It's a very busy Monday/Tuesday in harness racing. Here's all the various news, views and updates that you may find useful.
Training genius Mark Purdon is declaring Sushi Sushi his best New Zealand Cup chance as he prepares to provide a third of the field for the great race. Purdon produced the trifecta in yesterday's $50,000 Kaikoura Cup, with Sushi Sushi beating Major Mark and Fly Like An Eagle in the second fastest 2400m standing start ever paced in New Zealand.
Fly Like An Eagle's New Zealand Cup campaign hangs in the balance at Kaikoura today. He could easily win the $50,000 Kaikoura Cup and not only seal his start in the New Zealand Cup on November 13 but even move into second favouritism. But it wouldn't surprise anybody if he galloped away for the third standing start in a row, cost punters a fortune and harness racing trainer Mark Purdon pulled the pin on his Cup bid.
Ninety eight years after conducting its inaugural harness racing meeting the Kaikoura Trotting Club will break new ground tomorrow (Monday October 29). When John Coffey moved that the Kaikoura Trotting Club be formed in February 1914 no-one had heard of passing lanes. Tomorrow the club's brand new passing lane will be used for the very first time.
Auckland Reactor's chances of finally contesting a New Zealand Cup are improving even though he will miss his expected lead-up race at Kaikoura on Monday (October 29). The $1.8 million harness racing earner had been earmarked to contest the Kaikoura Cup but will dodge the race to compete at Addington four days later.
The Kaikoura Cup field and oddis out now (see below). No Auckland Reactor! Interestingly the 11 runners are all ranked between 7 and 25 for the Cup. 5 inside the top 15, 6 out. This could be the harness racing event that has the most direct impact on who gets a run and who doesn't on the second Tuesday in November.
As reported on Twitter and now officially with the Harness Racing New Zealand computer John Dunn will the reins on Alta Christiano in the final Sires Stakes Heat this week.
A patient approach by Papakura harness racing trainer Tony Herlihy has given the connections of yesterday's (Monday) $50,000 PGG Wrightson Aged Yearling Sales Pace their biggest pay cheque to date.
Pint-sized pocket rocket Smiling Shard proved he would be a force to be reckoned with in next week's New Zealand Cup after impressively winning the Kaikoura Cup for the second year in a row today (Monday).
Cran Dalgety has resisted the temptation to start his superstar four year old harness racing star Smiling Shard in this year's New Zealand Cup. Yesterday's (Monday November 1) stunning performance the little pocket rocket to win the Kaikoura Cup, wasn't enough to persuade trainer Dalgety and the connections to have a shot at $750,000 Group One event, the decision in the end made with the horse's welfare in mind.
Harness Racing New Zealand has released its stipendiary stewards report for the meetings held from last Thursday (October 28) to yesterday (November 1). It reads:
The connections of harness racing star Smiling Shard will be faced with a difficult decision to make following the brilliant pacer's spectacular win in today's (Monday) Kaikoura Cup.
The little horse with the big heart - Smiling Shard - sat three wide without cover for the last lap and put in a Herculean performance to get up and win the Group Two $50,000 Kaikoura Cup at the town's picturesque South Bay Racecourse today (Monday November 1).
Ian Small will take over the training duties of his older brother Geoff's strong Patumahoe stable following a Harness Racing Victoria six month ban, which starts today (November 1) and finises on April 30 next year.
Harness racing princess Nearea Franco will return to sunny Southbay Racecourse in Kaikoura on Monday in an attempt to win back to back Kaikoura Cup's. The winner of ten races and close to $400,000 in stake earnings had her preparations for this year's New Zealand Cup interrupted by a foot ailment curtailing her expected return to racing.
Classy Canterbury mare Nearea Franco showed exactly why harness racing's ultimate staying test, the NZ Cup over 3200m is right up her alley, when she fought back after being headed at the top of the straight, to win the final leadup race, the Group Two $50,000 Alabar Kaikoura Cup at Kaikoura today (Monday).