ time) tonight, with Speeding Spur having a potentially big advantage drawing barrier five while Tornado Valley will start from the outside of the front line at seven.  Both have gate speed, Tornado Valley’s probably slightly higher after his steady diet of Australian racing, but co-trainer Dickie knows what he has to do to beat his key rival.  “Obviously I want to stay in front of him from the draw,” admits Dickie.  “I think I can because my horse has good gate speed and we couldn’t have been happier with how he won on Saturday.  “He has been working really well, felt great in the race and I think his below par effort in the Dominion (two starts ago) was just an off day. “He has always loved it over here and seems happy to be back so we are confident.”The Dickies, Josh and his father John, are getting to see plenty of Tornado Valley as he is trained by Andy Gath, with who Speeding Spur is always stabled when he races in Victoria.  “He (Tornado Valley) is a lovely horse and we are no good thing to beat him,” says Dickie.  “So I suppose we are a bit like everybody else, keen to see how they match up against each other.  “But we have the advantage at the start and we will be doing our best to use it.”  Every Inter Dominion needs a wow race to set up the rest of the carnival and the early battle of the trotting series favourites could be just that, even though it will be hardly definitive as a Grand Final guide, with that group one next week over 2760m and the final’s draw probably just as important.  After tonight’s sprint heats it looks likely all three New Zealanders in the pacing series would have won at least one heat with It’s Pats Delight, who finished a brave second to Spankem on Saturday, drawn to get maximum points in his heat at 11pm. His task has been aided further by one-time series favourite Shadow Sax, who was drawn in the same heat as I’m Pats Delight, being scratched from tonight and the remainder of the series after pulling up sore after Saturday.  Cruz Bromac is a hot favourite in his heat, the final one tonight, but his $1.45 fixed odds price seems awfully short considering his second line draw.  “It is never easy to win sprint races off the second line because you really need them to slow up in the middle stages to get into the race otherwise you have to come wide late,” said trainer-driver Natalie Rasmussen.  So while he is vying for final favouritism, Cruz Bromac is too short to be betting big on tonight with luck such a factor.  Spankem races in the toughest heat of the night at 10.32pm (NZ time) and he would need to produce something special to win as he not only faces a second line draw but high class opponents in Wrappers Delight, San Carlo and Tiger Tara. Michael Guerin

It was cool and it was very calculated. That’s the best summation of Speeding Spur following his harness racing victory in tonight’s (Friday) Gr.1 $150,000 Reharvest Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the 100th edition. The father/son combination of John and Josh Dickie timed their run at the North Island trotting feature with pinpoint accuracy with their much lauded six-year-old entire. Already a winner of six Gr.1 events prior to tonight, this is the race that the Clevedon based duo desperately cherished and he delivered a comfortable victory defeating Monty Python and Temporale in the 3200m stand-start feature. Stepping safely and swiftly, young Josh Dickie applied immediate pressure to Monty Python and gained an easy lead soon after the start although outsider The Almighty Johnson briefly challenged within the first 600m of the event. Race favourite Enghien also began safely but drifted back before settling in the second half of the big field. The lead time was covered in 2:00.8. As the field worked inside the final mile, Speeding Spur led the way from Monty Python in the trail but the moves from back in the field were coming with Destiny Jones peeling three-wide which was followed by last week’s Anzac Cup winner Lemond. The first quarter of the final mile was covered in 32 seconds. Entering the home straight to reach the bell lap, Ricky May set Enghien alight three-wide while defending champion Temporale tracked up behind him. Passing the winning post with a circuit left to run, Dickie made the call to allow Enghien to stride clear in front which left Temporale providing cover for Lemond while Monty Python was pushed a spot further back against the pegs. The second quarter was covered in 29.2 seconds. With the major players occupying the key front-end positions, the pressure only intensified. Enghien led the way down the back straight and traveled strongly but his rivals were starting to close the gap. The third quarter was posted in 29.1 seconds. Approaching the home straight, Enghien drifted slightly up the track which presented a great passage for Speeding Spur. With Dickie driving aggressively, Speeding Spur raced clear from a game Temporale who gave strong chase while Monty Python and Lemond started to wind up. At the finish, Speeding Spur scored by a margin of ¾ length from Monty Python with a further 2 lengths back to Temporale in third placing. Enghien finished 7th. The final section was covered in 29.8 seconds. The overall time was 4:08.2 with the winning mile rate covered in 2:04.8 – well outside of the race record set by Stent three years ago at 4:03.6 (2:02.4). “This victory is very special and deeply satisfying given what this horse has gone through over the past couple of seasons. He’s incredibly talented and possesses a deep desire to win every time he starts, this is a team effort and many have played a huge role to achieve this dream.” Winning driver Josh Dickie said. Overall, Speeding Spur has won 20 of his 40 starts with earning close to $800,000. The victory catapulted Speeding Spur into second place on the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters leaderboard with 108 points while the Victorian trained Sparkling Success gripped to victory with 160 points. Chris Barsby

Just because the Dickie stable has one of the more powerful hands at tonight's Alexandra Park meeting doesn't mean stable driver Josh Dickie is in for a big night. Because the young gun driver says there are some question marks over three of his key drives, not so much their talent but their readiness. Josh and father John take seven horses to the tote races tonight (and two to a non-tote) and they have dual acceptors in three of those. But while Josh gets his pick of the drives he admits they may not be the best winning chances, starting with Somethingaboutmary in the Nevele R Fillies heat (race three). "She can definitely win but is no better chance than our other one, New York Rain," says Dickie. "A lot will depend on the run they get over 1700m because it could end up being a tricky race for them both. If New York Rain can get handy she might be hard to beat." With plenty of speed drawn inside the pair, either could win but equally they could both get beaten and go good races. Dickie is on the likely favourite Sertorius in race four and the big horse looks headed to open class but his stablemate C K Spur is rated at least as good a chance tonight. "It is 2200m and Sertorius can be a bit slow away, which would be a real disadvantage in this grade with some experienced older trotters drawn behind him. "I think Sertorius is an open class horse in the making but if he is slow and C K Spur pings the tapes then he could beat him. So it is a tricky one." The same applies in race six where Sex On Fire is having only her second start after beating older horses as a juvenile by eight lengths. "She obviously has the ability but she has taken a while to come up this time and our other filly (Star Of Olesya) is race fit and also won easily last start. "So while there will be plenty of people keen on Sex On Fire, if you add in a handy filly like Aoraki it is another race I could easily get beaten in. "So I'm hoping to have a good night but if I went away with two wins or none I wouldn't be totally surprised," Dickie mused. Another man set to star tonight is Steve Telfer, who sits third on the national trainers premiership and has two huge hopes in American Brave (race seven) and Parker (race five) with a pretty strong support cast too. Barry Purdon looks the dominant trainer in the two-year-old race, with Star Of Montana and Supreme Dominator both looking youngsters with good seasons ahead of them. Michael Guerin

The Kiwi master and his apprentice descend on Australasia's richest trotting race on Saturday and in an odd twist the apprentice has an experience edge. New Zealand's most successful ever reinsman Tony Herlihy makes his first trip to Victoria in a couple of years when he takes Rowe Cup winner Temporale to the $300,000 Great Southern Star at Melton on Saturday night. On the same plane last night was Speeding Spur, who is co-trained and driven by Herlihy's long-time employee Josh Dickie. Dickie these days trains in partnership with his father John but learned to drive under Herlihy, for whom he worked for years before developing into one of the bright young lights of New Zealand harness racing. Herlihy knows all about winning major races in Victoria, having won a Hunter Cup, two Victoria Cups, an Australasian Trotting Champs, Interdom Trot Final, Breeders Crown and trained and drove Ohoka Punter to win the Victoria Derby five years ago. "I haven't been back there much since even though I'd love to because if you don't have a horse good enough those carnivals can fly by without having a runner," says Herlihy. But the last time he did campaign a horse in Victoria it was Temporale two years ago and the ultimately unsuccessful trip has paved the way for his return. "He didn't win a race over there as a 3-year-old but I think he learned a lot and it has made him a better horse since," says Herlihy. "So I am hoping it will help on this trip." Temporale has drawn the inside of the second line in the 2760m mobile and Herlihy is hoping for a searing pace to break the field open late. While his old boss hasn't been chalking up the airpoints to Melbourne lately, Dickie and Speeding Spur have campaigned there four times, winning the Great Southern Star when it was a mile two years ago and finishing second last season. He has looked shy of his best this summer when Temporale has beaten him fair and square twice but Dickie says watch out for an improved performance on Saturday night. "He needed the racing last month after being off the scene for a long time but in saying that Temporale has obviously improved," he says. "But we have gone back to working him how we used to before his leg problems and he has really sharpened up and I think you will see a different horse this week." New Zealand also has Spankem (4) and The Devils Own (13) in the Victoria Derby and Partyon (2), Delishka (4) and Piccadilly Princess (10) in the Ladyship Cup. Michael Guerin

Two disasters from last Friday night should redeem themselves tonight and kickstart a huge weekend for father and son training team John and Josh Dickie. The pair have a host of winning chances at the two northern meetings, with Speeding Spur set to start a red hot favourite in the $50,000 Flying Mile at Cambridge on Sunday. But before then the South Auckland trainers head to Alexandra Park tonight looking for redemption with Motown (race six) and Sertorius (race five), who both failed in stronger fields last Friday. On that occasion Motown was poorly handicapped against Vincent and Heaven Rocks but still hung when under pressure. "There was no reason he should hang like that but he has been good as gold this week and we are still aiming him at the Auckland Cup next week," says Josh Dickie, who drives the team.   "So he really should win this week even though he is off 30m because the small field helps." Sertorius was trialling well before pacing early in the minor trot last Friday but meets an easier field tonight, giving Dickie confidence he can settle the four-year-old early before putting him into the race. "I think against this grade of horse he can give them a bit of a start and still win because we rate him highly enough to go through the grades." One of the horses Sertorius beat at the trials recently is the highly-rated Heavyweight Hero, who returns from some national record performances last term in race eight tonight. Trainer-driver Todd MacFarlane has been ironing out a few minor issues with the four-year-old but at his peak he has an open class motor. One of the better races tonight is the fourth, where talented three-year-olds Sheriff and Triple Eight clash, with the latter's experience at Alexandra Park potentially a deciding factor. Meanwhile, the Dickie camp are stunned with how Speeding Spur came through his comeback last week as they eye up an ideal target at Cambridge on Sunday. "He has actually put on weight since last Friday and seems like he is just thrilled to be back racing," says Josh. He will dominate betting on the main trot but Star Galleria will ensure there are at least some punters willing to bet against Vincent in Sunday's other group race, the $50,000 Futurity.   Michael Guerin

The team behind trotting’s forgotten hero Speeding Spur are embracing the pressure as the superstar returns to the track at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The six-year-old hasn’t raced since March and only four times in 21 months after two injuries sidelined him at crucial times.  The best of his age as a three-year-old, Speeding Spur was eventually replaced as our best trotter by Monbet, although with both having suffered plenty of setbacks they have only met three times in their open class careers. The anticipation for Speeding Spur’s return has been heightened as Monbet is injured again and possibly out for the season, making Speeding Spur almost certainly the besttrotter racing in Australasia.  Co-trainer and driver Josh Dickie says while that will have punters expecting a lot from the stallion, he and father John are simply happy to have him back.   “It has been hard watching the major trots and not have him there but it is not a bad time to come back as there are a lot of big races to still go this season,” says Dickie.  “And he is sound and happy and trotting well so that is all we can do at this stage.  “He won well at the workouts last Sunday and now it is time to go to the races and that is the first part of our job done.  “But after all the setbacks he has had we are going to enjoy racing him and let the results take care of themselves.”Speeding Spur has drawn the outside of the second line in the $50,000 Rosslands Lyell Creek Trot at Alexandra Park’s huge meeting on Friday night and while he could start favourite it is the usual case of punters beware with horses returning from a long spell.  “He beat Bordeaux, who has been one of the best trotters this season, at the workouts on Sunday so he is ready to go but race night against fully fit horses is a different story.  “So he can win but the tempo of the race and how much luck he has could decide where he finishes.” Safely through Friday, Speeding Spur has a smorgasbord of huge races in the north and in Victoria he would be an automatic favourite for because of Monbet’s injury and the decision not to bring NZ Cup week’s major trot winners Great Things Happen and Amaretto Sun north. Speeding Spur isn’t the only big name returning on Friday night with last season’s best three-year-old Vincent making his comeback in the Franklin Cup.  Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen has chosen to drive him over Heaven Rocks, who will be partnered by Tim Williams, a decision certain to influence the bookie’s view of the market. Michael Guerin

Hughies Sister is nothing like her big brother – the 2015 Auckland Cup runner-up, Hughie Green, but it appears they do possess one thing in common - their mother’s ability to pace. That’s the opinion of her new co-trainer Gareth Hughes. As of August 1, the 31-year-old officially joined forces with his father Brian (Bunty) at Ardmore. He has, however, been working alongside him for much of his life. The Bunty Hughes trained Alta Serena was a multiple Group One winning mare, who won 21 races and $593,618. Hughie Green is her third and most successful foal with 11 wins here and four in Australia (A$227,438). His full Art Major sister, Hughies Sister (foal number five), won effortlessly the right-handed way around at the Pukekohe Workouts yesterday (Tuesday). The Hughes’ trained filly was having her first start as a three-year-old. Hughes (Gareth) liked his first sniff of victory with his father – albeit a low key winter workout.  “She couldn’t be more different to her older brother. For one, she’s not as big, and two she also has a completely different nature. She’s kinder. “The filly is a real work in progress. Every time she has stepped off the track she has gone better. She has a lot of stamina and tries hard, which is encouraging. That’s all we can ask for,” Hughes said. Driver, Josh Dickie, trailed with Hughies Sister and they were then three-deep before going to sit parked at the 800m. They then cruised home to win the maiden 2050m mobile by a length stopping the clock in 2:41.7 (mile rate 2:06.9) and came home in 60.6 and 28.2. Hughies Sister qualified 1.3 seconds under time (left handed) at Pukekohe on November 26. Hughes said she would finally make her race-night debut at Alexandra Park on August 25. He hopes by then he will have officially trained his first winner. Hughes and his father have two horses nominated for Friday’s first meeting of 2017-2018 at Alexandra Park, and he thought either of them could break his duck. Tony Herlihy (MNZM) will drive Marcy Runkle from gate five in race four, while Todd Macfarlane will steer Kaitlyn from barrier three in the last of the nine races. “I think they are both good each-way chances. It would be a great way to kick off our training career together if either, or both of them won. “It’s a bit of an honour to be training with Dad. He’s taught me a lot over the years and given me a lot of confidence with the horses. He’s also put a fair bit of trust in me. Not many people get to work with their fathers. It’s a privilege,” Hughes said. The well-bred Marcy Runkle (Mach Three - Pullover Brown) should start one of the favourites after finishing fourth and then second (both from gate one) at Alexandra Park on July 14 and 21. Both of those starts were over the 1700m mobile and the step up to 2200m should suit her nicely. Kaitlyn can also go close in the $14,500 NISBA Winter Bonus Fillies & Mares Pace. Her only win came on the track and over Friday’s distance back in November - when she also drew the ace. Her most recent form-line of 2-2-4 says it all really in what looks a match-race with the Logan Hollis and Shane Robertson trained Pakipaki (Philip Butcher), who has drawn three spots wider at six (of seven). Duane Ranger

The men behind stunning  New Zealand debut winner Sex On Fire were getting excited about her late tilt at the Breeders Crown. But that didn’t last long. Because when trainers John and Josh Dickie delved deeper into taking the daughter of Crazed to Melbourne for a hit-and-run mission on the series later this month they struck a rather significant snag. “It wasn’t until we looked into it we found out she was ineligible,” said Josh Dickie, who drove Sex On Fire to her huge win last Friday. To be fair to the Dickie they hadn’t even considered the Crown until Sex On Fire smashed her older rivals by eight lengths in a 2200m maiden last Friday, a rare debut win for a two-year-old against older rivals in this country. Even rarer is a juvenile beating older opponents by such a huge margin, showing Sex Of Fire has inherited some of the ability of her dam Miss Whiplash, a 13-race winner. “We hadn’t even thought about the Breeders Crown because she has come to things so late,” said Dickie. “But when she won that well we started to think about it, especially because the trotting divisions are now split into male and female too. “But as it turns out she isn’t eligible, which is a real shame because it would have been a great series for her.” Sex On Fire isn’t the only Kiwi filly to miss the series with the All Stars opting to bypass it with Luby Lou, even though she won her Breeders Crown heat at Addington last month. That leaves speedster Renezmae, who finished second in that Addington heat, as the New Zealand rep for the fillies juvenile trotting division and she makes her Australian debut against the colts in the Redwood at Maryborough on Sunday. It won’t be easy taking on Jewels runner-up One Muscle Hill and Victorian excitement machine Wobelee but young trainer Jack Harrington is confident his filly is ready. “I think we can run with One Muscle Hill because she has shown that before, but maybe Wobelee is a different kettle of fish. “But whatever she does this week she will improve on and obviously she doesn’t have to take on the boys in the Breeders Crown. “It is cool to have a horse in Australia in my colours and Ants (Butt) and Sonya (Smith) have really helped me negotiate all the things I have to do differently over here.” With Butt committed to Smashthemcalder, who is trained by partner Smith on Sunday, and Renezmae’s regular reinsman Dexter Dunn overseas, John Caldow will take the reins in the Redwood. “But Dexter will be back for Breeders Crown day and she will contest a heat over here on August 17,” said Harrington. Also on Sunday’s trotting only card NZ Oaks winner Chevron Express faces a second line draw in the A$75,000 Victoria Trotting Derby. Michael Guerin Trots Media  

John Dickie admits it was hard leaving his home-town of Cambridge four years ago, but he said if he hadn’t made the move north he would never have been anywhere near his 500 career winners. The 56-year-old Clevedon trainer notched up his 500thcareer win at Alexandra Park tonight (Friday). He said coming to Rosslands Stud in 2013 had been the making of his career. “I had my fair share of knockers when I came north. It’s virtually four years to the day. Sure I had some supporters too, but it was a big move. It was early-to-mid July 2013 - almost four years to the day. I’d never trained anywhere else since taking out my trainer’s licence in 1984. “Training horses is something I’ve done every day and sure it’s nice to have achieved 500 wins. I was quite proud actually, especially with Josh in the bike,” Dickie said. Dickie (Josh), who co-trains and drove Bronze Over, shot the $11 fifth favourite along the passing lane to win the feature event – the $14,999 Crombie Lockwood Bloodstock Handicap for the R66 to R94 pacers.  Bronze Over was one of two mares in the eight-horse 2700m stand. She started from 20m behind and won by a head from favourite Vasari (David Butcher). She stopped the clock in 3:28 even (mile rate 2:03.8) and came home in 57 flat and 29 even. Dickie wasn’t on track to witness his 500th victory. Instead he watched it from his South Auckland home. “Linda (partner) and I were actually going to go to the Warriors (rugby league) match but Linda got the flu and I decided to stay home and be with her. “It was a lovely drive because she is a bit of a ‘one-trick pony’ and needs a run like that to win. It panned out beautifully for her. I’m rapt for the owners,” Dickie said. Bronze Over was bred by Kevin and Sharlaine Marshall of Te Awamutu, and is owned by Dickie Jr and Larry Fischer of New York. In fact the 4-year-old Changeover mare could end up racing in the United States one day. “It is a possibility but that’s up to Josh and Larry. She wouldn’t be out of place in the (Group One) Queen Of Hearts field (at Alexandra Park) in December. She has won nine races now ($82,422), but for now she’ll just keep racing up here until they come up with a decision on her future,” Dickie said. Dickie has visited Fischer and his wife in New York and have built up a closerapport over the years. The American used to race Change The Rulz with Dickie. She won five races for Dickie and was a 2016 Jewels finalist.  She was exported to the United States in July last year. She has since gone on to win several races in the USA and recorded a 1:50 mile. “Larry has been a wonderful owner. He’ loves the internet and would have watched tonight’s win. I’ve had so many good owners over the years and it would be remiss of me not to mention Basil and Gail Blackwell. They have been my most loyal owners having been with me since day one. “It would have been nice to have won for them last week because this 500th would never have happened had they not been there for me,” Dickie said. “In fact the 500 wins is a dedication to all my owners who have supported me over the years,” he added. He also paid a big tribute to the late Kerry Hoggard and his wife Marilyn of Rosslands Stud.. “It has been an absolute pleasure to train for them both. We love it up here and if it wasn’t for them I would have nowhere near 500 wins. This is also their achievement too,” Dickie said. The Clevedon horseman has qualified for entry into the ‘New Zealand Trotting Hall of Fame. The criteria is 500 training wins or 1,000 driving successes. Dickie trained 364 winners ($2.7m) solo from 1984 to 2013 including four Group One winners in New Zealand and four in Australia. Then in 2013-2014 he joined forces with his son, Joshua, and together they have trained another 146 winners ($1.6m). They have jointly trained three Group One winners in New Zealand and three in Australia. Dickie Senior’s total career wins would be more like 520 if you counted his Australian victories as well, but it’s been a long road since he nailed his first winner when Meadow Man (Sean McCaffrey) dead-heated with the Ian Hilliard trained and driven Guy Adios at Hawera on May 29, 1984. All up the Dickies have trained 37 winners ($419,498) in 2016-2017 - seven less than their personal best recorded in 2014-2015. Dickies 14 Group One wins have been: NZ: 2011: Paramount Geegee in the Northern Trotting Derby; the New Zealand Trotting Derby; the Ruby 3yo trot; and Flying Isa in the Ruby 2yo Trot. With Josh in NZ: 2017: Paramount King in this year's 2yo Ruby Trot. 2015: Speeding Spur in the New Zealand Trotting Derby; and the Northern Derby. Australia: 2016: Speeding Spur (with Josh) won the Great Southern Star. 2015: Speeding Spur (with Josh) won the Victoria Trotters Derby and the 3yo Breeders Crown title. 2014: Flying Isa won the 2yo Breeders Crown final and the Australian Trotters Final. 2010 & 2011: Paramount Geegee won the 2yo and 3yo Breeders Crown. The other highlight on the eight-race card tonight (Friday) was Zac Butcher's four wins.  They came via the Stephen Reid trained Utmost Delight in the 3yo Fillies Breeder's Crown heat; the Ray Green trained Alta Shangri La (race one); the Barry Purdon trained Opoutama (race 5); and the Ray Green trained Royal Lincoln (race 6). Duane Ranger  

The man who has trained 14 Group One winners, could find himself nominated for the New Zealand Trotting Hall Of Fame, following this Friday’s meeting at Alexandra Park. The Clevedon horseman has currently trained 499 winners, and only needs one more to qualify for the ‘Hall of Fame’s’ criteria of 500 training wins or 1,000 driving successes. Dickie and his son John only have two trotters nominated for this Friday’s Auckland Trotting Club’s meeting – C K Spur in race five and Arethusa Spur in race seven. “They are both each way chances without labeling them. Both by Pegasus Spur and that stallion has been very good to me over the years, so it would be appropriate if one of them did win. If either of them does get up it will be a feat I’ll be proud of, especially because the 500th will be with Josh. He’s a good kid and good listener. I really enjoy working with my son. I think most fathers would. We go alright together,” 56-year-old Dickie said. Dickie said it would be special if either horse won because both sets of owners had been long-time supporters of Dickie. "Basil Blackwell owns Arethusa Spur with me, and he has been an owner of mine since day one. He has been a long-time committee member (30-plus years) of the Cambridge Club and it would be great to win the 500th for him. "Kevin Foley and Karen De Jongh-Kennedy have also been loyal supporters so if either horse won on Friday I'd be rapt for the owners," Clevedon-based Dickie said. "Without owners we are nothing," he added. Dickie trained 364 winners ($2.7m) solo from 1984 to 2013 including four Group One winners in New Zealand and four in Australia. In 2013-2014 he joined forces with his son, Joshua, and together they have trained another 144 winners ($1.6m). They have jointly trained three Group One winners in New Zealand and three in Australia. His total career wins would be more like 520 if you counted his Australian victories as well, but it’s been a long road since he nailed his first winner when Meadow Man (Sean McCaffrey) dead-heated with the Ian Hilliard trained and driven Guy Adios at Hawera on May 29, 1984. “I remember that day very clearly. I bought Meadow Man for a couple of thousand dollars with Sean and he proved to be an okay horse.” Dickie had to wait eight months for his next victory. That was when he trained and drove Classic Dee to a three-length victory at New Plymouth on January 11, 1985. The Dickies also have a grand chance of winning the Alexandra Park training premiership if one or both can win on Friday. They currently have 24 winners at "The Park' this season - two less than the pace-setting Hall of Famer, Barry Purdon. All up the Dickies have trained 36 winners ($410,054) in 2016-2017 - eight less than their personal best recorded in 2014-2015. Dickies 14 Group One wins have been New Zealand 2011: Paramount Geegee in the Northern Trotting Derby; the New Zealand Trotting Derby; the Ruby 3YO Trot; and Flying Isa in the Ruby 2YO Trot. With Josh in NZ: 2017: Paramount King in this year's 2YO Ruby Trot. 2015: Speeding Spur in the New Zealand Trotting Derby; and the Northern Derby. Australia: 2016: Speeding Spur (with Josh) won the Great Southern Star. 2015: Speeding Spur (with Josh) won the Victoria Trotters Derby and the 3YO Breeders Crown title. 2014: Flying Isa won the 2YO Breeders Crown Final and the Australian Trotters Final. 2010 & 2011: Paramount Geegee won the 2YO and 3YO Breeders Crown. Duane Ranger

Michelle Wallis nailed her first Group Three victory at ‘The Park’ last night but don’t expect to see more of the Franklin reinswoman in the sulky. Waiuku-based Wallis won the Group Three $25,000 Sims Metals Northern Breeders Stakes for mares behind the horse that she and her husband Bernie Hackett train on Karioitahi Beach – Princess Mackendon. “I only drive her because she’s such an honest little mare. I think this is her limit thought. I couldn’t see her winning a Group One against some of the big guns, but she is very consistent and this is her career highlight,” Wallis said. The 5-year-old Skyvalley mare had finished second three times and won once in her last four starts before tonight’s three quarter length and four length victory over Sunset Peak (David Butcher) and Majestic Ali (Maurice McKendry). Princess Mackendon trotted the 2700m stand in 3:30.4 (mile rate 2:05.4) and home in 60.8 and 30.6. Wallis was quick to point that her driving career would be limited. “There’s too much pressure from owners and I’d rather let the guns do it,” a modest Wallis said. The 40m handicap was a bridge too far for the $1.70 favourite, Idle Bones (Brent Mangos). After a quick 1:26.5 lead time he finished seventh of 10. It was the 21st running of the Northern Breeders Stakes. The Group Three $25,000 Lincoln Farms 'The Founders' Free-For-All was won by the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Heaven Rocks, who led for 1100m of the 1700m mobile event. Bowling along fiercely in front thereafter the 4-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven gelding ran his nine opponents off their feet. Driver Rasmussen dubbed him a ‘nutter’ after his one-and-a-quarter length and half neck victory over stablemate More The Better (Mark Purdon) and The Orange Agent (Tony Herlihy MNZM). “He’s a bit of a wild animal. A loose cannon. He’s a very nice pacer but doesn’t know a lot. he’s got a heap to learn yet,” Rasmussen said. Heaven Rocks, who has been pulled up in both of his starts this campaign, went very wide around the home-straight bend the first time and then with momentum took the lead off eventual fourth place-getter, Christen Me. He then bowled along in front pacing the 1700m in 1:59.3 (mile rate 1.53) and came home in 56.1 and 27.7. It was Heaven Rock’s sixth win in 11 starts and he was the $4 second favourite. Meanwhile, Speeding Spur returned to the winner’s circle for the 18th time following his last start second in the Group One $300,000 Great Southern Star in Victoria on February 4. It was a well-time run by driver Josh Dickie who sat three-back on the outside and followed Lemond (Maurice McKendry) throughout. It was his eight win at Alexandra Park. “I didn’t mind following Lemond because he’s a nice trotter and if I thought that if we had one go at them my horse would have the sprint to get over the top of them. He felt like the old Speeding Spur tonight,” Co-trainer and driver Dickie said. The 5-year-old Pegasus Spur entire trotted the 2700m stand from his 45m handicap in a very respectable 3:26.9 (mile rate 2:03.3) and came home in 59 and 28.6. He had half a neck and a nose to spare over Temporale (Tony Herlihy MNZM) and Lemond. Speeding Spur is also trained by Dickie’s father John at Clevedon and is owned by All Black captain Kieran Read; former All Blacks Andy Hewitt and Dave Hewett; Commonwealth Games gold medalist Dick Tayler; and the Woodlands Partnership Syndicate. He was bred by Woodlands Stud. Speeding Spur’s stake earnings now rest at $694,291. The Barry Purdon trained and driven Mach Shard made it two wins from three starts (second in the other) in the seventh heat of the $25,000 Breckon Farms Pace for 2-year-old colts and geldings. The Mach Three and Sly Shard colt dug deep to hold out the Mark Purdon & Natalie Rasmussen trained duo of Ashley Locaz (Rasmussen) and Spankem (Purdon) by a nose and a length. Mach Shard paced the 1700m mobile in 2:04.67 (mile rate 1.58 even) and came home in 57.9 and 27.9. But the performance of the night came in the last event when the Todd Macfarlane trained and driven Heavyweight Hero set a national record for 3-year-old trotters. His time of 2:49.8 was 1.4 seconds quicker than Rock Tonight's New Zealand record, also set at Alexandra Park in March 2015. Heavyweight Hero dealt to his up to R66 opposition by four-and-a-quarter lengths.The Muscles Yankee gelding’s mile rate was 2:04.1 and he came home in 57.8 and 28.8. It was Heavyweight Hero's second win in nine starts and he's also placed four times. The victory took his stake earnings past $50,000 for Macfarlane, Aaron Lowe and their band of owners. Duane Ranger

It might have been a lowly $2,000 non-tote trot but the Haras Des Trotteurs 2yo Mobile is one race Josh Dickie won't forget in a hurry. Dickie went into the 1700m mobile at Alexandra Park last night (Friday) with a 50-50 chance of achieving the his 300th career win. And he did exactly that behind the Muscle Hill filly,Star Of Oleysa, that he and his father, John, train at Clevedon. The only other starter was the Brent Mangos trained and driven Storm Cloud. Mangos too had a brilliant night driving five winners and training four. Between the duo Dickie and Mangos drove nine of the 12 races carded.  Owned and bred by Reg Caldow, Star Of Oleysa (who is out of the Pegasus Spur mare, Olesya) started from the ace draw and was aided by a gallop from Storm Cloud at the start. At the end of the 1700m Star Of Oleysa and Dickie stopped the clock in 2:15.6 (mile rate 2:08.4) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 61.2 and 28.9. Dickie was rapt. “It doesn’t matter what type of race it ts, it’s good to win any race. I’m delighted. I am a statistics man and this means a lot. One day I would dearly love to drive 1,000 winners and a lot more Group One events,” Dickie said. “I owe a lot to Dad and all the other owners and trainers for putting me on their horses,” he added. Dickie took eight-and-a-half seasons to achieve the milestone. His stake earnings currently sit at $2.8 million. The 25-year-old alsonotched up his 301st, 302ndand 303rd driving wins behind the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained Mr Euroman in the second event, and then combined with his Dad to co-train and drive the $2.80 favourite C K Spur to victory in race five. Then he nailed ninth eventbehind the Dickie trained Kate Black. “It’s been a great night all right. I’ve had some nice drives and landed in some nice positions. It’s been a night to remember. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” Dickie said. Meanwhile, Dickie Senior is just two wins away from the 500-training milestone after Star Of Oleysa’s first win at her third start (two previous seconds) and then C K Spur and Kate Black getting the chocolates. Dickie (John) has won 364 on his own and another 133with his son. His collective career earnings stand at $4.1 million. The Ray Green trained and David Butcher driven Northview Hustler caused a slight upset in the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Colts & Geldings Graduate (2200m mobile). The 3-year-old Bettor's Delight colt was the $12.20 fourth favourite and paced the 2200m mobile in a slick 2:40.8 (mile rate 1:57.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.3 and 28 even. It was his second win in five starts. The female equivalent – the $30,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands 3yo Fillies Graduette (2200m mobile) was won by the Gareth Dixon trained and Simon Lawson driven American Princess. The brown American Ideal filly, who was the $15.20 fourth favourite, won in 2:40.9 (mile rate 1;57.7) and home in 58.3 and 29 even. That was her first win in six starts. The $14,999 feature pace and trot were both won by Franklin reinsman Brent Mangos, who nailed the $14,999 Stables Cafe 2017 Franklin Cup Racenight Handicap for the R70 to R100 pacers with Maxim. He also trained Maxim, the 2014 Victoria Cup winner.Maxim has now won two of his three starts this campaign and has finished second in the other. ‘Mango’ repeated the dose in the $14,999 Franklin Long Roofing Handicap for the R67 to R109 (& claimers) trotters with the Tony Herlihy trained King of The Roses. Mangos’s third, fourth and fifth driving victories came via first starter, Culpeka in race three, Roi Des Gitans in the 10th event and then Smoldering Ashes in race 11. The Waiau Pa horseman also trained the trio. “It’s great to win any race but five is a bonus. It’s been a real good night. The team is going really well at the moment,” Mangos said. Duane Ranger

Three-year-olds will take centre stage at Alexandra Park on Friday night with two $30,000 races for the colts/geldings and fillies respectively. Both are New Zealand Sires Stakes/Rosslands-sponsored 2200m mobile events with the colts and geldings Graduate kicking off at 7.03pm (race 3) and the fillies Graduette starting at 8.21pm (race 6). One driver who would desperately love to win one or both heats is South Auckland reinsman Josh Dickie, who together with his father John, leases property off Rosslands Stud at Clevedon, and also works half a dozen of their horses. The owner of Rossland Stud, Kerry Hoggard passed away in Auckland in October 2015 when he was the Auckland Trotting Club president. But his wife Marilyn is still a strong supporter of harness racing and the Dickies, and thanks to her loyalty to the sport, Dickie (Josh) was able to pay $100,000 for Lot 72 – a Bettor’s Delight – Yankee Dream for a colt named Bettorstartdreaming at last Monday’s Australasian Classic Yearling Sale at Karaka. “It would mean a lot if Master George could win for Marilyn at Alexandra Park on Friday, because she is such a wonderful lady and has put so much faith in us. She deserves every success that comes her way,” Dickie said. “And the colt can get some of it despite his lack of form in his last two starts,” he added. Dickie currently sits on 299 career driving wins and said he would especially love to nail win number 300 on behind Master George. The son of Bettor's Delight and Lizzie Maguire has drawn well in the Graduate but meets a nice field of quality 3-year-old pacers. “I like him. He’s had terrible draws since I won behind him at Cambridge on January 6. He gave me a real good feel that night and beat quite a nice field. I reckon he can get a slice of the cake from three,” Dickie said. The 25-year-old was also upbeat about the Steven Reid trained Could Be Good in the Graduette, but said the filly would have been a better winning chance had she not drawn the outside of the front line. “She strung two good wins together at Cambridge a few weeks ago and then was an unlucky fourth. She’’s gone real well since then and has quite a bit of speed to call on. “It’s just a shame she has drawn eight, so I’ll have to play the start by ear. If she gets a nice sit the others will knows she’s in the race.,” Dickie said. Dickie paid a tribute to the New Zealand Sires Stakes Board for putting its left-over money into 3-year-olds just below the top echelon. “If gives the 3-year-olds just below the guns a chance to race for good money and I take my hat off to the sponsors for that. It’s exactly what this game needs,” he said. Dickie said C K Spur (race 5) and Kate Black (race 9) were also good winning chances on Friday. “C K Spur has been racing out of his grade recently and the drop-back will suit him nicely, while Kate Black won well here a fortnight ago and has the draw (3) to go on with it,” he said. Duane Ranger

A private workout on Monday has convinced driver Josh Dickie that Speeding Sour can defend his A$300,000 Great Southern Star title tomorrow. The five-year-old multiple group one winner has travelled to Melbourne to try and cap a remarkable comeback, as just six weeks ago Dickie and his father John had written off the summer after a six-month injury break. They changed their minds as Speeding Spur started to sharpen in his work and went to Alexandra Park last Thursday thinking if Speeding Spur performed well they would take the gamble on starting in tomorrow night’s 2760m mobile second up. Speeding Spur was a massive second off his 55m backmark and while the run sealed the trip, it was his work on Monday that boosted their confidence levels. “Because he has been away from racing for so long we found in some of his works, even last week, he was getting tired late,” admits Josh. “But Monday was different. He had that hard enough run last Thursday and it has really brought him on. “He worked like his old self on Monday and came his last 400m in times pacers don’t go on our track. “So we couldn’t be happier her and we are thrilled to have him there.” John Dickie travelled with Speeding Spur on Tuesday and was pleased with how he settled in and the three-time Derby winner has an almost perfect barrier four, from where he has a huge chance of working to the lead. In front and without insane pressure he looks incredibly hard to beat. Kiwi mares Quite A Moment and Sunny Ruby would both benefit from any early burn that turned the race into a staying test, with NSW trotter On Thunder Road the most likely to get into any sort of war with Speeding Spur. The Great Southern Star is the trotting highlight of a night where New Zealand-trained horses could start favourite in all seven races they contest, headlined by Smolda in the A$500,000 Hunter Cup. His draw of two on the second line should see him settle in front of key rival Lennytheshark and he looks a massive chance of working his way to the lead, from where it would take a special performance to beat him. His stablemate Vincent is another with a second line draw but even worse being on the inside in the A$200,000 Victoria Derby but he was so dominant in his heat last Saturday he should be able to overcome it. But the draw does raise the possibility of traffic concerns so trainer-driver Mark Purdon might need to be at his aggressive best. Purdon looks set for an effortless group one win with Lazarus in the A$100,000 Bonanza, which he is racing in because it qualifies him for the Chariots Of Fire in Sydney next week, a springboard to the Miracle Mile on February 25. And stablemate Piccadilly Princess is odd-on to win the A$100,000 Ladyship Cup, with Rocker Band’s chance dented by a poor draw, one of three on the night for trainer Barry Purdon, who also has Be Jack’s Legend (Derby) and Hug The Wind (Hunter Cup) off the second line. Chase The Dream and the unbeaten Partyon all race at Menangle tomorrow night as well, but Dream About Me has been scratched after being off peak this week, a setback not expected to damage her Ladyship Mile campaign. Closer to home New Zealand’s two best three-year-old trotters Habibi Inta and Enghien resume their rivalry in the Hambletonian at Ashburton tomorrow while tonight Cambridge cram seven races into 170 minutes tonight. Michael Guerin

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