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The town’s rugby league team isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but Newcastle sure does know how to produce promising young harness racing drivers. Evidence of that came at Alexandra Park last Friday night when Newcastle 15-year-old Andrew Bourke claimed the eighth edition of the Lizzie Of Rosslands Rising Stars Kidz Kart Drivers Series. Twelve Kidz Kartz drivers (eight girls) took part in the six-race series at Cambridge Raceway and Alexandra Park. Bourke, was one of two Australians in the line-up. Gemma Howard-Coney, who finished fifth, was also representing New South Wales. Both Islands here were also represented. Bourke won the Series easily with 70 points. Tayla Collins (Taranaki) and Kaleb Bublitz (Cambridge) both finished with 57 points but Collins won the runner-up prize on a count-back. Bourke was rapt with his win. “I’ve competed in the New South Wales Champs, the Mini Miracle Mile and the Interdominions back home but this is the best I have ever done. “It’s different driving over here, but I loved it. I’m glad I won because this will be my last year with the mini trotters,” Bourke said. Three races were staged at Cambridge Raceway last Tuesday and then another three at Alexandra Park on Friday. The drivers sat behind ponies that were allocated to them. The champion pony – Ruff Rufus was trained by long-time Kidz Kartz stalwart, Murray Goldsworthy from the Kumeu Club. Bourke is in Year 10 at Maitland Grossmann High School and said he would like to be a vet when he left school and also drive in his spare time. “I really enjoyed driving over here. Alexandra Park was very different to back home. That’s the first time I’ve driven that way around. “It was a memorable trip and I would like to thank all the organisers and hosts for what they did for us. I really appreciated it and had a great time in New Zealand,” Bourke said. Series spokeswoman Gayleen MacKinnon termed the two-night event as a success and paid a special tribute to the series sponsors: The Hoggard family, Drill Force, Dunstan Horse feeds, Wallfield Farm, Tony Shaw Transport, Brogden Horse transport, Lincoln Farms, and Photo Force Photography. The final points were: Andrew Bourke (NSW) 70, Tayla Collins (Taranaki) 57, Kaleb Bublitz (Cambridge) 57, Jordyn Bublitz (Cambridge) 52, Anna Howard-Coney (NSW) 51; Brittany Edwards (Franklin) 46, Navana McLachlan (Kumeu) 42, Temika Apuwai Bishop (Otago) 39, Harrison Darby (Franklin) 39, Tyrone Neil (Canterbury) 35, Amber Mitchell (Franklin) 33, Kate Coppins (Waikato) 31. Past winners of the Lizzie Of Rosslands Rising Stars Drivers Series have been: 2015: Kerryn Tomlinson (Canterbury); Kerryn Tomlinson (Canterbury); 2014: Linda Pringle (Kumeu); 2013: Sheridan Rapley (Kumeu); 2012: Dylan Ferguson (Waikato); 2011: Dylan Ferguson (Waikato); 2010: Shane Chalklen (Franklin).   Duane Ranger

Racing harness horses runs in the family for Jordyn Bublitz​. "I've been with harness racing since I was a baby and then I've been doing Kidz Kartz for seven years," the 15-year-old said. "It's just family blood, third generation. It's pretty big, my whole family's in it." While her brother spent the Easter weekend racing in Australia, Jordyn travelled down from Cambridge to race in Hawera where she took home the 2017 Hawera Cup. READ MORE: * Kidz Kartz giving young Southlanders experience * Amateur driver races in Central Otago * Youngster New South Wales-bound * Harness racing festival rolls into Cromwell The competition was run by the Taranaki Kidz Kartz club in between the races of the Hawera Harness Racing Club's Easter meeting. GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ Jordyn travelled down from Cambridge to race in the event.   The ponies must be smaller than 15 hands high, around five feet, to compete, with the smallest barely reaching knee height at around five hands. Some of the riders, who range in age from 10 to 16, weren't much bigger themselves. Jordyn said it was the first time since 2014 that she had raced in Hawera, and it was also her horse Chaos' first racing season. GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ Nine young drivers competed over six races during the Hawera Harness Racing Club's Easter 2017 meeting.   "If he wins this it'll be his first cup," she said before the final race.   It turned out to be tight, with Jordyn coming out on top after six races on 49 points while Brianna Thomas came in second on 48 points and Shania Thomas came in third with 45 points. Another driver, Tayla Collins, 16, said she had been interested in horses ever since she was five, but had become interested in harness racing when her partner introduced her to the sport about three years ago. GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ Shania Thomas with her pony Wall leads the field out for the final race of the Hawera Cup.   "It's just the the adrenaline rush running down the straight, it's great," she said. "It's the wind blowing through your hair, it's good." While her weekend racing Turbo hadn't gone to plan, she was looking forward to next weekend when she would be heading up to Cambridge and Auckland for the Lizzie of Rosslands meeting. GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ Kara Ellis drives Phoebe around the bird cage.   "Yea, it could have been better but yea, it's fine. He'll get there," she said. "I've driven him every race this season." Taranaki Kidz Kartz president Kelvin Ellis said while there was a range of sizes among the horses competing, they all had a staggered start to give them all a chance. GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ Phoebe, the smallest horse on the track, managed to win a race over the weekend.   Even Phoebe, the smallest horse at the meeting, had won a race on Saturday. "We run 300 metres and the bigger ones would be closer to 400," he said. Children started off in the club at eight, when they learned how to harness and care for the pony and the gear. Once they turned 10, they had to pass a three day course before they were allowed to race. "That's the same with the ponies, if you've got a new pony they have to pass a three day course as well," Ellis said. By David Burroughs Reprinted with permission of The Taranaki Daily News

When David Branch leaves New Zealand bound for London on Sunday June 1 he will know he has played a huge part in developing possibly a world first at the Auckland Trotting Club. The former assistant racing manager, and now sales and marketing coordinator at the ATC, has been the leading force behind the club’s new-look website which will be launched on May 23. The website will stream all of its weekly race-card, as well as non-totes, Kidz Kartz Races and in fact all Alexandra Park happenings on race-night via APTV. “We have been working on this launch for several months now. It will be sad to walk away from it all just as it’s taking off – but I will walk away satisfied knowing a new revolution in racing has been forged,” Branch said. “The website will also have individual driver pages with their latest tips and information, as well as video interviews. But it is APTV that excites me the most. I don’t know of any other club that does this,” the 24-year-old added. Branch said the time was right for him to do his OE and see the world. “It took a lot of thought because I work with a wonderful team at the ATC and that’s going to be the hardest part – saying goodbye to them. I think Dominique (Dowding) is an exceptional CEO with revolutionary ideas. APTV and the new website is just one of them,” he said. “The club is heading both with the times and in the right direction because of her,” he added. Branch, who is the son of Hautapu trainers Murray and Susan Branch, started driving in the 2007-2008 season. He was appointed ATC assistant racing manager in May 2010. That was almost two years (August 2008) after he drove his first winner behind the John Green and Brian Hughes trained Roddick at Cambridge Raceway. That was the same year Branch was named 2008 Northern Harness Racing Cadet-of-the-Year. His racetrack highlight however came in May 2011 when he trained his first winner on his hometown course of Cambridge. The horse was his favourite all-time pacer - Ripped Pocket. “He was just the coolest horse to do anything with and definitely my favourite. I started working with him when I worked for Michelle Wallis (2010) and was later given the chance to train him thanks to Michelle and his owner, Tim Vince,” he said. He said he would sorely miss being around horses.  “I love harness racing and sadly where I’m heading it’s not strong but I’m looking forward to a complete break from the industry,” he said. Branch said there were many highs during his four years with the ATC. A couple of those were hosting the 2011 Inter Dominions with the NZMTC and then this year’s Auckland Cup. “I enjoyed working with the team from Christchurch and then again this year the Auckland Cup was so satisfying because we all worked so hard - and pulled off an amazing event,” Branch said. Branch said he would be coming home for Christmas before deciding his next move. “It was always going to be hard leaving and it’s even harder knowing the Club is experiencing a lot of changes and I can’t be there to see them develop. “But if I don’t do it now I may never get the chance. At 24 I feel the time is right.” For the record Branch has driven 18 winners since 2008 and trained five more. Branch also paid tribute to his parents. “Both Mum and Dad have been amazing and thoroughly supportive with my decision. That made it a lot easier knowing I have their blessing,” he said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

The goHarness 'Bring A Friend' Raceday is going ahead once again, and will be held at Motukarara Racecourse this Sunday (March 30). Run in conjuction with the Akaroa Trotting Club, the 'Bring A Friend' Raceday was originally set down for their racemeeting on March 16 but had to be put off at the last minute due to adverse weather conditions in Christchurch. Re-scheduled to fit back into the racing calendar this Sunday, it still promises to be a whole lot of fun for everyone because there will be heaps for people to see and do on-course throughout the afternoon. And, as its name suggests, racegoers are being encouraged to take along a friend (or three) with them so that they can all enjoy what a great day at the races has to offer. In addition to Akaroa's 11 action-packed races, other features on the day will include a couple of dual-sulky events, Kidz Kartz racing (two Championships), live music, an on-course Punters Club, and a fabulous 'Double Chance Draw' with five individual prizes up for grabs. Four shares in the 'Double The Fun' Syndicate will be won, and the Club are also giving away a tremendous three-night Breeders Crown Package at Tabcorp Park in Victoria during August which includes travel vouchers, accommodation, trackside dining at two racemeetings and an exclusive round of golf in between. Members of all three goHarness Syndicates will be in attendance, and it'll be a unique experience for them too because four of the syndication company's horses are going to be on-course during the day. From the 'Trotting For Fun' Syndicate, Harriet Of Mot will parade; representing the 'Double The Fun' Syndicate will be Astro Boy (who's coming all the way up from Invercargill to race) and Western Art, the latter also strutting his stuff in a couple of private laps around the track; and not to be left out, the 'In It For Fun' Syndicate's horse Franco Harrison will make a cameo appearance but for pats only, because he's currently spelling. This is the Akaroa TC's Annual Meeting and a day which acknowledges and supports Cystic Fibrosis, so it'll only cost a gold coin to get in but your donation goes to a very worthy cause. Harness Racing New Zealand

It was appropriate that Sean Grayling drove his first winner on the Pukekohe grass yesterday. After all he grew up with horses at his father’s Pukekohe stable, and learnt to drive at Counties Kidz Kartz just across the road at the Franklin track. It was also a just reward for the 18-year-old who on October 10 last year broke his wrist in a race-fall at Cambridge Raceway. He was rushed to Waikato Hospital and was out of action until December 29. That was just his sixth race-day drive. He’s now had 19 drives for one win, two seconds and a third. Grayling, last year’s North Island Cadet Rising Star Award winner, won behind the Tony Grayling (Dad) trained Brookby Prince. The Monarchy bay gelding was the sixth favourite and paid $14.90 to win the $5,500 Tony and Anne Parker Trot. He got the 5-year-old away quickly from his 30m handicap and was fifth in the running line early before lobbing into the one-one. They then loomed up three-wide on the turn to win by 1-3/4 lengths from the favourite Handoverdakash and Tony Herlihy (MNZM). Roughie It’s Big Time (Phil Butcher) was 2-3/4 lengths back in third. It was Brookby Prince’s second win from 32 starts. She trotted the 2300m stand in 3:08.1. Mile rate: 2:11.5. Last 800m: 64.4 and final 400m in 32.6. “He was going real strong at the top of the straight. That’s when I thought this could be my first win. It was a great feeling all right,” said Grayling who is sponsored by JGH Chartered Accountants. Grayling dedicated the win to his late mother Anne, who passed away on July 24, 2012. He also thanked his father and employer Barry Purdon for everything he has learnt in the sulky. “I’m sure Mum would have been watching down on me. She encouraged my driving. I really miss her. I also want to thank Dad and Barry. They have been so supportive,” Grayling said. “I’d also like to thank the owners Steve and Karen Dunn for having the faith in me to drive Brookby Prince the whole time,” he added. He said he loved harness racing especially being employed by Hall-Of-Famer, Purdon. “I’ve learnt so much working here. In fact you never stop learning. It’s not hard to see why Barry is a master trainer. He’s a legend. “Zac (Butcher) also works here so I’m working alongside the best people and the best horses,” he said. Grayling was born in Pukekohe and left Pukekohe High School at the end of Year 11 to join the Purdon barn in December 2011. “It was such a great feeling to win. Super in fact! It might have come a lot earlier had I not been out for 10 weeks,” said Grayling who is also a loose forward in rugby, and brilliant cricket fielder and lower order batsman. Grayling said his goal for the remainder of the season was to land a “couple” more winners and then one day to try and one day qualify for the New Zealand Junior Driving Championships, and then ultimately the Australasian Junior Finals. “I’ve got a long way to go yet, but I’m really enjoying what I do. I have wanted to be a harness racing driver for as long as I can remember. I’m leaving my dream,” Grayling said. By Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Jack MacKinnon trained his first winner when Ruby Castleton won at Tauranga yesterday (Sunday). His one length triumph behind the race favourite in the C0-C1 Wilson trot came 13 months after his first driving win behind All About Speed at Alexandra Park. But the promising 18-year-old said those two victories meant nothing compared to what he experienced at Alexandra Park on Friday (January 24). “Nothing beats driving Dr Hook to win the feature trot at Alexandra Park. He’s been my favourite horse since I was doing Kidz Kartz. “I was just so pleased I could win the race for Paul (Nairn). He has put a lot of faith in me. I’m so happy for him. It was my way of repaying his trust in me,” MacKinnon said. When Nairn departed Auckland in the New Year bound for his Leeston home with Stig, Lotalov and Any Old Way, he left Dr Hook in the care of the former Mt Albert Grammar student. It’s not the first time he’s let MacKinnon take over his training duties. “I’ve know Jack since he was a young kid and he has always shown me his youthful enthusiasm. You can’t beat that. In the early days he would paddock, water and box them for me. “I knew how keen he was, and I’m just so happy for him. I had no fears whatsoever. I’m just glad I never gave him any driving instructions because I probably would have told him to take Dr Hook around to the front. “Instead he stayed back and bided his time. It goes to show how much I know,” joked the master Canterbury trainer. MacKinnon took out his training licence this season and worked his team out of Alexandra Park. Then when the track was being used for the annual ‘Fun Fest’ a couple of weeks ago he transferred his horses to Bernie Hackett and Michelle Wallis’s stable at Waiuku. “The horses really thrived on the (Karioitahi) beach and I’ve helped out Bernie and Michelle in the holidays and weekends for about six years now. “I’m now based there fulltime and I’m loving it. The horses really like it two,” said MacKinnon who has Dr Hook, Ruby Castleton, and Trot Up A Storm in work. “I prefer working trotters. I’ve learnt so much from Paul, Bernie, and Michelle. There’s also not so much gear to clean either. I like that,” he said. Mackinnon bought Ruby Castleton off Phil Williamson while he spent three months in the South Island working for Waikouaiti horseman Andrew Faulks. He has a half share in Trotupastorm with his ‘mentor’ – prominent Auckland owner and amateur driver Tim Vince. “Apart from my parents Tim has been my greatest supporter. If it wasn’t for him I don’t think I’d be where I am today. He gives me horses and he’s a straight talker who has inspired me to reach my potential. He’s one of my best friends and the person I turn to for advice,” MacKinnon said. Vince was doing handstands when MacKinnon and Dr Hook crossed the finishing line a whopping 6-1/2 lengths in front of Duchess Diedre in Friday’s C4-Oc $12,250 Hydroflow Trot. In fact Vince described it as his greatest moment in trotting. That’s a huge statement considering he has owned numerous Group One winning champions like Light And Sound and Cool Hand Luke. “It was even better than my first driving win. I think the world of Jack. He’s started 20 lengths behind the field simply because he’s got into the game without a famous racing surname to fall back on. “He’s such a hard worker. I’m just so pleased for him. He deserves every little bit of success that comes his way,” said Vince. MacKinnon could have one more start with Dr Hook before Nairn brings him home to prepare for the Rowe Cup. “It will be sad to say goodbye to him because it’s been a huge thrill to be able to train a horse I have admired since I was a young kid. “To drive an open class trotter with all that speed is a dream come true,” MacKinnon said. Speaking of dreams he said he wouldn’t have been able to fulfil his lifetime ambition had it not been for his parents. “Mum (Gayleen) has always been there for me since day one while Dad (Jamie), who owns ‘Olympic Swiss Watches’ has also been a great supporter and my race sponsor,” he said. Duane Ranger (Harness Racing New Zealand)

Imagine putting your shoes on back-to-front and then being asked to stretch out better than what you ever have. That’s exactly what West Melton trainer Ken Ford asked of his trotter Rebma just prior to attacking the two-day Nelson meeting at Richmond Park on Friday (January 3) and Sunday (January 5). Ford, who does a lot of his own shoeing, got his mate and Rolleston horseman Derek Jones to turn Rebma’s shoes right around. Result – two easy wins on both days of the meeting. “Derek has done a great job shoeing him. The horse did have a quarter crack and now that problem seems to be behind him. I was very impressed with his runs at Nelson. The reverse shoeing did the trick alright,” said Ford, who watched the meeting on TV from his Canterbury home. Ford’s daughter Amanda Tomlinson took four racehorses, seven Kidz Kartz ponies, and three children north to attend both the Nelson and Blenheim meetings. She also did the driving behind Rebma on both days. Up until Rebma’s two Nelson wins, the 5-year-old gelding had won three of his 31 starts. Ford said a mix of both shoeing and maturity had ensured Rebma’s fourth and fifth career wins. “He’s a son of Armbro Invasion, so he was always going to take time. I think he has the potential to be a Rowe Cup or Dominion horse one day. I’m not saying he can win those races, but he’s certainly got the potential to line up in those big Group One events,” Ford said. Both days Tomlinson quietly worked Rebma into his races and then cruised past his opposition to win by 1-1/2 lengths and 4-1/2 lengths respectively. On day one Rebma won the $8,000 Maxi C1 and faster trot in 3:06.7 (2400m stand), trotting his last 800m and 400m sectionals in 58.8 and 29.6 seconds. His winning mile rate was 2:05.1. Then on day two the gentle bay cleaned up the $8,000 Nelson Building Society C1 and faster trot in 3:58 even (3000m stand). He sprinted home in 61 and 32 and scored with a 2:07.6 mile rate. He started from 10m behind on Friday and then 30m on Sunday. “He’s such a lovely horse to have around. You can do anything with him. He’s so kind and gentle that even the kids can fast work him at home. We love having him around. His lovely nature makes him a bit special,” Ford said. Rebma is ‘Amber’ spelt backwards. He was named after Tomlinson’s champion equestrian horse, which competed with Tomlinson in several New Zealand Show Jumping Championships. “She was killed the night Rebma was born. The old girl was 36. That was sad but this fella has proved to be a worthy replacement,” said Ford. Rebma will race at the Waterlea meeting in Blenheim this Friday and Sunday before returning to his Canterbury base. He is owned and was bred by Ford and Tomlinson. For the record: Forty three-year-old Tomlinson, who was an accomplished equestrian rider before venturing into harness racing, also played open side flanker for New Zealand in the first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup. Her daughter, Kerryn has won two New Zealand Kidz Kartz Cups, including this season’s edition of the great little miniature pony race. By Duane Ranger (Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand)

Roughly two and a half decades ago Ken Webber played an instrumental role in setting up the stellar driving career of Peter Ferguson. Today, twenty five odd years later, he has kick-started the driving career of Peter’s son Dylan, by providing him with his first winner in the form of ten-year-old pacer Carlos, who was successful at Cambridge today. “Dad said that Kenny (Webber) helped make him as a driver, so it was great to get my first ever winner for him,” said Dylan Ferguson. Carlos, who is a bit of a Ferguson family favourite having won seven races while trained by Peter, was sent to Ken Webber so as he could be worked on the treadmill. “He is ten-years-old now so his legs aren’t quite as good as they used to be,” said Ferguson. “He is definitely one of my favourite horses and mum (Wendy) still owns him so that added to the thrill today,” he added. Ferguson settled Carlos last on the back off a hot tempo up front, before coming with a barnstorming finish to beat Prime Legal, who was driven by his dad, and Dougie Maguire. He celebrated the win with an epic victory salute. “I’d been practicing that one for a while now,” laughed Ferguson. “It’s great to get that first one out of the way.” Ferguson, who is yet another driver to come out of the Kidz Kartz ranks, said that he was very thankful for all the support he has been given to date. “I’ve driven at four meetings now and on each occasion I’ve had five drives, which has been absolutely great,” Ferguson enthused. “Everyone has also been very helpful by giving me pointers on what I could perhaps do better next time,” he added. Ferguson, who is employed by Graeme Rogerson and Peter Blanchard, has now had 20 drives for a win and four thirds – But I expect him to add to that tally pretty quickly now that he has the monkey off his back. By Mitchell Robertson

She may not have won the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup but for Kerryn Tomlinson, the Daily Freight Kidz Kartz Cup is the next best alternative. The thirteen-year-old won the race for the second time on Friday when teaming up with Dimmy for an emphatic win over Ricki, Frisbee and Gem. The latter was driven by Kerryn’s younger brother Zane. Tomlinson first won the race aboard Frisbee in 2011, beating Dimmy and her older sister Sheree. For 11-year-old pony Dimmy it was his first win in the race after finishing in the money twice – So, you could say he was overdue. Tomlinson, who attends West Melton Primary School, was understandably excited to have won the race for the second time. “It is a big thrill and I am so pleased for Dimmy,” said a horsemad Tomlinson. Tomlinson warned that she would be back again next year to attempt a three-peat. “I am yet to win the Cup-Prelude at Riccarton, so I might have to go for the double next season,” she added. When asked about her long term future, Kerryn said that she would love to become a Junior Driver and see where that could take her, but, for the time being, she is just pleased to be the Kidz Kartz champion –Again. Kerryn is the daughter of driver Amanda Tomlinson and the granddaughter of West Melton trainer Ken Ford. By Mitchell Robertson

While the $650,000 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup will take centre stage during Cup week for obvious reasons, for the kids that have worked tirelessly with their ponies this season, the Daily Freight Kidz Kartz NZ Cup is just as important. This year Kidz Kartz and Pony Trust Canterbury  have put together a strong 13 horse field, with four representatives from Canterbury, three from Kumeu and Waikato, two from Franklin, and one from Southland. Among the field are three past winners of the race. The old-timer Kristeen Kullen is back again after winning the inaugural running of the race in 2009, before finishing second in 2011 to Frisbee, who is also in this year’s edition of the race. Last year’s champions Harry & driver Taitlyn Hanara are also back to defend their title. The Kidz Kartz NZ Cup Prelude, Sponsored by Templeton Medical, is held on Wednesday 13 November at Riccarton Racecourse over 800m on the grass, while The Kidz Kartz NZ Cup, Sponsored by Daily Freight,  is held at Addington Raceway during their Show Day meeting on Friday 15 November. This race is a true staying test and is run over 1000 metres. Below is the field for the 2013 Kidz Kartz New Zealand Cup: Kristeen Kullen & Sheridan Rapley (Kumeu) Harry & Taitlyn Hanara (Kumeu) Ruff Rufus & Linda Pringle (Kumeu) Ricky & Taylor Pereria (Franklin) Jelly & Holly Noakes (Franklin) Eros & Jordan Treweek (Waikato) Karapiro Reactor & Anthony Slaney (Waikato) Barlia & Bailey Rogerson (Waikato) I Can Doosit Too & Chelsea Faithful (Southland) Dimmy & Kerryn Tomlinson (Canterbury) Gem & Zane Tomlinson (Canterbury) Frisbee & Anna Wells (Canterbury) Tiny Tim & John Morrison (Canterbury) Good luck to all the participants! By Mitchell Robertson  

This Sunday (20 October) the Wairio Trotting Club hold the eleventh annual Ladies All Mile Day at Central Southland Raceway in Winton. The day will feature a series of quickfire, American style, one mile races while the Robin Dundee Club will organise several activities on course including some hospitality for ladies and a fashion show while a Netball Shooting Competition will net someone $200. Ladies can join the Robin Dundee Club for a drink and nibbles and peruse a selection of jewellery and scarves on sale from KO Imports in Nelson in their hospitality room in the main grandstand. There will be two Robin Dundee Lucky Coupons in the race book - one for ladies and the other for children - giving on course patrons the opportunity to win some great prizes. The Robin Dundee Club support a race and will present a trophy to the winning owner, trainer and driver while they also sponsor photo finish labelled wine bottles for the winner of each race and present a pair of crystal glasses to the connections of the best performed filly/mare on the day. The MervnMilly Fashion Show will feature garments for ladies and men and the Netball shooting competition offers a $200 prize. Each year a lady who has made a significant contribution to harness racing is featured on Ladies Mile Day and this year that lady will be Natalie Rasmussen, The club will also make a donation to the Breast Cancer Foundation. Racing starts at 12.00 noon, admission is free, childrens entertainment is free and the first Kidz Kartz heats of the new season will feature. Lindsay Beer Promotions Officer Southern Harness Racing

Junior reinsman Sean Grayling is currently recovering in Waikato Hospital after suffering a broken wrist after being dislodged from the cart by La Norvic De Milo, who ran out of racing room and fell in the second race at Cambridge last night. “It was a shame because it had been a good drive before El Success started stopping on him at a huge rate of knots,” said Sean’s father, Tony. “He has also got a fair bit of skin off his face but apart from that he is in good spirits. Just very very sore,” he added. Stewards interviewed horsemen Peter Ferguson and Arna Donnelly. Both stated that La Norvic De Milo did not make contact with either sulky. Due to the unavailability of Sean Grayling the stewards adjourned an enquiry. Grayling, who was recently awarded the North Island Cadet Ring Star Award, said that his memory of the events was slightly foggy. The young ambitious reinsman said that he was gutted to miss out on the drive on Destined To Take, who finished a narrow second later in the night for replacement driver Tony Cameron. “He missed the start, and then got humped three-wide down the back, so it was a big run,” said Grayling. Grayling, who is employed by Destined To Take’s trainer Barry Purdon, said that he has been told that his wrist will take 5-6 weeks to heal and that he may still need surgery on it.  Grayling was having his sixth career drive on La Norvic De Milo last night. He has already notched up two seconds and is a former Kidz Kartz Premiership winning driver, so something tells me when he does get back out on the track, he won’t be long out of the winners circle. Meanwhile, the feature pace of the night at Cambridge was taken out by the John and Josh Dickie trainer Lively Nights, who peeled off some slick sectionals to hold off Bettor Romance and Underwood Road. By Mitchell Robertson

On Friday 13th September, Alexandra Park played host to 40 Year 8 students from Diocesan as part of the school’s “New to You” Programme. This programme gives girls the opportunity to try something new and different and with Alexandra Park so close to the school it was a chance to learn about activities and facilities in the local area. The programme offered was based on the very popular Kidz Kartz format which uses miniature horses and ponies to bring harness racing to younger people. The tutors were 24 ponies, 9 Kidz Kartz children and 11 adults from Counties and Cambridge Kidz Kartz. Even HRNZ Education and Training Manager Natalie Gameson came up to give support and guidance to the day. The programme focused on teaching and building the basics of the sport in a fun learning environment. The usual Kidz Kartz course was modified to allow the students to have maximum time on task allowing them to work through grooming, anatomy, safety and confidence around horses, long reining to learn steering, gearing up and team work. All the girls, even though most had never touched a horse before, successfully drove on their own with some skill by the end of the day. “Alexandra Park is a perfect venue” said Anne Phillips, “with the wonderful stable complex, the weather doesn’t have to be a concern and there is plenty of enclosed space for lots of fun activities in an environment that is supportive and safe.” Alexandra Park as part of its Community Programme wants to collaborate with schools in order to deliver “Harnessing Your Horse Power” to as many kids as possible.  CEO of Alexandra Park Dominique Dowding says “Harnessing Your Horse Power” is a really important programme for youth as it’s foundation within the programme is to promote team work, collaboration, responsibility and commitment.” Each student received a booklet about learning to drive, brochures, a Hot to Trot magazine and certificate. Overall it was a successful day for 40 students who have now had a successful and fun Harness Racing experience. Kim Algie Sales & Marketing Manager

New Zealand harness racing history was made at Alexandra Park last Friday night (February 8) when the first ever dead-heat was recorded in a feature Kidz Kart race. Olivia Montgomery (She Can Doosit) and New Zealand Cup champion, Taitlyn Hanara (Scooby) could not be separated at the finish of the 2013 Franklin Cup.

It was only a matter of time - and wow what a way to notch up your first harness racing victory. Seventeen-year-old Jack Mackinnon landed his first race-day winner at Alexandra Park today (Tuesday June 11) in impressive fashion - displaying the patience of drivers three times his age.

Taitlyn Hanara is the 2012 Kidz Kartz New Zealand Cup champion. The Counties Kidz Kartz club member won the big race at her third attempt and fourth for her pony Harry. It was staged on Show Day (November 16) at the home of harness racing - Addington Raceway.

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