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By Dave Di Somma - Harness News Desk    Wedding plans for a well-known racing couple have been put on hold, and Covid-19 is the reason why. Canterbury-based driver-trainers Kimberly Butt and Jonny Cox had put a circle around April 17, at Darfield’s Bangor Farm. Now that’s off and been rescheduled, with fingers crossed, to October 9. The decision, Kimberly Butt says was ultimately straight-forward “It just puts a lot of people at ease, it just wasn’t feasible.” The problem is two-fold. 140 people were on the invite list and large gatherings of people are a no-no at the moment because of the Corona Virus outbreak. The other revolves around her dad, Anthony Butt, who’s based in Australia and facing lengthy periods of self- isolation if he travels. “There was no pressure to postpone but he’s a big part of it so it would be rude not to and it was just easier to call it off now.” Anthony Butt and his partner Sonya Smith live in Sydney and prepare a big team owned by high profile entrepreneurs Emilio and Mary Rosati at Menangle. As he’s based in Australia he needs to self- isolate for 14 days when he arrives, and then do the same across the Tasman on his return.  “He’s just too busy training and driving, it’s not so viable.” Before moving across the Tasman, Butt was best known for his association with star trotter Lyell Creek (34 wins) and his three New Zealand Cups with Flashing Red  (2006-07) and Blossom Lady  (1992). Kimberly Butt is the fourth generation of her family to be involved in racing, dating back to her great grandfather and seven times leading trainer Wes Butt in the 1940-60s.      The couple have been together for five years with about a dozen horses in work at their Dunsandel stables, 30 minutes south of Christchurch. Currently Butt has 114 wins from 1430 drives, since reining her first winner in 2014.   By October she’s hoping the Corona Virus crisis will be over.  She’s not alone there. Reprinted with permission of HRNZ

Kilowatt Kid looked smart enough last season but he appeared to have gone to another level when he won the Woodlands Motors Mobile Pace at Ascot Park today. Last season Black found a formula for driving Kilowatt Kid that seemed to suit him. “He’s just one of those horses that had to be covered up, then from about the 600 you’d start driving him positive,” said trainer Alister Black. But Black has seen changes in the gelding this season. “He's stronger this year. He’s probably eating better too. Hopefully he’ll be able to do more work. Last year he couldn’t and he showed that. In the Supremacy he lead up and they went 3-20 (2700 metres) but he was found wanting at the top of the straight. But he still kept giving, and ran fifth.” The South of the Waitaki is a race specifically for horses trained south of the Waitaki River. It features on Show Day at Addington and although it's on the cards for Kilowatt Kid, it's not a certainty. “I haven’t decided yet but we’ll see how he comes through today and we’ll try and time it right.” In today’s race junior driver Kimberly Butt got Kilowatt Kid into the perfect position in the one one with Mach’s Back trucking along in front. Kilowatt Kid was hooked out just before turning in and he won by a length and a quarter. The winning time for the 2200 metre mobile was 2-39.6 and equalled the track and Southland record held by Mongolian Hero set in April last season. It was the second time Mach’s Back has set up a Southland record. He led for most of the journey in Franco Santino’s track and Southland record of 1-52.0 at the Wairio meeting in March. Today’s win by Kilowatt Kid was Black's fiftieth as a trainer. His first was with Rome at Forbury Park in May 2010. Winning connections in the birdcage - Photo Bruce Stewart  Meanwhile Black’s other star four year old Lawrence is recovering from an injury after running a brave second to Please Shuddup at Gore two weeks ago. “He was sound as a bell after running second at Gore. He was fine after the wash and a half an hour later when we were to go home he couldn’t walk. It turned out to be a slight stress fracture in his pastern. It’s only about three or four mls long. It’s a month to six weeks out before he starts work again. We’re just very grateful for what Southern Vets have done for us. I thought I’d lost him. I thought he’d come back better than any of them. He’ll be back for the Country Cups Final and all things going well I’ll take him with Get Lucky to the Easter meeting. “He’s (Get Lucky) come up really well. He’s still a bit cranky. He’s going to the workouts this Friday and he seems really bright.”   Bruce Stewart

A trio of Ohio Sires Stakes for 3-year-old diagonally-gaited colts and geldings will go postward on Friday night, June 15 at Scioto Downs, featuring 25 Ohio-breds racing for a purse of $40,000 in each division (Races 1, 2 & 5). First race post time is 6:30 pm, ET. All three OSS Leg 1 winners-Mission Accepted, Northmedo Mission and Sultan Of Cash-are set to return for round two action. Mission Accepted, an unaltered son by Manofmanymissions vies from post two in the first division (Race One), while Northmedo Mission, a Manofmanymissions gelding, starts from post three in this same event. Sultan Of Cash, a Cash Hall gelding, leaves from post two in the third division (Race Five). Five of these 25 trotting combatants are trying for their first victory as 3-year-olds: Dance Withsomebody, Dontforgetmaster, Rising MVP, Magic MVP and Cash Lane. Six of the youngsters did not start in Leg 1 of this series and are undertaking OSS action for the first time this season: Cordoba Hall, Last Mission, Vote For Pedro, Rising MVP, Ride The Rails & Manny L; and only two-Vote For Pedro & Secret Bro-did not race as freshmen in 2017. Eight of the 25 sophomores will utilize trotting hobbles; Mission Accepted, Two OB Wonkenobi, Doc Mossies Legacy, Cordoba Hall, Vote For Pedro, Rising MVP, Ride The Rails and Cash Lane. Of the 25 OSS entrants, 19 are geldings and six are colts, with two earning $100,000 or more: Mission Accepted ($235,800) and Sultan Of Cash ($173,965). For a colt to be eligible to the OSS program, they must have been sired by a stallion registered with the Ohio State Racing Commission standing in Ohio the year of conception. Stallions represented in these three OSS events include Dejarmbro (with six foals); Cash Hall (with five foals); Break The Bank K & Manofmanymissions (with four foals each); My MVP (with three foals); and Dontyouforgetit, Stormin Normand & Winning Fireworks with one foal each. As well, broodmare sires that are prominent among the 25 trotting colts and geldings include: Tom Ridge & Conway Hall (three foals each); Credit Winner, Donerail, Garland Lobell & Kadabra (two foals each). In the training ranks, Jim Arledge, Jr., and Rich Gillock will each send out a pair of competitors. Arledge, Jr., will harness Dontforgetmaster-who was fourth in Leg 1 at Miami Valley on May 6 to Sultan Of Cash-from post five in the second division (Race 2); and Last Mission, a newcomer to the series, from the rail in the third division (Race 5). Gillock bridles up Ride The Rails-also a newcomer-from post six in that same event, and Banker Twentyfive, who was fifth in Leg 1, from post six in the first division (Race 1). Of the 25 trotters, many are owned in partnerships or by a solo owner that includes 30 Ohioans; six Pennsylvanians; five Indiana owners; three owners each from New Jersey & Canada; two from Kentucky and one each from Michigan and Illinois. Breeder Walnut Hall is represented by three sophomores in two divisions: Sand Cash & Get The Cash in the first division (Race 1) and newcomer Cordoba Hall in the second division (Race 2). Owner/breeder Robert Key sends out two homebreds: Banker Twentyfive in the first division (Race 1) and Ride The Rails in the third division (Race 5). And speaking of homebreds, another six trotters were also bred by their owners: Mission Accepted (Race 1) was bred by co-owner Knox Services; Northmedo Mission (Race 1), bred by Northmedo Stable; Joggingtothebank (Race 2) was bred and is owned by Dale & Julie Sweet and trainer Marty Wollam; Pass The Vape (Race 2) was bred by owner Lionel Ray Waitker; Icingon De Cupcake (Race 5) was bred by partners William Jeff Johnson II and Douglas Millard; and Magic MVP (Race 5) was bred and is owned by Midnight Stables. by Kimberly RInker, for the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund

The annual Timaru Mother’s Day race meeting on Sunday 13 May will see the fifth edition of the club’s lady drivers races held at Phar Lap Raceway. Two penalty free lady driver races are programmed to be held at the race meeting, which will be sponsored once again by FLAIR and Brosnan’s Transport. Club President Elizabeth Shand is thrilled with the interest Canterbury female drivers have shown in the event. She says it’s important to the club to celebrate the achievements and support of all females in the harness racing community. “The aim of the day is to highlight women in our industry. We want to recognize and promote not just the female drivers but also the trainers, owners, stablehands and partners that are dedicated to harness racing and are great role models for the next generation,” said Shand. This year’s driving lineup features Kirstin Barclay, Kim Butt, Katie Cox, Ineka Lee, Amber Lethaby, Laura McKay, Lauren Lester, Mikyala Lewis, Sarah O'Reilly, Sam Ottley, Charlotte Purvis, Olivia Thornley, Amanda Tomlinson, Sheree Tomlinson, Jess Young and Glenys Chmiel. The mother and daughter combination of Amanda and Sheree Tomlinson will once again add to the spectacle on Mother’s Day, as has been seen in the past between Denise and Sam Ottley. “We would also like to particularly thank trainers Bruce Negus and Robbie Holmes who have been huge supporters of these races of the years in providing horses for these races on a regular basis,” noted Shand. The club will be providing a 'Ladies Meet and Greet' tent on the day where all female race goers can register on the day for competitions and find out about how they can become a part of the industry. “We will also have a number of female harness racing ambassadors there to help celebrate and respect the diversity and culture of our industry. We will offer information on education, careers and ownership and let people know what is available to them,” said Shand. Activities on the day include the annual Mother’s Day Quiz, a novelty race and prize draws will run throughout the day including the opportunity to win in the Ron Brown Jewellers Gold Watch Sweep. Children will be kept happy on the day too with activities including colouring competitions and the kids’ lucky number competition. HRNZ Marketing

A $10 bet late in April is still reaping the rewards for Jesse Alford. The Christchurch sales rep was standing at the Rangiora races on April 23 with $10 left in his betting budget for the day and was contemplating chucking it all on Classie Brigade to win the Rangiora Classic. A last minute change of heart however and a little inside knowledge saw what would have been a $48 return become one worth more than $5,500 after he took a percentage quaddie on the last four races. “I think I took $50 to the races that day and hadn’t had much luck.” Alford said. “I was going to put it on Classie Brigade but decided I was better anchoring him in the Quaddie.” Classie Brigade duly delivered in the Group Three and when Forgotten Highway won the next, things were on track, albeit looking set to be rather small. But when Lavros Jack came from nowhere to run past Missandei at odds of $16-to-one and then It’s All Over Now won the last at $12 - Alford was laughing his way right to the tote. “I’d been driving It’s All Over Now a bit lately and just chucked him in based on that. “So I guess I was a bit lucky in that sense.” With a full wallet and a smile on his face, Alford enjoyed the next couple of days before a phone call from Jonny Cox set the wheels in motion for a little more profit from the return. “Jonny rang me and asked if I still had any of that money left, and when I said I did, he said he had a horse for me to buy with it, Regal Assassin. “Initially I wasn’t that keen, but he talked me around.” Alford was joined in the ownership of the two-year-old trotter by Cox’s partner, Kim Butt and the Australian duo of Matt Peden and Josh Tinning. A fortnight ago things weren’t looking all that good though. “He wasn’t working that good to be fair, but we chucked him in the non tote at Addington to see where we were at with absolutely no expectations.” Regal Assassin made up many lengths behind the promising Marquis De Sade to finish second and all of a sudden, Alford could see there was some method to the madness after all. The on Friday night, the initial return of that Quaddie at Rangiora was returned when Regal Assassin got over the top of One Over Da Skye late to win the maiden trot. And the man who got it all to happen, courtesy of a bet, never had a cent on him. “I didn’t want to jinx it, so I didn’t back him.” The performance has resulted in a couple of offers being put in front of the quartet of owners so their time together could be quite short, but Alford has other interests to keep him going. He works all day until 4pm and then heads out to Cox’s stable to work a full-sister to Captain Peacock and a half-sister to American Tart to help earn his keep. “I enjoy it, it’s good fun and gives me something to do after work.” Alford is also involved in syndicates with young trainer Jack Harrington, including the talented trotter, Hey Yo. Matt Markham  

Kim Butt wouldn’t mind if they held races at Orari every week. The talented junior driver made it two wins from as many meetings at the South Canterbury track on Sunday when she piloted OK I’m Bad to success for local trainer Denise Ottley at the Geraldine Trotting Club’s meeting. Butt had found herself in the winners’ circle at the first meeting their for the season, incidentally also in the junior drivers’ event, when she managed to get Real Torque home over the top of his opposition. Sunday was a little different though with Butt dictating terms from the outset and holding far too many guns for her rivals. “It worked out really well, we managed to get across them easy enough and then got a pretty good time of it in front,” Butt said. “He’s a nice horse, he felt really strong coming up to the home turn and he really kicked when I asked him too. “I’m just really lucky that I was given the opportunity to drive him by Denise and Sam (Ottley), you always know when you get on one of Denise’s horses that you are going to have a chance.” The win took Butt’s tally for the season to 10 and in with a sniff of her best mark of 20. A six-year-old gelding by Badland’s Hanover, OK I’m Bad’s win was his second from 10 starts. He’s a half-brother to the extremely talented Lislea’s Flame who unfortunately had his career cut short by injury. While Mum tasted success, Sam Ottley made sure she wasn’t left out of the action when she produced a confident drive on Trailer Park Girl to win impressively. Ottley is fashioning a good record on her old home track, winning races frequently when they do race there. A Courage Under Fire filly trained by Steve Dolan, Trailer Park Girl backed up a good second on debut behind Carter Michael with the victory on Sunday and there’s promise of plenty more. “She’s a really nice filly,” Ottley said. “When you get on one of Steve’s horses you can be quite confident because you know they are always ready to go a big race.” The win took Dolan’s tally for the season to eight, from just 17 starters, which sees him with the highest UDR of a trainer in the country who has had more than 10 starters for the season. Matt Markham

They call him the Long shot Place Prince, but his real name is John Morrison. The young harness racing junior driver has quickly picked up a name for himself at getting home some of the roughest runners in a field into a top three spot. Morrison took over 130 drivers to get his first win, but hasn't looked back since then and has now picked up 5 winners in his first season. Along with those five winners, Morrison has also picked up 16 seconds and 8 thirds. Below is a list of some of the high priced dividends Morrison has upset punters with. Handlebar Hank - 3rd $9.40 Tactical VC - 2nd $16.70 Beaudiene Gambler - 2nd $5.40 Dreamcoat - 2nd - $5.40 Hestia Franco - 2nd $27.60 Rico Gold - 3rd $10.50 Rico Gold - 2nd $23.70 Four of John's five winner have paid over $9.50 on the tote. Tomorrow night at Forbury, Morrison has 6 drives including his first winner Motu Speedy Star, who will line up in the final of the Forbury Claimers series. The 11 year old gelding has been freshened for tomorrows assignment and he loves a dog fight, so if the early speed was on, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Morrison salute the judge on one of his favourite runners. The two highest priced runners Donegal Jimmy Dave and Four Starzzz Shiraz both look the hardest to beat on last weeks efforts. Both priced at $12,000.00 they will start from barriers 8 and 9. While Superior Desire will have his first run for the Robert Dunn barn after being claimed by Craig Parsons a couple of weeks ago. Sam Ottley will do the steering. Laughing Cavalier who has been at Gavin Smith's property lately will start from barrier 5 and is to be driven by Kimberly Butt. The 5yo Mach Three gelding was luckless in a recent amateur drivers event at Addington. Meanwhile, Run To Hide who was claimed last week will line up in race 4. Andrew Fitzgerald  

There is a fine line in harness racing between being a racehorse one day and a broodmare the next and that is the fine line that last nights Addington winner Justalittlebettor is walking at the moment. The six year old daughter of Bettors Delight is on her last campaign and will more than likely be served in the spring. Last night she was fresh up after a break of three and a half months from the track, but it was at her pet distance of 1950 metres. Drawing wide at barrier seven, driver Kimberly Butt dropped Justalittlebettor back early and she was still well back passing the 600 metres. But there had been plenty of speed on up front and as the front runners came back to the pack off the back straight there were moves galore out wide. Justalittlebettor got shunted five and then six wide as the field turned for home but kept coming and with a beautifully timed drive from Kimberly got her nose in front right on the line in a very tight finish with the first six home only separated by one tenth of a second. Justalittlebettor paced the 1950 metres on a cold wintry night in 2:23.2, a mile rate of 1:58.1 It was Justalittlebettor's fifth win and along with fifteen placings took her stake earnings over the $55,000 mark. Trainer and part owner Bob Butt was full of praise for Kimberly's drive. "She drove her perfectly." " She is a mare that needs the speed on up front and then just have one run at them and Kimberly timed her run to perfection." " However I am not sure that Justalittlebettor will be racing that much longer as she plenty to offer as a broodmare." " She has won five with a best mile time of 1:54.6pl and her dam Wipe The Floor won five so she has a bit going for her." " She is bred on similar lines to Waikiki Beach's dam being by Bettor's Delight with Windshield Wiper on the bottom line so we are leaning towards Somebeachsomewhere for her first mating,"  Bob said. Harnesslink Media  

Class pacer Saveapatrol is to remain in Auckland for winter racing after finishing seventh to former stablemate Johnny Fox at the harness racing meetint at Auckland on Friday night, June 26. Saveapatrol, first-up for 15 months, had things go against him as the beaten favourite in the C3-7 Smith & Partners 2015 Winter Cup. “We have pulled pin on the Oz (Queensland) trip as he had to win other night to warrant going,” said trainer Mark Jones. “It was frustrating when he couldn’t get the front as it would have been good to give him every chance,” he said. Saveapatrol made a dab for the lead mid-race but when the lead wasn’t there, had to restrain to trail, then was shuffled three back. “The situation was made worst when a stablemate of the leader got handed a easy lead,” Mark said. “Saveapatrol over-raced bad after that but that is racing I guess. “I was a bit disappointed my horse didn’t finish it off better but after pulling hard and being fresh-up for so long he will only improve,” he said. Saveapatrol’s owner Grant Hatton, along with wife Katherine, had better fortunes in the previous event. Consistent stablemate Zakspatrol, raced by the Hattons’, made an impressive Auckland debut in the hands of Kim Butt, racing away for a penalty-free success in the C1-2 Pukekohe Builders Ltd Mobile Pace for junior drivers. Zakspatrol, a big Art Major gelding from Shimmering Star, was a tentative travelling companion for a Queensland winter campaign, but will also now remain in Auckland for upcoming racing. The 4YO eased to a three back trailing spot in the early stages, was forced four wide on the home turn, but ran out the 2700m strongly to win by a length and three-quarters from late finisher Flying Loose, and favourite First Home. Zakspatrol ran the mobile 2700m in 3:22.4 (2:00.6 mile rate), the leaders running their last 800m in 57.6s for his sixth win from 46 starts, for $44,604 in earnings. Kimberly Butt, in just her second season of racedriving, was recording her 17th win of the season and her 31st from 303 career drives. Kim had also won the junior drivers race at the Franklin meeting at Alexandra Park on June 19 with former Canterbury trotter Barry. A week earlier she scored with the Ken Barron-trained Bracken Ridge at northern headquarters, and began the month in the north winning with Overport Lodge filly Real Torque at Auckland on June 6. Mark’s decision to go north with a contingent of winter horses was fruitful last weekend. He also prepared and drove Pomme Roy to power home for a three lengths win in the C1-2 Thai Night At Alex Park 28th August Mobile Pace in a 1:57.9 rate (2200m). Mark also gained another training and driving win with smart filly Rocker Band at Cambridge on Thursday, June 25, and a third with stablemate Oasis Dream. “It was a good weekend for stable up here with three wins. They earned 20k for the weekend so it was a good decision to come up here and get money in owners pockets,” he said. Rocker Band’s win over Joanednobettor at Cambridge in a 1:58.7 rate (2200m), quickening over her last 800m in 56.7s was penalty-free and she will continue to try for 3YO concession wins in the north next month. Oasis Dream, a gritty third behind Rockn Ruby and Westburn Courage in the C2 and faster pace over 2200m (stand), is likely to have one more start before transferring to Kerryn Manning’s Victorian stable. Mark’s brace of northern wins has taken him to 59 wins for the season. He is currently fifth on the trainers premiership, with stable runners just over $6000 short of $600,000 in winning stakes this term. Jeff Scott - Mark Jones Racing Stables  -  Check site here

Everybody involved in harness racing knows the dangers that are ever present when you are racing 500 kg horses at thirty miles a hour in very close proximity to each over. The margin for error is very small and a small  incident can turn into a major smash in a blink of the eye. Last night at Forbury Park in Dunedin in race three, Twitch who was racing in the parked position stumbled and fell with 500 metres to go which resulted in several runners directly behind her crashing into the resulting melee. The stewards report makes grim reading: "With approximately 550 metres to run Twitch(S McNally) which was racing in the parked position stumbled and fell dislodging Mr McNally from the sulky. As a result Rightaround(J Dunn), Real South(M Neilson), Russet Norkotah(K Cox), Eilean Shona(K Grant), Houdini(K Butt) Hez Only The Lonely(R McIlwrick) and Buscemi (R Jenkins) were all severely checked in this incident. Rightaround, Russet Norkotah, Eilean Shona, Hez Only The Lonely and Buscemi all lost their drivers during this incident. Following this race drivers R Jenkins, K Cox, R McIlwrick, S McNally and J Dunn were all examined by the on-course St John Paramedics and cleared to drive. Junior horsewoman K Grant was transported to Dunedin Hospital for further examination and x-rays of her hip region. A medical clearance is required prior to Ms Grant resuming driving. All the respective horses were examined by the club veterinarian with Twitch being the worst effected runner after suffering abrasions to the eye region which required further treatment. Buscemi and Hez Only The Lonely both suffered abrasions. Trainer J McDermott advised the Stewards that Twitch was now retired from racing as the mare is in foal. The only good thing to come out of last nights smash is the fact that it looks as though no driver or horse has been seriously hurt and for that we should be thankful. Harnesslink Media  

Laurence Hanrahan has been in harness racing long enough to know what makes a good horse.  With a score sheet on the wall that includes New Age Man, The Tough Nut and Marika, the Ashburton horseman is more than qualified to back up any comments he might make about a horse in his stable.  So when he says that Cullen Keefe is potentially one of the best horses he has had for a few years, it’s worth taking notice. The new kid on the block might never reach the dizzying heights of those who stood in the stables before him. But you know that with Hanrahan at the helm, he’s going to get every chance to do so. Unbeaten in his three races so far everything about Cullen Keefe points towards him being a little bit better than just your normal horse. There is an arrogance and style in the way he goes about his business that is usually only reserved for those who have big futures in front of them. And as far as Hanrahan is concerned, the best is still to come. “I think we will see plenty of improvement out of him in the next 12 months,’’ he said.  “He’s a good horse now, definitely one of the better ones I have had for a few years, but with a bit more time on his side he could get even better.  “Especially physically, that’s where I think he will improve the most.’’ The unbeaten record of the well-bred pacer will go on the line at Ashburton on Boxing Day when he lines up in front of his home crowd in the middle of the day’s proceedings. With neither of his last two wins carrying a penalty, Cullen Keefe remains in the C1 grade which should see him hard to beat again – and starting at very short odds on the market. Hanrahan said he had come through his fresh up run at Forbury Park last week well. He was driven on that occasion by Kimberley Butt who is the grand-daughter of local racing identities Dick and Leonie Prendergast. “It was a good effort I thought, you are always a bit suspect when you haven’t had a race and but Kimberley drove him well. “You would expect him to be hard to beat this week, but it’s another challenge for him and there are a few nice horses in there so he will need to be on the top of his game.’’ Ricky May jumps back in the bike again on Friday and will also be in the sulky behind Hanrahan’s other two runners during the day – The Emperor Robyn (race 5) and Bute Courage (race 11). As long as both of his other runners are running on well at the finish their trainer is going to be happy. “I think we will learn a bit off The Emperor Robyn, I’m happy with him, but not completely happy with him. “Bute Courage has really strengthened up and come back well, but he has to take on three pretty smart ones so if he could run fourth I would be really happy.’’ Today’s feature, the Ashburton Cup, has drawn a small, but select, field of pacers to run over the 3200 metres. Mark Purdon and Natalie Rasmussen are represented by two runners in Isaiah and Meticulous while Greg and Nina Hope have Jason Rulz and Mossdale Conner. Cran Dalgety might hold the strongest hand in the race however with his talented pacer Bit Of A Legend. A winner at Addington last week, the former Breeders Crown winner will start off a 25 metre handicap but has the services of Dexter Dunn. “You know what to expect from him,’’ Dalgety said. “He will go out there and give you his all and you would like to think that he will be pretty hard to beat.’’ Later in the day Vulcan will attempt to join an elite list of trotters in the $1 million club. The 10-time Group One winner is just $5,000 shy of the magical mark and jumps into another small, but select, field of trotters. Courtesy of Matt Markham - HarnessRacing New Zealand  

Oamaru Raceway could have easily been mistaken for the North Pole today. Not only was it was it freezing cold but Father Christmas was there. And, like every Decemeber, he didn’t disappoint. After starting from the unruly, Father Christmas and driver Brad Williamson looped the field three wide with cover with a lap to go, before surging to the front down the back straight. He then kicked strongly in the home straight to hold off a late challenge from Foreverman. Little Bro was a further two lenghts away in third. The Phil Williamson trained three-year-old, who was greeted in the winners’ circle by a syndicate of owners wearing Santa hats, has now won three of his six starts and placed on a further two occasions. However, had it not been for a couple of mistakes his record could be even more impressive. “Phil (Williamson) has always had a big opinion of him and he seems to be getting more full-proof all the time,” said wife Bev Williamson. “We think he has a pretty big future and he should still get better as he is only three,” she added. By top French stallion Love You, Father Christmas was bred to be good and should continue to get even better. He hails from a family of smart trotters including Dependable, Jo Anne, Shirley Temple, Ima Gold Digger, and Doctor Mickey. Meanwhile, junior reinswomen Samantha Ottley and Kimberly Butt both won two races on the card today and tied for first in the Streamline Freight Drivers Challenge. Kim was successful aboard the Tim Butt trained Pantheon and the Robbie Holmes trained Lurah, who provided her with not only her first double but also her first outside win “Before today I had only ever driven winners for Tim Butt (uncle) and Mark Jones (employer-second cousin),” explained Butt. Ottley was victorious aboard Valmagne and Joe The Hunter and now has a four win lead in the Junior Drivers Premiership over northern reinsman Sailesh Abernethy. By Mitchell Robertson

Southland’s claiming King and Queen, Geoff and Jude Knight, were the deserving winners of tonight’s $10,000 Claimers’ Final at Forbury Park. The Roxburgh couple, who have kept the Southern Claimers’ Series alive this season, were victorious in the race with 10yo come-back pacer Hi Gun, who returned to the winners circle for the first time in just under a year. Hi Gun was also sucessful in the 2013 Claimers' Series Final. Given a beautiful run in the trail by driver Dexter Dunn, Hi Gun pounced on the pacemaking Tagataese in the home straight to dive up the passing lane and win by a neck to the roar of the Who’s Driving Syndicate and the Turners. Hi Gun, who was retired after his run for 10th at Forbury Park on the 29th of August 2013, was originally brought back into training to work by his co-owner Jonny Turner before returning to fo full work with Geoff and Jude Knight. The Knight's use alternative training methods to keep Hi Gun fit and on top of his game. Those methods include riding, and sometimes, jumping. Hi Gun was placed in all six of the claimers’ heats leading up to tonight’s final. The son of Washington VC has now won 10 of his 68 starts and placed on a further 23 occasions. Runner-up Tagataese was claimed out of the event for $8,000 by, yes, you guessed it, Geoff and Jude Knight. However, while the Knight’s do specialise in turning around older and sometimes sore horses, they do have the odd smart young horse and one of them is Al Raza. The talented three-year-old filly, which is owned by the Central Courage Syndicate, made it four wins on end when winning a race her owners sponsored – the Central Courage Syndicate C1-2 Mobile Pace. Meanwhile, junior Trackside Presenter/Commentator Matthew Cross enjoyed his first win as an owner when combining with Mark Jones and his fiancée Kimberly Butt, to win the first race on the card with Lady Mackendon. Cross is set to make his commentating debut at Rangiora on Sunday. By Mitchell Robertson

Its been a wonderful ride already for the YOR ! Racing with Mark Jones Syndicate with Machs A Flyin and providing he’s not sold in the interim, he could realise a harness racing syndicate dream next month. Machs A Flyin is currently 17th on the list of eligibles for the Harness Jewels 4YO Emerald at Cambridge on May 31. The son of Mach Three and Flying Sands (11 wins, 1:56.5, 1950m) can stake his claim further in Friday’s $23,500 Christian Cullen Super Series Open Graduation Mobile Pace at Addington. He has a second row barrier but has shown he can work in his races. He has until May 18 to edge into the top 12 for the Jewels. His stakes toward a Jewels start total $28,122.50, with current 12th qualifier Mossdale Conner having earned $32,369.69. “Its going to be a big test for him this week. He’s going to find it tough, so would be good to get him sold,” Mark said. “I guess, for the syndicate he would go to the Jewels if he gets in. But at this stage he may struggle to make the cut,” he said. His trainer, and syndicate manager Mark McNamara, have been extremely thankful for the opportunity to lease the talented 4YO from owners Phil and Glenys Kennard, Neil Pilcher, and Phil and Margaret Creighton. Machs A Flyin notched his third win in his last four starts for the Overport Lodge team when making the most of an easier option in the amateur drivers pace last week at Addington on Thursday, April 24. He has won just over $11,000 in the last month for the syndicate. Machs A Flyin again showed his steely resolve, this time when driven confidently by Paul Wallace, being untroubled to race parked in the open over the 1950m trip. He was too strong for a trailing Jennalee in the run home, holding comfortably by three-quarters of a length in a 2:00.8 rate. The younger brother to seven-win mare Supreme Gem (1:57.9) had previously notched a winning double at Rangiora and Forbury for stable junior driver Kimberly Butt, who retains the drive in Friday’s graduation. He moved up parked at the 900m and wore down stablemate The Ultimate Storm (Michelle Neilson) in the junior drivers pace (Best Wishes For Retirement Brian Wilson Mobile Pace) at Rangiora on Sunday, April 6, in a 2:00.1 rate over the 2600m, the last 800m in 56.5s. He again moved up parked to outstay Highview Anwell at Forbury over 2700m on April 10. Machs A Flyin kept giving at the business end to post a useful 3:27.4 (2:03.5) mile rate for the stand start 2700m, before being beaten by a bad draw in the wet at Forbury on April 17. The odds are probably against him winning again this week against the likes of Lewy Risk, Fifth Edition and Dynamic Party. But he’ll be doing his best and a top four finish will edge him closer to a being a Jewels prospect, a thought that seemed impossble a month ago. By Jeff Scott (Courtesy of MARK JONES RACING)

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

Kimberly Butt, daughter of champion reinsman Anthony, added to the family legacy by reining the Mark Jones trained Saveapatrol to a 2 & ¼ length victory at Forbury Park last night. In doing so, she became the fifth generation of her family to don silks successfully in New Zealand. But, Butt didn’t always want to follow in her father’s footsteps. “Early on I wanted to be a vet, but I soon realised that would involve me staying at school and going to university afterwards,” laughed Butt. She gained her early experience with her uncle, Tim Butt, before spending just over a year with master trainer, Mark Purdon. “As soon as I started driving a lot of fast work I caught the bug and realised this is what I want to do,” said Butt. Butt is now employed by Mark Jones, who provided her with her first win last night. “Mark is a great boss who has been very helpful with my driving,” said Butt. “I am very thankful to him and the owner for giving me the opportunity to drive such a nice horse,” she added. Saveapatrol was crossed from the gate, but once the dust was settled Butt was able to come out, and quickly took the imposing son of Christian Cullen to the front. From there it was game over, with Saveapatrol racing away over the concluding stages to win in a slick time of 2-43.6. Fellow female Junior Drivers’ Samantha Ottley (Rock Of Tara) and Katie Cox (Cullen’s Mercy) filled the minor placings. A Harness Plus race at Gore on Saturday week may be next on the agenda for Saveapatrol. Meanwhile, later in the night at Forbury Park, Alleluia impressed greatly when winning heat three of the NRM Sires Stakes over favourite Regulus. Both horses have now guaranteed themselves spots in the Group One final on Cup Day. By Mitchell Robertson

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