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Last week the ring-around produced six winners, including Eyre I Come, who opened up at $31 fixed odds. Let’s see if we can dig up some more value this week. Anthony Butt: Thinks talented trotter Thebestove will be hard to beat in tonight’s Sales Series Trot at Addington. Blair Orange: Thinks Twentyten, who showed plenty of ability as a two-year-old, can make a winning return at three – Cheviot, race two. David Butt: Expects Lothario to make amends for his last start gallop in the third race at Cheviot (Addington) on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Rates The Mighty Falcon as a good each-way chance from his ace alley in the first race at the Cheviot meeting at Addington on Sunday. Jim Curtin: Believes the consistent Vitali is overdue a winning turn – Cheviot, race five. Ken Barron: Thinks Mighty Mara can make a winning debut in the first race at Addington on Sunday. Nathan Williamson: Believes in form trotter Springbank Sam can carry on his winning way – Cheviot, race seven. Ricky May: Expects Pal Amino, who has trialled up nicely for her fresh-up assignment, to be tough to toss from her ace barrier in the ninth race at Addington tonight. Terry Chmiel: Thinks Little Tess, who caught the eye flashing home late last start, is a good each-way prospect in the last race at Addington tonight. Todd Mitchell: Expects Prime Power to add to his picket-line fence in fifth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet : Free Falling – Cheviot, race four. Each-way:  Unforgiving – Alexandra Park, race four. Value: Scotlynn Jiggs – Addington, race ten.

The ring-around was a bit quiet last week, producing just four winners. Those who did pick winners were Blair Orange, Nathan Williamson, Scott Phelan, and I. However, the ring-around rarely has two bad weeks in a row, so this could be the time to jump on the bandwagon. Good luck and happy punting! Andrew Armour: Thinks Double Impact can make up for his last start mishap in the first race at Invercargill on Sunday. Blair Orange: Rates the consistent Juneamy Castleton as a good each-way prospect in sixth race at Motukarara on Sunday.   Craig Thornely: Thinks North American import Johny Rock can make his presence felt in his New Zealand debut – Addington, race ten. David Butt: Has opted for the talented yet untrustworthy Mundaka. He will compete in the first race at Addington on Saturday. Gavin Smith: Thinks Vincennes will be very hard to beat provided she can overcome her tricky barrier draw. Motukarara– race ten. Jim Curtin: Hopes Damon Runyon can finally break his maiden status in the sixth race at Addington on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Rates Danny Cool as a good each-way prospect in race six at Invercargill on Sunday. Josh Dickie: Thinks Voluntad will give them something to chase for her ace alley in the eighth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Expects the consistent Red Under Fire to be ‘there or thereabouts’ again in the fourth race at Motukarara on Friday. Mark Jones: Expects Superior Desire to be very hard to beat in the first race at Motukarara on Friday. Matty Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Milligan from his handy gate in race four at Invercargill on Sunday. Ricky May: Said he couldn’t look past NZ Cup champion Terror To Love – Addington, race eight. Scott Phelan: Thinks the aptly named Big Ern will prove hard to beat in the fourth race at Stratford on Sunday. Simon Lawson:  Likes the chances of Art Major debutant Love Is My Drug – Alexandra Park, race seven. Stephen McNally: Has opted for Easy Empress in the third race at Motukarara on Friday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Cyclone Prince will be tough to toss in the tenth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Has opted for Mister Harris in the ninth race at Stratford on Sunday. Tim Williams: Thinks classy mare Here We Go Again will be very hard to beat in the ninth race at Invercargill on Sunday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Don’t Call Me Su – Motukarara, race four Each-way – Bootie Bromac – Invercargill, race four Value -  Playaway – Addington, race three                                                                                                                 

Mike Ward won the Group One New Zealand Messenger Championship in 1996, but Saturday’s victory by Majestic Time in the Group Three $25,000 Neumann’s Hambletonian Classic at Ashburton was his career highlight. Ward owned and bred Decision Time but Mark Purdon trained him for 10 days before that Messenger triumph. “I think this win is even sweeter because even although we also bred this filly, and our family also owns her, I did the training this time round,” the West Melton horseman said. Majestic Time was the fourth favourite in Saturday’s 1609 metre mobile trot and paid $9 to win. She and driver Ken Barron had 1-1/2 lengths and a length to spare over place-getters, Any Old way (Paul Nairn) and Thebestlove (Anthony Butt). Winner’s time: 1:58.6. Last 800m: 58.4. 27.8. Majestic Time is owned by Ward, his wife Pauline, daughter Susan, and son Craig. “I’ve always had a bit of time for her. That’s why I gave my kids a share in her. I didn’t want to give them a dud,” Ward said. The bay filly is by Majestic Son out of the Ward owned and trained five-win ($54,939) Sundon mare, Time To Shine. She left four foals but died last year while foaling to a Muscles Yankee filly. “It’s a real honour to win a big race like the Hambletonian. It’s a prestigious race, especially here in Canterbury. She will make a good broodmare one day,” 63-year-old Ward said. He said there was still one win he would now dearly love to win – the Group Three New Zealand Trotting Oaks at Addington on April 4. “It’s the only major race on the calendar where she will get to take on her on sex. She beat the boys and girls on Saturday and should be tough to roll against the fillies. “But this is racing and you can never take anything for granted because you just don’t know who is going to come out of the woodwork, especially from the North Island,” said Ward who is a builder by trade and works three horses at West Melton. Mark Purdon won the last three Hambletonian Classics with Paramount Queen (2013 in 1:59.7), Escapee (2012 in 1:59.5), and Kylie Ree (2011 in 1:59.9). Purdon might not have won yesterday’s big trot but he and co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen did claim their own Group Three prize on Saturday when he drove Follow The Stars to win the $25,000 Teltrack Sapling Stakes for 2-year-old pacers. Isaiah also won the same race from him in 1:57.2 last year, but Follow The Stars beat that time recording a blistering a 1:53.2. The Geoff Dunn trained Venus Serena was again brilliant in the third heat of the $15,000 Nevele R Fillies heat, recording the fastest mile of the day in a lightning 1:52.2. Driver John Dunn late last month told HRNZ the 3-year-old Mach Three filly was the best horse he had driven. She further endorsed that reputation on Saturday with her quickest career mile win, and 10th in 15 starts. Venus Serena has now banked $434,152 in stakes. Ashburton again proved to be one of the fastest tracks in New Zealand on Saturday when the 10 races carded all produced sub two-win miles. In fact Majestic Time’s 1:58.6 triumph was the slowest of the day. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

The ring-around was a bit quieter last week with just Andrew Armour, Anthony Butt, and myself tipping out winners. Of those winners, the best resulted was my each-way bet of the week in Dr Hook who romped in at odds of $6.70 and $1.80 Hopefully we can bounce back to top form this week. Anthony Butt: Has opted for Mah Sish, who will attempt to go back-to-back in the Hunter Cup on Saturday. David Butt: Thinks stable star Habibti will be hard to beat despite her wide alley - Addington, race ten. Dexter Dunn: Has opted for Jennalee, who was desperately unlucky last start. She competes in the third race at Forbury Park tonight. John Dunn: Has a lot of time for the smart two-year-old qualifier Say My Name, and expects him to be very hard to beat in the third race at Addington on Friday. Jim Curtin: Thinks Damon Runyon is a good each-way chance in the third race at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Rates the chances of capable filly Goodness Gracious Me in the seventh race at Wyndham on Sunday. Ken Barron: Thinks Red Under Fire, who has been desperately unlucky lately, can break through for his maiden win in race six at Geraldine on Saturday. Mark Jones: Has opted for the talented Smart Caesar as his bet of the week. He will compete in the ninth race at Addington on Friday. Sam Ottley: Thinks capable trotter Spell is knocking on the door of another win – Geraldine, race eight. Simon Lawson: Thinks Electric Chapel can make it five straight win on Friday – Alexandra Park, race four. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of Chillysjustastrutter in the seventh race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Tim Williams:  Thinks Jocy Jaccka, with manners, will be hard to beat in the first race at Wyndham on Sunday. Todd Mitchell:  Rates Cullies Delight as a good each-way chance in race seven at Alexandra Park. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Tiger Tara – Addington, race six Each-way – Mashika – Addington, race eleven Value – Valmagne – Forbury, race eight.

The ring-around continued its tremendous run of form last week, with long shot winners Platinum Princess ($7.80), Juneamy Castleton ($11.80) , and Happy Heidi ($7) all rolling home at good odds. Other winners tipped out in the ring-around included Lothario, Jaccka Lonny, Crackaheiny, Ton Tine, and Snow Fairy. So, let’s see what the good oil is this week Andrew Armour: Thinks Nureyev, who has finally landed a good barrier draw, will be extremely hard to beat in the fourth race at Invercargill on Saturday. Anthony Butt: Rates the chances of All Cash from his ace alley in race seven at Addington tonight. Blair Orange: Thinks Art Critic will be very hard to beat in the third race at Motukarara on Sunday. Gavin Smith: Believes Bettor Not Knowing  is a strong each-way chance in race four at Addington tonight. Jim Curtin: Rates the chances of Damon Runyon who looks a strong each-way prospect in the last race at Addington tonight. John Dunn: Thinks Princess Galleon is capable of getting some money in the ninth race at Addington tonight. Ken Barron: Rates Red Under Fire as his best of the week. He competes in the second race at Motukarara on Sunday. Mark Jones: Rated Goodness Gracious Me as his best chance of the week, but because that race is a non-tote, he has opted for Sunoflindenny in the first race at Addington tonight. Matt Williamson: Rates the chances of Ultra Shock in the seventh race at Invercargill on Saturday. Nathan Williamson: Thinks The Wonkey Donkey can regain form in the third race at Invercargill on Saturday. Ricky May: Thinks Ranfurly Rulz will prove very hard to beat in the first race at Invercargil on Saturday. Sam Ottley: Has a lot of time for Spell, and thinks she will be hard to roll in the eighth race at Motukarara. Simon Lawson: Thinks Bettor Offer will be amongst the Barry Purdon fight in the last race at Auckland on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Believes Rip Roaring has a good chance of breaking his maiden status in the third race at Addington tonight. Tim Williams: Rates Come On Jaccka as his best chance of the week. He competes in the fourth race at Invercargill on Saturday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink Best bet – Art Critic – Motukarara, race three. Each-way – Dr Hook – Alexandra Park, race eight. Value – Spell – Motukarara, race eight.

Last week was yet another good one for the ring-around with John Dunn, Mark Jones, Matthew Williamson, Ricky May, and yours truly all tipping out winners. Let’s see if we can repeat the dose this week. Blair Orange: Has opted for last start winner Best Bones. She goes around in the ninth race at Oamaru on Sunday. David Butt: Thinks Lothario, with manners, will take all sorts of stopping in race nine at Addington on Friday. Dexter Dunn: Thinks Jaccka Lonny will be hard to beat from his ace alley in race four at Invercargill today. Gavin Smith: Has opted for All Shook Up, who will do battle in the sixth race at Oamaru on Sunday. John Dunn: Rates the chances of Crackaheiny in the seventh race at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Thinks Platinum Princess can get some money in the fifth race at Invercargill today. Ken Barron: Thinks Planet Princess is an each-way chance in race eight at Addington tomorrow. Mark Jones: Likes the chances of Juneamy Castleton, who should be hard to catch in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Matthew Williamson: Is bullish about the chances of Galleons Triumph, who also competes in the fourth race at Oamaru on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Hector McFeckle can trot and win the first race at Otaki on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Ton Tine, who looks a strong chance in fourth race at Otaki on Friday. Terry Chmiel: Thinks that Hi Jinx is a strong chance with right run in race seven at Addington Todd Mitchell: Thinks Snow Fairy will be very hard to beat in race five at Otaki. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet – Superbowlcheerleader – Addington, race five Each-way – Happy Heidi – Invercargill, race two Value – Karen Dana – Oamaru, race one  

Southland reinswoman Kirstin Barclay continued the run of milestones during the Central Otago circuit when bringing up her 200th career win aboard The Tisbury Terror at Cromwell. Barclay’s 200th success came just two days after Craig Thornley and Robin Swain joined the 500 win club at Roxburgh. “I didn’t think it was ever going to happen (200 wins), these last two wins seem to have taken forever,” said Barclay, who brought up her 200th career win in the colours of her Tisbury-based employer Tom Kilkelly. “Tom has been great to me over the years, so it was great to bring up the milestone in his colours,” said Barclay, who gave The Tisbury Terror a beautiful run in the trail. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Rory Mcilwrick enjoyed his biggest career win to date with Devil May Care, who came with a whirlwind finish down the outside to pip Captain Peacock in the Cromwell Cup. The Cromwell meeting also saw the conclusion of the Central Otago Trainers Bonus, which was won by Phil Williamson, who clung on to win the first prize of $4,000 after landing the Quinella in the fourth race on the card. Central Otago Trainers' Bonus Points allocated for wins and placings at the Cromwell, Roxburgh and Omakau harness meeting during the holidays: Prizemoney: First, $4000; second, $1500; third, $500. Winner: Phil Williamson (27 points). Second: Ken Barron (24). Third: Geoff and Jude Knight (20). By Mitchell Robertson

Comply Or Die’s Roxburgh Cup victory on Sunday (January 5) might have been his last race in New Zealand. Both trainer-driver Ken Barron and the 5-year-old’s syndicate manager/breeder Brian Leonard, said Comply Or Die could compete in Australia for three to four months – or possibly even for good. “He’s reached his mark here and now there is nowhere for him to run and hide. He might have won nine races, but because none of his wins have been over $15,000 here he is still a maiden (M0) in Australia. “It makes sense for us to race him over there. It would be silly to keep him here and race against the likes of Terror To Love and Pembrook Benny. He’s at least a year away from that sort of competition,” Barron said. Leonard agreed saying Comply Or Die would compete in $22,000 maiden heats and then a $50,000 final at Menangle. There were two series of this nature held Tabcorp Park Menangle each season. Barron said he could possibly travel with the horse but he wouldn’t be staying there. His alternative training options would be either Darren Hancock or Greg Bennett. “We are still in the early stages of working everything out but that’s the plan after talking to his owners after the race yesterday,” Barron said. Barron has campaigned Comply or Die the last three years in Central Otago and he’s yet to taste defeat. He also has a one-from-one strike rate at Roxburgh, and Sunday’s victory was his first Roxburgh Cup triumph. Comply Or Die was the sole back-marker on the 30m handicap and Ken Barron had him at the tail of the field with two laps remaining. He then asked the Live Or Die gelding to make a move from the rear at the 700m. He followed Canardly Lover and Hamish Hunter into the race, and then on the home turn took the short route along the markers to win by a length and a head from the pace-making favourite, Awesum Teddy (Andrew Armour). Winner’s time for the 2700m stand: 3:22.9. Mile rate: 2:00.9. Last 800m: 58.7. Last 400m: 29.4. It was Comply or Die’s ninth win from 34 starts. He’s also placed nine times for $76,395 in stakes. “I’d say he would have won more than $100,000 if you take into account his three bonus place wins,” Barron added. “He’s such a good beginner. That will stand him in good stead in Australia. He led them up when Didjamakembolt Bolt won a $30,000 race on Cup Day, and after the Cup Carnival he had notched up the quickest lead time. “I think his terrific gait speed will take him a long way in Aussie. We are quite excited about him racing over there,” Timaru-based Leonard said. “Ken always said he would make a nice 5 or 6-year-old. The horse is a credit to him,” he added. Both Leonard and co-owner Doug Gillespie hail from Timaru, while the two other owners Russell Aitkenhead and Gus Cuthbertson are from Nelson. The Timaru boys bred him. Comply or Die is the second foal of four, and only winner out of the maiden Caprock mare, Mood Indigo. She was trained by Tony Grayling at Pukekohe. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Last week was possibly the best ever for the ring-around with a stunning 9 out of eighteen drivers tipping out winners. Those to tip out winners were: Anthony Butt, Craig Thornley, Jonny Cox, John Dunn, Ken Barron, Mark Jones, Nathan Williamson, Ricky May, and Terry Chmiel. The best result was Craig Thornley’s tip – Supreme Gem, who proved too strong at odds of $10.10 A hard act to follow, but let’s see what we can do: Andrew Armour: Isn’t driving Awesum Teddy this week, but he does expect him to win – Wairio – race eight. Anthony Butt: Thinks the consistent Astral Traveller is a good each-way chance in race five at Addington on Friday. Blair Orange: Has opted for the smart Vice Consul in race eight at Addington on Friday. Gavin Smith & Steve Richardson: Both think that Sleepy Tripp will return to winning form in race seven at Addington on Friday. John Dunn: Is bullish about the chances of Sheemon in race five at Addington on Friday. Jonny Cox: Likes the chances of stable newcomer Idle Eyre. He competes in the ninth race at Forbury tonight. Josh Dickie: Likes the chances of Voluntad, who was big in defeat on debut. She goes around in the fourth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Has once again opted for the smart Pacquiao, who competes in race six at Addington on Friday. Mark Jones: Thinks Astrapi can repeat the dose in race three at Forbury Park. Mark Purdon: Thinks Whisper Jet is one to follow over the upcoming Auckland carnival - Alexandra Park. race four. Matthew Williamson: Rates the chances of The Shakey Mistress in race six at Forbury Park tonight. Nathan Williamson: Thinks Music will prove too strong in the last race at Forbury Park tonight. Ricky May: Thinks Vega Sicilia will be tough to roll in race four at Rangiora on Sunday. Sam Ottley: Has opted for Kid Galahad as her bet of the week – Addington, race nine. Scott Phelan: Thinks Cyamach can win the sixth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Simon Lawson: Thinks Valencey is one to pencil down for the Christmas Eve meeting at Cambridge. Stephen McNally: Rates Ares as a good upset chance in race two at Addington on Friday. Todd Mitchell: Likes the chances of Harry Johnson in race ten at Alexandra Park. Tim Williams: Expects Bettor Buy It, an extremely impressive trialist, to be winning race eleven at Winton on Saturday. By Mitchell Robertson

Last week was a terrific one for ring-around followers with Andrew Armour, Blair Orange, John Dunn, Jonny Cox, Ricky May, Matthew Williamson, and Todd Mitchell all tipping out winners. The best result was Jonny Cox’s tip Provocative Prince who got home at odds of $8.60. So, who is winning this week? Andrew Armour: Likes the chances of Sock It To Me in race nine at Forbury Park on Friday. Anthony Butt: Thinks Ultimate Major can keep his unbeaten record intact in the fourth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Blair Orange: Rates the chances of capable three-year-old Someardensomewhere. He will compete in the fourth race at Alexandra Park on Friday. Craig Thornley: Thinks Supreme Gem has a great chance in the fourth race at Addington tonight. Gavin Smith: Rates the chances of Vice Chairman in the last race at Alexandra Park on Friday. After all, he is going all the way to Auckland to drive him. Jonny Cox: Thinks that Strathtara, who is now in the Graeme Anderson, will take some beating from her ace alley in nine at Forbury. John Dunn: Has opted for superstar filly Venus Serena as his bet of the week. She will compete in race seven at Alexandra Park on Friday. Ken Barron: Thinks the capable Pacquiao will take some beating from his ace alley in race five at Addington tonight. Mark Jones: Is bullish about the chances of stable newcomer Sunoflindenny. He looks a bold chance in race seven at Waimate on Sunday. Matthew Williamson: Thinks Libertybelle Midfrew can knock Venus Serena off her perch in race seven at Alexandra Park on Friday. Nathan Williamson: Is very bullish about the chances of the talented Quick As A Trick - Forbury Park, race two. Ricky May: Can’t see anything beating Mossdale Connor in race five at Forbury Park. Sam Ottley: Who is new to ring-around, has opted for Clarissa in race three at Addington on Saturday. Sean McCaffrey: Is keen on the chances of Madisonz Luck in race six at Alexandra Park on Friday. Simon Lawson: Has opted for Charge Forward as his best of the week – Alexandra Park, race ten. Stephen McNally: Thinks Ares is a good each-way chance in the last race at Addington tonight. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of Donaldson in race seven at Addington tonight Terry Chmiel: Has opted for Happy Heidi as his bet of the week. She competes in the first race at Addington on Saturday. Tim Williams: Thinks Mystery Boy can get the cash in the 1200m Dash For Cash – Forbury, race six. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best Bet: The Peace Train – Addington (Saturday), race six Each-way: The Wraith Of Robyn – Forbury Park, race eight. Value: Lewy Risk – Alexandra Park, race four.

Last week was an average one for our trainers and drivers with only Anthony and David Butt tipping out winners, but luckily I pulled through for ring-around followers delivering with three winners from three selections. The best of them was my each-way bet of the week in The Peace Train who romped in at odds of $12.20 and $2.70 Let’s see if we can replicate that performance again this week. Andrew Armour: Likes the chances of debutant Love Filly Dale. She goes around in the sixth race at Invercargill on Friday. Blair Orange: Has been very brave this week and has tipped out superstar mare Adore Me to win at odds of $1.10. Gavin Smith: Has opted for Back Pay as his bet of the week.  He will compete in the tenth race at Oamaru on Saturday. John Dunn: Thinks Elios is a good each-way bet in race twelve at Alexandra Park on Friday. Josh Dickie: Was impressed with how Millie Sampson went at the workouts last week and thinks she can remain unbeaten in the Ladyship Stakes at Alexandra Park on Friday. Jonny Cox: Likes the chances of Provocative Prince who looks a bold chance from his ace draw in race four at Oamaru on Saturday. Ken Barron: Thinks Still Laughin can pick up some money in race four at Methven on Sunday. Mark Jones: Has opted for Ready For Takeoff as his bet of the week. He looks a good chance in race eight at Oamaru. Matthew Williamson:  Has picked up the drive on The Bog and thinks she will prove very hard to beat in race three at Oamaru. Nathan Williamson: Thinks the consistent Nickelson can resume on a winning note in race seven at Invercargill on Friday. Ricky May: Is very bullish about the chances of Helena Jet in race four at Methven on Sunday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Likes the chances of Jarcullembra in the Franklin Cup on Friday. Simon Lawson: Rates the chances of Valencay in race seven at Cambridge tonight. Todd Mitchell: Thinks his very smart trotter Prime Power can go back-to-back in race eight at Alexandra Park on Friday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink) Best bet: Trouble Rieu – Methven, race one. Each-way: Shak’n Cullen – Invercargill, race ten. Value: Garibaldi – Oamaru, race two  

Dominion Handicap winner Master Lavros was successful from behind the mobile gate at the Addington trials on Monday, December 2, in preparation for Sunday’s $14,999 Methven Four Square Supermarket Trotters Green Mile at Methven. Master Lavros and Green Mile race rival Clover Don were transferred to separate C0 mobile 1950m pacing heats when the free-for-all trot trial only attracted the two entries and was deleted. Both started each heat from the outside of the front row. Master Lavros, primed for another top showing in the Trot Green Mile at Methven on Sunday. Overport Lodge trainer-driver Mark Jones settled Master Lavros nicely in fourth spot early with the big-striding Sundon gelding proving too classy over the closing stages, coming clear by 3/4 of a length in a 2:01.9 rate. The leaders quickened over their last 800m in 58.9s and final 400m in 28.1s. The Colin and Julie De Filippi-trained Clover Don was equally strong at the finish of his heat, scoring by half a length, rating 2:01.6 for Sam Ottley, the last 800m in 59.7s and final 400m in 29.1s. Following Methven, Mark Jones will now take in premier racing at Cambridge and Alexandra Park with Master Lavros, after reviewing the racing schedule. “There’s nothing for him down here, apart from a free-for-all at Omakau on January 2, so he’ll go north,” Mark said. “He’s the only one I’ve got going up,” he said. First-up in the north will be another mile dash _ the $45,000 Group One Turf Bar Waikato Trotters Flying Mile at Cambridge on Christmas Eve, December 24. A week later, Master Lavros will contest $80,000 National trot (mobile 2700m) at Auckland on New Year’s Eve, December 31. The Jones stable unleased a promising 2YO pacer at Monday’s trials in Smoke N Santanna, a colt by a Santanna Blue Chip colt from the good racemare Smoke N Mirrors (10 wins & $189,675). Smoke N Santanna was untroubled to come off the trail for Blair Orange and dash away by 3 1/4 lengths from early leader Regal Ideal, who had qualified at Addington last month for trainer Ken Barron. “We’re not in a hurry with him. He’ll have two months out now,” Mark said. Smoke N Santanna paced the mobile 2000m in 2:32.3, a 2:02.5 mile rate, with the leaders quickening over their last 800m in 58.6s and final 400m in 28.5s. Stablemate Itz Bettor To Win (Bettor’s Delight-Itz All About Me) tailed the field in sixth place but was also comfortably inside the qualifying time of 2:36.2, clocking 2:34.1. Ready For Takeoff, spelled after running third at Invercargill on August 11, led throughout a C1 pace from a stand in the hands of Blair Orange. The Butterworth Racing Syndicate-owned Jereme’s Jet gelding was untroubled to stride clear by four lengths in the run home to beat early breaker Whisper Jet in 3:21.5, quickening over his last 800m in 57.2s and closing 400m in 28.4s. Mark may make the most of a penalty-free C1 opporunity with Ready For Takeoff in a invited drivers race at Oamaru this Saturday. The $18,000 Pulse Energy Westport Cup (C2 and faster), to be run this year over the shorter 2600m trip on the grass at Patterson Park on December 26, is another possible target for Ready For Takeoff. Sage Creek, spelled after winning her maiden at Forbury on August 15, resumed in the same heat. She trailed Ready For Takeoff and battled away in the run home, holding down fourth spot for Kimberly Butt. By Jeff Scott (Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing)  

Top Otago-based reinsmen Matthew Williamson and Jonny Cox yesterday provided Otago with their first ever win in the Inter-Provincial Challenge at Invercargill’s Ascot Park.  First run in 1989, Otago, up until yesterday, were the only province (team) that compete in the challenge that had never won it. Williamson was successful aboard Deano Robyn and finished second with Free Dreams, while Cox was victorious with Canardly Lover, giving the team a combined total of 32 points. Canterbury (John and Dexter Dunn) were second on 25 points, while Mid Canterbury (John Hay and Gerard O’Reilly) were third after accumulating 21 points. While Williamson and Cox took out the team division, Dexter Dunn was the individual winner (24) narrowly downing Matthew Williamson (22). David Butcher representing the Waikato was a distant third of 12 points. Below is a list of the past winners: Year Individual Winner Team Winner 1989 Hamish Hunter Southland 1990 Kirk Larsen Southland Under 20 1991 Anthony Butt Canterbury 1992 Anthony Butt Waikato 1993 Ken Barron Southland    1994 Trevor Walsh Mid Canterbury 1995 Jan Gould Central Districts 1996 Greg Cowie Mid Canterbury 1997 Ali Malcolmson Mid Canterbury 1998 Hamish Hunter Southland 1999 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2000 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2001 Clark Barron Southland 2001 Stephen Doody Southland 2002 Maurice McKendry Auckland 2003 Peter Ferguson Waikato 2004 Clark Barron Southland 2005 Ricky May Central Districts 2006 Brent Barclay Southland 2007 Mark Jones Waikato 2008 Ricky May Canterbury 2009 Dexter Dunn Canterbury 2010 Dexter Dunn Southland 2011 David Butcher Waikato 2012 Blair Orange Canterbury By Mitchell Robertson

Congratulations to Anthony Butt, Blair Orange, Ken Barron, Mark Jones, Mark McNamara, Justin Le Lievre, and last but not last, myself, who all tipped out winners during our Cup Week special. Let’s see what ‘specials’ are on the menu this week. Andrew Armour: Has opted for Sharpenuff as his bet of the week. He looks a strong chance in race eight at Forbury Park tonight. Anthony Butt: Thinks Strawbs Ideal Act will keep his unbeaten record intact in the race seven at Timaru on Saturday. Blair Orange: Has found some value in the form of Mystery Boy. He competes in the fourth race at Forbury tonight. Craig Thornley: Thinks Lavros Cash is an each-way chance in race seven at Motukarara on Sunday. John Dunn: Is extremely bullish about the chances of Crackaheiny in race two at Timaru on Saturday. Jonny Cox: Has opted for Canardly Lover, who looks very well placed in race seven at Invercargill on Sunday. Ken Barron: Likes the chances of Change Time, who should improve off the back of her fresh-up second. She goes around in the fourth race at Motukarara on Sunday. Mark Jones: Who will be driving in Australia on Friday and Saturday, has picked up the drive on Smoken Roman on Sunday, and rates him as his best of the week. Matthew Williamson: Has two good drives in the Inter-Provincial Challenge in Free Dreams and Deano Robyn, however he slightly favours the latter. Ricky May: Rates Main Divide as his best of the week. He competes in the first race at Timaru on Saturday. Steve Richardson (T.A.B): Thinks Bert Powell is a very good bet in race eight at Motukarara on Sunday. Terry Chmiel: Is big on the chances of Betabcool in race eight at Forbury Park tonight. Tim Williams: Thinks that handy mare Here We Go Again is a strong chance in race six at Timaru on Saturday. Mitchell Robertson (Harnesslink): Best Bet – Ultimate Major – Motukarara, race eleven. Each-way – The Empires Sister – Invercargill, race seven. Value – Betabcool – Forbury, race eight. By Mitchell Robertson

On a relatively placid day of racing at Invercargill on Sunday, the Inter-provincial Drivers’ Challenge will be the clear highlight. First run in 1989, the Inter-Provincial Challenge has been won by every province that competes in, most have won it on multiple occasions, apart from Otago that is, they are still sitting on a duck egg. Out to change that on Sunday are gun reinsmen Matthew Williamson and Jonny Cox, who, no offence to previous Otago reinsmen, are probably two of the best representatives they have ever had. “Between me and Jonny we look to have some decent drives, so hopefully we can break the drought,” said Williamson. “We shouldn’t go any worse than the Highlanders anyway,” he laughed. Williamson has a good book, headlined by Free Dreams and Deano Robyn, while Cox, on paper, looks to have a few place chances as well as a good winning chance in the form of Canardly Lover. “I think Free Dreams is my best chance for the day,” confirmed Williamson. “He is quite a nice trotter and I am fortunate enough to know the horse a little bit, whereas a lot of the other fellas will be driving their steeds for the first time,” he added.  The other teams competing in the 25th running of the Inter-Provincial Challenge are: AUCKLAND: Z Butcher, S Phelan WAIKATO: P C Ferguson, D J Butcher CENTRAL DISTRICTS: A Poutama, B Weaver CANTERBURY: D J Dunn, J R Dunn MID-CANTERBURY: G D O’Reilly, J Hay OTAGO: M Williamson, J W Cox SOUTHLAND: N P Williamson, T M Williams. Interprovincial Drivers Championship Winners Year Individual Winner Team Winner 1989 Hamish Hunter Southland 1990 Kirk Larsen Southland Under 20 1991 Anthony Butt Canterbury 1992 Anthony Butt Waikato 1993 Ken Barron Southland    1994 Trevor Walsh Mid Canterbury 1995 Jan Gould Central Districts 1996 Greg Cowie Mid Canterbury 1997 Ali Malcolmson Mid Canterbury 1998 Hamish Hunter Southland 1999 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2000 Colin De Fillipi Canterbury 2001 Clark Barron Southland 2001 Stephen Doody Southland 2002 Maurice McKendry Auckland 2003 Peter Ferguson Waikato 2004 Clark Barron Southland 2005 Ricky May Central Districts 2006 Brent Barclay Southland 2007 Mark Jones Waikato 2008 Ricky May Canterbury 2009 Dexter Dunn Canterbury 2010 Dexter Dunn Southland 2011 David Butcher Waikato 2012 Blair Orange Canterbury   By Mitchell Robertson

North Island squaregaiter Regal Petite kicked off New Zealand Cup Week 2013 at Addington Raceway today (Tuesday November 12) with a nice passing lane victory in the opening event – the $20,000 Garrards Horse & Hound Handicap for C2 and faster trotters. The Majestic Son mare left the 3200m unruly mark well for Samantha Ottley and then trailed pace-maker Astral Traveller and Mark Jones for most of the journey. In the lane, the former Paulette Screen and now Colin and Julie De Filippi trained 5-year-old was too strong as she notched up her seventh win in 21 starts. It was Ottley’s first ever Cup Day drive. Winning time for the 3200m stand: 4:10.6. Mile rate: 2:06. Last 800m: 59.5. Last 400m: 28.4. Placings: Oh Nova (favourite) 2, Lotalov 3, Millicent 4. Margins: 1-1/4 L, ½ a head, ¾ length. Winning dividend: $17.70. Winning owner: Bill and Paulette Screen. Winning breeder: J. Syndicate. Meanwhile, the Ken Barron trained and driven Pacquiao proved too smart when winning the second event – the $20,000 Hyrdoflow Graduation Series Final for C1&2 pacers. Pacquiao set the early pace, trailed, and then led again at the 1000m before burning off his 11 rivals. It was the 4-year-old son of Bettor’s Delight fourth win in 14 starts. Winning time for the 1950 mobile: 2:20.5. Mile rate: 1:55.9. Last 800m: 56.6. Last 400m: 28.2. Placings: Major Moment 2, Lumos (favourite) 3, Handlebar Hank 3. Margins: Neck, 1-1/4 L, 1 length. Winning dividend: $4.40. Winning owner: P. R. Belby, M. C. Morrison, M. J. McEwan, A. H. Dimock. Winning breeder: G. E Dickey. The third race on Cup Day – the $20,000 Cromwell Lake Dunstan C1 Trot was won by the favourite Sundown In Paris. The Kevin Fairburn trained 4-year-old trailed early and went around to the front at the 1900m. In the straight Anthony Butt called all the shots getting Sundown In Paris home for her second win in 11 starts. Her previous win was also on the track and over the distance. Winning time for the 2600m stand: 3:22.2. Mile rate: 2:05.1. Last 800m: 59.6. Last 400m: 29.5. Placings: Bert Powell 2, Sunny Vacation 3, Yelande 4. Margins: ¾ L, head, half a head. Winning dividend: $3 favourite. Winning owner: W D Kirkwood, M A Dyer, J R Melrose, K G Jones, R J Hicks. Winning breeder: W D Kirkwood, M A Dyer, J R Melrose, K G Jones, R J Hicks. TAB Treble Race 1, 2, 3: $179.20 Videos attached of each race. Courtesy of Duane Ranger Harness Racing New Zealand

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