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Clint Ford didn’t drive a winner last season.  So by his own standards the Canterbury part-timer is having a massive season, having reined home four winners this term, albeit all behind the same horse, trotting muscle man Marcoola.  So when Ford rolls onto Melton behind Marcoola for Saturday night’s A$250,000 Great Southern Star, with the Inter Dominion champion Tornado Valley holding all the ace against him, he could have every reason to be intimidated.  But Ford, who owns an excavation company and simply drives horses for the fun of it, has a plan. He just isn’t telling anybody what it is.  “Sure, Tornado Valley has all the advantages but we have the horse to give him a fright,” says Ford, who father Ken officially trains Marcoola. “He (Tornado Valley) has the gate speed, is on his home track, being trained out of his own stable whereas we have come all this way and probably have to give him a start to beat him.  “But our horse is well and we all know how good he can go. So we in are for the fight. And I have watched some videos of the opposition so I have a wee bit of a plan.” The best version of Marcoola, the one who demolished his Dominion rivals at Addington in November, would even have a chance of sitting parked outside Tornado Valley, at least for the last lap and beating him. But this whole travelling horses, driving against the Gavin Langs and Chris Alfords of the world thing, is a bit new to Ford.  So if Marcoola is going to prove he is the best trotter in Australasia he is going to have to do it the hard way.  The race also has fellow Kiwi trot stars Speeding Spur and Temporale (both poorly drawn) on a night with a huge New Zealand presence.  The most likely New Zealand winner is I’m Another Masterpiece, who is drawn to lead the A$200,000 Victoria Derby and should win.  And the Kiwi four-year-olds I’m Pats Delight and Spankem should dominate the A$100,000 Bonanza.  But the Steven Reid-trained pair of Star Galleria (Casey Classic) and Utmost Delight (A$100k Ladyship Cup) both face gate speed dilemmas in their respective races.  They are the best horses in their sprint events and while seemingly well draw they both have gate speed horses determined to lead drawn inside them. “I am really happy with where they are both at but one, or both, might have to sit parked to try and win,” admitted Reid.   by Michael Guerin    

Junior driver Kerryn Tomlinson finally broke through for her maiden driving win at Nelson yesterday after coming close to a win a number of times and she did it aboard her family trained trotter Zsa Zara.  Tomlinson was very happy with the result, "I am super proud especially of the horse and driving in grandads colours has made the occasion really special. "People have supported me all the way and I would like to thank Reg from Storer Motors for sponsoring me, every one has just stuck with me and made this monent even more great. "Nana and grandad and mum and Clint all try to give me and Sheree an equal go and Mel and Brad Mowbray have been so good to me with drives so it is really good," she said after the race. After running a good second on the first day of the meeting Zsa Zara was first away from the standing start yesterday and led all the way to comfortably beat the Greg and Nina Hope trained Easy Pickings. Zsa Zara (Brylin Boyz - Zsa Zita) trotted the 2400m stand in 3-11.3 with a closing 800m in 59.8 The race was notable for a couple of horses breaking after they shied at the shadow of a plane flying overhead during the running of the race(1.50 in the video).     Harnesslink media  

The race trotting fans have craved is on, with Kiwi superstar Marcoola to take on Inter Dominion hero Tornado Valley.  The pair have dominated the trotting gait on either side of the Tasman this season, with Marcoola stunning in races like the Dominion, Lyell Creek and Flying Mile here before his surprise defeat after an early gallop in the National Trot at Alexandra Park on New Years Eve.  But that hasn’t deterred driver and unofficial co-trainer Clint Ford from heading to Australia to take on a rampant Tornado Valley in the A$300,000 Great Southern Star at Melton on January 26.  Ford will take Marcoola and Amaretto Sun, both trained by his father Ken, to Victoria for the GSS and possibly the $50,000 Dullard Cup the following Saturday.  Waiting for them both there will be Tornado Valley who was unbeaten during the Inter Dominion and brilliant trotting a 1:54.1 mile at Bendigo last Saturday.  Joining the pair in the Great Southern Star will be northern trotter Speeding Spur so the week of racing in Victoria could decide who the best trotter in Australasia is.  “I’m looking forward to getting over there and it will be fun to take on Tornado Valley,” said Ford, who will drive Marcoola himself.  Stable junior driver Sheree Tomlinson is likely to partner Amaretto Sun.  While the best version of Marcoola may be stronger than Tornado Valley the latter has stunning speed and most importantly gate speed, which could give him an advantage on his home ground. Marcoola and Amaretto Sun will fly to Sydney next Saturday and then road trip to Victoria.   Michael Guerin

Ken Ford has never been happier with his trotting bodybuilder Marcoola than he is heading into tonight’s $100,000 National Trot at Alexandra Park. And that spells huge trouble and maybe certain defeat for his rivals in the group one. Not that Canterbury trainer Ford coined the nickname Bodybuilder for Marcoola, the trotting star of the New Zealand summer. That is hardly Ford’s style, not the way they do things on the farm down south. “Somebody called him that the other day,” he laughs. “We have some visitors come out to where we are staying and they said that horse looks like a bloody bodybuilder, the way he is all muscled up and glistening. “So I took that has a compliment. This time of year, with the sun on his back and being a stallion, he looks super. “And he is as well as I have ever had him going into a race.” Those words won’t give rival trainers a lot of comfort after Marcoola was breathtaking beating an even better field than the one he meets tonight in the $300,000 Dominion at Addington last month. He then brought that form north to jog away with the Lyell Creek two weeks ago, suggesting he is just as comfortable right-handed. Both wins came after driver Clint Ford was able to balance Marcoola up early then launch him about 1000m from home before disappearing into the distance. Similar tactics looks likely tonight as he has drawn wide so will probably look for cover early and the most nerve-wracking section of the race may be when Ford decides to push the go button. If he is able to stride to the lead he should win, if he has to raced parked outside a high class rival like defending champ Temporale that will at least even things up. Temporale struggled for part of the spring but looked far more like the horse who won this race 12 months ago when he dominated the Flying Mile at Cambridge last Monday. With his natural gate speed he looks the likely first favoured leader tonight and with the advantage of the marker pegs and some question marks over key rivals who galloped at Cambridge he is the obvious danger to the favourite. One trainer confident her National Trot rep will be better tonight than at Cambridge is Michelle Wallis with Massive Metro, although he couldn’t be much worse as he didn’t even score up from the ace last Monday. “He used to be good left-handed but we have put so much work into getting him to go well right-handed he didn’t like being back left-handed,” explains Wallis. “I think back to Alexandra Park he will handle the ace draw this time and should be handy on the markers, which will give him his chance.” Before his Cambridge brain fade, Massive Metro was a luckless and fast finishing fifth against a similar field in the Lyell Creek and if he races up to that form and can cut the corners tonight he appeals as the place value. Amaretto Sun and Lemond were also not on their best behaviour at Cambridge but were group one winners last season so add to the puzzle behind the bodybuilding favourite.   Michael Guerin

Canterbury trained trotter Marcoola has broken the New Zealand 2200m mobile record tonight when easily winning the Gr2 Lyell Creek Stakes at Alexandra Park. Trained by Ken Ford and driven by part owner Clint Ford the Sundon 5yo was beaten for early speed in the race by Maurice McKendry and Lemond and ended up three deep on the fence before zipping to the lead with a lap remaining.  In the straight Marcoola had far too much gas for the opposition running clear and winning by more than 3 lengths without being pushed. Clint Ford said after the race he could not do much about getting crossed at the start, "I tried to hold them out but they were too quick for me. When the train started coming I thought I better get moving and he held on good in the end. "He was touching the wheels a bit during the race as well. Usually he clears them but I think he was just stretching out so well tonight. The winning time of 2-41.3 broke the old New Zealand record of 2-41.9 set by Habibty Ivy in April last year. Marcoola will have his next run on New Years Eve at Alexandra Park in the Gr1 $100000 National trot and will bypass the Cambridge Mile on Christmas Eve.     Harnesslink Media

The Dominion is all about the Ford factory. However, it’s horsepower of a different variety – equine! For the second straight year, West Melton trainer Ken Ford has walked away with the biggest trotting cheque in the southern hemisphere after his brilliant performer Marcoola delivered a stunning performance to win the Gr.1 $300,000 Used To Me @ Haras de Trotteurs Dominion at Addington today (Friday). Twelve months ago, the Ford family was left shell-shocked after Amaretto Sun and young Sheree Tomlinson (Ford's grand-daughter) pulled off a longshot shocker to win the south island feature and again today, they were left a little gob smacked by the sheer arrogance and blinding acceleration of their star trotter as he raced away with the 3200m standing start feature. Handled by Ford's son Clint, it was utter domination from Marcoola. Unlike last year, the performance today didn’t completely shock anyone because most are acutely aware of the rich talent the Sundon six-year-old entire possesses. In lead-up to the event, his form has been true and consistent but the barrier allowed punters to gain a juicy price about the speedy performer. Race favourite Speeding Spur was backing-up following his Gr.1 FFA victory on Tuesday and was attempting to claim the Rowe Cup/Dominion double in the same year while join the other 17 trotters to claim the Cup week double. With Alderbeck, Temporale and Hey Yo all beginning quickly and vying for the early supremacy, Speeding Spur stepped safely and landed in a handy spot just behind the leaders. Classy mare Harriet Of Mot galloped away badly and lost considerable ground. Within the first lap, changes swept over the field with the highly fancied Great Things Happen finding the lead while Lemond was left parked without cover and Speeding Spur sitting right on his back. The tempo was dawdling with Great Things Happen and driver Gavin Smith walking the big field through the opening lap. The lead time was covered in 2:08.1. Speeding Spur made a move around the 1200m point and parked outside Great Things Happen while Ronald J soon followed and raced outside the leader. The first half was covered in 29.2 and 31.7 seconds. Entering the back straight, Great Things Happen led Ronald J while Speeding Spur sat poised ready to strike. Passing the 1000m point, driver Clint Ford made his move with Marcoola and allowed him to stride forward three wide and his run was unimpeded. And he came with a rush as he built massive momentum. The third quarter was covered in 29.7 seconds. With his blinding acceleration, Marcoola surged to the lead and soon opened up the field and raced away to lead by a clear margin entering the home straight. Ford kept his charge focused as Australian trotter Kyvalley Blur started to charge down the outside but the margin was too great. Marcoola scored convincingly and registered a margin of 4 lengths from Kyvalley Blur with a further 2.75 lengths back to Lemond in third while Speeding Spur finished fourth. The winning time was 4:08 – a mile rate of 2:04.6 with a final split of 28.7 seconds. Yet again, it was time for celebration for the Ford family. “He felt really good and there was some cat and mouse tactics from Anthony (Butt – Kyvalley Blur) and Tony (Herlihy – Temporale) and I just went for it. He trotted great and showed great speed but I kept thinking they were coming and I kept checking but he did it well.” Driver Clint Ford said. Marcoola is raced in partnership by Clint and his father Ken. The last time a trainer prepared back to back winners in the Dominion was Tim Butt back in 2003/04 after Take A Moment and Lyell Creek proved triumphant. Interestingly, Marcoola is closely related to Lyell Creek and takes his record to 14 wins from 31 starts while his earnings now exceed $410,000. The next leg of the 2018/19 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters is the $150,000 Inter Dominion in Melbourne on December 15. Chris Barsby

In Christchurch.--- It has all the ingredients of a racing fairytale --- a young girl and the horse she loves triumphing against all odds on the biggest stage. And the joy 19-year-old Sheree Tomlinson felt as she won her family’s version of the New Zealand Cup, the $300,000 Dominion at Addington, yesterday was impossible to not to love. Tomlinson never went around a horse on 90-1 chance Amaretto Son, trained by her grandfather Ken Ford, sneaking up the passing lane to become the first female to win our greatest trot race. And all this on a horse who first brought Tomlinson to the attention of the punting public but a horse who needed an operation this time last year to keep racing. But there is only one problem with this girl loves life-changing horse storyline. “He is actually a bugger,” laughs Tomlinson. “He tries to kick me out of the cart every time I drive him. Not just race day, every time. “That is just him. So we have had our moments along the way. He is not easy.” So while he may not be the textbook equine hero, Amaretto Son gave the Tomlinson and Ford family their proudest moment in racing. They are trotting people through and through, breeding horse of that that gait as opposed to pacers and therefore they don’t dream of New Zealand Cups, they dream of the Dominion. “That is why I am so emotional, I can’t believe we, not me but the whole family, have won the race we want the most,” says Sheree. “Especially with this fella because he had those bone chip issues last season and he hasn’t been an easy horse for us.”Tomlinson may be a teenager with an infectious smile but she is no newcomer to the sulky, having been brought up through harness racing’s hugely successful Kidz Kartz programme. “That was a great way to get into racing and get out there on the track before I was allowed to drive properly but I can’t believe something like this has come so early in my career. “I am absolutely buzzing. It is all a bit of a blur.” Amaretto Son will now travel north for the plethora of major trots over the summer at a time when the open class ranks, shorn of Monbet, have a very open feel to them. That wasn’t supposed to be how yesterday’s Dominion turned out as Great Things Happen was a $1.50 favourite and when he jogged to the front in the early stages he should have been too good. But he was beaten at the 300m, leaving trainer-driver Gavin Smith wondering whether his stable star had suffered from a tying up problem as he took an age to recover after the race. While Amaretto Son was a crushing blow for punters in yesterday’s great trot, Ultimate Machete was simply crushing in the A$260,000 Woodlands Pacing Free-For-All. The four-year-old showed the benefit of coming in fresh after missing Cup day to sit parked outside Tiger Tara and Jack’s Legend, smashing the national all comers 1950m mobile record in the process. He will head off to Perth this week to join stablemate Lazarus at the Perth Inter Dominion series but Ultimate Machete will be aimed at the four-year-old support races worth a total of A$375,000 over the next three Fridays. By Michael Guerin

It was an upset of gigantic proportions. But it was also history in the making. Talented trotter Amaretto Sun and harness racing teenage driver Sheree Tomlinson proved victorious in today’s (Friday) Gr.1 $300,000 Haras des Trotteurs Dominion Handicap at Addington in Christchurch. Prepared by respected horseman Ken Ford, Amaretto Sun was friendless in the betting and saluted at odds of $91.20 while defeating The Foot Tapper and Monty Python in the 3200m stand-start classic, the biggest trotting event staged in New Zealand and first staged in 1911. Tomlinson, 19, becomes the first female driver to win the time-honoured trotting feature and showed patience beyond her youthful years when guiding the Sundon gelding to victory. The pre-race hype focused on Tuesday’s Trotting Free-For-All winner Great Things Happen with many expecting the giant trotter to repeat his crushing victory while the flashy Bordeaux was tipped to be his biggest challenger. When the strands released, Amaretto Sun pounced on the early lead before releasing The Foot Tapper while Great Things Happen quickly moved forward and tackled for the lead role. With Great Things Happen controlling the speed, there were little or no moves within the first mile of the event which had punters on good terms with themselves. The lead time was covered in 2:06.8. The first move in the race came via Bordeaux who moved three-wide with 1300m to run while Daryl Boko and Dark Horse joined the developing cover. But Great Things Happen continued to cruise in the leading role and posted sectionals of 29.1 and 29.5 seconds for the first half of the final mile. Approaching the home turn, Great Things Happen found little when challenged quickly by Bordeaux while The Foot Tapper and Amaretto Sun went to the passing lane with Monty Python and Harriet Of Mot both starting to charge deeper off the track. At the 100m mark, it was Amaretto Sun who struck the lead while The Foot Tapper, Bordeaux and Monty Python battled hard. Harriet Of Mot, who almost fell soon after the start, made a break in the final stages and cost itself a certain placing. At the finish, it was Amaretto Sun who sprinted best to score by over a length from The Foot Tapper with another half-length back to Monty Python in third while Bordeaux finished a close-up fourth. The final half was covered in splits of 29.4 and 29.7 seconds. The gross time was 4:04.7 – the mile rate was 2:03.0. It was well outside of the race record set twelve months earlier when Monbet trotted 4:00.7. Race favourite Great Things Happen weakened to finish 11th. "He felt good in the running and has so much speed. It felt amazing," Tomlinson said. “It’s very special for the family.” She added. Tomlinson is the granddaughter of Ford and the family has enjoyed tremendous success in recent times with outstanding trotter Marcoola. The shock result provided Tomlinson with her maiden Group One triumph and it’s a victory she will never forget. Amaretto Sun's sire Sundon won the Dominion in 1990. The next leg of the 2017/18 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters takes place at TABCORP Park, Melton on January 27 with the running of the $300,000 Pryde’s Easifeed Great Southern Star. Chris Barsby

Ameretto Sun somewhat of a grass and track specialist, could improve on his second in the Ordeal Trotting Cup at Addington.  Harness racing trainer Ken Ford has him primed to go close to winning todays Alabar DG Jones Banks Peninsular Trotting Cup at Motukarara Raceway. Ford has a good record in the race, winning it twice, with Midnight Invasion (2008) and Zachary Binz (2015). Zachary Binz who won on a bog track two years in the slowest time in the race history, is back again this year and will again be driven by Amanda Tomlinson, while Ameretto Sun will be driven by Sheree Tomlinson. Sheree Tomlinson and Ameretto Sun Destiny Jones who won the Ordeal Trotting Cup two weeks ago, will also be hard to beat in todays race. His grass track record is also solid with one win and three placings from six starts. Destiny Jones will be driven by Ricky May who won this race last year with Harrysul.  Master trainer of trotters Paul Nairn, has the race favourite Habibty Ivy in todays race.  Habibty Ivy blew the start of the Ordeal Trotting Cup and was pulled up by driver Blair Orange, but she does have a tidy grass track record and the punters have made her a hot favourite today on the FF win market at $1.70. Other good chances in the race are Belles Son, Arya and Pegusus Dream. The big mover on the FF win market today is Gore Bay in race five. TAB bookmaker Steve Richardson said  "they have really come for the Nigel McGrath first starter Gore Bay". "We opened him at $19.00 and the money came straight away, with some solid bets right down to his current price of $6.50." Trainer Nigel McGrath has a good record with three year old first starters on the track. The Motukarara track today is rated as "Dead" with overcast conditions. Banks Peninsular Trotting Cup History Year  Month   Distance Horse Hcap Owner   Driver Time   2016  Oct   2810m Harrysul 10m K R Gardner, R J Shaw   Ricky May 3-41.4   2015  Sep   2810m Zachary Binx Fr K B Ford, Mrs A J Tomlinson   Amanda Tomlinson 4-09.1   2014  Sep   2810m Clover Don 10m G K Stevenson, Mrs J A Stevenson   Robbie Holmes 3-40.7   2013  Sep   2810m Jaccka Justy Fr C F Smaill, Mrs A G Smaill   Jonny Cox 3-54.7   2012  Sep   2810m I Can Doosit 25m Breckon Racing Syndicate   Mark Purdon 3-42.4   2011  Oct   2810m Vulcan Fr Mrs J A Butt, D J McKenzie   Anthony Butt 3-37.5   2010  Oct   2810m Springbank Richard 20m R A Smith, Mrs D J Smith   Nathan Williamson 3-36.0   2009  Oct   2810m Springbank Richard 10m R A Smith, Mrs D J Smith   Nathan Williamson 3-45.4   2008  Oct   2810m Midnight Invasion Fr K B Ford, Mrs A J Tomlinson   Blair Orange 3-48.9   2007  Oct   2810m Power In Motion Fr F E Wall   Ricky May 3-51.1   2006  Oct   2785m Play On 10m P R Lamb   Craig Thornley 3-48.9   Harnesslink Media  

The Woodlands Stud 2017 Canterbury Breeders, Owners, Trainers and Drivers Association’s Harness Racing Awards were held in Christchurch last Saturday night in front of a large audience.  Results from the awards were: New Zealand Cup Golf Week Trotting Owner of the Year: Ken Ford (Marcoola). Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association Pacing Breeder of the Year: Gavin Chin and Brian West (Lazarus). Junior Driver-of-the-Year: Sheree Tomlinson. NZ Cup Golf Week Pacing Owner of the Year: Terry McDonald. Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association Pacing Broodmare of the Year: Back In The USSR (Don Bates). Canterbury Trainers & Drivers Association Drivers Award: Dexter Dunn. NZ Cup Golf Week Owner of the Year: Greg Hope. Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association Trotting Breeder of the Year: Darryl Brown (Eyre I Come). Natalie Rasmussen & Mark Purdon Trainer's Award: Brad Mowbray. Canterbury Standardbred Breeders Association Trotting Broodmare of the Year: Juliana (dam of Dark Horse). Woodlands Stud Accomplishment Award: Julie De Filippi. Woodlands Stud Outstanding Contribution to Harness Racing: Reg Storer Harnesslink

Punters who have taken the short odds on offer for Marcoola to become the Four-Year-Old Ruby at next month’s Harness Jewels will have heartened by what transpired at Tuesday’s Ashburton trials. Unsighted since his well-beaten effort behind Eyre I Come at Addington back in February, the Ken Ford trained trotter looked right back on top of his game with an effortless performance against modest opposition on Tuesday. A slight injury concern has plagued last season’s leading three-year-old trotter for the best part of the last two months but there was no signs of it causing concern in the trial. “He felt good and strong,” driver Clint Ford said. “It was good to get that run into him.” Off a 40 metre handicap, Marcoola was into his work quickly and while not bustled by Ford he worked his way around the field inside the final 800 metres before blasting away from his rivals to win by eight lengths in a corrected time of 3:04 for the 2400 metre stand. “If you’d asked me how quick it felt like we were going I wouldn’t have said that, he made it feel like it was more like 3:10, he did it all pretty easy.” The Ford clan had an eye on a race next week at Addington for a resumption as they prepare for the Jewels, but that may be put on ice for another week with an eagerness to make sure everything is spot on before they tackle a race. “I’m going to get him checked over and then we can make a decision from there.” Rated a $2.40 chance to win the Ruby on June 3, Marcoola’s task has been made a little harder by the continued rise of others in the age group. Friday night’s Rowe Cup winner, Temporale will be there as well as other proven Group One performers, Lemond and Wilma’s Mate while progressive types, Dark Horse and McLovin are also capable. Earlier in the day at Tuesday’s trials, New Zealand’s two best three-year-old fillies went to the line locked together. Spanish Armada eventually got the judge’s nod over Partyon, but both performances were spot on as they prepare for a plethora of riches available to them over the next month.   Matt Markham

If you are worried about Marcoola’s fitness heading into his comeback at Addington tonight don’t be. Because driver Clint Ford says the naturally athletic trotter has been keeping himself fit in track work. The exciting four-year-old hasn’t raced since a rare disappointing performance at Alexandra Park on December 31, when he over-raced and stopped in the National Trot. But he has been brilliant over sprint trips this season, a massive winner over a mile at Cambridge on Christmas Even while he pushed Monbet to a nose over tonight’s 1950m distance in the NZ Trotting Free-For-All in November. Taking on race hardened rivals like Master Lavros and the enormously-improved Everybody Knows tonight he could be short of his best but Ford says Marcoola will be fit enough to be driven accordingly. “He keeps himself fit,” he explains. “He is just that type of horse. On Saturday I worked him over three miles and wanted him to do nice even sectionals but he wanted to go too fast. “So he has had some good blowouts and I have also given him some speed work. “He only had a week or 10 days off after Auckland so he will be right in this.” With Monbet spelling and Speeding Spur staying in the north, Marcoola has a class edge over most of his southern rivals and if he approaches even money tonight he becomes backable. On a night when serious racing returns to Addington for the first time since Cup week, Classie Brigade looks to continue his dynamic form in the Summer Cup. He has gone from chasing Lazarus last season to emerging as a genuine open class force this term, his last-start win at Invercargill the second fastest 3200m ever paced in New Zealand. That will have earned him a stack of respect and while he probably can’t dominate the race he has to be favoured again even against more glamour types like Christen Me and Locharburn. Christen Me finds himself in a race he can win but you wonder if he still remembers how to do that while Locharburn trialled well last week and could be a value option for new driver Robbie Holmes. The problem for him could be the presence of Captain Dolmio, who runs so hard on the speed that any lack of race fitness in his rivals is usually exposed. The meeting is crammed with high class younger horses taking each other on in the grade races, none more so than last season’s Harness Jewels winner Heaven Rocks,   who returns in a hot race nine where he will relish the return to the mobile. The richest race of the night, the $150,000 Sales Series Fillies Pace has drawn a disappointingly small field, with Spanish Armada continuing her somewhat one-sided battle with Delightful Memphis, with the scoreline 8-2 in the former’s favour. Michael Guerin

He might have let the favourite punters down when galloping in his only start on the track in The Jewels Final on June 4, but Marcoola was all class as he destroyed his 12 opponents at Cambridge Raceway on Christmas Eve. The Ken Ford trained 4-year-old crushed his Group Two Turf Bar Trotters Flying Mile opponents by 11-3/4 lengths in the $50,000 Free-For-All. The Sundon entire and Clint Ford trotted the 1609m in 1:56.3 (mile rate 1:56.3) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 59.1 and 29 even. Arya (Mark Purdon) and Valmagne (Scott Phelan) filled the minors. Marcoola paid $1.50. “It’s just so good to get around on two inflated tyres this time around,” joked driver Ford. “He’s felt good all week and I thought he would go a big one today.” Ford was referring to Marcoola’s last start fourth when pulling a flat tyre in a New Zealand record run Rosslands Lyell Creek Stakes at Alexandra Park on December 16. Today his tyres were fine and Ford worked Marcoola around to the parked position and then had difficulty getting past Luk (Chin) and Djokovic. “I didn’t think he was going to let me get to the front. I had to ask my horse for a bit more and we finally got to the top down the back. He felt extra from there on,” Ford said. When Marcoola did get to the front at the 700m he simply said goodbye and left his lesser quality opponents to it. The further they went the further he went ahead. Trainer (Ken) Ford said he half expected a big performance. “That was brilliant and well earned. Clint took luck out the equation when he opened them up down the back. I thought he would go a big one today. It made up for his bad luck in his last race,” Ford Senior said. Ford (Clint) said he was now looking forward to the $80,000 Group One National Trot at Alexandra Park in seven days. “That would have tightened him up nicely for that. He should be tough to beat but you can never say that too confidently in racing. It would be nice to win another group One at Alexandra Park,” the Marlborough reinsman said. Ford drove Marcoola to his Group One New Zealand Derby and Northern Derby wins last season. Marcoola has now won 11 of his 19 starts and banked $216,989. He is owned by the father-and-son combo and was bred by Ford (Ken), Mrs D H Ford, Mrs A J Tomlinson, M C Tomlinson. The TAB reacted by tightening his National Trot price from $2.50 to $1.90. The day’s other feature race – the Group Two $50,000 JLT 4&5yo Futurity Pace also went to a hot favourite. This time the Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained Chase The Dream left them to it winning by six-and-three-quarter lengths. It was the 4-year-old Bettor Delight entire’s 11th win in 25 starts and he’s now racked up $432,378 in stakes. He paid $1.50 to win. Chase The Dream paced the 2700m mobile in 3:19.1 (mile rate 1:58.6) with final 800m and 400m sprints of 57.4 and 28.6. “He felt extra today and the mobile suited him better this time. Once he got to the front I thought he would take a bit of beating. “I’ll probably line him up on New Year’s Eve at Alexandra Park and then he will head to Australia for perhaps a couple of Country Cup races. He’s already qualified for the Chariots Of Fire,” said driver Purdon who will be spending Christmas with his sister Suzanne and her husband Tony Herlihy (MNZM) at Ardmore. Meanwhile, South Auckland reinsman Sailesh Abernethy notched up his 150th career win when steering the Todd Mitchell trained Mighty Sunny  to win the fourth event - a R50 to R90 and claiming special for the 4-year-old and older trotters. The 5-year-old Sundon mare was the eighth favourite in the 13-horse field and won by almost eight lengths. She paid $21.50 to win. Duane Ranger

Harness racing trainer Ken Ford holds a strong hand in todays Methven Trotters’ Green Mile, with three representatives in the dash for cash. The HARAS DES TROTTEURS TROTTERS GREEN MILE has a stake of $15,000 with a $2,000 bonus up for grabs if the national grass track record over one mile of 1:58.6. Stable star Marcoola is probably the stables best chance of winning the race having been set for the grass feature after almost beating Monbet at Addington on Cup day last month. The good looking Sundon 4yo horse will be driven in todays feature by Clint Ford who has driven the horse in all of his nine wins to date. Marcoola had a look at the Methven grass surface last Sunday at the workouts and won under a strangle hold after sitting parked for the last 1000m.     Marcoola winning at the Methven workouts last Sunday Ken's chances do not end there as he also has Amaretto Sun and Zachary Binx engaged and both have handy records on the grass surface. Later in the day the pacers also race over the short trip in the METHVEN FOUR SQUARE SUPERMARKET Green mile where the Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen trained Chase The Dream is the red hot favorite to win. A $2000 Bonus will be added to the winning stake if the winner breaks the grass track Mile record of 1.56.5 in that race.   Harnesslink Methven Feature Selections Race 8        Marcoola, Ameretto Sun, Valmagne, Harrysul  Race10       Chase The Dream, Franco Texas, Quick As A Trick, Classie Brigade   Harnesslink Media  

Marcoola’s transition to the open class ranks is set to get underway a little sooner than first predicted. Last season’s three-year-old Trotter of the Year will kick start his four-year-old season next week at Addington after initially looking toward the Ashburton Flying Mile later in the month as his starting point. A stunning effort to win at yesterday’s Ashburton trials signalled he’s ready to return to the races and his co-owner and unofficial trainer, Clint Ford is starting to get excited. “It’s a pretty big thing for someone like me,” Ford said. “I’m looking forward to what could unfold this season, he’s certainly come back in really good shape.” Marcoola was privately timed to run his last 800 metres in a tick over 55 seconds - under a hold - as he ran past Habibti in the process. Held up on the final turn, Marcoola stretched out beautifully and found the line under his own steam. “He did it pretty easy there at the end, he’s certainly forward and ready to go. “We will head to Addington next week and then go from there.” His return to the open class ranks will give Ken Ford, the official trainer of Marcoola, a three-pronged attack on some of our trotting features with Amaretto Sun and Zachary Binx both open class contenders too. Ford said next week then Ashburton and then the New Zealand Free-For-All were on the agenda and then potentially a run around in the Trotters’ Green Mile at Methven early in December before the next plans are made. While Marcoola’s effort was stunning, the undoubted highlight of the day’s action at Ashburton was the qualifying effort of three-year-old Major Hippie. The Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen trained son of Art Major clocked a staggering 2.57.9 for the 2400m mobile, equalling the the qualifying time of Mainland Banner and Vladimir The Great who many believe to hold the fastest qualifying time at Ashburton for a 2400 metre mobile. The first foal of Hotinthecitytonite, a daughter of Hot Shoe Shuffle, Major Hippie worked his way to the lead and never looked back winning by an imposing 27 and a half lengths. It was a big day for the All Stars camp again who won every heat they had a horse entered in with particular attention given to the performances of The Fixer, You Gotta Have Faith and Titan Banner who will begin his Cup build up in next week’s Methven Cup. The first of the prgeny of Auckland Reactor was also in action yesterday with Admiral - a colt from Gavin Smith’s stable running second in between two of his stable mates over the one mile. The heat was won by Art Banker an Art Official half-sister to Late Mail with the three babies pacing 2.05.4 with a last 400 metres in 28 seconds even. Matt Markim

Sheree Tomlinson’s race to Cup Week, and the Dominion Handicap, holds a little more pressure than most.   The talented young horsewoman requires three more wins to reach 15 career wins which makes her eligible to drive in black type races. And when the promise of the drive on Amaretto Sun is the carrot dangling at the end of the piece of string, you can see why she’s so keen to get there.   The pair combined last night at Addington to produce a stunning effort in the Ordeal Trotting Cup – beating some likely big race contenders with consummate ease in the process.   And Tomlinson, who had the best view in the house sitting behind the imposing trotter poured a little salt into the wounds of those behind them after the race.   “He did it so easy, I couldn’t believe how well he was travelling the whole way,” she said.   “He’s pretty exciting to sit behind. He gives you such a wonderful feel. When I asked him for a little of effort he just grabbed the bit and hooked into it.”   After an impressive effort last week when fourth behind Sunny Ruby after making a mistake at the start, Amaretto Sun was slightly let go by punters and Tomlinson made them pay by sending the gelding forward to find the front early and never looking back.   Sunny Ruby was forced to race parked for the majority of the last lap, which is well against her preferred racing style, and when Tomlinson clicked her charge up at the 600 metre mark the result was instant.   “I could see Sunny Ruby was parked and I thought our best chance was to make her work a bit harder so I ran a bit down the back and then really poured it on round the bend.   “He just did it in his stride though, I’m pretty lucky to get to sit behind a good horse like him – especially this early in my career.”   In winning last night Amaretto Sun is now guaranteed a start in the Dominion Handicap and will be officially ranked second in the rankings when the next round are released next week.   The D G Jones Memorial Banks Peninsula Trotting Cup is the first black type target for Amaretto Sun in the lead up to the Dominion Handicap which gives Tomlinson a month to get her required three wins.   “Hopefully I can get there, that’s three more to go now but as long as I’m there by Cup Week I’ll be happy.”   With four drives tomorrow at Oamaru, Tomlinson has a good chance to go one or two steps closer to that goal.   Amaretto Sun is trained by her grandfather, Ken Ford who continued his grand 12 months in feature trotting races with another victory and with Zachary Binx close to resuming and Marcoola still waiting in the wings, along with Amaretto Sun, there’s a whole lot more to get excited about too.   Matt Markham

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