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Everything went to plan for the four harness racing big guns tonight at the Auckland Trotting Club's meeting at Alexandra Park. Spanish Armada got things off to a flying start when she was successful in the $138,000.00 Group 1 Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship. Away nicely from barrier 6, co trainer and driver Natalie Rasmussen had the classy 2yo Bettor’s Delight in front and dictating after 300m. No one was keen to take the recent Caduceus Club Final winner on and she was allowed to stride along in front. While some punters who took the $1.30 around the favourite would have been nervous when the Mark Jones trained filly Delightful Memphis popped out of her 1-1 spot to issue a serious challenge, to wear the leader down to just a winner margin of a neck. The winner’s time for the 1700m trip was 2:02.3, Last mile in 1.55.7 – 800m 56.4 – 400m 27.7. The PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final set down for the 13th May will be the next clash of these two talented fillies. No doubt with a handy draw Delightful Memphis could turn the tables on the top seed Purdon/Rasmussen runner. Spanish Armada _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Tonight’s Breckon Farms Northern Trotting Derby victory for Marcoola once again justified owner/driver Clint Ford’s decision to not sell his star 3yo colt. With an offer reportedly around the $250,000.00 mark, Ford was quick to make it clear that he wouldn’t be for sale. Since that offer Marcoola has won just over $120,000.00 in stakes, while adding the NZ Trotters Derby, Sire Stakes Trotting Championship and now the Northern Trotting Derby to his resume. A 3yo Colt by Champion sire Sundon out of the Ford Family’s handy race mare Arabess – Marcoola is the horse most people dream of breeding and owner themselves. A smart drive from Clint tonight got the chocolates as he once again showcased his class by demolishing a top class field. Allowed to settle early by Ford, Marcoola was then set around to find the top, this move left 2nd favourite High Gait in a world of trouble covered up four back the pegs. In a surprise move, High Gait’s driver Natalie Rasmussen was happy to stay tucked along the rail and was seen storming home for an unlucky 3rd. Marcoola went to the line, with plenty in the tank as Ford only flicked the reins at his charge in the home straight to score by 1 length in an overall time of 3:23.7, Mile rate of 2:01.4 – 800m in 58.2 – 400m in 29.6. The Harness Jewels looks his race to lose on the back of this 7 race winning streak. Marcoola _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Field Marshal was another short favourite to salute the judge, this time doing the sort after Taylor Mile/Messenger double. After a huge performance in last weeks Taylor Mile, Trainer Tim Butt was confident his top class Art Major 4yo would handle every part of the 2700m trip.  Given a lovely trip by leading driver Dexter Dunn, Field Marshal was dominate beating Australia visitor My Kiwi Mate by 1 ¼ Lengths in a sizzling 3:15.8. With tonight’s victory, Field Marshal climbs over the $250,000.00 mark in stakes earnings, with a healthy record of 14 wins from just the 25 starts. While Field Marshal in a clear leader on top of the Harness Jewels leader board, Australian My Kiwi Mate catapulted himself into 22nd spot, just $10,000.00 short of the 12th place Captain Doimio. With connections chasing a jewels spot, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see My Kiwi Mate line up at Alexandra Park over the next few weeks in order to qualify. The 4yo Jewels invite is likely to go to the Amanda Turnbull trained Tact Tate, who will make their decision in the coming days. Field Marshal _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Superstar trotter Monbet was absolutely sensational in the 2016 Rowe Cup, winning from an awkward, inside the back row draw. Trained at Woodend Beach by Greg and Nina Hope, Monbet started one of the hottest favourites in history after arch rival Speeding Spur was stuck down by a suspensory injury that could see him sidelined for 10-12 months. Away nicely from the tapes, Monbet settled in before driver Ricky May sent the $1.11 favourite around to the lead with two laps to run. From there on after the 4yo Love You gelding never looks in danger. Owned by the Hopes and M J Molloy, they also turned down a reported offer of $600,000.00 a few weeks back. Since that offer Monbet has earn't a tidy $184,000.00. Co trainer Greg Hope confirmed last night that providing his charge recovers well they will look to take their place in the Cambridge Harness Jewels, where he will start one of the shortest jewels favourites ever. Waimate trotter Valmagne was the run of the race behind the winner. Co Trainer Josh Kennett was stoked with the performance of his stable star, “He has gone super, last week he broke just as he was getting into it” said Kennett. Monbet Andrew Fitzgerald

There is still plenty at stake for Monbet. The exceptional four-year-old trotting talent will start as a prohibitive harness racing favourite this Friday night in the Gr.1 $NZ150,000 Canam Rowe Cup at Alexandra Park, Auckland – the final leg of the 2015/16 Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters. Following his scintillating victory in last week’s ANZAC Cup where he blew away Speeding Spur who was subsequently diagnosed with a season ending injury, Monbet can’t surpass his arch rival who gathered enough points to hold an unassailable lead heading into the final leg. Speeding Spur has 220 points while Monbet has 103 points prior to Friday’s feature. But there’s still plenty up for grabs for the Canterbury trained star. If Monbet proves successful in the Rowe Cup and then ventures to Cambridge in June for the Jewels and collects another Group One victory, he could easily claim the Trotter of the Year plus the overall Horse of the Year titles. The Love You gelding has already won five Group One races this season. On Friday night, Monbet will face twelve rivals in the grueling 3200m stand start feature including all bar Speeding Spur from last week’s ANZAC Cup. The Greg & Nina Hope trained performer is a stand start specialist but is foreign to the two mile distance range with 2700m being the longest he’s raced. Another intriguing factor to be considered this week for Monbet is his draw, the inside of the second-line. But if there is a scratching to his inside in the great race, Monbet will move from his inside second line draw to the outside of the front line, barrier nine, in direct contrast to what happens in mobile races. Most expect to him win regardless of where he starts from - front or second-line. And favourites have a great record in the race with the punters elect winning 7 of the last 9 editions, the exceptions being Stig in 2013 and I Can Doosit in 2011, the first of his two victories in the feature event. Champion reinsman Ricky May will once again handle Monbet and he is no stranger to success in the premier North Island trotting feature having won the race back in 1988 with Highwood. Key rivals this week include Sheemon, a runner-up in this event two years ago while the improving types of Blackguards Corner and Yagunnakissmeornot will also command respect. Realmein, Jag’s Invasion and Scarrymcleary all have upset chances on current form. Waterloo Sunset, Valmagne, Queen Kenny, Paramount Dream, Al Bundy and Quite A Moment will all require luck to claim the feature. The Canam Rowe Cup is race 8 on the program and scheduled to start at 9.13pm local time. Chris Barsby

Veteran and past Elitloppet winner Nahar (11g Love You-Mahonny Broline-Joie de Vie) returned to earlier form to win today’s V75 Gold Olympiatravet Trial at Umaker, Sweden with 200,000SEK to the winner. Trainer Robert Bergh teamed the 4/1 winner for owner Stall Sedin from post 11 in the 2140 meter autostart test, timed in 1.12.7kr. Nahar now has three wins in nine 2016 starts and 30 career victories in 121 outings for earnings of 12,457,015SEK. 9/1 Cool Keeper (6m Broadway Hall-Missys Go Go-Yankee Glide) landed second for trainer/driver Leif Witasp with third to 6/1 Ed You (9g Love You-Lancia Brick-Super Arnie) handled by Ulf Ericsson for trainer Bergh and Stall Sedin. The 3/1 Venkatesh (7g Varenne-Honey Face-Viking Kronos) was fourth for Orjan Kihlstrom. The 2016 Olympiatravet field now includesAnna Mix, B.B.S. Sugarlight, Mosaique Face, Nahar, On Track Piraten, Papagayo E., Sauveur, Spartan Kronos, and Your Highness This day’s V75 card also included the  Berth Johanssons Memorial (200,000SEK first money, 2140 meters autostart) with victory to 3/1 Daley Lovin (5m Conway Hall-Dreamsmadeofthis-Dream Vacation) with Erik Adielsson iup for trainer Daniel Reden and Stall Zet. Bred in the US by Ann-Mari Daley, this winner recorded his second 2016 win in as many starts and 13th in 42 career starts. Favorite 2/1 Volstead (5m Cantab Hall-Madame Volo-Yankee Glide) was second for driver Orjan Kihlstom, trainer Stefan Melander and Stall TZ. The US import was bred by Arden Homestead Stable. 46/1 Exodus Hanover (5m Andover Hall-Exotic Destination-Dream Vacation) was third for Kenneth Haugstad and trainer Roger Walmann with fourth to 14/1 Al Dente (5m Scarlet Knight-Mollie’s Photo-SJ’s Photo) and driver Peter Ingves. Time was 1.12.9kr. The V75 Silver over 2640 meters autostart for 125,000SEK first prize went to 1.4/1 Propulsion (5m Muscle Hill-Danae-Andover Hall) for Orjan Kihlstrom. This one scored his second 2016 win in as many starts and 13th victory in 26 career appearances. Frederika Caldwell and Bluestone Farm bred the US import that is now owned by Stall Zet and trained by Daniel Reden. Alkalizer AM (6g Olimede-Alltid VG-Spotlite Lobell) was second for driver Adielsson.  

Even-money favorite Montdore (6m Love You-Self Made Woman) captured Sunday’s Agen le Passage featured Grand Prix Baron d’Aedeuil in France that attracted 14 European starters vying for the €25,000 purse.  Driver Dominik Locqueneux teamed the Robert Bergh trainee to victory clocked in 1.13.6kr over the 2575 meter distance. 143/1 outsider  Utu de Tilou (8g Kaisy Dream-Java de l’Iton) landed second with third to 21/1 Saphir du Gite (10g Derby du Gite-Jeunesse Doree). The race was a Pick5 event. The €32,000 purse Grand Prix Dynavena Marsagri Duran, also a Pick5 wagering event, went to 28/1 Tiburse de Brior (9g Ganymede-Macapu du Vivier) timed in 1.14.3kr over the 2625 meter distance with 16 European participants. Nils Pacha teamed the winner for trainer Matthieu Abrivard. 51/1The Au Lait (9g Nuage de Lait-Kalfouny) was second with 71/1 Una Lisa de Crouay (8f Jet Fortuna-Nikita de Crouay) home third as longshots prevailed. Tiburse de Brior At Chartres, the apprentice drivers contested the Prix du Bar PMU “Le Triangle” Mainvilliers for a purse of €13,000 over 2850 meters with 13 starters. The 4/1 Angel Dark (6g Look de Star-Quadrata des Jipes) scored the victory for driver Jorgen Berggren, trainer Anders Lindqvist who is co-owner with Peter Gerry of USA’s Arden Homestead Stable. Angel Dark was timed in 1.16.4kr for his seventh win in 36 outings, now for €88,430 earned. Gerry earned two second place finishes in Billings Amateur Series action the same evening at Pompano Park, Florida. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

Top trotting action took place Saturday at Solvalla with a number of V75 contests with 200,000SEK or more to the winners. The Grabber’s Pixies race for mares (200,000SEK first prize) went to 1.9/1 Donna de Quattro (6f Love You-Whoopie As-SJ’s Photo) for harness racing driver Bjorn Goop and trainer Tomas Malmqvist timed in a quick 1.10.9kr. Langebro Konsult AB owns this winning mare. 3.1/1 Windy Ways (6f Conway Hall-Southwind Flanders-Lindy Lane) took second for Erik Adielsson, trainer Daniel Reden and Stall Zet. Third was 1.8/1 favorite and US-bred Blue Martini As (6f Allstar Hall=True Blue Victory-Valley Victory) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for Roger Walmann, training for AB Svensk Reklamfinans. The Finn-Tack Silver Final (2140 meters autostart for 220,000SEK first money) went to 2.4/1 Fridericus (6g Allison Hollow-Friderica-April Victory) timed in 1.12.3kr. The Denmark-bred winner was reined by trainer Veijo Heiskanen for owner Firma Stall Preussen. Italy’s Navigator Sib (9g Civil Action-Shoguns Parisienne-Shogun Lobell) took second for Orjan Kihlstom and trainer Jorgen Westholm, with third to Vasterbo Paymyday (7g Credit Winner-Vasterbo Daylight-Spotlite Lobell) and teamster Bjorn Goop for trainer Reijo Liljendahl. The Solvalla feature this Saturday was the Tritun Sunds Gold Final with 250,000SEK to the winner. 2.1/1 odds favorite On Track Piraten (8g Kool du Caux-Monrovia-Rite On Line) scored the victory for Johnny Takter ahead of 7.1/1 Dreams Take Time (7m Andover Andover-B My Honey-Viking Kronos) and reinsman Peter Untersteiner. Third was 4.4/1 Spring Erom (11m Gentle Star-Springflickan-Prince Mystic) and driver Bjorn Goop. Time was 1.11.6kr and the win was the fourth straight for the winner, now with 25 career wins in 83 starts for earnings of 10,279,211SEK The 200,000SEK first money Benders Tamla Celebers for mares (2140 meters voltstart) went to 11.2/1 odds Noomi Skift (5f Goetmals Wood-Avelone Skift-Alf Palema) with trainer Hans-Owe Sundberg driving. Grappa Boe (5f Couch Doctor-Honey B Boe-Atlas Rocket) landed second for Tony Wallin, ahead of Marta Chip (5f Adrian Chip-Haulover Tan-Dream Vacation) with Peter Ingves up for trainer Petri Puro. Seven of the 15 starters took a 20 meter distance handicap and none of these earned top three finishes. Completing the Solvalla top races was the Bronze Final with 200,000SEK to the winner of the 2140 meter autostart contest. Ochongo Face (5g Kiss Francis-Jubel Kemp-Joie de Vie) at 6.6/1 recorded the victory for Erik Lindegren, defeating Bartender IN (6g Muscles Yankee-Garfish Face-Viking Kronos) and Panoramic (6g Scarlet Knight-Carttolina Spin-SJ’s Photo), the latter driven by Orjan Kihlstrom for owner/trainer Stefan Melander. At Aby on Saturday the 2140 meter autostart Breddlopp went to Jerry Riordan’s trainee Sonny Bull (5m Uronometro-Miss Morique-Spotlite Lobell) for Italian owner Mauro Prospero at 17.5/1. The scored his ninth career win in 36 starts, timed in 1.14.8kr. Hertig Rolls (by Coktail Jet) was second ahead of Spider Blessed (by Igor Font) driven by Jorgen Wallin for trainer Wilhelm Paal. The winner earned 10,000SEK in this event. Thomas H. Hicks  

Tuesday's qualifying session at Caen (Normandy) was the fastest since the beginning of the year for harness racing 3-yo. French trotters. Sebastien Guarato's Dear Lover (Love You) passed the test in 1'16''4 kr (2:03.0 mr) which is the record of the year co-held with Delicatessen (The Best Madrik). The colt was imitated later during the morning by Dis Moi Tout (Prince Gede) who passed the test in 1'16''5 kr (2:03.1 mr). The colt is trained by Vincent Renault. Further down the list, Destin de l'Oree (Nuage de Lait) took advantage of following a 4-yo. candidate and passed the exam in 1'16''8 kr (2:03.3 mr). All three qualifiers figure among the top-10 fastest 3-year-olds of the year. A total of 104 colts and fillies gathered at Caen on Tuesday morning and 37 qualified. Qualification sessions are held over 2,000 metres. Minimum time is 1'20''5 kr (2:09.3 mr) for 3-year-olds, but will change to 1'20 kr (2:08.4 mr) from April onwards.  

The first of the classics for the two year old trotters this season is the $25,000 New Zealand Two Year old Trotting Stakes which was run at the harness racing meeting at Addington Raceway tonight. The unbeaten Love You colt Habibi Inta from the Paul Nairn barn looked the horse to beat after two effortless wins in his leadup races even though he had drawn a bit wide at barrier seven. Enghien was expected to test the favourite after a bold second to him at Methven while Miracle Rising and Di'z Luck were others to have shown up on raceday. Habibi Inta came out trucking for Blair Orange  from barrier seven and grabbed the lead from Custodian and David Butt. At this point Enghien and Ricky May went for a gallop, losing all chance. Habibi Inta kept up a solid tempo in front with Miracle Rising in the death and her stablemate Di'z Luck in the one by one. With the good tempo up front there was no mid race moves and on the last corner Habibi Inta looking to be travelling the best. The only danger appeared to be Custodian in the trail who slowly closed the gap on Habibi Inta the whole way up the straight but was still a nose in arrears at the finish. The two did get close in the last 50 metres and the siren went post race but the protest was not progressed with. Di'z Luck finished on well for third in front of her stablemate Miracle Rising. Habibi Inta ran the 1950 metres in 2:30.3, a mile rate of 2:04 with closing sectionals of 59.3 and 29.4 Before tonight Habibi Inta looked a class above above his rivals on the two year old trotters scene but Custodian showed tonight that the gap is not as big as some thought and that should make the upcoming races amongst the juveniles really worth waiting for. Harnesslink Media 

Bolero Love (5m Love You-Orelady) took today’s featured harness racing Q+ Gr. I Prix de Selection (purse €240,000, 2299 meters, 14 starters) at Paris-Vincennes. The Sebastien Guarato trainee was driven by Franck Nivard for owner Antonio De Sousa. Off at 5.5/1 odds the winner scored in 1.10.8kr to defeat 2.4/1 favorite Amiral Sacha (6m Ganymede-Nostalgique Sacha) and reinsman Gabriele Gelormini. 9.4/1 Billie de Montfort (5f Jasmin de Flore-Quismy de Montfort) landed third for Eric Raffin. She raced forwardly placed with cover but the Guarato trained mare could not threaten the top two that traveled the last 500 meters quickly after a 1.11.7kr clocking at the 500 to go post. The Gr. II Prix de l’Union Europeenne (purse €160,000, 3000 meters, 11 starters) went to the 1.14.4kr timed and 1.1/1 favorite Ustinof du Vivier (8g Look de Star-Melba du Vivier) for driver Mathieu Abrivard, trainer Sebastien Guarato, and owner St, Szwarc. 3.8/1 Scarlet Turgot (10f Dahir de Prelong-Noella de Massy) held second for Alexandre Abrivard and trainer Yannick Alain Briand with 83/1 Tom Rush ending in the third spot. Thomas H. Hicks  

A fine harness racing card today at Paris-Vincennes included three groupe contests and the Q+ race of the day. The Q+ with a jackpot of €3.4 million was the Prix Amile Allis Courboy for a purse of €82,000 contested over 2700 meters by 16 European trotters. The 1.13kr winner was 51/1 outsider Tellement Haufor (9f Ganymede-Mamba d’Haufor) with Ch-J Bigeon up for owner/trainer Christian Bigeon. 12/1 Universal Rider (8m Nahar de Beval-Hansica) was second for pilot Mathieu Mottier and 7/1 Valleo Jenilat (7m Kepler-Perle du Roc) landed third for Genny Delaume and trainer Sebastien Guarato. The first groupe event was the €120,000 Gr. II Prix Ali Hawas over 2700 meters for 12 monte filly participants. Favorite at 3/5 was Docha Vedaquarse that was a dq leading to a victory by 12.5/1 Diva Charentaise (3f Prince Gede-Jessie Charentaise) timed in 1.16.8kr for jockey Francois Lagadeuc and trainer/owner Jean Michel Baudouin. 8/1 Dons de Bailly (3f Scipion du Goutier-Ninon de Bailly) was a distant second for Eric Raffin ahead of 48/1 Diebara (3f Pad d’Urzy-Ulla du Goutier) with Mathieu Abrivard in the irons. The Gr. II Prix Felicien Gauvreau (purse €120,000, 11 colt monte starters) went to 1.17kr timed winner Dreamer Delo (3m Ready Cash-Reverie d’Ar) at 1.3/1 odds and teamed by Eric Raffin. Sebastien Guarato trains this winner for Scuderia Winner Stable. 1/9/1 Dhikfi Vedaquais (3m Thorens Vedaquais-Marie Blanque) was a good second for Yoann Lebourgeois and trainer/owner Philippe Allaire. Another Allaire trained pupil was 7.5/1 Deuxieme Souiffle (3m Polerol de Laumac-Quorelia du Gite) that was third for Mathieu Abrivard. The Gr. III Prix Vandex (purse €95,000, 2700 meters, nine starters) was won timed in 1.13.2kr by front-stepping Cap Matyss (4m Love You-Ode Matyss) at 3/2 odds for teamster Jean-Michel Bazire and trainer Franck Leblanc. Elevage Marjea own the winner that defeated 5/1 Clif du Pommereux (4m Love You-Noure de Pommereux) with trainer Sylvain Roger aboard. 5.9/1 Caid de Jumilly (4m Oiseau de Feux-Ravenna) was a nosed-out third for David Thomain. The second place finisher raced gamely in parked position the entire well and held on well in the drive. Fractions were steady (1.13kr at 1500 meters to go; 1.13.4kr at 1000; 1.13.5kr at 500). The Prix de Marmande (purse €65,000, 2700 meters, 10 monte starters) again showcased the monte performers and 1.8/1 Brisbane du Bourg (5f Jasmin de Flore-Nistelle d’999Aveze) scored in 1.15.4kr for jickey Steeve Lambert for owner/trainer Sebastien Guarato. 23/1 Baraka Gede (5f Repeat Love-Gagnante Gede) was second for Mathieu Abrivard and third was 2.2/1 Bellaya (5f First de Retz-Kalaya). The next weekend at Paris-Vincennes showcases major events including the monte Gr. II Prix Louis de Bourg for €120,000, the Gr. I Prix de Selection for €240,000 (includes Cobra Bleu, Amiral Sacha, Booster Winner and Bille de Montfort), the monte Gr. II Prix Henri Desmontils for €120,000 (with Torre Crepin, Orione Degli Dei and Dyson de Houelle at the start) and the Gr. II Prix de l’Union Europeenne for €160,000 (Scarlet Turgot, Swedishman, Kadett CD and Ustinoff du Vivier among the starters). Thomas H. Hicks  

Today at Enghien the €80,000 Prix de Lure was the harness racing feature and a Pick5 wagering contest. 13 European starters went 2875 meters with the 1.14.6kr winner being 0.5/1 favorite Call Me Keeper (6m Pine Chip-Eliza Keeper) with Franck Nivard up for Daniel Reden training for Stall Zet. 23/1 Radieux (6g Love You-Dordogne) was second for Eric Raffin and owner/trainer Lutfi Kolgjini with 6/1 Auch (6g Niky-Migraine) third to the line for owner/trainer/driver Christian Bigeon. Denmark’s Pingus Vang (9g SJ’s Photo-New Wonder) took the day’s Quinte + (€3.35million jackpot) at Enghien, the Prix de Sedan over 2150 meters autostart. 16 European eligibles were at the start. The winner scored in 1.15.6kr at 8/1 odds to defeat 22/1 Utelo de Carentone (8g Kiwi-Maeva d’Harcouel) and third finishing 9/1 Vivaldo Bello (7m Love You-Enfilade) driven by Franck Nivard for trainer Thierry Duvaldestin. The dam Enfilade also produced double Prix-d’Amerique winner Offshore Dream. Comtesse Flore (4f Sam Bourbon-Topaze de Fael) took today’s Prix de Marennes at Enghien as 15 starters battled for the €48,000 over the 2875 meter distance. Tony Le Beller teamed the 3.6/1 odds winner timed in 1.16.66kr for owner Jean-Pierre Dubois. 5/1 Comtesse (4f Oiseau de Feux-Oeniades) was second for Mathieu Mottier and third went to 3/1 favorite Cadeace (4f Scipion du Goutier-Orchidee Rouge) with J-M Bazire up for trainer Franck Leblanc. Yesterday at Mons Ghlin Capitole (7g Offshore Dream-Extra Dry) took the Prix Capelle Belgique over the 2300 meter autostart course for a purse of €5,760. 16 International starters were at the start with the 1.2/1 odds favorite home on top in 1.15.6kr for trainer/driver Hugo Langeweg Jr. On the same card the Prix Journal Eurotierce for €7,200 over 2850 meters was contested by nine international participants. The 1.16.2kr winner was the 9/10 favorite Trailing Edge (7m Scarlet Knight-Veda Sund) driven by Dominik Locqueneux for trainer Robert Bergh and Ecurie Rally. On the last weekend solid action took place in Italy. On February 27 at Aversa the €45,100 purse Gr. II Gran Premio Andreani went to the 1.13.4kr timed Telecomando OK (4m Love You-Flavia Kronos-SJ’s Photo) for Enrico Bellei. The victory over 1660 meters on the half-miletrack was number eight in 15 starts for earnings now in excess of €123,000. Tobias Del Ronco (4m Love You-Leonor Del Ronco-Supergill) was second for G.P. Minnucci with third to Tulum (4m Algiers Hall-Image OM-Lemon Dra). On Sunday February 28 at Firenze’s 1000 meter track the Gr. II Prix Ponte Vecchio for €45,100 went to Radiofreccia FI (6f Ganymede-Castilia-Lemon Dra) for Enrico Bellei timed in 1.13.5kr over 2020 meters. Rum E Coca Day was second ahead of well-regarded Ringostarr Treb (6m Classic Photo-Farsalo Egral-Supergill). The race winner recorded her 15th victory in 55 starts now for over €395,000 earned. Veteran Mack Grace SM (10m CC’s Chuckie T-Ambro Grace SM-Armbro Goal) has made two recent starts in Italy after eight months away from the races. On January 28 he scored a 1.13.2kr victory at Albenga  over 1600 meters and on February 28 the classy old-timer finished second at Milano timed in 1.13.9kr. He’s earned €3,668 in those two efforts. It was also reported that Prix de Paris winner Lionel will get a short rest to be ready for a next start in mid-April at Enghien in the Prix de l’Atlantique. The son of Look de Star, he by Coktail Jet, would then likely return to Norway for the Oslo Grand Prix, a Gr I International test at Bjerke Racecourse on June 12, a race to which Lionel has already been invited. Oslo GP 2016: http://www.bjerke.no/Bjerke/OGP/2016/4siders%20A4%20folder_2016_korrektur3.pdf Thomas H. Hicks  

As a breeder, for you are to have consistently good results at the yearling sales each year, then you really need a good crystal ball on top of everything else. When the vendors were planning what mare to breed to what stallion to produce the yearlings they sold at the sales this year, they had to make a judgement call on which stallions they thought would be in demand two and a half years down the track and which wouldn't be in such demand. It is an incredibly hard thing to get right and the margin for error is huge. It was with some satisfaction then that Studholme Park and Brian West produced the only two yearlings by Love You at the yearling sales this year. The stock of Love You are the hottest item in town on the trotting stallion front and Studholme Park was duly rewarded for its foresight with both yearlings selling for big money. First up was Lot 294, a Love You colt from a race winning half sister to the dam of I Can Doosit 1:55.5 ($1,455,774) named Thank You. Appropriately, Thank You was knocked down to two of the biggest supporters of Love You in New Zealand in Greg and Nina Hope who outlaid $50,000 for the good looking chestnut colt. Greg and Nina have had a lot of success with the stock of Love You from Monbet to the The Earth Moved and it was no surprise to see them have a nibble at the second Love You colt from the Studholme Park draft. Catalogued as Lot 334, the striking chestnut colt is named Paramount King and is a half brother to the outstanding age group trotter in Paramount Geegee 1:57.3 ($561,342) and a full brother to the Harness Jewels winner in Paramount Queen 1:59.7 ($122,612) while another half sister in Paramount Dream (8 wins) is heading for open class in the north. The bidding was fierce from the moment Paramount King walked into the ring and never let up until suddenly $110,000 became the ceiling for the buyers chasing him. Prominent Invercargill owner Ben Calder signed for the colt but he had already started the process of putting together a syndicate to race the colt before the auction. So Studholme Park grossed $160,000 for their two Love You colts which just goes to show how important that stallion choice is two and a half years out from the yearling sales. Harnesslink Media

8.8/1 Banquiere (5m Quopeck-Ile d’Emerade) won today’s Prix Elma at Enghien for a purse of €50,000 over 2875 meters. 15 rivals contested the event timed in 1.16.1kr. 2.3/1 Bilfie de Guez (5f Vivaldi de Chenu-Quefie) was second for trainer/driver J-M Bazire ahead of 10/1 Betsy du Quenne (5f Quaker Jet-Mon Egerie) for David Thomain. The Prix de Montsalvy (purse €38,000, 2875 meters, 12 starters) went to 87.2/1 Douce Ligneries (3f Love You-Ouragane) timed in 1.18.2kr for trainer/driver Bruno Marfigliano. 2.5/1 Difa Girl (3f Love You-Rifa Rainbow) was second for J-Ph Monclin, trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Mme. G, Poulsen-Allaire. 17/1 Daliemosa (3f Kaiser Soze-Jaldemosa) ended third for David Thomain. Also at Enghien the €37.000 Prix de l’Authie over 2150 meters autostart drew 13 starters and the 1.1.1kr winner was 2.7/1 City Sees (4f Sam Bourbon-Dolly du Buisson) over 6.4/1 Comete (4f Niky-l’Aventuriere) for Mathieu Abrivard. Third was 5.3/1 Chimere du Goutier (4f Kaisy Dream-Queen Bourbon) for Cl. Duvaldestin and Ecurie Saint Martin. At La Croise Laroche the Prix de Beaupreau (purse €18,000, 2700 meters autostart, 16 starters) went to 1.4/1 favorite Crossroads (4m Quaker Jet-Modesty) timed in 1.17.3kr for trainer/driver Thierry Duvaldestin and Ecurie Bresil. 45/1 Claudius Servinois was second with 15/1 Caravaggio (4m Quaker Jet-Nicotera) third for Julien Raffestin and Ecurie Mexique Ranch. The Prix de Verdun at La Croise Laroche went for €30,000 over 2700 meters autostart. 16 rivals battled with the 1.14kr win to 3.9/1 Apollpn de Kacy (m Prince Gede-Nefertiti Kyles) with owner/trainer/driver Jorgen Westholm aboard. 4.8/1 Tiennov and 1.4/1 Vivaldi chased the winner to the line. At Mariendorf Berlin the Prix Berthe Morisot (purse €5,000, 1900 meters autostart, 10 starters) went to the 1.16.9kr winner 28.6/1 Amigo Kievitshof (9g Jag de Bellouet-Armbro Pagan) for owner/trainer/driver Andre Schiller. 28.8/1 Dolomit R was second for Norbert Bierman ahead of 7/10 favorite Fiobana driven by Thorsten Tietz. Friday evening’s top race was the Gr. III Prix de Joinville le Pont (purse €80,000, 2925 meters, 14 starters) at Cagnes-sur-mer. The 3/1 favorite Ugo du Nieul (8m Cygnus d’Odyssee-Harmoinie de Nieul) scored in 1.13.1kr for Romain Derieux, trainer/driver foir D.J. Rousseau, the owner. 11/1 Vicomte Boufarcaux (7m Oh James-Olympe du Boufard) was second for Gabriele Gelormini ahead of 15/1 Truman Dairpet (9g Biesolo-Heloise Poterie) for trainer/driver Nicolas Ensch. Favored 1.7/1 Sid finished ninth. Nicolas Ensch was been named to the FR driving team in an upcoming contest against Team America that will kickoff at Yonkers Raceway in March. Also at Cagnes-sur-mer the Prix Radisson Blu Nice (purse €44,000, 2925 meters, 13 starters) went to 1.16.4kr timed winner the 5.5/1 Altea de Piencourt (f Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree-Moonlight Disques) for trainer/driver Junior Guelpa. 2.4/1 Bently de Raconis (5g Repeat Love-Bodomie) was scond for trainer Nicolas Emsch and owner Antonio De Sousa. 7.8/1 Bolide de la Cote (5g Quatre Juillet-Scarlet Pride) was third for trainer/driver Cl-A Mary. Sunday’s Grand Prix de Paris has been moved to race six with off time of 10:20am US eastern time. The sports world will be watching Bold Eagle in his quest for the FR Triple Crown. Thomas H. Hicks

Gabriele Gelormini reined well-regarded Amiral Sacha (6m Ganymede-Nostalgique Sacha) to victory in the Gr. III Prix de Plateau de Gravelle (purse €110,000, 2100 meters autostart) at Paris-Vincennes. The well-regarded winner, off at 1.8/1 odds, recorded his fifth harness racing victory in the last ten outings. Ecurie Sidere owns Amiral Sacha. Second was 26/1 Beckman (9g Turbo Sund-Nins Palema) with Franck Nivard up and third finishing was fast-closing Anna Mix (6f Ludo de Castelle-Ires) at 9/10 odds for driver Pierre Vercruysse and owner/trainer Franck Leblanc.The excellent field also included Tornado Bello that was fourth for Pierre Levesque and the Bjorn Goop teamed Luckycharm Hanover that hugged the pegs to be fifth. Time for the winner was 1.11.9kr off rated fractions (1.12.5kr at 1500 meters to go; 1.12.5kr at the 1000, 1.12.6kr at the 500). Zonguldak (7g Love You-Heartenings Crown) took the Q+ Prix du Cantal (purse €90,000, 2850 meters, 18 starters) for Christophe Martens, Vincent Martens trainer and Joseph Danduffel owner. Timed in 1.15.2kr the winner was off at 5.9/1 odds. 2.7/1 Ange de Lune (g Laetemter Diem-Kera Elle) was next for trainer/driver Mathieu Abrivard but didsqualifed, with third placed second to 5.2/1 Rosemary Gar (6f Donato Hanover-Allstar FC) for J-M Bazire, trainer Salvatore Minopli for Allenamento Team Minopoli. Udo’s Oiler was fourth placed third for Dominik Locqueneux at 16/1 and Rico Follo was fifth placed fourth for Bjorn Goop at 36/1. Poker Kronos (7g Viking Kronos-Frances Lavec) was placed fifth driven by Pierre Vercruysse. The Norwegian coldbloods were featured in the Prix des Trotteurs “Sang-Froid” for a purse of €20,000 over the 2100 meter autostart course. Finnskog Fokus (9g Spikeld-Silje Spreta) recorded victory at 25/1 odds for Gunnar Austevol timed in 1.24.2kr over Guli Rask (8g Jarvsofaks-Guli Tessan) handled by Franck Nivard ay 4.7/1. Third was Jarvso Rasmus (7g Lumjor Eik Anna) at 31/1 for Bjorn Goop. The Prix d’Epinay (purse €37,000, 2100 meters autostart, 12 starters) was timed in 1.12.9kr by the winner 17.4/1 odds Clint d’Ambri (4g Hulk des Champs-Old Girl) driven by Gabriele Gelormini. 13/1 Chocolat du Bourg (4m Nahar de Beval-Malouvia) was second for Joel Van Eeckhaute, also owner/trainer. 14/1 Cocktail d’Auvrecy (4g Kaiser Soze-Meliana Bella) was third for Ecurie Jeloca and trainer/driver J.L.Cl.Dersoir. 2.8/1 favorite Bayern (5g Jam Pridem-Fulanera) took the monte Prix des Andelys (purse €65,000, 2700 meters) for Leo Abrivard for owned/trainer Yannick A. Briand timed in 1.14.3kr. The victory was his second straight in 2016 and fourth in the last ten outings. His career earnings now exceed €151,000. 75/1 Bifidus (5g Quopeck-Omaha Lika) was second for P-Edouard Mary with third to 12.5/1 Beautiful Dussac (5g And Arifant-Olympe de Dussac). The 0.5/1 heavy favorite Cedea Josselyn (4f Love You-Dea Josselyn) took the Prix de Guise (purse €65,000, 2700 meters) timed in 1.15.6kr for trainer/driver Jean-Michel Bazire for Yvan Barnard, owner. Cedea Josselyn scored her fifth victory in the last eight efforts and her earnings now exceed €112,000. 18/1 Cathy A Quira (4f Password-Quira des Jacquets) rallied for second for Franck Nivard with third to 62/1 Class Petteviniere (4f Repeat Love-Nice Petteviniere) for teamster Franck Ouvrie. Victoire Smiling (7f Memphis du Rib-Kediva) took the Prix de Vire (purse €70,000, 2175 meters, monte) for Julien Raffestin timed in 1.12.6kr. She was off at 36/1 odds in defeat of 7/1 Volcan de Bellande (7g Magnificent Rodney-Etoile de Bellande) with third to 6/1 Accordeon (6g Baccarat du Pont-Quaba des Corvees) with Alexandre Abrivard up. Thomas H. Hicks  

The first of the tote races for the 2015-2106 season for the two year old trotters was held at Addington Raceway this evening and provided a great spectacle as the first four home all showed enough on the night to suggest that we are in for some great contests as the harness racing season progresses. Custodian from barrier eight left the gate with the mobile for driver David Butt and was in front after 200 metres and proceeded to set a hectic pace in front. The well supported Habibi Inta with Blair Orange in the cart was slow off the gate and settled sixth in the running early while Regal Love and Tim Williams ended up in the open in the running line when things settled down after the start. David Butt kept Custodian rolling in front, putting half a dozen lengths between himself and the field as they went past the 800 metres mark. Tim Williams and Regal Love were the first to make a move to close the gap on the tearaway leader and Habibi Inta quickly got onto Regal Love's back as they passed the 400 metres. These three were joined on the point of the turn by Miracle Rising with trainer / driver Gavin Smith in the bike who had been four back on the inner and these four drew away from the rest. Custodian was still in front 100 metres out but his earlier exertions started to catch up with him and he was claimed by both Habibi Inta and Miracle Rising with 50 metres to go with Habibi Inta holding a neck advantage over Miracle Rising at  the finishing line with a game Custodian a close up third just in front of an equally game Regal Love who had dragged the field up to the leader. The winners time for the 1950 metres from the mobile was a smart 2:26.6, a mile rate of 2:00.9 with closing sectionals of 60.2 and 30.7 Trainer Paul Nairn was happy that his charge did everything right at his first race start. " I told Blair he had never been behind the mobile before and to not rush him early which is why he was so far behind them early on." " I knew he was good enough to win the race but I was more concerned that he did everything right at his first start to help build up his confidence." " I think I will give him his next start in the two year old trot at Methven on the grass as a lead into the 2 year old Trotting Stakes at the end of March at Addington as he handles the grass really well," Paul told Harnesslink this evening. Gavin Smith had a huge smile on his face after the run of Miracle Rising to grab second on debut. " I couldn't have been happier with my horse's run." " He is not switched on as yet to what racings all about but he has got an awful lot of natural ability. " I thought he was too big to make a two year old but he is proving me wrong." " He is beautifully gaited and has great manners and going forward there is so much improvement in him that it is scary," Gavin said. Throw in Custodian and Regal Love who lost no admirers with their game runs tonight and the two year old trotting ranks look to be especially strong this year. Harnesslink Media  

The old saying about timing being everything when selling yearlings has always held true and this year will be no different. Stallions with progeny excelling in or dominating the big age group and classic races always extract a big premium on harness racing sale day. If the vendor is really lucky, they can also strike the jackpot where the numbers by the stallion in question are very low, creating an availability issue as well. That perfect storm is present at this years round of sales for the brilliant trotting sire,Love You. The last twelve months have been a stellar period for the European bred stallion with Monbet, Kincaslough, Habibti and Yagunnakissmeornot all excelling in classic and age group racing in New Zealand. His overall statistics are super impressive with a winners to foal ratio of just under 50% for his crops three years and older and he looks to have several very serious two year olds trialing at present which is only further enhancing his reputation. In such circumstances, you would normally expect a swag of the progeny of Love You to be cataloged for this years round of sales but issues between the two management parties supplying the frozen semen of Love You meant his availability was severely restricted in the 2103/2014 breeding season. As a result we only have two of Love You's progeny being offered at the New Zealand Premier Yearling sale this year and as luck would have it, Brian West of Studholme Park is the vendor of both. Not only are the two yearlings by the hottest trotting sire in the country, but they both have have a " Blue Blood' maternal pedigree to balance the pedigree page. Lot 294 at Christchurch is a colt named Thank You and is the first live foal of the racewinning S J's Photo mare Margaritaville who is a half sister to the 2011-2012 Broodmare of the year in Sheezadoosie (7 wins) who of course is the dam of the champion I Can Doosit 1:55.5 ($1,445,774) and Sno's Big Boy 1:58.4 ($215,309) Lot 334 at Christchurch is named Paramount King and is a son of Paramount Star (7 wins) who has already produced the brilliant age group star in Paramount Geegee 1:57.3 ($561,342) and a full sister to Paramount King in Paramount Queen 1:59.7 ($122,612) while Paramount Dream who has won seven in the last twelve months is another daughter on the rise. In normal circumstances both of these colts would be in high demand but throw in the supply side of the equation and heaven knows what they might bring. Both are chestnuts which a lot of the smart Love You progeny in New Zealand are and as you can see from the photo's, both have that touch of class in appearance. It is not often that trotters top the $100,000 mark at yearling sales in New Zealand but both of these colts have the potential to do so this year. Harnesslink Media

Anyone who has been around the New Zealand yearling sale scene over the last 30 years will know who Brian West is. Since the mid 1980s, Brian has been preparing and selling yearlings for the Christcurch based sale and during that time he has lead the way in introducing things such as specialized feeding and exercise programmes which have revolutionized how yearlings are prepared in 2016 compared to just a few years ago. The yearlings presented at New Zealand sales in 2016 are up there with anything in the world and Brian has been a big part of that development over the years. There wouldn't be a major yearling vendor in North America who hasn't had a visit from Brian trying to pick their brains for any knowledge that would help his boutique breeding operation Studholme Park produce a better yearling. The results would say that Brian is as good as it gets when it comes to producing elite level age group performers and this years draft once again looks full of quality individuals. I recently sat down with Brian to discuss this years draft and to ask for his opinion on which lots had really impressed him but he wanted his staff involved in the discussion as well . " I have outstanding staff lead by Jan Payne and I respect their opinion enormously so I will nominate the yearlings that have impressed me but I would like their views to be known as well as they have been with the yearlings since day one," Brian told Harnesslink this week Brians Selections Top Colt  -  Lot 334 - A chestnut colt by Love You from Paramount Star Just an outstanding colt in every way. He has a lovely attitude, he is with you the whole time. Very quick learner and just a pleasure to work with. I have bred some elite level trotters in the past but this colt is the next generation up in my opinion. He just ticks every box for me Top Filly - Lot 260  -  A brown filly by Bettor's Delight from Lancome This filly reminds me so much of her mother and she has all those little habits that her dam had. There is a bit of class about her when you work with her and she has a superb temperament which is so critical today. I have had a lot of high class fillies through Studholme Park over the years and you pick up all the little traits that the elite performers have and this filly has them all in spades. Sleeper in the draft  -  Lot 398  -  A bay colt by Art Official from Simply Devine This was an easy selection. Being by Art Official means he is behind the eight ball from the start but the buyers should put their catalogue down and just have a look at the colt. He is one very well put together colt and a very attractive type in the flesh. A very quick learner who is just a pleasure to do anything with. Everyone at Studholme Park likes him which is a rare achievement for a yearling here I can tell you. He is there to be sold so someone is going to get a cheap horse whatever he sells for.   Staffs Selection (Jan Payne) Top Colt - Lot 312 - A brown colt by Bettor's Delight from My Style A lovely colt who has all the attributes you look for in those elite colts.. He is a correct attractive colt, who is always cooperative when you are working with him. He is a very alert colt who is a very quick learner but not one to get stressed. Just ticks every box and does it easily. Top Filly  -  Lot 493  - A bay filly by Bettor's Delight from A Legend Just a lovely filly to do anything with right from day one. She picks things up quickly and is a very mature filly for her age. Nothing worries her which is a big plus and she has all the attributes of a filly that will run early. Sleeper in the draft  -  Lot 398 - A bay colt by Art Official from Simply Devine I have to agree with Brian here in that the Art Official colt has impressed everyone at Studholme during the yearling preparation. He is such a lovely individual to do anything with and is a great looking horse as well. He has shown all the attributes you look for in an elite colt but being by Art Official will see him make a fraction of what we think he is worth. Brian and Studholme Park are offering twenty yearlings over the two days of the New Zealand Premier Yearling Sale at Christchurch and one thing you can be sure of is those yearlings have lacked for nothing in the lead up to next week. Harnesslink Media

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