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Fortune favours the brave as they say. And that’s how best to describe the success Kiwi trainer Brad Mowbray is having in Sydney with his exciting mare Delishka. Beating the All Stars’ barn at home in NZ is hard enough and so many Kiwis now don’t even bother travelling to Aussie to try take on the best here plus the All Stars’ raiders. Mowbray took-up the challenge and with stunning results so far. Next stop is the big dance, the Group 1 Ladyship Mile at Menangle on February 24. Delishka opened her Aussie campaign with a sound but luckless seventh in the Ladyship Cup in Melbourne, but hasn’t looked back since. She backed-up a week later to win in a 1min52.8sec mile at Menangle, then went to another level courtesy of a superb Blake Fitzpatrick drive to win the Sibelia Stakes in a 1min51.1sec mile last Saturday night. Delishka beat reigning Ladyship Mile winner, the All Stars’ A Piccadilly Princess, in the process. A Piccadilly Princess was given the run of the race in the one-by-one trail by Luke McCarthy, but couldn’t match Delishka’s “ping” once Fitzpatrick got her clear of the leader’s back. It was a hotly run race with Partyon leading and copping plenty of pressure from Shane Tritton’s tough grey mare My Rona Gold, who fought on well for fourth. Partyon wilted under the pressure and finished last. ________________________________________________________________________________________ LAZARUS didn’t even need to race at Menangle last Saturday night for us to be reminded how good he is. Just a week after Tiger Tara was crushed into submission by Lazarus in the Hunter Cup, he did the same to a solid but weaker field in the free-for-all at Menangle. It was a win which ranked up with Tiger Tara’s best. He drew the outside over a mile, worked forward to sit parked and kept the pressure on throughout in a blistering 1min50.2sec mile. Classy sit-sprinter Mach Doro trailed the leader, got an inside run to draw level with Tiger Tara, but Kevin Pizzuto’s warhorse was simply too strong. His splits for the mile were 26.9, 28.0, 27.6 and 27.7sec. Next stop is another possible clash with Lazarus in one of the two Miracle Mile qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night. ________________________________________________________________________________________ SHANE Tritton is planning to have four runners in the two Miracle Mile qualifying sprints at Menangle next Saturday night. Former top class Kiwi pacer Franco Nelson, who went like a jet winning at Menangle last Saturday week, looks his top seed. “We’re also going to run Yayas Hot Spot, My Alpha Rock and Anything For Love,” he said. Anything For Love made it five wins from his past six starts when he led and sparkled in a 1min50.4sec mile at Menangle last Saturday night. ________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was like the good old days for Kerryn Manning at Melton last Friday night. There was a time, when driving was basically her sole focus, when Manning would regularly dominate race meetings. She did just that, winning four of the eight races at Melton, including the fast-class race with her outstanding former Kiwi mare Our Golden Goddess. Our Golden Goddess has now won all six starts for Manning this campaign and heads to Sydney nominal favourite for the Group 1 Ladyship Mile on Saturday week. Last Friday she led from the pole and scored in a very slick 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2240m. Manning’s four driving wins came for four different trainers. While he trains Our Golden Goddess, it would have been especially pleasing to win a feature juvenile race, the Premiere Stakes, aboard Scheu Creek for her father, Peter. Scheu Creek, who led throughout and won easily in a 1min56.8sec mile rate for 1720m, provided an early and important win for his sire, former Hunter Cup and Chariots of Fire winner Caribbean Blaster. Manning’s other wins came aboard Lance Justice’s Love Ina Chevy, best known as the pacer who cheated death for many days after a snake bite, and Graham Lee’s trotter Illcryifhewinds. Just for good measure, Manning’s win all at to the growing “Teal Pants” promotion booty. She, Kate Gath and Jodi Quinlan are the Victorian representatives for the cause. Manning’s success rolled-on to Echuca last Saturday night when she won the Group 3 Echuca Cup with classy former Kiwi pacer Motu Meteor. The gelding wouldn’t have been out of place in the Chariots of Fire on the same night, but didn’t qualify. So Manning took him to Echuca instead where he led from gate two and won comfortably in a 1min59.9sec mile rate for 2560m. ________________________________________________________________________________________ KYLE Harper keeps marvelling at his classy old pacer Bettors Fire. The nine-year-old is still good enough to upstage WA’s best with the right draw, so he was a moral when he drew one and led a moderate free-for-all field at Gloucester Park last Friday night. Harper led the gelding slide along in a 1min54.7sec and burned down the back in 27.2sec before holding-off a late surge from Our Jimmy Johnstone to win well. It was back on December 29 when he led and upset Soho Tribeca and Chicago Bull in the Village Kid Sprint. Bettors Fire’s now raced 90 times for 34 wins, 20 placings and earned close to $700,000. The other Gloucester Park feature, the $50,000 Group 2 Daintys Daughter Classic (2130m), went to father-son team Gary Hall Sr and Gary Jr in an upset with Art Major filly Slick Artist. She overcame a back row draw to comfortably beat WA’s best fillies in a key indicator race for the upcoming WA Oaks. ________________________________________________________________________________________ MUCH-TRAVELLED veteran Our Jericho snared another feature win in his new home state last Saturday night. Now trained in South Australia by Les Harding, the eight-year-old narrowly but impressively won the Gawler Cup. Our Jericho started his career in NZ, had long stints in Victoria and WA before returning briefly to Victoria and now to SA. He’s now raced 73 times for 16 wins, 14 placings and earned over $220,000.   Adam Hamilton

Kiwi champion Lazarus looks set to have to sit parked to win Saturday night’s $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup (2760m) at Melton. That’s because rival trainer-driver Kevin Pizzuto quickly dismissed speculation he may opt for “softer” tactics and ask driver Todd McCarthy to take a sit with Tiger Tara from the pole. “We got outsprinted in the Inters. This time we’re going to try and outstay them. My boy will stay all day. He’s tough,” boomed Pizzuto when asked about tactics. Talk off Tiger Tara potentially taking a sit stemmed from the fact Lazarus sat outside and comfortably beat Tiger Tara in Perth. “Toddy went to slow in that Inters final. It didn’t help our horse,” Pizzuto said. It’s worth noting Tiger Tara did lead and beat Lazarus in the second round of Perth Inter Dominion heats, albeit in a stop-star affair over a shorter 2100m trip. The stretch to 2760m doesn’t faze Pizzuto. “My horse is a great stayer. He showed that again at Goulburn the other day and that was his trial. We’re ready for this.” Despite Pizzuto’s declaration, Tiger Tara has continued to drift ($7.50 to $9) since Tuesday night’s barrier draw, while Lazarus has firmed from $1.40 to $1.35 and now $1.33 on the Aussie TAB. One horse who many thought would be in the early speed burn, but won’t be is Shane and Lauren Tritton’s Yayas Hot Spot from gate six. “There’s too much speed underneath him and we learnt from the Perth trip we can really knock him around if we burn early and don’t get across,” Shane Tritton said. “We just have to go back and drive for luck from that draw. “We can’t risk leaving everything out on the track this week with a Miracle Mile qualifier and hopefully the Miracle Mile itself just around the corner.” The expectation Tiger Tara will lead boosts the chances of ageing Victorian champion Lennytheshark, who is drawn inside the back row (gate eight), will most likely be right on his back and awaiting the sprint lane in the home straight. “That’s my best chance,” Lennytheshark’s driver Chris Alford said. “As good as he’s gone in front and outside the leader, David (Aiken, trainer) and I have always felt he’s lethal with a sit on them. He might the chance to show that this week.” Alford said Lennytheshark felt “like he was absolutely flying” when he won last week’s Casey Classic at Melton. “The official timing didn’t work for the race, but I’ve had some clockers tell me broke the track record Lazarus set winning the Victoria Cup last year for the 2240m,” Alford said. “He’ll definitely be fitter again for the run and if the race is truly run and we get the last shot at them, I’m sure he’ll be hard to hold out.” Lennytheshark has also eased from $7.50 to $9 since Tuesday night’s draw. Lazarus’ stablemate, Heaven Rocks, is the $6 second favourite with the Aussie TAB from two-out on the back row with Natalie Rasmussen aboard. Australia’s top harness racecaller Dan Mielicki, who will call the Hunter Cup, is tipping Heaven Rocks to upset Lazarus. “He’s got so much talent and amazing speed. I thought there was a real arrogance about his Ballarat Cup win and, if Lazarus does plenty of work, Heaven Rocks is good enough to beat him,” he said. Adam Hamilton

Tiger Tara, trained by Kevin Pizzuto and driven by Todd McCarthy, edged out Yayas Hot Spot to win the Goulburn Soldiers Club’s Frank and Edna Day Goulburn Cup on Sunday afternoon. The race was the feature of an action-packed Carnival of Cups program at the Goulburn Recreation Area Paceway, which was witnessed by a considerable sized crowd. The first three placed horses in the Goulburn feature were all from New Zealand, as was the fifth finisher. In fourth place was Brad Hewitt’s Spare Me Days. Shane and Lauren Tritton had to settle for second and third places in the class field of pacers. Franco Nelson, which won the Walla Walla Stakes in Goulburn on January 14 over the same 2240 metre distance, placed third, 6.6 metres back from the winner. At the presentation by Soldiers Club president Michael Donnelly, members of the Day family gathered beside the winner. The Day family has been synonymous with harness racing in Goulburn, with multi-generation involvement in the sport, inspired by Frank and Edna Day. Many of the family are still actively involved today. In the final race on Sunday the win, was claimed by another New Zealand pacer, Delightful Memphis, trained by Mark Jones and driven by Ashlee Grives. It finished 4.3 metres in front of the Amanda Turnbull-trained and driven Dream to Share, also of New Zealand breeding. In third place was the Neil Day-trained and driven That’s Ideal, which started as a long shot. The Australia Day weekend meeting was a fundraiser for the Goulburn Base Hospital, with several staff from the hospital among the official guests at the luncheon in the Grace-Millsom Function Centre. Also among the guests were officials from Harness Racing NSW, including chairman Rod Smith. The race meeting was one for the visitors, with out-of-town trained pacers taking all the major prize money. In race three the RMS Accountants and TAB Corp pace trainer Bernie Hewitt from Bathurst had success with I’m With Lexy ,driven by Douglas Hewitt. The Brad Hewitt-trained and driven I’m All Courage was second, and David Hewitt’s Spike Robyn was third. Darryl Fernance Reprinted with permission of The Goulburn Post

New South Wales' top ranked pacer Tiger Tara is nearing a racetrack return but harness racing trainer Kevin Pizzuto is still unsure where he will start his quality pacer next. The options are to stay local or head directly interstate for feature races in Victoria. "I'm still undecided where I will start him first between Menangle or there is a $100,000 race in Victoria (Ballarat Cup)," said Pizzuto. The main aim for Tiger Tara south of the border is the $500,000 A.G. Hunter Cup at Melton on February 3. However, the ultimate goal Pizzuto has his in mind for his stallion is back on his home turf, the $750,000 Miracle Mile at Menangle on February 24. Tiger Tara has not raced since finishing third-placed to Lazarus in the Inter Dominion Final at Gloucester Park on December 8, 2017. "I gave him three weeks off and he's been back in work for a few weeks now," said Pizzuto. "He's as good as gold." It was a well-deserved break as prior to heading to Western Australia, Tiger Tara campaigned in New Zealand. Within the last month of his latest preparation, Tiger Tara also won a heat of the Inter Dominion and finished second-placed in another two, he also finished third to Lazarus in the NZ Cup and second to Ultimate Machete in the NZ Free-For-All. "Out of that whole trip he didn't finish worse than third, he did a massive job," said Pizzuto. "I couldn't have been happier in the horse. "He raced Lazarus, who is the best horse anyone has ever seen, and Tiger Tara beat him fair and square in a heat of the Inter Dominion. "Tiger's run in the NZ Cup where he finished third to Lazarus was huge also." Tiger Tara now has earnings of $1,246,931 as a result of 25 wins 18 seconds and 12 thirds from the 79 starts lifetime. Prior to Tiger Tara's overseas and interstate campaign, the son of Bettor's Delight was also tried as a stallion. "I put four of my mares in foal to him," claimed Pizzuto. "I stood him too late in the season and I just wanted to trial him to make sure his semen was good . . . my four mares went into foal straight away which was a good sign. "There was a lot of interest for him when I was over in NZ so I think he will be in demand over there next season." Pizzuto has not raced any of his team since December 8 and will have his first starters of the year at Menangle on Tuesday. This includes new stable acquisition, Group 2 winner Dashofluck. AMANDA RANDO

Perth Inter Dominion placegetter Tiger Tara is warming-up for another stoush with Lazarus. The $500,000 Group 1 Hunter Cup (2760m) is Tiger Tara’s next major target and Lazarus is headed the same way after his two Group 1 assignments in Perth this month. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto is weighing-up whether to make a hit-and-run raid on the Hunter Cup or go their via the $100,000 Group 1 Ballarat Cup on January 20. “I haven’t decided whether to keep him here until the Hunter for a run or two at Menangle or go down for Ballarat,” Pizzuto said. “I guess any $100,000 race without Lazarus in it is tempting, but I’ll decide over the next few days. “He’s almost set to go. In fact, He could race at Menangle next Saturday night if I go that way. Pizzuto said Tiger Tara had thrived during his let-up after Perth. “He deserved it after a busy couple of months,” he said. “He seems really well and he’s ready to go again now.” Some felt Tiger Tara’s third in the final after leading was slightly below the stellar form he showed during the heats of the Inter Dominion. But Pizzuto laments the fact driver Todd McCarthy tried to “rate” Tiger Tara in front rather than cutting him loose. “I wanted him to just roll along in front, instead I think Todd was too worried about Chicago Bull sitting on his back,” he said. “He turned the race into a sprint home and that played into Lazarus’ hands more so than ours. “Lazarus is a freak, an amazing horse, but Bunbury showed he can be beaten when Toddy let our guy roll along in front and get Lazarus off the bit and chasing. He didn’t do that in the final.” More broadly, Pizzuto confirmed he is still seriously considering a move from NSW to Victoria. “Everyone knows how frustrated I am by the (NSW) handicapping system. My property is on the market here and when it sells, there’s a big chance I could head to Victoria with the team,” he said. Adam Hamilton

It's Inter Dominion final eve, so the rumours are flying thick and fast as usual. Most of them surround polemarker Tiger Tara’s wellbeing and/or tactics from the prized pole draw. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto has been sitting back and listening to speculation and theories all week. One he will knock on the head is that Tiger Tara is feeling the effects of five funs already in this past month as well as all the travel to and from NZ and across to Perth. “That’s rubbish. I’m telling you know he’s thriving on it,” he said. “I keep hearing how big a task I’ve set him, but he’s never been better. “I know this will be his sixth run for the month, but I’m telling you now he’s as good as I’ve ever had him.” So what about the tactics now Tiger Tara has draw most others dreamed about getting? “I’m not telling anybody what we’re doing,” he said. “We’ve got the draw which gives us all the options – leading or handing-up. Everyone can speculate, but nobody but Todd (McCarthy, driver) and will know until they let the gate go. “We’ve got a huge tactical advantage from the draw. Why would we show our hand?” Most expect Tiger Tara to hold the lead given his great front-running form and love for small tracks like Gloucester Park. If that happens, Chicago Bull gets the gun run on his back and the likes of Lazarus, Soho Tribeca and Lennytheshark have to jostle for spots outside him and in the running line. But, if Tiger Tara takes a trail, the race changes – big time. It would potentially put Chicago Bull back in an awkward three pegs spot. And then Lazarus, Lennytheshark and Soho Tribeca would be a chance of getting the lead, which would significantly boost their chances. In the case of Lazarus, you would think leading would make close to unbeatable. On one hand it’s surprising Pizzuto isn’t just declaring his hand and saying Tiger Tara is definitely leading and holding the front. On the other, by not doing so he’s got everybody guessing ahead of the best and most intriguing Inter Dominion final in modern history. Bring it on. Adam Hamilton

When he lines up in the harness racing $1.1 million 2017 TABtouch Inter Dominion final at Gloucester Park on Friday night Tiger Tara will be having his sixth start in 24 days with all six starts at either Group One or Group Two level. On November 14th Tiger Tara finished third behind Lazarus and Jacks Legend in the $784,000 New Zealand Cup over two miles and followed that with a neck second to Ultimate Machete in the $234,000 New Zealand Free For All three days later on November 17th. Arriving in Perth on a Singapore Airlines charter flight on November 20th Tiger Tara finished second to 2015 Inter Dominion champion Lennytheshark in his opening night heat after working hard early from a wide barrier before being forced to race in the breeze on the outside of Lennytheshark. A good barrier at Bunbury resulted in a track record win and last night Tiger Tara was a gallant second to WA champion Chicago Bull again after racing outside Chicago Bull throughout. Purchased earlier this year from the stallion’s New Zealand owners after he finished fourth in last season’s Auckland Cup by Mikey Hawli, Courtney Pizzuto, Tanya Pizzuto and Kevin Pizzuto he has blossomed under Pizzuto’s training. Since entering Pizzuto’s Rossmore stables south of Sydney Tiger Tara has had 24 starts for 12 wins, four seconds and three third for stakes of $372,149. Tiger Tara’s overall record stands at 77 starts for 25 wins, 18 seconds, 11 thirds and stakes of $1,136,931. He was an outstanding 3yo, winning the Group One New Zealand Sires Stakes and Great Northern Derby on his way to being named New Zealand 3yo Colt Pacer of the Year in 2014. He also won the Group One New Zealand Free For All in 2015 as a 5yo. Under Pizzuto’s care he has won the Group Two Renshaw Cup and a string of Group Three races in New South Wales including the Golden Mile, Sydney Cup, Coca Cola Pace, Christmas In July Pace, Kevin Newman FFA and Nick Robin Memorial. Unlike many horses with a reputation of being tough, Tiger Tara also possesses high speed and he is capable of carrying it over a distance. Tiger Tara set a track record 1:52.3 rate over 2100 metres in beating Lazarus and San Carlo in the sixth heat of the Inter Dominion at Bunbury last Tuesday. When he won the Canadian Club Pace over a mile at his home track of Menangle on March 24th Tiger Tara covered the mile in 1:49.8. Tiger Tara is one of five runners in Friday night’s Inter Dominion final by super-sire Bettors Delight and his unraced dam is the 100% producing Dream Away mare Tara Gold. Tara Gold has five foals of racing age and each has been a winner which is hardly surprising as she is a half-sister to the Group One Fremantle Cup winner Power Of Tara which finished his career in the USA as a winner of 31 races and $907,000. Tiger Tara’s grand-dam Atomic Gold is a half-sister to the Group One New Zealand Easter Cup winner Matthew Lee 2:00.1 $281,850, Gawler Cup winner Home For Gold 2:00.8 $158,643 and the dam of Group Two Bendigo Cup winner Sammy Maguire 1:57.0 $241,382. Alan Parker

Kim Prentice admits he is awe of his emerging star Soho Tribeca. As impressed as Prentice was with the ease of Soho Tribeca’s opening round heat win, he’s more chuffed with how the five-year-old has come through his first taste of Inter Dominion racing. “He was raring to go again straight away. I’m actually surprised just how well he came through that run,” he said. “It gives me a lot of confidence heading to Bunbury on the quick back-up.” Not even a wide draw (gate six) has dampened Prentice’s confidence at Bunbury where he meets his arch hometown rival, Chicago Bull. While Soho Tribeca has drawn wide, it’s a better alley than Chicago Bull, who will start from inside the back row (gate eight). Soho Tribeca led easily last Friday, but will probably park outside the leader, who could be Ohoka Punter (gate two),at Bunbury. “That won’t bother me. I can control the race from there and he’s not fazed by racing outside the leader,” Prentice said. It will take plenty of luck and a masterful Gary Hall Jr drive for Chicago Bull to make it four wins from his last four clashes with Soho Tribeca. “I don’t think we’ve ever had him better, but the draw makes it hard,” Hall Jr said. In the first heat, NSW trainer Shane Tritton expect noted front-runner Yayas Hot Spot to resurrect his quest for a Grand Final berth. “He needed a draw and he’s got one with the pole. He’ll lead, it’s where he runs his best races, and I think he’ll be very hard to beat,” he said. “We haven’t given up hope of making the final that’s for sure. He actually ran a great race the other night from an impossible position the way the race was run.” The hurdle will be the great Lennytheshark, who has the back row (gate nine), but should trail through well. Any hope Have Faith In Me has of making the final depends on him improving sharply on an opening night ninth and overcoming a tough back row draw (gate 10) at Bunbury. The best of the Bunbury heats is the third where Lazarus will be looking to return to winning form. Tiger Tara looks the likely leader and main danger from the pole. “He’ll lead. He’s beginning quicker and quicker every time we ask him,” trainer Kevin Pizzuto said. “His run was huge the other night and I think he’ll be improved by it as well.” Adam Hamilton

Bring on Tuesday. That’s the last word from Tiger Tara’s trainer Kevin Pizzuto ahead of the NZ Cup. After weeks of tossing up whether or not to tackle the Cup, Pizzuto is glad he took-up the challenge and pumped about how well his stable star is ahead the great race. “All you can ask to have your horse at his best and that’s exactly where Tiger Tara is at at,” he said. “He’s had a great prep back home, traveled over well and worked really well yesterday (Saturday).” Pizzuto, who is stabled at Mitchell Kerr’s barn, worked Tiger Tara over 3200m in 4min15sec. “He did it well and ran home in 25.6sec. I’m rapt,” he said. “I know how hard it’s going to be, but he’s been here and done it all before and he’s never been better in the 10 months or so he’s been in my stable.” __________________________________________________________________________________________ LIFE is great for Ashlee Grives right now. Her best horse Ameretto is heading to Perth in the care of Kerryn Manning having won nine of her past 10 starts and run second to Lennytheshark in the Victoria Cup at the other. And, back at home, Grives decision to move from Bathurst to Menangle and team-up with Kiwi trainer Mark Jones is already looking exciting. Whittaker made it three wins from as many starts in the Menangle stable when he brilliantly won the Star Trek final in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 1730m at Bathurst last Friday night. Whittaker is unbeaten in three Aussie runs for the Grives/Jones combination. “It was the right time to try something different and the offer to team-up with Mark was exciting,” Grives said. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THERE is some serious X-factor about Shadow Sax. And the patience of co-trainers Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin is starting to be rewarded. After more than a year off with injury, Shadow Sax has won five of his six comeback runs and finished second in the Breeders Crown 4YO final at the other. His win in last Saturday night’s $50,000 4&5YO Championship (2240m) at Melton has to be seen to be believed. In a star-studded field, Shadow Sax sat parked and bolted in. And he ripped home in closing splits of 26.9 and 27.4sec having sat outside classy former Kiwi pacer Motu Meteor, who weakened late for fourth. Another pair exciting ex-Kiwi pacers Moonrock and Let It Ride ran big races for second and third. But Shadow Sax’s win oozed class and he appeared to win with plenty still in reserve for driver Gavin Lang. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THE move to Sydney seems to have rejuvenated former two-time Inter Dominion placegetter Flaming Flutter. The eight-year-old has spent of his career with Victorian trainer Geoff Webster, but also had a stint in WA with Ross Olivieri. Recently connections sent him to the NSW stable of Jimmy Rattray of Beautide fame. He caught the eye when fourth at his first run for Rattray then hit the line strongly for a narrow but impressive win in a slick 1min54.7sec mile rate for 2300m at Menangle last Saturday night. __________________________________________________________________________________________ FORMER Purdon/Rasmussen pacer Motu Premier is a genuine Inter Dominion smokey. In 10 WA starts for trainer Ross Olivieri, the Bettors Delight gelding has posted six wins, three seconds and a third. It’s his past three runs in free-for-all class which have really underlined his potential. Last Friday night’s late-surging second to American Boy – after doing all the work in fast time – was top shelf. Motu Premier got within a half-head of victory after sitting parked in a 1min54.8sec mile rate for 2130m. __________________________________________________________________________________________ IT was great to see the old boy, Vincennes, return to his best form with a sparkling first-up win. The eight-year-old, now in the care of Yabby Dams’ head trainer Anton Golino at Ballarat, returned from almost four months out when he worked to the front from a 10m handicap and gave nothing else a chance in the Group 3 Yarra Valley Trotters’ Cup last Thursday,. Driver Zac Phillips crawled through the middle stages and dashed home in 57.4 and 28.6sec to land Vincennes’ 19th from 62 starts. With stocks thin in open-class trotting ranks on both sides of the ditch, Vincennes’ resurgence is timely. Adam Hamilton

The Heaven Rock rollercoaster may be about to hit a high again at just the right time.  Because while the oddball pacer has been a huge drifter in the market for tomorrow’s $800,000 New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington, at least he is going to make the race now.  And win, lose or draw tomorrow a few days later he looks set to be a warm favourite for the rich New Zealand Free-For-All.  After a weird few days which started with Heaven Rocks’s trainers thinking he might have to be scratched from tomorrow’s iconic race, he is now back in the fight and apparently ready to rumble.  The drama started when Heaven Rocks worked poorly by his high standards -- he can be a dazzling track worker --- on Friday, a disappointment which followed a poor blood report in the middle of last week.  Co-trainer Natalie Rasmussen contacted stewards and told them the huge pacer was in doubt for the Cup but blood tests taken on Friday came back Saturday and painted a far brighter picture.  Then Heaven Rocks blazed around the All Stars training track yesterday, easily accounting for race rival Have Faith In Me.  “He feels far more like it and it is all systems go for the Cup now,” said Rasmussen. “It looked like he was coming down with a virus but clearly he is better now.” The drama-filled weekend comes after Heaven Rocks’s crazy last six weeks, during which time he shortened into Cup favouritism after some stunning trials before he appeared to have broken down when racing erratically in his comeback race at Addington on October 6.  While he has improved since with stablemate Lazarus looking faultless, Heaven Rocks has drifted from his market low $2.30 to win the Cup to a nearly backable $8 for tomorrow, with Lazarus now into an historic low $1.25.    If the best version of Lazarus turns up, and it usually does, then Heaven Rocks might be racing for second tomorrow but a positive performance could see him start a firm favourite for the $260,000 NZ Free-For-All on Friday.  Of the Cup runners Lazarus, Have Faith In Me, Dream About Me, Piccadilly Princess and Tiger Tara are all likely to miss Friday’s free-for-all as they are scheduled to will Thursday for Australia on their way to Perth Inter Dominion carnival.  Northern mare Better B Amazed has already been pulled out of the meeting after some flat workouts while Locharburn and Waikiki Beach are scratched from the junior free-for-all tomorrow which could leave Friday’s big group one pace headlined by Heaven Rocks and the likes of Jack’s Legend, Titan Banner, No Doctor Needed and Maxim.  Australian visitor Tiger Tara has been one of the big movers in the Cup market, into third favouritism at $12 and $2 a place after arriving in Christchurch in great shape and thrilling trainer Kevin Pizutto with his fast work on Saturday. Michael Guerin

Trainer Kevin Pizzuto isn’t fazed by an outside draw for Tiger Tara in Tuesday’s New Zealand Cup.  In fact, the NSW trainer think it could be a positive given Tiger Tara’s generally good standing-start manners.  “He usually steps well and hopefully from out there he can get a head full of steam, come across them and settle in the first few,” Pizzuto said.  “I want Toddy to be aggressive on him early. We want to find the front if we can, then see how seriously Lazarus wants to come and try to take it off us.  “It wouldn’t be the worst thing to sit on Lazarus.”  Tiger Tara was flown from his Sydney base to Christchurch last night (Tuesday).  “They tell me he handled the trip well,” Pizzuto said. “I head across tonight (Wednesday) and I’m looking forward to seeing him. I couldn’t have had him any better before he left home.  “I’m looking forward to the whole trip. It’s such a great race and a thrill to be part of it.  “If he steps well and gets handy, I’m sure he’ll run a great race.” Adam Hamilton

He has trained over 600 winners in his 26 years as a harness racing trainer however Kevin Pizzuto is about to embark on one of his biggest quests to date. Pizzuto will be the only Australian trainer with a representative in next Tuesday's New Zealand Cup with his stable star Tiger Tara. That journey begins later this evening as the pair are due to board a flight across to the Shaky Isles. And the reports from the Pizzuto camp on Tiger Tara are strong. "He is as good as gold," Pizzuto said on Monday. Tiger Tara had his final hit-out in preparation for the NZ Cup at Menangle last Saturday night and won. Tiger Tara lived up to his $1.20 favouritism (NSW TAB) and took out the Group 3 Nick Robin Memorial, his seventh Group victory since he began racing in Australia last February. The former Kiwi pacer was purchased by Sydney interests earlier this year and since arriving has competed at the highest level winning 11 of his 19 starts on Australian soil. Before leaving NZ, Tiger Tara raced in a number of feature races including last year's NZ Cup where he finished second-placed to Lazarus. A few days after this Tiger Tara finished third to Lazarus in the NZ Free-For-All and the pair have not met since. For their next clash the odds are on Lazarus' side being the TAB Fixed Odds short-priced favourite at $1.45 for the NZ Cup while Tiger Tara is at more generous odds of $15. "It's not going to be easy," Pizzuto claimed. "Lazarus is a good horse and they are all good horses, it really comes down to whoever gets the right run. "All I know is my horse is good enough, it will be just the luck of the draw and I just hope he gets around safely." Top Sydney reinsman Todd McCarthy will retain his drive on Tiger Tara and he will be hopeful of emulating Kerryn Manning's result with Arden Rooney in the 2015 NZ Cup. Manning ended a 28-year NZ Cup drought for Australian-trained pacers, with Australia's previous winner being My Lightning Blue in 1987. As for Tiger Tara, Pizzuto will base him at Mitchell Kerr's property in Rangiora during this campaign. Pizzuto is undecided whether he will keep Tiger Tara in the country for the NZ Free-For-All at Addington on November 10 if the pacer qualifies. "I'm not 100 per cent sure what I will do with him yet, I will see how he goes in the Cup first," Pizzuto said. "I have flights booked for him on Thursday and also on Saturday so I have the option to stay or go." Tiger Tara is also nominated for the Inter Dominion series in Perth which starts later this month. Pizzuto has a number of horses nominated for this year's series including Tiger Tara, Code Black and Egodan. Amanda Rando

Former Kiwi star Tiger Tara is primed for a hit-and-run return to his old homeland. Last year’s NZ Cup runner-up capped his preparation for this year’s race with another dominant and powerhouse Menangle win last night. And trainer Kevin Pizzuto can’t wait to stretch him out to his more favoured staying distance against the best New Zealand has to offer on Tuesday week. “He’s winning these mile races, but they aren’t really his go,” he said. “He’s a stayer, not a sprinter, but he’s simply too good for them over here. “The Kiwis know what a great stayer he is, but he hasn’t had many chances to show it over here.” Tiger Tara joined Pizzuto’s stable early this year and the trainer is adamant he has never had him better. “As good as he was at times last campaign, he’s better now. He’s the best he’s been since he came to my stable,” he said. “I’m taking him across knowing I can’t have him any better.” Tiger Tara returned from a spell with an eye-catching third to Lennytheshark from a back row in the Victoria Cup on October 14 and has followed with two Menangle mile wins. Last night he drew wide, drifted back early, but stayed in the three-wide line to move around the field and eventually get parked outside the leader at the 600m. Tiger Tara cruised to the front rounding the home bend and won as he liked by six metres in a 1min51.8sec mile, closing it off in 54.6 and 26.9. He looked very strong to the line. “What I liked most was how he travelled. Often he needs to be scrubbed along, but Todd (McCarthy, driver) said he felt keen and sharp last night,” Pizzuto said. “It’s what I hoped for. I’ve changed his training with the 3200m of NZ in mind and he seems to be enjoying it.” Pizzuto said he was impressed watching NZ Cup favourite Lazarus win at Kaikoura last Monday. “They’ve got a good batch of horses over there, but he looks the standout. It’s the NZ Cup so I respect them all, but Lazarus is the one to beat,” he said. Tiger Tara is likely to have a workout on Tuesday then board a flight from Sydney to Christchurch that night. Adam Hamilton

The raid back home is a goer.  After days of negotiating flights, NSW trainer Kevin Pizzuto has confirmed Tiger Tara’s return to his homeland for a tilt at the NZ Cup at Addington on November 14.  “We are all go,” an excited Pizzuto said. “He flies out Melbourne Cup night (November 7), which works well for me to give him his last, strong workout over in NZ.  “I’ve wanted to go for more than a week, but had to be sure all the flights worked both over and back.”  Tiger Tara will then fly from Christchurch to Sydney on the Thursday after the NZ Cup with Lazarus and any other Purdon/Rasmussen pacers bound for Perth during the Inter Dominion series.  “That timing works well, too,” Pizzuto said. “It means he’ll get three days back in his own place at home before we have to fly him down to Melbourne then get that flight with all the other Inter Dominion horses across to Perth.”  Tiger Tara’s NZ Cup odds were slashed from $25 to $18 with the Aussie TAB off the back of his confirmed raid.  Pizzuto confirmed his stable star would have one more lead-up race.  “There’s a free-for-all at Menangle for him next Saturday night,” he said. “I wish it’d been 2300m, but the mile races are run strongly here so he’ll be sure to get another good hitout.”  Tiger Tara resumed from a spell with an eye-catching third to Lennytheshark then in the Group 1 Victoria Cup on October 14, then backed-up a week later for a narrow but very impressive 1min51.3sec mile win at Menangle.  “I think he’s better than he’s ever been since he came to my stable,” Pizzuto said.  “And we’re not heading into the unknown. He ran second in the (NZ) Cup last year and has done so much of racing at Addington.  “I can’t wait to get across and give it a crack.” Adam Hamilton

Addington bosses and punters will have to wait to find out whether there will be an Aussie raider in this year’s New Zealand Trotting Cup. New South Wales trainer Kevin Pizutto is keen to bring last season’s runner-up Tiger Tara back for the great race at Addington on November 14 but possible flight complications could be the problem. Pizutto says getting Tiger Tara to Addington is not the problem but getting him back to Australia in time for a flight to Perth a few days after the Cup so he can settle in before the Perth Inter Dominions.  “I want to go to both and I will if we can get the right flights,” says Pizutto.  “But I will know by the end of the week and if he goes to Addington, Todd (McCarthy) will come over and drive him.”  Tiger Tara finished second to Lazarus in the Cup last season when trained in Canterbury by Geoff Dunn and while he was beaten by 10 lengths, that still means he beat home Titan Banner, the now-retired Interdom champ Smolda and Have Faith In Me.  He was sold to Pizutto soon after and has been in consistently strong form in Australia racing at the highest level. While it is doubtful he could beat Lazarus and co in the Cup if he makes it to Addington his $5 place price with the TAB bookies is very fair because his Cup week record is outstanding. In 2013 he won the Sires’ Stakes Final on Cup Day while two years ago he won the NZ Free-For-All, a race he finished third to Lazarus and Christen Me in last season. He has run in in the Cup three times before, finishing sixth twice to Adore Me and Arden Rooney.  Now a seven-year-old, Tiger Tara is just over $50,000 off joining pacing’s millionaire club. Meanwhile, Lazarus and Titan Banner head just seven nominations for Monday’s $50,000 Kaikoura Cup joined by Piccadilly Princess, Waikiki Beach, Buster Brady and the northern pair of Better B Amazed and No Doctor Needed. Michael Guerin

Harness racing trainer Mark Purdon has withdrawn Cash N Flow from the New Zealand Cup. Mark said on the All Stars website, "It is a shame Cash N Flow can't make the Cup now. I will withdraw him on Tuesday. He's had an issue up there and we are going to get him scanned in Matamata to see if we can find the problem. It may be related to an earlier injury or it might not. Hopefully we can get a better understanding of it. But the Cup is out". The New Zealand Cup is down to a field of fourteen at present which includes Australian star Tiger Tara. Trainer Kevin Pizzuto is still keen to come to the Cup with Tiger Tara and will be here for the race in November depending on suitable travel. ____________________________________________________________________________ Ultimate Machete had no issues with his first race-day standing start when beating a good field of pacers yesterday at Ashburton. The Bettor's Delight 4yo began well for driver Natalie Rasmussen and was taken around the field to sit parked with a lap to go. In the straight Ultimate Machete was too strong for the opposition winning untouched in a quick 2-56.9 for the 2400m stand. The last 800m was run in a sizzling 53.9 showing that he would have been competitive in the Ashburton Flying Stakes won by stable mate Lazarus later in the day. Ultimate Machete will now head to Cup week for races like the Junior Free For All after a Perth trip was ruled out by the stable yesterday.    Ultimate Machete winning at Ashburton yesterday Harnesslink Media

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