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It's one of our most iconic harness racing events, and this year Mike Thorpe of Seven Sharp was oncourse to share the secret of what makes this day so special.

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 Garrick Knight A national record run has forced trainer Steve Telfer’s hand with his stable star, Triple Eight. He took out the $30,000 Kerry Hoggard Memorial – Holmes D G in a thrilling finish with Mach Shard, the two capitalising on a break-neck speed that played perfectly in to their hands. Both started from handicaps but ended up getting sweet trips in the running line which allowed them to fight out the finish, Triple Eight prevailing in 3.17.2. It was a remarkable time that shaved 2.4 seconds off the previous mark, set by Vincent. Telfer purposely avoided nominating for the New Zealand Cup, saying the Inter Dominions at Alexandra Park at the end of the year were the clear focus. And while that still remains, Triple Eight will now head south for two races, contrary to earlier plans. “Looking at the programme at Auckland, and knowing he needs some good hard runs to prepare him for the Inter Dominions, we are going to send him south next week. “So, we’ll go to Kaikoura and then the junior free for all on Cup Day. “But that will be it; he’ll come home and prepare for the Inters after that.” Stablemate Check In will also head south to race, joining stablemates, Ivana Flybye and Flying Steps, who are already down there. Earlier in the night, one of the stable’s best three-year-olds, Mimi E Coco, resumed with an all-the-way win in the hands of David Butcher. She has classic potential according to Telfer, but will need to be expertly-managed to realise that. “It’s early in the season but she gives you that feel of a horse that will be up to the better fillies’ races later on. “She has a lot to learn though – at the moment she is a lot better in behind. “David was saying she was switching off and needed a horse up beside her to keep her mind on the job.” The name, according to her breeder and part-owner, Scott Plant, was chosen on a whim while he and his wife were on an overseas holiday. “Initially she was going to be called The Last Mach but my wife didn’t like that. “We were talking about in a café in the south of France and on the wall was a sign that said Mimi E Coco. “I said what about that? And she liked it so we went with it.” It’s actually Italian and language experts spoken to by HRNZ suggested it refers to ‘soulmates’ or a couple displaying extreme levels of love for one another.   Old friends combine with Sole Ambition Sole Ambition is one of those horses everyone would like to own. His front-running win on Friday night capped off a consistent run of form for trainer Barry Purdon, who owns the son of Bettor’s Delight with American-based expat Kiwi trainer, Chris Ryder. “I’ve known Chris for as long as I can remember – we got right back to the eighties when he was training here.” Ryder, who owns star trotter Oscar Bonavena with Purdon’s father, Roy, also has ownership interests in Henry Hu, Bad To The Bone and three other unraced horses in the stable. He looks like being the best performer to date out of former champion race mare One Dream, who has been somewhat disappointing at stud. There’s no real story to tell behind the rise of Sole Ambition – just a good, honest horse that keeps getting better, like all the stock of his sire. “He’s really stepped up recently and kept on improving,” said Purdon. Purdon was non-committal on the immediate future for the horse but says, at this stage, sending him to America to race for Ryder was not on the cards. Purdon had a decent night at the office with Thumbs Up clearing maidens and Sunny Glenis getting another win while he also had placings with Henry Hu, Wainui Creek and Mach Shard. The latter was narrowly beaten by Triple Eight again but lost no admirers in a New Zealand record run. “He’s a pretty damn good horse, I think. “We’ve been patient with him and he’s just continually gotten a bit better. “He’ll race here again on the 25th and then go south for the Cup trial and the Cup.” Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Patience brings its own rewards and that was certainly the case for the connections of Spankem when he triumphed with a masterly Tim Williams drive to give All Stars a win on the 50th anniversary of the Purdon family’s first runner in the Kaikoura Cup. Phil and Glenys Kennard, Ken and Karen Breckon, Jim and Ann Gibbs and Gary and Kerre Woodham learned patience early with the well-bred Spankem. He posted four smart placed performances as a two year old before a winning turn but then he got his due reward winning the Sires Stakes Final after a great placed run from outside the second row in the PGG Wrightson Sales Pace. Then he had to settle for third in a tight finish behind stablemates Ashley Locaz and The Devil’s Own in the Harness Jewels. The same thing happened to him as a three year old in the rich Sales Pace running third to Chase Auckland and All U Need is Faith and after a win in a heat of the Victoria Derby but a fourth in the final Mark and Natalie specified a lengthy spell to regain his fire and fitness after a busy younger campaign. He seems to have come back better than ever and after his bold run at Ashburton it seemed only a matter of time before he took out a feature race. That was up to Tim who seized the lead off Natalie and Eamon Maguire and dictated the terms. The time for the race was the slowest since Natalie drove Arden Rooney to victory four years ago and over three seconds slower than Lazarus posted with his easy win last year. But Tim sprinted them home in 55.6 and 26.4 and that gave nothing else, including Eamon Maguire, a chance of overhauling him on the flat- cambered Kaikoura track. It was the Kennard’s third win in the race in five years, Fly Like an Eagle having won in 2013 but a first for his partners. Jim Gibbs, busy celebrating a birthday could not be there but he is sure to be on hand for Spankem’s next run in the Junior Free for All on New Zealand Cup day. All Stars have now won four of the last six Kaikoura Cups and All Stars have won nine in all. Eamon Maguire fought on and Cruz Bromac lost no New Zealand Cup caste on his sectionals after appearing to have not all favours at the start.   Courtesy of All Stars Racing Stables http://www.allstarsracingstables.com

It was a terrible weekend for two of New Zealand's best harness horses. Former Horse of the Year winners Lazarus and Monbet both suffered big setbacks and the immediate or even long-term futures of both are in doubt. Lazarus was a shock last in the Breeders Crown open male pace at Pocono Downs in the United States yesterday afternoon (NZ time) dropping out after leading to miss a place for only the second time in his career in the race won by his arch rival McWicked. Clearly the champion New Zealand pacer was ailing in some way and it will now be interesting to see whether his connections continue his campaign, bring him back for next season or if he is retired to stud. It wasn't a total disaster for New Zealand-breds at the Breeders Crown though with former Kiwi mare Shartin taking out the mare's open pace to cement her crown as North America's queen of pacing. While Lazarus's connections will mull over his options the trainers of NZ's best trotter Monbet have had that taken away from them as the seven-year-old, who was supposed to return to racing at Kaikoura today, has been sidelined indefinitely. Monbet has't raced for two years and trialled last Wednesday but was found to have a splint bone problem that will require an operation as doubts loom over whether he will ever make it back to the track. Meanwhile, the confusing road to the New Zealand Trotting Cup in 15 days' time takes its next step at Kaikoura today when leading hopes Eamon Maguire, Cruz Bromac and Star Galleria clash in the $50,000 Cup. All three are racing well enough to win but the start of the 2400m stand will be crucial as the flat Kaikoura track is no fun for those coming wide and if any of the trio were able to lead they would become the one to beat. Speeding Spur headlines a talented field for the main trot today, with his connections confident he can overcome a 10m handicap.   Michael Guerin

Champion harness racing pacer Lazarus has set a new race record when winning today's (Gr2) $50,000 Kaikoura Cup. Lazarus won easily after sitting parked and paced the 2400 metres from the standing start in 2.54.3, which bettered the previous record by more than a second. The time equated to a blistering mile-rate of 1.56.8 for the standing start race. Lazarus blasted home his last 800m in 54.1 seconds, with a final 400m in 26.8secs around the packed South Bay race track. Trainer Mark Purdon said after the race, "He was just too good today and was always travelling well" "He will probably go to the Cup trial next week, and then on to the Cup in two weeks time" Titan Banner had every chance in front for driver Dexter Dunn and stuck on well for second. North Island pacer No Doctor Needed ran home well for third. Earlier in the day the Philip Iggo trained Bordeaux went back to back in the (Gr3) $30,000 South Bay Trotters Cup. In a repeat of last year, the striking Love You gelding led for the last lap and easily held off a game The Foot Tapper to win the Trotters Cup for the second time in two years. Bordeaux trotted the 2400m stand in 3-01.8 for driver Dexter Dunn, with the last 800m cut out in 57.4 seconds. Bordeaux and winning connections.                                                        HRNZ photo The South Bay race track was in great order with some sizzling times recorded throughout the day. Cran Dalgety trained two winners that rated faster than a 1.55 mile rate.   Times Stride led all the way for Dexter Dunn rating 1.54.9 for the mobile 1900m and two races later Pat's Delight went slightly faster after sitting parked and rating 1-54.5 for the 1900m mobile. Both horses zipped home in around 55 seconds for their last 800m.   Bordeaux winning the (Gr3) $30,000 South Bay Trotters Cup.   Lazarus winning the Kaikoura Cup   Harnesslink Media

Kaikoura harness racing fixed odds movers as at 12:10pm   Race 1 - The only two runners wanted here are Belle Of Brooklyn $4.80 and Motu Better Be Quick $2.05 - $1.90 with that runner leading multi betting over the former runner.    Race 2 - The largest early bet is $2,200 Trouble Giero at $7.00 and he is now into $5.50. Miracle Rising $2.70 easily leads multi betting over Foreverman $3.70.   Race 3 - Shenandoah $2.20 - $1.75 is easily the best backed runner on the card early with the largest bets of $2,222 at $1.90 & $2,500 at $1.80 (X 2). Also well backed has been Nandolo $12.00 - $4.80.    Race 4 - Punters only want to be on Times Stride $2.00 - $1.85 and Hail Christian $3.40 - $2.80. Largest bets Times Stride $2,000 at $2.00, $2,222 at $1.90 & $2,500 at $1.80 and Hail Christian $800 at $3.25 & $1,000 at $2.80. Times Stride easily leads multi betting over Hail Christian.   Race 5 - Real Torque $8.50 - $4.50 easily leads win betting over Rainy River $12.00 - $10.00. Largest early win bets Real Torque $1,000 at $6.80 and Rainy River $500 & $300 at $12.00.   Race 6 - Pat's Delight $2.10 - $1.80 easily leads win and multi betting.   Race 7 - Bordeaux $2.30 is easily the best backed in win and multi betting with the next best backed in win betting Destiny Jones $8.50.   Race 8 - Lazarus $1.18 - $1.13 is obviously the best backed runner in win and multi betting (holding 95% of multi bets). The largest early win bet $3,000 at $1.15 Lazarus.    Race 9 - Major Hippie $5.20 - $4.80 leads win betting over Mongolian Hero $5.80 & Franco Texas $11.50 - $11.00.   Best backed multi runners in order: R8 - Lazarus $1.13 R6 - Pat's Delight $1.80  R7 - Bordeaux $2.30  R3 - Shenandoah $1.75  R4 - Times Stride $1.85  R1 - Motu Bettor Be Quick $1.90   R2 - Miracle Rising $2.70    Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

The mindset of just one rival driver could determine whether Lazarus enjoys an effortless New Zealand Cup warm up at Kaikoura today. The country's best pacer is the $1.18 bookies favourite for the $50,000 Kaikoura Cup, his final race before his New Zealand Cup defence in 15 days. After two wins in as many starts this campaign and without stablemates Dream About Me, Have Faith In Me and Heaven Rocks among his six rivals today, anything but a victory for Lazarus would surprise and cause a shift in the New Zealand Cup market. But for all its beauty, the Kaikoura track can be a nightmare for punters as its flat bends enormously favour leaders and plenty of good horses have had their journey to the New Zealand Cup run aground at Kaikoura. Today that snag could be Titan Banner, a former stablemate of Lazarus racing in wonderful form now back with former trainer Graeme Anderson. Titan Banner led in the middle stages and parked Dream About Me to win the Methven Cup two weeks ago and has the standing start manners to attempt the same today. He is very quick from a standing start and could be the first of the favoured pair to the markers. Then the question of the race will be asked. Will his driver Dexter Dunn want to stay in front and run hard over the 2400m or will he be happy to concede that role to Lazarus should trainer-driver Mark Purdon come knocking, knowing there are richer targets in the weeks ahead? If the answer is the latter Lazarus's army of punters should be in for an easy ride as the champ has never been run past in a race, so if he leads he wins. But if Titan Banner parks him out then those taking the short odds could be in for an uncomfortable last lap. As much as Lazarus is probably two, maybe more, lengths better than Titan Banner, around Kaikoura the $1.18 is too short because of that question alone. Northerners Better B Amazed and No Doctor Needed have drawn wide and probably need fast beginnings to be factors in the race whereas the remaining two Purdon-Rasmussen pacers Waikiki Beach and Piccadilly Princess are still very much on the way up. The Cup isn't the only feature today in which Dunn might play catch me if you can as he pilots free-goer Bordeaux in the $30,000 South Bay Trotters Cup. The bold chestnut is sticking to standing start races heading into the Dominion on November 17 and won this race last year with step and run tactics. With the open class trotting ranks a mess without Monbet and Speeding Spur, Bordeaux has the chance over the summer to bank some serious coin if he can stay sound and keep his manners intact and victory today would earn him valuable respect for Cup week. Michael Guerin

There is some great harness racing action again this week, with the highlights being the Alabar Kaikoura Cup Flying and Majestic Son South Bay Trotters Cup at Kaikoura on Monday.  Gavin Smith had the best winning dividend last week when Great Things Happen won the mile race at Ashburton paying $4.10 and $1.70 on the tote. This week there is a good spread of selections split between the five meetings programmed. Note: We will keep adding to this page if more tips come in after the deadline, so check back often. Forbury on Thursday night Brad Williamson - Brad says his best chance this week is​ Our Gracie at Forbury in Race 1 Terry Chmiel - Terry is going for Overarm as his best chance this week at Forbury in Race 2 Geoff Knight - Geoff thinks his best chance this week is Silver Dale at Forbury in Race 6 Rory Mcllwrick - Rory thinks that Fiery Ferret would be his best drive this week at Forbury in Race 7   Auckland on Friday night Tony Herlihy - Tony thinks that Moving Money would be his best chance this week in Race 2 Stephen Richardson(TAB) - Stephen thinks that Step Up will be hard to beat also in Race 2 Racechat - Lance thinks Destined For Heaven is a good winning chance also in Race 2 Todd Macfarlane - Todd says his best chance would be George if he is on his best behaviour in Race 4 Andre Poutama - Andre is going for Will Take Charge as his best drive this week in Race 10   Invercargill on Sunday Blair Orange - Blair says that Sarah Burt would be his best drive this week at Ascot park in Race 1 Sheree Tomlinson - Sheree thinks her best drive this week would be Sundons Wish in Race 3 Brent Barclay - Brent thinks his best drive would be Erin Jaccka this week at Ascot park in Race 5 Matthew Williamson - Matthew is opting for Eja Patron as his best drive this week also in Race 5 Andrew Suddaby - Andrew is going for Larch as his best bet this week at Ascot park in Race 6 Shane Walkinshaw - Shane says his best chance this week is Sportzstar at Invercargill in Race 9 Nathan Williamson - Nathan says his best chance this week could be Franco Santino in Race 10   Kaikoura on Sunday Gavin Smith - Gavin is opting for Pembrookes Passion as his best chance this week in Race 4 John Morrison - John thinks his best drive this week is Dorie Delight at Kaikoura in Race 5   Kaikoura on Monday Mark Jones - Mark is going for Belle Of Brooklyn as his best chance this week in Race 1 Gerard O'Reilly - Gerard says his best drive this week is Motu Bettor be Quick also in Race 1 John Curtin - John thinks Donegal Davy Boyd will go close to winning at Kaikoura in Race 3 Ricky May - Ricky is going for Mongolian Storm as his best drive this week in Race 6 Harnesslink Reporter - thinks Bordeaux can go close to winning at Kaikoura in Race 7   Harnesslink Media  

2017 is set to be a year of change for Kaikoura’s iconic two days of harness racing on 29 and 30 October. The Weekend of Racing could be the biggest event held in Kaikoura since the November 2016 earthquakes. Two days of action-packed harness racing with a backdrop of rolling surf,seals and snow-capped mountains is on offer. The weekend represents all that is unique about harness racing in New Zealand: great horses, great track, great view. It is an event not to miss. All generations can enjoy the family day on Sunday 29 October, while Monday 30 October is home to the $50,000 Alabar cup. An entry fee is being introduced this year. On Sunday, the fee is a gold coin donation with all proceeds going to the Mayor's earthquake fund. On Monday, the entry fee for general admission is $10 per person, with under 18s free. People will be able to pay at the gate on arrival. Kaikoura Trotting Club, a volunteer club of diehard harness enthusiasts, see this year as an opportunity to make some changes and inject new ideas into the Weekend of Racing after a rocky year. There are hospitality marquees available for hire, new food options to feed the family, entertainment to keep things lively, and much more over the weekend. So many people have, and are, working incredibly hard to reconnect Kaikoura with the rest of the South Island. This is the perfect opportunity to pause and celebrate how far things have come by getting friends and family or work mates together to book a hospitality marquee. It’s a time for the whole community to come together to showcase the beauty of Kaikoura,and the amazing harness racing action at the South Bay Course. Join the Kaikoura Trotting Club and the Kaikoura community, in supporting harness racing in the region and celebrating a great weekend of family fun. For more information, visit theraces.co.nz/events or contact the Event Manager, Geraldine Stanbury, at kaikouratc@xtra.co.nz or on 021 351 615

Kaikoura harness racing fixed odds movers as at 11:30am Race 1- James Dean $2.10 - $1.90 is the best backed in win and multi betting. Righteous Brother $4.80 - $4.50 is the only other runner attracting some interest.   Race 2 - Bulidinganempire $4.20 - $3.80 is the best backed on the win 'book' but the $1.70 favourite Maninthemirror is huge in multi betting.   Race 3 - The only runner wanted here in multi betting is the $1.70 favourite Afterdinnerspeaker $1.70. On the win 'book' money has come for Franco Hampton $4.80 - $4.50 and Gunpowder $17 - $16.   Race 4 - Only two runners wanted here early and they are Shillelagh $2.10 - $1.95 and Franco Texas $4.50 - $3.60.   Race 5 - An even betting race on the win 'book' with little change to the opening odds but a clear multi favourite is Donegal Bettorgretch $1.95.   Race 6 - Bordeaux $4.80 - $4.00 is starting to take money and is easily the best backed early over Amaretto Sun $4.60 and Harriet Of Mot $5.00.   Race 7 - Smolda $1.90 - $1.70 easily dominates win and multi betting with Titan Banner $5.20 - $4.20 the next best backed over Franco Nelson $8.00 - $9.00.    Race 8 - This was a tough race to price and punter's are also finding it hard to select the winner but best backed early are Tas Man Bromac $5.50 and Moon Rock $4.20.   Race 9 - Best backed on the win 'book' is Ultimate Fella $7.00 - $6.50 over Smithy $10.50.   Multi favourites in order & odds at 11:30am: R7 - Smolda $1.70 R3 - Afterdinnerspeaker $1.70 R1 - James Dean $1.90   R2 - Maninthemirror $1.70  R5 - Donegal Bettorgretch $1.95 A $10 multi bet on the above runners would return $182   In the Drivers Challenge Option 810 Dexter Dunn is into $1.45 following an $8,000 bet at $1.55 (opening odds).    Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

As reported by Stuff website, even as he took a tipple out of the Mitre 10 Cup, Terry Williamson was already daring to dream about his next cup campaign. Following Canterbury's 43-27 win over Tasman on Saturday night, the red and blacks manager could not help himself from glancing across the carpark to Addington Raceway where he will fulfil a lifelong ambition on November 8. With the rugby goals ticked off and the beer drunk, Williamson can focus on racing. A passionate owner and follower of harness racing, Williamson is part of the ownership team that races emerging pacing talent and New Zealand Trotting Cup nominee Seel The Deal. "I've got the Ranfurly Shield and the Mitre 10 Cup now we're looking for the New Zealand (Trotting) Cup," Williamson quipped. Ranked at number nine in the order of entry for the biggest event on the New Zealand harness racing calendar, Seel The Deal only has to come through Monday's Kaikoura Cup safely to take his spot. With the Ranfurly Shield and national provincial championship locked away, Williamson has had a dream first year in his role as Canterbury manager but that is not stopping his visions of more success. A $51 outsider to win the Cup, confidence is high in the Seel the Deal camp that he has the ability to run in the top half dozen. "It's bloody exciting just to have a runner in the Cup. "We've been trying for thirty years and now we've finally got one that is not only capable of being there but maybe running in the top five," Williamson said. The Greg and Nina Hope-trained pacer should be improved on his last start second behind Smolda in the Methven Cup. Methven was his first run back from a minor wind operation. "Considering he had four weeks off and a wind operation it was an exceptional run," Williamson said. As long as Seel The Deal can live up to his potential at Kaikoura, his meteoric rise could become one of the best underdog stories heading into cup week. This time last year he had only had two career starts. "What he's doing is phenomenal," Williamson said. "Twelve months ago he wasn't even running straight." In just his 20th start, the lightly raced pacer will contest the Group II Kaikoura Cup - his final race before the big dance at Addington. "We always thought he had the ability to do something like this but it's come a year earlier than we thought," Williamson said. The six-year-old son of American Ideal out of Seel Their Fate has chalked up eight wins, three seconds and a third. Unfortunately for Williamson and his fellow owners Graham and Theresa Snook and Grant McStay, they have struck one of the strongest Kaikoura Cup fields in recent memory and a second row draw that negates his speedy starts. But he does follow out race favourite Smolda​ and should improve again off the run heading towards Addington. McStay trained Seel The Deal for his first 15 starts and Williamson said the Hopes are using their tried and tested skills at the top level to put the icing on a well prepared cake. Williamson compared McStay to legendary athletics coach Arthur Lydiard. "Grant makes sure they do the miles. "He takes his time and all his horses are trained to run two miles." Smolda is a $1.90 favourite for the Kaikoura Cup ahead of stablemate Titan Banner ($5.20) and Australian raider Messini ($6.50) with Seel The Deal a $28 chance. New Zealand Trotting Cup hopefuls Lewy Risk and Moonrock will look to force their way into the field via the Listed PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales Aged Pace at Kaikoura. With Monbet​ not in Kaikoura, an even field will assemble for the Group III South Bay Trotters Cup (2400m).   Mat Kermeen Click here for the story at Stuff website    

Kaikoura will step into the slightly unknown this afternoon with the inaugural running of a two day meeting. Six races run and won in the space of three hours at the picturesque South Bay Racecourse. There’s a $25,000 Pick6 on offer across the programme and to help you build a fund up for Monday’s Kaikoura Cup Day, we’ve done the hard work for you. Race 1 @ 2:59pm Although it’s never pleasant kicking off a Pick6 with a maiden trot – this one does look a little easier than most others. #3 Anse Vata should be pretty tough to toss here on the exposed form. Didn’t get much luck the other day at Addington and has a complete set of manners to compliment the ability. Another with usually good manners is #4 Shona Mary. The Tony & Ken Barron trained mare is knocking on the door or a success. Expect good things this summer from #13 Zsa Ziva – Ken Ford knows how to win races at the moment and this one should pick one up pretty quickly. #6 Chevron Express the other one worth a wee look. Race 2 @ 3:34pm Pretty hard to look past the two horses down the bottom of the book. #9 Run Boy Run was very good on debut at Methven behind the talented James Dean who looks a strong chance of winning the first race on Monday. Perhaps the telling factor might be the choice of Dexter Dunn however. He opts to take the reins behind #8 Baileys Rock for Cran Dalgety. He’s won once from two starts and looks talented enough to make it two from three. #2 Benji Mara will give supporters a great run for their money although his last trial was just Ok. Race 3 @ 4:09pm The trickiest of the six races this one with plenty of winning chances in a very even field of pacers. #7 Extreme Guest is probably the best of the bunch, but he doesn’t win them out of turn. A small field will aid his chances as he can be driven quietly and look to unwind late in the piece. #1 Zena Mac might not be the worst from a good barrier draw, although she too doesn’t win often. #8 Vanhalem is always dangerous in these sorts of races and has the added bonus of Dexter Dunn in the bike. Chances also to; #3 Handlebar Hank, #5 Real South & #9 Patrick Bee. Race 4 @ 4:44pm Looks like a lead and trail scenario here with #1 The Kaik & #9 Raising Hope appearing set to dominate this one from the top. The Kaik was very good fresh up when running fifth and this is a whole lot easier than what he faced there. An all the way victory is within the realms of possibility. Raising Hope was a very good third at Methven on debut behind the dead-heaters, Beach Skipper and Maninthemirror – that form should stack up pretty well here. Hard to see the winner not coming from one of these two. Maybe #2 Alta Teresa could be a chance. Race 5 @ 5:19pm Potentially another lead and trail scenario here too. #2 Benicio comes up with a good drawn fresh up for the All Stars barn and with the aggressive Matt Anderson in the bike they may try to dominate from the front and make everyone else chase them. If they do try and find the front, that will put the talented #1 Hall Of Fame on his back and with race fitness on his side he might be able to slingshot him up the straight. #5 Runaway Star might be the blowout if the right luck falls her way. Race 6 @ 5:51pm Starting with a maiden trot is tough, but finishing a Pick6 with this C1 – C2 trot is just plain cruel. You’d want to be taking a few on any exotic tickets you’ve got. #4 Dark Ops might be the strongest hope with a run under the belt. Was beaten a long way last time, but was far from disgraced – look for improvement. Mobile start experts #7 Cuddly Jess & #8 Alvira Hest are both good chances too in their current form. You’ll need to include the Hope trained #11 Ella Abbe and #9 Forgot To Remember might not be the worst with a quiet trip.   Super Selector - By Matt Markham  Race 1: Anse Vata, Shona Mary, Zsa Ziva, Chevron Express  Race 2: Baileys Rock, Run Boy Run, Benji Mara, Maw Of A Woman  Race 3: Extreme Guest, Zena Mac, Vanhalem, Patrick Bee Race 4: The Kaik, Raising Hope, Alta Teresa, Reaza Grunter Race 5: Benicio, Hall Of Fame, Runaway Star, Mrs Browns Boys Race 6: Dark Ops, Cuddly Jess, Alvira Hest, Ella Abbe Best Bet: Anse Vata (Race 1) Value: Extreme Guest (Race 3)

A happy horse, doing so well in his build up to the second Tuesday of November, has led John Dunn to alter his plans slightly. The Woodend Beach based Dunn, who runs the South Island branch of his father Robert’s training operation, wasn’t intending at being at Kaikoura on Monday with New Zealand Trotting Cup aspirant, Franco Nelson – but the former Cup runner-up is doing that well with life at the moment that Dunn was left with little choice. “He’s absolutely flying, I actually couldn’t be happier with him at the moment,” he said. “Initially I had said no to Kaikoura with him but the way he is at the moment I think he needs a race under his belt and we might not have got that if we waited for the Cup Trial on Wednesday.” A winner of the Hannon Memorial and then the New Brighton Cup, Franco Nelson’s lead up form has been exceptional thus far and is also giving an insight that leads towards the showy pacer putting everything out in the open when the Cup finally does roll around. Dunn has kept him ticking along nicely since his last appearance in the Canterbury Classic and a workout last week at Rangiora ticked all the boxes for the young horseman. “He felt super that day, it was a really good hit out for him and he probably felt the best he’s felt this time in I think.” Monday will be no walk in the park though with arguably one of the strongest Kaikoura Cup fields on offer in recent years. Franco Nelson will start three in from the outside fence with noted speedster early, Seel The Deal and No Doctor Needed outside him meaning Dunn will be hoping for another flying beginning. “That’s the key, it’s not an ideal draw but if he can begin really quickly we should be able to negate it a little bit. “A lot depends on the first wee bit, but if we end up settling back I’m not going to be too worried.” Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen, who have dominated all the Cup lead up races that Franco Nelson hasn’t won, will have a two-pronged attack in the race from Smolda and Titan Banner. Smolda missed Monday’s Ashburton Flying Stakes due to a slight issues in his bloods after his Methven Cup win but has been ticking along nicely since and is primed for a big run from the pole position on Monday. “He’s come through it all good, it was nothing serious but enough to make us say no to Ashburton,” Mark Purdon said. Titan Banner will return to the races after his Methven Cup, fresh up, third effort with a new driver. Blair Orange has been engaged to drive the gelding on Monday and then going forward to the New Zealand Trotting Cup providing things continue down the natural path. There will be interest too on Monday in the return to New Zealand of former All Stars runner, Messini. The Brent Lilley trained pacer will begin his Kiwi cup preparation in the Kaikoura Cup.   Matt Markham

The annual Kaikoura Trotting Club meeting will now be a two-day fixture. They will race on both a Sunday and Monday at the end of October this year.  The Sunday meeting on the 30th October will be a six race programme and will field races of lower class horses, while the traditional Monday meeting will be a ten race programme held the next day on October 31st and feature the Kaikoura Cup, trotters cup and the $50,000 NZ Yearling Sales pace. Last year Arden Rooney won the Kaikoura Cup before going on to win the New Zealand cup eight days later. Arden Rooneys Australian owner Merv Butterworth (Butterworth Racing Syndicate) will possibly have two horses participating in this years Kaikoura Cup. Both Didjamakim Bolt and Itz Bettor To Win are earmarked for the important lead-up race before competing in the New Zealand Cup in November.  Arden Rooney winning the Kaikoura Cup 2015     Harnesslink Media

In the space of 20 minutes on Monday afternoon, the New Zealand Trotting Cup has been turned on its head. First there was Arden Rooney winning the Group II Kaikoura Cup in a manner that suggests the now Australian-based pacer can become the first horse since Il Vicolo in 1996 to claim the Kaikoura- New Zealand Trotting Cup double. Then just minutes later Cran Dalgety was on the blower making the call everyone suspected he would have to make this week. A $2.50 favourite a few short weeks ago, Christen Me is out of the cup and only a 50-50 chance to get on the plane to Perth for the Inter Dominions. Dalgety suspects Christen Me is suffering from a virus. Last season's horse of the year will not start in the Group I NZ Free-For-All on Show Day regardless of whether he makes the trip to Perth. Dalgety has also pulled Bit Of A Legend out of the cup. Smolda holds on to his favourite tag at $3 with Sky Major at $3.50, while Arden Rooney moves into $6 on the back his gritty effort at Kaikoura and Ohoka Punter is at $6.50. While Dalgety was contemplating cup week without his stable star, Kerryn Manning was counting down the hours to New Zealand's premier harness racing event on Tuesday week. Arden Rooney won the Kaikoura Cup last year and went on to run 12th in the in the big dance at Addington. But the Australian trainer-driver believes she has a better horse on her hands than when he was racing out of the All Stars barn 12 months ago. Going on the run at the South Bay racecourse it is hard to disagree. Arden Rooney lost several lengths when he galloped away from the tapes, worked around the field three wide, sat parked for the last 1800m and was still too tough. He beat home a flying Messini by a head with Mighty Flying Mac, Dalgety's only runner left in the cup, a distant third. Manning said she would take a degree of confidence into the cup in the knowledge that the gritty Better's Delight gelding will love the two miles at Addington. "The further the better," Manning said, "He's a true stayer and he loves the fight, he never gives in." Manning was confident the Hunter Cup winner would bounce through the run and maybe even take a bit of improvement from Kaikoura given he only travelled over from Australia last week. Co-trainer Mark Purdon was all smiles with the effort of Messini heading into the cup. As expected, Te Kawau was much improved from his two previous outings and after finally getting a slice of luck in the running Brilliant Strike showed what he was capable of and would have comfortably won a cup start when the rankings are released on Tuesday after hitting the lines strongly in fifth. Colin DeFilippi's grin when he returned to the birdcage after winning the feature trot was enough to suggest Stent is back to his best. DeFilippi, who trains in partnership with wife Julie, blamed himself for letting the star trotter carry to much condition into Ashburton when he was upset by One Over Da Moon. Stent's one and a quarter length win, in track record time, has DeFilippi looking forward to cup week. DeFilippi said he would consult Stent's owner Trevor Casey on whether to contest the Group I NZ Free-For-All on cup day or go straight to the Group I Dominion Handicap. After going to war with Stent in the running, Master Lavros faded to fourth behind Waterloo Sunset and Quite A Moment but trainer-driver Mark Jones was not concerned. "He hasn't raced in three weeks so it wasn't too bad, we just have to hope he improves of that run before the Dominion." Mat Kermeen Republished with permission of Stuff NZ  -  Check site here

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