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If Master Lavros can get the first 30 metres right, the next 2570 should be no problem. The 2013 Dominion Handicap winner starts his campaign at the harness racing meeting at Addington on Friday night as he heads towards the 2015 edition of the Group I. A $12,000 trot is hardly the glitz and glamour of the $250,000 Dominion but with Stent, Habibti and Kincaslough in, it shapes as an interesting leadup. Trainer Mark Jones has hardly had the perfect build up after Master Lavros missed a trial last week due to a minor illness, but Jones knows the giant 7-year-old son of Sundon is in much better shape than last year when was plagued by issues early in the season. Those issues made for frustrating times for Jones and his owner Kypros Kotzikas as manners continually blew his chances in races that should have been easy kills. In his only trial this preparation, Master Lavros skipped away from the tapes to give the field a 100m head start, something he cannot afford to do on Friday night. Master Lavros stepped perfectly in his final three stands last season and Jones puts the trial blemish down to being a bit fresh. "There's always a small question mark with him fresh up but I'm pretty confident he will step away this week, he seems very settled," Jones said. All the big bangers start off 30m with Habibti and Kincaslough off the unruly. "Because he's off 30m there isn't much in front of him and that's when he usually steps away best," Jones said. Jones is happy with Master Lavros' fitness despite missing the Rangiora trial and believes he could be fit enough to win. "Missing the trial could have been a blessing because the track was slushy," Jones said. "He's been trotting super so I'm pretty happy with him." Bookmakers currently have Master Lavros a $3.60 favourite to win the Dominion, with Stent at $3.80 and Sheemon at $5.50. Meanwhile, the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club has increased its minimum stake to $7500 from November 1. Club chairman Barry Dent said stakes and bonuses have risen 20 per cent at Addington since 2012. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ  -  Check site here

Every week, Harnesslink produces the harness racing ringaround where a group of twenty odd of our leading drivers give us their best tips for the weekend racing. Results in the main have been good with the odd shocker thrown in but last night at Addington Raceway the tipsters had a night to remember. The drivers selected horses in seven races last night at Addington and bagged five winners which is a great strike rate. In started in the first when Gavin Smith selected Paris Princess who led form go to whoa and returned a healthy dividend of $6:60 Blair Orange was the next tipster to see the winners circle with the very talented Southern GNP who was backed in very short but never gave his supporters any cause for concern with an effortless victory. Onto race 6 and Mark Jones was very bullish around the chances of Franco Harrington and the way he cruised to the front and ran away and hid in the home straight showed that his confidence was not misplaced. In race 8, North Canterbury trainer/driver Robbie Holmes had two horses involved in the race and he was very keen on the chances of Clean Break with Gavin Smith in the bike even from the outside of the gate, with Robbie taking the reins on the stablemate Tehoro Holly. The win dividend of $8:70 for Clean Break was a great return for the inform trotter. As happens, the best was saved for last. Three of our tipsters chose their best drives of the week in race 9 last night. Ricky May, John Dunn and Bob Butt were all keen on the chances of their runners and as it turned out none of them were far off the mark. John Dunn worked to the lead on Mr Meddle with Bob Butt settling in the trail with Justalittlebettor and Ricky May and Change The Rulz snookered away four back on the inner. John got away with a couple of cheap quarters in front with Mr Meddle which left enough in the tank to fight off all the challengers in the home straight. Ricky May and Change The Rulz flashed late for an unlucky second just in front of Justalittlebettor and Bob Butt who held third. Mr Meddle paid $10:90 for the win with the quinella paying $15:30 and the trifecta a healthy $185:20 Throw in the double result of Clean Break and Mr Meddle of $49:50 and followers of the ringaround should have made plenty last night. Harnesslink Media

Although his owners have been the beneficiary of some Addington Met Multiplier bonus rewards over the last 12 months, Overport Lodge harness racing trainer Mark Jones believes Addington need to do more with basic stake levels. After a successful winter north campaign, Mark netted just over $77,000 for his owners with eight horses. All, apart from Zakspatrol, have returned to Canterbury to freshen for spring racing. Zakspatrol is under offer to North American interests and is likely to head Stateside later this month. “Addington really need to lift their stakes,” Mark concluded after reviewing the results. “Kowhai Monarch earned $6300 winning a maiden trot the same night Expresso Martini got just over $4k for winning a strong one-win race at Addington,” he said. “Perissa went a 1:56 mile rate and earned less than a $4k winning stake at Addington.” Intermediate-grade trotter Sunoflindenny and maiden trotter Landora’s Girl were the only two of his team unable to crack north wins, but the former earned early $9000 in place money in seven starts. “Zakspatrol was a big winner, earning near $20k when he could have hardly found a suitable race in Canterbury,” he said. The big Art Major gelding notched his third junior drivers race win on the trip at Cambridge last week, and his second on end in the hands of northern junior Michael Blakemore. He gets another chance to add to his bankroll in a $13,500 C2-4 pace at Auckland this Friday night. “Pomme Roy got more for winning in Auckland than the whole stake of a race in Canterbury!,” he said. The breakdown of his north winter earners was: Rocker Band (five starts, Cambridge win, $4800). Zakspatrol (seven starts, three wins, $17,844). Kowhai Monarch (seven starts, one win, $7586). Sunoflindenny (seven starts, $8700). Real Torque (five starts, two wins, $12,272 Pomme Roy (six starts, two wins, $14,903). Saveapatrol (two starts, Thames Cup win, $10,750). Landora’s Girl (five maiden starts, $1287). “It was a very successful trip for my owners and the club were very helpful,” Mark said. “They put the horses in the right race and the club use the junior concessions well.” Mark had his northern race team based at Pukekohe through late June until early August. “A big thanks to Ray Green, and John and Lynne Street, for letting us stable at the first class Lincoln Farms,” he said. Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables

One of the better two year old harness racing fillies of this season in Northern Velocity has been sold to prominent Australian harness racing enthusiast Scott Robertson and his wife Kathy. Northern Velocity raced at the highest level all season with wins in the $146,250 Sales Race at Addington as well as the $25,000 Leonard Memorial Stakes at Addington and the $25,000 Caduceus Club Classic at Invercargill. She faced the starter eight times during the season for three wins and two placings for a healthy stake haul of $140.560. With the All Star barn having the two other high class two year old fillies in the stable in Dream About Me and Arden's Choice, they made the decision to sell Northern Velocity after the Harness Jewels. A daughter of Mach Three, Northern Velocity is a half sister to the outstanding pacer Pembrook Benny 1:53.6 ($907,890) and was purchased from the 2014 New Zealand Premier Sale at Christchurch for $72,500 by Mark Purdon. While Northern Velocity has been sold to Australian interests she won't be lost to the New Zealand scene just yet as new part owner Scott Robertson explains. " I have moved her to the Mark Jones barn with a view to her spending a big part of her three year old season in New Zealand." " The big aim will be the Sales Race again but apart from that I am more than happy to leave it up to Mark where she races." " At some point she will head over here to my trainer Steve Maguire," Scott said when speaking to Harnesslink this week. Scott is slowly building up a small but select broodmare band with the aim of concentrating on the top end of the market at the yearling sales and Northern Velocity will join that broodmare band when she has finished racing. Some smart mares have already been purchased such as * Joyfuljoy (NZ) 1:51.6 ($480,442) who has produced a lovely Rock N Roll Heaven filly to date. *Rockahula Baby - An Artsplace mare from a three quarter sister to Rocknroll Hanover 1:48.6 ($3,069,093) *Glenferrie Diva 1:58 - A Christian Cullen half sister to the very smart Foreclosure 1:48.8 ($807,746) *Magic Maddy Lombo - The dam already of Suave Stuey Lombo 1:49.6 ($566,512), Miss Trickin Lombo 1:53.3 ($230,312) and this years smart two year old filly Soho Maleleine 1:58 ($47,973) *Snug Harbour - A Bettor's Delight mare from  a full sister to Courage Under Fire 1:54.2 ($1,485,629) *The Baggy Green 1:57 ($108,700) - A very smart Art Major daughter of the brilliant racemare Lady Waratah 1:59.5 ($564,770) Scott has set his sights on having a small select broodmare band. " Somewhere around the ten to twelve mark is what I an aiming at." " I plan to sell everything in the first instance but as we get established I would prefer to sell the colts at the sales and retain the fillies where possible," Scott said It has been an ambitious project by Scott and Kathy but with the class of mares they already have and others of the class of Northern Velocity to still join the elite broodmare band, the future looks pretty bright for these standardbred breeders. Harnesslink Media

A decisive return to winning form by Saveapatrol in the $18,500 Bayleys Coromandel 2015 Thames Cup hasn’t changed plans for the horse to cross the Tasman any time soon. “Its great to get him back in the winner’s circle,” said trainer Mark Jones. “A lot of the credit goes to Regan (Todd) for the work he does with him,” he said. Following the Thames Cup on Friday, July 3, Mark, and owner Grant Hatton, confirmed their decision for the horse to remain in Auckland this month. Saveapatrol made a smart beginning from the 20m line and was in front after the opening 500m. The lightly-raced big boy son of Christian Cullen and Rondel Franco revelled in his work on the front-end, second-up after an enforced 14 month layoff. Although inclined to knock off a tad when he clearly had his rivals beaten inside the final 100m, Saveapatrol was super impressive, pacing the 2700m (stand) in a race record 3:22.2 (2:00.4 mile rate). Driver Blair Orange put the hammer down passing the final 800m, letting Saveapatrol quicken from that point in a slick 55.5s. Saveapatrol, even though knocking off at the finish, still steam-rolled the opposition over his closing 400m in 27.6s. Everything now over the next four months will prep the former Auckland Cup placegetter for the New Zealand Cup at Addington in November. “He’ll just continue to race in Auckland and come back south for the Hannon Memorial etc. in the spring as the second Tuesday in November is the aim,” Mark said. Saveapatrol has now raced only 18 times for 11 wins and a couple of minor placings, for $145,618 in stakes. Providing he stays sound, and with regular racing, he could be one of the best prepared for this year’s 3200m cup. Mark also picked up solid place money with stablemates, Zakspatrol (strong-finishing second) and the consistent squaregaiter Sunoflindenny (third) on Friday. Oasis Dream and Kowhai Monarch ran sound fourths, and Landora’s Girl finished fifth, but Rocker Band, Pomme Roy and Twice The Delight were all unplaced. Rocker Band, after sprinting hard early to wrest the lead in the C2-4 pace, over-raced and dropped away in the run home. Pomme Roy tired after working early from the outside gate to race parked in a C1-2 pace, while Twice The Delight, wilted after trailing in the C1-2 mares pace. Jeff Scott - Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here    

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

A decision to operate on an unknown injury has given harness racing star Saveapatrol a second chance. In early 2014, Saveapatrol, was one of the most promising pacers in the country but that ground to a halt when he pulled up sore after running third in the 2014 Auckland Cup behind Terror To Love and Adore Me. Initial scans on the Mark Jones trained gelding could not pin-point the problem but Jones and owner Grant Hatton elected to open up his leg in an attempt to find what was troubling the son of Christian Cullen. Surgery found a slight tear in his tendon that was too small to show up on the scans. "We're lucky we did operate otherwise we could have ended up doing much more damage," Jones said. Getting his star pacer back to the track is a huge relief for Jones. "When they go a miss like that you're never sure if you will get them back." The Canterbury trainer is especially pleased for Hatton who has been patient throughout the injury layoff. "We're lucky to have an owner like Grant who has given him the time to get him back to where he needs to be," Jones said. Fifteen months of patience will come to fruition at Alexandra Park on Friday night when the now five-year-old contests the Auckland Trotting Club's $20,000 Winter Cup. Saveapatrol has had two workouts at Rangiora and a trial at Addington in the lead up to Friday's assignment. "He seems 100 per cent sound now so we are very happy with with where he is at," Jones said. In the hands of Blair Orange, Saveapatrol will start off the 20m mark and despite the long lay off, Jones is confident of a bold showing. "I'd like to think he should be winning really, he comes in pretty good on the handicaps so he should be pretty hard to beat," Jones said. Saveapatrol is booked to board a plane for Brisbane on Monday for the the Queensland Winter Trotting Carnival. Jones said Saveapatrol would have to fail badly on Friday night to change those plans. Saveapatrol is ear-marked for four feature races worth a combined total of around $300,000 during the carnival. "When he is right with a bit of racing under his belt I think he can be a grand circuit horse," Jones said. The Queensland campaign will provide an ideal opportunity to get some quality racing under his belt before he comes back and prepares for a tilt at the New Zealand Trotting Cup. Saveapatrol's last win came in January 2014 when he beat home Terror To Love, Arden Rooney and Franco Ledger to win the Group III Invercargill Cup. Lightly raced, Saveapatrol won his first three starts and currently holds a record of ten wins and two placings from 16 starts for more than $130,000 in stakes. Saveapatrol is out of the tough mare Rondel Franco who won 37 races from 153 starts for more than $650,000 in stakes across New Zealand, Australian and America. There were plans to defend the Invercargill Cup this year but Jones pulled the pin when Saveapatrol was not quite ready. By Mat Kermeen Reprinted with permission of the Christchurch Press

Forgotten Kiwi star Saveapatrol is ready to kick-start his harness racing career again. The Christian Cullen – Rondel Franco gelding has not raced since finishing third in the 2014 Auckland Cup behind champion pacers Terror To Love and Adore Me at Alexandra Park, Auckland. A series of niggling leg injuries has kept him away from the racetrack ever since but a return is imminent following impressive workout/trials recently in Christchurch. Prepared by former World Driving Championship winner Mark Jones, Saveapatrol resumes next week in the Thames Cup in Auckland. “It’s great to have him back; it’s been a long slow build-up for him but he’s fit and healthy right now and we’re all looking forward to having him back at the races. The plan is start him in Auckland before heading straight to Brisbane for a four start winter carnival campaign.” Jones said. Saveapatrol will tackle the Gr.2 $50,000 4 & 5yo Championship on July 11, the Gr.1 $125,000 Blacks A Fake on July 18, the Gr.3 $30,000 Patrons Purse on July 25 and the Gr.2 $50,000 Redcliffe Cup on August 1 before returning home for a New Zealand Cup preparation. A winner of 10 races from 16 starts, Saveapatrol scored impressively in his latest workout on Monday at Addington with Blair Orange taking the drive. He paced the 2600m in a mile rate of 2;02.7 while finishing off in 57.5 and 27.7 seconds. “He won comfortably and he paced his last mile and a half in 3;00 and did it very easily and Blair said he felt great. We’ve given him a number of workouts and he’s gradually increased his work load with each run. “He’s out on the beach at Woodend with Regan (Todd – stable foreman) and he’s very sound right now so we’re keen to give him his shot at some of the better races and the Queensland campaign fits his schedule perfectly. “Blair has given us a vote of confidence by declaring he’ll go anywhere to drive him, so he’s heading to Auckland and then over to Australia. He claims he’s one of the most gifted horses he’s driven and as we know, he’s driven some of the best during his time with Mark Purdon.” Saveapatrol heads to Auckland this weekend in preparation for the $20,000 Thames Winter Cup next Friday, a stand-start feature staged over 2700m. Zakspatrol, a five win pacer, will make the trip to Queensland with Saveapatrol. Both horses are raced by Grant Hatton. by Chris Barsby

Since the inception of the Met Multiplier in the 2012/13 harness racing season a total of 67 pacers or trotters have won the bonus equating to a total pay-out of over half a million dollars.   26 have won the bonus this season. Each bonus is $7,500 with $5,000 going to the owners and $2,500 to the trainer.   Leading the way with eight bonuses is prominent trainer Robert Dunn with his winners taking home an additional $60,000 on top of stakes won.   His last runner to earn the bonus was the five year old mare She’s Got It who put her foot in the till on 22 May.   Bruce Hutton with five comes in next followed by Mark Jones and Murray Edmonds with three bonuses each.   There are plenty of trainers who have managed to win two Met Multipliers including Mike Austin, John Bromley, Jim Curtin, Kevin Townley, Phil Burrows, Brad Mowbray and John McDermott.   The scheme is designed to encourage trainers to support the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club (NZMTC) with a lucrative incentive for the connections.   To earn a Met Multiplier a horse has to start at a NZMTC meeting a minimum of 15 times over a 12 month rolling period and be placed 1st or dead heat for 1st in one of those qualifying starts.   So that means that your horse has 12 months to have the 15 starts and gain one win from when it first starts at a NZMTC meeting. E.g. A horse that has its first start at Addington on 1 June 2015 must have a minimum of 15 starts at NZMTC meetings and be placed first in one of those starts by 31 May 2016.   Horses that have had more than 15 starts and are yet to win can still qualify as long as they win a race within their 12 month period and at the same time satisfy the 15-start criteria within that time period.   Full details and conditions of The Met Multiplier Reward can be found under the Racing - Promotions and Incentives section at or contact Brian, Richard or Colin at the Addington Racing Department on (03) 338 9094.   Ged Mooar Marketing & Commercial Manager Addington

Overport Lodge trainer Mark Jones advanced to 52 wins for the season with a winning double on the first day of the Nelson winter harness racing meeting, and another at Auckland, on Friday, June 5.   Adding to the day’s success, Woodend Beach stable foreman picked up a deserved win with Sandvik Star at Nelson, and was the caretaker trainer of upset mares mile winner Whyamibettor from Overport starter All Delight.   Mark scored back-to-back Nelson training wins reining front-running hot favourite Pomme Roy to a comfortable win in the C1 Reefton Trotting Club Mobile Pace.   He has decided not to back up the 3YO Christian Cullen-TK Swift gelding on the second day at Nelson on Sunday.   Pomme Roy held second favourite Mach Denario by a length and a half in a 2:03.9 rate for the mobile 2400m in the slushy conditions, quickening over his last 800m in 58.5s.   After winning his 2YO debut at Addington and showing early promise as a colt, Pomme Roy was gelded after losing form after racing in Auckland as a spring 3YO.   He returned to win first-up at Addington on April 23 and has been in good overall form for this preparation.   Friday’s win was a bonus C1 win for the 3YO, who remains a C1 for his next start. He has now won three of 15 career starts.   in a good sense of occasion, Blair Orange then reined stablemate Zakspatrol to a gritty neck win over the Regan Todd-trained Fleeting Grin in the C1 Mark Jones Racing Stables and Club Waimea-sponsored Pace.   Zakspatrol, who had been knocking on the door of a win in his latest racing, rallied strongly from the third line on the outer to score in 3:10.9 (2400m stand) in the conditions.   The big 4YO Art Major-Shimmering Star gelding gets his chance to step up in the C2 and faster Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Winter Cup on Sunday.   Zakspatrol was returning to the winner’s circle on Friday at his third start since being downgraded last month.   He is now the winner of five from 43 starts for $38,232.   Owner Grant Hatton shares in the ownership of both Nelson winners.   He races Zakspatrol with wife Katherine, while he co-races Pomme Roy with Chatsworth Lodge Ltd, Bob Higgins, Bill and Claude Walsh.   Katherine Hatton also races Real Torque, a 2YO Real Desire filly, with daughters, Emma, Gina and Kate.   The girls also enjoyed good success a few years earlier as co-owners of former country cups star My Man Dan.   Real Torque, a half-sister to fast North American winner Statesman (1:50.4, US, nine NZ wins) and other useful types in Monaro (seven NZ wins, 1:58.5) and WA winner Calais (two wins, 1:56, Aust), was a $10,000 Australasian Classic Yearling Sales buy.   She wasn’t hurried out of the gate first-up by Kimberly Butt in the Mitavite Mobile Pace.   Real Torque showed some toughness after being left parked and rallied well to hold Bronze Over by a neck in 2:45.5 (2:01 mile rate) for the mobile 2200m.   The leaders quickened over their last 800m in 58.3s and final 400m in 27.9s.   Jeff Scott - Mark Jones Racing Stables  -  Check site here  

Hunter Valley harness racing trainer Shane Tritton has arrived in New Zealand ready to put the final touches on Salty Robyn in the lead up to Saturday's Harness Jewels. The son of Art Official was narrowly beaten in a workout last Saturday by the Mark Purdon trained Dream About Me with the final quarter clocked in a scintillating 25.6. Salty Robyn led from the start in the field of three with Mark Jones in the sulky and looked set for victory after dashing away turning for home but was grabbed late with the official margin between the first two runners just a half-head. "Salty Robyn has come through the hit-out really well, I think Saturday's run proves that he is back at the top of his game because he is as much better horse than he showed at Addington last start," said Tritton. "I was at Melton for the Queen Of The Pacific on Saturday night and flew directly from Melbourne and arrived in New Zealand on Sunday, I'll look after him for the rest of the week and Lauren (Panella) will fly in after driving at Newcastle on Thursday." Tritton believes Salty Robyn was a run short before his last start 7th in the New Zealand Sires Stakes. "On reflection he was underdone going into the Sires, I gave him an easy time of it when he first arrived in New Zealand and in hindsight I may have been too soft on him. "He will be spot on for Saturday, he has drawn well and he has good gate speed so he will be doing his normal thing and pushing forward at the start." The Purdon pair Chase The Dream and Lazarus will be the hardest to beat according to Tritton. "Chase The Dream has beaten us twice already, Lazarus was in the Sires Final and finished third so he has shown how good he is too. "Mark (Purdon) and Nat (Rasmussen) are the benchmark, they get the results and they will be extremely hard to beat." Tritton and Panella will return to Australia on Monday. "We will fly back on the Monday and the horses will fly over on the Tuesday, I've got two other horses racing at Ashburton on Sunday (No Potato and Lurah) as well so it is going to be a big weekend for us." Greg Hayes

All the pundits (us included) thought that High Gait had a mountain to climb in the Lone Star Riccarton $60,000 New Zealand Sires Stakes Final for two year old trotters at last nights harness racing meeting at Addington. The unbeaten daughter of Muscles Yankee had drawn the inside of the second row behind Dark Ops, a hundred to one shot while her major opposition Gershwin had drawn perfectly at barrier two on the front line. All that changed as they reached the starting point when Dark Ops galloped in the slushy conditions as did Gershwin with High Gait and Natalie Rasmussen managing to duck both of them somehow. However as a result High Gait settled last of the pack as Arannalea and Mark Jones set a steady tempo in front. Still last at the 500 metres. Natalie sent High Gait around them four and five wide as they turned in and then just picked the leaders up like she had just joined in, It was a brilliant performance in the conditions and confirmed High Gait as New Zealand's leading two year old trotter this season. High Gait's stablemate Missandei held second after a big sweeping run for Mark Purdon with the pacemaking Arannalea holding on for third. High Gait trotted the 1950 metres in the atrocious conditions in 2:32.5 with closing sectionals of 62 and 29.3 Natalie was full of admiration for the daughter of Muscles Yankee. " She has gone absolutely super to come from that far back" " I don't know how we missed the early carnage, it felt as if I was going sideways." " She is such a determined wee thing, you have to admire her," Natalie said If there were any doubts about the top dog status amongst the two year old trotters this season, that was well and truly settled last night. Harnesslink Media

Last nights $100,000 Anzac Trotters Cup at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park looked to be another easy scalp for Stent after he drew barrier five which gave his trainer/driver Colin De Filippi a lot of options. The distance was right up Stent's alley and the way the draws had played out it was hard to see who would beat him. Master Lavros led easily from barrier four with King Denny and Mark Purdon sliding across from barrier seven to face the breeze and in doing so giving Stent the prized one by one sit. Then Mark Purdon did something that no one expected and attacked Master Lavros for the lead. The two star trotters drew clear by several lengths before Mark Jones on Master Lavros conceded the lead to King Denny. That move changed the whole complexion of the race with Stent now having to sit parked with his arch rival Sheemon hard on his back in the one by one. King Denny applied the pressure a long way from home and was still travelling well as they turned for home. Stent leveled up to King Denny just after straightening for home but Dexter Dunn on Sheemon had stalked him the whole way and flew late to grab Stent right on the post with the winning margin a mere head. Master Lavros finished on well up the passing lane to grab third just in front of the pace making King Denny. Sheemon trotted the 2200 metres in 2:42.4, a mile rate of 1:58.8, with closing sectionals of 56.9 and 28.5. The winning time was a new New Zealand record, taking sixth tenths of a second off the old record held by Royal Aspirations. Dexter Dunn was quick post race to heap praise on the son of Monarchy. " We did get a great trip but he still really dug in up the straight" " I think it was his will to win that got us over the line because it is never easy to run past Stent." " He has gone great all season and won a heat of the Great Southern Star and then had no luck in the final so he deserves a win like this." "The two miles of the Rowe Cup next week won't worry him because he is pretty adaptable so he has to be a big chance," Dexter said. From a Rowe Cup point of view the race last night did throw some light on what should be one of the races of the season. Stent was huge last night in defeat but so were Master Lavros and King Denny. Master Lavros lost a bit of ground around the last bend but found the line really well and the 3200 metres is right up his alley while the run of King Denny to finish so close after doing so much work early was a real sign that he can be a player at this level Harnesslink Media  

Successful harness racing junior driver Robbie Close advanced to 21 seasonal wins when he guided Reklaw Supreme to win at Forbury on April 2 for employer Mark Jones.   Robbie was the South Island leader for the NZ Junior Drivers Championship beginning April, 10 points clear of Stevie Golding, with fellow Overport Lodge juniors, Kimberly Butt and Michelle Neilson next.   He is currently second on the NZ Junior Drivers Premiership, four wins behind Craig Ferguson, who also gained experience under Mark Jones during winter stays in Canterbury.   Robbie Close, formerly a South Aucklander, had stints with Michelle Wallis and Bernie Hackett, and Barry Purdon, before moving to Canterbury in search of opportunities five years ago.   He spent three years with Robbie Holmes before transferring to fellow North Canterbury trainers Greg and Nina Hope.   He was rewarded with a New Zealand Cup drive behind the Hope-trained Jason Rulz in the 2013 New Zealand Cup, the pair finishing eighth behind Terror To Love.   They also combined to run fourth to Christen Me in the 2013 Group Two Glenferrie Farm Canterbury Classic.   This year Robbie teamed up with the Woodend Beach arm of the Mark Jones stable.   He was luckless in his first drive for the stable behind Goodness Gracious Me when she was badly in season and subsequently failed badly at Addington on February 20.   Regular driver Blair Orange had Auckland commitments on February 20 but returned to Addington a week later when Goodness Gracious Me put her seasonal complaint aside to win at the Cheviot meeting on March 1.   Robbie made the most of his catch drive behind Reklaw Supreme at Forbury, when co-owner and regular driver Wayne Higgs took a night off.   Reklaw Supreme, downgraded last month, made the most of a slightly easier race in the C1-2 Stunin Cullen/Pinelea Farm Handicap Pace.   He tangled away but quickly settled with Robbie sending him to the top with 1800m of the 2700m pace remaining.   They were always travelling too well for early leader Johan’s Jet, coming clear by two lengths in strong 3:26.9 (2:03.3 mile rate) for the stand-start 2700m.   Reklaw Supreme, a 6YO Christian Cullen gelding, was purchased by Wayne and Mervyn Higgs out of the Greg and Nina Hope stable in December when Wayne decided to make a return to ownership and racedriving.   Now the winner of six from 58 starts, Reklaw Supreme will try for back-to-back wins when he returns to grass track racing at Motukarara on Sunday.   Wayne, who drove his first winner at his third racedrive behind Bronze Touch at Nelson in June 2000, formerly drove in a New Zealand Cup himself.   He partnered his former top horse White Arrow to finish unplaced in Mainland Banner’s 2005 Cup.   Wayne returns to the sulky behind Reklaw Supreme on Sunday but will have to overcome an outside second row barrier over the mobile 2000m.   Jeff Scott - Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables

If anyone thought that Stent was vulnerable in the $80,000 New Zealand Trotting Championship at last nights harness racing meeting at Addington, (we did) then it took just three minutes and fifteen seconds to well and truly put that idea to bed. Before the race had even got under way there was a major surprise when the well performed Kincaslough refused to score up twice and was late scratched as a result. Everyone thought driver Colin De Filippi from barrier three would head straight to the front with Stent and that was the first surprise as Colin stayed out of the early rush. Todd Mitchell and Prime Power flew the gate to lead from barrier seven with Stent settling into the one by one behind One Over Da Moon in the death. Mark Jones worked Master Lavros forward from the second line and grabbed the lead after 700 metres and set a quick tempo up front. Due to the tempo there were few mid race moves with the exception being Clover Don who worked forward to the death with 1200 metres to go. At the 500 metres mark Mark Jones tried to steal a break on the field and turned for home four lengths in front  but the challengers were emerging from the pack. First King Denny appeared and then Stent went straight past them all to grab a very game Masters Lavros in the shadows of the winning post for an emphatic victory. Sheemon who followed Stent everywhere switched to the inside in the straight and flew late for third just in front of King Denny who made a very promising debut in town hall company. A minor highlight of the race was the run of Alley Way, who flew late for sixth after being last on the final bend. Colin was a touch apprehensive turning for home. " I thought I may have left it too late to move because Master Lavros is a class trotter and is hard to reel in." " Having said that I have a lot of confidence in my fellow and I knew they would know we were there," Colin said. Owner Trevor Casey was one proud man post race " That was a huge performance." " I thought we were too far back on the turn so to get up and win was a great run," Trevor said. Master Lavros went his best race for the season and there is plenty of room for improvement. " I didn't even give him a trial before last week and I've left him really big this time in so there should be plenty of improvement in him." " His condition gave out the last bit but I couldn't be happier with how he is trotting." " We will head to the Rowe Cup now with a bit of confidence, " Mark said. The unlucky horse once again was the northerner Prime Power. Trainer Todd Mitchell was rueful about a shoeing change he had made. " I changed his shoes four starts ago and fitted him with a lighter shoe." " He was fine with them at Auckland but he struggled with them on the Addington surface." " I was jogging tonight on the corner which makes it even more disappointing." " I think back at Auckland he will be fine, but we may change the shoes back anyway," Todd said It was a special night for Trevor Casey at Addington as not only does he own Stent but he also shares in the ownership of the brilliant Welcome Stakes winner last night in Waikiki Beach. The cherry on top for Trevor was last nights win edged Stent over the $1,000,000 mark in lifetime earnings and the way he is going he could set new overall marks for stake earnings for a trotter in Australasia in the next couple of years. Harnesslink Media  

Rocker Band booked a start in the $140,000 Nevele R Fillies Final at Addington on May 9 when defeating last season’s Breeders Crown-winning 2YO filly Katy Perry at Methven on Sunday, February 22. The daughter of Rocknroll Hanover and 2005 New Zealand Cup winner Mainland Banner shared favouritism with Katy Perry in the Hororata Trotting Club’s Nevele R heat on the grass. Both had turns at leading, with Rocker Band having the early gate speed to cross, then driver Ricky May elected to take a trail on Katy Perry nearing the final 800m. Rocker Band had the superior sprint in the run home, coming clear by 2 1/4 lengths in a useful 2:02.3 (1609m) on a drizzle-affected grass track. She was a slightly disappointing fourth at her previous start in the Ashburton Nevele R Heat for trainer Mark Jones, who expected more after securing the perfect trail. She was still racetimed in 1:55.6 there, but couldn’t go with the top Mark Purdon/Natalie Rasmussen-trained fillies of Fight For Glory, who was too good in 1:54.5 from Linda Lovegrace and Supersonic Miss. Both Fight For Glory (New South Wales Oaks Heat) and Supersonic Miss (Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks Prelude) complimented the Ashburton heat run by winning again last weekend. Rocker Band had also been earmarked for the New South Wales Oaks series, but the domestic Nevele R heat was a more suitable target after Ashburton. She was recording her second win at her fifth start for Queensland owner Greg Brodie. The Overport Lodge stable moved to 34 wins and crashed through the $300,000 stakes barrier for the season wtih Rocker Band’s success. The stable also produced Zakspatrol for an upset $40.80 win price in the hands of Kimberly Butt at Addington on Friday night. Kim was able to secure a good trail on the outer with the Grant and Katherine Hatton-owned Zakspatrol in the Blue Star Taxis Pace. They finished too well for Sunnivue Bay Boy, Little Lion Man and Mach’s Terminator in 3:21.5 for the stand start 2600m. The stable also went close at Auckland with trotter Charming Lavra, who ran a close second after moving up in the open for Blair Orange. Courtesy of Mark Jones Racing Stables - Check site here  

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