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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  

The Kaikōura Trotting Club's two-day harness racing meet is back this weekend and is expected to be a big drawcard.  Last year was the first time the club had held a two-day meeting and thanks to good weather and the long weekend in Marlborough, visitors flocked to the South Bay race track.  Event manager Geraldine Stanbury said the Weekend of Racing on Sunday and Monday could be the biggest event Kaikōura has seen for a while. There will be two days of action-packed harness racing with a backdrop of rolling surf and snow-capped mountains. Milissa Ward, winner of the Rockgas Most Appropriately Dressed. (EMMA DANGERFIELD PHOTO) "It's an event not to be missed," she said. READ MORE: * Two consecutive days of racing at Kaikoura  * Kaikoura's first two-day race meet proves a hit with the punters  * Good crowds and weather for Kaikoura Race Day "The weekend represents all that is unique about harness racing with great horses, a great track and a great view."  Photo finish. (EMMA DANGERFIELD PHOTO) Glamour is back on with the Most Appropriately Dressed competition.  The Punters Club will again be on a roll. All ticket holders go into a draw to win seven nights accommodation at The Peninsular Resort in Mooloolaba. Traditionally Sunday is a family day and the six-race programme features junior and amateur driver races, with the first race starting at 2.52pm. Entry will be by gold coin donation with the proceeds going to the Mayoral Earthquake fund.  On Monday spectators need to be on the field by noon to see the first race set off at 12.09pm. New stables were put in over winter. There are now 22 new stables with gates for overnight stays, however, most horses are billeted out at local farms. Marlborough have been good supporters in the past and the event usually gets a few horses from the north. This year will be a bit different said Kaikōura Trotting Club president Willy Weaver. "Because the road is closed north to Picton we don't expect to see quite the same crowd from Blenheim." There were 112 horses entered last year, however, Weaver said entries don't close off until a few days before so it was hard to judge. "It's quite a fast track at the moment. "The wet weather would've made it a bit harder, and we've had the tractor on the track to condition it and it's still going fast."  By Pippa Brown Reprinted with permission of The Marlborough Express

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 or contact the Event Manager, Geraldine Stanbury, at or on 021 351 615

Maybe there is a resistance to the All Stars New Zealand Trotting Cup stranglehold after all. Just when it looked like there was no one capable of stopping the onslaught of Lazarus, Have Faith In Me and Smolda in next Tuesday’s feature - Franco Nelson went next level on it and announced himself as more than just an outside chance of upsetting the blue and silver army in seven days time. His victory seaside at Kaikoura yesterday was nothing but encouraging with a view next week and was a continuation of the wonderful built up he’s been given by his trainer Robert Dunn and his son, John. And the best part of all? Neither Johnny nor Franco Nelson were supposed to be there yesterday. The Kaikoura Cup was never seriously on the radar until a couple of weeks ago for Franco Nelson, but a late change in plans saw him head to South Bay while Dunn was laid up on Saturday and looking very unlikely to drive. “I did something to my back up in Auckland on Friday night and it was pretty sore,” Dunn said. “Luckily I had a bit of help from some Kayla Marshall and Chris McGregor who did plenty of work on me on Saturday to try and get me right.” If there was still any discomfort, Dunn didn’t show it and when Franco Nelson put a couple of lengths on Smolda at the top of the straight, he would have been lucky to feel anything at all. “That was super, he just loved being out there and rolling along, he’s really in the zone. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the team at home for the way his going, especially Mitchell Kerr who has down a power of work with him. “We’re lucky to have good staff.” With his usual exemplary stand start manners Franco Nelson was able to find the front from his outside barrier draw and with a solid tempo being set by Dunn he ran his rivals into the dirt in a very slick 2:55.6 - just 0.1 seconds outside Sushi Sushi’s race record. Smolda was brave, albeit a little below his best, in running second after sitting parked and will improve immensely after missing some work due to his irregular bloods following his Methven win. The North Island’s sole Cup contender, No Doctor Needed, showed he’s no forlorn hope of sneaking a minor placing next week with a bold effort for third - a complete turn around on the majority of his lead up form in Auckland. “It was nice to not have to be the one who made sure the speed was true,” driver Scott Phelan said. “He’s gone great today, I’m rapt with the performance, now we just need a good draw next week.” Mossdale Conner was again solid, without being brilliant in fourth after securing a great trip in the trail throughout. All still isn’t well in the Tiger Tara camp either. He was beyond disappointing after being slow away and his performance left Gerard O’Reilly, Geoff Dunn and his owners Bob and Jennifer Sandford and John Gould shaking their heads. “We’re not sure what to make of it,” Bob Sandford said. “Physically there is nothing wrong with the horse. He has always raced better when he’s been up on the speed though. “We will press on to the Cup at this stage and hope for the best. “We’ve come too far now to back out.” Australian raider, Messini, was also on the disappointing list, finishing eighth, beaten over 11 lengths leaving his trainer Brent Lilley with a few issues to iron out in the next seven days.   Matt Markham

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)

At Riverton harness racing yesterday from the 9 races the early movers rerport produced 8 winners & if you spent $24 taking the last quaddie with the movers you would have had a $326 collect. Race 1 - Best backed in win & multi betting is Eagle Galleon $2.40 (won $2.20 tote) Race 2-  Ideal Rule $3.50 - $2.90 is best backed in win and multi bets.(won $2.60 tote) Race 3 - A quiet win 'book' but Dark Horse $1.65 is huge in multi betting.(won $1.50 tote) Race 4 - Tour Director $1.75 is all punters want here. Race 5 - Early betting confirms that this race is a two horse war with Terracotta $2.80 leading multi betting and Ariadne Lavra $2.70 (won $2.90 tote)leading win betting. Race 6-  Best backed is Will I Am $6.20 - $5.00 (won $2.70 tote) both in win and multi betting with Steiger $5.00 also attracting some support early. Race 7 - Bettor Enforce $8.60 is best backed on the win 'book' but the $2.30 favourite Pulp Fiction (won $2.30 tote) easily leads multi betting. Race 8 - Some good early support for De Vito $4.60 over Jayceekay $6.60 - $6.00 (won $4.70 tote) Race 9 - It Ain't The Money (won $14.50 tote)$11 - $9.00 is best backed on the win 'book' over Shelby Bromac $18 - $16 but Sportzstar $3.20 - $2.80 is huge in multi betting.   Kaikoura Sunday early Fixed Odds movers. R1 - McLovin $7.00 is then big mover but best backed is Chevron Express $2.80 - $2.60. R2 - Benji Mara $7.00 - $4.70 best backed here over Bailey's Rock $1.60 R3 - Extreme Guest $4.40 - $3.80 is best backed over Cimarron $7.50.   R4 - All the multi money is on The Kaik $1.70 - $1.60 with Alta Teresa $11 getting some support on the win 'book'. R5 - Benicio $1.45 is huge in win & multi betting with little interest on any other runner to take this race out. R6 - The big go here is Dark Ops $4.80 - $3.60 with Alvira Hest $3.90 the only other runner taking some money.   Harnesslink Media Courtesy of Stephen Richardson (TAB)

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

It’s been just over nine years since David Broadhurst drove his last winner, but at Blenheim on Sunday the 69-year-old trained, drove, owned, and bred Patrick Bee to victory. “He’s a promising horse and I think he will win a few more. It was a great feeling to be saluting the judge again,” the Kaikoura horsemen said. It was Patrick Bee’s first win in 28 starts. He’s also placed 12 times. His three-quarter length victory comes 3,416 days after  Broadhurst drove Patrick Jay to win at Nelson. It was the January 12, 2007 and he was a $9.40 third favourite. Patrick Bee, who is no relation, was the $4 second favourite after finishing fourth when favourite on the first day. “He’s the second of three foals left by Ima Showoff. She died when giving birth to a Sands A Flyin foal in 2012. She was a cantankerous, dirty ole thing who didn’t win a race but did go two minutes. “I was given her for free when I was working for Inter Island Transport. She was from the Vin Devery breed. He’s actually very well bred. His line goes back to the Tactics family, which includes some good ones like Tactile, Noodlum, and Blacks A Fake,” Broadhurst said. He said he was just rapt to have Patrick Bee back racing again. “I’m very proud where he’s at considering he broke a pastern. He only started racing as a late 5-year-old. In think I’ll target the two-day Nelson meeting with him next month,” Broadhurst said. The Kaikoura horseman said he was introduced to harness racing by his next door neighbour Heber Henson back in the 1950s. He was also on the New Zealand Trotting Conference back in the day. “He had the two-time world trotting champion Rip Cord. He gave me my first drive behind a horse and I became hooked.  “I’ve been involved a long time. The first winner I owned and drove was Patrick Sean in the Kaikoura Trot back in 1970. I love the game and have a couple of others coming through. “I’ve got a 5-year-old Armbro Invasion mare named Schoolhouse Road and she is a work in progress. I’ve also got a 3-year-old Bettor’s Delight filly named Donegal Carrickfin. “I named her after the place where my family are from in Northern Ireland. She is out of a sister to Lyell Creek. I qualified her at Blenheim on April 23 when she won by four lengths,” Broadhurst said. Broadhurst has now driven seven winners since 1978 and trained a further six more since 1981. Patrick Bee won Sunday’s $7,000 Royal Hotel 2400m mobile on the Waterlea grass in 3:17.7 (mile rate 2;12.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 60.1 and 28.3. Courtesy of Duane Ranger

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

Harness racing pundits were out in force when Stent failed to run down One Over Da Moon at Ashburton a week ago. Was there a chink appearing in the armour of the champion trotter they said or was it just that he was a touch underdone last week. We didn't have to wait long to find out the answer with trainer /driver Colin De Filippi having a late change of plans and starting Stent today in the FFA trot at Kaikoura. His arch nemesis Master Lavros was also there and as expected these two made it a drama filled race. After a prolonged early tussle for the lead where the two champions drew clear of the field, Master Lavros worked to the front with Stent making him work very hard for the lead. Colin then waited for the passing lane and shot Stent through for a comfortable win from a big finisher in Waterloo Sunset. The fact the race was run in a new New Zealand record time for the 2400 metres of 3:00.2 for the 2400 metres only added further merit to Stent's run. It was win number thirty for Stent and cemented him once again as the trotter to beat during Cup Week. Colin looked a happy man on returning to the birdcage. " I wasn't as disappointed as a lot of people were with his run at Ashburton." "He had just got away on me a bit before Ashburton and I knew he would improve." " I had to make Mark on Master Lavros work hard early because he was the main danger today." " Stent has such a great all round game so he can make his own luck," Colin said. With Stent racing today there is now a question mark over weather he will line up in the New Zealand Trotting Free For All on Cup Day as a lead in to the Dominion Handicap on Show Day at Addington. " I would say it is 50:50 at this stage." " I will sit down with the owner Trevor Casey in the next day or two and sort out what we are doing." " Personally I don't think starting in both of the races would do him any harm but we will see how he comes through this race first," said Colin.  The win today by Stent sets up another clash with Master Lavros in the 3200 metres Dominion Handicap over a distance where there is little between them. It promises to be one of the must watch races of Cup week. Harnesslink Media

Who will be the unlucky one? Heading into Monday's Kaikoura Cup there are seemingly 16 realistic chances vying for the 15 starting spots to contest the $750,000 Group I New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington Raceway on November 10. That is presuming Christen Me is fit to start - which is no certainty given the recent setback that saw him miss the Ashburton Flying Stakes - and on the assumption there is more chance of Elvis resurfacing at Addington on Cup day than last year's runner up Franco Nelson. Belkmyster, Te Kawau, Quick As A Trick, Brilliant Strike and Mach's Gladiator currently fill places 16 to 20 in the Cup rankings but taking out the enigma that is Franco Nelson they would move up one spot. Unless something goes drastically wrong, seemingly the only realistic chances of falling out of the current field are Choise Achiever and No Doctor Needed who are 14th and 15th. Neither are heading to Kaikoura. Messini is 13th in the rankings but should be in no danger of missing out going on his fresh up Methven Cup win. Mark Purdon will drive Messini in Kaikoura but top Australian reinsman Chris Alford will be in the sulky for the New Zealand Trotting Cup. Te Kawau and Brilliant Strike look the most likely to put in a performance at Kaikoura that will jump them into the top 15 but if only Franco Nelson comes out, one of them or No Doctor Needed could miss out. Te Kawau came south with bold expectations and has failed to deliver but that should change at Kaikoura when he will be 100 per cent for the first time. A slice of luck may be all Brilliant Strike needs. He raced three wide for most of the 2600m in the Canterbury Classic and spent most of it without cover and was beaten by his draw in an intermediate pace over 1950m a week later. Belkmyster was first listed at 16 in the rankings on the back of his Group III win in the Rangiora Classic last season but the field was not a strong one. Outside of his Rangiora win, his other 10 victories have been shared between Forbury Park, Winton, Gore and Invercargill to get him to open class company and he has seemingly gone backwards since running fourth in the Maurice Holmes Vase fresh up. Raced by the Met Seven Syndicate, Belkmyster getting a start in the Cup would be a massive thrill for all involved but unless the likes of a Christen Me is scratched it is not going to happen. Lewy Risk's move to skip the Kaikoura Cup should ensure only scratchings from those from above him would get him close to the top 15. Even a win in the Listed Yearling Sale Series race should not move him up the rankings given he would be beating horses that are not in Cup contention. Ideal Success is not heading to Kaikoura which means the only way the Arna Donnelly trained runner could make the Cup field is with six runners pulling out before Tuesday week.  Mat Kermeen Reproduced with the permission of Stuff NZ  -  Check site here

Master Lavros, last year’s Dominion Handicap winner and Trotter of the Year, had two days out in the paddock this week to help get over a mixed run at Kaikoura on Monday. Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones and his Woodend-based right-hand man Regan Todd are doing their best to get the top trotter  back to where he needs to be by next Friday, but time is against them. Mark is aware he faces a big challenge to get Master Lavros back to his best. “He’s just got a few little issues. He would get away with it pacing in his hopples but he’s a trotter and when he broke the other day he made a real mess of things.” “If he’s right he can still win the Dominion but I haven’t got long to turn him round, so we might be pushing things uphill a bit.” Mark said. There was better news for the stable at Wednesday’s NZ Cup trials at Addington with promising 4YO squaregaiter Eyre I Come giving another good display. Eyre I Come, an acceptor for the C2 and faster Garrards Horse & Hound Trot over 3200m to open NZ Cup day proceedings, stepped safely on Wednesday. The Majestic Son gelding trailed early for race driver Blair Orange, then took over again with 1700m to run. He was always travelling well, scoring by 2 3/4 lengths over Tuesday race rival Jayceekay in 3:28.7 for the stand start 2600m in the slushy conditions. Eyre I Come quickened over his last 800m in 59.9s and his final 400m in 28.2s. and looks ready for Cup day. Courtesy Of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here

Harness racing often has horses that one describes as the "bridesmaid" due to their ability to always find one better on raceday. Such was the case with the Monarchy gelding Sheemon all through his 3 year old career with Habibti, Royal Aspirations and Blitzemcalder all having the wood on him at that stage. At four Sheemon started to beat those same horses with a win in the Harness Jewels and a close second to the reigning trotter of the year in Master Lavros in the Rowe Cup among the highlights. This season at five, Sheemon looks to be back better than ever and if yesterdays win in the open class trot at Kaikoura is any guide, then Sheemon looms as the major danger to Stent over the Cup week features. At his last start before Kaikoura at Ashburton, Sheemon had uncharacteristically broken twice but yesterday was back to his reliable self. Stepping well from barrier one, Sheemon settled three back on the inner early as Lotalov lead with Donaldson in the trail. After 800 metres Dexter Dunn moved Sheemon out into the running line and had a look for the front but David Butt on Lotalov wasn't keen on handing up so Sheemon settled in the death seat. Passing the 600 metres Sheemon surged to the front and set sail for home and that was the last anyone saw of him as he distanced a quality field. What made the run even more impressive was Sheemon set a new New Zealand record in the process. taking four tenths of a second off the previous mark. Sheemon trotted the 2400 metres from a stand in 3:00.6, a mile rate of 2:01 with closing sectionals of 58.5 and 30.5 Donaldson stuck on well for second albeit 5 1/2 lengths away while Irish Whisper was ok in running into third, a further 6 lengths back. Dexter was full of praise for Sheemon after the race.  " He is such a lovely horse to drive "He went to the front on his own down the back and when I clicked him up at the 400 metres he took off" he said Dexter was keen to put the Ashburton run behind him. "We took the overcheck off at Ashburton and it back fired on us "It was back on today and it  is staying on" he said The disappointment of the race was last years trotter of the year in Master Lavros who broke early and settled back before getting a charmed run up on the inner. He had run into third 50 metres out before galloping again and was disqualified. While the huge trotter is unsuited to the tight flat track at Kaikoura, his trainer Mark Jones is running out of time to sort the champion trotter out with Cup week only seven days away. With his manners and the form he is in Sheemon looks to be in a great position to finally rid himself of that "bridesmaid" tag in the Group One features over Cup week. Harnesslink Media  

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