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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:                     

Leading into last nights $40,000 Lyell Creek Stakes at the harness racing meeting at Alexandra Park, the jury was well and truly out on who the best trotter in the country was. Stent, Master Lavros and Monbet all had supporters and those supporters could all make a case as to why 'their' horse should be rated number one. In the two minutes, forty four point six seconds it took to run last nights race, the question of who was the current top dog amongst the trotters was well and truly settled. Ricky May sent Monbet forward from barrier seven but he was caught three wide for the first 800 metres before finding the death seat. Mark Jones on Master Lavros had managed to find Monbet's back early in the race and had followed him around three wide at which point Mark Jones pressed on and found the front with just over 1200 metres to go, again leaving Monbet parked out. Stent from the outside of the second line had managed to slot in to four back in the running line but was a fair way off his adversaries with a lap to go. Mark Jones and Master Lavros applied the afterburners down the back straight in 28.3 which had quite a few in the field struggling but Monbet hadn't gone anywhere and it was obvious on the corner that these two would fight out the finish. Shortly after they straightened, Monbet just changed gear and went sailing on past for an emphatic victory by 2 1/4 lengths from Master Lavros with a further 2 3/4 lengths back to Prime Power. Stent made ground late when it was all over to finish fourth. Monbet trotted the 2200 metres in 2:44.6, a mile rate of 2:00.4 with closing sectionals of 56.4 and 28.1 The son of Love You has now won twelve from twenty two and over $228,000 in his career to date. Driver Ricky May was fulsome in his praise of Monbet. " He just went absolutely super tonight." " He got a bit keen early on when one of his earplugs came out but he came back to me fairly quickly." " I didn't mind sitting parked as he relaxes so well out there." " He gave me an incredible feel out there tonight and won that so easily." " There is no doubt that he is the best trotter I have ever driven and I think he proved tonight that he is the best trotter in the country at the moment," Ricky said  Greg and Nina Hope have done a wonderful job of looking after Monbet through his two and three year old seasons and are now starting to reap the reward for that patience. Harnesslink Media

With the Sires Stakes Final for 3 year old fillies looming large on the horizon, a lot of fillies are staking a claim for inclusion in the $150,000 final at Alexandra Park on December 31st. Last night at Alexandra Park, the Mark Jones trained Real Torque won her third race at just her seventh career start and gave notice that she will be competitive in the $22,000 Sires Stakes heat at Alexandra Park on December 11th. Bought out of the 2014 Australasian Classic yearling sale for the princely sum of $10,000, Real Torque has plenty going for her pedigree wise with her being a half sister to four winners including the very smart Statesman 1:50.2 who has recently passed the $500,000 mark in career earnings. The daughter of Real Desire has shown a liking for the Alexandra Park track which is a plus going forward and she is building nicely for her Sires Stakes heat. Last night Mark Jones worked her to the front early and dictated the tempo before brushing home in 57.6 and 28.5 for a comfortable victory. Mark Jones thought Real Torque would be hard to beat last night. " She was a two win horse in a maiden field so she was always going to be hard to beat. " If anything she should have won that a lot easier than she did but she had a couple of coughs during the week so she had an excuse." " She will have one more run before the Sires Stakes heat on December 11th and then hopefully into the final." " She is going to have to step up to be competitive but she is paid up so we are going to have a go," Mark said. Mark Jones is no stranger to bringing horses north and getting the money and with further progression, Real Torque is more than capable of picking up some of the spoils in the Sires Stakes Series. Harnesslink Media  

Leading up to the Dominion Handicap at Addington Raceway yesterday, most people thought Stent would continue his domination of the trotting scene in New Zealand. Stent had been in great form leading up to the Dominion Handicap yesterday but the one thing that raised the odd doubt in people's minds was the distance of yesterdays race- 3200 metres. If Stent looked to have one chink in his armour, it was his less than great record at the extreme distance. Stent had won the Rowe Cup at the distance but only after sitting on Master Lavros's back the whole journey and even then he just beat him by a nose. Master Lavros was an opponent again yesterday and while Stent isn't at his best at 3200 metres, Master Lavros has always excelled at the distance.  Master Lavros was away quickly for Mark Jones and grabbed the lead after 400 metres and kept up a steady tempo in the lead. Stent and Colin De Filippi after an early bobble had settled three back in the running line before looping the field to land outside Master Lavros's wheel at the 800 metres. Just when it looked like a match race between the two champions was on the cards, Master Lavros strode away for an emphatic victory with Mark Jones giving a great victory salute as he went over the finishing line. Alley Way and Matthew Williamson got home well for second in front of Sheemon who trailed the whole way while Stent only battled into fifth.  Mark Jones was very animated on his return to the winners circle "This is all down to Regan's hard work," Jones said of his Woodend Beach foreman Regan Todd. "There's a lot of satisfaction winning today after what we have been through with horse there is nothing better than getting back to the top of the pile" Jones said. "When you're in that position we were last season, you start to have doubts and you start to think you are lucky to have won what you have in the past." "I was starting to get to the point myself that Master Lavros might not win the Dominion again if he didn't win it this year as there are so many good young trotters coming through," Mark said. Jones was keen to get to the front early in the Dominion because he wanted to take bad luck out of play. "I just wanted to give him every chance and not have any excuses." "He goes good in front and we have come so far with this horse I wanted to give him every chance," Mark said. Regan Todd was just pleased it was over. "Its been a really long week leading up to today."  " A few people had doubts after Kaikoura but we always knew he needed that run," Todd said. The Rowe Cup is the main aim for Master Lavros for the rest of the season although a trip to Australia beforehand is still on the cards. Harnesslink Media

The All Star barn have had a great Cup Day the last couple of years and after Tuesday's six wins most pundits thought they would win as many if not more yesterday at Addington Raceway. One All Star runner expected to be hard to beat was Superfecta in the $32,000 Show Day Futurity. However Scott Phelan on Ashton K was determined that if he was going to be beaten, it wouldn't be through lack of trying. Scott and Ashton K flew out of the barrier from post seven and after balancing up Scott sent him to the front after 600 metres. Not long after Articulight and Mark Jones had a look for the front but Scott was having none of it and kicked up again. Going past the 600 metres he was joined by Superfecta but Scott kept him at bay and they turned for home together. Just when it looked like Superfecta would prevail, he went into a gallop and lost all chance leaving Ashton K clear for a hard earned victory. Scott was all smiles post race. “ It is good when a longterm plan comes off as it has here.” “ After a couple of burns during the race it was a good effort to stick on like he did.” “ I thought Superfecta may have had us at the top of the straight but my fella had fought back when Superfecta galloped,” Scott said. The 2600 metres was cut out in a very quick 3:10.8 so there was no place for the faint hearted in yesterdays final. Scott was unsure of where Ashton K would race next. “ He is much better the left handed way of going which is why we have brought him south so often but with the Auckland Cup meeting on our doorstep, we may have to give him his chance at Alexandra Park,” Scott said. Wherever he goes, Ashton K has shown he has what it takes to be competitive. Harnesslink Media   

The  victory of Master Lavros turned back the clock. The giant gelding led throughout to claim his second Gr.1 $255,000 Hellers Dominion at Addington in Christchurch defeating Alley Way and Sheemon in the 3200m stand start harness racing feature. Master Lavros scored in this event two years ago. The winning drive from Mark Jones, a former world driving champion, was inch perfect as he dictated terms nicely in front while race favourite Stent sat midfield in the moving line after a tardy beginning. Jones was able to quicken and slacken the speed which made it awfully hard for his rivals to find their groove. It was a perfect reminder that Jones is a truly gifted reinsman, one of the very best in Australasia. And while Jones is listed officially as the trainer, the man that pours his heart and soul into the gifted trotter is Regan Todd. Operating two stables, Jones is based at Burnham while Todd operates the Woodend Beach stables, of which Master Lavros is based and trained. Since winning this event back in 2013, connections have been left frustrated and perplexed as the gelding struggled to regain that dominating form that catapulted him to early stardom. The expectation and pressure created cracks and last season proved disappointing with only two victories from 11 starts, many breaks were made in running. But the seven-year-old has returned in solid form this season and the reason is simple, he’s sound and trotting perfectly. Master Lavros rated 4:05.9 which equates to a milerate of 2:03.6 while he covered his final 800m in a slick 57.6 seconds. The time was slightly slower than what he recorded two years ago. Master Lavros is now a dual Dominion champion while he has also collected the North Island’s major trotting event, the Rowe Cup. His earnings have now surpassed $500,000. The Sundon – Lavra Noblesse gelding is raced by his breeder, Kypros Kotzikas. Race favourite Stent finished fifth and had his chance after his early miscue, the Dominion proving to be his ‘bogey’ race. The next leg of the Australian Pacing Gold Trotting Masters will be staged on February 6, the Gr.1 $100,000 Seelite Windows & Doors Australian Trotting Grand Prix at TABCORP Park, Melton. by Chris Barsby

The New Zealand Trotting Cup has been won by some of the biggest names and Lara trainer Dean Braun is hoping his stable star Im Corzin Terror can add his to the list of champions to have won NZ's greatest race. Im Corzin Terror has drawn the second line in a super field and Braun is a little apprehensive about the draw, saying he would have much preferred drawing the front row. “He is just a little funny following them out," Braun said. "He got knocked over early at Yarra Valley one day and he has been just a little funny since then. It would have been nice to draw the front row but unfortunately we haven’t.” Since arriving in New Zealand he has been stabled with Mark Jones and Braun said from all reports he has settled in super. “He has settled in really, really well. He is down at the beach with Mark Jones and Reagan Todd. He worked pretty good Friday morning and by all reports they are very happy with him.” He led in the Cup trial finishing fourth, but Braun is hoping with a clean start he can weave into the first six, where he will be saved for one run. He said Im Corzin Terror would relish the 3200 metres, hence the reason he has gone to NZ instead of Perth for the Inter Dominion. It will be a wonderful achievement if he can win NZ’s greatest race and Braun's career highlight. The NZ Trotting Free For All might have lost its lustre somewhat with the omission of NZ trotting champion Stent, who has opted to go straight to the Dominion Handicap next Friday, but it shapes up as another fascinating race with the two major chances drawn gates 1 & 2 in One Over Da Moon and Monbet. One Over Da Moon has won his past seven starts brilliantly, which includes beating Stent in the Ashburton Flying Mile last start. He is in breathtaking form for Tony Herlihy. Monbet couldn’t get into the race last start behind One Over Da Moon but he has a much better draw Tuesday to turn the tables. The other winning hopes here are Habibti, who split the two favourites at Ashburton, and Sheemon, who will get a cheap run on the pegs. The other feature is the NZ Sires Stakes Final and the clear favourite is the Mark Purdon trained Lazarus. A winner of seven of nine, we haven’t yet seen this guy in Australia but he is a genuine star and even though he has drawn the second row he will be very hard to beat. CODY WINNELL

It may have been a smallish crowd at today's harness racing meeting at Rangiora but you wouldn't have thought so by the noise generated on course during the last 200 metres of race 7, the C1-C3 trot over 2000 metres. Kowhai Whiz in the hands of Laura McKay had hit the front not long after straightening for home and Laura's support crew certainly cheered her home over the last bit. Laura, who works for Mark Jones was having only her third lifetime drive and showed real maturity for such a young and inexperienced driver to work forward over the last 800 metres and time her run to perfection. You couldn't get the smile off Laura's face post race. " I can't believe it has happened so quickly." " It is just such a great feeling to win a race, its hard to explain what it feels like." Laura has had a great grounding in harness racing having spent three years at Cran Dalgetys before spending eight months with Kerry Ann Turner in Sydney. On returning to New Zealand she hooked up with the Mark Jones barn. "I have been there for six or seven months and I can't thank Mark enough for having the confidence in me to put me up for the two drives today." "Hopefully I might get a few more drives after today," Laura said. One thing Laura will never be short of is advice. " My grandparents are Clive and Rona McKay and Justin Le Lievre is my step father so their is always plenty of advice on offer," Laura said. The patience and timing Laura showed today would suggest she has a lot more winners in front of her. Harnesslink Media

Promising Overport Lodge 3YO Ice Crusher began his quest for possible $40,000 Southern Supremacy honours on April 17 with the easiest of maiden wins as at Invercargill on Sunday, December 1. The hot $1.50 favourite circled wide for Blair Orange from the back row as some inside him scrambled early in the Ryder Plumbling Ltd Mobile Pace at the Riverton Trotting Club’s meeting. After landing up in the open, Blair made a play for the lead with around 1100m to run and was always travelling like the winner. He cruised to the wire 2 3/4 lengths of nearest challenger Annie Fitz, with hood deafeners still intact, in a comfortable 2:48.3 (2:03.1 mile rate) for the 2200m. Ice Crusher wasn’t asked for a serious effort over his last 800m in 59.7s and final 400m in 29.1s. The Southern Supremacy is a possible target for Ice Crusher, who won once from three 2YO outings for Burnham trainer Mark Jones and the Ice C Syndicate. Back on May 9, he ran his last 800m in 55.5s and final 400m in 27.1s at Addington when he held Hickstead in the Listed $11,700 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales 2YO Open Consolation. He reverted back to maiden status beginning his 3YO racing. A horse must have at least two starts in Southern Harness Racing Club races to be eligible for the Southern Supremacy final, hence the decision to try and win his maiden in the south. He’s bred to be above average being a gelded son of Christian Cullen and Helena Kilena (five wins, 1:57 m.r, 1950m), making him a brother to good south winner Shak’n Cullen (four wins, 1:58.9). Dam Helena Kilena is a sister to Fearleass Freda (p2, 1:59), winner of the 1998 PGG Wrightson Yearling Sales 2YO Fillies Pace. Another sister in Hilarious Heather (three wins) is the dam of useful pacers Holy Hero (five NZ wins, 1:56.5) and Collecting (four wins, p3, 1:58.6), a NZ record 3YO fillies record holder over 2200m from a stand. Helena Kilena is also a half-sister to Franco Himself (3 NZ wins, 18 USA wins, 1:55.4). Helena Kilena’s grand-dam Golden Guest won nine and ran third against the boys behind the Alister Kerslake-trained stablemate Bachelor Star in the 1971 New Zealand Derby at Addington (another filly Van Glory ran second and Roydon Roux was fourth). Golden Guest was a Garrison Hanover sister to a top Jack Smolenski-trained 1970s pacer in Speedy Guest (19 wins including a Great Northern Derby and a NZ Messenger. Earlier, stablemate and debutante Itz Ivy Hillis was a game third after moving up in the open in a mobile 2200m maiden. She kept fighting in the run home but was outgunned late by the Tony Barron-trained Whata Excuse, wide out for Dexter Dunn, and Tuapeka Troy, with the winner clocking 2:46.4. Consistent 3YO Derringer had to settle for second from the trail to Machrie in the C1 pace at Invercargill with stablemate Coringa Delight having little luck from the second row, finishing fifth. Mark Jones Racing Stable    -    Check site here

Harness racing junior driver Craig Ferguson is certainly wracking up the miles this season with frequent trips from his Southland base to race meetings in the Canterbury region. Tonight at Addington Raceway Craig only had one drive for the whole program but he made it count with a textbook drive on the free going Art Major mare Perissa in the junior drivers event. Grabbing the lead early, Craig held Perissa back to the field with a couple of soft quarters before sending her for home at the 900 metres in a race winning move. Sprinting home her last 800 metres in a brilliant 54.3 and 400 metres in 26.2 meant Perissa coasted home a comfortable winner. " When I was talking to Mark (Jones) earlier in the week, he said Perissa was ready to go and would go a good race but that was pretty impressive." " The plan was to apply the pressure a fair way out and she has done it rather easily to be honest," Craig said. This is the last year for Craig as a junior driver and he is making every effort this season to go a couple better than last season when he finished third on the junior drivers premiership. " I would love to win the junior drivers premiership but it is really hard to achieve from Southland with only one meeting most weeks so I am travelling up to Canterbury as much as possible, even if it is only for one drive." " The travelling is not to bad when you drive a winner but it can be a long drive home when you run last," Craig said. Craig has not been going home empty handed very often from his trips to Canterbury with his last visit to Canterbury a fortnight ago for two drives resulted in him landing a winner at odds with Shillelagh in the junior drivers race. "It has been going really good lately and I just hope the success leads to some more opportunities up here in the future." "I don't mind coming up from Southland for just one drive as you never know where it might lead," Craig said. You can't fault the work ethic or commitment that Craig is showing with all his travelling and lets hope it is for more than just one drive a meeting in the future. Harnesslink Media

Mark Jones is hardly screaming from the rooftops but he is starting to find some confidence in Master Lavros. The giant trotter stepped away from the tapes and went on to a one and three quarter lengths win in Friday's Group III Canterbury Park Trotting Cup at Addington Raceway with a display that puts him right in the Group I Dominion Handicap scrap. Sure there was no Stent, but Jones is starting to feel that the son of Sundon could be close to the sort of form that saw him win the Dominion in 2013. "He was feeling that good at the bend I probably could have gapped them by four or five lengths at the bend," Jones said. The improvement this week gave Jones plenty to smile about after he was run down late by Stent seven days earlier. Master Lavros strode home to win in 3:18.8 for the 2600m and Jones gave the impression there was plenty left in the tank had it been required. But the trainer-driver has plenty to think about in the coming days and weeks. The logical next step would be Ashburton for the Group III Trotters Flying Mile on Labour Day but with Master Lavros' manners from his two stands back being so good, Jones is thinking he may be better off to avoid the mobile start at Ashburton and head to Kaikoura. "I just don't know if the mobile will help us at the moment," Jones said. But if he does head to Kaikoura, he could potentially have to skip the Group I NZ Trotting free-for-all on Cup day. "I just think that could be a bit too much to do those three so close together," Jones said. Wherever Jones goes, he knows he is past the issues that plagued Master Lavros' season last year. Master Lavros trotted to the lead mid race and Jones had the field right where he wanted them and never gave up the lead. The Greg and Nina Hope pairing of Quite A Moment and Harrysul were much improved when running into second and third. Greg Hope was rapt with the effort of both trotters and said they would now likely head straight to Ashburton. Sheemon was disappointing in the final 300m to finish fourth after racing in the one-one and trainer Kevin Townley will have the classy trotter vetted to try and better understand the underwhelming performance. A fresh-up Alley Way was fifth in his first start for the Colin and Julie DeFilippi barn but was five lengths of Master Lavros. Colin DeFilippi said he expected a little better but was happy enough first up. He will line Alley Way up again at Addington next Friday. Habibti and Kincaslough blew their chance with mid race breaks. David Butt, who co-trains Habibti with wife Catherine, said it was disappointing but he confirmed he was also likely to head back to Addington next Friday night. The talented mare was super last week in her first race back in 11 months after a suspensory ligament injury and Butt is confident Friday night's break was just a small bump in the road. Mat Kermeen Reproduced with permission of Stuff NZ   -   Check site here  

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    

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