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Harness Racing trainer Brendon McLellan is back in Canterbury and hoping to go one better than last year. The Southland horseman arrived in Christchurch on Tuesday night with a four horse contingent to contest winter racing at Addington and around Canterbury over the next month. The main target is the South of the Waitaki Winter Warmer Series which begins next week with the first heat and culminates at the end of the month with an $11,000 Final. The series is available for horses graded up to the C1 level before the close of nominations for the first heat on Friday, July 8 provided they were registered as being trained in the Southland region prior to May 1, 2016. McLellan had moderate success in the series last year with Wick winning two of the four heats before finishing second to the exciting four-year-old Tact Tate who has since gone on to do good things in Australia. “It’s a good series, especially with very no options at home other than Forbury,” he said. “It certainly makes it worth coming up and having a crack anyway.” Three of the McLellan team will line up tonight at Addington to kick off their campaigns. Maiden pacer Luciano meets an even looking maiden field early on in the night and is expected to improve with the run. “I’m picking he’d be a run short, he does go ok though and will improve.” Mr Handleman, who raced in a heat of the South of the Waitaki Series last year goes around in the junior drivers’ event with Craig Ferguson in the sulky. “He’s a bit of an in and out sort of horse. He’s got some ability, but he doesn’t always put it out on the track. “We’ve gone back to the stand because he can begin when he wants too. “He’s here for the Series so we will know where we are at after this week anyway.” The third runner is the consistent Vera’s Delight who has been handed a tough barrier draw of nine in a 1950 metre mobile event for fillies and mares. The field includes Glenferrie Classic, Smoke N Fire, Donegal Rundlescreek, My Cash and Kotare Kasai so won’t be an easy task. “She’s got a job in front of her from out there, it’s going to be pretty tough. “But she does go alright and is more than capable, she will take some benefit out of the run too.” McLellan is based at the Woodend Beach branch of the Mark Jones stable while in Canterbury and will split his time between there and his home base in Southland. He is travelling down to Forbury on Friday to drive Vera Mac from his own stable and also Robyn Kim in the opening race of the night. Meanwhile the $3,000 bonuses offered for the First 4’s at Sunday’s abandoned Marlborough meeting have been transferred to tonight’s meeting meaning there’s extra reason to get involved throughout the night. With big even fields there’s every possibility of a few jackpots during proceedings which could see pools get significantly large as the night progresses. Super Selector - By Matt Markham Race 1: Westy Boyz, Deva Jones, Fira Sunset, Brylin Rose Race 2: Rapid Flight, Stunning Deal, Dalness Mac, Sheeza GNP Race 3: Freedom Fighter, Art I Am, Regal Grin, Big Buddie Race 4: He’s Like The Wind, Matatoki, Jean Sebastien, We’ll Meet Again Race 5: Kashana, Glenferrie Classic, Smoke N Fire, My Cash Race 6: Superfecta, Franco Nate, Woosh Factor, Mighty Empire Race 7: Franco Cristiano, GI Joe, Hypervelocity, Innocent Artist Race 8: Amaretto Sun, Clover Mac, Gee Up Neddy, Tornado Valley Race 9: Letspendanitetogetha, On The Rantan, McClinchie, Gabby’s Star Race 10: Junior, Ballymore Boy, Returntorocknroll, Franco Hamilton Best Bet: Freedon Fighter (Race 3) Value: Kashana (Race 5) Longshot: Franco Hamilton (Race 10) Matt Markham

Harness Racing Jewels winning mare Rocker Band will get her chance to compete against the best of the best. The daughter of New Zealand Trotting Cup winning mare, Mainland Banner, was earmarked for retirement following her emphatic 4YO Diamond victory at last month’s Harness Jewels, but discussions between her trainer Mark Jones and owner Greg Brodie have led them down a different path all together. The fledgling mare will become a mother still with an embryo to be taken from her and partnered with champion stallion Bettor’s Delight before being placed in a surrogate mare. “Greg and I had a pretty big chat about her future and it’s his wish to continue racing her,” Jones said. “But by taking an embryo from her we get to safeguard anything that might happen in the future.” On the racing front the trainer/owner combination have settled on the Queen Of Hearts as the first major assignment for her five-year-old campaign. “We will give her a few starts here and see where we are at before making any other decisions. “Australia is an option for us if it proves to be too hard for her here. “She’s a C8 mare, and even with a new handicapping system she would still have to race the Cup horses. “I probably don’t give her enough credit, she’s capable of doing it but it will be a big ask.” There are plenty of other mares around New Zealand in a similar boat - particularly those Rocker Band beat in the Diamond like; Expressive Victor, Democrat Party and Better B Amazed. While the open class mares’ ranks weren’t overly strong this season they are expected to return to a high standard with the Dream About Me, Golden Goddess and Piccadilly Princess joining the ranks along with the return of The Orange Agent. “It’s going to be tough, but it’s better to die wondering than not try at all. “So we will give her a chance and see what happens. With the racing calendar we’ve got she could chop and change between here and Australia.” While the news that his outstanding mare would be returning to his stable and not to the broodmare paddock was welcomed by Jones, it hasn’t all been warm and fuzzy this week. Open class pacer Saveapatrol is back in the hospital ward for another three to six months after cracking another pastern. The big pacer who down Terror To Love to win an Invercargill Cup has been plagued with injuries throughout his career and the latest blow was nearly the last straw. Jones and owner Grant Hatton discussed the option of calling time on the gelding’s career but have instead opted to have a screw inserted into the pastern to see if that holds together. “It’s pretty disappointing, especially for Grant who has been so patient. “He’s out for at least three months.” With 52 wins on the board and the promise of a few more before the season is done, Jones is reflecting on another good 12 months at the coal face. “We managed to win two Group Ones which is fantastic but we have also well and truly exceeded expectations. “When I sat down at the start of the season I thought 20 was a good figure so to be close to triple that is something I’m proud of.” The Burnham and Woodend Beach horseman said the stable was in a real transitional phase at the moment with a large number of younger horses on the books with some of the racing team sold on to other interests. Matt Markham

Two of the forgotten stars of New Zealand harness racing are slowly but surely building towards a comeback in the first half of next season. Open class trotting stars, Stent and Master Lavros have both had their seasons cut short by injury but are pleasing their respective trainers in their build up towards making it back to the track. Stent, who was found to be suffering from a hole in his suspensory, has done six weeks jogging at the stables of his trainers, Colin and Julie DeFilippi. “He’s coming along nicely,” Colin said. “We had him scanned and given the once over last week and the vet was very happy with him so at this stage it’s all systems go.” After an initial preparation which involved a lot of walking and swimming, Stent was sent to the Methven Equine Centre for three weeks. The business which specialises in massage, swimming and agistment is situated a few kilometres east of Methven. “It was purely just to give him a bit of a break and in a way that he didn’t have to put too much pressure on himself. “It worked really well, he came back in great nick.” DeFilippi said that it was a case of so far so good in terms of soundness for the $1 million earner, but there is no rush to get him back to the races. “He’s due to step up his work in the next month and then we will look at getting into some serious fast work if everything is still OK. “We won’t be pushing him though, he will tell us if and when he is ready.” DeFilippi and Stent’s owner Trevor Casey won’t make any plans for the gelding until they know they have a horse who is 100 per cent which means that Cup Week in November isn’t a lock in. “The Dominion would be nice, especially to take on Monbet. “He’s clearly the best now, but we aren’t that far behind when we are right so it would be a great clash.” On the other side of State Highway One, Mark Jones is all smiles at the progress of this season’s Dominion Handicap winner, Master Lavros. The big gelding did an extensive stint in the care of noted thoroughbred trainer, Brian Court after he suffered a hind suspensory injury late last year. “He seems really good, he’s been out on the beach with Regan (Regan Todd) for the best part of two months now. “He never really went to the paddock, Brian Court had him for quite a while and he just did fitness on the water walker and treadmill.” Like DeFilippi, Jones is in no rush to get back to the track. “It would be nice to be ready for Cup Week, but the horse deserves to find his own way there if that’s the case. “We certainly won’t be pushing him that’s for sure.” Master Lavros will be scanned next Monday to find out whether or not he is ready to take the next step up in his work. Matt Markham

Exciting three-year-old Mattgregor is now racing the clock to be ready for the Queensland Derby next month at Albion Park. Connections were again forced to scratch their talented pacer yesterday (Tuesday) owing to an unfortunate setback which occurred on Monday night. The New Zealand bred gelding become cast in his box and ended up with a superficial wound on his hind leg which left connections with no option but to withdraw him from yesterday’s race. “Luckily, he didn’t do any major damage but we weren’t prepared to start him although we need to get some racing under his belt quickly because the Derby classics are just around the corner. All going well, hopefully he’ll be right to go next week.” Trainer Chantal Turpin said. It’s the second time in as many weeks that the speedy pacer has been scratched. Since arriving from New Zealand late last year after being purchased from the stables of respected Canterbury horseman Mark Jones, Mattgregor has won three of his four starts to date. All three victories coming at Albion Park and all in sub 1:54 time. Mattgregor has not raced since winning at Albion Park on December 22 where he paced the mile in a scorching time of 1:53.4. The Gr.1 $75,000 Queensland Derby is scheduled for July 16. Connections are also mindful of the UBET Picket Fence bonus of $20,000 if he can win three races in a row including the Queensland Derby. Chris Barsby

Harness Racing Driver Sam Ottley is enjoying the best week of her career at the moment. After her win with Rocker Band in the 4yo Diamond on Jewels day last Saturday, Ottley hasn't looked back and went on to record a treble at today's Nelson Harness Racing Club's meeting. It was three wins in the space of four races for the Woodend based reins women, which included a double for her employer Mark Jones. Although it all started with the upset of the day in Race 4, when Ottley reined home Feel Real for Kaiapoi trainer Glenn Scott paying a whopping $44.40 and $7.00. With the favourite galloping early, Sam had the 3yo Real Desire filly straight into the trail, behind the Jones driven, Southbrook. From there on it was just a small matter of having to get past Southbrook and first starter Regal Grin, who was ultra brave on debut for Ken Barron and the goHarness Buy, Race and Sell Syndicate. In the next it was Kowhai Monarch who got the chocolates for Ottley and Jones. The 4yo gelding by Monarchy is owned by J G & Mrs D J Hartnell and recorded his 3rd career victory when winning by 1 ¾ lengths over Clifden Clowers (John Morrison) and ¾ lengths to Yankee Commando (Murray Edmonds) in 3rd. Ottley left the best for last with her drive on Croft Bay, who was drawn awkwardly on the back row. Sitting near last with a lap to run, Ottley was off and gone to sit parked before being able to out toughen the rest of the field and recording a neck victory over Ardent Lustre (Blair Orange). All three runners will back up tomorrow for the 2nd day of the meeting, with Kowhai Monarch looking Sam's best chance to double up. Andrew Fitzgerald

Rocker Band’s greatest performance may have been her last. The dazzling Jewels winner came from a seemingly hopeless position on Saturday to give harness racing driver Samantha Ottley her first group one victory and kick off a day of drama for some of those who got locked up on the markers.   Favourites like Dream About Me and Pacing Major were luckless and stormed into minor placings after being locked away, but Lady Luck smiled on Ottley and Rocker Band after they were pushed to four back on the inside.   She unwound in a style her NZ Cup-winning dam Mainland Banner would have been proud of but trainer Mark Jones fears he now has nowhere to go with the mare.   “She comes back a class eight mare next season and there are really only three major races for her to be aimed at, and even they mean taking on The Orange Agent and Dream About Me,” says Jones.   “There just aren’t enough mares races for the best mares and most of them aren’t good enough to race the male cup horses.   “So she might be better off in the broodmare paddock, with her record and breeding.”
 Jones owns Rocker Band, a Rocknroll Hanover mare, but leases her racing right to Greg Brodie of Courage Under Fire fame.   “I am thrilled she won for Greg because he has been with me all the way along and also for Sam.   “Some people ask me why I don’t drive her myself but if I did I would have been worrying all week about what she needed in the race, instead of just training her.   “And I have been given plenty of opportunities so it is nice to give them to somebody else.”   While Jones is a former World Driver’s Champ, current title holder Dexter Dunn was also a winner on Saturday with both Donegal Bettorgretch and Field Marshal.   Field Marshall was typical Dunn, off the gate fast then controlling the tempo of the race, easing to his third group one on end for trainer Tim Butt.   Butt will bring him back next season for the Cup meeting but he may not be an ideal New Zealand Cup horse, with the plethora of mobile races in Australia appealing more.   Dunn’s drive on Donegal Bettorgretch was aggressive and broke the heart of leader Missandei before hot favourite Marcoola galloped when challenging her in the home straight.   His trainer Clint Ford said his case wasn’t helped by Marcoola having no lead up races and being too fresh, the problem causes by him winning his way through to class six in late April, making suitable races hard to find.   Donegal Bettorgretch has strengthened into a good filly and is a rarity on two counts --- being by champion pacing sire Bettors Delight and one of the few squaregaiters trained by Cran Dalgety. MIchael Guerin

With the big names falling out of contention for 4-year-old Diamond, Harness racing trainer ​Mark Jones believes Rocker Band is now a winning chance at the Harness Jewels - but there is a downside. The withdrawals of last year's three-year-old Diamond winner The Orange Agent (injured), Fight For Glory (retired), Start Dreaming (injured) and then Australian invite Arms Of An Angel (virus), there is no dominant favourite. Now the most open of the nine divisions, Jones knows there is probably eight or nine other trainers sharing his confidence.  Better B Amazed ($3.60), Expressive Victor ($4.20), Democrat Party ($4.60) and On The Town are the main pre-barrier draw hopes with Rocker Band at $9.50. Jones believes the draws with be crucial. "The second line wouldn't be too bad but we wouldn't want to draw wide as you need to be handy at Cambridge. "With her (Arms Of An Angel) coming out it's probably opened it up for eight or nine horses so it could be very even," Jones said. Sunday's Oamaru meeting is the last chance for potential Jewels runners to increase their season's stake money to qualify into the fields. The race has become much more of a priority to Jones and Rocker Band's owner Greg Brodie because of the defections of so many leading chances. Rocker Band, the daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner, has been progressing nicely since her last-start 12th in the Group I Breeders Stakes on April 1, when she raced keenly for a good chunk of the 2600m trip. "Her record over a mile is pretty good and she's a speed horse," Jones said. Rocker Band's recent Rangiora Workout win Meanwhile, Tim Butt is a relieved man following duel Group I winner Field Marshal's recovery from a minor bout of colic on Tuesday. The Taylor Mile and Messenger winner was brilliant in his Auckland campaign and is a $1.55 favourite for the 4-year-old Emerald at the Jewels. Butt said you can never take anything for granted in the racing game and colic was an occupational hazard with horses but he was confident the minor setback was now behind the winner of eight of his last 10 races and 14 from 25 overall. "He'll just take it quietly for a couple of days but we kept the work into him after Auckland so that will help him," Butt said. Missing the Jewels would have been tough for Butt and owners Syd and Shona Brown, who bred the Art Major entire out of their outstanding race mare Foreal, because he missed much of his three-year-old season following a wind operation. Pre-barrier draw, Field Marshal looks the horse to beat but newcomer to the All Stars barn, Titan Banner, has been backed into $3.40.     "On form he looks like the best horse in the race but you still need a bit of luck in those big races." The All Stars stable looks to have both Group I features at Addington on Saturday in the bag with favourites in the New Zealand Oaks and 2-year-old Sires Stakes for colts and geldings. The All Stars barn of Mark Purdon​ and Natalie Rasmussen also looks likely to pick up a win across the Tasman to round out the day when High Gait, who will be driven by Darren Hancock, contests the Group II New South Wales Trotting Oaks. Christen Me should have enough class to win the Winter Cup (3200m) off 30m but front-markers New Years Jay and Titan Banner (off 10m) will make him work. Mat Kermeen

The clash of two talented 2yo fillies highlights the Auckland Trotting Clubs meeting at Alexandra Park tomorrow night. Spanish Armada starts from barrier 3 in the $150,000 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2yo Fillies Final for the power Purdon/Rasmussen partnership. The Tab opening the Bettor’s Delight filly at $1.28 resembles how good the All Stars filly is. Already a multiple group winner, including the Young Guns, Sire Stakes and Caduceus Club Classic finals, Spanish Armada has earnt just over $200,000 in just the 6 life time starts. The All Star’s stable will line up another 4 runners in the Final, bringing their final number to 5 starters from the 7 fillies set to do battle. While it is now common to see the blue and sliver stars returning to the birdcage, Burnham trainer Mark Jones is looking to buck the trend. Jones will line up handy Bettor’s Delight filly Delightful Memphis, who has finished 2nd to Spanish Armada in 2 of the last 3 major races. While drawing out in barrier 5 with three All Star fillies inside her is not in her favour, she showed last week that with a tidy run, she has the point to point speed to upset favourite punters. Whoever wins tomorrow, the battle will continue at the Harness Jewels, where it is expected the 2yo section will be a highlight of a fantastic day of racing. Spanish Armada beats Delightful Memphis last start. Andrew Fitzgerald

Canterbury trainer/driver Mark Jones is set to step in the boxing ring again. Jones will be in action this Friday against Guy McMenamin in the “Corporate Chaos” at the Hornby Workingmen’s Club. While in the ring, Delightful Memphis and Real Torque will represent Jones in both ends of NZ.  Delightful Memphis will start in the Magness Benrow Sire Stakes Fillies Championship while Real Torque will line up in a heat of the Nevele R Fillies Series. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  Australian Campaign confirmed for Christen Me. As expected Trainer Cran Dalgety and connections have decided to set their eyes on the Len Smith Mile at Menangle (Sydney) on the 26th June. While the Brisbane Carnival is also on the radar depending on how he comes through his Sydney campaign. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ HRNZ NEWS Effective for the new racing season, commencing August 1st 2016; *Minimum programmed stakes for races will be increased from $5,000 to $6,000. *Clubs will be required to apply a stakes distribution model that guarantees a minimum of 2% of every programmed stake will be paid to all starters. *In addition, a Stakes Supplement Payment of $50 will be paid to all runners placed outside of the first four, in races with programmed stakes of less then $20,000. Andrew Fitzgerald

Talented 2yo filly Delightful Memphis will get her shot at Group 1 glory next week when she contests the $110,000 Woodlands Stud Caduceus Club Fillies Classic at Auckland. The connections of the Mark Jones filly, who last week was gallant in defeat after sitting parked almost the entire way, have stumped up the large $15,000.00 late payment fee. Jones was suitably impressed by the run last week and a start in the Caduceus Classic was an obvious choice. “She’s come through last week’s run really well, and with their only being three Group 1s for the 2yo fillies it makes sense to have a crack at this one while we are up here” said Jones. Blair Orange will take back the reins next week after Jones handled her himself last week. “Blair couldn’t drive her last week due to the premier meeting at Addington, but it worked out well as I didn’t mind driving her myself just to see how she handled that way around” “It’s an even bunch of fillies this year and it all comes down to whoever draws the best and receives the best trip, they can all run the time, you just have to be close enough at the 400m to win” said Mark. The late payment also makes Delightful Memphis eligible for the Peter Breckon Memorial Ladyship Stakes in December this year. Delightful Memphis is co owned by Wayne Higgs, cricket commentator Simon Doull, Sir Lions Limited, Pete & Debra Smith, Kaysan Farming Limited, BM & JH Holdings Ltd   Meanwhile the Paul Court trained filly Jewel on the Beach is unlikely to pay the late entry fee with connections set on featuring in next season's top races. Andrew Fitzgerald

Michelle Neilson has been appointed Stable Manager for the All Stars operation with her duties combing an administrative and liaison role which will help the stable function more efficiently in a number of areas. "I will be doing a lot of the day to day things that Mark or Natalie would have been doing such as bookings, nominations, notifications so they can concentrate more on what they do so well which is training and driving horses." "I will also have a role with owners contacting them when their horses are trialling and racing and advising them of their horse's progress." "I am looking forward to this as an extension of my previous experiences and I will still be available for practical help around the stables when required," Michelle said. Michelle is a long time friend of Natalie and followed her over to New Zealand working in the stables for a while before branching out to the Mark Jones stable and latterly Phil Burrows largely with the hope of greater driving opportunities. "I lost my Junior's licence this season and have found it hard going." "You just drop off the radar when that happens" Michelle noted. A successful driver in Australia before coming here, Michelle has had a good strike rate as a driver in this country and will have some opportunities in her new role. All Stars welcomes Michelle to her new role. Her contact number for liaison is 0279370206 David McCarthy All Stars Racing Stables   -   Check site here

 The $25,000 Caduceus Club of Southland Pace for Two year old fillies at the harness racing meeting at Ascot Park in Invercargil yesterday is a highly sought after race each year by South Island trainers and yesterdays field of twelve runners was indicative of that interest. The Leonard Memorial winner Delightful Memphis from the Mark Jones barn was a warm favourite even though she had drawn awkwardly at two second line. Her main competition was expected to come from the Mach Three filly Renske B from the All Star barn who had shown plenty of promise in her brief career to date and had pleased trainer Mark Purdon with her work leading into the race. Kotare Yarra and John Dunn flew the gate from barrier seven to lead early from Ariadne Lavra who trailed and Renske B who ended up in the one out position in the open. Hard on her back after getting a lovely run through from her second line draw was Delightful Memphis  and Ricky May. With Kotare Yarra setting a good tempo in front there were no mid race moves and the order remained the same as they went past the 400 metres. On the point of the turn, Delightful Memphis peeled three wide and slowly but surely worked herself past Renske B who fought hard but had no answer to the Bettor's Delight filly who went on to make it two from two in her career to date. A very game Renske B held second from Ariadne Lavra who never left the inner at any point of the race in running third why Kotare Yarra impressed once again by doing a power of work and sticking on for a game fourth. Delightful Memphis impressed Ricky May with her effort. " She gave me quite a few worries in her preliminary by running about something terrible." " I had been told she was still very green but the degree did surprise me." " However to be fair to her, when she turned to follow the mobile at the start, she was a lot more tractable and didn't do anything seriously wrong during the running." " With the run she got she was always going to win that race but she did give me a very nice feel and felt like a filly that could develop with further experience into a high class racehorse, "Ricky told Harnesslink post race. Raced by Wayne Higgs and Simon Doull amongst others, Delightful Memphis will shortly come up against the likes of Spanish Armarda and Casino Belle but on her two race starts to date ,she looks more than up to the challenge. Delightful Memphis Harnesslink Media

Miracle Mile placegetter Arms Of An Angel will represent Australia at the New Zealand harness racing Jewels in June. Officials issued an invitation to the connections of the Australian four-year-old mare and it was quickly accepted with trainer Shane Tritton confirming the daughter of Elsu will also be targeting the Taylor Mile at Alexandra Park on April 22. Arms Of An Angel has recovered remarkably well from her effort on Sunday and Tritton will look towards Menangle in the coming weeks to keep her 'ticking over' until her trip across the Tasman. "I've got seven weeks until the Taylor Mile, we had been working really hard with her prior to the Chariots Of Fire about teaching her to relax in her races and that all went out the window over the past few weeks," Tritton said. "What I need to do now is start tinkering with her gear in an attempt to get her to come back to Lauren after an early burn and that is what I will do in her next few starts in Sydney." The Len Smith Mile at Tabcorp Park Menangle in June is another target for Tritton this season. "Everything works out pretty well by the looks of it, we've got the Taylor Mile in April, the Jewels in the first week of June and then we have three weeks until the Len Smith Mile. "After the Len Smith Mile I think she will have deserved a good break and then I'll sit down and look at what to do with her next season." Tritton is considering leaving Arms Of An Angel with New Zealand trainer Mark Jones during the month of May as he and Lauren Panella head to the USA. "Lauren and I are getting married on May 22 and we are having a bit of a reverse honeymoon with a week in Las Vegas in the first week of May. Originally the plan had been to have a week in Vegas, a week in New York and a week in Hawaii with the wedding at the end but now with Arms Of An Angel we might have to cut short the trip. "If she settles in with Mark and he is happy to look after her while we are away it might still work itself out but we're going to have to be a bit flexible with our plans now." Tritton has also showed interest in taking talented two year old Blue Moon Rising to New Zealand for the Jewels. The youngster was impressive on debut at Bathurst before winning again at Menangle. "We'd definitely be interested in taking him too but he probably has to keep on winning to keep his name up in front of the selectors. "The plan is to take him to Goulburn and then maybe Young and if his form warrants it and the invite is forthcoming then we would be very keen for him to go." Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) is the controlling body for harness racing in New South Wales with responsibility for commercial and regulatory management of the industry including 31 racing clubs across the State. HRNSW is headed by an industry-appointed Board of Directors and is independent of Government. Greg Hayes    

The second leg of this years harness racing Australian Pacing Gold Yearling Sale is being held in Sydney at Randwick today and it has taken an age to get into its stride. The first thirty lots were a bit of a struggle with a lot of buy backs but it slowly got a bit of momentum as we moved into the second thirty and leading New Zealand trainer Mark Jones set it going when he chased and secured Lot 234 for his New Zealand barn. A big upstanding daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, she is the first foal from the former outstanding age group performer in Joyfuljoy 1:51.6 ($480,422). A Harness Jewels winner at three at Ashburton, Joyfuljoy carried on at four and then in North America as an older mare. It has been a very smart  fillies family in New Zealand with Joyfulbelle 1:56.3 and Jumpforjoy 1:55.8 just a couple who have being competitive in age group classics over the last ten years. Mark Jones went to $65,000 for her which got the sale moving from then on. Mark thought he had got a bargain. " She is a lovely big filly by a sire who is predominantly a filly sire. " Rock N Roll Heaven fillies have done a great job all over the world and I thought on type she would fetch a bit more than she did." " The beauty in buying here is you you get two bites of the cherry with them." " You can race them in classics in  both countries for good money so it makes sense to buy here. "Her dam was a brilliant age group filly and the whole family is full of smart fillies so I am glad to get her for what I did," Mark told Harnesslink this afternoon.  Later in the sale Mark went back and dipped his toe in the market again and  bought a striking son of Somebeachsomewhere from a Falcon Seelster daughter of Tanisa Vance who sold as Lot 340 for $47,000 The number of Kiwis buying at the APG Yearling Sales continues to grow each year and it will keep doing so while they can buy quality fillies like Lot 234. For the full details on Lot 234 click here. Harnesslink Media   

Canterbury harness racing trainer Mark Jones has done all the hard work leading up to this years yearling sales, inspecting yearlings from one end of the country to the other. Mark has sorted out a core group of yearlings that have really impressed him and is confident that he has unearthed a few stars to be along the way. With all the success Mark has had in recent years buying from the yearling sales and on selling to Australia it is no surprise that his clients are lining up to reinvest once again. However Mark does have a problem this year in that he has identified the biggest bunch of yearlings that he has ever wanted to purchase and he is looking for some new owners to join the Overport Lodge team. " All the owners who have supported me over the last few years are back this year but I am probably targeting five or six more yearlings this year than I have in the past and so I am looking for some new owners to put together syndicates with." " I have seen so many quality yearlings during the the inspections this year that I have had to try to expand the ownership base as I think there will be a lot of value for money yearlings on offer next week, Mark explained to Harnesslink earlier this week. When you look back over the last few years at the record Mark has built up with buying yearlings from the sales, it is no surprise that his present owners reinvest every year. Mark has a history of selling quality horses, such as smart filly/mare Rocker Band (1:53.5, seven wins from 19 starts for $66,472), who he sold unraced to good Queensland stable client Greg Brodie. Last July, he on-sold Cruz Bromac, who has been a revelation in his Australian racing for Victorian trainer Dean Braun. Selected by Mark at the NZ Yearling Sales for $12,000, Cruz Bromac was given time . Despite leaving a cold Canterbury winter unraced, Cruz Bromac paced 1:51.6 (1609m) at just his third start at Menangle last August for the Braun stable. The Falcon Seelster-Crown Defender gelding has now won six of 12 starts for $62,815. The Braun stable was also the beneficiary after purchasing former Overport Lodge filly Itz Nosurprisesthere. Itznosurprisesthere was on-sold to Australia to maximize her earning potential after being born in the same season as champion Adore Me, who after dominating the 3YO fillies races that term, went on to win the 2014 NZ Cup winner and paced a 1:47.7 mile at Menangle. Itznosurprisesthere made her mark in Australia, winning the NSW Oaks, the Tasmanian Oaks and the Queensland Oaks. She won six of just 15 starts for $A216,900. Close relative Itz Bettor To Win sold unraced out of the Mark Jones stable after showing 2YO promise. He won the Group Three Alabar NZ Kindergarten Stakes at two first-up for the Allstars Stable in 1:54.3. Itz Bettor To Win has won eight of 18 NZ starts for $128,548. Others to be sold out of Mark’s stable to have made an impact across the Tasman include: (Glenferrie) Alexis (1:55.9, 19 wins & $288,323); Jackaroo Bromac (1:54, 18 wins & $A145,944; My Jellignite (1:52.4, 21 wins & $A212,569; Badjellys Courage (1:56, 13 wins & $A57,155); Courage Tells (1:54.8, 25 wins & $A170,003); Offtocullect (1:57.7, eight wins & $45,269); Lethal Rocket (1:55.5, 15 wins & $236,417); Jackaroozy (1:56.1, 16 wins & $A112,759); and My Man Dan (1:54.2, 32 wins & $A207,220). Former smart Kiwi pacer Ohoka Texas and quiet achiever San Fran Lady, have been a couple of many ex-Overport Lodge pacers to make their mark in the United States. Ohoka Texas, winner of 12 races in NZ including a Group Two Pelorus Trust 4YO Classic and a Group Three Invercargill Cup for Mark Jones, has lowered his career best to 1:50.2 in America. He’s won a further eight races and over $121,000 in the United States, with his career earnings closing in on $300,000. San Fran Lady, bred by Frances and Max Bowden, won three of 16 NZ starts for Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones, before being sold to race Australia, and latterly North America. She won 15 times in Australia, paced 1:53 there and won the Group Three $30,00 Sky Super Sprint Final at Newcastle, in November 2010. Six years on, San Fran Lady is still winning. She racked up her 30th career win from 102 starts with her latest win at Delaware, Ohio, on January 31, taking her earnings over the equivalent of $NZ233,000. She has lowered her lifetime mile best to 1:52 in North America. Her half-brothers, Union Buster and Princeton, also become good Australian winner after being sold to Australian interests from humble beginnings in Canterbury. Last season, Champagne Dreams, the Art Major year older half-sister to outstanding 2 and 3YO colt Lazarus (p2, 1:52.9, 12 wins and two placings from 14 starts for over $600,000), was sold to Australian interests. She won just once in NZ but was a raceplaced NZ 3YO filly over a mile in 1:55.9. Champagne Dreams has taken a 1:56.5 record across the Tasman, winning her first two Queensland starts. With that kind of record Mark has certainly established himself as one of the best buy and sell operators in New Zealand. If you wish to join him in any of the new syndicates he is putting together, you can contact him on the following numbers. Home - (03) 347-6240          Mobile - 0272328172            Email - turf21@hotmail .com     Harnesslink Media   

After a great run on Day 1, the Mark Jones trained, I Get Around was surprisingly sent out a $10 shot on Day 2 at the Nelson harness racing meeting. After getting a sweet trip in the trail, she burst to the lead in the straight and won as she liked for long-time owner and breeder, Kevin Stanley. Based in Sydney, we got in touch with Kevin to congratulate him.   What got you interested in Harness Racing?   My Dad was a keen racing man and he started taking me to Hutt Park, Wellington, when I was only about 10 years old. The whole thing fascinated me - the crowds, the cheering, the horses, the meat pies! As a teenager, I became even more fascinated - the intricacies of race tactics/driving, seeing stars of that era race up-close-and-personal, and the regular clashes between horses from the North Island and the South Island. Watching Bob Young, Maurice Homes, Charlie Hunter, Cardigan Bay, Geffin, Control (winning both double legs in one night, beating the pacers in one), Garcon Roux, etc, wasn’t a bad start in the game. The main things that have never left me are the accessibility of harness racing to the general public, the incredible evolution of the breed over my lifetime, and the genuine value, bang for buck, the sport offers.   When my wife and I married, in 1970, we didn’t have the wherewithal to become involved in harness racing as owners or breeders. Having kids, moving cities, studying, etc didn’t make it any easier. We both loved the game, especially me, so it was inevitable we’d get into it more seriously at some stage. After a $5,000 treble dividend at Ellerslie while recuperating from a cartilage operation (more serious back then), we bought our first horse, in 1979, a weanling colt by Mark Lobell. After he ran 4th in the first 2YO race of his season, we were offered reasonable money for him. Should have taken it - lesson one!   How long have you been breeding Standardbreds?   I bought a filly called Baise Francaise from Bruce Barlass back about the mid 1980’s. She didn’t make it as a racehorse, but I bred her with a stallion called Happy Cat. No idea why, and no success there either, but I guess we all learnt a lot. We were then out of the game, as more than race-fans, until 2004, after we had been living in Australia for about 15 years.   We then had a successful return to racehorse ownership, prompted by a good friend contacting me about an untried 2YO that his brother, Sydney trainer Martin Herbert, was very keen to purchase from Spreydon Lodge. Significantly for my future breeding biases, the colt was one of the first crop of Bettors Delight in NZ. History shows this horse, Franco Nester, won 29 races and was good enough to be a Harold Park “Horse of the Year”. What a return, and we were obviously hooked. Being a bit better placed financially to be involved in harness racing, for which we had never really lost our love, a few more racehorses followed, mostly purchased as young up-and-going horses from NZ.We started breeding, as a hobby really, in 2013, with a mare called Anna Finn, also by Bettors Delight. Anna had showed great speed but had bone chips and we decided not to try her as a racing proposition. She had breeding that intrigued me, being from a New York Motoring mare and a half-sister to the best early 2YO filly of her year in Australia, Molly Finn.   So, we’re new to the game really, but now we have three mares, two in Canterbury and one in NSW. Of potential interest to other breeders, we don’t have land, so we base these mares in the care of friends or respected agistment professionals. This can obviously be expensive, but it would be interesting to compare the real costs of having a small broodmare band on your own property, or paying someone else to do it all. Get involved with people you trust and who respect the horse as an animal - lesson two! Anna has an attractive filly in this year’s APG Sydney Sale, and we have two in the Christchurch Sale, a filly by Rocknroll Heaven from Niki Franco (Franco Nester’s half-sister by In The Pocket), and a colt by Mach Three from Cotton Row, who we raced in NSW but sent back to NZ for her breeding career. Niki had a colt by Bettors who sold in last year’s Christchurch Sale. He was our first “NZ bred” foal.   First horse you bred?   Anna Finn’s first foal was a colt by Stonebridge Regal. Named Regal Lager, he has won four races in Adelaide and we believe he has more wins to come. We race him with friends and he’s been a great source of fun. His first win was as thrilling as people say your “first bred winner” is! I’m conveniently forgetting the Happy Cat filly in the 80’s and saying we have a 100% winners to foals record.   First race winner you bred?   As above.   Why do you breed Standardbreds?   We’ve had a lot of luck with our racing ventures since Franco Nester. I put that success down to selecting from pedigrees that are either proven or involve new stallions from our favourite sire lines, to having great advisors when it comes to assessing conformation, and, of course, good trainers who have a love for their horses. We breed with that same spirit - loving the challenge of finding the right cross, the next successful stallions, and having the faith in the families of our small band of mares. My wife Linda would not want us to stay involved unless all the horses were well cared for - like damned pets, but it is important for her, and for me. We really do get a lot of joy out of seeing the young ones come through and get the best chance they can to make it. We plan to put all or most foals up for sale as yearlings, but are perfectly happy to retain any that don’t sell, because they will have passed the tests I refer to above - sire lines/crosses, conformation, and maternal lines we believe in. Saves us buying from other people…….   I could go on about this subject for ages. We certainly want to breed a top horse, but we’d hope to do that with good stock, not just hoping a good one will appear “from nowhere", and not by spending a fortune on the very best families. Breeding is a great challenge all round, and very rewarding. We’ve met some great people, as we have without racing interests, so it’s about the best retirement hobby a person can have - is that lesson three?   What is your favourite horse (or) the best one you have bred?   Young Quinn was my favourite from “back in the day”, but then along came Nester! He gave us so much fun and proved the little guy can make it in harness racing with the right advice. Making the final of the NSW Derby with him, beating Lombo Pocket Watch in the heat, was about as good as it gets.   What is your favourite Stallion of all time?   Bettor's Delight. He’s the latest in a line of game-changers in the standardbred breed. The next one? Oh if only we knew! The first time I realised this phenomenon of a pacing stallion making a significant improvement in the breed was Vance Hanover.    Have you bred anything this season?   All our three mares have nice foals on the ground now, so we are looking forward to proving, one way or the other, the merit of our mares and their families, over the next few years. We’re just heard that two of them are back in foal, Anna Finn to Sunshine Beach, and Cotton Row to A Rocknroll Dance.   Something you would like to see change for Breeders?   More professionally managed syndication initiatives. The more people we have involved in ownership, the more there will be for everyone in all aspects of our sport. Perhaps more professional advice for breeders when it comes to financial challenges and opportunities. The opportunity for people who have land and a love of horses, and breeding, but who don’t have the mares to realistically breed a good horse, to access well credentialed mares whose owners do not want to spend time and money breeding from them. Some people with good racemares just don’t want to be breeders, and some who do, can’t afford well-bred mares. Can we in the sport/industry help bridge the gap, and not simply lose foal numbers and potentially good breeding stock?   Click here to view:    Click here to Subscribe:                     

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